Vincent van Gogh Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather 1882
It is very simple: if you’d ask most citizens of whichever EU country if they are willing to risk being unable to feed and heat their children in order to support Ukraine and Zelensky, they would say NO. Hell no! But that is what they’re all being pushed towards. Food prices look to at least double from here, after they’ve doubled once already, while energy prices are set to triple or worse. And there’s no logical reason for it.
This is not due to some inevitable market mechanism, it’s because the west decided to halt all Russian imports after the latter’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine. All western leaders found that reason enough to cut all, or nearly all, imports from Russia. Gas, oil, fertilizer, food. Essentials. They could have been sitting around a negotiating table, but chose not to. Which only works as long as things remain sort of affordable. And then, it does not.
Problem is, they had and have no alternative to the Russian supplies of these goods (and there’s many more). See, this is how we know they don’t make their own decisions. Those are made in Brussels and Davos, and then the “leaders” have to carry out the preconceived programs, and they will.
No elected official on his/her own would risk to destroy their own country’s energy or food safety, with elections coming up every few years. But their WEF/Davos connections have changed that “logic”. The WEF makes sure no western leader gets elected who is not a member of their club. There’s only one path to power these days.
But these people grossly underestimate the effect that hunger and cold -will- have on their citizens. The first signs of that are visible in the protests of truckers and farmers, but that’s just a start. You just wait till the cold sets in, and the running blackouts, and the hunger. Wait till people have to feed their kids scraps from a bare table in a cold dark home.
That’s when you will see who people really are. People in the west are overfed, and lazy, and not too sharp, but wait till their kids, and their families, are truly suffering. They’ve seen the example of the farmers and truckers. Wait for people to see the link between their own lives, and the farmers; then you will see who they really are.
“Leaders” like Trudeau and Rutte think they have this under control, that they can make the farmers do what their governments say they must, if need be with assistance from police or even the army. But you cannot send cops and soldiers against your farmers, because 1) they make your food, 2) the people support them, 3) they have a centuries-old democratic right to be farmers, and 4) they don’t take no sh*t for an answer.
This goes back 100s of years, much longer than the right of any politician to tell them what to do. The Dutch farmers on Friday told Rutte to prepare for the hardest actions yet, and they’re still not joking. My guess would be this time they will paralyze the country. Not because they are crazy; 10,000 of them would need to close shop if Rutte gets what he wants, and they won’t let that happen. Farmers will not idly stand by while their neighbor is forced out of business.
No, they are not crazy. They refuse to talk to Rutte, in a sign a of how much they trust him. He assigned a mediator, from his own political club, and all farmer org’s but one refused to talk to him too. The one that did, found the talk useless. Rutte wants the 10,000 scalps no matter what, but it’s just not going to happen. He is shown the limits of his power. Having been PM for 12 years, that’s a bit of a shock.
Obviously, this is all strongly connected to the past 2,5 years of measures and mandates and all. The political class got a taste of power that they did not have before, and got carried away. Well, they went too far this time. One telling number was that of US parents letting their youngest kids be vaxxed: what was it, 0.45%?! And 220 million adult Americans have either never been vaxxed or never boosted. No connection to the farmers? You wait and see.
The game is over. People’s patience with their politicians is ending. But the politicians themselves don’t see that; how could they when they censor all discontent and reports from doctors and scientists who don’t follow the “official” line? They’ve lost touch with the very world they’re supposed to represent. All they get to see is the info that is left after their own “norms” have censored the rest. They see only what they like to see.
In Europe, the Germans and Dutch will manage to be sort of OK, but only at the expense of poorer EU countries. And that won’t even be their main problem; that problem will be at home; their own farmers will come for them. And their poorest. Countries will leave the EU (and the euro). Hungary first to go?! In Greece, there’s already talk of rolling blackouts this winter, and they get most of their electricity from hydro. Italy is a shambles. How many present “leaders” will still be in place January 1 2023? How about June? After a winter of great discontent?
And they’re all telling you that “we” have to win in Ukraine first, and everything will be alright. But “we” have already lost in Ukraine, we did on February 24, and “we” should be talking to, and making peace with, Russia. Why are we not? Because we don’t want food and energy? The folks in Brussels and Davos will not be hungry and cold. But in other EU places they will be. And they will come to balance this thing out.
As for the US, I’m scared there too. Energy prices may not get as bad as in Europe, but food will be real bad (and how about housing?!). And there’s this fight between two factions going on, that starts to feel like what went on before the Civil War. I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it everywhere: Overreach.
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 with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.
The Government of Ukraine has issued a blacklist of individuals who they judge to be “promoting Russian propaganda” — including a number of prominent Western intellectuals. The “Center for Countering Disinformation,” established in 2021 under Volodymyr Zelensky and headed by former lawyer Polina Lysenko, sits within the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. Its Its stated aim is to detect and counter “propaganda” and “destructive disinformation” and to prevent the “manipulation of public opinion.” On July 14th it published on its website a list of politicians, academics, activists that are “promoting Russian propaganda” — including several high-profile Western intellectuals and politicians.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, military and geopolitical analyst Edward N. Luttwak, realist political scientist John Mearsheimer and heterodox journalist Glenn Greenwald were all included on the list. The list does not explain what the consequences are for anyone mentioned. The exact criteria for inclusion are also unclear, although next to each name the report lists the “pro Russian” opinions the individual promotes. For example, Edward Luttwak’s breach was to suggest that “referendums should be held in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”; Mearsheimer’s breach is recorded as him saying that “NATO has been in Ukraine since 2014” and that “NATO provoked Putin.”
[..] American political scientist and expert in international relations John Mearsheimer also told UnHerd how disappointed he was to be labelled in this way: “When I was a young boy, my mother taught me that when others can’t beat your arguments with facts and logic, they smear you. That is what is going on here. “I argue that it is clear from the available evidence that Russia invaded Ukraine because the United States and its European allies were determined to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border, which Moscow saw as an existential threat. Ukrainians of all persuasions reject my argument and instead blame Vladimir Putin, who is said to have been bent on conquering Ukraine and making it part of a greater Russia. “But there is no evidence in the public record to support that claim, which creates real problems for both Kyiv and the West. So how do they deal with me? The answer of course is to label me a Russian propagandist, which I am not.”
“Russia will take somewhere between a third and half the country and keep it. The parts that Russia is taking control of include the industrial nexus, the largest natural resource deposits and the most fertile land.”
Almost everything you heard about the war in Ukraine from U.S. media over the course of March, April and May was a lie. You heard that Putin was losing the war. You heard that Russians had poor training and low morale and were deserting in droves. You heard that Ukrainians were destroying Russian armor in large numbers to blunt the Russian advance. None of this was true. In fact, Russian troops have achieved major victories in Mariupol, Kherson, Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and other key targets that control rivers, ports and junctions in Ukraine. This article isn’t about strategy and I don’t want to get too deeply into the weeds, but Russia’s next targets are Slovyansk and Bakhmut, which will consolidate Russia’s control over the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
[..] What we know right now is the economic damage to the U.S. economy will get much worse before the economy gets better. Biden won’t stop the sanctions soon. That means the trashing of the U.S. economy will continue. Meanwhile, Russia is “temporarily” shutting down the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline to Germany for repairs. Of course, the temporary shutdown may become permanent. It’s just more proof that U.S.-led sanctions only hurt the U.S. and Europe, not Russia. Here’s another potentially dangerous side effect of the failed sanctions campaign against Russia: Economic sanctions may now facilitate war instead of preventing or stopping it. Why? Because U.S. sanctions on Russia are a complete failure.
Nations considering invasions that might have been deterred because of sanctions threats may now feel emboldened and that they can proceed with confidence. How this new dynamic plays out in hotspots like the Taiwan Strait remains to be seen. But it would be deeply ironic if sanctions actually encouraged China to move against Taiwan. These are the sorts of issues that should be thoroughly thought through before action is taken. But our political leaders are incapable of thinking even one move ahead. The U.S. has already committed about $56 billion to assist Ukraine, which will likely turn out to be a very poor investment. But American taxpayers might be fleeced even more… The prime minister of Ukraine has calmly asked an international conference for $750 billion of assistance to rebuild Ukraine after the war. Nice try.
There are a few problems with this. First of all, there will be no Ukraine to rebuild, at least not in its current form. Russia will take somewhere between a third and half the country and keep it. The parts that Russia is taking control of include the industrial nexus, the largest natural resource deposits and the most fertile land. Russia will be able to finance the reconstruction of their conquests using the very industrial capacity, mining and agricultural output they have captured. Russia will also control the ports and major rivers and will be able to tax the remainder of Ukraine for access. The gradual result will be a prosperous part of Ukraine controlled by Russia and a desperately poor part of Ukraine left to the corrupt oligarchs under Zelenskyy.
Europeans, and especially Germans, breathed a sigh of relief last Thursday when amid fears that Moscow would not restart flows along the Nord Stream 1 pipeline after its 10 day maintenance period, Putin turned the gas back on, if just to its pre-maintenance peak level of about 40% of maximum capacity Alas Europe’s muted celebration were not meant to last, and with many speculating that Russia was just waiting for the right opportunity to turn the screws on Germany, both literally and metaphorically, that’s precisely what happened moments ago when shortly after Siemens finally delivered transport documents for the controversial Nord Stream turbine that had been stuck in Canada for weeks, Gazprom unexpectedly announced it would halt one more Nord Stream turbine at its Portovaya compressor station from July 27, “taking into account the technical conditions of the engine,” the Russian company says in a statement.
This means that as had been whispered much of last week, gas flows from Portovaya will drop to as much as 33 million cubic meters per day from 7am Moscow time on July 27, which means flows along NS1 will decline by half, from 40% of capacity to just 20%. According to Bloomberg energy expert Javier Blas, with “Nord Stream 1 flowing at just 20% of capacity from July 27, Germany will NOT have enough natural gas to make it throughout the whole winter **unless big demand reductions are implemented**. Berlin will need to activate stage 3 of its gas.” Translation: unless Putin changes his mind, Germany is facing not just a freezing winter, but a bitter recession. Needless to say, Germany was not happy with the latest reminder who holds all the cards in Europe:
“GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTRY, ON ANNOUNCED REDUCTION IN NORD STREAM 1 GAS FLOWS, SAYS THERE IS NO TECHNICAL REASON FOR A REDUCTION IN SUPPLIES.” GERMAN ECONOMY MINISTRY, ON ANNOUNCED REDUCTION IN NORD STREAM 1 GAS FLOWS, SAYS THE SANCTIONS-RELATED CONDITIONS FOR APPROVAL OF DELIVERY OF THE TURBINE HAVE BEEN MET. Bloomberg’s Vanessa Dezem adds that while it is positive that Germany’s gas stock levels rose again – at least heading into today’s Gazprom news – the country is still far from a comfortable situation to cope with the winter. Levels are back on a “proper path,” according to Klaus Mueller, head of the agency known as BNetzA. But if Russian gas flows through the Nord Stream pipeline remain low, Germany will not be able to fill the reservoirs to 95% in November, as targeted by the government, the agency said in a statement. Without the necessary buffer, Germany’s energy security remains at risk and prices remain volatile, and sure enough, in kneejerk response, European (TTF) nat gas prices spiked 10% and are likely to keep rising…
The Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom has announced a drastic cut to gas deliveries through its main pipeline to Europe from Wednesday, prompting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to accuse Moscow of waging a “gas war”. The Russian gas export monopoly said it was halting the operation of one of the last two operating turbines due to the “technical condition of the engine”, cutting daily gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline to 33m cubic metres a day – about 20% of the pipeline’s capacity. “We are monitoring the situation very closely in close exchange with the federal network agency and the gas crisis team,” the German economy ministry said in a statement on Monday after Gazprom’s announcement. “According to our information, there is no technical reason for a reduction in deliveries.”
Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address on Monday, said the move was deliberate and urged the European Union to agree tougher sanctions against Russia. “All this is done by Russia on purpose to make it as difficult as possible for Europeans to prepare for winter. And this is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe,” he said. Moscow’s “gas blackmail of Europe” represented “an incentive for the EU’s eighth sanctions package to be significantly stronger,” he said. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline resumed pumping last week, after a 10-day maintenance break, but the European Commission has warned that a complete gas shut down by Russia is likely The announcement came as EU governments sparred over a plan for a 15% gas savings target intended to avoid a winter crisis if the Kremlin turns off the taps to Europe. The EU’s goal is to use less gas now to build storage for winter.
The EU executive last week accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon” and called on 27 member states to accept a voluntary 15% gas savings target, which could become mandatory if Brussels declares a supply emergency. [..] Spain’s deputy prime minister Teresa Ribera said last week her country was being asked to make a “disproportionate sacrifice”, as she pointed to investments her country had made on liquefied natural gas infrastructure, costs that had fallen on Spanish companies and consumers, she said. “Unlike other countries, we Spaniards have not lived beyond our means from an energy point of view,” Ribera said in unusually pointed comments. Portugal was “totally against” the proposals its energy minister, João Galamba, told local media last week, saying they did not address the needs of Spain or Portugal, which have little gas interconnection with the rest of Europe.
The Iberian countries are also using more gas to generate electricity because a fierce drought has reduced hydropower production. Greece also opposes the 15% EU-wide target, which it argues overburdens its economy and consumers. Meanwhile, Poland has raised concerns about its energy security. A Polish official said Warsaw would “not agree to any solutions that may lead to the use of Polish natural gas reserves for the needs of other member states”. France, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were among the countries that opposed giving the commission the power to declare a supply emergency. Instead it is proposed that EU member states make that critical decision.
Russian state energy major Gazprom has received documentation from German industrial giant Siemens, allowing the return of a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, business daily Kommersant reported on Sunday. The paperwork will first need to be amended, due to sanctions-related changes in the original agreement between Gazprom and Canada, the business daily writes. According to the existing contract, Gazprom was supposed to collect the item from Canada after repairs, but when Ottawa imposed sanctions on the Russian company, this became impossible. Siemens then agreed to ship the turbine to Russia via Germany, but the export documentation was not adjusted accordingly, Kommersant explains, adding that it was unable to obtain comments on the matter from either company.
Paperwork discrepancies already led to the turbine, which is currently in Germany, to miss a planned ferry trip to Russia via Finland on Saturday. According to Kommersant, the equipment can be sent to Russia in the middle of this week, if Gazprom provides the necessary customs declarations. Gazprom blamed the turbine’s delayed return for a 60% reduction in its gas supplies to the EU last month. According to Kommersant, however, the return of the equipment may not help Gazprom increase export volumes to their former level, as several more turbines at the Nord Stream pumping station are in need of repairs. The current license allows Siemens Energy to accept five more turbines before the end of 2024.
Gazprom resumed its gas deliveries to Germany at 40% of capacity last week after the completion of annual maintenance on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, despite widespread fears in the EU that gas the flow would not be resumed, for political reasons. Russia has repeatedly insisted that it honors all its obligations to customers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s temporary shutdown of the NordStream 1 pipeline in July sent gas prices soaring and Germany bracing for permanent energy insecurity. While the U.S. has invested heavily in Europe’s defenses as a counter to Russia, Germany could still lose out to Russia on economic terms. The U.S. made Germany a cornerstone of its European defense, investing billions of dollars and thousands of troops to man the front lines of the Cold War against Russia over previous decades, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation. But Germany’s botched transition to renewable energy sources has given Russia, which controls a third of Germany’s gas imports according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the power to cripple Germany’s economy and expose it to a brutal winter.
“Foolish decisions by the German government have made the country hostage to Russia,” Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment, told the DCNF. “Germany’s energy transition to green energy has been an incredibly expensive disaster.” After Germany joined its Western allies in levying sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Putin cut gas flows to Europe. Germany’s economy crumbled from the lack of access to cheap energy, sending it scrambling for alternatives, like coal and nuclear, it previously spurned. If Russian gas flows stop, Germany could lose up to 5% of its GDP in 2022, with losses deepening in 2023 and 2024, according to the IMF. Failure to find a substitute for Russian gas could lead to “people freezing to death next winter, as well as industrial collapse,” Ebell said.
Germany has been reliant on Russian energy for decades, since the West German government shared its knowledge of industrial production with the former USSR in exchange for natural gas, Peter Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, explained to the DCNF. Former U.S. President Donald Trump had warned Germany against overreliance on Russian energy at a UN General Assembly meeting in 2018. The German delegation present mocked him. Former chancellor Angela Merkel, known as the “climate chancellor” for her focus on reducing emissions, decided to shift away from nuclear energy in 2021, Reuters reported. Critics said this would sabotage Germany’s efforts to transition away from natural gas from Russia.
Since the battlefield action in Ukraine has slowed down a tad as Russia has been rotating troops and allegedly moving in more materiel, the big news story has been the UN success in consummating two deals. The one much talked about is coming up with a process for getting grain supposedly stuck in the Ukraine ports shipped out. The text for “Initiative for the Safe Transportation of Grain and Food Products from Ukrainian Ports” is embedded at the end of this post. The second agreement, which has gotten very little attention, is that of the UN committing to “facilitate the unimpeded exports to world markets of Russian food and fertilizer.” This goes well beyond the process established for transport of grain out of Ukraine. To work, several elements of the current sanctions against Russia and Belarus would need to be unwound.
Since as we will explain, we doubt this will happen to the degree needed. If so, Russia will have succeeded in firmly establishing that blame for hunger resulting from reduced shipments of its fertilizer and food will lay squarely with the so-called Collective West. More generally, these two agreements illustrate the fix that the US, Europe, and their Asian allies have gotten themselves into, by throwing massive economic sanctions at a country that is a major player in way too many commodities they can’t live without, from oil and gas to aluminum, titanium, neon, wheat…to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers. They believed they could break Russia’s economy and use the resulting chaos to resume 1990s-style looting, either by splitting up the country or installing Yeltsin 2.0.
Instead, Russia is recovering from the sanctions body blow, although some sectors like auto parts are still in a great deal of pain, while the difficulties the West is experiencing, particularly politically destabilizing inflation in food and fuel, and potentially even shortages, are set to get worse. So far, the sanctions bosses have been unwilling to roll back their programs, no matter how clear it becomes that they are hurting the US and its allies more than Russia. Instead, the West remains firmly committed to trying to increase the Russia punishments, even when they’ve run out of measures that have any teeth, as the EU’s new, seventh round of sanctions shows. And the sanctions cheating they’ve allowed hasn’t done much to mitigate the damage. For instance, Europe playing along with Poland’s posturing that it isn’t buying Russian gas has just hurt Europe. Poland is buying Russian gas, laundered through Germany, backflowed through the Yamal-Europe pipeline.
But Russia reduced Europe’s supply to reflect Poland no longer making direct purchases, so Europe is having to make do with less gas. Similarly, who is kidding whom with Russia selling discounted oil to India, which then makes its way back to buyers in Europe that pretend they are on a Russian oil fast? One of the big issues is that the US and its allies have made the anti-Russia programming so loud and pervasive that they are now caught in their own narrative. They would perceive it as too much of a loss of face to roll back sanctions, even counterproductive ones. And they’ve made companies correctly afraid of being seen as giving succor to the enemy. They worry that they are exposed not just to secondary sanctions but also to reputational damage. That is why, for instance, so many Western companies pulled out of Russia right after the special military operation started even though most weren’t required by sanctions to do so.
Russia appears to have reversed course, with the country’s top diplomat now saying that Moscow’s overarching goal is to topple the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as Russian artillery barrages and air strikes continue to pummel cities across Ukraine. The remark from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov comes amid Ukraine’s efforts to resume grain exports from its Black Sea ports, something that would help ease global food shortages, under a new deal tested by a Russian strike on Odesa over the weekend. Speaking to envoys at an Arab League summit in Cairo late Sunday, Lavrov said Moscow is determined to help Ukrainians “liberate themselves from the burden of this absolutely unacceptable regime.”
Lavrov accused Kiev and “its Western allies” of spouting propaganda intended to ensure that Ukraine “becomes the eternal enemy of Russia.” “Russian and Ukrainian people would continue to live together, we will certainly help Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” he said. Lavrov’s remarks contrasted sharply with the Kremlin’s line early in the war, when Russian officials repeatedly emphasized that they weren’t seeking to overthrow Zelensky’s government. Lavrov argued that Russia was ready to negotiate a deal to end hostilities in March when Kyiv changed tack and declared its intention to rout Russia on the battlefield, adding that the West has encouraged Ukraine to keep fighting. “The West insists that Ukraine must not start negotiations until Russia is defeated on the battlefield,” Lavrov said.
It was not yet clear when grain shipments would resume following Russia and Ukraine signing identical agreements with the United Nations and Turkey on Friday in Istanbul. The deals are aimed at clearing the way for the shipment of millions of tons of desperately needed Ukrainian grain, as well as the export of Russian grain and fertilizer. The Kremlin insisted Monday that the attack on the port of Odesa over the weekend targeted military assets and would not affect grain shipping. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the strike had to do “exclusively with the military infrastructure.” “This is in no way related to the infrastructure involved in fulfilling the agreements and exporting grain. So this can’t and shouldn’t affect the start of the shipment process in any way,” Peskov said.
Throughout history many times natural or manmade disasters led to food insecurities for longer periods of time, resulting in hunger, malnutrition (undernourishment) and mortality. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. Since the global pandemic began, access to food estimates show that food insecurity has likely doubled, if not tripled in some places around the world. Moreover, during the pandemic, global hunger rose to 150 million and is now affecting 828 million people, with 46 million at the brink of starvation facing emergency levels of hunger or worse. In the hardest hit places, this means famine or famine-like conditions. At least 45 million children are suffering from wasting, which is the most visible and severe form of malnutrition, and potentially life-threatening.
With global prices of food and fertilizers already reaching worrying highs, the continuing impacts of the pandemic, the political forces to realize climate change goals and the Russia-Ukraine war raise serious concerns for food security both in the short and the long term. The world is facing a further spike in food shortages, pushing more families worldwide at risk for severe malnutrition. Those communities which survived former crises are left more vulnerable to a new shock than before and will accumulate the effects, diving into famine (acute starvation and a sharp increase in mortality). Furthermore, growth of economies and development of nations are currently slowing down due to a lack of workforce due to a sharp decrease in well-being and higher mortality rates.
In the wake of new nitrogen limits that require farmers to radically curb their nitrogen emissions by up to 70 percent in the next eight years, tens of thousands of Dutch farmers have risen in protest against the government. Farmers will be forced to use less fertilizer and even to reduce the number of their livestock, in some cases up to 95%. For smaller family-owned farms it will be impossible to reach these goals. Many will be forced to shutter, including people whose families have been farming for up to eight generations. Moreover, a significant decrease and limitations of Dutch farmers will have huge repercussions for the global food supply chain. The Netherlands is the world’s second largest agricultural exporter after the United States. Still, the Dutch government pursues their agenda on Climate Change while there is currently no law to support the implementation, while they will not change much in the planet’s major air pollution.
“..this time the Left will be pro-war and the Party of Chaos will send out its ragtag army of Antifa trannies to make the street protests bloodier. It will be seen for what it is: the ruling regime’s war on its own people. And it will be overcome.”
In keeping with the principles of mass formation psychosis, the maliciously insane people in charge of our nation’s affairs will expect you to swallow ever-greater absurdities to maintain their control (and protect themselves). But we’re way beyond the “women-with-penises” stage of the mind-fuckery program. Nobody with a functioning brain believes that bullshit anymore — except the people who run the California prison system. Next up, apparently, is a hot little war with Russia or China, a useful distraction from the systematic self-dismantling of Western Civ.
“Joe Biden” has sent troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to Europe, supposedly to “train” the NATO forces of Euroland. Is this some kind of bluff? Or does “Joe Biden” and Company imagine that they’ll pull off some blitzkrieg counter-offensive on-the-ground in Ukraine and recapture territory secured by Russia painfully since February? If we send troops into Ukraine proper, it would amount to a deliberate sacrifice of our supposedly best soldiers in a meat-grinder. Maybe the purpose is simply to further weaken the US military, humiliate NATO, and hasten the death of the West.
Of course, we have no real strategic national interest in Ukraine. We had no quarrel all the years that the Russian Soviets owned and operated it. We set in motion the current conflict by cooking up the 2014 color revolution. (There followed the fat years for Hunter Biden converting US aid money into revenue for his many shell corporations.) I doubt that a plurality of Americans will fall for another such stupid Hate Russia ploy. We’ve had enough pointless and costly foreign misadventures. This would be a war exceeding the unpopularity of Vietnam and could easily unleash widespread street protests. Only this time the Left will be pro-war and the Party of Chaos will send out its ragtag army of Antifa trannies to make the street protests bloodier. It will be seen for what it is: the ruling regime’s war on its own people. And it will be overcome.
Preliminary probes have found that more than 200 members of the Ukrainian military have been involved in “crimes against the peace and security of mankind,” the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee said on Monday. A total of 92 commanders and subordinates have already been charged with the offenses, he revealed. More than 1,300 criminal cases, involving over 400 individuals, have been launched over violations committed by the Ukrainian side since the start of Russia’s military operation on February 24, Alexander Bastrykin told newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
According to the Investigative Committee chief, it had already been established that more than 220 suspects, “including representatives of the high command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and commanders of military units which fired at civilians, had been involved in crimes against the peace and security of mankind, which don’t have a statute of limitations.” Charges have been filed against 92 Ukrainian commanders and subordinates to date, with 96 suspects being placed on the wanted list, he added. “There can be no justification for the use of force by the Ukrainian nationalists,” Bastrykin insisted. “They are intensively shelling the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. They brutally and cynically target peaceful citizens, civilian infrastructure, including children’s institutions.”
He also accused the Ukrainian forces of having struck their own territory “in order to blame the Russian military for this.” During the conflict, Moscow has insisted that its troops never target civilians, only striking Ukrainian forces and military infrastructure. More than 7,000 civilian facilities have been destroyed in attacks by the Ukrainian side, including homes, schools and kindergartens, with over 91,000 people being designated as victims, the Investigative Committee chief said. Criminal cases have also been launched against citizens of the UK, the US, Canada, Georgia and the Netherlands for their involvement in the conflict as mercenaries, while Ukrainian nationalist units have been accused of torturing Russian POWs, attacking Russian embassies in foreign countries, and other acts, he said.
Greece will extend subsidies to power bills at a cost of more than 1.1 billion euros in August to support households and businesses amid a spike in energy prices, Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said on Monday. Final consumer prices for electricity are expected to be set at 15-17 cents per kilowatt-hour in August, according to the minister’s announcements. The subsidy for household tariffs will be without any income criteria, concern all consumption and all residences (main and secondary) and amount to €337 per megawatt-hour (or €0.337/KWh).
The total amount of subsidies reaches €1.136 billion next month and absorbs up to 90% of the increase for all residential consumers for the total monthly consumption and for main and secondary residences, 100% of the increase for beneficiaries of the Social Rates, 80% of the increase for small and medium-sized professionals with power supply up to 35 kVa and 82-99% of the increase for farmers. For industrial consumers, the subsidy will be €250 euros/MWh to absorb up to 67% of the increase. For natural gas and for commercial consumers, the subsidy amounts to €30 euros per thermal MWh.
The FBI’s investigation into Hunter Biden wrongly labeled verified evidence as “disinformation,” agency whistleblowers claimed. Agents investigating President Joe Biden’s son “opened an assessment which was used by an FBI headquarters team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease,” according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley revealed the claim after his office received “a significant number of protected communications from highly credible whistleblowers” about the investigation. The Republican claimed one of the communications shows “verified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation.”
FBI supervisory intelligence agent Brian Auten opened in August 2020 the assessment that was later used by the agency, according to the disclosures. One of the whistleblowers claimed the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Washington field office, Timothy Thibault, shut down a line of inquiry into Hunter Biden in October 2020 despite some of the details being known to be true at the time. A whistleblower also said Thibault “ordered closed” an “avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting,” according to Grassley, even though “all of the reporting was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants.” The senator said Thibault “ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required” and that FBI officials “subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future,” according to the disclosures.
Whistleblowers alleged investigators from an FBI headquarters team “were in communication with FBI agents responsible for the Hunter Biden information targeted by Mr. Auten’s assessment” and that their findings on whether the claims were true or disinformation were placed “in a restricted access sub-file” in September 2020, according to the senator. The whistleblower disclosures “appear to indicate that there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation,” Grassley said. The new allegations, summarized by Grassley in a Monday letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, were previously unknown.
We are now at the end of an era of economic and moral decadence in a debt infested world built on false values, fake money and abysmal leadership. All hell will break loose. The consequences will be fatal for the world. There are eras in history which have produced great leaders and thinkers. But sadly, the current era has produced nothing of that kind. The end of an economic cycle produces no great leadership or statesmanship but only incompetent leaders. Looking at the Western world, the only notable statesman in the last few decades in my view is Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. But political leaders are of course instruments of their time. Sadly times as the current don’t produce Superior Men.
As Confucius said: “The Superior Man thinks always of virtue, the common man thinks of comfort.” It is the buildup of a massive debt mountain which has given the Western world a false comfort based on false values. As I have pointed out many times, the US has increased its debt every year since 1930, with a couple of minor exceptions in the 1950s and 1960s. The Clinton surpluses in the late 1990s were fake and in fact deficits. In history, when there is undue economic pressure, starting wars is popular and often felt necessary. It is convenient to blame the war for the increasing debts. The Gold Standard was an excellent method for preventing governments to spend money they didn’t have. Since money couldn’t be printed at will, deficits then had to be financed by settling debts in physical gold.
As Nixon in the late 1960s had to meet the US debts to France in gold, he decided in 1971 to close the gold window temporarily. He clearly didn’t want to hand all the US gold to de Gaulle. Over 50 years later that gold window is still temporarily closed with fatal consequences for the US and the world.
That’s it. The president has confirmed something that, up until now, was laughed at as the paranoid delusions of the “weak” minded, those whose perennial curse is that they see a kaleidoscope where others only see isolated dots. This week, President Biden confirmed to business leaders that we are at an inflection point, and there will be a New World Order. For some reason, he felt the need to couple this announcement with the number of people that he believes usually die when such historic turnings occur: 60 million. It’s not rocket science. World Orders are built around the financial system. Historically, this would usually only change through war. By way of example, the end of World War II heralded the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), agreed at Bretton Woods.
This established the modern financial system by linking global currencies to the US dollar and – at least until 1971 – the US dollar to gold. “The countries that joined the IMF between 1945 and 1971 agreed to keep their exchange rates (the value of their currencies in terms of the U.S. dollar and, in the case of the United States, the value of the dollar in terms of gold) pegged at rates that could be adjusted only to correct a “fundamental disequilibrium” in the balance of payments, and only with the IMF’s agreement. This par value system—also known as the Bretton Woods system—prevailed until 1971, when the U.S. government suspended the convertibility of the dollar (and dollar reserves held by other governments) into gold.”
After 1971, and due to Nixon’s alterations, global currencies remained linked to the US dollar, but the US dollar was pegged to absolutely nothing. This is how – right up until now – the US Federal Reserve had a monopoly on global monetary policy. Due to greed, corruption and unaccountability leading to the cover up of global mass-embezzlement, our current financial system is in its death-throws. This was largely caused by boom-bust cycles, and our policy responses to them, such as ‘quantitative easing’ or money printing. But unlike after WWII, this time an alternative exists in the form of decentralised crypto currencies.
Bucking those who warn that a push for regime change in Moscow could prolong the war in Ukraine and intensify the suffering of its people, U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to openly call for the overthrow of Russian Vladimir Putin on Saturday during a speech in Warsaw, Poland. While applauding the international unity that has mobilized to condemn and push back against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a war now entering its second month, Biden suggested it has now become intolerable for Putin to remain. Near the very end of his speech, Biden declared, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
The remarks were the most explicit yet from the U.S. president that he sees no future for Putin as Russia’s head of state, but the comment also raised immediate alarm bells among those who recognized that such rhetoric could make it harder to a negotiated peace settlement to take hold or for the diplomatic strategy known as the “Golden Bridge” which would allow for a dignified exit from hostilities. In a Democracy Now! interview that aired Friday, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis explained why Putin must be given a viable exit strategy—not because he isn’t a contemptible war criminal, which Varoufakis readily admitted—but because it would be the fastest way to end the invasion and mass slaughter of innocent Ukrainian civilians.
According to Varoufakis, and others who share his concerns, the idea of a western-imposed regime change strategy aimed at the Kremlin could “be catastrophic for the people of Ukraine.” “What is exactly the aim?” asks Varoufakis during the exchange. “Is it regime change in Russia? Well, whenever the United States tried regime change, it didn’t turn out very well, and has never been tried with a nuclear power. This is like playing with fire, or nuclear fire, I should say. If it’s not regime change, what exactly is it?” In his assessment, Varoufakis said that if Biden and his NATO allies are “not leaving any room for a compromise” with Putin, then they are “effectively jeopardizing the interests of Ukrainians, because a quagmire in—an Afghanistan-like quagmire in the Ukr
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is illegal and needs to be condemned. But the United States should also be condemned for asking Ukraine to keep its aspiration to join NATO alive while at the same time spurning that aspiration. Indeed, the United States doesn’t want Ukraine to reach a settlement with Russia that sacrifices the principle that nations have a right to determine their own alliances, a principle that the United States is not nor ever has itself recognized. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said this week that “President Zelenskyy has also made it very clear that he is open to a diplomatic solution that does not compromise the core principles at the heart of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine.”
According to Price, those core principles at the center of this conflict are “that each and every country has a sovereign right to determine its own foreign policy, has a sovereign right to determine for itself with whom it will choose to associate in terms of its alliances, its partnerships, and what orientation it wishes to direct its gaze.” So the stated U.S. policy is that Ukraine can make a sovereign decision to join NATO and no country can close the door. But that is exactly what the United States has done. It has created the illusion of an open door for its international audience while closing it firmly shut. President Biden has said that “the likelihood that Ukraine is going to join NATO in the near term is not very likely.” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that “the question of [Ukrainian] membership in alliances is practically not on the agenda.” He emphasized the point by adding that “is not even on the agenda.” Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he has “understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine.”
So on the one hand, Price says Ukraine is free to join whatever alliances it wants, but President Biden and other NATO countries say joining the alliance isn’t going to happen. Zelensky himself has expressed his frustration with this hypocrisy. “I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” he said on March 20. “And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open.” It is not true that any country has the right to join NATO if it chooses, nor is NATO obliged to accept anyone who wishes to join. Membership has to be at the invitation of NATO, and NATO members have to agree unanimously: any one country can say no. And NATO is under no obligation to extend an invitation to a solicitous country. The NATO treaty says only that it “may then be invited to join,” and that there is no guarantee.
President Biden told US troops in Poland Friday that they will witness the bravery of Ukrainians fighting off Russia’s invasion “when you’re there” — making a significant gaffe after he previously said the US must stay out of the European conflict to avoid triggering “World War III.” Biden made the remark while addressing members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division after lunching on pizza and posing for selfies with dozens of paratroopers at a mess hall in Rzeszow, southeastern Poland. “You’re going to see when you’re there, and some of you have been there, you’re gonna see — you’re gonna see women, young people standing in the middle in front of a damned tank just saying, ‘I’m not leaving, I’m holding my ground,’” Biden said.
JoeBiden “Digs In” to that PIZZA PIE like an ANIMAL before the Soldiers got any. In the military, the senior officer always eats LAST!
A White House official quickly clarified that Biden wasn’t changing his stance on deploying the military into Ukraine. “The president has been clear we are not sending US troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position,” a Biden spokesman told The Post. Biden also said during his remarks that the US was working to “keep the massacre from continuing” after more than 3.7 million Ukrainians fled their country during the month-old war. The Biden administration has supplied arms to Ukraine’s beleaguered military, but the president personally nixed a Polish proposal to transfer 28 Soviet-designed fighter jets to Ukraine with US help. Biden said that US facilitation of the transaction could trigger a new world war. Although Biden spoke as if US troops were heading into Ukraine, he repeatedly ruled out that possibility in prior public remarks.
Sean Penn is calling on Hollywood to boycott the Academy Awards if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is denied a chance to speak at the red-carpet event. “I would encourage everyone involved to know, though it may be their moment, and I understand that, to celebrate their films, it is so much more their moment to shine and to protest and to boycott that Academy Awards,” the controversial actor said in an appearance on CNN Saturday afternoon. Penn, 61, has won two Oscars and vowed to “smelt mine in public” if Zelensky is snubbed by the Academy. The Ukrainian leader has been in talks with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make a video appearance during Sunday’s broadcast of the Oscars ceremony.
Penn met with Zelensky while in Ukraine in February, when he was filming a documentary about the nation’s tensions and now war with Russia. Oscars ceremony co-host Amy Schumer floated the idea of having Zelensky speak at the event last week, People reported. “It is my understanding that a decision has been made not to do it” Penn said of having Zelensky speak. “If the Academy has elected not to do it, if presenters have elected not to pursue the leadership in Ukraine, who are taking bullets and bombs for us, along with the Ukrainian children they are trying to protect, then I think every single one of those people and every bit of that decision will have been the most obscene moment in all of Hollywood history.”
With the Russian operation in Ukraine alarming the populace, you might have forgotten the late Covid-19 epidemic that provoked so much public hysteria and government policy overreach. Stuff happened during those two-plus years of Covid-19, and, even with Ukraine blaring from the cable news channels, Covid-19 stuff is still happening. Vaccine mandates are still in force, in New York City, for instance — except for performers and ballplayers, who are exempted now, as announced this week by Mayor Eric Adams. If you detect any specious reasoning behind that diktat, at least you know who made it happen.
But so many other things just happened with Covid-19, rather serious things, and no one has had to answer for them, certainly not Dr. Anthony Fauci, who just days ago talked up another booster shot of his obviously defective mRNA “vaccines.” Dr. Fauci proposed that despite a raft of emerging statistics from the life insurance realm that indicate a shockingly high number of mysterious all-causes deaths for people in the prime of life. Several conditions appear to be killing them: 1) blood clotting in the capillaries of various organs, apparently caused by the “vaccine’s” main active ingredient, spike proteins; 2) heart inflammation (pericarditis and myocarditis); 3) a mystifying array of neurological afflictions; and 4) switched-off immune system toggles, including the cellular mechanism for preventing the growth of cancers.
This developing picture of a public health catastrophe, growing more robustly detailed by the week, has somehow not alerted the general public, not least because the entire public health officialdom does not want them to know about it. In fact, as averred to above, they are all still busy promoting the “vaccines” which are responsible. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, is rather well-known — though her duties appear limited to the public impersonation of a “concerned mom” — but whoever heard of Rebecca Bunnell, PhD, Director of the CDC’s Office of Science? Does Science play any part in the emerging disaster of sharply rising all-causes deaths? It would be good to know, don’t you think? Anyone heard from Daniel Jernigan, MD, Deputy CDC Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance (DDPHSS)? You’d think he would be out there surveilling things.
How about Brian C. Moyer, PhD, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. He would be in charge, presumably, of the VAERS system, which tabulates adverse vaccine events. That system evidently under-reports adverse events by a shocking amount — some say only 1 percent are ever recorded. Why is that? Because it is a website that is so notoriously ill-designed and hard to use that the CDC pledged to fix it more than ten years ago and never got around to it. Why is that, Dr. Moyer? Has anyone asked him? I don’t think so.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has finally admitted that natural immunity against COVID is actually far superior than any experimental jab will ever be. In an interview on March 23, 2022, Fauci finally let the following slip: “When you look at the cases they do not appear to be any more severe [than Omicron] and they do not appear to evade immune responses either from vaccine or prior infection.” Infowars.com reports: What’s critical here is not his debatable claim about vaccines but rather his offhand remark about prior infection. It was tossed off as if: “Everyone knows this.” If so, it is no thanks to him, the CDC, or WHO.
To be sure, everything we’ve known since two years ago – if not 2.5 thousand years – is that immunity from prior Covid infection is real. Vaccines have traditionally been a substitute version of exactly that. Brownstone has assembled fully 150 studies that demonstrate that immunity through infection is effective, broad, and lasting. Had that messaging been around during lockdowns, the attitude toward the virus would have been very different. We would have clearly seen the present reality from the beginning, namely that endemicity generally arrives in the case of a new virus of this sort due to exposure-induced population immunity. This is how humankind evolved to live in the presence of pathogens.
If we had widespread public awareness of this, the public-health priority would not have been locking down people who can manage exposure but rather alerting those who cannot to be careful until herd immunity in one’s own circle of contacts has been realized via meeting the virus and recovering. To those who say that is dangerous, consider that mass exposure is precisely what happened in any case, stretched out over two years rather than occurring in a single season. This delaying of the inevitable might be what allowed for variants to emerge and take hold in successive rounds, each new one hitting naive immune systems in ways that were difficult to predict. Flatten the curve amounted to “prolonging the pain,” exactly as Knut Wittkowski predicted in March 2020.
An analysis of figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) database has revealed that 61,000 people, supposedly in the prime of their life, aged 25-44, died of vaccine-related causes in the U.S. in the fall and winter of 2021. Edward Dowd, a former BlackRock portfolio manager, made the appalling revelation during the March 10 episode of “The Alex Jones Show.” According to Dowd, an investment adviser on Wall Street, an insurance industry expert who is part of his team stumbled upon the buried truth when, looking for something else, he broke down the CDC figures by age and created his own baseline death rates from there. Showing charts the actuarian plotted from the figures, Dowd pointed at chart four as the punch line.
“Basically, you see that millennials experienced 84 percent excess death in the fall and winter of 2021. So excess deaths accelerated when mandates and boosters hit,” Dowd told Jones. “And this age group is important because they’re healthy. And you can’t say that they, you know, miss their cancer screenings. This is ages 25 to 44. So this is just devastating evidence that the vaccines are causing this age group to die at an accelerating rate. “I know I showed percentages in that chart, but the actual bodies are 61,000. That’s the Vietnam War event that just occurred to the millennial generation – 58,000 died in the Vietnam War.” Dowd said he’s certain the vaccines are the culprits because the acceleration started in the summer when the mandates started hitting in August and September last year.
“And then [President Joe] Biden came out [announcing the mandates]. And boosters were also authorized and started happening. So let’s call this what it is. This is death by government mandate or democide, death by government. That’s what’s going on here.” The insurance companies have pointed at the alarming spike in vaccine-related deaths before, but the government refused to heed the warning and proceeded with the mass injections. Dowd could only speculate on why the “pyschos” in government did this. “Well, there’s two ways to look at this. Just good old-fashioned power and greed, or there was a plan hatched by some very evil people. I’m going with power and greed for now. But you know, as we roll through this very active fraud, it’s being exposed. There’s more and more evidence coming to the front that this is part of some sort of bigger grand plan.”
While the concept of a perfect storm is often too casually assigned in popular culture, it is difficult to find a more apt description of what has been unfolding in the global agriculture markets over these past several months. The tempest caused by the European energy disaster has merged with the hurricane of consequences flowing from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, forming the genesis of a generational crisis in food that will leave few unaffected. While we’ve been warning about just such a scenario for some time, after spending the past two weeks traveling across the US Midwest and conferring with our contacts in the agricultural sector, even we are a little spooked by what we’ve learned. In a financial crash, the correlation between all asset classes converges to one.
The coming crash in global food supply will be driven by a similar phenomenon across virtually every input into farming – they are all spiking to historic highs simultaneously, supply availability is diminishing across the spectrum, and the time to reverse the worst of the upcoming consequences is rapidly running short. Other than that, things are great. We begin with the price of fertilizer, which has been soaring to record highs across the globe. Key sources of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous – important inputs into soil fertility, crop yield, and plant maintenance – have all gone vertical. Ammonia is derived directly from natural gas, and the price of natural gas outside of the US has gone vertical. It’s no surprise that the price of ammonia has tripled over the past twelve months.
Belarus is the third-largest supplier of potash in the world and its state-owned miner, Belaruskali, declared force majeure after sanctions were imposed by the US and Europe. The number two supplier of potash globally? Russia. Perhaps front-running the Russian move on Ukraine, China halted phosphate exports last fall in an effort to ensure adequate domestic supply.
I am standing at the gates of HM Prison Belmarsh, a high security penitentiary in southeast London, with Craig Murray, who was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan until he was fired for exposing the CIA black sites and torture centers in that country. Inside the prison, Julian Assange and Stella Moris are being married. Craig and I were on the list of the six guests invited to the wedding, but the prison authorities, in an example of the institutional sadism that characterizes all prisons, denied us entry. Craig, who was to have been one of two witnesses, was informed that he could not enter because he would “endanger the security of the prison.”
Craig came down from Edinburgh by train. I flew over from New York. We would at least be at the entrance of the prison with the some 150 Assange supporters. Craig, dressed in full Scottish regalia —and a kilt he admitted he had to have expanded every few years to accommodate his broadening girth — made a fashion statement and perhaps a point about Scottish independence. He was outdone by Stella, who wore a flowing ice lilac A-line bridal gown, corset with plastic stays so she could pass through the four metal detectors, and veil designed and donated by fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Andreas Kronthaler.
“It’s a part of the ongoing mental torture that even on his happiest day they will at the last moment strike off guests on his guest list just to mess him about, just to try and make things as unpleasant as they can possibly make them,” Craig laments. “We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a piece of the unnecessary cruelty with which he has been kept from the start. Why on earth is he even in a maximum security prison built to house terrorists? I’m quite amused by the explanation that I endanger the security of the prison. I feel quite flattered by this. I couldn’t understand it all until today when, of course, it occurred to me that I look incredibly sexy in my kilt and they thought a prison riot might ensue.”
The day is bittersweet. Julian may never be able to live with his wife and family. Yet it is an affirmation of love and commitment and hope carried out in a small side room with folding chairs and a laminate table. The prison authorities denied Julian and Stella the use of the chapel. The ceremony was witnessed by six family members, including Julian and Stella’s two young sons, one of whom fell asleep and the other of whom was preoccupied with a paper plane and tried to turn on one of the alarms. Two guards were stationed in the room. There was no reception. There was no cake. The prison denied Julian and Stella’s request for a photographer. A guard took a few pictures, but prison authorities told Julian and Stella they could not be posted on social media or shared with the public.
They were allowed to kiss. This prompted the older boy, Gabriel, to say, the family told me, “Oh, that’s a sloppy one.” Afterwards, the Catholic chaplain, who had the foresight to bring a white tablecloth and candles, gave them his blessing. Julian and Stella were given half an hour together in a crowded visitors hall. And then Julian, prisoner A 9379AY, was escorted back to his cell to the applause of the prisoners on his tier.
By Stella’s side stood Julian Assange, whom she described to me as “simply the love of my life”, resplendent in a kilt, shirt, tie, and waistcoat, again specially designed by Vivienne Westwood in a purple based tartan, and featuring hand embroidery, lacing and cloisonne buttons. Unlike Stella’s dress, which she later showed us in detail, I have not seen the kilt but am told the design is relatively traditional. There was a two minute delay at the start of the ceremony as Julian had no sporran, and his brother Gabriel, resplendent in full highland dress for the first time, removed his own sporran and put it on Julian. Both Julian and Gabriel are proud of their Scottish heritage, in each case through their respective mothers. The British authorities had done everything they could firstly to prevent, and then to mess up, this wedding.
Permission to marry had first been formally requested of the prison service in 2020, and in the end was only granted by involving lawyers and threatening legal action. There followed a whole list of antagonisms on which I shall not dwell, one minor example of which was banning me from the wedding and then lying about it. But now, on the wedding day, the ordinary, working staff of the prison were delighted to be hosting such a happy event. The searches of the bride were distinctly token and friendly. At the security checks, Julian and Stella’s three year old son Max managed to tangle himself so comprehensively around the legs of one guard that he fell over, and the large guard and small boy then had a hilarious mock wrestle on the floor. The guards who conducted Stella through the jail did so as though they were the escort of a Queen.
Gates and steel doors opened before the procession and were locked again behind them, until deep in the bowels of this maximum security prison they arrived in a banal room, oppressive and completely windowless, with plain magnolia emulsioned walls. It was about twenty feet by fifteen feet, and is used as a store room for the adjoining Chaplaincy. At the back of the room were piles of Muslim prayer mats, boxes of red-jacketed Christian hymnals, stacks of cheap chairs and folded trestles. From which that one cheap trestle had been set up, and a single row of eight chairs in front of it. Present were Julian and Stella, and their permitted limit of six invited guests. These were Stella’s mother Teresa and brother Adrian, Julian’s father John, brother Gabriel, and Julian and Stella’s two children, Gabriel (4) and Max (3).
One of the torments had been that the UK Ministry of Justice insisted that the two tots counted against the six person limit, contrary to the prison’s original advice. Also in the room were the registrar who conducted the civil wedding, the Catholic chaplain and two prison guards, one for each door. Julian was able to hug and hold each of his family as they arrived, even though that was very much against the rules. That kind of physical comfort is something he will have been craving for years, and all eyes were full of tears. Julian’s father John was alarmed by his appearance. Julian was a stooped figure, and worryingly thin, even though obviously very happy in the moment.
Long-term, intense economic competition between China and the United States is inevitable. It’s simply a result of China’s new economic size. It’s about wealth and power, not political systems or ideology. Forget these two countries per se. Take any country that has been an uncontested economic leader for decades, add a rapidly rising country that is becoming an economic threat, and watch the battle for markets, trade, and intellectual property unfold. The current trade negotiations could get uglier and derail. But even if they don’t, both sides will likely feel they did not get what they needed, and future rounds could get worse. There’s almost never a situation where the two leaders in a market don’t get locked in a protracted, high-stakes struggle.
[..] It’s also worth noting the history of free trade. The United States was one of the most protectionist nations in history during most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the very period in which it rose to economic supremacy, with tariffs routinely as high as 50 percent. More politicians than not backed tariffs because they protected American industry. And supporters liked tariffs because they kept wages high. In addition, in the era before the income tax, tariffs were our chief source of revenue, and Washington relished the fact that they created a government surplus (and many a congressional debate of that era was about how to spend that surplus). The subject dominated the halls of Congress.
[..] Now that the United States has woken up, my best guess is that it is not going to sit idly and let China’s encroachment continue. Trump’s approach may be poorly conceived and ham-handed, but some kind of more assertive response was overdue. China’s raison d’être is its own wealth and preeminence, and it is not likely it will permanently stand down, even if it does so strategically from time to time. In fact, in discussing this trade negotiation, Xi is now invoking China’s almost mythic tale of heroic perseverance, the Long March. Absent a China implosion—a la Japan in the late 1990s—even occasional rapprochement won’t abate the ferocity of this competition. The only question is how polite or impolite, or even bellicose, it will be.
Farmers in the United States cannot afford to lose the Chinese market, but farmers in China will be able to withstand the impact of American tariffs, according to a top agriculture official in Beijing. Han Jun, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said China’s retaliatory tariffs on American products – the latest of which took effect on Saturday – now covered “virtually all US agricultural product exports to China”, warning that US farmers could lose the Chinese market for good. “If the US doesn’t lift all additional tariffs [levied on Chinese products], bilateral agricultural product trade between China and the US, including soybean trade, will never go back to normal,” Han told the official Xinhua news agency.
“If the US loses China’s market, it will be very difficult for the US to regain it.” Han, who is also a top policymaker as deputy head of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs, said the two rounds of aid offered by US President Donald Trump to American farmers would not be enough to cover their potential losses if they lost the Chinese market. But he said Chinese farmers would be able to weather the impact of American tariffs. In terms of the soybean trade, while China’s imports from the United States had plunged, it could find ways to diversify its sources, including encouraging Chinese farmers to grow more of the crop and buying more from other countries, Han said.
The net worth of millennials (18- to 35-year-old) has collapsed 34% since 1996, according to a new, shocking report from Deloitte. Millennials are financially worse off than any other generation before them. With student loans, auto and credit card debts, rising rents, and out of control, health-care costs have pushed their average net worth below $8,000. Deloitte told The Washington Post that their findings reveal that millennials are delaying home-buying and marriage because of massive debt loads and rising costs are making big ticketed items virtually unaffordable. “The narrative out there is that millennials are ruining everything, from breakfast cereal to weddings, but what matters to consumers today isn’t much different than it was 50 years ago,” chief retail officer Kasey Lobaugh told the Post.
“Generally speaking, there have not been dramatic changes in how consumers spend their money.” Lobaugh described the soaring wealth inequality gap as another reason why young adults have little or no net wealth. In a separate report, we highlighted in April that 60% of millennials don’t have $500 in savings. The Post said education expenses had climbed 65% in the past decade. Food prices have increased by 26%, health care costs are up 21%, housing jumped 16%, and transportation costs rose 11%. The study showed millennials had delayed the American dream of a house, family, and automobile because of their insurmountable debts. Since 2005, retail spending has increased by about 13%, to roughly $3 trillion per year, but Deloitte said much of that growth is due to population increase, not a robust consumer base.
In the past decade, the income growth of the top 10% of Americans jumped 1,305% more than the bottom 90% of Americans – which means millennials stuck in the gig-economy with multiple jobs and high debt loads will be trapped in a life of financial misery.
In the beginning of your book, you use the metaphor of The Odyssey to describe the choices facing the Federal Reserve Board going back to Alan Greenspan, who we knew as “Uncle Alan” in Washington years ago. You talk about how the Fed went from deflating bubbles before Greenspan, as with the “taking away the punch bowl” image, then to trying to maintain bubbles, and now overtly using monetary policy to stoke inflation and huge asset bubbles. Where does that leave us today?
Rickards: In the book I talk about how Greenspan defeated deflation in 2005 before he left office, but, this was a Pyrrhic victory. Low rates gave rise to the housing bubble and subprime debt crisis. Since 2008, we’ve had more of the same but a more extreme version of Greenspan’s anti-deflation medicine. If Greenspan’s three-year experiment with sub 2% rates gave rise to the Global Financial Crisis, what was the world to make of the Bernanke-Yellen policy of 0% for seven years? Bernanke’s Federal Reserve also engaged in a completely unprecedented money printing binge called quantitative easing.
[..] the Fed has failed to distinguish between credit driven bubbles and mania driven bubbles. The former are dangerous because they are connected with the credit system, the latter less so because people loose money but the crisis is not systemic. The 2000 dot.com bubble was speculative, but not credit driven so it did not turn into a systemic crisis when it popped. Of course 2008 was credit driven and it did metastasize throughout the system right up to the top of the food chain with large banks and the housing GSEs failing. When you are kicking around the idea of should I or should I not pop the bubble, this is a key distinction and the threshold question for policy.
[..] It’s one thing when loose monetary policy results in private credit extremes. The Fed can reign that in. But, what happens when public credit from the Fed is the source of the problem? The Bernanke choice of stoking asset price inflation via zero rates and QE is not something that can be reversed without a great deal of pain. Once you make that trade-off between promoting inflation and future market instability, you have no way out. You’re much better off taking the pain and accepting a lower level of economic growth in the short-run rather than deferring the pain but creating far larger asset bubbles down the road. There is no way out of the Bernanke policy choice without bigger bubbles and much larger market crash that results.
The U.S. internet advertising industry is projected to hit $160 billion by 2023 from $107 billion last year, led by fast-growing categories like mobile video with Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc firmly controlling the market, consultancy PwC said on Wednesday. The two tech giants together commanded nearly 60% of the U.S. internet advertising market in 2018, according to the report, up 3% from the previous year. Google’s YouTube dominates online video, while Facebook has been expanding its video product called Watch and adding advertising options. Google and Facebook are both currently under watch by U.S. regulators for possible antitrust concerns, as well as tech giants Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.
U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc despite spending $85 billion for media company Time Warner to transform into a media and advertising firm, has only managed to eke out single digit market share, according to PwC. Gaining market share is difficult because platforms must have features that are new and specific as well as some degree of emerging technology, said C.J. Bangah, a principal at PwC. An advantage the telecommunications companies like AT&T have over Google and Facebook is they will benefit from 5G, the next generation wireless network that is expected to bring technology like autonomous cars to reality.
MMT is not a regime that you ‘apply’ or ‘switch to’ or ‘introduce’. Rather, it is a lens which allows us to see how our fiat monetary systems already work. How you decide to use that understanding depends on the value system or ideology you apply to it. It thus makes little sense to talk of ‘MMT-type prescription’ or an ‘MMT solution’. Indeed, governments already operate according to the framework offered by MMT, regardless of what they may claim in public (and the accounting smokescreens they may employ). Citizens are constantly told that the government cannot afford to invest more in education, healthcare, infrastructure, welfare and other public services.
Yet, there is never a lack of money when it comes tax cuts for the rich, bank bailouts, military activities and other programmes that benefit our political and economic elites. As of March 2006, approximately £4.5 billion had been spent by the UK in Iraq, enough to pay for the building of around 44 new hospitals and to fund the recruitment and retention of over 10,300 new teachers for ten years. Yet, there was never any debate about how the UK would ‘fund’ the war. Unfortunately, the mainstream macroeconomic narrative continues to plague large swathes of the left, particularly in Europe. Meadway’s article is representative. It concentrates ‘on the practical and political implications [of MMT], why they are wrong–and why Labour’s own economic programme makes more sense’. In that sense, he is really talking about a conception of the application of MMT according to a certain value set, rather than MMT itself.
The great Bilderberg secret of 2019 had to do with why, suddenly, the Trump administration has decided that it wants to talk to Iran “with no preconditions”. It all has to do with the Strait of Hormuz. Blocking the Strait could cut off oil and gas from Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran – 20% of the world’s oil. There has been some debate on whether this could occur – whether the US Fifth Fleet, which is stationed nearby, could stop Tehran doing this and if Iran, which has anti-ship missiles on its territory along the northern border of the Persian Gulf, would go that far. An American source said a series of studies hit President Trump’s desk and caused panic in Washington.
These showed that in the case of the Strait of Hormuz being shut down, whatever the reason, Iran has the power to hammer the world financial system, by causing global trade in derivatives to be blown apart. The Bank for International Settlements said last year that the “notional amount outstanding for derivatives contracts” was $542 trillion, although the gross market value was put at just $12.7 trillion. Others suggest it is $1.2 quadrillion or more. Tehran has not voiced this “nuclear option” openly. And yet General Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force and a Pentagon bête noire, evoked it in internal Iranian discussions. The information was duly circulated to France, Britain and Germany, the EU-3 members of the Iran nuclear deal (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), also causing a panic.
Oil derivative specialists know well that if the flow of energy in the Gulf is blocked it could lead to the price of oil reaching $200 a barrel, or much higher over an extended period. Crashing the derivatives market would create an unprecedented global depression. Trump’s former Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin should know as much. And Trump himself seems to have given the game away. He’s now on the record essentially saying that Iran has no strategic value to the US. According to the American source: “He really wants a face-saving way to get out of the problem his advisers Bolton and Pompeo got him into. Washington now needs a face-saving way out. Iran is not asking for meetings. The US is.”
Brexit minister Jeremy Miles said that efforts towards an acceptable Brexit had reached “the end of the road”. He said any Brexit deal must now be subject to a public vote, with remaining in the EU on the ballot paper. The Labour-led government, along with Plaid Cymru, had previously followed a 2017 policy outlined in the White Paper ‘Securing Wales’ Future’, that aimed to find “the least damaging kind of Brexit”, as Miles put it. But the government in Westminster have made this impossible, he said. “We as a government must recognise these realities and change course,” said Miles. “Parliament should now show the courage to admit it is deadlocked.” Although Wales voted to leave by 52%, public opinion has shifted towards Remain, said Miles.
In a double blow for Mexico, credit ratings agency Fitch downgraded the nation’s sovereign debt rating on Wednesday, citing risks posed by heavily indebted oil company Pemex and trade tensions, while Moody’s lowered its outlook to negative. The Mexican peso weakened as much as 1.3% on the news. Cutting Mexico’s rating to BBB, nearing junk status, Fitch said the financial woes of state oil company Pemex were taking a toll on the nation’s prospects. Fitch said mounting trade tensions influenced its view, according to a statement issued shortly after the end of a meeting in the White House in which Mexican officials tried to stave off tariffs U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to impose next week.
Following a surge in mostly Central American migrants arriving at the U.S. border, Trump threatened blanket tariffs on Mexican imports if it did not do more to stem the flow. “Growth continues to underperform, and downside risks are magnified by threats by U.S. President Trump,” Fitch said. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office in December with ambitious plans to build a $8 billion refinery, a decision ratings agencies and investors warned would divert funds from its more profitable production and exploration business. Lopez Obrador has said the ratings agencies were punishing Mexico for the “neo-liberal” policies of previous administrations. A Reuters analysis of Pemex accounts from the past decade shows debt increased by 75% during the term of Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, amid a landmark energy reform.
Fiat Chrysler said it has abandoned its $35 billion merger offer for Renault, blaming French politics for scuttling what would have been a landmark deal to create the world’s third-biggest automaker. A source close to the French carmaker’s board said Fiat Chrysler made the move after France sought to delay a decision on the deal in order to win the support of Nissan Motor Co, Renault’s Japanese alliance partner. French government officials had pushed for Nissan to support the merger. Nissan had said it would abstain. The French government, which owns a 15% stake in Renault, had also pushed Fiat Chrysler for guarantees that France would not lose jobs, and for a dividend to be paid to Renault shareholders, including the government, people familiar with the talks said.
Fiat Chrysler’s original proposal offered no special dividend to Renault shareholders. “It has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement issued early Thursday from London. Renault, in a separate statement, said its board was “unable to take a decision due to the request expressed by the representatives of the French state to postpone the vote to a later meeting.”
Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, Russia’s foreign minister has written an article arguing that the commemorations of the event are part of a “false” history that belittles the contributions of the Soviet Union toward defeating Nazi Germany. Sergey Lavrov chastised Western powers in an article published in Russia’s International Affairs magazine on Tuesday, ahead of events in Europe to mark the D-Day landings on the Nazi-occupied Normandy coast. “False interpretations of history are being introduced into the Western education system with mystifications and pseudo-historical theories designed to belittle the feat of our ancestors,” Lavrov wrote.
“Young people are being told that the main credit in victory over Nazism and liberation of Europe goes not to the Soviet troops, but to the West due to the landing in Normandy, which took place less than a year before Nazism was defeated.” He added: “It was the peoples of the Soviet Union who broke the backbone of the Third Reich. That is a fact.” [..] Historians agree that the Soviets sustained the heaviest losses of all powers involved in World War II, placing the death toll for the Red Army at between 9 million and 11 million troops, part of an estimated 26 million Soviet citizens who died. Lavrov also wrote Russia had been falsely labeled as an aggressor in World War II. “Our detractors seek to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in World War II and portray it if not as the main culprit of the war, then at least as an aggressor, along with Nazi Germany,” he wrote.
Russia told the West on Wednesday the Normandy landings on D-Day in 1944 did not play a decisive role in ending World War Two and that the Allied war effort should not be exaggerated. Moscow’s comments might irk war veterans in Britain where the 75th anniversary on Wednesday of the largest seaborne invasion in history was marked at a ceremony in Portsmouth attended by Queen Elizabeth and world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel. Speaking at a weekly news conference in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova offered a tribute to those who died on the western front of World War Two and said Moscow appreciated the Allied war effort.
“It should of course not be exaggerated. And especially not at the same time as diminishing the Soviet Union’s titanic efforts, without which this victory simply would not have happened,” she said. The Soviet Union lost over 25 million lives in what it calls the Great Patriotic War, and Moscow under President Vladimir Putin has taken to marking victory in the war with a massive annual military parade on Red Square. “As historians note, the Normandy landing did not have a decisive impact on the outcome of World War Two and the Great Patriotic War. It had already been pre-determined as a result of the Red Army’s victories, mainly at Stalingrad (in late 1942) and Kursk (in mid-1943),” Zakharova told reporters.
More than 150,000 allied troops launched an air, sea and land attack on Normandy on June 6, 1944 that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany. Moscow, which had been fighting German forces in the east for almost three years by the time of D-Day, and gradually pushing them back from early 1943, had been urging Britain’s Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942. “There was a wish to wait for the maximum weakening of Germany’s military power from its enormous losses in the east, while reducing losses in the west,” she said.
The average person eats at least 50,000 particles of microplastic a year and breathes in a similar quantity, according to the first study to estimate human ingestion of plastic pollution. The true number is likely to be many times higher, as only a small number of foods and drinks have been analysed for plastic contamination. The scientists reported that drinking a lot of bottled water drastically increased the particles consumed. The health impacts of ingesting microplastic are unknown, but they could release toxic substances. Some pieces are small enough to penetrate human tissues, where they could trigger immune reactions.
Microplastic pollution is mostly created by the disintegration of plastic litter and appears to be ubiquitous across the planet. Researchers find microplastics everywhere they look; in the air, soil, rivers and the deepest oceans around the world. [..] Most food and drink types have not been tested, however, meaning the study only assessed 15% of calorie intake. “We don’t know a huge amount. There are some major data gaps that need to get filled,” said Kieran Cox, at the University of Victoria in Canada, who led the research.
Other foods, such as bread, processed products, meat, dairy and vegetables, may well contain just as much plastic, he said. “It is really highly likely there is going to be large amounts of plastic particles in these. You could be heading into the hundreds of thousands.” Some of the best available data is on water, with bottled water containing 22 times more microplastic than tap water on average. A person who only drank bottled water would consume 130,000 particles per year from that source alone, the researchers said, compared with 4,000 from tap water.
The Democrats, as personified by Pelosi, Schumer, Hillary, Biden etc., have no identity other than being against everything Trump. There are people in the party who do have ideas and an identity, like Tulsi Gabbard, AOC, and I’m not saying they’re all great ideas, but at least they have some. But they’re being sidelined.
And it’s of course funny to see Pelosi “pre-accusing” Trump of doing what she has done for 2+ years now. Accuse your opponent of what you yourself have done. Classic.
In a New York Times interview on Saturday, Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), shared her concerned that President Trump would not voluntarily step down unless Democrats win by a “big” enough margin in 2020. The Democratic Speaker of the House of Representative, expressed her concern over a possible scenario where Trump would not accept the election results if he were to lose re-election by a slim margin, the NY Times reported. “We have to inoculate against that, we have to be prepared for that,” Pelosi told the newspaper Wednesday.
“If we win by four seats, by a thousand votes each, he’s not going to respect the election,” said Ms. Pelosi, recalling her thinking in the run-up to the 2018 elections. “He would poison the public mind. He would challenge each of the races; he would say you can’t seat these people,” she added. “We had to win. Imagine if we hadn’t won — oh, don’t even imagine. So, as we go forward, we have to have the same approach.” In recent weeks Ms. Pelosi has told associates that she does not automatically trust the president to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat.
As Joe Biden storms through Iowa and prepares for his first visit as a presidential candidate in South Carolina, the Democratic front-runner has said he doesn’t “have the time” to lay out the details of his healthcare plan. “I don’t have time; I don’t want to keep you standing any longer,” Mr Biden said recently in Iowa City, declining to lay out his vision for America’s healthcare future to the assembled crowd, according to POLITICO. Likewise Mr Biden has been less than exhaustive when it comes to his other plans, be it foreign policy, or how to tackle climate change. The approach — one in which the former vice president has focused on the values needed in an American president, instead of on specifics of policy — stands in contrast to some of his stiffest competition from fellow Democrats hoping to shake up Democratic politics as we know it.
For months now, his closest competitor in the polls, Bernie Sanders, has been plugging his universal healthcare plan on the campaign trail, which he has dubbed Medicare for All. It’s a policy the Vermont senator has introduced repeatedly in Congress, and ran on in 2016, too. But Mr Sanders isn’t alone in pushing policy in the race. Elizabeth Warren has become known for doing so, offering up plans on issues ranging from healthcare – increase consumer subsidies, force insurers to accept tougher rules, and make insurance cheaper in the US — to improving accountability for private companies in charge of military housing.
Two different takes on the same topic. First, the Press Association, which labels Paul Joseph Watson and James Woods as “Right-Wing Extremists”. A bit much, perhaps? Other labels I see flash by are far-right, alt-right, extremist conservatives. Isn’t it the labeling itself that is extremist?
US president Donald Trump has criticised social media companies after Facebook banned a number of extremist figures and has declared he was “monitoring and watching, closely!!” Mr Trump, who tweeted and retweeted complaints on Friday and Saturday, said he would “monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms”. He has previously claimed social media companies are biased against conservatives, something the companies have rejected as untrue. His comments came after Facebook this week banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists, saying they violated its ban on “dangerous individuals”.
The company also removed right-wing personalities Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Mr Jones’s site, Infowars, which often posts conspiracy theories. The latest bans apply to Facebook’s main service and to Instagram, and extend to fan pages and other related accounts. Facebook’s move signalled new effort by the social media giant to remove people and groups promoting objectionable material such as hate, racism and anti-Semitism. The company said it has “always banned” people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology. On Twitter, Mr Trump cited a number of individuals he said were being unfairly treated by social media companies, including Mr Watson and actor James Woods. He insisted it was “getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!”
But here’s how Cristina Laila at Gateway Pundit, the site known for Cassandra Fairbanks’ reporting on Julian Assange, phrases the issue. Whole different vocabulary.
Still, there’s a much bigger issue here. As I wrote in the comments the other day: What Facebook and Google are doing is very dangerous for the fabric of society. They’re turning us into China. It’s equal to saying: you cannot have a car, or gas, or a phone, a home. Because you grow a beard, or you have a crappy old car, or whatever.
Or it’s like saying you cannot drive on a certain road, maybe that’s a better example. At some point infrastructure must be available to everyone. You can’t say: this is private, go build your own road, or put up your own telephone poles, because your skin is black and we don’t like that around here.
“Facebook is a private company” is dead before you hit the water (for the same reason as AT&T). Problem is, no politician wants to burn their hands on the issue, which they don’t understand to begin with, until it’s too late. It’s much easier to say: look over there, those guys don’t do anything either.”
So, should Facebook be able to throw people out that haven’t been accused of anything criminal?
The tech tyrants at Facebook went into overdrive this week and banned Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones — without any explanation, the conservative journalists were labeled “dangerous” by Facebook. President Trump fired off a tweetstorm Friday evening on the social media censorship of conservatives and named James Woods and Paul Joseph Watson. “I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!” Trump tweeted. “We’re looking into it,” Trump said as he defended his friends Diamond and Silk.
“So surprised to see Conservative thinkers like James Woods banned from Twitter, and Paul Watson banned from Facebook!” Trump said linking to a Breitbart article on Twitter’s silencing of James Woods. Paul Joseph Watson works for Infowars and has been employed by Alex Jones for several years. On Thursday Paul Joseph Watson was banned from Facebook for being associated with Infowars and Alex Jones. Paul Joseph Watson has NEVER broken Facebook rules… But he associates with Alex Jones. Facebook is now banning anyone who is linked to Infowars or has shared too many stories from the conservative Infowars page. But it’s even worse… It is now a violation of Facebook policy to speak positively ANYWHERE about people they don’t like.
Twitter also banned conservative actor James Woods last weekend for paraphrasing American essayist, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, for “abusive behavior.” James Woods tweeted, “If you try to kill the King, you better not miss.” #HangThemAll – similar to a quote from an essay Emerson wrote on Plato:“When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”
If Americans were interested in the truth, they’d insist on their politicians and media and intelligence talking to the VIPS and Julian Assange. The fact that they haven’t, tells you all you need to know.
George Orwell would have been in stitches Wednesday watching Attorney General William Barr and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee spar on Russia-gate. The hearing had the hallmarks of the intentionally or naively blind leading the blind with political shamelessness. From time to time the discussion turned to the absence of a legal “predicate” to investigate President Donald Trump for colluding with Russia. That is, of course, important; and we can expect to hear a lot more about that in coming months. More important: what remains unacknowledged is the absence of an evidence-based major premise that should have been in place to anchor the rhetoric and accusations about Russia-gate over the past three years. With a lack of evidence sufficient to support a major premise, any syllogism falls of its own weight.
The major premise that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee and gave WikiLeaks highly embarrassing emails cannot bear close scrutiny. Yes, former CIA Director John Brennan has told Congress he does not “do evidence.” In the same odd vein, Brennan’s former FBI counterpart James Comey chose not to “do evidence” when he failed to seize and inspect the DNC computers that a contractor-of-ill-repute working for the DNC claimed were hacked by Russia. Call us old fashioned, but we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) still “do evidence” — and, in the case at hand, forensic investigation. For those who “can handle the truth,” the two former NSA technical directors in VIPS can readily explain how the DNC emails were not hacked — by Russia or anyone else — but rather were copied and leaked by someone with physical access to the DNC computers.
Before 2009, the Fed did not pay interest on banks’ excess reserves held at the Fed. This practice was introduced as a taxpayer-funded subsidy to the banks during the crisis (taxpayer-funded because the Fed turns over any profit at the end of the year to the Treasury). After beginning this practice, the Fed’s chief trader, Simon Potter, realized it could be used to raise interest rates without expelling excess reserves from the Fed, by sucking liquidity out of the short-term markets. In fall 2015, it began raising the interest rate on excess reserves, with the anticipated effect. At a current rate of about $36 billion a year, this is a cost to the Treasury that is indefensible. This amount is about half the budget for food stamps, for example, which politicians want to cut. There is no provision for these funds ever to be paid back. It is welfare for the bankers.
If the banks had been required to take excess reserves back onto their books it would have required financial disclosure of their quality, which is probably toxic for many. However, with the Financial Accounting Standards Board recently promulgating Financial Accounting Statements 56 and, previously, 157, the “extend and pretend” statement, it would seem they feel less and less need for financial disclosure of any kind. FAS 56 states that the government does not have to disclose what it spends taxpayers’ money on because of national security concerns.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has stepped up calls on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree a cross-party deal to leave the European Union, following poor results for both parties in local elections on Thursday. May’s Conservatives lost more than a thousand seats on English local councils that were up for re-election, and Labour – which would typically aim to gain hundreds of seats in a mid-term vote – instead lost 81. Both parties have been locked in talks for the past few weeks to try to broker a Brexit deal that can get a majority in Parliament, after May’s minority government suffered three heavy defeats on her preferred deal earlier this year.
Senior Conservatives said on Saturday there was an increased need for compromise after the local election results, and the leader of the Scottish branch of the Conservative Party said a deal with Labour could be done within days. May added her voice to these calls in an essay published in a Sunday newspaper. “To the Leader of the Opposition I say this: Let’s listen to what the voters said in the local elections and put our differences aside for a moment. Let’s do a deal,” she wrote in the Mail on Sunday. The Sunday Times reported that the Conservatives would offer new concessions to Labour when talks restart on Tuesday, including a temporary customs union with the European Union, which would last until a national election due in June 2022.
“At that point Labour could use their manifesto to argue for a softer Brexit if they wanted to and a new Conservative prime minister could argue for a harder Brexit,” a source cited by the Sunday Times said.
Last-ditch efforts by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn to strike a compromise on Brexit looked doomed on Saturday as the party leaders faced mounting revolts from their own MPs and activists. Following Thursday’s local elections, in which both the Conservatives and Labour were punished severely by voters for failing to break the political deadlock, May and Corbyn have insisted their parties must now urgently agree a way forward in cross-party talks which will resume on Tuesday. On Saturday the prime minister reiterated her appeal, saying: “We have to find a way to break the deadlock. I believe the results of the local elections give fresh urgency to this.”
But opposition MPs and Tory Brexiters warned any deal the leadership teams stitch up behind the scenes would face inevitable defeat in parliament and cause more acrimony in the parties. The Observer can reveal that 104 opposition MPs, mainly from Labour but also SNP, Change UK, Green and Plaid Cymru, have written to May and Corbyn insisting they will not back a “Westminster stitch-up” unless there is a firm guarantee that any deal is then put to a confirmatory referendum. The MPs say: “The very worst thing we could do at this time is a Westminster stitch-up whether over the PM’s deal or another deal. This risks alienating both those who voted leave in 2016 and those who voted remain.”
They say that, “whatever the deal” is, it must be the subject of another referendum so voters can have the “final say”. Separately, senior Tory MPs insisted that any deal struck with Labour that involved anything close to a customs union – Corbyn’s central demand in the talks – would be rejected by more than 100 of the party’s MPs, who would see it as a betrayal of May’s promises on Brexit.
In my book Mr Osborne’s Economic Experiment (2015), I pointed out that the “age of austerity” experienced during the post-1945 Attlee government was unavoidable as a debilitated UK adapted from a wartime economy to peacetime. Resources were strictly limited, and production had to be channelled away from armaments towards the normal needs of the population. Spending power was restricted because goods and food were in short supply. The austerity policy imposed by the Cameron-Osborne administration in 2010-15 – in coalition, let us not forget, with the Lib Dems – was a policy choice. George Osborne, in particular, seized the opportunity of the financial crisis of 2007-09 to cut back on public spending, or at least restrain its rate of growth.
The most obvious victims were local authorities and the electors they serve. Cuts varying between 30% and 40% were imposed on central government grants to local authorities, and the consequences were cumulative. Hardly a day goes by without sad reports of the impact the cuts are having on public services, one of the most recent being the way teachers in overstretched state schools are having to dip into their own pockets to provide textbooks. There are countless other examples. We were told by Theresa May and Philip Hammond, the chancellor, that austerity was coming to an end. But there is precious little sign of it. Which brings us back – I know you have been waiting for it – to the way that Brexit would compound the deleterious effects of austerity, a conclusion reached by every forecast I have examined.
The collapse of multi-generational family farms has sent bankruptcies in the Midwest to ten-year highs. “Bankruptcies in three regions covering major farm states last year rose to the highest level in at least 10 years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, had double the bankruptcies in 2018 compared with 2008. In the Eighth Circuit, which includes states from North Dakota to Arkansas, bankruptcies swelled 96%. The 10th Circuit, which covers Kansas and other states, last year had 59% more bankruptcies than a decade earlier,” reported WSJ. Steffes Group, a top auction firm in the upper Midwest, has seen auction activity rise 40% in 2019. “Up until now, there wasn’t a lot of motivation to exit farming,” said auctioneer Scott Steffes. “Now, what I’m hearing from folks is, ‘It’s no longer fun to farm.’”
Orders for Class-8 trucks – the heavy trucks that haul consumer goods, equipment, commodities, and supplies across the US to feed the goods-based economy – plunged 52% in April compared to April last year, to 16,400 orders, according to FTR Transportation Intelligence on Friday. It was the lowest April since 2016 when the industry cycled through its last transportation recession. This comes after orders had already plunged 67% year-over-year in March, 58% in February and January, and 43% in December. The collapse in orders is on the scale of the last transportation recession in 2015 and 2016. The chart shows the percent change of orders for each month compared to a year earlier:
The industry is very cyclical with big swings in both directions. Trucking companies get exuberant when capacity tightens and freight rates shoot up as they did in late 2017 and 2018, and they’re inclined to order when business is booming, but it takes a while to get these trucks built, and order backlogs at truck manufacturers piled up to reach close a year at the peak in 2018. Fear of not getting the equipment when they need it can cause industry-wide bouts of over-ordering at the peak of the cycle, which was summer 2018. But as capacity rises, and the cyclical freight business backs off from its blistering growth phase and ticks down a little as it has been since late 2018, trucking companies adjust by reducing their orders, and when push comes to shove, if they can still do it, by cancelling their orders. And that’s what is happening here.
The current climate and ecological crisis demands a radical redesign of how we live and organise our societies. Yet these urgent changes, though complex, are far from impossible. Some of them are simple, beautiful, and beneficial to all. By greening our cities with street trees, urban parks, and community and rooftop gardens, we can keep ourselves cool amid rising temperatures, reverse the steady erosion of the rich tapestry of life on Earth, and foster happiness and social connection in the process. It is widely known that greenery in urban spaces helps improve city microclimates.
Thanks to heat generated by traffic and industrial activity, as well as the spread of heat-trapping concrete buildings that have steadily replaced plant life, urban air temperature is often higher than in rural environments. Hotter cities compel urban denizens to opt for air conditioners in order to stay cool, which further strains energy demands and worsens the urban heat island effect. Plants can help cool cities through the water that evaporates from their leaves when exposed to the sun’s rays, and by shading surfaces that otherwise might have absorbed heat. Research has found that on a sunny day, a single healthy tree can have the cooling power of more than ten air-conditioning units.
Plants also help keep harmful pollutants such as microscopic particulate matter at bay through a complex process known as dry deposition, whereby particles penetrate and become trapped in the wax or cuticles of leaves. Although banning or at least restricting vehicle use in city centres is crucial, mass greening can further reduce pollution and keep cities cool in the increasingly scorching summers that lie ahead.
There’s not a shade of a doubt that I’m not an expert on tariffs, trade barriers and subsidies, and I’d be the last to suggest any such thing. But I can read. Still, do correct me if I’m wrong anywhere. The whole field is so complicated -no doubt often on purpose- that there’s always the possibility that there are side issues involved for which one would need to actually be an expert.
But still. Now that EU chief Jean-Claude -‘When it becomes serious, you have to lie’- Juncker is due to arrive at the White House soon, I looked at some of the items involved. Last night Trump said that all tariffs, barriers and subsidies should be dropped between the EU and US. Why the TTiP doesn’t come anywhere close to that is anyone’s guess. Too complicated for the boys and girls?
In at least some major fields, Trump does seem to have a point or two. The US has a 2.5% tariff on European cars, while the EU slaps a 10% tariff on American cars. That’s 4x as much, or a 300% difference. Whoever said yes to that? Sure, the US has a 25% tariff on EU pickups, but nobody in Europe drives pickups, hence they don’t produce them, so that’s not consequential.
So what had Trump done? He’s threatened a 20% tariff on Beemers and Mercs, and added -for entertainment value only- that he doesn’t want to see any of them in on Fifth Avenue anymore. Cue EU carmakers warning about the cost to American customers.
That’s all fine and well, but those tariffs on personal cars are still 300% higher. So push your European government to make them equal. Easy as -American- pie. How about zero? I can see where Trump’s coming from. Issuing warnings to the American public about BMW’s getting more expensive doesn’t look entirely on the up and up.
Also, I was looking at agriculture. Now, I grew up in Europe, and I do have an idea about EU farm subsidies (they’re notorious even inside the EU, going all the way back to the 1950s-60s). There was a point where they were over 70% of the total EU budget. They’re 30% or even somewhat below that now, but that’s not because subsidies have gone down, it’s because the EU budget has grown exponentially.
US farm subsidies were some $23 billion last year, and a year ago the Trump administration proposed a $4.8 billion cut to that. Now that Trump has initiated a one-time $12 billion for farmers to make up for the effects of his tariff proposals, one half of America -Conservatives- cry foul because: “that’s Soviet-style politics”, and no doubt the EU will cry right with them.
But look: under the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), EU farm subsidies for the 2021-2027 period will fall a whole 5% to ‘only’ $420 billion. And that’s just a proposal, and already France, the main beneficiary of the subsidies, has declared that such a cut is unacceptable. Soviet style?
The meeting of tee-totaller Trump and wine-totaller Juncker is interesting enough in and of itself, and you bet the Donald knows what and who Juncker is, but unless Jean-Claude comes with something very substantial, the numbers I cited above would seem to be very clear. And that’s without steel, aluminum etc etc.
If your side gives its farmers almost 20 times as much as the other side, what are you going to say? You may ask for some time to adapt, but that would seem to be it. However, Juncker could never sell egalization of subsidies ‘at home’. France and others would shave his head and ass and apply tar and feathers. And Macron would fear the same fate if he gives in. As Merkel would on the car issue.
Juncker has no room to wiggle on the whole shebang. All he can do is damage control and a good glass of wine (wonder if Trump instructed his staff not to give him any, or merely cut him off after the first bottle). It’s just that Trump has noticed the policy damage, and doesn‘t like it. And you have to wonder, who ever accepted those terms, and signed treaties like that TTiP that they are engraved in?
If you ask me, communities and countries should always make sure they remain in control of all their basic necessities. And food is certainly one of them. Also. if any politician near you ever proposes selling the rights to your drinking water to some foreign party, tar and feathers is your reply. Let Americans make their own cars, And German and French theirs. It’s not of the same importance as food, water, shelter and clothing, but you get the drift.
Schlepping food halfway across the planet is a dangerous thing once you become dependent on it to feed your children and your community (schlepping it halfway through Europe is as well). Selling your local water rights is even worse. That’s downright insane.
But if you’re going to trade, and once you’ve excluded basic necessities, zero tariffs or at least equal tariffs seems the way to go. Just wait till Trump starts that discussion with China for real. That conversation is largely about barriers, it’s different from Europe, though -hidden- subsidies feature ‘bigly’ as well.
Still, summarized, though I’m far from a Trumponado, I can see his point(s). I find it much harder to see what earlier US administrations were thinking when they agreed to all this stuff. And sure, his approach is brusque and perhaps brutal, but the country he’s, for better or for worse, president of, does seem to have gotten the short end of an very extensive array of sticks.
But by all means, don’t listen to me, listen to the experts. Then again, also look at the numbers.
U.S. President Donald Trump took a pessimistic view of talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set for Wednesday aimed at averting a trade war. In a tweet on Tuesday night, Trump said both the United States and the European Union should drop all tariffs, barriers and subsidies. “That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade!” Trump said. “Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!” he said. Trump has accused the EU of unfair trade practices and has threatened to raise tariffs on cars imported from the bloc.
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who will accompany Juncker, said last week that the EU was preparing a list of U.S. products to hit if the United States imposed the tariffs. Juncker will not arrive in Washington with a specific trade offer, the commission said on Monday. “I do not wish to enter into a discussion about mandates, offers because there are no offers,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference in Brussels. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has said he expected Juncker to come with a “significant” trade offer.
EU agriculture is built on enormous subsidies. No way they can let much of that go. Imagine the protests in France. Perhaps countries, but certainly continents should focud on producing their own food, not export it. But then the tiny Netherlands is the 2nd biggest tomato exporter in the world. That’s quite an applecart to upset.
According to the statement from the USDA, the administration “will take several actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation.” The plan authorizes the agency to spend “up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. These programs will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.” “Our farmers, our producers, they don’t want bailouts,” Simon Wilson, executive director of the North Dakota Trade Office, told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Tuesday. “They don’t want this help in the short term. They want long-term stability.”
Wilson added, “A lot of people have been hurt, so that’s a lot of money that’s going to have to be shared.” Payments under the largest part of the federal government’s relief plan would be targeted to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. Some experts have warned in the past that government aid or new subsidies could distort or disrupt markets and ultimately have negative consequences for the agriculture industry. That also includes the possibility it could lead to more retaliation on other agricultural exports.
In any event, Glauber said the program is likely to be taken as “producer support” and appears to be targeted toward a drop in the market price of certain commodities, meaning it could get counted against the U.S. commitments from the WTO. “We’ve run pretty low levels of [producer] support in recent years, but it will certainly raise a lot of eyebrows and will make people look at those calculations very, very carefully,” said Glauber. “It also will look at the way we formulate those programs very, very carefully.”
After a surprisingly dovish meeting in June, the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to strike a more balanced tone this week, given heightened uncertainties for the global economy. The focus will be on the ECB‘s assessments of these risks at its meeting Thursday, with investors concerned of the acute risk of a trade war escalation. “We expect Mario Draghi to aim for a ‘Goldilocks’ tone at the July 26 press conference — not too hawkish, not too dovish,” said Mark Wall, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank, in a research note. “The ECB only recently made a commitment to unchanged rates for the next year to lean against trade and volatility risks and avoid an unwarranted tightening of financial conditions.”
The ECB has committed itself to stop buying new bonds at the end of this year, but the onus clearly now is on the reinvestment of these purchases (as part of its crisis-era stimulus program) and its refined rate guidance. The euro zone’s central bank pledged to keep its key interest rate at minus 0.4 percent “at least through the summer of 2019” during its last meeting. The risks now are that the ECB is unwinding its monetary stimulus right at a time when the economy could head south. For now, its seems the ECB is convinced the region’s economy will remain resilient.
Alphabet CEO Larry Page has long admired Warren Buffett’s business acumen in creating the industrial and investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. And now analysts and investors are noticing Alphabet’s investments in emerging disparate businesses are starting to bear fruit — including YouTube, autonomous cars and cloud computing — drawing comparison to Berkshire Hathaway’s success. The internet giant reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings Monday, driving Alphabet shares to a new all-time high the following day. It generated adjusted earnings per share of $11.75 versus the Wall Street consensus of $9.59 for the quarter. Alphabet also posted a $1.06 billion gain in its equity investments for the time period.
“Our investments are driving great experiences for users, strong results for advertisers, and new business opportunities for Google and Alphabet,” said Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet and Google in the earnings press release Monday. As a result one well-known investor believes Alphabet has a shot of being the Berkshire Hathaway of tomorrow. “What I’m really talking about is the diversified nature of what [Alphabet is] building away from the ad platform, in much the same way as Berkshire reinvested the float from insurance premiums into other investments. I guess I am also talking in terms of longevity, not just size,” Josh Brown said in an email Tuesday. “This quarter witnessed a host of Google’s other investments throwing off profits. Larry and Sergey were very open about their intention to create something Berkshire-like when they first announced the new structure and Alphabet.”
Theresa May has taken back control of crucial negotiations with Brussels from her new Brexit secretary just hours after the government published its white paper on withdrawing from the EU. The prime minister announced she would now lead the crunch talks with the EU while Dominic Raab, who was appointed two weeks ago, would be left in charge of domestic preparations, no-deal planning and legislation. The move was swiftly characterised as a “sidelining” of the Brexit secretary by No 10’s Europe unit, led by May’s chief Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, with the prime minister also taking officials from his department. In a written statement on the last sitting day of the Commons before the summer recess, May said: “I will lead the negotiations with the European Union, with the secretary of state for Exiting the European Union deputising on my behalf.
“Both of us will be supported by the Cabinet Office Europe Unit and with this in mind the Europe Unit will have overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations, drawing upon support from DExEU and other departments as required.” Robbins, appearing alongside Raab at the Commons’ Brexit committee, said: “The overall strategy for the conduct of these negotiations, she regards very much as her personal responsibility, now with the secretary of state very close at hand.” Raab described the changes as a “shifting of the Whitehall deckchairs” and said there would now be “one team, one chain of command” but pointed out that there would be “full assertion of ministerial accountability”.
A messy, no-deal Brexit could throw 48 million insurance contracts and £26 trillion ($34 trillion) of derivatives deals into confusion. Nausicaa Delfas, head of international strategy at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told delegates at a CityUK and Bloomberg event that there were “cliff-edge” risks due to uncertainty over the legality of financial contracts extending beyond the planned Brexit date, in March. The UK government has already passed regulations that would allow European banks and insurers to maintain their UK operations under current rules after Brexit. So far, the EU has refused to reciprocate, even on a temporary basis.
The EU has also ruled out extending passporting rights to UK financial institutions after Brexit. These rights allow UK-based institutions to sell financial products from the City to investors in the 27 other EU member states. Brussels has also turned down the UK government’s latest proposal for a system of “advanced equivalence” between British and EU financial services. If the EU continues to reject a temporary permissions regime and no cooperative Brexit deal is signed by the March 29 deadline, big doubts could be raised about the viability of certain derivatives contracts. And that could seriously disrupt an already highly volatile, deeply opaque, largely unregulated $600-trillion dollar industry.
Ministers will have the power to block foreign takeovers across all sectors of the British economy on national security grounds under new government proposals designed to protect some of the UK’s most important and technically advanced businesses. The business secretary, Greg Clark, wants to widen the scope of the current system, which is limited to large transactions and certain industries such as defence, to cover all UK firms including small businesses as he seeks to keep vital firms and technologies out of foreign ownership. The proposals, which will be subject to a 12-week consultation, will allow ministers to halt or unwind takeovers and even the smallest asset sales that could be deemed to jeopardise Britain’s national security.
Potential targets under the new rules are likely to be Chinese and Russian takeovers of defence-related industries. Technology firms, including cybersecurity businesses that already have links with the Ministry of Defence, or are viewed as crucial to the development of the UK’s financial and commercial defence systems, are also expected to top the list of ministers’ national security concerns. Clark allowed the £74m takeover of the handset maker Sepura by the Hytera Corporation of China last year, making it only the second review of a transaction on national security grounds in 18 months, after the MoD raised concerns this month over the sale of Northern Aerospace to a Chinese buyer. The Competition and Markets Authority later cleared the Northern Aerospace transaction, by which time it had lapsed.
Offshore owners of British property will be forced to reveal their true identities or face jail sentences and unlimited fines under draft laws that aim to end the UK’s reputation as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering. The legislation follows years of scandals involving the acquisition of high-value UK property by offshore companies, and concerns that a lack of regulation was allowing corrupt money into the housing market. The National Crime Agency said three years ago that overseas criminal gangs were using British property transactions to launder billions of pounds in corrupt funds. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee went further earlier this year, saying that corrupt Russian funds laundered through the UK, including via property, posed a threat to national security.
Under the new legislation, overseas companies that own UK properties will be required to identify their true owners on a publicly available register. The government said the register was part of a wider crackdown on money laundering in the property sector, and would make it easier for law enforcers to seize criminal assets. The anonymous ownership of property via offshore companies is perfectly legal, but it has also been a subject of concern for housing campaigners concerned about an influx of foreign money forcing up house prices.
There was a time when Australia’s housing bubble was not much more than a curiosity. Contained mostly to Sydney it seemed it would pass with a little pop and be forgotten. Then there was a time when the bubble went national. And suddenly the little pop was going to be a big pop so monetary and fiscal policy began to distort in support of it. Next there was a time when moral hazard became so great that the bubble grew to engulf all policy and media, marginalising an entire generation from home ownership. Politicians routinely lied to cover the collapse in evidence based policy-making.
Finally, we come to today. When notions of managing the macro-economic levers of an economy now boil down to just one thing: • low interest rates to prevent the housing bubble bursting; • fiscal repair to prevent the bubble bursting, and • mass immigration to prevent the bubble bursting even though it is crushing living standards and gutting wages. [..] It’s all so bizarre. All we need to do is cut immigration and let house prices fall. There’ll be a period of adjustment while wages and the currency correct but it won’t be too bad. We’ll still be on the doorstep of Asia. The students and tourists will still come, in greater numbers than ever as we get cheaper, but they’ll also go home not pressuring living standards.
Broader tradables (40% of the economy) will boom. Commodity income will surge, lifting the Budget. Our maginalised youth will have much greater opportunities to advance their global opportunities as Dutch Disease ends. Incomes will ultimately be much more sustainable. Then we can all move on with a much healthier economy, polity, society and strategic outlook. The alternative is to sell our freedom to China, our standards of living to a few rich developers, our politics to carpet baggers and our society to fractious class wars. Just for higher house prices. If a more ignominious fate awaited any nation in history then I’m not aware of it.
America emerged out of darkness and light – a proto-nation clouded by the genocide of native Americans and the enslavement of transshipped Africans but brilliantly shot through with shafts of luminescence – the liberal ideals of European philosophers such as Locke and Hume.The alternate red and white stripes of its flag have thus come to echo a nation born in the blood of its innocent victims yet ennobled, in parallel, by the spirit of the Enlightenment. Yet even after its ideals were enshrined in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the country continued to countenance slavery, the trading of domestic, purpose-bred Africans and the brutal killing of native peoples and their vibrant communities.
Today, the historic and contemporary horrors of the American nation are ground together with its liberal principles (in some mythic bedrock mortar) to produce a culture that proclaims its goodness to its people and to the world, yet is visibly marbled with the evils of state violence against refugees and minorities, the economic oppression of a population paradoxically made comatose through over-consumption and the global havoc wreaked by its Imperial killing machine. It is this grand chiaroscuro that Eugene Jarecki explores in The King, 2018, his new documentary on the life, death and after-life of Elvis Presley, now in select release following its acclaimed debuts at the film festivals in Sundance and Cannes.
Former FBI attorney Lisa Page has reportedly told a joint committee of the House of Representatives that when FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok texted her on May 19, 2017 saying there was “no big there there,” he meant there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. It was clearly a bad-luck day for Strzok, when on Friday the 13th this month Page gave her explanation of the text to the House Judiciary and Oversight/Government Reform Committees and in effect threw her lover, Strzok, under the bus. Strzok’s apparent admission to Page about there being “no big there there” was reported on Friday by John Solomon in the Opinion section of The Hill based on multiple sources who he said were present during Page’s closed door interview.
Strzok’s text did not come out of the blue. For the previous ten months he and his FBI subordinates had been trying every-which-way to ferret out some “there” — preferably a big “there” — but had failed miserably. If Solomon’s sources are accurate, it is appearing more and more likely that there was nothing left for them to do but to make it up out of whole cloth, with the baton then passed to special counsel Robert Mueller. The “no there there” text came just two days after former FBI Director James Comey succeeded in getting his friend Mueller appointed to investigate the alleged collusion that Strzok was all but certain wasn’t there.
Robert Parry, the late founder and editor of Consortium News whom Solomon described to me last year as his model for journalistic courage and professionalism, was already able to discern as early as March 2017 the outlines of what is now Deep State-gate, and, typically, was the first to dare report on its implications. Parry’s article, written two and a half months before Strzok texted the self-incriminating comment to Page on there being “no big there there,” is a case study in professional journalism. His very first sentence entirely anticipated Strzok’s text: “The hysteria over ‘Russia-gate’ continues to grow … but at its core there may be no there there.”
The British man poisoned with the nerve agent novichok has claimed the substance that killed his girlfriend and left him critically ill came in a bottle disguised as a legitimate perfume in a sealed box. Charlie Rowley claimed his partner, mother-of-three Dawn Sturgess, fell ill within 15 minutes of spraying the bottle, which he said he had found, on to her wrists at his home in Amesbury, Wiltshire. In his first interview since he was discharged from hospital, Rowley told ITV News: “I do have a memory of her spraying it on her wrists and rubbing them together. “I guess that’s how she applied it and became ill.
I guess how I got in contact with it is when I put the spray part to the bottle … I ended up tipping some on my hands but I washed it off under the tap. “It was an oily substance and I smelled it and it didn’t smell of perfume. It felt oily. I washed it off and I didn’t think anything of it. It all happened so quick. “Within 15 minutes, Dawn said she had a headache. She asked me if I had any headache tablets. In that time she said she felt peculiar and needed to lie down in the bath. I went into the bathroom and found her in the bath, fully clothed, in a very ill state.”
Counter-terrorism detectives are working on the theory that the poisoning of Rowley and Sturgess at the end of last month is directly linked to the poisoning of the Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March. Experts from the top secret research facility at Porton Down in Wiltshire are trying to establish if the novichok was from the same batch. But if Rowley is correct about the perfume bottle being boxed and sealed, it may undermine the line of inquiry that the novichok that he and Sturgess came into contact with had been discarded by the attackers of the Skripals. It also opens up the possibility that there may yet be more novichok that has not been found in Wiltshire.
In today’s United States, the term “espionage” doesn’t get too much use outside of some specific contexts. There is still sporadic talk of industrial espionage, but with regard to Americans’ own efforts to understand the world beyond their borders, they prefer the term “intelligence.” This may be an intelligent choice, or not, depending on how you look at things. First of all, US “intelligence” is only vaguely related to the game of espionage as it has been traditionally played, and as it is still being played by countries such as Russia and China. Espionage involves collecting and validating strategically vital information and conveying it to just the pertinent decision-makers on your side while keeping the fact that you are collecting and validating it hidden from everyone else.
In eras past, a spy, if discovered, would try to bite down on a cyanide capsule; these days torture is considered ungentlemanly, and spies that get caught patiently wait to be exchanged in a spy swap. An unwritten, commonsense rule about spy swaps is that they are done quietly and that those released are never interfered with again because doing so would complicate negotiating future spy swaps. In recent years, the US intelligence agencies have decided that torturing prisoners is a good idea, but they have mostly been torturing innocent bystanders, not professional spies, sometimes forcing them to invent things, such as “Al Qaeda.” There was no such thing before US intelligence popularized it as a brand among Islamic terrorists.
Most recently, British “special services,” which are a sort of Mini-Me to the to the Dr. Evil that is the US intelligence apparatus, saw it fit to interfere with one of their own spies, Sergei Skripal, a double agent whom they sprung from a Russian jail in a spy swap. They poisoned him using an exotic chemical and then tried to pin the blame on Russia based on no evidence. There are unlikely to be any more British spy swaps with Russia, and British spies working in Russia should probably be issued good old-fashioned cyanide capsules (since that supposedly super-powerful Novichok stuff the British keep at their “secret” lab in Porton Down doesn’t work right and is only fatal 20% of the time).
As the summer holidays begin, many families look forward to breaks away from home, in the UK and abroad. Yet for thousands of families, the six-week school break is characterised not by play schemes and day trips in the sun, but acute financial stress, hunger and malnourishment, due to the absence of free school meals for children on low incomes that costs a family £30-£40 a week. With three million children at risk of hunger during the school holidays, the Trussell Trust has warned that food bank use spikes each summer. And last year, 593 organisations running holiday clubs across the UK provided more than 190,000 meals to over 22,000 school-aged children.
Feeding Britain, the charity set up by two Labour MPs, Emma Lewell-Buck and Frank Field, expects to provide meals for 27,000 children in 79 clubs across England this summer. In pilots in 2017, it provided a total of 43,314 meals in holiday fun clubs across eight areas, including Birkenhead, South Shields and Cornwall, in the summer holidays and October half term. Feeding Britain works with existing local charities, community groups, councils and others in the community providing funding and toolkits on how to run and roll out pilots, and creates networks for practical support. The clubs run in community centres, church halls, schools, children’s centres, libraries and parks, and they host games and activities for children, alongside breakfast, lunches, and lessons about food and nutrition for the young attendees.