Dec 062022
 
 December 6, 2022  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  57 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Olga in a hat with feather 1920

 

Musk Blasts New York Times for Hate Speech Report on Twitter (ET)
Musk’s Brain Chip Company Under Federal Investigation – Media (RT)
Oliver Stone Explores Causes Of Ukraine Conflict (RT)
Calls for Ukraine Aid Oversight are ‘Russian Propaganda’ (Antiwar)
Bases Deep Inside Russia Rocked By Explosions; New Airstrikes Hit Ukraine (ZH)
The G7 Cap on Russian Oil Is a Subsidy to China (Lacalle)
Norway And Germany Ask NATO To Protect Underwater Gas Pipelines (Remix)
Russia and China Shift Further Away From Dollar (RT)
Some Lights Go Out, Some Lights Go On (Kunstler)
A Warning -Which We Will Ignore- (Denninger)
Michael Avenatti Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Embezzlement (CNN)
Facebook Threatens To Cancel News (RT)
India Gets World’s First Gold ATM (RT)
Pfizer CEO Refuses To Testify To EU Parliament COVID Panel – Again (Pol.eu)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear sells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

Musk Blasts New York Times for Hate Speech Report on Twitter (ET)

Twitter owner Elon Musk blasted a New York Times report claiming problematic content and hate speech was on an “unprecedented” rise on the platform following his takeover, countering earlier claims by the billionaire. According to findings by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League, and other groups, the NY Times reported that slurs against black Americans increased from 1,282 times a day to 3,876 times. Posts against gay men and Jews went from 2,506 times to 3,964, and 61 percent, respectively during the two weeks after Musk bought Twitter. Musk replied in a tweet that the report was “Utterly false.” The NY Times report has, till now, gotten over 44,000 likes, while the Musk response garnered 346,000 likes, and nearly 21,000 retweets.

“Elon Musk sent up the Bat Signal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter was open for business,” said Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, in the report. “They have reacted accordingly.” The outlet said that accounts related to the terrorist group ISIS were coming back on the platform, along with QAnon supporters who have received verification symbols.“This reporting is such garbage,” said Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the Manhattan Institute. “The experience on Twitter is pretty much the same as it was before, plus a few ‘edgy’ accounts being reinstated. The left-wing journalists want to create a false narrative to justify more censorship. It’s transparent and pathetic.”

Musk has reiterated his view that hate speech will not be tolerated on the platform, and that there will be no “free-for-all hellscape” regarding speech. However, he has also upheld free speech on Twitter by uncensoring prominent conservative personalities like former president Donald Trump, investigative news organization Project Veritas, and satire site The Babylon Bee.This has irked many on the left who advocate for banning these accounts under the pretext of hate speech.“By ‘free speech’, I simply mean that which matches the law,” said Musk earlier in the year. “I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

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Trying to get Musk. Two sides: one, animal tests are a sensitive issue. But two: enabling people to see, and hear, and walk, everyone’s in favor of that.

Musk’s Brain Chip Company Under Federal Investigation – Media (RT)

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Corp, a firm specializing in brain implants, is facing a federal probe due to alleged “animal-welfare violations” during product tests, Reuters reported on Monday, just days after the billionaire announced a new timeline for human clinical trials. The US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General launched the probe sometime in “recent months” after federal prosecutors said Neuralink could be violating the Animal Welfare Act, the outlet reported, citing government documents and multiple sources familiar with the investigation. The Animal Welfare Act regulates the treatment of certain animals used in research and commercial product testing, prohibiting inhumane practices which cause unnecessary suffering or death.

According to more than 20 current and former Neuralink employees, as well as dozens of internal company documents, Musk has pushed researchers at his brain chip firm to “accelerate development,” in some cases resulting in “botched experiments.” “Such failed tests have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed,” employees told Reuters, adding that the number of animal deaths is higher than it needs to be “for reasons related to Musk’s demands to speed research.” At least four experiments involving 86 pigs and two monkeys were “marred” due to “human error” in recent years, meaning the tests had to be conducted again, resulting in more animal deaths. The errors were caused by “a lack of preparation by a testing staff working in a pressure-cooker environment,” employees added.

While regulatory filings show that Neuralink has passed all prior federal inspections, sources told Reuters the company does not keep exact records for the number of animals it kills during testing. The full scope of the USDA probe is not yet clear, however, and it is unknown whether the inquiry is directly tied to the complaints raised by Neuralink employees. Reports of the ongoing investigation came just days after Musk declared that US regulators could soon approve human testing for the Neuralink brain implant, claiming human trials may begin in just six months. The exact timeline remains hazy, however, as Musk has hinted at upcoming human trials before.

The billionaire entrepreneur has voiced hopes the brain implant will allow paralyzed people to walk again and the blind to regain their sight, among other medical miracles. While the new technology has yet to be tested on people, Musk has demonstrated the brain chip on more than one occasion, including an April 2021 presentation in which a macaque monkey purportedly played a video game using its mind alone.

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“We’re telling Russians what to do, I mean it’s ridiculous, given what we’ve done.”

Oliver Stone Explores Causes Of Ukraine Conflict (RT)

The US turning Ukraine into an anti-Russian country since 2014 is the root cause of the current conflict, award-winning film director Oliver Stone said in an interview with the Serbian daily Politika, published Monday.“Who are we to point fingers at anyone?” Stone told his interviewer ahead of the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he chairs the jury. “We’re telling Russians what to do, I mean it’s ridiculous, given what we’ve done.” What is currently happening in Ukraine is “not simple at all,” Stone added, but it’s getting reduced in the West to “Russians invaded.” There is no mention of anything that has been happening in the Donbas since 2014, or how many people were displaced because the US was arming Ukraine.

“Since 2014, Ukraine was no longer neutral but anti-Russian, and that’s what disrupted the balance,” Stone told Politika, adding that “every war has causes and consequences” if one one is willing to pay attention. The ‘Snowden’ director has also produced two documentaries about the events in Kiev, ‘Ukraine on Fire’ in 2016 and ‘Revealing Ukraine’ in 2019. Both have faced bans, boycotts and attacks over the course of this year. The US is quick to condemn any country in the world when it supposedly violates the “rules-based international order,” but “America breaks all the rules whenever it wants and you know it,” Stone told his Serbian interviewer.He expressed regret for voting for Joe Biden, saying the “grandpa” turned out to be very dangerous, with a “dream” of regime change in Moscow so the US can control Russia again as it did in the 1990s.

Barack Obama’s choice of Biden as his running mate in 2008, in order to appease the establishment Democrats, was “a huge mistake,” Stone said. He also argued the only hope for the US would be the emergence of a third party, as both Democrats and Republicans are beholden to the military-industrial complex. Stone’s most recent documentary, ‘Nuclear,’ addresses the role of atomic energy in dealing with climate change. It will also be shown at the RSIFF. Asked if he was still a rebel, Stone replied he was getting old and having troubles with his eyesight and hearing, but he prefers to “live on my feet than die on my knees.”

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“Ukraine is spending the money really well; that’s why they’re winning..”

Calls for Ukraine Aid Oversight are ‘Russian Propaganda’ (Antiwar)

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the head of the House Armed Services Committee, said Saturday that the growing calls for more oversight of the billions of dollars the US is spending on Ukraine are “part of Russian propaganda.” While the majority of Republicans strongly favor continuing to arm Ukraine, even the more hawkish GOP members have said they favor increased oversight for the aid. Smith said that the concern from Republicans for more transparency “makes me a little crazy.” “Ukraine is spending the money really well; that’s why they’re winning,” Smith said at the Reagan National Defense Forum, according to Defense News. “Yes, we need oversight, but we don’t need that as an excuse to not fund what we’re doing.”


Last month, a small group of House Republicans opposed to arming Ukraine led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced a bill that would require an audit of the funds that the US has spent on the war so far. Greene said that if she needed to, she would reintroduce the legislation after the next Congress is sworn in this January. The White House is looking for Congress to approve $37.7 billion in new Ukraine aid during the lame-duck period. If authorized, the new funds will bring total US spending on a proxy war on Russia’s border to about $105 billion.

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“The Saratov base lies some 600 kilometers east of Ukraine..” What missiles are they using for this?

Bases Deep Inside Russia Rocked By Explosions; New Airstrikes Hit Ukraine (ZH)

Monday saw another major escalation in the Ukraine war as Russian media reported that explosions rocked two air bases in Russia, suggesting Ukrainian forces could be seeking to launch missiles deep into Russian territory, though the exact cause or type of weapon behind the explosions are unknown. It could also possibly be another “sabotage attack” such that was previously seen in the Crimea. One of the Russian bases struck reportedly hosts nuclear-capable strategic bombers being utilized in airstrikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The Associated Press details in the aftermath of the blasts, “Russian state RIA Novosti news agency said three servicemen were killed and six others injured, and a plane was damaged, early Monday when a fuel truck exploded at an air base in Ryazan, in western Russia.”

The report underscored that “The base houses long-range flight tankers that serve to refuel bombers in the air.” The other base that was hit is being identified as in the Saratov region. The Saratov base lies some 600 kilometers east of Ukraine, so both the bases are relatively deep inside Russian territory. Moscow meanwhile has taken quick, decisive action – once again launching a barrage of major airstrikes on Ukrainian cities, targeting particularly energy infrastructure as part of the stated purpose of degrading Ukraine’s power supply going into winter. For days Ukrainian officials have been warning the population to brace for new major attacks.

Air raid alert sirens sounded Monday across the country. “The enemy is again attacking the territory of Ukraine with missiles!” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an official with the Ukrainian president’s office, wrote on Telegram. According to more from the AP: “Media reports referred to explosions in several parts of the country, including the cities of Odesa, Cherkasy and Kryvyi Rih. In Odesa, the local water supply company said a missile strike cut power to pumping stations, leaving the entire city without water.” Civilians are sheltering in underground places like metro stations, especially in the populous Ukrainian capital… Ukraine has so far counted a handful of deaths from Monday’s fresh round of Russian strikes. It’s expected that power and water access in many parts will be impacted more severely given most estimates have already put the national energy grid at 40% disabled.

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Straight from Brussels to Beijing. EU suicide pact.

The G7 Cap on Russian Oil Is a Subsidy to China (Lacalle)

There are many mistakes in the G7 agreement to put a cap on Russian oil. The first one is that it does not hurt Russia at all. The agreed cap, at $60 a barrel, is higher than the current Urals price, above the five-year average of the quoted price and higher than Rosneft’s average netback price. According to Reuters, “the G7 price cap will allow non-EU countries to continue importing seaborne Russian crude oil, but it will prohibit shipping, insurance, and re-insurance companies from handling cargoes of Russian crude around the globe, unless it is sold for less than the price cap”. This means that China will be able to purchase more Russian oil at a large discount while the Russian state-owned oil giant will continue to make a very healthy 16% return on average capital employed (ROACE) and more than 8.8 billion roubles in revenues, which means an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) that more than doubles its capex requirements.

This misguided cap is not only a subsidy to China and a price that still makes Rosneft enormously profitable and able to pay billions to the Russian state in taxes. It is a big mistake if we want to see lower oil prices. With this cap the G7 have created an unnecessary and artificial bottom to old prices. The G7 did not want to understand why oil prices have roundtripped in 2022: Competition and demand reaction. By putting a $60 a barrel cap, which is a bottom price, the G7 have almost made it impossible for prices to reach a true bottom if a demand crisis arrives. On the one hand, the G7 has taken 4.5 million barrels a day, the estimated Russian oil exports for 2023, out of the supply picture with a minimum -and maximum- price, but additionally has made OPEC keener on cutting supply and raising their exports’ average realized oil price higher.

China must be exceedingly happy. The Asian giant will secure a long-term supply at al attractive price from Russia and sell refined products globally at higher margins. Sinopec and Petrochina will find enough opportunities in the global market to secure better margins for their refined products while guaranteeing affordable supply in a challenging economic situation. When I read this news about “price caps” I wonder if bureaucrats have ever worked in a global competitive industry. They may have not, but they certainly employ thousands of “experts” that may have told them that this is a clever idea. It is rubbish. If the G7 really wanted to hurt Russia’s finances and exports the way to do it is to encourage higher investment in alternative and more competitive sources. However, what is happening is the opposite. G7 governments continue to impose barriers to investment in energy as well as place regulatory and wrongly called environmental burdens that make it even more difficult to guarantee diversification and security of supply.

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Protect from whom?

Norway And Germany Ask NATO To Protect Underwater Gas Pipelines (Remix)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Haar Støre have called on NATO to protect underwater pipelines and communication cables by creating a special coordination structure, according to Deutsche Welle. “Pipelines, telephone and internet cables are vital communications for our states; their safety should be given top priority,” Scholz said following his meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on the eve of the Berlin Security Conference. He added that the recent attacks on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines have shown how high the risks are in this area. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the initiative. “We have increased security measures in the wake of the recent Nord Stream sabotage, and it is vital that we do even more to ensure that our maritime infrastructure is protected against future attacks,” Stoltenberg said.

Norway’s prime minister also said his country would direct some of its gas export revenues to help Ukraine and other countries affected by the global energy crisis. The rise in energy prices caused by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has brought additional profits to Norway. Scholz thanked Norway for the 10 percent increase in gas deliveries to Germany, as Berlin tries to make up for reduced deliveries from Russia. Scholz also said his country would continue to be a leader in defending Europe and European freedoms. “No aggressor should doubt that we have a firm intention to defend every one of our allies and every inch of alliance territory with all the forces at our disposal,” said the German chancellor.

Meanwhile, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann confessed that Germany may have contributed to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine because it supported the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. “Knowing what we know today, the decision to proceed with Nord Stream 2 after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was Germany’s contribution to the outbreak of war in Ukraine,” Buschmann said in a welcome address to a meeting of G7 justice ministers in Berlin. He added that it was Germany’s duty to “confront this truth directly” and “draw the right conclusions” from it.

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Domestic currencies are used in a lot of trade bewteen many countries, away from the USD. It gets to add up.

Russia and China Shift Further Away From Dollar (RT)

Russia and China are increasingly switching to their national currencies in trade, with nearly half of the two countries’ transactions carried out in rubles and yuan, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has revealed. The statement was made during a video conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday, with Mishustin expressing hope that the use of the national currencies instead of the US dollar and euro will grow further.“This transition… will be actively gaining momentum. This is the kind of settlement that should prevail. This is the logic of a sovereign economic and financial policy of a multipolar world,” he said. Mishustin noted that despite external pressures and unfavorable economic conditions, trade between the two countries has seen double-digit growth, and in the first ten months of the year, trade turnover was up by almost a third and is now close to $150 billion.


“This is already higher than last year’s figures. In the long term, as the leaders of the two countries agreed, we will reach $200 billion or more,” he stated. In recent years, Russia and China have been ramping up the use of domestic currencies in mutual settlements in an effort to move away from the US dollar and euro. Moscow has been steadily pursuing a policy of de-dollarization in foreign trade and has increased the use of the yuan. In addition to the Chinese currency featuring more frequently in trade settlements, some Russian companies have begun issuing yuan-denominated bonds, while a number of banks are offering deposits in the currency.

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“..despite their gaslight and smoke-screens, the global bankruptcy approaches its nauseating climax..”

Some Lights Go Out, Some Lights Go On (Kunstler)

Have Americans grokked that virtually all of the mis-and-dis-information bombarding them lo these many years actually comes from the government and the news media channels that serve it? What we’ve got now in this country is a Mind-Fuckery Industrial Complex waging a psy-ops war on the people of this land. Why is that? Essentially, to cover-up past crimes against the country by public officials. Twitter, pre-Musk, was a major accomplice and enabler of all that, and suddenly it’s not — to the horror of everyone in charge at our nation’s seat of government. The main crimes revolve around selling-out America’s future one way or another — “Joe Biden” and Company being only the most blatant perps in the big picture.

Before them was Hillary Clinton, with her purchase of the Democratic National Committee and previous lucrative ops during her turn as Secretary of State, like the Uranium One deal, the Skolkovo military tech transfer op, and then the Russia Collusion op to insure none of that would ever come to light. The whole Intel Community behemoth was neck deep in it, too, amping up the Russia prank into a four-year coup d’état. Remember, The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting that Hillary’s little hoax was for-real. It’s all just gotten more grotesque since Mr. Trump was ejected in the souped-up 2020 election, with sideshows such as the ongoing race-and-gender hustles, the climate con, and the Green New Deal bullshit.

Covid-19, surely released on-purpose, was, as Ed Dowd avers, a cover for global bankruptcy. Nothing else explains the astounding coordination of so many governments acting the same way against their own citizens: lockdowns, vaxx mandates, vaxx passports, and all. The icing on that poison cake, of course, is that everything the public health officialdom told you about Covid-19 was patently untrue, and dishonestly so, not via omission or plain incompetence. In fact, the virus was made in a Chinese lab with the help of Dr. Fauci and colleagues. Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine did work effectively against it. The “vaccines” were not tested properly and turned out to be harmful. And now the Covid-19 melodrama is ending in a discernable death-of-the-vaxxed and the reveal of all those aforesaid lies, while, anyway, despite their gaslight and smoke-screens, the global bankruptcy approaches its nauseating climax.

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No spare parts.

A Warning -Which We Will Ignore- (Denninger)

Read this carefully folks…. “Municipality and county officials “have formed a plan for the night and the next few nights that we may be out of power. It’s a very serious situation,” Fields said. “So we’ve come to an agreement to best protect our citizens and to protect the businesses of our county, we’re going to implement a curfew tonight.” The power outage in Moore County is being investigated as a “criminal occurrence” after crews found signs of potential vandalism at several locations, CNN previously reported.” Two substations taken out with (presumed) small-arms rifle fire (e.g. bog-standard hunting rifles) from what obviously were a very small group of people, perhaps one or two at each location pissed off about who-knows-what.

Question: Why couldn’t this be immediately fixed? Answer: They don’t have spares for the parts that were damaged. It’s a gun folks, not a large blast that destroyed the land around the area. Equipment was damaged. Ok, so replace it and turn the power back on. That only works if you have the replacements, which they obviously do not. There is nowhere in this nation where you can’t drive a truck full of equipment across a single county in a couple of hours. Doing so requires you have the replacements. Why do they not have the spares?

Because we sent our supply lines overseas, we made no provisions to have spares, and the regulators at the state and federal level sat on their hands and played with themselves instead of requiring that providers of critical services, such as electricity, had a sufficient stock of spares to cover both routine failures and those caused by weather or low-grade assaults perpetrated by small numbers of people. This is the gross incompetence we have throughout our society. It is the manifestation of “oh nothing bad will ever happen so we don’t have to be prepared for it” that has shown up in all manner of other places, such as the cars that are completed except for chips in their engine computers without which they will not run, and thus they’re sitting in a field unsold.

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“Will serve that after five years he’s serving on charges in New York, for a total of 19 years in prison.”

They made him their hero.

Michael Avenatti Sentenced To 14 Years In Prison For Embezzlement (CNN)

Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $11 million in restitution for embezzling millions of dollars from four of his clients and obstruction. Avenatti pleaded guilty earlier this year to four counts of wire fraud for each client he stole from and one count of endeavoring to obstruct the administration of the Internal Revenue Code. Prosecutors said he obstructed the IRS’ effort to collect $5 million in unpaid payroll taxes for Tully’s Coffee. The sentence handed down by federal district Judge James Selna will begin after Avenatti completes a five-year prison term he’s currently serving after being convicted in two separate trials in New York.

Selna also ordered Avenatti to pay over $10 million in restitution to four clients and to the IRS. “Michael Avenatti was a corrupt lawyer who claimed he was fighting for the little guy. In fact, he only cared about his own selfish interests,” US Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement following the sentencing. “He stole millions of dollars from his clients – all to finance his extravagant lifestyle that included a private jet and race cars. As a result of his illegal acts, he has lost his right to practice law in California, and now he will serve a richly deserved prison sentence.” Dean Steward, an attorney for Avenatti, said in a statement to CNN that the sentence “was overly harsh and uncalled for,” adding that his client described it in court as being “off the charts.”

[..] In pleading guilty earlier this year, Avenatti admitted to stealing millions of dollars from clients, including $4 million from a client with major disabilities. According to the indictment, after Avenatti negotiated settlements for the clients that required payment to go to them, he would lie to the clients about the terms of the settlements, instead depositing the funds into attorney trust accounts he controlled. He would then embezzle and misappropriate those funds, according to the indictment, and to prevent discovery of his scheme, he would tell clients the settlement proceeds hadn’t yet been paid, among other tactics.

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The MSM beat you to it.

Facebook Threatens To Cancel News (RT)

Facebook’s parent company has threatened to quit carrying news on the world’s largest social media platform if US lawmakers pass a bill that could give media outlets more leverage in negotiating usage fees for their content. Members of Congress reportedly plan to add the media initiative – called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) – to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill to help push it through. The legislation would make it easier for media outlets to negotiate collectively for a larger share of revenue from the ads posted on their content, a boost that could be especially significant for local newspapers and broadcasters.

“If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone said on Monday in a Twitter post. Stone argued that publishers and broadcasters put their content on Facebook because it boosts their profits. “No company should be forced to pay for content users don’t want to see and that’s not a meaningful source of revenue. Put simply: the government creating a cartel-like entity which requires one private company to subsidize other private entities is a terrible precedent for all American businesses.”

The JCPA has bipartisan support in the House and Senate, as well as bipartisan opposition. The News Media Alliance, an industry trade group that has lobbied for the JCPA, called Meta’s threat “undemocratic and unbecoming.” The group added that similar “threats were attempted before the Australian government passed a similar law to compensate news outlets, played out unsuccessfully, and ultimately news publishers were paid.” The American Civil Liberties Union is among the groups that have opposed the bill, claiming that it would create an “ill-advised antitrust exemption for publishers and broadcasters.” Critics also have pointed out that the bill doesn’t require that funds generated through social media fees be used for paying journalists.

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Western countries wouldn’t know what to do with one.

India Gets World’s First Gold ATM (RT)

Goldsikka Pvt Ltd launched its first Gold ATM with Technology support from M/s OpenCube Technologies Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad-based startup company on December 3. This is India’s first and the world’s first real-time Gold ATM. Report informs via The Economic Times that unlike usual ATMs that dispense money, the Goldsikka ATM dispenses Gold coins. In what is India’s first gold ATM, people can insert their debit or credit cards into the Goldsikka and buy gold coins. The ATM has a capacity of storing 5kgs of gold. There are 8 available options for the quantity of gold starting from 0.5 grams to 100 grams. The Vice President of Goldsikka Pratap said, “Each ATM has a capacity of holding upto 5kgs of gold which is worth around Rs.2-3 crores.


The ATM machine dispenses coins ranging from 0.5 grams to 100 grams. There are 8 available options, including 0.5 grams, 1 gram, 2 grams, 5 grams, 10 grams, 20 grams, 50 grams and 100 grams. People can come here and get the coins directly instead of going to jewellery shops. These coins are 24-carat gold and 999 certified. The customers will get their investment returns at a live price without any wastage. The important feature of the ATM is prices are updated live. We take the London bullion market as our market year. The prices there are updated and displayed on the screen and so are the taxes. Today, we had a footfall of around 20 people till the afternoon. We are hoping that more people would use this,” he said.

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Ursula’s best friend. What’s her take?

Pfizer CEO Refuses To Testify To EU Parliament COVID Panel – Again (Pol.eu)

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla has once again declined to testify before the European Parliament’s special COVID committee. That’s strike two. “Since the October COVID hearing, we have no further information to share with the Committee, so respectfully decline the invitation to again revisit these issues,” states the letter from Bourla dated December 2 and seen by POLITICO. Bourla previously pulled out of an appointment to testify before the committee in October, at which he was expected to face tough questions on how secretive vaccine deals were struck. That decision followed an audit report into the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy that raised new questions about contact between the pharma CEO and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that preceded a multibillion-euro vaccine contract.

On October 14, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed it had an ongoing investigation into the EU’s COVID vaccine purchases, but has not yet specified who is being investigated or which of the EU’s vaccine contracts are under scrutiny. At the October 10 COVI hearing, the company’s president of international developed markets, Janine Small, faced repeated questions from the committee on Bourla’s absence, one of which was even taped to some MEPs’ laptops. She also took questions on vaccine contract negotiations and the jabs themselves, including one from Dutch MEP Robert Roos (ECR group) about whether the vaccine was tested for its ability to prevent transmission before entering the market. That question — and Small’s answer — landed Roos an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News talk show.But, in the end, it seems Small was just no substitute for Bourla. So, on October 28, the COVID committee extended a second invitation to the CEO.

“Our committee felt that during the previous hearing with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, where Pfizer was represented by Mrs. Janine Small, important questions regarding the advanced purchase agreements between the European Union and Pfizer, which fall under the responsibility of the CEO and of which only he has the authority to respond to them, remained unanswered,” COVID committee chair Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D group) said in a statement today. “As chair of the COVI committee, I deeply regret Dr. Bourla’s refusal to discuss this matter with the Members of the European Parliament,” she said. “As a co-legislator of the European budget, the Parliament has the right to obtain full transparency on the modalities of these expenditures and the preliminary negotiations leading up to them.”

Tucker Malhotra

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“By the standing of the @TheJusticeDept, I am now as indictable as Julian Assange.. I’d be happy to take that one to the Supreme Court.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humpback

 

 

Newborn twins

 

 

Shark

 

 

 

 

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Oct 282022
 
 October 28, 2022  Posted by at 8:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  47 Responses »


Salvador Dali Self portrait 1921

 

Musk Says He Bought Twitter For The Sake Of ‘Humanity’ (RT)
Twitter CEO, CFO, & Top Censor Escorted Out (ZH)
The West Has Nothing Left To Offer The World – Putin (RT)
Russia Is Not An Enemy Of The West – Putin (RT)
West Can’t Sit Out Crises It Caused – Putin (RT)
‘No One Can Sit Out The Coming Storm’ (RT)
Putin Says Russia Won’t Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine (Antiwar)
G7 Not Big Enough To Dictate Russian Oil Price – World Bank (RT)
Norway Opposes Russian Gas Price Cap (RT)
Saudi Arabia ‘Duped’ Washington On Secret Oil Deal – NYT (RT)
Kremlin Clarifies Reports On Putin’s ‘Message’ To Zelensky (RT)
Most Dangerous And Unpredictable Decade Since WWII Ahead – Putin (RT)
US Discredited Dollar By Weaponizing It – Putin (RT)
Ukraine Adds Billions To Its Military Budget (RT)
mRNA Vaccines Injure the Heart of ALL Vaccine Recipients (DS)
mRNA Vaccines: The CIA and National Defense (Malone)

 

 

Two main themes today.

1/ Elon Musk buys Twitter and fires executives.

2/ Putin’s speech at the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow. Actually, he did the speech and then stayed for hours responding to questions. No teleprompter needed. RT divvied up the event in many articles, so a lot of RT today.

And at the end Robert Malone on CIA and mRNA.

 

 

 

 

Jamie Dimon

 

 

 

 

Putin Suleimani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Traditional media outlets have fueled and catered to the polarized extremes as they relentlessly pursue higher ratings and profits..”

Musk Says He Bought Twitter For The Sake Of ‘Humanity’ (RT)

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has tried to calm advertiser concerns about his acquisition of Twitter, telling them that he’s buying the social media platform to help save human civilization and that he won’t let it become a “free-for-all hellscape.” Speaking on the eve of closing his $44 billion takeover of Twitter, Musk posted a message to advertisers explaining his rationale for the deal. “I didn’t do it to make more money,” he said. “I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real possibility.” The Tesla CEO, who ranks as the world’s richest person with a fortune estimated by Forbes at more than $221 billion, made his takeover bid for Twitter in April.

At the time, he pledged to end censorship of conservative voices on the platform, saying free speech was a “societal imperative for a functioning democracy.” Critics, including Twitter employees, raised concerns that Musk would make the platform unsafe by allowing “harmful” content. In May, more than two dozen left-wing activist groups urged advertisers to boycott Twitter if Musk completed his takeover, saying he would make the social media giant a “direct threat to public safety.” Although Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” his note to advertisers suggested that the conversations on Twitter won’t be completely unregulated under his ownership. “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences,” he said.

“In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.” Musk said the social media industry currently faces a risk of splintering into far-right and far-left “echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.” Traditional media outlets have fueled and catered to the polarized extremes as they relentlessly pursue higher ratings and profits, he added. “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,”the billionaire said.

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“..other workers have moved to the likes of Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snap, and TikTok..”

Twitter CEO, CFO, & Top Censor Escorted Out (ZH)

As the bell tolls for the end of the first chapter of Twitter’s life as a deep state narrative-enabling machine, the firings have begun with Musk becoming ‘Chief Twit’. Just minutes after the world’s richest man has reportedly closed the $44 billion deal, The NYTimes reports that, according to sources that declined to be identified, the Twitter executives who were fired include: • Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s chief executive, • Ned Segal, the chief financial officer, • Sean Edgett, the general counsel, and • Vijaya Gadde, the top legal and policy executive, (or censorship czar).

As a reminder, having been with Twitter since 2011, Gadde was the key executive in charge of ‘trust and safety, legal and public policy functions’ – described by Politico as the company’s “moral authority.” Gadde holds one of the most controversial positions at Twitter: Her teams decide how to moderate content. That’s made her a target of right-wing criticism, particularly when Twitter blocked the distribution of a New York Post article about President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in 2020. She faced a renewed wave of criticism after multiple reports confirmed she was behind the decision to ban Trump from Twitter. -Politico. In other words, Gadde is likely the exec who signed off on ZeroHedge’s February 2020 ban for speculating that Covid-19 may have emerged from a Wuhan Lab, and President Trump’s January 2021 ban in connection with the capitol riot. And we are not surprised at the others…


At least one of the executives who was fired was escorted out of Twitter’s office, NYTimes reports. Please do not feel too bad for these poor, dejected executives, as Insider reports, through “change in control” provisions in employment contracts for top leadership, they will receive a certain amount of severance and an automatic acceleration of their shares, so long as Musk fires them. The provisions are disclosed in regulatory filings. Agrawal is set to receive the largest payout of $38.7 million, due largely to the entirety of his shares vesting upon his firing. Segal is set to receive a $25.4 million payout for getting fired. Gadde will leave with $12.5 million. As we detailed earlier, over 1,100 employees have left Twitter since Musk announced his intention to buy the company back in January, with almost a third going to Google or Meta. The figures come from a new analysis of LinkedIn data, with the report noting that other workers have moved to the likes of Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snap, and TikTok. We suspect, as Elon warned, it’s sinking now for some…

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Yeah, let it sink in.

“Simplification and the erasure of any and all differences have become almost the essence of the modern West. What is behind this simplification? First of all, this is the disappearance of the creative potential of the West itself..”

The West Has Nothing Left To Offer The World – Putin (RT)

Liberal democracy has changed beyond recognition and has gone from promoting freedom of speech and expression, to demanding the ‘cancelation’ of anyone with a different point of view, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a speech at the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow on Thursday. Speaking about the major changes in the world in recent years, Putin noted that the West has continued its policy of escalating tensions across the globe, and is trying to subjugate the world under its “rules-based order.” He added that it remains unclear who invented these rules, what they are based on, or what exactly they even are. The only thing that is clear, according to the president, is that the rules are meant to allow those who hold global power to live “without any rules at all,” and allow them to get away with doing whatever they want.


“The West in recent years and especially in recent months has taken a number of steps towards escalation. They always play for escalation; there is nothing new here. This includes the incitement of war in Ukraine, provocations regarding Taiwan, and the destabilization of the world food and energy markets,” he said. Humanity now basically has two paths it can pursue, Putin stated. It can either be fractured and keep accumulating problems that will eventually bury it, or try to find “not ideal, but working” solutions to common issues. The president went on to stress the importance of preserving cultural diversity in the world, stating that the West is trying to flatten everything out to be identical and is blocking the “free creative development” of other civilizations and imposing its own style of development. “Simplification and the erasure of any and all differences have become almost the essence of the modern West. What is behind this simplification? First of all, this is the disappearance of the creative potential of the West itself,” Putin said.

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“On one hand, the traditional, primarily Christian West “is close to us in some ways,” he said, noting that “we have in many respects common and ancient roots.”

Russia Is Not An Enemy Of The West – Putin (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared on Thursday that Russia is an “independent” civilization that does not consider itself an enemy of the West. Instead, he sees the “aggressive” and “neo-colonial” liberal elite in charge of the West as a foe. “In the current conditions of a tough conflict, I will say some things directly,” Putin told a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. “Russia, being an independent, original civilization, has never considered and does not consider itself an enemy of the West.” Hatred for American, British, French or German people “are the same form of racism as Russophobia and anti-Semitism,” he added. Putin went on to describe the West as two entities. On one hand, the traditional, primarily Christian West “is close to us in some ways,” he said, noting that “we have in many respects common and ancient roots.”

“But there is another West – aggressive, cosmopolitan, neo-colonial, acting as an instrument of neo-liberal ideas. It is precisely with the dictates of this West that Russia, of course, will never put up with,” he continued. While Putin undoubtedly sees the conflict in Ukraine as an existential struggle against the West – describing his forces as fighting the “entire Western military machine” and blaming the derailment of peace talks and sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the “Anglo-Saxons,” he has drawn a distinction between Western elites and Western society before. Speaking at a ceremony following the accession of four formerly Ukrainian regions into the Russian Federation last month, Putin declared that “the Western elites target all societies, including the citizens of Western countries themselves.”

While the West expands primarily to secure its “mercantile interest,” he stated at Thursday’s meeting, it also pushes its cultural exports on an unreceptive world. “If Western elites believe they can launch new trends like dozens of genders and gay parades, they have the right to do so,” he said. “But they don’t have the right to demand that others follow the same direction.” Putin also condemned the “pure Satanism” of Western liberal culture in his speech last month, noting that “many like-minded people in Europe and the United States” feel the same way. The Valdai Discussion Club is an annual international event in Russia conceived as a platform for floating ideas that the host nation considers important to discuss with other global players. The forum was created in 2004.

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“..new centers of power in the multipolar world and the West will have to start talking as equals about our common future.”

West Can’t Sit Out Crises It Caused – Putin (RT)

The West and its allies are playing a “dirty game,” the prize in which is global dominance, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. However, the US and its allies are not safe from the consequences of their own actions, he added. “Power over the world is what the West has put at stake in the game it plays. This game is certainly dangerous, bloody and I would call it dirty.” The Russian president’s comments came at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting outside Moscow on Thursday. He offered his view that Western nations deny others on the global scene the right to any kind of independence, be it political, economical or cultural. Last December, Russia’s proposals to address its concerns about national security were “tossed aside” by Washington, he noted.


“But in the modern world, sitting aside is hardly an option. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind, as the proverb says,” he said, pointing out that the ongoing global crisis affects everyone and all aspects of life. Humanity basically now has two paths it can pursue, Putin stated. It can either be fractured and keep accumulating problems that will eventually bury it, or try to find “may be not ideal, but working” solutions to common issues. Putin said he believes in common sense and is convinced that sooner or later “new centers of power in the multipolar world and the West will have to start talking as equals about our common future.”

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“Where Nazis burned books, the Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” now ban Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky..”

‘No One Can Sit Out The Coming Storm’ (RT)

The world is entering a decade of tumult as the pursuit of a more just world order clashes with the arbitrary hegemony of the collective West, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, addressing the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. Putin’s speech ranged from biodiversity to “cancel culture,” the nature of what the West has to offer and Russia’s response, followed by hours of answering audience questions. Here are six key points from his opening remarks.

The West stokes conflict to preserve hegemony From inciting conflict in Ukraine and provocations around Taiwan to destabilizing the world food and energy markets, the US and its allies have been escalating tensions around the globe in recent years and especially in recent months, Putin said. “Ruling the world is what the so-called West has staked in this game, which is certainly dangerous, bloody and – I would say – dirty. It denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples, their identity and uniqueness, and disregards any interests of other states,” the Russian president explained. In their so-called “rules-based world order,” only those making the “rules” have any agency, while everyone else must simply obey. However, the West has “no constructive ideas and positive development, they simply have nothing to offer the world except the preservation of their dominance.”

Rules for thee but not for me The West insists its culture and worldview should be universal, Putin said. While not saying it outright, they behave as if these values must be unconditionally accepted by everyone else. Yet when some other countries, notably China, began benefiting from globalization, the West “immediately changed or completely canceled” many of the rules it long insisted were set in stone and sacred, Putin said, with free trade, economic openness, fair competition and even property rights “suddenly forgotten at once, completely.” “As soon as something becomes profitable for themselves, they change the rules immediately, on the go, in the course of the game.”

“Cancel culture” and canceling culture Believing themselves infallible, the rulers of the West desire to destroy – or “cancel” – those they dislike. Where Nazis burned books, the Western “guardians of liberalism and progress” now ban Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky, Putin said. Liberal democracy has transformed into something unrecognizable, declaring any alternative viewpoint as propaganda or a threat, he added. The so-called “cancel culture” destroys anything that is alive and creative, preventing any freedom of thought in culture, economics or politics alike. “History, of course, will put everything in its place,” Putin said, adding that the the self-conceit of those who seek to cancel them is off the charts, “but no one will even remember their names in a few years, while Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky and Pushkin will endure.”

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Not sure why Antiwar brings up the nukes again.

Putin Says Russia Won’t Use Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine (Antiwar)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that Moscow has no plans to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and warned the world is facing the most dangerous decade since World War II. “We see no need for that,” Putin said of the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine in a speech at the Valdai Club, a Moscow-based think tank. “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.” Putin recently warned that Russia could use all the weapons at its disposal to defend its “territorial integrity,” and other Russian officials made clear that included nuclear weapons and applied to the territories Moscow recently annexed in Ukraine. But there’s been no sign that Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons, and he said Thursday that Russia’s recent talk of nuclear weapons was a reaction to remarks from Western officials.


Discussing current global tensions, Putin said that the world is facing “probably, the most dangerous, unpredictable and at the same time important decade since the end of World War II.” The Russian leader criticized the US and other Western powers’ for resorting to force to control other nations by using measures such as sanctions, trade wars, and backing coups. One example he used was the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020. “They killed Soleimani, an Iranian general. You can think whatever you want about Soleimani, but he was a foreign state official. They killed him in a third country and assumed responsibility. What is that supposed to mean, for crying out loud?” he said.

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But, but… The G7 think they rule the world…

G7 Not Big Enough To Dictate Russian Oil Price – World Bank (RT)

The proposed plan by the Group of Seven (G7) to impose a maximum price restriction on the purchases of Russian oil could work only if major emerging markets and developing countries join the scheme, the World Bank has said. In its oil market outlook, issued on Wednesday, the bank highlighted the associated risks. It wrote that the upside risks are dominated by supply issues, including the extent to which Russia’s exports are impacted by new trade measures. “The proposed G7 oil price cap could affect the flow of oil from Russia, but it is an untested mechanism and would need the participation of large emerging markets and developing economies to achieve its objectives,” the report said.


It added that while significant disruption to Russia’s exports may occur in the short term as trade routes are disrupted, “market participants may find ways to circumvent the sanctions, as has often occurred with other sanction episodes.” The Group of Seven leading economies – the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and Japan – agreed last month to enforce a price ceiling on Russian oil in a bid to curb the country’s revenue from energy exports. The price limit hasn’t yet been decided. According to the plan, banking, insurance and shipping firms will be banned from providing services to Russian companies that sell oil at a price above the set limit. December 5 also marks the deadline for the EU to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude. Moscow has said it will not export oil to countries participating in the price cap.

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“This could exacerbate the problem Europe already faces, namely gas shortages…”

Putin: Russia is ready to supply gas and oil to Europe, “if they don’t want it, it‘s their choice.”

Norway Opposes Russian Gas Price Cap (RT)

Norway is against the EU proposal of setting an artificial price ceiling on Russian natural gas, according to the country’s Oil and Energy Ministry. “This could exacerbate the problem Europe already faces, namely gas shortages,” Stein Grimsrud, a ministry spokesman, told the Izvestia news outlet. Norway has become a key gas supplier for the EU after Russian flows dwindled due to sanctions and technical problems. The share of gas imported to the bloc from Russia has dropped from 41% to 9% since the beginning of the year, European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson recently said. Norway used to be the EU’s second-largest gas supplier, covering around 20% of its needs. This summer Oslo approved permits for gas extraction at seven new offshore fields to increase gas production in 2022 by 8% compared with 2021.


The ministry also confirmed that it plans to supply about 122 billion cubic meters of gas to the EU this year. By comparison, prior to 2022, Russia used to supply about 130 billion cubic meters by pipeline and 20 billion cubic meters in the form of LNG to the bloc annually. Some analysts, however, note that Norway does not have the capacity to supply enough gas to the EU to cover the loss of Russian flows. “Norway is unable to solve the ongoing energy crisis because a serious expansion of its exports is impossible due to limited reserves. We also note that Norway has increased its profits due to rising gas prices and has no plans to participate in setting a ceiling on gas prices. Oslo offers its European partners to work on the basis of long-term contracts,” the Russian embassy in Norway told Izvestia.

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“There’s now a level of embarrassment as the Saudis merrily go on their way..”

Saudi Arabia ‘Duped’ Washington On Secret Oil Deal – NYT (RT)

President Joe Biden reportedly made his controversial July visit to Saudi Arabia, breaking a campaign promise to shun the kingdom, because his administration thought it had secured a secret deal for Riyadh to boost oil supplies. Instead, Riyadh did the opposite, leading OPEC in cutting output targets. The production increase was supposed to come from September through the end of this year, helping to ease inflation and justify Biden’s trip to Riyadh, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing interviews with unidentified US and Middle East government officials. Earlier this month, OPEC announced plans to cut production by two million barrels a day, creating more upward pressure on prices and potentially increasing the risk that the Biden-led Democratic Party will lose control of Congress in November’s US midterm elections.

Several US lawmakers responded by suggesting that Washington should punish Saudi Arabia by cutting off arms sales or removing its military support for the kingdom. Biden accused Riyadh of siding with Russia in the Ukraine conflict and warned of retribution, saying, “There will be consequences.” Members of Congress who had received classified briefings about the secret oil deal “have been left fuming that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman duped the administration,” the Times said. US officials told the newspaper that even days before the OPEC announcement, they had been assured by bin Salman that there would be no output cuts. When they later heard that Saudi Arabia had reversed its position on the issue, administration officials made a failed effort to “change minds in the royal court.”

Saudi officials said earlier this month that OPEC’s decision was based solely on economic considerations, not politics, and that Washington tried to delay the move for several weeks. Such a delay might have pushed the announcement past November 8, the date of the midterms. US inflation remains near a 40-year high and ranks as the top concern of American voters, according to polling. Biden said while campaigning for president in 2019 that he would treat Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” and would make them “pay the price” for the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Times said that even some of his strongest supporters have argued that Biden’s decision to meet with bin Salman anyway, after his administration thought it had a secret oil deal in May, was the latest example of “sacrificing principles for political expediency – and having little to show for it.”

“There’s now a level of embarrassment as the Saudis merrily go on their way,”said US Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat. Biden publicly denied in June that he would ask Saudi officials to boost oil supplies. “What happened over the last half-year is a story of handshake agreements, wishful thinking, missed signals and finger-pointing over broken promises,” the Times said.

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“Our colleague from the African state said he would have contacts [with Zelensky] and that he would relay Putin’s position to the Ukrainian side,” Peskov explained. “There was no specific message” involved.”

Kremlin Clarifies Reports On Putin’s ‘Message’ To Zelensky (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin didn’t ask the visiting head of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, to relay any special message to his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Zelensky, the Kremlin has said. During Embalo’s visit to Moscow on Tuesday, Putin briefed him about how Russian-Ukrainian peace talks had collapsed after Kiev pulled out of them, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Thursday. Among other things, the Russian leader reiterated that Moscow was ready for negotiations, provided that Kiev changes its stance on the issue. “Our colleague from the African state said he would have contacts [with Zelensky] and that he would relay Putin’s position to the Ukrainian side,” Peskov explained. “There was no specific message” involved.

Embalo met with Zelensky in Kiev on Wednesday and mentioned his talks with Putin during a joint press conference. The host described the words of his guest as “a signal from the Russian side” but dismissed the notion as mere rhetoric aimed at “nations that have not yet cut political ties” with Moscow. “For a dialogue to happen one nation has to respect another nation, respect its territorial integrity, sovereignty and borders,” he added. The position outlined by Peskov was voiced publicly by numerous other Russian officials, including the president. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council last month banned any talks with Russia as long as Putin remains in power, a motion that Zelensky signed into law.

The Ukrainian president said that his country’s sole goal in the conflict was to defeat Russia on the battlefield and capture all territories that Kiev claims under its sovereignty. Peace talks can happen only after this objective is reached, he asserted. Zelensky is counting on the help of the US and its allies in supplying arms, intelligence and money to Ukraine for as long as it needs the support.

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“The crisis has taken on a truly global magnitude. It affects everyone, and we should not entertain any illusions otherwise.”

Most Dangerous And Unpredictable Decade Since WWII Ahead – Putin (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes the world stands at the precipice of a tumultuous decade that will bring the most danger and unpredictability in several generations as Western hegemony inevitably draws to a close. “We are standing on a historic frontier,” Putin said on Thursday at the Valdai Discussion Club’s annual meeting in Moscow. “Ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War II.” Putin rebuked the West for playing a “dangerous, bloody and dirty” geopolitical game. He said the US and its NATO allies helped to incite the Russia-Ukraine conflict while at the same time stoking a crisis over China’s sovereignty in Taiwan to enforce its global dominance.

“I have always believed in the power of common sense, and I still do, so I am convinced that sooner or later, the new centers of the multipolar world and the West will have to embark on an equal dialogue about our shared future, and the sooner that happens, the better,” Putin said. The Russian leader noted that when Moscow laid out the security concerns that would need to be addressed to avert the Ukraine crisis last December, NATO cast the proposal aside. “It’s not going to be possible to sit this one out. Whoever sows the wind will reap the storm. The crisis has taken on a truly global magnitude. It affects everyone, and we should not entertain any illusions otherwise.”

Humanity essentially faces two options, Putin added. “Either we continue accumulating the burden of problems that is certain to crush all of us, or we can work together to find solutions – functional, if imperfect ones – solutions capable of rendering our world more stable and safer.” In any case, Putin said, “the historical period of the West’s undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end.” Citing a 1978 quote by Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he said, “the West has a blindness of superiority.” “Almost half a century later, the blindness Solzhenitsyn spoke of, openly racist and neo-colonial in nature, has become simply ugly, especially after the emergence of the so-called unipolar world.”

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“Using the dollar as a weapon, the United States, and the West as a whole, discredited the institution of international financial reserves, first devaluing them due to inflation in the dollar and the Eurozone, and later completely pocketing our foreign exchange reserves.”

US Discredited Dollar By Weaponizing It – Putin (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that the long reign of the dollar as the world’s trading benchmark is under threat. He forecast that settlements in national currencies will gain momentum and gradually become dominant across the globe. “The transition to settlements in national currencies will actively gain momentum. It is inevitable … Such transactions, of course, will gradually become dominant. That’s the logic of sovereign economic and financial policy of a multipolar world,” the president said. Putin also noted that the West has compromised the whole idea of a reserve currency system.


“Using the dollar as a weapon, the United States, and the West as a whole, discredited the institution of international financial reserves, first devaluing them due to inflation in the dollar and the Eurozone, and later completely pocketing our foreign exchange reserves.” The seizure of the Russian assets has made all nations think about whether to keep reserves in dollars, the president said. According to him, the international financial system should be independent and depoliticized. “… Sovereign development must be ensured for all countries; the choice of any country must be respected. This is also important even in relation to the financial system … Of course, it must be based on the financial systems of the world’s leading countries,” Putin stressed.

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YOUR billions.

Ukraine Adds Billions To Its Military Budget (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has introduced several amendments to the country’s 2022 budget, which raises the maximum limit on state internal borrowing and national debt and offers a significant boost to the nation’s defense expenses. The new budget was published on the Ukrainian parliament’s (Rada) website on Thursday and states that a total of 386.9 billion Ukrainian hryvnas ($10.5 billion) would be allocated to the country’s national security and defense sectors. The bulk of the funds, some $9.9 billion, will go to the Ministry of Defense, while the rest will be split up between the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Service, Main Intelligence Directorate, Foreign Intelligence Service and others.

It’s noted that the government has already started work on implementing budgetary procedures to ensure the use of these additional funds for the country’s defense and national security sectors. The announcement comes after Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak announced earlier this month that Ukraine had already spent its entire yearly budget amid the ongoing military conflict with Russia, while presidential aide Alexander Rodnyansky stated that Ukraine now needs to be provided with between four and five billion dollars a month to keep its budget afloat. In an article published by German media group Funke on Tuesday, Rodnyansky stated that Kiev expects the EU to cover roughly half of that sum – some $2 billion per month.

He also insisted Ukraine needed to get additional aid such as “thermal clothing, emergency power and diesel generators” after Russia carried out a series of attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure. “We believe that Germany could take on about $500 million a month,”Rodnyansky told Funke, stressing that it would be especially necessary next year. “The state has to function, pensions have to be paid.” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal has put the total cost of repairing the country’s lost infrastructure and modernizing areas unaffected by the conflict at around $750 billion. The World Bank and the US have stated they believe the price to rebuild Ukraine was significantly lower, at around $350 billion, according to Funke.

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…and Cause Myocarditis in Up to 1 in 27..

mRNA Vaccines Injure the Heart of ALL Vaccine Recipients (DS)

New evidence has emerged that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are routinely injuring the heart of all vaccine recipients, raising further questions about their safety and their role in the recent elevated levels of heart-related deaths. The latest evidence comes in a study from Switzerland, which found elevated troponin levels – indicating heart injury – across all vaccinated people, with 2.8% showing levels associated with subclinical myocarditis. The official line on elevated heart injuries and deaths, where they are acknowledged, is that they are most likely caused by the virus as a post-Covid condition rather than the vaccines. However, expert group HART (Health Advisory and Recovery Team) has pointed to Australia as a “control group” on this question.


HART notes that even though Australia had not had significant Covid (only 30,000 reported infections and 910 deaths) prior to mid-2021, it still saw a trend in excess non-Covid deaths beginning in June 2021. HART notes that Australia “did not have prior Covid as a reason for seeing this rise in mortality and hospital pressure from spring 2021”. Instead, “the results from this control group indicate that the cause of this rise in deaths, particularly in young people, must be something in common with Australia, Europe and the USA”. In New Zealand, economist John Gibson found a temporal association between boosters and excess deaths, estimating “16 excess deaths per 100,000 booster doses”. He noted that the age distribution of the deaths corroborated the hypothesis: “The age groups most likely to use boosters show large rises in excess mortality after boosters are rolled out.”

[..] As to cause, Dr. Michael Palmer and Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi at Doctors for Covid Ethics have set out what they deem “irrefutable proof of causality” that mRNA vaccines are causing vascular and organ damage. From studies and autopsy evidence the medical experts show: • mRNA vaccines don’t stay at the injection site but instead travel throughout the body and accumulate in various organs; • mRNA-based Covid vaccines induce long-lasting expression of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in many organs; • Vaccine-induced expression of the spike protein induces autoimmune-like inflammation; • Vaccine-induced inflammation can cause grave organ damage, especially in vessels, sometimes with deadly outcome.


They explain that autopsy evidence shows that “the strong expression of spike protein in heart muscle after vaccination correlates with significant inflammation and tissue destruction”. They add that “vaccine-induced vascular damage will promote blood clotting, and clotting-related diseases such as heart attack, stroke, lung embolism are very common in the adverse events databases”.

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Subtitle: “This isn’t going to end well.”

mRNA Vaccines: The CIA and National Defense (Malone)

We have to have some technology to enable rapid response for special forces teams that are going to go in to wherever the bad guys are when we detect them and address that problem and take them out. Those special forces need to be protected. We need to have capabilities that can be deployed at the battalion level. We need to have capabilities that can be deployed at the population level. This RNA tech was one of the ones, together with monoclonal antibodies, that the government has long believed had huge potential to enable that type of rapid response. They actually like monoclonal antibodies better. The idea behind monoclonal antibodies that they really like is you can administer these products to a special forces group. They go in theater, do their business, come back out, go see their wife, monoclonal antibody is gone. It’s cleared. Yay.

The problem is that the technology just has not performed. The monoclonal antibody technology is too cludgy. It’s too cumbersome. What we’ve learned over the last three years is that viruses and pathogens can evolve to escape that fairly rapidly because they’re fairly specific. We’ve all seen the viral evolution in real time. We experienced it. That’s the unmet medical need and the justification underlying this. That there is an unmet need for some technology, that will now allow rapid response to both emerging pathogens and engineered pathogens such as bio-warfare or terrorism-based pathogens. I think we can all agree that we would like such a technology to exist. The truth is that DARPA, which is the operational development arm, basically the CIA, fell in love with the RNA technology over a decade ago.

They decided to capitalize it and force it into the market space. For instance, they’re the ones that have capitalized through In-Q-Tel, their investment arm, the new RNA manufacturing facilities up in Canada. This is a CIA program. There’s no ambiguity here. I’m not telling state secrets. The technology was basically pulled out of the trash can, because it had been suppressed by Merck after I developed it over 30 years ago. Then it was advanced very aggressively by DARPA. DARPA funded and basically built Moderna. They’re continuing to push all this. They’re pushing it through the government. What you’re seeing is the power of the intelligence community and the new bio-defense industrial complex that’s developed since the anthrax attacks and it really goes beyond that in being able to push their agenda through the government.

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Kermit

 

 

True story.

 

 

Brando

 

 


The Mir mine is an open pit diamond mine located in Mirny, Russia. The mine is 525 m deep (4th in the world) and has a diameter of 1,200 m.

 

 

Mushroom music

 

 

 

 

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Jun 272022
 
 June 27, 2022  Posted by at 9:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  41 Responses »


Henri Matisse Woman with a hat 1905

 

G-7 Unveils $600 Billion Plan to Counter China’s Belt and Road (R.)
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Herr Habeck Firehoses Oil & Gas (Vilches)
Pelosi Leads Democrats In Effort To Codify Roe v. Wade Into Law (JTN)
White House: Biden ‘Does Not Agree With’ Expanding The Supreme Court (JTN)
Top Republican Signals 2023 Investigation: Biden ‘Compromised’ By Son (JTN)
NYT Reports On Large CIA ‘Stealth Network’ Of Spies & Commandos In Ukraine (ZH)
Covid’s Infection Fatality Rate Now Same as Seasonal Flu (DS)
Taibbi Talks Reaction To Him Reviewing ‘What Is A Woman’ (DW)

 

 


“Pfizer regional sales leaders”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too late.

G-7 Unveils $600 Billion Plan to Counter China’s Belt and Road (R.)

Group of Seven leaders (G-7) on Sunday pledged to raise $600 billion in private and public funds over five years to finance needed infrastructure in developing countries and counter the Chinese regime’s Belt and Road project. U.S. President Joe Biden and other G-7 leaders relaunched the newly renamed “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” at their annual gathering being held this year at Schloss Elmau in southern Germany. Biden said the United States would mobilize $200 billion in grants, federal funds, and private investment over five years to boost infrastructure development in lower- and middle-income nations. The United States says the G-7 backed effort promotes responsible investments that aim to benefit the communities they are made in.

“I want to be clear. This isn’t aid or charity. It’s an investment that will deliver returns for everyone,” Biden said, adding that it would allow countries to “see the concrete benefits of partnering with democracies.” Biden said hundreds of billions of additional dollars could come from multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, sovereign wealth funds, and others. Europe will mobilize 300 billion euros for the initiative over the same period to build up a sustainable alternative to the Chinese regime’s Belt and Road Initiative scheme, which Chinese leader Xi Jinping launched in 2013, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the gathering.

The leaders of Italy, Canada and Japan also spoke about their plans, some of which have already been announced separately. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were not present, but their countries are also participating. The Chinese communist regime’s Belt and Road scheme involves development and programs in over 100 countries.

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This is just too stupid. Richard Werner says it best:

“The US adopts yet another pro-Russia policy that strengthens Russia at the expense of the West: Russia is told it doesn’t have to service its debt. Normally the IMF enforces foreign debt to protect US investors, pushing foreign countries hard to pay up.”

Russia Defaults On Foreign Debt For First Time Since 1917 Revolution

Russia has defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since the 1917 revolution, according to reports, further alienating the country from the global financial system after sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine. The country missed a deadline of Sunday night to meet a 30-day grace period on interest payments of $100m on two Eurobonds originally due on 27 May, Bloomberg reported on Monday morning. Some Taiwanese holders of Russian Eurobonds said on Monday that they had not received interest payments due, two sources told Reuters. Official confirmation of the default was expected to come from international ratings agencies.


Russia’s efforts to avoid what would be its first major default on international bonds since the Bolshevik revolution more than a century ago hit a insurmountable roadblock in late May when the US treasury department’s office of foreign assets c (OFAC) effectively blocked Moscow from making payments. “Since March we thought that a Russian default is probably inevitable, and the question was just when,” Dennis Hranitzky, head of sovereign litigation at law firm Quinn Emanuel, told Reuters. “OFAC has intervened to answer that question for us, and the default is now upon us.” While a formal default would be largely symbolic given Russia cannot borrow internationally at the moment and doesn’t need to thanks to plentiful oil and gas export revenues, the stigma would probably raise its borrowing costs in future.

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“This is a level of hysteria that I have never seen, even during the Second World War, which I am old enough to remember very well.”

Chomsky on the Root Causes of the Russia-Ukraine War (CD)

Soon after the war, “the United States Department acknowledged that they had not taken Russian security concerns into consideration in any discussions with Russia. The question of NATO, they would not discuss. Well, all of that is provocation. Not a justification but a provocation and it’s quite interesting that in American discourse, it is almost obligatory to refer to the invasion as the ‘unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’. Look it up on Google, you will find hundreds of thousands of hits.” Chomsky continued, “Of course, it was provoked. Otherwise, they wouldn’t refer to it all the time as an unprovoked invasion. By now, censorship in the United States has reached such a level beyond anything in my lifetime. Such a level that you are not permitted to read the Russian position.

Literally. Americans are not allowed to know what the Russians are saying. Except, selected things. So, if Putin makes a speech to Russians with all kinds of outlandish claims about Peter the Great and so on, then, you see it on the front pages. If the Russians make an offer for a negotiation, you can’t find it. That’s suppressed. You’re not allowed to know what they are saying. I have never seen a level of censorship like this.” Regarding his views of the possible future scenarios, Chomsky said that “the war will end, either through diplomacy or not. That’s just logic. Well, if diplomacy has a meaning, it means both sides can tolerate it. They don’t like it, but they can tolerate it. They don’t get anything they want, they get something. That’s diplomacy.

If you reject diplomacy, you are saying: ‘Let the war go on with all of its horrors, with all the destruction of Ukraine, and let’s let it go on until we get what we want.'” By ‘we,’ Chomsky was referring to Washington, which simply wants to “harm Russia so severely that it will never be able to undertake actions like this again. Well, what does that mean? It’s impossible to achieve. So, it means, let’s continue the war until Ukraine is devastated. That’s US policy.” Most of this is not obvious to western audiences simply because rational voices are “not allowed to talk” and because “rationality is not permitted. This is a level of hysteria that I have never seen, even during the Second World War, which I am old enough to remember very well.”

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Consistent.

John Mearsheimer’s Ukraine Crystal Ball (ZH)

A new talk by Professor John J. Mearsheimer has recently been made public, wherein the famous author and political science theorist details the causes and consequences of the Ukraine war. Mearsheimer became more well-known, and “controversial” in establishment circles, after it emerged that he clearly predicted going back to 2014 the war which kicked off in Feb. 2022. He had said in a 2014 University of Chicago lecture, “The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is Ukraine is going to get wrecked.” This tragedy for the Ukrainian people is playing out now, with little hope that now totally defunct Russia-Ukraine ceasefire talks will halt the fighting. Other than efforts of France’s Macron, attempts at basic diplomacy and direct communications are all but dead.

As the lecture intro describes: Prof. Mearsheimer focused on both the origins of the war in Ukraine and some of its most important consequences. He argues that the crisis is largely the result of the West’s efforts to turn Ukraine into a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. Russian leaders viewed that outcome as an existential threat that had to be thwarted. While Vladimir Putin is certainly responsible for invading Ukraine and for Russia’s conduct in the war, Prof. Mearsheimer states that he does not believe he is an expansionist bent on creating a greater Russia.

Regarding the war’s consequences, the greatest danger is that the war will go on for months if not years, and that either NATO will get directly involved in the fighting or nuclear weapons will be used — or both. Furthermore, enormous damage has already been inflicted on Ukraine. A prolonged war is likely to wreak even more devastation on Ukraine. Mearsheimer calls the war an “unmitigated disaster” and with “no end in sight” – for which he lays chief blame on the West. Lately student groups at the University of Chicago, as well as some pundits within the mainstream media, have sought to censor his views and “cancel” him – despite that he’s been on record and consistent in his predictions and views for years.

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Oil refinery is a tricky business. Changes take time. Europe does not have time.

Herr Habeck Firehoses Oil & Gas (Vilches)

One way to begin to understand the problem is agreeing and accepting that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden made a historical bad joke, by saying “ The EU will make sure to phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion to allow us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes minimizing the impact on global markets”. Nope, you can´t do that in 6 months Ursula, if ever. So if you accept that´d be absolutely impossible then you are on the right track to understand the rest. Otherwise you´d be just playing games running around in circles. Hint: it´d be like trying to change the engine oil while cruising at 150 km/hr on a German autobahn. Of course, you can stop the car and change the oil, but in this case it would mean shutting down Europe for months. You cannot do that, can you ?


By any standards, there are definitely not enough adequate oil blends around to come close to satisfying European refinery requirements comparable to homogenous continuous over-abundant constant Russian high-quality Urals which the EU now has decided to ban. And also please accept once and for all that a specific oil blend is not just “any oil blend” to be plugged & played anywhere anytime. Oil blends are not fungible. A very specific refinery or processing plant tune-up needs to be specifically matched with an always constant high-quality homogenous oil blend in large enough quantities and for a given desired output such as diesel fuel, or whatever. No “open architecture” is possible here, that´s just for IT nerds, not for refineries. And definetly there are no vendors all lined up happily willing and able to sell you their oil blend in unlimited quantities already fully adapted to whatever plant you may have ´as-is´ for whichever desired production output you may need delivered just-in-time on-demand and only when you need it.

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How long has she been in DC? Last chance to use abortion to get votes, Nancy

Pelosi Leads Democrats In Effort To Codify Roe v. Wade Into Law (JTN)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is vowing to fight in Congress to codify Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision. “Democrats will keep fighting ferociously to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law of the land,” Pelosi said. “This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart wrenching.” The California Democrat called the decision a “slap in the face to women about using their own judgment to make their own decisions about their reproductive freedom.” Democrats have tried to codify Roe v. Wade into law in the past, but it has never passed Congress. In September, the Democrat-led House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, but the bill didn’t move forward in the Senate.

After the draft opinion of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade leaked in May, Democrats in the Senate tried to pass legislation to codify Roe, but Republicans were able to block the measure. Realizing they lack the votes to codify a right to abortion into law in the 50-50 Senate, Democrats are calling on their base to mobilize and vote in November. “This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” President Biden said at the White House on Friday. “Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality they’re all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect a woman’s right in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision.”

Pelosi also said Roe v. Wade is “on the ballot in November.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the decision to overturn Roe “makes crystal clear the contrast” between both parties as the November elections approach. “Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want nationwide abortion bans, the jailing of women and doctors and no exemptions for rape or incest,” Schumer said. “Or elect more pro-choice Democrats to save Roe and protect a woman’s right to make their own decisions about their body, not politicians.”

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Done.

White House: Biden ‘Does Not Agree With’ Expanding The Supreme Court (JTN)

The White House on Saturday confirmed that President Joe Biden has no desire to expand or pack the Supreme Court in the wake of the Court’s unprecedented repeal of Roe v. Wade earlier this week. Asked by reporters on Air Force One while en route to Munich about the possibility that Biden might move to add more justices to the Court amid the fallout from the ruling, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Saturday: “I was asked this question yesterday, and I’ve been asked it before…about expanding the Court. That is something that the President does not agree with.” “That is not something that he wants to do,” she added.


Progressives have argued that packing the Court with more justices could offer Democrats a remedy to the strong conservative majority the institution currently enjoys. President Donald Trump appointed three justices during his administration, all of whom are seen as reliably conservative votes on the bench. Though she said Biden has no plans to pursue such an agenda, Jean-Pierre on Saturday did take time to slam the court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, which eliminated the half-century-old federalization of abortion rights first implemented in 1973. “It’s so out of step not only with this decision, but it’s also so out of step with the Constitution,” she argued.

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They’ll hit the ground running.

Top Republican Signals 2023 Investigation: Biden ‘Compromised’ By Son (JTN)

Some conservatives have fretted the four years it has taken federal prosecutors to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings. But make no mistake, the man most likely to run the main House investigative committee if Republicans win control of Congress next year is determined to document how President Joe Biden’s foreign policy has been compromised by his son’s infamous wheeling and dealing. “We feel that Hunter Biden is a national security threat,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told Just the News in a wide-ranging interview Friday laying out his priorities if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “We’ve been poring over his financial records for many weeks now, and it’s troubling.

“So we’ve got a lot of questions about Hunter’s business dealings and questions for Biden administration officials to determine if thepresident is in fact compromised because of Hunter’s shady business dealings.” Comer was asked whether the evidence he has seen shows the president’s son ran “an influence peddling scheme” that sold access to his father to foreigners. “There’s no question,” he answered. “That was confirmed with the recent tape that emerged last week from the laptop that showed that Hunter Biden said that, you know, his dad would do anything he asked him to do,” said Comer. “I think that was the sales pitch that Hunter would make to the questionable shady figures in Russia who he received compensation from, the shady, questionable figures in communist China he would receive payments from, and those in Ukraine and Africa and everywhere else around the world.”

“No one would think that anyone wanted to do business with Hunter Biden because of his stellar resume or his record of achievement,” Comer added. “It was because his last name was Biden. And his father was the vice president of the United States.” Comer said the House oversight committee’s job wouldn’t be to focus on whether Hunter Biden evaded taxes, an issue already under investigation by federal prosecutors since late 2018, but rather on what government or policy favors countries and players got for paying the presidential son, including for a recent set of paintings.

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“..directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces..”

NYT Reports On Large CIA ‘Stealth Network’ Of Spies & Commandos In Ukraine (ZH)

A fresh New York Times report has confirmed what many already suspected – that the CIA is still very active inside Ukraine – especially with training as well coordinating weapons among its Ukrainian allies. The Times report details “a stealthy network of commandos and spies rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training,” based on US and European intelligence officials with knowledge of the operations. The report says Ukrainian forces are reliant on this Western clandestine network “more than ever” while outgunned by the Russians. This comes months after investigative journalist Zach Dorfman’s bombshell expose in Yahoo News which detailed how a prior 8-year long CIA covert program to train Ukrainian fighters helped provoke the Russian invasion. The only question that remained after that March report was the extent to which the CIA was still active in the ongoing fight against the invading Russians.

The new Times reporting confirms that the US program is not only active and ongoing, but appears larger in scale than previously thought given the CIA’s close cooperation with the Ukrainians is happening both inside and outside the country, across multiple locations. “Much of this work happens outside Ukraine, at bases in Germany, France and Britain, for example. But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials,” the report indicates.

It appears much the CIA’s work in Ukraine is centered on coordinating intelligence with local intel services and counterparts. “Few other details have emerged about what the C.I.A. personnel or the commandos are doing, but their presence in the country — on top of the diplomatic staff members who returned after Russia gave up its siege of Kyiv — hints at the scale of the secretive effort to assist Ukraine that is underway and the risks that Washington and its allies are taking,” NY Times continues. Over the weekend, Canada also has been reported to have special operations troops inside Ukraine. This was reported months ago, but with a separate NYT report offering further confirmation. “Both CTV and Global News reported in late January that Canadian special forces had been sent to Ukraine, but National Defence did not comment on that deployment,” Ottawa Citizen writes Sunday.

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“..the Government is right not to be concerned and has come to the conclusion that there is no need for restrictions.”

Covid’s Infection Fatality Rate Now Same as Seasonal Flu (DS)

Death rates from Covid are lower than ever, according to an analysis by Professor Carl Heneghan and Dr Jason Oke carried out for the Mail on Sunday. The IFR is now ~0.0333%, similar to seasonal influenza. “Experts say there is little need to fear a recent surge in cases as fewer than one in 3,000 infected people now dies from coronavirus – with the rate even lower for the vaccinated. The analysis of official data by Oxford University shows the ‘infection fatality rate’ has dropped about 30-fold since the pandemic began due to a combination of vaccine protection and naturally acquired infection.


Professor Carl Heneghan of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, who carried out the analysis with statistician Jason Oke, said: “There have been an astonishing number of Covid infections so far this year, but deaths have come down. “Now we are looking at an infection fatality rate for Covid of around one in 3,000 which is comparable with seasonal influenza. That’s why the Government is right not to be concerned and has come to the conclusion that there is no need for restrictions.”

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“..as the Left radicalized, and Taibbi stayed the same, the journalist found himself in a new space.”

Taibbi Talks Reaction To Him Reviewing ‘What Is A Woman’ (DW)

Old-school liberal investigative journalist Matt Taibbi told Ben Shapiro on this week’s episode of “Sunday Special” that he “lost friends” for merely reviewing Matt Walsh and The Daily Wire’s groundbreaking documentary, “What is a Woman?” Taibbi was a star writer at “Rolling Stone” magazine and beloved by the elite liberal media, but as the Left radicalized, and Taibbi stayed the same, the journalist found himself in a new space. Like, for example, sitting down for a lengthy conversation with one of the most prominent conservative figures in American politics — and seeing a lot of agreement. “The response was unbelievable, just for reviewing the movie — forget about what I said about it,” Taibbi told Shapiro about his review.

“I lost friends over that. There were people who I’ve known for decades who basically said I’m a transphobe and I’m … out of their loop.” Taibbi explained that he first noticed an unwillingness from the Left even to discuss the transgender issue before he chose to review The Daily Wire documentary. “With the trans issue, there would be some people who would talk to me, and then there would be some people who were furious that you even called, would refuse to have any kind of discussion, would call you a transphobe for even asking certain kinds of questions — and this is before you even have a point of view on the subject,” he said, recalling a time he tried to gather quotes for a story. “I thought that was odd.”

Taibbi noted that this was a rehash of what he witnessed as a journalist in 2016 when reporting on former President Donald Trump. He recalled including a quote from a pro-union lifelong Democrat who said he voted Republican for the first time, for Trump, because he felt lied to about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. The pushback from the leftist media community told Taibbi he wasn’t allowed to report or say true things if they went against the greater narrative. Taibbi didn’t abide by the leftist media rules with Trump and didn’t with the trans issue, either. Though, he admitted, the trans issue pushback did give Taibbi a momentary pause. “I had kinda tried to stay away from the issue. It’s complicated, and I try to stay away from issues I don’t know a whole lot about,” he said.

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Jun 262022
 


Caravaggio The Denial of St. Peter 1610

 

The Fantasy of Fanaticism (Scott Ritter)
US Commander: China’s ‘No-limits’ Support Of Russia Threatens Humanity (JTN)
G7 Face Battle For Unity As Cost Of Ukraine War Mounts (BBC)
Adding $37 Billion to Biden’s Military Budget (CD)
Russia On Brink Of Default As Debt Deadline Looms (BBC)
Germany Fears Russia Could Shut Nord Stream 1 Within Weeks (ZH)
Just 5% Call Abortion Top Concern (WE)
“It’s Infuriating”: DC Democrats In Chaos, Demand Biden Act On Abortion (ZH)
Democrats Lived Rent-free For 50 Years Off Roe v. Wade
The Dobbs Decision Unleashes Rage and Revisionism (Turley)
Biden Undermines Supreme Court In Ways Unlike Predecessors (JTN)
EU Renews Digital Covid Pass Despite 99% Negative Public Feedback (Kogon)
Birx Had A Tough Day In Congress (El Gato)
Ghislaine Maxwell On Suicide Watch, May Seek Sentencing Delay (R.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1) “..the secretary general of the trans-Atlantic alliance responsible for pushing Ukraine into its current conflict with Russia is now proposing that Ukraine be willing to accept the permanent loss of sovereign territory because NATO miscalculated..”

2) “Russia just destroyed the equivalent of NATO’s main active-duty combat power and hasn’t blinked..”

The Fantasy of Fanaticism (Scott Ritter)

Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, recently estimated that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers a day on the frontlines with Russia, and another 500 or so wounded. These are unsustainable losses, brought on by the ongoing disparity in combat capability between Russia and Ukraine symbolized, but not limited to, artillery. In recognition of this reality, NATO Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg announced that Ukraine will more than likely have to make territorial concessions to Russia as part of any potential peace agreement, asking, “what price are you willing to pay for peace? How much territory, how much independence, how much sovereignty…are you willing to sacrifice for peace?”

Stoltenberg, speaking in Finland, noted that similar territorial concessions made by Finland to the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War was “one of the reasons Finland was able to come out of the Second World War as an independent sovereign nation.” To recap — the secretary general of the trans-Atlantic alliance responsible for pushing Ukraine into its current conflict with Russia is now proposing that Ukraine be willing to accept the permanent loss of sovereign territory because NATO miscalculated and Russia —instead of being humiliated on the field of battle and crushed economically — is winning on both fronts. Decisively. That the secretary general of NATO would make such an announcement is telling for several reasons.

First, Ukraine is requesting 1,000 artillery pieces and 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, more than the entire active-duty inventory of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps combined. Ukraine is also requesting 500 main battle tanks — more than the combined inventories of Germany and the United Kingdom. In short, to keep Ukraine competitive on the battlefield, NATO is being asked to strip its own defenses down to literally zero. More telling, however, is what the numbers say about NATO’s combat strength versus Russia. If NATO is being asked to empty its armory to keep Ukraine in the game, one must consider the losses suffered by Ukraine up to that point and that Russia appears able to sustain its current level of combat activity indefinitely. That’s right — Russia just destroyed the equivalent of NATO’s main active-duty combat power and hasn’t blinked.

One can only imagine the calculations underway in Brussels as NATO military strategists ponder the fact that their alliance is incapable of defeating Russia in a large-scale European conventional land war. But there is another conclusion that these numbers reveal — that no matter what the U.S. and NATO do in terms of serving as Ukraine’s arsenal, Russia is going to win the war. The question now is how much time the West can buy Ukraine, and at what cost, in a futile effort to discover Russia’s pain threshold in order to bring the conflict to an end in a manner that reflects anything but the current path toward unconditional surrender.

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“..Jake Sullivan, said that a weak U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “would send a message to other would-be aggressors, including China, that they could do the same thing.”

For some reason he doesn’t appear to include the US in that group of “would-be aggressors”.

US Commander: China’s ‘No-limits’ Support Of Russia Threatens Humanity (JTN)

China’s assertion of a “no-limits” partnership with Russia has alarmed the Pentagon and risks endangering all of humanity should the two nations continue to grow closer, according to the commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific. “From where I sit, the most concerning aspect of [Russia’s war in Ukraine] is that the People’s Republic of China has declared a no-limits policy in support of Russia and what that means to both the Indo-Pacific and the globe,” Adm. John Aquilino, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said on Friday. “If those two nations were to truly demonstrate and deliver a no-limits policy, I think what that means is we’re currently in an extremely dangerous time and place in the history of humanity, if that were to come true,” said Aquilino, speaking at an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think-tank.

In February, Chinese leader Xi Jinping met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing, where they heralded their relationship in a sweeping joint statement. “Friendship between the two states has no limits,” the two leaders said. “There are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation.” The meeting came three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine. China has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion and has echoed Russian talking points about the war. Aquilino praised the Ukrainian people for defending their country and touted the efforts of the U.S. military and U.S. allies to help Ukraine defend itself.

“Globally what we see is that the world is certainly unwilling to accept a single person’s actions — illegitimate, unprovoked — to change the world order, the status quo, the international rules-based order through an unprovoked, illicit invasion,” he said. The commander’s comments came after President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that a weak U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “would send a message to other would-be aggressors, including China, that they could do the same thing.”

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“..Germany has invited the leaders of India, Indonesia, Senegal, Argentina and South Africa to the summit..”

That’s two BRICS members, and three potential ones.

G7 Face Battle For Unity As Cost Of Ukraine War Mounts (BBC)

The Russian war against Ukraine will inevitably dominate the summit of G7 nations in Bavaria. And the leaders of the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan face a difficult challenge. They are aiming to put on a show of unity and resolve over the war. In recent months, the Western alliance has shown signs of strain and fatigue. Some voices – particularly in France, Germany and Italy – have asked if it might not be better for the war to end, even if it came at the cost of Ukraine having to cede territory. A recent cross-Europe opinion poll suggested some voters put solving the cost-of-living crisis ahead of punishing Russia. Others argue about the need to salvage some kind of relationship with Russia in the future.

Countries like the UK, Poland and the three Baltic States have been resisting these arguments, saying that any peace deal with Moscow that is not on Ukraine’s terms would lead to further Russian aggression in the future. President Zelensky is likely to reinforce this argument when he addresses the summit virtually on Monday. So the G7 leaders are expected to try to use the summit to clear these muddy waters, promising more weapons to Ukraine and more sanctions against Russia. The idea will be to send a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West has the strategic patience to maintain its support for Ukraine, even if it faces domestic political pressure at home from voters concerned about rising prices. The problem for G7 leaders is they also face growing pressure to show they are tackling the global economic crisis. The soaring price of fuel and food is causing hunger and unrest across the world.

And some countries are pointing the finger at the West. Many countries in the global south do not share Western concerns about Russian aggression. They see the conflict as a European war and seem unmoved by Western arguments that Vladimir Putin is acting as a colonial aggressor. And they blame Western sanctions – as much as Russia’s invasion – for the rising costs of gas and oil, and the massive shortage of wheat and fertiliser. To try to resist this narrative, G7 countries are expected to use the summit to show they are acting to help countries round the world – with development aid, debt restructuring, climate finance, help finding alternative sources of energy and, of course, fresh efforts to get grain out of Ukraine’s ports. That is why Germany has invited the leaders of India, Indonesia, Senegal, Argentina and South Africa to the summit, to hear their perspective and show the rest of the world the G7 is listening.

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“If you’re supporting this amendment, you’re basically paving the way to a trillion-dollar defense [bill]..”

Adding $37 Billion to Biden’s Military Budget (CD)

Progressives expressed outrage after a House panel voted Wednesday to tack an additional $37 billion on top of President Joe Biden’s already gargantuan military spending request. The Biden administration’s March request for $813 billion in military spending for Fiscal Year 2023 already marked a $31 billion increase over the current, historically large sum of $782 billion. During its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the House Armed Services Committee approved by a 42-17 margin Rep. Jared Golden’s (D-Maine) amendment to boost the topline budget by $37 billion. “Today members of the House Armed Services Committee put the demands of the military-industrial complex over the needs of the American people yet again,” Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said in a statement.

“Granting $37 billion to a war machine that can’t even pass an audit while saying that we ‘can’t afford’ what American families and communities need is quintessential hypocrisy,” said Weissman. “Congress can still correct this misstep — rerouting that funding into investments like economic stability, climate justice, and affordable healthcare for all Americans instead.” The House panel’s increase comes less than a week after the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to add $45 billion to Biden’s $813 billion request, pushing the upper chamber’s total proposed budget for national military spending in the coming fiscal year to a whopping $857.6 billion — including $817 billion for the Pentagon, $30 billion for the Department of Energy and an additional $10.6 billion that falls outside NDAA jurisdiction.

During a speech Wednesday in which she explained why she voted against Golden’s “unconscionable” amendment, Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Cailf.) stressed that “there are simply not military solutions to every problem.” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also voted against Golden’s amendment and explained his opposition in remarks delivered from the House floor. “If you’re supporting this amendment, you’re basically paving the way to a trillion-dollar defense [bill],” said Khanna. “Is that what we want in this country?” “I just want to be clear,” he added. “There is no country in the world that is putting over half its discretionary budget into defense and I would rather for us to be the preeminent economy of the 21st century by investing in the health of our people, in the education of our people, in the industries of the future.”

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“This whole situation looks like a farce.”

Russia On Brink Of Default As Debt Deadline Looms (BBC)

Russia is on the brink of its first debt default since 1998 as the Sunday deadline to make a $100m interest payment seems certain to be missed. Russia has the money and is willing to pay, but sanctions make it impossible to get the payments to international creditors. The Kremlin has been determined to avoid a first default since 1998, and a major blow to the nation’s prestige. The Russian finance minister branded the situation “a farce”. Russia has seemed on an inevitable path to default since sanctions were first imposed by the US and EU following the invasion of Ukraine.These restricted the country’s access to the international banking networks which would process payments from Russia to investors around the world.

The Russian government has said it wants to make all of its payments on time, and so far it has succeeded.About $40bn of Russia’s debts are denominated in dollars or euros, with around half held outside the country. A default would be the first since 1998, at the chaotic end of Boris Yeltsin’s regime. The $100m interest payment was due on 27 May. Russia says the money was sent to Euroclear, a bank which would then distribute the payment to investors. But that payment has been stuck there, according to Bloomberg News, and creditors have not received it. “They have not got it,” says Jay Auslander, a US lawyer who has worked on many government debt cases. “And the overwhelming probability is they’re not going to get it.”If this money has not arrived within 30 days of the due date, that is, Sunday evening, that will widely be considered a default.

Euroclear wouldn’t say if the payment had been blocked, but said it adheres to all sanctions. Default seemed inevitable when the US Treasury decided not to renew the special exemption in sanctions rules allowing investors to receive interest payments from Russia, which expired on 25 May. The Kremlin now appears to have accepted this inevitability too, decreeing on 23 June stating that all future debt payments would be made in roubles through a Russian bank, the National Settlements Depository, even when contracts state they should be in dollars or other international currencies. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov admitted foreign investors would “not be able to receive” the payments according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

This was for two reasons, he said. “The first is that foreign infrastructure – correspondent banks, settlement and clearing systems, depositories – ares prohibited from conducting any operations related to Russia. The second is that foreign investors are expressly prohibited from receiving payments from us.” Because Russia wants to pay and has plenty of money to do it, he denied that this amounts to a genuine default, which usually occur when governments refuse to pay, or their economies are so weak that they cannot find the money. “Everyone in the know understands that this is not a default at all,” RIA Novosti quoted him. “This whole situation looks like a farce.”

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Come -cold- winter, Europeans will not blame all this on Putin. They will demand their politicians make peace with Russia.

Germany Fears Russia Could Shut Nord Stream 1 Within Weeks (ZH)

The European Union has this week accused Russia of planning “rogue moves” regarding lowering natural gas flows to Europe, or in other words continuing to ‘weaponize’ its energy, to which the Kremlin has consistently responded with variations of ‘our gas, our rules’. This after Moscow has reduced Nord Stream 1 gas flows by 40% last week while citing technical issues, leading to a four- to sixfold rise in market prices, based on German energy officials. However, Berlin isn’t buying that needed maintenance on the key pipeline is all that’s happening here, instead seeing in it an underhanded Russian ploy to ramp up the pressure on Europe, giving way to fears that the saga could end in Russia halting its pipeline altogether.

“Gas is now a scarce commodity in Germany,” economy minister Robert Habeck said at a Thursday press conference while warning that his country is now approaching crisis supply levels which could see authorities turn to gas rationing. Habeck confirmed that the last days have seen a “significant deterioration of the gas supply situation” – following Gazprom’s Nord Stream 1 also having to now undergo what the Russian energy company has scheduled as “annual maintenance” for a period of ten days, from July 11 to July 21. Habeck was asked in an interview this week with German broadcaster ZDF about the negative scenario possibility of Russia artificially extending the repair and maintenance period: “I’d be lying if I said I’m ruling it out. In fact, Putin has gradually reduced the amount of gas more and more,” he responded.

According to the German language publication, the economy minister bluntly spelled out that Putin is trying to use energy to drive a wedge among European allies: Putin’s plan is to put pressure on the market to make prices in Europe more expensive. According to Habeck, it is mainly a matter of stirring up social unrest and breaking down unity. He wants to make sure that Putin “does not win,” the economy minister told ZDF heute Journal. Measures are also being taken to ensure the unity of society.

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“Only 5% said abortion was top issue. That might change a little, but not with people who can’t afford food or gas or rent or medical bills..”

Just 5% Call Abortion Top Concern (WE)

Abortion, the No. 1 concern in today’s media and politics, ranks nearly dead last among areas voters care about as they struggle with paying daily bills, soaring inflation, and interest rate hikes, according to a just-released survey. While the Supreme Court’s decision overruling the 1973 Roe v. Wade right to abortion has dominated today’s network and cable coverage, the latest McLaughlin & Associates poll said just 5% of voters call it a top concern. Just below abortion, at 1%, is reviewing the 2020 election, over which the media are also obsessing. By comparison, 54% cited the economy. “Only 5% said abortion was top issue. That might change a little, but not with people who can’t afford food or gas or rent or medical bills,” said pollster John McLaughlin, referencing the court’s decision today.

He also told Secrets, “This was no surprise. The decision was leaked a while ago. Most states will not change their laws. Biden’s handlers are desperate to change the subject from the imploding economy.” President Joe Biden said today that he plans to dig into ways to continue the rights under Roe, but John and Jim McLaughlin said their data show it’s a desperation play to recover his base. In their latest survey, just 23% of Democratic primary voters said Biden was their first pick to run in 2024. “People are focused right now on inflation, gas, cost of living, public safety, and the disintegration of America,” Jim McLaughlin said. “You know you’re struggling when 77% of Biden’s primary voters are looking for somebody else.”

And while the media were suggesting that the question of abortion will help drive a bigger Democratic turnout in fall elections, the McLaughlins said it also stands to help Republicans. In an April survey, they found that 93% agree with this statement: “Every human being represents a life that is precious and has value.” John McLaughlin said, “If the Republicans stand on principle and defend human life, Americans are on their side.”

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“Behind the carnival tent curtain..”

“It’s Infuriating”: DC Democrats In Chaos, Demand Biden Act On Abortion (ZH)

Democrats are seething with rage over Friday’s 6-3 majority decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, sending the question of abortion rights back to the state-level. “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” read the opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito. Pro-abortion protesters sprung to action, deploying posters which read “Bans off my Body” and other slogans. Hours after the news broke, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called the decision “illegitimate,” and encouraged people to get “into the streets” to protest.


Her call for what we’re sure will be ‘mostly peaceful’ protests prompted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to accuse the Democrat of ‘launching an insurrection,’ adding “Any violence and rioting is a direct result of Democrat marching orders.” “I will explain this to you slowly: exercising our right to protest is not obstruction of Congress nor an attempt to overturn democracy,” AOC replied, to which Greene asked AOC why she won’t support pardons for Julian Assange or Edward Snowden, why she is “a shill for the MIC (military industrial complex) funding war in Ukraine,” or “are you too busy organizing baby killing riots?” Behind the carnival tent curtain, DC insiders are furious and are demanding that the Biden administration DO SOMETHING! “It’s infuriating. What the hell have we been doing?” one Democratic strategist told The Hill. “Why are we not talking about this every single day? Why hasn’t Biden made this the issue for Democrats? If we don’t step up, we’ve got ourselves to blame.”

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“..American liberals have lived rent free for 50 years on the Blackmun decision. They didn’t have to frame arguments. They didn’t have to persuade 50 legislatures…”

Democrats Lived Rent-free For 50 Years Off Roe v. Wade

Maybe it’s time everyone slowed down and looked at Roe for what it was. It was legal malpractice of the highest order that disenfranchised hundreds of millions of Americans by rationalizing that the Constitution had settled the question of abortion. An issue that rightly belonged in state legislatures where citizens could argue for and against was commandeered by the Blackmun court and settled. This is not merely a conservative view. Since Roe became law in 1973, a powerful consensus has been building among legal authorities left and right that Roe was constructed not on the breakwater of constitutional logic but on the seafoam of judicial activism. Here’s just a brief sampling from the left. And understand, I could easily add 20 more examples just like these:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Supreme Court Justice): “The political process was moving in the early 1970 …not swiftly enough for advocates for quick, complete change, but majoritarian institutions were listening and acting. (Roe’s) heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.” Edward Lazarus (attorney, clerk to Roe-author Justice Harry Blackmun): “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible. I say this as someone utterly committed to the right to choose, as someone who believes such a right has grounding elsewhere in the Constitution instead of where Roe placed it, and as someone who loved Roe’s author like a grandfather. …(Roe) has little connection to the constitutional right it purportedly interpreted.”

Jeffrey Rosen (Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic): “In short, 30 years later, it seems increasingly clear that this pro-choice magazine was correct in 1973 when it criticized Roe on constitutional grounds. Its overturning would be the best thing that could happen to the federal judiciary, the pro-choice movement and the moderate majority of the American people.” Michael Kinsley (Opinion editor, Los Angeles Times; co-host of Crossfire): “Although I am pro-choice, I was taught in law school, and still believe, that Roe v. Wade is a muddle of bad reasoning and an authentic example of judicial overreaching. I also believe it was a political disaster for liberals. Roe is what first politicized religious conservatives while cutting off a political process that was legalizing abortion state by state anyway. Three decades later, that awakened giant controls the government.”

John Hart Ely (law professor; Yale, Harvard, Stanford; clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren): “(Roe) is, nevertheless, a very bad decision. Not because it will perceptibly weaken the Court — it won’t; and not because it conflicts with either my idea of progress or what the evidence suggests is society’s — it doesn’t. It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”

On Friday, President Joe Biden ignored this consensus and railed against today’s justices who agree with it. “Make no mistake,” said Biden. “This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law. It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court.” To the contrary, I’ve presented above just a fraction of the counterevidence that shows Biden is wrong. Just to restate, as early as the 1970s when Michael Kinsley was chasing paper at Harvard Law, it was common knowledge in Cambridge that Roe was “a muddle of bad reasoning” and judicial overreach. American liberals have lived rent free for 50 years on the Blackmun decision. They didn’t have to frame arguments. They didn’t have to persuade 50 legislatures. The Blackmun court handed them the ball, the game and the whistle when it was only just beginning.


CA bar exam

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[n]othing in [the Court’s] opinion should be under- stood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

The Dobbs Decision Unleashes Rage and Revisionism (Turley)

In the aftermath of the historic ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, politicians and pundits have denounced the Supreme Court justices and the Court itself for holding opposing views on the interpretation of the Court. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the justices “right-wing politicians” and many journalists called the Court “activists.” Most concerning were legal analysts who fueled misleading accounts of the opinion or the record of this Court. Notably, it is precisely what the Court anticipated in condemning those who would make arguments “designed to stoke unfounded fear.” Vice President Kamala Harris and others repeated the claims that same-sex marriage, contraceptives, and other rights are now in danger. The Court, however, expressly and repeatedly stated that this decision could not be used to undermine those rights: “Abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged, because it destroys what those decisions called ‘fetal life’ and what the law now before us describes as an ‘unborn human being.’”

The Court noted: “Perhaps this is designed to stoke unfounded fear that our decision will imperil those other rights, but the dissent’s analogy is objectionable for a more important reason: what it reveals about the dissent’s views on the protection of what Roe called “potential life.” The exercise of the rights at issue in Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence, and Obergefell does not destroy a “potential life,” but an abortion has that effect. So if the rights at issue in those cases are fundamentally the same as the right recognized in Roe and Casey, the implication is clear: The Constitution does not permit the States to regard the destruction of a “potential life” as a matter of any significance.”

Indeed, I cannot recall an opinion when the Court was more adamant in prospectively blocking the use of a holding in future cases. Only one justice, Clarence Thomas, suggested that the Court should reexamine the rationale for such rights but also emphasized that the majority of the Court was clearly holding that the opinion could not be used in that way. Thomas wrote: “The Court’s abortion cases are unique, see ante, at 31–32, 66, 71–72, and no party has asked us to decide “whether our entire Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence must be preserved or revised,” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 813 (opinion of THOMAS, J.). Thus, I agree that “[n]othing in [the Court’s] opinion should be under- stood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.”

Nevertheless, on CNN, legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers echoed the common claim that this decision could now be used to unravel an array of other rights and “criminalizing every single aspect” of women’s reproductive healthcare. However, Rodgers went even further. She suggested that states could ban menstrual cycle tracking: “Are they going to be able to search your apps—you know there’s apps that track your menstrual cycle. You know how far are these states going to try and go?”

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“Biden trampled his own promise to embrace government and the rule of law.”

Biden Undermines Supreme Court In Ways Unlike Predecessors (JTN)

Two months into his presidency, as he did often on the campaign trial, President Joe Biden asked America to embrace the legitimacy of government. “Put trust and faith in our government to fulfill its most important function, which is protecting the American people,” the 46th president implored his country in a March 2021 speech on the anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdowns. On Friday, after being stung by abortion and gun rights rulings by the Supreme Court that he disagreed with, the president changed his tune and launched a verbal assault on America’s judicial branch of government and its iconic marbled court of nine justices. The president took a blowtorch to the Supreme Court in language clearly designed to undermine its legitimacy.

He accused the justices of waging a “deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law” and decried their “extreme and dangerous path”, as he insisted the nation’s highest court had made the “United States an outlier among developed nations” by reversing the half-century-old Roe v. Wade decision. A day earlier, he slammed the court’s verdict that the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms extended to carrying in public, calling that decision “unconstitutional.” In so doing, Biden trampled his own promise to embrace government and the rule of law. He also veered from the civility most presidents and senior political leaders have shown the court, even when it ruled against their wishes.

Barack Obama, for instance, didn’t like the famed Heller gun ruling in 2008 that overturned DC’s restrictive handgun laws, but issued a statement that suggested good people could find common ground in it. “I will uphold the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen,” Obama said. “I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws.” George W. Bush showed the same deference when the justices rejected his arguments that Guantanamo Bay terrorist prisoners didn’t deserve full rights in the courts. “We’ll abide by the court’s decision,” Bush said. “That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.”

Likewise, Al Gore upheld the legitimacy of the legal system after losing the 2000 election in an epic Supreme Court ruling: ““I accept the finality of the outcome … And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession,” the then-vice president said. Biden’s angry strike at the court’s legitimacy drew a rebuke from many corridors, including from a famed liberal law professor who voted for him. “I am concerned about that,” Harvard University law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz told “Just the News, Not Noise” television program Friday night when asked about Biden’s reaction.

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“And so on and so forth through 385,191 responses.”

EU Renews Digital Covid Pass Despite 99% Negative Public Feedback (Kogon)

Acting on a proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament, as expected, voted yesterday to renew the EU Digital Covid Certificate for another year. The vote was 453 for, 119 against and 19 abstentions. The certificate regulation had been scheduled to expire on June 30. Earlier this month, a delegation from the parliament had already reached a “political agreement” with the Commission on renewing the certificate, thus making yesterday’s vote virtually a foregone conclusion. The certificate regulation was originally adopted in June of last year, ostensibly to facilitate “safe travel” between EU member states. But the EU digital certificate quickly evolved into the model and sometimes infrastructure for the domestic “health” or Covid passes that would serve to restrict access to many other areas of social life over the following year.

The EU has opted to extend the covid certificate despite the overwhelmingly negative results of a public consultation on the subject that was launched by the European Commission under the heading of “Have Your Say” and that was open to the public from February 3 to April 8. The consultation elicited over 385,000 responses – almost all of which appear to be opposed to renewal! In a letter to the European Ombudsman that the French member of the parliament Virginie Joron posted on her Twitter feed, Joron writes: “I read hundreds of responses at random with my team. I did not find any in favor of extending the QR code [i.e. the digital certificate]. Based on this large survey, it seems obvious that virtually all the responses were negative.”

The overwhelmingly negative tendency of the responses was indeed evident from the outset. The first full page of responses, all of them dating from February 4, is available here. They are, of course, in a variety of European Union languages: French, German, Italian, and also one in English. To provide readers an idea of the tenor, here is a translation of just the first line or two of the first several responses (starting from the bottom of the page): “I am completely opposed to the establishment of this certificate given what is currently happening with the EU’s disastrous handling of Covid…” “I want this cst [probably a reference to Belgium’s “Covid Safe Ticket”] or vaccine passport simply to be eliminated… ” “There are claims made in the draft document that are not scientifically supported. For example, it is claimed that the Covid certificate represents effective protection against the spread of the virus – what data can support this claim?…

“Hello, I am shocked and disgusted by the freedom-killing decisions taken in the EU … as regards this “European certificate” … ” “The covid certificate or green pass SHOULD BE ABOLISHED immediately as discriminatory and unconstitutional and not supported by any scientific data, because it is exclusively based on PUNITIVE measures for citizens… ” “I am opposed to the extension of the green pass, which serves no purpose other than creating discrimination… ” “I never want to be subjected to a discriminatory certificate again…” “And, finally, the English-language entry: “The digital Covid certificate should end immediately. There is so much data that supports the fact that digital passports have zero positive impact on transmission rates and in fact in the most vaccinated and highly regulated countries, there [sic.] covid rates are insane…” And so on and so forth through 385,191 responses.

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“Digging further into this is going to get really good. It’s clear these people are neither smart nor informed. They hipshot and hoped. And all the carnage and calamity it drove is going to land on them.”

Birx Had A Tough Day In Congress (El Gato)

Leaders do not, mostly, lead. They follow the public mood. And as that mood is shifting, it’s becoming ok to ask the pointy questions and start getting to the bottom of things. Debbie had a tough outing here and gets pinned on a simple and vital issue: When public health officials and agencies stridently told america that the covid vaccines would be a “dead end for the virus” and stop infection and spread, upon what did they base that claim and how did they get it so wrong? Once Jordan gets a hold of her, this is like a tuna filled piñata in a tiger cage. jj: Was the government lying when they said this? db: i don’t know. i was not part of the taskforce discussions Strong start. Non-denial denial, offers up others for the trip under the bus. Both evasive and self-protective. Politics 101.

She then speaks of her family still using “layered protection” because she knew that vaccine immunity would wane like natural immunity. This is both inaccurate and deeply dishonest. If she and her compatriots “knew” that, they certainly were not saying it in public. And boy oh boy do we have the receipts on that one… Jj: when the government told us the vaccinated could not transmit it (covid), was that a lie or a guess? db: “i think it was hope” See, now that seems like a pretty poor pretext for pushing vaccination as social duty, mandating jabs, and endless campaigns of vilification, othering and claims to be on the “side of science.” “we did it cuz hope.” Digging further into this is going to get really good. It’s clear these people are neither smart nor informed. They hipshot and hoped. And all the carnage and calamity it drove is going to land on them.

It’s clear they lack basic justification for their towering, condescending certitude. This fallback to “and that’s why i think scientists and public health leaders always have to be at the table being very clear what we know and don’t know” is awe inspiring in its manipulative mendacity. Sure, the statement is true, but could anyone produce a standard that less describes what was actually done? They expressed as iron bar certainty that which they now admit was “a hope.” They attacked viciously anyone who dared call their narrative into question. I seriously cannot believe she just said that. That she did not actually burst into flame getting that out is near certain proof that she’s wearing asbestos underpants.

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“If Ms. Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep-deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournmen..”

You know who else is on suicide watch?

Ghislaine Maxwell On Suicide Watch, May Seek Sentencing Delay (R.)

Ghislaine Maxwell has been put on suicide watch at a Brooklyn jail, and may seek to delay her Tuesday sentencing for aiding Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls, her lawyer said on Saturday night. In a letter to the judge overseeing Maxwell’s case, Maxwell’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, said her client is “unable to properly prepare, for sentencing,” after officials at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Friday declared the suicide watch and abruptly moved Maxwell to solitary confinement. Sternheim said Maxwell was given a “suicide smock,” and her clothing, toothpaste, soap and legal papers were taken away. The lawyer also said Maxwell “is not suicidal,” a conclusion she said a psychologist who evaluated the 60-year-old British socialite on Saturday morning also reached.


“If Ms. Maxwell remains on suicide watch, is prohibited from reviewing legal materials prior to sentencing, becomes sleep-deprived, and is denied sufficient time to meet with and confer with counsel, we will be formally moving on Monday for an adjournment,” Sternheim wrote. Maxwell was convicted on Dec. 29 on five criminal counts, including sex trafficking, for recruiting and grooming four girls for Epstein to abuse between 1994 and 2004. Prosecutors have said Maxwell should spend at least 30 years in prison, citing her “utter lack of remorse.” Maxwell wants a term shorter than 20 years.

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Chicken Dog
https://twitter.com/i/status/1540598804742668288

 

 

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Jun 162021
 
 June 16, 2021  Posted by at 8:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  68 Responses »


Wassily Kandinsky Moscow II 1916

 

Human Cells Can Write RNA Sequences Into DNA (STD)
WHO ‘Highly Compromised’, Unfit To Lead COVID-19 Investigation – Redfield (ZH)
Sen. Johnson Shares Letter From Grateful Constituent About Ivermectin (JTN)
Biden Aides Lower Expectations Ahead Of Putin Summit (NYP)
Empire Of Clowns Versus Yellow Peril (Escobar)
Bipartisan Support For A Government-backed Digital Dollar (MW)
The G7’s Reckless Commitment To Mounting Debt (Lacalle)
New Study Proves Hawking Was Right, Black Holes Only Get Bigger (RT)
AG Merrick Garland Raises As Many Questions As He Answers (Turley)
Julian Assange: The Man Who Knew Too Much (LAP)

 

 

 

 

Vaccines and infections

 

 

 

 

Gene therapy after all? Talk about scary. And if this doesn’t do it, try watching Dr. Fleming.

Human Cells Can Write RNA Sequences Into DNA (STD)

In a discovery that challenges long-held dogma in biology, researchers show that mammalian cells can convert RNA sequences back into DNA, a feat more common in viruses than eukaryotic cells. Cells contain machinery that duplicates DNA into a new set that goes into a newly formed cell. That same class of machines, called polymerases, also build RNA messages, which are like notes copied from the central DNA repository of recipes, so they can be read more efficiently into proteins. But polymerases were thought to only work in one direction DNA into DNA or RNA. This prevents RNA messages from being rewritten back into the master recipe book of genomic DNA. Now, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provide the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology.

“This work opens the door to many other studies that will help us understand the significance of having a mechanism for converting RNA messages into DNA in our own cells,” says Richard Pomerantz, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Thomas Jefferson University. “The reality that a human polymerase can do this with high efficiency, raises many questions.” For example, this finding suggests that RNA messages can be used as templates for repairing or re-writing genomic DNA. Together with first author Gurushankar Chandramouly and other collaborators, Dr. Pomerantz’s team started by investigating one very unusual polymerase, called polymerase theta. Of the 14 DNA polymerases in mammalian cells, only three do the bulk of the work of duplicating the entire genome to prepare for cell division.

The remaining 11 are mostly involved in detecting and making repairs when there’s a break or error in the DNA strands. Polymerase theta repairs DNA, but is very error-prone and makes many errors or mutations. The researchers therefore noticed that some of polymerase theta’s “bad” qualities were ones it shared with another cellular machine, albeit one more common in viruses — the reverse transcriptase. Like Pol theta, HIV reverse transcriptase acts as a DNA polymerase, but can also bind RNA and read RNA back into a DNA strand. In a series of elegant experiments, the researchers tested polymerase theta against the reverse transcriptase from HIV, which is one of the best studied of its kind. They showed that polymerase theta was capable of converting RNA messages into DNA, which it did as well as HIV reverse transcriptase, and that it actually did a better job than when duplicating DNA to DNA. Polymerase theta was more efficient and introduced fewer errors when using an RNA template to write new DNA messages, than when duplicating DNA into DNA, suggesting that this function could be its primary purpose in the cell.

Dr. Richard Fleming on mRNA

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Remind me: why did he leave?

WHO ‘Highly Compromised’, Unfit To Lead COVID-19 Investigation – Redfield (ZH)

The World Health Organization is “highly compromised” and unfit to lead an investigation into the origins of COVID-19, according to former CDC head Robert Redfield. “Clearly, they were incapable of compelling China to adhere to the treaty agreements that they have on global health, because they didn’t do that,” Redfield told Fox News on Tuesday. “Clearly, they allowed China to define the group of scientists that could come and investigate. That’s not consistent with their role.” In March, Redfield told CNN that he doesn’t believe the natural origin theory which posits that COVID-19 jumped from a bat to a human through a yet-to-be determined intermediary species.


“I think they were highly compromised,” Redfield said of the World Health Organization (WHO), which ‘investigated’ the origins of the pandemic in what was nothing more than political theatre conducted by a highly conflicted group – one of whom, Peter Daszak of NGO EcoHealth Alliance, worked with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and was funded to the tune of millions of dollars by Anthony Fauci’s NIH. Redfield slammed Fauci during the interview, saying that while he supports the lab-leak hypothesis, “Other individuals, Tony Fauci, for example, would say that he prefers to support that it evolved from nature.” “Now, why would that be?” asked Redfield, adding that “sometimes scientists when they bite into a bone on a hypothesis, it’s hard for them to move on.” “I guess if I’m disappointed about anything about the early scientific community it’s that there seemed to be lack of openness to pursue both hypotheses,” he continued.

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“..I was finally able to connect with a Green Bay doctor that provided my wife real treatment — Ivermectin and other support prescriptions. Within an hour of taking Ivermectin, her headaches were gone..”

Sen. Johnson Shares Letter From Grateful Constituent About Ivermectin (JTN)

Sen. Ron Johnson’s name was invoked on Monday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert during a segment in which Jon Stewart indicated that he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic emerged from a lab in Wuhan, China. “I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science. Science has in many ways helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science,” Stewart said. “There’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China, what do we do? Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab. The disease is the same name as the lab.” The Wuhan Institute of Virology is located in Wuhan, China. During the segment Colbert invoked the name of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin: “And how long have you worked for Senator Ron Johnson?” Colbert asked.

“This is not a conspiracy,” Stewart said. Johnson tweeted on Tuesday that he enjoyed the pair’s discussion on the show and the lawmaker shared a letter from a constituent who had written to say that Ivermectin greatly helped his wife who had suffered significantly with COVID-19. “@jonstewart @StephenAtHome enjoyed your Late Show Wuhan virus discussion. Since I was mentioned, let me share this email I got from a constituent. Open minds can save lives,” Johnson tweeted. “I am writing today to thank you for your leadership in Wisconsin as it relates to COVID and alternative treatments. My wife and I watched Dr. Pierre Kory testify before the Senate Committee about ivermectin, Dec. 8, 2020, and we were utterly dumbfounded that this treatment was not readily available as treatment and prevention to the general public,” the constituent wrote.

The letter explained that the woman later became ill with COVID-19 in May and suffered significant symptoms. “Her case was quite severe; she will report that she has never experienced the severity of headaches and body aches in her lifetime as well as severe nausea and high temperatures,” the letter noted. “As the days progressed, she grew so weak that she was not able to walk without assistance.” “As her symptoms worsened, I remembered the hearing you hosted and Dr. Kory. Through your leadership on this issue, I was finally able to connect with a Green Bay doctor that provided my wife real treatment — Ivermectin and other support prescriptions. Within an hour of taking Ivermectin, her headaches were gone,” the person told Johnson.

Nasal-spray Ivermectin for C19

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Less than zero then?

Biden Aides Lower Expectations Ahead Of Putin Summit (NYP)

The White House on Tuesday lowered expectations as President Biden arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — with a senior Biden administration official telling reporters they are “not expecting a big set of deliverables” from the Wednesday talks. Biden’s own tone changed ahead of the meeting when he downplayed past descriptions of Putin as a “killer” who has “no soul” and told reporters Monday at the NATO summit in Belgium that Putin actually is a “worthy adversary” who is “bright” and “tough.” White House officials for weeks said Biden will seek to forge a new understanding with Putin that would allow for a more predictable US-Russia relationship. And Putin aides told reporters they still believe there may be a joint statement.

Biden and Putin are expected to arrive at the meeting site in Geneva around 1 p.m. local time Wednesday. The senior US official said meetings could last four to five hours, but that there will be “no breaking of bread.” Then Putin, followed by Biden, are expected to give solo press conferences, the official said. The lack of a joint press conference will allow Biden to avoid embarrassing moments that make him appear weak or hypocritical. Putin aides suggested he will advocate for the “human rights” of Capitol rioters during the summit. The senior US official said “nothing is off the table” for the talks, which are expected to include discussion of recent cyberattacks against Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods by criminals suspected of living in Russia.

Biden has struggled during press interactions on his first foreign trip, which also included stops in the UK and Belgium, with lengthy pauses and saying he must stop talking lest he “get in trouble” with his press handlers. The Geneva summit is expected to kick off with an initial meeting between Biden and Putin. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and translators also will be in the room, the senior US official said. There’s scheduled to be a brief press availability when Biden and Putin first sit down — though on Monday, the White House scrapped a similar “pool spray” at the start of Biden’s meeting with Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leaving frustrated US reporters dependent on Turkey’s government for information.

[..] Lavrov said ahead of the talks that Putin is prepared to flip the script on Biden if he brings up sensitive issues, such as human rights including the case of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who last year survived poisoning attempts. “We will be ready to answer the questions that the American side will raise. This also applies to human rights,” Lavrov said. “For example, we are following with interest the persecution of those persons who are accused of the riots on January 6 this year.”

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“..the G7’s economic output barely registers as 30% of the global total.”

Empire Of Clowns Versus Yellow Peril (Escobar)

It requires major suspension of disbelief to consider the G7, the self-described democracy’s most exclusive club, as relevant to the Raging Twenties. Real life dictates that even accounting for the inbuilt structural inequality of the current world system the G7’s economic output barely registers as 30% of the global total. Cornwall was at best an embarrassing spectacle – complete with a mediocrity troupe impersonating “leaders” posing for masked elbow bump photo ops while on a private party with the 95-year-old Queen of England, everyone was maskless and merrily mingling about in an apotheosis of “shared values” and “human rights”. Quarantine on arrival, masks enforced 24/7 and social distancing of course is only for the plebs.

The G7 final communique is the proverbial ocean littered with platitudes and promises. But it does contain a few nuggets. Starting with ‘Build Back Better’ – or B3 – showing up in the title. B3 is now official code for both The Great Reset and the New Green Deal. Then there’s the Yellow Peril remixed, with the “our values” shock troops “calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” with a special emphasis on Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The story behind it was confirmed to me by a EU diplomatic source, a realist (yes, there are some in Brussels). All hell broke loose inside the – exclusive – G7 room when the Anglo-American axis, backed by spineless Canada, tried to ramrod the EU-3 plus Japan into an explicit condemnation of China in the final communiqué over the absolute bogus concentration camp “evidence” in Xinjiang.

In contrast to politicized accusations of “crimes against humanity”, the best analysis of what’s really going on in Xinjiang has been published by the Qiao collective. Germany, France and Italy – Japan was nearly invisible – at least showed some spine. Internet was shut off to the room during the really harsh “dialogue”. Talk about realism – a true depiction of “leaders” vociferating inside a bubble. The dispute essentially pitted Biden – actually his handlers – against Macron, who insisted that the EU-3 would not be dragged into the logic of a Cold War 2.0. That was something that Merkel and Mario ‘Goldman Sachs’ Draghi could easily agree upon.

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Presented as defending your privacy …

Bipartisan Support For A Government-backed Digital Dollar (MW)

Members of a House Financial Services Committee task force largely expressed support for experiments to create a digital form of the U.S. dollar, citing the need to keep pace with China and to enable a larger swath of the U.S. population to access the digital economy, during a hearing Tuesday morning. Neha Narula, the director of MIT’s Digital Currency Project, explained to the committee the benefits of a digital dollar, describing the U.S. electronic payment system as suffering from “high fees and limited access” because it has not evolved fast enough to keep pace with the demand for online digital payments.

Narula, whose group is collaborating with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to study a potential Fed-backed digital dollar, added that while private cryptocurrencies may evolve to solve these problems, they also present risks including “the immaturity of the technology and its ability to provide widely available, highly secure and scalable payment transactions.” That’s why, according to Narula, that dozens of central banks across the globe, including the European Central Bank and the People’s Bank of China, are experimenting with digital forms of their own currencies. Warren Davidson of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the task force, was quick to embrace Narula and the other panelists’ support for designing a digital dollar with consumer privacy as a major priority.

“I’m very encouraged about this dialogue…and by your passion for privacy.” Davidson told the panel. “If we get this structure right, we can really move past this sad part of American history where Americans essentially surrendered their privacy in the late 1960s, early ’70s with respect to financial matters.” Davidson was referring to the the so-called third-party doctrine, which was developed by a series of Supreme Court cases in the ’60s and ’70s and says that citizens do not have a legal right to privacy with respect to information that a person willingly gives to a third party, including banks and other financial firms. A digital dollar has the potential to protect the financial privacy in a way that private companies do not, he said.

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“A minimum global corporate tax. Why not an agreement on a maximum global public spending?”

The G7’s Reckless Commitment To Mounting Debt (Lacalle)

Historically, meetings of the largest economies in the world have been essential to reach essential agreements that would incentivize prosperity and growth. This was not the case this time. The G7 meeting agreements were light on detailed economic decisions, except on the most damaging of them all. A minimum global corporate tax. Why not an agreement on a maximum global public spending?

Imposing a minimum global corporate tax of 15 percent without addressing all other taxes that governments impose before a business reaches a net profit is dangerous. Why would there be a minimum global corporate tax when subsidies are different, some countries have different or no VAT rates (value added tax), and the endless list of indirect taxes is completely different? The G7 “commit to reaching an equitable solution on the allocation of taxing rights, with market countries awarded taxing rights on at least 20 percent of profit exceeding a 10 percent margin for the largest and most profitable multinational enterprises.” This entire sentence makes no sense, opens the door to double taxation and penalizes the most competitive and profitable companies while it has no impact on the dinosaur loss-making or poor-margin conglomerates that most governments call “strategic sectors.”

The global minimum corporate tax is also a protectionist and extractive measure. The rich nations will see little negative impact from this, as they already have their governments surrounded by large multinationals that will not suffer a massive taxation blow because subsidies and tax incentives before net income are large and generous. According to PWC’s Paying Taxes 2020, profit taxes in North America already stand at 18.5 percent but, more worryingly, total tax contributions including labor and other taxes reach 40 percent of revenues. In the EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association), profit taxes may be somewhat smaller than in North America, but total taxation remains above 39 percent of revenues.

Some politicians mention corporate technology giants as the ones that pay no taxes and use an effective tax rate where they put together loss-making companies with those making a profit thus reaching an artificially low effective tax rate. Technology giants will not pay more under this new agreement, because their taxable base will not change, their profit and loss account will remain similar and, more importantly, the deductions on large investments, which are the cause of their apparently small tax payments, will not change either.

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“..entropy or disorder can’t decrease over time..”

New Study Proves Hawking Was Right, Black Holes Only Get Bigger (RT)

Physicists have said that they have proven, by analyzing gravitational waves from space, a theory developed by Stephen Hawking in the 1970s, which states that black holes cannot decrease in surface area over time. In a study published on Monday, scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Cornell University shared their findings from a research project which analyzed ripples in spacetime created by two black holes that spiraled inward and eventually merged into one bigger black hole. The ripples studied were the first gravitational waves ever identified, detected by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory in 2015. Splitting the gravitational wave data into time segments before and after the black holes merged, the researchers calculated the surface areas of the black holes in both periods.


The physicists found that the surface area of the new black hole was actually greater than the two initial black holes combined. The finding confirms a prediction made by famed scientist, Stephen Hawking, in the 1970s, in which he stated that black holes cannot decrease in surface area as it mirrored a rule in physics, that entropy or disorder can’t decrease over time. Hawking’s law states that the surface area of the black hole won’t increase on its own, but when things enter it, it gains mass and correspondingly its surface area increases. While incoming objects can make the black hole spin, which decreases surface area, the size increase due to the additional mass will always be greater than the size lost to spinning.

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Turley defends Assange.

AG Merrick Garland Raises As Many Questions As He Answers (Turley)

In his testimony before Congress, Garland stressed that he intends to create new protections for the media to allow “journalists to go about their work disclosing wrongdoing and error in the government. That is part of how you have faith in the government, by having that transparency.” But what is a journalist? Does it include bloggers or citizen journalists? There is general agreement that this is a case of investigative journalism. After all, Pro Publica has won six Pulitzer Prizes and bills itself as a nonprofit investigatory group committed to exposing “abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform through the sustained spotlighting of wrongdoing.”

That sounds a tad familiar. WikiLeaks was founded as a nonprofit “to bring important news and information to the public … to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” In 2013, WikiLeaks was declared by the International Federation of Journalists to be a “new breed of media organization” that “offers important opportunities for media organizations” through the publication of such nonpublic information. If Garland is going to implement protections for the media in the use of leaked material, he will have to address the continued prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by the DOJ. The Justice Department is still fighting to extradite Assange. It is using the same tactic that was used in the Rosen case by treating Assange not as a journalist but as a criminal co-conspirator.

DOJ insists that Assange played an active role in his correspondence with and advice to the hacker. Yet, Assange would not be the first journalist to work with a whistleblower who is prospectively or continuing to acquire nonpublic information. I have previously written about the Assange case as potentially the most important press freedom case in 300 years. (For full disclosure, I also advised the legal team of Julian Assange in England on our criminal justice system and the free press protections under the Constitution.) Both Pro Publica and WikiLeaks could claim that these disclosures serve the public interest. Pro Publica wanted to expose an unfair tax system. WikiLeaks wanted to expose how public figures were lying to the public on subjects ranging from foreign wars to campaign issues.

Both the rights of free speech and the free press require bright lines to flourish. For the free press, one bright line is to bar reverse engineering in leak investigations and the targeting of publishers or recipients of information in the media or Congress. Another is to require a higher showing (and higher authorization) for any searches of the records of journalists. That, however, will take us inevitably to the questions that the government and frankly some in the media have avoided for years. What is a journalist, and what to do with Julian Assange?

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… and shared what he knew…

Julian Assange: The Man Who Knew Too Much (LAP)

Millions viewed the “Collateral Murder Tape” online, as well as interviews with one of the soldiers who rescued the children – Ethan McCord recounts how it impacted him, and the wider PTSD forever wars inflict on our soldiers. In our fog of war reliable count of the hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan remains elusive. Those who prefer such dark reveals remain buried see Assange as someone to destroy. US military budgets remain on crescendo. The world’s top five arms dealers, and twelve of the top twenty-five, are American. Assange is bad for business. “Someone’s not going to like this” was predictable. Assange stepped into the crosshairs of fame, targeted by powerful disinformation systems.

Politicians and media pundits, some of the latter still joined at the hip with America’s military/intelligence/industrial complex, chimed in. Some called Assange a traitor – never mind he’s Australian – and high tech terrorist, even calling for his assassination. So dark was the picture painted that even sympathetic writers feel obliged to begin with “Whatever you think of Assange…” When Wikileaks revealed the DNC gamed the 2016 Democratic Party primaries, the punditry judged democratic derailments not newsworthy when the higher good was resistance to Trump. Media ran faster with narratives ripping Assange than questioning or correcting them.

Claiming Assange is outside publishing boundaries is a conceit that who, what, when, where, why and how requires formal training, or an official imprimatur. Never mind the international journalism awards Wikileaks quickly garnered, the uncovered bedrock for important stories that enabled accolades to news organizations building on Wikileaks revelations. A decade ago Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed government lies about the Vietnam War by leaking the Pentagon Papers, told me government’s objective going after him was a UK-styled Official Secrets Act that undermines First Amendment protections. Beyond criminalizing leaking classified materials, it would criminalize seeking and publishing them.

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Oct 182019
 
 October 18, 2019  Posted by at 9:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Salvador Dali The three pines 1919

 

McConnell: Senate Impeachment Trial ‘As Soon As Thanksgiving’ (ZH)
Trump Florida Golf Course To Host G7 Summit (BBC)
Turkey To Suspend Syria Offensive, Mike Pence Announces (BBC)
Washington is Wrong Once Again – Kurds Join Assad to Defend Syria (Ron Paul)
Media And Pundits Misread The ‘Everyone Wins’ Plan For Syria (MoA)
UK Agrees To Best Of Worst Possible Brexit Deals (MW)
EU Leaves Door Open To Brexit Extension, In Blow To Boris Johnson (G.)
UK MPs Win Bid To Vote On 2nd Brexit Referendum In Saturday Showdown (Ind.)
How Slashing Pentagon Budget Could Pay for Medicare for All (Conley)
Going Dutch? Low Interest Rates Rattle ‘World’s Best’ Pension System (R.)

 

 

And you thought you had seen absurd theater so far… Biden and Comey and Strzok testifying. Hillary?! Wasserman-Schultz?

“..you’d have basically Thanksgiving to Christmas — which would be wonderful because there’s no deadline in the world like the next break to motivate senators..”

McConnell: Senate Impeachment Trial ‘As Soon As Thanksgiving’ (ZH)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Republican Senators on Wednesday to prepare for an impeachment trial of President Trump as soon as Thanksgiving, according to the Boston Globe. The announcement comes as House Democrats roll the dice on a second-hand claim from a CIA ‘whistleblower’ that President Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate former VP Joe Biden – who the whistleblower worked for – and Biden’s son Hunter [..] .. while Trump will almost certainly be impeached by the Democrat-controlled House, the GOP-controlled Senate will be able to pick apart the entire affair.

“In their closed-door weekly luncheon, McConnell gave a presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton. “Impeachment is the first step to remove a president, with the House voting on formal charges and the Senate holding a trial in which it either convicts or acquits him. -Boston Globe “There’s sort of a planned expectation that it would be sometime around Thanksgiving, so you’d have basically Thanksgiving to Christmas — which would be wonderful because there’s no deadline in the world like the next break to motivate senators,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) following the meeting.


McConnell has previously said that if the House impeaches Trump, Senate rules would force him to begin a trial – one which could force the Bidens to testify. “Not only could Mr. Biden be forced to be in D.C. at a critical moment in the presidential campaign, but so could many of his chief rivals — the half-dozen senators also vying for Democrats’ presidential nomination, impeachment experts said. For that matter, if the House chooses to impeach Mr. Trump on charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation, aides said it could open the door to witnesses such as fired FBI Agent Peter Strzok or even major figures from the Obama administration. Mr. Trump could even be present for the entire spectacle. Experts said the Senate would have a hard time refusing him if he demanded to confront the witnesses against him.” -Washington Times

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Uber trolling.

Trump Florida Golf Course To Host G7 Summit (BBC)

One of President Donald Trump’s golf resorts in Florida will host the G7 summit next June, the White House says. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney denied President Trump would profit from the event. The aide said “Donald Trump’s brand is probably strong enough as it is”, so he did not need a branding boost. Mr Trump has previously said he is not involved with the daily operations of the Trump Organization and that his sons run the business. Mr Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that an advance team of scouts had started with a list of possible locations for the summit in about a dozen states. The team, he said, went to visit the venues in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee and Utah.

“And it became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was by far and away, far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting. “In fact I was talking to one of the advance teams when they came back and I said, ‘What was it like?’ And they said, ‘You’re not going to believe this but it’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.'” The chief of staff said the event would be made available “at cost” and that using the Doral would save millions of dollars and was cheaper than the other potential sites. Earlier this year the US president floated the idea of his Doral property hosting the G7. But Mr Mulvaney denied on Thursday that his boss was profiting from the presidency, pointing out that he donates his salary to charity.


“It’s the most recognisable name in the English language [Trump] and probably around the world right now, so no, that has nothing to do with that,” he said. Mr Mulvaney said he had initially been sceptical about the idea and “aware of the political sort of criticism that we’d come under for doing it at Doral”. He added: “I get the criticisms, so does he. Basically, he’d be criticised regardless of what he’d chose to do, but no there’s no issue here on him profiting from this any way, shape or form.”

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120 hours. Followed by a ceasefire.

Turkey To Suspend Syria Offensive, Mike Pence Announces (BBC)

Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria to let Kurdish-led forces withdraw, US Vice-President Mike Pence has announced. All military operations will be paused for five days, and the US will help facilitate an “orderly withdrawal” of Kurdish-led troops from what Turkey has termed a “safe zone” on the border. Turkey launched its assault last week. It aimed to repel a Kurdish militia that it views as a terrorist group, and resettle Syrian refugees in the area. Critics fear this could lead to ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population.


The cross-border offensive came after US President Donald Trump pulled US forces out of the border region. His decision prompted a raft of criticism at home and abroad, with some accusing him of giving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a “green light” for the operation. Mr Trump tweeted about the ceasefire before Mr Pence announced it, writing that “millions of lives will be saved!” Mr Pence thanked Donald Trump’s “strong leadership” during the announcement. “He wanted a ceasefire. He wanted to stop the violence,” the vice-president said.

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It’s obvious where Ron Paul stands, he always has: The best way to help the Kurds and everyone else in the region is to just come home.

Washington is Wrong Once Again – Kurds Join Assad to Defend Syria (Ron Paul)

When President Trump Tweeted last week that “it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous endless wars,” adding that the US would be withdrawing from Syria, Washington went into a panic. Suddenly Republicans, Democrats, the media, the think tanks, and the war industry all discovered and quickly became experts on “the Kurds,” who we were told were an “ally” being sent to their slaughter by an ignorant President Trump. But it was all just another bipartisan ploy to keep the “forever war” gravy train rolling through the Beltway. Interventionists will do anything to prevent US troops from ever coming home, and their favorite tactic is promoting “mission creep.”

As President Trump Tweeted, we were told in 2014 by President Obama that the US military would go into Syria for just 30 days to save the Yazidi minority that they claimed were threatened. Then that mission crept into “we must fight ISIS” and so the US military continued to illegally occupy and bomb Syria for five more years. Even though it was the Syrian army with its Russian and Iranian allies that did the bulk of the fighting against al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, President Trump took credit and called for the troops to come home. But when the military comes home, the military-industrial-Congressional-media complex loses its cash cow, so a new rationale had to be invented.


The latest “mission creep” was that we had to stay in Syria to save our “allies” the Kurds. All of a sudden our military presence in Syria was not about fighting terrorism but rather about putting US troops between our NATO ally Turkey and our proxy fighting force, the Kurds. Do they really want us to believe that it is “pro-American” for our troops to fight and die refereeing a long-standing dispute between the Turks and Kurds?

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Moon of Alabama is the first I’ve seen mention that the YPG “will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army.”

As I wrote a few days ago in Trump Talks To Putin. But How?, this whole thing has been planned and co-ordinated, much more than western media report.

Media And Pundits Misread The ‘Everyone Wins’ Plan For Syria (MoA)

The U.S. media get yesterday’s talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan all wrong. Those talks were just a show to soothe the criticism against President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria. The fake negotiations did not change the larger win-win-win-win plan or the facts on the ground. The Syrian Arab Army is replacing the Kurdish PKK/YPG troops at the border with Turkey. The armed PKK/YPG forces, which had deceivingly renamed themselves (vid) “Syrian Democratic Forces” to win U.S. support, will be disbanded and integrated into the Syrian army. Those moves are sufficient to give Turkey the security guarantees it needs. They will prevent any further Turkish invasion.

[..] The U.S. can not “allow Turkey to annex a portion of Syria”. The U.S. does not own Syria. It is completely bollocks to think that it has the power to allow Turkey to annex parts of it. Turkey will not “gain territory”. There will be no Turkish “security corridor”. The Kurdish civilians in Kobani, Ras al Ain and Qamishli areas will not go anywhere. The Turks will not touch those Kurdish majority areas because they are, or soon will be, under control of the Syrian government and its army. [..] The Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu confirmed that Turkey agrees with the Syrian government moves: “Russia “promised that the PKK or YPG will not be on the other side of the border,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with the BBC. “If Russia, accompanied by the Syrian army, removes YPG elements from the region, we will not oppose this.”


These moves have been planned all along. The Turkish invasion in northeast Syria was designed to give Trump a reason to withdraw U.S. troops. It was designed to push the Kurdish forces to finally submit to the Syrian government. Behind the scene Russia had already organized the replacement of the Kurdish forces with Syrian government troops. It has coordinated the Syrian army moves with the U.S. military. Turkey had agreed that Syrian government control would be sufficient to alleviate its concern about a Kurdish guerilla and a Kurdish proto-state at its border. Any further Turkish invasion of Syria is thereby unnecessary. The plan has everyone winning. Turkey will be free of a Kurdish threat. Syria regains its territory. The U.S. can leave without further trouble. Russia and Iran gain standing. The Kurds get taken care of.

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“Boris Johnson has signed a deal he said he didn’t need, creating a border he didn’t want, under the authority of a Court he didn’t accept, to be submitted to a Parliament he doesn’t control. ”

UK Agrees To Best Of Worst Possible Brexit Deals (MW)

Boris Johnson has signed a deal he said he didn’t need, creating a border he didn’t want, under the authority of a Court he didn’t accept, to be submitted to a Parliament he doesn’t control. The one “great” thing about the agreement with the European Union that the U.K. prime minister hailed Thursday is that it reduces – if slightly – the possibility of a hard Brexit, and the associated foreseeable economic crisis. But beyond the forex market’s obvious relief at the possible end of three years of uncertainty — the pound jumped almost 1% on the news, before reversing — this is still a deal that will hurt the British economy. On a scale of 1 to 10 — from no-pain, remain in the EU to maximum damage, no-deal Brexit — the agreement concluded just a few hours before an EU leaders summit in Brussels registers as an 8 or 9.


Its economic impact will be worse than the deal negotiated by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May and rejected three times by the U.K. Parliament earlier this year. That is true both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term, it leaves the U.K. outside the customs union where it would have stayed under the infamous “backstop” negotiated by the previous government. But more uncertainty is also hanging over the near term economic future. The dearth of investment in the last three years has been the main drag on the U.K. economy, which explains why the country’s GDP is now 1-to-3% lower than it would have been if voters had opted for remain in 2016.

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People are pressed to vote for a deal they don’t want. Is that really such a good idea?

EU Leaves Door Open To Brexit Extension, In Blow To Boris Johnson (G.)

EU leaders have left open the option of extending Brexit beyond 31 October if the new deal is voted down by the Commons, in a blow to Boris Johnson’s strategy. The prime minister had been seeking to pitch Saturday’s vote in the Commons as a choice between deal or no deal after coming to an agreement with the EU. Johnson was helped by comments from Jean-Claude Juncker casting doubt on the possibility of a further Brexit delay, but the heads of state and government did not follow the European commission president’s lead. A summit communique issued after two hours of discussion tasked the commission and European parliament with taking “the necessary steps to ensure that the agreement can enter into force on November 1”.


But a senior EU official said that the leaders would follow events on Saturday, and reflect on the next steps if they were in a “different situation”. A second diplomatic source said they had chosen not to interfere in a “sensitive domestic debate … but they leave the door open to the possibility of an extension, to be discussed at a later stage – if required”. Johnson is facing an uphill battle to build a majority after the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist party rejected the revised deal, describing it as driving “a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast agreement”. Juncker had tried to help sell the deal by pouring doubt on a further Brexit extension in the event of it being rejected.

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So even if the deal is accepted, it may still not be?

UK MPs Win Bid To Vote On 2nd Brexit Referendum In Saturday Showdown (Ind.)

MPs have won a key parliamentary vote paving the way for a Commons bid to secure a second referendum on Saturday. Ex-Tory backbencher Sir Oliver Letwin led a successful attempt to allow backbench MPs to amend Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans, in a knife-edge vote that passed by 287 votes to 275. MPs also approved a rare Saturday sitting to scrutinise Mr Johnson’s new plan – but the government’s proposal for a short debate on a motion to either “approve the deal or approve a no-deal Brexit” were derailed by the backbench victory. The move now clears the way for pro-EU MPs to force a vote on a second referendum, by tacking on an amendment calling for another public vote on the prime minister’s Brexit blueprint.


Sir Oliver said the plan would allow MPs to move any amendment to the government’s proposal and for them to be voted upon, if selected by Speaker John Bercow. He suggested that it could close a loophole in the so-called Benn Act – which requires the PM to seek a Brexit delay if he does not have a deal by 19 October. The law only compels the PM to seek an extension if MPs fail to pass a motion. Sir Oliver told MPs: “That will enable those of us, like me, who wish to support and carry through and eventually see the ratification of this deal, not to put us in the position of allowing the government off the Benn Act hook on Saturday, but only at a time when the bill has been taken through both Houses of Parliament and legislated on.”

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A discussion you won’t be able to escape. It might be good to get the terminology straight. I think Tucker Carlson called Medicare for All pure socialism, but that would mean Canada, the UK, most of Europe and Asian countries like Thailand all pure socialist countries. Hard to maintain.

How Slashing Pentagon Budget Could Pay for Medicare for All (Conley)

The Institute for Policy Studies on Thursday shared the results of extensive research into how the $750 billion U.S. military budget could be significantly slashed, freeing up annual funding to cover the cost of Medicare for All—calling into question the notion that the program needs to create any tax burden whatsoever for working families. Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), took aim in a New York Timesop-ed at a “chorus of scolds” from both sides of the aisle who say that raising middle class taxes is the only way to pay for Medicare for All. The pervasive claim was a primary focus of Tuesday night’s debate, while Medicare for All proponents Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) attempted to focus on the dire need for a universal healthcare program.

At the Democratic presidential primary debate on CNN Tuesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was criticized by some opponents for saying that “costs will go down for hardworking, middle-class families” under Medicare for All, without using the word “taxes.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on the other hand, clearly stated that taxes may go up for some middle class families but pointed out that the increase would be more than offset by the fact that they’ll no longer have to pay monthly premiums, deductibles, and other medical costs. “All these ambitious policies of course will come with a hefty price tag,” wrote Koshgarian. “Proposals to fund Medicare for All have focused on raising taxes. But what if we could imagine another way entirely?”


“Over 18 years, the United States has spent $4.9 trillion on wars, with only more intractable violence in the Middle East and beyond to show for it,” she added. “That’s nearly the $300 billion per year over the current system that is estimated to cover Medicare for All (though estimates vary).” “While we can’t un-spend that $4.9 trillion,” Koshgarian continued, “imagine if we could make different choices for the next 20 years.”

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The state of denial. Pensions funds have all moved into risk assets, so if stocks start falling, it’s over and out. Moreover, there will be far more elderly people soon vs the young, which will reduce contributions enormously while increasing payouts. At least try some realism. Zero interest rates klill pensions. Period.

Going Dutch? Low Interest Rates Rattle ‘World’s Best’ Pension System (R.)

The planned reductions, due to take effect from January 2020, have shaken a country renowned for having one of the world’s strongest pension systems, and are an early warning to others about the impact of record low interest rates. [..] The European Central Bank’s (ECB) stimulus policies, which have helped drive interest rates into negative territory, are blamed in part for the impending cuts in the Netherlands and have triggered a fierce debate over how the funding of pensions should be calculated. ECB President Mario Draghi said last month that the central bank was “very concerned” about the side effects of negative rates, but maintained they were required for economic growth.

At the heart of the Dutch debate is a technical question over how to calculate the cost of future pension payouts while the ECB helps keep rates low. Actuaries make assumptions about how long pensioners will live, count up the future payments that have been promised to them and then use an assumed interest rate to “discount” how much must be put away to pay them. The lower this interest rate, “rekenrente” in Dutch, the more conservative the accounting, and the more it costs to meet future liabilities. The rekenrente is derived from government bond yields — which have turned negative across Europe as interest rates steadily fell this summer.


Each 1% fall in interest rates has led to roughly a 12% fall in the coverage ratio between assets and liabilities in pension pots, the Dutch central bank says. As a January deadline approaches, cuts appear inevitable. That has led several funds and some experts to argue that the rekenrente, which is around 0.3%, should be raised instead. Many blame ECB policy and see its effects as temporary. Increasing the rekenrente to 2% or 3% would restore the funds to full solvency. Corien Wortmann-Kool, the chairwoman of the 456 billion euro ABP civil servants fund, told Reuters she opposes pension cuts as “unnecessary” for now.

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Jun 132018
 


John French Sloan South Beach Bathers 1908

 

Capital Flight to Germany in Full Swing (Mish)
The Big Italy Short Was Hiding In Plain Sight (R.)
G7 Summit Highlights Western Leaders Hypocrisy (Lacalle)
Donald Trump Was Right. The Rest Of The G7 Were Wrong (Monbiot)
Centrists Very Concerned That Donald Fucking Trump Isn’t Hawkish Enough (CJ)
May Heads Off Major Defeat After Last-Minute Climbdown To Rebels (Ind.)
Tesla To Cut 9% Of Staff In Profitability Drive (G.)
Americans Just Paid Off A Ton Of Credit-Card Debt—But Here’s The Bad News (MW)
India Farmers Sow Unapproved Monsanto Cotton Seeds, Risking Arrest (R.)
One in Three British Mammal Species Could Be Gone Within A Decade (Ind.)

 

 

“The only door left open is door number 3.”

Capital Flight to Germany in Full Swing (Mish)

I have commented on Target2 liabilities before. Perhaps a Mish-modified translation from the Welt article Imbalance in the Euro System Reaches a New Record will ring a bell. The central banks of Germany’s euro partners Italy, Spain and France owe the Bundesbank almost a trillion euros . This is a new high. – more than ever before. Tendency continues to rise. There is no security for this money. Read that last line again and again until it sinks in. Italy is €464.7 billion in the hole. Spain is €376.6 billion in the hole. Creditors owe Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland over €1.157 trillion. In May, Italian liabilities increased by almost 40 billion euros.

“Capital flight to Germany is in full swing,” says Hans-Werner Sinn, longtime head of the Ifo Institute and one of the most prominent economists in the Federal Republic. Originally, Target2 was designed to facilitate cross-border transactions within the eurozone. The system achieved this goal. From the point of view of critics, this means that the Deutsche Bundesbank provides long-term unsecured and non-interest-bearing loans to the central banks of other eurozone countries , especially the central banks of southern countries Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Target2 is a fundamental problem of the Eurozone. • The ECB guarantees these loans. • As long as they are guaranteed, then hells bells, why not make more loans? Germany will pay one way or another. Here are the possibilities. 1) Germany and the creditor nations forgive enough debt for Europe to grow. This is the transfer union solution. 2) Permanently high unemployment and slow growth in Spain, Greece, Italy, with stagnation elsewhere in Europe 3) Breakup of the eurozone. Those are the alternatives. Germany will not allow number 1. It is unreasonable to expect number 2 to last forever. The only door left open is door number 3.

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Nothing about this needs to be invented.

The Big Italy Short Was Hiding In Plain Sight (R.)

The marriage of politics and finance in Italy regularly produces strange offspring. But a suggestion, floated over the weekend in the country’s most-respected newspaper, of a James Bond-style plot by some big investors to sink Italian financial markets added a new twist. More curious was the theory’s abrupt disappearance by Monday. The episode highlights the degree to which Europe’s most chaos-resilient economy has entered a risky new paradigm with the arrival of the most populist government since the Italian Republic’s founding in 1946. On Saturday, Corriere della Sera, the Milanese voice of the establishment, published an article which speculated that some investors betting against Italian assets might have helped engineer a market crisis.

The trigger for the Italian panic was the May 15 publication by Huffington Post’s Italian website of a draft version of the new government’s “contract”, which included language pertaining to a possible exit from the single European currency. That document, HuffPo has said, arrived in an unmarked envelope. Markets went haywire over the prospect that the government cobbled together by the two parties who gained the most seats in the March election – the right-wing League and hard-to-label 5-Star Movement – would adopt an explicitly anti-euro platform. The difference between the yields on 10-year German and Italian government bonds surged to almost 320 basis points from just around 130 basis points before the draft appeared. Any bets against Italian sovereign credit would have produced a tidy profit.

Corriere has substantially revised the story. It no longer includes language that one hedge fund, Brevan Howard, considered defamatory. That firm’s AH Master Fund, run by Alan Howard, gained 37 percent in May, thanks in part to bets on the direction of Italian assets. On Tuesday, the newspaper appended an author’s note to the piece in which it said: “We never intended to accuse or suggest that there were any kind of offenses or improper conduct by Howard in trading or in his involvement in the case of documents filtered to the Huffington Post.” In a statement to Reuters Breakingviews, the author, Federico Fubini, defended the piece. “We have run a fact-based article whose substance remains.” The paper decided “to amend the text to avert a potentially time-consuming case in foreign courts.”

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EU, China protectionism.

G7 Summit Highlights Western Leaders Hypocrisy (Lacalle)

The G7 failure to come to terms on trade highlights the problem of governments trying to macromanage trade. And no, the failure to even agree to disagree cannot be blamed on President Trump and his new-found economic nationalism. The list of countries with the largest trade surplus with the United States is led by China, which exports $375 billion more than it imports. It is followed, very far away, by Mexico ($71 billion), Japan (69 billion), Germany (65 billion), Vietnam (38 billion), Ireland (38 billion) and Italy ($31 billion). Not surprisingly, the markets with most protectionist measures against the United States are China, the European Union, Japan, Mexico and India.

These facts explain much more about the failure of the G7 summit than any Manichean analysis on Trump, Trudeau, Macron, or any of the leaders gathered there. During the last twenty years, the world has carried out a widespread practice in governments’ disastrous idea of “sustaining” GDP with demand-side policies. Build excess capacity, subsidize it, and hope to export that excess to the United States. Especially China, Germany, and Japan have economies with high state interventionism and therefore very high excess capacity, in part due to a high personal savings rate. Steel and aluminum, like the automobile industry, are examples of building unnecessary capacity and subsidizing it, country by country, hoping it will be somebody else who closes its inefficient factories to be able to export more to that country.

In Germany, the influence of the automobile industry over the government is legendary. What isn’t are the relatively high tariffs American manufacturers face when exporting to Europe and the low tariffs America itself imposes on automobile imports. What is also ironic is that modern-day protectionism didn’t start with Trump. Barriers against global trade increased between 2009 and 2016. The World Trade Organization warned, year after year, since 2010, about the increase in protectionism. The Obama administration, faced with the exponential increase in its trade deficit, was the one that introduced the highest number of protectionist measures between 2009 and 2016. The only difference between Trump and Obama was that Obama didn’t publicize this much and the mainstream media didn’t complain.

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True, these deals need a sunset clause.

Donald Trump Was Right. The Rest Of The G7 Were Wrong (Monbiot)

He gets almost everything wrong. But last weekend Donald Trump got something right. To the horror of the other leaders of the rich world, he defended democracy against its detractors. Perhaps predictably, he has been universally condemned for it. His crime was to insist that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) should have a sunset clause. In other words, it should not remain valid indefinitely, but expire after five years, allowing its members either to renegotiate it or to walk away. To howls of execration from the world’s media, his insistence has torpedoed efforts to update the treaty.

In Rights of Man, published in 1791, Thomas Paine argued that: “Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.” This is widely accepted – in theory if not in practice – as a basic democratic principle. Even if the people of the US, Canada and Mexico had explicitly consented to Nafta in 1994, the idea that a decision made then should bind everyone in North America for all time is repulsive. So is the notion, championed by the Canadian and Mexican governments, that any slightly modified version of the deal agreed now should bind all future governments.

But the people of North America did not explicitly consent to Nafta. They were never asked to vote on the deal, and its bipartisan support ensured that there was little scope for dissent. The huge grassroots resistance in all three nations was ignored or maligned. The deal was fixed between political and commercial elites, and granted immortality. In seeking to update the treaty, governments in the three countries have candidly sought to thwart the will of the people. Their stated intention was to finish the job before Mexico’s presidential election in July. The leading candidate, Andrés Lopez Obrador, has expressed hostility to Nafta, so it had to be done before the people cast their vote. They might wonder why so many have lost faith in democracy.

[..] Trump was right to spike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He is right to demand a sunset clause for Nafta. When this devious, hollow, self-interested man offers a better approximation of the people’s champion than any other leader, you know democracy is in trouble.

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Caitlin again.

Centrists Very Concerned That Donald Fucking Trump Isn’t Hawkish Enough (CJ)

[..] by far the most common concerns being expressed about the Singapore summit are based not on a fear of this administration making insufficiently aggressive demands of Pyongyang, but on pure ridiculous nonsense. “President Trump seems to have given away two or three of the major things that Kim Jong-Un wanted,” Schumer complained at the aforementioned press conference. “A meeting. The flags next to each other. Now a delay of exercises with South Korea, without getting anything in return.” Huh? A meeting? Flags next to each other? I can kinda-sorta-almost see into Schumer’s twisted reality tunnel when it comes to temporarily suspending military drills along the DPRK’s border as an act of good faith, but on what planet is having a meeting or putting two flags next to each other a win of any kind?

Well, going by the outcry I’m seeing from Twitter pundits, the concern appears to be that it “legitimizes” Kim Jong-Un. What exactly that means is hard to fathom in terms of actual, tangible reality, but for years that term has been passed around like it has as much relevance as war or starvation sanctions. This imaginary product of “legitimacy” is, according to influential mainstream political commentators, meant to be withheld from Kim until he gives up everything he has and grovels on his belly begging for it. This just shows you the power of narrative, where repeating some meaningless placeholder syllables over and over again can create the illusion that a purely mental construct is as relevant in peace negotiations as nuclear warheads.

It isn’t hard to see through for anyone who doesn’t have a vested interest in subscribing to that narrative, though, and Pyongyang certainly has no such interest. [..] There are many, many perfectly valid things to criticize the Trump administration for. Opening up peace talks with North Korea is not one of them, and anyone who says it is is not a friend of humanity. The fact that nobody on either side of the aisle seems to have their foot anywhere near the brake pedal when it comes to war should concern us all, and we need to do something about it.

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Might as well stop the whole process right now.

May Heads Off Major Defeat After Last-Minute Climbdown To Rebels (Ind.)

Rebel Conservatives have forced Theresa May into a climbdown, handing parliament greater control of Brexit if she fails to seal a deal. After the prime minister was threatened with what could have been a damaging commons defeat, she promised key concessions in dramatic last minute talks with pro-EU rebels. It is likely to mean her accepting a deadline by which she must secure a deal with Brussels, if she wants to stay in the driving seat for negotiations. Her ministers must now spell out the detail of her compromises within days, with Tory rebels warning a failure to do so would reignite the prospect of a major commons loss destabilising her leadership.

It followed a day which started with the resignation of a minister and passed into febrile commons debate that saw ministers bargaining openly with rebels in the chamber. Rebel MP Nicky Morgan told The Independent: “The whole point of what has come about is that we are going to have a process to this, something which does not simply allow us to drift into a hard Brexit.” The row was precipitated by the Lords last month passing a plan that would have given parliament the power to direct Ms May’s actions if she failed to seal a Brexit deal later this year. Ministers were demanding Tory MPs vote it out of existence in the Commons on Tuesday, but had also refused to consider a more palatable compromise proposed by the former Conservative attorney general Dominic Grieve.

It would have instead seen Ms May being tied into a strict timetable of having to set out her own proposals if she failed to seal a deal by November, and then gain parliamentary approval for them – the stronger powers for MPs to direct her action would only come into play if a deal had still not been reached by February.

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What, no new loans?

Tesla To Cut 9% Of Staff In Profitability Drive (G.)

Tesla is slashing thousands of jobs, its chief executive, Elon Musk, announced Tuesday, as the electronic car company attempts to hit production targets and reach profitability. Musk called the job cuts, which will affect about 9% of the company’s more than 40,000 employees, “difficult, but necessary” in a tweet that contained the email he had sent to employees announcing the layoffs. “What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable,” the billionaire entrepreneur wrote in the email.

The job cuts will be centered on salaried employees, not factory workers, Musk said, writing, “This will not affect our ability to reach Model 3 production targets in the coming months.” Tesla has been under intense pressure to prove that it can achieve mass production of the Model 3, its first mass market vehicle. The company has yet to reach Musk’s goal of producing 5,000 cars a week – originally promised for the end of 2017. At Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting on 5 June, Musk said he believed the company would hit the 5,000 cars-a-week goal by the end of June, and that he thought the company could be profitable later this year.

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They paid off so much because they owe so much.

Americans Just Paid Off A Ton Of Credit-Card Debt—But Here’s The Bad News (MW)

A lot of Americans paid big credit-card bills in the first quarter of 2018. And they still have a long way to go. Americans repaid $40.3 billion in credit card debt during the first quarter of 2018, according to a new analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Reserve and credit agency TransUnion by the personal-finance website WalletHub. That’s the second-highest amount paid off in one quarter since the first quarter of 2009, when consumers paid off more than $44 billion. Now, the bad news: That doesn’t mean their debts are getting that much smaller. Americans ended 2017 with $91.6 billion in new credit-card debt, the largest annual amount since 2007 and 104% above the post-recession average.

Outstanding credit card debt is at the second-highest point since the end of 2008, the report said. In 2017, Americans hit a record high of $1.021 trillion in outstanding revolving debt (often categorized as credit-card debt). In April 2018, they still had more $1.030 trillion to pay off, according to the Federal Reserve. Consumers’ recent debt payoff “is not as dramatic as the dollar amount makes it seem,” said Nick Clements, the co-founder of personal finance company MagnifyMoney, who previously worked in the credit industry. The reason: The total amount of credit-card debt Americans have has also been growing.

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How Monsanto sneaks in illegal seeds.

India Farmers Sow Unapproved Monsanto Cotton Seeds, Risking Arrest (R.)

Many Indian farmers are openly sowing an unapproved variety of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds developed by Monsanto, as the government sits on the sidelines for fear of antagonizing a big voting bloc ahead of an election next year. India approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2002 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform the country into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fiber. But newer traits are not available after Monsanto in 2016 withdrew an application seeking approval for the latest variety due to a royalty dispute with the government. The herbicide-tolerant variety, lab-altered to help farmers save costs on weed management, has, however, seeped into the country’s farms since then. Authorities say they are still investigating how that happened.

“I will only use these seeds or nothing at all,” said Rambhau Shinde, a farmer who has been cultivating cotton for nearly four decades in the western state of Maharashtra. The federal environment ministry said last year planting the seeds violated the Environment Protection Act, and farmers who did so were risking potential jail terms. But many farmers are desperate to boost their incomes after poor yields over the past few years and are willing to ignore the warnings. A government official in New Delhi, who deals with matters related to GM crops, said it was difficult to keep farmers away from something that they saw benefit in. “If you don’t allow them to plant legally, illegal planting will happen,” the official said, requesting anonymity, adding that Monsanto had yet to reapply for an approval to sell its latest variety of GM cotton in India.

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Bats and cats and rats.

One in Three British Mammal Species Could Be Gone Within A Decade (Ind.)

Populations of much-loved British mammals including hedgehogs and water voles have dropped by up to two-thirds over the past 20 years, and many more are threatened with imminent extinction. Even some apparently common creatures such as rabbits have been driven into decline by human pressures such as harmful farming activities and climate change. These findings come from a review carried out by the Mammal Society and Natural England, the first of its kind to be conducted in more than two decades. The country has undergone significant changes since the last analysis in 1995, and some of the species at risk then – including badgers and otters – have since made considerable recoveries.

However, pesticide use, invasive species and road deaths have all taken their toll, and the scientists behind the study have warned Britain is on “a precipice” and must take urgent action to save its mammals. “This is happening on our own doorstep so it falls upon all of us to try and do what we can to ensure that our threatened species do not go the way of the lynx, wolf and elk and disappear from our shores forever,” said Professor Fiona Mathews, chair of the Mammal Society. The review, which made use of data collected by members of the public as well as scientists over the course of decades, covered all 58 of the country’s land mammal species.

The scientists constructed the first ever “red list” for British mammals, and found 12 are threatened with extinction. This means animals like the wildcat, greater mouse-eared bat and even the black rat are likely to be gone forever from Britain’s shores within the next 10 years. However, they noted this is likely to be an underestimate, and the real number could be as high as one in three.

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Jun 102018
 
 June 10, 2018  Posted by at 7:33 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Edouard Manet A Bar at the Folies-Bergère 1882

 

Something curious happened during the Trump love fest at the G7 over the weekend. And I don’t think many people would have got it. In fact the entire western press, far as I could see, were blaming Trump for the dissolution of the treaties and whatall that the political class had worked so hard on for 50+ years.

But when you look at the whole thing from an energy level, Trump obviously won hands down. Merkel, Macron and Trudeau had no idea what to do with such a disruptive figure -though it could hardly have been a surprise to them- and so they sort of cowered back into a defensive posture as a group, saying Trump shouldn’t rock their boat. But that’s what he came there to do.

Now, these are all people who count as leaders in their own territories. They’ve won elections, they’re presidents and prime ministers. Not the kind of folk who like to see their authority questioned. But at the G7 they feel forced to move as a group. Which is not their thing, they’re very much individuals. That’s how they won their positions.

Still, the only way they see as viable to counter Trump is as a group. Big Mistake. That’s not their natural environment. Now they’re out of their comfort zone, and Trump is still very much in his. Even more so as they’re ganging up on him.

 

At this point, it no longer matters what he says or does. Or what they do. It’s all against one. And he’s already won. But they don’t know that game. They’re used to being the one, not the all. They’re doomed to lose this, because it’s Trump’s game, not theirs.

Trump wants tariffs, they do not, but at this point, it’s hardly relevant anymore. It’s a power game, pure and simply, they’ve all played it to get where they are, but by retreating into their group hug positions -they don’t know where else to go-, they’ve already lost this one.

This is not my endorsement of Trump, I’ve said enough times by now that he is a poor choice for president of the US, but nobody managed to come up with a better one. No, this is about how the mechanics work in -international- politics, and about how anyone who is not Trump seems to come up a mile and a half short when it comes to showing your true colors.

All these dynamics, all of it, were already obvious just from a bunch of headlines in the western press, even if the content of their articles were heavily leaning towards blaming Trump for whatever didn’t work at the G7. The objective news cycle about Trump was replaced long ago with an echo chamber. And those things deafen their own proprietors.

But let’s leave that alone as well for a moment. Though I still despise the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC for making it impossible for me to criticize Trump, because they monopolized that field with fake and made-up so-called news. Jim Kunstler actually thanked me for saying that. He feels the same way, and I’m sure many others do.

 

But then, after I had already contemplated all of this, the German government released a photo that I guess they wanted to present as Angela Merkel looking strong vs Donald Trump. Boy, did they misfire. Germans, I would think, would know some math, and some art history. But look:

 


Jesco Denzel/AFP/Getty Images

 

That, and I saw it in 0.1 seconds, is classic Fibonacci. This is where fractals come from. I don’t know how much of this requires explaining but let’s do a minmum. A Fibonacci sequence is when every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones. So 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377 etc. So you get this:

 

 

And then:

 

 

Most people who saw the Merkel/Trump et al photo above as a ‘classic’ picture (and many did), though, didn’t recognize the Fibonacci. They saw Merkel dominating Trump. But who’s the center of attention in that picture? Not Merkel, says Fibonacci. This is what Fibonacci looks like. Lay that over the photo:

 

 

It doesn’t get more classic. Fibonacci was an Italian born in the 12th century. And yet the Berlin government insisted on releasing the photo as some kind of statement that Merkel was giving Donald Trump a hard time. But the photo says the opposite (if you look close, you see he’s not even looking at Merkel, but at Macron).

I’m not saying that’s necessarily or particularly bad or not, but a lot of voters in many countries have expressed their concern with business as usual, in Washington, Brussels, Rome etc.. That’s why we have Trump and Brexit and 5-Stars.

What the G7 showed more than anything is that things can’t go on the way the establishment planned it. Blaming it all on Trump, as the G6 and their media try to do, is not going to work anymore, and besides now there’s Kim-Jong-un coming up, a potentially huge victory for Trump.

But then, there’s always religion to provide comfort:

 

 

 

Jun 102018
 
 June 10, 2018  Posted by at 8:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Paul Gauguin The Day of the God 1894

 

Is The Existing Banking System Coming To An End? (Ren.)
The Credit Cycle Will Be The EU’s Undoing (Macleod)
China is in Trouble (Mises)
How To Plan For Next Round Of Fed Interest Rate Hikes (Freep)
Trump Open To US Embassy In Pyongyang, North Korea (Axios)
Trump Backs Out Of Joint G7 Communique With Attack On Trudeau (Ind.)
One ‘Rant,’ Rough Talks Sour G7 Mood In Confrontations With Trump (R.)
China’s Xi Calls Out ‘Selfish, Short-Sighted’ Trade Policies (R.)
G7 Leaders Urge Russia To Stop Undermining Democracies (R.)
Iran’s Rouhani Criticizes US For Imposing Its Policies On Others (R.)
The Relationship Between Population And Consumption Is Not Straightforward (G.)
There Are No War Heroes. There Are Only War Victims. (CJ)
Our Plastic Pollution Crisis Is Too Big For Recycling To Fix (Leonard)

 

 

Well, not today. Support is low.

Is The Existing Banking System Coming To An End? (Ren.)

Today Switzerland is set to hold a referendum to decide whether to ban commercial banks from creating money. The aim of campaigners is to limit financial speculation by forcing banks to hold 100 per cent reserves against their deposits. If the referendum result goes the way of the campaign group, the Vollgeld Initiative and the concept known as the sovereign money initiative comes to fruition, Swiss banks will no longer be able to create money for themselves, rather they will only be allowed to lend money that they have accumulated from savers or other banks. The current fractional reserve banking system works like this: Banks lend money that they don’t actually have and then command interest on the non-existent money.

This is akin to x offering to loan y a sum of say, £100,000 that the former hasn’t got. The way around this conundrum is for x to then lodge the sum with another financial institution who happens to be in on the scam. Y then pays x interest on the money that x has never been in the position to lend in the first place. Consistent with the proposed Swiss model, the idea of limiting all money creation to central banks was first touted in the 1930s and supported by renowned US economist Irving Fisher as a way of preventing asset bubbles and curbing reckless spending. If the Vollgeld Initiative succeeds with its campaign on Sunday, the fractional reserve system will be replaced by a bill which will give the Swiss National Bank (SNB) a monopoly on physical and electronic money creation.

Since the establishment of the SNB in 1891, the bank has had exclusive powers to mint coins and issue Swiss bank notes. But over 90% of money in circulation in Switzerland (and arguably the world) currently exists in the form of electronic cash which is created out of nothing by private banks. In modern market economies central banks control the creation of bank notes and coins but not the creation of all money. The latter occurs when a commercial bank offers a line of credit. Iceland, whose bloated banking system collapsed in 2008, has also touted the abolition of private money creation and an end to a practice in which central banks accept deposits, make loans and investments and hold reserves that are a fraction of their deposit liabilities. Fractional banking means that money is effectively produced from thin air.

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The weakness of the euro. Largely self-induced.

The Credit Cycle Will Be The EU’s Undoing (Macleod)

It is a common misconception that the world has a business cycle: that merely puts the blame on the private sector for periodic booms and busts. The truth is every boom and bust has its origins in central bank monetary policy and fractional reserve banking. A central bank first attempts to stimulate the economy with low interest rates, having injected base money into the economy to rescue the banks from the previous crisis. The central bank continues to suppress interest rates, inflating assets and facilitating the financing of government deficits. This is followed by the expansion of bank credit as banks recognise that trading conditions in the non-financial economy have improved. Price inflation unexpectedly but inevitably increases, and interest rates have to rise.

They rise to the point where earlier malinvestments begin to be liquidated and a loan repayment crisis develops in financial markets. It is fundamentally a credit cycle, not a business one. Central bankers do not, with very few exceptions, understand they are the cause. And the few central bankers who do understand are unable to influence monetary policy by enough to change it. By not understanding that they create the crisis themselves, central bankers believe they can control all financial risks through regulation and intervention, which is why they are always taken by surprise when a credit crisis hits them. For these reasons we know it is only a matter of time before the world faces another credit crisis.

The next one is likely to be unprecedented in its violence, even exceeding that of the last one in 2008/09, because of the scale of additional monetary reflation that has taken place over the last ten years. The further accumulation of debt in the intervening period also means that a smaller increase in price inflation, and therefore a lower height for interest rates will trigger it. My current expectation is that a global debt liquidation and credit crisis is not far away and will occur by the end of Q1 in 2019, perhaps even by the end of this year. The problem is a global one and we know not where it will break. But once it does, the ECB and the euro will possibly face the most violent deflation in modern history, even exceeding the global slump of the 1930s.

We know in advance what the supposed solution will be: monetary hyperinflation to bail out the banks, governments and the indebted. The effects on prices in the Eurozone are unlikely to be as delayed as they have been in the current cycle, partly because of the sheer scale of the issuance of new money and credit required to stabilise the financial system, partly because the euro is subordinate to the dollar as a safe-haven currency, and partly because of its limited history as a medium of exchange.

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An exercise in large numbers.

China is in Trouble (Mises)

While the rulers of China have been able all along to hedge their plans over longer periods than their Western counterparts have, the new legal situation has extended this planning horizon even further.1 In comparison with those of Western economies, China’s countermeasures against the crisis in 2008 were significantly more drastic. While in the US the balance sheet total of the banking system increased by USD 4,000bn in the years after the global financial crisis, the balance sheet of the Chinese banking system expanded by USD 20,000bn in the same period. For reference: This is four times the Japanese GDP.

The following chart shows the expansion of the bank balance sheet total as compared to economic output. Did the Chinese authorities assume excessive risks in fighting the crisis? Neither the fact that China’s bank balance sheets amount to more than 600% of GDP nor the fact that they have doubled in terms of percentage of GDP in the past several years suggests a healthy development.

Our friends from Condor Capital expect NPL ratios to rise in China, which could translate into credit losses of USD 2,700 to 3,500bn for China’s banks, and this is under the assumption of no contagion (!). By comparison, the losses of the global banking system since the financial crisis have been almost moderate at USD 1,500bn The most recent crisis does teach us, however, that the Chinese are prepared to take drastic measures if necessary. China fought the financial crisis by flooding the credit markets: 35% credit growth in one year on the basis of a classic Keynesian spending program is no small matter.

Chinese money not only inflates a property bubble domestically but also around the globe (e.g. in Sydney and Vancouver). Further support for the global property markets is in question, given the measures China has recently launched. Due to financial problems, Chinese groups such as Anbang and HNA will have to swap the role of buyer for that of seller. The IMF has forecast a further doubling of total Chinese debt outstanding from USD 27,000bn in 2016 to USD 54,000bn in 2022. By comparison, in 2016 China’s GDP amounted to USD 11,200bn. This spells debt-induced growth at declining rates of marginal utility. From our point of view, this development – which we can also see in the West – is unsustainable.

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” Say good-bye to super-cheap cash.”

How To Plan For Next Round Of Fed Interest Rate Hikes (Freep)

The easy money officially ends Wednesday, as interest rates, much like summer temps, heat up once again. It’s a “slam-dunk” that the Federal Reserve will increase rates by a quarter point after its meeting this week, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics. And it’s likely we’re in for two more quarter-point hikes in September and December, he said. “If you are thinking about buying a car or home, sooner is better than later, but I wouldn’t rush into anything, as rates, while rising, are still very low,” Zandi said. The U.S. economy — with a national jobless rate at 3.8% in May, the lowest level in 18 years — has put the Great Recession in 2008-09 in the rear view mirror.

Consumers — as well as business leaders — are formulating strategies to cope with higher rates ahead. The Fed began gradually tightening money with the first quarter-point rate hike in December 2015 — then the first rate hike in nearly a decade. Since then, there have been another five rate hikes. The latest rate hike in March took the Fed’s benchmark rate to a target range of 1.5% to 1.75%. If the Fed raises rates as expected Wednesday, the overnight borrowing cost will be in line with the Fed’s inflation target of 2%. For the first time in almost a decade, the cost of borrowing will no longer be essentially free. Say good-bye to super-cheap cash.

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Carrot for Kim.

Trump Open To US Embassy In Pyongyang, North Korea (Axios)

President Trump is willing to consider establishing official relations with North Korea and even eventually putting an embassy in Pyongyang, according to two sources familiar with preparations for the Singapore summit. “It would all depend what he gets in return,” said a source close to the White House. “Denuclearization would have to be happening.” The sources stressed that this is one of many topics that could be discussed at the summit, and that certainly nothing like that has been decided or is necessarily expected to emerge from Trump’s historic mano a mano with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

But the U.S. and North Korean working groups — with engagements in New York, the DMZ and Singapore — have discussed establishing official relations between the two countries that would involve putting a U.S. embassy in Pyongyang. One of the sources, who is familiar with the president’s thinking, said Trump had made it a point not to reject any ideas headed into the summit: “It’s definitely been discussed,” the source said. “His view is: ‘We can discuss that: It’s on the table. Let’s see.’ Of course we would consider it. There’s almost nothing he’ll take off the table going in.” The source said North Korean officials have been wildly inconsistent in the pre-meetings, making it difficult to get any read on how the discussions might go.

The source close to the White House added: “POTUS will consider any idea anyone brings him if it delivers on denuclearization that is irreversible and verifiable. He won’t be played by Kim. But it is not his style to — on the front end — rule out possibilities of what could happen or may happen depending on how negotiations go.”

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Well, it wasn’t dull.

Trump Backs Out Of Joint G7 Communique With Attack On Trudeau (Ind.)

Donald Trump has rejected an agreement signed off by the leaders of countries at the G7 summit in Canada despite earlier having appeared to endorse the joint statement vowing to fight back against protectionism and pledging to follow established trade rules. The joint statement between the leaders of US, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, Italy, and Canada comes after US President Donald Trump refused to back down from his decision to impose international tariffs on goods including steel and aluminium imports as a part of his so-called “America First” strategy.

The communique had been confirmed by Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, who conceded that Mr Trump’s tough talk on trade showed there was a lot of work to be done between the countries, but nevertheless portrayed the joint statement as a positive step towards international cooperation. However, Mr Trump later tweeted that he had would not now endorse the communique due to “false statements” from the Canadian prime minister. He wrote: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our US reps not to endorse the communique as we look at tariffs on automobiles flooding the US market!”

He added: “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”

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These people see themselves as no.1, because that’s what they are where they come from. Being contradicted is then hard to take.

One ‘Rant,’ Rough Talks Sour G7 Mood In Confrontations With Trump (R.)

Trump gave “a long, frank rant”, the official said, repeating a position he carried through the 2016 U.S. election campaign into the White House that the United States had suffered at the hands of its trading partners, with French President Emmanuel Macron pushing back on the assertion and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chiming in. It was a “a long litany of recriminations, somewhat bitter reports that the United States was treated unfairly,” said the French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It was a difficult time, rough, very frank.” The U.S. president did not appear to be listening during some of the trade presentations, another G7 official familiar with the meeting said.

Trump himself told reporters on Saturday that the summit was not contentious and called his relationship with G7 allies a “10”. Despite smiles and jokes for the cameras, the tension among the leaders was clear. At one point, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen having a brief, intense one-sided conversation with a stony-faced Trump on Friday. On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sniped about “stragglers” after Trump was late to a breakfast session on gender equality. Trump left the summit early for Singapore, where he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week.

One scene at the very beginning of the gathering of presidents and prime ministers of the biggest industrialized nations set the mood for facing the brash Trump. He arrived at La Malbaie, the scenic luxury resort on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, as the four European leaders and the two EU heads were huddled together in a room to coordinate their strategy. The noise of Trump’s helicopter landing was so loud they had to stop talking for a while, in a scene one official compared to the opening from the U.S. television series M.A.S.H. “The EU understands that the only way with Trump is strength,” said one European official. “If you give in now, he will come back tomorrow for more.”

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All policies must benefit China.

China’s Xi Calls Out ‘Selfish, Short-Sighted’ Trade Policies (R.)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is locked in a high-stakes trade dispute with the United States, on Sunday said China rejects “selfish, shortsighted” trade policies, and called for building an open global economy. Xi did not mention the United States during a speech at a summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security bloc led by China and Russia. “We reject selfish, shortsighted, closed, narrow policies, (we) uphold World Trade Organisation rules, support a multi-lateral trade system, and building an open world economy,” Xi said in a speech in the port city of Qingdao.

The United States and China have threatened tit-for-tat tariffs on goods worth up to $150 billion each, as President Donald Trump has pushed Beijing to open its economy further and address the United States’ large trade deficit with China. Xi spoke hours after Trump said he was backing out of the Group of Seven communique, thwarting what appeared to be a fragile consensus on a trade dispute between Washington and its top allies. “We must … discard Cold War thinking, group confrontation; we object to acts of getting one’s own absolute security at the cost of other countries’ security,” Xi said.

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Skripal and Crimea. It’s all they got.

G7 Leaders Urge Russia To Stop Undermining Democracies (R.)

Leaders of the Group of Seven countries urged Russia on Saturday to stop undermining democracies and said they were ready to step up sanctions against Moscow if necessary. The leaders of the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Britain made the strongly worded statement just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump, who is part of the G7, said he wanted Moscow re-invited to the group. “We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behavior, to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime,” the leaders said in a statement at the end of their two-day meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec.

The G7 leaders condemned an attack in Salisbury in Britain on a former Russian spy using a Russian-made military grade nerve agent, saying it was highly likely Moscow was responsible because there was no other plausible explanation. Russia denies having anything to do with the attack. The G7 leaders made a commitment on Friday, without naming Russia, to share information between themselves and work with internet service providers and social media companies to thwart foreign meddling in elections. The Kremlin has denied allegations by the United States and some European countries that Russia interfered in their elections. Earlier on Saturday, Trump told a news conference the issue of Russia’s return to the group was discussed. Russia was a member of the then G8 until it was expelled for annexing Crimea in 2014.

“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7,” Trump said. Italy’s new Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti expressed similar sentiment. But the final communique struck a different note, saying western sanctions against Russia would continue as long as Moscow failed to meet its obligations in Ukraine under the Minsk accord it signed, and could even be stepped up. “We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of Crimea and reaffirm our enduring support for Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” the G7 statement said.

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World order.

Iran’s Rouhani Criticizes US For Imposing Its Policies On Others (R.)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said that U.S. efforts to impose its policies on others are a threat to all, after Washington last month said it was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and would reimpose economic sanctions. Rouhani, speaking at a summit of the Chinese and Russian-led security bloc the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the port city of Qingdao, said he appreciated efforts by Beijing and Moscow to maintain the nuclear deal.

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“One believed in scientific ingenuity as the answer to our problems, the other was convinced that it only deepened the crisis.”

The Relationship Between Population And Consumption Is Not Straightforward (G.)

Charles C Mann is a science journalist, author and historian. His books 1491 and 1493, looking at the Americas before and after Columbus, were widely acclaimed. His new book, The Wizard and the Prophet, examines the highly influential and starkly contrasting environmental visions of Norman Borlaug (the Wizard) and William Vogt (the Prophet). Borlaug (1914-2009) was instrumental in the green revolution that vastly expanded the amount of food humanity has been able to cultivate. Vogt (1902-1968) was a pioneering ecologist who argued that humans had exceeded the Earth’s “carrying capacity” and were heading for cataclysm unless consumption was drastically reduced. One believed in scientific ingenuity as the answer to our problems, the other was convinced that it only deepened the crisis.

What made you frame this story of humanity’s future in terms of these two individuals?

It really started the night my daughter was born 19 years ago. I was standing in the parking lot at three in the morning and it suddenly popped into my head that when Amelia, my daughter, became my age there would be almost 10 billion people in the world. And I believe that centuries from now, when historians look back at the time when you and I have been alive, the big thing that they’ll say happened is that hundreds of millions of people in Asia and Latin America and Africa lifted themselves from destitution to something like the middle class. So not only will there be 10 billion people but all those people will want the same things you and I want – nice homes, nice car, nice clothes, the odd chunk of Toblerone, right?

And so I stood there in the parking lot and thought to myself: how are we meant to do this? I’m a science journalist, so when I was talking to researchers, I’d say: “How are we going to feed everybody, how are we going to get water for everybody, house everybody? What are we going to do about climate change?” After a while I realised that the answers I was getting fell into two broad categories, each of which had a name that kept being associated with it: one was Borlaug, the other Vogt.

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Caitlin Johnstone is a gem. I was thinking next Memorial Day make every American listen to With God On Our Side.

There Are No War Heroes. There Are Only War Victims. (CJ)

The US special operations soldier who was killed in Somalia (one of the “seven countries in five years” famously named in General Wesley Clark’s revelation of the US war machine’s plans for world domination) and the four others who were injured are not heroes. The US servicemen and women who have fought and died in America’s nonstop acts of military expansionism and wars of aggression are not heroes. They are victims. They are victims of a sociopathic power establishment which does not care about them, and never has. If what I just wrote bothered you, it is because you have been conditioned to oppose such ideas by generations of war propaganda.

If you believe that US soldiers are heroes, it means that you believe that they are fighting and dying for a noble cause; for your freedom, for democracy, for the good and the just. It turns the deaths of the fallen into a tragic but noble sacrifice in your eyes, which keeps you from realizing that they have actually been dying for the profit margins of war plutocrats, land and resource assets, and the neoconservative agenda to secure control of the planet. There is nothing heroic about being thrown into the gears of the war machine and having one’s body and mind ripped apart for the advancement of plutocratic interests. But if your rulers can trick you into thinking that dead US soldiers died for something worth dying for, you won’t turn around and lay the blame on the war profiteers and ambitious sociopaths who are truly responsible for their deaths.

So they lie to you. Constantly. People often counter this notion by pointing at World War 2, about which a case for the possibility of heroism in war can indeed be made. But the fact that this argument needs to reach back 73 years to the very brink of living memory in order to find a justifiable US war tells you everything you need to know about the weakness of that argument. Since 1945, when human civilization looked completely different and America itself was still an apartheid state, we have seen the US military spread around the globe, collapse nations, and butcher millions upon millions of people, all at the expense of the lives of US military personnel, and all without just cause. The people whose lives have been used like Kleenex and discarded by the US war machine did not die for a good cause.

They did not die fighting for freedom or democracy. They are not heroes. They are victims. We need to talk about this. The way we can be shamed into silence for saying such things is truly toxic, because it prevents us from addressing the very real problem that the United States starts unjust wars constantly and spends soldiers’ lives like pennies. It probably is nice for the families of war victims to tell themselves comforting stories about how their loved one died fighting to make the world a better place, and normally I’d be happy to let them harbor that personal fantasy without saying anything to disrupt it, but people are dying here.

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Annie Leonard is the boss at Greenpeace USA. And she has it upside down. You don’t ask multinationals if they would pretty please use less plastic. You ban them from using it.

Our Plastic Pollution Crisis Is Too Big For Recycling To Fix (Leonard)

Every minute, every single day, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans. In the name of profit and convenience, corporations are literally choking our planet with a substance that does not just “go away” when we toss it into a bin. Since the 1950s, some 8.3bn tons of plastic have been produced worldwide, and to date, only 9% of that has been recycled. Our oceans bear the brunt of our plastics epidemic – up to 12.7m tons of plastic end up in them every year. Just over a decade ago, I launched the Story of Stuff to help shine a light on the ways we produce, use and dispose of the stuff in our lives. The Story of Stuff is inextricably linked to the story of plastics – the packaging that goes along with those endless purchases.

We buy a soda, sip it for a few minutes, and toss its permanent packaging “away”. We eat potato chips, finish them, then throw their permanent packaging “away”. We buy produce, take it out of the unnecessary plastic wrap, then throw its permanent packaging “away”. The cycle is endless, and it happens countless times every single day. But here’s the catch – there is no “away”. As far as we try to toss a piece of plastic – whether it’s into a recycling bin or not – it does not disappear. Chances are, it ends up polluting our communities, oceans or waterways in some form. For years, we’ve been conned into thinking the problem of plastic packaging can be solved through better individual action. We’re told that if we simply recycle we’re doing our part.

We’re told that if we bring reusable bags to the grocery store, we’re saving the world. We think that if we drink from a reusable bottle, we’re making enough of a difference. But the truth is that we cannot recycle our way out of this mess. [..] We need corporations – those like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Starbucks and Nestlé that continue to churn out throwaway plastic bottles, cups, and straws – to step up and show real accountability for the mess they’ve created. Drink companies produce over 500bn single-use plastic bottles annually; there is no way that we can recycle our way out of a problem of that scale.

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Jun 092018
 


Edward Hopper Summertime 1943

 

Why Trump Is Targeting G-7 Nations On Trade (MW)
More Than Half Of American Homes Are Overvalued, CoreLogic Warns (ZH)
America Is House-Rich But Cash-Poor (MW)
Cities Struggle To Fend Off “Unstoppable Juggernaut” Of Chinese Homebuyers (ZH)
The Summer of Discontent (Jim Kunstler)
Facebook Shared Sensitive User Info Via “Secretive” Data Deals (ZH)
Canada First G7 Nation To Make Marijuana Legal (G.)
Trump Voices Support For Bipartisan Pot Legislation (Pol.)
7 In 10 Americans Are Overwhelmed By News, More Among Republicans (ZH)
Berlin Still Has ‘No Evidence’ From UK That Moscow Is Behind Skripal Case (RT)
Tourists To Med Told To Ditch Plastic To Avoid Huge Rise In Beach Litter (G.)
Microplastics In Our Mussels: The Sea Is Feeding Human Garbage Back To Us (G.)

 

 

Deficits and reserve currencies. Joined at the hip.

Why Trump Is Targeting G-7 Nations On Trade (MW)

President Trump has threatened Canada and France with higher tariffs if they don’t ease up on what he considers unfair policies, sparking fresh worries that a simmering dispute over trade will boil over and damage the world’s leading economies. The president clashed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron in an extraordinary series of tweets ahead of meeting of G-7 leaders in Quebec. The G-7 consists of the U.S., U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Italy. The U.S. has run huge trade deficits for years through both Republican and Democratic presidents. In 2017, the trade gap in goods rose to a nine-year high of $807 billion (the deficit was a smaller $552 billion if services are included).

China accounted for 47% of the U.S. trade deficit in goods in 2017, but the G-7 countries were responsible for another quarter. Germany ran the biggest trade surplus with the U.S., followed by Japan and Italy. The U.S. runs smaller deficits in goods with France and Canada, according to government figures. The U.S. actually posted a small surplus with Canada in 2017 if services are included, largely reflecting how much Canadians spend when visiting the 50 states. The U.K. is the only country with which the U.S. ran a goods and overall surplus.

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Long time pal Jesse Colombo posted this on Twitter. I wrote back:

“Sorry, my friend Jesse, but every single US home is overvalued. It just depends on the vantage point you look from. All prices have been distorted by the Fed’s policies, not just half of them. Arguably some more than others, but can that be the core argument here?”

More Than Half Of American Homes Are Overvalued, CoreLogic Warns (ZH)

A history of economic cycles dating back to the mid-1800s reveals a troubling outlook for today’s Central Bank induced bull market of hopes and dreams, which could be in the later innings. It is quite evident that Americans have quit saving as their gig-economy jobs have left them in financial ruin – now being squeezed by the higher cost of living. The charades of economic stability could continue for a little longer, with President Trump’s stealth quantitative easing program to Wall Street via debt-financed tax reform, which has induced a massive wave of more than $2.5 trillion in stock buybacks — a gift to corporate America.

No matter where one looks, the valuation of many financial assets are overextended, and new evidence today from CoreLogicshows this troubling picture very late into an economic cycle: More than half of U.S. residential real estate markets were overvalued in April. CoreLogic reports that residential real estate prices nationwide increased 6.9% year over year from April 2017 to April 2018. The firm’s Home Price Index (HPI) also shows a 1.2% rise on the month-over-month basis from March to April 2018. This has certainly sparked the debate of housing affordability across the nation with many millennials struggling to achieve the American dream.

CoreLogic Market Condition Indicators showed that 40% of the 100 largest metropolitan areas were overvalued in April, compared to 28% undervalued, and 32% in line with valuations. The report uncovers a shocking discovery that of the nation’s top 50 largest residential real estate markets, 52% were overvalued in April.

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Since they’re all overvalued, any talk of house-rich is shaky.

America Is House-Rich But Cash-Poor (MW)

The very same day Lindsay learned he wouldn’t qualify for a refinance, help arrived. It was a direct mail solicitation, in the form of a fake check “payable to Michael Lindsay for $186,000.” A company called Unison was offering money in exchange for an ownership stake in the Lindsay house. Lindsay investigated, and found Unison’s process both “professional” and “informative,” he said. “It had come down to the fact that the only other option I had was to sell the house,” Lindsay told MarketWatch. He hated that idea, since his two boys, who’d already been through so much, were thriving in their school district. And while he didn’t want to rule out downsizing, there was just too much emotion attached to the home where the boys had been born, where he and Vanessa had tracked their growth through pencil marks in the garage.

Ultimately, Lindsay said, “It just felt crazy that there was so much equity in the home and I couldn’t get at it.” He signed on with Unison. After just three weeks, the company had dispersed $200,000 in cash to pay off Lindsay’s creditors and allow him to do much-needed deferred maintenance on the house. Unison’s product, which it calls HomeOwner, has been around for years, but it’s really hit its stride in the past year or so. The housing market has not only recovered from the Great Recession, it’s heated up. According to an analysis from Attom Data, nearly 14 million Americans are now “equity rich” – meaning they have at least 50% equity in their homes. It bears repeating that many owners and communities are not so lucky: over a million Americans are underwater, and some cities and towns are still reeling under the weight of abandoned and vacant homes and stagnant micro-economies.

But for most of the country, rapidly rising home prices and a dearth of anything else to buy means people are staying in their homes longer, allowing them to accrue more and more equity: $15 trillion worth, to be exact. That may sound like a first-world problem, but as Lindsay’s example illustrates, all the equity in the world is worthless if it’s locked in an untouchable asset while medical bills, home improvement costs, and other expenses are mounting. And since home equity is usually most concentrated among those who’ve lived in their homes the longest, that’s often retirees – the people most in need of certain cash flow.

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Central banks and Chinese buyers.

Cities Struggle To Fend Off “Unstoppable Juggernaut” Of Chinese Homebuyers (ZH)

As we’ve pointed out time and time again, foreign – mainly Chinese – buyers seeking to park their ill-gotten gains beyond the reach of the Communist Party have – in addition to global capitals like New York City and London – favored a handful of cities in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Many of these cities – for example, Vancouver – have seen property values rise to levels that are unaffordable for local buyers. While the influx of capital helped fuel an economic recovery in the aftermath of the crisis, home values soon reached crisis levels that demanded action by local officials. Some places have tried to use taxes to deter foreign buyers. In some instances, the taxes worked – at least temporarily.

But with the flow of buyers refusing to slow despite efforts by the Chinese government to stop money moving offshore, many of these cities are getting desperate. And after years of occasional headlines, it appears the crisis has finally become dire enough for the mainstream press to start paying attention. To wit, government officials in Canada and Australia who spoke with the Wall Street Journal for a story about how Chinese homebuyers expressed concern that widespread foreign ownership has created bubbles in local real-estate markets. Even as Australia and New Zealand and some Canadian cities have raised taxes on foreign buyers, many are worried that home values will continue to climb, foiling policy makers best efforts to control them.

Since it passed an 8% foreign buyers tax last summer, Sydney says foreign buying hasn’t let up. Jon Ellis, chief executive of Investorist, an online portal for cross-border property transactions, said Chinese property buyers are an “unstoppable juggernaut”. In some markets with large Mandarin-speaking populations, locals can spot real-estate ads in Mandarin at bus stations and benches in the surrounding area. In response, Vancouver imposed a 15% foreign buyers tax back in 2016. When that didn’t work, city officials worked with the province on something more aggressive.

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“We’ll be fortunate if we can turn out brooms and scythes twenty years from now, let alone flying Teslas.”

The Summer of Discontent (Jim Kunstler)

The ill-feeling among leaders of the G-7 nations — essentially, the West plus Japan — was mirrored early this morning in the puking financial market futures, so odious, apparently, is the presence of America’s Golden Golem of Greatness at the Quebec meet-up of First World poobahs. It’s hard to blame them. The GGG refuses to play nice in the sandbox of the old order. Like many observers here in the USA, I can’t tell exactly whether Donald Trump is out of his mind or justifiably blowing up out-of-date relationships and conventions in a world that is desperately seeking a new disposition of things. The West had a mighty good run in the decades since the fiascos of the mid-20th century. My guess is that we’re witnessing a slow-burning panic over the impossibility of maintaining the enviable standard of living we’ve all enjoyed.

All the jabber is about trade and obstacles to trade, but the real action probably emanates from the energy sector, especially oil. The G-7 nations are nothing without it, and the supply is getting sketchy at the margins in a way that probably and rightfully scares them. I’d suppose, for instance, that the recent run-up in oil prices from $40-a barrel to nearly $80 has had the usual effect of dampening economic activity worldwide. For some odd reason, the media doesn’t pay attention to any of that. But it’s become virtually an axiom that oil over $75-a-barrel smashes economies while oil under $75-a-barrel crushes oil companies.

[..] There is also surprisingly little critical commentary on the notion that Mr. Trump is seeking to “re-industrialize” America. It’s perhaps an understandable wish to return to the magical prosperity of yesteryear. But things have changed. And if wishes were fishes, the state of the earth’s oceans is chastening to enough to give you the heebie-jeebies. Anyway, we’re not going back to the Detroit of 1957. We’ll be fortunate if we can turn out brooms and scythes twenty years from now, let alone flying Teslas. This will be the summer of discontent for the West especially. The fact that populism is still a rising force among these nations is a clue of broad public skepticism about maintaining the current order. No wonder the massive bureaucracies vested in that order are freaking out. I’m not sure Mr. Trump even knows or appreciates just how he represents these dangerous dynamics.

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Since this is their business model, period, it’s time to stop them.

Facebook Shared Sensitive User Info Via “Secretive” Data Deals (ZH)

If you feel like there’s been a new embarrassing revelation about Facebook’s privacy practices every day this week, well, you’re not entirely wrong. In the third bombshell report to drop since Moday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook struck customized data-sharing deals with a select group of companies, granting several of them special access to user records well after the point in 2015 when Facebook said it had shifted its privacy policies in response to learning that a researcher had improperly taken Facebook user data and sold it to Cambridge Analytica. The unreported agreements were known internally as whitelists.

They reportedly allowed certain companies to access sensitive information like phone numbers and a metric called “friend that measured the degree of closeness between users and others in their network,” the people said. The whitelist deals were struck with companies as diverse as Nissan and RBC Capital. The deals represented Facebook bending over backwards to allow special data access to a broader universe of companies, many of whom were valuable advertisers. Others needed the access to wind down unfinished projects after the new developer regulations. But some were granted the special access for “unspecified reasons” that WSJ apparently couldn’t crack.

WSJ also raises further questions about who had access to the data of billions of Facebook users and why they had access – and, what’s more, why didn’t Mark Zuckerberg mention any of this during the Congressional hearings? Facebook said companies were granted this special access as something of a workaround after Facebook stopped granting unfettered access to developers in 2015. Many of the details published in the report appeared vague – for example, WSJ couldn’t pin down how many Facebook clients had been granted this privilege. Perhaps that’s why they published it after 4 pm Eastern on a June Friday.

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Pot and opioids. Many more questions than answers.

Canada First G7 Nation To Make Marijuana Legal (G.)

Even places that have already taken the legalization plunge are hoping Canada will solve some mysteries. After Colorado legalized marijuana five years ago, for example, organized crime reacted by ramping up supplies of “black tar heroin, opiates and harder drugs”, said Dr Larry Wolk, the state’s top public health official. But Wolk says he is interested to watch that process unfold on a bigger scale in Canada, where the new law is expected to deal a much more significant blow to the black market. Any new mix of illicit drugs in the country could have new effects on public health. “What’s the impact of marijuana legalization on the opioid crisis?” he asked as an example.

“Does it actually act as a substitute so that people can get off opiates for chronic pain? Is there a positive impact? Or is it a negative impact, because as a result there’s more opiates in the black market? Is [pot] a gateway? We don’t really have an answer.” One delicate balance for Canadian authorities has been guessing at what kind of pricing will be low enough to eradicate illicit sales – yet not so low as to entice new users. Canada’s finance minister, Bill Morneau, recently said the goal is “keeping cannabis out of the hands of kids and out of the black market. That means keeping the taxes low so we can actually get rid of the criminals in the system”.

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The end of Sessions as AG? We’ll take it. While thinking about all the young black kids whose lives have been screwed for small amounts of pot.

Trump Voices Support For Bipartisan Pot Legislation (Pol.)

President Donald Trump said Friday he “probably will end up supporting” bipartisan legislation to bar the federal government from interfering with marijuana legalization laws at the state level, putting him at odds with efforts by his own Justice Department to crack down on the substance nationwide. The bill, unveiled by Sens. Cory Gardner of (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), lawmakers of two states that have voted to legalize certain types of pot use, would in effect give states the right to determine their own approach to regulating the drug.

Pressed on whether he supports the measure while addressing reporters outside the White House on Friday, the president said he supports it now and will “probably” support it going forward. “I really do. I support Senator Gardner,” Trump said of the lawmaker’s bill. “I know exactly what he’s doing, we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” The remarks stand in contrast to the actions of his own Justice Department, which under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has moved aggressively to crack down on the proliferation of laws to decriminalize and legalize cannabis.

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The less news people read, the more exhausted they are?!

7 In 10 Americans Are Overwhelmed By News, More Among Republicans (ZH)

In a period in which most Americans feel mentally exhausted by news flow — from Facebook’s trending stories to Twitter’s hashtags to Trump’s spontaneous tweeting — and of course, how could we not forget, the mainstream media’s constant barrage of very fake news, approximately 70% of Americans feel “overwhelmed by the amount of news there is,” according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from Feb. 22 to March 04, 2018. Nearly 68% of Americans feel mentally exhausted by the high-rate of news in the modern era, compared with just 30% of Americans who enjoyed the amount of news they get.

Pew said today’s “feelings of information overload” is similar to how Americans felt during the 2016 presidential election. While it certainly seems like Americans are consuming too much media, Republicans are experiencing more news fatigue than anyone else. Roughly 77% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are mentally drained from the constant bombardment of news headlines, compared with just 61% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, said Pew. The report detailed that avid news watchers were less likely to experience mental fatigue than those who sparingly read headlines. For those who chase headlines “most of the time,” 62% reported psychological exhaustion, meanwhile, 78% of those who less frequently get news say they are overwhelmed.

The human brain which created this modern world is just not wired to process the vast amounts of information from news networks and social media. Americans are sleepwalking into a period of too much stimulation in tense periods, which could result in irrational decision making. America is stressed — its people are stressed — and there is just too much damn news. What could go wrong from here?

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That’s a surprise…NOT.

Berlin Still Has ‘No Evidence’ From UK That Moscow Is Behind Skripal Case (RT)

The German government has zero evidence from the British authorities that could back London’s claims that Moscow was behind the poisoning of the Skripals, German media reports. More than three months since the start of the probe into the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, the UK is still conspicuously tight-lipped when it comes to any real evidence that could prove its accusations against Russia. On Wednesday, the German government informed a parliamentary oversight committee during a closed hearing that it still has not received any evidence suggesting that Russia might well be behind the incident that took place in early March, German TV station RBB reports.

“It is [still] only known that the poison used in the attack was a nerve agent called Novichok, which was once produced in the Soviet Union,” Michael Goetschenberg, a correspondent of German ARD and an expert on security services, told RBB, commenting on the results of the hearing, which he is familiar with. Apart from this information, which was released by the British authorities soon after the incident, no new data on Russia’s alleged implication in this case was provided to Germany so far, he added. German intelligence has also found no Russian trace in this case so far, Goetschenberg said. “The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence… has also contacted its own sources and tried to verify the information [about Russia’s potential involvement] in some way,” he told RBB, adding that it eventually failed to find any evidence pointing to Moscow as well.

Following the poisoning, which London blamed on Moscow using the now infamous wording “highly likely,” the UK and its allies expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, with Moscow giving a mirror response. Russia has categorically denied any involvement, and has complained that the victims were not allowed visits by Russian lawyers and diplomats, and the results of the investigation were kept secret. The Russian envoy to the UK has on several occasions alleged that London was even trying to “destroy” evidence in the probe.

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It is very easy for governments to simply ban the stuff. But for some reason they don’t. Selling the stuff and then asking people not to use it seems Kafkaesque. At best.

Tourists To Med Told To Ditch Plastic To Avoid Huge Rise In Beach Litter (G.)

Tourists are being urged to reduce their use of plastic as new figures reveal holidaymakers cause a 40% spike in marine litter in the Mediterranean each summer. Nearly all the waste created by the surge in tourism over the summer months in countries like Italy, France and Turkey is plastic litter, says WWF in a new report. In a matter of weeks over the holiday season the rise in plastic marine pollution contributes to the estimated 150m tonnes of plastic in the ocean. WWF said in its report the majority of plastic waste polluting the Mediterranean Sea comes from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France – countries to which more than 34 million British holidaymakers are preparing to travel this year.

Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF, said holidaymakers were leaving behind a toxic legacy of plastic waste. “The birds, fish and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic … plastic is ending up in the fish and seafood we eat on holiday. “We’re asking people to think about how they can cut down on the amount of single-use plastic they use and throw away on holiday,” she said. Steele urges holidaymakers to drink tap water where it is safe to do so, refuse plastic straws and skip the purchase of inflatable pool toys. “We can all be part of the solution and not the problem,” she said. In Europe plastics account for 95% of the waste in the open sea, posing a major threat to marine life, says WWF.

After China, Europe is the second largest producer of plastic in the world, producing 27m tonnes of plastic waste. The continent dumps up to an estimated 500,000 tonnes of macroplastics and 130,000 tonnes of microplastics in the sea every year, the report says. But delays and gaps in plastic waste management in most Mediterranean countries mean only a third of the 60m tonnes of plastic produced is recycled. Half of all plastic waste in Italy, France and Spain ends up in landfills. Home to almost 25,000 plant and animal species – of which 60% are unique to the region – the Mediterranean holds only 1% of the world’s water but contains 7% of all of the world’s microplastic waste. Plastics have also been found in oysters and mussels, while crisp packets and cigarettes have been found in large fish, WWF says.

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“Shakespeare’s Ariel looked down into the ocean and saw “something rich and strange”; we look down and see our consuming society reflected back at us.”

Microplastics In Our Mussels: The Sea Is Feeding Human Garbage Back To Us (G.)

Shellfish are the natural filter systems of our seas, mechanisms of purity. So, to discover in a report released on World Oceans Day that mussels bought from UK supermarkets were infested with microplastic seems like a final irony in the terrible story of the plasticisation of the sea. According to the study by the University of Hull and Brunel University London, 70 particles of microplastic were found in every 100 grams of mussels. There’s a vital disconnection here – highlighted by the bottled water you drink to wash down your moules-frites, and the fact that 89% of ocean trash comes from single-use plastic. No sea is immune from this plague, nor any ocean creature, from the modest mussel or zooplankton to the great whales.

I have just returned from Cape Cod, where, due to pollution and other anthropogenic effects, the North Atlantic right whale may be extinct by 2040 – a huge mammal about to vanish from the sight of the shores of the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. On the pristine, remote Cisco Beach on Nantucket, I watched a grey seal watching me – only to realise the sleek pelage of its midriff was bound with an orange plastic bag. Last month, off St Ives in Cornwall, I saw a cormorant tugging helplessly at a monofilament of fishing line that had trussed its bill to its arched neck. The underwater photographer Andrew Sutton sends a selfie from Costa Rica: he is holding miles of illegal plastic long line, tangled like a grotesque bouquet.

From Sri Lanka to the Mediterranean, our summer holiday idylls become places of mortality. That we cannot look underneath what Herman Melville called “the ocean’s skin” is part of the problem. It is as if, defeated by the sea’s mystery, we punish it for defying our dominion. And so, it wreaks its revenge, feeding our own rubbish back to us. Shakespeare’s Ariel looked down into the ocean and saw “something rich and strange”; we look down and see our consuming society reflected back at us.

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