Apr 252022
 


Andy Warhol Ingrid Bergman 1984

 

US Announces New Military Aid To Ukraine After Blinken, Austin Visit (DW)
Putin Has ‘Lost Interest’ In Diplomacy (ZH)
NATO Provocation Looms in Ukraine (PK)
Where Will Azov Regroup? (George Webb)
Russia Investigates Media Report on British SAS Special Forces in Ukraine (R.)
EU Says Pay for Russian Gas in Euros to Avoid Breaching Sanctions (R.)
EU’s Borrell: Not Enough Support For Total Embargo On Russian Oil, Gas (R.)
Innate Immune Suppression By SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations (SD)
SARS-CoV-2 vAccination Can Elicit a CD8 T-cell Dominant Hepatitis (SD)
Trudeau Government Targets Grain Growers As Worst Emissions Offenders (TNC)
Ratcliffe: Still-classified Documents Will Blow Durham Inquiry Wide Open (WE)
Joe Biden Met With Hunter Biden Business Partner At The White House 19 Times (NYP)
Wikipedia Kills Entry for Hunter Biden’s Investment Company (Turley)
Are Democrats and Joe Biden Up To Their Old Election Tricks? (Devine)
Twitter Board ‘Seriously’ Starts Considering Musk’s Bid Offer (WG)

 

 

Genius IQ test:

fi yuo cna raed tihs yuo hvae a graet mnid too. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt. Yuo’er a gneius too.

Lvoe yuo, Kim

 

 

500,000 people

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Austin was on the board of Raytheon until recently…

US Announces New Military Aid To Ukraine After Blinken, Austin Visit (DW)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press conference following a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Russia has been “failing” when it came to its war aims in Ukraine, while Kyiv is “succeeding.” “Russia has sought as its principal aim to totally subjugate to totally subjugate Ukraine,” Blinken said. “That has failed.” Blinken said that Russia’s military was underperforming and its economy was “in shambles” due to sanctions and a mass “exodus” from the country. “A sovereign, independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin’s on the scene,” Blinken said, adding that US support for Ukraine will continue until Kyiv sees “final success.” Blinken said that Washington was committed to the return of American diplomats to Ukraine starting next week, and that US President Joe Biden intended to nominate a new ambassador to the country.

[..] The United States will provide Ukraine with $322 million in foreign military financing and has approved a $165 million sale of ammunition to the war-ravaged country. The announcement came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Sunday. It was the highest-level visit by an American delegation since the start of the war. The US officials also pledged further assistance worth $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries, with the $322 million earmarked specifically for Kyiv. The new money brings the total amount of US military assistance to Ukraine to $3.7 billion since the invasion, officials said. The two returned overland to Poland after their meeting. While Blinken was returning to Washington, Austin would head to Ramstein in Germany, for a meeting Tuesday of NATO defense ministers and other donor countries.

[..] The European Union is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports, the UK newspaper The Times reported. Quoting the European Commission’s executive vice president, Valdis Dombrovskis, the paper reported that the precise details of the oil sanctions had not yet been agreed but could include a gradual phasing-out of Russian oil or imposing tariffs on imports beyond a certain price cap. “We are working on a sixth sanctions package, and one of the issues we are considering is some form of an oil embargo. When we are imposing sanctions, we need to do so in a way that maximizes pressure on Russia while minimizing collateral damage on ourselves,” Dombrovskis said.

Read more …

The FT article cited tells me nothing about Putin, but a lot about FT. Not sure Tyler should present it in this way.

Putin Has ‘Lost Interest’ In Diplomacy (ZH)

Vladimir Putin is no longer open to diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine, which suggests he’s focusing on a ‘land-grab’ strategy instead, according to the Financial Times, citing three people briefed on conversations with the Russian President. The Russian president was said to have been seriously considering a peace deal in the wake of several battlefield setbacks last month. Early peace talks faltered following a meeting in Istanbul in late March, after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Kremlin of committing war crimes against civilians in Mariupol and Bucha. According to Putin, peace efforts were at a “dead end,” and was particularly upset over the sinking of the Russian Black Sea flagship, Moskva, according to two of FT’s sources.

“There was hope for a deal. Putin was going back and forth. He needs to find a way to come out of this a winner,” said one source, who added that when the Moskva sank, “Putin was against signing anything. [ . . . ] after the Moskva he doesn’t look like a winner, because it was humiliating.” According to a relatively new narrative, Putin has a ‘distorted’ view of the war due to his own generals, and Russian television, painting a victorious picture – which has led the Russian president to insist that civilians were not targeted during the attacks. “Putin sincerely believes in the nonsense he hears on [Russian] television and he wants to win big,” said one source.

Intermediaries such as Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, European Council president Charles Michel and billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich have been trying to convince Putin to meet Zelensky in hope they can break the deadlock. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have placed most other issues on the back burner while trying to thrash out a deal on guarantees for Kyiv’s security if it declares neutrality and abandons its drive to join Nato. But Putin told Michel in a call on Friday that the talks had run aground because Ukraine “put up a wall” and said it “was not the right time” to meet Zelensky, according to a person briefed on that conversation. -FT

Read more …

Expect it soon.

NATO Provocation Looms in Ukraine (PK)

Having lost to Moscow’s SMO — along with failed sanctions war — the empire of lies and NATO vassals intend to falsely accuse Russian forces of using chemical, biological and/or tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained the diabolical plot, saying: “Information by the Russian Defense Ministry published today clearly proves” the following: Hegemon USA “in close coordination with (its subservient) NATO (vassals) moved on to a final stage of plotting provocations in Ukraine which should convince the global community that ‘Russia is using poisonous combat substances and biological agents,’ ” adding: Initial plans to make Russia’s economy scream “didn’t work out.”

“Now (the empire of lies) is moving on to involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD)…” “If this happens, there will be uncountable victims.” “And each one of them (will be) on the conscience of (Biden regime) strategists in the White House, the State Department…the Pentagon, (the CIA), and on the conscience, if there is anything left of it, of their puppets in Kiev.” Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) explained the diabolical plot as follows, saying: The empire of lies prepared 3 scenarios: Most probable Scenario No. One: A false flag — what Merriam-Webster calls a “deliberate gross distortion of the truth used especially as a propaganda tactic.” Their use has been a US tradition since at least the mid-19th century. 9/11 was the mother of all US false flags to that time — until all things flu/covid way surpassed its pure evil intent with mass extermination in mind worldwide.

Scenario Two: “(C)overt use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in small volumes.” Least probable Scenario Three: “(O)vert use of (WMDs in) a combat area” with intent to produce mass combatant and civilian casualties. Developed, locked and loaded, Russia’s MOD has clear evidence of the plot, what could happen at any time anywhere in Ukraine where Russia’s SMO is ongoing. Zakharova also explained “shocking details of illegal cooperation between the US and (Kiev) in the field of creating bacteriological weapons” — what’s “been revealed to the world,” adding: “And (knowing the) inevitability detect(ing) their criminal activities,” the empire of lies “began to prepare in advance” to counter indisputable facts when revealed.

Read more …

“The key question now will be will the Russians find evidence of bioagents in the weapons cache.”

Where Will Azov Regroup? (George Webb)

When armies are out of ammunition, they usually flee or surrender. When they have a monstrous amount of ammunition, and they still flee, that means things aren’t going well. If you recall, I said Igor Kolomoisky’s Kramatorsk steel plant was the most likely forward operating base for the ethnic cleansing of the Dombas in the last eight years of war. Recently, I was a guest on Canadian television Justice TV where I stated the strategic capture point would be the forward base at Kramatorsk. I turned out to be exactly correct a week ago when the fight did indeed pivot to Kramtorsk. The gigantic ammunition depot was recently captured by the Russians near Kramatorsk soon after this strategic objective was taken. With no place to hide, there is no way to resupply without giving away the ammo dump.

Apparently, the Russian have suspected Balakliya as a weapons depot for a long time, hitting the same location in 2017. The key question now will be will the Russians find evidence of bioagents in the weapons cache. Barbara Cloutier of DTRA and General Cloutier of NATO were suspected of storing bioagents in Azovstal, the Ukrainian Billionaire Ahkmetov’s steel plan to the south. So far, no evidence of bioagents at Balakliya, but we will keep you posted on the Russian findings. We believe there are bioagents secrets still to be revealed in Ukraine with the Cloutiers and NATO. One thing we know for sure, is that top Azov Battalion leaders have fled the country, and they are going somewhere to regroup.

A3OB

Read more …

Is NATO getting involved directly?

Russia Investigates Media Report on British SAS Special Forces in Ukraine (R.)

Russia’s top state investigative body said on Saturday it was looking into a Russian media report alleging that sabotage experts from Britain’s SAS special forces have been deployed to western Ukraine. The Special Air Service is an elite military force trained to conduct special operations, surveillance and counter-terrorism. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on Saturday quoted a Russian security source as saying about 20 SAS members had been sent to the Lviv region. In a statement, the Investigative Committee said it would follow up the report that they had been sent in “to assist the Ukrainian special services in organizing sabotage on the territory of Ukraine.”


A spokesperson for the British Ministry of Defence said: “We do not comment on Special Forces.” Britain said it sent military trainers to Ukraine earlier this year to instruct local forces in using anti-tank weapons but the British government said on Feb. 17 – a week before Russia’s invasion – that it had pulled out all troops except those needed to protect its ambassador. It was not clear what steps the Investigative Committee planned to take in response to any SAS involvement in Ukraine. But the fact of the investigation into the possible presence of forces from a NATO country is significant, given that Russia has issued warnings to the West not to get in the way of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Read more …

From the top article: The European Union is preparing “smart sanctions” against Russian oil imports.

Is this the “smart” part of it?

EU Says Pay for Russian Gas in Euros to Avoid Breaching Sanctions (R.)

EU companies may be able to work around Russia’s demand to receive gas payments in roubles without breaching sanctions if they pay in euros or dollars which are then converted into the Russian currency, the European Commission said on Friday. The companies would also need to seek additional conditions on the transactions, such as a statement that they consider their contractual obligations complete once they have deposited the non-Russian currencies. Moscow has warned Europe it risks having gas supplies cut unless it pays in roubles. In March it issued a decree proposing that energy buyers open accounts at Gazprombank to make payments in euros or dollars, which would then be converted to roubles.

The Commission said companies should continue to pay the currency agreed in their contracts with Gazprom – 97% of which are in euros or dollars. “Companies with contracts stipulating payments in euros or dollars should not accede to Russian demands. This would be contrary to the sanctions in place,” a Commission spokesperson said. In an advisory document sent to member states on Thursday, the Commission said Russia’s proposal risked breaching EU sanctions since it would put the effective completion of the purchase – once the payments are converted to roubles – into the hands of the Russian authorities.

However, Moscow’s decree does not necessarily prevent a payment process that would comply with EU sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict, the Commission said. Brussels said in the document that there were options that could allow companies to continue lawfully paying for gas. “EU companies can ask their Russian counterparts to fulfil their contractual obligations in the same manner as before the adoption of the decree, i.e. by depositing the due amount in euros or dollars,” the document said.

Read more …

“Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing just over a quarter of EU oil imports in 2020..”

EU’s Borrell: Not Enough Support For Total Embargo On Russian Oil, Gas (R.)

There is insufficient support from European Union member states for a complete embargo or punitive tariff on Russian oil and gas imports, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell was quoted as saying by German newspaper Die Welt on Monday. “At the moment, we in the EU do not have a unified position on this question,” Borrell told the newspaper. Oil exports are the Kremlin’s main source of foreign currency and many within the EU have called for an end to oil payments because they effectively finance the war in Ukraine, which Russia calls a “special military operation”. Some EU countries are pushing for a sixth sanctions package on Russia and Brussels is preparing a full impact assessment of an oil ban as part of possible further measures.


Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing just over a quarter of EU oil imports in 2020, according to data from the bloc’s statistics office Eurostat. Borrell said the topic will be discussed at the next EU summit due at the end of next month and that he did not expect any decision on the matter before then. “A final proposal for an embargo on oil and gas is not yet on the table,” he said. The EU Commission will probably make proposals for a sixth package of sanctions to the member states this week, Die Welt said, without citing sources.

Read more …

“We believe a comprehensive risk/benefit assessment of the mRNA vaccines questions them as positive contributors to public health.”

Innate Immune Suppression By SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccinations (SD)

Abstract: The mRNA SARS-CoV-2 vaccines were brought to market in response to the public health crises of Covid-19. The utilization of mRNA vaccines in the context of infectious disease has no precedent. The many alterations in the vaccine mRNA hide the mRNA from cellular defenses and promote a longer biological half-life and high production of spike protein. However, the immune response to the vaccine is very different from that to a SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this paper, we present evidence that vaccination induces a profound impairment in type I interferon signaling, which has diverse adverse consequences to human health.


Immune cells that have taken up the vaccine nanoparticles release into circulation large numbers of exosomes containing spike protein along with critical microRNAs that induce a signaling response in recipient cells at distant sites. We also identify potential profound disturbances in regulatory control of protein synthesis and cancer surveillance. These disturbances potentially have a causal link to neurodegenerative disease, myocarditis, immune thrombocytopenia, Bell’s palsy, liver disease, impaired adaptive immunity, impaired DNA damage response and tumorigenesis. We show evidence from the VAERS database supporting our hypothesis. We believe a comprehensive risk/benefit assessment of the mRNA vaccines questions them as positive contributors to public health.

Read more …

Lots of reports of hepatitis in children (and others).

SARS-CoV-2 vAccination Can Elicit a CD8 T-cell Dominant Hepatitis (SD)

Background & Aims: Autoimmune hepatitis episodes have been described following SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination but their pathophysiology remains unclear. Here, we report the case of a 52-year-old male, presenting with bimodal episodes of acute hepatitis, each occurring 2-3 weeks after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination and sought to identify the underlying immune correlates. The patient received first oral budesonide, relapsed, but achieved remission under systemic steroids.

Methods: Imaging mass cytometry for spatial immune profiling was performed on liver biopsy tissue. Flow cytometry was performed to dissect CD8 T cell phenotypes and identify SARS-CoV-2-specific and EBV-specific T cells longitudinally. Vaccine-induced antibodies were determined by ELISA. Data was correlated with clinical labs.

Results: Analysis of the hepatic tissue revealed an immune infiltrate quantitatively dominated by activated cytotoxic CD8 T cells with panlobular distribution. An enrichment of CD4 T cells, B cells, plasma cells and myeloid cells was also observed compared to controls. The intrahepatic infiltrate showed enrichment for CD8 T cells with SARS-CoV-2-specificity compared to the peripheral blood. Notably, hepatitis severity correlated longitudinally with an activated cytotoxic phenotype of peripheral SARS-CoV-2-specific, but not EBV-specific CD8+ T cells or vaccine-induced immunoglobulins.

Conclusions: COVID19 vaccination can elicit a distinct T cell-dominant immune-mediated hepatitis with a unique pathomechanism associated with vaccination induced antigen-specific tissue-resident immunity requiring systemic immunosuppression.

Read more …

With world hunger predicted, impeccable timing.

Trudeau Government Targets Grain Growers As Worst Emissions Offenders (TNC)

A Trudeau government report is putting farmers next on the carbon emissions chopping block, using UN data that accuses Canadian grain growers of producing crops with the highest “emissions intensity” in the world. A new “discussion document” released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada titled “Reducing emissions arising from the application of fertilizer in Canada’s agriculture sector” singles out wheat, barley and other cereal producers for emission reductions. The report outlines a framework to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2020 climate plan target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the agriculture sector by 30% below 2020 levels within ten years.

“The fertilizer target’s objective is to contribute to lower GHG emissions from the agriculture sector, building on and leveraging public and private programs and initiatives,” Agriculture Canada writes. “The target applies to both direct (following fertilizer application) and indirect (from nitrogen leached from fields and volatilized to the atmosphere as ammonia) emissions from the application of fertilizer.” Agriculture Canada goes on to accuse cereal farmers of having “one of the highest levels of emissions intensity” among exporting countries. The claim refers to data gathered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that puts Canada at the top of the list. “Available data show that Canadian cereal production likely has one of the highest levels of emissions intensity (amount of GHGs emitted per unit of product) amongst major exporting countries,” Agriculture Canada claims.

“Canada’s emission intensity for cereals in 2017 is higher than those reported for the United States, the European Union and (other regions).” Industry leaders including President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Gunter Jochum have disputed the federal government’s claim about the greenhouse gas output of farmers. In an interview with True North, Jochum questioned the validity of the data, saying there has yet to be any reliable measurement of emissions on fertilizer use by farmers in Canada. “I would like to know where they got their facts from,” said Jochum. “I believe those facts were entirely made up because in Canada we don’t even have a baseline as to what the true emissions are.”

Read more …

“Durham has obtained only a single guilty plea..”

Ratcliffe: Still-classified Documents Will Blow Durham Inquiry Wide Open (WE)

A great deal more Russiagate intelligence remains shrouded from public view and will stun the nation, according to former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. The Trump-era spy chief expounded upon his expectation that there will be many more indictments in special counsel John Durham’s criminal inquiry into the origins and conduct of the Russia investigation. “I expect there to be a lot more indictments to be forthcoming from John Durham besides the ones that have trickled out so far. And that’s based upon documents, some of which — many of which are not yet declassified,” Ratcliffe said during a recent episode of the Charlie Kirk Show.

Ratcliffe, a former Republican congressman from Texas who oversaw the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies in the latter part of the Trump administration, announced in October 2020 that he had handed over nearly 1,000 pages of materials to the Justice Department to assist Durham, who is revealing more secrets as he takes people to court. Durham has two active prosecutions, including a case against the main source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s anti-Trump dossier and a case against former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, whose trial is scheduled to begin next month. Durham has obtained only a single guilty plea, which came from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who admitted to altering an email about a Trump campaign aide under government surveillance.

“The coordinated effort here that took place in 2016 was wide and broad. I think it involved folks in the Clinton campaign, in the Democratic national party, elected officials, media officials, folks that coordinated — intelligence community officials, and on down the line,” Ratcliffe said. “I’m not saying that every single one of those folks have criminal liability or exposure. I’m just saying this was a very coordinated effort and the more and more the public finds out about the things that I’ve seen that remain classified, they’ll be more and more appalled by those efforts in 2016.”

Read more …

“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings..”

Joe Biden Met With Hunter Biden Business Partner At The White House 19 Times (NYP)

Hunter Biden’s closest business partner made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015, including a sitdown with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the West Wing. Visitor logs from the White House of former President Barack Obama reviewed by The Post cast further doubt over Joe Biden’s claims that he knew nothing of his son’s dealings. Eric Schwerin met with Vice President Biden on November 17, 2010 in the West Wing, when he was the president of the since-dissolved investment fund Rosemont Seneca Partners. The logs also reveal that Schwerin met with various close aides of both Joe and Jill Biden at key moments in Hunter’s life when he was striking multi-million dollar deals in foreign countries, including China.


Yet President Biden has long insisted he had no involvement in his son’s foreign affairs. “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” he said in 2019. ”Not everyone gets to meet the Vice President of the United States in the White House. The press should be asking why Hunter Biden’s business associates — like Eric Schwerin — had that privilege and were given access to the Obama White House,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin). “This is additional evidence that Joe Biden lied when he said he never discussed Hunter’s foreign business dealings. It’s well past time for the corporate media to demand the truth from Joe Biden. The corruption of Biden Inc. must be exposed.” Of all Hunter Biden’s business associates, Schwerin had the most intimate access to the vice president’s personal finances.

Read more …

For pete’s sake!

Wikipedia Kills Entry for Hunter Biden’s Investment Company (Turley)

Wikipedia editors are under fire this week for removing the entry for Rosemont Seneca Partners, the investment company connected to Hunter Biden and his alleged multimillion dollar influence peddling schemes. The site bizarrely claimed that the company was “not notable.” The timing itself is notable given the new disclosure that Hunter Biden’s business partner, Eric Schwerin, made at least 19 visits to the White House and other official locations between 2009 and 2015. That included a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden despite Biden’s repeated claim that he knew nothing about his son’s business dealings. Schwerin was the president of Rosemont Seneca. Wikipedia has been accused of raw bias in removing the entry at a time when interest in the company is at its peak, including the possibility of an indictment of Hunter Biden over his financial dealings.

Rosemont Seneca is one of the most searched terms for those trying to understand the background on the Biden business operations. Yet, an editor known only as “Alex” wrote that the company was simply “not notable” — an absurd claim reminiscent of the recent claim by Atlantic Magazine’s writer Anne Applebaum that she did not cover the scandal because it simply was “not interesting.” Alex wrote: “This organization is only mentioned in connection with its famous founders, Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz.” That itself is an odd statement. It is mentioned as one of the key conduits of alleged influence peddling money. Alex added that “keeping it around” ran the risk of the page becoming “a magnet for conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden.”

Any Wikipedia page could be a magnet for conspiracy theories, including the page on Hunter Biden himself. The fact is that this is a real company with real dealings that are the subject of a real criminal investigation. Indeed, various Republican members have already pledged to conduct investigations into this and other companies if they secure either house of Congress after the midterm elections. So Wikipedia killed it just as a United States Attorney is drilling down on financial dealings of Hunter Biden, including money received from foreign sources through Rosemont Seneca. The bias in the reference to the “conspiracy theories” is glaring. While some clearly misstate the facts of the Hunter Biden dealings (on both sides of the controversy), the central role of the company in these dealings is no conspiracy theory.

Read more …

Seems a bit repetitive, perhaps, but there’s a “new” element. Mules. “True the Vote bought three trillion geo-location signals from cellphones that were near drop boxes and also near election nonprofits..”

Are Democrats and Joe Biden Up To Their Old Election Tricks? (Devine)

There were lots of ways Democrats tried to tilt the playing field in their favor, some more successfully than others. Their pals in Big Tech censoring The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop coverage before the election was one triumph. Now pesky evidence is starting to emerge of systematic schemes to subvert the electoral process — which must not be allowed to happen again if we are to restore faith in elections. The most compelling evidence to date has emerged in “2000 Mules,” the upcoming documentary by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who draws on research by election integrity group True The Vote to expose suspicious ballot harvesting.

Using cellphone geotracking and surveillance video, it shows a network of “mules” in battleground states busily collecting ballots from get-out-the-vote NGOs and stuffing them, a few at a time, into multiple drop boxes in the dead of night. The extent of the operation is jaw-dropping. True the Vote bought three trillion geo-location signals from cellphones that were near drop boxes and also near election nonprofits, from Oct. 1, 2020, through to the election on November 3. In Georgia the end date covered the Jan. 6, 2021, run-off. Then they went searching for “mules,” operatives who picked up ballots from election NGOs — such as Stacey Abrams’ outfit, “Fair Fight Action” — and then carried them to different drop boxes, depositing between three to 10 ballots in each box before moving to the next.

Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, chose the term “mule” because “it felt a lot like a cartel, it felt like trafficking . . . This is in its essence ballot trafficking . . . You have the collectors. You have the stash houses, which are the nonprofits. And then you have the mules that are doing the drops.” Data analyst Gregg Phillips set a threshold for each mule to visit at least 10 drop boxes within a defined area and at least five visits to one or more NGOs. For example, in the Atlanta-metro area they drew a line around 309 drop boxes and bought all the cellphone data of people that had been near those drop boxes and NGOs. That narrowed the search to 2,000 mules.

Then they went looking for public surveillance camera footage of those drop boxes. In all they found 4 million minutes across the country. The results are stunning. When a mule is matched with video, you can see the scheme come to life. A car pulls up at a drop box after midnight. A man gets out, looks around surreptitiously, approaches the box, stuffs in a handful of ballots and hightails it out of there. Then he goes to the next box, again and again. After Dec. 23, 2020, Phipps noticed mules in Georgia started wearing gloves. He pinpoints the change to an indictment for ballot stuffing handed up in Arizona on December 22. “The way the FBI nailed them was fingerprints.” After that, mules started wearing gloves.

Read more …

Shareholders complained. They fear losing billions.

Twitter Board ‘Seriously’ Starts Considering Musk’s Bid Offer (WG)

“Never say never,” they say. Well, it doesn’t take time for people to change their minds. Usually, the revelation of a new perspective does the trick. However, at times, external pressure triggers a stance flip. As a matter of fact, something similar has been happening in the Musk-Twitter saga. While it was initially perceived that Musk’s bid to acquire Twitter would not see sunlight, latest developments show that the doors remain to be wide open. Per recent reports, Twitter kicked off deal negotiations with Elon Musk on Sunday after he “wooed” many of the social media company’s shareholders with financing details on his $43 billion acquisition offer. In fact, per Wall Street Journal, they could finalize a deal as soon as this week itself.

Per Reuters, the company’s decision to engage with Musk does not essentially give the surety that it would accept his $54.20 per share bid. It just means that, the microblogging and social networking platform is now exploring whether or not a sale of the company to Musk is feasible on attractive terms. Well, it wouldn’t be wrong to claim that Musk is a people’s person. Time and again he has voiced out his opinion on n number of subjects on social media. Over the past few days, however, the Tesla exec has has been meeting Twitter shareholders, seeking support for his bid IRL. As a result, many shareholders have reached out to the company after Musk chalked out a detailed financing plan for his bid on Thursday and urged it not to let the opportunity for a deal slip away.


Per Reuters, Musk’s insistence that his bid for Twitter is his “best and final” has emerged as a hurdle in the deal negotiations. The report added, “Nevertheless, Twitter’s board has decided to engage with Musk to gather more information on his ability to complete the deal, and potentially get better terms… The company has not yet decided if it will explore a sale to put pressure on Musk to raise his bid” Here it is also worth noting that the social media giant wants to know more about any active investigations by regulators into Musk that could potentially be a risk to the deal. It is simultaneously also looking into whether regulators in any of the major markets it operates would object to Musk owning the company.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

Rednecks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mar 172022
 
 March 17, 2022  Posted by at 3:33 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


Botticelli The Calumny of Apelles 1495

 

 

Dr. D again: “Russia is going to crush the whole West. But that’s not Russia’s fault: the entire West is so rotten it’s barely been standing for decades now, and certainly since ’08.”

 

 

Dr. D: Coverage of the war in Ukraine is very spotty and polarized. The news has been shut off, universally censored in the West, and expelled within Russia and Ukraine. Nevertheless there has been much commentary on it, from The Atlantic, “Foreign Affairs”, CNN, BBC, as well as Wall Street and London traders, geopolitical historians and commentators, and others, but like birds, all following a similar flock with a similar turn. Robert Gore is one such article, and better than most, covering Alistair MacLeod’s “Inside and Outside Money”, the mentally-ill childishness of the West, and that regardless of events right now, the outcome is certainly more chaos. https://straightlinelogic.com/2022/03/16/bonfire-of-the-governments-by-robert-gore/

What’s interesting to me with even smart writers like Gore is that they can’t see the most fundamental background shift. To me, this takes some reading, but these authors have all done the reading and are better informed than myself. It’s not like they’re older or younger, and it’s not that they don’t know it. I’m sure in other articles they describe the fragility of Western Banking, debt-printing system. He does so to some extent within the article. Yet somehow Gore – and all the other articles I’ve read these last 4 weeks – miss the most basic item. They believe “Putin made a mistake” and this is not just knee-jerk propaganda, it’s “Our War”, “Ukraine is the 51st State” “Putin is bad M’kay” stuff. They really believe it. Either because of the West’s response, or because they see the West promising to Mujaheddin Ukraine with unlimited weapons and rubbing their fists in glee.

That certainly is the plan, and a good one. It worked in Afghanistan 40 years ago, even as it never worked at all in Syria last year. These NeoCons behind Nuland and Kagan are now all so old they probably didn’t notice and are proceeding anyway. However, none of their plans in Ukraine will happen for very simple reasons. In addition, Putin knows that was their plan for 10-20 years, as well as to take Ukraine and use it to attack and crush Russia going back to the CARTER administration, i.e. Brzezinski. I mean, really? For the love of Christmas, here? That is to say, Putin and the Russian thinkers happily take the West’s open, public, transparent, unchanging plan and figure out what items must be in place to successfully and safely respond to it. And although they are winning in Ukraine (what else? They have an army 3x their size) that’s not the Russian true field of battle. Nor the tactics the West expected. I don’t know why this is so hard to understand.

 

Normally, I’d say Russia thinks differently. They are half Eastern, half Western they say, and when interacting with Europe LOOK like a Europeans, but then respond softly and go around. This makes them appear weak to us even as they talk tough. Maybe that’s why we constantly think they’re bluffing, the way we would, when really Russia could hardly be more straightforward if they tried. Indeed Lavrov’s top complaint in Turkey last week, but going back years now is that he’s telling them directly how things are and what will happen and like goldfish the West, the media, forget a second later and cannot hear, reporting a different, unrelated thing they fabricated, writing what “he thinks” and “what he meant to do” using their Putin-telepathy.

It’s like this: Russia is going to crush the whole West. But that’s not Russia’s fault: the entire West is so rotten it’s barely been standing for decades now, and certainly since ’08. If not; well, Russia dies. They know this. But Russia will not die because they have been patient and careful and picked a time where the West is badly over leveraged and incredibly past their time. So yes, the West spent billions, possibly trillions at this point to subvert Ukraine and Russia had to respond to them, the West’s armed invasion and takeover of Ukraine, and that’s fine. It’s a ship you can see coming a mile away.

“Russia responds” means the West’s propaganda will kick in and they will want to start WWIII on them, a total war which Russia probably cannot survive the combined forces of all NATO countries worldwide. So that’s a consideration, and unlike the West, who wants war anyway? Like Britain, Russia essentially has one city, Moscow, and a war will erase it, so there is no reason to take that path.

Russia is not fighting a “war” they are not “fighting” in Ukraine, it’s merely a minor police action, and that’s the first of things the West doesn’t understand. They think all Russian attention is on Kiev. They wanted all Russian attention and invasion locked in Kiev, and the West was depending on all the camera shots of destruction and dead civilians. I don’t think Russia even wants Kiev, or they would make at least some attempt to approach it. 500 civilians killed I’m hearing? THAT’S NOT A WAR. It’s hardly a police action. Maybe they don’t understand war material in the 21st century, but Russia could have leveled Kiev an the other cities in under 30 minutes including all their 5 million people if they wanted. Russia’s attention is on the real war.

 

As the WHOLE WEST, that is, the Anglos running NATO, are fully engaged in attacking Russia and economically conquering it, as Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi say daily “Our War”, to safely stop the war Russia can only attack and disable the WHOLE WEST and NATO in return. Nothing else will do. It’s possible to detente at some point, freeze the conflict, but if the West does not fall, Russia is in danger and will be overrun. So they have to attack the West, a combined UK, Germany, Europe, and America. It appears they do not intend to do this using sabotage, attacks on rails and substations, EMPs. That would merely anger the U.S. for instance and galvanize a deeply reluctant population to support the war no one wants. It’s off the table. Instead, they are merely going around the whole West, in Eastern style.

What is the West? As Gore says, it’s a CONSUMER. Of everything. They print debt and consume things, net producing nothing. So Russia is passively embargoing them. That’s it. And with some help from China, that’s the whole plan. And it’s worse than that, Russia isn’t even trying to embargo the West. There is no need; the West is using the war to embargo themselves. This is the highest moral good, as Russia can remain completely clean of the matter, being the good guys, offering and having tried everything they could. When wheat, fertilizer, oil, metals, electric, are all shut off across Europe, citizens will ask their governments what happened. Those governments will point to Russia, but it will be no use: it will be plain to see that Russia was selling these life-giving goods to Europeans, and is still trying to sell them to Europe now. It was the European LEADERS, the bankers, billionaires, who refused to BUY them. This will not wash with a cold, hungry public.

The West is also LEVERAGED. In fact that is the key takeaway from the West, their power, and their Central Banks. They can win wars because they can produce more “gold”, that is, more “money” to throw at an ongoing conflict. But leverage goes both ways. On the way up, 10:1 gets you ten wins for a single ante, a golden goose. On the way down however, the removal of a single ante, one underlying asset, leads to a 10-fold loss. And the West is leveraged not 10:1 but 300:1 and more as Jeffrey Christian points out in a single market such as gold. But this is true as mortgages become MBS as in ‘08, in bond derivatives, in stock market margin levels, in credit cards, car loans, and everywhere else, right down to borrowing, that is, “leveraging,” to buy a cheeseburger and fries in Muncie, Indiana.

 

What is leverage? To borrow more than the value of your collateral. What is collateral? Real Stuff. But the West doesn’t make Real Stuff. The Real Stuff comes from others, and to an outsized level, from Russia. To a great extent, Russia is the collateral for the West. The prosperity of Germany, France, BP, Tesla’s Gigafactories, rest on Russian oil, gas, and aluminum. No gas or aluminum, no Gigafactory. No Gigafactory, no $1 Trillion dollar market cap. No $1T market cap, no 36,000 Dow. Poof. And that’s true of Volkswagen, Bosch, Bayer, Jaguar, and the banks that rest on them: DeutscheBank, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Lloyd’s. And the loss of those markets, companies, banks, would not leave New York standing. Morgan can hardly prosper if London, Hamburg and the commodity exchanges fail and stop trading as the LME did this week. They cannot make margins on the Russian banks and Russian trade they are no longer facilitating. They too will fall into a spiral of counter-leverage.

What is leverage? Let’s say the leverage at 300:1 makes NY and London appear 300x stronger than they actually are. So the end of that leverage makes them 300x weaker than they appear at present. And as we’ve said the bank leverage is what makes them able to field armies and pay for wars. So the end of leverage makes them UNable to field armies and pay for wars. Especially when they themselves refuse to receive all the raw commodity supplies that let them do so. In this structure they are planning to maintain a conflict with no coal, oil, gas, steel, aluminum, titanium, uranium, palladium, neon, and so on.

So what is Russia doing? Like all colonies, they are the raw material producer to the Imperium; the Empire, and the Empire’s Army. If, like America, they wish to rebel against that Empire, they will shut off the raw materials to the Empire, who then cannot run an effective army. This is why they behave as they do. They must go to Ukraine as Biden said in 1994, and as Biden insured with arms, arranged with his policy, and permitted in his words, saying as they did in Kuwait, a small incursion would not be met with force. And should the world remain as it does today, indeed the West would keep the conflict running indefinitely, bleed all of Russia, and kill all the Slavs, of which there are already too few.

 

But the world will NOT remain as it does today. In withdrawing, Russia has erased the collateral for the entire West and their banking system. As that echoes through the Western financial system there will be great disorder and disruptive bank and corporate failures. Likewise, they will not have commodities to re-build their own structure as they once did in 1930, or not for a long time. The West has positioned themselves to refuse to buy from Russia, come what may. For their part, and being a small country, Russia could not have withstood this lack of commerce, or at the least would have grown a lot weaker, too weak to resist more Western forays into their territory and sphere of influence. That is what took so long. But now, they will not have such a loss of commerce, as they merely sell all the same goods to China, weakening the West even more.

You see, if Europe doesn’t want, won’t accept raw goods, they get weaker of course. And also the opposite, where if China DOES get them, and at an enormous discount to today’s disruptive prices, obviously China will grow far stronger. How can Europe compete with $3,000 aluminum – or having no aluminum – when aluminum in China is $2,000? They already couldn’t compete before. How can Germany fill their factories with employees eating $20 wheat when China is well-fed and eating wheat at $9?

It’s the West that is going to bleed with the Mujaheddin, not Russia.

 

Going back to Ukraine, if the West wins, all is lost, nothing matters. However, if the West weakens due to worldwide shortages, hardships, banking failures, corporate bankruptcies, currency collapses, then they cannot arm Ukraine as they believe. They won’t have the time, money, or attention to do so. American soldiers will have to return home on a city bus, and not from palatial airfields. In any case, the 100,000 men America has there will be of little use with no food, no supplies, and no supply chain to back them. And if this is so, Ukraine will become Russian, or at least solidly within the Russian sphere of influence again, because will Ukrainians wish to eat, grow crops, have aluminum? Yes, and Russia will look prosperous compared to London at that time, with access to all Chinese goods while the West will not.

So why would you destroy Ukraine? Or even their people? It’s your own country, and your own people.

This is what the West doesn’t understand, as we are required to have a blitzkrieg, a Schwarzkopf rush to the great capital, a surrounding army destroying radio, electric, roads, water. Why would Russia ever do that? To win, they will have to “own” Ukraine or be merged with them in some way and would simply have to rebuild it. Same with the people. You need Ukrainians to be for Russia, not against it. So killing civilians – or even the valuable army – is strictly counter-productive. If it were possible, they would be best to harm nothing and kill no one, “The Art of War” writ large, but of course in war that is not possible. However, 500 civilian deaths in 4 weeks of modern war is as close as possible to killing no one, and demonstrates their goals and values.

This is the cause for the West to say Russia is “bogged down”, they’re losing. They’re not losing, they’re winning. They are saving the lives of fellow Russians, brother Slavs, while nevertheless gaining control of the country. And this without hardship, as the power is on in Kiev and elsewhere, and people are driving, shopping, and going to work. No unnecessary Ukrainians have been inconvenienced. The trains are running on time to Poland and elsewhere. Why would taking a fully intact country be considered a “loss”?

This is the situation we find ourselves in, and the Russians have been very clear about it. About their needs, their goals, their approach.

 

The West is being boycotted. They have embargoed themselves. They are a stark minority on planet earth, taking too much and making too little. The embargo they have placed on themselves will collapse their banking and financial system even as their manufacturers cannot function when lacking raw materials. They cannot rebuild for many years and will go hungry. They cannot prosecute a war in this state, and in any case the people are not in favor of it and will not let them. But there is good news! The West can behave honestly, buy from Russia again, and end their unnecessary war and their own hardship at any time. Both the realization, and the reversal may take some years however, and we’ve only just begun.

This is what Russia is doing, and why they aren’t worried about Ukraine.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

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

 

Apr 062015
 
 April 6, 2015  Posted by at 9:16 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


G.G. Bain ‘Casino Theater playing musical ‘The Little Whopper’, NY 1920

7 Unfounded Fears About An Exit From The Euro (Beppe Grillo)
Teachers Warn Of ‘Victorian’ Poverty Among Pupils (BBC)
Once Over $12 Trillion, the World’s Reserves Are Now Shrinking (Bloomberg)
How Criminals Built Capitalism (Bloomberg)
Greek Political Unrest And Deepening Crisis Fuel Talk Of Snap Election (Guar.)
Greek Economy Staring At Recession Again (Kathimerini)
What Happens If Greece Defaults On Its IMF Loans? (Telegraph)
Greece and IMF Hold Talks on Crucial Debt Payment (NY Times)
Varoufakis Meets Lagarde: ‘Greece Will Pay All Creditors Including IMF’ (GR)
How Much Of Brazil’s Economy Got Lost In Petrobras Scandal? (Forbes)
Petrobras Woes Reach Europe, US (Bloomberg)
Japan’s Wary Manufacturers Resist Abe’s Urge To Splurge (Reuters)
The Inbred Bernanke-Summers Debate On Secular Stagnation (Steve Keen)
Leader Of Ukraine Neo Nazi Right Sector Appointed As Army Advisor (Zero Hedge)
Eastern Ukraine Leaders Appeal To Merkel, Hollane To End Embargo (DW)
Saudi Arabia Rejects Russian UN All-Inclusive Arms Embargo on Yemen (RT)
Record Gasoline Output to Curb Biggest US Oil Glut in 85 Years (Bloomberg)
UK Law Changed To Force Nuclear Waste Dumps On Local Communities (Guardian)

Beppe is not just an entertainer.

7 Unfounded Fears About An Exit From The Euro (Beppe Grillo)

1) Mortgages – Mortgages will be converted into the new currency the day we exit the Euro. For anyone with a variable interest rate, this will still remain linked to the Euribor and thus it will remain stable. In relation to mortgages, Italians will benefit.

2) Inflation – Just think that the goods (home, car, telephone) that we want to buy will come down in price. If we don’t spend, the economy stagnates. This is what is happening today with deflation. A low level of inflation is thus necessary to keep the economy going. On the other hand, it mustn’t be too high to avoid devaluing our ability to spend. This won’t happen because Italian products will become more competitive than foreign products and the products that we are obliged to import from abroad (for example: crude oil) have a limited impact on the final price (for example: in the last year the value of the Euro has fallen by about 25% in relation to the dollar, but the high level of customs duties on petrol, has meant that the effect has not been apparent).

3) Current account – Your current account in Euro will be converted into the new currency. But, just even today, you can have a different currency in your bank account. You will still be able to do that after the exit from the Euro. So you could have dollars, Euro, pounds sterling, francs or a new currency.

4) Government bonds – 95% of Italian State bonds will be converted into the new currency (given that 95% are issued in accordance with Italian legislation and so they would inherit the national currency). The State will pay out on them and will issue them in the new currency. Given the low yields and the high risk that we already see right now, Italian State bonds are not a good buy for an Italian citizen.

5) Transition from the Euro to the lira – There’ll probably be a 1 to 1 conversion with the new currency and it will then probably devalue a bit. The effect on prices will probably be that they stay the same as today but they will be given in the new currency.

6) Increase in the price of petrol – The price of petrol is a false problem as most of the price (64%) is paid in taxes. International prices of crude oil and the exchange rate only relate to 26% of the price. If we also consider that the price of crude oil is at a record low right now, an exit from the Euro will surely be no problem from this point of view.

7) Imports: increase in the prices of imported products – This problem, that is particularly important for technology products, can only be resolved by investing in innovation after the destruction of companies like Olivetti and the downsizing of Telecom Italia. Innovation is the only way to develop the country. Staying in the Euro is not going to help. Throughout history, we have exported and traded with the countries nearest to us, but not because they have the Euro, simply because they are the closest and the geographic location has made it easier to trade with them ever since the time of the Roman Empire.

However, the value of exports going into the countries using the Euro, has being going down ever since we joined the Euro. Just in 2007, those accounted for 60%, and today that’s now down to less than 50%. The only areas where the value of our exports is growing is outside the Euro zone as can be seen from research into Italian exports: “emerging markets currently represent the biggest proportion of our exports, while the importance of the Euro area has seen a significant fall“.

Read more …

While Cameron is boasting this huge recovery.

Teachers Warn Of ‘Victorian’ Poverty Among Pupils (BBC)

Teachers say they are seeing “Victorian conditions” with pupils arriving at school hungry and not wearing the right clothes needed for the weather. The NASUWT teachers’ union says schools and teachers are increasingly having to deal with the consequences of poor housing and poverty. Teachers reported bringing in their own food to school to give to children. The Conservatives said the number of children in poverty had fallen by 300,000 under the coalition government. The Liberal Democrats said they had helped families by introducing free school meals for all infant children. Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow education secretary, warned of the “quiet indignity of poverty that can wreak havoc with a child’s confidence”. He said poverty was one of the “biggest barriers” to pupils achieving in school.

Claims about poverty in the school-age population will be heard at the NASUWT teachers’ union annual conference in Cardiff. The union asked members for their experiences and received almost 2,500 responses. It was not a representative sample of teachers, but among those replying more than two in three reported seeing pupils come to school hungry. “Children in 2015 should not be hungry and coming to school with no socks on and no coats – some children are living in Victorian conditions – in the inner cities,” said one unnamed teacher. Almost one in four of the teachers who responded said they had brought in food for pupils who were hungry, and an even higher proportion had seen the school feeding pupils.

More than three in four had seen pupils arriving at school with “inappropriate clothing” such as no socks or coats in bad weather. Similar numbers claimed that a bad diet meant that pupils were unable to concentrate on their work. More children were being sent home with letters about unpaid school meals and pupils who were sick were still being sent to school because parents could not afford to take time off work, claimed teachers. The comments from the survey suggest teachers felt that they were having to cope with the wider problems linked to family hardship, such as children living in temporary accommodation or relying on food banks.

Read more …

All about emerging markets. They’re going to be steamrollered.

Once Over $12 Trillion, the World’s Reserves Are Now Shrinking (Bloomberg)

The decade-long surge in foreign-currency reserves held by the world’s central banks is coming to an end. Global reserves declined to $11.6 trillion in March from a record $12.03 trillion in August 2014, halting a five-fold increase that began in 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While the drop may be overstated because the strengthening dollar reduced the value of other reserve currencies such as the euro, it still underlines a shift after central banks – with most of them located in developing nations like China and Russia – added an average $824 billion to reserves each year over past the decade. Beyond being emblematic of the dollar’s return to its role as the world’s undisputed dominant currency, the drop in reserves has several potential implications for global markets.

It could make it harder for emerging-market countries to boost their money supply and shore up faltering economic growth; it could add to declines in the euro; and it could damp demand for U.S. Treasury bonds. “It’s a big challenge for emerging markets,” Stephen Jen, a former IMF economist, said. They “now need more stimulus. The seed has been sowed for future volatility,” he said. Stripping out the effect from foreign-exchange fluctuations, Credit Suisse estimates that developing countries, which hold about two-thirds of global reserves, spent a net $54 billion of this stash in the fourth quarter, the most since the global financial crisis in 2008. China, the world’s largest reserve holder, together with commodity producers contributed to most of the declines, as central banks sold dollars to offset capital outflows and shore up their currencies.

A Bloomberg gauge of emerging-market currencies has lost 15% against the dollar over the past year. China cut its stockpile to $3.8 trillion in December from a peak of $4 trillion in June, central bank data show. Russia’s supply tumbled 25% over the past year to $361 billion in March, while Saudi Arabia, the third-largest holder after China and Japan, has burned through $10 billion in reserves since August to $721 billion. The trend is likely to continue as oil prices stay low and growth in emerging markets remains weak, reducing the dollar inflows that central banks used to build reserves, according to Deutsche Bank.

Such a development is detrimental to the euro, which had benefited from purchases in recent years by central banks seeking to diversify their reserves, according to George Saravelos at Deutsche Bank. The euro’s share of global reserves dropped to 22% in 2014, the lowest since 2002, while the dollar’s rose to a five-year high of 63%, the International Monetary Fund reported March 31. “The Middle East and China stand out as two regions that are likely to face ongoing pressures to run down reserves over the next few years,” Saravelos wrote in a note. The central banks there “need to sell euros,” he said.

Read more …

By a gut named Clive Crook, no less.

How Criminals Built Capitalism (Bloomberg)

Whenever buyers and sellers get together, opportunities to fleece the other guy arise. The history of markets is, in part, the history of lying, cheating and stealing — and of the effort down the years to fight commercial crime. In fact, the evolution of the modern economy owes more than you might think to these outlaws. That’s the theme of “Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance” by Ian Klaus. It’s a history of financial crimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries that traces a recurring sequence: new markets, new ways to cheat, new ways to transact and secure trust. As Klaus says, criminals helped build modern capitalism. And what a cast of characters.

Thomas Cochrane is my own favorite. (He was the model for Jack Aubrey in Patrick O’Brian’s “Master and Commander” novels.) Cochrane was an aristocrat and naval hero. At the height of his fame in 1814 he was put on trial for fraud. An associate had spread false rumors of Napoleon’s death, driving up the price of British government debt, and allowing Cochrane to avoid heavy losses on his investments. Cochrane complained (with good reason, in fact) that the trial was rigged, but he was found guilty and sent to prison. The story is fascinating in its own right, and the book points to its larger meaning. Cochrane, in a way, was convicted of conduct unbecoming a man of his position. Playing the markets, let alone cheating, was something a man of his status wasn’t supposed to do.

Trust resided in social standing. As the turbulent century went on, capitalism moved its frontier outward in every sense: It found new opportunities overseas; financial innovation accelerated; and buyers and sellers were ever more likely to be strangers, operating at a distance through intermediaries. These new kinds of transaction required new ways of securing trust. Social status diminished as a guarantee of good faith. In its place came, first, reputation (based on an established record of honest dealing) then verification (based on public and private records that vouched for the parties’ honesty). Successive scams and scandals pushed this evolution of trust along.

Gregor MacGregor and the mythical South American colony of Poyais (“the quintessential fraud of Britain’s first modern investment bubble,” Klaus calls it); Beaumont Smith and an exchequer bill forging operation of remarkable scope and duration; Walter Watts, insurance clerk, theatrical entrepreneur and fraudster; Harry Marks, journalist, newspaper proprietor and puffer of worthless stocks. On and on, these notorious figures altered the way the public thought about commercial trust, and spurred the changes that enabled the public to keep on trusting nonetheless.

Read more …

They’ll only do snap if the polls allow for it. Doesn’t look anywhere near.

Greek Political Unrest And Deepening Crisis Fuel Talk Of Snap Election (Guar.)

The worsening Greek debt crisis has reanimated talk within the ruling Syriza party of a snap general election if discussions with creditors fail, as the country faces a Thursday deadline to repay a €450m loan to the IMF. The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, was scheduled to hold informal talks with the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, in Washington DC on Sunday, while warnings of early elections underscored the political unrest in Athens. The slow pace of negotiations with creditors and worsening state of the Greek economy brought a warning from the far-left Syriza of snap polls being held before the summer – just months after winning power. “If we are not satisfied [with the outcome] we will go to the people,” Kostas Chrysogonos, a prominent Syriza MEP told local media at the weekend.

“We have a popular mandate to bring about a better result,” he said of the talks aimed at concluding a reform-for-cash programme to keep the crisis-hit country afloat. “If, ultimately, creditors insist on following an inflexible line … then the electoral body will have to assume its responsibilities.” Varoufakis’ unexpected meeting with the IMF chief has been arranged as senior government officials repeated assurances that Greece was not about to to default on its debt repayments. The deputy finance minister, Dimitris Mardas, said the IMF payment would be made and civil service wages would be paid. “There is money for the payment of salaries, pensions and whatever else is needed in the next week.”

The prospect of renewed political strife in Greece coincided with mounting dissent within Syriza over the extent to which it should roll back on pre-electoral reforms. The anti-austerity government led by Alexis Tsipras has found itself increasingly cornered with creditors – the so-called troika – refusing to endorse proposed reforms under an extension of its €240bn bailout. Militants led by energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis have ratcheted up the pressure by rejecting any notion of making necessary concessions starting with privatisations.

On Sunday, Lafazanis denounced Greece’s international creditors for treating the country with “unbelievable prejudice and as a colony”. Raising the prospect of a deal with Russia, he said, “A Greek-Russian agreement would help our country greatly in negotiations with lenders.” Despite assertions over the weekend that Sunday’s talks were part of the negotiation process, Athens is believed to harbour hopes that the IMF – which has proved to be a more conciliatory partner than either the EU or ECB in negotiations – will agree to cut the government some slack when Varoufakis discusses the reform programme with Lagarde. On Friday, Syriza’s parliamentary spokesman, Nikos Filis, also piled on the pressure saying Tsipras’ leftist-led coalition would prefer to pay salaries and pensions than bondholders if forced to make a choice.

Read more …

“The combination of a better-than-expected tax collection in March, the postponement of some budget expenditures and internal borrowing from some state entities and other sources made it possible for the government to pay both creditors and pensioners and civil servants last month.”

Greek Economy Staring At Recession Again (Kathimerini)

The Greek state may be able to service its debt and pay pensions and salaries to civil servants in April. However, the limited progress in negotiations between the government and the official creditors on the conclusion of the economic policy program increases uncertainty, reduces credit availability and adversely affects domestic demand despite less austerity. The economic damage has increased the risk of recession. The combination of a better-than-expected tax collection in March, the postponement of some budget expenditures and internal borrowing from some state entities and other sources made it possible for the government to pay both creditors and pensioners and civil servants last month. Greece paid an estimated €2.5 billion to the IMF and other creditors in March without including T-bills.

Assuming tax revenues remain on track and more general government entities lend part of their cash reserves to the state, we would expect Greece to be able to meet its obligations to creditors in April but it will face a tougher hurdle in May. It is reminded the state owes about 458 million euros to the IMF on April 9 and has to find an additional €700 million or so for T-bills maturing on April 14 which are held by international investors and most likely will not be rolled over. It will also have to pay €194 million to private bondholders on April 17 and €80 million to the ECB on April 20, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA). Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas, who is in charge of the General Accounting Office, assured recently that the state will make the payment to the IMF on time and pay wages to some civil servants in the middle of the month.

This contrasts with leaks in the press, citing other government officials’ warnings that Greece would run out of money on April 9. Although no one disputes that the central government is in a tough financial position, some abroad suspect these warnings are also part of a Greek strategy to get some funding from the EU via the EFSF or indirectly from the ECB. Even if Greece is able to overcome this hurdle in April, it will have to pass another test in early May, assuming it has not reached an agreement with its creditors by then. It will have to pay €200 million to the IMF on May 1 and an additional €763 million on May 12, according to a recent report by BofA.

Of course, the country has shown that it intends to honor its obligations so far and could be able to continue doing so in the rest of April and even May to the extent that it is able to mobilize the cash reserves of state entities, collect more revenues than targeted in the adjustment program and postpone expenditures to suppliers and others for the future, building arrears.

Read more …

This will take until at least June. “According to IMF protocol, Greece would be afforded a 30-day grace period..” They’ll pay on April 9. The next payments are May 1 and 12. Add 30 days to that. That’s when payments to other creditors are due.

What Happens If Greece Defaults On Its IMF Loans? (Telegraph)

The Greek government faces another crucial deadline in its interminable bail-out drama this week, as fears mount that the country could become the first developed nation to ever default on its international obligations. After a harrowing March, cash-strapped Athens now faces a €448m payment to the IMF on Thursday. But with public sector wages and pensions to pay out, a cacophony of voices on Syriza’s Left have vowed to prioritise domestic obligations unless creditors finally unlock the remainder of its €240bn bail-out programme. “We are a Left-wing government. If we have to choose between a default to the IMF or a default to our own people, it is a no-brainer,” a senior Greek official told The Telegraph last week.

The rhetoric is a far cry from February, when Greece’s finance minister pledged his government would “squeeze blood out of a stone” to meet its obligations to the Fund. Yanis Varoufakis will now spend Easter Sunday with IMF director Christine Lagarde in a bid to gain some leeway on the country’s reforms-for-cash programme. Greece owes €9.7bn to the IMF this year. Missing its latest installment in order to pay out its social security bill on April 14, would see the country fall into an arrears process, unprecedented for a developed world debtor. Although no nation has ever officially defaulted on its obligations in the post-Bretton Woods era, Greece would join an ignominious list of war-torn nations and international pariahs who have failed to pay back the Fund on time.

What happens after April 9? Missing Thursday’s payment would not immediately trigger a default however. According to IMF protocol, Greece would be afforded a 30-day grace period, during which it would be urged to pay back the money as soon as possible, and before Ms Lagarde notifies her executive board of the late payment. Following this hiatus, a technical default could be declared a month later, when “a complaint regarding the member’s overdue obligations is issued by the Managing Director to the Executive Board”. In the interim, Greece may well stump up the cash having spooked creditors and the markets of the possibility of a fatal breach of the sanctity of monetary union. Should no money be forthcoming however, the arrears process may well extend indefinitely. Greece’s IMF burden would also start piling up, with the government due to pay another €963m by May 12.

Read more …

Very predictable.

Greece and IMF Hold Talks on Crucial Debt Payment (NY Times)

Mr. Varoufakis, from the moment he became finance minister this year, has gone out of his way to cultivate ties with Ms. Lagarde and has said that paying the fund was a priority for Greece. Over the last month, however, the economic situation in Greece has worsened greatly. Deposits worth about €25 billion have been withdrawn from Greek banks, some of which are now on life support with the European Central Bank. The government’s tax collections are also suffering as companies and consumers fret over the prospect that Greece might be forced to abandon the euro. Now, with Europe refusing to permit Greece access to temporary lines of liquidity — such as letting its banks issue more short-term treasury notes — Greece is running out of cash.

Which means that if it were to pay the fund €458 million this Thursday, there might not be enough left in the coffers to pay pensions and public sector wages the next week, some Greek officials say. Mr. Varoufakis, who came to power on a platform of ending the policy of putting the needs of Greece’s creditors above its suffering citizens, was to make the case to Ms. Lagarde that his government could not meet all of its commitments. “This government has made strong statements that they will meet their commitments,” said a person who was involved in the negotiations but was not authorized to speak publicly. The problem is, this person said, Greek officials have made commitments to their own people as well. “They are being pushed to the wall.”

There is some wiggle room. Even if Greece does not pay up on Thursday, it will not be in technical default as there is a 30-day grace period that could allow the government to pay its pension and wage obligations and strike a broader deal so that its creditors could disburse the needed funds. Mr. Varoufakis is also planning to meet with officials in the United States Treasury on Monday in the hope that the United States, as the dominant voice at the I.M.F., might pressure fund officials, and Europe as well, to cut Greece some slack. The United States has been quietly critical of Europe’s harsh stance toward Greece, warning of the consequences that a Greek default and exit from the euro would have on financial markets.

Read more …

Hollow phrases exercise.

Varoufakis Meets Lagarde: ‘Greece Will Pay All Creditors Including IMF’ (GR)

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Greece will pay all its creditors, including the upcoming International Monetary Fund installment, as he was exiting a meeting with IMF managing director Cristine Lagarde in Washington, DC on Sunday April 5. Greece faces a deadline to repay a €450m loan to the International Monetary Fund on April 9th, and many sources had speculated that the crisis-hit country won’t be able to pay the installment. “Greece was a founding member of Bretton Woods institutions,” the Greek Finance Chief noted to reporters outside the IMF. Christine Lagarde made the following statement after the meeting: “Minister Varoufakis and I exchanged views on current developments and we both agreed that effective cooperation is in everyone’s interest. We noted that continuing uncertainty is not in Greece’s interest and I welcomed confirmation by the Minister that payment owing to the Fund would be forthcoming on April 9th.”

“I expressed my appreciation for the Minister’s commitment to improve the technical teams’ ability to work with the authorities to conduct the necessary due diligence in Athens, and to enhance the policy discussions with the teams in Brussels, both of which will resume promptly on Monday. I reiterated that the Fund remains committed to work together with the authorities to help Greece return to a sustainable path of growth and employment.” The Greek finance minister traveled to Washington, DC to hold an informal discussion on the Greek government’s reform program with the IMF’s managing director, Christine Lagarde. The Varoufakis-Lagarde meeting started at 6.15 pm on Sunday and lasted for two hours. The Greek Finance minister is also scheduled to meet with President Obama’s top economic and national security adviser Caroline Atkinson on Monday.

Read more …

Lowballing.

How Much Of Brazil’s Economy Got Lost In Petrobras Scandal? (Forbes)

A study out this week in Brazil estimates just how much the country lost to this ugly Petrobras oil scandal. The price tag: R$87 billion ($27.1 billion) that is expected to have been lost in GDP this year because of Petrobras’ corrupt, little ways. All told, that comes out to a little more than 1% of Brazil’s GDP burned up in scandal. Brazil’s GDP is about $2.2 trillion. The study was done by the Getulio Vargas Foundation. It based its estimates on Petrobras planned reduction in investments this year, which will hit oil and gas service firms, construction, engineering and consumer spending. Layoffs in construction will likely take at least R$13.6 billion from federal coffers this year. Two construction companies that colluded with Petrobras in the scandal, OAS and Galvao, have both filed for bankruptcy.

Construction companies are expected to reduce GDP by another R$10 billion, with the Foundation estimating a massive blood-letting in the job market, well into the thousands. Petrobras has yet to release earnings due to its third party auditors fearing repercussions if it signs off on phony accounts. So far, the market has April 30 as the date to discover just what Petrobras earned last year. But that can be delayed because shareholder lawsuits in New York have forced the Securities and Exchange Commission to review the earnings data before it is released to the market. The SEC will have their final say. At least three law firms have filed class action suits against the Brazilian oil giant. New York law firm Pomerantz is lead counsel on the case. Earnings will not include losses accrued from the scandal, the local Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported this week.

The newspaper also said that changes to the way auditors and regulators are reviewing Petrobras’ books might work in the oil firm’s favor. Last year, Deloitte said that Petrobras inflated its assets to the tune of R$88.6 billion. That number is expected to decline by at least half. Petrobras’ ex-CEO Maria Gracas Foster and her auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers are part of the shareholder lawsuit along with Brazilian bank Itau Unibanco. Estimates are for Brazil’s economy to contract by around 0.5% this year. “Brazil’s problems are all domestic and you can trace it to Petrobras,” says economist Alex Wolf at Standard Life Investments. “Consumer sentiment is down, unemployment is up slightly and investment is still down. We think Brazil is one of the most vulnerable emerging markets around.”

Read more …

“It’s a stark reversal from five years ago when a wave of European and US oil-services companies eagerly flocked to Brazil to build plants and set up offices.”

Petrobras Woes Reach Europe, US (Bloomberg)

When Italian oil services company Saipem spent $300 million at the start of the decade in Brazil, it joined a long list of foreign companies jockeying for business with Petrobras. Now it’s struggling to get paid. Saipem is one of at least five European companies that spoke about late payments, delivery delays or other difficulties in Brazil during fourth-quarter earnings calls. While day-to-day operations are functioning, Petrobras partners are also facing decision-making obstacles that are inhibiting planning, said officials at partners Galp Energia, BG Group and Repsol who asked not to be named. It’s a stark reversal from five years ago when a wave of European and US oil-services companies eagerly flocked to Brazil to build plants and set up offices.

Back then, Petrobras was ramping up investments to more than $100 million a day after making the Western Hemisphere’s biggest crude finds in decades. Today, Petrobras is slashing spending as oil prices plunge and it’s all but locked out of credit markets because of a sweeping corruption scandal. “Brazil’s a big market,” Terje Soerensen, CEO of Norwegian Siem Offshore, said in a telephone interview. “When that stops, it affects the entire industry.” Siem doesn’t know if the four to six vessels it had marked for Brazilian contracts will be needed now, Soerensen said. Saipem executives said in a February 16 earnings call that some payments from Petrobras were late. Norway’s Aker CEO Luis Araujo said in a March 17 interview that the company was asked to delay equipment deliveries.

Vallourec, a French oil-pipeline maker, and Alfa Laval, a Swedish oil industry engineering firm, also cited a difficult business environment in February conference calls. US oilfield-service providers Halliburton and Schlumberger echoed similar concerns. Halliburton sees activity continuing to decline in Brazil, President Jeff Miller said in a conference call earlier this year. The spending cuts Petrobras has announced will create “challenges” this year, Schlumberger CEO Paal Kibsgaard said.

Read more …

“But Japan’s bankers are laughing all the way to the…”

Japan’s Wary Manufacturers Resist Abe’s Urge To Splurge (Reuters)

Hirotoshi Ogura, a self-described “factory geek”, is Daikin Industries’ master of doing more with less – and part of the reason Japan’s recovery remains stuck in the slow lane. As Japan heads into the season of peak demand for room air-conditioners, Ogura and other Daikin managers have been tasked with figuring out how to boost output by some 20% at a plant in western Japan that six years ago the company had almost given up on as unprofitable. The wrinkle: they have no budget for new capital investment at the 45-year-old Kusatsu plant.

The still-evolving workaround shown to a recent visitor involves home-made robots for ferrying parts, experimental systems using gravity rather than electricity to power parts of the line, more temporary workers on seasonal contracts and dozens of steps to chip away at the 1.63 hours it takes to make a typical new air conditioner. “We can do a lot without spending anything,” says Ogura, a 33-year Daikin veteran who joined the company just after high school. “Anything we need, we first try to build ourselves.” Like Daikin, a number of Japanese manufacturers are shifting production back to Japan from China and elsewhere to take advantage of a weaker yen.

Rival Panasonic has pulled back some production of room air-conditioners, Sharp has brought back production of some refrigerators, and Canon has repatriated some output of high-end copiers, according to a list compiled by Nomura. But even as output recovers, Japanese companies remain cautious about new capital investment in factories and equipment. The trend is especially pronounced for smaller firms down the supply chain. After increasing capital spending by 6% in the just-completed fiscal year, small manufacturers plan a 14% decrease in the current year, according to the Bank of Japan’s quarterly survey released this week. Big manufacturers like Daikin plan a 5% increase, but overall investment remains 10% below pre-crisis 2007 levels.

Read more …

Economics and inbreeding.

The Inbred Bernanke-Summers Debate On Secular Stagnation (Steve Keen)

Ben Bernanke has recently started blogging (and tweeting), and his opening topics were why interest rates are so low around the world, and a critique of Larry Summers’ “secular stagnation” explanation for this phenomenon, and for persistent low growth since the financial crisis. Summers then replied to Bernanke’s argument, and a debate was on. So who is right: Bernanke who argues that the cause is a “global savings glut”, or Summers who argues that the cause is a slowdown in population growth, combined with a dearth of profitable investment opportunities, not only now but for the foreseeable future? I’d argue both of them, and neither simultaneously—both, because they can both point to empirical data that support their case; neither, because they are only putting forward explanations that are consistent with their largely shared view of how the economy works.

And the extent to which they are the product of a single way of thinking about the world simply cannot be exaggerated. It goes well beyond merely belonging to the same school of thought within economics (the “Neoclassical School” as opposed to the “Austrian”, “Post Keynesian”, “Marxist” etc.), or even the same sect within this school (“New Keynesian” as opposed to “New Classical”). Far beyond. They did their graduate training in the same economics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They attended the same macroeconomics class: Stanley Fisher’s course in monetary economics at MIT for graduate students (was it the same year—does anybody know?) Some of their fellow Fisher alumni included Ken Rogoff and Olivier Blanchard.

And that’s not all—far from it. Paul Samuelson (MIT) was overwhelming the intellectual architect of what most people these days think is Keynesian economics. Paul Samuelson is Larry Summers’ uncle. Samuelson’s “Foundations of Economic Analysis” was the core of the MIT approach to economics, and it became the model for economics textbooks around the world. Gregory Mankiw’s (PhD, MIT) market-dominating text today is a pale echo of Samuelson’s original. This group has been notably dismissive of other approaches to doing economics. Krugman (PhD MIT) leads the pack here, deriding views that are outside this mindset.

If I were describing a group of thoroughbred horses, alarm bells would already be ringing about a dangerous level of in-breeding. Sensible advice would be proffered about the need to inject new blood into this dangerously limited breeding pool. But the issue would only be of importance to the horseracing community. Instead I am talking about a set of individuals whose ideas have had enormous influence upon both the development of economic thought and the formation of economic policy around the globe for the last four decades. The fact that so much of the dominant approach to thinking about the economy emanates, not merely from such a limited perspective, but from such a limited and interconnected pool of people, should be serious cause for alarm – especially given how the world has fared under the influence of this thoroughbred group.

Read more …

Time to stop our support right here and now.

Leader Of Ukraine Neo Nazi Right Sector Appointed As Army Advisor (Zero Hedge)

With Greece on the verge of either getting kicked out of Europe or suffer through yet another government overhaul, one which many suggest may usher the “last” option for Greece, the ultra nationalist, neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party into governance, some wonder if it is not Europe’s ulterior intention to force a populist shift toward right wing, nationalist parties (perhaps best observed in France where Marine le Pen’s dramatic rise to power has left many dazed and confused) one which will lead to social instability and shortly thereafter, war (because in a world in which every Keynesian voodoo trick to revive the economy has failed, war is the last remaining outcome).

So while we await to see if Europe’s turn to ultra right wing movements accelerates in the coming months, we just learned of a very disturbing development in just as insolvent Ukraine, where moments ago the website of the local Ministry of Defense reported that Dmytro Yarosh, leader of Ukraine’s “Right Sector” political party, whose political ideology has been described as nationalist, ultranationalist, neofascist, right-wing, or far right, was just appointed as Advisor to Chief of General Staff. From the Ukraine ministry of defense:

Dmytro Yarosh appointed as Advisor to Chief of General Staff – Dmytro Yarosh, leader of ‘Pravyi Sector’ (Right Sector) political party, appointed as Advisor to Chief of General Staff. Yesterday, Colonel General Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of General Staff, and Dmytro Yarosh agreed the format of cooperation between ‘Pravyi Sector’ and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Colonel General Viktor Muzhenko stressed the Ukrainian army had become one of the strongest armies of Europe; the Ukrainian soldiers proved they knew how to fight and appreciated the contribution of volunteer battalions to defense of Ukraine and said: “We understand the needs of changes and increase of efficiency at all the army levels. We also consider various models of formation of the army reserve.

We are developing the reforms and will implement them. We gathered all the patriots and defenders of Ukraine under single leadership. The enemy understands our unity and that its attempts end in failure. We have one goal and the united Ukraine. The Army becomes stronger each week”. Dmytro Yarosh underlined the unity was the key precondition for further successful fighting and demonstrated the readiness to establish the cooperation and integration of volunteer battalions to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. ‘Pravyi Sector’ is ready to be subordinated to military leaders in issues related to defense of state from the external enemy.

In other words, the leader of Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis will, as a local “patriot and defender of Ukraine” be advising, i.e., fighting for, what little remains of Ukraine’s army. Sadly the parallels with Europe of the 1920s and 1930s, not to mention the decade just following, grow more visible with every passing day.

Read more …

“..the UN warned in December that Kyiv’s embargo might be a violation of its obligations to citizens in the rebel-held territory.”

Eastern Ukraine Leaders Appeal To Merkel, Hollande To End Embargo (DW)

Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky, the elected leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk, called for an end to Kyiv’s embargo on government services in eastern Ukraine on Saturday. In an open letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande, they asked the leaders who helped negotiate the ceasefire in Ukraine to use their “influence to encourage Ukrainian offices to begin paying out welfare services to Donbass residents once again.” The government in Kyiv placed an embargo on social services to the country’s eastern residents in November following what it deemed illegal elections that gave power to Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky.

Although the EU, the US and the UN also condemned the polls, the UN warned in December that Kyiv’s embargo might be a violation of its obligations to citizens in the rebel-held territory. “The fate for many [in those areas] may well be life-threatening,” the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.” Kyiv had not only ceased paying out pensions, but had also relocated hospitals, schools and prisons, leaving a what the UNHCHR described as a “severe protection gap.”

The open letter to Merkel and Hollande also pointed to numerous violations of a ceasefire, which was implemented in February. Both Kyiv and Donbass have blamed each other for not upholding the truce. Over the weekend, three soldiers were killed by a landmine near Donetsk. Those were the first deaths reported since Monday, when one soldier was killed. Fighting in the region has claimed roughly 6,000 lives since last spring.

Read more …

The whole world should speak up against this warfare. Where’s the US?

Saudi Arabia Rejects Russian UN All-Inclusive Arms Embargo on Yemen (RT)

Saudi Arabia has rejected Russia’s amendments to a Security Council draft resolution which would see an all-inclusive arms embargo on all parties in the Yemeni conflict, as it continues to spiral out of control with civilian death toll climbing up. “There is little point in putting an embargo on the whole country. It doesn’t make sense to punish everybody else for the behavior of one party that has been the aggressor in this situation,”Saudi Arabia’s representative to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said after a closed emergency UN Security Council meeting on Saturday. Al-Mouallimi added that he “hopes” Russia won’t resort to its veto power in case the all-inclusive embargo clause is not added into the draft submitted by the Gulf Cooperation Council that urges an arms embargo only on the Houthis.

At the same time, Riyadh agreed with Moscow’s calls for need of “humanitarian pauses” in the Saudi-led coalition’s air campaign in Yemen – though saying that Saudi Arabia already cooperates fully in this regard. “We always provided the necessary facilities for humanitarian assistance to be delivered,” Al-Mouallimi told reporter heading out of the meeting. “We have cooperated fully with all requests for evacuation.” Moscow convened an emergency meeting on a draft resolution demanding “regular and obligatory” breaks in air assaults against Houthi rebels, in which many civilians keep dying in increasing numbers. The Russian-proposed draft circulated on Saturday demanded “rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need.”

The current council president and Jordan’s Ambassador Dina Kawar said that the council members “need time” to consider the Russian draft resolution, adding that the talks would continue. “We hope that by Monday we can come up with something,” Kawar said. The 15-member council is considering the possibly of merging the Russian and Gulf Cooperation Council proposed drafts into one. The Security Council meeting coincided with the call from the International Committee of the Red Cross for a “humanitarian pause.” The NGO urged to break hostilities for at least 24 hours. “We urgently need an immediate halt to the fighting, to allow families in the worst affected areas, such as Aden, to venture out to get food and water, or to seek medical care,” said Robert Mardini, head of the ICRC’s operations in the Near and Middle East.

Read more …

As per these geniuses, Americans are going to drive like crazy. Storage problem? Just make gasoline! It’s the Forrest Gump approach.

Record Gasoline Output to Curb Biggest US Oil Glut in 85 Years (Bloomberg)

Refiners are poised to make gasoline at a record pace this year, keeping the biggest U.S. crude glut in more than 80 years from overflowing storage. They’re enjoying the best margins in two years as they finish seasonal maintenance of their plants before the summer driving season. They’ll increase output to meet consumer demand and they’ve added more than 100,000 barrels a day of capacity since last summer, when they processed the most oil on record. Booming crude production expanded inventories this year by 86 million barrels to 471 million, the highest level since 1930. Analysts from BofA to Goldman Sachs have said storage space may run out. What looks like an oversupply to banks is turning into an all-you-can-eat buffet for those making gasoline and diesel fuel.

“A lot of the excess crude we’ve been sitting on is going to get chewed up quickly,” Sam Davis at Wood Mackenzie, said in Houston April 2. “We’re going to move from a stock build to a stock draw.” Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have said storage builds are increasing the risk of breaching storage capacity, sending prices tumbling. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, already has lost more than half its value since June as growing U.S. shale production led to a global oversupply. Inventories surged as U.S. output rose 71% over the past five years as drillers used techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to tap previously inaccessible oil in shale rock layers.

In Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for WTI futures, supplies have more than tripled since early October to a record 58.9 million barrels. Last July, refiners processed 16.5 million barrels of crude a day, the highest level in monthly Energy Department data going back to 1961. Refining margins in March have averaged $28.09 a barrel, the most since March 2013. Refiners typically schedule maintenance shutdowns in the spring and fall, reducing oil demand during that time. U.S. refiners increased crude runs by an average 1.1 million barrels a day in April through July over the past five years. During that period, U.S. crude inventories have fallen an average of 24.7 million barrels from the end of May through September.

Read more …

Just lovely.

UK Law Changed To Force Nuclear Waste Dumps On Local Communities (Guardian)

Nuclear waste dumps can be imposed on local communities without their support under a new law rushed through in the final hours of parliament. Under the latest rules, the long search for a place to store Britain’s stockpile of 50 years’ worth of the most radioactive waste from power stations, weapons and medical use can be ended by bypassing local planning. Since last week, the sites are now officially considered “nationally significant infrastructure projects” and so will be chosen by the secretary of state for energy. He or she would get advice from the planning inspectorate, but would not be bound by the recommendation. Local councils and communities can object to details of the development but cannot stop it altogether.

The move went barely noticed as it was passed late on the day before parliament was prorogued for the general election, but has alarmed local objectors and anti-nuclear campaigners. Friends of the Earth’s planning advisor, Naomi Luhde-Thompson, said: “Communities will be rightly concerned about any attempts to foist a radioactive waste dump on them. We urgently need a long-term management plan for the radioactive waste we’ve already created, but decisions mustn’t be taken away from local people who have to live with the impacts.” Objectors worry that ministers are desperate to find a solution to the current radioactive waste problem to win public support to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Zac Goldsmith, one of the few government MPs who broke ranks to vote against the move, criticised the lack of public debate about such a “big” change. “Effectively it strips local authorities of the ability to stop waste being dumped in their communities,” he said. “If there had been a debate, there could have been a different outcome: most of the MPs who voted probably didn’t know what they were voting for.”

Read more …