Edward Hopper The Sheridan Theatre 1937
Scott Ritter was banned from Twitter yesterday, and then reinstated.
Ukraine War Could Have Been Avoided, but Here’s Why Putin Will Achieve His Goals
US intel is very sophisticated and very credible.
It was an attention-grabbing assertion that made headlines around the world: U.S. officials said they had indications suggesting Russia might be preparing to use chemical agents in Ukraine. President Joe Biden later said it publicly. But three U.S. officials told NBC News this week there is no evidence Russia has brought any chemical weapons near Ukraine. They said the U.S. released the information to deter Russia from using the banned munitions. It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance.
Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods. Observers of all stripes have called it a bold and so far successful strategy — although not one without risks. “It’s the most amazing display of intelligence as an instrument of state power that I have seen or that I’ve heard of since the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said Tim Weiner, the author of a 2006 history of the CIA and 2020’s “The Folly and the Glory,” a look at the U.S.-Russia rivalry over decades. “It has certainly blunted and defused the disinformation weaponry of the Kremlin.”
Four days before the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the U.S. publicized spy plane photos to show the Soviet Union had deployed nuclear missiles not far from Florida’s coast. The Biden administration began releasing reams of intelligence about what it said were Putin’s plans and intentions even before the invasion of Ukraine began. Just this week, national security adviser Jake Sullivan stood at the White House podium and read out what officials said was more declassified intelligence, asserting that Russia’s pullout from areas around Kyiv wasn’t a retreat but a strategic redeployment that signals a significant assault on eastern and southern Ukraine, one that U.S. officials believe could be a protracted and bloody fight. The idea is to pre-empt and disrupt the Kremlin’s tactics, complicate its military campaign, “undermine Moscow’s propaganda and prevent Russia from defining how the war is perceived in the world,” said a Western government official familiar with the strategy.
Multiple U.S. officials acknowledged that the U.S. has used information as a weapon even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high. Sometimes it has used low-confidence intelligence for deterrent effect, as with chemical agents, and other times, as an official put it, the U.S. is just “trying to get inside Putin’s head.” Some officials believe, however, that trying to get into Putin’s head is a meaningless exercise, because he will do what he wants regardless. After this story was published, a U.S. official told NBC News that “the U.S. government’s effort to strategically downgrade intelligence to share with allies and the public is underpinned by a rigorous review process by the National Security Council and the Intelligence Community to validate the quality of the information and protect sources and methods.” The official added that “we only approve the release of intelligence if we are confident those two requirements are met.”
Three U.S. officials tell NBC News that U.S. claims based on “intelligence” on Russia were made up simply to “preempt the Russians”
One U.S. official: “It doesn’t have to be solid intelligence when we talk about it..” pic.twitter.com/Yv9udq05ex
— Camila (@camilapress) April 6, 2022
”Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it was “precise work” by Ukrainian troops.”
Video posted on Telegram Monday appears to show Ukrainian soldiers killing captured Russian troops in a village near Kyiv, according to a report from The New York Times. The video was verified by The Times, however, the outlet decided not to publish it due to its graphic nature. Per The Times it shows a Ukrainian soldier shooting a Russian soldier three times while another man says “he’s still alive. Film these marauders. Look, he’s still alive. He’s gasping.” The video, The Times reported, also shows at least three other Russian soldiers dead near the victim — identified by white armbands commonly worn by Russian troops. One of the soldiers has an obvious head wound and his hands are tied behind his back, according to the report from The Times.
The soldiers are surrounded by equipment and are laying on the road near a BMD-2 — an infantry vehicle used by Russia’s airborne units, according to military scholar Rob Lee. In the video, which was not independently verified by Insider, Ukrainian soldiers are identifiable by their blue armbands and repeat “glory to Ukraine” but their unit is unclear. A Ukrainian news agency said the ambush was the work of the “Georgian Legion” a group of Georgian volunteers that formed in 2014 to fight for Ukraine, according to The Times report.
The video was filmed north of the village of Dmytrivka, about seven miles southwest of Bucha, according to the Times report. Earlier this week, graphic videos emerged of at least 300 civilians killed in Bucha during Russia’s occupation of the city. Ukrainian officials say they were attacked as Russian troops were retreating. Ukrainian forces ambushed Russian troops around March 30, according to the Times report. In a tweet, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it was “precise work” by Ukrainian troops.
What the sanctions are really worth.
Plans to impose sanctions on Russian whitefish have been postponed by the U.K. government amid fears over the impact on Britain’s seafood industry. Whitefish was among the Russian exports set to be slapped with a 35 percent tariff by the U.K. in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. A U.K. government official said the sanctions have been “delayed while we sort some technicalities,” but stressed that “we are totally committed to them.” Any suggestion the plans had been dropped entirely was “totally untrue,” the official added. Roughly 30 percent of the U.K.’s whitefish originates from Russia, which controls between 40 to 45 percent of the global supply, according to industry body Seafish.
When the measure was first announced, Britain’s seafood processing industry and struggling fish and chip shops, which rely on the supply of Russian whitefish including cod, said they feared price rises as a result of the sanctions could squeeze their businesses. Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, said: “I think government wants more time to investigate the impact of sanctions on whitefish so have just held off for the time being. “We of course support any measures they deem suitable to bring the conflict to a speedier conclusion.” The whitefish sanctions were announced on March 15. However, unlike other Russian products targeted including cereal, cement and fertilizer, the tariffs were not imposed on whitefish when they came into force on March 24, according to Seafish, a public body that supports the U.K.’s seafood industry.
It’s already done. Planting season is now.
America’s largest farmer cooperative sounded the alarm Wednesday about possible disruptions of fertilizer supplies from Russia due to Western sanctions on Moscow. CHS Inc., the largest agricultural cooperative in the US, said in an SEC filing that it’s concerned about obtaining Russian fertilizer because of sanctions making it “more expensive and difficult to do business with Russia.” CHS warned that sanctions could “cause delays with respect to, or prevent, shipments of fertilizer to us, cause inflationary pressures on and impact our ability to purchase fertilizer, disrupt the execution of banking transactions with certain Russian financial institutions and result in volatility in foreign exchange rates and interest rates, all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations.”
The cooperative said it holds no operations in Russia. However, it has $30 million in grain inventories sitting in silos in Ukraine and will have to take an “impairment charge” because of its inability to access those stockpiles. CHS warns there’s a risk the conflict in Ukraine “could lead to a much larger conflict and/or additional sanctions imposed by the United States government and other governments that restrict business with specific persons, organizations or countries or with respect to certain products or services.” And said if such an event did occur, it would wreck more global supply chains and “could materially adversely affect our business operations and financial performance.” For some context, Russia is one of the world’s largest fertilizer exports. Countries already afflicted by food insecurity, such as emerging market economies, will experience some of the first fertilizer and food shortages first. By the way, violent inflation protests are already beginning in Peru.
The US is blind to its loss of power. Russia, India, the UAE, Brazil and Indonesia, China, that’s way more people than the US can strong-arm in 2022.
Given that a handful of countries that rank among the top largest economies in the world have thus far been reluctant to firmly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this could prove the significant monkey wrench in US-EU plans to severely isolate and wreak havoc on global Russian exports. Among these include the obvious – China, but also there’s India, the UAE, Brazil and Indonesia. India for example – standing just behind the UK as the 6th largest economy – remains the the single largest buyer of Russian weapons. India is also reportedly seeking more discounted Russian oil, in what looks to be a potential move away from Saudi crude. In early March, The New York Times noted that India was among those countries dependent on many Russian imports that’s attempting to “stay above the fray”.
“When India abstained from a United Nations vote and the chorus of Western condemnation against the Ukraine invasion, it appeared to be taking sides: offering tacit support for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia,” the Times emphasized previously. And now Washington is putting New Delhi on notice that it faces ‘significant costs’ should it become aligned with Russia, and as a major export destination allowing Putin to side-step sanctions effects. The Biden administraiton’s Director of the National Economic Council of the United States Brian Deese has said the US remains “disappointed” with aspects of the Indian government’s reaction to the Ukraine crisis. “There are certainly areas where we have been disappointed by both China and India’s decisions, in the context of the invasion,” he said a Wednesday event in D.C.
He was cited as saying in Bloomberg: The US has told India that the consequences of a “more explicit strategic alignment” with Moscow would be “significant and long-term,” he said. India has so far rejected falling in line with the West’s anti-Russia sanctions, instead continuing to import Russian oil, which remains at an estimated 2% of its total oil imports.
‘Very dear friends of mine, the sharp tip of the spear, were making welfare calls to me every day, basically to see if I was still alive.’
The source who distributed Hunter Biden’s laptop to congressmen and media has fled the US to Switzerland, saying he fears retaliation from the Biden administration. Jack Maxey gave DailyMail.com a copy of the hard drive from Hunter’s abandoned laptop in the spring of 2021. He also gave copies and material from it to the Washington Post, New York Times, and Senator Chuck Grassley in his role as ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee – but he claims they all sat on it for months. For the past two weeks, Maxey has been in hiding in Zurich, working with IT experts to dig out more data from the ‘laptop from hell’. Maxey, a former co-host of ex-Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s podcast the War Room, claims he and his colleagues have found ‘450 gigabytes of deleted material’ including 80,000 images and videos and more than 120,000 archived emails.
He said he intends to post them all online in a searchable database in the coming weeks. Hunter abandoned his laptop at a Delaware computer store in 2019. The owner, John Mac Isaac, gave a copy to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who passed it on to Maxey. ‘I came here so that we could do a forensic examination of Hunter’s laptop safely in a country that still respects human liberty and the ideals of liberal democratic principles,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘I do not believe this would have been possible inside the United States. We had numerous attempts on us from trying to do things like this there.’ Maxey said that after contacting DailyMail.com about the laptop last year, black suburban SUVs appeared outside his house, and former US intelligence officer friends he shared copies with told him they received strange calls.
‘I showed this to a friend of mine in desperation in February  because nobody would listen to me. No news organizations would take it. In fact, the very first major news organization to take it was the Daily Mail,’ he said. ‘Very dear friends of mine, the sharp tip of the spear, were making welfare calls to me every day, basically to see if I was still alive.’
Darryl Cooper nails it pic.twitter.com/WXj9IZT9MH
— Wittgenstein (@backtolife_2022) April 7, 2022
She’s openly calling Hunter a liar now. Shouldn’t Joe stand up for “the smartest man I know”?
“In the email, Hunter Biden also requests keys for Gongwen Dong, whom he describes as an “emissary” for Ye Jianming — the chairman of CEFC Chinese Energy Co.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki denied on Wednesday previous reports that claimed Hunter Biden and his father, President Biden, were “office mates.” Asked by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy about “evidence that the president, at one point, was office mates with Hunter and his brother Jim here in D.C.,” Psaki said the reports were “not accurate.” Hunter Biden requested in 2017 that keys be made for his new “office mates,” listing his father, Jill Biden, and his uncle Jim Biden, for space he planned to share with an “emissary” for a chairman of a Chinese energy company, according to an email obtained by Fox News.
A Sept. 20, 2017 email obtained by Fox News shows Hunter requesting keys for Joe and Jill Biden, along with Jim Biden, for space he planned to share with an “emissary” for a chairman of a Chinese energy company. The email was sent to the general manager, Cecilia Browning, at the House of Sweden — a building in Washington, D.C., that contains multiple office suites and a number of embassies. “Please have keys made available for new office mates: Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Jim Biden,” said the email, with the subject “507.” In the email, Hunter Biden also requests keys for Gongwen Dong, whom he describes as an “emissary” for Ye Jianming — the chairman of CEFC Chinese Energy Co.
“..because otherwise the country becomes the Wild West..”
Actually, that is what it is without self-defense…
After a farmer was charged with murder for shooting a man after four burglars broke into his home, French President Emmanuel Macron said people should not have the right to self-defense. Yes, really. “According to the initial investigation, the farmer fired twice with a large caliber rifle at a group of four burglars, killing one of them. The self-defense shooting took place last Friday, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., and the man was alone with his 3-year-old daughter at the time,” reports Remix News. However, Macron responded to the story by asserting that the 35-year-old farmer had no right to defend himself or his daughter in such a manner. “Everyone must be safe, and the public authorities have to ensure it,” Macron told Europe 1.
“But I am opposed to self-defense. It’s very clear and undisputable because otherwise the country becomes the Wild West. And I don’t want a country where weapons proliferate and where we consider that it’s up to the citizens to defend themselves,” said Macron. Presumably, the farmer should have just allowed the four burglars to ransack his home and potentially harm his young daughter without doing anything to intervene. Macron insisted that the farmer should have called the police, who in many areas of France are already stretched to the limit thanks to criminal gangs of migrants youths being in a perpetual state of war with them. “I’m not going to judge this news. I convey the rules,” said Macron, whose weak record on security and crime is under scrutiny.
“Let me reiterate, do not bother checking your health cloud, it’s all a negative result. Only we will notify you when you have tested positive.” The caller responded, “So what we see is all fake?” She said, “That’s right.”
While Shanghai continues its lockdown and massive PCR testing campaign as COVID-19 surges through the city, a CDC expert’s complaint about chaotic PCR test reports that have confused people was recently exposed online. Shanghai CDC issued a notice demanding staff answer public inquiries “in line with the policy.” There have been complaints about the conflicting PCR test results on Chinese social media because people receive a negative test result on their cell phones but then receive a positive test result from the CDC. Shanghai adopted the Healthcare Cloud app as its integrated Internet and Healthcare services platform. Locals register through the app for a PCR test and receive the test result on their cell phones.
However, many people received a negative test notice via the app but still were then notified by CDC that they had tested positive and were thus subject to quarantine. Complaints have flooded the Shanghai CDC hotline. A recently leaked recording of a CDC expert responding to a caller revealed how the app has been problematic, how overloaded health workers have been stymied by a lack of transparency in pandemic prevention, and how the pandemic has become a political issue. In the recording, the expert said, “We have received hundreds of calls every day, but our jobs are epidemiological investigations. We can’t solve your problem.” She said, “Let me tell you the facts: There’s no ward, the quarantine sites are filled, and there’s no ambulance.”
A male was heard complaining, “But we have no way to address our issue, even Weibo is blocked.” The expert said, “I have brought this up too many times; as an expert, I have suggested that the mild to no symptom patients stay at home. Does anyone listen? No!” She continued, “Let me reiterate, do not bother checking your health cloud, it’s all a negative result. Only we will notify you when you have tested positive.” The caller responded, “So what we see is all fake?” She said, “That’s right.”
No, they won’t. Wanna bet?
Thanks to Mike Yeadon for alerting me to this. Here’s Mike’s message to me (excerpt): “Steve, I’ve heard about this from half a dozen sources & I’m sorry to say that the concerns expressed are wholly justified. It’s a mad idea, but since certain individuals & nations have pretty much taken over the WHO, I think it’s a certainty that, if this new treaty gets signed, within a few years at most, a “public health emergency of International concern” will be declared, and all currently sovereign nations will become controlled subsidiaries of WHO. … No government should even have the power to throw their country over to a third party. If that happened, they’d never give it back. U.K. parliament signed up to emergency powers on the occasion of the first lockdown over two years ago. That temporary bill has never been repealed. We have no rights whatsoever if they decide we don’t. This is the main reason we emigrated.
Here’s the best practical reason not to sign such a treaty, aside from its anti-democratic central problem: Imagine there’s a new pathogen spreading across the world. Nobody, anywhere, knows what the best response should be. By definition it’s not known. History teaches us that we alight most rapidly upon probable best courses of action, not from modeling, but from empirical evidence. Running a large number of experiments, based on the smartest public health, medical & scientific brains, will quickly tell us what kinds of responses are helpful & which are not. Maintaining very good communication makes sure lessons learned are shared quickly. The worst conceivable response would be to place the decision making power in the hands of a single body. They’ll likely run one experiment. We’ll never learn the counterfactual. On this basis, I don’t even understand why anyone would fall for the idiotic notion that letting WHO have the controls would be a great idea. Even if they were honest & competent.
Please let me know if I can help in any way.
Mandatory adverse effects.
The COVID pandemic has largely subsided in Europe (although health authorities have warned about an uptick in cases caused by subvariants and hybrid variants of the omicron strain). But this hasn’t stopped German lawmakers from pushing for a new law that would legally require people age 60 and older to be vaccinated. But that’s not all. The deal struck by members of Germany’s ruling “stop sign” coalition, which includes Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, the Greens and the ‘classical liberal’ Free Democrats, also includes an option for making COVID shots mandatory for everybody age 18 and older. That second provision will depend on how the next wave of the pandemic develops during the fall, according to Bloomberg, which cited a local report.
According to other provisions in the proposed law, the government would initially try to “encourage” the unvaccinated to voluntary submit to inoculation (Germany still has millions of unvaccinated citizens, not unlike the US). Fortunately, even if the proposal becomes a law (it’s due for a vote on Thursday), it will also include provisions that would reverse the situation if enough people receive their COVID shots voluntarily before the summer. Lawmakers told Bloomberg that the goal of the proposal is “effective prevention.” “We are united by the goal of effective prevention through the highest possible level of basic immunity for all adults for the fall, because in this way we can prevent the health system from being overwhelmed,” they added. Germany is still recording more than 200,000 cases and more than 300 deaths from the virus on most days. But with more than 75% of its population vaccinated, the pressure on the country’s health-care system has significantly lessened since the depths of the pandemic.
UK jab effectiveness
Vax effectiveness for triple-jabbed, both young & old, below zero.
Triple-jabbed, 60+ are 5 x more likely to get #COVID than the unvaxxed.
— Coronavirus Plushie (@Harriso45433397) April 6, 2022
“it’s like a sci-fi show where people went to sleep and woke up two years later, and the world has moved on but they haven’t.”
Lily May Holland, 16, remembers the long, lonely days during lockdown when her parents, both doctors, were at work. She’d watch “Gilmore Girls” and “Gossip Girl” and “Grey’s Anatomy” over and over. She stopped eating and started doing Chloe Ting workouts. “I’d have gum and a smoothie all day,” she said. They lived in the sticks north of Charlottesville, Virginia, on a dirt road between farms and trailer parks and the occasional Baptist church, and she didn’t have a license, so she couldn’t go anywhere or meet any friends. Teachers would post assignments online, but it was like—who cared? Everything happened in isolation, like they were atoms. “I would’ve gone to parties, and me and my friends were planning to go to concerts, and homecoming,” Lily said. “I had crushes freshman year. But all that fell away.”
Teenagers need a social life. Every single study and report and piece of data tells us so. But we don’t need studies to tell us what we all already know. Ask yourself: What would it have been like if you had spent your thirteenth year in solitude? It was more than a year, actually. Millions of American kids had gone a year-and-a-half mostly alone. And every single girl I spoke to said the same thing about the experience: They felt like they were sinking, or being swallowed up. So it almost seemed like an understatement when, in December 2021, the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, said the effect of the lockdowns had been “devastating” for young people’s mental health. “Usually, kids would be learning to disobey their parents and stay out late and figure out the consequences, but there was just none of that,” said Regine Galanti, a clinical psychologist in New York who specializes in adolescents with anxiety disorders.
The impact of all that emptiness—the zig-zagging from one hazy, blue-ish screen to another and then to another—was starting to come into focus, and it was scary. Lily said that, at some point mid-lockdown, she got sick of communicating with other human beings via iPhone. So then she stopped communicating at all. Galanti said, “It’s almost like a volcano that we set ourselves up for.”It was an unprecedented volcano. In the past, Earth-shaking events—the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam—had forced kids to grow up. Teenagers got jobs or were deployed overseas, and when they came back they settled down and had kids or left home and fled to the big city. The point is that they started their lives.
Covid did the opposite. Instead of nudging young people out the door, it anchored them to their parents, to their bedrooms and to their screens. And now that the madness is finally ebbing, they’re unsure how to proceed. Galanti said, “it’s like a sci-fi show where people went to sleep and woke up two years later, and the world has moved on but they haven’t.”
I trust the opinions of independent journalists. They appear to have sane opinions and only interested in truth. pic.twitter.com/Gr7mOOFtDu
— 🚨🎯Bob Lee SwaGGer🎯🚨 (@SwaqqerLee) April 6, 2022
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