May 102022
 
 May 10, 2022  Posted by at 8:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


René Magritte The muscles of the sky 1927

 

Sen. Graham Pushes To Designate Moscow a State Sponsor of Terror (Antiwar)
Dems Ditch COVID Funds To Rush $40 Billion To Ukraine (ZH)
The Rise of the New Normal Reich (CJ Hopkins)
Xi Urges Europe To Promote Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks (ZH)
Rebranding Nazism (Keenan)
Won’t Get Fooled Again (John Tierney)
Germany Admits Covid ‘Vaccine’ 40 Times Deadlier Than Previously Known (RAIR)
Ron Johnson Opens Probe Into CDC Tracking Americans Through Phone Data (JTN)
Bill Gates Wants To Build A Dystopia (Unherd)
Florida At Center Of Bid To Slow Musk’s Purchase Of Twitter (JTN)
Durham Prosecution and Sussmann Defense Outline Trial Witnesses (CTH)
FBI Panicked After Trump Tweet Accusing Obama Of Spying On Campaign (ET)
Got the Heebie-Jeebies? (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Graham boldly called on the US to “take out Putin” and said the Russian leader no longer had an “off-ramp.”

Sen. Graham Pushes To Designate Moscow a State Sponsor of Terror (Antiwar)

Senator Lindsey Graham said the US must pursue an even more aggressive strategy against Russia. While appearing on Fox News Sunday with Brett Baier, the hawkish Senator advocated for a barrage of actions targeting Moscow. Graham promoted a new piece of legislation he co-authored with Senator Richard Blumenthal that calls on the White House to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. Senator Graham published an op-ed Friday, arguing the designation will allow the US to conduct more legal and economic warfare against Russia. However, Graham does not link Russia to a terrorist group. Rather, he compares the invasion of Ukraine to the Nazi military campaign during World War Two and claims Vladimir Putin is a “megalomaniac wanting to rewrite the map of Europe and recreate the former Russian Empire.”

The Senator also urges the passing of the $33 billion aid bill for Ukraine, prosecuting Putin for war crimes through the International Criminal Court, and putting “more weapons in theater that can target the Russian military offensively.” On Saturday, the Speaker of the Russian State Duma claimed the Western intervention in Ukraine amounted to direct attacks on Russia. “Washington essentially coordinates and develops military operations, thereby directly participating in the hostilities against our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin said.

Baier posed two questions to Graham, asking if he was concerned that increasing military involvement in Ukraine could lead to direct confrontation with Russia. The Senator was dismissive of the potential conflict between nuclear powers saying, “we can’t let him [Putin] win in Ukraine.” Graham boldly called on the US to “take out Putin” and said the Russian leader no longer had an “off-ramp.”

Abrams tanks

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A two-party system, you said?

“..Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top House Republican Kevin McCarthy begging for the funds..”

Dems Ditch COVID Funds To Rush $40 Billion To Ukraine (ZH)

Congressional Democrats are rushing forward to whip up $39.8 billion in additional Ukraine aid, after agreeing to drop a a proposal for additional COVID-19 related funding they planned to combine. The package, which tops President Joe Biden’s $33 billion request in April, could receive a House vote as soon as Tuesday, with Senate Democrats indicating that they are prepared to move swiftly according to Reuters. “Biden on April 28 asked Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine, including more than $20 billion in military assistance. That proposal was a dramatic escalation of U.S. funding for the war with Russia. The new proposal includes an additional $3.4 billion for military aid and $3.4 billion in humanitarian aid, the sources said.” -Reuters

While emergency aid for Ukraine has had bipartisan support for weeks, disputes over domestic funds for pandemic relief, or whether stiffer immigration controls should be included, have delayed the process. “We cannot allow our shipments of assistance to stop while we await further congressional action,” read a statement from President Biden, who called on lawmakers to expedite the funding so he could sign it within the next few days. The urgency comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top House Republican Kevin McCarthy begging for the funds, which they said would run out in two weeks.

“We need your help” wrote Austin and Blinken, who said there was ‘only’ $100 million left from a presidential authorization of weapons (which required no congressional approval). “We expect to exhaust that authority no later than May 19, 2022,” the letter continues. “Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he was pleased the Ukraine assistance was decoupled from COVID-19 aid. He had advocated for a “clean” Ukraine bill repeatedly in speeches in the Senate”. -Reuters

Sky News

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“..the official history of the 2020-2021 Covid pandemic is being written and the actual history being memory-holed in real time, right before our eyes.”

The Rise of the New Normal Reich (CJ Hopkins)

I told you this part wasn’t going to be pretty. I didn’t think it would get to the point where the Wall Street Journal would go full Buck Turgidson and call on the United States to “show it can win a nuclear war,” but I wasn’t entirely off the mark either. Back in January (i.e., a million years ago), in The Last Days of the Covidian Cult, I wrote: ” … we are getting dangerously close to the point where GloboCap will need to go full-blown fascist if they want to finish what they started. If that happens, things are going to get very ugly. I know, things are already ugly, but I’m talking a whole different kind of ugly. Think Jonestown, or Hitler’s final days in the bunker, or the last few months of the Manson Family.”

I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel like the threat of global thermonuclear war qualifies as a “different kind of ugly.” And, OK, before you accuse me of exaggerating the danger of the ungodly mess that GloboCap has made in the Ukraine, I’d like to point out that even Thomas Friedman is starting to sound the alarm. Thomas fucking Friedman, folks … a man with no moral conscience whatsoever, who has never met a GloboCap war of aggression that he could not support, and who has justified the gratuitous barbecuing of millions of men, women, and children without so much as a second thought throughout his long and lucrative career as an A-List mouthpiece for the ruling classes. When The Stash gets nervous, I start to get nervous.

Also, there’s the GloboCap Nazi thing. I’m not exactly a hothouse flower, but I have to admit that watching my liberal friends and colleagues go goo-goo for actual swastika-tattooed, Sieg-heiling Nazis has rattled my nerves a little bit. OK … I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to call them “Nazis.” I believe “defenders” is the term du jour. Seriously, here’s an actual screenshot from The Guardian featuring the leader of the neo-Nazi Azov Detachment …

Oh, and meanwhile, as the rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem, and the former fanatical Covidian Cultists turned fanatical Ukrainian Cultists scream for “more weapons” and “more direct engagement,” and revel in their anguish for the wives of neo-Nazis, the official history of the 2020-2021 Covid pandemic is being written and the actual history being memory-holed in real time, right before our eyes.

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Our next big enemy is asking for peace talks. Can’t trust that.

Xi Urges Europe To Promote Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks (ZH)

During a Monday virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Xi stressed that Europe must play an active role in promoting peace talks, and in “building a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” according to China’s state media. Xi said “all efforts must be made to avoid the intensification and expansion of the Ukraine conflict, and China welcomes all efforts that are conducive to promoting peace talks,” according to a translation. “China welcomes all efforts of the international community that facilitate the ceasefire and negotiations, the relevant parties should support Russia and Ukraine in reaching peace through negotiations,” the Chinese leader said further.

Since nearly the start of the conflict, Washington has charged that Beijing is providing behind-the-scenes support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, something which Chinese officials have consistently denied. China has also come under fire for appearing to provide political cover in its criticisms of NATO which echo the Russian position. Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, was featured in China’s state-run English daily Global Times as describing Beijing’s perspective that time is running out on Washington’s muscular efforts at arming and propping up Ukrainian forces amid the Russian onslaught. This is why new pressure has been put on America’s European allies to step up and do more, even as China argues they must get serious about negotiations and compromise.

“Cui said the growing pressure and sanctions by the US and its allies showed that the West was anxious to defeat Russia, especially as the Biden administration is facing huge pressure over a weakening domestic economy and hefty financial aid for Ukraine, knowing that getting deeper into the mire of the Russia-Ukraine conflict would harm its domestic midterm election prospects,” GT states. “On the other hand, Wang said with its support for Ukraine stretched to the limit, the US was in urgent need of its allies to demonstrate their commitment to the cause, and help its military sector continue making money from sending weapons to Ukraine,” the report adds.

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“..the perennial Western purveyors of fake news, such as The New York Times, CNN and the BBC, declare themselves to be gatekeepers of truth, integrity and morality. ”

Rebranding Nazism (Keenan)

As a teacher of history, the topic of Nazi Germany is always one which generates numerous questions from students. How were the Nazis able to convince the public to vote for them? How did they convince the people to go along with their fascist agenda and barbaric policies? How was the Holocaust allowed to take place? Despite discussing the role of propaganda and censorship, as well as the fear of opposing the Nazi regime, one still finds students often somewhat bemused. Moreover, many invariably argue that nowadays, due to social media, the Internet, and other methods of communication, the evils of Nazism could never succeed in flourishing again.

However, that is about to change. One only has to look at the manner in which the Azov Battalion, a fully-fledged Ukrainian Nazi militia, with significant influence, has been whitewashed in the space of ten weeks. Whereas prior to February 24th 2022, they were recognised as a neo-Nazi battalion, these fascists are now being portrayed as valiant defenders of an oppressed people, fighting bravely against insurmountable odds. In the past, we have become only too well aware of the role played by the media and big tech in propagandising and manufacturing consent. Whether it’s the mainstream media parroting establishment talking points, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube censoring dissenting views, or Paypal denying media outlets access to their own accounts apparently due to their political stances, Western disinformation full-spectrum dominance appears to be at its zenith.

Yet, the perennial Western purveyors of fake news, such as The New York Times, CNN and the BBC, declare themselves to be gatekeepers of truth, integrity and morality. And this, despite their lies which facilitated the slaughter and deaths of over a million men, women and children, in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But still it goes on, right up to the present. From the Ghost of Kiev to Snake Island, the Collective Western media has acted as stenographers for the Western and Ukrainian regimes. The examples are too numerous to mention, but the media coverage of the air strike at a railway station in Kramatorsk provided a striking example of the overt and cynical propaganda role the western media has played throughout this conflict.

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“They assumed that the Centers for Disease Control knew how to control disease and that scientists and public-health officials would provide sound scientific guidance about public health. Those were reasonable assumptions. They just turned out to be wrong..”

Won’t Get Fooled Again (John Tierney)

It’s been a two-year-long version of Hell Week, especially in America’s blue states, with Anthony Fauci and Democratic governors playing the role of fraternity presidents humiliating the pledges. Americans obediently donned masks day after day, stood six feet apart, disinfected counters, and obsessively washed their hands while singing “Happy Birthday.” They forsook visits to friends and relatives and followed orders to skip work and church. They forced young children to wear masks on the playground and in the classroom—a form of hazing too extreme even for Europe’s progressive educators. Some Americans refused to submit to these rituals, but their resistance only intensified solidarity among the faithful. The most zealous kept their masks on even after they were vaccinated, even when walking alone outdoors.

The mask became their version of a MAGA hat or a fraternity brother’s ring; some have vowed to keep wearing theirs long after the pandemic. They’ve already called for permanent masking on airplanes, trains, and buses, and they’ll probably clamor for more school closures and lockdown measures during future flu seasons. Facts alone will not be enough to change their minds. To undo the effects of the hazing, we need to ease their cognitive dissonance by showing that they’re not to blame for their decisions. The mental mistakes were not made by citizens who dutifully sacrificed for two years. They assumed that the Centers for Disease Control knew how to control disease and that scientists and public-health officials would provide sound scientific guidance about public health. Those were reasonable assumptions. They just turned out to be wrong.

After a great disaster, the traditional response is to appoint a blue-ribbon panel to investigate it, and a bill has already been introduced in Congress to create a Covid commission. In theory, this could be a worthy public service, allowing experts to sift the evidence impartially and determine which strategies worked, which ones failed, how much needless damage was done—and whom to blame for it. But in practice, which experts would the current Democratic administration or Congress appoint? Presumably, the pillars of the public-health establishment—the same luminaries whose advice was followed so calamitously the past two years.

Aerosols

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Cracks are showing.

Germany Admits Covid ‘Vaccine’ 40 Times Deadlier Than Previously Known (RAIR)

German study: The number of those suffering from serious complications after taking the COVID vaccine is 40 times higher than previously known. Charité in Berlin is carrying out a study on the side effects of receiving corona vaccinations. Professor Harald Matthes is leading the research and is calling for more contact points for those affected. The study “Safety Profile of Covid-19 Vaccines”, which focuses on the effects and side effects of the various vaccines, has been running for a year. Around 40,000 vaccinated people are interviewed at regular intervals throughout Germany. Participation in the study is voluntary and independent of how the vaccines work in the subjects.

One result: eight out of 1,000 vaccinated people struggle with serious side effects. “The number is not surprising,” explains Prof. Dr. Harald Matthes, head of the study: “It corresponds to what is known from other countries such as Sweden, Israel, or Canada. Incidentally, even the manufacturers of the vaccines had already determined similar numbers in their studies.” With conventional vaccines, such as against polio or measles, the number of severe side effects is significantly lower. Serious side effects are symptoms that last for weeks or months and require medical attention. These include muscle and joint pain, heart muscle inflammation, excessive reactions of the immune system, and neurological disorders, i.e., nervous system impairments.

“Most side effects, including severe ones, subside after three to six months; 80% heal. But some last much longer,” reports Professor Matthes. Around 179 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far. “Given around half a million cases with serious side effects after Covid vaccinations in Germany, we doctors have to take action,” emphasizes Prof. Matthes, who, in addition to his work at the Berlin Charité, is on the board of several medical specialist societies and has been systematically examining the effect of medicinal products for years. “We have to come to therapy offers, discuss them openly at congresses and in public without being considered anti-vaccination.”

It is particularly depressing for those affected that their complaints are often not taken seriously. Doctors in private practice would often not associate the symptoms with the vaccinations because they were either not prepared for them or did not want to expose themselves, given the heated political mood. This is also evidenced by the many letters to the head of the study, Professor Matthes. Those affected describe their often months-long search for practical medical help and recognition. In addition, they show that suspected cases are not officially reported. And so, the numbers of severe vaccination reactions at the Paul Ehrlich Institute, at 0.2 reports per 1,000 vaccine doses, are also significantly lower than those in the Charité study.

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CDC=China.

Ron Johnson Opens Probe Into CDC Tracking Americans Through Phone Data (JTN)

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is investigating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for tracking millions of Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC paid one company $420,000 to access location data for at least 20 million cell phones a day, a Vice Motherboard investigation revealed last week. While the CDC claimed it needed access to the data to fight COVID, documents show the data was used “to support non-COVID-19 programmatic areas and public health priorities.” Johnson criticized the CDC’s phone tracking efforts Monday on “Just the News – Not Noise.” “Just because data exists, doesn’t mean that the government should be using it to track Americans, I would think that that really raises some very serious constitutional issues,” Johnson noted.


In a letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Thursday, Johnson wrote, “It remains unclear why the CDC tracked millions of Americans during the pandemic and whether it continues to do so. In response to COVID-19, the CDC should have been prioritizing the development of treatments, effective testing, and vaccine safety rather than tracking Americans’ daily lives.” He demanded answers from the CDC on the purchase and use of location data, including whether the agency used other mechanisms to monitor Americans throughout the pandemic. Johnson told editor-in-chief John Solomon, “I think the government is becoming way too big, and way too powerful.”

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“Molnupiravir costs US$17.74 per dose to manufacture, according to an estimate from researchers at Harvard and King’s College London, but is being retailed to the US government for US$712 per course — a profit of 4,000%..”

Bill Gates Wants To Build A Dystopia (Unherd)

Now Gates is tired of all the conspiracies. He asks his critics to judge him by his actions. And the best way to do so is by reading the book: does Gates have anything sensible to say about the best way to combat future pathogenic outbreaks? His model for the future is built on what he feels has worked over the past two years: isolate contacts, close borders, lockdown as quickly as possible, then remove restrictions slowly and cautiously. He cites Dr Anthony Fauci, who Gates says he spoke to once a month during the pandemic: “Not only should you appear to overreact at first, as Tony Fauci said, but you also have to be careful about relaxing all NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions] too soon.”

Meanwhile, you should invest enormous sums in boosting global public health systems, vaccine production in poor and rich countries, and fund a Global Pandemic Emergency Response Unit to monitor potential outbreaks. The aim, says Gates, is to vaccinate the entire world — twice if necessary — within six months while lockdown measures restrict the spread of the new pathogen. It all sounds so reasonable, doesn’t it? Or it might do to those who haven’t seen the footage of Shanghai’s lockdown circulating on social media, to those who can work online in relative comfort, or indeed to billionaires with comfortable gardens and libraries in which to while away those six months. With the Gates model, a little translation is in order.

The massive investment required to make this vision happen is a good starting point. Where will it come from? Gates is a well-known philanthropist, and makes much of the more than US$2 billion which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have ploughed into fighting Covid-19. Yet this is a small amount compared to the US$6 billion that the US government has invested in the Moderna vaccine alone. As Gates points out, “Most of the world’s greatest talent for translating research into commercial products is in the private sector… It’s the government’s role to invest in the basic research that leads to major innovations, adopt policies that let new ideas flourish.”

Translation: taxpayers invest in developing products through government agencies, and private companies and their shareholders reap the profits. How does this work in practice? Gates does not give what we might call full disclosure. He offers the example of the antiviral Molnupiravir which “Merck and its partners developed”. It was authorised to great fanfare as a Covid treatment in November 2021. Yet Merck did not develop this drug. It was initially developed as a veterinary drug for horses at Emory University, with a US$19 million grant from Fauci’s NIAID and funding from other sectors of the US government. Molnupiravir costs US$17.74 per dose to manufacture, according to an estimate from researchers at Harvard and King’s College London, but is being retailed to the US government for US$712 per course — a profit of 4,000%.

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“..because of an arrangement he reportedly had with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Musk’s financial adviser Morgan Stanley, the plaintiffs argue Musk was an “interested stockholder”..”

Florida At Center Of Bid To Slow Musk’s Purchase Of Twitter (JTN)

Florida is once again at the center of a Twitter war, this time by an Orlando pension fund attempting to slow its purchase after Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was looking into ways it can potentially “hold accountable” Twitter’s board of directors. The city of Orlando’s Police Pension Fund filed a class action lawsuit May 6 in an attempt to block or slow the sale of Twitter. It argues Delaware law prevents billionaire Elon Musk from immediately purchasing Twitter because it alleges he’s “an invested stockholder.” The lawsuit could hold up Musk’s $44 billion approved purchase of Twitter until 2025 if a judge rules in the plaintiffs’ favor.

The $734 million pension fund, the only plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court. Twitter, Inc., Parag Agrawal, Mimi Alemayehou, Jack Dorsey, Egon Durban, Martha Lane Fox, Omid Kordestani, Fei-Fei Li, Patrick Pichette, David Rosenblatt, Bret Taylor, Robert Zoellick, and Elon Musk are named as defendants. On April 25, Twitter agreed to Musk’s terms to purchase its entire stock at $54.20 a share in cash, valued at roughly $44 billion. However, the lawsuit alleges the sale “may not lawfully close until 2025 absent approval by the affirmative vote of 66 2/3% of Twitter’s voting stock not ‘owned’ by Musk,” citing Section 203 of Delaware corporate law.

Section 203 prohibits corporations from engaging in any business with any stockholder for at least three years after the date the stockholder owns at least 15% of the corporation’s outstanding stock. Musk owned 9.6% of Twitter’s outstanding voting stock when its board approved the sale. But because of an arrangement he reportedly had with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and Musk’s financial adviser Morgan Stanley, the plaintiffs argue Musk was an “interested stockholder” representing more than 15%. Dorsey owned 2.4%, and Morgan Stanley 8.8%, at the time of the sale.

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“If Sussmann is found guilty it makes the media culpability look even worse. The media was pushing the same false information to the public that Michael Sussmann was pushing into the FBI.”

Durham Prosecution and Sussmann Defense Outline Trial Witnesses (CTH)

With mostly wins and a few losses in the pre-trial evidentiary hearings for Special Counsel John Durham, the case against Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann is scheduled for trial next week. Now the witness lists are coming forth. WASHINGTON – […] “Robby Mook, who managed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, Clinton campaign attorney Marc Elias and FBI counterintelligence leader Bill Priestap and former top FBI lawyer James Baker are among those called as government witnesses, said prosecutor Andrew DeFilipiis”. Additionally, Laura Seago, a top tech official at research firm Fusion GPS (she has immunity in exchange for testimony); Deborah Fine, a Clinton campaign lawyer; and a CIA official identified as Kevin B are also on the prosecution list.

[…] Defense attorneys unveiled their own high-powered witness list. It includes Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, former acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau. Depending on preset Perkins Coie leverage and risk exposure, other officials from deep inside the DOJ/FBI small group operation may also be forced to stand as defense witnesses by Sussmann’s team. The lawfare combat teams look interesting. The prosecution calling Marc Elias as a witness looks like a great opportunity for: (1) evidence against him for later use; and/or (2) a perjury trap. The defense planning to call Inspector General Michael Horowitz puts the office of the IG into a suspicious position. Horowitz is a baddie.

Mary McCord is a conniving manipulator for the worst elements of the deep state, so it makes sense she would give testimony to defend Sussmann. McCord was a central figure in how the DOJ National Security Division sought to frame the appearance of the Trump-Russia collusion nonsense, and it was Mary McCord who later coordinated the National Security Council leaks between Alexander Vindman and anonymous CIA whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella. [..] On the prosecution side, Laura Seago (with immunity) has details of the motives inside Fusion GPS by owner/operators Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. Her testimony should be interesting and will likely overlap into other prosecutions if there are any.

Bill Priestap was Peter Strzok’s boss and James Baker was FBI legal counsel. If there was anyone who seemed less willing (slightly) to frame Trump you could make an argument that Priestap and Baker were the least corrupt on the scale of internal corruption. From the perspective of criminal conduct they would be the two FBI insiders less willing to take a fall. Keep in mind the media has a strong vested interest in the Sussmann prosecution. If Sussmann is found guilty it makes the media culpability look even worse. The media was pushing the same false information to the public that Michael Sussmann was pushing into the FBI.

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“The FBI also knew that the Alfa Bank story, which claimed that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian bank—information that had been brought to them by Sussmann—was bogus.”

FBI Panicked After Trump Tweet Accusing Obama Of Spying On Campaign (ET)

Newly released notes taken by high-level Department of Justice (DOJ) officials during a March 6, 2017, meeting with FBI leadership expose some of the lengths the FBI engaged in to cover up its spying on the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump. The notes were released on May 8 by lawyers representing former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann as part of an effort to clear him on charges of having lied to the FBI. The notes, in reality, appear to do little to exonerate Sussmann but do provide quite a bit of information on the FBI. The meeting at which the notes were taken took place just two days after Trump’s March 4, 2017, tweet in which he accused former President Barack Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower.

Trump’s tweet panicked FBI leadership, who were unsure exactly how much Trump knew about their efforts to tie him up with Russia collusion allegations. What the notes reveal is that in response to the tweet, they tried to cover their tracks. By March 2017, FBI leadership already knew with near-certainty that the Trump–Russia collusion claims were a hoax. They knew that Clinton’s campaign had a plan to vilify Trump by portraying him as a puppet of Putin. The FBI also knew that not a single claim in the so-called Steele dossier—which was the primary source of allegations of Trump–Russia collusion—had checked out. In fact, at that point, the FBI had already spent three days interviewing Steele’s primary source, Igor Danchenko, who disavowed pretty much every claim in Steele’s dossier.

The FBI also knew that the Alfa Bank story, which claimed that a Trump server was communicating with a Russian bank—information that had been brought to them by Sussmann—was bogus. In short, the FBI knew that all the claims of Trump-Russia collusion had proven to be fake. But things took a sudden and dramatic turn on March 4, 2017, when Trump said on Twitter that he knew that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, a very public claim of spying that set off alarm bells with both FBI and DOJ leadership. Trump’s tweet so alarmed these DOJ and FBI officials that the topic dominated a meeting two days later that included FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and the acting U.S. attorney general, Dana Boente.

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“Are they beset by “disinformation” or is it rather the reality of a cratering nation run by idiots and maniacs?”

Got the Heebie-Jeebies? (Jim Kunstler)

Everyone I know is walking around in a baseline state of nervous agitation. Are they beset by “disinformation” or is it rather the reality of a cratering nation run by idiots and maniacs? Everywhere you look, calamities gather speed while the klaxons of alarm blare from all compass points. Got money? Looks like soon it will be worthless. Wondering if Mr. Putin has had enough of “Joe Biden’s” brainless effrontery to lob some hypersonic Big Ones in our collective face? Relying on that retirement account you have no direct control over while the financial markets wobble? Need to fill up the gas tank of your pickup truck twice a week? Can’t find a new condenser to fix the failing fridge? Entertaining rumors of looming famine. Credit cards maxed out?

Sheriff stapling an eviction notice on your door? Beloved younger brother declaring that henceforward they are your sister? Hearing that all those vaxxes and boosters you obediently submitted to might rearrange your DNA? These are just a few of the concerns zinging through the zeitgeist these late days of the republic. You are correct to be anxious about them, so at least don’t worry about worrying. Just understand that the more events spool out in the direction of danger, the more you will be warned against “disinformation.” The good part is that now we know the identity of at least one person who is officially in charge of that: “disinformation expert” Nina Jankowicz (NiJank), new chief of Washington’s Disinformation Governance Board. Whose idea was that, by the way?

Homeland Security Sec’y Alejandro Mayorkis (AlMay) didn’t seem to know anything pertaining to disinformation last week when grilled in committee by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), including two of the most notorious cases in recent memory: Did the Steele Dossier include Russian disinformation? AlMay said he was “not equipped” to answer that question. Ditto the question — now definitively settled — as to whether Hunter Biden’s laptop stuffed with grifting memoranda was for-real. Of course, both of those matters were labeled previously as disinformation by his new expert hire, NiJank, who, it appears, is similarly unequipped to discuss the particulars at issue. But all this does raise the parallel issue: how much depraved insolence is the public supposed to tolerate from its public servants?

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WEF

 

 

 

 

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May 172017
 
 May 17, 2017  Posted by at 8:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Arrest of Gavrilo Princip, the man who shoot Franz Ferdinand June 28 1914

 

Britain’s Labour Party Unveils ‘Radical’ Election Manifesto (AFP)
UK Media Trying Incredibly Hard To Keep Corbyn Out Of Number 10 (Can.)
The American Dystopia Didn’t Begin With Trump (MW)
Democratic Party Image Dips, GOP Ratings Stable (Gallup)
Chelsea Manning Set For Release After 7 Years In Prison (AP)
Hong Kong Rejects Asylum for Snowden Helpers (HRW)
The Everything Bubble: Stocks, Real Estate & Bond Implosion (Mike Maloney)
New Theory Behind Stalled Economy: Retirees Are Hoarding Too Much Cash (ZH)
Australia Needs Housing Slowdown for Stability on AAA – S&P (BBG)
Can China Afford Its Belt and Road? (Balding)
Erdogan’s Bodyguards Beat Up US Protestors in DC After He Met With Trump (Qz)
EU Warns Turkey After It Violates Greek Airspace 141 Times In One Day (EuAct)
Abe Divides Japan With Plan to Change Pacifist Constitution (BBG)
NATO Builds Infrastructure for Permanent Presence Near Russia’s Borders (SCF)
Eastern Europe Turns Its Back On Single Market (Pol.)
Germany and Italy Want EU To Halt Migrants In Libya (EuO)

 

 

Looking at the incredible mess built up by the likes of Trump and Hillary, Farge and Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Marine Le Pen, Jeremy Corbyn looks better all the time. He’s an actual person, and he sticks to his guns.

Maybe what goes against him most is that people in this day and age don’t recognize him as a politician anymore; politicians are supposed to stab backs, tell lies and conspire against anyone threatening their shot at power.

Is there anyone who would argue that the world would have been a worse place with Bernie Sanders in the White House and Jeremy Corbyn at no. 10?

As the left has moved, and become, right, we need a left just for balance in our societies. Nothing to do with if you are a socialist or not, just balance.

Britain’s Labour Party Unveils ‘Radical’ Election Manifesto (AFP)

Britain’s opposition Labour Party pledged to raise taxes on the well-off, renationalise key industries and end austerity in its manifesto on Tuesday, presenting voters with their starkest choice in decades in next month’s election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the programme “radical and responsible”, saying the country had been run “for the rich, the elite and the vested interests” in seven years of Conservative government. “It will change our country,” he will say in his speech at the presentation of the manifesto in Bradford in northwest England, according to extracts released by the party’s press office. “It will lead us through Brexit while putting the preservation of jobs first,” he said. The manifesto is expected to include a tax increase from 40% to 45% for salaries of between ££80,000 (€94,000, $103,000) and ££150,0000 a year, according to The Times and The Daily Telegraph.

The current 40% tax rate applies to people earning between ££31,500 and ££150,000. There would also be a new top rate of income tax of 50%, the reports said. Labour has said the rise would fund increased investment in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) and would only affect 5% of earners. The Guardian reported that the party was also planning a levy on businesses with staff earning large salaries, set at 2.5% on those earning over ££330,000 and 5.0% on those earning more than ££500,000. Labour will also promise to renationalise the railways, the Royal Mail postal service and water companies, according to various reports. Labour has also promised it will increase corporation tax to 26% by 2022 and impose a “Robin Hood tax” on financial transactions. “It’s a programme that will reverse our national priorities to put the interests of the many first,” Corbyn is expected to say. “This is a programme of hope. The Tory campaign, by contrast, is built on one word: fear.”

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Three weeks before the elections, Corbyn is still reported to lose in a landslide. Will Britain wake up in time? Theresa May is a sure bet for deterioration.

UK Media Trying Incredibly Hard To Keep Corbyn Out Of Number 10 (Can.)

An academic investigation has caught the UK media trying incredibly hard to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number 10. The mainstream TV and newspaper media are pushing the agenda of the Conservative Party within their coverage, according to an investigation from Loughborough University. The Conservatives are the “most frequently reported” and “most extensively quoted” party, while issues pushed by Labour are “marginalised”, say the report’s authors. In newspapers, for example, the Conservatives received by far the most direct quotation, exceeding Labour by 45%. One of the most striking findings is how much non-political personality pervades the entire media’s election coverage. Last week, Theresa May made a policy-free appearance on The One Show with her husband Philip May. The BBC hosted the personality-driven chat, despite the sitting Prime Minister refusing to debate her record on TV.

Then, according to the content analysis, the broader media amplified the appearance and sidelined the real issues. And this is precisely the aim of a Conservative Party opting for cosy sofa chats over serious policy debate. The sheer weight of reporting on the sanitised family affair propelled the Conservative leader’s husband into the fifth most covered political figure during the study’s time frame. He received nearly double the coverage of the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, who leads a party controlling 56 out of the 59 Scottish seats. The Conservative leader’s husband, a family figure irrelevant to the election, also received nearly as much coverage as Labour’s Shadow Chancellor. John McDonnell was the fourth most covered political figure, reported on in 6.1% of all the election news items analysed. Theresa May was easily the most prominent, featuring in 32.4% – over a third of all news items analysed. Corbyn received much less coverage across TV and newspaper media, appearing in 21.4%.

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And it won’t end there. Someone should be able to write it up better than this though.

The American Dystopia Didn’t Begin With Trump (MW)

Dystopia is here. It’s not just the “imagined place” of the dictionary definition or a future state of dystopian novels. It is very real and right now, at least for those of us trying to follow national politics. And it’s not just Donald Trump. It’s Barack Obama, it’s Ted Cruz, it’s the New York Times, it’s Breitbart News. It is an alternate universe detached from the world we live in but intruding into it in painful and dangerous ways. It is a media narrative of political conspirators colluding with a dictatorial archenemy, of an intemperate and delusional leader overturning the institutions of democracy, of a “deep-state” resistance to constitutional authority. It is a dystopia of rampant hypocrisy, where obstructing legislation, supporting a law-enforcement official who strays beyond the limits of his authority, or boycotting a president’s appointments is evil and undemocratic until it’s your party that wants to do it.

Two dystopian classics have shot back to the top of best-seller lists because the media suggest the authoritarian surveillance societies they portray have arrived. The 1948 novel “1984” and the 1985 novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” are touted as descriptions of where we are headed under Trump. While the author of “Handmaid,” Margaret Atwood, and the cast of the Hulu miniseries based on it see a Trump administration as the realization of the misogyny depicted in the novel, it’s obvious the U.S. is not about to become a Puritanical theocracy like that in the book. Critics on both the left and the right dispute the media meme that “Handmaid” is a depiction of the Trump era. Irish feminist Angela Nagle writes in the left-wing Jacobin magazine that it is neoliberal market forces that are oppressing women, not an imaginary theocratic state.

“The real-world dystopia for the majority of women in the age of Trump is not that they are being forced to have children by a repressive traditionalist state,” she wrote last week, “but that they’re being compelled not to by far more insidious forces, and those that do are financially and socially punished at every turn.” We are ruled by myths, she continues, but not those in the miniseries. “The mythologies of our age in the West are not enforced by repressive theocratic regimes,” Nagle says, “but by the market command to be free, to be creative, to be flexible, to love what you do for even the most uninspiring of jobs.”

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They’re all still well ahead of François Hollande. But imagine what a viable third party could do. Better let that be Bernie.

Democratic Party Image Dips, GOP Ratings Stable (Gallup)

Americans’ opinions of the two major political parties are now similar after the Democratic Party’s ratings slipped to 40% – from 45% last November – while the Republican Party’s image is essentially unchanged at 39%. The latest update on the party’s images is based on a May 3-7 Gallup poll, which asked Americans whether they have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of each party. Throughout last year’s contentious presidential election campaign, U.S. adults rated neither party highly. In fact, more rated each party unfavorably than favorably. But Democrats maintained a slight edge in favorable ratings, including 45% to 40% in Gallup’s prior measurement, conducted last November after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election.

So far, Trump’s unpopularity as president has done little to erode Americans’ views of the GOP, perhaps because they were already quite negative. However, Americans are now less positive toward the Democratic Party than they were last fall. The decline in Democratic Party favorability is mostly a result of lower ratings from self-identified Democrats. In November, 83% of Democrats had a positive opinion of the Democratic Party; now, 77% do. Independents are also slightly less positive toward the Democratic Party, while Republicans’ negative views of the opposing party are steady.

[..]Americans are quite negative toward both of the major political parties at this time. Trump’s unpopularity and the GOP’s challenges in governing a divided nation have done little to weaken the party’s poor image further. But those same factors have also done little to cast the opposing party, the Democrats, in a more favorable light. If anything, the Democratic Party’s positioning appears weakened, largely because its own supporters now hold a less positive view of the party. That could indicate Democrats are frustrated with the party’s minority status in Washington. Not since 2003 through 2006 have Democrats failed to control the presidency, House of Representatives or Senate. Prior to that, Democrats had control of either Congress or the presidency for more than 50 years.

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Bless you.

Chelsea Manning Set For Release After 7 Years In Prison (AP)

Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier convicted of giving classified government materials to WikiLeaks, is due to be released from a Kansas military prison on Wednesday after serving seven years of her 35-year sentence. President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency in his final days in office in January. Though she’s set to be released from Fort Leavenworth, Manning’s lawyers and the Army have refused to say when and how she’ll be freed due to potential security concerns. Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning before transitioning in prison, was convicted in 2013 of 20 counts, including six Espionage Act violations, theft and computer fraud. She was acquitted of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy.

The Crescent, Oklahoma, native tweeted after being granted clemency that she plans to move to Maryland. Neither she nor her attorneys explained why, but she has an aunt who lives there. Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, has acknowledged leaking the materials, which included battlefield video. She said she wanted to expose what she considered to be the U.S. military’s disregard of the effects of war on civilians and that she released information that she didn’t believe would harm the U.S. Critics said the leaks laid bare some of the nation’s most-sensitive secrets and endangered information sources, prompting the State Department to help some of those people move to protect their safety. Several ambassadors were recalled, expelled or reassigned because of embarrassing disclosures.

Manning, who was arrested in 2010, filed a transgender rights lawsuit in prison and attempted suicide twice last year, according to her lawyers. Obama’s decision to commute Manning’s sentence to about seven years, including the time she spent locked up before being convicted, drew strong criticism from members of Congress and others, with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the move “just outrageous.” In a statement last week — her first public comments since Obama intervened — Manning thanked that former president and said that letters of support from veterans and fellow transgender people inspired her “to work toward making life better for others.” “For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea,” she said.

“I can imagine surviving and living as the person who I am and can finally be in the outside world. Freedom used to be something that I dreamed of but never allowed myself to fully imagine.” Her attorneys have said Manning was subjected to violence in prison and argued the military mistreated her by requiring her to serve her sentence in an all-male prison, restricting her physical and mental health care and not allowing her to keep a feminine haircut. The Army said Tuesday that Manning would remain on active duty in a special, unpaid status that will legally entitle her to military medical care, along with commissary privileges. An Army spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson, said Manning will be on “excess leave” while her court-martial conviction is under appellate review.

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Seems like every country punishes its best and bravest.

Hong Kong Rejects Asylum for Snowden Helpers (HRW)

Seven people who sheltered the whistleblower Edward Snowden in June 2013 are at risk of return to torture and persecution at home, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 11, 2017, the Hong Kong Immigration Department rejected their asylum claim; their lawyers are in the process of appealing the decision and pursuing a separate case for entry and asylum in Canada, where sponsors are ready to assist them. “Those who helped Edward Snowden in Hong Kong when he was seeking asylum now find themselves at dire risk if sent back to their countries,” said Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Canada has the opportunity to a prevent a terrible outcome and should act immediately.”

The asylum-seekers include two men and a woman from Sri Lanka, and a woman from the Philippines, along with their three children who were born in Hong Kong and are stateless. The adults allege that they suffered torture and persecution in their home countries, and have been pursued by powerful people or officials who have tracked or threatened them. Their asylum lawyer, Robert Tibbo, brought Snowden, another client, to their homes in 2013 after he revealed he had disclosed classified information to the press. The families each freely allowed Snowden to stay with them for a short time after his disclosures became public but before his arrest was sought.

Neither the asylum-seekers nor their lawyer revealed their role in Snowden’s journey. However, journalists independently discovered their identities shortly before the release of an Oliver Stone movie about Snowden that shows him being hidden among asylum-seekers in Hong Kong. At that point, the asylum-seekers went public in an effort to have some control over how they were portrayed in the media.

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The Automatic Earth doesn’t promote any specific kind of investments, but Mike is a good friend of ours, and he’s right here.

The Everything Bubble: Stocks, Real Estate & Bond Implosion (Mike Maloney)

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No, they’re not.

New Theory Behind Stalled Economy: Retirees Are Hoarding Too Much Cash (ZH)

[..] we were somewhat shocked to come across a report from money manager United Income which effectively argues that American retirees are saving too much money rather than too little. To summarize the thesis, United Income argues that retirees become more conservative as they grow older which causes them to save more and allocate less to equities…which is, of course, a somewhat self-serving conclusion but never mind that.

“Innovations in medicine and technology have extended human life by over 30 years since 1900. This has helped to double the amount of time the average adult now spends in retirement compared to several decades ago. But, the benefits of longer lives and retirement may be limited if older households curb their consumption or investment in preventive health measures because they are overly pessimistic about their future financial health. Overly negative viewpoints toward the future may also create self-fulfilling economic problems if it leads to an overly aggressive fixed-income portfolio.”

Unfortunately, when combined with the fact that “Median Net Wealth” is actually shrinking, it’s easy to deduce that while the majority of American retirees are actually spending their retirement income (and then some), there is a group of super wealthy old folks who simply can’t spend enough money to offset annual investment income growth….which speaks more to the growing wealth gap than to some economic fear that is causing retirees to hoard cash. In this context, it’s not too difficult to understand why aggregate YoY spending trends collapse as old folks get older. The most wealthy retirees can only find so many ways to burn their massive nest eggs which means that, at least for these folks, YoY spending doesn’t grow but retirement balances do…while the overwhelming majority of people simply run out of cash and have to cut every corner possible to survive….

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Perfect irony.

Australia Needs Housing Slowdown for Stability on AAA – S&P (BBG)

Australia’s prized AAA rating will only rest on a firm footing once there’s a “meaningful moderation” in housing and credit, S&P Global Ratings said as it maintained a negative outlook on the country’s sovereign score. The country’s rating was affirmed by the credit assessor after the latest federal government budget projected a return to surplus by 2021, although S&P noted that revenue could disappoint and lawmakers may struggle to implement fiscal repair policies. It also highlighted risks stemming from Australia’s high level of external indebtedness. S&P has maintained a negative outlook on the country since last July when it issued a warning in the wake of a knife-edge federal election.

“The ratings could stabilize if we were to see a significant and sustained improvement in the medium-term budget outlook, leading to a return to a general government surplus,” S&P said in a statement Wednesday. “A stabilization of the ratings would also require a meaningful moderation of the credit and house price boom.” Home prices in Sydney and Melbourne have surged in the wake of unprecedented interest-rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia as the country navigates its way through the aftermath of a mining boom. Regulators have progressively tightened lending restrictions amid concerns about financial stability.

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Debt and Road.

Can China Afford Its Belt and Road? (Balding)

China’s just-completed conference touting its Belt and Road initiative certainly looked like a triumph, with Russian President Vladimir Putin playing the piano and Chinese leaders announcing a string of potential deals and massive financial pledges. Underneath all the heady talk about China positioning itself at the heart of a new global order, though, lies in uncomfortable question: Can it afford to do so? Such doubts might seem spurious, given the numbers being tossed around. China claims nearly $900 billion worth of deals are already underway, with estimates of future spending ranging from $4 trillion to $8 trillion, depending on which Chinese government agency is doing the talking. At the conference itself, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged another $78 billion for the effort, which envisions building infrastructure to link China to Europe through Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

From no other country in the world would such pledges be remotely plausible. Yet even for China, they’ll be difficult to fulfill without clashing with the country’s other objectives. The first question is what currency to use for all this lending. Denominating loans in renminbi would accelerate China’s stated goal of internationalizing its currency. But it would also force officials to tolerate higher levels of offshore renminbi trading and international price-setting. So far, they’ve shown little appetite for either. Additionally, countries along the Belt-and-Road route would need to run trade surpluses with China in order to generate the currency needed to repay such loans. In fact, as Bloomberg Intelligence economist Tom Orlik has noted, China ran a $250 billion surplus with Belt-and-Road countries in 2016.

It will be mathematically impossible for Sri Lanka and Pakistan to repay big yuan-denominated loans when they’re running trade deficits with China close to $2 billion and $9 billion, respectively. Financing projects in dollars is no panacea either. Unless China conducts U.S. dollar bond offerings to fund these investments, it’ll have to tap its official foreign-exchange reserves. Those now hover around $3 trillion. That sounds like a lot. But outside estimates suggest anywhere from a few hundred billion to nearly $1 trillion of that money is illiquid. China needs nearly $900 billion to cover short-term external debt and another $400 to $800 billion to cover imports for three to six months. Pouring additional billions into Central Asian infrastructure projects would only tie up money China needs to defend the yuan.

And, borrowers would need to run significant dollar surpluses in order to repay dollar-denominated loans. Obviously, not every country can do so, or undervalue its currency to try and build up a surplus. Beyond the specific mechanisms, it’s unclear whether China has the financial capacity to lend at these levels to borrowers of dubious creditworthiness. As French bank Natixis S.A. has noted, in order to finance $5 trillion in projects, China “would need to see growth rates of around 50% in cross-border lending.” This would wreak havoc on Chinese creditworthiness and raise external debt from a “very comfortable” level (around 12% of GDP) to “more than 50%” if China can’t bring in other lenders.

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Violence in a myriad forms is being normalized one step at a time.

Erdogan’s Bodyguards Beat Up US Protestors in DC After He Met With Trump (Qz)

“The relations between Turkey and the United States have been erected upon common democratic values and common interests.” That’s what Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a White House press conference with US president Donald Trump on Tuesday (May 16). But shortly after the event, Erdogan’s bodyguards proceeded to beat and kick people outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington DC. The altercation was captured on camera, and resulted in nine people being hurt, Voice of America said.

A photojournalist at the site said it seemed to be a pro-Turkey gathering at first, while some witnesses said the group outside the residence included a person carrying a flag of a Kurdish party in Syria allied with a militia the US plans to aid, over Turkey’s objections. [..] It’s not the first time Erdogan’s security has roughed up protesters on American soil. In 2016, the Washington Post reported clashes between protesters and the Turkish leader’s security detail. And in 2014, in New York, Turkish security threatened and pushed around journalists working for a newspaper perceived to be critical of Erdogan.

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This has been going on for years. And only know Brussels peeps.

EU Warns Turkey After It Violates Greek Airspace 141 Times In One Day (EuAct)

Turkish aeroplanes and helicopters illegally entered Greece’s airspace 141 times yesterday (15 May), the Hellenic National Defence General Staff reported. According to Greek press reports, 20 Turkish F-16, 5 CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft and 19 helicopters entered the Athens flight information region (FIR) without submitting a flight plan. In all cases, Turkish aircraft were identified and intercepted by Greek fighters, while in nine cases the interception process resulted in near combat situations. In addition, two Turkish missile boats entered Greek territorial waters off the southeast Aegean island of Agathonisi. The vessels, which were taking part in a maritime exercise code-named Denizkurdu (Seawolf), stayed in Greek territorial waters for about 20 minutes.

As Kathimerini journal reported, last month Agathonisi was described as a “Turkish island” by Turkey’s Minister of European Union Affairs Omer Celik. While the EU and the international community recognise the sovereignty of Greece over the Greek Aegean islands, Turkey has a list of issues regarding the delimitation of territorial waters, national airspace, exclusive zones, etc. Ankara also claims “grey zones” of undetermined sovereignty over a number of small islets, most notably the islets of Imia/Kardak. The serious incidents occurred just a few hours after the meeting of Greek premier Alexis Tsipras with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Beijing. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a strong communique saying that the incident “constitutes a flagrant violation of international law”.

“It is clear that there are forces in Turkey that do not want understanding and good neighbourly relations between the two countries,” the Greek ministry added. In the meantime, tensions between Ankara and Berlin also escalated. The German government is exploring the possibility of moving its troops out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base, which is crucial for the fight against ISIS, after a second German parliamentary delegation was prevented from visiting the Incirlik facility. German news agency dpa quoted Wolfgang Hellmich, the chairman of the Bundestag Defense Committee, as saying “we’re not going to be blackmailed” by the Ankara government.

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Another form of violence normalized. Abe is the proverbial nationalist.

Abe Divides Japan With Plan to Change Pacifist Constitution (BBG)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden rush to change the pacifist constitution that has defined Japan’s security policy since World War II risks eroding his popularity before an election due by the end of next year. This month, Abe proposed an amendment to recognize the existence of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces while maintaining Article 9, which renounces the right to war and prohibits land, sea and air forces. He wants the change to take effect by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics. Rewriting the constitution has been a longstanding goal of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, whose original members – including Abe’s grandfather, who was a prime minister – saw the document as a U.S. imposition that humiliated Japan after World War II.

For Abe, the timing appears opportune: not only are tensions high over North Korea, but his opponents are weak. Yet it also carries risks. The public is divided on changing the constitution, and even some members of his own party don’t support it. The issue could galvanize the opposition and potentially hurt Abe’s chances of becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. “It’s going to be very difficult for him to pull this off,” said Gerald Curtis, an emeritus professor of political science at Columbia University who is currently in Tokyo. “It will eat away at his support. Whether it eats away enough to threaten his third term – that’s unlikely.”

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Insanity rules.

NATO Builds Infrastructure for Permanent Presence Near Russia’s Borders (SCF)

A group of about 50 combat engineers based at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown were deployed to Latvia on April 29 as part of Operation Reassurance. The mission is to build a town for 500 soldiers. According to commanding officer Lt.-Col. Chris Cotton, the installation will have «everything you would expect in a small town, from its kitchen to its quarters, its electrical distribution system, water distribution system, internet, gym facilities that would allow people to survive over the long term in Latvia». Obviously, this is an element of vast infrastructure to provide for a long-term commitment. In early April, a US-led battle group of 1,350 soldiers for NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe arrived at its base near Orzysz in northeastern Poland.

It took place just a few days after a NATO-Russia Council meeting took place on March 30. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the talks with Moscow «frank» and «constructive». Then the usual song and dance followed under the slogan of Russian threat. British RAF fighters are scheduled to be stationed to Romania this May. In March the first of 800 UK troops arrived in Estonia supported by around 300 armed vehicles. Along with French and Danish forces they’ll be stationed there on what NATO leadership calls «rotational basis». In January, German and Belgian forces arrived in Lithuania near the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The UK leads the Estonia Battlegroup while other NATO members are deploying forces to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as part of the bloc’s Enhanced Forward Presence battalion.

All in all, 4,000 NATO troops with tanks, armored vehicles, air support, and high-tech intelligence centers deployed to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In accordance with the fiscal year 2017 European Reassurance Initiative budget proposal, the US Army is reopening or creating five equipment-storage sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and two locations in Germany. Last September, the service began to assemble more Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) for permanent storage in Europe. Those stocks will be sufficient for another armored brigade to fall in on. The rotating brigade will bring its own equipment. The move will add hundreds of the Army’s most advanced weapons systems to beef up the US European Command’s combat capability. It will also free up an entire brigade’s worth of weapons currently being used by US forces training on the continent to enable more American troops to be rushed in on short notice.

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The EU is an instrument for German, Dutch, French power and profits.

Eastern Europe Turns Its Back On Single Market (Pol.)

The EU’s newest members are the fiercest opponents of its single market. As with so many of the toughest fights in Brussels, it all boils down to farmers and food. Central Europeans say big Western European landowners and multinational supermarkets are wiping out their farmers and shopkeepers. Protecting smallholders from powerful investors like banks has leapt to the top of the political agenda. Eastern European governments have rolled out a complex web of new laws to stop foreigners buying out swaths of ultra-cheap farmland. The European Commission regards this new legislation in the former communist countries as an existential threat to the EU’s free flow of goods, people and capital — the single market, in short — and struck back with infringement cases intended to preserve its sanctity.

In Bulgaria, for example, the European Commission launched an infringement proceeding last year over a law that investors should be resident for more than five years before they can buy farmland. In Romania, Brussels objected this year to rules that supermarkets should source 51 percent of fresh produce from local suppliers. There has been no decision on either case. It is in Poland, the regional heavyweight, that the battle over respect for the single market is fought the hardest. Brussels has already ordered the authorities to halt a tax on the retail sector on the grounds it grants a selective advantage to small, local shops with a low turnover over big foreign-owned supermarkets. All eyes are now focusing on how the European Commission will react to a growing chorus of complaints in Poland over the rights of foreigners to buy farmland.

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The ‘safe zones’ notion in northern Libya blew up in their faces. So now they’re moving the empty idea to the south. Meanwhile, people keep drowning, and that serves Europe’s purposes.

Germany and Italy Want EU To Halt Migrants In Libya (EuO)

Italy and Germany are reportedly seeking an EU mission to stabilise Libya’s 5,000km southern border with neighbouring countries and curb migration. German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday (14 May) that the German interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, and his Italian counterpart, Marco Minniti, want the mission set up between Libya and Niger. The ministers sent a joint-letter last week to the European Commission, saying that an EU mission at the border between the two nations was needed “as soon as possible.” “The first months of this year have shown that our efforts up to this point have been insufficient. We must prevent hundreds of thousands of people who are in the hands of smugglers from risking their lives in Libya and the Mediterranean,” the letter states.

The letter, also seen by the French news agency AFP, says greater development and local support is needed for people living along the border. It also calls for “technical and financial support” to Libyan authorities. Abdulsalam Kajman, the vice president of the UN and EU-backed government seated in Tripoli, had also told Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper on Sunday that Libya was willing to launch patrols with the help of other countries. “If we don’t resolve southern Libya’s problems, we will not resolve the migrant issue,” he said. Kajman added that Italy was prepared to help train a new patrol guard for the task. The plans are part of a broader effort to prevent people from leaving Libya on boats towards the EU and crack down on migrant smugglers. The exodus from the coast has increased by over 44% – when compared to the same period last year – with some 45,000 people having disembarked between January and mid-May so far.

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