Dec 262022
 
 December 26, 2022  Posted by at 10:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


Saul Leiter Man in straw hat 1955

 

Ukraine War Tolls Death Knell for NATO (Bhadrakuma)r
Putin Says He’s Ready To Negotiate ‘With Everyone Involved’ Over Ukraine (Hill)
Putin “Ready” To Negotiate, But West Wants To “Tear Apart” Russia (ZH)
Only One Nation Benefits From Sanctions On Russia – Minister (RT)
Erdogan Accuses West Of ‘Provocations’ Over Ukraine (RT)
West Issues Ultimatum To Serbia – Media (RT)
Ukraine Hits Airbase 300 Miles Deep into Russia (GR)
GOP Senators Blast McConnell For ‘Arrogance,’ Voter Betrayal (JTN)
Rand Paul Savages DC Elites With Epic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (DCE)
Rep. James Comer Calls For Defunding the FBI (DCE)
The Democrats are Now the War Party (Chris Hedges)
Soros Behind Twitter Operation to Shut Down Hunter Biden Laptop Story (BN)
In Post-Soviet Russia, New Years Remains A Bigger Holiday Than Christmas (RT)

 

 

What happened to us?
https://twitter.com/i/status/1607157558690676736

 

 

 

 

Musk

 

 

 

 

Stop now

 

 

Never leaves the human body

 

 

Control group

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved..”

Ukraine War Tolls Death Knell for NATO (Bhadrakuma)r

The defining moment in US President Joe Biden’s press conference at the White House last Wednesday, during President Zelensky’s visit, was his virtual admission that he is constrained in the proxy war in Ukraine, as European allies don’t want a war with Russia. To quote Biden, “Now, you say, ‘Why don’t we just give Ukraine everything there is to give?’ Well, for two reasons. One, there’s an entire Alliance that is critical to stay with Ukraine. And the idea that we would give Ukraine material that is fundamentally different than is already going there would have a prospect of breaking up NATO and breaking up the European Union and the rest of the world… I’ve spent several hundred hours face-to-face with our European allies and the heads of state of those countries, and making the case as to why it was overwhelmingly in their interest that they continue to support Ukraine… They understand it fully, but they’re not looking to go to war with Russia. They’re not looking for a third World War.”

Biden realised at that point that “I probably already said too much” and abruptly ended the press conference. He probably forgot that he was dwelling on the fragility of Western unity. The whole point is that the western commentariat largely forgets that Russia’s core agenda is not about territorial conquest — much as Ukraine is vital to Russian interests — but about NATO expansion. And that has not changed. Every now and then President Putin revisits the fundamental theme that the US consistently aimed to weaken and dismember Russia. As recently as last Wednesday, Putin invoked the Chechen war in the 1990s — “the use of international terrorists in the Caucasus, to finish off Russia and to split the Russian Federation… They [US] claimed to condemn al-Qaeda and other criminals, yet they considered using them on the territory of Russia as acceptable and provided all kinds of assistance to them, including material, information, political and any other support, notably military support, to encourage them to continue fighting against Russia.”

Putin has a phenomenal memory and would have been alluding to Biden’s careful choice of William Burns as his CIA chief. Burns was Moscow Embassy’s point person for Chechnya in the 1990s! Putin has now ordered a nation-wide campaign to root out the vast tentacles that the US intelligence planted on Russian soil for internal subversion. Carnegie, once headed by Burns, has since shut down its Moscow office, and the Russian staff fled to the West! The leitmotif of the expanded meeting of the Board of the Defence Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday, which Putin addressed, was the profound reality that Russia’s confrontation with the US is not going to end with Ukraine war. Putin exhorted the Russian top brass to “carefully analyse” the lessons of Ukraine and Syrian conflicts. Importantly, Putin said, “We will continue maintaining and improving the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved. This year, the level of modern armaments in the strategic nuclear forces has already exceeded 91 percent. We continue rearming the regiments of our strategic missile forces with modern missile systems with Avangard hypersonic warheads.”

Read more …

“..Zelensky has laid out a series of 10 conditions that must be met for peace to be achieved..”

That’s what you do when you’re losing.. You come with conditions.

Putin Says He’s Ready To Negotiate ‘With Everyone Involved’ Over Ukraine (Hill)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he’s ready to negotiate “with everyone involved” in the war with Ukraine. Putin told a Russian news reporter in an interview that aired on Russian media on Sunday that the Kremlin is ready to negotiate but their enemy are the ones refusing to talk. The comments from the Russian leader follow intense Russian shelling on the Ukrainian city of Kherson on Christmas Eve that killed at least 10 people and injured more than 50 others. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Russia as “absolute evil” on Saturday following the deadly strikes, which he said were for “the sake of intimidation and pleasure.” Zelensky and President Biden discussed what a “just peace” would look like when Zelensky visited the United States on Wednesday for his first international trip since the war started in February.


Zelensky has laid out a series of 10 conditions that must be met for peace to be achieved, including total Russian withdrawal from Ukrainian territory. This would also include a Russian withdrawal from the Crimean Peninsula under the Ukrainian demands. [..] Putin has previously called on Ukraine and the international community to recognize Crimea as part of Russia, which they have been unwilling to do. Putin said in the interview that Russia is defending its national interests and its citizens in the 10-month conflict, The Associated Press reported. But he said Russia is prepared to negotiate “some acceptable outcomes” with all participants in the conflict. Putin called the conflict a war for the first time in a televised news conference on Thursday, saying it is Russia’s goal to end it. He previously only referred to it as a “special military operation.”

Putin direct

Read more …

“..we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people..”

Putin “Ready” To Negotiate, But West Wants To “Tear Apart” Russia (ZH)

In a Sunday interview with Rossiya 1 state television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is now ready to negotiate an end to the conflict in Ukraine. However, he once again pointed the finger at the West for making any dialogue toward an acceptable end to the fighting all but impossible. “We are ready to negotiate with everyone involved about acceptable solutions, but that is up to them – we are not the ones refusing to negotiate, they are,” Putin said. “I believe that we are acting in the right direction, we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we have no other choice but to protect our citizens,” he added. From Moscow’s point of view, a signal of Ukraine’s ‘seriousness’ about talks would likely hinge on Kiev’s willingness to compromise on territorial concessions, especially regarding the Donbas in the east.


Additionally the Ukrainians would likely have to acknowledge Russian control over the Crimea. However, President Zelensky on Wednesday in his speech before Congress pledged “absolute victory” and has of late been vehement in rejecting any talk of letting go of territory as a non-starter, especially as the months-long Ukrainian counteroffensive has met with some significant successes.Also in the interview Putin continued his theme of the US and NATO waging a proxy war using Ukraine as a pawn. He said in the Sunday comments that the West is attempting to “tear apart” Russia. “At the core of it all is the policy of our geopolitical opponents, aiming to tear apart Russia, the historical Russia,” Putin said. “They have always tried to ‘divide and conquer’… Our goal is something else – to unite the Russian people.”

Read more …

“..were orchestrated to provide Europe with more expensive liquefied [natural] gas from America.”

Only One Nation Benefits From Sanctions On Russia – Minister (RT)

The sanctions the West has slapped on Russia over the Ukraine conflict are taking a heavy toll on the European economy, while the United States is the only actor profiting from the restrictions, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Saturday. Speaking to Asharq News daily, the minister claimed that Western sanctions had helped the Americans to achieve what they wanted, saying “their supplies of oil and gas to the European market have increased.” Energy shipments from the US, however, have proved costly for Europeans, resulting in skyrocketing inflation and decreased competitive power for European businesses, Siluanov said. According to the minister, both Western sanctions and the blasts that ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in late September “were orchestrated to provide Europe with more expensive liquefied [natural] gas from America.”

“America benefits, Europe loses,” he explained. Moscow has called the sabotage a terrorist attack, claiming that the US stood to benefit the most from the explosions. While Washington has denied any involvement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the incident as a “tremendous opportunity” for Europe to wean itself off of Russian energy. Siluanov went on to admit that sanctions have affected the Russian economy. “But they inflicted on the West no less, and perhaps even more pain,” he said, adding that the sanctions rhetoric has now become routine. The minister noted that the EU price cap on Russian oil “will certainly lead to price and market distortions,” reiterating Moscow’s position that it would not provide crude under contracts conforming to Western-mandated restrictions.

Russian oil companies are rerouting their oil shipments from the West in other directions, the minister said. “We will be looking for new markets, looking for new logistics. It is possible that this would be more expensive,” he stated. Earlier this month, the EU, the G7 countries and Australia introduced a price limit on Russian seaborne oil, set at $60 per barrel. The measure also prohibits Western companies from providing insurance and other services to shipments of Russian crude, unless the cargo is purchased at or below the indicated price. Following the move, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov warned that the restrictions would wreak havoc on global oil markets, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was not planning to sell oil to nations supporting the price cap.

Read more …

Erdogan plays his cards.

Erdogan Accuses West Of ‘Provocations’ Over Ukraine (RT)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has praised Türkiye’s role in securing a grain deal between Russia and Ukraine, claiming in a speech on Sunday that unlike Ankara, Western nations did not make any tangible diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict. “Unfortunately, the West has only made provocations and failed to make efforts to be a mediator in the Ukraine-Russia war,” Erdogan said at a youth event in Türkiye’s eastern Erzurum province on Sunday. Türkiye has thus “assumed this mediator role in 2022” and is set to continue its diplomatic efforts next year, building up on the success of the Black Sea corridor created as part of an Istanbul grain deal in July, Erdogan said.

The grain corridor was touted as a way to secure food supplies to the neediest nations as a matter of priority, but Erdogan confirmed Russia’s long-standing concerns, saying on Sunday that some 44 percent of the grain exported from Ukraine went to Europe instead. In the meantime Moscow voiced its readiness to supply African nations with “large volumes” of grain and fertilizers out of its own stocks for free. Ankara adopted a neutral position early in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, refusing to take part in the Western sanctions on Moscow, while continuing its military cooperation with Kiev – including selling a number of Bayraktar attack drones. A preliminary peace agreement was reportedly reached in Istanbul as early as March, but was later rejected by Ukraine under alleged pressure from the West.

The grain deal, touted as a rare victory for diplomacy, was signed in July by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the UN, with a Joint Coordination Center set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments. In late October, Russia briefly suspended its participation in the agreement, after accusing Kiev of launching a terrorist attack on the Crimea bridge, and drone strikes on ships involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo. Moscow ultimately returned to the accord after receiving unspecified “written security guarantees” from Kiev. Last month, Moscow allowed “a technical prolongation” of the deal, but Russian officials have repeatedly voiced concerns that the deal is not meeting its stated goals, and have also insisted that the provisions on lifting the restrictions on Russian agricultural exports were not being fulfilled. The Turkish president expressed hope that the issue of fertilizer exports and Moscow’s other concerns would be resolved through “more intense” negotiations next year.

Read more …

Keep on poking…

West Issues Ultimatum To Serbia – Media (RT)

Several Western countries have “sent an ultimatum” to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, demanding that Serbs in the northern part of breakaway Kosovo end their stand-off with local authorities, news website Pink.rs reported on Sunday. The outlet claims that ambassadors of the Quint group, comprising the US, the UK, France, Germany and Italy, are calling for barricades in the region be removed within 24 hours. If Belgrade fails to ensure this, the Western powers will reportedly let Albin Kurti, Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian prime minister, attack local Serbs. Earlier, Kurti warned that the “removal of these barricades cannot exclude casualties.”

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina flared up earlier this month when Serbs, who make up the majority in the northern part of province, put up barriers to protest against the arrest of a former police officer, accused of attacking a Kosovo law enforcement patrol. After this, Vucic asked NATO’s KFOR peacekeepers for permission to deploy up to 1,000 Serbian troops and police officers in Kosovo, as it is entitled to do under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which put an end to the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999. However, these plans were resisted by the US, with Gabriel Escobar, the State Department’s special envoy for the region, saying Washington had given Kosovo “very firm security guarantees.”

On Sunday, KFOR said that shots had been fired near a NATO patrol in northern part of Kosovo, close to the roadblocks, adding that there were no casualties. It stopped short of assigning blame. However, Serbian media, citing eyewitnesses, claimed that the incident took place when Kosovo’s special forces attempted to clear barricades near a town of Zubin Potok. With no sign of tensions abating, Milan Mojsilovic, Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, told local media on Sunday that the situation is complex, and requires the presence of the Serbian military along the administrative line which divides Kosovo from the rest of Serbia. NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999, after bombing Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists. The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade has refused to recognize.

Read more …

They’re shot down but still kill.

Ukraine Hits Airbase 300 Miles Deep into Russia (GR)

Ukraine attacked with a drone an airbase in Russia’s Saratov region which lies about 500km (310 miles) northeast of the border with Ukraine. Three Russian military personnel were killed at Engels bomber base Russian news agencies reported, citing the defense ministry. Russian state media agency Tass quotes the defense ministry as saying: “On December 26, at around 01:35 Moscow time (2235 GMT), a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down at low altitude while approaching the Engels military airfield in the Saratov region. “As a result of the fall of the wreckage of the drone, three Russian technical servicemen who were at the airfield were fatally injured.”


Russia accuses Ukraine of carrying out a similar attack on the airfield, home to strategic bombers, on 5 December. In that attack three servicemen were also killed by debris from a downed Ukrainian drone, Moscow said at the time. Two aircraft were lightly damaged. According to Reuters, the twin strikes dealt Russia a major reputational blow and raised questions about why its defenses failed, analysts said, as attention turned to the use of drones in the war between neighbors. Ukraine has never publicly claimed responsibility for attacks in Russia, but has said, however, that such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion. As CNN reported recently Ukraine’s state-owned weapons manufacturer Ukroboronprom has indicated several times in the last few weeks that it is close to finishing work on a new long-range drone.

Read more …

“..Unfortunately, our supporters aren’t going to buy it either.”

GOP Senators Blast McConnell For ‘Arrogance,’ Voter Betrayal (JTN)

Conservative GOP senators blasted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday for shepherding with Democrats a $1.7 trillion year-end spending bill into law over the objections of House Republicans, saying it was an act of “arrogance” that betrayed promises to voters. “Our party leadership turned on Republican voters, turned on the Republican base, turned on most Republican senators,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told “The Cats Roundtable” and host John Catsimitidas on WABC radio in New York. “It has happened before, but this is one too many times. For me, this is the final straw.” Lee called the omnibus spending bill signed into law Friday “the ugliest spending bill on record” and one that signaled “that voters don’t see much of a defining difference with Democrats.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., mocked those of his GOP colleagues who voted for the bill and celebrated its passage. “To declare that a victory, to say that’s a win, that’s like a football team that just lost the game 60 to 0, and they kick a field goal in the waning seconds and say the field goal is a big win,” Johnson told Catsimitidas. “No, we just got our you-know-whats handed to us.” Johnson said that McConnell’s maneuver not only betrayed conservative voters but also undercut House Republicans about to take over in January who had asked for a short-term spending plan. “Unfortunately, the arrogance of our leadership who said, ‘We know better than House members. We’re going to pass this.’ … I’m not buying it,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, our supporters aren’t going to buy it either.”

Other senators took to Twitter to express their disdain for the spending law, warning it will worsen inflation next year. “I voted AGAINST the $1.7 TRILLION spending bill because I promised Florida families I’d fight every day to make Washington work for them,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., tweeted. “This reckless inflation bomb is a disaster for our economy and a slap in the face to Floridians struggling to make ends meet.”

Read more …

“The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt.”

Rand Paul Savages DC Elites With Epic “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (DCE)

This Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posted a parody of the classic Christmas poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to this social media, this time directed at the Democrat’s omnibus spending bill — which costs America a whopping $1.7 trillion dollars. “Twas the week before Christmas, and through the Senate and House, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The earmarks were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” Paul begins.= “The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt. While the taxpayers hung their poor heads and wept. When out on the lawn arose such a clatter — Senators sprang from their oxygen. What was the matter?” Paul added. “Away to the window, they flew like a flash, tore open the shutter when they heard the word cash.”

Then Senator Paul decided to name names — and he was genuinely bipartisan here, scorching high spenders on both sides of the aisle! Note: This article may contain commentary reflecting the author’s opinion. This Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posted a parody of the classic Christmas poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to this social media, this time directed at the Democrat’s omnibus spending bill — which costs America a whopping $1.7 trillion dollars. “Twas the week before Christmas, and through the Senate and House, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The earmarks were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” Paul begins. “The Senators were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of pork danced in their heads. No budget was found, just mischief and debt.

“While the taxpayers hung their poor heads and wept. When out on the lawn arose such a clatter — Senators sprang from their oxygen. What was the matter?” Paul added. “Away to the window, they flew like a flash, tore open the shutter when they heard the word cash.” Then Senator Paul decided to name names — and he was genuinely bipartisan here, scorching high spenders on both sides of the aisle! “With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick. More rapid than eagles. His coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: Now, McConnell! Now, Schumer! Now, Pelosi and Vixen! On Biden! On Stupid! On Dumber and Blitzen! To debt! To bankruptcy! To free money for all”

Read more …

“We need to halt everything with the FBI, all funding, until they come forward and explain to Congress exactly what they were doing..”

Rep. James Comer Calls For Defunding the FBI (DCE)

On Tuesday, Rep. James Comer, who is expected to be the incoming chair of the House Oversight Committee, spoke to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo about the recent revelations from the “Twitter Files” about the FBI’s influence in the silencing of the Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020. When asked about the latest releases of the Twitter files, which outlined the FBI’s cooperation with Twitter to counter “misinformation” and “disinformation” on the social media site, Comer emphasized that the initial discovery proves wrongdoing, but additional investigations will have to be conducted.“Well, it means a lot more evidence of wrongdoing,” he told Bartiromo. “You know, in the beginning, I thought that there were probably two or three rogue employees who were orchestrating this cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. But now we know the FBI had a division of at least 80 agents.”

“We also know that the FBI paid Twitter over $3 million for their time, all the time they took over the past couple of years in telling them who to suppress, who to ban,” the congressman explained. “You know, it’s just things that the government has no role in. The FBI was never granted the authority to create any type of disinformation task force that policed the social media sites.” “Now, this we know with Twitter, we’ve heard similar stories from Zuckerberg,” the Kentuckian explained referencing Zuckerberg’s admittance that Facebook deemphasized stories at the request of the FBI. “Who knows what went on at YouTube and Google? This is an agency that’s out of control.”

“And the most frustrating thing for me right now, Maria, is the fact that in this omnibus bill, there’s increased funding for the FBI, plus a $1.75 billion headquarters facility for the FBI,” he explained in reference to the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill currently being considered in the Senate. “We need to halt everything with the FBI, all funding, until they come forward and explain to Congress exactly what they were doing, why they were doing it, and who gave them the authority to do it.”

Read more …

“..No weapons system is too costly. No war, no matter how disastrous, goes unfunded. No military budget is too big..”

The Democrats are Now the War Party (Chris Hedges)

The Democrats position themselves as the party of virtue, cloaking their support for the war industry in moral language stretching back to Korea and Vietnam, when President Ngo Dinh Diem was as lionized as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. All the wars they support and fund are “good” wars. All the enemies they fight, the latest being Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, are incarnations of evil. The photo of a beaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris holding up a signed Ukrainian battle flag behind Zelensky as he addressed Congress was another example of the Democratic Party’s abject subservience to the war machine.

The Democrats, especially with the presidency of Bill Clinton, became shills not only for corporate America but for the weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon. No weapons system is too costly. No war, no matter how disastrous, goes unfunded. No military budget is too big, including the $858 billion in military spending allocated for the current fiscal year, an increase of $45 billion above what the Biden administration requested. The historian Arnold Toynbee cited unchecked militarism as the fatal disease of empires, arguing that they ultimatley commit suicide.

There once was a wing of the Democratic Party that questioned and stood up to the war industry: Senators J. William Fulbright, George McGovern, Gene McCarthy, Mike Gravel, William Proxmire and House member Dennis Kucinich. But that opposition evaporated along with the antiwar movement. When 30 members of the party’s progressive caucus recently issued a call for Biden to negotiate with Putin, they were forced by the party leadership and a warmongering media to back down and rescind their letter. Not that any of them, with the exception of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have voted against the billions of dollars in weaponry sent to Ukraine or the bloated military budget. Rashida Tlaib voted present.

The opposition to the perpetual funding of the war in Ukraine has come primarily from Republicans, 11 in the Senate and 57 in the House, several, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, unhinged conspiracy theorists. Only nine Republicans in the House joined the Democrats in supporting the $1.7 trillion spending bill needed to prevent the government from shutting down, which included approval of $847 billion for the military — the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction. In the Senate, 29 Republicans opposed the spending bill. The Democrats, including nearly all 100 members of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus, lined up dutifully for endless war.

Read more …

DNC, FBI, FTX, Twitter, Soros. Nice.

Soros Behind Twitter Operation to Shut Down Hunter Biden Laptop Story (BN)

First Draft News, a now-defunct nonprofit that left-wing billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations funded, played a key role in Twitter’s preparation to shut down the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020, according to internal documents published by author Michael Shellenberger as part of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files.” The Aspen Institute hosted a September 2020 training exercise for members of the media and social media leaders regarding the handling of hypothetical data leaks which were similar to the Hunter Biden laptop report that broke in October, according to Shellenberger. Claire Wardle, former executive director and co-founder of First Draft News, appeared to be an attendee of the exercise, according to an email published by Shellenberger.

The address that apparently belonged to Wardle was one of multiple recipients in an email to top national security reporters, Facebook’s head of security policy and others, according to Shellenberger. The Open Society Foundations, which left-wing megadonor Soros chairs, once funded First Draft News. The organization shut down in June. “Today we are announcing that First Draft is closing its doors to make way for the next chapter — its mission will continue at the newly launched Information Futures Lab, an initiative from Brown’s School of Public Health,” an announcement from Wardle reads.

The Aspen Institute training exercise, titled “The Burisma Leak,” involved a series of hypothetical leaks during October 2020 showing that Hunter Biden had made more money in his role at Burisma than previously disclosed and had communicated with his father about his work there, Shellenberger reported. The exercise was meant to shape how the media covered the eventual leak of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the way social media platforms carried it. The Aspen Institute, a left-leaning think tank funded by massive philanthropic organizations including the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation, runs the Commission on Information Disorder, an anti-disinformation project that’s drawn ire from conservatives for its alleged far-left partisanship. The commission has urged social media platforms to censor accounts it considers misinformation “superspreaders” through demonetization, the removal of what it considers inaccurate posts and penalties for offending users.

Read more …

Pretty brilliant history lesson.

In Post-Soviet Russia, New Years Remains A Bigger Holiday Than Christmas (RT)

Present-day Russia is almost the only major Christian country in the world where New Year festivities are more prominent than those of Christmas. While Westerners are unpacking gifts on December 24th, Russians are still immersed in an atmosphere of their upcoming holiday, which, when it comes around, is filled with age-old traditions and lasts almost two weeks. To understand why the New Year has become a special celebration in Russia and what sets it apart from other countries, we must first dive into the history of the holiday. It was only in 1700 that Russia joined the pan-European tradition of celebrating the New Year on January 1, following a decree by Emperor Peter the Great. Before that, Russians had celebrated New Year’s on March 1, when it was time to prepare for the new season of agricultural work.

However, despite the will of the emperor, Russia did not fully synchronize with the rest of Europe – the country at the time functioned according to the old Julian calendar, while most European countries had already switched to the Gregorian one. Therefore, the new year in Russia began 13 days later. This became a key aspect that influenced the modern traditions of New Year celebrations. Thanks to Peter the Great, the New Year moved closer to the main Christian holiday, Christmas. For the next two hundred years, New Year and Christmas celebrations in Russia were a lot like those in Western Europe. The difference was only in the religious form – Russia followed Christian Orthodox canons, while the likes of France and Germany followed Catholic and Protestant ones.

Everything changed with the October Revolution, the overthrow of the emperor, and the creation of the new state – the USSR. The Bolsheviks carried out several reforms in the first years after the revolution that directly affected how Russia celebrates the New Year today, in the 21st century. On January 26, 1918, the Council of People’s Commissars of Russia issued a decree on the transition to the Gregorian calendar. As a result, the country celebrated the start of the year 1919 simultaneously with Western Europe. In 1929, the celebration of Christmas was officially ‘canceled.’ Although by this time the New Year had become a completely independent secular holiday, Christmas was privately celebrated in many homes.

Even in 1924, shortly before Lenin’s death, a Christmas Tree celebration was held for children. But, after 1929, the most important Christian date was erased from the calendar and remained exclusively in the homes of religious people. At the same time, the Orthodox Church did not switch to the Gregorian calendar, and therefore Orthodox Christmas is still celebrated on January 7, not December 25.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Ferns

 

 

Peter Sellers

 

 

 

 

Croc

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 102022
 


Salvador Dali Portrait of my father 1920

 

How The Green Agenda Is Being Used To Fleece The Naive (Rachel Marsden)
On Deconstructing Constructs (Batiushka)
How the Loss of Control of Either House Could Impact the President (Turley)
Moscow Comments On US Electoral System ‘Crisis’ (RT)
Washington Refuses To Send Advanced Drones To Ukraine – WSJ (RT)
Ukraine Extends Martial Law, Mobilization For 90 Days Until Feb. 19 (Az.)
The WEF Plan for Mankind and What Comes Next (Casey)
The WEF’s Stakeholder Capitalism Is Just Global Fascism By Another Name (AltM)
Europe Braces For New Refugee Crisis (RT)
Hungary Reacts To EU Aid Plan For Kiev (RT)
Kremlin Comments On Putin’s G20 Plans (RT)
Biden: Elon Musk’s Links To Other Countries ‘Worthy Of Being Looked At’ (G.)
The Quiet Merger Between Online Platforms and National Security State (Jac.)
Profit Inflation And A Basket Full Of Holes (K.)

 

 

“You have a device in your pocket that can communicate with satellites so that you can order tacos in your undies but we can’t count ballots.”

That says 150 million.

 

 

Keri Lake

 

 

 

 

Simpsons

 

 

This cannot be due to the vaxx/boosters, because no-one’s taking those.

 

 

 

 

Green becomes the color of oppression.

How The Green Agenda Is Being Used To Fleece The Naive (Rachel Marsden)

Banks and corporations making pledges of ‘net-zero’ emissions are taking the public for a ride, according to a new United Nations report released at this week’s COP27 climate change conference. “We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing,”UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, in reference to the concept of virtue-signaling a green agenda for marketing purposes as a strategy to gain more business, all while failing to back up the claims in practice. Oh, so the airlines asking whether you want to freely donate extra cash when buying a plane ticket to offset the carbon footprint of your flight aren’t technically achieving much beyond making the insufferably sanctimonious feel good about themselves? Or that the energy companies using renewables as window dressing are nonetheless continuing to invest in fossil fuels? You don’t say!

In case the idealists haven’t noticed, there’s currently an energy crunch in the West due to Western sanctions on fuel from Russia – and renewables aren’t anywhere near ready for prime time as a replacement. Germans are turning instead to coal and firewood, while France is scrambling to ramp up nuclear power. The EU even backpedaled at the beginning of the year in labeling gas and nuclear ‘green’ – which now conveniently allows its leaders to run around to fossil fuel pariah countries asking for desperately needed energy. Might as well, though, for all the good that this pricey and pretentious charade is doing. The UN says that more financing, to the tune of up to $340 billion per year by 2030, is the key. Anything less is apparently futile.

The notion of massive funding being necessary to prevent Earth’s temperature from increasing by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is a tough sell, particularly in the absence of any logical explanation of how the cash would credibly be used to realistically adjust the thermostat, so officials now seem to be trying a new sales pitch. “The world must step up and protect people and communities from the immediate and ever-growing risks of the climate emergency. We have no time to lose,” Guterres said, with the UN citing things like flooding in Pakistan and multi-year droughts as justification for the funding.

Greenwashing is just another way of scamming the hopelessly naive. And no one does it better than governments themselves, who have managed to relieve taxpayers of countless billions to fill slush funds under the guise of saving the world. And now US President Joe Biden is using a green pretext to protect US economic interests to the detriment of European allies – even as the US ramps up fossil fuel liquefied natural gas exports to the EU. Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is conveniently framed as a green energy initiative, offering US consumers tax incentives to buy American electric cars with batteries that have at least 40% of components from the US or a country with which it has free trade. Germany and France view the measures as blatant protectionism.

Read more …

“An artificially-imposed union in unnatural borders is known as ‘a construct’..”

USA and Europe are constructs.

On Deconstructing Constructs (Batiushka)

An artificially-imposed union in unnatural borders is known as ‘a construct’. Constructs are artificial, as they are populated by different peoples, who speak different languages and have different cultures, and who would prefer to live in their own common nation-state because of those differences. For these reasons constructs are always imposed top-down for ‘reasons of State’ and rejected by those who are oppressed by them at the grassroots. Constructs are only ever popular among the elites which invent them and make money from them. They rarely achieve more than 50% popularity, usually far less. They are always rejected by the people at the bottom of the pile. This is why constructs never last.

1. The USA as a Construct For instance, the USA, founded on exploitation, gun-law, slavery and the genocide of its native peoples, is a construct. Its straight-line borders are artificial, the result of wars and treaties, forced on others by historical circumstances or illegal occupations, for example as in Alaska and Hawaii. Much of its southern territory is Spanish-named and was stolen from Mexico and is now – such is the justice of history and the reward of patience – being reoccupied by Spanish speakers. As for the northern border, that was fixed because basically the lands northwards were cold and uninviting. The vast majority of them, except for a very narrow strip close to the US border, spread up to the Arctic and were uninhabitable. Thus, the US elite left them to the unwanted whom they called ‘Canadians’, who presented no threat to them.

As regards its ‘United’ States, they are the result of an incredibly bloody Civil War, leaving as many as one million dead, the equivalent of ten million today. It was directed by an industrial elite in the North-East and the result, enforced by genocide, was by many never accepted. That elite was Zionist (not Jewish, though many of its financiers were Jews) in its proclamation that it was exceptional and that its ‘manifest destiny’ (i.e. manifest only to themselves) was to spread ‘from sea to shining sea’.

2. Europe and its Constructs Europe (meaning by etymology ‘the west’) is also a construct, its identity going back to an ancient Greek myth. For the Romans 2,000 years ago, it did not exist separately from Asia and Africa. Indeed, it is artificially separated from Asia (meaning by etymology ‘the east’), from where its peoples emigrated. There is no natural border between the European peninsula and Asia: its eastern border is purely political and for the moment fixed in the Ural Mountains and the Caucasus. Moreover, nearly all of its languages are ‘Indo-European’ and have their origins in a language spoken in today’s Turkey (Asia Minor) or even further east, well over 5,000 years ago. The historically recent contempt of ‘Europe’ for anything ‘Asian’, contemptuously termed ‘Asiatic’ or ‘barbarian’, is simply a rejection of its own origins and a self-justification for its artificial state of separation.

In the early 90s the then French President, Chirac, called on all: ‘Creeons l’Europe, Faisons l’Europe, il faut construire l’Europe’ (Let us create Europe, Let us make Europe, We must build Europe’). This was simply an open admission that Europe did not exist. It does not. Within contemporary Europe the EU, the UK and the Ukraine are obviously constructs. The EU goes back only to 1993, the Ukraine to 1992, and the UK to 1922. In other words, they are all temporary inventions of the twentieth century. Now we are in the twenty-first century, we can see that they will not last much longer.

Read more …

“..a Republican-controlled House has plenty to investigate, and impeachment is unlikely his greatest fear..”

How the Loss of Control of Either House Could Impact the President (Turley)

Last Thursday, Biden warned supporters that the Republicans have made clear “they’re gonna impeach me.” When Biden warned that he might be impeached if voters do not stop a Republican wave, there was an audible laugh which prompted the President to added “No, I’m not joking.” While Biden may or may not be the subject of an impeachment, a Republican-controlled House has plenty to investigate, and impeachment is unlikely his greatest fear. Here are the top three concerns, and there is every indication that Biden is wise to be worried.

Hunter Biden and Influence Peddling
House Democrats repeatedly moved to block investigations into the alleged multimillion-dollar influence-peddling operations by the Biden family. For his part, Attorney General Merrick Garland steadfastly refused to appoint a special counsel despite an overwhelming basis for such an appointment. Biden has repeatedly denied knowledge of Hunter Biden’s business entanglements despite numerous emails and pictures showing him meeting with Hunter associates. Hunter’s partner, Eric Schwerin, alone made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015. There are emails of Chinese, Ukrainian and other foreign clients including some thanking Hunter Biden for arranging meetings with his father. People apparently were told to avoid directly referring to Joe Biden. In one email, Tony Bobulinski, then a business partner of Hunter, was instructed by Biden associate James Gilliar that the Bidens wanted to avoid such references: “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u [sic] are face to face, I know u [sic] know that but they are paranoid.” [..]

Social Media and Censorship-by-Surrogate The president has at times acted as a virtual censor-in-chief, denouncing social-media companies for “killing people” by not censoring enough. Recently, he expressed doubt that the public can “know the truth” without such censorship by “editors” in Big Tech. There is growing evidence of long-suspected back channels between government and Democratic political figures and Big Tech. Some of those contacts were recently confirmed but Congress again refused to investigate. If officials coordinated the censorship of citizens, it could lead to lawsuits (in addition to already pending actions) and embarrassing disclosures. The government cannot do indirectly what it is barred from doing directly. The investigation could produce considerable collateral damage for political and media figures alike.

Pandemic politics and policies Republicans have pledged to open a full investigation into what officials knew about the origins and risks of COVID-19. Specifically, members like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have pledged to uncover material showing what officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci knew about the lack of efficacy of masks as well as guidelines on limiting groups or the closure of businesses and schools. These investigations might also reveal the coordination of health-care guidelines with teacher unions and political allies. These investigations could eventually be linked in critical ways. For example, many of those who questioned the efficacy and cost of the massive lockdown were barred on social media (and attacked in the mainstream media). Fauci is accused of quickly scuttling such discussion, and critics point to his own alleged approval of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab.

Read more …

“Joe Biden promised unity but has instead demonized and smeared Americans while making life more expensive for all..”

Moscow Comments On US Electoral System ‘Crisis’ (RT)

The US electoral system has found itself in dire straits amid a high level of political polarization, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, adding that the problems are evident to the entire world. Speaking to Sputnik radio, Zakharova was asked to comment on the midterm elections in the US. According to the spokeswoman, the crisis of the US voting system “is being noticed even by their closest allies.” The concern is also shared by “members of official international institutions” that assess elections from a legal point of view, she continued. “In my opinion, one can see this with the naked eye even without these statements,” Zakharova noted.

She pointed to the current intense political struggle between the Republican and Democratic parties. “I’m not even talking about social polarization, I’m talking about the level of dialogue between these poles,” she said, adding that it “looks more like annihilation than electoral procedures.” According to CNN vote tracking, the Republican Party is on course to regain control of the US House of Representatives and is projected to take at least 198 seats, against the Democratic Party’s 178. In the Senate, the parties appear to be neck and neck. However, exit polls suggest that 70% of US voters believe that the democratic system itself is “threatened,” either by lax voting laws, faulty vote machines, or false allegations of electoral misconduct.

This sentiment was echoed by US President Joe Biden last week, who accused his predecessor Donald Trump and other Republicans of encouraging political violence while blasting them for denying the results of the 2020 presidential election. The GOP dismissed the allegations, and accused the president of fostering division in America. “Joe Biden promised unity but has instead demonized and smeared Americans while making life more expensive for all,” it said.

Read more …

“..could “signal to Moscow that the US was providing weapons that could target positions inside Russia.”

Washington Refuses To Send Advanced Drones To Ukraine – WSJ (RT)

The administration of US President Joe Biden has rebuffed Kiev’s requests to provide it with state-of-the-art drones over concerns that doing so could escalate the Ukraine conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing sources. According to US officials and people familiar with matter interviewed by the newspaper, the US won’t send the Gray Eagle MQ-1C drones to Ukraine that it has been requesting for months. This type of military aid, they said, could “signal to Moscow that the US was providing weapons that could target positions inside Russia.” US officials also worry that the technology used in the drones, particularly the cameras, could fall into the wrong hands, the report says.

In September, a bipartisan group of members of the US Congress is said to have insisted that the Biden administration send to Ukraine the medium altitude and armed drones, which can stay in the air for more than 24 hours. In their letter, they asked for the review process to be accelerated, which spurred a briefing on Capitol Hill, congressional officials told the WSJ. The MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft Systems can fly at an altitude of up to 7,600m for more than 27 hours and carry up to four HELLFIRE missiles. They also have a range of up to 4,600km via satellite communications, which may potentially enable Ukraine to strike targets deep inside Russian territory.

Since the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February, the US has been supplying Ukraine with large quantities of weapons, including reconnaissance and kamikaze drones. Washington has so far resisted calls to provide Kiev with advanced weaponry such as Patriot air defense systems and F-16 fighter jets. Russia has repeatedly warned the West against “pumping” Ukraine with weaponry, saying that do so will only prolong the conflict.

Read more …

Makes me wonder how many foreigners there are today in Ukraine’s army.

Ukraine Extends Martial Law, Mobilization For 90 Days Until Feb. 19 (Az.)

With efforts to hold back Russian forces continuing, Ukraine’s parliament has extended martial law and military mobilization in the country for 90 days, until Feb. 19 of next year. Tuesday’s passage of legislation presented by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy goes into effect as of Nov. 21, when the previous law on the extension of martial law expires. The previous extension of martial law and mobilization in light of the war was passed this Aug. 15, again for 90 days. Martial law in Ukraine was first declared by Zelenskyy on Feb. 24, when Russia launched its war on its neighbor. It was first extended in March for a period of 30 days.

Read more …

“Schwab was very clever to have put together an organization where the richest, most powerful, and most influential people in the world are charged huge amounts to be introduced to each other..”

The WEF Plan for Mankind and What Comes Next (Casey)

The World Economic Forum (WEF) describes its mission as the “international organization for public-private cooperation.” What do you make of the WEF and the power it wields? Doug Casey: “International organization for public-private cooperation” is a code phrase for economic fascism – which is to say, the hand-in-glove melding of the political power of the State with the economic power of corporations. Things like the WEF, and other NGOs (non-governmental organizations), institutes, and think tanks, have proliferated in recent years. They’re almost all destructive parasites on productive society. Almost all of them are leftist, statist, and collectivist in orientation. They’re typically populated by intellectuals and academics and funded by tax-exempt foundations, usually set up by elderly do-gooders interested in leaving a “legacy.”

The WEF is by far the most successful of the breed. Instead of just cadging donations so intellectuals could hang around and seem prestigious, in 1971, Klaus Schwab formed a club where the rich and powerful could discuss ideas with other members of the overlord class. Political and financial types could find a philosophical home, disguising the quest for money and power with a patina of benevolence. It’s become an amazingly large and powerful organization. They have roughly 800 full-time employees, most of them very highly paid. They have an annual budget of over $300 million. Their balance sheet indicates that the WEF is worth over $1 billion, funded by major corporations who give it millions of dollars, as do various governments. Most of the world’s political leaders and corporations are members.

Schwab was very clever to have put together an organization where the richest, most powerful, and most influential people in the world are charged huge amounts to be introduced to each other and talk about how they can become even richer, more powerful, and more influential. It seems clear that members of the WEF have to toe the party line or be disinvited. Nobody wants to be excommunicated from the WEF or cut off from association with other rich and powerful people. It’s safe to say that WEF members share a common philosophy, one that’s in line with Schwab’s weltanschauung.

Read more …

“The natural progression of every form of Marxism, communism, socialism, fascism etc. all ultimately lead to a kind of globalist ideology..”

The WEF’s Stakeholder Capitalism Is Just Global Fascism By Another Name (AltM)

The concept of “fascism” was originally entered into the Encyclopedia Italiana by Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile, who stated that “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini would later take credit for the quote as if he had written it himself, but it’s important to note because it outlines the primary purpose of the ideology rather than simply throwing the label around at people we don’t like as a dishonest means to undermine their legitimacy. Despite the fact that leftists today often attack conservatives as “fascists” because of our desire to protect national boundaries and western heritage, the truth is that all fascism is deeply rooted in leftist philosophies and thinkers.

Mussolini was a long time socialist, a member of the party who greatly admired Karl Marx. He deviated from the socialists over their desire to remain neutral during WWI, and went on to champion a combination of socialism and nationalism, what we now know as fascism. Adolph Hitler was also a socialist and admirer of Karl Marx, much like Mussolini. It is actually hard to find where Marx, the communists and the fascists actually differ from each other – A deeper sense of nationalism seems to be one of the few points of contention. Though Marx saw the existence of nation states as temporary to the proletariat and to the ruling class, he noted that the industrialists were erasing national boundaries anyway. Marx argues in the Communist Manifesto with some optimism:

“National differences and antagonisms between peoples are already tending to disappear more and more, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, the growth of free trade and a world market, and the increasing uniformity of industrial processes and of corresponding conditions of life.” Marx saw the development of corporate power as useful and the next necessary step towards socialism, noting that joint-stock companies (corporations) and the credit system are: “The abolition of the capitalist mode of production within the capitalist mode of production itself.” In other words, corporations are viewed as a tool for the eventual transition to a socialist “Utopia” and the death of free markets. Once again, we see there is very little difference in motive between the political left and the fascists. The natural progression of every form of Marxism, communism, socialism, fascism etc. all ultimately lead to a kind of globalist ideology and erasure of cultural separation.

Read more …

“A Slovak government contingency plan envisages that about 700,000 refugees may pour into the country this winter..”

Europe Braces For New Refugee Crisis (RT)

Eastern European countries are girding for a new influx of Ukrainian refugees this winter, with Slovakia anticipating that hundreds of thousands people may arrive in the country in the coming months due to low temperatures and hostilities in Ukraine, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing local officials. A Slovak government contingency plan envisages that about 700,000 refugees may pour into the country this winter, the report says. “A large number of (Ukraine’s) internally displaced people are currently temporarily housed in conditions that are not suitable for the winter,” the document reads, according to Reuters, adding that the “further escalation of the conflict is also a risk. Moreover, European nations are said to be opening reception centers and stocking up products to get ready for a new refugee crisis.

In Hungary, Zsofia Dobis-Lucski, a spokesperson for the charity organization Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, told Reuters that about 300–500 people have been arriving daily at the border train station in the town of Zahony in recent weeks. However, Witold Wolczyk, an official from Przemysl in eastern Poland, has so far noticed little commotion. At the same time, he told the outlet that local authorities have to prepare for a potentially difficult winter, as well as for a new wave of refugees. “We are constantly stocking up on hygiene products and food,” Wolczyk added. According to UN data, about 4.5 million refugees are currently registered within various national protection schemes in Europe, with about seven million people internally displaced in Ukraine itself.

Europe is bracing for a new refugee crisis amid Russian strikes on Ukraine’s power plants that have knocked out up to 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure, according to Kiev. The bombardment came after Moscow accused Kiev of conducting “terrorist attacks” on Russian infrastructure, including the strategic Crimean Bridge. Against this backdrop, in late October Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk urged her fellow citizens who had fled the country not to return home before spring to ease pressure on the power grid.

Read more …

€1.5 billion per month for Azov NATO.

Hungary Reacts To EU Aid Plan For Kiev (RT)

Hungary has rejected an EU loan scheme set to provide €18 billion ($18.1 billion) in stable financial aid to Ukraine next year. Finance Minister Mihaly Varga was quoted by the media as saying on Tuesday that Budapest has had “bad experience” with joint EU loans and still has not received enough aid regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Bloomberg, Varga told his colleagues at a meeting in Brussels that Budapest will not back the idea to use the EU budget in order to offer concessional loans to Kiev. The measure needs the approval of all the bloc’s 27 member states. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that his country will not stop helping Kiev, but will also not greenlight a bloc-wide borrowing plan. “We are ready to continue financial support on a bilateral basis,” Szijjarto said.


“But we will certainly not support any kind of joint EU borrowing in this field.” “Why? Because we have already done it once. We supported joint borrowing during the coronavirus epidemic, and that was more than enough,” he explained. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed an aid package of €1.5 billion ($1.5 billion) per month for Ukraine over the course of 2023. The amount will ensure “a stable and reliable, predictable flow of income” for Kiev, she said last month. In a video address to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in October, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said his country will need $55 billion next year to cover the estimated budget deficit and rebuild critical infrastructure amid the conflict with Russia.

Read more …

Lavrov will do. Putin can spare the others from humiliating themselves.

Kremlin Comments On Putin’s G20 Plans (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit of G20 leaders in Bali, Indonesia next week in person, his press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed on Thursday. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be heading the Russian delegation at the two-day event, the official said. The same information was also given by Russia’s Embassy in Jakarta to Russian and foreign media outlets, while Reuters reported on it citing an Indonesian government official. Both sources said Putin may participate in the event via video link. The host nation previously came under pressure by the US and its allies to block Putin from attending the meeting, claiming that Russia should be isolated diplomatically as punishment for sending troops into Ukraine.


US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, together with representatives from the UK and Canada, walked out of a meeting of G20 finance ministers in April, in protest against a speech of Russian delegates. Jakarta did not yield and sent an invitation to Putin just like any other leader of G20 nations. There was some speculation in the Western media that US President Joe Biden could meet Putin on the sidelines of the gathering, but the White House ultimately ruled this out. According to some reports, the Biden administration made plans on how to prevent even a casual encounter between him and Putin, should the Russian leader attend the G20 summit in person. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is expected to participate in the event virtually too. He conditioned his involvement on Putin’s not going to Bali.

Read more …

I know! I know this one! Call Robert Mueller to investigate!

Biden: Elon Musk’s Links To Other Countries ‘Worthy Of Being Looked At’ (G.)

Joe Biden thinks Twitter boss Elon Musk’s relationships with other countries is “worthy of being looked at”. Biden was asked at a news conference on Wednesday whether he thought Musk was a threat to national security and if his acquisition of Twitter with help from a Saudi Arabian conglomerate should be investigated by the US government. “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden said. “Whether he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting they’re worth being looked at.” Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, among the richest Middle East investors, and his investment firm has emerged as the second-largest investor in Twitter after Musk’s takeover of the social media platform.


Two US senators – Democrat Ron Wyden, who chairs the finance committee, and Chris Murphy of Connecticut – last week called for a “thorough vetting” of the Twitter deal. In a statement, Wyden said: “Given the Saudi regime’s history of jailing critics, planting a spy at Twitter, and brutally murdering a Washington Post journalist, the Saudi regime must be blocked from accessing Twitter account information, direct messages and other data that could be used to identify political opponents or to suppress criticism of the royal family. “I’ve long argued that the United States has a national security interest in protecting Americans’ data from murderous foreign governments, and this Saudi regime absolutely fits that description.” The White House said last month that reports the US was discussing launching a national security review of some of Musk’s ventures, including Twitter, were “not true”.

Read more …

This is not China.

The Quiet Merger Between Online Platforms and National Security State (Jac.)

The steady march of the post-2016 tech censorship campaign has been picking up pace lately, and we’ve just learned of another leap forward. According to recent major reporting from the Intercept, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been involved in efforts aimed at corralling what it refers to as “MDM”: misinformation, disinformation, and “malinformation.” Documents obtained and made publicly available by the news outlet show that the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been formulating a strategy to combat MDM regarding US elections and other matters. While seemingly unobjectionable on the surface -who could be against combating false information, which is rife online?- it raises serious questions about the extent of government involvement in the already-troubling phenomenon of tech censorship.

The conversations detailed in the documents show the federal government, and the DHS specifically, taking a more active role in tech companies’ efforts to suppress MDM. We’ve had some indications this was happening for a while, as when DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC in August that the government was “working with the tech companies” on “strengthen[ing] the legitimate use of their very powerful platforms and prevent[ing] harm from occurring,” and that it was doing so “across the federal enterprise” – comments that were only reported in right-wing media. The documents give us details about what that work has entailed. In these discussions, the government did not directly carry out censorship.

Rather, they involved government agencies: doing “debunking” and “pre-bunking”; directing the press, local and state governments, and other stakeholders to “trusted resources”; carrying out “rumor control”; boosting “trusted authoritative sources”; giving financial support to its external partners; and improving information literacy. Much of the focus is on elections, with participants talking about using these resources to prevent people being misled about how, where, and when to vote, and stressing that CISA should strictly be a “resource” that at most uses its “convening power.” But it’s not just election misinformation that’s the focus. Among the recommendations made by CISA is to target MDM that “undermines critical functions carried out by other key democratic institutions.” What are these institutions? It lists as examples the courts and, absurdly, the financial system which -besides not actually being one of our “democratic institutions”- is a notable broadening of what “fighting misinformation” involves. And yet a representative of JP Morgan Chase attended the discussions, and several emails suggest CISA is facilitating collaboration between Google and Facebook and the department of treasury on “social media and influence matters,” as one puts it.

Read more …

From the local Greek press. “..the same basic consumer goods and necessities are much more expensive in Greece than in Germany..”

Profit Inflation And A Basket Full Of Holes (K.)

There is certainly an inflation problem in the United States and Europe, and its reappearance after decades is a global phenomenon. No country, no economy, no one is immune. However, inflation is not a neutral phenomenon. As long as consumption holds up, companies pass the increased costs on to their customers. Even if they keep the same rate of profit, they increase their profits as an absolute number, since the same rate of profit is calculated on increased base prices. In addition, many companies take advantage of the situation to increase their profit margins. Real profits are rising, while real wages are falling, Paul Donovan, chief economist of UBS Global Wealth Management, wrote recently in the Financial Times, referring to the US economy. The problem is called profit inflation.

According to the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (INE/GSEE), since April this year, the minimum wage has lost 19% of its purchasing power. In 2022, when inflation is hovering at around 10%, the losses are greater for the lowest incomes, reaching 40% for households with a monthly income of up to 750 euros. Note this too: In the first half of this year, Greek natural gas providers had the second highest profit margin in Europe. There’s profits, and there’s massive profits. Furthermore, the fact that inflation is currently a global problem does not explain why the same basic consumer goods and necessities are much more expensive in Greece than in Germany or other European and Mediterranean countries, even though some of these countries have higher wages, more expensive rents and other factors that affect cost. It does not explain why the same supermarket chains sell goods for noticeably less in their stores in Munich than they do in their stores in Athens.

The answer is because competition doesn’t work in Greece. Instead, we have the “market of cronies,” where easy and big money is made. These systems are not touched by Greek governments – certainly not the current one – even though the tsunami of price hikes, if left unchecked, will turn into a kind of looting at the expense of the people’s income. There is no magic solution. But if a government wanted to put a stop to this tsunami, it would act with responsibility, seriousness and professionalism – and it certainly wouldn’t work against the independent watchdog, the Hellenic Competition Commission. And after obtaining a real picture of the economic details of each sector from the relevant bodies (so as not to be ignorant), it would invite all those involved – from retail chains to importers, producers and manufacturers – and impose a broad agreement and cooperation to lower prices.

Nothing was done in this direction. Instead of some real fight against inflation there is the impression of a fight, with the launch of the so-called “household basket” – a set of products at supermarkets protected from inflation. It is a “basket” full of holes. The price of the products that go into it will rise modestly. But if this price needs to rise excessively, then it will be removed from the basket – with system and order.

Greece Nov 8

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Kolakusic
https://twitter.com/i/status/1590295381509693441

 

 

 

 

 

 

Owl
https://twitter.com/i/status/1590405696688132096

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 012022
 
 November 1, 2022  Posted by at 8:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  73 Responses »


Vilhelm Hammershoi Woman Seen from the Back 1888

 

Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (IC)
“The Bird is Free.” Will Elon Musk Become Grand Duke of Mars? (Ugo Bardi)
How Elon Musk Should Shape Twitter — Sans the Sink (Turley)
‘Inflation Came From Nowhere’ – Lagarde (RT)
Putin Clarifies Position On Grain Deal (RT)
Russia Tells UN It Will Inspect Black Sea Ships (RT)
Israeli Finance Minister Added To Kiev’s ‘Kill List’ (RT)
Much Of Kiev Without Power & Water After New Russian Airstrikes (ZH)
From The Surreal To The Real To The Meta-Real (Batiushka)
Drone Attack On Sevastopol (MoA)
Comeback Kid Lula In The Eye Of A Volcano (Escobar)
Why The US-Saudi Relationship Is Withering (RT)
They Rule Over Dysfunctional Ruin, but They Rule (Crooke)
US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 3 (Phillyguy)
Russia’s New Regions On Collision Course With Ukraine 100 Years Ago (Nepogodin)

 

 

“The less men think, the more they talk.”
~ Montesquieu

 

 

 

 

Nord Stream 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethical Skeptic 7:1

 

 

The Swiss National Bank just reported an enormous $142.6 BILLION dollar loss in the first 9 months of 2022, which is by far the largest loss in the bank’s 115 year history.

 

 

 

 

This is scary but not surprising. And it’s not about disinformation, but about anything that questions “official” info. “..the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

It’s just partisan politics, flavored with a whiff of what both parties agree on, i.e. war. And it just so happens that the people who bring you this are the exact same lot that gave you Russia Russia, which was the biggest crop of disinformation ever.

Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (IC)

Behind closed doors, and through pressure on private platforms, the U.S. government has used its power to try to shape online discourse. According to meeting minutes and other records appended to a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for Senate, discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to the mechanics of streamlining takedown requests for false or intentionally misleading information. Though DHS shuttered its controversial Disinformation Governance Board, a strategic document reveals the underlying work is ongoing. DHS plans to target inaccurate information on “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”

Facebook created a special portal for DHS and government partners to report disinformation directly. “Platforms have got to get comfortable with gov’t. It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain,” Microsoft executive Matt Masterson, a former DHS official, texted Jen Easterly, a DHS director, in February. In a March meeting, Laura Dehmlow, an FBI official, warned that the threat of subversive information on social media could undermine support for the U.S. government. Dehmlow, according to notes of the discussion attended by senior executives from Twitter and JPMorgan Chase, stressed that “we need a media infrastructure that is held accountable.” “We do not coordinate with other entities when making content moderation decisions, and we independently evaluate content in line with the Twitter Rules,” a spokesperson for Twitter wrote in a statement to The Intercept.

There is also a formalized process for government officials to directly flag content on Facebook or Instagram and request that it be throttled or suppressed through a special Facebook portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use. At the time of writing, the “content request system” at facebook.com/xtakedowns/login is still live. [..] According to a draft copy of DHS’s Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, DHS’s capstone report outlining the department’s strategy and priorities in the coming years, the department plans to target “inaccurate information” on a wide range of topics, including “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.” [..] The inclusion of the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is particularly noteworthy, given that House Republicans, should they take the majority in the midterms, have vowed to investigate. “This makes Benghazi look like a much smaller issue,” said Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a member of the Armed Services Committee, adding that finding answers “will be a top priority.”

Read more …

And in view of DHS et al trying to control information flow, Ugo Bardi’s point is salient: Elon Musk understands that better than all the rest put together.

“The Bird is Free.” Will Elon Musk Become Grand Duke of Mars? (Ugo Bardi)

Some people absolutely love censorship. But many (perhaps most) users of social media didn’t like to be watched from over their shoulders by those overzealous nannies who pretended to know better than them what is true and what is not. That generated criticism, and some attempts to rein in the censors. But, so far, we only saw censorship increasing its reach and becoming more pervasive.Except for the news of the day: the bird is free! Elon Musk bought Twitter and promises to eliminate censorship.

What’s happening? There are several possible interpretations, but at least something is clear: those who rule us are not a monolithic entity, as the Communist Party was in the Soviet Union. There are several would-be world rulers who are vying for power behind the scene. Musk may actually be smarter than most of them and able to understand that you gain nothing by silencing those who disagree with you. Suppose he wants to become the next US president, or maybe the Grand Duke of Mars, then he has to think like the Grand Duke of Tuscany did. He needs to know what people think because he can rule only if people agree that he is the ruler. Ruling by force and oppression is inefficient and, often, the ruler ends up hanged by the feet. So, Musk may well understand that he needs to leave some space for people to express themselves. The bird may not be completely free, but it has to be able to fly.

We seem to be in a transition moment (we always are). The Internet is under pressure by the attempt of controlling it by the powers that be, turning it into a tool for a totalitarian government (in China, the government may have succeeded at that). But, at the same time, some members of the elites are realizing that the Internet is a much better tool if used according to its characteristic of a two-way communication system. The Internet may allow us to generate a new governance system that might be more effective and just than the old totalitarian systems. It might be part of a “new Renaissance” that could take some aspects similar to the way Cosimo the 1st ruled in Tuscany during the 16th century. Maybe. But, as always, the future will surprise us.

Read more …

But still, Musk would have to deflect the entire kitchen sink that will be thrown at him.

How Elon Musk Should Shape Twitter — Sans the Sink (Turley)

News reports last week seemed to start out like a bar joke: The richest man in the world walks in carrying a sink . . . Of course, it was a joke — a colossal joke. The question is whom the joke is on. For Elon Musk, the punch line was appropriately delivered on Twitter, the company he’s taking over Friday at an inflated price. Calling himself “Chief Twit,” Musk posted the video with the caption “Entering Twitter HQ — let that sink in!” For the Musk-phobic, it was as funny as a drive-by shooting. CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem denounced Musk’s taunt as “fundamentally cruel.” After all, when Musk was first reported to be buying the company, employees were so traumatized that leadership had to offer emotional support just to “get through the week.”

The reason is less the fear of Musk bringing bathroom fixtures than free speech into San Francisco headquarters. Twitter has created one of the largest censorship systems in world history — a system widely condemned for a pattern of political bias and viewpoint intolerance. Outgoing CEO Parag Agrawal is unabashedly hostile to traditional views of free speech. Soon after he took over, he pledged to regulate content and said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the Internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.” For employees who are true believers of this censorship scheme, the joke no doubt feels like it’s on them. The censorship skill set may not be quite as much in demand in a Musk-owned firm.

While Facebook, Google and other companies are still committed to corporate censorship, Musk has pledged to restore free speech principles to Twitter. But the joke may still be on Musk if he yields to Twitter’s corporate culture or the mainstream media’s unrelenting pressure. Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton have turned from private censorship to good old-fashioned state censorship. Clinton has called on foreign governments to step in and pass laws that would force Twitter to continue to censor opposing views. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently repeated this call for global censorship at the United Nations to the applause of diplomats and media alike. Musk may have to yield to such domestic laws, but he can use his platform to inform citizens of those countries they are being censored and controlled in what they are allowed to read.

The most important thing in America is for Musk to hit the ground running at Twitter. First, he needs to order the preservation of all records. There are well-supported examples of biased censorship, including the burying of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story before the election. There are also allegations of back-channel communications from the government to manage a type of censorship-by-surrogate system to evade the First Amendment. Second, Musk should focus on the First Amendment as a model for Twitter’s content-management policy. It has become a mantra on the left that free-speech objections to social-media censorship are meritless because the First Amendment does not apply to private corporations.

Read more …

Lagarde should be fired for 1) making this statement, and 2) meaning it.

‘Inflation Came From Nowhere’ – Lagarde (RT)

The European Central Bank (ECB) has doubled its key interest rate to the highest level in more than a decade in an attempt to combat soaring inflation, ECB President Christine Lagarde has explained. In an interview with Irish national broadcaster RTE on Friday, Lagarde said: “We do it because we are fighting inflation” that had “pretty much come about from nowhere.” She pointed to a speedier-than-expected economic rebound from the pandemic as a cause alongside “the energy crisis caused by Mr. Putin who has decided in an unjustifiable way to invade another country.” The ECB chief added: “That’s what he [Putin] is trying to do, cause chaos and destroy as much of Europe as he can. This energy crisis is causing massive inflation which we have to defeat.”

She went on to say that “Anybody who is behaving in that way has to be driven by evil forces,” and that the “sick”Russian president is a “terrifying person.” Discussing her previous meetings with the Russian leader, Lagarde described him as an “unbelievably super-briefed person” with “flashing, freezing eyes.” After expressing her view, Lagarde however stressed that she’s “just a central banker,” and “shouldn’t be saying all these things.” On Thursday, the ECB announced another interest rate hike, taking Eurozone rates to the highest level since 2009. According to Lagarde, they are aimed at bringing inflation back to “reasonable levels so the cost of living isn’t as high as it is for people.” In September, inflation across the euro area hit 10%.

The EU has blamed Russia for the spiraling energy crisis across the continent. However, many economists point to the bloc’s fiscal policy responses as a major reason behind the crisis. Moscow has also criticized the “illogical and often absurd” moves by Western nations, saying that the sanctions imposed by the US, EU, and other countries on Russia have backfired and resulted in a sweeping energy crisis as well as record inflation across the West.

Read more …

This will cost Erdogan a lot of points. He negotiated the grain corridor, meant for Africa nations, but grabbed 34% for himself AND allowed Kiev to use the corridor to hide drones.

Putin Clarifies Position On Grain Deal (RT)

The grain deal between Moscow and Kiev has not met its stated goals, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. Most of the Ukrainian agricultural products exported under the agreement have not reached the poorer nations they were supposedly intended for and have instead ended up in Europe and Türkiye, he argued. Putin said Moscow was suspending its participation in the deal, but not fully withdrawing from it. The deal was promoted to “secure the interests of the poorer nations,” he said, adding that, according to Russian intelligence, the real structure of Ukraine’s grain exports is vastly different. “We agreed to that [grain deal] precisely in the interests of the poorer nations,”the Russian president said.

“On the whole, it looks like 34% of [the Ukrainian] grain gets to Türkiye, 35% or even more is taken by the EU nations and only between three and four … or five percent, according to our Agriculture Ministry … goes to the poorer nations,” Putin said. His words came as the Russian military closed the Black Sea grain corridor used to export Ukrainian grain under the agreement reached in Istanbul in July. The agreement – mediated by the UN and Türkiye – was initially hailed as critical for easing the global food crisis and helping the world’s poorest nations avoid starvation. Russia has since repeatedly pointed out that the grain, in fact, goes to other destinations. Moscow decided to halt its participation in the deal following a massive drone attack on its naval base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol last week.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the naval drones used in the attack navigated through the grain corridor’s security zone to reach their targets. One of them might have even been launched from a civilian vessel chartered to transport Ukrainian grain shipments, it added. Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was ready to compensate the missing Ukrainian grain export volumes from its own stocks. At the same time, he said that Moscow could not yet name the conditions that would make it resume its participation in the deal. In the wake of Moscow’s decision to suspend its participation in the deal, the UN has insisted that “food must flow”regardless of circumstances. Civilian vessels “can never be a military target or held hostage,” the UN coordinator for the Black Sea grain initiative, Amir Abdulla, said. Russia has previously said that it could not guarantee the security of the grain corridor if Kiev used it for military purposes.

Read more …

Inevitable. If Turkey doesn’t do it, Russia must.

Russia Tells UN It Will Inspect Black Sea Ships (RT)

Ukraine “grossly violated” the Istanbul agreement on grain exports via the Black Sea and forced Moscow to suspend it indefinitely, Russia’s envoy to the UN Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council on Monday. The Russian Navy will inspect all cargo ships bound for Ukraine, even those unilaterally cleared by the Turkish-based coordination center, he added. “This subversive action of Kiev grossly violates the Istanbul agreements and, in fact, puts an end to their humanitarian dimension. It is now obvious to everyone that the Black Sea humanitarian corridor is being used by the Ukrainian side for military sabotage purposes,” Nebenzia said, referring to Saturday’s drone attack on Sevastopol. Russia “cannot guarantee the safety of civilian ships participating in the Black Sea initiative,” Nebenzia added, as “we do not know what other terrorist attacks Kiev is preparing with the support of its Western sponsors.”

On Sunday, after Moscow announced the suspension of the arrangement, the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) in Istanbul said it had greenlit 16 ships to navigate the corridor on Monday and “informed” Russia about the decision. According to maritime traffic data, at least two ships left the Black Sea port of Odessa in the morning, reporting Istanbul as their destination. “Decisions and measures taken without our participation are not binding on us,”Nebenzia told the UN. Moscow “cannot allow ships to pass without our inspection and will be forced to take independent measures” to inspect ships authorized by the JCC without Russian approval. Meanwhile, the UN coordinator for the Black Sea grain initiative, Amir Abdulla, insisted that “the food must flow.”

The UN and Türkiye mediated a deal in July under which Ukrainian grain could be exported via the Black Sea, while Western obstacles to the exportation of Russian grain and fertilizer would be removed. The US and its allies insist they had never sanctioned grain exports – but their sanctions on Russian ships and insurance made them impossible in practice. Moscow has criticized the West for not keeping its side of the deal and pointed out that the bulk of Ukrainian exports had gone to the EU and not the African nations most affected by food insecurity. Russia halted its compliance with the pact on Saturday, after Kiev launched a major drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in securing safe passage for agricultural cargo from Ukrainian ports. On Sunday, after studying the wreckage of the unmanned combat vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said that those behind the attack made active use of the UN-brokered grain corridor.

Read more …

Just making friends.

Israeli Finance Minister Added To Kiev’s ‘Kill List’ (RT)

Israeli finance minister, Avigdor Lieberman has been added to the database of the “enemies of Ukraine” on the controversial Mirotvorets website on Sunday. The authors of the site, which is believed to have links to the Ukrainian security services, described Lieberman as “Russia’s agent of influence,” who had been manipulating publicly significant information in favor of Moscow. They also blamed him for taking part in acts of “humanitarian aggression” against Ukraine. Among the actions that led to Lieberman being placed on the list, were his refusal to finance an Israeli field hospital in Ukraine in March and his neutral stance on who is to blame for the massacre in the Kiev suburb of Bucha in April. The website also shared a link to an article, claiming that he had ties with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Ukrainian authorities have frequently expressed their disappointment with the level of support they’ve been getting from Israel during the conflict with Russia. The country has only provided Kiev with humanitarian aid and life-saving defense equipment, but not weapons and munitions. Israel also refrained from joining international sanctions on Moscow. Last week, Liberman said that Israeli assistance to Ukraine since the outbreak of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine in late February amounted to some $40 million. Liberman has been finance minister since 2021. He’s a veteran politician, who has occupied various high positions in the Israeli government over the years, including foreign minister, defense minister, and deputy PM. The 64-year-old is also the head of Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home), which holds seven seats in the country’s parliament, the Knesset.

Liberman was born in Chisinau, Moldova when the republic was part of the Soviet Union and immigrated to Israel in 1978. The Mirotvorets website, translated as ‘peacemaker’, was launched in 2014, positioning itself as an independent database run by anonymous moderators to help Ukrainian authorities and “special services” apprehend pro-Russian terrorists, separatists, and war criminals, among others. However, some have branded the database a ‘kill list,’ which is backed by the government, after several individuals, including writer Oles Buzina, politician Oleg Kalashnikov, and Russian journalist Darya Dugina were assassinated shortly after their profiles appeared on the website. The most recent high-profile additions to Mirotvorets included Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters. There were claims that the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, was put on the database in mid-October, but swiftly removed from it. The alleged addition happened after Musk offered a peace plan, which envisaged Kiev giving up territories to Moscow.

Read more …

Slow grind.

Much Of Kiev Without Power & Water After New Russian Airstrikes (ZH)

Much of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev is without electricity or water, after the latest round of major Russian airstrikes on Monday. The Russian military announced ‘successful’ strikes on multiple of the country’s vital infrastructure facilities. “The Russian Armed Forces continued to launch strikes with high-precision long-range air and sea-based weapons against Ukrainian military and energy facilities,” the Defense Ministry said. “The goals of the strikes were successful. All assigned objects were hit.” Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal confirmed direct hits on 18 sites – most of which were connected to the nation’s energy supply. These ramped up attacks have created a growing sense of panic with temperatures plunging and winter approaching.

“Missiles and drones hit 10 regions, where 18 sites were damaged, most of them energy-related,” Shmyhal stated on Telegram. “Hundreds of settlements in seven regions of Ukraine were cut off.” Facilities in Cherkasy and Kirovohrad also came under attack. Ukraine’s military said it intercepted projectiles over the Lviv region, which spared this western part of the country from damage. The Washington Post noted there are “power outages continuing in the Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions,” and others. The Post listed some of the below regions impacted by large-scale power outages and water supply disruptions:

• Kyiv region: Russian strikes damaged buildings, and rescuers are searching for victims, the regional police said. Attacks left 80 percent of the capital without water and are likely to cause sustained power outages, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
• Kharkiv: Two strikes hit critical infrastructure facilities in the eastern city, causing problems with the water supply and affecting the public transit network, the mayor said.
• Zaporizhzhia region: An infrastructure facility was struck by rockets, the local governor said, prompting warnings from officials in the southern region that energy supplies there could also be affected.
• Cherkasy region: Some of the region lost power after air attacks on infrastructure facilities, the military administrator said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attacks as more war crimes: “Another batch of Russian missiles hits Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians,” he tweeted. Additionally Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko announced on Telegram that these fresh strikes left 80% of residents in the capital without water and some 350,000 homes with no electricity. “Just in case, we ask you to stock up on water from the nearest pumps and points of sale,” he advised. The mayor’s office vowed that water supply to the effected parts of the city would be restored in three to four hours, with emergency utility crews working urgently on it.

Rescue teams in the capital are reportedly searching for possible casualties under the rubble of buildings destroyed or damaged from the new salvo of Russian strikes; however, at this point casualty numbers are unclear. The US ambassador said she and her staff had to take shelter in this latest attack on the capital: Already before Monday’s attacks, Ukrainian officials estimated that 40% of the nation’s electrical power systems had been severely damaged, and urged households to limit their usage, especially with non-essential large appliances. Ukrainians are further being warned to prepare for long-term power outages as a frigid winter is just around the corner.

Read more …

“The mirage is over. This Hell-begotten war must end.”

From The Surreal To The Real To The Meta-Real (Batiushka)

[..] the surreal continued when, on 23 October, with the Russian Defence Minister’s phone calls to his US, UK, French and Turkish counterparts about the Russian discovery of a Kiev/MI6 plot to use a ‘dirty’ bomb and blame it on Russia. Having outed the plot, Sergei Shoigu had alerted the US Establishment to the extremism of the now desperate Kiev elite (and their British MI6 operatives). The US put the Kiev crazies in their place, since, after all, the US are the string-pullers and puppets are not allowed to do anything without their express permission. The US duly stated that it has seen no evidence that Russia intends to use nuclear weaponry and President Putin stated that Russia has no plans to use nuclear weapons. The panic and hysteria of the Western media and of others was unfounded; though the mass media did not report the US admission. Panic and hysteria sell.

[..] Let us now come back to reality. The 87,5% of the world which either supports the Russian campaign to liberate the Ukraine, or else remains neutral towards it, shows the increasing isolation of the Nazi West. And it is now also crystal clear that ‘the West’ is in fact only the USA, just as NATO is only the USA, the Wicked Witch of the West. The rest is just camouflage, a mirage. In Italy, Germany, France, Moldova, the Czech Lands, Romania (the former Defence Minister), Bulgaria, Serbia, even in the UK, dissident voices are protesting. For God’s sake, negotiate with Russia! The Ukraine is their business, not ours, they’re all basically Russkies anyhow. We want gas and food! Who cares about the Nazi puppets in Kiev?

More and more all European governments, apart only from the Hungarian, are being seen as what they are – simply US puppet elites, who do not represent their peoples. EU or Non-EU Europe, there is no difference, apart from Hungary, which alone has, in every sense, a popular government. If Nobel Prizes were given non-politically, surely Victor Orban should have won one of them by now. Here the hypochondriac French are going crazy because China is sanctioning them by depriving them of paracetamol. Perhaps as many as 20% of Western Europeans have now realised that the whole Ukraine affair is a put-up job, arranged by the US, with its British poodle yapping at its feet. Same as Iraq, same as Afghanistan. Same old, same old.

The poodle is more papist than the Pope. Over the last two months it is notable that most Ukrainian flags have been taken down in Europe. It is rare to see one now. The working class were never interested, they always knew it was just another operation by the arms industry, but now even the conformist middle-class is taking down its Ukrainian flags. The mirage is over. This Hell-begotten war must end.

Read more …

UK was directly involved.

Drone Attack On Sevastopol (MoA)

This morning at 4:20 local time the Russian fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol was attacked by nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones. Earlier a maritime drone that had run aground in Crimea and had been found and pictured. During today’s attack a large U.S. drone had flown circles south of Crimea. It likely relayed data from and to the drones. The maritime drones are British and Russia alleges that British specialists had trained the Ukrainian navy in using them. It also says that British soldiers were involved in the attack on the Nord Stream pipeline. The Ukrainians published two videos shot by the maritime drones while attacking. One of the video shows extensive gun fire impacts near the drone from a Russian helicopter that is attacking it.

The Russians say that all the aerial drones and 4 of 7 maritime drones were defeated before they could caused damage. They also say that one mine seeking ship was damaged in the harbor. It is possible that the damage is greater than Russia admits. As a consequence of the attack Russia declared that the deal which allowed for grain exports from Odessa has been suspended. That deal had already been in danger as the ‘west’ had not fulfilled its part of the deal which would have allowed for the export for Russian fertilizer to third parties. I find it likely that Russia will take additional measures to punish the Ukrainian navy for the brazen attack. Additional attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure is another possibility.

Meanwhile all recent attempts by the Ukrainian army to penetrate the Russian held lines have failed. It is notable that these are now much smaller in size with just a battalion or in some cases just two companies in the lead. It is now definitely mud season in Ukraine during which it is impossible to cross most farmland even on feet. This will hinder the attacking forces on both sides until winter sets in.

Read more …

Lula has strong ties to China and has been a driving force behind BRICS.

“..the next BRICS summit in South Africa, which will consolidate BRICS+, as an array of nations are itching to join, from Argentina and Saudi Arabia to Iran and Turkey.”

Comeback Kid Lula In The Eye Of A Volcano (Escobar)

Lula is one of the founders of the BRICS in 2006, which evolved out of the Russia-China dialogue. He’s immensely respected by the leaders of the Russia-China strategic partnership, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. He has promised to serve only one term, or up to the end of 2026. But that’s exactly the key stretch in the eye of the volcano, straddling the decade Putin described in his Valdai speech as the most dangerous and important since World War II. The drive towards a multipolar world, institutionally represented by a congregation of bodies from BRICS+ to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to the Eurasia Economic Union, will profit immensely to have Lula on board as arguably the natural leader of the Global South – with a track record to match.

Of course, his immediate foreign policy focus will be South America: he already announced that will be the destination of his first presidential visit, most probably Argentina, which is bound to join BRICS+. Then he will visit Washington. He has to. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Informed opinion across the Global South is very much aware that it’s under Obama-Biden that the whole, complex operation to topple Dilma and expel Lula from politics was orchestrated. Brazil will be a lame duck at the upcoming G20 in Bali in mid-November but in 2023 Lula will be back in business side-by-side with Putin and Xi. And that also applies to the next BRICS summit in South Africa, which will consolidate BRICS+, as an array of nations are itching to join, from Argentina and Saudi Arabia to Iran and Turkey.

And then there’s the Brazil-China nexus. Brasilia has been Beijing’s key trade partner in Latin America since 2009, absorbing roughly half of China’s investment in the region (and the most of any Latin American investment destination in 2021) and firmly placed as the fifth largest exporter of crude for the Chinese market, second for iron and first for soybeans. The precedents tell the story. Right from the start, in 2003, Lula bet on a strategic partnership with China. He considered his first trip to Beijing in 2004 as his top foreign policy priority. The goodwill in Beijing is unshakeable: Lula is considered an old friend by China – and that political capital will open virtually every red door.

In practice, that will mean Lula investing his considerable global clout in strengthening BRICS+ (he already stated BRICS will be at the center of his foreign policy) and the inner workings of South-South geopolitical and geo-economic cooperation. That may even include Lula formally signing up Brazil as a partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in a way that won’t antagonize the US. Lula, after all, is a master of this craft.

Read more …

Saudi Arabia cannot pick the US over OPEC+ and BRICS. It’s not in their interest.

Why The US-Saudi Relationship Is Withering (RT)

As the Gulf States are ultimately concerned with preserving their own value systems and independence, they have increasingly diversified their relationships in recent years with tilts towards Russia and China. Beijing, with its enormous demand for energy, has also become a lucrative alternative to the West. Similarly, stable ties with Moscow also allow for cooperation in the common interests of oil-exporting countries, which has also had the effect of reducing Western influence and dominance over those countries. On recognizing this, why would Saudi Arabia and the states of OPEC voluntarily undermine their own oil revenue merely to suit the geopolitical interests of the United States?

The world is in the middle of an energy price crisis exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine. Saudi Arabia sees that the US and some of its allies want to purposefully try to lower the price of oil in a bid to try and hurt Russia. However, that is not how the market works and, by extension, such a move is also an assault on Saudi and OPEC interests. While the kingdom is officially neutral in regards to Russia-Ukraine, it also recognizes that the success of an energy price cap would embolden the West to push harder against Russia, which also serves to undermine the kingdom’s geopolitical independence.

In other words, if the US succeeded in dividing OPEC by unilaterally demanding a price cap on oil products, it would defeat the very purpose of the organization itself to protect the respective economic interests of those countries. The United States has been a useful partner to Saudi Arabia, but it is not a friend. It is not part of a ‘bloc’ or ideological coalition, as let’s say the UK is, but merely has seen the West as the most useful and lucrative partner to fulfil its own political needs. As those needs change, Saudi Arabia’s preferences are also subject to change. Washington is therefore learning that the kingdom is not a client state to be called on when needed, and thus this very close and often contradictory partnership is starting to strain.

Read more …

Nero comes to mind.

They Rule Over Dysfunctional Ruin, but They Rule (Crooke)

Since 2008, we have lived in a western world shaped by the ‘permanent state’ or by our managerial technocrats – label to choice. This ‘creative class’ (as they like to see themselves) is particularly defined by its intermediary position in relation to the wealth-controlling oligarchic cabal as ultimate big money overlords on one hand, and the dullard ‘Middle Class’ below them – at whom they sneer and deride. This intermediary class didn’t set out to dominate politics (they say); It just happened. Initially, the aim was to foster progressive values. But instead, these professional technocrats, who both had accreted considerable wealth and were tightly congregated into cliques in America’s large metro areas, came to dominate left-wing parties around the world that formerly were vehicles for the working class.

Those who coveted membership in this new ‘aristocracy’ cultivated their image as one of cosmopolitan, fast-moving money, glamour, fashion, and popular culture – multiculturalism suited them to perfection. Painting themselves as the political conscience of the whole of society (if not the world), the reality was that their Zeitgeist reflected primarily the whims, prejudices and increasingly psychopathies of one segment of liberal society. Into this milieu arrived two defining events: In 2008, Ben Bernanke, Chair of the Federal Reserve, gathered together in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, a room-full of the wealthiest oligarchs, ‘locking them in’ until they found the solution to the unfolding systemic bank failure.

The oligarchs did not find a solution but were released from their lock-up anyway. They opted instead, to throw money at structural problems, compounded by egregious errors of judgement about risk. And to finance the resulting massive losses – which were over $10 trillion in the U.S. alone – the world’s central banks began printing money – since when they have never stopped! Thus begun the era in the West where deep problems are not solved, but simply have freshly-printed money thrown at them. This methodology was whole-heartedly adopted by the EU also, where it was called Merkelism (after the former German Chancellor). Underlying structural contradictions were simply left to accumulate; kicked down the road.

Read more …

“To provide some perspective, from 2020- Q2 2022, US government debt increased over $7 trillion.”

US Economic Decline And Global Instability Part 3 (Phillyguy)

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading power. Since that time, US global supremacy has rested on unrivaled military and economic power, control of world’s energy reserves (primarily in the Middle East), and maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. This relationship began to transform in the mid-1970s, as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, the proximate cause being the 1973-1975 recession [3], a consequence of increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe- primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) [4], Japan/South Korea (Korean war) and more recently China. The US ruling elite responded to this economic challenge by pursing neoliberal economic policies (reviewed in [1]).

This included: 1) multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, 2) financial deregulation- repeal of Glass–Steagall legislation (1933 Banking Act) by the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA) in 1999 and Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000, that exempted over-the-counter derivatives trades between financial firms from regulation. It should be noted that both of these bills were passed during the waning years of the Clinton Administration and may have been a quid pro quo to spare President Clinton an impeachment conviction over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky [5]. 3) attacks on labor and the poor and job outsourcing to Mexico, China and other low-wage platforms, facilitated by passage of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 [6].

The effect of these policies is vividly observed in the manufacturing sector. In 1960 the US produced 50% of global manufacturing output, accounting for 25% of GDP. Today, the US produces circa 17% of global manufacturing output, accounting for 11% of GDP [7]. 4) Spending vast amounts of taxpayer money (> $20 trillion) on post-911 militarization. The neoliberal economic policies outlined above precipitated the Global Financial Crisis 2007-2008 (GFC), the largest financial crash since the Great Depression [8] [9] [10]. None of the structural economic problems giving rise to the GFC (listed above) have been resolved; instead, the FED has used the US Treasury as a taxpayer-funded ‘piggy bank’ (the FED cannot print money) to pump over $40 trillion (this figure may be as high as $50 trillion) to support insolvent banks, inflate bond and equity markets and over-priced real estate, creating the ‘everything bubble’ [11].

Thus, since 2009, the US ‘economy’ has been sustained by continuous money printing to prop up financial markets and the Pentagon. Not surprisingly, this has been accompanied by an explosion of debt and rising inflation, further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian energy, which has led to demands for even more money to support financial markets and the Pentagon. To provide some perspective, from 2020- Q2 2022, US government debt increased over $7 trillion [12].

Read more …

Must read history lesson.

Russia’s New Regions On Collision Course With Ukraine 100 Years Ago (Nepogodin)

When four formerly Ukrainian regions joined Russia nearly a month ago, the collective West tried to present the occurrence as treacherous, unprecedented, and lacking local support. However, the reunification was preceded by a century-long struggle by a large amount of the regions’ inhabitants for the right to be considered Russians. In February 2015, the deputies of the parliament of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) signed a memorandum declaring the continuity of their statehood from the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, one of the numerous entities that emerged during the Russian Civil War. This quasi-state, which was created by the Bolsheviks in 1918 and aspired to become part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), included not only Donbass, but also the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions.


History may zigzag, but time puts everything in its place. Today, Russian Donbass is restoring lost ties with Russia and establishing new ones,” wrote Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, shortly before the start of Russia’s military offensive. In this article, RT explores the brief history of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic and explains why the residents of Donbass wanted to live as part of Russia even 100 years ago. Back in 1999, the famous Russian political geographer and theorist Vladimir Kagansky wrote a large article entitled ‘Ukraine: Geography and Fate of the Country’, in which he made a forecast: Ukraine will inevitably transform, and this transformation mainly depends on Russia. He concluded that its self-determination would inevitably be anti-Russian, citing the country’s “stretchable borders” as one of the main reasons. At a minimum, this would encompass just the right bank of the Dnieper, or even Galicia alone.

At a maximum, the borders would stretch to the southern Russian cities of Voronezh and Stavropol. “The USSR and the CIS are a semi-empire of republics around Russia, and Ukraine is the main link in this necklace, a geopolitical pendant. Ukraine divides the space of the former USSR into separate, geographically separated blocks, and connects three blocks (Belarus and the Baltic States – Moldova – the Caucasus). Ukraine is the only alternative to Russia as the center of the current CIS and the entire post-Soviet space. It is the only way to potentially bypass Russia – the main anti-Russian bastion, and Russia’s main partner in the arrangement of this space,” wrote Kagansky.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Inflation As A Prelude To War

 

 

Rogan The Shining

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 182022
 


Paul Ranson Apple tree with red fruit 1902

 

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

 

 

 

 

Never sick

 

 

 

 

Clare Daly

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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


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

Putin Spief

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

Back in April.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

Two Awkward Biden Moments Draw Online Scrutiny (JTN)

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

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

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

Biden oil

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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


It’s the little people!

Read more …

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

Pro-Ukrainian, but Anti-Nazi (Batiushka)

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

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

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

Read more …

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

How Low Can You Go? (Jim Kunstler)

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

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

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

Read more …

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

Last Tango in Washington? (Brenner)

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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


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

Read more …

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

US Drone Sale To Ukraine Hits Snag (R.)

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


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

Read more …

Adam Schiff did it.

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

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

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


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

Tucker Colbert

Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

You won’t know what hit you.

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

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

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

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

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

Read more …

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

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

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

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


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

Stella Moris

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

UAW Elon
https://twitter.com/i/status/1537676631988310017

 

 

Twitter Lead Client Partner
https://twitter.com/i/status/1537541923883388931

 

 

 

 

Kamala Task Force

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Sep 162019
 
 September 16, 2019  Posted by at 9:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  21 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Night fishing at Antibes 1939

 

Oil Explodes 20% Higher, Biggest Jump On Record (ZH)
Trump Says US ‘Locked And Loaded’ As Iran Blamed For Saudi Attack (AP)
Liquidity Dies in Darkness (Rivelle)
‘Very Difficult’ For China’s Economy To Grow 6% Or Faster: Premier Li
China’s August Industrial Output Growth Grinds To 17.5-Year Low (R.)
General Motors Faces Strike By Almost 50,000 Staff (BBC)
OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy Protection (R.)
Industrialized Militaries Are A Big Part Of The Climate Emergency (IC)
Farming Subsidies Destroy The World (G.)
The World’s Most Important Political Prisoner (Craig Murray)

 

 

It went down a little after, but then the war threats started.

Oil Explodes 20% Higher, Biggest Jump On Record (ZH)

Shanghai Oil futures are halted limit up.


Source: Bloomberg

With traders in a state of near-frenzy, with a subset of fintwit scrambling (and failing) to calculate what the limit move in oil would be (hint: there is none for Brent), moments ago brent reopened for trading in the aftermath of Saturday’s attack on the “world’s most important oil processing plant”, and exploded some 20% higher, to a high of $71.95 from the Friday $60.22 close, its biggest jump since futures started trading in 1988. As Bloomberg notes, “for oil markets, it’s the single worst sudden disruption ever, surpassing the loss of Kuwaiti and Iraqi petroleum supply in August 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbor. It also exceeds the loss of Iranian oil output in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.”

Furthermore, in light of news that the Saudi outage could last for months, this could be just the start. As a reminder, according to Morningstar research director, Sandy Fielden, “Brent could go to $80 tomorrow, while WTI could go to $75… But that would depend on Aramco’s 48-hour update. The supply problem won’t be clear right away since the Saudis can still deliver from inventory.” Of course, should Aramco confirm that the outage – which has taken some 5.7mmb/d in Saudi output after 10 drones struck the world’s biggest crude-processing facility in Abqaiq and the kingdom’s second-biggest oil field in Khurais – will last for weeks, expect the crude juggernaut to continue until the price hits $80, and keeps moving higher.


Source: Bloomberg

Read more …

Does any of this make any sense to you?

Trump Says US ‘Locked And Loaded’ As Iran Blamed For Saudi Attack (AP)

The U.S. government produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at two Saudi energy facilities, including damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south. Iraq denied Sunday that its territory was used for an attack on the Kingdom and U.S. officials said a strike from there would be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The U.S. officials said additional devices, which apparently didn’t reach their targets, were recovered northwest of the facilities and are being jointly analyzed by Saudi and American intelligence.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, did not address whether the drone could have been fired from Yemen, then taken a round-about path, but did not explicitly rule it out. The attacks and recriminations are increasing already heightened fears of an escalation in the region, after a prominent U.S. senator suggested striking Iranian oil refineries in response to the assault, and Iran warned of the potential of more violence. “Because of the tension and sensitive situation, our region is like a powder keg,” said Iranian Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “When these contacts come too close, when forces come into contact with one another, it is possible a conflict happens because of a misunderstanding.”


[..] “Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo wrote. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” [..] U.S. officials previously alleged at least one recent drone attack on Saudi Arabia came from Iraq, where Iran backs Shiite militias. Those militias in recent weeks have been targeted themselves by mysterious airstrikes, with at least one believed to have been carried out by Israel. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Sunday dismissed Pompeo’s remarks as “blind and futile comments.” “The Americans adopted the ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning toward ‘maximum lies,’” Mousavi said in a statement.

Read more …

“Trouble is, while loanable funds can be created without limit, the things that can be purchased with these funds is finite.”

Liquidity Dies in Darkness (Rivelle)

If democracy dies in darkness, so does liquidity in that embodiment of economic democracy, i.e., the capital markets. When information is scarce, investors must color in between the lines. That which is not known nor well quantified must be assumed or modeled. The door is therefore open to different investors reaching quite different conclusions about the underlying value of an asset leading, of course, to illiquidity. More so perhaps than any other in history, this cycle is the wellspring of the theories and actions of the central bankers who, in their infinite wisdom, determined that they could model interest rates better than markets could price them. Central banks have flooded the system with what they call “liquidity” but which are actually nothing more–nor less–than electronically conjured “loanable funds.”


Under the banner of “doing whatever it takes,” trillions in loanable funds were created so that now $17 trillion in global debt is priced to yield less than nothing. The magic trick of inverting economic logic with negative rates results from the capacity of the central banks to create unlimited quantities of loanable funds at no cost. Trouble is, while loanable funds can be created without limit, the things that can be purchased with these funds is finite. But, “free money” not only makes loans cheap, it also erodes the capacity of lenders to ask for such reasonable terms as traditional loan covenants and basic financial disclosure.

Read more …

Preparing the people for bad news?!

‘Very Difficult’ For China’s Economy To Grow 6% Or Faster: Premier Li

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it is “very difficult” for China’s economy to grow at a rate of 6% or more because of the high base from which it was starting and the complicated international backdrop. The world’s No.2 economy faced “certain downward pressure” due to slowing global growth as well as the rise of protectionism and unilateralism, Li said in an interview with Russian media which was published on the Chinese government’s website, gov.cn. China’s GDP grew 6.3% in the first half of the year, and Li said the economy was “generally stable” in the first eight months of the year.


“For China to maintain growth of 6% or more is very difficult against the current backdrop of a complicated international situation and a relatively high base, and this rate is at the forefront of the world’s leading economies,” Li was quoted as saying. Analysts say China’s economic growth has likely cooled further this quarter from a near 30-year low of 6.2% in April-June. Morgan Stanley says it is now tracking the lower end of the government’s full-year target range of around 6-6.5%.

Read more …

4.4% it is.

China’s August Industrial Output Growth Grinds To 17.5-Year Low (R.)

The slowdown in China’s factory and consumer sectors deepened in August, with industrial production growing at the weakest pace in 17-1/2 years, a sign of increasing weakness in an economy lashed by trade headwinds and soft domestic demand. Production rose 4.4% in August year-on-year, slower than the 4.8% growth in July. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast output would rise 5.2%. August’s data is the slowest growth since February 2002. [..] The data also showed retail sales growth at 7.5%, below the 7.9% expected in a Reuters poll and the 7.6% increase in July.


Fixed-asset investment for the first eight months of the year rose 5.5%, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics, compared with a 5.6% rise forecast by analysts. Data last week showed factory-gate prices fell at their fastest pace in three years and analysts predict that producer deflation will continue to worsen in the coming months. It also follows a factory survey that showed activity shrank for the fourth straight month as the U.S. trade war dragged on. China’s imports of unwrought copper also fell 3.8% year-on-year in August, a metal with wide use in infrastructure, power and consumption.

Read more …

America’s dying unions.

General Motors Faces Strike By Almost 50,000 Staff (BBC)

Almost 50,000 General Motors workers have been called out on strike after the car giant failed to reach a pay and conditions deal with the United Auto Workers union (UAW). “We do not take this lightly. This is our last resort,” UAW vice-president Terry Dittes told reporters in Detroit. The sides had set a Saturday night deadline to reach agreement. The strike – from midnight (04:00 GMT) on Monday – is the first at GM, America’s biggest carmaker, since 2007. In that strike, a two-day stoppage cost $300m (£240m). The union’s previous four-year contract with GM expired this weekend, and the two sides had been holding negotiations on wide-ranging issues, including wages, healthcare, profit sharing, and job security.

Read more …

Right after the Sackler family had transferred their billions to safe locations.

OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy Protection (R.)

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP filed for bankruptcy protection Sunday night, succumbing to pressure from more than 2,600 lawsuits alleging the company helped fuel the deadly U.S. opioid epidemic. Purdue’s board met Sunday evening to approve the long-expected bankruptcy filing, which the company is pursuing to restructure under terms of a proposal to settle the widespread litigation. Purdue, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in a federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York, reached a tentative deal to resolve lawsuits with 24 states and five U.S. territories, as well as lead lawyers for more than 2,000 cities, counties and other plaintiffs, the company said.


Two dozen states remain opposed or uncommitted to the proposed settlement, setting the stage for contentious legal battles over who bears responsibility for a public health crisis that has claimed the lives of nearly 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017, according to the latest U.S. data. Thousands of cities and counties, along with nearly every state, have sued Purdue and, in some cases, its controlling Sackler family. The lawsuits, seeking billions of dollars in damages, claim the company and family aggressively marketed prescription painkillers while misleading doctors and patients about their addiction and overdose risks.

Read more …

I’d rather have a look at overall pollution, not just emissions.

Industrialized Militaries Are A Big Part Of The Climate Emergency (IC)

A British doctor who co-authored two studies on the environmental impact of U.S. military operations in Fallujah said that the city’s population suffers “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.” Much of this impact can be blamed on the use of depleted uranium munitions by U.S. forces. Despite vowing to cease their use, a study by the independent monitoring group Airwars and Foreign Policy Magazine found that the military continued to use the toxic munitions during its most recent bombing campaign in Syria. The fact that fossil fuel emissions have been the major driver of climate change adds another grim irony to these wars.


For decades, the heavy U.S. military footprint in the Middle East has been justified by the need to preserve access to the region’s oil reserves. The industrial extraction of those same reserves has been one of the major drivers of global carbon dioxide emissions. In other words, we have been killing, dying, and polluting to ensure our access to the same toxic resource most responsible for our climate disruption. It took this perfect symmetry between industrial warfare and industrial exploitation of the earth to bring about the unspeakable emergency we now face.

Read more …

$1 million every minute. And look at the sugary crap we’re eating.

Farming Subsidies Destroy The World (G.)

The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report. Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser. The security of humanity is at risk without reform to these subsidies, a big reduction in meat eating in rich nations and other damaging uses of land, the report says. But redirecting the subsidies to storing carbon in soil, producing healthier food, cutting waste and growing trees is a huge opportunity, it says.

The report rejects the idea that subsidies are needed to supply cheap food. It found that the cost of the damage currently caused by agriculture is greater than the value of the food produced. New assessments in the report found producing healthy, sustainable food would actually cut food prices, as the condition of the land improves. “There is incredibly small direct targeting of [subsidies at] positive environment outcomes, which is insane,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, principal at the Food and Land Use Coalition (Folu), the collaboration of food, farming and green research groups that produced the new report. “We have got to switch these subsidies into explicitly positive measures.”


He said the true global total was likely to be $1tn a year, as some subsidies are difficult to quantify precisely: “That trillion dollars of public funding is available and is a massive, massive lever to incentivise the farming community across the world to act differently.”

Read more …

“..all the excuses for Assange’s imprisonment which so-called leftists and liberals in the UK have hidden behind will evaporate.”

The World’s Most Important Political Prisoner (Craig Murray)

We are now just one week away from the end of Julian Assange’s uniquely lengthy imprisonment for bail violation. He will receive parole from the rest of that sentence, but will continue to be imprisoned on remand awaiting his hearing on extradition to the USA – a process which could last several years. At that point, all the excuses for Assange’s imprisonment which so-called leftists and liberals in the UK have hidden behind will evaporate. There are no charges and no active investigation in Sweden, where the “evidence” disintegrated at the first whiff of critical scrutiny. He is no longer imprisoned for “jumping bail”.

The sole reason for his incarceration will be the publishing of the Afghan and Iraq war logs leaked by Chelsea Manning, with their evidence of wrongdoing and multiple war crimes. In imprisoning Assange for bail violation, the UK was in clear defiance of the judgement of the UN Working Group on arbitrary Detention, which stated:

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge. The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador. Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,”


In repudiating the UNWGAD the UK has undermined an important pillar of international law, and one it had always supported in hundreds of other decisions. The mainstream media has entirely failed to note that the UNWGAD called for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – a source of potentially valuable international pressure on Iran which the UK has made worthless by its own refusal to comply with the UN over the Assange case. Iran simply replies “if you do not respect the UNWGAD then why should we?”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 152019
 
 September 15, 2019  Posted by at 9:26 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Marcel Duchamp About young sister 1911

 

Israeli Attacks On Syria Halted After Russian Threat To Shoot Down Jets (ZH)
US, Israel Talk About Mutual Defense Treaty – Trump (RT)
Netanyahu’s Plan to Escape Trial (Haaretz)
US Blames Saudi Oil Strikes On Iran, Not Houthis (BBC)
Global Spare Oil Capacity In US Hands After Saudi Outage (R.)
US Stands Ready To Tap Emergency Oil Reserve After Saudi Attacks (R.)
London Upper Tribunal Rejects La Repubblica’s Assange Docs Appeal (Maurizi)
Johnson Is A Liar Who Only Backed Leave To Help His Career – Cameron (G.)
US To Hit EU With Billions In Tariffs After Victory In Airbus Case (Pol.eu)
Italy’s New Government Lets Charity Ship Head To Italian Port (R.)
World ‘Losing Battle Against Deforestation’ (BBC)
The Spy Who Failed (Ritter)

 

 

What Putin tells Netanyahu, he also tells Trump at the same moment. A red line in the sand. This is the new world order.

Israeli Attacks On Syria Halted After Russian Threat To Shoot Down Jets (ZH)

According to reports in both Israeli and Arabic regional media, Israel this past week was preparing to expand major airstrikes against “Iran-backed” targets in Syria, but Moscow imposed its red line. The Independent has published a story describing that Russia’s military in Syria threatened to shoot down any invading Israeli warplanes using fighter jets or their S-400 system. The Jerusalem Post, citing sources in the UK Independent (Arabia), writes just after the latest meeting in Sochi between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin: “According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli airstrikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S400 Anti-aircraft missiles.


The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice, and that during August, Moscow stopped an airstrike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S300 missile battery is placed.” Netanyahu’s hasty trip to meet with Putin on Thursday – even in the final days before Tuesday’s key election – was reportedly with a goal to press the Russian president on essentially ignoring Israel’s attacks in Syria. Citing further sources in the British-Arabic Independent Arabia, The Jerusalem Post continues: According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime’s army, or any of the weapons being given to it… Israel sources cited by the Arabic newspaper described Netanyahu’s attempts to persuade Putin as “a failure”. This in spite of Netanyahu telling reporters after the meeting that his relations with Moscow were stronger than ever.

Read more …

Israel is going to defend the US?

US, Israel Talk About Mutual Defense Treaty – Trump (RT)

The US and Israel are discussing a mutual defense treaty that would further cement the already “tremendous” alliance between the two countries, President Donald Trump has revealed. “I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries,” Trump tweeted. Trump voiced not-that-veiled support for Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Israel. “I look forward to continuing those discussions after the Israeli Elections when we meet at the United Nations later this month!” Trump wrote.


The support surely comes in handy, as Netanyahu’s backing appears to be quite shaky. The September 17 polls are the second snap legislative elections this year after Netanyahu failed to form the government back in April. The outcome of the upcoming vote is hard to predict, as Netanyahu’s party, Likud, has almost equal support as their main opponent the Blue and White led by Benny Gantz, opinion polls show. Netanyahu was quick to respond to Trump’s announcement, lauding the prospects of the alliance and managing to call the US president a “friend” twice in a single tweet.

Read more …

Netanyahu wanted to bomb Syria to support himself in the Sep 17 Knesset elections. Putin said we’ll shoot down your jets.

Netanyahu needs victory in the election to keep himself out of jail. He may be indicted by mid-October. Trump might want to reconsider who he’s friends with.

Netanyahu’s Plan to Escape Trial (Haaretz)

Immediately after the last election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined to members of his inner circle a plan to extract him from facing trial. The plan was based on obtaining immunity from the Knesset and passing legislation to prevent the High Court of Justice from removing that immunity. If his bloc wins 61 Knesset seats next week, Netanyahu will presumably resort to this rescue plan. For him it will be the Day of Judgment. “Stop being frightened. It’s time for them to be frightened,” Netanyahu told his confidants, referring to justice officials, headed by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who have decided to indict him in three cases, subject to a hearing.

Netanyahu told his confidants why he insisted on his destructive plan, telling them he had lost all confidence in the legal system on all levels – the attorney general’s office, the state prosecutor and the court system. “They want me in prison,” he told one of his cronies, noting that if he were indicted that would indeed be the result – not because he had crossed a red line, but merely due to the jurists’ collective hostility toward him and his ideology. Netanyahu appears to wholeheartedly believe himself to be a victim, framed by prosecutors and that Mendelblit, who is weak, doesn’t believe in them at all, but couldn’t withstand the pressure.

In his interviews with the police Netanyahu acted like a hunted man. “It’s a wacky conception,” he told national fraud squad chief Koresh Bar-Nur in January 2017. Bar-Nur came to Netanyahu’s residence with a team of investigators to question him under caution on Case 2000, involving a bribery deal Netanyahu allegedly negotiated with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes.

Read more …

Trump was talking about lifting sanctions on Iran and then this happens?! That smells like Assad attacking his own people with chlorine just as things were getting better.

US Blames Saudi Oil Strikes On Iran, Not Houthis (BBC)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for Saturday’s drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities. He dismissed a claim by Yemeni Houthi rebels that they had attacked the two facilities, run by state-owned company Aramco. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the strikes had reduced crude oil production by 5.7 million barrels a day – about half the kingdom’s output. Correspondents say they could have a significant impact on world oil prices. TV footage showed a huge blaze at Abqaiq, site of Aramco’s largest oil processing plant, while a second drone attack started fires in the Khurais oilfield. The Saudis lead a Western-backed military coalition supporting Yemen’s government, while Iran backs the Houthi rebels.


If the rebels were responsible for the attacks, their drones would have had to fly hundreds of miles from Yemen into central Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile experts are investigating whether the attacks could have been carried out from the north – either by Iran or its Shia allies in Iraq – using cruise missiles rather than drones, the Wall Street Journal reports. Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated in recent months. since US President Donald Trump abandoned a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities last year and reinstated sanctions. In a tweet, Mr Pompeo said there was “no evidence” the drones came from Yemen. He described the attack as “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply”.

Read more …

The US and Saudi Aramco (its IPO is near) stand to gain most if oil prices shoot up.

Global Spare Oil Capacity In US Hands After Saudi Outage (R.)

An attack on Saudi oil facilities on Saturday is believed to have disrupted half the country’s production capacity, making the United States the only real holder of the global supply cushion via its ability to raise own output or to soften sanctions against other major oil producers. Saudi Arabia has yet to comment on the extent of damage on its oil production but industry sources have said some 5-6 million barrels per day (bpd) or 5-6% of global supply have been affected. Saudi Arabia, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ de-facto leader and largest producer, has been long seen as the custodian of the world’s spare oil capacity.

Spare capacity is the extra oil a producing country can bring onstream and sustain at short notice, providing global markets with a cushion in the event of natural disaster, conflict or any other cause of an unplanned supply outage. Industry sources have said Saudi Arabia will be able to restore supply within days. A prolonged supply outage will have a major bullish impact on oil prices, which in turn will spur further gains in U.S. shale production. The United States has briefly overtaken Saudi Arabia as the world largest crude exporter this year, only a few years after removing a ban on oil exports because of large needs at home as the world’s largest oil consumer.

Analysts have repeatedly underestimated U.S. output growth gains with the country now producing around 15% of global supply. Besides the United States, the only countries which have significant spare capacity are Iran and Venezuela.

Read more …

Only to replace it with much more expensive oil?

US Stands Ready To Tap Emergency Oil Reserve After Saudi Attacks (R.)

The Trump administration is prepared to tap U.S. emergency oil reserves if necessary after drone attacks shut oil output in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, a Department of Energy spokeswoman said. Energy Secretary Rick Perry “stands ready to deploy resources from the Strategic Petroleum Oil Reserves if necessary to offset any disruptions to oil markets as a result of this act of aggression,” spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said. Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed credit for Saturday’s attacks on two plants at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility Abqaiq.


Perry directed department leaders to work with the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) “on potential available options for collective global action if needed,” Hynes said. The IEA said on Twitter earlier in the day that it was in contact with Saudi authorities and other major oil-producing nations, and that markets for now are well-supplied. The United States has occasionally coordinated with the IEA on collective draw downs of oil from international reserves. The SPR, held in heavily-guarded underground storage caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts, currently holds nearly 645 million barrels, or about the amount the United States consumes in a month.

Read more …

Where are the British people protesting this?

London Upper Tribunal Rejects La Repubblica’s Assange Docs Appeal (Maurizi)

The press does not have the right to access the full set of documents on the Julian Assange case. That is what judge Edward Mitchell finally ruled in an appeal taken to the London Upper Tribunal by la Repubblica, after we have spent the last four years trying to access the full documentation to investigate the Assange case and factually reconstruct it.

In an extremely technical judgement just made public and which the judge himself characterises as “unusually long”, Mitchell rejects our legal arguments and states that he believed public knowledge of Mr Assange’s case would not have increased if it was known that the CPS held information from the US State Department or Department of Justice. A rather incredible argument considering that the entire Assange case revolves around the role of the United States authorities, who want to get their hands on the WikiLeaks founder, extradite him to the US and jail him for life: establishing whether the British and US authorities discussed this possibility from the very beginning is crucial.

[..]Our attempt to access the documents has been hindered and hugely delayed in every jurisdiction. However, the very few documents we have obtained so far have allowed us to unearth crucial information. They provide indisputable evidence of the UK’s role in helping to create the legal and diplomatic quagmire which kept Julian Assange arbitrarily detained since 2010, as established by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD). In fact, it was the UK Crown Prosecution Service which advised the Swedish prosecutors against the only judicial strategy that could have brought the Swedish rape investigation to a quick closure: questioning Assange in London, rather than trying to extradite him to Stockholm. It was the Crown Prosecution Service which tried to dissuade the Swedish prosecutors from dropping the case in 2013. Finally, it was the Crown Prosecution Service that wrote to its Swedish counterpart: “Please do not think that the case is being dealt with as just another extradition request” and destroyed crucial documents, even though the case is still ongoing and very controversial.

When we tried to shed light on these facts, to understand why the British authorities acted this way and why the Assange case was not “just another extradition request”, we ran up against a true rubber wall, so much so that we were forced to sue the Crown Prosecution Service. Our first appeal to the London First-tier Tribunal was rejected: the judge established that the press has no right to access the documentation, because the need for the British authorities to protect the confidentiality of the extradition process outweighs the public interest of the press to know. Today, Judge Edward Mitchell has rejected our appeal to the Upper Tribunal. At this point it is not clear who will be able to introduce some transparency and oversight in the Assange case, considering that the press is not allowed to do so.

Read more …

Selling a book.

Johnson Is A Liar Who Only Backed Leave To Help His Career – Cameron (G.)

Boris Johnson is a liar who only backed the Leave campaign to help his career and Michael Gove was a “foam-flecked Faragist” whose “one quality” was disloyalty, David Cameron writes in his memoirs. The former prime minister poured vituperation on both his former colleagues Priti Patel, the current home secretary, and Dominic Cummings, the No 10 adviser, in extracts from the book published on Sunday. In what may be Cameron’s most explosive allegation yet, he effectively accused Boris Johnson of mounting a racist election campaign by focusing on Turkey and its possible accession to the EU. “It didn’t take long to figure out Leave’s obsession,” he writes. “Why focus on a country that wasn’t an EU member?


“The answer was that it was a Muslim country, which piqued fears about Islamism, mass migration and the transformation of communities. It was blatant.” Then Cameron echoes the explicitly racist Conservative campaign slogan used in Smethwick in 1964: “They might as well have said: ‘If you want a Muslim for a neighbour, vote “remain”.’” In Smethwick, Peter Griffiths had been elected as Conservative MP on the slogan “If you want a n**** for a neighbour, vote Labour.” Cameron writes that Johnson’s claims of concerns about British sovereignty were “secondary to another concern for Boris: what was the best outcome for him?”

Read more …

Get ready for more fun.

US To Hit EU With Billions In Tariffs After Victory In Airbus Case (Pol.eu)

The United States has gotten the green light to impose billions of euros in punitive tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to European aerospace giant Airbus. Four EU officials told POLITICO that the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in the long-running transatlantic dispute and sent its confidential decision to Brussels and Washington on Friday. The decision means that U.S. President Donald Trump will almost certainly soon announce tariffs on European products ranging from cheeses to Airbus planes. One official said Trump had won the right to collect a total of between €5 billion and €8 billion. Another said the maximum sum was close to $10 billion.


The decision sets the stage for a showdown between Europe and Washington just as the EU is transitioning to new leadership under incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Trade Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan. In unveiling her team on Tuesday, von der Leyen signaled a robust approach to transatlantic disputes on trade and other issues with the Trump administration. aWashington has previously announced it would follow through with tariffs if it won the case in Geneva and has prepared a list of EU exports worth a total of $21 billion. The U.S. can choose products from that list and then tax them at different rates in order to claw back the total amount of damage resulting from the EU subsidies.

Read more …

After EU nations agreed to take the refugees.

Italy’s New Government Lets Charity Ship Head To Italian Port (R.)

Italy’s new government allowed a French charity ship to bring ashore 82 migrants on Saturday in an apparent reversal of the uncompromising, closed-door policy of the previous administration. However, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who heads the 5-Star Movement in the governing coalition, said the Ocean Viking was only being given access to the southern island of Lampedusa because other European states had agreed to take in many of those on board. The government formally took office on Tuesday, promising a fresh approach to migration following the hardline clampdown on rescue ships introduced by former interior minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League.


Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that “several EU countries” had agreed to take in the Africans aboard the Ocean Viking but did not give further details. The ship is run by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders. It picked up the migrants off Libya earlier this week and had asked both Italy and Malta for permission to dock. Recent such requests from other boats had been rejected, leaving migrants stranded at sea for prolonged periods. The center-left Democratic Party (PD), which has replaced the League in the ruling coalition, applauded the announcement that the vessel had been given access to Lampedusa.

Read more …

As long as it pays more to cut and burn trees than to grow them or just leave them alone, this is inevitable.

World ‘Losing Battle Against Deforestation’ (BBC)

A historic global agreement aimed at halting deforestation has failed, according to a report. An assessment of the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) says it has failed to deliver on key pledges. Launched at the 2014 UN climate summit, it aimed to half deforestation by 2020, and halt it by 2030. Yet deforestation continues at an alarming rate and threatens to prevent the world from preventing dangerous climate change, experts have said. The critique, compiled by the NYDF Assessment Partners (a coalition of 25 organisations), painted a bleak picture of how the world’s forests continue to be felled.


“Since the NYDF was launched five years ago, deforestation has not only continued – it has actually accelerated,” observed Charlotte Streck, co-founder and director of Climate Focus, which co-ordinated the publication of the report. The report says the amount of annual carbon emissions resulting from deforestation around the globe are equivalent to the greenhouse gases produced by the European Union. On average, an area of tree cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost every year between 2014 and 2018. Tropical forest loss accounts for more than 90% of global deforestation, with the hotspot being located in Amazon Basin nations of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

Read more …

Your must read for the Sunday. Excellent. You’ll know a lot more about the CIA in Moscow, and in the US elections.

The Spy Who Failed (Scott Ritter)

Oleg Smolenkov was a controlled asset of the CIA. While he was given certain latitude on what information he could collect, generally speaking Smolenkov worked from an operations order sent to him by his CIA controllers which established priorities for intelligence collection based upon information provided by Smolenkov about what he could reasonably access. Before tasking Smolenkov, his CIA handlers would screen the request from an operational and counterintelligence perspective, conducting a risk-reward analysis that weighed the value of the intelligence being sought with the possibility of compromise. Only then would Smolenkov be cleared to collect the requested information.

It is not publicly known what prompted the report from Smolenkov which Brennan found so alarming. Was it received out of the blue, a target of opportunity which Smolenkov exploited? Was it based upon a specific tasking submitted by Smolenkov’s CIA handlers in response to a tasking from above? Or was it a result of the intervention of the CIA director, who tasked Smolenkov outside normal channels? In any event, once Brennan created his special analytical unit, Smolenkov became his dedicated source. If Smolenko was in this for the money, as appears to be the case, he would have been motivated to come up with the “correct” answer to Brennan’s tasking for information on Putin’s role. By late 2016, Western media had made quite clear what kind of answer Brennan wanted.

Every intelligence report produced by a controlled asset is subjected to a counterintelligence review where it is examined for any evidence of red flags that could be indicative of compromise. One red flag is the issue of abnormal access. Smolenkov did not normally have direct contact with Putin, if ever. His intelligence reports would have been written from the perspective of the distant observer. His report about Putin’s role in interfering in the 2016 election, however, represented a whole new level of access and trust. Under normal circumstances, a report exhibiting such tendency would be pulled aside for additional scrutiny; if the report was alarming enough, the CIA might order the agent to be subjected to a polygraph to ensure he had not been compromised.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 212018
 
 December 21, 2018  Posted by at 10:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Pieter Bruegel the Elder Hunters in the snow 1565

 

Dow Drops 470 Points To 14-Month Low In Day 2 Of Big Losses After Fed Hike (CNBC)
As Fear Rises On Wall Street, Strategists Warn The Worst Is Yet To Come (CNBC)
US Defense Chief Mattis Quits As Trump Pulls From Syria, Afghanistan (AFP)
House Passes Spending Bill With Border Wall Money, Senate Showdown Next (CNBC)
China Denies ‘Slanderous’ Economic Espionage Charges From US Allies (R.)
Russian Media Regulator Starts Checking Legality Of BBC’s Operations (R.)
Gatwick Runway Reopens After Days Of Drone Disruption (G.)
There’s A National Emergency All Right – But It Isn’t Brexit (G.)
Germany’s Hidden Crisis – Social Decline In The Heart Of Europe (G.)
Malaysia Seeks $7.5 Billion In Reparations From Goldman Sachs Over 1MDB (R.)
Singapore Said To Expand 1MDB Criminal Probe To Include Goldman Sachs (BBG)
Carlos Ghosn Re-Arrested On New Charges In Japan (BBC)
New Tree Species Became Extinct Before It Was Named (Ind.)

 

 

Jay Powell pricks the bubbles. Painful and inevitable. But if he ever decides to lower rates again next year, look for the bubbles to return. That’s his dilemma.

Dow Drops 470 Points To 14-Month Low In Day 2 Of Big Losses After Fed Hike (CNBC)

U.S. stocks swooned for a second day Thursday after the Federal Reserve raised benchmark interest rates and said that it would continue to let its massive balance sheet shrink at the current pace. Fears of a government shutdown also sent stocks tumbling to new lows Thursday afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 464.06 points to 22,859.6, bringing its two-day declines to more than 800 points and its 5-day losses to more than 1,700 points. The S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent to finish at 2,467.41 as technology stocks underperformed. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1.6 percent and closed at 6,528.41, briefly dipping into bear market territory amid big losses in Amazon and Apple.

The Nasdaq is 19.7 percent below its recent high. Companies in the S&P 500 have lost a total of $2.39 trillion in market cap this month. The Cboe Volatility Index — one of the market’s best gauges of marketplace fear — rose above 30. The Dow and Nasdaq posted their lowest closes since October 2017, while the S&P 500 finished at its lowest level since September 2017. The Dow and S&P 500, which are both in corrections, are on track for their worst December performance since the Great Depression in 1931, down more than 10 percent each this month. The S&P 500 is now in the red for 2018 by 7.7 percent.

Read more …

Yeah, all these experts. Who cares? There’s not nearly enough fear yet.

As Fear Rises On Wall Street, Strategists Warn The Worst Is Yet To Come (CNBC)

“The market’s in no man’s land,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment strategist at Bleakley Advisory Group. Stocks have broken through the lows of the year, and technicians are scurrying to find the next support levels. On the S&P 500, he said 2,400 is a potential psychological area of support. The market plunged Thursday against the backdrop of a congressional feud with the White House over a continuing budget resolution, but the markets were more focused on the worries that have been festering over global growth and the potential for recession. “You can guarantee if the government shuts down it’s going to very soon reopen,” said Boockvar.

“This could be a carry through from yesterday, that’s legitimate. The problem now is this is the first time in years in this bull market that people are doing tax-loss selling. That’s helping to exaggerate the move. You’re also having redemptions.” Since the Fed announced its rate hike Wednesday, the Dow was down 815 points. The sharp drop in stocks since early October was unexpected and even more crushing recently, since December is typically a positive time for stocks. The 10 percent decline so far in the S&P 500 is its worst December performance since 1931. If it remains this way, it would the first time ever that December is the worst month of the year for the index.

Read more …

Have all those people who now say Mattis is the wisest and most balanced in the White House, forgotten why he’s called Mad Dog?

US Defense Chief Mattis Quits As Trump Pulls From Syria, Afghanistan (AFP)

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday, leading a chorus of protests at home and abroad after President Donald Trump ordered a complete troop pullout from Syria and a significant withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump steadfastly defended his sudden push for retrenchment, vowing that the United States would no longer be the “policeman of the Middle East” and saying the 2,000-strong US force in Syria was no longer needed as the Islamic State group had been defeated. Mattis, a battle-hardened retired four-star general seen as a moderating force on the often impulsive president, made little attempt to hide his disagreements with Trump.

“Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” Mattis said in a letter to Trump, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.” Mattis hailed the coalition to defeat Islamic State as well as NATO, the nearly 70-year-old alliance between North America and Europe whose cost-effectiveness has been questioned by the businessman turned president. “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues,” Mattis wrote. One day after the surprise announcement on Syria, a US official told AFP that Trump had also decided on a “significant withdrawal” in a much larger US operation – Afghanistan.

Read more …

No government into Christmas?

House Passes Spending Bill With Border Wall Money, Senate Showdown Next (CNBC)

The House passed a temporary spending bill Thursday with money for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, further muddying the scramble to dodge a partial government shutdown by Friday. The chamber approved the measure to keep the government running into February by a 217-185 vote. But the path forward now is murky. The bill likely will not clear the Senate because it includes more than $5 billion for the border barrier, increasing the chances that funding for seven agencies lapses after the midnight Friday deadline. Senators were told Thursday to prepare for potential votes Friday. The chamber convenes at noon. The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday night to keep the government running through Feb. 8 — without border wall money.

Trump insisted Thursday that he would not sign it. It forced House Republicans to include the wall money in the new bill. Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have flatly said congressional Democrats will not approve wall money. As Republicans need Democratic votes to pass spending legislation in the Senate, a partial shutdown is all but assured if the GOP insists on funding for the barrier. It is unclear if Republicans will abandon that goal in an effort to keep the government running past Friday. During a televised Oval Office fracas last week, Pelosi challenged Trump by saying he did not have the votes for wall money in the House. It turns out he did.

Read more …

We can do it, but they can’t.

China Denies ‘Slanderous’ Economic Espionage Charges From US Allies (R.)

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it resolutely opposed “slanderous” accusations from the United States and other allies criticizing China for economic espionage, urging Washington to withdraw its accusations. The United States should also withdraw charges against two Chinese citizens, the ministry said, adding that China had never participated in or supported any stealing of commercial secrets and had lodged “stern representations” with Washington. “We urge the U.S. side to immediately correct its erroneous actions and cease its slanderous smears relating to internet security,” it said, adding that it would take necessary measures to safeguard its own cybersecurity and interests.

It has long been an “open secret” that U.S. government agencies have hacked into and listening in on foreign governments, companies and individuals, the ministry added. “The U.S. side making unwarranted criticisms of China in the name of so-called ‘cyber stealing’ is blaming others while oneself is to be blamed, and is self-deception. China absolutely cannot accept this.” U.S. prosecutors indicted two Chinese nationals linked to China’s Ministry of State Security intelligence agency on charges of stealing confidential data from American government agencies and businesses around the world. Prosecutors charged Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong in hacking attacks against the U.S. Navy, the space agency NASA and the Energy Department and dozens of companies. The operation targeted intellectual property and corporate secrets to give Chinese companies an unfair competitive advantage, they said.

Read more …

More of the same: We can do it, but they can’t. The west wants to blame RT for all sorts of stuff beacuse that fits the Russophobe narrative.

Russian Media Regulator Starts Checking Legality Of BBC’s Operations (R.)

Russia’s media regulator said on Friday it would carry out checks to determine if the BBC World News channel and BBC internet sites complied with Russian law, a move it described as a response to British pressure on a Russian TV channel. Roskomnadzor, the regulator, said in a statement its checks were Russia’s response to a decision by British media regulator Ofcom, which on Thursday said that Russian broadcaster RT had broken impartiality rules in some of its news and current affairs programs. “The results of our check will be announced separately,” the Russian regulator said. Ofcom said on Thursday it was considering imposing some kind of sanction on RT, which is financed by the Russian state.

It took issue in particular with its coverage of the poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Britain has accused agents working for Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, of committing the crime, an allegation Moscow denies. British Media Secretary Jeremy Wright also weighed in on Thursday, saying what he called RT’s mask as an impartial news provider was slipping. RT rejected Ofcom’s findings, saying Ofcom had ignored its explanations and not paid “due regard” to its rights. Commenting on the launch of the Russian investigation on Friday, Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, said on Twitter that Ofcom had hinted that it planned to strip her channel of its broadcasting license in Britain. “(Welcome to the) brave new world,” she wrote.

Read more …

Days of panic due to one or two drones, at an airport that has just one runway to begin with?!

Gatwick Runway Reopens After Days Of Drone Disruption (G.)

The first flights have resumed at Gatwick airport after a series of drone sightings caused days of disruption, affecting more than 100,000 passengers. Airlines warned customers to continue to check their flight’s status on Friday morning as the airport worked to “introduce a limited number of flights over the coming hours”. The runway had remained closed throughout Thursday night, forcing passengers to search for accommodation or shelter at the airport, and bringing demands for new aviation regulations to tackle the threat. The airport’s chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe, said 120,000 passengers’ flights had been disrupted by the incident.

On Thursday night police said there had been more than 50 sightings of the drone in 24 hours from when the runway was first closed. Night-flight restrictions had been lifted at other airports, so “more planes could get into and out of the country”, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling said. “This is clearly a very serious ongoing incident in which substantial drones have been used to bring about the temporary closure of a major international airport,” he said. “The people who were involved should face the maximum possible custodial sentence for the damage they have done. The government is doing everything it can to support Sussex police.”

Shooting down the drone was being considered as a “tactical option” after other strategies to stop it had failed. Amid disbelief that the drone incident could be enough to bring one of the UK’s key airports to a standstill, the perpetrator or perpetrators eluded a search conducted by 20 units from two police forces in the surrounding area.

Read more …

Britain just stumbles from crisis to crisis, hidden from view by discussions about someone saying Stupid Woman.

There’s A National Emergency All Right – But It Isn’t Brexit (G.)

[..] there is a world beyond Brexit. True, it lacks the frenzied drama of cabinet walkouts, prime ministerial straw-clutching or humiliation served cold in Brussels. But things still happen – it’s just that they haven’t won much attention. It has been a good month to bury bad news. So allow me to disinter some of the headlines deep inside the newspapers. Since we’re counting small things, let’s start with children. Last week it was reported that a primary school in Great Yarmouth had opened its own food bank. It was launched by the headteacher, Debbie Whiting, after she saw pupils under 11 so hungry they were stealing from others’ lunchboxes.

This week, more than half of teachers surveyed by the National Education Union expressed fears that some of their kids won’t have enough to eat this Christmas. They reported a boy turning up wearing his trousers back to front, in order to hide the holes in the knees, and a class where one in three children sleep in their uniforms because they have no pyjamas. If anything qualifies as a national emergency, it should be this. A new generation growing up without adequate food and clothing ought to be leading TV bulletins and shaming government ministers into action. What dominates instead is blue-on-blue match commentary, because Jacob Rees-Mogg is box office while poor people can be slipped in just before the “And finally”.

Read more …

“..of all German women in work only one in three earns the minimum wage…”

Germany’s Hidden Crisis – Social Decline In The Heart Of Europe (G.)

The cover of Oliver Nachtwey’s book depicts a VW Beetle, emblem of Teutonic manufacturing prowess since Hitler’s day, driving off a cliff. Is the country that got used to imposing its values on feebler client nations – bailing out southern Europeans with their oversized public sectors, rampant tax avoidance and long lunches – in trouble? The Germany described by this Frankfurt School professor is a basket case – post-growth, post-democratic, with the first fascists in the Bundestag since the Third Reich. Despite being Europe’s richest country, it has higher numbers of working poor than any other EU state; almost one in four of its workers is paid less than the €9.30 (£8.40) minimum wage, many requiring state support.

Sociologist Ulrich Beck in the giddy 1980s called Germany an elevator society, in which millions of skilled workers upgraded from VWs to Audis and expected their children to rise still further in social status and wealth. The elevator may have seized up for a while after reunification, but only five years ago Germany seemed unstoppable. Every German, Beck thought, was in the same lift. No longer. Not only has downward mobility become more evident but the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, the older get tenure, the younger join the precariat. Sure, greater equality of opportunity means more women work than ever before, but of all German women in work only one in three earns the minimum wage.

“So while German women are more equal in terms of rights, inequality between women has never been greater than it is today,” Nachtwey argues. This is symptomatic of what he calls regressive modernisation and of the following paradox: “The more a society is based on equality of opportunity, the more unequal it becomes, and the more legitimate its inequalities”. Legitimate? The losers are perceived to be those who deserve to lose, the winners those who deserve to win. And the losers are the usual suspects – women, immigrants, those who have no qualifications. A Germany that once prided itself on social mobility, and whose sociologists once crazily imagined class distinctions were over, has become, in terms of class, as sclerotic as Britain.

Read more …

There’s a class action case looming as well.

Malaysia Seeks $7.5 Billion In Reparations From Goldman Sachs Over 1MDB (R.)

Malaysia is seeking US$7.5 billion in reparations from Goldman Sachs over its dealings with scandal-linked state fund 1MDB, the Financial Times reported on Friday (Dec 21), citing the country’s finance minister. Malaysian prosecutors this week filed charges against Goldman Sachs in connection with its role as underwriter and arranger of three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the first criminal action against the US bank over the scandal. Goldman Sachs has consistently denied wrongdoing and said certain members of the former Malaysian government and 1MDB lied to the bank about the proceeds of the bond sales.

In addition to the bonds’ total value, Goldman Sachs should also return US$1 billion to cover US$600 million in fees paid to the bank and bond coupons that were “higher than the market rate”, the FT quoted Malaysian finance minister Lim Guan Eng as saying. The three 10-year bonds carried coupons ranging from 4.4 per cent to 5.99 per cent. Lim also told the FT that reparations should at least be more than US$1.8 billion, the sum Goldman Sachs has told investors it had set aside to cover potential losses related to 1MDB legal proceedings. “Their figure is US$1.8 billion. Ours is US$7.5 billion,” Lim said. Goldman Sachs told the FT: “The 1MDB bond offerings were meant to raise money to benefit Malaysia; instead, a huge portion of those funds were stolen for the benefit of members of the Malaysian government and their associates.”

Read more …

The squid screwed up royally. But no-one at Goldman will be arrested.

Singapore Said To Expand 1MDB Criminal Probe To Include Goldman Sachs (BBG)

Singapore has expanded a criminal probe into fund flows linked to scandal-plagued 1MDB to include Goldman Sachs, which helped raise money for the entity, people with knowledge of the matter said. Police in the city-state had been examining Goldman’s relationship with the Malaysian state investment company since at least late 2017, but until recently, the firm’s local unit itself wasn’t a focus of any investigation, said the people, asking not to be named discussing sensitive information.

Authorities are trying to determine whether some of the roughly $600 million in fees from the three bond deals Goldman arranged for 1MDB from 2012 to 2013 flowed to the Singapore subsidiary, they said. Singapore’s widened probe opens a potential new battle front for Goldman, less than a week after Malaysia filed the first criminal charges against the firm over a relationship that spawned one of the biggest scandals in its history. Singapore is coordinating closely with the U.S. Justice Department, which is also investigating Goldman and has filed criminal charges against two former senior bankers at the firm, the people said.

Read more …

He’s been at it for a while: “..prosecutors now accuse Mr Ghosn of shifting a private investment loss of over $16m onto Nissan in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”

Carlos Ghosn Re-Arrested On New Charges In Japan (BBC)

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been re-arrested on fresh charges, Japanese media report, dashing any hopes he could be released on bail. Mr Ghosn has spent the last month in prison, accused of misusing funds and hiding $80m of income. But on Thursday a court rejected a request by the prosecution to extend his detention, which meant he could apply to be released on bail. Friday’s arrest is on a new charge of aggravated breach of trust. According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, prosecutors now accuse Mr Ghosn of shifting a private investment loss of over $16m onto Nissan in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

A towering and revered figure in the auto industry, Mr Ghosn has not yet responded to the latest allegation – but he has consistently denied all prior accusations made against him. He was first arrested in Tokyo in November as allegations of financial misconduct surfaced. The BBC’s Mariko Oi says that ever since Carlos Ghosn stepped off his private jet only to be taken into police custody, the case has gripped Japan with speculation rife over what could be behind such a stunning fall from grace. The case has been highly unusual – not least for a high profile chief executive to be spending time in jail – but also because of its legal twists such as yesterday’s when the court rejected an application to extend his detention..

Read more …

Animal species are much easier to worry over. Maybe that’s not all that smart.

“..at least six other studies failed to turn up any sign that the tree still exists. Tens of thousands of plant species globally face similar risks.”

New Tree Species Became Extinct Before It Was Named (Ind.)

Scientists have identified a new species of tree that is thought to have become extinct before it was even named. The tree, which has now been called Vepris bali, is believed to have been unique to a forest reserve in west Africa, but forest clearing and agricultural development have wiped it out. Scientists are studying the vepris species for the antimicrobial and antimalarial properties of their essential oils. Researchers hope several other vepris trees will be identified and named in Cameroon before they also disappear. A specimen was collected by a forester, Edwin Ujor, in the Bali Ngemba Forest Reserve in Cameroon in 1951.

The specimen was thought to belong to the genus vepris, which has 80 species, mostly found across Africa. But the tree has not been seen anywhere since. Researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the country’s University of Yaoundé I examined the original specimens and used molecular phylogenetic studies to identify the new species. They say the tree is now either critically endangered or already extinct.

Repeated efforts to find the species between 2000 and 2004 and at least six other studies failed to turn up any sign that the tree still exists. Tens of thousands of plant species globally face similar risks. According to the International Plant Names Index, only about 5 per cent of all known species have ever been formally assessed for their extinction risk. The authors wrote: “This makes it a priority to discover, document and protect such species before they become globally extinct.” The Bali Ngemba Forest Reserve, an officially protected forest, is part of the Bamenda highlands, an area so denuded of its natural forest vegetation that it is now known in Cameroon as “the grasslands”.

Read more …

Jan 022018
 
 January 2, 2018  Posted by at 10:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Horacio Coppola Avenida de Mayo entre Bolívar y Perú, Buenos Aires 1936

 

UPDATE: There is a problem with our Paypal widget/account that makes donating hard for some people. What happens is that for some a message pops up that says “This recipient does not accept payments denominated in USD”. This is nonsense, we do.

We have no idea how many people have simply given up on donating, but we can suggest a workaround (works like a charm):

Through Paypal.com, you can simply donate to an email address. In our case that is recedinghorizons *at* gmail *com*. Use that, and your donations will arrive where they belong. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Automatic Earth and its readers have been supporting refugees and homeless in Greece since June 2015. It has been an at times difficult and at all times expensive endeavor. Not at least because the problems do not just not get solved, they actually get worse. Because the people of Greece and the refugees that land on their shores increasingly find themselves pawns in political games.

Therefore, even if the generosity of our readership has been nothing short of miraculous, we must continue to humbly ask you for more support. Because our work is not done. Our latest essay on this is here: The Automatic Earth for Athens Fund – Christmas and 2018 . It contains links to all 14 previous articles on the situation.

Here’s how you can help:

 

 

For donations to Konstantinos and O Allos Anthropos, the Automatic Earth has a Paypal widget on our front page, top left hand corner. On our Sales and Donations page, there is an address to send money orders and checks if you don’t like Paypal. Our Bitcoin address is 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT. For other forms of payment, drop us a line at Contact • at • TheAutomaticEarth • com.

To tell donations for Kostantinos apart from those for the Automatic Earth (which badly needs them too!), any amounts that come in ending in either $0.99 or $0.37, will go to O Allos Anthropos.

 

Please give generously.

 

 

No Financial Stress (Mish)
Bitcoin Is Already Having A Bad Year (BBG)
Bitcoin Fever To Burn Out In ‘Spectacular Crash’ – David Stockman (CNBC)
Britain’s Benefits System Has Become A Racket For Cheating Poor People (G.)
Russia Posts Highest-Ever Natural Gas Output in Expansion Drive (BBG)
US Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria (CJ)
More Than 170 Refugees Reach Lesbos, Samos Early New Year’s Day (K.)
Syrian Grandmother Defies Perils To Cross Aegean At Age 110 (K.)
Drones Over Africa Target $70 Billion Illegal Poaching Industry (ZH)

 

 

Article by Mish. Graph annotation by Jesse Colombo.

No Financial Stress (Mish)

As we head into 2018, the St. Loius Fed reports there is no financial stress. The STLFSI measures the degree of financial stress in the markets and is constructed from 18 weekly data series: seven interest rate series, six yield spreads and five other indicators. Each of these variables captures some aspect of financial stress. Accordingly, as the level of financial stress in the economy changes, the data series are likely to move together. The average value of the index, which begins in late 1993, is designed to be zero. Thus, zero is viewed as representing normal financial market conditions. Values below zero suggest below-average financial market stress, while values above zero suggest above-average financial market stress.

Financial stress has been negative since June 18, 2010. I expect 2018 will not be so complacent.

Jesse’s annotations: “Bubbles form during periods of very low financial stress”.

Read more …

Check back minutes later and it’s rising.

Bitcoin Is Already Having A Bad Year (BBG)

Bitcoin is already having a bad year. For the first time since 2015, the cryptocurrency began a new year by declining, extending its slide from a record $19,511 reached on Dec. 18. The virtual coin traded at $13,624.56 as of 5 p.m. in New York on Monday, down 4.8% from Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s also a fall from the $14,156 it hit Sunday, according to coinmarketcap.com, which tracks daily prices. The cryptocurrency fluctuated in early Asian trading on Tuesday.

Bitcoin got off to a much stronger start last year, and then kept that momentum going, helping to create a global frenzy for cryptocurrencies. It rose 3.6% on the first day of 2017 to $998, data from coinmarketcap.com show. It ended the year up more than 1,300%. That rally drew a growing number of competitors and last month brought bitcoin to Wall Street in the form of futures contracts. It reached the Dec. 18 peak hours after CME Group Inc. debuted its derivatives agreements, which some traders said would encourage short position-taking.

Read more …

Any questions?

Bitcoin Fever To Burn Out In ‘Spectacular Crash’ – David Stockman (CNBC)

David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s former director of the Office of Management and a relentless Wall Street bear, is warning investors that the cryptocurrency boom will end disastrously. “It’s basically a class of really stupid speculators who have convinced themselves that trees grow to the sky,” he told CNBC’s “Futures Now” last week. “It will burn out in a spectacular crash. All of these latter-day speculators will have their hands burned to a crisp, and they will learn the proper lesson.” Stockman’s latest prophecy isn’t exclusive to bitcoin. He’s been saying a “gigantic, horrendous storm” could soon hit stocks. In September, he warned investors that a 40% to 70% correction wasn’t too far down the road. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirted with 25,000, with the S&P trading just shy of a new record.

Stockman blamed the Federal Reserve and central banks for creating the hype surrounding the stock and cryptocurrency markets. He argued that too much liquidity was pumped into the marketplace to deal with the 2008 global financial crisis — noting that not even regulators can improve the frothy situation. “What we really need to do is not think these are regulator problems, but understand they’re monetary problems,” he said. “It’s an irrational, overheated market like never before.” In the past two years, bitcoin prices have soared by more than 3,000%. Its wild price swings have sparked debates on Wall Street over how much it’s really worth. Bitcoin’s less expensive peers such as litecoin and ether have also surged. Stockman can’t put a price tag on them.

“I have no idea. I mean it could double or triple from here or it could fall to zero. But the point is that it’s not real money because real money for transactions has to be stable,” he said. According to Stockman, the CBOE and CME decisions to add bitcoin futures to their exchanges don’t give this emerging asset class legitimacy. “Anytime Wall Street sees an opportunity to shear the sheep, and they see the sheep stampeding to the slaughter, they line up with some new gimmick to take advantage of the circumstances. That’s all,” he said. “There is nothing that’s being validated by the opening up of a futures market. It’s just everybody trying to get on the train for the ride,” he added.

Read more …

Who needs the poor?

Britain’s Benefits System Has Become A Racket For Cheating Poor People (G.)

When Moira gets scared, she cuts herself. “It’s my way of taking control.” Right now she’s very scared. In a few days she faces a tribunal that will judge whether she is entitled to her disability benefit. She has been through forms and examinations and the officials who tell her one thing and those who tell her another, and she is nearly broken. In a low-ceilinged office at the back of a housing estate, she starts sobbing. “I cannot live like this any more.” Steph Pike lets Moira talk, before telling her, “stay focused”. After years as a welfare rights adviser, Pike knows what tribunals want: short, direct answers shorn of humiliation and pain. Now in her late 40s, Moira was raised in care, went to jail and has been repeatedly cheated of her benefits. Part of her life story is of being let down and punished by authority – but Pike needs her to set all that aside. “Bear with me,” Pike keeps saying. “This is important.”

Such meetings are normally confidential, but for three days over two weeks I had exclusive access to Pike in her work for the Child Poverty Action Group charity. I saw her advise others who appeared to have been wronged by state officials – and I accompanied Moira to that tribunal. That our benefits system is broken is no longer up for debate. Ministers are told universal credit is a fiasco and MPs weep over starving families in one of the richest societies in human history. Even rightwing tabloids run grim updates on how men with terminal cancer are declared fit to work just weeks before they die. Such cases are described as shameful. As failures. They are lined up like so many one-offs – not representative of fair-play Britain. But Pike and her colleagues know different. They see a system that routinely snatches money out of the hands of people who need and are entitled to it and bullies claimants with contempt.

Moira never went looking for welfare advice; she was just starving That’s Moira’s experience, too. Her trouble started when she found herself feeling steadily worse – and so did as she was told and rang the Department for Work and Pensions. Her recent back operation hadn’t worked, the arthritis in her spine, hips and knees was getting worse and the heavy-duty painkillers were wrecking her kidneys. She was summoned for a reassessment in Southend, a 70-mile round trip from her home in London – tricky for a woman who cannot walk more than 10 steps without crutches. Claimants such as Moira are entitled to a home assessment, but Pike told me they are often dispatched “miles away”. She was still told off for being late, says Moira. After the examination, she lost her personal independence payment.

Read more …

Selling to the west and east.

Russia Posts Highest-Ever Natural Gas Output in Expansion Drive (BBG)

Russia registered its highest-ever natural gas production last year amid plans to expand into China and boost sales of liquefied natural gas. The nation’s output of the fuel jumped 7.9% to 690.5 billion cubic meters, according to data emailed Tuesday by the Russian Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That beat the previous record, set in 2011, by 2.9%. Russia, the world’s largest gas exporter, is working to boost output with plans to increase production of LNG with new plants in an area that stretches from the Baltic region to its Pacific coast. That will put the country up against the biggest producers of the super-chilled fuel, including Qatar, Australia and the U.S. Russia has resources to increase its LNG production almost 10 times by 2035, led by the privately-owned Novatek PJSC in the Arctic, according to the nation’s Energy Ministry.

The country is also working to keep shipments to Europe near record levels this year as state-run Gazprom PJSC, the continent’s biggest supplier, plans to start pipeline exports to China in late 2019. Gazprom meets more than a third of Europe’s demand for natural gas, Russia’s biggest and most lucrative market worth some $37 billion in revenue this year. The U.S. became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2009, leapfrogging Russia thanks to its fracking revolution. It pumped 22.1 trillion cubic feet (about 626 billion cubic meters) of dry gas in first 10 months of 2017, according to December data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This was 11% higher than Russia for the same period.

Read more …

Create chaos.

US Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria (CJ)

Two weeks ago a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how Secretary of State and DC neophyte Rex Tillerson was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports: The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. ‘Allies should be treated differently -and better- than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,’ argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.

With what would be perfect comedic timing if it weren’t so frightening, Iran erupted in protests which have been ongoing for the last four days, and the western empire is suddenly expressing deep, bipartisan concern about the human rights of those protesters. So we all know what this song and dance is code for. Any evil can be justified in the name of “human rights.” In October we learned from a former Qatari prime minister that there was a massive push from the US and its allies to topple the Syrian government from the very beginning of the protests which began in that country in 2011 as part of the so-called Arab Spring. This revelation came in the same week The Intercept finally released NSA documents confirming that foreign governments were in direct control of the “rebels” who began attacking Syria following those 2011 protests.

The fretting over human rights has occurred throughout the entirety of the Syrian war, even as the governments publicly decrying human rights abuses were secretly arming and training terrorist factions to murder, rape and pillage their way across the country. We’ve seen it over and over again. In Libya, western interventionism was justified under the pretense of defending human rights when the goal was actually regime change. In Ukraine, empire loyalists played cheerleader for the protests in Kiev when the goal was actually regime change. And who could ever forget the poor oppressed people of Iraq who will surely greet the invaders as liberators?

Read more …

Conveyor belt.

More Than 170 Refugees Reach Lesbos, Samos Early New Year’s Day (K.)

More than 170 undocumented migrants reached the shores of Lesvos and Samos in the early hours of New Year’s Day, according to government figures. The first incident occurred at 12.30 a.m. when a plastic boat carrying 52 people reached the coastline of Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos. Another 83 migrants arrived at 1.30 a.m. on another boat that followed the same route from neighboring Turkey. Shortly after midnight, a vessel belonging to the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex intercepted another plastic boat east of Samos, with 38 people aboard. All the migrants were transferred to reception centers on the two islands.

Read more …

“..The family now live in Athens and are getting to know their new neighborhood until their asylum hearing – unfortunately set for 2019, despite Laila’s age…”

Syrian Grandmother Defies Perils To Cross Aegean At Age 110 (K.)

How far can a desire to see a loved one take us? Laila Saleh was so desperate to see the granddaughters she helped raise that she didn’t think twice about following the rest of her family out of northern Syria, despite being 110 years old. Her yearning to see Nisrin and Berivan, who had fled Kobani for Europe three years ago and now live in Germany after being granted asylum, bolstered her determination. “The journey was not easy, of course,” Laila’s grandson, Halil, told Kathimerini as he welcomed us into an apartment rented by Solidarity Now for asylum seekers in downtown Athens. The family, which is of Kurdish descent, traveled from Kobani to Izmir on the Turkish coast, and from there to the Greek island of Lesvos by inflatable boat. “Our grandmother can walk a little bit, but not long distances.”

Their group consisted of seven people, spanning four generations, and tried to ensure that as little as possible of the journey was on foot. When finding transport proved impossible, Halil and his father would carry Laila. “I carried the two children, one on my front and one on my back,” said his young wife, Saousan, as she played with twins Azar and Ari, Laila’s great-grandchildren. Despite the enormous challenges of the journey and a treacherous sea crossing – a first for Laila – the idea of leaving the elderly woman behind never crossed her children’s minds. “Our house had been bombed and we had to rent another one, but living conditions were bad,” said Halil. “Even though Grandmother is independent, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere without her children.”

The family had already suffered tremendous loss and there was little to keep them in war-ravaged Kobani. “In Syria, it is the duty of the youngest son to take care of his mother when she grows old,” said Laila’s son Ahmet, who has a heart problem and couldn’t carry his mother alone. He thankfully has his wife of 33 years, Ali, by his side, who helps care for the elderly woman. “I sleep very lightly at night because she often needs me,” said the 58-year-old woman. “She is very confused right now because of all the changes,” she added of her mother-in-law. Born in December 1907, Laila had a birthday this month, though the family does not know her exact date of birth. He longevity may make an impression on outsiders, but the family thinks it normal. “Our grandfather, Laila’s husband, died at the age of 115. That was in 1987, and Grandmother has lived with us since,” said Halil.

Read more …

“.. a 9000% increase in rhino killings since 2007 in South Africa alone..

” .. a rhino is slaughtered twice a day and an elephant is killed every 14 minutes…”

I’ve said it before, unless and until the penalty for killing big game is death (and even then!), we won’t solve this.

Drones Over Africa Target $70 Billion Illegal Poaching Industry (ZH)

In addition to the central bank-created bubble in financial markets, there is another bubble festering in the fields of Africa, called the “poaching boom.” Economic development in Vietnam, China, and the United States have fueled an illegal $70 billion industry of killing elephants and rhinoceroses for tusks. Poachers illegally hunt elephants and rhinos under the cover of darkness using surveillance equipment and high-tech weaponry.

The boom in poaching has contributed to a 9000% increase in rhino killings since 2007 in South Africa alone. Across Africa, a rhino is slaughtered twice a day and an elephant is killed every 14 minutes. According to Air Shepherd, a wildlife conservation group aimed at stopping poachers through a new AI drone system that targets poachers said, “at this rate elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years.”

According to Air Shepherd, a wildlife conservation group aimed at stopping poachers through a new AI drone system that targets poachers said, “at this rate elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years.” Air Shepherd has already conducted 6,000 flight hours over the skies of Africa testing the new AI drone system. Air Shepherd’s drones use high-tech airborne sensors, such as thermal infrared vision to detect heat coming from human or animal bodies. The mobile command center fits into the back of a van and uses AI systems developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Southern California, and Microsoft to detect potential poachers.

For now, the new AI drone surveillance system could greatly expand the area of coverage used to protect endangered wildlife by spotting poachers and alerting officials before the killing of an elephant and rhinoceros occurs. Which begs the question: are AI drones set to disrupt an illegal $70 billion industry in Africa? Perhaps, but not without a fight. Which is why we expect that the poaching industry will soon unveil a new set of aggressive countermeasures, which renderd the drone system powerless, which leads to the next question: are we about to observe the first drone-on-drone violence deep in the bowels of Africa?

Read more …

Nov 112016
 
 November 11, 2016  Posted by at 11:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Leonard Cohen 21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016

The End of Growth and the Rise of Trump (Tyee)
Donald Trump Is Moving To The White House, And Liberals Put Him There (Frank)
Rupee Note Cancellation Plunges India Into Panic (G.)
Emerging-Markets Rout Deepens as Europe Shares, Commodities Rise (BBG)
China Household Debt/GDP More Than Doubled In Under 10 Years To 40.7% (R.)
China’s Yuan Set for Steepest Weekly Loss Since January (BBG)
Judge Tells Trump University Litigants They Would Be Wise To Settle (R.)
The Unbearable Smugness Of The Press (CBS)
Obama Asks Congress For Extra $11 Billion, Wants More Lethal Drones (BBG)
BoE Chief Economist Andy Haldane: Economics Suffers From Tunnel Vision (BBG)
London Property Market Is “Tanking By The Day” (BBG)
Leonard Cohen Knew Things About Life, And If You Listened You Could Learn (G.)

 

 

Andrew Nikiforuk calls me an economist. Now we’ve heard it all… Still, good to see people are listening.

The End of Growth and the Rise of Trump (Tyee)

The economist Raúl Ilargi Meijer wrote an interesting essay explaining why there is a Donald Trump in September. He credited Trump’s rise to “the most important global development in decades.” That development, says Meijer, is “the end of global economic growth, which will lead inexorably to the end of centralization (including globalization). It will also mean the end of the existence of most, and especially the most powerful, international institutions.” “In the same way it will be the end of — almost — all traditional political parties, which have ruled their countries for decades and are already today at or near record low support levels (if you’re not clear on what’s going on, look there, look at Europe!),” he wrote.

“This is not a matter of what anyone, or any group of people, might want or prefer, it’s a matter of ‘forces’ that are beyond our control, that are bigger and more far-reaching than our mere opinions, even though they may be man-made.” The end of growth is tied inexorably to the deplorable quality of energy now being fracked and mined in North America. Bitumen and fracked oil just can’t support rich societies because these poor resources invite debt, environmental ruin and poor returns. Meijer adds “that the politico-econo-media machine churns out positive growth messages 24/7 goes some way towards explaining the lack of acknowledgement and self-reflection, but only some way. The rest is due to who we ourselves are. We think we deserve eternal growth.”

In the end, neither candidate talked about what mattered: growing climate anarchy; unrelenting economic stagnation; declining energy returns; and the onslaught of robots and algorithms in the workplace, government and home. Trump should remind us of two things and Camus, who understood the nature of tragedy, has expressed them well. The first is that “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.” Trump embodies that sentiment. The second is the growing absurdity of it all. “Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.”

Read more …

Not too impressed with Thomas Frank’s piece overall, but he gives a reasonable expose of what the Dems did wrong.

Donald Trump Is Moving To The White House, And Liberals Put Him There (Frank)

Start at the top. Why, oh why, did it have to be Hillary Clinton? Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment. An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine. She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. Had winning been the party’s number one concern, several more suitable candidates were ready to go.

There was Joe Biden, with his powerful plainspoken style, and there was Bernie Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. Each of them would probably have beaten Trump, but neither of them would really have served the interests of the party insiders. And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. They chose Hillary even though they knew about her private email server. They chose her even though some of those who studied the Clinton Foundation suspected it was a sketchy proposition. To try to put over such a nominee while screaming that the Republican is a rightwing monster is to court disbelief.

If Trump is a fascist, as liberals often said, Democrats should have put in their strongest player to stop him, not a party hack they’d chosen because it was her turn. Choosing her indicated either that Democrats didn’t mean what they said about Trump’s riskiness, that their opportunism took precedence over the country’s well-being, or maybe both. Clinton’s supporters among the media didn’t help much, either. It always struck me as strange that such an unpopular candidate enjoyed such robust and unanimous endorsements from the editorial and opinion pages of the nation’s papers, but it was the quality of the media’s enthusiasm that really harmed her. With the same arguments repeated over and over, two or three times a day, with nuance and contrary views all deleted, the act of opening the newspaper started to feel like tuning in to a Cold War propaganda station.

Read more …

From email I received yesterday: “People have been wiped out overnight. He had given a tax amnesty initially, declare your black money and pay a 30% tax. Later that increased to 50% and finally this. Huge wealth confiscation. Property prices expected to collapse. Dunno why such a shock move was implemented? The economy is doing well, low levels of debt overall, banks under state control and he was doing the right things. Income tax reform and a sales tax would’ve been much better to widen the tax base. India has major issues but when I went earlier this year to Delhi the development and progress is obvious. Infrastructure is pretty good, super airport, air quality is horrid, malls springing up everywhere and housing rental is very affordable but buying is ludicrously expensive. Economy was booming. Perfect black swan event. Only 3 people knew- The PM, FM and CB governor.”

Rupee Note Cancellation Plunges India Into Panic (G.)

Queues of angry, panicked Indians wound around bank buildings in Mumbai, the financial capital, on Thursday morning, two days after the prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced that 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, worth around £6 and £12, would be taken out of circulation. In a televised announcement on Tuesday night, Modi had urged Indians not to rush to banks, as they would have until the end of 2016 to deposit cash in their accounts. But with the high-value notes withdrawn from Wednesday in an effort to combat corruption, black-market trade and tax evasion, many were left without cash for day-to-day expenses. Banks were closed on Wednesday, and reopened on Thursday morning with a cap on cash withdrawals. ATMs remained closed, so currency was only available from the banks.

Newspapers around the country reported long queues at branches, as people scrambled to exchange their high-value banknotes for 100-rupee bills. At the Churchgate branch of the Bank of India, dozens of people queued in the midday heat, filling out deposit forms as a security guard barked instructions. “Life is completely paralysed,” said Maganbhai Solanki, who had been waiting in line for four hours. “On the news, they said banks would open at 8am today. I got here at 8.01,” he said. “Now, it’s noon, but I’m still here. Around 50 people in the queue ahead of me got tired of waiting and left but I have no choice. There’s no money in the house. We only have 500- and 1,000-rupee notes which are worth nothing. We didn’t even have enough to pay the milkman this morning.”

Read more …

The dollar comes home.

Emerging-Markets Rout Deepens as Europe Shares, Commodities Rise (BBG)

An emerging-markets selloff deepened amid concern developing economies will face capital outflows and weakening exports once Donald Trump is in The White House, while optimism surrounding his policies spurred gains in commodities and European shares rose. MSCI gauges of emerging-market equities and currencies sank to four-month lows since the election of Trump, who pledged to restrict imports and add fiscal stimulus that’s seen hastening interest-rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. More than $1 trillion was wiped off the value of bonds this week, something that’s happened only once before in the last two decades, as Treasuries lost the most since 2009. Shanghai shares entered a bull market, while industrial metals had their best week in more than 25 years.

Developing-nation assets have been roiled since Trump’s surprise win in Tuesday’s vote and central banks in India and Indonesia were said to have intervened Friday in support of their currencies. Futures indicate an 80% chance that the Fed will raise rates next month and expectations are building for more increases. Ten-year Treasury yields have climbed above 2% for the first time since January amid speculation the president-elect’s plans to cut taxes and boost spending will widen the U.S. budget deficit and stoke inflation. “There’s been a big rotation out of emerging markets into U.S. dollar assets,” said Jeffrey Halley, a market strategist at Oanda Asia Pacific Pte in Singapore. “An emerging market is a market you can’t emerge from in an emergency. It’s one of the best lessons I’ve ever learnt in 30 years in the market. When everybody runs for the door at the same time, the door’s very small.”

Read more …

Why repeat the west’s mistakes? What’s in it for Xi?

China Household Debt/GDP More Than Doubled In Under 10 Years To 40.7% (R.)

China’s household debt as a proportion of GDP has more than doubled to 40.7% in less than 10 years. While developed nations have higher rates of household debt, Chinese families are much more leveraged because income is lower and so proportionately the costs of social welfare from pensions to healthcare are much higher. At the end of 2014, the out-of-pocket health spend in China as a%age of total expenditure was 32%, compared to 9.7% in Britain and 11% in the United States, World Health Organization data shows. “Household debt leverage is very alarming, even though the aggregate amount is controllable,” said Wan Zhe, chief economist at China National Gold Group Corporation, visiting researcher at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.

“The first issue is that household debt has risen too quickly, the second is that it has risen too quickly as a proportion” of GDP and disposable income, said Wan. Underlining these concerns, authorities are trying to calm a property rally. In the latest move, regulators told banks to limit the issuance of home loans, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported on Thursday. The balance of retail mortgages at the end of the third quarter hit 16.8 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion), more than a third higher than a year earlier, China central bank data shows. More broadly, consumer debt financed by Chinese banks has grown sharply, from 3.8 trillion yuan at the end of 2007 to 17.4 trillion yuan at the end of last year, a compound annual growth rate of 21%, Fitch Ratings said in a report.

But the growth in income has been much more modest, rising 6.3% in January to September compared with the year-earlier period, the weakest pace since 2013 when the National Bureau of Statistics first started issuing the data. “The rapid growth in outstanding (consumer) loan balances has been accompanied by an increase in NPLs (non-performing loans) across all segments of consumer debt,” the Fitch report said.

Read more …

It just keeps falling, that’s all it does anymore.

China’s Yuan Set for Steepest Weekly Loss Since January (BBG)

China’s currency is heading for its steepest weekly drop since January, when a series of weaker fixings roiled global financial markets, as Donald Trump’s election victory boosted the dollar and raised the threat of a more protectionist America. Bonds tumbled. The yuan fell 0.06% to 6.8134 at 10:07 a.m. in Shanghai, approaching the 6.83 level at which China pegged the currency after the 2008 global financial crisis. The exchange rate has fallen 0.9% this week to a six-year low as Trump’s unexpected win spurred a tectonic shift in fund flows, with emerging-market currencies tumbling with bonds while stocks rally. The 10-year yield on government debt climbed about 10 basis points this week, the most since May 2015.

Bloomberg’s dollar index held near an eight-month high amid speculation the Federal Reserve will boost interest rates to cap inflation as a Trump-led administration steps up spending. Trump has also threatened punitive tariffs on China’s imports. Accelerating declines in the yuan are a turnaround from the August-September period, when policy makers were suspected of propping up the currency before its entry into the IMF’s reserves basket. “A rally in the dollar has driven the yuan weaker, and the PBOC won’t likely defend the currency at this point because the costs of intervention could be very high under such an environment,” said Irene Cheung at Australia & New Zealand Bank in Singapore. “But if the depreciation accelerates in the coming weeks, there’s still a chance that China could take measures to stabilize the market.”

Read more …

Potentially messy if used for political purposes.

Judge Tells Trump University Litigants They Would Be Wise To Settle (R.)

The U.S. judge overseeing a lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump and his Trump University told both sides they would be wise to settle the case “given all else that’s involved.” Lawyers for the president-elect are squaring off against students who claim they were they were lured by false promises to pay up to $35,000 to learn Trump’s real estate investing “secrets” from his “hand-picked” instructors. Earlier on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel tentatively rejected a bid by Trump to keep a wide range of statements from the presidential campaign out of the fraud trial. Trump owned 92% of Trump University and had control over all major decisions, the students’ court papers say. The president-elect denies the allegations and has argued that he relied on others to manage the business.

Trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 28, and Curiel told lawyers he was not inclined to delay the six-year-old case further. Trump lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said he would ask to put the trial on hold until early next year, in light of the many tasks the magnate has before his inauguration. Curiel said he would allow both sides to file briefs on whether to delay the case. He also indicated they should consider making a deal. “It would be wise for the plaintiffs, for the defendants, to look closely at trying to resolve this case given all else that’s involved,” Curiel said. Petrocelli told reporters after the hearing that Trump might have to be a “little more flexible” about settling the case now that he is president-elect, although the lawyer wasn’t sure his client would was willing.

Read more …

ANother thing that just continues.

The Unbearable Smugness Of The Press (CBS)

The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on. This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’s be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic. So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited.

This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time. And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid. It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives.

But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. What can we do to get these people to stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel? We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists, at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice. You’d think that Trump’s victory – the one we all discounted too far in advance – would lead to a certain newfound humility in the political press. But of course that’s not how it works.

To us, speaking broadly, our diagnosis was still basically correct. The demons were just stronger than we realized. This is all a “whitelash,” you see. Trump voters are racist and sexist, so there must be more racists and sexists than we realized. Tuesday night’s outcome was not a logic-driven rejection of a deeply flawed candidate named Clinton; no, it was a primal scream against fairness, equality, and progress. Let the new tantrums commence!

Read more …

How about using the $11 billion to rebuild Syria?

Obama Asks Congress For Extra $11 Billion, Wants More Lethal Drones (BBG)

An $11.6 billion defense request that President Barack Obama sent Congress includes funds to buy more lethal drones for U.S. commandos fighting Islamic State and other terrorists as well as networks to counter the pilotless aircraft those groups are now using. The extra war-related funding requested Thursday for the current fiscal year would provide $5.8 billion for the Pentagon to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. An equal amount for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development would support counterterrorism efforts, refugee aid and improved embassy security, Obama said in a letter to lawmakers. While the amount requested for lethal drones is small, it provides a glimpse into a largely hidden phase of U.S. special operations in Iraq.

The White House requested $46.5 million to buy 535 Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems and related equipment requested by the Special Operations Command Central due to “urgent operational needs.” The drone request is described as “for analytics, targeting, training, and equipment to support deployed U.S. Forces.” The only U.S. fighters in Iraq who are actively engaged in combat against Islamic State are in the highly classified Expeditionary Targeting Force set up a year ago to kill or capture militants. U.S. special operations forces also conduct raids in Afghanistan. The administration also requested, without elaboration, $150 million to develop and field within two years a network of “counter-small unmanned aerial systems at sites” in Iraq.

Read more …

A rare light in the profession.

BoE Chief Economist Andy Haldane: Economics Suffers From Tunnel Vision (BBG)

Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane says economics suffers from tunnel vision and there’s a need to bring new ideas to the profession to make it relevant again. Haldane, whose speeches and papers have analyzed policy using everything from technology to biology, said his industry remains an “insular, self-referential discipline,” and this has to change. “One of the potential failings of the economics profession is that it may have borrowed too little from other disciplines – a methodological mono-culture,” he said in a speech on Thursday in Cambridge, England. An issue that dogs current economic models is forecasting performance, he said, noting the failure to predict the financial crisis and, since then, IMF world growth projections that “consistently over-estimated” the recovery.

It’s a timely point for BOE policy makers, who last week revised their projections for growth and inflation in the wake of Brexit. Haldane said economists need to improve their understanding of the world because rapid changes in economies have social and political implications. “It has been argued that these models were not designed to explain such extreme events” as the financial crisis, he said. “For me, this is not really a defense. If our models are silent about these events, this jeopardizes the very thing that makes economics interesting and economic policy important.” In his speech, he cited economist George Shackle’s description of the economy as a “kaleidoscope, a collision of colors subject to on-going, rapid and radical change.”

Haldane said agent-based models used in physics, chemistry and other sciences could enable a “fundamental changes in model dynamics.” Using it at the BOE has helped a better understanding of the housing market and the interaction of buyers, lenders and renters. Contrasting ABM models with traditional micro-founded economic ones, Haldane said the big picture usually looks very different from the small one. “Aggregating from the microscopic to the macroscopic is very unlikely to give sensible insights into real world behavior, for the same reason the behavior of a single neuron is uninformative about the threat of nuclear winter.”

Read more …

It will take a long time before people understand this is a positive thing.

London Property Market Is “Tanking By The Day” (BBG)

London’s real estate market, hurt by the Brexit vote, is “tanking by the day,” Green Property Chairman Stephen Vernon said. The firm, which has closed its London office, is waiting for an opportunity to buy into the market at lower values, the 66-year-old said at a conference in Dublin. Vernon would consider buying a real estate company, raising a fund or buying a portfolio of assets in London, he said. “It’s absolutely fantastic what’s going on,” said Vernon, who sold most of the firm’s properties in Ireland before values there crashed in 2008. A decision to re-enter the London market would be through a venture separate from Green Property and focus on commercial real estate, a spokesman for the investor said.

Office values in the City of London financial district fell the most in at least seven years in July after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Home prices in the U.K. capital fell for a fifth month in August, the worst streak since 2009, as higher taxes and the referendum result damped demand. The referendum result, higher levies on business premises and a rise in the stamp duty sales tax have led to a reduction in London commercial property values, Derwent London Plc Chief Executive Officer John Burns said in a statement on Thursday. “The central-London office market faces a number of challenges, including heightened global uncertainty, and business activity is likely to slow,” he said.

Read more …

I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one.

Leonard Cohen Knew Things About Life, And If You Listened You Could Learn (G.)

Leonard Cohen was always the grown-up in the room. He was young once, of course, but the world never saw much of the modestly successful poet and novelist from Montreal. He was already 33 — ancient by 60s standards — when he gazed out from the sepia-tinted, photo-booth snapshot on the cover of 1967’s Songs of Leonard Cohen with his shirt, tie and smart side-parting. The face suggested that he’d been around the block a few times; the voice and words confirmed it. The man knew things about life and if, you listened closely, you might learn something. The truth was that Cohen felt as lost as anybody. What gave his work its uncommon gravitas wasn’t that he knew the answers but that he never stopped looking.

He searched for clues in bedrooms and warzones, in Jewish temples and Buddhist retreats, in Europe, Africa, Israel and Cuba. He tried to flush them out with booze and drugs and seduce them with melodies. And whenever he managed to painfully extract some nugget of wisdom, he would cut and polish it like a precious stone before resuming the search. Funny about himself but profoundly serious about his art, he liked to describe his songs as “investigations” into the hidden mechanics of love, sex, war, religion and death – the beautiful and terrifying truths of existence. A Leonard Cohen song is an anchor flung into a churning sea. It has the kind of weight that could save your life. [..] When the chief executive of Columbia Records heard that A&R man John Hammond wanted to sign Cohen in 1967, he reportedly said: “A 32-year-old poet? Are you crazy?” But Hammond, who had launched Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, didn’t give up. During the first recording session for Songs of Leonard Cohen he shouted encouragement: “Watch out, Dylan!”

At the time, Bob Dylan was rock’n’roll’s preeminent poet. Cohen really was a poet but he wasn’t rock’n’roll. Steeped instead in literary discipline, French chanson and Jewish liturgy, his work suggested old-fashioned patience. To Dylan a song was a lump of wet clay to be moulded before it sets fast; to Cohen it was a slab of marble to be chipped into shape with immense dedication and care. Cohen never stopped being a poet or lost his reverence for words. You’ll find some erratic musical choices in his back catalogue but not a single careless line; nothing disposable. Years later, he said he had only one piece of advice for young songwriters: “If you stick with a song long enough it will yield. But long enough is beyond any reasonable duration.” When you sense that a songwriter has spent that long finding the right words, the least you can do is pay attention.

Read more …

Nov 202015
 
 November 20, 2015  Posted by at 10:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Marjory Collins “Crowds at Pennsylvania Station, New York” Aug 1942

This Is What Will Kill The EU (Novak)
Goldman Eyes $20 Oil As Glut Overwhelms Storage Sites (AEP)
China Has a $1.2 Trillion Ponzi Finance Problem (Bloomberg)
A Hard Landing in China Could ‘Shake the World’ (Bloomberg)
The Real Reason Behind China’s Latest ‘Stimulus’ (CNBC)
China Cracks $64 Billion ‘Underground Bank’ Moving Money Abroad (Bloomberg)
China’s Yuan May Enter IMF Basket With Lower Share (Reuters)
Asian And Russian Buyers Desert Prime London Property Market (FT)
Here’s How the Boring German Housing Market Turned Piping Hot (Bloomberg)
Volkswagen Faces Pressure In US To Buy Back Older Diesel Cars (Reuters)
Volkswagen Faces Major Spending Cuts And Regulatory Deadlines (NY Times)
US Probes VW Supplier Bosch In Cheating Scandal (Reuters)
Caterpillar’s Depression Has Never Been Worse .. But It Has A Cunning Plan (ZH)
EU Targets Bitcoin, Anonymous Payments To Curb Terrorism Funding (Reuters)
Who Are The Traders Buying And Selling ISIS Oil? (Zero Hedge)
US Drone Operators: ‘Ever Step On Ants, Not Give It Another Thought?’ (Guardian)
Hottest October On Record Is Bad News For Polar Bears (MarketWatch)
US Clears GMO Salmon For Human Consumption (Reuters)
Merkel Confronts Refugee Policy Critics On Decade In Power (Bloomberg)
Toronto Couple Cancels Big Wedding To Help Sponsor Syrian Refugees (CBC)
Half of New Yorkers Say They Are Barely or Not Getting By (NY Times)
Of America’s Half Million Homeless, Nearly A Quarter Are Children (Reuters)

Excellent: “The truth is evil people who commit evil acts transcend economic trigger points, which is why you can get mugged by a poor person the same day that a billionaire banker cheats you out of your retirement savings and a rich terrorist tries to blow up an airliner with a bomb in his pants.”

This Is What Will Kill The EU (Novak)

It’s always the things you don’t expect that get you. After banking scandals, currency issues, and a Greek/Portugese/Spanish debt crisis just about every six months, the economic and political partnership that is the European Union seems much more likely to fall apart for an entirely different reason after all. That reason is ISIS. The direct cause is actually an extremely divisive and growing dispute about open borders, immigration, and refugee resettlement. But that conflict just became a lot more serious thanks to the horrific ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris Friday night. Now, this discussion has grown and migrated, (pun intended), from a political debate among E.U. elites to the #1 pressing issue on the streets of Europe.

When relatively smaller economic nations like Hungary began closing their borders to migrants and Syrian refugees last month, it could be written off as perhaps an isolated incident. But all bets are off now that France is closing its borders in response to the attacks, even if it is just temporarily. That’s because in so doing, President Francois Hollande has unambiguously connected the border issue with the effort to fight the spread of terror. It’s so obvious that even the most politically uninterested person can see what it means. And just in case the message still isn’t entirely clear to everyone, one of the major stories in Europe today is about how the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, boasted in videos about how easily he crisscrossed the borders of the E.U. for years.

This is a political nightmare for the statist bureaucrats who have been working for decades to reduce true representative democracy all for the goal of a unified and monolithic economic entity without worrying about being hindered by annoying little things like the will of the people. Before these attacks and the border response, the E.U. simply glossed over dissent and most attempts to challenge its un-elected sovereignty. Its best weapon in that fight has always been using the accusations of racism and xenophobia against those who refused to integrate and obey the E.U. fully and quickly enough in all matters of economics, immigration, and tax law. With a mostly compliant state-sponsored news media on its side, the “racist” and “xenophobic” label has been used the most against Britain’s anti-E.U. UKIP party more and more in recent years.

UKIP does keep gaining in popularity in the U.K., but it still has to fight very hard to beat back those scare tactic accusations. But what do the people who spread accusations of racism and xenophobia do now that more Europeans than ever believe their governments are sacrificing their safety in favor of remaining compliant with E.U. immigration dogma? The simple answer is that they’re in trouble, and no amount of sanctimonious shaming or economic threats will do much good when the majority of the public doesn’t feel safe anymore.

Read more …

No, Ambrose, OPEC’s pump and dump is not a strategy, it’s despair.

Goldman Eyes $20 Oil As Glut Overwhelms Storage Sites (AEP)

The world is running out of storage facilities for surging supplies of oil and may soon exhaust tanker space offshore, raising the chances of a violent plunge in crude prices over coming weeks, experts have warned. Goldman Sachs told clients that the increasing glut of oil on the global market has combined with mild weather from a freak El Nino this winter. The twin-effect could send prices plummeting to $20 a barrel, the so-called ‘cash cost’ that forces drillers to abandon production. “Risks of a sharp leg lower remain elevated,” it said. Oil has fallen from $110 a barrel early last year and is hovering near $40 for US crude, and $44 for Brent in Europe. The US investment bank said the overall glut in the commodity markets may take another twelve months to clear.

It cited ‘red flag’ signals on the Shanghai Future Exchange over recent days. Copper contracts point to “imminent weakening” in China’s ‘old economy’ of heavy industry and construction, it said. The warnings came as OPEC producers and Russian companies fight a cut-throat battle for market share in Europe and Asia. Saudi Arabia is shipping crude to Poland and Sweden for the first time, poaching new customers in the Kremlin’s traditional backyard. Iraq is selling its low grade ‘Basra heavy’ crude on global markets for as little as $30 a barrel as the country runs out of operating cash and is forced to cut funding for anti-ISIS militias. Iraq is seeking a large rescue loan from the IMF. “The drop in oil prices is a difficult test for us,” said premier Haider al-Abadi.

It is estimated that at least 100m barrels are now being stored on tankers offshore, waiting for better prices. A queue of 39 vessels carrying 28m barrels is laid up outside the Texas port of Galveston, while the Iranians have a further 30m barrels offshore ready to sell as soon as sanctions are lifted. “The world is floating in oil, and commercial stocks on land are at a record high,” said David Hufton, head of oil brokers PVM Group. “The numbers we are facing now are dreadful. Stocks have been building continuously for two years. This is unprecedented.” “What has saved us so far is that China has been buying 200,000 to 300,000 barrels a day (b/d) for their strategic reserve,” he said.

It is unclear exactly how much more space China may have. The Chinese authorities certainly want to keep building stocks – and do so at bargain prices – since reserves cover just 50 days demand, far short of the 90-day minimum recommended by the International Energy Agency. But the new storage depots in Gansu and Xinjiang will not be ready until the end of the year, at the earliest. Data from the US Energy Department shows that America’s storage sites are 70pc full, in theory leaving room for another 150m barrels. But this is already tight enough to create regional bottlenecks. It will not be sufficient if OPEC continues to flood the global market in a bid to drive out rivals. Excess supply is running near 2m b/d.

Read more …

I doubt that’s the total number. Try ten times that one.

China Has a $1.2 Trillion Ponzi Finance Problem (Bloomberg)

Chinese borrowers are taking on record amounts of debt to repay interest on their existing obligations, raising the risk of defaults and adding pressure on policy makers to keep financing costs low. The amount of loans, bonds and shadow finance arranged to cover interest payments will probably rise 5% this year to a record 7.6 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion), according to Beijing-based Hua Chuang Securities. Dubbed “Ponzi finance” by Hyman Minsky, the use of borrowed funds to repay interest was seen by the late U.S. economist as an unsustainable form of credit growth that could precipitate financial crises. Chinese companies are struggling to generate the cash flow needed to service their obligations as economic growth slows to the weakest pace in 25 years and corporate profits shrink.

While the debt burden has been eased by six central bank interest-rate cuts in 12 months and a tumble in corporate borrowing costs to five-year lows, the number of defaults in China’s onshore corporate bond market has increased to six this year from just one in 2014. “Some Chinese firms have entered the Ponzi stage because return on investment has come down very fast,” said Shi Lei, the Beijing-based head of fixed-income research at Ping An Securities Co., a unit of the nation’s second biggest insurance company. “As a result, leverage will be rising and zombie companies increasing.” China Shanshui Cement became the latest company to default on yuan-denominated domestic notes last week as overcapacity in the industry hurt profits and a shareholder dispute stymied financing.

State-owned steelmaker Sinosteel, which pushed back an interest payment on a bond last month, postponed it again this week. Metrics of corporate health in Asia’s largest economy have deteriorated as growth slowed. The number of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed companies that have less cash than short-term debt, net losses and contracting revenue has increased to 200 as of June from 115 in the year-earlier period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The amount of bad debt among Chinese banks rose 10% in the third quarter from the previous three months to 1.2 trillion yuan, about the size of New Zealand’s economy. Total debt at listed companies has climbed to 141% of common equity, based on a market-capitalization weighted average, the highest level in three years.

Read more …

It already is.

A Hard Landing in China Could ‘Shake the World’ (Bloomberg)

China’s slowdown is already playing out across the world, dragging down commodity prices and weighing on trade partners. And that’s while the economy is still growing at about 7%. So imagine what happens in a hard-landing scenario. The crew at Oxford Economics have done just that in a new report that makes stark reading for anyone with a stake in the global economy. China’s economic boom of the past 30 years means it now accounts for 11% of world GDP and around 10% of world trade. For resources, it’s an even bigger player, accounting for 11% of world oil demand and 40 to 70% of demand for other key commodities, according to the Oxford Economics research. Its financial system is massive, with its broad money supply now larger than the U.S.’s and amounting to over 20% of the world’s.

So were China to sneeze, the world may well catch a cold. First to trade. The volume of goods imported into China have already fallen by around 4% in the first three quarters of the year, after rising an average 11% per year from 2004-14. That means China has cut around 0.4 percentage point from world goods trade growth in the nine months to the end of September, after having added an average 1 percentage point a year in the previous decade. The biggest losers are those with the closest trade links and those whose economies are most open. For most advanced economies, their reliance on trade with China is lower, with Germany among the more dependent.

Then there’s the indirect effects as the drag on GDP of China’s trading partners works through the global economy. For instance, Japan would not only suffer from weaker exports to China but also to Korea and other Asian trading partners affected by China’s slowdown, the Oxford Economics research shows. Another transmission is via commodity prices, with any further slowdown in Chinese growth leading to additional price falls, especially as supply has expanded significantly in recent years. That would be bad news for the likes of Australia and Brazil. And here’s another spillover you may not have thought of: One consequence of the plunge in crude prices is that oil exporting countries and their sovereign wealth funds now have less money to invest in advanced economy financial assets.

Read more …

Making shadow banks look less attractive..

The Real Reason Behind China’s Latest ‘Stimulus’ (CNBC)

A decision by the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) to lower short-term borrowing costs for banks is not the standard pick-me-up aimed at a weakening economy. Instead, the latest step by the PBoC is an experiment towards finding alternatives to benchmark interest rates whose efficacy has been blunted in recent years by the surge in the shadow banking system as well as removal of limits that tied commercial bank rates to official policy rates, economists say. Late on Thursday, the central bank reduced its Standing Lending Facility (SLF) interest rates, yet another policy tool to inject cash into banks, with the seven-day rate cut to 3.25% and the overnight rate to 2.75% from 5.5% and 4.5%, respectively.

Typically, Chinese monetary stimulus relies on interest rate cuts or reductions in bank reserve requirements, with the lesser-known SLF only being used in anticipation of periods of tight liquidity, such as holidays. The facility hasn’t been used since March. Thursday’s departure from traditional policy tools suggests that the central bank wasn’t necessarily trying to boost economic growth, unlike previous easing episodes. Thursday’s cuts were to “discover the function of the Standard Lending Facility as the ceiling of the interest rate corridor,” according to the PBoC’s statement. Global central banks use the interest corridor system to guide market interest rates towards main policy rates.

When monetary conditions are tight, short-term money market rates move towards the upper end of the corridor as commercial lenders borrow from the central bank. Conversely, when financial markets are awash with cash, the lower end of the corridor ends up guiding policy.

Read more …

Watch out housing bubbles.

China Cracks $64 Billion ‘Underground Bank’ Moving Money Abroad (Bloomberg)

China said it cracked the nation’s biggest “underground bank,” which handled 410 billion yuan ($64 billion) of illegal foreign-exchange transactions, as the authorities try to combat corruption and rein in capital outflows that have hit records this year. More than 370 people have been arrested or face lawsuits or other punishment in the case centered in eastern Zhejiang province, the official People’s Daily reported on Friday, citing police officials. The case brought the total for underground banking and money-laundering activities to 800 billion yuan since April, the newspaper said. The probe began in September last year and the police took almost a year to sort through more than 1.3 million suspicious transactions, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported separately. The authorities froze more than 3,000 bank accounts, Xinhua said.

The case highlights the nation’s struggle to control capital outflows that have helped to send real-estate prices soaring from Vancouver to Sydney – even when Chinese citizens are officially limited to converting $50,000 of yuan per year. Some people may be moving the proceeds of corruption, while others may be concerned about the outlook for the economy and the potential for the yuan to weaken. “The government wants to stem outflows and stabilize the yuan’s exchange rate, but the outflows cannot be stopped unless people change their expectation on yuan depreciation,” said Xi Junyang, a finance professor at Shanghai University of Finance & Economics. Besides illegal banking operations, “a lot of money is leaving the country by legal means,” Xi said.

Read more …

Xi will probabbly be elated. The yuan goes down because the IMF wants it. Beggar thy neigbor by decree.

China’s Yuan May Enter IMF Basket With Lower Share (Reuters)

China’s yuan may enter the IMF’s benchmark currency basket at a lower weighting than previously estimated because of changes in how to calculate the make-up of the basket, people briefed on the Fund’s discussions told Reuters. IMF policymakers are expected to add the Chinese currency to the Special Drawing Rights basket later this month, after a campaign by Beijing for the yuan, or renminbi, to have equal billing with the dollar, euro, pound sterling and yen. Two people familiar with IMF deliberations said policymakers were considering changing the way the weights of currencies in the basket are calculated to make export volumes less important and financial flows more important.

China, the world’s largest exporter, lags other countries in financial transactions and such a change would give China’s yuan, also known as the renminbi, a lower share in the basket than under the current formula. The yuan’s inclusion is largely seen as a recognition of China’s political and economic heft and as setting the seal of approval on its economic reforms and would likely not have a major impact on financial markets. IMF staff calculated in July the yuan could have a weighting of about 14 to 16% and HSBC estimated it would have about 14% under the current formula. “I would say that it’s too high,” one person briefed on the IMF discussions said, referring to the estimates.

A second person, an official of a major Asian country who saw the IMF staff report, said: “It’s barely a two-digit rate, just the minimum (rate to be a double-digit one).” The SDR basket determines the mix of currencies that countries like Greece can receive as IMF disbursements and economists expect that inclusion will boost demand for the yuan. A lower weighting may crimp demand slightly. Last set in 2010, the basket is currently 41.9% dollar, 37.4% euro, 11.3% sterling and 9.4% yen. Capital Economics economist Andrew Kenningham said the methodology change would impact the yuan the most, while the other countries would maintain similar ratios. “The renminbi is completely different because despite its inclusion in the SDR, it’s not really a fully convertible currency and has very thin, much less liquid markets,” he said.

Read more …

The Chinese will soon follow, Beijing’s launching crackdowns.

Asian And Russian Buyers Desert Prime London Property Market (FT)

Asian and Russian homebuyers who once made up a third of those buying property in London’s wealthiest areas have largely deserted the market this year as emerging market currencies plunged against sterling. Properties in leafy boroughs such as Kensington, where the average home price is £1.5m, have been a sought-after asset in recent years among wealthy buyers seeking a base or an investment in a global, politically stable city. But that has changed in 2015, in a shift that estate agents said was partly down to turmoil in emerging markets and partly to a change in stamp duty that means buyers of the priciest homes pay substantially more tax. Asian homebuyers made up 26% of those buying homes in areas such as Kensington, Chelsea and Belgravia in the first three-quarters of last year, but that number was down to 6% in the same period of 2015, according to figures compiled by Hamptons, a high-end estate agent.

Chinese buyers were down from 9% of the total to 3%. Russians made up just 1% of buyers in the prime London areas, which also include Knightsbridge and Mayfair, in the first three-quarters of 2015, down from 7% a year earlier. The fall has coincided with a period of turbulence in Chinese equity markets, which spread to other Asian emerging markets and prompted falls in the region’s currencies against sterling. China’s renminbi is down 6.6% since April. In Russia, the war in Ukraine and international sanctions, together with lower oil prices, have taken a big toll on the country’s economy and currency. The rouble has shed 25% against sterling since April and is down 53% over the past two years. [..] Total transactions in prime London boroughs were down 19 per cent in the first three-quarters of 2015 against a year earlier, according to figures from LonRes, with agents blaming the stamp duty rise.

Read more …

Germany catches the Anglo-Saxon housing disease.

Here’s How the Boring German Housing Market Turned Piping Hot (Bloomberg)

Germany’s housing market is hot. Rents are rising in big cities including Berlin and Hamburg as young people seeking work move there from rural areas and elsewhere in Europe. Construction, however, has been slow to catch up, which has led to housing shortages and made leasing apartments a bonanza for landlords. Low interest rates make it cheaper than ever for companies to buy apartments, fueling record acquisitions by landlords including the country’s biggest, Vonovia. Portfolio sales rose from €5 billion in 2011 to €18.4 billion in the first nine months of this year, according to data compiled by Savills.

While shopping-mall owners and office developers dominate the listed-property sector in other countries, Germany’s residential property market is lucrative for landlords because it’s a nation of renters – and Germans tend to pay their rent on time. The surge in mergers and acquisitions, coupled with rising stocks, have allowed the market value of Germany’s publicly traded landlords to grow tenfold since 2012. The top two – Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen – are now among the world’s biggest owners of homes, surpassing peers in the U.S. What’s more, Vonovia wants to buy its rival to create Europe’s No. 2 property company. With about 1 million refugees expected to enter Germany this year, the most of any European country, demand for apartments is unlikely to shrink anytime soon.

Read more …

At what prices?

Volkswagen Faces Pressure In US To Buy Back Older Diesel Cars (Reuters)

Volkswagen, which is set to provide detailed plans to fix vehicles that do not comply with U.S. emissions standards, faced more pressure on Thursday from officials in Washington and California to buy back older diesel cars. A California Air Resources Board spokesman said officials at the automaker are scheduled to meet Friday with CARB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to present detailed proposals for recalling and fixing about 482,000 vehicles sold in the United States with diesel engines that emit more smog-forming pollutants than allowed by law. California has set a Nov. 20 deadline for Volkswagen to come up with a plan to fix the diesel cars affected by its rigging of emissions tests.

The carmaker said in September that around 11 million diesel powered cars were affected worldwide, including 482,000 in the United States. “I am personally hopeful we will be able to announce something soon about the remedies … and which we are discussing with the agencies in upcoming days,” Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen’s U.S. operations, said at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. The CARB spokesman also confirmed that the agency’s head, Mary Nichols, told the German daily Handelsblatt that Volkswagen might have to buy back some of the older diesel models. “I think it is quite likely that they will end up buying back at least some portion of the fleet from the current owners,” the paper quoted Nichols as saying in an interview to be published on Friday.

Newer cars might get easy software fixes and medium generation ones might need software and hardware components to fix the issue, Nichols said, according to the paper. But older cars might have to be repurchased rather than fitted with new pollution control devices. Separately, U.S. Senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Thursday released a letter calling on the automaker to buy back diesel vehicles that don’t meet pollution standards. The lawmakers noted that Volkswagen had signaled it could buy back cars sold in Europe that have inaccurate carbon dioxide emissions ratings.

Read more …

The California Air Resources Board is our best hope.

Volkswagen Faces Major Spending Cuts And Regulatory Deadlines (NY Times)

Volkswagen is expected to announce substantial spending cuts on Friday as the carmaker braces for the financial impact of its emissions-cheating crisis — potentially setting up a confrontation with its powerful labor representatives. Volkswagen also faces a Friday deadline to inform regulators in the United States of how it plans to bring its diesel cars there into compliance with air-quality standards. The company admitted in September that it had installed software in the cars that was meant to enable the vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. That scandal, which involves about 11 million vehicles worldwide — most of them in Europe — is a big reason Volkswagen is now forced to cut costs.

The company must pay to modify the cars and could face billions of dollars in fines and legal settlements. Senior officials from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board plan to meet with representatives from Volkswagen and its Audi division on Thursday and Friday to review the company’s proposed solutions, according to a spokeswoman for the E.P.A. Volkswagen is also under pressure to demonstrate to United States authorities that it is serious about identifying the people responsible for installing the software. Of the vehicles affected worldwide, about 500,000 are in the United States.

In addition, Volkswagen has admitted making exaggerated claims about the carbon dioxide output and fuel economy for 800,000 more cars in Europe. The Friday deadline was set by the California Air Resources Board, which helped to expose Volkswagen’s use of the so-called defeat software in its diesel vehicles. CARB, as it is known, is a particularly influential regulator in part because of the size of the California car market and also because it sets some of the most stringent emissions standards in the United States.

Read more …

“A garage mechanic who soups up a car so a bank robber can make his getaway is participating in the crime.”

US Probes VW Supplier Bosch In Cheating Scandal (Reuters)

U.S. authorities are investigating German auto supplier Robert Bosch over its role in Volkswagen’s massive scheme to cheat U.S. emission standards, according to people familiar with the matter. Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice are examining whether Bosch, the world’s largest auto supplier, knew or participated in Volkswagen’s years-long efforts to circumvent U.S. diesel emissions tests, the people said. Bosch built key components in the diesel engine used in six Volkswagen models and one Audi model that the automaker has admitted to rigging to defeat emissions tests. Federal authorities are also investigating how deeply the scheme permeated VW’s hierarchy, according to people familiar with the matter.

The probe is at an early stage and there is no indication that U.S. prosecutors have found evidence of wrongdoing at Bosch, the people added, asking not to be named because the matter is not public. Volkswagen has admitted to installing software that allowed its 2.0 liter diesel models to pass U.S. clean air tests, while shutting off emissions control systems when its diesel cars are actually on the road. VW said in September that around 11 million diesel powered cars were affected worldwide, including 482,000 in the United States. Bosch provides the engine control module, called EDC17, and basic software for nearly all the four-cylinder diesel cars sold in North America, including by Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.

Those systems regulate how a vehicle cleans burned-up fuel before it is expelled as exhaust. Volkswagen had the engine software modified to turn on the vehicle’s emission control system when it was being tested in the lab, then turn it off when the vehicle was on the road, according to U.S. regulators. For authorities to bring charges against Bosch, they would have to prove the supplier knew that their technology was being used by Volkswagen to evade emissions requirements, said Daniel Riesel, an environmental attorney at Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C. “If you know that a crime is being committed and you actively facilitate part of the crime you are on the hook,” Riesel said. “A garage mechanic who soups up a car so a bank robber can make his getaway is participating in the crime.”

Read more …

Having fun on the way down. Way down.

Caterpillar’s Depression Has Never Been Worse .. But It Has A Cunning Plan (ZH)

Moments ago Caterpillar reported its latest monthly retail sales statistics and the numbers have never been worse: not only is the dead CAT bounce in US sales finally over, tumbling -8% Y/Y, after a -4% decline in September and hugging the flatline for the past few months, but sales elsewhere around the globe were a complete debacle: Asia/Pacific (mostly China) was down -28%, a dramatic drop from the -17% a month ago, EAME dropping -13%, and Latin America down -36%…

… but global retail sales just posted a massive -16% drop in the past month, after dropping 9% a year ago and another 12% in 2013, this was the biggest annual drop since early 2010. As the chart below shows, CAT has now suffered a record 35 months, or nearly 3 years, of consecutive declining annual retail sales – something unprecedented in company history, and set to surpass the “only” 19 months of decling during the great financial crisis by a factor of two!

Worse, with the market no longer rewarding stock buybacks, Caterpillar suddenly finds itself flailing in the gale strength winds of what nobody can claims any longer is not a global industrial depression. However, there is good news – while Caterpillar’s revenues and cash flows may be plummeting with every passing month, at least the company has a cunning plan how to recover some inventory. According to the WSJ, Caterpillar is eager to reassure shareholders it won’t get burned on equipment leased to customers in China even as the economy cools there. CAT Financial Services President Kent Adams said during a conference call on Tuesday that the company keeps tabs on the position of machinery electronically through its Product Link system.

“If a customer falls behind, we have the ability to derate the engine or turn the engine off, and we’ve set up a legal presence in all of the provinces of China.” In other words, any and all Chinese lessors who fall behind on their payments will suddenly find their excavator’s engine shut down and no longer operable, stuck in the middle of a mine, quarry, or construction site with a paperweight weighing dozens of tons.

Read more …

Sliding scales. There’s no proof Bitcoin is used this way.

EU Targets Bitcoin, Anonymous Payments To Curb Terrorism Funding (Reuters)

EU countries plan a crackdown on virtual currencies and anonymous payments made online and via pre-paid cards in a bid to tackle terrorism financing after the Paris attacks. EU interior and justice ministers will gather in Brussels on Friday for a crisis meeting called after the Paris carnage of last weekend. They will urge the European Commission to propose measures to “strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards,” draft conclusions of the meeting said. Bitcoin is the most common virtual currency and is used as a vehicle for moving money around the world quickly and anonymously via the web without the need for third-party verification. Electronic anonymous payments can be made also with pre-paid debit cards purchased in stores as gift cards. EU ministers also plan “to curb more effectively the illicit trade in cultural goods,” the draft document said.

Read more …

No reason to doubt ‘we’ know who they are.

Who Are The Traders Buying And Selling ISIS Oil? (Zero Hedge)

[..] what we have been wondering for months and what we hope some enterprising journalist will soon answer, is just who are the commodity trading firms that have been so generously buying millions of smuggled oil barrels procured by the Islamic State at massive discounts to market, and then reselling them to other interested parties. In other words, who are the middlemen. What we do know is who they may be: they are the same names that were quite prominent in the market in September when Glencore had its first, and certainly not last, near death experience: the Glencores, the Vitols, the Trafiguras, the Nobels, the Mercurias of the world.

To be sure, funding terrorist states is not something that some of the most prominent names in the list above have shied away from in the past. Which one (or ones) are the guilty parties – those who have openly breached terrorism funding laws – we don’t know: it may be one, or more of the above, or someone totally different. At this point, however, three things are certain: whoever the commodity trading house may be that is paying ISIS-affiliated “innocent civilians” hundreds of millions of dollars for their products, they are perfect aware just who the source of this deeply discounted crude is. Crude so deeply discounted, in fact, it results in massive profits for the enterprising middleman who are engaging in openly criminal transactions.

The second certainty: whoever said middleman is, it is very well known to US intelligence services such as the NSA and CIA, and thus to the Pentagon, and thus, the US government. The third certainty is that while the US, and Russia, and now France, are all very theatrically bombing something in the Syrian desert (nobody really knows what), the funding of ISIS continues unabated as someone keeps buying ISIS oil. We wonder how long until someone finally asks the all important question regarding the Islamic State: who is the commodity trader breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various “western alliance” governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?

Read more …

Sickening. Shooting little children video game style.

US Drone Operators: ‘Ever Step On Ants, Not Give It Another Thought?’ (Guardian)

When Michael Haas, a former senior airman with the US air force, looks back on the missions he flew over Afghanistan and other conflict zones in a six-year career operating military drones, one of the things he remembers most vividly is the colorful language airmen would use to describe their targets. A team of three would be sitting, he recalls, in a ground control station in Creech air force base outside Las Vegas, staring at computer screens on to which images would be beamed back from high-powered sensors on Predator drones thousands of miles away. The aim of the missions was to track, and when the conditions were deemed right, kill suspected insurgents. That’s not how they put it, though. They would talk about “cutting the grass before it grows out of control”, or “pulling the weeds before they overrun the lawn”.

And then there were the children. The airmen would be flying the Predators over a village in the tribal areas of Pakistan, say, when a series of smaller black shadows would appear across their screens – telling them that kids were at the scene. They called them “fun-sized terrorists”. Haas is one of four former air force drone operators and technicians who as a group have come forward to the Guardian to register their opposition to the ongoing reliance on the technology as the US military’s modern weaponry of choice. Between them, the four men clocked up more than 20 years of direct experience at the coalface of lethal drone programs and were credited with having assisted in the targeted killings of hundreds of people in conflict zones – many of them almost certainly civilians.

As a senior airman in the 15th reconnaissance squadron and 3rd special operations squadron from 2005 to 2011 – a period straddling the presidencies of George W Bush and Barack Obama – Haas participated in targeted killing runs from his computer in Creech that terminated the lives of insurgents in Afghanistan almost 8,000 miles away. He was a sensor operator, controlling the cameras, lasers and other information-gathering equipment on Predator and Reaper drones as well as being responsible for guiding Hellfire missiles to their targets once the pilot sitting next to him had pulled the trigger. Haas looks too youthful to be burdened by such enormous issues. Yet the existential sensation of killing someone by manipulating a computer joystick has left a deep and lasting impression on him.

“Ever step on ants and never give it another thought? That’s what you are made to think of the targets – as just black blobs on a screen. You start to do these psychological gymnastics to make it easier to do what you have to do – they deserved it, they chose their side. You had to kill part of your conscience to keep doing your job every day – and ignore those voices telling you this wasn’t right.”

Read more …

Lowball 101: “There are currently an estimated 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears globally, but that number could shrink by as much as 30% by 2050..”

Hottest October On Record Is Bad News For Polar Bears (MarketWatch)

If the month of October felt unusually hot, that’s because it was. The average temperature over land and ocean surfaces was the highest since records began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As the chart below illustrates, Africa and Australia had their hottest Octobers since records began, while must of the rest of the world baked in higher-than-average temperatures, said the NOAA in its October Global Analysis report. Among the report’s other findings, U.S. had its warmest October since 1963, and fourth-warmest since record keeping began in 1895. In South America, northern and central areas had warmer-than-average conditions, while southern areas had much cooler-than-average temperatures.

Parts of Argentina set new monthly record low temperatures. In Europe, Denmark had its driest October since 1972, while Latvia had its driest October on record. At the same time, Eastern Europe and areas of western Russia had cooler-than-average temperatures. Much of Africa was hotter-than-average in the month, yielding the highest October for the continent on record. Australia had its warmest October since record keeping started in 1910, while the departure from the average was also the highest for any month on record. Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice extent was 13.4% below the 1981 to 2010 average, marking the sixth smallest October since satellite records first began in 1979. Extent is the area measured in square miles that has at least some ice on it.

That’s bad news for polar bears, which on Thursday were added to a list of endangered species by a conservation watchdog. Polar bears are highly vulnerable to climate change as it is rapidly eroding their sea ice habitat, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There are currently an estimated 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears globally, but that number could shrink by as much as 30% by 2050, if they continue to lose the floating ice that allows them to hunt seals, said the IUCN.

Read more …

Mary Shelley’s laughing.

US Clears GMO Salmon For Human Consumption (Reuters)

U.S. health regulators on Thursday cleared the way for a type of genetically engineered Atlantic salmon to be farmed for human consumption – the first such approval for an animal whose DNA has been scientifically modified. Five years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first declared the product, made by Massachusetts-based AquaBounty Technologies, to be as safe as conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon. AquaBounty’s product will not require special labeling because it is nutritionally equivalent to conventional farm-raised Atlantic salmon, the FDA said on Thursday.AquaBounty developed the salmon by altering its genes so that it would grow faster than farmed salmon, and expects it will take about two more years to reach consumers’ plates as it works out distribution.

AquaBounty is majority owned by Intrexon Corp, whose shares were up 7.3% at $37.55 in afternoon trading. AquaBounty says its salmon can grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon, saving time and resources. The fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth. Activist groups have expressed concerns that genetically modified foods may pose risks to the environment or public health. Several on Thursday said they would oppose the sale of engineered salmon to the public, while some retailers said they would not carry the fish on store shelves.

Read more …

She’s fine for now, but what if there’s attacks in Germany?

Merkel Confronts Refugee Policy Critics On Decade In Power (Bloomberg)

Angela Merkel heads to Bavaria on Friday for an appointment with some of the most persistent domestic critics of her refugee policy, in a test of her staying power just before her 10th anniversary in office. As terrorism fears add to Europe’s refugee crisis, the German chancellor’s address to the Christian Social Union will seek to preserve domestic harmony as she pursues international diplomacy to secure the region’s outer border. While Merkel is likely to reaffirm her goal of limiting the influx to Germany, she won’t offer the cap on migration that some in the CSU want, according to a person familiar with her thinking. It’s part of the balancing act as Merkel stakes her political future on persuading Germans they can cope with the biggest influx of migrants and refugees since World War II, putting at risk the standing she’s built up since taking the oath of office a decade ago Sunday.

“There is a lot of grumbling” within Merkel’s faction about her handling of the crisis as she pursues her humanitarian convictions, said Jan Kallmorgen, a partner at political consultancy Interel in Berlin. Her position is strengthened, though, because she’s “overwhelmingly respected” abroad and “the only one who has the international standing to work with other leaders” beyond the European Union, he said. With at least 800,000 asylum seekers expected in Germany this year, Merkel’s stance that the country is morally and legally obliged to accept them has spurred resistance in Bavaria, the main entry point. Merkel mollified Bavarian premier and CSU head Horst Seehofer with an agreement this month to restrict economic migrants from regions including the Balkans. [..]

As towns and cities struggle to shelter and feed refugees and winter approaches, support for Merkel’s CDU-CSU bloc has declined in polls while Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which advocates immigration limits, has gained. The CDU stumbled to 37.5% from 42% in September, while the AfD has doubled its support to 7%, according to an Allensbach poll for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. The Social Democrats, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, was unchanged at 26% in the Nov. 1-12 poll. Merkel’s poll numbers remain well above the lows reached at the height of the euro area’s debt crisis, giving her the clout to stand firm toward her Bavarian regional ally.

Read more …

Cool people.

Toronto Couple Cancels Big Wedding To Help Sponsor Syrian Refugees (CBC)

A Toronto couple has cancelled their plans for a big, expensive wedding and is instead putting the money toward sponsoring a family of Syrian refugees. Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian were planning to have a traditional wedding with all the trimmings in March that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. They had already booked a venue, hired caterers and invited their family and friends. But in September, they saw the pictures of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. The couple cancelled their plans and instead put the wedding funds towards sponsoring a Syrian refugee family of four.

“We thought this really has to be an opportunity for us to really use our wedding as a platform, as a way to make a difference alongside our friends and family in what has obviously become an absolutely outstanding humanitarian crisis,” Jackson told CBC News. Jackson is a PhD student at Ryerson University, where she studies refugee health care policy and volunteers with the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, which raises funds to sponsor refugees in Toronto. While planning their wedding, she and Yousefian would often talk about the global refugee crisis and wonder if there was anything they could do to help. “When there’s such a dire situation, it’s easy to become overwhelmed about thinking of ways to contribute,” Yousefian said.

“We just thought, wait a second, there’s a better way to do this. Given the circumstances, we need to turn the focus on the crisis and raise awareness and funds.” The couple tied the knot last month in a small ceremony at city hall. In lieu of wedding presents, friends and family donated to the cause. “I think the best part about this whole process has been seeing people’s reactions and then seeing just how thrilled they are for the idea and how excited they are about finding a way to contribute as well and to help us contribute,” Yousefian said. “We owe it all to our friends and family. Without them, this really couldn’t have happened a short time frame.”

Read more …

All these bubble cities suffer the same thing.

Half of New Yorkers Say They Are Barely or Not Getting By (NY Times)

Half of New York City residents say they are struggling economically, making ends meet just barely, if at all, and most feel sharp uncertainty about the future of the city’s next generation, a new poll shows. The poll, conducted by The New York Times and Siena College, shows great disparities in quality of life among the city’s five boroughs. The stresses weighing on New Yorkers vary widely, from the Bronx, where residents feel acute concern about access to jobs and educational opportunity, to Staten Island, where one in five report recently experiencing vandalism or theft. But an atmosphere of economic anxiety pervades all areas of the city: 51% of New Yorkers said they were either just getting by or finding it difficult to do so.

Even in Manhattan, three in 10 said they were just getting by. (58% said they were doing all right or thriving financially — the highest response of the five boroughs.) In some respects, the poll echoed the “tale of two cities” theme of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign: Residents of the Bronx and Brooklyn shared the most pronounced sense of economic insecurity, and the lowest confidence in local government and the police — a distinctly different experience from the rest of the city. In those boroughs, nearly three in five residents said they were straining to make ends meet. In the Bronx, 36% said there had been times in the past year when they did not have the money to buy enough food for their family; only one in five said they and their neighbors had good or excellent access to suitable jobs.

But if the city appears divided into broad camps of haves and have-nots, it was, perhaps surprisingly, the less privileged segments of New York that shared the most positive outlook on the future. Four in 10 Brooklyn residents said their neighborhood was getting better, and 36% of Bronx residents said the same. Manhattanites and Staten Islanders were most likely to say things were getting worse in their area.

Read more …

The land of the …?!

Of America’s Half Million Homeless, Nearly A Quarter Are Children (Reuters)

More than 500,000 people – a quarter of them children – were homeless in the United States this year amid scarce affordable housing across much of the nation, according to a study released on Thursday. The report, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said the number was down slightly from 2014. Many U.S. cities are confronting a sluggish economic recovery, stagnant or falling wages among the lowest-income earners and budget constraints for social welfare programs. Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Hawaii have all recently declared emergencies over the rise of homelessness, and on Thursday Seattle’s mayor toured a new encampment for his city’s dispossessed. “Despite national estimates, New York City continues to experience near record homelessness,” said Giselle Routhier at the Coalition for the Homeless.

According to HUD’s latest tally, nearly 565,000 people were living on the streets in cars, in homeless shelters or in subsidized transitional housing during a one-night national survey in January. Nearly one-fourth were aged 18 or under. That number was down 2% from the previous year’s count and 11% from 2007, HUD said. The actual U.S. homeless population is likely higher than HUD’s snapshot suggests because many people living without the means to put a roof over their heads are beyond the reach of the survey, sleeping on a friend’s couch or a relative’s basement. HUD reported separately this month that roughly 1.49 million individuals used a shelter in 2014, up 4.6% from 2013, agency spokeswoman Heather Fluit said.

Read more …