Feb 182023
 February 18, 2023  Posted by at 10:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  47 Responses »

Pablo Picasso The dream 1951


Seymour Hersh’s Trinity of Truth (Scott Ritter)
Seymour Hersh Believes Betting On Ukraine’s Victory ‘Suicidal’ (TASS)
‘Ukraine Would Have Wiped Out Donbass Last Year If Not For Russia’ (TASS)
Food For Thought (Gonzalo Lira)
NATO Involvement In Ukrainian Conflict Is Maximal – Zakharova (TASS)
Ukraine ‘Peace Petition’ Backed By Nearly Half A Million Germans (RT)
No Sense In Signing Any Agreements With Zelensky – Medvedev (TASS)
Moscow Warns EU Over Seized Assets (RT)
Oh Lightning, I Command Thee To Smite My Foe! (Kunstler)
George Soros Is Defending The Unipolar World Order, Not Freedom (Blankenship)
EU Parliament Blocks Scrutiny of Von der Leyen Over Pfizer Contract (Pol.eu)
Nancy Pelosi’s Daughter Caught on Tape Refuting J6 Narrative (GP)
Too Slow And Too Secret? Pace of Staley Investigation Undermines Trust (G.)
Trump Announces Upcoming Visit to East Palestine, FEMA Reverses Course {(CTH)





Galloway Ritter





Putin 2019



No more boosters in the UK.



And Idaho is putting it a bit stronger even.










“..Sy Hersh, through his reporting, has exposed truths which have the potential of bringing down a presidency, destroying NATO, and proving Russia right in the eyes of the world..”

Seymour Hersh’s Trinity of Truth (Scott Ritter)

I’ve read nearly everything Sy Hersh has written, and am able to put his considerable journalistic output in its proper historical perspective. It is therefore that I feel very comfortable in concluding that, in terms of its potential for bringing about tectonic geopolitical change, Sy’s Nord Stream reporting is his most important work ever. The GOAT has produced what I call the Trinity of Truth. Truth One: The President of the United States, Joe Biden, by conspiring with members of his national security team to deliberately bypass constitutionally-mandated reporting requirements to Congress regarding acts of war undertaken by the United States, has committed an impeachable offense unmatched by any other president in the history of the United States.

Truth Two: The blow-back that will occur inside Germany to the revelations put forward by Seymour Hersh that the United States carried out an economic Pearl Harbor by destroying energy infrastructure critical to the well-being of the German nation has the potential of breaking up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), upending more than eighty years of post-war European security and stability, and resulting in the diminishment of the United States on the world stage as it becomes isolated from long-time European allies that served as the foundation of the global acceptance of the so-called “rules based international order” that has served as the means by which the United States exerted global hegemony.

Truth Three: The decision to attack the Nord Stream pipeline puts a lie to the US contention that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an unprovoked act of aggression, instead underscoring the harsh truth that the United States had a strategic plan which hinged on provoking a conflict with Russia in Ukraine to provide the geopolitical cover for ending Europe’s reliance upon cheap Russian natural gas by demonstrating that every time Russia sought a negotiated end to the crisis, whether before the invasion through implementation of the Minsk Accords, or after in the Istanbul round of talks scheduled for April 1, the United States sabotaged the effort, keeping the conflict alive long enough to implement its major objective—the destruction of Nord Stream. In short, Sy Hersh, through his reporting, has exposed truths which have the potential of bringing down a presidency, destroying NATO, and proving Russia right in the eyes of the world.

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“..It’s impossible to believe how just dumb this leadership was. <…> And then they stick to the war..”

Seymour Hersh Believes Betting On Ukraine’s Victory ‘Suicidal’ (TASS)

The US administration’s hopes for Ukraine’s victory in the conflict with Russia are ‘suicidal,’ US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview with the Consortium News portal. “It was suicidal to think you can win that war, that Ukraine can win that war. There’s just too much corruption. That was a very, very bad decision. We should have been pushing for peace, we should have made an agreement,” said Hersh, who earlier published his findings about explosions targeting Russia’s Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. “It’s just silly not to right away assure the Russian government that we were not interested in making Ukraine a member of NATO. NATO didn’t want Ukraine anyway because of the corruption. There were just so many bad mistakes made. It’s impossible to believe how just dumb this leadership was. <…> And then they stick to the war,” he said.

On February 8, Hersh wrote in an article, citing sources, that US Navy divers had planted explosive devices under the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines under the cover of the BALTOPS exercise in June 2022 and Norwegians activated the bombs three months later. According to the journalist, the decision to conduct the operation was made by US President Joe Biden personally, following nine months of discussions with White House security specialists. White House National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a comment to TASS that Hersh’s account was utterly false and complete fiction.

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“700-800 rounds of ammunition per day flew into the republic.”

‘Ukraine Would Have Wiped Out Donbass Last Year If Not For Russia’ (TASS)

Ukraine would have levelled the Donbass republics a year ago if Russia had not intervened in time by recognizing the Lugansk and the Donetsk People’s Republics and launching its special military operation, Former LPR ambassador to Moscow Rodion Miroshnik said on Friday. “Exactly one year ago, the Ukrainian regime began artillery preparations before attacking Donbass! A 150,000-soldier group, armed and trained by NATO, was preparing to sweep away the Donbass. And if it were not for Russia’s decision to start a special military operation, we would have simply been levelled,” he wrote on his Telegram channel on the anniversary of the beginning of the escalation of the situation in the Donbass, “And neither the UN nor the OSCE would have noticed it.”

Miroshnik recalled that from February 17 to 24, when the Russian Federation began its special military operation, the Ukrainian armed forces fired 551 shells on the LPR territory. At that time, he recalled, “700-800 rounds of ammunition per day flew into the republic.” There were attempts to break through the defense, as well as casualties among civilians. Also on Friday, Miroshnik drew attention to the fact that a year ago, neither the guarantors (of the Minsk agreements) – France and Germany – nor the UN General Assembly had forced Kiev to fulfill its obligations. At that time, the republics understood that the clock was ticking as the Ukrainian military could wipe out the DPR and the LPR cities, so the emergency evacuation began. “But the world prefers not to see this and starts counting from February 24,” he pointed out.

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Twitter thread.

“They see the West as a paper tiger, run by fools and degenerates.”

Food For Thought (Gonzalo Lira)

I’ve been talking to a number of acquaintances in Russia. These are well-educated professionals who speak English fluently, many of whom have lived/worked in the US/Europe. Some are highly critical of Putin, and many were very much opposed to the SMO. Some observations. They are universally shocked at the racist Russophobia, from Europe especially. “I thought they were our friends/partners!” is a common complaint. They don’t understand why Europe destroyed its own economy with the sanctions. (There’s quite a bit of schadenfreude over that. They don’t understand why the Germans are not reacting to the Nord Stream terrorist attack. They see it as self-evident that the Americans did it—an act of war by one of Germany’s closest ally.

They have zero trust in the Europeans—because of the Russophobia and revelations. Hollande and Merkel have publicly bragged about how the Minsk agreements were entered into to buy time to arm Kiev. This has had a huge impact on them. So they won’t accept any negotiations or ceasefire. They all think Russia would be played for fools again by the West. Even the “doves” believe that the conflict can only end in total victory, i.e. complete military occupation of Ukraine. They don’t look forward to this—but they believe it is the only solution to guarantee Russian safety. They all view this conflict as a Russia vs. NATO war. And they all believe this war will last for years. There is a palpable sense of determination and *relief* that they too—like their grandfathers before—are involved in an existential war for the survival of their nation.

They one and all despise the Russians who fled to Europe, Israel and Georgia. They view them as fair-weather friends at best—traitors at worst. They all made it clear that they would not be welcomed back at the end of this conflict. Even the “doves” respect Putin, and they laugh at the idea of “regime change in Russia”. The principal criticism of Putin is that he’s been too gentle, too patient. Many (not all) would prefer a scorched earth, total war campaign, specifically targeting the Kiev leadership. All in all, they are satisfied with their leadership. Lavrov was universally praised, Peskov the one least respected. Shoigu, Gerasimov and Surovikin were all endorsed, though they all took some criticism, mostly because they think the war is going too slowly. Interestingly, I sensed a gnawing anxiety over Russia’s economy, which seems to be going so well—as if it’s too good to be true.

The 2015 sanctions nearly broke their economy—but now, with even worse sanctions, none are experiencing a loss of standard of living. They seem to have lost their respect, admiration—and fear—of the West. Certainly their trust. They all believe that “human rights”, “democracy”, etc. are empty platitudes the West uses to get its way. They see the West as a paper tiger, run by fools and degenerates. This is inevitably a very biased selection of opinions: Highly educated, well traveled, Western-oriented, fairly well-to-do people aged 27–60. So imagine how much more conservative Russian working class people’s opinions would be. Food for thought.

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“Now they directly control the leadership of the Kiev regime, they are all connected.”

NATO Involvement In Ukrainian Conflict Is Maximal – Zakharova (TASS)

The involvement of NATO countries in the conflict in Ukraine is maximal, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Friday. “NATO countries are playing innocent, trying to prove that they are not a party to the conflict [in Ukraine] <…>. The involvement [of NATO countries] is maximal, [they’ve been carrying out] provocative activity for many years. Now they directly control the leadership of the Kiev regime, they are all connected.” According to Zakharova, Moscow also drew attention to media reports that Ukraine might organize joint licensed production of shells and other weapons with the UK and create similar military enterprises with other NATO countries. “It is obvious that big Western capital is behind the pumping of the Ukrainian armed forces, the formation of combat operations,” the diplomat noted.

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“If the fighting goes on like this, Ukraine will soon be a depopulated, destroyed country..”

Ukraine ‘Peace Petition’ Backed By Nearly Half A Million Germans (RT)

Almost 500,000 Germans have supported a petition urging Chancellor Olaf Scholz to spearhead efforts for peace negotiations in Ukraine. The appeal is authored by journalist Alice Schwarzer and Sahra Wagenknecht, a prominent member of Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke), and implores officials in Berlin not to provide Kiev with more weapons. The document, which was published last Friday and has since gathered an increasing number of supporters, claims that the conflict in Ukraine has already cost the lives of more than 200,000 military personnel and 50,000 civilians. “If the fighting goes on like this, Ukraine will soon be a depopulated, destroyed country,” the authors warn. Wagenknecht and Schwarzer also argue that “a lot of people in Europe fear an expansion of the war.”

The petition asserts that Ukrainians need solidarity from Germany, but questions whether Berlin’s current policies truly reflect the support they require. “What is now, one year on, the actual goal of this war?” the authors ask, citing German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s recent comment about Europe being at war with Russia. The petition expresses skepticism over whether Scholz’s government will keep its word and not provide Ukraine with fighter jets. According to Wagenknecht and Schwarzer, the German chancellor has already crossed multiple “red lines” in recent months. The pair also warn that Russian President Vladimir Putin could unleash a “maximum counterstrike,” should Ukraine retake Crimea – which is among the goals set by senior officials in Kiev.

“Are we then inexorably sliding down a chute leading to a world war and nuclear war?” the petition asks, adding that numerous major conflicts have begun this way, and that another could end up being the last for mankind. The petition stresses that “to negotiate doesn’t mean to capitulate,” but rather to “make compromises on both sides.” The authors claim that half of the German population wants immediate peace talks, and suggest that the government should heed their calls. “We demand that the federal chancellor stop the escalation of weapons deliveries,” the document states, urging officials in Berlin to focus on peace efforts and form an international alliance to this end.

The petition had received 496,008 signatures at the time of writing. Moscow has repeatedly signaled it is open to talks with Kiev, provided that Ukrainian leaders accept Russia’s conditions and recognize what the Kremlin calls the “reality on the ground.” In early October 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ruled out negotiations with his Russian counterpart. Kiev is insisting on a military victory over Russia, and refuses to make any territorial concessions to its neighbor.

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“..He is not supposed to hold any talks. He is supposed to sign what he is told to sign..”

No Sense In Signing Any Agreements With Zelensky – Medvedev (TASS)

Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that he sees no point in signing any agreements with Kiev, since it is highly likely that Ukraine’s next leader will annul them. Medvedev drew attention to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s statements that he was not inclined to hold any talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “It’s not news, but there is a nuance he opted not to mention yesterday although he is quite aware of it. He is not supposed to hold any talks. He is supposed to sign what he is told to sign. Although, frankly speaking, this document will not be worth its weight in paper. You can remember the Minsk agreements that were signed by his predecessor,” Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel.

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The west keeps thinking they will be rebuilding Ukraine.

Moscow Warns EU Over Seized Assets (RT)

Any Western attempts to transfer seized Russian assets to Ukraine would be “barbarism,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has claimed. If necessary, Moscow is ready to impose a tit-for-tat response, she added. Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Zakharova noted that EU nations had invested heavily in Russia, meaning a significant amount of European-owned assets remains in the country. Their value is larger than that of the Russian assets seized by foreign nations, the spokeswoman argued. Zakharova insisted that Russia wants to operate within the law and would give the US and its allies “every last chance” to reconsider any plans to confiscate Russian property. However, she added that Moscow was fully prepared to defend its interests, including through the use of “equal compensatory measures.”

The remarks referred to a new EU working group, established to explore ways to make Russia fund the future reconstruction of Ukraine. “This must be done in accordance with EU and international law, and there is currently no direct model for this,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said, commenting on the new group. Stockholm currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council. Western nations have frozen hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Russian sovereign reserves, as well the assets of Russians whom they consider close to the government. Moscow has branded the measures an act of robbery. Zakharova stressed that property rights should not be subject to the whims and geopolitical needs of a handful of nations, adding that US foreign policy was often prone to wild swings.

She claimed that a case in point is Venezuela, where Washington previously referred to Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader who has the right to manage the nation’s wealth. “Now Western delegations visit [Nicolas] Maduro, whom we always considered the legitimate president, as if nothing happened,” Zakharova said. “So everything they say now about Russia, their accusations, threats, and blackmail… can flip-flop in a moment. Mark my words.” The spokeswoman warned that the international community should oppose the push for the expropriation of Russian property, if not for its own sake. Countries could otherwise find themselves on the receiving end of the “ostensibly impartial” West-controlled financial system, Zakharova cautioned.

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“..Russia has every intention of pacifying the joint at all costs..”

Oh Lightning, I Command Thee To Smite My Foe! (Kunstler)

In the meantime, America is rapidly disintegrating on the home front. Is it attempted suicide or murder? It’s a little hard to tell. Things are blowing up from sea to shining sea — food processing facilities, giant chicken barns, regional electric grids, oil refineries. The latest, of course, is a chemical spill from the Norfolk-Southern train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, set ablaze by a conclave of government officials purportedly to keep the toxic liquids from seeping into the Ohio River watershed and beyond. Of course, in the dithering prior to lighting it up, enough vinyl chloride leached into streams feeding the big river to kill countless fish. And then torching the remaining chemical pools sent up a mushroom cloud of dioxin and other poisons that killed wildlife, pets, and chickens in the vicinity before the evil miasma wafted eastward on the wind to the densely-populated Atlantic coast.

One has to wonder whether an army of saboteurs is on the loose across the land. Considering the border with Mexico is wide open, why wouldn’t America’s adversaries send whole wrecking crews over here to mess with our infrastructure? There’s no question that people from all over the planet have been sneaking across the Rio Grande. Surely some of them are on a mission. America is filled with “soft” targets, things unguarded and indefensible — not least, tens of thousands of miles of railroad track. Of all the reasons to be unnerved by “Joe Biden’s” open border policy, this one is the least discussed, even in the alt-media. But it seems like a no-brainer for nefarious interests who might want to bamboozle and disable us.

The sad truth of this moment in history is that the USA has too much going sideways with our own business at home now to be dabbling in any foreign misadventures — and we couldn’t have picked a worse place than Ukraine to do it. The sheer logistics are implausible. The geography is lethally unfavorable. The place has been inarguably within Russia’s sphere of influence for centuries and Russia has every intention of pacifying the joint at all costs. Peace talks are apparently out of the question for our leaders. Something’s got to give, and that something is probably Western Civ’s financial system. It’s primed to blow anyway, and when it does, we’ll have other things to think about.

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Soros picks DeSantis.

George Soros Is Defending The Unipolar World Order, Not Freedom (Blankenship)

Contrary to the causes Soros claims to champion, his vision is more likely to usher in a third World War – not prevent one. There’s no credible evidence of a Russian regime-change operation in Moldova. China’s global position has little to do with Russia’s success or failure in Ukraine — the two are partners, but not a unified entity, or even allies; their societies and economies are distinct. What Soros was really rambling against wasn’t corruption or anti-democratic behavior — but the emerging multipolar world order, of which India and Türkiye are, to various degrees, becoming a part. I will not waste my time defending the likes of Modi or Erdogan, as their records are, in my opinion, indefensible. But it’s not their autocratic leanings that Soros hates about them — it’s their flickers of independence.

He may, in this respect, ultimately come to be disappointed by Brazil’s turn to democracy, as it will lead to more development in multipolarism and visibility in multilateral institutions. I also believe he seriously underestimates the US Republican Party’s sheer lack of principles and its willingness to tap into even the most wretched sources of untamed hatred for political support. Despite what the aging “philanthropist” desires, the era of unipolar liberal hegemony is over. The world is entering a new era of multilateralism and anti-hegemony. Soros’ speech before the Munich Security Conference may, in this way, be a symbol. A symbol of how the old way of doing things dies with the ramblings of an old man while the emerging multipolar world order is born in the thunderous cry of billions of youth across the Global South.


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It’s a closed circuit. The opposite of democratic. They only need the chiefs. The rest have no say.

EU Parliament Blocks Scrutiny of Von der Leyen Over Pfizer Contract (Pol.eu)

The top ranks of the European Parliament have slammed the door shut to a public cross-examination of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over her personal role in negotiating a multibillion euro vaccine deal with Pfizer. Last month, lawmakers in the Parliament’s special committee on COVID-19 proposed to invite von der Leyen to answer questions on the EU’s largest vaccine contract, signed at the height of the pandemic. It was in the run-up to this contract that she is reported to have exchanged text messages with Pfizer’s Chief Executive Albert Bourla. However, at a closed-door meeting Thursday of the Conference of Presidents (CoP) — which includes the heads of all the political groups and the Parliament’s president — leaders refused the request to hold a public grilling.

Instead they decided to ask von der Leyen to answer questions in private at some point in the future, watering down the invitation to almost nothing. “It was agreed that CoP will be able to raise … [the Parliament’s COVID-19 committee’s] concerns in their next regular meeting with the president of the Commission,” said an EU official with knowledge of the confidential discussions. The European People’s Party MEP in the room, Siegfried Muresan, dismissed the suggestion that the group was protecting von der Leyen — also affiliated with the EPP — as a “conclusion in search of an argument.” “The broad consensus was that we’re in dialogue with her [and] that should continue in the formats that have worked so far and that we have established,” he told POLITICO.

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“Nancy Pelosi has contributed to destroying countless lives with her “insurrection” narrative and sham committee – And here is her daughter on camera saying it’s all a crock.”

Nancy Pelosi’s Daughter Caught on Tape Refuting J6 Narrative (GP)

In the video below, Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, is meeting with a January 6 defendant she wanted desperately to be in her sham documentary. It is a meeting with this same J6 defendant and his attorney. Alexandra Pelosi asked the defendant numerous times to participate. He politely declined. The Gateway Pundit reached out to the January 6 defendant in this video to confirm the details in the recording. Alexandra Pelosi agreed to be recorded by the defendant. In this video, Alexandra Pelosi is on camera saying many very shocking things. She mocks the idea that January 6th was an insurrection and admits that DC is too biased to hold fair trials and that many J6ers would be found not guilty if their cases were handled anywhere else in the country, and much more.


This video has not yet been made public. This is an exclusive video for The Gateway Pundit audience. From our source: “I did a lot of due diligence making sure that the defendant who shot this video had permission to do so. I spoke with his attorney who provided me documentation that Alexandra agreed to be filmed if they met. I wanted to bring this to you before anybody else if you’re interested in featuring it. Nancy Pelosi has contributed to destroying countless lives with her “insurrection” narrative and sham committee – And here is her daughter on camera saying it’s all a crock.” Here are some of the key moments in the video where Alexandra makes some particularly audacious comments.

Key moments:
2:43: Pelosi: “The Shaman did noth(ing)… What did the Shaman do? He stood there.”
4:24: “After the Democrats lose the house, then they get rid of the committee, people may lose I think interest… no one is going to care after the democrats are out of power. And you take Biden out of office- then who cares!?”
4:50: “DC is a lot of people who work for the government. I don’t think they’re sympathetic. If you got it moved (changed trial jurisdiction from DC) you’d totally get off” (laughs while saying this)
6:50: “If there was an insurrection… you were supposed to have a plan!” “It was the sorriest insurrection in history”
8:11: “You’re going to be able to laugh about this one day”
14:53: Pelosi talks about her friendship with Gavin McInnes and laughs at the notion that Proud Boys are white supremacists.

Daughter Pelosi

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Why does the Guardian cover this all of a sudden?

Too Slow And Too Secret? Pace of Staley Investigation Undermines Trust (G.)

Three years after it began, the findings of a City watchdog investigation into whether the former Barclays chief executive Jes Staley gave a full account of his relationship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to the bank’s board are still pending. There is a risk that justice delayed may prove justice denied for the British public. Our system relies on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and other regulators to uphold the integrity and honesty of those who manage our money. The issue came to the fore again this week after the publication of allegations made in a court case brought by the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a home, against Staley’s former employer, JPMorgan Chase bank.

It is alleged by Virgin Islands prosecutors that Staley held discussions with Epstein in which they referred to women by the names of Disney princesses, that Epstein procured women for Staley, and that Epstein emailed his friend photos of young women in seductive poses. Staley is not a party to the lawsuit and denies the allegations. JP Morgan declined to comment on the latest allegations. It previously called for the lawsuit to be dismissed, claiming it did not participate in or benefit from sex trafficking by its former client. As allegations about Staley’s ties to Epstein have mounted, so too has the pressure on the Barclays board to justify why they backed him to stay on as chief executive in 2020. The implications of this case are broad, says Simon Learmount, professor in corporate governance at Cambridge Judge Business School:

“This is a really, really important case, not just because of what it may reveal about the Staley-Epstein relationship, but the questions it raises about the Barclays board and boards in general.” Establishing who knew what, and when, and how they responded, is the task that faces the FCA. Its probe not only looked at Staley’s disclosures to the Barclays board, but those the board subsequently made to the FCA. The preliminary findings – which have still not been made public and are subject to legal challenge – therefore speak not only to Staley’s integrity but also the board’s. That includes Nigel Higgins, who received Staley’s disclosures and who is still chair of Barclays. Yet despite the clear public interest in good governance at the top of a British bank of systemic importance, the public may never know the final conclusions of the FCA inquiry. If its preliminary findings are successfully challenged, they will not be disclosed.

[..]Epstein’s luxurious celebrity lifestyle and royal friendships, his death in prison after a previous conviction for soliciting sex from a minor, have all served to keep his name in the headlines. As Epstein’s one-time banker at Wall Street investment bank JPMorgan Chase, Staley has been the focus of attention too. The pair exchanged thousands of messages, many of which were handed over to the UK authorities by US counterparts. A spokesperson for Staley admitted, following an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, that he had made multiple trips to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, in 2020. It was in February that year that the Barclays board decided, following an internal investigation commissioned from the law firm Clifford Chance, which reviewed the emails, that it would stand full square behind Staley. The banker, who had arrived from the US in 2015 with a £10m pay package, had their “full confidence”.

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They’ll blame Trump for the whole thing.

Trump Announces Upcoming Visit to East Palestine, FEMA Reverses Course {(CTH)

The announcement by President Trump with his intent to visit East Palestine next Wednesday, followed moments later by a reversal announcement from FEMA stating they will now offer support to East Palestine, do not seem coincidental. The Biden administration, including the EPA, FEMA and Transporation Secretary, was likely very worried about the optics of getting blasted by President Trump very visibly next week for their lack of urgency and concern. Moments after Trump announces his visit, FEMA reverses their prior denial of aid. lol

Ohio train tracks

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just hours after saying he “[did] not expect” members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be in East Palestine, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine now confirms the government entity will, in fact, be sending a crew to assist with the aftermath of the train derailment in the village. In a joint statement released Friday night, DeWine and FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas C. Sivak said the agency would deploy a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to Columbiana County starting Saturday, along with a senior response official. The workers will “support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs.”

[…] DeWine had previously requested federal help, and today the Department of Health and Human Services announced toxicologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be journeying to East Palestine to assist with public health testing. However, the governor’s request for FEMA assistance was initially denied, with the agency apparently telling his office the current situation “[did] not quality for assistance.”

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“The incredible Gomesa Jiaho Queen orchid. It’s a hybrid originated by Jia Ho Orchids in 2018, being a cross breed of Gom. Mulattas’ Dancing and Gom. varicosa”



Black sea nettle











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Mar 242020

James Proudfoot Sun on a House, Dieppe 1937



Famous last words?!

“I would love to have it open by Easter,” Trump said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News. “I would love to have it opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” “A lot of people agree with me. Our country is not built to built to shut down. Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked into a house or an apartment, it’s not for our country”

Note that Trump covered himself by framing it as “I would love to…” Still, Easter is April 12, 19 days from now. I think the US is highly unlikely to even have reached its peak in infections by then, and the country will be awash in misery, sickness, death and heartbreaking stories, not uplifting ones of a roaring economy.

The US death toll is still very low compared to its active cases, but that is because the epidemic in the country is relatively new, and there are still hospital beds and ventilators available. Those days will soon be over, try the end of next week if not sooner, and the death toll will be going going gone out of there.

And remember, half of all US corona cases are still in New York State alone. There are 49 other states to go, that just about all still have open borders with each other. New York today, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut etc. tomorrow.

If Governor Andrew Cuomo was not exaggerating too much earlier today when he said he asked FEMA for 30,000 ventilators and got only 400, the ominous path forward is beginning to look like a very eery version of a Yellow Brick Road to nowhere, with the Wizard sipping banana daiquiries on his private yacht in the Caribbean.

Our friend Mike Mish Shedlock did a bit of math on Sunday with data from the Covid Tracking Project, and came up with this:

How Long to 1 Million US Cases?

Inquiring minds are investigating a relatively new data feed from the Covid Tracking Project. I plot four data series for the US: Negative tests, positive tests, hospitalized, and deaths. Arguably, hospitalizations are the most significant column but the project only has two days worth of data. Once I have another dfats point or two, I will plot a trendline manually.

Trendlines At the current pace, the number of positive coronavirus cases would hit 100,000 on March 26, and 1,000,000 on April 3. At the current pace, the number of coronavirus deaths would hit 1,000 on March 26, and 10,000 on April 5. Those are not my projections, those are observations of what would happen if the current trends last that long at the same pace.

At that point, the US had 32,000 cases. On Monday that had become 42,000. As I write this, it’s 52,000 and the day is far from over. And remember what I said yesterday, that on March 8, just 16 days ago, the US reported 409 cases.

When I posted Mish’s numbers, I questioned his prediction of 100,000 cases by Thursday, but that’s really just details. If not Thursday, it will be Friday. Yes, that’s a doubling in 2 or 3 days. Early next week, if not his weekend, it’ll be 200,000. And so on. Mish says 1 million in 10 days from now. I see no reason to doubt him.

Either tomorrow or Thursday, March 25 or 26, the US will overtake China for the no. 1 global position in total cases -which is some 81,000 now-. With very flawed to non-existent testing procedures, with ongoing endless political bickering, and with a looming huge shortage in hospital beds and ventilators; this is beginning to look like a very bad movie.

By Easter, much of US industrial production in many parts of the country will have to be shut down, the same way China’s was -and still is-, and Italy’s is. You can’t successfully run a factory -or an office for that matter-, if your employees get sick, stay home, end up in hospital or worse. Even in the US, one single case should be enough to close the entire facility down.

The victim will have to be quarantined, as must his/her entire family, everyone (s)he worked with must be tested, and so on. It works like that everywhere, and the US is no exception. It can’t be, the risk is too high.

Brace yourself. Don’t take my word for anything, look at the numbers and draw your own conclusions. My idea is Easter is going to be different from usual this year.


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Nov 092017
 November 9, 2017  Posted by at 9:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »

Henri Cartier Bresson Madrid 1933


How I Sold Out To The Putin-Soros-Murdoch Conspiracy (Steve Keen)
Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett Richer Than Poorest Half Of US (G.)
The Middle East Is On The Verge Of New War (SF)
With Saudi Princes Dead, Arrested, King Fahd’s Grandson Flees To… Iran (IT)
Prince Alwaleed Sold His Shares In 21st Century Fox (Abc.au)
It Begins: Pension Bailout Bill To Be Introduced This Week (ZH)
How The Netherlands Became A Tax Haven (SüdD)
FEMA Offers To Airlift Puerto Ricans To Mainland US (CBS)
Catalan Parliament Speaker, 5 MPs Appear In Court On Sedition Charge (G.)
EU Gives Greece Foreclosure Ultimatum (K.)
The Plot Against Greece (K)
UK Will Back Total Ban On Bee-Harming Pesticides (G.)



“How I sold out to the Putin-Soros-Murdoch conspiracy to destroy Western civilization”

Steve has a sense of humor alright. But the serious note here is that RT is the only place where he can get a chance to discuss the issues he sees as real. The BBC, for one, is not interested.

How I Sold Out To The Putin-Soros-Murdoch Conspiracy (Steve Keen)

I was delighted to find myself in the Top Ten (alright; top 15) of the European Values list of 2,326 “Useful Idiots” appearing regularly on RT shows, and thus legitimizing Vladimir Putin’s attempt to destroy Western civilization as we know it. Why delighted? Because it completes the set of conspiracies to which I can now be accused of belonging. They include: • The Putin Conspiracy, since I am regularly interviewed on Russia Today (and even worse, I now get paid to write for RT!); • The Soros Conspiracy, since my research, has been funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) which he established; • The Murdoch Conspiracy, since I appear every week on Sky News Australia with Carson Scott, and I used to get paid by News Ltd to write a weekly column; and • The Alt-Right Conspiracy, since I’ve signed a book contract with Vox Day’s publishing firm Castalia House.

So not only am I a “useful idiot,” I’m a useful idiot for four contradictory conspiracies. Does that make me a double-double agent? No, it makes me someone who’s quadruple pissed off with people who attempt to understand the world from the perspective of conspiracy theories in the first place. I don’t deny the existence of conspiracies: in fact, far from it, because they’re everywhere. What I do deny is the implicit assumption that the conspirators understand the system they’re attempting to manipulate. For example, I’ve heard plenty of conspiracy theorists assert that the 2008 financial crisis was caused by the Federal Reserve/George Soros (Hi George!)/Hedge Funds/Academic-Economists-Who-Peddle-The-Efficient-Markets-Hypothesis, and “they” profited from it.

This implies “they” knew what “they” were doing. Pardon me, but I’ve met many of these protagonists—and in the case of academic economists, I’ve worked with them for 30 years. “They” don’t have a clue (except George). Even those that were actively conspiring—like many hedge funds during the subprime bubble were doing so on the basis of utterly deluded theories about how the system they were trying to game actually worked. Where apparent conspiracies did work, like Soros’s punt against the British Pound decades ago, they did so because a CSP (Clever Sinister Person) bet against the conventional wisdom of others who thought they understood the system (and did not), rather than because the CSP set up the whole thing in the first place.

Read more …

“..the “billionaire class” continues to “pull apart from the rest of us” at the fastest rate ever recorded..”

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett Richer Than Poorest Half Of US (G.)

The three richest people in the US – Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett – own as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population, or 160 million people. Analysis of the wealth of America’s richest people found that Gates, Bezos and Buffett were sitting on a combined $248.5bn (£190bn) fortune. The Institute for Policy Studies said the growing gap between rich and poor had created a “moral crisis”. In a report, the Billionaire Bonanza, the thinktank said Donald Trump’s tax change proposals would “exacerbate existing wealth disparities” as 80% of tax benefits would end up going to the wealthiest 1% of households. “Wealth inequality is on the rise,” said Chuck Collins, an economist and co-author of the report. “Now is the time for actions that reduce inequality, not tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

The study found that the billionaires included in Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 richest people in the US were worth a combined $2.68tn – more than the GDP of the UK. “Our wealthiest 400 now have more wealth combined than the bottom 64% of the US population, an estimated 80m households or 204 million people,” the report says. “That’s more people than the population of Canada and Mexico combined.” The report says the “billionaire class” continues to “pull apart from the rest of us” at the fastest rate ever recorded. “We have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first gilded age a century ago.” Forbes celebrated 2017 as “another record year for the wealthiest people in America”, as “the price of admission to the country’s most exclusive club jumped nearly 18% to $2bn”.

That was a tenfold increase on the amount of money needed to enter the list when it first started in 1982. Josh Hoxie, another co-author of the thinktank report, said: “So much money concentrating in so few hands while so many people struggle is not just bad economics, it’s a moral crisis.” The report says many Americans are joining an “emerging anti-inequality movement”. “A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” it says.

Read more …

“.. the kingdom’s leadership is desperately in need of an enemy..”

The Middle East Is On The Verge Of New War (SF)

A missile gets fired on the Saudi capital. A missile, which was allegedly built in Iran and smuggled to Yemen, just to be fired at Saudi Arabia. According to initial reports, two Saudi princes died back to back in 24 hours: one in an “accidental” helicopter crash, the other during a firefight that broke out while security forces were trying to arrest him. On November 7, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry spokesman said that “Prince Abdulaziz is alive and well”. However, the prince could not be independently reached for comment by the media. Other high-ranking members of the establishment and the royal family – the two tend to be one and the same in Saudi Arabia – get arrested on charges of corruption, with their bank accounts frozen. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigns after he was summoned to Riyadh by his Saudi-backers.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia accused Iran of conducting acts of “direct military aggression” and accused Lebanon of “declaring war” on Riyadh by allowing Hezbollah “aggression” against the kingdom. All this happened in a span of just a few days. With ever-growing security challenges and problems at the regional level, the crisis that took hold of Saudi Arabia does not seem to be slowing down. One contributing factor to the ongoing crisis is a major split in the Saudi royal family: the power struggle that resulted in the former crown prince being deposed and replaced with a new one, a move that shook things up quite a bit inside the country. The echo of this can be seen in the current “anti-corruption” persecution, enforced by the current Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Outside the country, several key foreign policy projects failed: the effectiveness of the Yemen intervention can be judged by the fact that it resulted in a missile being fired at Riyadh. Bashar al-Assad is still in power in Syria. The attempts to scare Qatar into submission backfired, as Qatar has been getting more and more friendly with Russia, Turkey and Iran. Iran is gaining more and more influence in the region, while the Saudis seem to be losing it, hence they are trying to compensate for their losses by participating in proxy wars elsewhere. The Saudis also tried to flex their diplomatic muscle. King Salman even visited Moscow, where the two sides exchanged promises with no guarantees that these will ever be fulfilled. This also backfired, as some considered it a demonstration of weakness or an attempt to make peace by making concessions.

Add economic struggles to this series of failures, and one can see why the King’s and his Crown Prince’s position seem less and less stable by the minute. The situation apparently seemed so dire, that in order to keep everything afloat active persecution seemed the only possible way to keep the King and his successor in power. The “anti-corruption” campaign is just an excuse: the corruption has always been high in Saudi Arabia, and no one batted an eye before now. These are temporary measures. Persecution can hardly solve foreign and internal matters, and it will not lead to a solution of the problems. Right now, the kingdom’s leadership is desperately in need of an enemy to unite the population and draw their attention away from the chaotic events that unfolding in the country.

Read more …

The one that got away.

With Saudi Princes Dead, Arrested, King Fahd’s Grandson Flees To… Iran (IT)

The Saudi royal family – the House of Saud – is throwing up one intrigue after another. Hours after the reported death of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, his nephew and son of late King Fahd’s eldest surviving son, Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd has fled the country. His destination, according to speculation among those who are watching the situation closely, is, wait for it, Iran.If this is true, this may put new strain on Tehran and Riyadh, already at loggerheads for dominance in the restive Middle East region, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting, what analysts term, a proxy war in Yemen. What makes Prince Turki bin Mohamed bin Fahd’s reported flight to Iran, where he is said to have sought asylum, interesting, apart from his destination, is that it comes at a time when Saudi aviation authorities are said to have been told not to let any of the oil-rich kingdom’s many royals fly out of the country.

Of course,with the outflow of information from Saudi Arabia particularly restricted right now, all reports of developments on the region must be taken with a pinch of salt. Turki bin Mohamed, is the son of Muhammad bin Fahd Al Saud, the second-oldest son of late Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and is also the grandnephew of the current King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud This is the same King Salman whose son Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (known informally as MBS) is believed to be have orchestrated what many are seeing as a coup by sideling prominent Saudi royals and taking decisions that could win over the country’s liberal quarters.

Read more …

Murdoch’s powers challenged.

Prince Alwaleed Sold His Shares In 21st Century Fox (Abc.au)

One of Rupert Murdoch’s key business allies, who was arrested in last week’s corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, has quietly sold off his $1.5 billion stake in 21st Century Fox. The business relationship between Mr Murdoch and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is now under new scrutiny, with Mr Murdoch’s control over his family-controlled business empire looking more uncertain. “This is very big news,” Murdoch watcher and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne said after the company confirmed Prince Alwaleed had offloaded his shareholdings in Fox and News Corporation. “He’s been the number one backer of Murdoch family control of the public companies for the last 20 years.”

One of the world’s richest men, the Prince is one of dozens of royal family members, officials and business leaders arrested in Saudi Arabia in recent days. With his bank accounts and other assets likely to have been frozen by Saudi authorities, his detention had raised questions about who had control over his almost 40 million Fox shares. It now appears he sold those shares with little fanfare. It is unclear when the shares were sold. But a Bloomberg report on the company’s shareholders shows Prince Alwaleed’s stake fell to zero during the current financial quarter.

Read more …

Impossible to overestimate what a disaster this is going to be. We need a whole new economics to confront it.

It Begins: Pension Bailout Bill To Be Introduced This Week (ZH)

Over the past year we have provided extensive coverage of what will likely be the biggest, most politically charged, and most significant financial crisis facing the aging U.S. population: a multi-trillion pension storm, which was recently dubbed “one of the most heated battles of a lifetime” by John Mauldin. The reason, in a nutshell, why the US public pension problem has stumped so many professionals is simple: for lack of a better word, it is an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, in which satisfying accrued pension and retirement obligations requires not only a constant inflow of new money, but also fixed income returns, typically in the 6%+ range, which are virtually unfeasible in a world where global debt/GDP is in the 300%+ range. Which is why we, and many others, have long speculated that it is only a matter of time before the matter receives political attention, and ultimately, a taxpayer bailout.

That moment may be imminent. According to Pensions and Investments magazine, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio plans to introduce legislation that would allow struggling multiemployer pension funds to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to remain solvent. The bill, which is co-sponsored by another Democrat, Rep. Tim Ryan, also of Ohio, could be introduced as soon as this week or shortly after. It would create a new office within the Treasury Department called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration. The funds would come from the sale of Treasury-issued bonds to financial institutions. The pension funds could borrow for 30 years at low interest rates. The one, and painfully amusing, restriction for borrowers is “they could not make risky investments”, which of course will be promptly circumvented in hopes of generating outsized returns and repaying the Treasury’s “bailout” loan, ultimately leading to massive losses on what is effectively a taxpayer-funded pension bailout.

Read more …


How The Netherlands Became A Tax Haven (SüdD)

Barack Obama had only been in office for a few weeks when he first tried to take on tax havens. The freshly inaugurated U.S. president wanted greater transparency, harsher penalties and more justice. Obama, who had helped draft anti-tax haven legislation – to date, still not passed – as an Illinois senator, called out many tax havens by name. There were the usual suspects: Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. But there was also, to the surprise of many, the Netherlands. A founding member of the European Union, quaint little Holland has for years been the most important tax haven for American corporations. This includes large multinationals such as the coffee chain Starbucks, the delivery company FedEx, the pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and – as the Paradise Papers have revealed – the sporting apparel manufacturer Nike and the electric carmaker Tesla.

Every year, other countries lose out on billions of euros in taxes for the apparent reason that the Netherlands has bent to the will of influential lobbyists while neighboring EU member states have stood idly by and done nothing. Experts accuse the country of providing illegal state subsidies, and the European Commission is alarmed, but the Dutch tax loophole will nevertheless remain open for years to come. One of the most important days for the Netherlands as a tax haven was July 6, 2005. That was the day that Paragraph 4 of Article 24 – the so-called anti-abuse clause – was struck from the U.S. tax convention with the Netherlands, effectively legalizing the abuse of Dutch corporate law. The Netherlands’ tax loophole revolves around a business structure known in Dutch as a commanditaire vennootschap, or CV, the Dutch version of a limited partnership. In a CV, just like in a limited partnership, two or more people can join together for business purposes.

One of the partners, namely the limited partner, is only liable for a fixed amount, while the other, the general partner, is fully liable. In contrast to Germany, CVs are not regarded as taxable entities in the Netherlands, but solely as partnerships. In the eyes of the Dutch tax authorities, it’s not the CV itself that’s responsible for paying taxes, but the individual partners. This is where things get interesting, especially for American companies. By founding a CV in the Netherlands plus one or two Dutch subsidiaries, U.S. firms reach “the Holy Grail of tax avoidance.” That’s how Senator Carl Levin once put it while still in office, describing the complex networks of companies that allow their owners to completely avoid taxes.

Read more …

Time for a plan?!

FEMA Offers To Airlift Puerto Ricans To Mainland US (CBS)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering to airlift victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to the U.S. mainland to reach temporary housing – a complex operation that would be the first of its kind for the agency. Under FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program, displaced residents and families who are still living in shelters on the island can opt to relocate to housing in Florida and New York. The agency is working with the governors in both states to work through logistical issues for families interested in participating. Mike Byrne, a federal coordinating officer for FEMA, said the program is the first time the agency has attempted what it calls an “air bridge,” or a relief operation requiring the transportation of individuals from a disaster area.

In most disasters, FEMA pays for displaced residents to stay in hotels under the TSA program. In Puerto Rico, the hotels are filled to capacity, so FEMA is turning to the mainland and working with states to find accommodations. “A thousand miles adds a whole level of complexity to this,” Byrne said. Byrne says agency teams are traveling to shelters on the island to ask longtime occupants about their housing options going forward, telling them about FEMA’s offer. He said the level of interest in the program has so far been low, with only about 30 out of 300 families interviewed on Tuesday expressing interest in participating. “People really don’t want to leave their homes,” Byrne said. “We want to give them every opportunity we can to be able to stay here, whether it’s providing financial assistance or repairing their homes. So we are going to work hard on those things so people don’t have to leave.”

Read more …

And still no-one has come forward with an answer. A third party will have to, the two sides can’t do it be themselves.

Catalan Parliament Speaker, 5 MPs Appear In Court On Sedition Charge (G.)

The speaker of the Catalan parliament and five of its members appeared before Spain’s supreme court in Madrid on Thursday to answer charges of rebellion and sedition over their roles in staging a banned referendum on Catalonia’s independence last month. The court will decide whether to remand Carme Forcadell and the five MPs in custody while the investigation continues or release them under certain conditions. Eight former members of the Catalan government and the leaders of the two main grassroots pro-independence groups are already in custody awaiting trial on sedition charges for their parts in the 1 October referendum, which Spanish courts ruled illegal.

The region’s deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, and four of his former cabinet ministers went into self-imposed exile in Belgium last week after Madrid responded to Catalonia’s declaration of independence by firing his administration, dissolving the parliament and calling regional elections for December. Spain’s high court issued an arrest warrant for for all five last week on sedition and rebellion charges. Forcadell and the five MPs were summoned last week to the supreme court, which handles cases of people who enjoy parliamentary immunity, but it gave them more time to prepare their defences. They are suspected of having followed a “concerted strategy to declare independence” before the official declaration of the Catalan parliament on 27 October, which Spain’s constitutional court annulled on Wednesday.

Read more …

The narrative is that rich parties organize protests. But there are certainly people simply wanting to prevent people being thrown out into the streets.

EU Gives Greece Foreclosure Ultimatum (K.)

European officials have given the government an ultimatum to proceed with electronic foreclosures on homes later in the month or else the country’s third bailout review will not be concluded. The warning came despite the recent positive messages emanating from Brussels and Washington that Greece is making progress in the review and is on course to reach an agreement with creditors on a technical level by the end of the year. But lenders appear adamant that the review’s conclusion will be jeopardized if foreclosures do not take place as scheduled and if notaries, who have borne the brunt of attacks by anti-establishment groups and protesters, are not protected. “If the Greek government has the will to protect notaries it will find the way to achieve this,” a source told Kathimerini, adding that “if they want to stop the violence they can do it.”

The sources told Kathimerini they expect to see foreclosures beginning on November 27 “at all banks and throughout the country and not just isolated cases.” Auditors have repeatedly made it clear that the resumption of foreclosures, which have dragged during the crisis years due to strikes by lawyers and notaries and more recently due to anti-austerity protesters, is a prerequisite for the successful conclusion of Greece’s current bailout review. The ultimatum, however, appears to have motivated the government to take action so that foreclosures resume and notaries are protected as sources said that all necessary measures will be taken to “ensure strategic debt defaulters do not hide behind the attacks against notaries.”

Read more …

The plot is Greeks themselves?!

The Plot Against Greece (K.)

If some power wanted to undermine all that is good in a country, to waste its natural beauty and people, to damage its past, present and future, it need look no further than Greece. Here it would see the result of a long-term conspiracy against the coue beginning of the modern Greek state, the Greeks were under foreign tutelage. In the past few decades, though, as a member of the European Union, we had begun to believe that we could function as an independent country, without patrons. And suddentry. Fortunately, the Greeks are fighters, they resist as much as they can. That is why the country is still beautiful, with talented, generous people, with bright children capable of competing with the best in the world. The “enemy,” though, holds the people hostage, keeping them from reaching their full potential, from making the country what it could be.

From thnly, bankrupt, we found ourselves under strict supervision again. It is understandable, then, that we blame foreigners for all our ills – those powers that want to suck us dry of our wealth, to keep us weak and under control. Because it is certain that we are not the ones who benefit from continued political and economic insecurity, from unpredictable and excessive taxation, disdain for investments, dysfunctional justice, a weakened education system. The only beneficiaries are the tricksters who know how to exploit the situation – and other countries. When we have almost no investments and the country’s strongest selling point as a tourist destination is its stability in an unstable region, it is clear that we are not creating added value, we are not establishing foundations for the future. Investments go elsewhere and Greece keeps falling behind the competition.

In the World Bank’s latest Doing Business survey of 190 countries, Greece was ranked 67th, from 61st last year (and 60th and 58th before that). It is incredible that after seven years of crisis and three bailout agreements it should still be so difficult to set up a business in Greece. And yet, there is stiff resistance to improving the situation: Taxes and social security contributions are way above the European Union average; there are long delays in the justice system, conflicting and confusing laws and regulations, along with a public administration determined to obstruct whatever it can, encourage corruption and send businesses elsewhere.

Other countries gain even more when thousands of Greek doctors and others with special skills move away in search of a better life, taking with them the money invested in their education. So why should we not believe that it is in our foreign partners’ interests to keep Greece at this level? In the past, they lent us money, now they loot our human resources (and later perhaps our still-to-be-discovered fossil fuels, according to a long-running conspiracy theory). Our partners did not stop lending us money, but now it comes not from their banks but from their taxpayers, and with strict conditions.

Read more …

Well well. Something good comes out of that mess of a government.

UK Will Back Total Ban On Bee-Harming Pesticides (G.)

A total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe will be backed by the UK, environment secretary Michael Gove has revealed. The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees. It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticide but in 2013 the European Union banned their use on flowering crops, although the UK was among the nations opposing the ban. The European Commission now wants a total ban on their use outside of greenhouses, with a vote expected in December, and the UK’s new position makes it very likely to pass.

“The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood,” said Gove. “I believe this justifies further restrictions on their use. We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.” In an article for the Guardian, Gove said: “As is always the case, a deteriorating environment is ultimately bad economic news as well.” He said pollinators boost the yield and quality of UK crops by £400m-£680m every year and said, for example, gala apple growers are now having to spend £5.7m a year to do replace the work of lost natural pollinators.

Gove said the evidence of neonicotinoids’ harm to pollinators has grown stronger since 2013, including a landmark field trial published in July that showed neonicotinoids damage bee populations, not just individual insects, and a global analysis of honey revealing worldwide contamination by the insecticides. [..] Gove’s decision has delighted campaigners and scientists who have long argued that heavy pesticide use, along with the destruction of habitat and disease, are having a devastating impact on insects. “Michael Gove is to be congratulated for listening to the experts on this issue and backing tougher restrictions,” said Friends of the Earth’s chief executive Craig Bennett. “But lessons also need to be learned – we now need to move away from chemical-intensive farming and instead boost support for less damaging ways of tackling persistent weeds and pests.

Read more …

Oct 012017
 October 1, 2017  Posted by at 2:02 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »

Catalunya October 1 2017


I’ve seen a lot of videos and photos of the Catalonia attempt to hold a referendum today (Tyler has a “nice” series of them), and what struck me most of all, apart from the senseless violence police forces were seen to engage in, is the lack of violence on the side of protesters.

So when I see the Interior Ministry claim that 11 policemen were injured, That is hard to take serious. Not that the Catalans had no reason to resist or even fight back. That hundreds of protesters, including scores of grandma’s, are injured is obvious from watching the videos. Since rubber bullets were used in large numbers, fatal injuries are quite possible.

Policemen hitting peaceful older ladies till they bleed is shocking, and we are all shocked. Many of us will be surprised too, but we shouldn’t be. Spain is still the land of Franco, and his followers continue to exert great influence in politics, police and military. And it’s not just them: one video from Madrid showed people singing a fascist theme from the Franco era.



That’s the shape the EU knowingly accepted Spain as a member in, and that shape has hardly changed since. The total silence from Brussels, and from all its capitals, speaks volumes. Belgian PM Michel said earlier today that he doesn’t want to talk about other countries’ politics, and that’s more than I’ve seen anyone else say. It’s of course a piece of gross cowardly nonsense, both Michel’s statement and the silence from all others.

Because this very much concerns the EU. As Julian Assange tweeted “Dear @JunckerEU. Is this “respect for human dignity, freedom and democracy”? Activate article 7 and suspend Spain from the European Union for its clear violation of Article 2.” (Article 7 of the European Union Treaty: “Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population.”) Sure, technically the Guardia Civil is not military, but are Juncker, Michel and above all Merkel really going to try and hide behind that?

Assange also re-tweeted this: “Claude Taylor Breaking: contact with Ecuadorian Govt says they plan on removing Julian Assange from their Embassy in London. Expect his arrest to follow.” Assange’s reaction: “DC based ex-White House claims I’m to be arrested for reporting on Spain’s censorship & arrests in Catalonia. Dirty.”

But that should not be a surprise either. We know from the example of Greece, and the treatment of refugees, what the morals of Europe’s ‘leaders’ are. Their morals are bankrupt. In that sense, they fit in seamlessly with those of Mariano Rajoy’s governing PP party in Spain.



Still, this is not why people want to be part of the EU. So unless very strong statements come from the various capitals, and very soon, given that they’re already way too late, the EU as a whole will find itself in such a deep crisis it might as well pack its bags and go home. Wherever home may be for these career politicians.

If you’re void of any and all ethics and morals, which is what that silence shouts out very loudly, you can’t lay any claim at all to the right to make decisions for anyone at all. That is true for Rajoy and his party, and it’s just as true for all other deadly silent European leaders.

And this is by no means over, it hasn’t started yet. Here’s a map of close vs open polling stations in Catalonia, via Assange. ‘Nuff said. What will Rajoy’s next move be? Locking up everyone? The entire Catalan governing party that organized the referendum? Make no mistake: the Spanish military have long threatened they would destroy Catalonia before allowing it independence.


Catalan polling stations. Green=open. Red=closed


Philosopher Anna M. Hennessey, who has lived in both Spain and in Catalonia, put it this way:

Franco was victorious and did not lose his war, as Hitler and Mussolini lost theirs, but this must not mean that we should let the dictator’s toxic ideological infrastructure persist any further into the twenty-first century. Supporting Catalonia is a necessary step in putting an end to fascism in Europe.

When Fascism Won’t Die: Why We Need to Support Catalonia

People in the United States, especially those from the 1980s onward, know little of Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939) and the long dictatorship that followed. This knowledge is helpful in understanding the situation in Spain and Catalonia right now. The judge (Ismael Moreno) who is set to decide on sedition charges against Catalan activists for attempting to hold a democratic referendum on October 1st, for example, has roots that are deeply connected to Francisco Franco (1892-1975), the military leader who initiated the Civil War, won it, and then went on to rule as Head of State and dictator in Spain for almost forty years.

Franco is a major figure of twentieth-century fascism in Europe. A purge of Francoist government officials never took place when the dictatorship ended in the 1970s, and this leadership has had a lasting impact on how Spain’s government makes its decisions about Catalonia, a region traumatized during and after the war due to its resistance to Franco’s regime. The lingering effects of Franco’s legacy are at this point well-documented and need to be a part of the discourse that surrounds what is quickly unraveling in Barcelona.

[..] Like the Spanish government, the Spanish police force was never purged of its Francoist ties following the dictatorship. It is a deeply corrupt institution [..] Manuel Fraga Iribarne, one of Franco’s ministers during the dictatorship, founded Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party. The party is currently enmeshed in a corruption scandal of its own. Spain’s royal family is similarly linked to Franco and has also been brought to trial for its own set of corruption charges. It is impossible to ignore the fascist bedrock upon which modern Spain is founded, or to ignore the reality that this foundation has to do with the way Spain treats Catalonia.

And so we can see the dream of a united Europe die. At least one that most people will feel comfortable living in. And if you can’t achieve that, why have a union to begin with? Democracy in Europe is dying in Brussels, it’s dying in Greece and the Mediterranean, and it died today in the streets of Barcelona and other Catalan locations.

Are all Europeans simply going to sit back and wait till it dies where they live, too? My bet is they will only do that until they no longer see the EU as economically beneficial to them. And as of today, because of Catalunya, economics will no longer be the only consideration. Because Spain will not be thrown out, not even suspended. There will be lots of empty strong words, but not all Europeans are all that stupid.

Barcelona mayor Ada Colau has called for Rajoy to resign, but she knows as well as anyone that that will not be enough, and it won’t change a thing. Rajoy is merely one representative of a fascist system that is the underbelly of Spain, waiting for its opportunity to raise its ugly head. It’s found that opportunity today, and the whole world is silent. Well, the ‘leaders’ are.


And while we’re talking disaster, I can’t help myself from briefly addressing Puerto Rico. The anti-Trump echo chamber is louder than ever, and it’s getting absurd. I can’t see what part of it is Trump’s doing, and what is due to other sources, but it simply seems not true that help is not moving forward. In a destruction as complete as Puerto Rico, there are limits to what can be done in a limited amount of time.

All the criticism of Trump at some point becomes criticism of other people involved as well. The mayor of San Juan gets lauded as a hero in certain circles, but is she really? How about the US military, how about FEMA? They look to be doing a good job, and FEMA seems to have learned a lot from Katrina 12 years ago.

Again, I don’t know how much of that is Trump, but if I may be cynical, he’s smart enough to know how his response could or would be used against him, so he would be really thick if he let the situation get worse than it should be. Earlier today Cate Long, an expert on Puerto Rico due to its debt fiasco, and hence with a lot of contacts there, tweeted:

“Federal govt has leapfrogged Puerto Rico govt & made direct connection with 78 municipalities. Central to powerful supply chain & relief.”

While the Huffington Post, not exactly Trump cheerleaders, posted this:

US Military On Puerto Rico: “The Problem Is Distribution”

Speaking today exclusively and live from Puerto Rico, is Puerto Rican born and raised, Colonel Michael A. Valle (”Torch”), Commander, 101st Air and Space Operations Group, and Director of the Joint Air Component Coordination Element, 1st Air Force, responsible for Hurricane Maria relief efforts in the U.S. commonwealth with a population of more than 3 million.

Since the ‘apocalyptic’ Cat 4 storm tore into the spine of Puerto Rico on September 20, Col. Valle has been both duty and blood bound to help. Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground.

[..] some truck drivers from outside the island have been brought in, and more are coming, however it’s not a fix-all. “We get more and more offers to help, but there is no where to stay, we can’t take any more bodies, there’s no where to put them.” Col. Valle says, adding that their “air mobility” is good, and reiterating that getting more supplies or manpower is not the issue. When asked three times what else Washington can do to help, or anyone for that matter, three times Col. Valle answered, “It’s going to take time.”

Maybe it’s time to exit your echo chamber?