Oct 062020
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Old Man Sitting 1631

 

‘Don’t Let It Dominate You. Don’t Be Afraid Of It’ – President Trump (JTN)
WHO: 760 Million May Have Been Infected With Novel Coronavirus (JTN)
CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Spreads Through Airborne Transmission (CNBC)
Gina Haspel Banks On Trump Loss To Keep Russiagate Documents Hidden (Fed.)
Carter Page Wants McCabe Subpoenaed To Testify Before Senate (JTN)
Ginsburg’s Nightmare: The Democratic Plan To Destroy The Supreme Court (Turley)
Out of the Woods? (Jim Kunstler)
100,000 Ballot Requests Invalidated In Iowa (IC)
Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. They’re Coming for More (PP)
Facebook Refuses To Appoint Turkey Representative, Faces Penalties (Ahval)
UK Court Decision on Venezuela Gold Deals Blow to Regime Change Efforts (MPN)
Former Reserve Bank Of Australia Boss: Low Rates Haven’t Done Any Good (AFR)
John McAfee Arrested In Spain On Tax Evasion & Crypto Fraud, Awaits Extradition To US (RT)
Trump Briefly Leaves Hospital To Wave To Supporters From F-22 Raptor (BBee)

 

 

Trump has long known that it makes no difference what he says or does, everything will be presented in a form that can be used against him anyway. If he says: don’t be afraid of it, the media will tell everyone to be very afraid.

There’s only one exception: if he would start a war. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall into that trap.

 

 

US national debt

 

 

 

 

Media reaction: be afraid! And: don’t let Trump dominate you! Bit late for that now.

‘Don’t Let It Dominate You. Don’t Be Afraid Of It’ – President Trump (JTN)

President Trump on Monday night released a new video message in which he urged Americans to be cautious but not fear the coronavirus or allow it to consume their lives. “I just left Walter Reed Medical Center and it’s really something very special, the doctors, the nurses, the first responders, and I learned so much about coronavirus,” the president said. “And one thing that’s for certain: Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re gonna beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines, all developed recently.” “I went, I didn’t feel so good. And two days ago, I could’ve left two days ago. Two days ago I felt great, like better than I have in a long time. I said just recently, better than 20 years ago,” Trump said.


“I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. And I know there’s a risk, there’s a danger, but that’s ok. And now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune, I don’t know. But don’t let it dominate your lives. Get out there. Be careful. We have the best medicines in the world and it all happened very shortly and they’re all getting approved. And the vaccines are coming momentarily,” the president said. President Trump on Monday evening departed Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been staying since Friday evening, and returned to the White House.

Read more …

Based on what information?

WHO: 760 Million May Have Been Infected With Novel Coronavirus (JTN)

The World Health Organization estimated Monday that roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide have been infected by the novel coronavirus – more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases. The estimate was made by Dr. Michael Ryan, who leads the WHO’s emergencies division, during a session with the group’s 34-member executive board He said that the number was his “best estimates” and that “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” He also said “many deaths have been averted and many more lives can be protected.” The new estimate from the WHO would indicate that 760 million people worldwide have been infected with the novel virus, a number far surpassing the currently reported 35 million confirmed cases. Ryan also said that the group is getting reports of a surge of cases in Asia and Europe. The doctor cautioned that the world may now be “heading into a difficult period. The disease continued to spread. It is on the rise in many parts of the world.”

Read more …

Are these people trying to clarify something, or just to confuse me? What of this didn’t we already know?

CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Spreads Through Airborne Transmission (CNBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its coronavirus guidance Monday, acknowledging that it can sometimes spread through airborne particles that can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and among people who are more than 6 feet apart. The CDC cited published reports that demonstrated “limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.” “In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise,” the CDC said in a statement. “Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.”

The agency added that it is “much more common” for the virus to spread through larger respiratory droplets that are produced when somebody coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. People are infected through such droplets mostly when they are in close contact with an infected person, the CDC said. “CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance,” the agency said. “People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.” To what degree the coronavirus can spread through airborne particles has been a contentious debate among scientists for months.

Some epidemiologists have charged that the World Health Organization as well as federal regulatory agencies in many countries have been slow to accept that the virus can spread by air. It’s a debate that could have implications for the importance of air filtration in reopening businesses and schools. Dr. Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said the new guidance is largely in line with what he says the science indicates about the coronavirus spreading through the air. He said in a phone interview after reviewing the new guidance that airborne transmission is something of a “side street” for spread. “Some cars do get through on the side street,” he said. “But the highways of transmission are close in, usually within enclosed spaces and for periods of time longer than 15 minutes with people standing within three to six feet of each other.”

[..] Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist and biodefense expert at the University of Arizona, said the new CDC guidance is “quite good.” She added that “the term airborne means so much to so many people,” and the guidance does a good job of emphasizing that the virus appears to only spread by air in certain environments, such as crowded indoor and poorly ventilated spaces. “We know that these events are occurring, but they’re not the primary driver,” she said in a phone interview. “This is a good reminder that there are environments that are higher risk for airborne transmission and we just need to communicate that.”

Read more …

Running out the clock. Trump picked the wrong people in many high positions.

Gina Haspel Banks On Trump Loss To Keep Russiagate Documents Hidden (Fed.)

CIA Director Gina Haspel is personally blocking the declassification and release of key Russiagate documents in the hopes that President Donald Trump will lose his re-election bid, multiple senior U.S. officials told The Federalist. The officials said Haspel, who served under former CIA Director John Brennan as the spy agency’s station chief in London in 2016 and 2017, is concerned that the declassification and release of documents detailing what the CIA was doing during the 2016 election and the 2017 transition could embarrass the CIA and potentially even implicate Haspel herself. “Haspel and [FBI Director Christopher] Wray both want Trump to lose, because it’s the only chance they have of keeping their jobs,” one senior intelligence official told The Federalist.

“They’re banking on Biden winning and keeping them where they are.” The Federalist first reported last week that Haspel had emerged as the primary roadblock to declassification of materials showing that the U.S. intelligence community knew prior to the 2016 election that the allegations that Trump colluded with Russia were themselves the products of Russian disinformation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe released a declassified summary last week that disclosed that Russian intelligence officials were aware that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had planned to smear Trump as a treasonous Russian asset to distract from the Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As part of her operation, Clinton hired a foreign agent who was himself working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch to spread unverified smears against Trump.


One of the key sources of collusion allegations peddled by that foreign agent via the now-infamous Steele dossier was suspected by FBI authorities of being a Russian spy.“It’s far more important for Haspel to block any embarrassment of herself or her agency than to have full transparency and accountability,” another senior intelligence official told The Federalist. “She’s just hoping she can get past the election so the documents will never come out.” “This is not a source protection issue, it’s an embarrassment issue,” the intelligence official added. Officials also accused Haspel of repeatedly lying to the White House about the status of documents that are in the pipeline for declassification and release. These officials said that Haspel has consistently provided baseless excuses for her failure to produce certain documents, falsely claiming that she can’t physically locate documents, or that her agency doesn’t technically own them and therefore cannot release them.

Read more …

New: refusing to testify by video because of coronavirus.

Carter Page Wants McCabe Subpoenaed To Testify Before Senate (JTN)

Former Trump 2016 campaign adviser Carter Page says former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should be subpoenaed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, after backing out over coronavirus concerns. “Hopefully a subpoena is issued today,” Page told “Just the News AM” host Carrie Sheffield. “It’s now Monday morning, and I hope that is resolved so that he can show up and be held to account and answer for these terrible problems that were created.” McCabe was set to testify before the committee on the FBI’s now-discredited Trump-Russia probe.


However, the committee postponed the hearing over McCabe’s coronavirus concerns, after two GOP members, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), tested positive for the virus in recent days. McCabe’s attorney said the alternative, to testify remotely via video camera, would be too complex and contentious. “I think it’s another example of the complete double standards,” said Page. “So many Trump supporters including myself, were dragged in front of not only the U.S. Senate, which is what’s in question here, but the House.” Page, on whom the FBI illegally eavesdropped, also expressed frustration about being a target in special counsel Robert Mueller’s years-long collusion probe.

Read more …

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor.”

Ginsburg’s Nightmare: The Democratic Plan To Destroy The Supreme Court (Turley)

[..] the call for a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees and the packing of the Supreme Court with up to six new members to secure a majority. Both ideas were expressly denounced by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, to achieve these objectives, the Democratic members will have to tear down the very rule established by Ginsburg in her confirmation hearing. The refusal of Vice President Joe Biden to answer repeated questions about his position on the packing of the Supreme Court is deeply troubling. This is a proposal raised not by the Republicans but his own running mate Kamala Harris and leading Democrats. It would destroy the Supreme Court and voters should know if Biden would consider such an irresponsible act, particularly when he previously denounced it.

The refusal to stand against the proposal is a fundamental failure of leadership. Rather than confront the most extreme elements of his party, Biden has chosen to remain silent on a major issue in this election. Frankly, that is not the Biden that many of us knew from his time in the Senate. He should take a stand against this pernicious idea and defend the institution, as he did in 2019 [..] Subtlety has been a stranger to our politics. This is the age of rage, and there is little room for nuance. That is evident in the intense debate over the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Democrats have dispensed with any pretense in their calls to block her and pack the bench with more justices. What they want is a Supreme Court with litmus test confirmations where Senate votes are conditioned on pledges.


Several Democrats have said they will ask Barrett about her view of any challenge to Roe versus Wade, and cases like the pending challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, she faced such demands from Richard Blumenthal and others for her confirmation as a federal appellate judge, and several Democrats voted against her since she did not promise to uphold Roe. In their campaigns last year, Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders pledged to nominate only those who would uphold Roe. [..] Ruth Bader Ginsburg believed it was wrong to demand assurances on how justices will vote. In her confirmation hearing in 1993, she refused to give the answer that Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Clinton, and others now demand from her potential successor. In calling to protect the legacy of Ginsburg, these politicians have to first tear down the Ginsburg rule.

Read more …

“..a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg.”

Out of the Woods? (Jim Kunstler)

CNN had a whack attack. Brian Stelter was beside himself, hinting that sinister forces had punked the network, and all the other righteous Resistance cadres, and that Mr. Trump could be endangering every federal employee down to the enlisted men posted overseas by venturing from his sickroom. The New York Times went farther afield (of course), declaring that “the murky and shifting narrative of his illness was rewritten again with grim new details.” Nicely put by an outfit that has come to specialize in shifting narratives! And indeed, the new Resistance narrative demands to know just exactly when did the president start to feel ill? Did he, perhaps on-purpose, haul his ailing, hulking, scheming Golem ass into the Cleveland debate venue with the hope of infecting his rival, delicate Ol’ White Joe Biden?

Did he recklessly put at risk the White House staff, dignitaries and luminaries coming and going, their family members, associates, underlings, servants, children? Did he threaten the global order, world peace, the fate of humanity? So now, a keening wail of lamentation rings out across the land at Mr. Trump’s possible, dastardly recovery. How dare he! — to paraphrase Saint Greta Thunberg. 209,000 other Americans died, and not him! What vile and unholy devices got him out of a sure death sentence? No doubt Democratic Party astrologasters and consulting augurers will be searching for clues among the orbiting planets and the spilled organs of sacrificed chickens in the days to come. Perhaps Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) can snare a few of the president’s attending physicians into his House Intel Committee and rev up another impeachment for going against doctors’ orders.


Wouldn’t that be a delectable counter to the looming confirmation process for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement next door in the Senate this month? Over his dead body, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is hinting — a tantalizing prospect, with Covid-19 on the loose. It was Chuck who memorably told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC in 2017 that the Deep State “has six ways from [sic] Sunday at getting back at you.” By my count, they’re well over their allotted six by now. Not only did they all fail, but the seditionists behind them are liable to wind up behind bars before this is all over, perhaps even a few of Senator Schumer’s colleagues.

Read more …

Many stories developing. A mess overall. Seemingly impossible to regulate on a federal level.

100,000 Ballot Requests Invalidated In Iowa (IC)

In 2018, Democrats won three of Iowa’s four congressional districts, picked up five seats in the state House, and lost the governor’s race by less than 3 points. The state has only trended more Democratic since, giving the party real hope that its six electoral votes could wind up in the camp of Joe Biden and that its Senate seat, now held by Republican Joni Ernst, could flip to Democrat Theresa Greenfield. It may all hinge, however, on an absentee ballot snafu affecting tens of thousands of voters that the party is scrambling to rectify. In July, the top elections officials in Linn and Johnson counties went ahead and began mailing out absentee-ballot request forms with some voter information already filled in, like names and dates of birth.

Crucially, voters need to know their voter ID number. Most don’t, and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller had the state’s vendor fill it in for them. Republicans protested, and courts sided with the GOP, saying that Miller’s decision to proceed with the mailing violated a “clear directive” from Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate. More than 100,000 absentee ballot requests have already been invalidated in several Iowa counties. In late August, judges ordered two Iowa counties to invalidate at least 64,000 ballot requests, siding with a challenge brought by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the GOP, which have been filing similar lawsuits nationwide.


About 50,000 voters in Linn County and at least 14,000 in Woodbury will be informed that their absentee-ballot requests won’t count and that anyone who still wants to vote by mail in November will have to send in a new form in order to receive their ballot. In a separate case in Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, more than 92,000 ballot request forms were voided.

Read more …

The ultimate growth industry.

Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. They’re Coming for More (PP)

Earlier this year, the pandemic swept across the country, killing 100,000 Americans by the spring, shuttering businesses and schools, and forcing people into their homes. It was a great time to be a debt collector. In August, Encore Capital, the largest debt buyer in the country, announced that it had doubled its previous record for earnings in a quarter. It primarily had the CARES Act to thank: The bill delivered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stimulus checks and bulked-up unemployment benefits to Americans, while easing pressures on them by halting foreclosures, evictions and student loan payments. There was no ban on collections of old credit card bills, Encore’s specialty.

At the same time, the pandemic compelled households to cut spending. Finding themselves with enough money to settle old debts, people responded to collectors’ calls and letters. Debt-buying executives couldn’t help marveling at their good fortune. All this created “a perfect storm from a cash perspective,” the CEO of Portfolio Recovery Associates, Encore’s main competitor, told Wall Street analysts. After its record second quarter, analysts expect Encore to blow past $200 million in profit this year and reward stockholders with 40% earnings growth compared with last year. Portfolio Recovery is set for similar growth. The share prices of both have soared off their early April lows.


[..] In recent months, the only real bad news for debt buyers was that local courts across the country temporarily shut down. Debt collection lawsuits provide a key source of revenue for the companies, a way to extract payment from consumers, typically low-income, who don’t offer it up. But now even that hiccup is over. After a bit of a lull in the spring, Encore and other debt buyers are back at it, filing suits by the thousands every week, according to ProPublica’s analysis of state court filings. In August alone, Encore filed about 1,000 suits in Indiana and over 2,000 suits in the metro Atlanta area. Other debt buyers jumped back in as well. In Chicago, Portfolio Recovery filed over 3,000 suits in July, while LVNV, a major debt buyer privately owned by Sherman Financial Group, filed over 2,700 suits in Maryland in August.

Read more …

Might as well leave right now.

Facebook Refuses To Appoint Turkey Representative, Faces Penalties (Ahval)

Social media giant Facebook has decided against appointing a Turkey representative, defying a requirement placed on certain social media platforms by the Turkish government, cyber rights expert Yaman Akdeniz said on Monday. “Facebook has decided not to appoint a Turkey representative in line with (Turkey’s) newly-passed Social Media Law,’’ Akdeniz said on Twitter. In July, Turkish parliament ratified a bill introducing new powers to control social media. The bill was passed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), stipulates that social media companies with more than one million users must appoint a legal representative in Turkey to address the authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for its removal.


Akdeniz said it remains to be seen what the government’s reaction would be, but underlined that the bill was passed by parliament in a period of 10 days without consultation and posed serious problems regarding basic rights and freedoms. Facebook’s refusal to comply with the law would mean they will be faced with “a tiered penalty system,’’ Akdeniz said. “They will be slapped with a penalty of 10 million lira ($1.28 million) in November, followed by 30 million lira in December,’’ he said. “There is a six-month period ahead that leads all the way to the reduction of Internet bandwidth.’’ According to the law, companies could face fines, blocked advertisements or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90 percent.

Read more …

Did that coup fail or what?

UK Court Decision on Venezuela Gold Deals Blow to Regime Change Efforts (MPN)

United Kingdom court has handed the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro a major win today, overturning a previous ruling from a lower court that legitimized the British government’s decision to freeze Venezuelan government gold reserves held in the Bank of England. The English Court of Appeal ruled that the Conservative administration of Boris Johnson’s position that Juan Guaidó is the country’s legitimate ruler was far from equivocal, potentially paving the way for some $1.95 billion of the Central Bank of Venezuela’s gold to be accessed.

Following President Trump’s lead, in July, the U.K. government took the extraordinary step of derecognizing President Maduro in favor of the self-declared Guaidó, despite the fact that for nearly six months, he had not even been a member of his Popular Will party, let alone its leader. The move was labeled “highway robbery” by supporters of the Venezuelan government. A nearly unheard of politician before his ascension to the role of head of the Venezuelan National Assembly (a post given out on a yearly rotational basis among all parties in the institution) in January 2019, Guaidó shocked the country by using his appointment to unilaterally declare himself president of the country. He then led a series of coup attempts throughout 2019 and 2020, the last of which involved paying Trump-linked American mercenaries to shoot their way into the presidential palace.


However, the plan ended in complete disaster, with the Americans subsequently sentenced to 20 years of prison time. Guaidó based his claim to power on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which allows a president to be removed if he “abandons his position” or becomes “permanently unavailable to serve” for whatever reason. Maduro, however, had clearly not left his post. Regardless, if he had, Article 233 states that the vice-president would take charge until a new election by universal suffrage was held. Guaidó’s party was not even registered to stand in elections, having boycotted them the year previously under U.S. orders.

Read more …

They’ve done a lot of harm though.

“Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said..”

Former Reserve Bank Of Australia Boss: Low Rates Haven’t Done Any Good (AFR)

Former Reserve Bank of Australia governor Ian Macfarlane says cutting interest rates to near zero has not done “any good” and warned ultra-loose monetary policy will have long-term costs for pensioners and insurance companies. In a very rare public critique of the RBA by a former governor, Mr Macfarlane said technology and globalisation were now more powerful forces than interest rates in affecting inflation, but central bankers were reluctant to admit their limitations. “I’ve been disappointed with the recent cuts in interest rates, all of them since about 2015,” Mr Macfarlane said. “The latest round of cutting interest rates and quantitative easing, I myself don’t think they’ve done any good.

“I thought, ‘wow, you didn’t need to do that’ but I don’t think there’s any way my successors could have stood there and said to the world ‘we’re not going to do that, we’re going to do it our way’.” The Australian dollar would have jumped “through the roof” if the RBA refused to follow other central banks cutting interest rates to near-zero, to buy government bonds and deploy other extraordinary monetary stimulus, he said. “Once the majority do it, you really have no choice,” Mr Macfarlane said in long interview on The Jolly Swagman podcast. Mr Macfarlane, RBA governor from 1996 to 2006, said there would be long-term economic costs of prolonged ultra-low interest rates.


“I think the jury is out on monetary policy for another decade or more because there are very big costs to having almost zero interest rates,” he said. “The whole retirement income industry – the pension funds, the superannuation funds, including insurance companies and businesses like that – don’t quite know how to operate with interest rates that are negligible because they’ve never had to do it before.” [..] “Monetary policy hasn’t lost its power, it’s used up all its power and there isn’t any more room.”

Read more …

Perhaps John should have seen a shrink.

John McAfee Arrested In Spain On Tax Evasion & Crypto Fraud (RT)

Former software guru and one-time presidential candidate John McAfee has been nabbed in Spain on tax evasion and cryptocurrency fraud, ending his year long stint as a globetrotting fugitive. He now faces extradition to the US. The US Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission both announced charges for McAfee on Monday, hitting the security software founder with 10 counts linked to dodging the IRS and another series of charges for promoting investments in cryptocurrencies without disclosing that he was paid some $23 million to do so. “John McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary,” the DOJ said in a statement. “From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources.”


McAfee was charged on five counts for willful failure to file a tax return, each of which carries a sentence of up to one year in prison, while the other five charges are linked to tax evasion itself, which could each result in up to five years behind bars. Originally filed in June, the newly unsealed indictment does not implicate McAfee’s former software company, which bears his name. The SEC also accused McAfee of promoting “multiple [initial coin offerings] on Twitter” while “pretending to be impartial and independent even though he was paid more than $23 million in digital assets for the promotions.” The complaint also alleges that McAfee and his bodyguard, Jimmy Watson Jr., engaged in a separate scheme to promote cryptocurrencies on Twitter and then sell them off as their price rose. The government did not name the particular currencies in its complaint.

Read more …

What could have been.

Trump Briefly Leaves Hospital To Wave To Supporters From F-22 Raptor (BBee)

A nurse working at Walter Reed Medical Center checked in on Trump but was shocked to discover his room was empty. She looked out the window, and sure enough, he had tied bedsheets together and escaped. Just then, the nurse noticed a cup of Diet Coke left by the bedside began to ripple and shake. “Oh, no,” she murmured. “Not again!” Looking out the window, she saw a speck on the horizon. A rapidly growing speck. It was Trump, gloriously flying by in an F-22 fighter jet. “Sorry, Pence — but it’s time to buzz the tower!” Trump radioed to his wingman, who flashed him a smile and a thumbs-up. He flew by the hospital and waved to his cheering supporters.


“America!” the president cried as he flew by the ecstatic crowd, though they couldn’t hear him over the roar of the fighter jet’s engines. “I feel the need — the need for speed!” Media condemned the move, saying Trump could very well have spread COVID to every person on the planet with his little stunt, though he was all alone in a tiny cockpit far above the ground.

Read more …

 

 

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Apr 172019
 


Jacques-Louis David Coronation of Napoleon in 1804 in Nôtre-Dame Cathedral 1805-7 (10 metres wide, 6 metres tall)

 

World Trade Suffers Biggest Collapse Since Financial Crisis (ZH)
Iran Parliament Declares US Central Command A ‘Terrorist Organization’ (RT)
CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump (MoA)
Affidavit Tries To Put WikiLeaks In Cahoots With The Taliban (ZH)
Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s Mistreatment (Unity4J)
Jesus Christ, Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State (JW)
First They Came For Assange (Varoufakis)
Macron Commits To Rebuilding Notre Dame Within Five Years (Ind.)
May Has ‘No Chance’ Of Avoiding EU Elections (Ind.)
Tory Deregulation Agenda Is Stalling Brexit Talks – Corbyn (G.)
Not In It To Win It: The Dirty Little Secret Of The Democrats’ 2020 Battle (G.)
Six-Decade Plankton Study Charts Rise Of Ocean Plastic Waste (G.)
Mark Carney Tells Global Banks They Cannot Ignore Climate Change (G.)
The Kids Aren’t Nearly Angry Enough (Spiegel)

 

 

The financial crisis is 11-12 years old. But the deception is brilliant: everybody thinks it’s over.

World Trade Suffers Biggest Collapse Since Financial Crisis (ZH)

The recent collapse in world trade volume is the worst since the financial crisis and as dangerous as during the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s, according to The Telegraph. Data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis revealed that world trade volume dropped 1.8% in the three months to January compared to the preceding three months as a synchronized global downturn gained momentum. “An industrial slump has been triggered by a perfect storm of factors, including China’s slowdown, the car industry downturn, Brexit paralysis and Donald Trump’s attempt to upend the international trade system with tariffs on European and Chinese goods,” explained The Telegraph.

A further escalation of the trade war between the U.S. and China could spark a world trade recession. Already, Washington has imposed steep tariffs on Chinese imports worth $250bn in a tit-for-tat battle with industrial centers in Asia and Germany experiencing sharp drops in trade in recent months. The Telegraph describes the sudden loss in trade momentum is equivalent to the months after the dot com bubble imploded in 2001 when trade volumes sank as much as 2.2%. Today’s current move is the biggest fall since the financial crisis of 2007–2008 when global trade plummeted, diving as much as 12.7%. The IMF warned last week that this is a “delicate moment” for the global economy as many countries are in the midst of a severe slowdown.

Read more …

“We” are losing to Iran all over again.

Iran Parliament Declares US Central Command A ‘Terrorist Organization’ (RT)

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has been designated as a “terrorist organization” by the Iranian parliament, in a mirror response to Washington’s blacklisting of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard. All organizations, institutions and forces under CENTCOM command were acknowledged to be “terrorists” by the overwhelming majority of the Iranian MPs, who approved the contents of the bill, which also condemns the US move to blacklist the IRGC, an official military branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces. “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s government and Armed Forces are required to adopt preventive actions and preemptive defensive measures whenever necessary, to deter any hostile US forces’ use of any possibilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s interests,” the bill states, according to Fars news.


Anyone offering military, intelligence, financial, or any other support to CENTCOM and its affiliate forces will be considered supporters of terrorism. The 13-article legislation also mandates the general staff to begin gathering intelligence about CENTCOM activities so that the material can be used in Iranian courts to prosecute specific individuals. The bill, however, does not mention the exact mechanisms through which Americans are expected to be brought to justice under Iranian laws. Last week the US, for the first time ever, designated an official foreign military institution –the IRGC– as a terrorist organization, as tensions between the states were pushed to the limit following President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iranian Nuclear deal (JCPOA) and the reintroduction of sanctions that followed.

Read more …

Ducks and babies. We kid you not.

CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump (MoA)

An ass kissing portrait of Gina Haspel, torture queen and director of the CIA, reveals that she lied to Trump to push for more aggression against Russia. In March 2018 the British government asserted, without providing any evidence, that the alleged ‘Novichok’ poisoning of Sergej and Yulia Skripal was the fault of Russia. It urged its allies to expel Russian officials from their countries. The U.S. alone expelled 60 Russian officials. Trump was furious when he learned that EU countries expelled less than 60 in total. The expulsion marked a turn in the Trump administration’s relation with Russia: “The incident reflects a tension at the core of the Trump administration s increasingly hard-nosed stance on Russia: The president instinctually opposes many of the punitive measures pushed by his Cabinet that have crippled his ability to forge a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “

Today the New York Times portraits Gina Haspel’s relation with Trump. The writers seem sympathetic to her and the CIA’s position. They include an anecdote of the Skripal expulsion decision that is supposed to let her shine in a good light. But it only proves that the CIA manipulated the president for its own purpose: “Last March, top national security officials gathered inside the White House to discuss with Mr. Trump how to respond to the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei V. Skripal, the former Russian intelligence agent. London was pushing for the White House to expel dozens of suspected Russian operatives, but Mr. Trump was skeptical. …

[..] During the discussion, Ms. Haspel, then deputy C.I.A. director, turned toward Mr. Trump. She outlined possible responses in a quiet but firm voice, then leaned forward and told the president that the strong option was to expel 60 diplomats. Ms. Haspel showed pictures the British government had supplied her of young children hospitalized after being sickened by the Novichok nerve agent that poisoned the Skripals. She then showed a photograph of ducks that British officials said were inadvertently killed by the sloppy work of the Russian operatives. Ms Haspel was not the first to use emotional images to appeal to the president, but pairing it with her hard-nosed realism proved effective: Mr. Trump fixated on the pictures of the sickened children and the dead ducks. At the end of the briefing, he embraced the strong option.

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Can we throw in Pol Pot next? I’ll see your Bin Laden and raise you a Stalin.

Affidavit Tries To Put WikiLeaks In Cahoots With The Taliban (ZH)

The document uses maximal and hyped language to describe “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” yet struggles to ascertain whether “illegal agreement that Assange and Manning reached” specifically led to the release of the document trove (obviously crucial for charges against Assange to hold up). Concerning a potential extradition to the US, “probable cause” is cited to be the hundreds of messages sent between Manning and Assange on the Jabber platform. The argument is that Assange and Manning understood that it “would cause injury to the United States,” especially with US forces active on the ground in Afghanistan.

But on this point of whether the leaks did actual harm and damage to US efforts, the document is left reaching, trying to spin and insinuate a narrative that puts WikiLeaks and terrorist groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda in cahoots. It starts by claiming that “after the release of the Afghanistan War Reports, a member of the Taliban contacted the New York Times.” The supposed Taliban member said, “We are studying the report… If they are US spies, then we will know how to punish them.” This strange and somewhat comical example is meant to support the notion that Assange ultimately aided America’s enemies with the leaks. [..] Worse, the affidavit makes Osama bin Laden — killed in a 2011 raid by US Navy Seals while living comfortably in an Abbottabad, Pakistan compound — out to be a WikiLeaks fan, given letters had been found instructing an al-Qaeda member to “gather” the publicly available material leaked by Manning.

Somehow this is meant to imply WikiLeaks in a round-about way assisted al-Qaeda’s mission. The FBI is perhaps left grasping with this “bin Laden benefited” theory given the relative flimsiness of evidence to support the original “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” aspect on which the case originated.

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Brilliant argument: “The question is not whether Julian is a journalist, the question is whether THEY are journalists.”

Suzie Dawson on Julian Assange’s Mistreatment (Unity4J)

Suzie Dawson powerfully expresses her feelings of righteous indignation on witnessing Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorean Embassy, and reflects on his mistreatment by the establishment and their propaganda arm, the complicit corporate media.

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So let that Pope of yours stand up for Julian. Do something useful with the $600 million already donated for the Notre Dame. THAT is what your Jesus would have done.

Jesus Christ, Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State (JW)

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him. Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ—the religious figure worshipped by Christians for his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the police state of his day. A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle.


In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire. Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state. For all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

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Yanis has this completely upside down, like so many other well-meaning people:

“Let’s join forces to block #Assange’s extradition from any European country to the #US so that he can travel to Stockholm & give his accusers an opportunity to be heard”.

The accusers, if they are real, which is by no means clear, have been silenced by the Swedish government for a reason. And to say now that you can’t speak on the allegations because you too are a man, only reinforces that reason.

Assange has offered for years to talk, and for his accusers to be heard. That never needed to take place in Stockholm, and it does not now. It wouldn’t help anyone.

First They Came For Assange (Varoufakis)

My meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange all took place in the same small room. As the intelligence services of a variety of countries know, I visited Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy many times between the fall of 2015 and December 2018. What these snoops do not know is the relief I felt every time I left. I wanted to meet Assange because of my deep appreciation of the original WikiLeaks concept. As a teenager reading George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, I, too, was troubled by the prospect of a high-tech surveillance state and its likely effect on human relations. Assange’s early writings – particularly his idea of using states’ own technology to create a huge digital mirror that could show everyone what they were up to – filled me with hope that we might collectively defeat Big Brother.

By the time I met Assange, that early hope had faded. Surrounded by bookcases featuring Ecuadorian literature and government publications, we would sit and chat late into the night. A device on top of a bookshelf emitted mind-numbing white noise to counter listening devices. As time passed, the claustrophobic living room, the badly hidden ceiling-mounted camera pointing at me, the white noise, and the stale air made me want to run out into the street. Assange’s detractors have been saying for years that his confinement was self-inflicted: he hid in Ecuador’s embassy because he jumped bail in the United Kingdom to avoid answering sexual assault allegations in Sweden. As a man, I feel I have no right to express an opinion regarding those allegations. Women must be heard when reporting assault.

Only the violence that men have inflicted upon women for millennia is viler than the disrespect and denigration to which women are subjected when they speak up. I recall saying to Julian that, had it been me, I would want to confront my accusers, and listen to them carefully and respectfully, regardless of whether official charges had been brought. He replied that he, too, wanted that. “But, Yanis,” he said, “if I were to go to Stockholm, they would throw me in solitary and, before I got a chance to answer any allegations, I would be bundled into a plane heading for a US supermax prison.” To drive the point home, he showed me his lawyers’ offer to Swedish authorities to go to Stockholm if they guaranteed that he would not be extradited to the United States on espionage charges. Sweden never considered the proposal.

During Assange’s years in Ecuador’s embassy, in circumstances that the United Nations deemed “arbitrary detention,” many friends and colleagues mocked his fear – and lambasted me for believing him. Last September, the historian and feminist intellectual Germaine Greer summed up that belief on Australian public radio: “He won’t be extradited to the United States,” she said derisively, blaming Julian’s lawyers for misleading him into fearing such an extradition while collecting his book’s royalties.

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Make that 50. Jesus himself would have to help. Alternatively, we can see this as a sign that Macron doesn’t expect to last as president for 5 years.

Macron Commits To Rebuilding Notre Dame Within Five Years (Ind.)

French president Emmanuel Macron promised that Notre Dame will be renovated within five years and will be “even better than before” after the devastating fire that ravaged much of the building. Investigators have already begun assessing the damage and questioning people to try to establish what started the blaze that consumed the roof and spire of the 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece. More then €600m has already been raised for rebuilding and restoration and the UK has said it stands ready to help. Firefighters battled for 14 hours to extinguish the flames, as onlookers feared the entire structure would be wrecked. But Parisians breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear the twin medieval bell towers had been spared and later when fire investigators revealed that “most precious” treasures have been saved.


They included the Crown of Thorns, a relic venerated by Christians and believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ, as well as the cathedral’s 18th-century organ and a number of artworks. European Council president Donald Tusk called on the European Union’s member countries to help, saying the site in central Paris is a symbol of what binds Europe together. The fire, which began on Monday evening, is thought to have been caused by an accident rather than arson, the Paris public prosecutor said. Architects warned repairs could take decades but in a televised address to the nation Mr Macron said: “We will rebuild Notre Dame even more beautifully, and I want it to be completed in five years, we can do it.”

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“..experts have concluded..”

May Has ‘No Chance’ Of Avoiding EU Elections (Ind.)

Theresa May has “no chance” of passing her Brexit deal in time to pull the UK out of the European parliament elections and avoid a likely devastating defeat, experts have concluded. Time has already effectively run out on attempts to ratify the agreement by 22 May, they say – despite the prime minister insisting talks with Labour can still deliver a compromise before the deadline. The verdict puts the Conservatives on course to lose most of their MEPs, polls suggest, as Leave voters protest at the failure to deliver Brexit, a disastrous result that would trigger huge pressure on Ms May to resign. The staging of the elections will also be a personal humiliation for the prime minister, who repeatedly told MPs they should not take place, three years after the Brexit referendum.


More talks with Labour are planned, as No 10 claims the complex (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – required to ratify EU withdrawal – can clear parliament before voters go to the polls on 23 May. But two respected think tanks have told The Independent the timetable is a fantasy, with one suggesting it will take “several months” to approve the legislation, which could involve up to 100 votes. Unlike the simple meaningful vote, the full legislation will trigger lengthy and gruelling parliamentary trench warfare, with echoes of the bitter battles over the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. Approval of Maastricht took 41 days in 1993, while Lisbon required 25 days in 2008 – but there are only 17 sitting days planned before 22 May.

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There is no way they could ever agree.

Tory Deregulation Agenda Is Stalling Brexit Talks – Corbyn (G.)

Jeremy Corbyn has said Brexit talks with the government are stalling because of a Tory desire for post-withdrawal deregulation, including as part of a US trade deal. Corbyn said Labour had been putting forward a robust case for a customs union during the talks over the past week but suggested he feared the two sides would not find common ground. “There has to be access to European markets and above all there has to be a dynamic relationship to protect the conditions and rights that we’ve got for environment and consumer workplace rights,” he said. “We’ve put those cases very robustly to the government and there’s no agreement as yet.”


Meetings are scheduled this week between ministers and shadow ministers on environmental protections, security and workers’ rights, which Corbyn described as “quite interesting, quite long technical discussions, particularly on environment regulations”. However, there will be no discussion before Easter on the big issues of a customs union or a confirmatory referendum. Corbyn underlined again that an agreement could only be reached if Theresa May was prepared to accept Labour’s central demand for a common external tariff policy with the EU. “The government doesn’t appear to be shifting the red lines because they’ve got a big pressure in the Tory party that actually wants to turn this country into a deregulated, low-tax society which will do a deal with Trump. I don’t want to do that,” he said.

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The Delusional Party.

Not In It To Win It: The Dirty Little Secret Of The Democrats’ 2020 Battle (G.)

Political scientists are quick to point out two reasons why a record number of candidates is running for president on the Democratic side in 2020. One: the Republican president, Donald Trump, is vulnerable with a low-40s approval rating, so the Democratic nominee has a good shot at winning the White House. Two: there’s no bigfoot candidate this time around – no incumbent, no Hillary Clinton – to dissuade other potential candidates from running. Those conditions have lured 15 major candidates so far into the race for the Democratic nomination, with as many as half a dozen more potentially getting in, including former vice-president Joe Biden, who has yet to officially declare. The previous record for major candidates in a presidential primary field was 17, on the Republican side in 2016.


But analysts also nod to a third factor inflating the gigantic 2020 Democratic field, a not-quite-dirty little secret about presidential politics. The fact is, not all of the people running for president are actually running for president. “There is almost always at least a few candidates in these kinds of fields that are either there to push an issue agenda, or these are candidates who are interested in building their name recognition, building their stature and status within the party,” said John Sides, professor of political science at George Washington University and editor-in-chief of The Monkey Cage politics analysis site.

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How much plastic is inside of you?

Six-Decade Plankton Study Charts Rise Of Ocean Plastic Waste (G.)

A trove of data showing when the Atlantic began choking with plastic has been uncovered in the handwritten logbooks of a little-known but doggedly persistent plankton study dating back to the middle of the last century. From fishing twine found in the ocean in the 50s, then a first carrier bag in 1965, it reflects how the marine refuse problem grew from small, largely ignored incidents to become a matter of global concern. The unique dataset, published in Nature Communications, is based on records from the continuous plankton recorder, a torpedo-shaped marine sampling device that has been towed across more than 6.5m nautical miles of ocean over the past 60 years.


Bryozoans, nudibranchs, crabs, and barnacles live on a clear plastic bottle in the ocean. Photograph: Justin Hofman/Greenpeace/PA

Based firstly in Hull, then Edinburgh and Plymouth, the long-running programme was initially designed to collect pelagic plankton, which are an indicator of water quality and also a source of food for whales and other marine life. But the operators have also kept a chart-and-counter track of entanglements that disrupted their work: what snared the equipment, where it happened and when. This has proved a valuable source of data on plastic waste, according to contemporary researchers. “This consistent time series provides some of the earliest records of plastic entanglement, and is the first to confirm a significant increase in open ocean plastics in recent decades,” the paper notes.

The start of the problem was so slow it was barely noticed. The log shows strands of fishing twine found off the east coast of Iceland in 1957, then a carrier bag in waters to the north-west of Ireland eight years later. The paper states this was a couple of years before the first reports of turtles and seabirds becoming ensnared in plastic. Over the following decades the problem grew steadily. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, fewer than 1% of tows were disrupted by entanglements with synthetic materials. By the 90s it was almost 2%, and in the first decade of this century the increase “was of an order of magnitude”, according to the paper. The figure is now hovering somewhere between 3% and 4%.

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Note: if you find yourself agreeing with Carney, and you fail to see the absurdity in this, seek treatment. Carney is a full-time douche. He’s saying going green is a profit opportunity.

Mark Carney Tells Global Banks They Cannot Ignore Climate Change (G.)

The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have warned, writing in the Guardian. In an article published in the Guardian on Wednesday aimed at the international financial community, Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, and Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, said financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world had to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe. They said: “As financial policymakers and prudential supervisors we cannot ignore the obvious physical risks before our eyes. Climate change is a global problem, which requires global solutions, in which the whole financial sector has a central role to play.”


The warning comes as concern over the impact of climate change and the lack of urgent action is increasing, reflected in the Extinction Rebellion protests and schoolchildren’s strikes across the world. The heads of two of the world’s most influential central banks urged other financial regulators around the world to carry out climate change stress tests to spot any risks in the system, while also calling for more collaboration between nations on the issue. They warned that a “massive reallocation of capital” was necessary to prevent global warming above the 2°C maximum target set by the Paris climate agreement, with the banking system required to play a pivotal role. “If some companies and industries fail to adjust to this new world, they will fail to exist,” Carney and De Galhau said.

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Mar 142018
 


Vincent van Gogh Sprig of Flowering Almond in a Glass 1888

 

One Of The Greatest Minds Ever To Live Dies Age 76 (Ind.)
Trump Unmasked 68 Years Of Washington Duplicity (Stockman)
What Secretary of State Tillerson’s Firing Means (Paul Craig Roberts)
New CIA Director Gina Haspel Once Ran A Torture Site (Qz)
Theresa May Plans For ‘Economic War’ With Vladimir Putin And His Allies (Ind.)
False Flags for Newbies (Dmitry Orlov)
Google To Ban All Cryptocurrency-Related Advertising (CNBC)
The Retirement Crisis: The Elderly Are Broke (GT)
More Than 500 Refugees, Migrants Reach Greek Islands In Four Days (K.)

 

 

Bit of a hyperbole headline perhaps (how would you know), but certainly unequalled in our times. I think Hawking greatest achievement was that once people had accepted his ‘initial’ groundbreaking theories on black holes (nothing can escape, event horizons etc.), he turned around and said they were not true: matter does escape from them after all: Hawking radiation.

One Of The Greatest Minds Ever To Live Dies Age 76 (Ind.)

He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.” Professor Hawking explored both the very smallest and very largest parts of the universe: testing the limits of human understanding across time and space space, and peering into the sub-molecular world of quantum theory. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world wide web, was one of the first to respond to news of his death, saying on Twitter: “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit”. Professor Hawking shot to international fame after the 1988 publication of A Brief History of Time, one of the most complex books ever to achieve mass appeal, which stayed on the Sunday Times best-sellers list for 237 weeks.

Over the years, he would also embrace areas of popular culture appearing in both The Simpsons and hit US science comedy The Big Bang Theory. His work ranged from the origins of the universe itself, through the possibility of time travel to the mysteries of space’s all-consuming black holes. His most famous theoretical breakthrough was the idea that black holes are not really black, but can produce thermal radiation and potentially “evaporate”. Scientists refer to such potential emanations as “Hawking radiation.” “My goal is simple,” Professor Hawking once said. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

With Roger Penrose, Professor Hawking showed that Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes. He spent much of his career trying to find a way to reconcile Einstein’s theory with quantum physics and produce a “Theory of Everything.” Professor Hawking said he wrote A Brief History of Time to convey as clearly as he could the topics that excited him. “My original aim was to write a book that would sell on airport bookstalls,” he told reporters at the time. “In order to make sure it was understandable I tried the book out on my nurses. I think they understood most of it.”

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Not a general view.

Trump Unmasked 68 Years Of Washington Duplicity (Stockman)

[..] the Korean peninsula never had anything to do with American security. Its partition was an accident in the final days of WWII; the 1950-1953 war was utterly pointless and unnecessary; and the prolonged US occupation of the southern half of the peninsula was at once a provocation, a massive waste of treasure and a prime example of what imperial rulers do once bivouacked astride a global empire. That is, like Imperial Rome, they puff themselves up with self-importance and busy-body rule for its own sake. So doing, they invent self-serving rationalizations for hegemony, such as the insidious “indispensable nation” conceit—even as they extract the taxes and issue the mountains of debt required to fund the endless fiscal needs of the state’s machinery of war and foreign domination.

Indeed, Washington has long ago forgotten how its global empire came about or why the Korean frontier has remained a vestigial Maginot Line – long after the “enemies” it was designed to contain disappeared from the pages of history. We are referring, or course, to the Soviet Empire, which is no more; and the Red China Menace, which has morphed into a colossal Red Ponzi scheme of debt, malinvestment and speculative building madness that is a danger mostly to the 1.3 billion Chinese caught up in history’s craziest economic freak show. So whether by inadvertence or blind impulse, the Donald has now opened the door to sweeping away six decades of Washington duplicity and double-speak.

The fact is, the Korean problem is not complicated or some kind of imponderable riddle that baffles even the so-called “experts”.To the contrary, both a visiting Martian and an attentive reader of history not enthrall to the groupthink of Imperial Washington can see that the key to “de-nuclearizing” Korea is to demilitarize it and de-internationalize it at the same time. That is, if Washington ever wishes to de-escalate its current dangerous nuclear brinksmanship with the Fat Boy Of Pyongyang, it needs to get its 29,000 troops off the peninsula and end the constant war games and practice invasions of the North Korea; and to also tear up the Washington imposed mutual security agreements, and let the two halves of the “Hermit Kingdom” restore their own version of the pre-1945 status quo ante.

[..] since 2002 South Korea’s economy has grown every eight months by more than the entire current GDP of North Korea. But that doesn’t change the reality on the ground and the overwhelming case to permit Korea to be run by the Koreans under whatever state arrangements they can agree to. That was the exact aim of the South Korean governments after the Cold War ended when they pursued “sunshine policy” rapprochement with the North. That is, until it was shutdown by George Bush’s neocon hatchet men.

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The choice for Tillerson was never a good one. But with adding Pompeo, Haspel and next up John Bolton, Trump’s own picks are a bigger threat to him than Robert Mueller ever could be.

What Secretary of State Tillerson’s Firing Means (Paul Craig Roberts)

The firing of Secretary of State Tillerson, the movement of CIA Director Pompeo to Secretary of State, and the promotion of Gina Haspel, who oversaw the secret CIA torture prisons in Thailand, indicate that the military/security complex has closed its grip on the Trump regime. There will be no more talk of normalizing relations with Russia. The combination of the Israel Lobby, the neoconservatives, and the military/security complex have proven to be too powerful for peace to be established between the two nuclear powers. If you look at Trump’s administration, the above three forces are those in charge. Israel remains determined to use the US military to destabilize Syria and Iran in order to isolate Hezbollah and cut off the milita’s support and supplies.

The neoconservatives both support Israel’s interest and their own desire for Washington’s hegemony over the world. The military/security complex intends to hold on to the “Russia threat” as a justification of its budget and power. The presstitutes are in complete harmony with the scheme. Although Russiagate has been proven to be false charges orchestrated by the DNC, FBI, and CIA, the presstitutes continue to repeat the charges as if evidence exists that proves the charges to be true. The “stolen election” is fiction turned into fact. And now we have a new charge, that Putin ordered a former British spy in England to be eliminated while sitting on a park bench with the use of a highly unlikely form of military poison.

The charge is preposterous, but that is not preventing the fiction from becoming fact. Having served in Washington for a quarter century and having known members of the British government, I do not believe that any of them believe the Russiagate and Skripal poisoning stories. What is happening is that an agenda has taken precedence over truth. This is an extremely dangerous agenda. Russia’s new weapons easily give Russia military superiority over the US. As China and Iran see the situation similarly to the Russians, the US is greatly out-classed.

Yet, Washington and its vassals persist in making violent and false charges and threats against Russia, Iran, and on occasion China. Russia, Iran, and China know that these charges are false. Confronting an endless string of false and hostile charges, they prepare for war. The world is being driven to war, which would be nuclear, by a tiny minority: Israeli Zionists, neoconservatives, and the US military/security complex. We are witnessing the most reckless and irresponsible behavior in world history. Where are the voices against it?

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She should be held in one of those sites.

New CIA Director Gina Haspel Once Ran A Torture Site (Qz)

As CIA director Mike Pompeo moves to become the United States’ secretary of state, deputy director Gina Haspel has been nominated to lead the agency. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first woman to run the CIA. Haspel’s nomination will be controversial; she played a leading role (paywall) in running a US torture site abroad and later destroyed the evidence of it. In 2002, she oversaw a secret prison in Thailand that tortured two terrorism suspects. That torture took place within the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which suspected terrorists are sent to US allies, and interrogated in “black sites” on their soil. One of the men, known as Abu Zubayda, was waterboarded 83 times in one month and was slammed into walls by the head.

He was deprived of sleep and kept in a coffin-like box. Interrogators later decided he didn’t have any useful information. ProPublica found that Haspel personally signed cables to CIA headquarters that detailed Zubayda’s interrogation. CIA videos of the torture were destroyed in 2005, on the orders of a cable drafted by Haspel. Her then-boss Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s director of operations for counterterrorism, signed off on the order. “The cable left nothing to chance. It even told them how to get rid of the tapes,” he wrote in his memoir, according to ProPublica. “They were to use an industrial-strength shredder to do the deed.” The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin-based NGO, has been pushing Germany’s public prosecutor to arrest Haspel for her role in the torture program.

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You can’t pull this stuff without proof. But note how she gets support from all over, countries, media. Like the US does when it invades yet another nation.

Theresa May Plans For ‘Economic War’ With Vladimir Putin And His Allies (Ind.)

Theresa May is drawing up plans for an “economic war” with Vladimir Putin and his allies after Moscow refused to explain how a deadly Russian nerve agent came to be used in a rural British city. The Independent understands the ground is already being prepared for economic measures such as asset freezes and seizures, alongside visa bans against Russian individuals. Ms May is also understood to be considering expelling diplomats and pushing for joint international action with allies. The Prime Minister is set to meet her National Security Council on Wednesday to finalise her approach which is then likely be announced to the House of Commons in the afternoon.

Action came a step closer after the Russian Foreign Minister said his country would not cooperate with the British investigation into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on 4 March. But Britain’s allies gave early support to Ms May’s push, with Angela Merkel calling for unified action and Donald Trump saying there must be “consequences” for those responsible. [..] A Government minister said: “What happens will be an economic war, these will be economic measures. “Russia’s economy is only half that of the UK, a lot of it concentrated in a few people’s hands. Well, we’ll do our bit to make it smaller if they want to carry on like this. “That doesn’t give us any pleasure at all, but we need the nations of Europe to behave within the rule of law and not like gangsters. The message has to be economic, political and diplomatic.”

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“.. the British secret services, in close coordination with the British government and the press, poisoned Skripal and his daughter using a nerve agent obtained from Britain’s military research base at Porton Down..”

False Flags for Newbies (Dmitry Orlov)

An important key to spotting a false flag is that the “knowledge” of who is to blame becomes available before any evidence is in. For example, in the case of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH-17 over Eastern Ukraine, everyone in the West was convinced that “pro-Russian separatists” were to blame even before the means could be established. To this date, it isn’t understood how they could have done it given the equipment they had at their disposal. In this case, Russia was accused almost immediately, while British FM Boris Johnson was quick to volunteer that Britain should not send its team to the World Cup in Russia this summer, disclosing the real reason behind the assassination attempt.

Is there anything new and different behind this latest provocation? Not really; it seems like a replay of the Litvinenko assassination back in November 2006. The choice of an exotic poison (Polonium 210), the lack of evidence (the British claimed that compelling circumstantial evidence exists but haven’t provided any), and the instantaneous leap to “blame Russia” are all the same. The Russians offered to prosecute whoever is responsible if only the British would provide them with the evidence, but the British have failed to do so.

Giving the British story the benefit of the doubt, let’s see what would compel Russia’s secret services to go after Skripal. In Russia, he was convicted and sentenced for treason, then pardoned and released to the British in a prisoner exchange that included ten Russian spies who had worked in the US, including the rather memorable Anna Chapman. It is a very important rule of the spy business that those released in a spy swap are never acted against; if this rule were violated, the resulting bad faith would make spy swaps impossible to negotiate.

[..] My simple and consistent explanation, expressed in a single sentence, is as follows: Under direction from their colleagues in the US, and closely following a script previously worked out in the Litvinenko case over a decade ago, the British secret services, in close coordination with the British government and the press, poisoned Skripal and his daughter using a nerve agent obtained from Britain’s military research base at Porton Down in order to obtain an excuse to compromise the World Cup games in Russia this summer and also to create a scandal immediately before the Russian presidential election.

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Too close to politics.

Google To Ban All Cryptocurrency-Related Advertising (CNBC)

Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising. The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC. That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites. This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said. Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year. While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.

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Virginia Fidler has it right, except for this: “The good news is, Millennials are aware of the problem”. Thing is, it makes no difference if they’re aware or not. I’ve said it before: the demise of retirement systems is the no. 1 reason for UBI.

The Retirement Crisis: The Elderly Are Broke (GT)

42% of Americans are facing their golden years with less than $10,000 in savings. A lack of savings and planning has reduced what should be an enjoyable time in seniors’ lives to a period of stress and worries for many. Out-of-pocket expenses for health care is spiraling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that Americans 65 years of age and older may spend up to $46,000 annually on healthcare. This is not good news for those with only $10,000 on which to fall back on. For adults over 50, this should be a call to act now, while there is still time. Only one-third of adults in that age group have savings greater than $10,000. Retirement planning needs to become a priority, as there is little time to waste.

Pensions are becoming rarer, and Social Security is becoming less secure than it used to be. Many health needs of seniors are not covered by Medicare. Some experts believe the Social Security system will be depleted by 2030. Adults over the age of 50 need to consider making contributions into 401(k) accounts or similar retirement plans. Social Security was never intended to be the sole income of retiring seniors. It was meant to supplement approximately only 40% of post-retirement spending. Social security was supposed to enhance seniors’ lives, not support it entirely. However, according to Investopedia.com, 43% of unmarried seniors rely on Social Security to cover 90% of their basic needs. Almost a quarter of married couples depend on Social Security to meet most of their expenses.

Some seniors struggling with poverty are able to receive supplemental income (“SPM”), such as food stamps for a bit of additional help. The need is especially high for seniors who are women, African Americans, and Hispanics, and those with ongoing health issues.6,400,000 million American seniors are living at poverty level, struggling to meet fundamental needs such as rent and food. This number is likely to increase as more boomers become eligible for Social Security and the system becomes less able to support them.

What does this mean for the Millennial generation? The current Social Security system will be unsustainable at some point. It cannot continue at the current level. It probably won’t be abolished, as that would cause chaos for seniors. However, Millennials are aware that changes are coming. They know that benefits will likely be reduced by the time they grow older. The good news is, Millennials are aware of the problem. Members of the boomer generation who assumed Social Security would take care of their needs are learning a hard lesson.

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Turkey rattles the cage.

More Than 500 Refugees, Migrants Reach Greek Islands In Four Days (K.)

According to official figures released on Tuesday more than 500 migrants reached islands of the eastern Aegean in the previous four days, following a two-week lull in arrivals. The spike in arrivals was attributed by a Greek Police official to Turkish authorities, who, he said, control the influx. “But they always make sure not to overdo it so they can claim they are honoring the joint EU-Turkey agreement,” the official said, referring to a deal signed between Brussels and Ankara in March 2016 to curb human smuggling. The two-week drop in arrivals eased the pressure on facilities, as did the transfer of migrants to camps on the mainland. But some camps, notably on Lesvos, remain overcrowded.

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