May 122023
 


Sophia Loren seated by the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis during filming for ‘Boy on a Dolphin’, 1957

 

Ukraine Needs ‘Bit More Time’ To Prepare For Counteroffensive – Zelensky (TASS)
Ukrainian Forces Begin “Shaping” Operations For Counteroffensive (RT)
UK Sending Long-range Storm Shadow Missiles To Ukraine (G.)
Russian MoD Denies Kinzhal Intercepted By Patriot Air Defense System (RIA)
West ‘Miscalculated’ With Economic War Against Russia – Spectator (TASS)
Donetsk Civilians Live In Constant Fear Of Ukrainian Shelling (Eva Bartlett)
European Security Order ‘Is No More’ – German President (RT)
Grain Deal Extended By 60 Days, Decision May Be Announced By Erdogan (TASS)
The UK’s Secret Control Of Palestinian Security Forces (Klarenberg)
US Sells Weapons To Majority Of Authoritarian Regimes – The Intercept (RT)
World’s Most Violent Country Claims Murder-Free Year (RT)
The Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organizations to Know (Taibbi+)
Elon Musk Hires Ultra Woke Linda Yaccarino as CEO of Twitter (CTH)
CNN Host Sues Trump For Assault And Defamation After Town Hall (BBee)

 

 

 

 

Anderson

 

 

 

 

2016
https://twitter.com/i/status/1656631409958584323

 

 

 

 

The Right Stuff

 

 

Dimon

 

 

Maria Zakharova : By digging a long investigation, we find that Von der Leyen’s family tree traces a legacy of power and brutality, incorporating not only some of Germany’s most prominent Nazis, but also some of Britain’s greatest slave traders.

 

 

 

 

“..those who are calling for peace talks to start as soon as possible could not force Ukraine to surrender its territories..”

Ukraine Needs ‘Bit More Time’ To Prepare For Counteroffensive – Zelensky (TASS)

The Ukrainian army needs a little bit more time to prepare for Kiev’s much-vaunted counteroffensive, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview with European media outlets, including the BBC, published on Thursday. “With [what we already have] we can go forward, and, I think, be successful. But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable. So, we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” Zelensky said. As follows from Zelensky’s statement, those Ukrainian brigades formed especially for the counteroffensive are already fully ready to take part in combat operations, but the army still needs “certain things,” including armored vehicles, which are “arriving in batches.” The Ukrainian president also stated that those who are calling for peace talks to start as soon as possible could not force Ukraine to surrender its territories.


He noted that Kiev was not afraid of losing support from Washington after the next US presidential election in November 2024, because, according to Zelensky, both the Democrats and the Republicans are allies of Ukraine. The issue of a potential counterattack by the Ukrainian army has been discussed in the Ukrainian media for several months. A buildup of Ukrainian reserves was noted in the Zaporozhye area recently. Media reports have mooted various dates for the start of an attack, but the commencement of Kiev’s much-ballyhooed counteroffensive has been postponed several times already. Among the reasons the reports mentioned were the slow delivery of Western equipment, bad weather and huge losses suffered by Ukrainian troops in Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine).

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“Shaping involves striking targets such as weapons depots, command centers and armor and artillery systems..”

Ukrainian Forces Begin “Shaping” Operations For Counteroffensive (RT)

Ukrainian forces have begun “shaping” operations in advance of a highly-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces, a senior US military official and senior Western official told CNN, Report informs. Shaping involves striking targets such as weapons depots, command centers and armor and artillery systems to prepare the battlefield for advancing forces. It’s a standard tactic made prior to major combined operations. When Ukraine launched a counteroffensive late last summer in the southern and northeastern parts of the country, it was similarly preceded by air attacks to shape the battlefield. These shaping operations could continue for many days before the bulk of any planned Ukrainian offensive, according to the senior US military official.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country still needs “a bit more time” before it launches the counteroffensive, in order to allow some more of the promised Western military aid to arrive in the country. “With [what we have] we can go forward and be successful,” Zelensky told European public service broadcasters in an interview published on Thursday. “But we’d lose a lot of people. I think that’s unacceptable.” “So we need to wait. We still need a bit more time,” he said. Among the supplies Ukraine is still waiting for are armored vehicles — including tanks —which Zelensky said were “arriving in batches.” Shaping operations can also be designed to confuse the enemy.

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There are still Ukrainians alive. Can’t have that.

UK Sending Long-range Storm Shadow Missiles To Ukraine (G.)

Britain has become the first western country to provide Ukraine with the long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles that Kyiv wants to boost its chances in a much-anticipated counteroffensive, prompting a threat from the Kremlin of a military response. Hours after Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he needed more western weapons to be confident of a victory this summer, Ben Wallace, the UK defence secretary, told MPs that the missiles – which cost more than £2m each – were “now going in, or are in the country itself”. The gift of the missiles was supported by the US, Wallace added, although previously Washington had declined to give Ukraine long-range missiles of its own, fearing that the outcome could escalate hostilities in the 15-month war.

Reflecting such concerns, the minister said the decision was “a calibrated and proportionate response” to the Russian invasion, and in particular Moscow’s repeated targeting of Ukrainian civilians. At least 23,000 civilians had been killed or injured, Wallace said. Russia had made “788 attacks on healthcare facilities, hospitals, clinics, medical centres”, and on many occasions killed civilians in missile strikes, he added. “The use of Storm Shadow will allow Ukraine to push back Russian forces based within Ukrainian sovereign territory,” Wallace told MPs, adding: “Russia must recognise that their actions alone have led to such systems being provided.” Speaking at a press briefing in Moscow, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia was taking a “rather negative” view of the UK’s move. “This will require an adequate response from our military, who … will make appropriate decisions,” he said.

Wallace did not say how many Storm Shadow missiles had been given to Ukraine, although it has been estimated the UK holds a stock of between 700 and 1,000. Working with four other countries, the UK issued a tender to buy more long-range “missiles or rockets with a range of 100-300km” (62 to 186 miles). Storm Shadow has a range of “in excess of 250km”, according to its manufacturer, the European arms group MBDA. That is significantly further than the high-precision US Himars rocket launchers currently used heavily by Ukraine, which rely on missiles with a range of 47 miles. Himars have become less effective as the Russian invaders have moved reserves of troops and equipment out of their range.

There have been concerns that the Storm Shadow missiles could be used to strike targets deep inside Russia’s internationally recognised borders. The White House has balked at supplying Ukraine with similar long-range ATACMS missiles, which can be fitted to the Himars systems. Wallace said the US was “incredibly supportive” of the UK’s decision, and said ATACMS missiles were not as suitable as Storm Shadow, which is designed to be able to strike defensive positions below ground.

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@BrianJBerletic
“This is clearly not a Russian Kinzhal missile which is a massive missile at 1.2 meters in diameter. Whatever this is, it is much smaller. Those claiming it is a BetAB-500 make a much more convincing argument…”

Russian MoD Denies Kinzhal Intercepted By Patriot Air Defense System (RIA)

The American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system could not shoot down the Russian Kinzhal missile due to its technical characteristics, a senior source in the Ministry of Defense said. “The fact is that the flight speed of the Kinzhal missile exceeds the maximum combat modes of anti-aircraft missile systems supplied by the West to the Kyiv regime, including the Patriot,” the agency’s interlocutor explained. In addition, as the source recalled, in the final phase of the flight, the Kinzhal performs an anti-missile maneuver and an almost vertical approach to the target, which excludes the possibility of it being intercepted by anti-aircraft missile systems. He called the statements about the downed hypersonic missile a hoax and stressed that it was “an attempt to wishful thinking. Earlier, the head of the press service of the Pentagon, Patrick Ryder, said at a briefing that Ukraine allegedly shot down a Russian Kinzhal missile with the help of the Patriot missile defense system transferred to it.

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“The West embarked on its sanctions war with an exaggerated sense of its own influence around the world..”

West ‘Miscalculated’ With Economic War Against Russia – Spectator (TASS)

Western countries have failed to achieve their goals with the economic war they unleashed on Russia following the onset of its special military operation in Ukraine, according to an editorial by the British Spectator weekly published on its website on Thursday. According to the magazine, the West quickly became aware that other countries were not ready to stop doing business with Russia, which rapidly redirected its oil and gas supplies to China and India. The bans introduced by the West have been surmounted with parallel imports. That said, the European economy is smarting from the consequences of its sudden rejection of Russian energy. The Spectator points out that the Russian economy was also hurt but not as seriously as Ukraine’s allies hoped.


“The West embarked on its sanctions war with an exaggerated sense of its own influence around the world. As we have discovered, non-western countries lack the will to impose sanctions on either Russia or on Russian oligarchs. The results of the miscalculation are there for all to see. <…> The Russian economy has not been destroyed; it has merely been reconfigured, reorientated to look eastwards and southwards rather than westwards,” the article says. The authors admit that in itself, the plan to declare the sanctions war on Russia “was not necessarily wrong” but point out that the West “is badly mistaken” if it continues to think that in the future, “it can fight wars purely by economic means, without bombs or bullets.”

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“..HIMARS systems were used, targeting “exclusively in the residential, central quarter of the city.”

Donetsk Civilians Live In Constant Fear Of Ukrainian Shelling (Eva Bartlett)

Heavy Ukrainian shelling of central Donetsk on April 28 killed nine civilians – including an eight-year-old girl and her grandmother – and injured at least 16 more. The victims were burned alive when the minibus they were in was hit by a shell. The attack also targeted a major hospital, apartment buildings, houses, parks, streets, and sidewalks. All civilian areas – not military targets. According to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) Representative Office in the JCCC (Joint Monitoring and Co-ordination Center on Ukraine’s War Crimes), Kiev’s forces fired high-explosive fragmentation missiles “produced in Slovakia and transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries.” Regarding an earlier shelling on the same day, the JCCC noted that US-made HIMARS systems were used, targeting “exclusively in the residential, central quarter of the city.”

I was outside of Donetsk interviewing refugees from Artyomovsk (also known as Bakhmut) when both rounds of intense shelling occurred, the first starting just after 11am. I returned to see a catastrophic scene, with a burnt-out bus – still smoking – and some of its passengers’ charred bodies melted onto the frame. This tragic picture was sadly not a one-off event. Elsewhere, city workers were already removing debris and had begun repaving damaged sections of the roads. I’ve seen this following Ukrainian shelling many times, including on January 1 this year, when Ukraine fired 25 Grads into the city centre. Similarly, in July 2022, Ukrainian shelling downtown killed four civilians, including two in a vehicle likewise gutted by flames. When I arrived at the scene about an hour later, workers were repaving the affected section of the street.

The damage to the Republican Trauma Center hospital was quickly cleaned up, but videos shared on Telegram immediately after the shelling show a gaping hole in one of the walls. The room concerned contained what was, apparently, Donetsk’s sole MRI machine. Along Artyoma street, the central Donetsk boulevard targeted countless times by Ukrainian attacks, the destruction was evident: Two cars caught up in the bombing, residents of an apartment building boarding up shattered windows and doors, the all-too-familiar sound of glass and debris being swept away. In the residential area, the first to be targeted that day, in a massive crater behind one house, the walls and roof of another home were intermixed with rocket fragments.

Donbass

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And guess who we blame?

European Security Order ‘Is No More’ – German President (RT)

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has “destroyed” the security order in Europe, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has claimed. He argued that there would no return to former security principles even after the hostilities end. “The European security order is no more,” Steinmeier told Germany’s RBB radio broadcaster on Wednesday, adding that “common security” will cease to be a “common concept for a long time to come.” “We will find [ourselves] in a new situation [after the fighting ends], in which Europe on the one hand and Russia on the other hand will defend themselves against each other over the medium term,” the German president said. Steinmeier pinned the blame on Moscow for the erosion of European security, maintaining that neither the German government nor the EU was responsible.


The comments came one day after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell asserted that the Ukraine conflict could be ended within days, should the flow of Western arms to Kiev cease. Borrell acknowledged, however, that such a scenario would not lead to the outcome Brussels was hoping for. Russia has repeatedly stated it is ready to resolve the conflict through peaceful means, as long as its goals are achieved and its interests are taken into account. Before the Russian military launched its campaign in Ukraine, Moscow tabled a comprehensive draft deal on security in Europe in 2021. The proposal involved a pledge by NATO not to expand further to the east, the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and the withdrawal of NATO troops and missiles away from the Russian border. The deal was rejected by both Washington and Brussels.

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Erdogan has elections this Sunday..

Grain Deal Extended By 60 Days, Decision May Be Announced By Erdogan (TASS)

The grain deal, which expires on May 18, will be extended by 60 days, the corresponding decision may be first to be announced by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, a source familiar with the negotiation process told TASS. “The deal, I think, will be extended for 60 days, but Russia may agree to this for the last time. The decision to prolong “traditionally” may be announced by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan after a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart [Vladimir Putin],” the source said. The source did not rule out that the decision can be announced “today or tomorrow”. However, the source called the possibility of extending the deal a “gesture from Russia” in the hope that its demands, enshrined in the Istanbul memorandum of July 22 last year, would be taken into account.

Following the talks in Istanbul between the delegations of Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told reporters that the Russian part of the agreements would cease to operate if Moscow did not receive guarantees that their demands would be met by May 18. They concern the export of agricultural products and fertilizers, the reconnection of the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT system, and a number of other issues. Agreements to enable the export of food and fertilizers to world markets were signed on July 22, 2022 in Istanbul. They were originally meant to last 120 days and were extended for another 120 days in November. Russia announced on March 18 that the deal was extended for another 60 days, saying this would be enough time to assess the effectiveness of the memorandum signed with the UN.

Moscow has said repeatedly that any further extension of the deal hinges on whether the Russian part of the deal is implemented. The lack of progress in this issue jeopardizes the future of the entire initiative. On May 10-11 representatives of Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the UN met in Istanbul to discuss a potential extension of the grain deal and the implementation of the Russian part of the agreement for supplies of grain and fertilizers. The security of the Black Sea grain corridor was also on the agenda.

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” It was in Northern Ireland that Britain perfected “five techniques” of psychological and physical torment, which formed the basis of modern torture worldwide..”

The UK’s Secret Control Of Palestinian Security Forces (Klarenberg)

From the UK Foreign Office’s perspective, steering the PA’s activities and composition ensures it not only remains “supportive of UK values and interests,” but also allows London’s domestic and foreign security and intelligence services to train an unblinking eye on residents of Gaza and the West Bank. As a result, potential threats of retaliatory violence arising from Tel Aviv’s brutal assaults in the Occupied Territories – both to Israel and Britain – can be neutralized via local actors. British infiltration of the Palestinian Authority is a long-running story, and its security infrastructure has always been a primary target. In 2004, the government of Tony Blair dispatched veteran senior British police officer Jonathan McIvor to assist the body.

The next year, he was employed by the European Union to establish the Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (COPPS), Brussels’ first “security” mission in Palestine – which increases cooperation between the PA’s military, security, policing, and intelligence wings, and Israeli occupation forces – in advance of its formal launch in early 2006, and served for some time as its first chief. Questions can only abound as to whether McIvor’s high-level stint within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, a police force in Northern Ireland notorious for vicious discrimination against the province’s Catholic minority, and intensive collusion with loyalist terrorist groups, informed tactics employed today by the Palestinian Authority. It was in Northern Ireland that Britain perfected “five techniques” of psychological and physical torment, which formed the basis of modern torture worldwide, along with a strategy of “internment without trial” for terror suspects.

In 1976, a secret directive gave the Royal Ulster Constabulary free rein to employ these techniques whenever its officers wished, which endured well into the 1990s, concurrent with McIvor’s tenure with the force. The Palestinian Authority has been confirmed to widely engage in arbitrary arrests and torture of detainees, typically at Israel’s behest. Now that the PA is proving increasingly ineffective at quelling peaceful and armed resistance to both its brutal rule and Israeli ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories, the ‘expert’ guidance of Adam Smith International and other British government contractors has perhaps never been so urgently in need.

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No background checks…

US Sells Weapons To Majority Of Authoritarian Regimes – The Intercept (RT)

The administration of US President Joe Biden sold weapons to at least 57% of the world’s authoritarian regimes in 2022, according to analysis published on Thursday by The Intercept. In a lengthy review of US arms-dealing practices and recently released government data, the American publication noted that Washington has accounted for around 40% of global arms sales each year since the end of the Cold War. It added that, according to a classification system devised at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the United States distributed weapons in 2022 to at least 48 of 84 (57%) countries described by the ‘Varieties of Democracy’ project as being under autocratic or authoritarian rule.

The Swedish study categorized global governments on a scale ranging from ‘closed autocracy’ to ‘liberal democracy’, principally using methodology to discern how free and fair a country’s elections might be. US weapons exports are typically divided into two categories: foreign military sales (FMS) and direct commercial sales (DCS). FMS requires the US government to act as a direct intermediary, with Washington buying the assets from a weapons manufacturer before it provides them to a foreign government. DCS deals, meanwhile, largely removes from the government’s intermediary role and permits manufacturers to sell directly abroad. Both types of sale require full approval from Washington. According to government data, the United States sold arms in FMS deals to 142 countries and territories last year, producing $85 billion in bilateral sales.

In Biden’s first full year as president, US weapons sales to foreign countries amounted to $206 billion – surpassing a Trump-era record of $192 billion. The US has been a key weapons supplier to Ukraine throughout its conflict with Russia. The Intercept noted, however, that this does not fully explain the boom in Washington’s arms export industry last year, as much of the weaponry was provided to Kiev in the form of grants. Russia’s offensive also began five months into the 2022 fiscal year. The findings of the analysis stand in contrast to Biden’s often-repeated stance of opposition to authoritarian governments. In a speech in Warsaw last year, the US president described conflict between democracy and autocracy as a battle “between liberty and repression” and “between a rules-based international order and one governed by brute force.”

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6,600 homicides in 2015. Zero the past year.

World’s Most Violent Country Claims Murder-Free Year (RT)

President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador on Thursday announced an unprecedented homicide-free streak, adding up to 365 days since he took power nearly four years ago. The Latin American country was considered the world’s most violent as late as 2016. “We concluded May 10, 2023 with 0 homicides nationwide,” Bukele said on Twitter. “With this, it’s 365 days without homicides, a whole year.” The accompanying 90-second video called the development without precedent in El Salvador’s history. As of 2009, the country was considered the most violent in Latin America, with a killing every two hours. By 2015, it had over 6,600 homicides, the deadliest country in the world that wasn’t at war.

The homicide-free year was not consecutive, but rather cumulative over the four years of Bukele’s presidency. Before he took office in June 2019, the country had recorded only two days without a homicide in 15 years. Now El Salvador is “the most secure country in Latin America,” argued the president. “The country has never recorded such a cycle of peace, since its birth as a republic,” one Salvadoran social media influencer pointed out. Bukele has attributed the drastic change to his ‘War on Gangs’. His government declared a state of emergency in March 2022, amid a major spike in gang violence in the nation of 6.5 million on the Pacific Ocean. Designating the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Barrio 18 and other gangs as terrorists, his government has so far jailed over 65,000 suspected criminals.

A mega-prison called the Center for the Confinement of Terrorism (CECOT), with the capacity to hold 40,000 convicts in maximum security, has been built outside the capital. Parallel to the crackdown on gangs, Bukele has embraced economic reforms, introducing Bitcoin as legal tender on par with the US dollar – over objections from the IMF – and abolishing all taxes and tariffs on the information technology sector. Visiting El Salvador in March, AP reported that ordinary Salvadorans were relieved and enjoying their daily lives without being terrorized by organized crime. But the agency also quoted US-based human rights experts who worried about El Salvador becoming a “police state.” Bukele’s government did not respond to the outlet’s requests for comment.

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“..only America’s enemies are low enough, and deprived enough of real firepower, to require the use of such tactics..”

The Censorship-Industrial Complex: The Top 50 Organizations to Know (Taibbi+)

In 1996, just as the Internet was becoming part of daily life in America, the U.S. Army published “Field Manual 100-6,” which spoke of “an expanding information domain termed the Global Information Environment” that contains “information processes and systems that are beyond the direct influence of the military.” Military commanders needed to understand that “information dominance” in the “GIE” would henceforth be a crucial element for “operating effectively.” You’ll often see it implied that “information operations” are only practiced by America’s enemies, because only America’s enemies are low enough, and deprived enough of real firepower, to require the use of such tactics, needing as they do to “overcome military limitations.” We rarely hear about America’s own lengthy history with “active measures” and “information operations,” but popular media gives us space to read about the desperate tactics of the Asiatic enemy, perennially described as something like an incurable trans-continental golf cheat.

Indeed, part of the new mania surrounding “hybrid warfare” is the idea that while the American human being is accustomed to living in clear states of “war” or “peace,” the Russian, Chinese, or Iranian citizen is born into a state of constant conflict, where war is always ongoing, whether declared or not. In the face of such adversaries, America’s “open” information landscape is little more than military weakness. In March of 2017, in a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on hybrid war, chairman Mac Thornberry opened the session with ominous remarks, suggesting that in the wider context of history, an America built on constitutional principles of decentralized power might have been badly designed: Americans are used to thinking of a binary state of either war or peace. That is the way our organizations, doctrine, and approaches are geared. Other countries, including Russia, China, and Iran, use a wider array of centrally controlled, or at least centrally directed, instruments of national power and influence to achieve their objectives…

Whether it is contributing to foreign political parties, targeted assassinations of opponents, infiltrating non-uniformed personnel such as the little green men, traditional media and social media, influence operations, or cyber-connected activity, all of these tactics and more are used to advance their national interests and most often to damage American national interests… The historical records suggest that hybrid warfare in one form or another may well be the norm for human conflict, rather than the exception. Around that same time, i.e. shortly after the election of Donald Trump, it was becoming gospel among the future leaders of the “Censorship-Industrial Complex” that interference by “malign foreign threat actors” and the vicissitudes of Western domestic politics must be linked. Everything, from John Podesta’s emails to Trump’s Rust Belt primary victories to Brexit, were to be understood first and foremost as hybrid war events.

This is why the Trump-Russia scandal in the United States will likely be remembered as a crucial moment in 21st-century history, even though the investigation superficially ended a non-story, fake news in itself. What the Mueller investigation didn’t accomplish in ousting Trump from office, it did accomplish in birthing a vast new public-private bureaucracy devoted to stopping “mis-, dis-, and malinformation,” while smoothing public acquiescence to the emergence of a spate of new government agencies with “information warfare” missions.

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Guess who was the Chair of the Ad Council that drove the partnership between global corporations and the US Government to push vaccines during COVID…

“And then I hired a WEF Executive Chair who worked with the White House and ‘government agencies’ on the COVID-19 ‘vaccination’ campaign to be the new CEO of ‘free-speech’ Twitter …”

Elon Musk Hires Ultra Woke Linda Yaccarino as CEO of Twitter (CTH)

Elon Musk has reportedly hired Linda Yaccarino as the CEO of Twitter. Unfortunately, this decision is the exact opposite of what everyone hoped about Musk’s intentions with the platform. Ms. Yaccarino is the head of NBCUniversal Advertising and Partnerships, and she is the tip of the spear in the creation of DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) indexing and corporate scoring. You might be familiar with ‘DEI’ as a result of the Bud Light woke advertising campaign to promote beer for transgenders. Well, that’s DEI in action, and Ms. Yaccarino is one of the pioneers in the advertising industry. Additionally, Linda Yaccarino is the Chairwoman of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Taskforce on Future of Work. As she noted in her position, “every CEO and executive needs to look inward, and build workplaces that ensure our employees, current and future, can always succeed amid rapid transformation.”

Overlaying the Diversity Equity and Inclusion mindset, you will note Yaccarino says, “long-term benefits for the unemployed, women, and communities of color.” Why would Elon Musk bring the most woke NBC advertising executive to become the CEO of Twitter? Obviously, he is focused on generating revenue, and Yaccarino can bring woke credentials to the platform luring corporate advertisers. Unfortunately, in order to achieve that objective, the platform content will have to be modified. That means the public square of Twitter needs to become a platform of non-controversial NPCs (Non Player Characters) which generally are identified in memes [SEE HERE]. The content on Twitter must fit an approved standard for advertising. Leading this effort to control platform content through the control of the monetization, is literally what Yaccarino has done in her work at NBCUniversal. Thus, her efforts to promote DEI take on a new level of importance.

Ms. Yaccarino also supports Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and follows him and his fellow influencers through her Twitter account. Politically this puts her in alignment with Elon Musk and the acceptable Republican group that promotes the Florida Governor. Keep in mind, for DeSantis, the “woke issues” are political tools to achieve an objective; nothing more. Ms. Yaccarino supporting Ron DeSantis is not a misnomer, it’s just politics. Similarly, for Elon Musk, it appears Ms. Yaccarino brings a greater financial value to the table offsetting any contradictions in his belief system about wokeism as a danger to speech and culture. Obviously, this hire says Musk is more concerned about revenue generation than actual free speech.

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“It was the most traumatizing experience of my life. It was assault, plain and simple. And defamation.”

CNN Host Sues Trump For Assault And Defamation After Town Hall (BBee)

A visibly shaken Kaitlan Collins announced she will be suing Trump for assault and defamation after being destroyed by the former President on national television last night. “He said things I didn’t agree with. Even worse, he said things I didn’t like,” said Collins in a statement. “It was the most traumatizing experience of my life. It was assault, plain and simple. And defamation. I’m suing Trump for $5 million like that other lady.” Sources also reported Trump called the CNN host a “nasty person,” which trusted fact-checkers have determined was false.


Media experts applauded the announcement and were all in agreement that Trump’s performance in the town hall was the most horrifying spectacle ever televised. “I am literally shaking right now,” said CNN Host Jake Tapper. “The lies, the misinformation, the pure evil of that monstrous orange man is too much for my soul to bear. Our democracy is in danger once again. God help us all.” Biden also responded to the town hall, saying: “Reflustrazuuure! Shut up, fat!” Within minutes of the announcement of the lawsuit, a New York judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered Trump to pay $5 million.

E Jean

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9 days before the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

 

 

Dog fight

 

 


Eudocima phalonia is also known as the common fruit-piercing moth, in its caterpillar stage it looks like a galaxy

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 062023
 


Joseph-Désiré Court Le Masque 1843

 

UN Should Investigate US ’Empire Of Lies’ – Duma Speaker (RT)
West ‘Blocked’ Russia-Ukraine Peace Process – Former Israeli PM (RT)
Putin Promised Not To Kill Zelensky – Former Israeli PM (RT)
Israeli ex-PM Confirmed ‘Peace Had No Chance’ In Ukraine – Reporter (RT)
Zelensky Admits Situation In DPR Difficult For Ukrainian Troops (TASS)
Death Toll In Ukrainian Strike On Donetsk Rises – Authorities (RT)
EU Taking ‘Big Step Towards Military Escalation’ – Hungarian Official (RT)
Kiev Plans To Undermine Medical Centers In Kramatorsk To Accuse Russia (TASS)
Pontius Pilate in the White House (Batiushka)
German Politician Thinks Interaction With Russia Necessary (TASS)
Germany’s EU Partners Mum On Tank Deliveries To Kiev — Politician (TASS)
Trump Responds To Claims Chinese Spy Balloons Flew Over US on His Watch (ET)
This One CANNOT Be Dismissed (Denninger)

 

 

 

 

Holland excess deaths
https://twitter.com/i/status/1622204192390529026

 

 

StellaMD

 

 

 

 

Carbon Scam
https://twitter.com/i/status/1621967520419975170

 

 

MTG

 

 

Unconfirmed sources, former Pentagon adviser Colonel Douglas McGregor: “When Zaluzhny was in the US, he met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Milley. He secretly told them that Ukraine had lost 257.000 people since the beginning of the conflict.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veto.

UN Should Investigate US ’Empire Of Lies’ – Duma Speaker (RT)

The UN should open an investigation into Washington’s crimes against humanity, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin suggested on Sunday. Writing on Telegram on the 20th anniversary of the infamous 2003 speech by then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the United Nations Security Council, during which he justified the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, Volodin offered a scathing criticism of what he described as the American “empire of lies.” According to the speaker of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, this date marks “one of the biggest deceptions of the global community by the United States.” He recalled that during the landmark UN Security Council meeting Powell “accused Iraq of producing weapons of mass destruction, providing a vial with ‘white powder’ as proof.” At the time, the US secretary of state said the vial could be used to store anthrax.

While the UN did not approve the Iraq invasion, the US attacked the country anyway, he added. “Half a million civilians fell victims, the president was executed, the country was gone,” Volodin wrote, pointing out that Powell later admitted that the vial stunt was “a hoax,” but Washington was never held to account.“All policies of the United States and the collective West are based on lies,” the Duma speaker stressed. He noted that the same applied to NATO’s promises not to expand eastwards after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc, as well as to the 2014 and 2015 Minsk Agreements. The latter were signed by Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany in a bid to pave the way for peace in Ukraine by granting the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics special status within the Ukrainian state.

These accords “also turned out to be a deception – but [former German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [former French President Francois] Hollande acted as Powell did”, Volodin said. He was referring to the bombshell confessions by the two ex-leaders, who admitted in December that the Minsk Agreements were simply meant “to give Ukraine time” to strengthen its army. “The UN should investigate Washington’s crimes against humanity. And the decision-makers should be punished for the millions of victims, refugees, broken destinies, destroyed states,” Volodin added.

Maydan

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Former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett. A five hour interview.

West ‘Blocked’ Russia-Ukraine Peace Process – Former Israeli PM (RT)

Peace might’ve been agreed between Russia and Ukraine shortly after the start of the conflict, but Kiev’s Western backers blocked the negotiations between the two neighbors, former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who mediated those contacts, has said. Bennet, who gave an almost five-hour-long video interview to Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday, claimed that his efforts as a middleman came close to succeeding as both Moscow and Kiev appeared to be ready to make concessions and agree to a truce. It didn’t happen because “I think there was a legitimate decision by the West to keep striking [Russian President Vladimir] Putin… I mean the more aggressive approach,” he said. When asked by the host if the US and its allies “blocked” the peace process between Moscow and Kiev, the former PM replied: “Basically, yes. They blocked it.”

“I claim there was a good chance of reaching a ceasefire. But I’m not claiming it was the right thing,” he clarified. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted to the revelations by the Israeli politician on Telegram, saying that they were “yet another confession” that the West wasn’t interested in peace in Ukraine. According to Bennett, his mediation “was coordinated down to the last detail with the US, France and Germany.” After the conflict broke out last February, there was no unified approach on how to deal with it among Western leaders as “[British PM] Boris Johnson adopted the aggressive line; [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz and [French President Emmanuel] Macron were more pragmatic, and [US President Joe] Biden was both,” he said.

Some 17 or 18 drafts of the peace deal between Moscow and Kiev had been prepared with his involvement, the former PM said. Bennet claimed that, among other things, he managed to secure a pledge from Putin that he was “not going to kill [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky,” who feared for his life. The Russian leader was also ready to retract his demand for the demilitarization of Ukraine, while Zelensky promised to give up on his aspirations to join NATO, he added. All discussion about peace ended on April 1, 2022 when the Ukrainian authorities accused the Russian military of killing civilians in the Kiev suburb of Bucha, Bennet pointed out.

The claim by Kiev – which Moscow rejected and described as being fabricated – came shortly after the two sides held a high-profile meeting in Istanbul and appeared to have been making progress towards an agreement. Russian and Ukrainian representatives haven’t met at the negotiating table since then. Moscow maintains that it’s ready to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means but says that the peace proposals being voiced by Kiev and its Western backers have so far been unacceptable.

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“At least 17 drafts of the agreement between Russia and Ukraine were prepared by the parties before the West interrupted their negotiations” — former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett

Putin Promised Not To Kill Zelensky – Former Israeli PM (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he would not have Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky assassinated, Bennett revealed to Israeli media. The former PM flew to Moscow at the request of Zelensky, who declared that he was “not afraid of anyone,” only after Putin assured his safety. Bennet traveled to Moscow last March, in a failed bid to broker an early ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine. That trip was made at the request of Zelensky, he told Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday. With Russian forces surrounding Kiev, Zelensky was reportedly hiding in an undisclosed location at the time of the meeting. Bennett told Channel 12 that the Ukrainian leader had tasked him with securing an assurance from Putin that he would not be targeted for assassination.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1622176801098170370

“Are you going to kill Zelensky?” Bennett asked Putin. The Russian president said that he would not, to which Bennett again asked for his word that he wouldn’t have the Ukrainian president killed. Putin gave his word, Bennett said. Bennett said that he called Zelensky immediately after leaving the Kremlin, telling him “he’s not going to kill you.” Zelensky asked for confirmation, and Bennett told him that he was “one hundred percent” sure that Putin would not have him eliminated. Two hours later, Zelensky posted a video from his office in Kiev, explaining that he was “not hiding,” and “not afraid of anyone.” The video address was described as “defiant” by Western media outlets, but it was unknown until now that Zelensky essentially asked Putin permission – via Bennett – to reveal his location before making his statement. Bennett described Putin as “smart and sharp,” and a supporter of the Jewish people.


However, he said that the Russian leader’s demeanor became cold when Zelensky and his officials were mentioned, with Putin describing them as “Nazis” and “warmongers.” The former PM – who shared office with Yair Lapid until stalwart conservative Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in December – said that “everything” he did on his trip to Moscow was “coordinated with the United States, Germany and France.” Bennett’s interview came a day after French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre confirmed that President Emmanuel Macron “mainly” spoke to Putin by phone at the request of Zelensky. Meanwhile, as the leaders of France and Israel carried his messages to Moscow, Zelensky himself publicly declared that he would never talk to Putin, and forbade his officials from engaging in any negotiations with the Russian leader.

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Strong story.

Israeli ex-PM Confirmed ‘Peace Had No Chance’ In Ukraine – Reporter (RT)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s admission that his efforts to broker a peace deal in Ukraine were ultimately vetoed by the West proves that Kiev’s backers had no interest in a peaceful resolution, author and war correspondent Thomas Roeper told RT on Sunday. In a five-hour interview with Israel’s Channel 12 on Saturday, Bennett explained that a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine had been all but agreed in March of last year, until the US and its allies decided to “keep striking [Russian President Valdimir] Putin” and “blocked” the agreement. Bennett’s admission “confirms what was until now ‘Russian propaganda,’” Roeper told RT. When the West decided that it “didn’t want to end this war,” it became clear that peace “had no chance,” he added.

Moscow blamed Kiev for the abrupt severing of last spring’s talks, while Kiev insisted that it never refused to negotiate. Although Ukraine would go on to blame the breakdown in communications on the alleged discovery of bodies in the Kiev suburb of Bucha in April, the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper later stated that the Ukrainian side pulled out at the direct request of Britain’s prime minister at the time, Boris Johnson. The deputy leader of Türkiye’s ruling party, Numan Kurtulmus, has also come out and said that a deal was close at hand last spring, but the US and its allies “didn’t want” this to happen. “I haven’t seen any serious efforts to find a diplomatic solution since 2014,” Roeper remarked, referring to the year when the first of the now-defunct Minsk Agreements were signed.

Under these 2014 and 2015 accords, which were backed by Paris and Berlin, Ukraine agreed to grant the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics special status within the Ukrainian state. However, the former leaders of France, Germany, and Ukraine have all recently admitted that these agreements were intended to buy Ukraine time to rearm in order to quash pro-Russian separatism in these regions by force. Speaking to RT on Sunday from Tel Aviv, Russian-Israeli journalist Nick Kolyohin said that Bennett’s interview shows who is ultimately responsible for Kiev’s decisions. “Until the West understands that it is in its favor to reach a peace agreement with Russia, it won’t happen,” he said. “The real boss is far away and is located in Washington DC. This is where the decision will be made, and not by Ukraine and even not by Europe.”

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“..Western countries recommended Kiev stall for time, amass forces and wait for the Leopard tanks it had been promised..”

Zelensky Admits Situation In DPR Difficult For Ukrainian Troops (TASS)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted that the situation for Ukrainian troops in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) where fighting is underway is very difficult. “We are observing this increased pressure on various front lines as well as the pressure in the information field. It is very tough in the Donetsk Region – the clashes are fierce. Yet no matter how hard it is and regardless of pressure we should stand our ground,” he said in his video address to the nation aired on Sunday night. Earlier, acting DPR Head Denis Pushilin said that heavy fighting was raging in Artyomovsk’s (called Bakhmut in Ukraine) neighborhoods that used to be controlled by the Ukrainian army. Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing US and EU officials, that Western countries recommended Kiev stall for time, amass forces and wait for the Leopard tanks it had been promised in order to launch an offensive in the spring, even sacrificing Artyomovsk at this point.

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Never ending. If you can’t hit Russians, you can always strike your own population.

Death Toll In Ukrainian Strike On Donetsk Rises – Authorities (RT)

A Ukrainian artillery strike on the Russian city of Donetsk which took place on Saturday killed at least three people, according to the local authorities. Writing on Telegram on Sunday, Mayor Aleksey Kulemzin said that while clearing the debris of a residential block in the northern Kievsky District, the body of a 30-year-old woman was found. Two hours later, he said that another body was uncovered from the rubble, describing the deceased as a man, but providing no further details. The Emergencies Ministry of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) confirmed the information, adding that rescue operations are still underway. A day earlier, Kulemzin stated that a 36-year-old man’s body was recovered from the rubble, noting that preliminary data indicates that up to five people could be stuck under the debris.


This came after the mayor said that 155mm-caliber rounds and ten missiles were fired at the city. Kulemzin said projectiles landed on several streets, hitting a four-story residential block among other buildings, destroying the roof. The DPR and LPR, along with two other former Ukrainian regions, joined Russia following referendums last year. The city of Donetsk has been shelled continuously by Ukrainian forces since 2014, when the DPR and the neighboring Lugansk People’s Republic refused to recognize the Western-backed coup in Kiev. The attacks intensified after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February 2022. In January, the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC), which monitors attacks on the two Donbass regions, reported that since the large-scale hostilities broke out, Kiev’s strikes have killed more than 4,000 civilians in the DPR alone. The JCCC has put the death toll for the LPR for the same period at 169 civilians.

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“If a total embargo is announced, it is a guarantee of further price increases. I think this is [going in] a very bad direction..”

EU Taking ‘Big Step Towards Military Escalation’ – Hungarian Official (RT)

The new EU Parliament resolution calling for more Western arms to Ukraine and a full energy embargo on Russia would only add fuel to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev and prove detrimental to the European economy, Csaba Domotor, the secretary of state in the Hungarian prime minister’s office, has said. On Thursday, the bloc’s legislature approved a non-binding document encouraging member states to adopt a tenth package of sanctions against Moscow as soon as possible. Among the measures being proposed are an embargo on imports of fossil fuels and uranium from Russia, further arms shipments to Ukraine, and for the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines to “be completely abandoned.” The EU Parliament is also seeking to target oil company Lukoil and Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Domotor blasted the resolution, noting that it includes two “most serious” points. The first provision calling for military aid to Ukraine to be increased and accelerated is “anything but a call for peace. Rather, it is a big step towards military escalation,” he said. Meanwhile, an embargo on fossil fuels and uranium from Russia would essentially mean a complete ban on imports of gas and nuclear fuel from the country, Domotor pointed out. Should the European Parliament impose these restrictions, they would “not only support the previous sanctions, but also inflation,” which is largely attributable to skyrocketing energy prices, the official warned.

“If a total embargo is announced, it is a guarantee of further price increases. I think this is [going in] a very bad direction,” Domotor stressed. Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, has long been critical of the sanctions the West has imposed on Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. It has argued that the restrictions have adversely impacted the EU economy but failed to meaningfully weaken Russia. Budapest has also refrained from supplying Ukraine with arms while signaling last month that it would veto any EU sanctions targeting Russian nuclear energy.

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“Personnel have been evacuated from these medical establishments and have been switched to a remote work mode..”

Kiev Plans To Undermine Medical Centers In Kramatorsk To Accuse Russia (TASS)

The Kiev regime is plotting a provocation in Kramatorsk with undermining medical establishments to later accuse Russia of committing ‘war crimes,’ Russia’s coordination headquarters for humanitarian response in Ukraine said on Sunday. According to verified information from several independent sources, Ukrainian special services are hatching to stage a large-scale provocation to accuse Russia of committing war crimes, it said. “For these ends, the Kiev regime plans to undermine the buildings of the Kramatorsk drug rehab and cancer clinics (Alexey Tikhy Street, 31) and the first city hospital (Alexey Tikhy Street, 17) to accuse Russia of delivering an allegedly ‘targeted strike’ on civilian facilities,” the headquarters said, adding that Western journalists accompanied by officers of the Ukrainian Security Service have already arrived in the city and have checked in at the Sapfir hotel. “Personnel have been evacuated from these medical establishments and have been switched to a remote work mode,” it added.

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“As an attempt to bribe Russia, it is of course a ridiculous offer. Russia is going to remove the Ukraine as a threat. Totally. And there is some very solid other evidence for saying this.”

Pontius Pilate in the White House (Batiushka)

The US proxy war against Russia via the useful idiots of the Ukrainian puppet-elite was not so much about destroying Russia as weakening China from the north. For the US, China is the only real rival on the world scene. It is overtaking the US in terms of GNP, it is taking over Africa and Australia. China is the main manufacturing nation in BRICS and the SCO, which are replacing/have replaced the G7 club of US vassals. Korea and Japan will also fall to China and, frankly, all the Western Pacific will too. For the US, Russia is only a way of getting at China. China is the Superpower and Taiwan is the Ukraine of China. After nearly one year of the proxy war in the Ukraine, the US elite has realised that its Great Game in the Ukraine was an error. Attacking through the Ukraine will destroy neither Russia, nor, above all, China, which is the real aim.

The Ukraine was meant as a sideshow, but instead it has become a very serious distraction, depleting valuable military resources in a long and unsuccessful campaign. The war there is also destroying the West economically through its suicidal anti-Russian sanctions. The hubristic US totally underestimated Russia, as could be seen already in the arrogant claim of Obama on 25 March 2014 that Russia was just ‘a regional power’. Precious US military resources could be more effectively employed in ‘containing’ China, the real rival. Panic and desperation are now seizing the US. The Ukraine has to be dropped like the hot potato it is. Since even the neocons have now realised that the devastated Ukraine is not of any real interest to them, they have to find a face-saving way out.

The US will drop the Ukraine because it is corrupt/not fighting well/keeps losing equipment and will turn its attention to ‘the real enemy’ – China. Currently, there is talk of the CIA Director Burns offering Russia 20% of the Ukraine in return for peace – in other words, more or less the territory it already holds! It may be a false flag (in Russian ‘ytka’, a duck, which is the translation of the French ‘canard’ meaning the same). But the mere fact that this story is even around proves that Washington is testing the water for reactions, watching for ripples after throwing its stone into the ‘duckpond’ and is contemplating dumping the Ukraine. As an attempt to bribe Russia, it is of course a ridiculous offer. Russia is going to remove the Ukraine as a threat. Totally. And there is some very solid other evidence for saying this.

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As if this needs to be said…

German Politician Thinks Interaction With Russia Necessary (TASS)

Co-chair of Germany’s Left Party Martin Schirdewan thinks that in order to ensure stable peace it is necessary to find a way of interacting with Russia. In an interview with Der Spiegel published on Sunday he said: “If we want stable peace we should find a way of interacting with Russia.” The politician added that he would like to see somebody in the German government who treated this task seriously. That said, he noted that the European Union should be independent both from Russia and the US. However, according to him, even after the Ukrainian conflict, Russia would remain part of Europe. “This is why you should think about the post-war order,” he asserted, adding that it was difficult to do so right now. “We also should define security beyond NATO. Germany, being the largest economy in the EU, should urgently discuss with its European partners as to how to set up Europe’s security on its own,” Schirdewan concluded.

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“Now we see that Germany undertook specific obligations and a tank company will be delivered indeed. And suddenly it got very quiet around us..”

Germany’s EU Partners Mum On Tank Deliveries To Kiev — Politician (TASS)

Secretary-General of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) Kevin Kuehnert said that Germany’s European partners have been silent after the German government decided to send Leopard 2 tanks from Germany’s military stockpiles to Ukraine in an interview with the ZDF TV channel on Sunday. “Over the last couple of weeks, sometimes there has been an impression that everyone wants to supply [the tanks], Germany alone was not doing this,” he said. “Now we see that Germany undertook specific obligations and a tank company will be delivered indeed. And suddenly it got very quiet around us,” he stressed commenting on the assertion that many European partners have not yet done anything on supplying the Kiev regime with tanks.

That said, he specified that equipment and particularly munitions were limited. “This is not some kind of a huge warehouse of goods where everything is ready while somebody is refusing to deliver it. The supplies are scarce,” the politician concluded. On Saturday, Der Spiegel reported that the German government was actively trying to convince other countries to participate in the military equipment deliveries to Ukraine, however, there had been practically no obligations on the part of its European partners.

On January 25, the German government confirmed that it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany’s military stockpiles to Ukraine and issue permits to other countries for their re-export. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the tanks would arrive in Ukraine “by the end of March.” The UK, Poland, France, Norway and Slovakia also announced their plans to provide tanks to Kiev. The Kiev regime is hoping to receive up to 140 tanks from 12 countries in the first batch.

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They would all have jumped on it.

Trump Responds To Claims Chinese Spy Balloons Flew Over US on His Watch (ET)

Former President Donald Trump responded to claims that Chinese regime spy balloons entered U.S. airspace during his administration, saying such alleged events “never happened.” An anonymous U.S. Defense Department official said over the weekend that spy balloons transited over U.S. territory under the Trump administration. But Trump, in a Fox News interview on Sunday, pushed back. “This never happened. It would have never happened,” Trump told the outlet, adding that the Chinese regime “respected us greatly” under his leadership. “It never happened with us under the Trump administration and if it did, we would have shot it down immediately,” added Trump. “It’s disinformation.”


Before the balloon was shot down, Trump on his social media platform Truth Social had called for the U.S. military to shoot down the balloon last week after it was spotted near Billings, Montana. “Now they are putting out that a Balloon was put up by China during the Trump Administration, in order to take the ‘heat’ off” the Biden administration, Trump wrote Sunday. “China had too much respect for ‘TRUMP’ for this to have happened, and it NEVER did.” Mark Esper, who served under Trump as secretary of defense, refuted claims about balloons flying over the United States under the previous administration. “I don’t ever recall somebody coming into my office or reading anything that the Chinese had a surveillance balloon above the United States,” he told CNN. “I would remember that for sure.”

Ratcliffe

John Bolton, a former U.S. national security adviser under Trump, said that he never heard of any spy balloons entering U.S. airspace or hovering over U.S. territory while Trump was in office. Bolton, also a Bush administration official when he was in office, also said that he never heard of anything like this happening before he joined the Trump administration in 2018. “I don’t know of any balloon flights by any power over the United States during my tenure, and I’d never heard of any of that occurring before I joined in 2018,” Bolton told Fox News on Sunday. “I haven’t heard of anything that occurred after I left either.” Responding to claims made over the weekend, Bolton said that the current administration needs to “tell Congress” about any “specific examples.” He added that “I can say with 100 percent certainty not during my tenure.”


“Unequivocally, I have never been briefed on the issue,” added Robert O’Brien, who served as White House national security adviser under Trump. “It never came up,” he said. “If a balloon had come up, we would have known. Someone in the intelligence community would have known, and it would have bubbled up to me to brief the president,” former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell told Fox. “It’s not true. I can refute it,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also said. “The American people can refute it for themselves. Do you remember during the Trump administration, when photographers on the ground and commercial airline pilots were talking about a spy balloon over the United States that people could look up and see, even with the naked eye, and that a media that hated Donald Trump wasn’t reporting?”

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Now that vaxx critics talk myocarditis, the pro-vaxx crowd does too. And says there’s more from Covid than vaccines.

This One CANNOT Be Dismissed (Denninger)

The author of the substack is pretty-much spot-on here. This is characteristic of an immune runaway response in the endothelium which we know is a problem with these jabs because it was demonstrated that direct endothelial damage occurred due to the presence of the spike protein even without any other part of the virus back in the fall and winter of 2020. Again, as I have repeatedly pointed out no less than the Salk Institute published a paper on this and while they tried to frame it in the context of Covid infection that was a political and not medical decision and was screamingly obvious on its face, as their analysis and investigation used only the spike. Obviously a Covid infection that results in viremia (that is, virus in the circulation on a systemic basis) will by its nature include the entire virus; that is, the spike and nucleocapsid.

But there are exactly zero injections you can give to someone, anywhere, that will not result in some amount of circulation of the material via the blood. An intramuscular injection by definition is systemic within seconds as muscle tissue is some of the best-perfused in the body and irrespective of exactly where the needle lands the material will be taken up by said tissue and that tissue is supplied with oxygen and nutrients (and the waste products carried away) by the circulation. That this occurs with the Covid jabs was scientifically proved by the biodistribution study Japan insisted be produced (after our FDA did not do so) and which was leaked early on, demonstrating that among other places the product ended up in the ovaries. The only way it could have gotten there is via the circulation.

Unless you can find evidence via toxicology or similar that both of these young men did something else to jointly cause this damage the common element of being jabbed, given the Salk paper and others on this topic that demonstrate direct spike injury to the endothelium must be considered the likely cause. Note that occlusive coronary artery disease (which would be extremely unusual in anyone this young) was not found. The heart attacks, in short, were not caused by a cut-off of circulation on an immediate basis into a region of the heart muscle. Heart attacks of this type occur when electrical conduction is disrupted. If you get lucky the disruption happens in the atrium and you get aFib, which is often symptomatic and can be treated before it causes serious problems.

Untreated aFib over time tends to produce clotting in and around the heart which is extraordinarily dangerous because if one of those breaks off it is in the arterial side of the circulation and very likely to wind up in a coronary artery (you have an immediate heart attack) or brain (you have an immediate occlusive stroke.) But the atriums of the heart are much smaller than the ventricles in terms of their contractive force and electrical impulse (which is why when you look at an EKG that first spike is so much smaller); the much larger element is the ventricle, and if that conduction gets disrupted you go into vFib which immediately cuts off the circulation and, unless you’re immediately attended to and can be shocked back into sinus rhythm you die.

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The saiga antelope is a critically endangered antelope that originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe zone

 

 

Turtle tears
https://twitter.com/i/status/1621879085382213633

 

 

Baby Owl

 

 


This is what a short-tailed fruit bat Carollia perspicillata looks like at the embryonic stage

 

 

Gaur
https://twitter.com/i/status/1622250504003657740

 

 


A black panther is the melanistic colour variant of any Panthera, particularly of the leopard. Photographer Mithun Hunugund captured the perfect moment a female leopard is shadowed by her black panther partner

 

 

 

 

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Mar 102015
 
 March 10, 2015  Posted by at 6:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


NPC Ford Motor Co., McReynolds & Sons garage, L Street, Washington DC 1926

S&P 500 Can’t Fight The Market’s Selloff Forever (MarketWatch)
China’s ‘Money Garrote’ May Choke Us All (MarketWatch)
Three Reasons Japan Will Get More Stimulus (Bloomberg)
Central Bank Blues (Deutsche Welle)
Japan’s Not So Golden Oldies Tighten Their Purse Strings (CNBC)
ECB Starts Buying German, Italian Government Bonds Under QE Plan (Bloomberg)
Presenting The Buyers Of Over 100% Of New German And Japanese Bond Issuance (ZH)
Aftershocks, Part 1: That Austrian Bank (John Rubino)
Billionaire Greek Ship Owners Surface on Tax-Exempt Overseas Profit (Bloomberg)
EU, Greece To Start Technical Loan Talks Wednesday (Reuters)
Draghi Urged Greece to Allow Officials Back Before It’s Too Late (Bloomberg)
Eurozone Calls On Greece To Come Up With Credible Economic Reforms (Guardian)
Greece Sees First Shortages In Imported Goods (Kathimerini)
Liquidity Fears Slow Greek Government Payments (Kathimerini)
Creditors Reject Greece’s Reform Proposals (Bloomberg)
Spain’s Post-Franco Elite Under Attack From Popular Podemos Party (Bloomberg)
truthinesslessness (Jim Kunstler)
US Deploying 3,000 Troops To The Baltics (DW)
The Isolation of Donetsk: A Visit to Europe’s Absurd New Border (Spiegel)

“Something is wrong with this picture.”

S&P 500 Can’t Fight The Market’s Selloff Forever (MarketWatch)

Investors have reached a fork in the road. Should they follow the rally in the S&P 500, or the selloff in two key components and a much broader market index? One chart watcher believes the road with more travelers could prove to be right. The chart below compares the S&P 500, the NYSE Composite Index and the shares of General Electric and Exxon Mobil. “More and more stocks no longer are in uptrends, even as the S&P 500 manages to maintain its uptrend,” said Carter Braxton Worth, chief market technician at Sterne Agee. “Unsustainable divergence, we’d say.”

Worth believes it is important to view the performance of the NYSE Composite, which is composed of more than 2,000 stocks, because it is“one of the broadest (and oldest) indices in existence.” He also believes GE and Exxon are among the most important stocks within the S&P 500, given GE’s broad reach into all corners of the economy, and Exxon’s sheer size and the economic importance of the oil and gas markets. “Something is wrong with this picture. Either the S&P 500 accurately depicts the state of the world, or GE and Exxon do,” Worth said. “One or the other, but it cannot be both.

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“China’s money supply is already 372% of what it was at the beginning of 2006.”

China’s ‘Money Garrote’ May Choke Us All (MarketWatch)

— In this new era of all-powerful central banks, it is hard for investors to look past who will be next to take out the big gun of quantitative easing. This week, all eyes are on the European Central Bank, which follows the Bank of Japan as the latest of the major monetary-policy makers to embark on its own aggressive bond-buying program. In contrast, China appears to be entering a “new normal” era, in which its central bank only has a pea-shooter. While most headlines at the ongoing National Peoples Congress meeting focused on the “approximately 7%” economic growth target, the benchmark money-supply growth target of 12% was also the lowest in decades. Another part of China’s new normal is not just lower growth, but also an era where the central bank is no longer able to magically speed its money-printing presses.

Conventional wisdom holds that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has a gargantuan monetary arsenal, given that the country has the world’s largest stash of foreign reserves at $3.89 trillion. This cash mountain is routinely used to justify how Beijing has nearly unlimited firepower to backstop its economy. But according to some analysts, this reserve accumulation is merely a byproduct of another form of quantitative easing. Rather than strength, its size indicates just how staggeringly large China’s domestic credit expansion has become in recent decades. According to strategist Albert Edwards at Société Générale, such foreign-reserve accumulation — which typically takes place in emerging markets — is equivalent to quantitative easing.

The PBOC’s historic mass-printing of money to buy foreign currency and depress the yuan’s value is little different from what the Federal Reserve and others have done, Edwards said. This would mean that China has already embarked on a major monetary expansion after three decades of trade surpluses and reserve accumulation. Furthermore, the recent reversal in such reserve accumulation points to a significant turning point in monetary conditions. Indeed, Joe Zhang, author of “Inside China’s Shadow Banking System,” argues that China’s credit expansion has in fact been far more aggressive than the quantitative easing attempted in the U.S. or Europe.

Zhang, a former PBOC official, calculated that China’s money supply is already 372% of what it was at the beginning of 2006. And if you add up official data between 1986 and 2012, China’s benchmark M2 money supply has grown at a compound rate of 21.1%. While 7% economic growth is slow for China compared to the double-digit rates of the past, such data makes 12% money-supply growth looks positively measly. Another reason to believe that China is at the tail end of a huge monetary expansion is found in a recent study by McKinsey. They estimated that total credit in China’s economy has quadrupled since 2008, reaching 282% of gross domestic product.

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Do or die.

Three Reasons Japan Will Get More Stimulus (Bloomberg)

Two years after Haruhiko Kuroda, governor of the Bank of Japan, declared his team will “do whatever it can” to end deflation, it’s painfully clear their efforts aren’t working. Stocks are up, bond yields are down and people are buzzing about Japan for the first time in years. What’s still missing, though, is any hint of the self-sustaining recovery Kuroda hoped to be touting by now. With annualized growth of 1.5% between October and December after two straight quarters of contraction, Japan is hobbling out of recession far more slowly than hoped. A third dose of quantitative easing is almost certain. Here are three reasons why.

First, the initial rounds of QE weren’t potent enough. “In order to escape from deflationary equilibrium, tremendous velocity is needed, just like when a spacecraft moves away from Earth’s strong gravitation,” Kuroda recently explained. “It requires greater power than that of a satellite that moves in a stable orbit.” Although the Bank of Japan managed to lower the value of the yen by more than 20% beginning in April 2013, that clearly hasn’t provided enough of a boost to the economy. (Net exports, for example, added just 0.2% to fourth quarter GDP.) Meanwhile, the bank’s 2% inflation target looks more and more distant. The BOJ’s main inflation gauge slowed to just 0.2% in January, down from 1.5% in April last year.

The trouble with the first two rounds of QE was both the size and the strategy. While undoubtedly huge, neither injection was aggressive enough to, at Kuroda puts it, “drastically convert the deflationary mindset.” Also, the BOJ must get more creative than just hoarding government debt. This time, the BOJ should pledge bond purchases of closer to $1 trillion a year and buy bigger blocks of asset-backed, mortgage-backed and corporate securities; load up on distressed assets, including property in rural areas; and prod the government to tax excessive bond holdings by banks and households.

Second, the Federal Reserve is complicating Kuroda’s job. With U.S. unemployment falling to 5.5% in February, the lowest level in almost seven years, U.S. interest rates will soon be heading higher. On Friday, Fed Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker employed his own cosmic imagery when he declared: “June would strike me as the leading candidate for liftoff.” Monetary largess isn’t exactly a zero-sum game, but the Fed’s QE experiment supported asset markets from London to Tokyo as much as it’s enlivened U.S. demand. As the Fed withdraws, Kuroda will face pressure to make up the difference.

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“..experts question whether a flood of central bank reserve money, pumped into the hands of players in secondary financial markets, can generate a stimulus at all. ”

Central Bank Blues (Deutsche Welle)

On Monday (09.03.2015), the European Central Bank begins its long-anticipated program to buy sovereign bonds on secondary bond markets – i.e. previously issued government bonds held by institutional investors like banks or insurance funds. In central bankers’ jargon, this is called “quantitative easing,” or QE. The ECB’s plan is to pump 60 billion euros ($65 billion) into the financial markets each month, by trading central bank reserve money (a form of electronic cash) for bonds. That’s set to continue until at least September 2016, which means at least 1.1 trillion euros will be put into the hands of investment managers – who will have to find some alternative investments to make with the money. The bond-purchasing program’s goal is to push inflation back up to just under two% – at the moment, there’s consumer price deflation averaging 0.3% across the eurozone.

The ECB appears confident that QE will succeed in this aim. On Thursday last week, at the ECB’s governing board meeting in Nicosia on Cyprus, the central bank revised its projections for both GDP growth and inflation in the eurozone upward: The inflation rate is projected to go up to 0.7% for this year, and GDP growth from 1.0 to 1.5%. But are the new projections just a case of whistling in the dark? There are in fact serious doubts as to whether the ECB will actually be able to meet its targets, or if, instead, the bond-purchasing program will have effects that will make a structural recovery of the eurozone more difficult. For a start, many observers doubt whether the ECB will even be able to find willing sellers for €60 billion a month of bonds. Sovereign bonds – especially those of the core eurozone member states, like Germany – may soon become rather scarce on secondary markets.

Neither domestic banks and insurance funds, nor foreign central banks, will have much incentive to sell their government bond holdings to the ECB. The older bonds with long maturities and decent interest rates, in particular, will probably be held rather than sold. Moreover, experts question whether a flood of central bank reserve money, pumped into the hands of players in secondary financial markets, can generate a stimulus at all. It probably won’t lead to any boost in their lending activities to real-economy businesses or households, for two reasons: First, banks have recently been obliged to increase their core capital reserves – the amount of shareholders’ money, including retained earnings, which is available to cover possible loan losses – and they’re still adjusting their balance sheets accordingly. That means they’re being cautious about lending.

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Done spending long ago. Abenomics is just a mirage that only works as long as people believe in it. Abe himself has urged them to believe. But they’re not that crazy.

Japan’s Not So Golden Oldies Tighten Their Purse Strings (CNBC)

Rising prices are forcing Japanese pensioners to reduce spending, undercutting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to boost economic growth and pay down the hefty public debt burden in one of the world’s fastest aging nations. “There is no solution to the structural problem: the government is running a huge budget deficit, but the only way to coax the elderly into spending more is by increasing public spending on them,” said Dai-ichi Life Research Institute (DLRI) chief economist Hideo Kumano. Japan limped out of a technical recession in the fourth quarter of 2014, but consumers are still struggling. A 3-percentage-point tax hike to 8% last April continues to weigh on consumption, while higher import prices have exacerbated the situation due to the yen’s over 40% decline against the U.S. dollar since Abe’s return to power.

In January, Japanese household spending fell 5.1% on month – its 10th consecutive decline, marking the longest losing streak since the global financial crisis. Meanwhile retail sales fell 2.0% – their first decline in 7 months. The elderly are reducing spending the most. “The average Japanese is suffering because of a weaker yen,” said Keio Business School associate professor Seki Obata, but “pensioners are suffering the most from the rising prices because there is no prospects of their incomes rising.” Whether a pensioner can afford to spend or has to cut back depends on their ability or willingness to work, according to according to DLRI’s Kumano figures, citing government data. The 37.8% of households with no income from paid work cut back spending by 1.5% in 2014 – and nearly all (95%) of these households are over 60 years old, according to DLRI’s Kumano.

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“They have just switched on the heat and we will need some time for the pressure to mount.”

ECB Starts Buying German, Italian Government Bonds Under QE Plan (Bloomberg)

With the first purchases of government bonds under a broader stimulus plan, the European Central Bank showed willingness to be patient in its efforts to reignite the euro area’s economy. The ECB and national central banks started buying sovereign debt on Monday under the 19-month plan to inject €1.1 trillion into the economy. While purchases included bonds from at least five countries, the size of individual trades — at between 15 million euros and 50 million euros — was small relative to the program’s goals, according to people with knowledge of the transactions. “The amount bought may be small to start with, but this will be like a pressure cooker,” said Ciaran O’Hagan, head of European rates strategy at SocGen in Paris. “They have just switched on the heat and we will need some time for the pressure to mount.”

Euro-area bonds extended a 14-month rally fueled by speculation that buying €60 billion of debt a month will create a scarcity of government bonds among buyers of the securities. Yields already fell to record lows across the region as the Frankfurt-based bank follows in the quantitative-easing footsteps of the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan. Germany’s 10-year yield fell the most in six weeks. Gains in Italian bonds were smaller, with the yield on similar-maturity debt slipping four basis points to 1.28%. That widened the yield gap between the two securities by four basis points to 97 basis points, after it shrank to 90 basis points on Friday, the narrowest spread since 2010. “We will see more spread compression ahead,” SocGen’s O’Hagan said. National central banks purchased Belgian, French, German, Italian and Spanish debt..

The buying of bonds will be made roughly in proportion to the capital that each member central bank has contributed to the ECB, though that guideline doesn’t have to be strictly followed every month. There’s also flexibility on what maturity of bonds will be bought by the central banks to reach their target, and acquisitions of asset-backed securities and agency debt are also included in the plan. Some holders of government securities have indicated an unwillingness to sell, sparking concern that there will be a scarcity of available debt for the ECB to buy. There’s also a risk that flexibility and limited information on the plan stirs market volatility. “They know it will not be easy to purchase €60 billion a month including covered bonds and ABS, so they have to deal very cautiously,” said Patrick Jacq at BNP Paribas. “The market remains in positive territory but there is no further acceleration, which means that apparently there is no squeeze on any paper.”

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“.. please don’t tell your average Hinz and Kunz that more than all German bond issuance in 2015 will be monetized. It will bring back some very unpleasant memories.”

Presenting The Buyers Of Over 100% Of New German And Japanese Bond Issuance (ZH)

Back in December, when the total amount of annual ECB Q€ was still up in the air and and consensus expected a lowly €500 billion annual monetization number, we calculated that based on Germany’s capital key contribution of about 26%, the ECB would monetize some €130 billion of German gross Bund issuance, or about 90% of the total scheduled issuance for 2015. Subsequently, the ECB announced that the actual amount across all ECB asset purchasing programs, will be some 44% higher, or €720 billion per year (€60 billion per month). So what does that mean for the revised bond supply and demand across two of the most important developed markets?

Well, we already know that the Bank of Japan will monetize 100% or just over of all Japanese gross sovereign bond issuance (source). As for Germany, on a run-rate basis, and assuming allocation based on the abovementioned capital key, it means that for the next 12 month period, assuming no major funding changes in Germany, the ECB will swallow more than a whopping 140% of gross German issuance! Or, said otherwise, the entities who will buy more than all gross German and Japanese issuance for the next 12 months, are the ECB and the Bank of Japan, respectively.

This also means that to fulfill its monthly purchase mandate, the ECB will have to push the price to truly unprecedented levels (such as the -0.20% yield across the curve discussed previously, or even lower) to find willing sellers. That said, please don’t tell your average Hinz and Kunz that more than all German bond issuance in 2015 will be monetized. It will bring back some very unpleasant memories.

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“The result is a bunch of banks, pension funds and hedge funds whose balance sheets are stuffed with paper that has value only if 1) accounting rules continue to support “mark to fantasy” bookkeeping and 2) governments (via taxpayers) stand ready to convert that bad paper to newly-created currency upon demand.”

Aftershocks, Part 1: That Austrian Bank (John Rubino)

It’s amazing how fast credit ratings revert to their intrinsic value when artificial government support is removed. And the list of potential victims so far doesn’t even include the counterparties on whatever credit default swaps are out there on Heta-related bonds. So more scary headlines are coming. It’s also important to note just how tiny these numbers are. Not a single amount mentioned in the above article is over €25 billion. That’s chump change in today’s mega-bank world. Yet in the absence of a government backstop it’s enough to cause cascading credit downgrades and maybe even the bankruptcy of an entire Austrian state.

So Austria and by implication the rest of the eurozone now face a tricky choice: Stick with the bail-in program and risk a highly-unpredictable cross-border contagion. Or go back to the tried-and-true bail out, with the higher deficits and rising debt — and angry voters — that that implies. Over the past couple of decades, governments have generally blinked when confronted with the prospect of actually letting markets clear bad debts and other misallocated capital. Starting in the mid-1990s with the what came to be known as the “Greenspan put” governments around the world have made it clear to the financial sector that no mistake is too egregious to be unworthy of a central bank backstop. So leverage up, roll the dice, collect those bonuses, and don’t worry about the consequences.

The result is a bunch of banks, pension funds and hedge funds whose balance sheets are stuffed with paper that has value only if 1) accounting rules continue to support “mark to fantasy” bookkeeping and 2) governments (via taxpayers) stand ready to convert that bad paper to newly-created currency upon demand. As taxpayers and voters have caught onto the scam, they’ve raised the political costs for governments, forcing Austria’s leaders to have to decide which group — unstable financial markets or an appalled electorate — is more dangerous to cross heading into the next election. Either choice brings its own series of aftershocks and systemic risks.

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Big fight coming up, or are they just going to change the flags on their ships to Panamese?

Billionaire Greek Ship Owners Surface on Tax-Exempt Overseas Profit (Bloomberg)

The Hellenic fleet is the world’s most valuable at $106 billion, according to VesselsValue.com, accounting for 19% of the world’s tankers. Greece’s seafaring mastery is a remarkable feat for the world’s 42nd-largest economy, where economic and political turmoil has left a quarter of the population unemployed. “This is a business that’s part of their soul,” Matt McCleery at ship finance consultancy Marine Money International, said in a phone interview. “It’s so important to their culture, to their identity, and to their history.” It’s also made billionaires of the country’s four largest ship owners by tonnage: John Angelicoussis, George Prokopiou, Peter Livanos and George Economou. The quartet control a combined fortune of $7.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. None of them appear individually on an international wealth ranking. [..]

The value of the vessels are discounted by 60% to approximate the typical level of financing Greek ship owners can obtain today, according to Anthony Zolotas, chief executive officer of ship financing adviser Eurofin SA. Greeks have long dominated the shipping business. The nation’s fleet, 3,669 vessels in 2013, is the largest in the world, according to the Union of Greek Shipowners, making up more than 7% of the Greek economy and providing 192,000 jobs in 2013. Greece’s shipping magnates control 23% of the world bulk carrier fleet, according to the report, even as their home country accounts for less than 0.4% of the world economy.

Their success in one of the most global industries stands in contrast to their country’s domestic troubles, where 36% of the population was at risk of poverty or exclusion from social benefits at the end of 2013, according to Eurostat, the statistics agency of the European Commission. “There is a humanitarian crisis,” said Spyros Economides, a professor in international relations and European politics at the London School of Economics. “It’s not just the problems on the street, it’s much more endemic and deeper than that with people fearing they might get evicted from their homes, who can’t pay their electricity bills, who are having problems feeding their families.”

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At least something. But even this could get ugly.

EU, Greece To Start Technical Loan Talks Wednesday (Reuters)

Warning Greece it had “no time to lose”, euro zone ministers agreed technical talks between finance experts from Athens and its international creditors would start on Wednesday with the aim of unlocking further funding. “We’ve talked about this long enough now,” an impatient-sounding Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after chairing Monday’s meeting of euro zone colleagues, their first since Feb. 20, when they extended Greece’s bailout deal to June. “We only have four months,” he said. “Let’s get it done.” The new left-wing Greek government, keen to show voters it is keeping election promises to break with EU-imposed austerity, has tried patience among its EU peers by arguing over the form and venue for detailed talks required to establish its needs and whether it has met conditions the creditors have set on reforms.

In a compromise, Dijsselbloem said the negotiations among financial experts from Greece and the creditor institutions – the EC, ECB and IMF – would start in Brussels on Wednesday, not in Athens as has been normal for EU bailout programs so far. Those talks, however, would be “supported” by international teams working in Athens to obtain and check information. The Greek government has insisted it will no longer deal with the “troika”, as the three institutions have been called in a term that is now anathema for many Greeks who associate it with massive cuts in public spending. It has also said it will not tolerate irksome foreign inspection visits to Athens. The Eurogroup now calls the troika “the institutions” and the talks will, formally at least, be based in Brussels. EU ministers say they do not want “semantics” to get in the way of negotiations intended to prevent Greece going bankrupt and potentially being forced to abandon the single currency.

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Is the Troika back for real?

Draghi Urged Greece to Allow Officials Back Before It’s Too Late (Bloomberg)

ECB President Mario Draghi told Greek officials they face a critical situation and must let euro-area representatives return to Athens if they are ever going to obtain more aid, according to two European officials. Draghi told Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis at a meeting on Monday in Brussels the government’s books needed to be examined to determine its financing shortfall, said the people, who asked not to be named because the conversation was private. Representatives from the European Commission and IMF had a similar message, one of the officials said.\ Greece agreed to allow experts representing the commission, ECB and IMF to start work in Athens on Wednesday, the Netherlands’s Jeroen Dijsselbloem said, after chairing the meeting of euro-region finance ministers.

With financial markets closed, and the central bank keeping its banks on a tight leash, the Greek treasury could face a cash crunch in one, two or three weeks, a different euro-area official said Monday. Without getting access to the books, it’s impossible to know for sure, the official added. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trying to access European bailout funds for Greece without completely ditching the anti-austerity agenda that won him election seven weeks ago. So far he’s dropped demands for a writedown on Greek debt, abandoned his plan to halt privatizations and accepted that he won’t get “bridge financing” without signing up to conditions. In return he’s won concessions to shift some meetings to Brussels and persuaded European officials to describe the country’s official creditors as “institutions” rather than “the troika.”

“The troika is a cabal of technocrats that used to arrive in Athens and enter the ministries with a kind of power play that smacked of a colonial attitude,” Varoufakis said at a press conference after the meeting. “That practice is finished. We shall endeavor to do whatever it takes to provide the institutions with whatever information they need.” Greece won’t get any more cash from its €240 billion rescue program until its official creditors are satisfied that Tsipras is committed to all the economic fixes needed to meet its conditions, Dijsselbloem said. It’s impossible for Greece’s creditors to adequately audit the government’s accounts without sending officials to Athens, a troika official said. The government would need to fly hundreds of Greek officials to Brussels for the work to be done there, he added.

As Draghi pressed Varoufakis to accept the return of the troika officials, the minister said that the idea that Greece was opposed to such a move was a misunderstanding, according to one of the officials with direct knowledge of the exchange. Can they start soon? Draghi asked. Varoufakis agreed. Wednesday? And the deal was done.

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“Wolfgang Schäuble declared that the outcome of the fractious negotiations would be decided by the “troika”. He repeated the term several times, despite the new Greek government’s insistence that the troika is dead.”

Eurozone Calls On Greece To Come Up With Credible Economic Reforms (Guardian)

Greece’s eurozone creditors have stepped up the pressure on Athens over reforms that might unleash billions more in bailout loans and save the country from bankruptcy over the next three months. Finance ministers from the single currency area broke off a discussionabout Greece on Monday, after little more than one hour in Brussels. The Greek finance minister, Yannis Varoufakis, was told to come up with what the creditors view as a realistic programme of economic and fiscal reforms. The chair of the eurozone finance ministers’ group displayed his frustration at the pace of the Greek government response since Athens secured a bailout extension last month. “Little has been done since the last Eurogroup [meeting two weeks ago] in terms of talks, in terms of implementation,” he said before the talks. “We have to stop wasting time and really start talks seriously.”

The Greek government led by prime minister Alexis Tsipras reached an agreement on extending the eurozone bailout by four months a fortnight ago, but it has to commit to a programme of reforms credible to its creditors by the end of April to access more than €7bn (£5bn) still available in loans. Ministers voiced impatience and irritation with Greece’s efforts to deliver a reform menu that would satisfy the lenders. Varoufakis was uncharacteristically silent going into the meeting after delivering two separate lists of vague reforms over the past fortnight, including a proposal to employ students and tourists to snoop on tax-dodgers and report them to the authorities.

It was clear that key eurozone policymakers were less than impressed with the suggestions from Greece, which faces a financing gap in the coming months and has to repay or redeem billions of euros in debts. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, who has been feuding with Varoufakis for weeks, declared that the outcome of the fractious negotiations would be decided by the “troika”. He repeated the term several times, despite the new Greek government’s insistence that the troika is dead. It refers to the triumvirate of officials from the ECB, the EC, and the IMF, which has run the €240bn bailout of Greece since 2010, dictating the country’s fiscal policies and a massive programme of austerity.

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Will this turn vs Syriza or vs Germany?

Greece Sees First Shortages In Imported Goods (Kathimerini)

The first occurrences of shortages in imported goods and raw materials have arisen as a result of Greek enterprises’ inability to pay with cash in advance for the entire cost of the commodities they import, and the situation is even worse than in 2012. Market professionals have told Kathimerini that there are already some problems in the cases of mechanical equipment and electronic appliances, while in the food and drinks sector there are shortages in certain premium products such as a well-known Belgian beer.

Difficulties have also been noted in imports of chemical commodities, both end products and raw materials, which is hampering the production of fertilizers and pesticides. Even reliable clients have been hit with the same demands from foreign suppliers, while the phenomenon is creating a chain reaction across other sectors as well. “A number of tourism companies wanted to renew their equipment ahead of the new season but now face a serious problem,” Ioannis Papageorgakis, the president of the Athens Association of Commercial representatives and Distributors (SEADA), told Kathimerini.

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Serious enough as well.

Liquidity Fears Slow Greek Government Payments (Kathimerini)

Payments to state procurers have stopped as the General Accounting Office has blocked any state expenditure not related to salaries and pensions as a part of the efforts being made toward optimum cash management during the state’s current liquidity crisis. Coming up with cash appears particularly difficult, increasing concerns regarding a possible “accident” over the course of this month. Sources say that the Accounting Office is examining every detail of public spending and putting off payments that are not pressing or even curtailing other spending considered excessive. Its officials say the budget has 4,772 expenditure categories that are not salary-related and concern procurements and operating expenses, among others.

Their review has already saved some €180 million that can be used to finance the program aimed at fighting the humanitarian crisis, they add. The Accounting Office is also trying to postpone obligations in the coming months so as to secure a cushion for the state’s needs. Payments to procurers, subsidies and other obligations are being postponed till later in a bid to lighten the March spending program. Even the heating oil benefit has not yet been credited to recipients’ bank accounts in its entirety.The state’s liquidity remains marginal: The 500 million euros from the HFSF bank bailout fund has not yet yet been drawn as it requires a special law amendment.

The directors of social security funds have not approved the utilization of their cash reserves in commercial banks, meaning the state cannot use that liquidity which amounts to €2 billion. In this context the Finance Ministry’s projections regarding the flow of revenues and expenditure show that there may be a shortfall of €1 billion toward the end of March. This week the ministry has to cover two debt maturities, concerning the repayment of €350 million to the International Monetary Fund on Friday and treasury bills worth €1.6 billion that mature on the same day, with a fresh T-bill auction to that amount expected tomorrow. Officials say these obligations will be fulfilled normally.

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Rhetoric.

Creditors Reject Greece’s Reform Proposals (Bloomberg)

Greece’s provisional agreement with creditors to avert a default started to crack as European officials said the country’s latest proposals fell far short of what was put forward two weeks ago and Greek ministers floated the prospect of a referendum if their reforms are rejected. The list of measures Greece’s government sent to euro-region finance ministers last Friday, including the idea of hiring non-professional tax collectors, is “far” from complete and the country probably won’t receive an aid disbursement this month, Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Sunday. German Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter said ministers are not expected to advance on Greece today.

“It’s not enough to exchange letters with non-committal statements,” Kampeter told Deutschlandfunk radio. “What’s needed is hard work and tough discussions.” Greece’s anti-austerity government, elected in January on a promise to renegotiate the terms of a €240 billion bailout, has to present detailed proposals to European creditors or risk running out of cash as soon as this month. The renewed tensions threaten to temper a rally in Greek bonds sparked by optimism over the provisional accord. “It seems their money box is almost empty,” Dijsselbloem said at an event in Amsterdam. Greece must adhere to its commitments as a “first step to restore trust” among its euro-area peers, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president for euro policy, said.

Greek bonds fell, with the yield on 10-year government bonds gaining 40 basis points to 9.8%. The Athens Stock Exchange index declined 3% as of 11:33 a.m. local time. The country is seeking the disbursement of an outstanding aid tranche totaling about €7 billion. Without access to capital markets, its only sources of financing are emergency loans from the euro area’s crisis fund and the IMF. Its banks are being kept afloat by an Emergency Liquidity Assistance lifeline, subject to approval by the European Central Bank.

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“Corruption is not just the scoundrels who put their hands in the till, it’s also the rich 1% who own as much as 70% of the population,”

Spain’s Post-Franco Elite Under Attack From Popular Podemos Party (Bloomberg)

Pablo Iglesias was a foreign exchange student in Italy when reports of the 1999 protest riots at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle inspired him to switch to political science from law. Today, leading Spain’s most popular party less than a year before a general election, he’s aiming to clear out the political old guard and set the country’s economy on a new path. The eruption of Iglesias’s group, Podemos, over the past year is part of a tectonic shift stemming from the seven-year slump that destroyed more than 3 million jobs and threatens to unseat the political and economic elite that emerged to control Spain after the death of Francisco Franco 40 years ago. If the rupture gives Iglesias a chance to implement his program, the shock waves will be felt far beyond the Iberian peninsula.

At the center of the Podemos’s platform is a plan to force a restructuring of Spain’s €1 trillion of government debt in what would be the biggest sovereign reorganization in history. The proposal has helped Podemos top 10 opinion polls in Spain since November.
Iglesias’s project, which would potentially affect five times more securities than Greece’s 2012 default, the current record holder, has yet to sink in with financial markets. Spain’s €21 billion of January 2016 bonds were yielding less than 0.1% last week. By the time that debt comes due, Iglesias could be prime minister. Investors are being “complacent,” Alastair Newton at Nomura in London, said in an interview. “We’re going to start getting some choppiness.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party and his main parliamentary opposition, the Socialists, have governed Spain since 1982, transforming an isolated economy that had lagged behind most of Europe under Franco. Under their rule, the country consolidated its democracy after an attempted coup, joined the European Union and NATO, and saw the economy more than double in size. Spain’s benchmark stock index, the Ibex-35, rose 500% between 1988 and its 2007 peak, almost double the gains on the U.K.’s FTSE 100. But since 2008, that model has unraveled, with the pain of the crisis compounded for many Spaniards by reports of widespread graft at both the main parties and the network of public savings banks they controlled.

Iglesias captured that narrative with a single expression: “the caste.” For his supporters, the caste is a corrupt elite that kept most of the gains from the boom years and left ordinary people to shoulder the cost of the crisis. “Corruption is not just the scoundrels who put their hands in the till, it’s also the rich 1% who own as much as 70% of the population,” Iglesias told hundreds of thousands of supporters gathered in downtown Madrid on Jan. 31. “Rajoy’s policies don’t create jobs, they spread misery.”

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“The whole ZIRP and QE game, for instance, can be boiled down to a basic wish to get something for nothing, that is, prosperity where nothing of value is created”

truthinesslessness (Jim Kunstler)

Finance is complicated, but not as complex as the wizards employed in it would have you believe. They would have you think it is an order of magnitude more abstruse and recondite than particle physics, when, in fact, it is often not much more than a Three Card Monte switcheroo. The whole ZIRP and QE game, for instance, can be boiled down to a basic wish to get something for nothing, that is, prosperity where nothing of value is created. Now, that’s not so hard to understand, is it? Until the economics wardrobe team comes in and dresses it up in martingales and bumrolls of metaphysics and you end up in a contango of mystification.

More galling and worrisome, though, is the failure of anyone even remotely in authority to stand up and publically object to the tidal wave of lies washing over this dying polity, actually killing it softly with truthinesslessness. The code of anything goes and nothing matters is turning lethal and the more it is kept swaddled in lies, the more perverse, surprising, and destructive the damage will be. The more our leaders lie about misbehavior in banking — including especially the actions of the Federal Reserve — the worse will be the instability in currencies. The more central bankers intervene in price discovery mechanisms, the more unable to reflect reality all markets will become. The more that the US BLS lies about the employment picture in America, the worse will be the eventual wrath of citizens who can’t get paid enough to heat their houses and feed their children.

An economist (sic) named Richard Duncan last week proposed the interesting theory that Quantitative Easing can go on virtually forever in an endless chain of self-canceling debt. Government spends money it doesn’t have and cannot raise, issues bonds to “investors,” buys its own bonds and stashes them in a storage vault so deep that the sun will not shine on them until it becomes a blue dwarf — long after the cockroaches have taken charge of Earthly affairs. Duncan forgets one detail: consequences. The consequence of this behavior will not be eternal virtual prosperity, but rather a wrecked accounting system for the operations of civilized human life. We’ve stepped across the event horizon of that consequence, but we just don’t know it yet. My bet is that we start feeling the effects sooner rather than later and when it is finally felt, all the Kardashian videos in this universe and a trillion universes like it will not avail to distract us from the flow of our own blood.

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Purely defense.

US Deploying 3,000 Troops To The Baltics (DW)

The United States is sending 3,000 troops to the Baltic states to partake in joint military exercises with NATO partners in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania over the next three months, US defense officials announced Monday. The mission, part of “Operation Atlantic Resolve” is designed to reassure NATO allies concerned over renewed Russian aggression amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Around 750 US Army tanks, fighting vehicles and other military equipment arrived in Latvia Monday, and US ground troops are expected to begin arriving next week, US Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters. According to a US military source speaking on condition of anonymity, the military equipment will remain in the Baltics even after the US troops return to base.

The deployment is designed to “demonstrate resolve to President (Vladimir) Putin and Russia that collectively we can come together,” US General John O’Connor said. Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine have raised concerns the Russian President could act against other eastern European countries. The military equipment, including the tanks and fighting vehicles will stay “for as long as required to deter Russian aggression,” O’Connor said. Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea and its support of anti-government rebels in Ukraine has sparked fears that Moscow might pursue similar actions against the Baltic nations, which have little military equipment of their own.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon recently said Putin represented a “real and present danger” to the Baltic nations, warning that the Russian leader could launch an undercover campaign to destabilize Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Putin was quoted in September as saying, “if I wanted, Russian troops could not only be in Kyiv in two days, but in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw or Bucharest, too.” The US deployment also comes amid reports Putin made the decision to annex Crimea after a night-long meeting at the Kremlin following the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. The Baltic nations have been members of NATO since 2004, and the military alliance is seeking to counter potential Russian aggression by developing a rapid reaction force of 5,000 troops, to be stationed in the Baltic states as well as Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania.

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The dark side of the moon.

The Isolation of Donetsk: A Visit to Europe’s Absurd New Border (Spiegel)

One can argue whether the separatists are to be blamed or whether Kiev is exacting revenge. But either way, Donetsk is now just as isolated as West Berlin once was. Even from the east, where the border to Russia lies nearby, hardly any goods are allowed through. The rebels control the border, and they only allow the propaganda-driven aid shipments from Moscow to pass. Everything from milk to meat and vegetables is becoming scarce in the city. And the Ukrainian government has all but sealed off access to the “People’s Republic.” More recently, anyone wishing to cross the line between the two warring camps must present a “propusk,” a small, white identity card with a large “B” printed on it.

The Ukrainians have divided the demarcation line between their forces and the separatists into sections. The propusk is the Open Sesame for crossing the line in “zone B.” Since January, no one has been able to cross the line without this propusk. The problem is that it’s difficult to get. There is currently a two to four-week waiting period to obtain the propusk, which is issued in Velyka Novosilka, a village 90 kilometers west of Donetsk. But a “Sector B” propusk is required to reach Velyka Novosilka from Donetsk in the first place. The result is that people from Donetsk are in a paralyzing catch-22. Even in divided Berlin, such problems were more effectively solved. West Berliners were able to obtain travel permits from East Berlin officials in West Berlin so that they could cross the Wall. It was a small gesture of goodwill in the Cold War.

“It’s a theater of the absurd,” says Yevgeny, while another driver calls the situation at the border Kafkaesque. “Just look at the people over there, who have come from Donetsk. They give their documents to Ukrainian soldiers, hoping that the documents will somehow reach Velyka Novosilka. And then they come back, two weeks later, and spend days standing outside in the cold here to get their propusk.”

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Aug 272014
 
 August 27, 2014  Posted by at 8:03 pm Finance Tagged with: , ,  6 Responses »


Esther Bubley Greyhound garage, Pittsburgh, PA Sep 1943

Our Canadian friend Marina, who has Russian roots, sent me this video today. Marina has also translated several Automatic Earth articles into Russian (I’ll put up a link in a sidebar), see here. This is a taped August 24 international press conference with Alexander Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic (DNR), and Vladimir Kononov, Defense Minister of DNR.

Since we in the west don’t often get to see the point of view of East Ukrainians, I thought it would be good to post it here. What is likely to be new to most is that the Donetsk leaders have not only recently actively started the formation of a state, they have to that end already established an army; and are therefore no longer – part of – militias.

Before I get accused of being partial once again – I get my fair share of that lately when I for instance ask for evidence of what either Russia or the (by now former) militias are accused of in the west -, I’ll just let it stand as is, and add parts of the transcript. At the very least you may find this informative. I did. And if at the end you think these guys are terrorists who don’t have the right to live free and in peace, so be it. But at least you’ll have seen their side of the story.

And I’ll add Putin’s speech yesterday at the Customs Union, where he met Poroshenko, for even more information from ‘the other side of the fence’. If only because whether we like it or not, the Ukraine ‘situation’ is very far from being solved, or over. And if you ask me, far too many people have died in the conflict already.

Our western leaders insist that the resolution is in the hands of Russia, or even Putin alone, but I think we need to ask ourselves if that is really the truth and nothing but the truth.

• As you all know, a week ago we announced our plan to attack. We started it yesterday. Until yesterday we have been preparing for the attack, examining trophy equipment, arming the crews, and testing communication between different military formations. I can now proudly announce that we formed 2 tank battalions, 2 full artillery brigades, 2 Grad divisons, 1 mechanized infantry battalion, 3 infantry brigades and a special purpose assault airborne brigade. All these units have now received Army numbers. The communication system have been regularized and 2 field hospitals and 1 maintenance brigade have been formed.

We have begun testing all these units in battle. Yesterday we began an attack on Amvrosiyivka enemy group. According to our data, in the course of the offensive, the enemy lost about 45 units of military equipment, we captured 14 units of military equipment, and about 1,200 people were killed and wounded. There are two cauldrons at the moment, in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevskaia. We started to advance at 4 a.m. on Elenovka, where the fighting is still going on. 2/3 of Elenovka is under our control. We hope to clean up these areas before the night. However, the offensive will not end at that. We will continue until we free all populated areas in the Donetsk National Republic. The army is ready and we have the support of the people. There will be more and more prisoners.

• Now regarding the Parade. I deliberately put the trophy equipment on display on Lenin Square. Everything that will come to us from Kiev, will end up in the same condition sooner or later. The more will come, the easier it will be for us to restore our economy. As you may know, metallurgy is one of our main industries.

• You can now ask your questions.

Does the militia fire on the houses?

Let me correct you right away. We were the militia 10 days ago. Today, we are the armed forces of the Donetsk National Republic. The DNR’s armed forces by no means try to strike on residential neighborhoods and houses. We don’t and never will practice this. This is our homeland, our soil, and our Motherland. This is a war on our territory that we want to preserve. We’re not animals. We are not fighting in Kiev, we are fighting at home.

• Unfortunately, dear journalists, the West tries to invade us with a regularity of 30-50 years. That is, every 30-50 years the Western civilization tries to impose on us their opinion and their way of life. The First World War, the Great Patriotic war, the Crimean war before that and so on well into the depths of history. As a result, the West traditionally gets the fall of Berlin, Paris, etc. There is Maidan every year In Kiev [..] The West comes every 30-50 years to get what it deserves. Now in 2014, they are slightly delayed.

• I will invite several officers of the French Navy, who want to fight with us. They are willing to give an interview. We have Europe fighting amongst us. The European ideals of equality, fraternity, and the French revolution, as in the Marseillaise, resonate with the patriots of France. It means, the nation is not dead, since it has such representatives who are willing to go to the far away place to fight for their ideals, which the Bastille was once taken for. Yes, there are volunteers: the French, the Russians. Is it a bad thing? It’s great.

Are there regular Russian military units fighting on your side?

If you think that Russia is sending its regular units here, then let me tell you something. If Russia was sending its regular troops, we wouldn’t be talking about the battle of Elenovka here. We’d be talking about a battle of Kiev or a possible capture of Lvov. Now there is a war on our soil for our territory. We have an influx of volunteers from all over the world. Of course, the Russian help would be very desirable, but from a political point of view it is impossible and unrealistic.

• Thanks, by the way, to the European countries. You do not acknowledge this war just as you did not acknowledge the great Patriotic war, didn’t you? You support the anti-terrorist operation against terrorists and separatists.

Have you not developed a Charter of free territory, I believe, in Switzerland? A Territory has a right of self determination and separation after a referendum. Germany lives by the same principles. There will be a referendum in Scotland soon. That is, you call your own principles democratic and carry them out (almost) democratically. The example of Czechoslovakia was peaceful. Yugoslavia, unfortunately, was torn into a thousand little pieces by you.

Using military methods by the way. We have the same thing happening here. That is, if you stop pursuing a policy of double standards and will be able to understand that people live here. What is our fault? The fault of Donetsk, Donbass, our land? That we are asked to live independently? That we wanted to live the way we want? To speak our language? To make friends with whom we want?

• We didn’t want to go to Europe. We have different mentalities, religion. But we have a different religion. We want to go East. We wanted to live the way we want, but we were not allowed to. We were called terrorists and separatists. Please note, we did not capture any regional administrations, nor did we scorch district departments. That’s what the Maidan did. Slogans: “No oligarchy‚ Equality and brotherhood”, “Freedom of religion and language”, “Freedom of choice”. All these slogans are from the Maidan. We want the same thing. So why are we the bad guys? What did we do to deserve being bombed from planes?, shot at from tanks? and have phosphorous bombs dropped on us?

Explain to me what an anti-terrorist operation is?! There police forces and intelligence services are involved, and not regular military units, military vehicles and aircrafts. Dear journalists, please correct me if I am wrong. If we are terrorists, then the police and the security service of Ukraine must fight us. 30, 25, 95, 72, and 76 – the entire Ukrainian army is present on our territory. Three conscriptions, the national guard, territorial battalions, private battalions Aidar, Azov, Shakhtersk, Donbass, Dnieper-1, Dnieper-2, Dnieper-3, battalion Kiev, and now Kryvbas. What have we done? What is our guilt? The fact that we have shale gas, for which you want to erase entire Slavyansk from the face of the earth? Or any other financial interests?

• We are all descendants of the glorious ancestors. We all have ancestors that we are proud of. Between the two of us there are two Heroes of the Soviet Union. We are still able to hold weapons in our hands. We swallowed with our mothers’ milk a pride and desire to live in free and happy Donbass. We’ll tell anyone who comes to harm us on our soil: we will fight tooth and nail for our Motherland. Kiev and the West made a big mistake by awaking us. We are the hardworking people.

While others were jumping on the Maidan for 300 grivnas, our people were down in the mine, mining coal, melting metal and sowing crop. None of us had time to jump, we were busy working. When a person who just yesterday worked with a jackhammer or operated a harvester, today got behind a steering wheel of a tank or Grad, or picked up a machine gun, the line has been crossed and you cannot stop him. The one who left his job knows that he will fight to the end and to his last breath. You may pass it on to others: do not wake the beast. Just don’t. While there is still an opportunity, let mothers spare their sons.

• Now I want to say: I don’t want to fight. It wasn’t my choice, but I’ll fight till the end for my land, no matter who, when and how numerous they were. This is a battle of annihilation. Unfortunately, the Slavs are fighting among themselves and destroying their best people. We want to reach out to all the relatives and mothers: do not send your sons here. Leave us alone. Let us live free and in peace. We didn’t come to you in Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, or Zaporozhye. We are not marauding your villages, raping your women, killing your elders and stealing their military decorations.

Remember decorations for Stalingrad, the capture of Berlin, Gold Star medals, Orders of Glory, Orders of the Red Banner, mixed up with women’s earrings?… We don’t do that. We want to live on our land the way we want. We don’t need you. We are different. Ukraine of the East and the West is an artificially created conglomerate. However, we didn’t start this war. If someone has a political conscience, a will and a courage of a real man, I’m just suggesting to stop this operation. You don’t have to recognize our status, just leave us alone within our borders of Donetsk and Lugansk republics, and we will kiss each other goodbye.

Do you think the meeting with Poroshenko will bring any positive solutions?

Let me clarify. No federalization can be possible today. There is time for everything. We asked for the federalization 3 months ago, then we asked for a permission to hold a referendum. That time has passed, now we want to live independently. The Ukrainian authorities are using police methods to subdue us: they arrest us, cordon us off, and conduct anti-terrorist operations against us. By now so much blood has been spilled and so many people have died for freedom.

How can we speak of federalization? What is federalization? This is a series of bureaucratic procedures that need to be done. But we want to live independently. We have very rich land. Talks about subsidies is a lie perpetrated by thieves to steal money. Each President understood this very well and always participated in it. We are a self-sufficient region with its agriculture, developed industry, forests, fields, and seas. We have everything from a ‘Switzerland’ to the sea. Resort areas, agriculture, chemical and coal industry, rich minerals, gas deposits, etc.

Despite close ties with the rest of Ukraine, we can and must be able to feed ourselves. If they do not understand it in a good way, then we will ask them in a hard way. I hope that the meeting between Poroshenko and President Vladimir Putin will lead to the taking of our position into account.

Speech at the meeting of the Customs Union Heads of State with President of Ukraine and European Union representatives

President Of Russia, Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues, First, I would like to thank Minsk and Belarus for the opportunity to meet here. The format we are using here – the Customs Union-Ukraine-EU – gives us a good opportunity to discuss issues pertaining to the impact of signing by Ukraine of the EU Association Agreement within the context of its cooperation with the Customs Union states.

Russia has always respected the sovereign choice of any nation to organise its political life and make all sorts of unions, both military and economic, and we will continue to do so. However, we hope that this will not be detrimental to other participants in international communication, and not at our cost. As you may know, Ukraine is deeply integrated into the CIS economic space. Alongside Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, it is actually an inseparable part of the largest economic complex in the world, which took ages, rather than years or decades, to create – and this is no exaggeration.

Our countries’ companies have developed close ties in all the basic industries: in the fuel and energy sector, which includes nuclear power, in chemical production, in aviation and machine building, space, metallurgy and metals processing, in construction and agriculture. We have developed unique production chains and created technological alliances. Russian capital represents about 32% of the Ukrainian banking system. The Customs Union states are Ukraine’s key foreign trade partners. In 2013, mutual trade turnover came up to $50 billion. This is comparable to what is going on the western track. In the first six months of 2014, our trade turnover reached $22.7 billion. The Customs Union accounts for 30% of Ukraine’s exports. We have to openly state that the Russian market takes up most of this volume.

We have developed a good legal basis for our cooperation. In 2011, a free trade zone agreement was signed within the CIS framework. I would like to stress here that Ukraine took a very active stance in this respect. It actually insisted on signing this agreement. We are still drafting agreements on free trade in services, on state purchases and on pipeline transit. We believe that it would be expedient not only to maintain, but also to significantly step up our cooperation. However, the question arises of whether this would be possible if the Ukraine’s association agreement with the EU really starts to work.

Russia has stated on numerous occasions that full acceptance by our Ukrainian friends of all the tariff liberalisation requirements and the adoption of the European Union technical, sanitary and veterinary norms will have a negative impact on the scope and dynamics of trade and investment cooperation in Eurasia. Not to mention the fact that all these norms – the EU sanitary norms and regulations that we do not apply or apply only partially, and the technical regulations will actually close the Ukrainian market for our goods, for goods from the Customs Union and Russia.

The rejection of common CIS technical norms and adaptation to EU standards will cost Ukraine billions of euros. It will lose its partnerships with the Customs Union states in industry, finance, agriculture and transportation. As soon as Ukraine introduces zero import duty on goods from the EU, a step envisaged right after the ratification of the agreement that would apply to 98% of all the goods, there will obviously be a sharp increase in the supply of European goods to the Ukrainian market.

We understand our European partners; they have already developed the Ukrainian market rather well, and would like to get hold of whatever is left and squeeze out everyone else. Besides, less competitive Ukrainian produce will also be squeezed out from its own market. Where to? Primarily to Russia and the other Customs Union states, but primarily to us.

We should not rule out the risk of illegal re-export to the Customs Union market of goods from the EU under the guise of Ukrainian produce, either. Technical regulations and ways of establishing the country of origin are very important here. Nobody ever discussed this with us. Nobody, actually, ever discussed with us any of the issues I have just mentioned. I believe we will take this up in detail later, without press coverage. At some stage, we were simply told that this was none of our business, that they do not, for instance, discuss our relations with China or Canada.

However, let us bear in mind that China and Canada are far away, while economic relations between Russia and Ukraine are a completely different story. Besides, Russia is not the least of our EU friends’ partners. I believe it would be appropriate to have an open discussion of this matter. There has been nothing of the kind, unfortunately. However, we pin great hopes on this meeting, in the sense that it would be frank and substantive.

By very conservative estimates, the total loss for the economy of Russia alone may amount to 100 billion rubles on the first stage, that is $3 billion. This will affect entire sectors of our economy and agriculture, with all the consequences for economic growth and employment rates. Belarus and Kazakhstan will also incur losses, of course. And of course, Russia cannot lie by in this situation. I would like to stress that we would be forced to reciprocate, to protect our market. In full compliance with the provisions of the CIS agreement on the free trade zone and with WTO norms, I would like to stress this, we would be forced to cancel preferences for imports from Ukraine.

I would like to note here that we do not intend to discriminate against anyone, and we will not do it. I simply wanted to make this perfectly clear. We will simply be forced to introduce a regular trade regime for Ukraine. The same one that applies to trade between Russia and the European Union. It is called the most-favoured nation treatment. Sounds good and is exactly to the point. However, no preferences that are now envisaged by the CIS free trade zone regulations.

We will of course take a very careful look at the application by our Ukrainian friends of the phyto-sanitary norms envisaged by the EU Association Agreement and we will mirror them. Our regulations in this area are very flexible now. We will introduce the exact same norms for Ukraine; and as regards the industry, one of the major components here, as I have said, is establishing the origin of the goods. We have a strong suspicion, as I have already said, and there is a great threat that European goods will be brought in through Ukraine. Mr Poroshenko will say what he thinks about this when he makes his address, I can see him disagreeing. Even within the Customs Union, we are already receiving goods from the EU that are banned for import in Russia. In this case, unfortunately, they are coming through Belarus.

The label reads: the country of origin – Belarus. You remove it: Poland. With Ukraine this would increase manifold. We will be flooded, you see? I know that both the President and the Government of Belarus are trying to prevent this negative illegal practice. We at least have an agreement, which we do not have with Ukraine. We expect today to have a constructive discussion, during which our partners will hear our arguments. Overall, we are in favour of establishing closer cooperation between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union, of searching for ways to combine the two integration processes. I hope that all the participants in today’s meeting support the strategic goal of creating a common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

I would like to stress that we are ready to consider any cooperation scenarios that are based on the consideration of mutual interests. We are ready to have an exchange on the critical situation that has developed in Ukraine, which, I am certain, cannot be resolved through further escalation of force without due consideration of the vital interests of the country’s southeast regions and without a peaceful dialogue with these regions’ representatives.

Thank you for your attention.

Nice pick! Let the tractors come to Paris!

Hollande Entrusts French Economy To Ex-Rothschild Banker Macron (Reuters)

By making ex-banker Emmanuel Macron his new Economy Minister, French President Francois Hollande will be hoping to boost his pro-reform agenda and end two years of infighting on his economics team. Macron, 36, Hollande’s top economic adviser until a few weeks ago, has the business community’s ear, although his appointment will not ease the cabinet’s relations with rebel lawmakers who want an economic policy U-turn. The contrast could not be starker between Macron, who helped draw up Hollande’s pro-business agenda, and the man he will replace, firebrand, anti-austerity advocate Arnaud Montebourg, who was ousted on Monday for slamming the government’s economic policy. Macron, a former partner at Rothschild bank, will work alongside Finance Minister Michel Sapin, 62, a close Hollande ally, to try and reinvigorate the euro zone’s second-biggest economy. The stagnant economy has forced the government to abandon its growth and fiscal targets for this year, while unemployment is at a record high of over 3 million.

Macron will be charged with carrying out Hollande’s main economic goals of cutting labor costs, slashing red tape and opening up closed professions such as notaries and pharmacists, not an easy task as the government has a shaky majority with which to push through reforms. Still, while French CEOs often complained about Montebourg’s protectionist policies, Macron won wide respect in the business community within months of becoming Hollande’s advisor two years ago. “Emmanuel Macron is our relay, our entry point to the president,” France Telecom chief executive Stephane Richard told Challenges magazine in September 2012. “I have seen him at Rothschild, he will reassure everybody.” Macron studied in France’s top elite schools, including the ENA civil service school, which Hollande and many top French officials have attended. “Macron has proven his worth in the Elysee,” an advisor to Hollande said, referring to the president’s official residence. “He knows the business world very well … and most important of all, the president fully trusts him.”

Tensions between ministries over France’s economic policy are a long-standing tradition, but had never been as strong as since Hollande became president in May 2012 and Montebourg took the industry and then the economy portfolio. The new team of Sapin and Macron should “increase the pace of reforms in the strict line of what has been decided at the Elysee,” ING analyst Julien Manceaux said, referring to public spending cuts and tax cuts for businesses to boost the economy. “The new economy minister is certainly a confirmation of Mr Hollande’s intentions, and a very good signal to France’s European partners,” Manceaux said. The first reaction from one of the 40 or so Socialist lawmakers who are opposed to Hollande’s pro-business policies was far less enthusiastic. “Macron the liberal to replace Montebourg: a laughable provocation,” Laurent Baumel said on his Twitter page.

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Germany Must Soften Hard Line As France Falls Apart (MarketWatch)

The German government is likely to take the line of least resistance over the latest European discord about its policies of budgetary rigor, allowing some extra fiscal leeway for the embattled French and Italian administrations, while at the same time maintaining a longer-term drive for reforms and orthodoxy. Yet, beneath the surface, tensions are building that point to a deep-seated schism among the three principal members of economic and monetary union (EMU), making up two-thirds of the gross domestic product of the euro bloc. Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister, have little choice but to acquiesce in renewed pro-growth calls. These are particularly virulent in France, where President François Hollande is looking ever-more vulnerable after he was forced on Monday to sack Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg following his assault on Hollande’s budget-consolidation plans.

At the same time, opposition in Berlin to quantitative easing in the form of full-scale European Central Bank purchases of government bonds by euro-member governments appears to be softening, even though deep skepticism about the utility of such measures remains in force. Any eventual ECB decision on QE — which could still be months away — will need to be coupled with cooperative action with governments on structural and fiscal reforms, a point made by Mario Draghi, the ECB president, in his speech at the Jackson Hole monetary conference in the U.S. last week. The ousting of Montebourg over what he claimed have been German-inspired austerity policies is being greeted in Berlin as a positive clarification of France’s determination to press ahead with reform efforts. Schäuble is likely to maintain a show of public solidarity with Michel Sapin, the pro-reform finance minister, who held the same post 22 years ago in the ill-starred government of Pierre Bérégovoy (who committed suicide in May 1993) under President François Mitterrand.

Sapin’s position has been reinforced in the short term by the departure of his outspoken rival Montebourg, who has blamed Merkel for launching “absurd” policies that have unleashed ‘the most destructive crisis in Europe since 1929”. However, the French finance minister could be forgiven for being haunted by a sense of déjà vu, for the parallels with past European monetary turbulence are disturbing. Sapin is a veteran of the upsets between France and Germany in 1992 that almost forced the devaluation of the French franc within the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM), the forerunner of the EMU. He was preparing for a breakdown of Franco-German monetary ties when antagonism between the German and French monetary authorities was overcome by a secret telephone intervention from Chancellor Helmut Kohl, cajoling the Bundesbank to acquiesce in a statement supporting the franc’s ERM parity, in the midst of talks in Paris with Mitterrand. At the height of the crisis on Sept. 22, 1992, Mitterrand told Kohl, “I am aware of the independence of the Bundesbank. But what does it want? To remain the last one standing on a field of ruins. Because it will be a field of ruins.”

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Yeah, right.

2008 Meltdown Was Worse Than Great Depression, Bernanke Says (WSJ)

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, a prominent student of the Great Depression, contends that the 2008 financial crisis was actually worse than its 1930s counterpart. Mr. Bernanke is quoted making the statement in a document filed on Aug. 22 with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims as part of a lawsuit linked to the 2008 government bailout of insurance giant American International Group. “September and October of 2008 was the worst financial crisis in global history, including the Great Depression,” Mr. Bernanke is quoted as saying in the document filed with the court. Of the 13 “most important financial institutions in the United States, 12 were at risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is quoted in the document offering a similarly apocalyptic assessment. From Sept. 6 through Sept. 22, the economy was essentially “in free fall,” he said.

Starr International Co., a company run by AIG’s former chief executive, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, sued the U.S. government in 2011, seeking billions of dollars in damages over AIG’s rescue. Starr’s suit alleges that parts of the government’s $182 billion bailout and sale of AIG assets were unconstitutional. Asked why he thought it was essential for the government to rescue AIG, Bernanke said, “AIG’s demise would be a catastrophe” and “could have resulted in a 1930s-style global financial and economic meltdown, with catastrophic implications for production, income, and jobs.” Also, the former Fed chief felt comfortable that the overall business was viable despite the troubles of the so-called financial products division. “It was our assessment that they had plenty of collateral to repay our loan,” Mr. Bernanke said.

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Do see, but don’t believe.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Nothing Has Been Resolved Since 2008 (MAM)

In this first of a series of London interviews that Lars Schall conducted for Matterhorn Asset Management this summer, Lars met up with the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard to discuss geopolitical tensions in the world, China’s challenges, threats to the global economy and the expectations for gold. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the international business editor of the British newspaper The Telegraph. He was the Telegraph’s Washington bureau chief in the 1990s. While he hardly needs an introduction to regular Automatic Earth or Zero Hedge readers, here’s a recent statement encapsulating the global economy, from July 25: “In the 30 years or so that I have been writing about world affairs and the international economy, I have never seen a more dangerous confluence of circumstances, or more remarkable complacency.”

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To bankruptcy?

Former ECB President Trichet: France Now Has ‘Clear Line And Course’ (CNBC)

The cabinet reshuffle taking place at the heart of the French government will restore confidence and help to maintain the course of reform plans, according to Jean-Claude Trichet, the former president of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the former governor of the Bank of France. Trichet said that the changes were “absolutely necessary” after the extreme aggression showed by some of the former members of the cabinet and rejected the idea that it wouldn’t make a difference to France’s stagnating economy. “I think there is a lot of confidence,” he told CNBC Wednesday. “Now we have a clear line and of course.” In France on Tuesday, President Francois Hollande named a new lineup for his cabinet after left-wing rebels were ejected from their positions on Monday. The most significant and surprising appointment was that of Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild banker and ex-presidential economic adviser to Hollande.

Michael Sapin, the current finance minister was widely-tipped to be given the role, but the relatively unknown Macron will now be given the chance to work alongside Sapin. Macron is not a politician and is exactly the opposite of his predecessor Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg was an anti-austerity advocate and was dismissed on Monday for slamming Hollande’s economic policy. Macron is seen as pro-business and extremely well connected within the industry. He was the main architect behind the reforms passed in the first two years of Hollande’s incumbency and has already caused some concern with the extreme left-wing in the ruling Socialist Party.

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Germans today said Draghi was “overinterpreted”. Don’t bet on QE yet.

For Bonds, The Key Central Bank Now Isn’t The Fed (CNBC)

Market-watchers are parsing the Federal Reserve’s every word for clues about where bond yields are headed, but the European Central Bank (ECB) may be in the driver’s seat. “Monetary policy development in the euro zone remains a critical factor in projecting the forward path of global long-term bond yields, especially since quantitative easing appears forthcoming,” DBS said in a note Wednesday. It noted that global 10-year government bond yields have largely trended downward this year, with the biggest declines coming from euro zone economies. “Even as the market expects U.S. [interest rate] hikes to draw closer, the decline in 10-year yields across the developed world has dragged down 10-year Treasury yields,” it said.

The U.S. stock markets rallied to record highs this week, but while that would traditionally signal an exit from safe-haven assets such as Treasurys, yields barely budged — even as Fed chief Janet Yellen made slightly more hawkish comments at the Jackson Hole meeting of central bankers last week. But bond yields, which move inversely to prices, in the euro zone have continued to fall since ECB President Mario Draghi said Friday that the central bank is considering additional tools if inflation falls further, suggesting an asset-purchase program could be in the offing. U.S. 10-year Treasury yields were around 2.39% in Asian trade Wednesday, down from around 3.0% at the beginning of the year. The 10-year German bund was around 0.94%, tapping its lowest in at least 200 years, if not a record low, down from around 1.94% at the beginning of the year. On the periphery, Spain’s 10-year bond also may have tapped record lows, yielding around 2.19%, down from around 3.90% at the beginning of the year.

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Good talk.

Ron Paul: Americans Must Choose Non-Intervention for Peace, Prosperity (VoL)

Ron Paul and Mark Spitznagel talk. Mark Spitznagel: Ron, you have been the galvanizing force of a resurgent liberty movement in the United States. Yet, we find ourselves in this world where interventionism is on the rise, and much of America remains complacent about it. For instance, I think we would agree that today’s crony-capitalism and monetary-interventionism by central banks is at an unprecedented scale that will once again leave destruction in its wake. Why is America letting this happen, and moving away from its Jeffersonian ideals? Moreover, I have to ask you, has the liberty movement stalled, or even failed?

Ron Paul: Mark, on the surface and in Washington it may appear that interventionism is on the rise but in reality it’s on the defensive, more so than ever. Indeed there is a lot of complacency as that is frequently the rule for the majority of people regardless of the system. Where there is little complacency is with the intellectual leaders now leading the charge against the foreign and economic interventionists who have been in charge for decades and created the major crisis that we face today.It’s never easy politically to turn off bad policies and many times we have to wait until the policies self-destruct. The philosophy of non-intervention is growing significantly and that is crucial since ideas do have consequences. The obvious failure of the current system, and the current intellectual leaders of the younger generation who are more favorably inclined toward non-intervention, provide the encouragement we need to clean up the mess. During my presidential campaigns, I was always quite pleased when students held up signs saying: “You cured my apathy.”

A question for you, Mark: I know you and a very few others like Jimmy Rogers know about authentic non-intervention in the economy, but what are Wall Street traders and investors like? Are they helpful in exposing crony-capitalism or are they part of the problem?

Mark: Unfortunately, Wall Street can’t help but respond to monetary intervention, like puppets to the Federal Reserve puppet master. Not only has the Fed turned just about every investor into a crazed gambler desperate for any yield above today’s artificially low interest rates, for professional investors the desperation is compounded by the career risk associated with underperforming in the very next period. If you’re fired for not having played the Fed’s game in the next round, who cares about what will happen in future rounds, and who cares about the long-run implications of this crony-capitalist game? I see this temporal myopia at the very heart of Washington politics as well. If politicians don’t get reelected each period, then from a career standpoint any concern for the future was for naught. It ranges far and wide, from corporate managers to, even more significantly, farmers: Think of how debt and farm policy distortions induce wringing out everything that we can from each harvest, even at the expense of future harvests (such as with soil erosion).

Frédéric Bastiat said it best when he condemned the pursuit of a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, rather than a great good to come at the risk of a present small evil. The latter is extraordinarily difficult today. To me, your ability to focus away from the present and truly see the great good or evil to come was really so astonishing about your political career. What was your secret, Ron, and what kept you from losing sight of that?

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Old boys club.

IMF Chief Lagarde Under Investigation In French Fraud Case (Reuters)

IMF chief Christine Lagarde has been placed under formal investigation by French magistrates on Wednesday for her alleged role in a long-running political fraud case, a source close to the former French finance minister said. The source said Lagarde, who earlier was questioned by magistrates in Paris under her existing status as a witness, considered their decision to investigate her for alleged “negligence” was unfounded and would appeal it. A French judiciary source also confirmed the step. In French law, magistrates place someone under formal investigation when they believe there are indications of wrongdoing, but that does not always lead to a trial. The inquiry into tycoon Bernard Tapie has embroiled several of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s cabinet members including Lagarde. Tapie – who supported Sarkozy in the last two elections – was awarded €403 million in a 2008 arbitration payment under Sarkozy’s presidency to settle a dispute with the now defunct, state-owned bank Credit Lyonnais over a 1993 share sale. Lagarde was finance minister at the time.

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NATO Plans Eastern European Bases ‘To Counter Russia’ (Guardian)

Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations’s summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow. He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, “modernise” its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia. Rasmussen said: “We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe. We have something already called the Nato response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed.

“Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness. “In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east.” Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamouring for a stronger Nato presence in the region. They have criticised what they see as tokenism in the alliance’s response so far. But the issue of permanent Nato bases in east Europe is divisive. The French, Italians and Spanish are opposed while the Americans and British are supportive of the eastern European demands. The Germans, said a Nato official, were sitting on the fence, wary of provoking Russia.

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Two NATO Warships Heading To Black Sea (RT)

A US Navy destroyer and a French frigate are expected to enter the waters of the Black Sea next week, a diplomatic and military source said. “Two NATO warships at once will arrive in the Black Sea on September 3. They are US Navy’s destroyer USS Ross and frigate, Commandant Birot, of the naval forces of France,” the unnamed source told RIA-Novosti news agency. There’s currently one NATO ship present in the Black Sea, with French surveillance ship, Dupuy de Lome, expected to remain in the area until September 5. USS Vella Gulf, which was patrolling the black Sea since August 7, recently left for its port of commission. The maintenance of the operational rotational presence of NATO ships does not promote stability in the Black Sea region in any way, the source noted. According to the Montreux Convention of 1936, warships of non-Black Sea states can stay in the Black Sea for no more than 21 days. But, earlier this year, the convention was violated by American frigate USS Taylor, which exceeded the authorized time limit by 11 days, the source said.

In July this year, the grouping of NATO ships in the Black Sea reached nine units, setting a record for the post-Soviet period. The grouping consisted of Vella Gulf of the US Navy, French frigate Surcouf, Greek corvette Mahitis, two reconnaissance ships of France and the Elettra of the Italian Navy. The same months, NATO held BREEZE 2014 naval exercises off the Bulgarian cost of the Black Sea, in which ships from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Britain and the US participated. The maneuvers were aimed at showing the alliance’s willingness to support its east European members who have been unnerved by Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis. In April, a Russian Su-24 fighter jet made several circles around USS Donald Cook that was then in the waters of the Black Sea. Pentagon officials reacted by claiming that “Russia’s actions were contrary to international protocols and accepted agreements regulating the interaction of the armed forces of the two countries”.

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There we go.

Ukraine Expects ‘Practical Help’ From NATO (Reuters)

Ukraine needs “practical help” from NATO and expects the U.S.-led military alliance to make momentous decisions to this end at its summit in Wales in September, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday. “NATO is our partner and we expect practical help from our Western partners and from the (NATO) alliance,” Yatseniuk told a government meeting.

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Putin: Russia Can’t Set Ceasefire Conditions In Ukraine Internal Conflict (RT)

Russian and Ukrainian leaders have concluded their first official face-to-face meeting in Minsk during which they discussed Ukraine’s Association Agreement with EU and the crisis and humanitarian disaster in the east of the country. Russia will do everything to facilitate a peace process in Ukraine, President Putin told the press following the 2-hour talks, which he described as “positive.” However, Russia did not and had never set forth conditions for settling Ukraine’s internal conflict, Putin added, so a ceasefire agreement was not discussed during the talks in the absence of peace suggestions from Ukrainian leadership. “We, Russia, cannot talk about any ceasefire conditions whatsoever, or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk,” Putin stated.

“We can only facilitate the creation of an environment of trust in the course of this possible and much needed, in my opinion, negotiation process. This is what we talked about,” Putin added. In the meantime a contact group on the implementation of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU must resume its work as soon as possible to formulate final conditions for the free trade zone, Putin said. “Not all of our arguments are accepted by our colleagues, but at least we were heard and we have agreed to intensify the exchange of views, and try to find some solutions,” Putin said, adding that in the absence of a final agreement Russia will have to “take measures” to protect its economy. The sides have also agreed that a resumption of gas and energy talks is urgently needed, the Russian president said.

President Poroshenko quickly left the building after the talks, and headed to the Ukrainian embassy in Minsk. There he has held a ‘wrap-up meeting’ with the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton. Ukraine has reached an agreement with Russia to start consultations between the border guards and the general staff of the two states in order to produce initial conditions for reaching a settlement in east Ukraine, Poroshenko told the press afterwards. Poroshenko also said that a peace plan will be prepared soon for a speedy cessation of hostilities.

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Might as well be nice then. Or civilized.

Europe To Be Russia’s ‘Energy Hostage’ For At Least Another Decade (Telegraph)

Europe will remain heavily reliant on Russian gas for at least another decade, according to a leading rating agency. Fitch said a lack of alternative sources meant policymakers would have no choice but to continue buying gas from Russia until at least the mid-2020s and “potentially much longer”. Europe already buys a quarter of its gas from Russia, and analysts expect consumption to increase by a third by 2030 as economies recover from the debt crisis and gas-fired electricity generation replaces old coal and nuclear power. Analysts said it would be difficult for countries to secure alternative sources of supply in the medium term, leaving them at risk of being “held hostage by dominant suppliers”, including Russia. “Any attempt to improve energy security by reducing European reliance on Russia would require either a significant reduction in overall gas demand or a big increase in alternative sources of supply, but neither of these appears likely,” Fitch said in a report on Tuesday.

Growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia over the latter’s annexation of Crimea have led to a raft of tit-for-tat sanctions between Russia and the West. The European Commission (EC) has laid out plans to reduce Europe’s reliance on energy imports, including promoting indigenous sources of renewable and nuclear energy, and a single energy market. Finland, the Czech Republic and much of eastern Europe rely heavily on Russia for gas, while Germany imports a substantial amount from Russia. Fitch said overhauling Europe’s current infrastructure and making the network more resilient to shocks would cost around €200bn (£160bn). Although around half of this can be funded by capital markets, there is a risk that consumers may also be forced to pay for the upgrade through higher energy bills. Analysts also highlighted Russia’s dominant role across the energy market. “Even if coal-fired and nuclear energy were favoured over gas, the impact on energy security would be limited because Russia also supplies 26pc of the EU’s hard coal and is the sole supplier of fuel rods to nuclear power plants in several countries,” it said.

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Not so sure going forward.

Investors May Find It Hard to Break Up With Oil and Gas (Bloomberg)

Investors seeking greener energy stocks will find it difficult to reproduce the returns offered by oil and natural gas producers, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. With a market value of $4.9 trillion, oil and gas investments offers a combination of scale, growth and dividends that can’t be readily found in other industries, the London-based research company said today. Coal, which has already fallen out of favor with institutional investors, can be more easily replaced with bets in other industries. Environmentalists have proposed fossil-fuels divestment, modeled on a campaign that targeted companies in apartheid-era South Africa, as a way to curb climate change by shifting investments away from polluting technologies. Stanford University is among 13 colleges and universities to join the campaign this year, committing in May to divest from coal – but not oil and gas.

“Oil and gas stocks have outperformed other major sectors over the past five years,” according to the report. “Coal stocks, on the other hand, have been striking underperformers, reflecting a fall in international coal prices as the U.S. shale boom caused generators to switch into gas-firing.” The divestiture movement is backed by Bill McKibben, an environmental writer and co-founder of 350.org, a group that has identified 200 companies with the largest reserves of coal, oil and gas. McKibben warns that fossil fuel companies hold undisclosed financial risks as governments move to limit emissions blamed for global warming. “If you are investing in fossil fuels, you are essentially betting that we won’t ever take climate change seriously,” Jason Kowalski, U.S. policy director for 350.org, said in an e-mail. Smart investors are moving “their money sooner rather than later.”

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And that’s how we all stay warm …

New Brown Coal Power Stations Threaten EU Emissions Target (Guardian)

New coal power stations designed to burn Europe’s massive deposits of lignite pose a serious threat to the continent’s decarbonisation efforts, according to figures released on Wednesday. Analysts from Greenpeace’s Energydesk compiled data from the German government that shows burning Europe’s reserves of lignite would wipe out the EU’s entire carbon budget from 2020 until the end of the century. Lignite – also known as brown coal – power stations currently make up more than 10% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions. Greenpeace said that if Europe is to continue to play its part in keeping the world within the internationally accepted limit of 2C of warming, 90% of the carbon contained in its lignite reserves must remain buried.

Despite this, lignite-fuelled power stations are still being built, locking in consumption of the fuel for decades. There are 19 such facilities in various stages of approval, planning or construction in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. Greenpeace figures show these new projects alone would emit almost 120m tonnes of CO2 every year – equivalent to three-quarters of the annual carbon output of the UK’s energy sector. The average lifespan for a coal power station is about 40 years, meaning the plants could release nearly 5bn tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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IPCC Reports Irreversible Damage From Climate Change (Bloomberg)

Humans risk causing irreversible and widespread damage to the planet unless there’s faster action to limit the fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change, according to a leaked draft United Nations report. Global warming already is impacting “all continents and across the oceans,” and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” according to the document obtained by Bloomberg. “Without additional mitigation, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in the draft.

The study is the most important document produced by the UN about global warming, summarizing hundreds of papers. It’s designed to present the best scientific and economic analysis to government leaders and policymakers worldwide. It feeds into the UN-led effort drawing in more than 190 nations for an agreement on limiting emissions. The report “will provide policymakers with a scientific foundation to tackle the challenge of climate change,” IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in a statement from the panel’s office in Geneva. “It would help governments and other stakeholders work together at various levels, including a new international agreement to limit climate change” that countries intend to broker by the end of next year.

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