Dec 222022
 
 December 22, 2022  Posted by at 9:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  51 Responses »


VIncent van Gogh Weeping woman seated on a basket 1883

 

NATO Could Take Out Russia in 3 Days: Congressman (NW)
Biden Explains Why Zelensky Can’t Get Everything He Wants (RT)
Putin Explains What Russia Faces In Ukraine (RT)
Russia Begins Deployment Of New State-of-Art Sarmat ICBM (RT)
Kremlin Reacts To Patriot Missiles For Ukraine (ZH)
Moscow Comments On NATO Presence In Ukraine (RT)
No Evidence Kremlin Is Behind Nord Stream Blasts – WaPo (RT)
The Harder They Come … (Jotwani)
1st Year Of New German Government: ‘Double-Whammy’ Of Double Standards (Az.)
How Musk Averted A $3 Billion Twitter Crash (ZH)
FBI Accuses ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ Of Weaponizing Twitter Files (RT)
Corruption Scandal Hurts EU ‘Credibility’ – European Council President (RT)
Kari Lake Election Challenge Trial Reveals Major Confession (WJ)
Caroline Ellison Throws SBF Under The Bus (ZH)
Ghost Town: ‘The Song Margaret Thatcher Wishes Was Never Released’ (BBC)

 

 

 

 

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With Zelenskyin DC, Putin in Belarus and Medvedev delivering Putin’s message to Xi in Beijing, it’s not hard to see why some people think we’re preparing for something big.

If Kinzinger actually believes what he says, he’s dangerously misguided. If he doesn’t but says it anyway, he dangerously misguides many Americans.

If NATO attacks Russia, its capitals would be destroyed. And it wouldn’t take 3 days.

NATO Could Take Out Russia in 3 Days: Kinzinger (NW)

Representative Adam Kinzinger said on Monday that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could take out Russia in only three days. Russian President Vladimir Putin has long taken issue with NATO—a coalition of Western governments including much of Europe and the United States—raising concerns about the West’s expanding sphere of influence in the months leading up to the Ukraine war. Specifically, the Russian leader opposed the possibility of Ukraine joining the organization. Experts have raised concern the Russia-Ukraine war could escalate into a larger conflict with NATO in the nearly 10 months since Putin launched his “special military operation” on the Eastern European country. Should Putin attack a NATO member state, that country can invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, which states that “an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all allies,” essentially meaning a military response from all members could be initiated.

Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, weighed in on what he believes a NATO-Russia conflict would be like, responding to a tweet questioning why NATO hasn’t defeated Russia yet. “I’m hoping this is a joke. NATO vs Russia would be like a real three day operation,” the GOP lawmaker wrote. Kinzinger has been vocal supporter of Ukraine throughout the conflict. In April, he called out members of his own party for focusing on attacking Disney despite the “genocide going on in Ukraine.””There is a genocide going on in Ukraine and the outrage is over what’s happening at Walt Disney,” Kinzinger said at the time, referring to the battle between Disney and Florida Republicans over the state’s anti-LGBTQ law. “You guys deserve way better.”

While many NATO member states have provided Ukraine with military and humanitarian aid throughout the conflict, they have not become directly involved. The international community largely believes sending their troops into Ukraine would likely lead to an escalation of the war. However, since Ukraine is not a NATO member, Russia’s invasion would not draw a NATO military response.In November, concerns about NATO’s involvement grew after a missile struck a village in Poland—which is part of the coalition—killing two individuals. Reports at first emerged that the missile was produced by Russia, but authorities ultimately ruled that it was accidentally fired by Ukraine in an effort to knock out Russian missile strikes on civilian infrastructure.

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NATO is running out of weapons, as Russia is adding them.

“Doing more would have “the prospect of breaking up NATO, breaking up Europe, and the rest of the world..”

Biden Explains Why Zelensky Can’t Get Everything He Wants (RT)

Giving Kiev all the weapons it wants might break NATO, US President Joe Biden said in a joint appearance with his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky in Washington on Wednesday. Biden added he was not worried the delivery of Patriot missiles to Ukraine might escalate tensions with Russia – as Moscow has warned – because they’re “defensive” weapons. Biden and Zelensky answered the questions of four hand-picked reporters after their meeting at the White House. The last one came from a Ukrainian journalist who asked why the West simply doesn’t give Ukraine “all capabilities it needs to liberate all territories.” “His answer is yes,” the US president deadpanned, pointing to Zelensky, who replied “I agree,” to laughter from the gathered press.


Biden then pointed out that the US “dedicated an enormous amount of security assistance to Ukraine” even before hostilities escalated in February – though in his prepared remarks he called the Russian military operation “unprovoked and unjustified.” “We’ve given Ukraine what they needed when they needed to defend themselves,” the US leader insisted, listing hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and ammunition that Washington and NATO have handed over to Kiev. Doing more would have “the prospect of breaking up NATO, breaking up Europe, and the rest of the world,” Biden said, noting that he’s spent “hundreds” of hours persuading US partners around the globe to help Ukraine, but “they are not looking for a Third World War” by fighting Russia directly. “But I’ve said too much.”

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“Moscow is well aware of the role that NATO is playing in the Ukraine conflict..”

“Russia is facing the “military potential and capabilities of almost all major NATO countries” in Ukraine..”

Putin Explains What Russia Faces In Ukraine (RT)

Moscow is confronted by the military capabilities of “almost all major NATO countries,” the Russian president has said Moscow is well aware of the role that NATO is playing in the Ukraine conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. He urged senior defense officials to carefully analyze the capabilities provided to Kiev by the US-led military bloc. Speaking at an extended meeting of the Board of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Putin said that Russia is facing the “military potential and capabilities of almost all major NATO countries” in Ukraine, adding that this will not stop Moscow from achieving its objectives. He went on to say that “all information about NATO forces [and] the means which are actively being used against us during the special military operation, are well known,” and that all of this should be “carefully analyzed and used” in order to increase the combat capabilities of Russia’s armed forces and security agencies.


He also said that the Russian forces have acquired a great deal of combat experience during the conflict. He called on senior defense officials to “analyze and systemize it in a timely manner” in order to share what has been learned with military personnel. Earlier this month, Putin blasted the West’s policies of shipping weapons to Ukraine and accused the West of fueling “genocide and terror in the Donbass,” saying it is turning Ukraine into “a colony” and “is cynically using the Ukrainian people as cannon fodder, a battering ram against Russia.” NATO has claimed that while it supports Ukraine militarily, it is not a party to the conflict. In early December, however, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Washington and NATO of direct involvement in the conflict.

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“..assure guaranteed penetration of any anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, both now and in the future..”

Russia Begins Deployment Of New State-of-Art Sarmat ICBM (RT)

Russia’s first new silo-based Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) will be deployed into service next year, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting of Russia’s senior defense officials with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. “Successful launches of the new heavy Sarmat missile system during state-run tests made it possible to begin work on its deployment,” Shoigu said. In total, some 22 new strategic nuclear missile launchers, including the silo-based Sarmat, as well as the Avangard and Yars systems, are set to be deployed to the country’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) next year, the minister revealed. Putin said that efforts would continue to improve the country’s SMF, adding that “the share of modern types of weapons in [Russia’s] strategic nuclear forces has exceeded 91% this year.”


“We will continue to maintain and improve the combat-readiness of our nuclear triad. This is the main guarantee for preserving our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity, and the general balance of power in the world,” he stated. The liquid-fueled heavy ICBM was first successfully test-launched back in April. The new system is ultimately set to replace the aging silo-based R-36M2 Voevoda missiles, the backbone of Russia’s strategic nuclear deterrence. Speaking with Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), the official newspaper of the Russian military, the head of Russia’s SMF, General Sergey Karakaev, said the new missile boasts vastly larger capabilities than its predecessor.“The missile system Sarmat has a wide range of capabilities for deploying various types of combat payloads and is based on principles that assure guaranteed penetration of any anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, both now and in the future,” Karakaev told the newspaper last week.

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“Weapon supplies (by the U.S.) continue, the assortment of supplied weapons is expanding. All this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine..”

Kremlin Reacts To Patriot Missiles For Ukraine (ZH)

In its first reaction to widespread reports that the White House is moving forward with plans to send Patriot anti-air missile defense systems to Ukraine, the Kremlin said the move will only serve to aggravate the conflict and warned against it, while Putin in new remarks teased more advanced Russian weapons to be deployed, including hypersonic missiles. “Weapon supplies (by the U.S.) continue, the assortment of supplied weapons is expanding. All this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict and, in fact, does not bode well for Ukraine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. A formal White House announcement confirming that Ukraine will get Patriots is expected Wednesday while Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is meeting with President Biden to discuss the war, and ahead of Zelensky’s expected 7:30pm EST address to Congress.

Ukraine sees the more advanced anti-air defenses as vital if it hopes to survive the now constant barrage of strikes targeting its national energy infrastructure, which has left millions without power amid freezing temperatures. At one point early this week, some 80% of the Kyiv region was without power, as rolling emergency blackouts continue nation-wide. The Patriot missiles could be a game-changer given they have a maximum range of some 100 miles and are capable of downing ballistic missiles. Zelensky has long demanded that the US and NATO help “close the skies” over Ukraine. Putin for his part in Wednesday statements vowed to see the military operation through until all goals are achieved in Ukraine, also pledging to continue giving the military anything it needs.

Just as headlines of the White House approving Patriots for Ukraine spread internationally, he indicated readiness to deploy the hypersonic Sarmat missile to Ukraine: “He also said Russia needed to take special note of the importance of drones in the 10-month conflict and said Russia’s hypersonic Sarmat missile – dubbed “Satan II” would be ready for deployment in the near future.” For Kiev, Putin’s new threats will only underscore the need to keep the anti-air defenses and longer range missiles flowing from the West. As a Wednesday Reuters headlines reads, Mr. Zelensky is coming to Washington seeking “weapons, weapons, and more weapons.” Meanwhile, given Zelensky’s dramatic D.C. visit is happening during the holidays, mainstream journalists and pundits are unironically encouraging more “Christmas presents” for the Ukrainians…

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Escalate.

Moscow Comments On NATO Presence In Ukraine (RT)

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu pointed to the presence of NATO staff officers and other specialists on the front lines in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, on top of almost $100 billion worth of pledged weapons and supplies from the military bloc countries.“Russia’s armed forces are presently facing allied forces of the West,” Shoigu said on Wednesday at a meeting of the top military commanders in Moscow. “The US and its allies supply the Kiev regime with weapons, train its soldiers, provide intelligence, dispatch advisers and mercenaries, and wage an information and sanctions war against us.” Shoigu said NATO countries have so far expended more than $97 billion on weapons deliveries, in order to make up for what he described as “considerable losses” inflicted on the Ukrainian military by Russian forces.

NATO “staff officers, artillery personnel and other specialists are present in the zone of combat operations,” the defense minister added. More than 500 satellites are working to provide intelligence to the Ukrainian military, of which only 70 are purely military and the rest are dual-purpose, according to Shoigu. Multiple Western officials, from US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on down, have said that they are backing Ukraine in order to weaken Russia and that Moscow must not be allowed to win – while insisting they are not a party to the conflict. The US military alone has committed $20 billion in “security assistance” to Kiev since February.

While the initial weapons shipments included small arms and portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, NATO countries have since sent Ukraine tanks, fighter jets, drones, rocket and tube artillery, as well as more complex air defenses. Russia has repeatedly warned the US and its allies that such shipments could lead to a direct confrontation between Moscow and NATO, and accused the West of prolonging the conflict and causing needless deaths in Ukraine.

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Regurgitating old folk tales.

No Evidence Kremlin Is Behind Nord Stream Blasts – WaPo (RT)

Several unnamed European officials have privately acknowledged doubts over whether Russia is to blame for the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, according to the Washington Post. The two gas conduits crossing the Baltic Sea were ruptured by several powerful explosions in late September. In a piece published Wednesday, the paper quoted an anonymous European official as saying, “there is no evidence at this point that Russia was behind the sabotage.” The article said that assessment was shared by 23 diplomatic and intelligence personnel from nine European nations, whom the Post interviewed in recent weeks. Several of the sources expressed the view that Russia was unlikely to be behind the explosions.

Others, however, merely argued that it would likely be impossible to assign responsibility to any one country beyond a reasonable doubt, the paper reported. Some officials cited in the article referred to alleged interceptions of communications between Russian officials and military forces, obtained by US intelligence. According to them, Washington has so far not seen anything indicating Russia’s involvement. Following the attacks on the two pipelines, only one of which was operational, Western governments were quick to point the finger at Moscow. Just four days after the incident, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told the BBC that it “seem[ed]” Russia was to blame.German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, in turn, said in early October that “Russia saying ‘It wasn’t us’ is like saying ‘I’m not the thief.’”

The Ukrainian government described the explosions as a “terrorist attack planned by Russia.” On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov opined that “no one in the European Union is apparently going to objectively investigate” the blasts.In mid-October, the ministry released a statement saying that German, Swedish and Danish authorities had refused to let Moscow participate in their probes despite the latter’s requests. The statement said the Kremlin would view the refusals as proof that the countries “have something to hide or [that] they are covering up the perpetrators of these terrorist attacks.” It also warned that Moscow would “of course, not recognize any ‘pseudo-results’ of such an investigation, unless Russian experts take part in it.”

At the time of the incident, neither Nord Stream 1, nor Nord Stream 2 were pumping Russian gas to Europe. Exports via the older conduit had been halted by Moscow in early September, citing Western sanctions as the reason. Nord Stream 2, though technically ready, had failed to receive permission from German authorities and had never been in operation. While gas supplies from Russia to Europe have dwindled significantly since February 24, several pipelines crossing Belarus, Ukraine and the Black Sea remain in operation.

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Semantics?

The Harder They Come … (Jotwani)

Alastair Crooke is a sage whose thoughtful writings pack vast breadth and depth of understanding of history and geopolitics. His analysis is free of the slightest hint of bias or narrow partisanship – a fact which seems almost incredible given that he worked for the UK Government for a couple of decades. In fact, the sage and his writings testify to a constant and priceless element of western tradition – namely, independent thought. It was therefore as a surprising and rare slip of the pen, that one read the following paragraph in an article written very recently by him: “But … can the West, which has been so deep in denial about both the incredible economic and military transformation that has occurred in Russia since 1998, and in such vehement denial too, of the capacities of the Russian military, simply slide effortlessly into another narrative? Yes, easily. The neocons never look back; they never apologise. They move to the next project …”

Reference in the first sentence is made to “the West”. One has to assume that the reference is to the ruling dispensation – or shall we say regime? – in certain countries, because clearly not every human being in these countries has been in denial about events in Russia since 1998. Later in the paragraph, however, the phrase used in place of “the West” – rather unconsciously, one must assume – is “the neocons”. Is that substitution not hugely surprising? The two phrases do not – cannot! – represent the same slice of human life! Equation of the two was surely unintentional. William Shakespeare, James Clerk Maxwell, Mark Twain, William James – these are just a few illustrious references from the English speaking regions of “the West”. These and many others – including of course Alastair Crooke himself – have not the remotest connection to “the neocons” view of life.

Possibly, “the neocons” are the newest version of the crazies who have always attempted to lord it over “the West” – as indeed over much of the world. Such people are always at the game of deceptively and cruelly acquiring raw power; but surely such wannabe power grabbers do not equate to “the West”. Indeed, that the two were thus equated – even if unintentionally – also proves that “the West” is no longer a meaningful phrase, if indeed it ever was. Of course “the East” and “the South” have already figured that out – as we sense clearly in the winds of change blowing through global political alignments.

Crooke also writes that the neocons do not look back or apologize. No power hungry crazies ever do that. Never. It is as if they drive a vehicle with faulty brakes, no reverse gear and a cracked and dirty windshield. Their judgement clouded by limitless greed for power, they lack understanding of the progress which in fact happens not only in Russia, but all over the world. Their every “next project” is therefore doomed to end worse than the one before. A crash is therefore inevitable, even though it will be denied by ideologues during – and even after – it occurs. What the rest of mankind see clearly as a crash will be written up as a victory, or a major engineered paradigm shift, or some such nonsense.

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“..Berlin handed its energy companies €15 billion to go on a gas shopping spree – resulting in an unprecedented spike in gas prices..”

1st Year Of New German Government: ‘Double-Whammy’ Of Double Standards (Az.)

Few large countries laud their commitment to liberal values like democracy, human rights and the rule of law as much as the world’s fourth-largest economy does, but the first year of the new German government has been a “double-whammy” of double standards, Report informs via Euractiv. “We want to increase the strategic sovereignty of the European Union by making our foreign, security, development and trade policies value-based and based on common European interests,” reads the founding treaty of the incoming government from November 2021. Ukraine quickly felt what the new value-based German government policy amounted to. As more than 100,000 Russian soldiers amassed at their borders and an invasion was imminent, Berlin saw it fit to equip Ukraine with 5,000 helmets while blocking the Baltic states from sending Soviet-era artillery.


Lest we forget, as Russian soldiers were camped out miles from the border, leading German politicians continued to fiercely defend Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia throughout January 2022 – a pipeline designed to bypass Ukraine, deprive the country of gas transit income and further increase Germany’s dependence on the Kremlin. One “should not drag Nord Stream 2 into this conflict”, explained Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht at the time. Aside from Ukraine, when Russia began turning off the gas tap, Berlin handed its energy companies €15 billion to go on a gas shopping spree – resulting in an unprecedented spike in gas prices. In August, Germany’s panicked buying to fill its gas stores sent the price to a level twenty times higher than in January 2021.

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Which part of that would “the agencies” have furnished?

How Musk Averted A $3 Billion Twitter Crash (ZH)

Elon Musk on Tuesday night said that Twitter was on course for $3 billion of negative cashflow before he stepped in and nuked more than half the company. Twitter itself, meanwhile, is operating better than ever – with a significant reduction in bots, and increases in speed. “That is why I spent the last five weeks cutting costs like crazy,” Musk said during a Twitter Spaces event. “This company is like, basically, you are in a plane that is headed toward the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work.” Since Musk acquired Twitter in October for $44 billion – financing the deal in part with nearly $13 billion of debt and interest payments of $1.5 billion per year, he has set out on a mission to cut costs and revamp the social media giant, which he said was losing $4 million per day as of early November, and was at risk of going bankrupt.

Roughly 5,000 of the company’s 7,500 employees have been fired, with the remaining workers agreeing to a “hardcore” work ethic, Bloomberg reports. Over the weekend Musk conducted a straw poll on Twitter asking people if they wanted him to resign as the company’s top executive. About 58% of respondents said yes and Musk has since confirmed he’d step down once an appropriate replacement was found, for a job he’s said anyone would be “foolish” to take. “In the Twitter Spaces event, Musk painted a dire picture of the company’s finances but suggested that he has managed to avert a total meltdown. -Bloomberg”.

In 2021, Twitter’s costs totaled nearly $5.6 billion, while Musk said the company was on track to spend around $5 billion next year. When combined with the acquisition-tied debt repayments, Twitter would be looking at around $6.5 billion in 2023 expenses had costs not been slashed so drastically. According to Musk, Twitter is now on track to bring in around $3 billion in revenue in 2023 – roughly $2 billion less than the $5.1 billion reported at the end of 2021, while the company has $1 billion in cash on its balance sheet. “I now think that Twitter will, in fact, be okay next year,” Musk continued during the Spaces event, adding that he thinks the company will “roughly” break-even, but that “this will be difficult.”

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“..officials from no fewer than 12 government agencies met with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and other Big Tech firms weekly..”

FBI Accuses ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ Of Weaponizing Twitter Files (RT)

Correspondence between the FBI and Twitter staff revealing how the agency pressured the platform to suppress certain narratives is not evidence of wrongdoing, the Bureau said in a statement on Wednesday, blaming “conspiracy theorists” for presenting their activities in a nefarious light. The messages turned over to journalists by Twitter CEO Elon Musk over the last two weeks “show nothing more than examples of our tradition, longstanding and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements,” the FBI statement claims. “It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,” the statement concludes, reminding its critics that “the men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public.”

Messages appearing to show FBI agents pressuring Twitter staff to censor legitimate stories like the Hunter Biden ‘laptop from hell’ as foreign influence operations were merely innocuous examples of the FBI “provid[ing] critical information to the private sector in an effort to allow them to protect themselves and their customers,” the Bureau argued. Internal communications among platform employees suggest otherwise.In messages published as part of the Twitter Files, staff repeatedly point out there is “no evidence” to substantiate FBI claims of foreign disinformation and express discomfort with the bureau’s meddling. Twitter’s former policy director observed a “sustained (if uncoordinated) effort by the IC [intelligence community]” to push Twitter to share more information against its own policies, while the FBI ultimately paid Twitter more than $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars to prioritize its censorship requests.

The White House has thus far refused to comment on the Twitter Files, referring reporters to the FBI, and the media establishment have largely ignored them. However, former Republican congressman Ron Paul argued they are proof the FBI colluded with Twitter to deprive Americans of their constitutional right to free speech. A lawsuit filed earlier this year by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana alleges that the FBI was not alone, and that officials from no fewer than 12 government agencies met with representatives of Twitter, Facebook, and other Big Tech firms weekly to decide which narratives and users to censor, with topics ranging from alleged election interference to Covid-19.

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“As many as 60 current and former MEPs may have been involved in the scheme..”

Corruption Scandal Hurts EU ‘Credibility’ – European Council President (RT)

A corruption scandal that led to the arrest of former European Parliament VP Eva Kaili for allegedly taking bribes from Qatar is wrecking the bloc’s credibility at a time when it is already vulnerable, European Council President Charles Michel told Politico on Wednesday.The revelation that MEPs reportedly engaged in illicit lobbying on behalf of the Qatari government in exchange for millions of euros in cash and gifts is “dramatic and damaging for the credibility of the European Union,” Michel said, lamenting that the scandal was “making it even more difficult for us to focus on the economic and energy crises that impact the lives of European citizens right now.”

Michel suggested the bloc must act in order to prevent a repeat performance. “We first need to learn lessons from this and come up with a package of measures to avoid such things – to prevent corruption in the future,” he told Politico, complaining that the aura of impropriety would make his job more difficult.Kaili and her husband Francesco Giorgi were arrested earlier this month by Belgian law enforcement, along with former Italian MEP Antonio Panzeri, whom Giorgi identified as the leader of the bribery ring, and a fourth individual. All have been charged with “participation in a criminal organization, money laundering, and corruption.”

Belgian authorities seized more than €1.5 million in assets from properties linked to the four suspects. As many as 60 current and former MEPs may have been involved in the scheme, according to Italian media reports, with most hailing from the Socialists & Reformers parliamentary group.The European Parliament has temporarily halted all lobbying work related to Qatar, and recently voted to deny representatives from the Gulf state access to its premises while condemning the alleged “foreign interference” in its business. Doha has denied any wrongdoing and warned that the parliament’s “discriminatory” decision could disrupt the supply of energy to the continent, which has recently ramped up its consumption of Qatari natural gas to replace embargoed supply from Russia.

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“Maricopa County admits they do NOT count ballots at vote centers (which is required by State Law).”

Kari Lake Election Challenge Trial Reveals Major Confession (WJ)

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer testified Wednesday during GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s election challenge trial that the individual polling locations did not tally the total number of votes cast in the midterm elections, a seeming violation of state law. Lake attorney Bryan Blehm asked Richer whether the county knew on Election Day the total number of ballots submitted by voters. One of the allegations in Lake’s lawsuit is that the total number of ballots the county reported in the election increased by nearly 25,000 from Nov. 9, the day after the contest, to Nov. 11. That number is significant because it exceeds Katie Hobbs’ approximately 17,000-vote margin of victory over Lake. “On Election Day it would’ve been easy for you to figure out how many ballots you received,” Blehm said to Richer.

He responded, “Well, we had to get them all in and it was quite a process throughout the night.” Blehm interjected, “You can look at the forms and add the numbers. Correct?” “They’re not counted at the individual loading locations,” Richer said. “They are counted when they get back to MCTEC and then they are recounted at Runbeck.” MCTEC is the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix and Runbeck is the company the county uses to process and scan ballots. “Does anybody know when those ballots leave the voting centers how many are in the bins?” Blehm asked. “When the early ballots leave the voting centers, no, they are not counted at the voting centers,” Richer answered.

Blehm followed up, “Nobody knows how many [ballots] are in the bins when they arrive at MCTEC. Correct?” “Correct,” Richer said. The Arizona Republican Party tweeted in response, “Maricopa County admits they do NOT count ballots at vote centers (which is required by State Law).” The 2019 Arizona elections procedures manual, which cites state law, requires an audit at each voting location of the total number of ballots cast. The results must be recorded in an official ballot report.The audit even requires accounting for the total amount of ballot stock paper on-site. The ballots cast must then be placed in sealed boxes.

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Next up: the parents.

Caroline Ellison Throws SBF Under The Bus (ZH)

Two weeks ago, when amid reports that the former CEO of Alameda Capital (which as a reminder was ground zero of the FTX implosion after it blew up $8 billion in FTX client funds on trades gone horribly wrong), Caroline Ellison, was spotted in New York just after retaining Clinton superlawyer, Jamie Gorelick of Wilmer Hale, which as readers may recall was the former No. 2 ranking member in the Clinton Justice Department, and in a recent interview, she referred to current AG Merrick Garland as her “wingman”, we asked if Caroline had rolled on Sam Bankman-Fried, who was also her former lover. Fast forward to today when we just got confirmation that Caroline Ellison has fucked Bankman-Fried one final time by indeed rolling on him, and “turning states” in the criminal prosecution of the corpulent “Hairy Plotter”, who commingled and stole the client money in his FTX exchange to fund a series of terrible crypto bets at his personal hedge fund Alameda, fund tens of millions in donations to democrats and buy up prestigious real estate for himself and his “altruistic” progressive lawyer parents.

According to a Manhattan Federal prosecutor, two of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s closest associates have pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to co-operate with US authorities investigating the collapse of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange. In other words, they took a plea deal to avoid even more prison time in exchange for serving SBF on a silver platter to the Feds. Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the guilty pleas and criminal charges against Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, the low profile co-founder of FTX, in a short video statement. His office had brought eight charges against Bankman-Fried last week.

Ellison pleaded guilty to seven counts, including wire and securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carry a maximum sentence of 110 years in prison, while Wang pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud, with a maximum 50-year sentence. The documents said prosecutors would not oppose bail requests from both defendants under certain conditions, including posting a bond and handing in their travel documents, as they awaited formal sentencing. Concurrently, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission also filed civil lawsuits against the 28-year-old Ellison and 29-year-old Wang, accusing them of fraud.

“As part of their deception, we allege that Caroline Ellison and Sam Bankman-Fried schemed to manipulate the price of FTT, an exchange crypto security token that was integral to FTX, to prop up the value of their house of cards,” said SEC chair Gary Gensler. Furthermore, as CEO of the FTX trading affiliate, Ellison “used FTX’s customer assets to pay Alameda’s debts” and diverted billions of dollars of depositors’ money to the company to fill a hole caused by a crypto market crash in May, the SEC’s complaint alleges.

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”By the end of the week more than 20 towns and cities including London, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Luton had riots of their own. The Specials were providing the soundtrack.”

Ghost Town: ‘The Song Margaret Thatcher Wishes Was Never Released’ (BBC)

July 1981. Riots have broken out around Britain. Charles and Diana are about to marry. And backstage at Top of The Pops, The Specials are falling apart. In a few minutes they will perform their latest hit Ghost Town, which over the years, would come to be regarded as one of the greatest British singles of all time. It was a track which bottled the discord, racial tensions and societal breakdown happening in the UK that summer. There had already been riots in Brixton that April, over the increased use of a new stop-and-search policy, the so-called sus law, which was named Operation Swamp. Police were said to have mounted a campaign of harassment against the black community in south London.

Terry Hall is telling the band that he too has had enough. Worn down by touring, band infighting and struggling to deal with success, he wants out. It is too difficult to be singing about disharmony, while surrounded by it, both inside and outside The Specials. “We knew it was going to end as we were recording it (Ghost Town),” Terry Hall told Front Row in 2019. “It was bizarre. It took about eight months to record. I don’t think there were more than two of us in the studio at any point. Those weren’t good signs really. It finished up with me in a living room in Tottenham singing Ghost Town. It was all over the place. But it was a great way to bow out.” He was 22.

“Talk about zeitgeist. That one song suddenly captured so much,” remembered Specials fan and Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chada in the 2021 BBC Documentary 2 Tone: The Sound of Coventry. “If there is one song Margaret Thatcher wishes never got released, it’s probably Ghost Town,” she added.On 7 July 1981, Radio One announced that Ghost Town had replaced Michael Jackson’s One Day In Your Life at the top of the charts. That same day, newspaper front pages were full of reports about the first ever use of CS gas grenades by the police on mainland Britain, as they struggled to contain the Toxteth Riots. These were sparked by tensions between police and the local community in Liverpool. By the end of the week more than 20 towns and cities including London, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Luton had riots of their own. The Specials were providing the soundtrack.

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