Jul 132022
 


Pablo Picasso Guernica [Study] 1937

 

The Judgement of the Nations (Batiushka)
No, Iran Will Not Deliver Armed Drones To Russia (MoA)
Joe Biden’s Oil Gamble Set to Backfire as Saudi Arabia Sticks With Russia (NW)
The World Braces For Europe’s July 22 “Doomsday” (ZH)
Washington Isn’t Ready for Higher Interest Rates (NR)
Democrats Defend Trump Officials’ COVID-19 Response (NW)
Covid Booster Significantly Delays End Of Infection (INN)
FDA Colluded With Moderna to Bypass COVID Vaccine Safety Standards (CHD)
The Serious Adverse Events of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Trials (Demasi)
Cassidy Hutchinson Begged Trump Officials For ‘Financial Assistance’ (DC)
The Ex-CIA Agents Deciding Facebook’s Content Policy (MacLeod)
Someone Tell The PM The World Needs More Fertilizer, Not Less (TSun)
DUCK AND COVER 2.0: Prepare for a Nuclear Attack (Celente)

 

 

 

 

I simply don’t understand this anymore.

Hawley – Khiara M. Bridges, Professor Of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law, Berkeley, CA
https://twitter.com/i/status/1546892242899668992

 

 

 

 

State secrets on the table.

Bolton – Jake Tapper: “One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.”
John Bolton: “I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’etat, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work.”
https://twitter.com/i/status/1546963273408565249

 

 

PaxVax
https://twitter.com/i/status/1546900583919095810

 

 

 

 

“Russia knew that in order to win a war, you have to win the peace afterwards.”

The Judgement of the Nations (Batiushka)

Originally, this was not a war, but a limited Operation, still involving a small proportion of the Russian Armed Forces. Had Russia wanted to occupy the Ukraine with massive military violence, in German, with a ‘Blitzkrieg’, in American, with ‘shock and awe’, with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of victims, all could have been done in a couple of weeks. However, this is not Hollywood. That was not the aim. The clear aim was to free the Russian part of the Ukraine and to demilitarise and denazify the rest, so it would no longer present a threat to the Russian World. Obviously, doing this meant not just winning the genodical war which the backers of the Kiev regime had begun in 2014, but also doing it, causing the smallest number of victims among the Russian and Allied military and Ukrainian civilians as possible, and at the same time doing the least amount of damage to civilian infrastructure as possible.

Pictures showing huge damage to civilian infrastructure, especially in Mariupol and Donetsk, show above all the enormous amount of damage done by NATO-backed Kiev regime bombardments over the last eight years. It was clear to Russian military and political planners that the Operation would take at least months, perhaps years, as the whole of the Kiev Armed Forces had been digging in here for eight years. Russia knew that in order to win a war, you have to win the peace afterwards. It was no good doing like the Americans did in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, destroying infrastructure, making the people hate you and then, once you realise that you have lost, running away, leaving chaos and misery.

The Russian authorities also knew that since NATO had already de facto declared war on Russia in 2014, the Operation to liberate the Ukraine through denazification and demilitarisation would further activate their war effort and provoke many more ‘sanctions’. Now that the Operation has become a NATO war against Russia, much as expected, it is all the more difficult to forecast the future. Many missed the point. The Special Military Operation is not where it is at. The Ukraine is only the location, the battlefield, and the Kiev junta are only the actors on the stage, puppets. This is not primarily a battle of the military and their technologies, although they are very important, this is above all a battle of world views and ensuing realities. This battle is political and economic, spiritual and moral. Why else did the Johnson regime ban the Russian Orthodox Patriarch from visiting the UK?

Here we understand President Putin’s words of 7 July 2022 before Russian parliamentarians that Russia ‘has not even started anything in earnest in the Ukraine yet’, that the military operation in the Ukraine signifies ‘a cardinal break with the US world order, the beginning of the transition from the liberal globalism of US egocentricity to the reality of a multipolar world….the march of history is unstoppable and the attempts of the West to foist its New World Order on the world are doomed to failure’.

Putin – Multipolar world

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Of course not. Just a stupid attempt to implicate more of America’s perceived enemies.

No, Iran Will Not Deliver Armed Drones To Russia (MoA)

In March this year we were treated to an onslaught of obviously false claims that China would deliver weapons to Russia for the fight in Ukraine. “Russia seeks military equipment and aid from China, U.S. officials say – Washington Post – March 13, 2022 “Russia has turned to China for military equipment and aid in the weeks since it began its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. The development comes as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan plans to travel to Rome on Monday to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. “We are communicating directly, privately to Beijing, that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions, evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them,” Sullivan told CNN.

Russia is an exporter of military weapons and China is one of its biggest customers. There is nothing in the Chinese arsenals that Russia can not and does not produce itself. The claim was false from the get go but Sullivan, the mediocre National Security Advisor of the Biden regime, planted it to put pressure on China. It of course did not work. China denied that it had received any request from Russia or that it was in any way willing to ever fulfill one if it would come: No Chinese weapons have been seen in Ukraine. Now an equally stupid claim was launched by the very same liar who launched the fake Chinese weapons claim.

“White House: Iran set to deliver armed drones to Russia” – AP – Jul 7, 2022 “The White House on Monday said it believes Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with “hundreds” of unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones, for use in its ongoing war in Ukraine. U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it was unclear whether Iran had already provided any of the unmanned systems to Russia, but said the U.S. has “information” that indicates Iran is preparing to train Russian forces to use them as soon as this month.” “Our information indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAVs, including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline,” he told reporters Monday.”

Russia has for some time build mass production facilities for its own drones. A decade ago, the Russian Armed Forces possessed fewer than 200 UAVs, and now this figure stands at over 2000, and each year is replenished by 300. Furthermore, the Russian defence industry is conducting R&D on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in UAVs, with the ambition of enabling them to perform as unified “swarms of drones” in combat zones. Sources claim that this was already tested in 2020, during the Kavkaz-2020 military exercise. Russia has absolutely no need to buy drones from Iran. Besides that it is dubious that Iran would be able to deliver some and certainly not ‘several hundreds’.

The Washington Post notes the weird timing of Sullivan’s claims thereby hinting that it was made for purely political purposes which have nothing to do with Russia: “The revelation comes as President Biden prepares to depart for the Middle East, where he is expected to confer with key allies on a unified regional policy toward Iran. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been further strained in recent weeks, amid faltering nuclear talks and an uptick in rocket and drone attacks on U.S. military installations in the Middle East, conducted by militia groups armed and funded by Iran.” The whole issues is just a talking point designed to put Iran and Russia into the same ‘baddies’ binder for Biden’s talks in the Middle East. The countries there may not like Iran but they will certainly not allow for a condemnation of Russia. The whole idea is, as many others Sullivan had, stupid to begin with.

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Saudi’s No 1 is not the same as America’s.

Joe Biden’s Oil Gamble Set to Backfire as Saudi Arabia Sticks With Russia (NW)

President Joe Biden’s attempt to lower rising oil prices by convincing Saudi Arabia to increase production looks set to fail as Saudi officials have indicated the country is not willing to abandon its oil production alliance with Russia, which Washington has claimed is part of the reason for sky-high fuel costs. Biden will begin his Middle East trip this week in his first trip to the region since taking office, starting in Israel and the occupied West Bank. He will end his trip in Saudi Arabia. Biden has said that the trip will advance American interests by focusing on the global trade and supply chains the U.S. relies on. Many countries in the West, including the U.S., want Saudi Arabia to produce more oil to help mitigate the growing global energy crisis that was ignited by the Ukraine war.

More production will also punish Russia, a major oil exporter, by bringing global prices down. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, U.S. officials said Biden will discuss Saudi Arabia’s human rights record during the trip. The paper reported that Saudi officials are not likely to make any human rights concessions nor will they be willing to abandon an oil-production partnership with Russia. Saudi Arabia has been looking to secure an oil alliance with Russia for decades but has to walk a tightrope to do this while improving strained relations with the U.S. over its human rights record. Washington and Riyadh have expressed different ideas about what the priorities will be during Biden’s visit. The Biden administration said that the summit of the Arab nations will take center stage, as the president will meet multiple heads of state from the region during the summit.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi officials said the meeting between Biden and Saudi King Salman and his leadership team, which includes his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will feature “substantial exchanges between Prince Mohammed and the president on a range of topics and [Saudi officials] have described the summit as peripheral.” The crown prince is considered a pariah by many in Washington after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in February 2021 that the 36-year-old future king approved the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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“European stocks plunging 20%. Junk credit spreads widening past 2020 crisis levels. The euro sinking to just 90 cents, before a full-blown recession slams the world’s 2nd biggest economy.”

The World Braces For Europe’s July 22 “Doomsday” (ZH)

Two weeks ago, when previewing the scheduled 10-day shutdown of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – which supplies the bulk of European nat gas usage courtesy of Russia – for maintenance, we quoted from DB FX strategist George Saravelos that if the gas shutoff is not resolved in coming weeks this would lead to a broadening out of energy disruption with material upfront effects on economic growth, and of course much higher inflation, or as he puts it, “beyond the market’s worries about slower global growth in recent months, what is unfolding in Europe in recent days is a fresh big negative supply shock.” As such, DB’s Jim Reid said that July 22, the day gas is supposed to come back online, could be the most important day of the year:

“while we all spend most of our market time thinking about the Fed and a recession, I suspect what happens to Russian gas in H2 is potentially an even bigger story. Of course by July 22nd parts may have be found and the supply might start to normalize. Anyone who tells you they know what is going to happen here is guessing but as minimum it should be a huge focal point for everyone in markets.” Fast forward to today when, one day after the start of the scheduled 10-day shutdown period which has already sent flows through to NS 1 pipeline to basically zero… … and the market is now focusing on the worst case scenario: what happens if Russia cuts off all gas on July 22, the day even Bloomberg has now dubbed Europe’s “doomsday scenario.”

Here is a sample of what Wall Street expects to happen then: European stocks plunging 20%. Junk credit spreads widening past 2020 crisis levels. The euro sinking to just 90 cents, before a full-blown recession slams the world’s 2nd biggest economy. And all this power in the palm of Putin’s hand, almost as if he knew precisely how much leverage he had back in February while Europe was – as always – completely clueless. So to help Europe’s braindead bureaucrats, where energy policies have been dictated by a petulant Scandianvian teenager and a bunch of German “greens”, strategists across Wall Street have tried to put numbers on a scenario that would be unthinkable in normal times. The caveat of course is that there are so many variables, such as the length of any shutdown, the extent of supply cuts, and how far countries would go to ration energy, that anyone’s prediction is a guess at best. Even so, the scenarios are catastrophic.

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“Washington was already projected to add $100 trillion in baseline deficits over the next three decades due primarily to Social Security and Medicare shortfalls. ”

Washington Isn’t Ready for Higher Interest Rates (NR)

Congress and the White House are not prepared for a world with higher interest rates, and there’s no backup plan. Weary families have already seen soaring inflation reduce their real wages by 3 percent over the past year. The Federal Reserve and market forces will likely defeat inflation within a reasonable time frame. But the resulting higher interest rates will cost Washington — and taxpayers — for many years to come. Any family shopping for a new home is already feeling the interest-rate crunch. Since last year, the average mortgage rate on a conventional fixed-rate loan has jumped from 2.6 percent to 5.8 percent, pushing up the monthly payment on a median-priced home from $1,289 to $1,877. Interest rates on car loans and small-business loans have jumped as well.

Rates are likely to continue rising. The Federal Reserve has quickly hiked the federal funds rate from 0.25 to 1.75 percent, yet will likely have to go higher to crush inflation. And once inflation is defeated, a more vigilant Fed is unlikely to drop rates back within the 0–2.5 percent range that has prevailed over the past 14 years. Investors will likely demand many years of higher interest rates and an inflation risk premium to avoid getting burned again. Such a scenario helped drive up 1980s interest rates in response to 1970s inflation. Other factors that may drive up interest rates for years to come include a long-awaited productivity surge (which would increase borrowing by making capital investments more profitable, and families more willing to borrow against future wealth), global investors chasing stronger returns in faster-developing economies, and baby boomers finally spending down their decades of retirement savings.

The colossal national-debt surge projected by the Congressional Budget Office would add approximately three percentage points to interest rates over three decades. Washington, perched for now on top of a mountain of debt, can ill afford higher interest rates. For the past few years, short-sighted lawmakers, economists, and columnists have demanded that Congress take advantage of low interest rates by engaging in a massive borrowing spree. Indeed, President Biden’s enormous spending agenda was often justified by the low interest rates on government borrowing. This case never made sense for two reasons. First, Washington was already projected to add $100 trillion in baseline deficits over the next three decades due primarily to Social Security and Medicare shortfalls.

Even with low rates, interest costs were projected by the CBO to become the most expensive item in the federal budget and consume half of all tax revenues within a few decades. Additional borrowing would deepen the hole. Second, Washington never locked in the recent low interest rates. In fact, the average maturity on the federal debt has fallen to 62 months. If interest rates rise at any point in the future, nearly the entire escalating national debt would roll over into those rates within a decade. Consequently, continued federal borrowing means gambling America’s economic future on the hope that interest rates never rise again. And there is no backup plan if rates do rise.

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Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya

Democrats Defend Trump Officials’ COVID-19 Response (NW)

With more than one million reported COVID-19 deaths and enormous collateral damage to public health, education, and the economy, our pandemic response was a disaster. Yet some House Democrats are now defending the Trump administration officials responsible for initiating those misguided policies. Two Trump-appointed officials—former CDC director Robert Redfield and White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx—formally directed the federal response from the start of the pandemic through January 2021. They adopted lockdowns, including school and business closures, as the centerpiece of the national coronavirus response. In a recent report, Democrats on the Congressional Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis defended these Trump officials. In doing so, they reiterated the misunderstandings underpinning the Birx-Redfield-Fauci strategy.

The Trump officials made two fundamental mistakes. First, they failed to prioritize protecting older Americans from a disease that had an infection fatality rate more than a thousand times higher for the elderly than for the young, leading to many unnecessary deaths. Unlike Ebola, but similar to influenza and previously circulating coronaviruses, it was never possible to suppress COVID-19 to achieve “zero COVID.” Many countries tried, but not one succeeded. Lockdowns only prolonged the pandemic. Despite harsh government lockdowns, extensive contact tracing, and constant anxiety-inducing warnings, most Americans got infected. Inevitably so. With their singular focus on COVID suppression, Birx, Redfield, and Anthony Fauci failed to implement measures to protect older, high-risk Americans. They praised governors who ordered hospitals to discharge COVID-infected patients to nursing homes, where they infected other residents.

Excess staff rotation spread the virus both within and between nursing homes. Instead of implementing daily testing at nursing homes, Birx, Redfield, and Fauci used limited resources to test asymptomatic children and students. It was only when Dr. Scott Atlas arrived at the White House in July 2020 that the government made more tests available to nursing homes. When enough people recover from COVID, the country reaches herd immunity. After that, the disease becomes endemic, like other coronaviruses that cause occasional colds. Since the Birx-Redfield-Fauci strategy led to mass infection and eventual herd immunity, it is curious that congressional Democrats now claim these Trump officials were opposed to a “herd immunity strategy.” The truth, now obvious to all, is that all COVID strategies lead to herd immunity. That is how pandemics end.

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Because it compromises the immune system.

Covid Booster Significantly Delays End Of Infection (INN)

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has demonstrated that people who are triple-vaccinated (boosted) against COVID recover significantly more slowly from COVID infection and remain contagious for longer than people who are not vaccinated at all. The study did not deal with the severity of illness with or without a vaccine. Researchers swabbed infected people and cultured the swabs, repeating the process for over two weeks until viral replication was not observed. At five days post-infection, less than 25 percent of unvaccinated people were still contagious, whereas around 70 percent of boosted people were still carrying viable virus particles. For those partially vaccinated, around 50 percent were still contagious at this point.


Even more strikingly, at ten days post-infection, one-third of boosted people (31 percent) were found to still be carrying live, culturable virus. By contrast, just six percent of unvaccinated people were still contagious at day 10. In other words, people who have received a booster shot are five times more likely still to be contagious at ten days post-infection than are unvaccinated people. The findings go a long way to explaining why Paxlovid, Pfizer’s anti-viral medication, is often not effective for people who have been vaccinated against COVID, with many experiencing a recurrence of symptoms along with a positive COVID test after completing the five-day regimen (as recently occurred with quadruple-vaccinated Dr. Anthony Fauci). This phenomenon is known as COVID rebound.

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“Moderna claims the active substance — mRNA in Spikevax — does not need to be studied for toxicity and can be replaced with any other mRNA without further testing.”

FDA Colluded With Moderna to Bypass COVID Vaccine Safety Standards (CHD)

According to an ex-pharmaceutical industry and biotech executive, documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine suggest the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Moderna colluded to bypass regulatory and scientific standards used to ensure products are safe. Alexandra Latypova has spent 25 years in pharmaceutical research and development working with more than 60 companies worldwide to submit data to the FDA on hundreds of clinical trials. After analyzing 699 pages of studies and test results “supposedly used by the FDA to clear Moderna’s mRNA platform-based mRNA-1273, or Spikevax,” Latypova told The Defender she believes U.S. health agencies are lying to the public on behalf of vaccine manufacturers.

“It is evident that the FDA and NIH [National Institutes of Health] colluded with Moderna to subvert the regulatory and scientific standards of drug safety testing,” Latypova said. “They accepted fraudulent test designs, substitutions of test articles, glaring omissions and whitewashing of serious signs of health damage by the product, then lied to the public on behalf of the manufacturers.” In an op-ed on Trial Site News, Latypova disclosed the following findings:

  1. Moderna’s nonclinical summary contains mostly irrelevant materials.
  2. Moderna claims the active substance — mRNA in Spikevax — does not need to be studied for toxicity and can be replaced with any other mRNA without further testing.
  3. Moderna’s nonclinical program consisted of irrelevant studies of unapproved mRNAs and only one non-GLP [Good Laboratory Practice] toxicology study of mRNA-1273 — the active substance in Spikevax.
  4. There are two separate investigational new drug numbers for mRNA-1273. One is held by Moderna, the other by the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases within the NIH, representing a “serious conflict of interest.”
  5. The FDA failed to question Moderna’s “scientifically dishonest studies” dismissing an “extremely significant risk” of vaccine-induced antibody-enhanced disease.
  6. The FDA and Moderna lied about reproductive toxicology studies in public disclosures and product labeling.

“Moderna’s documents are poorly and often incompetently written — with numerous hypothetical statements unsupported by any data, proposed theories, and admission of using unvalidated assays and repetitive paragraphs throughout,” Latypova wrote. “Quite shockingly, this represents the entire safety toxicology assessment for an extremely novel product that has gotten injected into millions of arms worldwide.”

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“Trials” in this case doesn’t mean what it usually does. There have been either no “trials” or one very big one.

The Serious Adverse Events of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Trials (Demasi)

In December 2020, the US FDA authorised the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA covid-19 vaccines, claiming “the benefits outweighed the harms.” Now, a group of international researchers has gone back to re-analyse the original trial data upon which that claim was made. A pre-print study (not yet peer-reviewed) by Fraiman and colleagues contradicts the FDA’s claim that the benefits outweigh the harms of the mRNA vaccines. In fact, the authors conclude that the vaccines are associated with an “increased risk of serious adverse events” that surpass the “risk reduction for covid-19 hospitalisation” relative to the placebo group. The conclusion is provocative. While some have criticised the study for fuelling ‘anti-vax’ sentiment, many have welcomed the independent scrutiny of the trial data.

The researchers focused on analysing serious adverse events — specifically, they narrowed it to serious adverse events of “special interest” which were derived from a predefined list by the Brighton Collaboration, an established framework for vaccine safety used for over two decades. The advantage of this method is that it removes adverse events that are unlikely to be vaccine-related such as gunshot wounds and car accidents, thereby removing ‘noise’ from the analysis. They also pooled the trial data for the two mRNA vaccines which increased the sample size and achieved higher confidence in the results (more precision). The upshot of the analysis was that mRNA vaccines were associated with an absolute risk increase of serious adverse events of 12.5 per 10,000 vaccinated people (95% CI 2.1 to 22.9) over placebo.

Put another way, 1 in 800 people experienced a serious adverse event following either one of the mRNA vaccines (95% CI: 437 to 4762). “That is very high for a vaccine. No other vaccine on the market comes close,” says Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard (on leave) and former CDC vaccine safety committee member who was not involved in the study. Kulldorff says the closest any other vaccine on the US market comes to this is the MMRV vaccine which is no longer recommended for 1-yr-olds because they found the excess risk of febrile seizures was 1 in 2300 compared to separate MMR and Varicella vaccines (no excess risk in 5-yr olds). The Fraiman study found that coagulation disorders and cardiovascular problems were driving most of the serious adverse event in the trials, which seems to corroborate reports in the pharmacovigilance databases.

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“Every conversation that she described that she had with people from McCarthy to Ratcliffe to Cipollone never happened..”

Cassidy Hutchinson Begged Trump Officials For ‘Financial Assistance’ (DC)

The Jan. 6 Committee’s key witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, asked former Senior Trump officials for financial assistance and legal help in February after she was subpoenaed by the committee, according to an email obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller. [..] “I was subpoenaed by the 1/6 Committee on November 9, 2020, but was not formally served until Wednesday, January 26, 2021. I’ve had difficulty securing a legal team, and was hoping you may be able to put me in contact with any fundraising organizations and/or attorneys that are involved in this process,” Hutchinson said in the email to the former senior Trump official. “My aunt and uncle applied to refinance their house to loosen up some money since I don’t have much immediate family, but they weren’t approved,” Hutchinson said in a separate email.

Multiple senior Trump officials and a person with first-hand knowledge told the Daily Caller that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows would not answer Hutchinson’s calls after she was subpoenaed. A Meadows spokesperson confirmed those claims to the Daily Caller, saying Meadows didn’t return those calls to avoid the appearance of improperly influencing any testimony. [..] “Cassidy Hutchinson reached out to various people in Trump world asking for both financial assistance and help finding a lawyer. She told us she was in significant financial distress, had no family that could help, and couldn’t even afford food. She also told us Mark Meadows wouldn’t return her calls. To our knowledge, she spoke with multiple lawyers and chose Stefan Passantino to represent her,” a person with first-hand knowledge told the Daily Caller.

The person with first-hand knowledge also said that Trump officials were sympathetic because of her age and lack of employment and said at her request, Trump’s PAC agreed to help her financially and, at her request, suggested attorneys she could interview. The person also said Hutchinson made derogatory comments about the Jan. 6 committee to multiple people in Trump world. A former senior Trump official also mentioned Meadows not returning Hutchinson’s calls and said she reached out to Trump’s circle and asked for help. “She reached out to Trump world and was like, ‘Hey. The committee reached out to me. I really need help.’ She didn’t have a job. She didn’t have money to pay a lawyer. Trump has been trying to be really helpful, especially with young people who weren’t like bad actors on J6, like get you a lawyer. Pay for it. Meadows wasn’t returning her phone calls and like her circle of people, weren’t, like, helpful,” a former senior Trump official told the Caller.

[..] “She was in a horrible, she was in horrible shape financially. She had no employment prospects because like, you know, coming out of the Trump White House election wasn’t exactly, you know, a great line on the resume. And she was desperate,” the other Trump official told the Caller. “Every conversation that she described that she had with people from McCarthy to Ratcliffe to Cipollone never happened,” the official added. Another former senior Trump official told the Caller that Hutchinson was supposed to go work for Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, after leaving the White House and was stunned by Hutchinson’s testimony in front of the committee.

“She made it sound like all these people, I mean, I was in that West Wing, that these people basically were reporting to her and she was giving Meadows advice. And I’m like, What? I was there … But here’s the part that I do know firsthand she was supposed to take a job in Palm Beach,” the former senior Trump official said. “All I know. She was thrilled to go down there. Thrilled. Thrilled. This is after January 20!” the former official continued.

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“Facebook, in short, is utterly swarming with spooks.”

The Ex-CIA Agents Deciding Facebook’s Content Policy (MacLeod)

It is an uncomfortable job for anyone trying to draw the line between “harmful content and protecting freedom of speech. It’s a balance”, Aaron says. In this official Facebook video, Aaron identifies himself as the manager of “the team that writes the rules for Facebook”, determining “what is acceptable and what is not.” Thus, he and his team effectively decide what content the platform’s 2.9 billion active users see and what they don’t see. Aaron is being interviewed in a bright warehouse-turned-studio. He is wearing a purple sweater and blue jeans. He comes across as a very likable, smiley person. It is not an easy job, of course, but someone has to make those calls. “Transparency is incredibly important in the work that I do,” he says.

Aaron is CIA. Or at least he was until July 2019, when he left his job as a senior analytic manager at the agency to become senior product policy manager for misinformation at Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. In his 15-year career, Aaron Berman rose to become a highly influential part of the CIA. For years, he prepared and edited the president of the United States’ daily brief, “wr[iting] and overs[eeing] intelligence analysis to enable the President and senior U.S. officials to make decisions on the most critical national security issues,” especially on “the impact of influence operations on social movements, security, and democracy,” his LinkedIn profile reads. None of this is mentioned in the Facebook video.

Berman’s case is far from unique, however. Studying Meta’s reports, as well as employment websites and databases, MintPress has found that Facebook has recruited dozens of individuals from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as many more from other agencies like the FBI and Department of Defense (DoD). These hires are primarily in highly politically sensitive sectors such as trust, security and content moderation, to the point where some might feel it becomes difficult to see where the U.S. national security state ends and Facebook begins. In previous investigations, this author has detailed how TikTok is flooded with NATO officials, how former FBI agents abound at Twitter, and how Reddit is led by a former war planner for the NATO think tank, the Atlantic Council. But the sheer scale of infiltration of Facebook blows these away. Facebook, in short, is utterly swarming with spooks.

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WEF-coordinated between several countries.

The discussion is priceless.

Someone Tell The PM The World Needs More Fertilizer, Not Less (TSun)

The Trudeau government’s plan to reduce the use of fertilizers in Canada in the name of fighting climate change is the kind of thinking that globally applied, will lead to skyrocketing food prices and famine.It is another example of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mantra that the world must move ever faster away from the use of fossil fuels is increasingly becoming disconnected from reality because of rapidly changing global events.The problem right now is that the world needs more fertilizer, not less, for the same reason it needs more fossil fuel energy, not less.The severe shortage of both is happening for the same reasons — supply chain disruptions as countries try to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Just as Russia is a major supplier of natural gas and oil to Europe, it is also the world’s largest producer of fertilizer. A global shortage of fertilizer — exacerbated by economic sanctions against Russian fertilizer and Russian export restrictions on fertilizer — is already contributing to higher prices, not just for the fertilizer needed by farmers to grow crops, but for the prices consumers pay for food at the grocery store. At least that’s the case in developed countries like Canada.For developing countries, it raises the spectre of famine. The real “green revolution” in agriculture, which started in the 1960s by making food production increasingly more efficient — in large part due to fertilizers — is literally keeping billions of people around the world alive today.

A global shortage of fertilizer, unless it is meaningfully addressed, will do the opposite over time.Enter the Trudeau government with a policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers in Canada to 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. That’s an absurdly short time frame which is just as unrealistic as his target of reducing Canada’s greenhouse emissions to 40%-45% below 2005 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. The Liberals, as well as the Conservatives, have never hit a single emission reduction target they’ve set over the past 34 years, and the reason is they set targets which are technologically unfeasible over and over again.

‘Nobody believes you’: Poilievre grills Trudeau as he testifies over WE Charity controversy

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This crazy video feels like a sign of these crazy times.

DUCK AND COVER 2.0: Prepare for a Nuclear Attack (Celente)

The Ukraine War continues to escalate and America and NATO have vowed to do whatever it takes to defeat Russia. As we have forecast, the longer the war drags on, and the more weapons of death that are sent to Ukraine to keep bloodying the killing fields, the hotter it’s going to get, even to the point where there will be a nuclear exchange. Now the message being broadcast via the mainstream media is that the worst is yet to come, and they are warning the people, as they were during the Cold War, to “Duck and Cover.” Yesterday, New York City released a public service announcement warning the people that a nuclear bomb can be dropped and gave them idiotic and moronic instructions on what to do to save their lives after the bomb was dropped.


Assuming that they did not burn or melt in the initial blast, the New York City Emergency Management Department gave New Yorkers a three-step plan reminiscent of the duck-and-cover stupidity they sold the people at the height of the Cold War. The biggest takeaway: you really have to be a stupid dumbbell to swallow the crap from this shit show production. The short video, which looks like it was filmed on a Hollywood set, takes place on a partially bombed city street with a scene with damage that looks more Sesame Street than a nuclear apocalypse. Dressed in black, the presenter is the culturally perfect presenter in America’s dead-woke society. The actor playing the government mouthpiece role appears calm, almost like a flight attendant pointing to emergency exits on a plane and the only indication that something is amiss is the faint sound of sirens going on in the background.

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Led by Donkeys

 

 

 

 

Mahathir
https://twitter.com/i/status/1546003810253803521

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 242020
 


John Vachon Window in home of unemployed steelworker, Ambridge, PA 1941

 

Chinese Hospitals In Chaos As Lockdown Spreads To Affect 33m People (G.)
Four ‘Generations’ Of Spread Seen With Virus In China (STAT)
Cases of China’s Viral Pneumonia Surge Exponentially (ET)
Wuhan Virus Will Shape China’s Smart City Vision (R.)
Doomsday Clock Moves Within 100 Seconds Of Midnight (NPR)
The House Impeachment Case Vs The Law of Attempts (Turley)
Fed’s Repos Drop to Oct Level, T-Bills Surge, But MBS Fall (WS)
Turkey Demands Greece “Demilitarize” 16 Aegean Islands (ZH)
Assange May Not Get First Amendment Protection (AAP)
Go to Gaza and Cry ‘Never Again’ (Haaretz)
America’s Radioactive Secret (Rolling Stone)

 

 

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year. 450 million Chinese plan to travel to see family. 41 million are now under lockdown. 850 cases of “coronavirus” have been confirmed. 26 people have died, the elderly and vulnerable. But there are many reports of actual numbers being much higher.

Only 23.8% of Chinese doctors have a bachelor degree or higher. There are 60,000 licensed general practitioners in a country of 1.3 billion people.

Meanwhile, the Chinese “eat everything on four legs except for the table”.

“..the race to build a new 1,000-bed hospital in just six days began on Thursday night..”

Chinese Hospitals In Chaos As Lockdown Spreads To Affect 33m People (G.)

Hospitals in the Chinese city of Wuhan have been thrown into chaos and the movement of about 33 million people has been restricted by an unprecedented and indefinite lockdown imposed to halt the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. At least ten cities in central Hubei province have been shut down in an effort to stop the virus, which by Friday had killed 26 people across China and affected more than 800. The World Health Organisation described the outbreak as an emergency for China, but stopped short of declaring it to be a public health emergency of international concern.

In the city of Wuhan, where most cases have occurred, the race to build a new 1,000-bed hospital in just six days began on Thursday night. Diggers and bulldozers beginning work on the site of a holiday complex once intended for local workers, according to Chinese media. The hospital, which is due to open next week, is similar to those established in Beijing in 2003, when the city faced a Sars outbreak that killed almost 800 people and reached nearly 30 countries. During that crisis, 7,000 workers in Beijing built the Xiaotangshan hospital in its northern suburbs in just a week. Within two months, it treated one-seventh of all the country’s Sars patients, the Changjiang Daily said.

“It created a miracle in the history of medical science,” the paper added. It said the new Wuhan hospital “is to solve the shortage of existing medical resources”. People who sought treatment in Wuhan this week told the Guardian they had been turned away from hospitals, which have been inundated with patients. Facilities are reportedly running out of beds and diagnostic kits for patients who present with fever-like symptoms. [..] A series of additional measures were announced on Friday to prevent the spread of the virus, including a call from The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist party’s main newspaper, for people who have recently been to Wuhan to isolate themselves at home, even if they don’t have symptoms. The cities of Wuhan, Ezhou, Huanggang, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang, Jingmen and Xiantao have all been placed under lockdown.

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It’s advanced up to a point where it can no longer be ignored. That’s China for you.

Four ‘Generations’ Of Spread Seen With Virus In China (STAT)

Emerging data on the new virus circulating in China adds to evidence there is sustained human-to-human transmission in the city of Wuhan, and that a single case was able to ignite a chain of other infections. The World Health Organization reported Thursday that there have been at least four generations of spread of the new virus, provisionally called 2019-nCoV, meaning a person who contracted the virus from a non-human source — presumably an animal — has infected a person, who infected another person, who then infected another person. It’s not clear from a WHO statement whether transmission petered out after that point, or whether further generations of cases from those chains are still to come.

The WHO said the current estimate of the reproductive rate of the virus — the number of people, on average, that each infected person infects — is between 1.4 and 2.5. To stop an outbreak, the reproduction number has to be brought below one. “That gives me no comfort at all that anything that’s happening right now is going to bring this under control any time soon,” Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said of the data the WHO released. “And I think that as long as the virus is circulating in China as it appears to be, the rest of the world is going to be constantly pinged with it, as a result of people traveling to and from China in the near future,” he said.

To date, nine other countries, including the United States, have diagnosed cases of this new illness in tourists who traveled to Wuhan or residents who returned from there. Dr. Allison McGeer, who has firsthand experience with outbreaks caused by coronaviruses — the family to which 2019-nCoV belongs — also expressed concern about prospects for containing the outbreak. McGeer, a researcher at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, noted that the city’s SARS outbreak took off when fourth-generation cases were infected in the city’s hospitals. McGeer contracted SARS during that outbreak.

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No place in the hospital.

Cases of China’s Viral Pneumonia Surge Exponentially (ET)

It started with a light cough. He burped constantly, and complained of shortness of breath. Family members thought it was no big deal. The doctor said he seemed to have heart problems and suggested him to stay in the hospital. He appeared healthy except for a minor infection in one lung area. Two weeks later, he was dead, with both lungs infected and organ failure. His doctors at the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital determined the cause of death as “unknown pneumonia.” It was days before Chinese health authorities identified the cause of the new viral pneumonia as 2019-nCoV, a coronavirus that first emerged in December in the commercial city of Wuhan, his home city.

As of press time, the virus has since sickened more than 540 people across China and around the world, with confirmed cases in South Korea, Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Much remains unclear about the virus that has sparked fear around the world and cast a cloud over the upcoming Lunar New Year festivities, a major traditional holiday when millions of Chinese travel to their hometowns or go on vacations abroad. Experts say the mass movement of people could accelerate the disease’s spread. The virus has already spread across the country to 17 provinces and regions.

To the man’s family, his death is far from the end of their sorrows. Among his relatives, five have fallen ill: one is under emergency rescue at a Wuhan hospital; his niece and nephew-in-law also have lung infections but doctors turned them away, saying there’s no space for them at the hospital; two others are also experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms. Buying one dose of medicine means waiting for hours in line. His sister, currently in Norway, told The Epoch Times that she was being “silenced” by Chinese authorities and not allowed to post anything about his death. The man is not listed on the authorities’ official death toll, because he did not show any signs of fever, his sister said. She has requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.

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Never let a good crisis go to waste. Surveillance is good for you!

Wuhan Virus Will Shape China’s Smart City Vision (R.)

An epidemic will shape China’s vision of intelligent cities. The metropolis of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is under unprecedented quarantine as a deadly virus, believed to have originated there, spreads around the world ahead of the Lunar New Year when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel. Big investments in healthcare, artificial intelligence, and even surveillance could help curb future pandemics and cushion some institutional weaknesses. [..] The future may be less grim: President Xi Jinping has pushed to upgrade the country’s rickety healthcare system, enlisting technology giants including $474 billion Tencent and insurance group Ping An.

A unit of the latter has partnered with local governments in Shenzhen and Chongqing to develop an algorithm it claims can predict the transmission of influenza and other infectious diseases with 90%-plus accuracy. Elsewhere, the likes of $50 billion video-surveillance specialist, Hikvision, are helping Beijing develop high-tech, digitally-connected urban areas. More than 500 so-called smart cities are already being built across China, according to government figures, equipped with sensors, cameras, and other gadgets that can crunch data on everything from traffic and pollution, to public health and security.

That market could top 103 billion yuan ($15 billion) in revenue by 2023, according to research commissioned by facial-recognition startup Megvii. Until now the push has focused on automating political surveillance, including ugly applications in restive ethnic minority regions like Xinjiang, with little regard to human rights or privacy concerns. But there’s a potential public good if the tech can be re-deployed to detect unusual numbers of feverish people in train stations, for example, while simultaneously cross-referencing healthcare history, travel records and weather patterns. After Wuhan, the pressure to deliver health security, not just political security, will be higher.

Read more …

Meat for sale in China (without the bats used for soup):



Doesn’t feel like that for me.

Doomsday Clock Moves Within 100 Seconds Of Midnight (NPR)

In 1953, months after the U.S. tested its first hydrogen bomb and as the Soviet Union was about to do the same, the Doomsday Clock was also set within two minutes of midnight. The minute hand was moved back gradually as nuclear arms control agreements reduced the threat of global catastrophe. By the time the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended in 1991, the clock was set at an unprecedented 17 minutes to midnight. It has moved closer ever since. “What you’re hearing,” said former California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who appeared at the event as the Bulletin’s new executive chairman, “is really the voices of the prophets of doom. Speaking of danger and destruction is never very easy — if you speak the truth, people will not want to listen, because it’s too awful and it makes you sound like a crackpot.”

The clock’s minute hand was moved forward after the August 2019 collapse of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the U.S. and Russia. The demise of the pact frees both nations to deploy land-based missiles over ranges that leave little time for a response. There were also growing signs in 2019 that the Trump administration was aiming to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which allows the U.S. and Russia to observe one another’s military installations through closely monitored overflights. And Iran increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and added new and improved centrifuges last year in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawing from a multination nuclear pact with Iran that was forged during the Obama administration.

“I have to admit [that] we set the clock in November,” said George Washington University research professor Sharon Squassoni. “This was before recent military actions by the U.S. and Iran, Iran’s statement or threat that it might leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and North Korea’s abandonment of talks with the United States.” A growing number of disasters linked to global climate change resulting from the continued consumption of fossil fuels was another factor cited for moving the clock even closer to midnight. “We’re in it, it’s dire, but we’re not there yet,” said Brown. “We can still pull back from the brink, but we have to do what we’re not doing. Whatever we’ve done to date, it is totally inadequate.”

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Close to thought crime.

The House Impeachment Case Vs The Law of Attempts (Turley)

With the start of the impeachment trial, the Senate (and the country) will soon be faced with what the late Yale professor Arthur Leff described as one of the law’s most “lovely, knotty problems.” Leff was speaking of what is loosely called “the law of attempts,” a category of crimes where someone is accused of contemplating, but not actually carrying out, an unlawful act. The Trump trial could be the first time the Senate considers charges that amount to allegedly conceiving, but then abandoning, an abuse of power. While it is certainly true that there was a temporary act of “nonfeasance” in withholding the aid to Ukraine, it was ultimately released over two weeks before the deadline under federal law.

The Trump administration will argue that there was no quid pro quo between the president of the United States and the president of Ukraine; that the military aid to Kyiv, though authorized by Congress, was never withheld; and that the White House always intended to release the aid by the end of September. (It was released on Sept. 11, two days after a whistleblower complaint about the alleged bargain sparked congressional inquiries and, according to critics, was the reason that Trump decided to release the aid.) The question for the Senate is whether an attempt to cut the deal qualifies as a high crime or misdemeanor. The law of attempts has long been debated, and has often favored defendants in securing lesser punishments or outright acquittals.

When, in 1879, an Alaska man sent an order for 100 gallons of whiskey from California, he was charged with illegally attempting to “introduce spirituous liquors” into Alaska. A court dismissed the charge, writing, “There are a class of acts which may be fairly said to be done in pursuance of or in combination with an intent to commit a crime, but are not, in a legal sense, a part of it, and therefore do not, with such intent, constitute an indictable attempt.” That helps explain why such attempted crimes are generally punished less severely. The California Penal Code Section 664 stipulates, for example, that most attempted offenses are punishable, at most, at a level half that for a completed offense. Of course, the Senate cannot “half-remove” a president. But one of the more knotty problems facing the Senate is whether a president can be saved by what Leff called the “luck” of an alleged plan that never actually played out.

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Can be restarted in a heartbeat. By killing the markets, the Fed has made itself a prisoner.

Fed’s Repos Drop to Oct Level, T-Bills Surge, But MBS Fall (WS)

The Fed had doused the market with $410 billion in liquidity between September and January 1 through its repo operations and its T-bill purchases. Market hype had expected this blistering pace of money-printing to continue, but wait… While T-bill purchases continue, the repos on the Fed’s balance sheet are getting unwound, its mortgage-backed securities (MBS) continue to fall, and total assets on its balance sheet fell to the lowest level since mid-December. Under these repurchase agreements, the Fed offers to buy Treasury securities, MBS, and agency securities from counterparties with an agreement to sell those securities back to the counterparties at a set price on a specific date, such as the next day (overnight repos) or in 14 days or some other period (term repos).

When a repurchase agreement matures, the Fed takes back the money it had handed out and returns the securities to the counterparties. This zeros out that particular repo on the Fed’s balance sheet. When the Fed buys securities under a repurchase agreement, the amount it pays adds liquidity to the market. When that repo unwinds, and the Fed gets its cash back and returns the securities, it drains this liquidity from the market. Every day, old repos unwind. And every day, the Fed offers new repos. This is a constant in-and-out. The balance changes every day, but it has been on an uneven decline since the peak on January 1.

The total amount of repos on the Fed’s weekly balance sheet as of January 22, released this afternoon, has now fallen by $70 billion from the peak on January 1 ($256 billion), to $186 billion. This is below where it had first been on October 16. The $43-billion drop in repos over the past seven days was largely due to a 32-day $50-billion repo, dating from December 16, that unwound on January 17. It was not replaced by another 30-day repo, and there are no more 30-day repos on the Fed’s repo schedule or balance sheet.

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Erdogan wants to redo the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. He has little to lose, and much to gain domestically. But he has Putin against him.

Turkey Demands Greece “Demilitarize” 16 Aegean Islands (ZH)

At a moment tensions are soaring over Turkey’s expansive East Mediterranean claims, and after starting early last summer it began sending oil and gas exploration and drilling ships off Cyprus’ coast, Ankara is demanding that Greece “demilitarize” its islands in the Aegean Sea, reports Bloomberg. The demand from Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who formally requested Greece move to withdraw armed forces and weaponry from 16 Aegean islands near Turkey on Wednesday, is rich given it’s Turkey that’s been provocatively sending warships and military jets to accompany illegal gas drilling in the area, something lately condemned by the EU.

“Greece, arming 16 out of 23 islands with non-military status, in violation of agreements in the Aegean sea, should act in accordance with international law,” said Defense Minister Akar, cited in state-run Anadolu Agency. “We expect Greece to act in line with international law and the agreements it has signed,” he added. Though becoming increasingly internationally isolated over the drilling issue in EU-member Cyrpus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Turkey has remained unmoved and at times is positively boastful about it.

Not shying away from admitting Turkish maritime claims now stretch from Cypriot waters all the way to Libya (based on a controversial recent maritime boundary ‘deal’ signed with the Tripoli Government of National Accord), Akar further had this to say according to state media: In addition to the fight against terrorism, Turkey’s activities are ongoing in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, off Cyprus, and Libya, Akar said, adding that they are carried out in accordance with international law and the territorial integrity of the countries. Turkey is a guarantor country for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities, he said.

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Let’s see a few countries apply this to Americans.

Assange May Not Get First Amendment Protection (AAP)

Julian Assange faces the prospect of being denied press protections under US law if he goes to trial there, WikiLeaks says, citing evidence submitted for his London extradition case. The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder is set to face trial in the UK next month to determine whether he should be extradited to the US, where he has been charged with 17 counts of spying and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charges related to allegations Assange tried to help former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning protect her digital identity as she accessed classified Pentagon files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. WikiLeaks helped publish thousands of those files, including some that revealed US war crimes in both countries.

His case is widely viewed as a litmus test for the protection of journalists’ sources. WikiLeaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson says a new affidavit provided by US government lawyers this week for Assange’s upcoming extradition trial states that foreign nationals, like Assange, are not entitled to press protections under the US Constitution’s First Amendment. Mr Hrafnsson revealed the development outside Assange’s case management hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday. “On the one hand they have decided that they can go after journalists wherever they are residing in the world, they have universal jurisdiction, and demand extradition like they are doing by trying to get an Australian national from the UK for publishing that took place outside US borders,” he told AAP.

“But then at the same time they are not granting any foreign journalist the protection of the First Amendment. “That’s extremely serious. That’s of grave concern to all journalists. “We are seeing this incremental approach, a darkness flowing over journalism from that country, and it’s about time that journalists really united in resisting this.” Assange appeared by video link from prison at Thursday’s hearing, and did not speak except to say his name and birthdate for the court. Judge Vanessa Baraitser reluctantly agreed to split his trial into two segments with the first week to begin on February 24 and the final three weeks to be held from May 18.

Her ruling came after prosecutors flagged timetabling issues and the defence pleaded for more time to deal with an ever-expanding pile of evidence coming from the US. Mr Hrafnsson says the delay may give Assange and his legal team more time to review mounting evidence, as they have only been permitted four hours together since his arrest on April 11. But he admitted it would also further extend Assange’s time behind bars. “A maximum security prison for a non-violent person like Julian, who is a free man basically, who is on remand, is outrageous,” Mr Hrafnsson told AAP. “It’s totally unacceptable.”

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Commemorations vs political games.

Go to Gaza and Cry ‘Never Again’ (Haaretz)

It’s very important to remember the past; no less important is to be cognizant of the present without shutting one’s eyes. The dozens of statesmen who arrived in Israel yesterday may remember the past, but they’re blurring the present. In their silence, in their disregard of reality while lining up unconditionally alongside Israel, they not only betray their roles, they also betray the memory of the past in the name of which they came here. To be the guests of Israel without mentioning its crimes; to commemorate the Holocaust while ignoring its lessons; to visit Jerusalem without traveling to the Gaza ghetto on International Holocaust Remembrance Day – one can barely think of any greater hypocrisy.

It’s good that kings, presidents and other notables came here in honor of this remembrance day. It’s deplorable that they’re ignoring what the victims of the Holocaust are inflicting on another nation. The city of Yerevan will never witness such an impressive gathering to commemorate the Armenian holocaust. World leaders will never come to Kigali to mark the genocide that happened in Rwanda. The Holocaust was indeed the greatest crime ever against humanity, but it was not the only one. But Jews and the state of Israel know well how to sanctify its memory as well as using it for their own purposes.

On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, world leaders are the guests of an Israeli prime minister who, on the eve of their visit, called for sanctions – believe it or not – on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is a legacy of the courts that were set up to judge the crimes of World War II. On this Remembrance Day, world leaders are coming to a prime minister who is trying to incite them against the court in The Hague. It’s hard to think of a more galling use of the Holocaust, it’s hard to conceive of a bigger betrayal of its memory than the attempt to undermine the court in The Hague only because it wishes to fulfill its role and investigate Jerusalem. The guests will hold their silence on this issue as well. Some of them may be persuaded that the problem is in The Hague, not in Jerusalem. Sanctions on the court instead of on the occupying state.

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“Ten or 15 years down the road, if I get sick, I want to be able to prove this.”

America’s Radioactive Secret (Rolling Stone)

In 2014, a muscular, middle-aged Ohio man named Peter took a job trucking waste for the oil-and-gas industry. The hours were long — he was out the door by 3 a.m. every morning and not home until well after dark — but the steady $16-an-hour pay was appealing, says Peter, who asked to use a pseudonym. “This is a poverty area,” he says of his home in the state’s rural southeast corner. “Throw a little money at us and by God we’ll jump and take it.” In a squat rig fitted with a 5,000-gallon tank, Peter crisscrosses the expanse of farms and woods near the Ohio/West Virginia/Pennsylvania border, the heart of a region that produces close to one-third of America’s natural gas.

He hauls a salty substance called “brine,” a naturally occurring waste product that gushes out of America’s oil-and-gas wells to the tune of nearly 1 trillion gallons a year, enough to flood Manhattan, almost shin-high, every single day. At most wells, far more brine is produced than oil or gas, as much as 10 times more. It collects in tanks, and like an oil-and-gas garbage man, Peter picks it up and hauls it off to treatment plants or injection wells, where it’s disposed of by being shot back into the earth. One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.

The Earth’s crust is in fact peppered with radioactive elements that concentrate deep underground in oil-and-gas-bearing layers. This radioactivity is often pulled to the surface when oil and gas is extracted — carried largely in the brine. In the popular imagination, radioactivity conjures images of nuclear meltdowns, but radiation is emitted from many common natural substances, usually presenting a fairly minor risk. Many industry representatives like to say the radioactivity in brine is so insignificant as to be on par with what would be found in a banana or a granite countertop, so when Peter demanded his supervisor tell him what he was being exposed to, his concerns were brushed off; the liquid in his truck was no more radioactive than “any room of your home,” he was told. But Peter wasn’t so sure. “A lot of guys are coming up with cancer, or sores and skin lesions that take months to heal,” he says. Peter experiences regular headaches and nausea, numbness in his fingertips and face, and “joint pain like fire.”

He says he wasn’t given any safety instructions on radioactivity, and while he is required to wear steel-toe boots, safety glasses, a hard hat, and clothes with a flash-resistant coating, he isn’t required to wear a respirator or a dosimeter to measure his radioactivity exposure — and the rest of the uniform hardly offers protection from brine. “It’s all over your hands, and inside your boots, and on the cuticles of your toes, and any cuts you have — you’re soaked,” he says. So Peter started quietly taking samples of the brine he hauled, filling up old antifreeze containers or soda bottles. Eventually, he packed a shed in his backyard with more than 40 samples. He worried about further contamination but says, for him, “the damage is already done.” He wanted answers. “I cover my ass,” he says. “Ten or 15 years down the road, if I get sick, I want to be able to prove this.”

Read more …

 

From Suzie Dawson:

 

 

 

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Sep 132017
 
 September 13, 2017  Posted by at 9:18 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Sergio Larraín Valparaiso Chile 1963

 

Greece Property Value Review A Hard Task (K.)
Creditors Set To Increase Pressure On Athens (K.)
US Threatens To Cut Off China From SWIFT If It Violates North Korea Sanctions (ZH)
Yuan Fixing Takes Center Stage, Again (BBG)
Cryptocurrency Chaos As China Cracks Down On ICOs (R.)
JPMorgan’s Dimon Says Bitcoin ‘Is A Fraud’ (R.)
America’s Fiscal Doomsday Machine (Stockman)
IMF Is Resisting A Moratorium On Barbuda’s Sovereign Debt Repayments (Ind.)
UK’s High Street Banks Are Accident Waiting To Happen (G.)
We Must Repeal The Authorization For The Use Of Military Force (Rand Paul)
Democrats Fought For 25 Years Over Single-Payer. Now Many Back Sanders (Sirota)
China Plans Nationwide Use Of Ethanol Gasoline By 2020 (R.)
Capitalism Can’t Save The Planet – It Can Only Destroy It (Monbiot)

 

 

As EU President Juncker this morning unveils his vision of more Europe all the time, here’s what Europe is really like:

42% of Greek mortgage loans are non-performing. Today’s sale prices are 70-80% lower than in 2008. And that’s before 200-300,000 homes will be forced onto the market this fall.

Greece Property Value Review A Hard Task (K.)

The government is facing a daunting task in adjusting the so-called objective values (the property rates used for tax purposes) to market levels by the end of the year, as its bailout agreement dictates. The huge slump in transactions and the forced sales of properties due to their owners’ debts do not lead to any safe conclusions for the values per area. One in four sales are conducted with prices that lag the objective value by 60-70%, and the prices of 2008 by 70-80%. The Finance Ministry must overcome all the obstacles to bring to Parliament all the necessary adjustments and regulations.

Moreover, once the objective values are brought in line with market rates, the government will have to maintain the same amount of revenues from the Single Property Tax (ENFIA) either by raising the tax’s rates or by introducing a new tax in the form of the old Large Property Tax. Furthermore, once the objective values are reduced by 40-50% to match the going prices, banks’ may see problems with their capital adequacy, as lenders will incur losses by having to revise the collateral they get. Mortgage loans in Greece amount to €59.44 billion, of which 42%, or €25.4 billion are nonperforming.

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Forget about more Europe, or you’ll wind up with a whole lot less Europe.

Creditors Set To Increase Pressure On Athens (K.)

Technical experts representing the country’s creditors started visiting the country’s ministries in Athens on Monday, paving the way for the third bailout review, which has long ceased to be viewed as a simple matter and is increasingly burdened with problems. Pressure for a satisfactory conclusion to the review will grow with the planned visit on September 25 of Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who will meet with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos. Responding to a question by Kathimerini, Dijsselbloem’s spokesman said that the head of the Eurogroup will discuss eurozone issues and certainly the progress of the adjustment program. Government officials estimate that the discussion on the course of the review and the Greek program may be combined with the expiry of Dijsselbloem’s mandate at the Eurogroup chair at year-end.

The Dutch minister – whose last visit in Athens and his meeting with his counterpart at the time, Yanis Varoufakis, was quite eventful – would obviously like to leave on a positive note in regards to the Greek program. It has been rumored that he may seek another office in the eurozone. Sources from Brussels also say that the top European Commission’s top representative, Declan Costello, will also be coming to Athens in the next few days. In addition to the main cluster of 113 prior actions, of which 95 should be implemented by year-end, the creditors have expressed their objections and doubts about recent legislative moves made by the government, such as the labor law passed last Thursday.

Sources say that the creditors have also expressed concerns about clauses related to the reduced value-added tax on agricultural supplies, the opening up of closed professions, as well as the civil service. A large number of the 95 prior actions the government must implement in record time have a high degree of difficulty, and government officials believe this may require revisions on family benefits, the operation of the sell-off hyperfund and its subsidiaries, the opening up of the energy market, etc.

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How would the US pay for all the shiny trinkets?

US Threatens To Cut Off China From SWIFT If It Violates North Korea Sanctions (ZH)

In an unexpectedly strong diplomatic escalation, one day after China agreed to vote alongside the US (and Russia) during Monday’s United National Security Council vote in passing the watered down North Korea sanctions, the US warned that if China were to violate or fail to comply with the newly imposed sanctions against Kim’s regime, it could cut off Beijing’s access to both the US financial system as well as the “international dollar system.” Speaking at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference on Tuesday, Steven Mnuchin said that China had agreed to “historic” North Korean sanctions during Monday’s United Nations vote. “We worked very closely with the U.N. I’m very pleased with the resolution that was just passed. This is some of the strongest items. We now have more tools in our toolbox, and we will continue to use them and put additional sanctions on North Korea until they stop this behavior.”

In response, Andrew Ross Sorkin countered that “we haven’t been able to move the needle on China, which seems to be the real mover on this, in terms of being able to apply the real pressure. What do you think the issue is? What is the problem?” The stunner was revealed in Mnuchin’s answer: “I think we have absolutely moved the needle on China. I think what they agreed to yesterday was historic. I’d also say I put sanctions on a major Chinese bank.That’s the first time that’s ever been done. And if China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system. And that’s quite meaningful.”

And to underscore his point, the Treasury Secretary also said that “in North Korea, economic warfare works. I made it clear that the President was strongly considering and we sent a message that anybody that wanted to trade with North Korea, we would consider them not trading with us. We can put on economic sanctions to stop people trading.” In other words, to force compliance with the North Korean sanctions, Mnuchin threatened Beijing with not only trade war, but also a lock out from the dollar system, i.e. SWIFT, something the US did back in 2014 and 2015 when it blocked off several Russian banks as relations between the US and Russia imploded. Of course, whether the US would be willing to go so far as to use the nuclear option, and pull the dollar plug on its biggest trade partner, in the process immediately unleashing an economic depression domestically and globally is a different matter.

So far Washington has been reluctant to impose economic sanctions on China over concerns of possible retaliatory measures from Beijing and the potentially catastrophic consequences for the global economy. Washington runs a $350 billion annual trade deficit with Beijing, while the PBOC also holds over $1 trillion in US debt. Ironically, the biggest hurdle to the implementation of the just passed sanctions may be the president himself. “We think it’s just another very small step, not a big deal,” Trump told reporters at the start of a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. “I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-to-nothing vote, but those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen,” said Trump who has vowed not to allow North Korea to develop a nuclear ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

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Xi demands peace for the Party Congress. Brokerages have been told: no holidays during Congress.

Yuan Fixing Takes Center Stage, Again (BBG)

China’s yuan fixing is back in focus, with a run of surprises moving the market in recent days. The central bank set its reference rate – which limits onshore moves to 2% on either side – at a weaker than expected level for the third day in a row Wednesday. The rates, and the removal of a reserve requirement rule on the trading of foreign-exchange forwards, are fueling bets that authorities want to limit gains after the onshore yuan surged more than 4% against the dollar in the three months through Sept. 7. The People’s Bank of China set Wednesday’s fixing at 6.5382 per dollar, compared with the average forecast of 6.5355 in a Bloomberg survey of 19 traders and analysts. The authorities have had greater opportunity to sway the fixing either way since May, with the introduction of a “counter-cyclical factor” to the rate-setting mechanism.

“The PBOC still wants a relatively stable yuan,” said Nathan Chow at DBS. “Even if it strengthens or weakens, the pace needs to be controlled, and in an orderly and gradual manner. This will be easier for exporters to manage risks. The market expectation is that there should be no big changes or surprises before the party congress next month.” The yuan’s rally began to falter on Friday as the removal of the reserve rule made it less expensive to bet on yuan declines. The monetary authority weakened Tuesday’s fixing by the most in eight months following an overnight surge in a gauge of the greenback, pushing the onshore spot rate lower.

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“There are a lot of companies raising a lot of money for not very good ideas..”

Cryptocurrency Chaos As China Cracks Down On ICOs (R.)

China’s move last week to ban initial coin offerings (ICO) has caused chaos among start-ups looking to raise money through the novel fund-raising scheme, prompting halts, about-turns and re-thinks. China is cracking down on fundraising through launches of token-based digital currencies, targeting ICOs in a market that has ballooned this year in what has been a bonanza for digital currency entrepreneurs. The boom has fueled a jump in the value of cryptocurrencies, but raised fears of a potential bubble. “This is not unlike the dotcom bubble of 2000,” said a partner at a venture capital fund in Shanghai, who didn’t want to be named because of the issue’s sensitivity. “There are a lot of companies raising a lot of money for not very good ideas, and these will eventually be weeded out. But even from the big dotcom bust, you still have gems.”

“One of the reasons regulators stepped in was that the ICO fever extended beyond the traditional crypto community. The timing was an attempt to pre-empt this before it goes into a much broader mass market in China,” the partner said. Investors in China contributed up to 2.6 billion yuan ($394 million) worth of cryptocurrencies through ICOs in January-June, according to a state-run media report citing National Committee of Experts on Internet Financial Security Technology data. Pre-ICO roadshows featuring elaborate standing room-only presentations at 5-star hotels drew a diverse crowd, including grandmothers – a likely tipping point for regulators. The hype and subsequent crackdown came as China focuses on economic and social stability ahead of next month’s congress of the Communist Party, a once-in-five-years event.

Beijing is also waging a broader campaign against fraudulent fundraising and speculative investment, which analysts attribute to China’s underdeveloped financial regulation and lack of legitimate investment options. While several start-ups said the exuberance had got out of control and they had expected Beijing to act, they said last week’s move panicked investors and caused confusion.

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Worse than tulip bulbs.

JPMorgan’s Dimon Says Bitcoin ‘Is A Fraud’ (R.)

Bitcoin “is a fraud” and will blow up, Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said on Tuesday. Speaking at a bank investor conference in New York, Dimon said, “The currency isn’t going to work. You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that people who are buying it are really smart.” Dimon said that if any JPMorgan traders were trading the crypto-currency, “I would fire them in a second, for two reasons: It is against our rules and they are stupid, and both are dangerous.” Dimon’s comments come as the bitcoin, a virtual currency not backed by any government, has more than quadrupled in value since December to more than $4,100.

[..] “It is worse than tulips bulbs,” Dimon said, referring to a famous market bubble from the 1600s. JPMorgan and many of its competitors, however, have invested millions of dollars in blockchain, the technology that tracks bitcoin transactions. Blockchain is a shared ledger of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet. Dimon said such uses will roll out over coming years as it is adapted to different business lines. Financial institutions are hoping blockchain can be adapted to simplify and lower the costs of processes such as securities settlement, loan trading and international money transfers. Dimon predicted big losses for bitcoin buyers. “Don’t ask me to short it. It could be at $20,000 before this happens, but it will eventually blow up.” he said.

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From Reagan’s Budget Director.

America’s Fiscal Doomsday Machine (Stockman)

Maybe the Democrats did win the 2016 election. Or at least the the Deep State and its accomplices among the beltway political class, K-Street lobbies and the media did. That’s because the media won a giant victory against something they deplore and despise more than anything else — the public debt ceiling. They sanctimoniously admonish that it’s a relic of the nation’s fiscally benighted past. They operate on a belief that this is an episodic tendency to threaten America’s credit and to offer Capitol Hill an opening to grandstand about the fiscal verities is a blight on orderly governance. So the Donald’s latest burst of impetuosity — agreeing with Sen. Schumer to permanently abolish the public debt ceiling — has descended on the beltway like manna from heaven.

Not Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter or even the Great Texas Porker, Lyndon Johnson, dared to utter the thought of it — at least not in polite company. Suddenly, and notwithstanding all the good he has done disrupting the status quo, the Donald has become the foremost enemy of America’s very financial survival. The Federal budget is a Fiscal Doomsday Machine. The depository of American wars and entitlements have run rampant. Under the pile drivers of a global empire and the retiring baby boom, it is rapidly propelling the nation toward fiscal catastrophe. That grim outcome is virtually guaranteed if the only remaining safety brake — the debt ceiling — is summarily abolished. Due to entitlements, debt service and the slow pipeline of appropriated spending there is no such thing as an annual Federal budget or accountability for how much Uncle Sam spends and borrows.

Instead, the $4.1 trillion that Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the Federal government will spend in FY 2018, and the $563 billion it will borrow, reflects the dead hand of the past. Entitlements and other mandatory spending alone is projected to reach $2.566 trillion or 63% of total FY 2018 outlays. Another $307 billion will be required for interest on the nation’s $20 trillion public debt, while upwards of half the $1.22 trillion for so-called “discretionary” or appropriated programs also reflects funds appropriated years ago. Altogether, $3.5 trillion, or 85% of outlays, will be essentially baked into the cake before a single Congressional vote is taken on anything regarding the FY 2018 budget.

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They just want to lend more.

IMF Is Resisting A Moratorium On Barbuda’s Sovereign Debt Repayments (Ind.)

The IMF is resisting putting a moratorium on Barbuda’s sovereign debt repayments in the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Irma on the tiny Caribbean island. Barbuda is said to have lost around 90% of its structures in the wake of the storm and the national repair and reconstruction bill has been estimated at $150m. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has also said that around half or the island’s population of 1,600 is now homeless. Yet Antigua and Barbuda have debt with the IMF of around $15.8m and a coalition of US faith institutions have been calling on the Fund to pause the repayments of states battered by the hurricane. However, the IMF’s special representative to the UN, Christopher Lane, reportedly suggested late last week that the Fund would rather lend more money to the island, rather than stop collecting the repayments due.

“Our general view is that we’d rather put new money in than to have moratoria,” he said, according to Court House News. Stressing that were technical and political difficulties in simply stopping the debt collection he said: “We borrow money from our members who lend. So we’d have to get agreement from the lending parties.” “We might borrow money from the United States and loan that to Antigua. If we don’t get paid back on time, we’d have to make an arrangement with the source of the funds themselves. It gets a bit arcane, but there’s a number of constraints on how we operate. We’re like a bank. We borrow and lend.”

In a letter to the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde on 7 September the Jubilee USA network wrote: “We invite the IMF to implement an immediate moratorium on debt payments for countries severely impacted by the Category 5 storm until they have rebuilt and recovered.” “For example, the nation of Antigua and Barbuda has almost $3m in debt payments due to the Fund today and a debt payment moratorium could immediately be put into rebuilding Barbuda where almost the entire population is homeless.” The group also urged that further IMF reconstruction payments to Barbuda, and other affected islands, should be in the form of grants, rather than loans.

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All major banks are.

UK’s High Street Banks Are Accident Waiting To Happen (G.)

The UK’s high street banks are an accident waiting to happen and could struggle in another financial crisis, according to a report published on Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the run on Northern Rock. The report criticises the annual health checks – stress tests – that have been conducted by the Bank of England since the crisis and concludes that the methodology used by Threadneedle Street is flawed and the tests not gruelling enough. [..] Kevin Dowd, a professor of finance and economics at Durham University and a long-standing critic of the stress tests, said the Bank does not use the correct measures to assess the health of the banking system. Dowd is also a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, a rightwing thinktank. His analysis – which the Bank of England has previously rejected – focuses on the health check of the major lenders published last November.

Those tests were based on a number of hypothetical scenarios including house prices falling and the global economy contracting by 1.9%. Royal Bank of Scotland failed the test and Barclays and Standard Chartered would both have struggled to cope. Dowd argued that the scenarios were “hardly doomsday” and disputes the way banks’ capital strength is measured. “The stress tests are about as useful as a cancer test that cannot detect cancer. They seek to demonstrate a financial resilience on the part of UK banks that simply isn’t there,” said Dowd in the report. “Our banking system is an accident waiting to happen.” The Bank uses the value of assets as calculated by the banks rather than their value on the markets which, he argued, would give a more accurate assessment of their financial health. “It is disturbing that 10 years on from Northern Rock, the best measures of leverage – those based on market values – indicate that UK banks are even more leveraged than they were then,” said Dowd.

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“American warfare in 7 different countries..”

We Must Repeal The Authorization For The Use Of Military Force (Rand Paul)

As Congress takes up the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will insist it vote on my amendment to sunset the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for the Use of Military Force. Why? Because these authorizations to use military force are inappropriately being used to justify American warfare in 7 different countries. Sunsetting both AUMFs will force a debate on whether we continue the Afghanistan war, the Libya war, the Yemen war, the Syria war, and other interventions. Our military trains our soldiers to be focused and disciplined, yet the politicians who send them to fight have for years ignored those traits when developing our foreign policy. The result? Trillions spent in seemingly endless conflicts in every corner of the globe, while we find ourselves 16 years into the war in Afghanistan wondering what our purpose there even is any more, or if we’ll ever bring our troops home.

If we don’t get this rudderless foreign policy under control now, we’ll still be asking the same questions another 16 years down the road. It’s time to demand the policymakers take their own jobs as seriously as the men and women we ask to risk it all for our nation. Doing so means restoring constitutional checks and balances. Congress has no greater responsibility than defending our country, and the Founders entrusted it with the power of declaring war because they wanted such a weighty decision to be thoroughly debated by the legislature instead of unilaterally made by the Executive branch. Yet Congress has largely abdicated its role anyways, and its sidekick status was plainly evident when former President Obama proposed a new AUMF for the fight against ISIS while insisting he really had all the authority he needed – it being more of a “wouldn’t it be nice” afterthought than an acknowledgement of any required step.

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Not a lot of insight into what’s wrong with US Democrats.

Democrats Fought For 25 Years Over Single-Payer. Now Many Back Sanders (Sirota)

When U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ introduces his Medicare-for-All legislation on Wednesday, advocates of a single-payer, government-sponsored health care hope it will be the end of a bitterly fought policy battle that has roiled the Democratic Party for generations. Since Democratic President Harry Truman first proposed a government-sponsored universal health care system in 1945 — and since a Democratic president and Democratic congress first enacted Medicare and Medicaid in the mid-1960s — progressives have hoped that the United States would follow other industrialized countries by guaranteeing health care to all citizens. Indeed, many of the original proponents of Medicare hoped the system would ultimately be expanded to cover the entire country — as former Social Security commissioner Robert Ball wrote, “We expected Medicare to be a first step toward universal national health insurance.”

And although the intervening years saw the rise of Republican President Ronald Reagan, who derided “socialized medicine,” some Democrats continued to champion the idea. The party’s 1992 presidential contender Jerry Brown ran for the White House promising to support single-payer. But when Bill Clinton defeated him and won the presidency, the Clinton administration opted to back health care reforms that preserved the existing private insurance system — even as Hillary Clinton made favorable comments about single-payer. A generation later, Barack Obama also retreated from single-payer, and instead pushed the Affordable Care Act, which subsidizes the private insurance system.

Now, things appear once again to be shifting. Even as Sanders has declared that his Medicare-for-All bill is not a litmus test, Democrats from across the party’s ideological spectrum are flocking to his legislation. On the progressive side, Democratic senators such as Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR) and Al Franken (MN) have signed onto the legislation. Within the party establishment, former Vice President Al Gore has expressed support, as has conservative former Sen. Max Baucus — one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act whom single-payer advocates saw as a nemesis. With polls showing rising support for government-sponsored health care, the party’s long civil war over the issue may be over, potentially allowing a more unified party to campaign on Medicare-for-All in 2018.

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China has hardly enough land to feed its people.

China Plans Nationwide Use Of Ethanol Gasoline By 2020 (R.)

China plans to roll out the use of ethanol in gasoline nationally by 2020, state media reported on Wednesday citing a government document, as Beijing intensifies its push to boost industrial demand for corn and clean up choking smog. It’s the first time the government has set a targeted timeline for pushing the biofuel, known as E10 and containing 10% corn, across the world’s largest car market, although it has yet to announce a formal policy. Mandates requiring that a minimum amount of biofuel must be blended into fuel for the nation’s cars, similar to the United States and Brazil, are currently set at a provincial level. “This news has greatly boosted confidence inside the industry,” said Michael Mao, analyst with Sublime China Information, adding that without government support ethanol would likely be too expensive to survive in the market.

Shares in biofuel producers rallied on the news, with Shandong Longlive Bio-Technology Co surging 10%, on track for its biggest one-day gain since December 2015. Major producer COFCO Biochemical Anhui Co, a listed unit of state-owned grains trader COFCO, was up almost 6%. A renewed effort to promote the nation’s fledging biofuels industry will be a further blow to major oil producers. On Saturday, the government said it has begun studying when to ban the production and sale of cars using traditional fuels. The news comes after the government said late last year it would aim to double ethanol output by 2020 amid growing pressure to whittle down mountains of ageing corn in state warehouses.

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Some good points, but needs much more work.

Capitalism Can’t Save The Planet – It Can Only Destroy It (Monbiot)

There was “a flaw” in the theory: this is the famous admission by Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, to a congressional inquiry into the 2008 financial crisis. His belief that the self-interest of the lending institutions would lead automatically to the correction of financial markets had proved wrong. Now, in the midst of the environmental crisis, we await a similar admission. We may be waiting some time. For, as in Greenspan’s theory of the financial system, there cannot be a problem. The market is meant to be self-correcting: that’s what the theory says. As Milton Friedman, one of the architects of neoliberal ideology, put it: “Ecological values can find their natural space in the market, like any other consumer demand.” As long as environmental goods are correctly priced, neither planning nor regulation is required.

Any attempt by governments or citizens to change the likely course of events is unwarranted and misguided. But there’s a flaw. Hurricanes do not respond to market signals. The plastic fibres in our oceans, food and drinking water do not respond to market signals. Nor does the collapse of insect populations, or coral reefs, or the extirpation of orangutans from Borneo. The unregulated market is as powerless in the face of these forces as the people in Florida who resolved to fight Hurricane Irma by shooting it. It is the wrong tool, the wrong approach, the wrong system. There are two inherent problems with the pricing of the living world and its destruction. The first is that it depends on attaching a financial value to items – such as human life, species and ecosystems – that cannot be redeemed for money. The second is that it seeks to quantify events and processes that cannot be reliably predicted.

[..] A system that depends on growth can survive only if we progressively lose our ability to make reasoned decisions. After our needs, then strong desires, then faint desires have been met, we must keep buying goods and services we neither need nor want, induced by marketing to abandon our discriminating faculties, and to succumb instead to impulse. [..] Continued economic growth depends on continued disposal: unless we rapidly junk the goods we buy, it fails. The growth economy and the throwaway society cannot be separated. Environmental destruction is not a byproduct of this system: it is a necessary element.


Illustration: Sebastien Thibault

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 January 23, 2015  Posted by at 11:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Harris&Ewing Army Day Parade, Memories of the World War, Washington DC Apr 6 1939

Love In A Time Of Crisis In Greece (BBC)
Syriza To End Greece’s ‘Humiliation’ (BBC)
Saudi King’s Death Clouds Already Tense Relationship With US (WSJ)
Saudi Oil Policy ‘Just Took A Turn For The Worse’ (Kilduff)
This Currency War Cannot Go Well: Art Cashin (CNBC)
SocGen Explains Why The ECB’s QE Will Fail (Zero Hedge)
Mario Draghi: Charlatan Of The Apparatchiks (David Stockman)
Mario Draghi’s QE Blitz May Save Southern Europe At Risk Of Losing Germany (AEP)
ECB Bond Plan Won’t Fix Europe’s Economy (CNBC)
QE For The Eurozone Is A Huge Confidence Trick. It Should Fool No One (Guardian)
Eurozone Stimulus Will ‘Reinforce Inequality’, Warns Soros (BBC)
Why We Were Right On QE: ECB Board Member (CNBC)
Larry Summers Warns Of Epochal Deflationary Crisis If Fed Tightens Too Soon (AEP)
How We’re Preparing For $25 Oil: Lukoil CEO (CNBC)
If Oil Drops Below $30 A Barrel, Brace For A Global Recession (MarketWatch)
Oil Drillers ‘Going to Die’ in 2Q on Crude Price Swoon (Bloomberg)
Asian Central Banks Under Pressure To Act (Reuters)
Is Bank Of Japan Governor Kuroda Losing Credibility? (CNBC)
Chinese Manufacturing Growth Stalls (BBC)
Denmark Ready to Dump Kroner on Market to Tame Hedge Funds (Bloomberg)
South Africa Rhino Poaching Record Set In 2014 (BBC)
Clock’s Ticking: Humanity ‘2 Minutes’ Closer To Its Doomsday (RT)

It’s downright criminal what the EU and ECB have accomplished: “Relationships are complicated these days,” says Katerina. “No-one is even thinking about getting married or having children.”

Love In A Time Of Crisis In Greece (BBC)

Amid its economic catastrophe, Athens is still a city of trendy cafes, cocktail bars and glamorous, air-kissing young people. As Greeks prepare to vote in Sunday’s general election, anti-austerity party Syriza is ahead in the polls and campaigning under the slogan, “Hope is on its way”. The average wage has fallen to €600 (£450: $690) a month; half of all young people are unemployed and the economy is barely emerging from six years of recession. But Greeks remain determined to maintain their hold on normality. “We don’t have much else,” they say, “we may as well enjoy our freddo cappuccinos.” But despite the drinking, flirting and dating, since the onset of financial disaster, a fundamental change has taken place in Greek society. Deejay Tommy, who works at the fashionable Opus bar in the south Athenian suburb of Glyfada, paints a sad picture of young Greeks waking up every day without a job.

“Things have lost a little bit of their romanticism,” he says. “The crisis has forced love to become a secondary priority. There are other things to worry about. I see many women looking for someone who will have money to take them out, who’ll take them on holidays. I see this quite a lot and it saddens me.” Down the road along the shoreline, the Bouzoukia clubs ring with live renditions of popular Greek love songs. Crowds sipping on vodka throw the singers red carnations and sing along to lyrics of heartbreak and pain. “We save up to come once every few months and we look forward to it,” says Katerina Fotopoulou, 30, at a table with her friends. “We don’t have the money to do much any more. We’re always talking about future plans, going on holiday, but no-one ever does anything.” Living at home, Katerina describes herself as an adult forced to live as a teenager, her life put on hold. Compared with other Europeans, Greeks are still fairly traditional.

For many young women, it is awkward bringing a boyfriend through the front door to meet the parents. And that poses a problem, considering the high numbers unable to afford a place of their own. “Relationships are complicated these days,” says Katerina. “No-one is even thinking about getting married or having children.” Indeed, Greece’s population is shrinking at an increasing pace according to data released by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (Elstat). Since Greece first signed its EU-IMF bailout agreement the number of births has declined rapidly. In 2010 there were 114,766 live births, and by 2013 that number had declined by almost 20,000 (94,134). Obstetrician Leonidas Papadopoulos says miscarriages at the Leto maternity hospital have doubled over the past year. “Maybe it’s down to stress,” he says. “There is no proof, but you can see it in the eyes of the people, there is stress and fear for the future.”

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“On Monday, national humiliation will be over. We will finish with orders from abroad..”

Syriza To End Greece’s ‘Humiliation’ (BBC)

The leader of Greek left-wing party Syriza says an end to “national humiliation” is near, as opinion polls put the party ahead three days before the general election. Alexis Tsipras asked supporters for a clear mandate to enable him to end the country’s austerity policies. He repeated his promise to have half of Greece’s international debt written off when the current bailout deal ends. Greece has endured deep budget cuts tied to the massive bailout. Sunday’s election is being closely watched by financial markets which fear that a Syriza victory could lead Greece to default on its debt and exit from the euro.

“On Monday, national humiliation will be over. We will finish with orders from abroad,” Mr Tsipras told thousands of cheering supporters at the party’s final election rally in Athens. “We are asking for a first chance for Syriza. It might be the last chance for Greece.” Greece has gone through a deep recession and still has a quarter of its workforce unemployed. However, there have been warnings that a Syriza victory could lead to a dangerous confrontation with other eurozone countries. Syriza is tipped to win but without an outright majority, and analysts say the party may struggle to find a coalition partner. Mr Tsipras has said he will not govern with those who support what he has called the policies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany is seen in Greece as taking the hardest line on its debt. Earlier this month, a spokesman for Mrs Merkel said Germany expected Greece to uphold the terms of its international bailout agreement. Under those terms, the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank – the so-called troika – supported Greece with the promise of €240bn (£188bn) in return for budget cuts and economic reforms. Latest polls show Syriza widening its lead over Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s centre-right New Democracy party. A poll to be published on Friday by Metron Analysis put Syriza’s lead over New Democracy up to 5.3% percentage points from 4.6 points. Another poll, by Rass, had Syriza 4.8 points in the lead.

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Things may not run as smoothly as many seem to think.

Saudi King’s Death Clouds Already Tense Relationship With US (WSJ)

U.S. officials worry that the death of Saudi King Abdullah ushers in a period of new uncertainty in a key relationship that already was tense. In the short term, the death of the king actually might ease strains in the relationship. The Saudi kingdom, as it enters a period of transition, may feel more vulnerable to external threats and eager to show the world that it still has the solid of backing of the U.S.—the country the kingdom always has seen as its ultimate protector. But in the longer term, the transition raises questions about how the new Saudi leadership will see its relations with the region and the wider world. Most likely, it will be a period of what longtime Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross calls “collective leadership.”

That in turn may reduce the Saudis’ ability to move decisively on the difficult and contentious issues—toward Iran, Iraq and the Islamic State uprising, as well as oil policy—that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been trying to address together. “I think you get more cautious decision-making,” said Mr. Ross. King Abdullah was seen as a reformer and relatively pro-American when he took office, though he became more repressive internally and less fond of the U.S. over time. The recent sentence of 1,000 lashes given to a writer convicted of insulting Islam sparked widespread condemnation in the West, including from the U.S. State Department. The late Saudi monarch was incensed by President Barack Obama ’s failure to follow through on his threats in 2013 to launch military strikes on the Syrian regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

And Riyadh didn’t believe the White House showed strong enough support for Mideast allies, particularly in Egypt, following the eruption of Arab Spring revolts in 2010. Secret talks between the U.S. and Iran—the country the Saudis most fear—over Tehran’s nuclear program also were viewed in Riyadh as a sign of a weakening American-Saudi alliance and proof that the White House was willing to work behind King Abdullah’s back, according to Saudi officials. The new king, the late ruler’s half-brother, Salman bin Abdul Aziz, is less well known and not considered a strong or healthy leader in his own right. That raises questions among U.S. officials about if or how quickly he will be able to consolidate power. As a result, American officials are likely to be guessing to some extent about who is in charge.

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“King Abdullah did push for modernization of Saudi society, allowing for more rights for women, but those efforts are now likely to be tabled.”

Saudi Oil Policy ‘Just Took A Turn For The Worse’ (Kilduff)

In earlier time, the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud would have rocked the oil market. The succession plan has always pointed in a direction away from U.S. interests and a turn toward an even harder line on Middle East issues. The antipathy toward Iran will be levered up, and the various Sunni-Shia battles will likely see greater escalation. Oil prices have quickly jumped $1.00 per barrel on the news in a knee-jerk reaction to the uncertainty. What is more likely is an even greater commitment to over supplying the market, in attempt to drive out higher cost producers and hurting Iran and Russia as an additional benefit. King Abdullah did push for modernization of Saudi society, allowing for more rights for women, but those efforts are now likely to be tabled.

There is a famous picture of King Abdullah walking and-in-hand with President George W. Bush through a patch of Blue Bonnets at W’s ranch in Crawford Texas, when oil prices were surging circa 2007. While the short-term plan is likely to attempt to hurt frackers, Iran and Russia via an over-supplied market, the longer-term implications are for oil supply policies that are more hostile toward western consumers. In addition, the appetite for bringing the proxy war to Iran and other Shiite factions in the region will rise, which result in a return of the geopolitical risk premium in the years ahead. U.S.-Saudi relations and longer-term Saudi oil production policy just took a turn for the worse with the death of King Abdullah.

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“This currency war cannot go well. They never have.”

This Currency War Cannot Go Well: Art Cashin (CNBC)

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s quantitative easing announcement Thursday may have been the latest salvo in a currency war, but veteran trader Art Cashin told CNBC that war is being played like a chess match. However, that will change at some point. “That laid-back cerebral attitude is going to disappear. At some point somebody is going to get their currency to a place where it’s going to cause enough pain to somebody else and then it’s going to turn into a real war,” Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS at the New York Stock Exchange, said in an interview with “Squawk on the Street.” On Thursday, the ECB announced an open-ended bond-buying program of 60 billion euros ($70 billion) a month in an effort to boost the region’s low inflation rate.

In fact, Cashin believes about the only thing the ECB achieved was a weaker euro and “not much else.” “The reliance on the LTROs [long-term refinancing operation] again is not going to increase bank lending in Europe as far as I can tell,” he noted. Cashin also expects the waves of deflation to get stronger as currencies fall. “These nations have been exporting deflation but it just hasn’t turned into a tsunami yet,” he said. “When it gets close to that then you’re going to see central banks around the world decide they better get a bit more cooperative.” “This currency war cannot go well. They never have.”

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“.. for inflation to reach close to a 2.0% threshold medium term, the potential amount of asset purchases needed is €2-3 trillion, not a mere €1 trillion.”

SocGen Explains Why The ECB’s QE Will Fail: It’s Not Big Enough (Zero Hedge)

There are a bunch of things in the ECB post-mortem note just released by SocGen’s Michel Martinez, reproduced below, but here are the punchlines. First, on the impact of ECB QE on the economy: “we argue ECB QE could be five times less efficient than in the US. In December, press reports suggested that the ECB had run studies suggesting that a €1000bn QE programme would only boost price levels by 0.2-0.8% after two years, five to nine times less efficient than the studies for the US or the UK. The impact on GDP is not provided, but it would be reasonable to assume the same impact as on inflation on a cumulated basis.”

In other words, it will be an outright failure as it “tries” to boost inflation expectations and the European economy in its current format. That, as a reminder, is its stated purpose. So what does SocGen suggest? Simple: the same thing every Keynesian says when justifying why a piece of occult economic voodoo fails to work: it wasn’t big enough. To wit: “The potential amount of QE needed is €2-3 trillion! Hence for inflation to reach close to a 2.0% threshold medium term, the potential amount of asset purchases needed is €2-3 trillion, not a mere €1 trillion.”

And since there is nowhere near enough bond supply in Europe, the ECB will have to proceed with monetizing, drumroll, stocks. Should the ECB target such an expansion of its balance sheet, it would have to ease some conditions on its bond purchases (liquidity rule, quality…) or contemplate other asset classes- equity stocks, Real Estate Investment Trust-(REIT), Exchange-traded fund (ETF)…- as the BoJ, previously. Because what tens of millions of unemployed Europeans really need to help their lot in life, and to boost their confidence, is for the central bank to buy the stocks sold by the richest 0.001%.

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“The ECB has launched into a massive bond buying campaign for the sole purpose of redeeming Mario Draghi’s utterly foolish promise to make speculators stupendously rich..”

Mario Draghi: Charlatan Of The Apparatchiks (David Stockman)

Well, he finally launched “whatever it takes” and that marks an inflection point. Mario Draghi has just proved that the servile apparatchiks who run the world’s major central banks will stop at nothing to appease the truculent gamblers they have unleashed in the casino. And that means there will eventually be a monumental crash landing because the bubble beneficiaries are now commanding the bubble makers. There is not one rational reason why the ECB should be purchasing $1.24 trillion of existing sovereign bonds and other debt securities during the next 18 months. Forget all the ritual incantation emanating from the central bankers about fighting deflation and stimulating growth. The ECB has launched into a massive bond buying campaign for the sole purpose of redeeming Mario Draghi’s utterly foolish promise to make speculators stupendously rich by the simple act of buying now (and on huge repo leverage, too) what he guaranteed the ECB would be buying latter.

So today’s program amounts to a giant bailout in the form of a big fat central bank “bid” designed to prop up prices in the immense parking lot of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese etc. debt that has been accumulated by hedge funds, prop traders and other rank speculators since mid-2012. Never before have so few – perhaps several thousand banks and funds – been pleasured with so many hundreds of billions of ill-gotten gain. Robin Hood is spinning madly in his grave. The claim that euro zone economies are sputtering owing to “low-flation” is just plain ridiculous. For the first time in decades, consumers have been blessed with approximate price stability on a year/year basis, and this fortunate outbreak of honest money is mainly due to the global collapse of oil prices—not some insidious domestic disease called “deflation”. Besides, there is not an iota of proof that real production and wealth increases faster at a 2% CPI inflation rate compared to 1% or 0%.

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“Ultimately, €1.1 trillion over 18 months versus euro area GDP is roughly a third of what the BOE or Fed did under similar circumstances..”

Mario Draghi’s QE Blitz May Save Southern Europe At Risk Of Losing Germany (AEP)

Mario Draghi has achieved a spectacular triumph. His headline offering of €60bn a month in quantitative easing comes in the face of scorched-earth resistance from the German Bundesbank and the EMU creditor core. It is finally big enough to make an economic difference. Yet today’s shock-and-awe action by the ECB comes three years late, after the eurozone has already been allowed to drift into deflation, and very nearly into a triple-dip recession. The fact that the ECB is having to act on this scale a full six years into the world’s post-Lehman recovery is in itself an admission that policy has been horribly behind the curve. Mr Draghi told us year ago in Davos that warnings of deflation were jejune and that QE was out of the question. His hands were tied, of course, whatever he really thought at the time. He could not move too far beyond the ECB’s centre of gravity. He had to demonstrate that all else had failed, and all else did then fail.

It comes after six years of mass unemployment that has ravaged southern Europe, eroded the job skills of a rising generation, left hysteresis scars, and lowered the growth trajectory and productivity speed limit of these countries for a quarter century hence. It comes as the eurozone’s GDP is still languishing well below its pre-Lehman peak, with Italian industrial output down 24pc, back to levels first achieved in 1980. The bond purchases will not begin until March. They are cribbed about with conditions that may ultimately prove damaging and possibly fatal. Adam Posen, head of Washington’s Peterson Institute, said the QE blitz is large, but not as overwhelming as some think. “It will make some difference. It’s not going to be enough to fully offset deflationary forces, let alone restore growth, but to the degree that Draghi was able to make it sound open ended is a good thing,” he said.

“Ultimately, €1.1 trillion over 18 months versus euro area GDP is roughly a third of what the BOE or Fed did under similar circumstances, and it’s likely to take more money to get the same effect in Europe right now,” he said. The limits of delayed action are by now well known. Bond yields are already down to 14th Century lows. The ECB cannot force them much lower, though Mr Draghi did say cheerfully that it would buy debt with negative rates, prompting audible murmurs of alarm from German journalists. The decision amounts to an act of political defiance by a majority bloc in the Governing Council – unmistakably a debtors’ cartel of Latin states and like-minded states – and therefore opens an entirely new chapter of the EMU story. This Latin revolt is to violate the sacred contract of EMU: that Germany gave up the D-Mark and bequeathed the Bundesbank’s legacy to the ECB on the one condition that Germany would never be out-voted on monetary issues of critical importance.

Nor is the irritation confined to Germany. The Tweede Kamer of the Dutch parliament was up in arms today, the scene of fulminating protests from across the party spectrum. “Dutch taxpayers should not be made liable for the debts of the Italian state,” said the liberal VVD party. Mr Draghi said there was a “large majority on the need to trigger (QE) now, so large we didn’t need to vote”. That is an elegant way to describe a pitched battle. No doubt we will learn over coming days just how many hawks voiced their protest, and with what vehemence. He also said that the decision to pool 20pc of the risk through collective purchases was pushed through by “consensus”, the ECB’s euphemistic term for disagreement. This is an uncomfortable fudge.

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“Outside the U.S., the rest of the world’s economy is grappling with dropping prices and slower growth. While the recent crash in oil prices has accelerated the trend, prices of raw materials and natural resources have been falling since the Great Recession ended.”

ECB Bond Plan Won’t Fix Europe’s Economy (CNBC)

It’s a start, but it’s not a cure for Europe’s deepening economic stagnation. Borrowing from the playbook of their U.S. and Japanese counterparts, European central bankers Thursday embarked on a highly anticipated plan to buy hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of government bonds to try to revive growth by pumping cash into the financial system. ECB President Mario Draghi announced an open-ended pledge to buy 60 billion euros ($70 billion) worth of private and public bonds every month in a program that could amount to as much as a trillion euros. The long-awaited—and, many say, long-overdue—program will start in March and last through September 2016, Draghi told reporters. The hope is that the bond-buying spree—known as quantitative easing—will help reverse a worrisome drop in prices that has recently spread throughout the euro zone.

First tried in Japan in the early 2000s, and then deployed in 2008 by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the goal of quantitative easing is to boost growth by lowering interest rates and making cash easier and cheaper to borrow, spurring lending and spending. In the U.S., Fed officials recently decided to end a third round of QE after sucking up more than $3 trillion in bonds. Though the Fed policy was not without critics, it is generally credited with helping to get the U.S. economy and banking system back on its feet after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Europe is not alone in facing the perils of falling prices and economic slowdown. Outside the U.S., the rest of the world’s economy is grappling with dropping prices and slower growth. While the recent crash in oil prices has accelerated the trend, prices of raw materials and natural resources have been falling since the Great Recession ended.

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“It was promised that it would yield new investment. It has not. It was promised that it would “pump money into the economy”. It has not.”

QE For The Eurozone Is A Huge Confidence Trick. It Should Fool No One (Guardian)

At last the euro’s lords and masters have accepted that something must be done about their zone’s lamentable growth. They will unleash a massive bond-buying programme totalling a reported €1tn. The former BBC economic pundit Stephanie Flanders told the world it was “Santa Claus time”; the ECB has ridden to the rescue. No it has not. Europe’s great and good, partying on the slopes of Davos, are like courtiers at the Congress of Vienna. They are blinded by snow and celebrities. Santa Claus gives presents to people; the ECB gives presents to its banks. It is merely tipping large sums of money into the vaults of precisely the institutions whose crazy lending caused the crash of 2008, and which have been failing Europe’s economy ever since. There is absolutely no requirement on these banks to release this money into private or commercial bank accounts.

Given the fear of over-lending that regulators have struck into bank bosses since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the money will simply build up reserves. That is exactly what has happened to quantitative easing in Britain since 2010: there has been no surge in bank lending, except into property investment. Quantitative easing is a gigantic confidence trick. It was promised that it would yield new investment. It has not. It was promised that it would “pump money into the economy”. It has not. It was also feared that printing money would lead to hyper-inflation. It has not, for the simple reason that no one gets to spend the money. It is a bookkeeping transaction between a central bank and a commercial bank. It means nothing as long as banks are told to build up their reserves. Money in circulation matters. The whole of Europe, including Britain, is chronically short of demand, which is why deflation is such a menace.

If no one can afford to buy anything, no one will sell anything or invest money in making anything. The chronic imbalance between northern and southern states of the eurozone, previously ameliorated by selective devaluation, has bound poor and rich countries alike in a rictus of cash starvation. Collapsing demand drives down prices and profits; there is nothing for banks to invest in. The Chinese are laughing. Greece and some other Mediterranean economies are facing poverty not seen in half a century. A return to normal growth means they must declare themselves bankrupt, restructure past debts, leave the eurozone and devalue. Don’t bury money in their banks. Bury it in their wallet. The eurozone may still look great from the top of a Swiss mountain; it looks terrible from the foot of the Acropolis.

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“There is one large untapped source of triple-A credit, and that is the European Union itself – that has practically no debt, but it has taxing power..”

Eurozone Stimulus Will ‘Reinforce Inequality’, Warns Soros (BBC)

Billionaire investor George Soros has warned that the aggressive stimulus policy rolled-out by the ECB could “reinforce inequality” in the EU. The ECB committed to injecting at least €1.1 trillion into the ailing eurozone economy. Mr Soros added that the measures could have “serious political repercussions”. But he emphasised that he expected the ECB’s policy to drive economic growth in the European Union. Speaking at a dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the 84-year-old, who was born in Hungary, voiced concerns that an “excessive reliance on monetary policy tends to enrich the owners of property and at the same time will not relieve the downward pressure on wages.” The ECB’s favoured method, known as quantitative easing, amounted to a “very powerful set of measures,” said the financier, and had “exceeded the very high expectations of the markets.”

However he twice cautioned that quantitative easing would “increase inequality between rich and poor, both in regards of the countries and people”. Asked if he worried that the newest round of quantitative easing, which essentially pumps more money into the eurozone, would lead some EU states to delay economic reforms, Mr Soros said that if there were growth, it would actually make it easier for countries like France to change their financial systems. He also said there was another powerful way of boosting the Eurozone economy. “There is one large untapped source of triple-A credit, and that is the European Union itself – that has practically no debt, but it has taxing power,” he said, urging the EU to spend more on financing infrastructure projects, such as energy pipelines, electricity networks and even roads.

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“It will work because it is big, because it’s strong, and because it’s open-ended.”

Why We Were Right On QE: ECB Board Member (CNBC)

Even before the ECB’s decision to launch a quantitative easing program was announced on Thursday, it was controversial. However, Benoit Coeuere, one of the bank’s key decision-makers, insisted to CNBC that the trillion-euro launch had been the right move. The slightly larger-than-expected program, which will see the ECB buy 60 billion euros ($69 billion) worth of corporate and government bonds a month for at least 18 months, was welcomed in global stock markets, with US and European equity markets rising after its announcement Thursday afternoon. “It shows that the program is credible for market participants,” Benoit Coeure, the French economist who has served as part of the ECB’s executive board since 2011, told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“It will work because it is big, because it’s strong, and because it’s open-ended.” Spooked by the specter of looming deflation and slowing economic growth, the ECB is now planning to provide a fillip to the euro zone’s economy by buying sovereign bonds from March until at least September 2016, or until inflation shows signs of picking up pace. “Lights were blinking red across our dashboard and we had to do something. The only question was what was the right instrument?” Coeure said Coeure admitted that there had been divisions on the board over the program in recent months, with some thinking it was too early and some too late. However, this month there was an “overwhelming majority” in favor of launching it, he added.

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Ray Dalio: “Back then we could lower interest rates. If we hadn’t done so, it would have been disastrous. We can’t lower interest rates now,”

Larry Summers Warns Of Epochal Deflationary Crisis If Fed Tightens Too Soon (AEP)

The United States risks a deflationary spiral and a depression-trap that would engulf the world if the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy too soon, a top panel of experts has warned. “Deflation and secular stagnation are the threats of our time. The risks are enormously asymmetric,” said Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary. “There is no confident basis for tightening. The Fed should not be fighting against inflation until it sees the whites of its eyes. That is a long way off,” he said, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Mr Summers said the world economy is entering treacherous waters as the US expansion enters its seventh year, reaching the typical life-expectancy of recoveries. “Nobody over the last fifty years, not the IMF, not the US Treasury, has predicted any of the recessions a year in advance, never.” When the recessions did strike, the US needed rate cuts of three or four percentage points on average to combat the downturn. This time the Fed has no such ammunition left.

“Are we anywhere near the point when we have 3pc or 4pc running room to cut rates? This is why I am worried,” he told a Bloomberg forum. Any error at this critical juncture could set off a “spiral to deflation” that would be extremely hard to reverse. The US still faces an intractable unemployment crisis after a full six years of zero rates and quantitative easing, with very high jobless rates even among males aged 25-54 – the cohort usually keenest to work – and despite America’s lean and efficient labour markets. Mr Summers warned that this may be a harbinger of deeper trouble as technological leaps leave more and more people shut out of the work-force, and should be a cautionary warning to those in Europe who imagine that structural reforms alone will solve their unemployment crisis. “If the US is in a bad place, we are short of any engine at the moment, so I hope you are wrong,” said Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF.

Mrs Lagarde said the IMF expects the Fed to raise rates in the middle of the year, sooner than markets expect. “This is good news in and of itself, but the consequences are a different story: there will be spillovers. One thing for sure is that we are in uncharted territory,” she said. Worries about the underlying weakness of the US economy were echoed by Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, who said the “central bank supercycle” of ever-lower interest rates and ever-more debt creation has reached its limits. Interest rate spreads are already so compressed that the transmission mechanism of monetary policy has broken down. “We are in a deflationary set of circumstances. This is going to call into question the value of holding money. People may start putting it in their mattress.”

Mr Dalio said the global economy is in a similar situation to the early Reagan-era from 1980-1985 when the dollar was surging, setting off a “short squeeze” for those lenders across the world who borrowed in dollars during the boom. There is one big difference today, and that is what makes it so ominous. “Back then we could lower interest rates. If we hadn’t done so, it would have been disastrous. We can’t lower interest rates now,” he said.

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“With oil companies staring down the barrel of low prices, they are realising that they have to prepare for ever more drastic scenarios.”

How We’re Preparing For $25 Oil: Lukoil CEO (CNBC)

With oil companies staring down the barrel of low prices, they are realising that they have to prepare for ever more drastic scenarios. Lukoil, the Russian oil company, has stress tested its business for the oil price falling to $25 a barrel, Vagit Alekperov, the company’s chief executive, told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Brent crude was changing hands at close to $110 a barrel just a year ago, but has plummeted in recent months as the global economy performed worse than hoped, but supply continued at previous levels. On Friday, news that Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud passed away sent oil prices sharply higher.

“We think that the current trends in the oil market and the global economy are only pushing the world oil to lower levels. We think the crisis is only at its earliest stages and the demand situation in world market is not really conducive to oil prices going up,” Alekperov warned. Lukoil, like other Russian businesses, has been affected by sanctions imposed by Western governments. A planned joint venture with French oil giant Total was scrapped in September. Lukoil, like other Russian companies, will also find it difficult to raise money internationally, or to repay international loans as the value of the rouble has tumbled. “The sanctions obviously limit our access to locality and financing. And over the past 25 years, we’ve been heavily integrated into the international community in terms of technology and financing,” Alekperov said. “These will have a telling impact on us.”

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“..a signal that worldwide demand is contracting so quickly that oil prices must quickly decline to reflect that fact.”

If Oil Drops Below $30 A Barrel, Brace For A Global Recession (MarketWatch)

The price of oil is about $17 a barrel away from signaling that a global recession is inevitable, according to a new survey of investment professionals. The survey from ConvergEx Group polled 306 investment professionals, asking, among other things, what oil price would show that a global recession was inevitable. “The idea behind this question was simple — at some point oil prices aren’t just a nice theoretical tailwind for global economies,” said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx, in a note. “Rather, they become a signal that worldwide demand is contracting so quickly that oil prices must quickly decline to reflect that fact.” The most common answer was $30 a barrel, from 26% of respondents, with $35 a barrel being the second most common answer (16% of respondents). All told, 62% of respondents said $30 or lower crude was a global recession’s canary in a coal mine.

More than half those surveyed represented buy-side firms such as asset managers and hedge funds, and about a quarter of them were from sell-side firms such as banks or broker dealers, according to ConvergEx. Crude oil for March delivery settled down $1.47, or 3.1%, at $46.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday, as U.S. inventories for this time of year hit their highest level in eight decades. About 68% of the respondents said oil hasn’t reached a bottom yet, and only 20% think it already has. On Thursday, OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri said he thinks oil prices will stay where they are now, setting up for an eventual rebound. Recently, Iran’s oil minister said his country’s oil industry is not threatened by $25 a barrel prices.

While a continued slide in oil prices may seem foreboding, not many of those surveyed think oil will actually drop to such low prices. Only 8% of those polled believe oil will end 2015 at below $40 a barrel, with the vast majority thinking it will settle above that: 43% estimated $40 to $60 a barrel, and 42% expect $60 to $80 a barrel. Those estimates, however, appear to be fluid. A ConvergEx survey conducted in December, when oil was at $63 a barrel, showed 89% of respondents forecasting an end-of-2015 price of more than $60, and 47% estimating oil at $80 a barrel or more. Most are looking for oil prices to rebound while acknowledging that current prices are benefiting the U.S. economy. About 66% said current prices are a positive to the U.S. economy, but if oil prices keep sliding from current levels, the U.S. labor market will take a hit, according to 55% of respondents. “The bottom line here is that investors say the drop in oil prices has been a net positive thus far, but their forecast is less sunny,” said Colas.

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“When I saw WTI hit $65, I thought we’re going to be really busy with restructurings,” Young said. “When it hit the $40s, I knew we were looking at outright liquidations.”

Oil Drillers ‘Going to Die’ in 2Q on Crude Price Swoon (Bloomberg)

Oil drillers will begin collapsing under the weight of lower crude prices during the second quarter and energy explorers who employ them will shortly follow, according to Conway Mackenzie Inc., the largest U.S. restructuring firm. Companies that drill wells and manage fields on behalf of oil producers will be the first to fall after the benchmark American crude, West Texas Intermediate, lost 57% of its value in seven months, said John T. Young, whose firm led the city of Detroit through its 2013 bankruptcy. Oil companies have slashed thousands of jobs, delayed billions of dollars in projects and dropped or scaled back expansion plans in response to the prolonged rout in crude prices. For oilfield service providers that test wells and line the holes with steel and cement, the impact of price reductions forced upon them by explorers will start to pinch hard during the second quarter, Young said Thursday.

“The second quarter is going to be devastating for the service companies,” Young said in a telephone interview from Houston. “There are certainly companies that are going to die.” Oilfield-service providers are facing a “double-whammy,” he said. Even as oil companies are demanding 20% to 30% price reductions, they’re also extending wait times before paying their bills, enlarging cash-flow gaps for the drilling and equipment firms, he said. Young, who has restructured more than a dozen energy companies and advised Kirk Kerkorian’s Delta through its 2011 bankruptcy, is warning drillers to monitor whether the oil producers they work for have protected future cash flows with hedging instruments like swaps and collars.

The amount of projected 2015 oil and natural gas output a company has hedged is a strong indicator of whether they’ll be able to pay their bills, he said. Another important metric is how much is drawn on revolver loans, Young said. “I’m telling them they really have to keep an eye on this stuff and you’ve got to be the squeaky wheel,” he said. “You’ve got to start filing liens if you see a company starting to go down.” In the U.S., a lien is a legal claim against a debtor’s property to force payment of a delinquent bill. “When I saw WTI hit $65, I thought we’re going to be really busy with restructurings,” Young said. “When it hit the $40s, I knew we were looking at outright liquidations.”

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Asia has huge deflation risks.

Asian Central Banks Under Pressure To Act (Reuters)

Chinese factories were forced to cut prices for the sixth straight month in January to sell their products, while economic growth in South Korea slowed sharply, raising the prospect of more policy easing from major central banks in Asia. The weak manufacturing reading from China added to expectations that Beijing will have to announce fresh stimulus measures soon, and came a day after the European Central Bank took the ultimate leap and launched a huge bond-buying program as it tries to stave off deflation and kick-start growth. China’s manufacturing growth stalled for the second month in a row, the HSBC/Markit Flash Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey showed on Friday, while the sub-index for input prices fell to the lowest since the global financial crisis, reflecting a tumble in oil prices that is spreading disinflationary pressure throughout the globe.

Chinese companies again cut output prices, but more deeply than in December, eroding their profit margins and pointing to faltering demand. Analysts at Nomura saw more downside pressure on China’s producer prices, “enhancing our concerns over deflation”. “This looks like a trend and it will affect core inflation at some stage. So the PBOC will very likely react to such deflation concerns,” said Chang Chun Hua, an economist at Nomura, adding he expected the central bank to cut commercial banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) in the first quarter to free up more money to lend. News out of South Korea made for uncomfortable reading as well. Asia’s fourth-largest economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the October-December period on-quarter, less than half of the 0.9% gain in the third quarter. A senior statistics official from the central bank pointed to the uncertainty facing the trade-reliant economy, not least from the slowdown in China, South Korea’s biggest export market.

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What credibility?

Is Bank Of Japan Governor Kuroda Losing Credibility? (CNBC)

Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has frustrated investors with his habit of surprising markets, and now the central bank’s latest inflation forecast has some questioning his credibility. “Now that the BOJ has admitted to failing to meet its target and put its credibility on the line, the risk is that another round of asset purchases could provoke a negative reaction,” said Hiroaki Hayashi, at Fukokushinrai Life Insurance director of investment management, who expects the BOJ to ease further in April. On Wednesday, the BOJ cut its inflation forecast for the fiscal year starting in April 2015 to 1.0%, half of the 2% target it set nearly two years ago. The central bank cited the around 50% decline in oil prices over the past six months for the updated forecast, which was lower than many analysts had expected.

Officially, the central bank expects to exceed its 2% forecast in fiscal 2016, raising its core inflation forecast to 2.2% from 2.1%. Apparently undeterred, Kuroda insisted the 2% target will be met, just a little later than expected. “Consumer inflation will slow for the time being due to oil price falls,” he said at the press conference following the BOJ’s two-day policy meeting. “On the assumption that oil prices will flatten out at current levels and rise moderately ahead… we expect consumer inflation to reach 2% in a period centered on fiscal 2015.” “Governor Kuroda is being his bullish self – he really does believe his forecasts can be achieved. The point is to raise expectations that inflation will rise,” explained Mizuho Securities market economist Kenta Ishizu. Although he conceded that “most people in the markets don’t think the 2% inflation is going to become a reality.”

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Without the government, there is no growth left: “More monetary and fiscal easing measures will be needed to support growth in the coming months.”

Chinese Manufacturing Growth Stalls (BBC)

Activity in China’s vast manufacturing sector contracted for the second consecutive month, according to a preliminary survey on Friday. The HSBC/Markit flash purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was at 49.8 in January, up from 49.6 in December. But the index was still below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction in the sector. Firms cut prices for six months in a row to sell products, impacting profit margins, said the private survey. Economists had expected factory activity growth to continue to stall, with a Reuter’s poll forecasting a reading of 49.6. News of the contraction comes just days after Chinese authorities said growth in the world’s second largest economy had slowed to its weakest in 24 years. China’s economy expanded 7.4% in 2014 from a year ago, missing its official growth target of 7.5% for the first time in 15 years.

The recent data has stoked fears of deflation in China where producer prices have fallen for nearly three consecutive years. On the back of that, China’s annual consumer inflation hit a near five-year low of 1.5% in December. “Today’s data suggest that the manufacturing slowdown is still ongoing amidst weak domestic demand,” Qu Hongbin, a HSBC economist told Reuters. “More monetary and fiscal easing measures will be needed to support growth in the coming months.” Calls have been growing for more easing in China and the country’s central bank did surprise markets by unexpectedly cutting interest rates in November for the first time in over two years. Meanwhile, Asian markets ignored the weak data with both the Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng index up 1.8% and 1.3% respectively.

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The Danes would be better off with a dollar peg.

Denmark Ready to Dump Kroner on Market to Tame Hedge Funds (Bloomberg)

Denmark sent hedge funds and other speculators a clear message yesterday, daring them to test the full force of its monetary arsenal at their own peril. The central bank signaled it is ready to step up currency interventions and continue cutting rates to stamp out any lingering speculation it may be unable to defend its euro peg. “We have plenty of kroner,” Karsten Biltoft, head of communications at the central bank in Copenhagen, said in a phone interview. “We have the necessary tools in terms of interest-rate changes and interventions and we have a sufficient supply of Danish kroner.” The comments follow the central bank’s second rate cut in less than a week, with Governor Lars Rohde lowering the benchmark deposit rate to a record minus 0.35% yesterday.

That was more than expected by economists surveyed by Bloomberg and followed a 15 basis-point cut on Monday. The easing comes as the European Central Bank unveiled an historic bond-purchase program that drove the euro lower. Since Switzerland abandoned its euro peg on Jan. 15, the Danes have fought back conjecture they’ll be next after the krone rose to its strongest against the euro in 2 1/2 years. Denmark sold a record 50 billion kroner ($7.7 billion) from Jan. 15-20 to weaken the currency, Svenska Handelsbanken AB estimates. That’s equivalent to more than 10% of foreign reserves as of the end of December.

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Want your military to do something good?

South Africa Rhino Poaching Record Set In 2014 (BBC)

A record 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2014, a 21% increase on the previous year, officials have said. More than two-thirds were killed in the famed Kruger National Park. The last few years have all seen new records set, with poaching fuelled by the belief in countries like China and Vietnam that horns have medicinal properties. The lucrative market has attracted criminal gangs who use sophisticated technology to kill their quarry. South Africa’s environment minister Edna Molewa said more than 100 rhinos had been moved to “more secure locations” – some of them in neighbouring countries – in a bid to protect the animals. “Through this method we aim to create rhino strongholds, areas where rhino can be cost-effectively produced,” she said. Despite successes through the re-location programme, Ms Molewa said the figures killed each year remained “worryingly high”.

“The organised transnational illicit trade in rhino horn undermines our efforts,” she explained. “We therefore have to ensure that we continue to work together in stepping up all the measures that we have adopted. The environment minister described poaching as part of an “multi-billion dollar worldwide illicit trade”. Conservationists say they are facing an ever greater challenge to protect animals against poachers who are equipped with sophisticated tools such as night-vision goggles and long-range rifles. “Killing on this scale shows how rhino poaching is being increasingly undertaken by organised criminal syndicates,” said Dr Carlos Drews, WWF’s director of global species programme. “The country’s brave rangers are doing all they can to protect the rhinos but only a concerted global effort can stop this illegal trade. This includes South Africa scaling up its efforts to stop the poaching and Viet Nam taking urgent measures to reduce consumer demand.”

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Tick tick.

Clock’s Ticking: Humanity ‘2 Minutes’ Closer To Its Doomsday (RT)

Three minutes to midnight – with midnight being the figurative end of humanity – are left before apocalypse descends upon the planet, scientists announced on Thursday, as the minute hand of the iconic ‘Doomsday Clock’ was adjusted two minutes forward. “World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” Kennette Benedict, the executive director of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the organization behind the Doomsday Clock, announced on Thursday. Citing climate change and nuclear tensions, the latest decision to move the minute hand closer to midnight – thus pronouncing the world closer to its doom – was traditionally made by the Bulletin’s board of directors and the sponsors, including a number of Nobel laureates.

“Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity,” said Benedict, while breaking the news at an international conference in Washington. Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped to develop the first atomic weapons, the Bulletin created the Clock two years later, making midnight and countdown to zero the imagery of apocalypse and nuclear explosion. It was then seven minutes to midnight. This time, the decision to push the Clock forwards was made with the reference to “accelerating climate change coupled with inadequate international action to greenhouse gas emission,” as well as nuclear programs in US, Russia and other countries, and “the stalled reduction of nuclear warheads in Russian and US arsenals.”

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