My good friend Wayne brings up some interesting questions about weapons, in the view of the current Ukraine conflict. Are nuclear weapons the most terrifying ones we know? Or have hypersonic precision weapons taken that “crown”? The answer is not all that obvious.
There is a persistent rumor that sometime in March, Russia hit a secret NATO base deep underground near Kiev with a hypersonic Kinzhal missile and took out some 300 people, including a bunch of high-placed NATO commanders. I have neither seen this confirmed nor, perhaps more importantly, denied. But Russia has no reason to boast about it, and the US has even less reason to acknowledge it happened.
What we do know is that US/NATO (or even China) doesn’t have these weapons, and Russia does. And that, from what I’ve read, partly has to do with the fact that since the missiles move at speeds of up to Mach 15 (15x speed of sound), they need a special heat resistant coating that only Russia has been able to develop. Moreover, these hypersonic missiles are not just much faster than any other missile, they are also far better at hitting precision targets. Try hitting a bunker 60 meters or more underground.
Here’s Wayne for some philosophy:
The 1980s were the decade of the Non-aligned Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement. The Non-aligned movement’s political line differed from that of the Communist-Party controlled anti-nuclear movements, which took their lead from Soviet diplomacy. The Non-aligned current had some party-political cover from Eurocommunist parties. It said “there are no good and bad nuclear weapons”. Implication: Soviet nuclear weapons are bad. To be consistent the movement should have called for Soviet nuclear disarmament when the USSR disintegrated, particularly because it was not clear at first whether Yeltsin would be better or worse than Gorbachev. Some of us did indeed call for unilateral Soviet nuclear disarmament.
NATO policy was for removal of Soviet nuclear weapons from Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. But not from Russia. Why not from Russia? Well, for a start, that would mean abolition of the Russian nuclear bogy. What justification could there then be for NATO’s nuclear weapons? The Non-Aligned Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement was clearly confused. Why were they not raising the demand for nuclear disarmament of Russia? They had spent the nineteen eighties ridiculing ideas of “nuclear deterrence”.
Yeltsin turned out to be (or at least to appear) even more open to ideas of nuclear disarmament of Russia than Gorbachev had been. The Non-Aligned Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement called out NATO for fraud. Even official spokespersons acknowledged that nuclear weapons were “more of political than of military utility”. In other words they were useless, except for politicians (and journalists). The Swedes had recognized the uselessness when the nuclear hawk Olof Palme changed his stripes and became an anti-nuclear activist, presiding over unilateral nuclear disarmament of Sweden.
A demand for unilateral nuclear disarmament of Russia would have been a brilliant poke in the eye for the Tory smartypants who were always jeering: “If you want unilateral nuclear disarmament, recommend it to the Soviets!” Instead of raising the demand, some anti-nuclear activists simply started pointing out to each other that the Cold War is over and this should be recognized. Others didn’t do even that.
Since March 2023, the unnecessary character of Russian nuclear weapons has been confirmed. In March a provocation was staged inside Russia (by Ukraine? By NATO?) with civilians including children being killed and injured. Putin declared that there would be retaliation, and indeed, there was, within days. A command bunker in Ukraine four hundred feet underground (too deep then for run-of-the-mill bunker-busting technology) was hit by a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile and hundreds of dignitaries and high-ranking NATO personnel were allegedly killed. The media were pretty silent about it. And pretty soon the gaslighting started.
If this Kinzhal strike typifies the code of ethics that Russia intends to follow in its war making, the superfluous character of Russian nuclear weapons is confirmed. Attacks on civilians are punished by attacks on the top leadership of the side that resorts to them. The media propaganda machine is now bending over backwards to scream that the Kinzhals are “nuclear capable”. So what? Is a nuclear weapon needed to wipe out political leadership in a bunker? It is said that the United States has begun testing its own hypersonic missiles but the tests so far have failed. Will this failure be the prelude to a new arms race, or to abandonment of the 20th century mode of conducting wars particularly from 1914 onwards? The twentieth century mode of mass politics and mass slaughter of civilians?
When one studies the ideas of Hitler apologists it is easy to come to the conclusion that Hitler’s key intellectual mistake was to assume that the category “white people” includes Germans. The Boers had to learn the same lesson in South Africa, I suppose. Given this and given the assumptions of “nuclear deterrence”, which is an acceptable doctrine for the white people of NATO but not for the white people of Russia unless they face the “fact” that they too require to be “deterred” from destroying all life on planet earth, WOKE notions that “only white people can be racist” become comprehensible and the Hitlerian misreadings of the Coudenhove-Kalergi prediction/recommendation(?) of a world of mulattos following the extinction of “white people”, elevatable into a praiseworthy program for the future of this world.
If racism cannot be overcome intellectually there is obviously no alternative to overcoming it, or “trying to”, biologically. Is there? It seems to me that the logic of Russia’s development of hypersonic missiles, particularly given the way they appear to be using them, is the opposite of the motives according to which nuclear weapons were initially developed: i.e. elaboration of a mass “shock and awe” effect. Hypersonic missiles apparently aim at introducing military precision: graduated retaliation, which so far has been used to retaliate for attacks on the civilians of one’s own side. But the retaliation has been strikingly disproportionate, suggesting that one is planning to really stigmatize cowardly attacks on unarmed civilians. In effect stigmatize modern mass destruction warfare.
If it is true that “the West” is behind in this hypersonic missiles technology, how is it going to respond? Through embarking on a hypersonic missiles arms race? If it does to Russia what Russia has just done to it in Ukraine, there is a widespread view that this will trigger generalized nuclear war, which “the West” claims not to want. So what would be the purpose of getting ahead in hypersonic missiles technology? Public relations? Being first for the sake of being able to say that one is first?
It is said that nuclear weapons serve political more than military purposes, but those political purposes have to do with the “shock and awe” effect, not the ability to launch a precision strike at the nerve centre of the enemy (and so trigger the nuclear war one supposedly seeks to avoid). Will “the West” think this through or will it just go ahead anyway and “try to catch up and overtake”? Is “the West” thinking coherently about nuclear weapons?
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At the present moment, the Ukrainians are not encircled, but the continued creep of Russian positions ever closer to the remaining highways is easily discernable. At the present moment, Russian forces have positions within two miles of all the remaining highways. Even more importantly, Russia now controls the high ground to both the north and south of Bakhmut (the city itself sits in a depression surrounded by hills) giving Russia fire control over much of the battle space. I am currently anticipating that Russia will clear the Bakhmut-Siversk defensive line by late March. Meanwhile, the denuding of Ukrainian forces on other axes raises the prospect of decisive Russian offensives elsewhere.
At the moment, the front roughly consists of four main axes (the plural of axis, not the bladed implement), with substantial agglomerations of Ukrainian troops. These consist, from north to south, of the Zaporozhia, Donetsk, Bakhmut, and Svatove Axis (see map below). The effort to reinforce the Bakhmut sector has noticeably diluted Ukranian strength on these other axes. On the Zaporozhia front, for example, there are potentially as few as five Ukrainian brigades on the line at the moment. At the moment, the majority of Russian combat power is uncommitted, and both western and Ukrainian sources are (belatedly) becoming increasingly alarmed about the prospect for a Russian offensive in the comin weeks. Currently, the entire Ukrainian position in the east is vulnerable because it is, in effect, an enormous salient, vulnerable to attack from three directions.
Two operational depth objectives in particular have the potential to shatter Ukrainian logistics and sustainment. These are, respectively, Izyum in the north and Pavlograd in the South. A Russian thrust down the west bank of the Oskil river towards Izyum would simultaneously threaten to cut off and destroy the Ukrainian grouping on the Svatove axis (S on the map) and sever the vital M03 highway from Kharkov. Reaching Pavlograd, on the other hand, would completely isolate the Ukrainian forces around Donetsk and sever much of Ukraine’s transit across the Dneiper.
The bird’s eye view of this conflict reveals a fascinating meta-structure to the war. In the above section, I argue for a view of the front structured around Russia progressively breaking through sequential Ukrainian defensive belts. I think that a similar sort of progressive narrative structure applies to the force generation aspect of this war, with Russia destroying a sequence of Ukrainian armies. Let me be a bit more concrete. While the Ukrainian military exists at least partially as a continuous institution, its combat power has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times at this point through western assistance. Multiple phases – life cycles, if you will – can be identified:
In the opening months of the war, the extant Ukrainian army was mostly wiped out. The Russians destroyed much of Ukraine’s indigenous supplies of heavy weaponry and shattered many cadres at the core of Ukraine’s professional army. In the wake of this initial shattering, Ukrainian combat strength was shored up by transferring virtually all of the Soviet vintage weaponry in the stockpiles of former Warsaw Pact countries. This transferred Soviet vehicles and ammunition, compatible with existing Ukrainian capabilities, from countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, and was mostly complete by the end of spring, 2022. In early June, for example, western sources were admitting that Soviet stockpiles were drained.
With Warsaw Pact stockpiles exhausted, NATO began replacing destroyed Ukrainian capabilities with western equivalents in a process that began during the summer. Of particular note were howitzers like the American M777 and the French Caesar. Russia has essentially fought multiple iterations of the Ukrainian Army – destroying the pre-war force in the opening months, then fighting units that were refilled from Warsaw Pact stockpiles, and is now degrading a force which is largely reliant on western systems. This led to General Zaluzhny’s now-famous interview with the economist in which he asked for many hundreds of Main Battle Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and artillery pieces. In effect, he asked for yet another army, as the Russians seem to keep destroying the ones he has.
EU foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell said on Friday that the West must keep sending weapons to Kiev, warning those who think Russia has lost or is doing poorly that Moscow has a history of winning long wars. “Russia is a great country, a great nation that is used to fighting to the end, almost losing and then recovering,” Borrell said in a speech in Madrid, bringing up the 1812 invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte’s French empire and the 1941 invasion by Adolf Hitler’s Germany as historical examples of this. “It would be absurd to think that Russia has lost the war or that its military is incompetent,” Borrell added. He claimed that so far Moscow “has been losing the war but it still has enormous strength and capacity to continue [fighting].” Because of this, he said, “now is the time to continue arming Ukraine with the necessary material and military means to wage the kind of war it has to wage.”
He described this as “not only a defensive war but one that allows it to take the initiative and break fronts and prevent Russia from launching a new, very powerful and bloody offensive in a few months.” Borrell’s invocation of Napoleon and Hitler was unusual, as Moscow has repeatedly compared the current efforts by the collective West with the two invasions, known as the Patriotic War and the Great Patriotic War, respectively. Napoleon led a multinational army recruited from all across French-dominated Europe and reached Moscow, but failed to compel Russia’s surrender. The war ended with Russian cavalry on the streets of Paris two years later. Hitler’s effort, also aided by numerous continental allies and vassals, fell just short of Moscow. The Axis armies were savaged at Stalingrad and turned back at Kursk, with Russian soldiers taking Berlin in 1945.
According to Russian estimates, the US and its allies funneled almost $100 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and supplies to the Ukrainian military in 2022. Despite this unprecedented effort, Borrell on Friday continued to insist the West was not a party to the conflict, and that the EU did everything it could to avoid it. Former leaders of Germany and France, however, publicly admitted that the European-mediated Minsk agreements had been a ploy to buy Ukraine time to prepare for war. The EU’s high commissioner for foreign affairs spoke at Madrid’s Teatro Real, where he was presented with the New Economy Forum 2022 Award. One of the presenters was Javier Solana, Borrell’s predecessor at the EU post and NATO’s secretary general in 1999, when the US-led bloc launched an unprovoked war against Yugoslavia.
Is that a definitive nein on tanks? New German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in fresh statements has confirmed that defense leaders gathered for a much anticipated meeting in Ramstein failed to achieve consensus on tanks for Ukraine. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was present for the meeting which reportedly involved top military officials from some 50 nations, most of them NATO, who met to coordinate the path forward in arming Ukraine. There’s been intense, uneasy back-and-forth this week between Berlin and Washington on the question of supplying Western-manufactured heavy tanks to Kiev, namely the Leopard as well as M1 Abrams. Hawks among the alliance have seen Berlin as essentially standing in the way.
“Today, we can all not yet say when a decision will be made about Leopard and what this decision will look like,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at the end of the Ramstein Air Base meeting. Amid accusations that Germany is waffling and thus weakening Western allies’ resolve, Pistorius continued, “We are not really hesitating we are just very carefully balancing all the pros and contra [cons] — we are not talking just about delivering anything to anybody, this is a new kind of measure we would choose, so we have to be careful because we have a duty to look carefully and intensively at what might be the consequences for anybody in that conflict.” While there was agreement to boost military aid to Ukraine among the allies gathered for the meeting, CNBC underscores that “Germany wavered on further EU tank deliveries despite mounting calls from Kyiv and fellow allies.”
The German defense minister continued, according to the remarks translated by CNBC: “I must say there is very clearly no unanimous opinion. The impression that has occasionally been made that there is a closed coalition and Germany stands in the way of this is wrong. There are many allies who say we share the opinion that I explained here today again, there are good reasons for the delivery and there are good reasons against it.” Going into the meeting it was widely reported days ago that Berlin has told European allies that it will authorize Leopard tanks only if Washington first leads the way with supply its own Abrams tanks. But the Biden administration has shut the door on these heavy, advanced tanks for the time being.
The Polish prime minister has said his country would be willing to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without securing Germany’s approval if Berlin does not agree to their re-export at Friday’s meeting of western defence ministers at Ramstein airbase. Mateusz Morawiecki said in a radio interview on Thursday that “consent was of secondary importance” when it came to German-made tanks, because the key issue was to get military aid to Ukraine urgently. “We will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do it ourselves,” Morawiecki added, heaping further pressure on Berlin to allow German made Leopard 2s to be sent to Ukraine in preparation for a spring offensive.
His comments came as the US Defense Department formally announced new military assistance for Ukraine valued at up to $2.5bn, including armoured vehicles and support for Ukraine’s air defence. The aid includes 59 Bradley fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armoured personnel carriers, but not Abrams tanks. Poland, along with Finland, has said it wants to give 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, which would normally require German approval, but it is one of a number of countries trying to force the pace at a time when Berlin is still negotiating. Arvydas Anusauskas, Lithuania’s defence minister, said others could follow suit at the Ramstein meeting on Friday. “Some of the countries will definitely send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, that is for sure,” he said.
Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, met his newly appointed German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, in Berlin on Thursday, but neither mentioned the Leopard standoff in brief commentsbefore their meeting. Previously, German officials signalled Berlin was willing to break the logjam if the US would also agree to send over some of its own Abrams tanks to Ukraine. But the US said on Wednesday it did not want to do that, because the Abrams, which has a jet turbine engine, is fuel inefficient and so requires complex logistics support. Colin Kahl, the US undersecretary of defence for policy, said: “The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive, it’s hard to train on, it has a jet engine – I think it’s about three gallons to the mile with jet fuel. It is not the easiest system to maintain.”
Nations providing weapons to Ukraine need to double down on their effort because the country is facing a make-or-break moment, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday ahead of a key meeting of military donors in Germany. “We need to keep up our momentum and our resolve, and we need to dig even deeper,” the Pentagon chief said in his opening remarks before a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the US Ramstein air base. He described this as “a decisive moment for Ukraine and a decisive decade for the world.” Austin touted the latest military assistance package announced by the Pentagon this week as an example of Washington’s leadership. The $2.5 billion commitment boosted total US military aid to Ukraine since hostilities with Russia broke out last February to over $26.7 billion, the US official noted.
He praised a number of NATO partners, including Poland, Canada, Germany, France, for their lethal aid to Kiev and urged further arming of the Ukrainian forces. “The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. And history is watching us,” Austin declared. Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov will ask donors at the Ramstein meeting for more anti-aircraft systems, offensive weapons, including tanks, and “systematic ammo supplies,” his department said in a tweet. Whether or not Kiev will be given Western-made tanks has been a point of contention among NATO members. Poland and several other nations have said they were willing to provide German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks from their fleets, pending Berlin’s consent. The German government has reportedly conditioned its permission on the US leading by example.
The Pentagon declined to include M1 Abrams tanks in its latest package to Ukraine, citing “sustainment issues.” The tank requires jet fuel to operate and is difficult to maintain, so it “just doesn’t make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists on Thursday. Moscow has accused the US and its allies of prolonging the conflict in Ukraine by forcing Kiev to eschew the pursuit of peace and also pumping it with weapons. It has pledged to achieve its security goals in the conflict regardless of how much support its adversary receives.
Billionaire Elon Musk urged caution on Friday following reports that the US is changing its stance on whether it should assist Ukraine in attacking Russia’s Crimean Peninsula. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported, citing sources, that Washington is starting to concede that Kiev needs to have the ability to strike deep into Russian territory, even if this entails the risk of escalation. US officials are said to be “discussing with their Ukrainian counterparts the use of American-supplied weapons, from HIMARS rocket systems to Bradley fighting vehicles, to possibly target … Crimea.” The peninsula overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in 2014 following the Maidan coup in Kiev. Musk responded to a Twitter user who posted a link to the Times article by saying: “I am super pro Ukraine, but relentless escalation is very risky for Ukraine and the world.”
This is not the first time the tycoon has weighed in on the Ukraine conflict. In October, Musk came up with a peace plan to end the hostilities between Moscow and Kiev. According to his proposal, Russia should “redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision,” with Moscow withdrawing from these areas if this is what the people want. He was referring to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, which overwhelmingly voted to join Russia last year. However, the Twitter CEO also suggested that Crimea should remain part of Russia, sparking outrage in Kiev. Ukraine’s former ambassador to Berlin, Andrey Melnik, told him to “f**k off.” Later, Musk noted that Russia views Crimea as an integral part of its territory, and attempts to seize it by a foreign power could trigger a nuclear war. “If Russia is faced with the choice of losing Crimea or using battlefield nukes, they will choose the latter,” he wrote at the time.
Negotiations regarding further sanctions on Russia with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky are becoming increasingly complicated with each new round, European Council President Charles Michel said during a trip to Kiev on Thursday. The statement came after Zelensky urged the EU to impose even tighter restrictions on Moscow. “Each debate on sanctions is much more difficult than the previous one,” Michel told reporters, as quoted by Bloomberg. “We have good debates with President Zelensky, and I will brief my colleagues on what are the Ukrainian proposals and we will consult. I’m confident we will be able to strengthen the pressure on the Kremlin.” Michel added that the EU will adopt a tenth sanctions package on Moscow. “We have to see which additional sectors can be targeted in the future,” he said.
The EU imposed sweeping restrictions on Russia after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February. Zelensky called on Brussels on Thursday to target Russia’s nuclear industry, including “all entities involved in the Russian missile program.” He also asked for a full ban on Russian energy exports. The bloc’s efforts to completely relinquish Russian oil and gas have been met with resistance from countries such as Hungary, whose economy is heavily dependent on Russian energy. Budapest has managed to gain several carve-outs that allow it to continue receiving supplies from Moscow. “Russian [energy] accounts for 85% of Hungary’s gas consumption and 65% of oil demand. This cannot be changed overnight,” Tamas Menczer, the state secretary for foreign affairs, explained last week.
The Hungarian government shared survey results this month indicating that “97% of Hungarians reject sanctions that cause serious damage.” It added that “the message is clear: the Brussels sanctions policy must be reviewed.” The Kremlin stated last month that the Russian economy has adapted to the sanctions and that it is impossible to deny that the restrictions are hurting the EU countries as well. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West on Wednesday of trying to use sanctions to incite “a revolution” in Russia and assert “the dominance of the US by all means.”
US-Russia relations are at their lowest point ever amid the crisis in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. As the conflict deteriorates, the only way to reverse it is for Western nations to acknowledge their mistakes and change their policies, he added. Despite initial hopes that under President Joe Biden the US would engage Russia diplomatically, the last two years “have been very bad for our bilateral relations,” the official told journalists. They are now “probably at their lowest point, historically” he added, and “there is no hope for improvement anytime soon.” The Ukraine hostilities – the focus of the confrontation between Russia and Western nations – are in “an upward spiral” according to Peskov.
“We can see a growing indirect, and sometimes direct involvement of NATO nations in this conflict,” he stated. The nations that back Kiev are acting under “a delusion that Ukraine has any chance to win on the battlefield,” he explained. Asked how the vicious circle could be broken, Peskov suggested that the US and its allies had to mentally turn the clock back to the end of 2021, “when Russia was suggesting a discussion of its concerns at the negotiations table” only to be dismissed. Western repentance for its “cynicism” was also in order, he added. “Germany, France and Ukraine were playing a swindle game with the Minsk agreements. Now is payback time,” he said, referring to the roadmap for Ukraine reconciliation, which the three nations signed with Russia in 2015.
Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Pyotr Poroshenko, the leaders at the time of Germany, France and Ukraine respectively, have since stated that the deal they negotiated with Russia was meant to give Kiev time to rebuild its military. Moscow considers these admissions to be evidence that the negotiations were conducted in bad faith and that the Ukrainian government and its backers had always intended for the Minsk agreements to fail and for the Donbass standoff to be resolved by military means. Russia claimed that its military campaign in Ukraine launched last February preempted an offensive planned by Kiev with NATO’s help. Ukraine, Germany, and France “lied to the people of Donbass, as they had a terrible fate planned for them, which Russia prevented,” Peskov explained.
British consumers are indirectly buying Russian oil and petroleum products despite a Western embargo on crude exports from the sanctioned country, OilPrice reported on Monday, suggesting that the bulk of it may come from India. A ban on Russian seaborne oil exports, along with a price cap of $60 per barrel, was introduced by the EU, G7 nations and Australia on December 5. Another embargo banning almost all imports of Russian oil products kicks in on February 5. The UK, which has been among the most vocal advocates of abandoning Russian energy imports, has claimed to be one of the most successful countries in achieving this target. London committed to phasing out Russian oil by the end of 2022, slashing down imports to £2 million ($2.45 million) in October.
However, diesel accounted for 18% of its total demand last year, according to OilPrice, and a number of UK consumers may have replaced direct Russian imports with supplies from Russian-fed refineries. The outlet suggests that the UK has been using India as a “back door,” given a sharp increase in the country’s imports of Russian oil, which hit a record high of 1.2 million barrels per day in December. Prior to last year, India’s imports of Russian crude were insignificant, due to high freight costs. However, the volumes that New Delhi is now buying and re-exporting suggest that some of the refined crude from the sanctions-hit country may ultimately be pumped in UK filling stations.
High diesel prices in Europe and steep discounts on Russian crude offer “a window of opportunity” for Indian refiners, the outlet said. According to tracking data from Kpler, in 2022 the Jamnagar refinery on India’s west coast boosted, by a factor of four, its imports of oil and fuel oil from Russia compared to 2021. Meanwhile, the UK has purchased a total of 10 million barrels of diesel and other refined products from Jamnagar since the beginning of 2022.
I’ll never understand — and neither will you — how “Joe Biden” got propelled out of ignominious defeat in the earliest presidential primaries, to sweep the field on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Around the same time, all his rivals magically dropped out of the race for the nomination. Some kind of message must have gone out from Deep State Central. Who wanted this licentious old grifter in White House? Well, probably his old boss, Barack Obama, and just about everyone in officialdom connected to the shenanigans in Ukraine dating back to 2014, and then the RussiaGate illegalities that ensued from it, especially former CIA boss John Brennan and his cronies. Under Mr. Obama, the whole US government had become something like a rotten log infested with sowbugs of grift, deceit, and malfeasance. Installing the dotty old bird in the White House would give Mr. Obama a stealth third term. Mostly, it would prevent the dreaded Golden Golem of populism, Donald Trump, from bringing any harm to that cabal and its, ahem, interests.
We do understand how “Joe Biden” won the 2020 election: via massive fraud engineered by fraud-master Marc Elias, king of the Lawfare trolls, who fine-tuned the mail-in ballot operation during the likewise engineered Covid-19 public health ruse. That wicked election business, of course, is just another grave matter requiring the utmost protection to prevent any inquiry from ever gaining traction. And yet all of it, the monumental government crime spree of recent years is all unraveling before our eyes — even before Jim Jordan or anyone else has even said boo from a House committee chair.
It’s all falling apart — along with America’s economy, our institutions, and our culture. The Biden family’s cover stories are collapsing, the government’s censorship and propaganda machine has thrown a rod, the Covid-19 story looks day-by-day like organized mass murder, election fraud issues still stalk the land despite every effort to squash them — and the grim reality coalesces that Russia is going to clean up the mess we made in Ukraine, and, in the aftermath, probably produce a shit-ton of evidence of American corruption and villainy there.
“Joe Biden,” the phantom president, has entered the air-lock, waiting to be jettisoned into the deep space of ignominy, chocolate mint chip ice cream cone in hand. Kamala Harris watches the action offstage in a fugue of anxiety and depression. She does not want to become president — and, guess what, nobody really wants her to be, either. She won’t even have to be induced to step aside. Her hysteria will be so great that not even the hypnotists of the Intel Community will be able to calm her down. She’ll run shrieking from it back to California. The levers of control finally fail. By a caprice of history, and the genius of the founding fathers, Kevin McCarthy lands in the White House. A page turns. The coup is finally over. That’s my fantasy du jour.
[..] the “Forum” is harboring incredible influence, mostly with “useful” bureaucratic idiots on the left who are happy to take their cues on how to napalm individual rights for betterment of advancing their agendas from anyone who will help, regardless of their motivation. That’s right: gone are the days of joking about The Great Reset, owning nothing and liking it and shifting to a diet of mealworms and crickets.I’ve arrived at a point past that – a point of being sickened by watching people that in no way, shape or form represent me or the people in my life, yammer on about what my future will or won’t look like and what things I stand for are “right” or “wrong”.
It’s right in the WEF’s mission statement: “The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” The truth is no matter how much each narcissistic and likely psychotic guest would love to speak on behalf of millions, or even billions of people, they simply don’t. I don’t expect these people to understand the consequences of painting with a broad brush, nor do I think they care about them. Take the Covid vaccines as an example. Isn’t the idea of jabbing every single person on Earth, regardless of age, health status and lifestyle (lest we forget whether or not they consent to it reckless? Of course it is. But it doesn’t matter – because someone wanted it to be done…and, with that, it was put into action.
Wild, right? This unilateral implementation of mandates during Covid, regardless of what the individual may want for themselves and their families, was authoritarian catnip to the dingleberries that assemble at the World Economic Forum every year. I’m certain it has enabled many participants to think: we did it with vaccines – we cut them off from travel, we put their jobs and their livelihoods on the line and we even arrested and jailed them – now we can do it with anything else. I don’t need to be in Davos this week to understand how little I have in common with the people of the World Economic Forum. I know this because I was recently in Washington DC during the International Monetary Fund’s most recent circle jerk world conference.
“Maria Zakharova: [..] Should it be proven that the leading US media outlets “received money for adjusting their coverage, all US democracy could be wrapped up in their Constitution and thrown out into the garbage heap of history..”
Billionaire George Soros has links to dozens of prominent media figures in the US and beyond via organizations he funded, a conservative US watchdog claims. In the last report of a three-part investigation, published on Tuesday, MRC Business examined the ties of the Budapest-born liberal mogul, coming to the conclusion that he “cemented himself as one of the most powerful influencers in global politics through his incredible influence in the media.” MRC Business said that it had uncovered at least “54 major figures in journalism and activist media who are connected to Soros-funded organizations.” The list includes CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, NBC News anchor Lester Holt, and Cesar Conde, the NBCUniversal News Group chairman, who oversees the outlets NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC.
Many of the 54 individuals play prominent roles in institutions funded by Soros. For instance, Amanpour is a senior adviser at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which received $2.75 million from the mogul between 2018 and 2020, while Holt is listed as a board member in the same organization. Conde is a trustee at the Aspen Institute, which received over $1 million from the billionaire between 2016 and 2020. According to MRC, in total Soros has funneled over $32 billion into his organizations in a bid “to spread his radical ‘open society’ agenda on abortion, Marxist economics, anti-Americanism, defunding the police, environmental extremism and LGBT fanaticism.” These efforts have paid off, allowing him to “help indoctrinate millions with his views on a day-to-day basis”, the group claims.
MRC has previously claimed that Soros has financial ties to at least 253 media organizations globally, funding them through his non-profit groups and enabling him to reach viewers and listeners in virtually every corner of the world. Commenting on the report, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted on Thursday that such revelations could be compared to a “nuclear bombshell.” Should it be proven that the leading US media outlets “received money for adjusting their coverage, all US democracy could be wrapped up in their Constitution and thrown out into the garbage heap of history,” she said.
President Joe Biden has something that he wants the public to know. After the discovery of highly classified material in Biden’s former office, his garage and library, the President wanted to make one thing (and only one thing) perfectly clear: “I have no regrets.” It was a moment that rivaled his disastrous observation that, while classified material was found in his garage, it is a locked garage that also housed his beloved 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. While Biden’s “corvette standard” for storing classified documents was baffling, his declaration of “no regrets” is downright infuriating. It is also remarkably moronic with a special counsel in the field. Either the President believes that Special Counsel Robert K. Hur will paper over the entire affair or he is doing his best to force his hand with a criminal charge.
Biden was miffed to be even asked about the matter after stonewalling the press for days. He ventured out of his White House bunker to tour storm damage in California and used the victims as a virtual human shield: “You know what, quite frankly, bugs me is that we have a serious problem here we’re talking about. We’re talking about what’s going on. And the American people don’t quite understand why you don’t ask me questions about that.” The problem is that recent polls show that, while the President has no regrets, the public overwhelmingly does. Most citizens view his conduct as negligent. Roughly two-thirds believe that Congress should investigate the President, including a majority of Democrats. Sixty percent believe that he acted inappropriately with classified material.
Nevertheless, after days to hunkering down with this aides and polls, Biden decided to stick with total and absolute denial of regret or responsibility. It was not a surprise for many of us who have following Biden and his family through the years. I wrote at the start of this scandal that Biden’s ” silence is hardly surprising. Biden has always been better at expressing revulsion than responsibility. Time and again, he has literally rushed before cameras to denounce others, often without basis, for alleged crimes. He has not waited for investigations, let alone trials.” When it has come to his own alleged misconduct, Biden will deflect, deny, but rarely declare responsibility.”
The comments on Thursday were classic Biden. He first deflected by using the California victims. He then denied any real responsibility. Despite the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his conduct, he shrugged off the entire matter as something akin to finding a neighbor’s borrowed hammer from 2017 in his garage: “We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department …I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. It’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there.”
Biden on hiding classified documents in his home, office, and garage for six years: “I have no regrets” pic.twitter.com/rBgDEgMOfv
The second study in two years shows Viagra might reduce the risk of heart disease in men. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) found that men who took the little blue pill experienced a 39% reduction in heart disease. USC researchers gathered data from 70,000 men with an average age of 52 who were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction within the last decade. They believe Viagra increases blood flow and oxygen into the heart and throughout the body. Viagra users also were 17% less likely to suffer heart failure and had a 22% reduction in developing unstable angina. All of those conditions are fatal if untreated. Men who used the drug achieved longer life and decreased the risk of early death by 25%.
“Viagra was associated with lower incidence of [heart complications], cardiovascular death, and overall mortality risk compared to non-exposure,” the researchers wrote. The last study, published in the American College journal of Cardiology and titled “Association of Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors Versus Alprostadil With Survival in Men With Coronary Artery Disease,” showed older men with cardiovascular disease who took the erectile dysfunction pill lived a healthier life. According to the American Heart Association, erectile dysfunction could be an early warning sign of heart disease in otherwise healthy men.
An Idaho pathologist who previously came under fireopens in a new tab or window for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients and spreading falsities about vaccines, is facing disciplinary actionopens in a new tab or window by the Medical Commission in Washington state, where he is also licensed to practice. Ryan Cole, MD, is said to have made “numerous false and misleading statements” during public presentations on the pandemic, COVID vaccines, the use of ivermectin to treat COVID, and the effectiveness of masks, according to a statement of chargesopens in a new tab or window issued by the Washington Medical Commission earlier this month. He also allegedly provided negligent care to a number of patients in the prevention or treatment of COVID.
“Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust,” the commission wrote in the statement. “That public trust is essential to effective delivery of medical care. Knowingly false statements or those made in reckless disregard for the truth, such as the medical disinformation statements by respondent … erode the public’s trust in physicians and their medical treatment and advice, and thereby injure public health.” Specifically, at all times relevant to the case, Cole, an anatomical and clinical pathologist, ran an independent medical laboratory that he owns, provided direct care to patients via telemedicine through the website MyFreeDoctor.com, and spoke at public and private forums, as well as on news shows and podcasts, the statement noted.
According to the commission, since March 2021, Cole is said to have made false and misleading comments during his presentations, including, “Children survive [COVID-19] at a hundred percent,” and “A hundred percent of world [ivermectin] trials have shown benefit.” Other public statements Cole is said to have made include that the COVID vaccine is “an experimental biological gene therapy immune-modulatory injection,” in addition to “a fake vaccine … the clot shot, needle rape.”
As the US govt prepared its secret indictment of Julian Assange, Amy Goodman, @NaomiAKlein, @allannairn14 and Democracy Now sandbagged him, painting him as a possible secret Trump-Russia info weapon who was helping to bring fascism to America. pic.twitter.com/AnDScE8OZp
Francesco Queirolo Il Disinganno, Naples, Sansevero Chapel 1753-1754 (the netting is also all marble)
I was thinking all day about Kherson, and how the re-capture of the city is presented in our media. Thinking, also, about the 2,500 kilometer (1,500 miles, give or take) frontline. And of course if you focus troops and material at any single given point along a line of that size, you can make some advances. But does that mean anything, really? Other than PR? Dr. D. today adds the historic etc. perspective to this.
The adagium is: never fight a land war in Asia. Napoleon and Hitler found this out, along with many millions of their young men. But Russia IS Asia. Which means they have no choice but to fight there, and also that they have – deep-rooted – experience. Those 1,500 miles, meanwhile, are an indication of why Russia called up 300,000 reservists.
At the heart of it: you can take some land, but you can’t take our men, they have much more value: “Land is utterly worthless without the men, and Slavic men are precious and few.” Something Russia and Ukraine appear to view differently.
Dr. D.: Out on a limb for Kherson. Anyone want to take up the issue that Ukraine will blow the dam if anyone gets in there? A human rights crime? They’ve been shelling it for weeks?
Okay, Russia moves across, with a huge plain in front and a river crossing in the back. They should just lazily do this? What’s the solution? General Armageddon said “he would make uncomfortable choices”. Withdrawing would seem to fit that bill. We’ve seen him non-stop, and perhaps even ham-fistedly attempt to feint the Ukrainians – actually, why bother? – Feint the Brits and Americans into attacking at points of his choosing, aka “A Trap”.
They have not jumped at them, but Kherson is the biggest wounded bird they’ve ever flapped. How can London ignore it? They MUST have it to make a mess of Crimea, but as it’s a Steppe on a river bridge, instead or Russia, London and the Poles would be in the artillery fire and dam floodplain. And this is a Russian defeat? At the same time, Putin isn’t taking a political hit for it, despite the wounded bird routine.
Wait: unless you BELIEVED what reporters, the news media said. They said it? Russian news, which is known to be the most Western infiltrated or influenced of any body in Russia? And you took what they said seriously? How’s this: “They said it, therefore it is a lie.” That better?
Russia is fighting A Land War in Asia. I don’t know how many times I have to say this. You do not use Kentucky rules, or Melbourne rules, who basically never fought a war. Russia has a tactic, had it for 1,000 years, and it always works so why change it? You trade men for territory. Because there is so much territory, the land is worthless. However, Slavs are few, and the front line is huge.
Over time, almost a year now, Russia instantly, constantly withdraws to cede territory in exchange for men. They lost so much doing this, they now own 1/4 of the country! Oh noes! Because with “A Land War in Asia”, there’s nothing out there. Just open plains. They only thing stopping any movement is 1) the other army 2) rivers. Once the army has no men, Russia can go wherever they like.
If Russia loses no men, because they trade land to save men, they can fight this for 500 years. Ukraine is doing the opposite: trading battalions to gain cow pasture. #Winning! Am I crazy here? What is the single Russian defense measure? That they have enormous territory between them and the idiots in the West who like attacking Russia and losing. That’s why they keep Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine in front of them, and exactly why NATO wanted to encroach all these countries and remove this safety. …While, as we just admitted, change to first-strike nuclear protocol.
Surely Russia would NEVER trade territory for men, always R E T R E A T before an advancing army? That would be LOSING, wouldn’t it?
History Lesson: Russia RETREATED East of MOSCOW for Napoleon. Napoleon had the entire empty city of Moscow for his leisure. It was sacked freely, Russia gave no defense. Yay Leon! Did they lose then? How was Napoleon doing? Do they speak French in St. Petersburg now?
No. The combined Western army of Napoleon, the entire combined forces of Europe minus Britain CEASED TO EXIST. That settled anyone going to war for a while and they didn’t try anything so stupid with Moscow for 100 years after.
If you have a Land War in Asia, trade Men for Land. Land is utterly worthless without the men, and Slavic men are precious and few. Russia agrees and is behind Putin on this move. They can only DREAM that London will be so idiotic and suicidal as to move their army into Kherson, where Russia can shell them at will from far across the river. If I can shell them, but they can’t advance and stop me, is that losing? How, exactly?
What would I do, retreating, getting my hyperventilating 5th column Russian Press to lose their minds at home? Like this: Ukraine moves forward. They have success, the shelling is not so bad! Surovikin amasses forces out of range but can’t cross the river. Russia is losing! All expected. Then because of the maneuvers and feints of two big armies, Surovikin is able to ACTUALLY amass an army without Ukraine “noticing” – a thing he could not do right now. This army is amassed to the north, above the dams, perhaps by Zap, floods through, and not only can’t be stopped, it therefore cuts off the now-amassed London army from Kiev and their supplies out of Poland. Depending on the men tied up, they reach Odessa from the center of the country, not the south. Either quickly — or more likely, eventually.
…For just one scenario. But you understand they can’t amass 300,000 Russians at Kherson without 1) Proving exactly what their plan is and 2) having the army be shot up more or less constantly as they attempt to trickle across the river…WHILE Ukraine definitely drops a dam on them. Was that your war plan and idea? Of what they should do, are required to do according to Anglos sitting safely 10,000 miles away? ‘Cause it sure ain’t mine. And apparently not General Surovikin’s either.
It’s just plain stupid. Russia is 10x Ukraine’s size. Spoiler alert: Russia wins. So should they be reckless, put half an army in harm’s way just because they’re annoyed, impatient and English bloggers tell them to? No. Get them the h– out of harm’s way, and keep on reducing home casualties, every day.
If only our Anglo armies would do the same. But this is Biden’s Slavic genocide, after all. Why help London by killing your own Slavs?
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With the coronavirus running rampant in Los Angeles and hospitals projected to overflow by Christmas, officials have fallen back on a familiar refrain: Stay home. “My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. “If you’re able to stay home, stay home.” Some 33 million Californians are now under a new regional stay-at-home order that began Sunday night, a last-ditch effort to turn the corner on an alarming rise in coronavirus cases statewide. The blunt messaging worked to bend the curve in the spring, when fear of the novel virus and the insidious ways it might spread kept many indoors. But nine months later, the words seem to have lost their meaning.
The percentage of Angelenos staying home except for essential activities has remained unchanged since mid-June — around 55% — despite pleas from health officials in recent weeks for people to cut down on their activities, according to a survey conducted by USC. A similar story has played out nationwide, as millions of Americans zigzagged across the country to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday, flouting the advice of health officials. “It’s not because the public is irresponsible; it’s because they are losing trust in public health officials who put out arbitrary restrictions,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Francisco. “We are failing in our public health messaging.” Health officials are up against a fatigued public, as well as a number of people who don’t believe in the danger of the virus, Gandhi said.
But she is also part of a growing number of experts who think there’s a better way to engage those who do want to take the pandemic seriously — by taking a lesson from the public health strategy known as harm reduction. Typically used to describe sex-education programs and needle exchanges for drug users, harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a harm-reduction approach would encourage masking and social distancing instead of demanding that people have no contact at all with friends or family they don’t live with. In other words, even during a pandemic, abstinence-only isn’t effective.
L.A., however, has adopted more of a “just say no” attitude. Last week the county became one of the only places in the nation to halt all outdoor gatherings among people who aren’t in the same household, prohibiting two friends from meeting up in a park or going on a hike with masks on. Gov. Gavin Newsom followed suit and included the ban in his regional stay-at-home order. California officials are desperate to reverse an unprecedented flood of new coronavirus cases up and down the state, and even their critics acknowledge the impossibility of the situation. But banning relatively safe outdoor activities risks alienating people who want to follow the rules but feel exhausted, disregarded and sometimes confused by them, Brown University health economist Emily Oster said. “Some of the things they’re telling you not to do are incredibly low-risk,” Oster said. “When you are so strict about what people can do, they stop listening.”
Nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year because the majority of the most promising vaccines coming on-stream have been bought up by the west, campaigners have said. As the first people get vaccinated in the UK, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is warning that the deals done by rich countries’ governments will leave the poor at the mercy of the rampaging virus. Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the most promising vaccines. Canada has bought more doses per head of population than any other – enough to vaccinate each Canadian five times, said the alliance, which includes Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam.
“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager. “But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.” Supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, approved in the UK last week, will almost all go to rich countries – 96% of doses have been bought by the west. The Moderna vaccine uses a similar technology, which also is claimed to have 95% efficacy, and is going exclusively to rich countries. The prices of both vaccines are high and access for low-income countries will be complicated by the ultra low temperatures at which they need to be stored.
By contrast, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has 70% efficacy, is stable at normal fridge temperatures and the price has been set deliberately low for global access. The manufacturers have said 64% of doses will go to people in the developing world. The campaigners applaud this commitment, but said one company alone cannot supply the whole world. At most Oxford/AstraZeneca can reach 18% of the world’s population next year. The alliance has used data from science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the global deals with the eight leading vaccine candidates. They found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from the pandemic. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them.
January is going to be a mess. America’s small-time landlords, along with their tenants, are in trouble as safety nets are set to expire. Tenants haven’t paid rent in months, with a looming eviction moratorium expiring at the end of December. According to Reuters, the lack of rental income for landlords has also been troublesome, with many skipping mortgage payments, potentially resulting in a firesale of properties in the year ahead. For 12 million Americans and their families – this Christmas will be their worst – as the extended unemployment benefits that have kept many of them afloat are set to expire later this month. Then on New Year’s Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires, which could result in a massive wave of evictions in the first half of 2021.
At the moment, $70 billion in unpaid back rent and utilities are set to come due, according to a new report via Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Last month, Maryland utility companies began to terminate customers with overdue bills, many of which were unable to pay because of job loss due to the coronavirus downturn. New research from the Aspen Institute warns 40 million people could be threatened with eviction over the coming months as the real economic crisis is only beginning. According to Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the Kansas City Regional Housing Alliance, landlords are also in deep turmoil. She said more than 40% of the landlords surveyed in her coalition said they will have to sell their units because of the lack of rental income.
“They are sheltering our citizens free of charge, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Johnson-Cosby. “This is their retirement income.” She said small landlords are frightened to speak out about non-paying tenants because social justice warriors and their “Cancel Rent” groups have attacked landlords. “What they don’t realize is that if they run us out and we fail, it will be private equity and Wall Street firms that buy up all our properties, just like they did with houses after the last foreclosure crash.”
In a novel legal strike, the state of Texas has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, arguing officials in those four battleground states violated the Constitution by making changes to how ballots were cast and counted without legislative approval. The lawsuit filed late Monday night by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the justices to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the states “from taking action to certify presidential electors or to have such electors take any official action including without limitation participating in the electoral college.” The suit argues that changes made by the state’s governors, secretaries of states and election supervisors were “inconsistent with relevant state laws and were made by non-legislative entities, without any consent by the state legislatures. The acts of these officials thus directly violated the Constitution.”
“I’m worried about the credibility of elections, not just right now, but I’m worried about the credibility of elections going forward,” Paxton told Just the News on Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview. “I’m not making a fraud argument, I’m making an argument based on the Constitution. And what we know happened, which was that we know state law was changed by people other than the state legislature, which is the only constitutionally authorized changes that are allowed … My argument is that the law was violated, the constitution was violated. I’m not addressing whether there was 2 million fraudulent ballots cast in Pennsylvania. I don’t know, and there’s no way to know, the way the system got set up, the way the rules got changed.”
States are allowed in certain circumstances to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing lower federal courts, in disputes involving other states. Paxton argued the state of Texas was wrongly harmed by the unconstitutional acts of the other states. “These non-legislative changes … facilitated the casting and counting of ballots in violation of state law, which, in turn, violated the Electors Clause of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution,” the suit stated. “By these unlawful acts, the Defendant States have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens vote, but their actions have also debased the votes of citizens in Plaintiff State and other States that remained loyal to the Constitution.”
In a new lawsuit filed today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, from casting “unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes” in the Electoral College. In the brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Texas includes a declaration from Pacific Economics Group member and USC economics professor, Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D. Dr. Cicchetti is the former Deputy Director at the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government and received his Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University.
According to Dr. Cicchetti, his calculations show the probability of Joe Biden winning the popular vote in the four states independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion. Dr. Cicchetti’s analysis calculates that for Joe Biden to win all four states collectively, the odds of that event happening decrease to less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power (1 in 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,0004). Stop and think about that. Given President Trump’s massive early lead on election night, the odds — according to Dr. Cicchetti — that Biden came from behind and beat Trump in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are so unlikely that it’s next to impossible. Dr. Cicchett’s work raises serious suspicions. How did Biden pull off this extraordinarily improbable win?
Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested Tuesday that President Trump was behind Axios’ bombshell report revealing that he was one of several politicians who was entangled with someone suspected to be a Chinese spy. Axios reported on Monday that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif. Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions. According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.
Swalwell, who was one of the most outspoken lawmakers who pushed the Russia collusion narrative since Trump took office, is now hinting that the president was behind Axios’ explosive reporting during an interview with Politico. “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him. The timing feels like that should be looked at,” Swalwell said on Tuesday. Swalwell revealed that Axios first approached him about his ties to Fang in July 2019, which was also when he ended his short-lived presidential campaign. But the Democratic lawmaker seemed to suggest that intelligence officials involved in Axios’ reporting were trying to “weaponize” his cooperation with authorities.
“What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do. But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone,” Swalwell told Politico. According to Politico, Swalwell “refused to discuss his relationship with Fang” after Axios reported that she had sexual relations with at least two other politicians. He did, however, express confidence that he will maintain his seat on the House Intelligence Commitee. “As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” Swalwell told Politico.
Last month, two progressive members of Congress sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter requesting that he commit to nominating a secretary of defense with no previous ties to weapons manufacturers. The letter, from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., and Rep. Barbara Lee D-Calif., cited President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper — a former lobbyist for Raytheon, one the country’s largest defense contractors — and called on Biden to adopt a different standard and find a nominee with “no prior employment history with a defense contractor.” But on Tuesday, Biden announced that he will nominate retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin III, once the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and now a member of the board of directors at Raytheon.
The company has been in the spotlight during the Trump administration in part because it supplies air-to-ground munitions for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and Austin’s role with Raytheon could be central to his confirmation fight. Austin oversaw U.S. operations in the Middle East until March of 2016, a year after the Saudi-led intervention began. He retired from the military the next month and later joined the board of United Technologies, a defense contractor that merged with Raytheon earlier this year. In 2019, Raytheon proceeded with an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which included air-to-ground munitions. After congressional Democrats blocked the sale on human rights grounds, the Trump administration helped force the sale through by declaring a state of emergency.
“Raytheon manufactures the bomb components that are used in Yemen. He bears a direct responsibility,” Phyllis Bennis, who directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, told The Intercept. “He was making money as a board member of this company that is directly responsible for the death and destruction there.” William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told The Intercept that picking Austin was “tantamount to making the position of Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense Contractors.” “The potential for conflicts is huge,” Hartung said. “Raytheon is deeply involved in controversial programs from unworkable missile defense projects to nuclear weapons — the new nuclear-armed cruise missile — to precision-guided bombs that have killed untold numbers of civilians in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. If Gen. Austin were to recuse himself from decisions on programs and policies involving Raytheon he could not carry out large parts of his job as defense secretary.”
A top Clinton insider has revealed that the former president visited the Caribbean home of notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. In a long interview last week with Vanity Fair, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band, noted that, contrary to the official line, his boss did indeed spend time on Little Saint James, the private island that the billionaire pedophile used as a base to traffick and rape women and children. Neither Band nor his interviewer appeared to realize the gravity of what he was revealing, the subject being touched upon only briefly towards the end of a wide-ranging 7,000-word conversation in which he noted that in January 2003, Clinton flew on Epstein’s notorious “Lolita Express” private jet to the island.
Band appeared to bring the incident up only as a way of distancing himself from the disgraced pedophile, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Manhattan prison in July last year. Band insisted that he knew nothing of Epstein’s misdeeds, but “got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship,” refusing to travel aboard Epstein’s jet with his employer. Flight logs show Clinton made around two dozen trips on the infamous airplane. Band is certainly a source in the know. For years he served as Clinton’s most trusted aide and confidant, traveling by his side and arranging his appointments for him. The former president famously did not carry even a cellphone, meaning that everyone from journalists to even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would have had to go through Band to speak to him.
Band’s testimony adds weight to others who have already said they saw him on the island. Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre previously stated that Clinton “strolled into” Epstein’s private villa with “two lovely girls” in his arms. “There was no modesty between any of them,” she said. “I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here,” Giuffre said in an interview earlier this year, “and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor.’” Epstein’s former IT and maintenance contractor also said he saw the former president on the island, an assertion that Clinton has denied. The former president was also photographed receiving a massage from Epstein victim Chauntae Davies while at an airport, on route via the Lolita Express.
While the press might be forgiven for focussing more on the pandemic and the election, the virtual silence from corporate media has been deafening. The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant — whom friends describe as being like a “son” to him — has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN, with no relevant results appearing in searches on their websites. ABC News, which for three years sat on information that could have resulted in an arrest, also did not cover the story.
These are things that might have been done earlier. During the last, flickering days of the Trump administration, activity is being witnessed across countries which have a US troop presence. Numbers are being reduced. Security wonks are getting the jitters. Is the imperium shrinking? Will President elect Joe Biden wake up and reverse the trend? With the Beltway foreign policy Blob advising him, most likely. In November, acting defence secretary Christopher Miller announced that the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would fall from 4,500 to 2,500 and 3,500 to 2,500 respectively. Somalia has been added to the list of countries which will see US withdrawals in some number. The current troop presence stands at 700, tasked with assisting an African Union-backed peacekeeping force combat the al-Shabaab insurgency.
A good number are also there to train and support Danab, the Somali special forces with eyes on capturing and killing leaders of the insurgent movement. The ultimate objective of US Africa Command in East Africa, then, “is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the US homeland, US persons, international allies or destabilize the region.” This is a conflict that has a relentless air of eternity to it. Al-Shabaab counts itself as yet another, albeit more formidable militant group, that has thrived in Somalia’s unruly environment. Its claim to radicalised fame came with Ethiopia’s December 2006 invasion of the country. It was encouraged by the Somalian transitional government, with the intention of ousting al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu, captured by the fundamentalist alliance that June.
According to Robert Wise, the Ethiopian occupation transformed al-Shabaab “from a small relatively unimportant part of a more moderate Islamic movement into the most powerful and radical armed faction in the country.” Yet another salient lesson in the perils of foreign intervention. US administrations might have feared the messiness of the Somali scene. The death of 18 US soldiers in October 1993 in a failed effort to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu stung. Cruise-missile humanitarians and interventionists would have to wait for the republic to find its feet again. The attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States furnished the moment, incarnating the global terrorist phenomenon and the pretext for an international deployment of US forces, officially and covertly. On March 19, 2003, the capture and interrogation of Suleiman Abdallah heralded the return of US troops to Somalia.
All right, that’s it. I’ve run out of patience. No more excuses. Where’s the Hitler? Yes, you heard me. I’m talking to you. You respectable journalists and political pundits. You Intelligence officials and politicians. You fanatical liberals. You pseudo anti-fascists. All you members of the GloboCap “Resistance” who have been hysterically shrieking that “Trump is Hitler!” since he won the nomination back in 2016. Well, OK, it’s November 2020. The show is almost over. When do we get Hitler No, do not tell me “any day now.” You’ve been telling us that for four straight years. Do we look like a bunch of gullible idiots that you can whip up into a four-year frenzy of mindless hatred and paranoia by screaming “Hitler!” over and over, and then not produce an actual Hitler?
Well, we’re not. We remember what you said. You promised us Hitler, and we want Hitler, or at least a decent facsimile of Hitler. And don’t even think of trying to pretend that you didn’t actually promise us Hitler. You did. You want me to prove it? OK. Remember back in 2016, when The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Inquirer, and other such “leading respectable broadsheets,” and online magazines like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and countless others, warned that Trump was sending secret anti-Semitic “dog whistle” signals to his underground army of Nazi terrorists by talking about “international banks,” “global elites,” the “political establishment,” and even “corporations” and “lobbyists” … all of which was supposedly code for “the Jews,” who he was going to exterminate if won the election?
I do. I remember that, distinctly. How about after he won the election, when The Guardian reported that “white supremacy ha[d] triumphed!,” and The New York Times, NPR, Keith Olberman, and other verified news sources warned that America had descended into “racial Orwellianism,” or Zionist Anti-Semitism, or the “bottomless pit of fascism,” or whatever? Or when Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post confirmed that “Donald Trump is actually a fascist”? Do you remember all that? Because I certainly do. Remember Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter warning her that millions of “Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans [were] shaking in their shoes” as they waited for Trump to round them all up and send them to the camps, along with the “Jewish Coastal Elites”?
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, today appealed to British authorities to immediately release Julian Assange from prison or to place him under guarded house arrest during US extradition proceedings. He made the urgent call 10 years after Mr. Assange’s first arrest on 7 December 2010, amid an outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh prison. Reports say 65 of approximately 160 inmates, including a number in the wing where Mr. Assange is being held, have tested positive. In an opinion rendered in December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that since his arrest on 7 December 2010, Mr. Assange had been subjected to various forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, including 10 days of detention in London’s Wandsworth prison; 550 days of house arrest, and the continuation of the deprivation of liberty in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London which lasted almost seven years.
Since 11 April 2019, Mr. Assange has been held in near total isolation at Belmarsh. “The British authorities initially detained Mr. Assange on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Sweden in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct that have since been formally dropped due to lack of evidence. Today, he is detained for exclusively preventative purposes, to ensure his presence during the ongoing US extradition trial, a proceeding which may well last several years,” said Melzer. “Mr. Assange is not a criminal convict and poses no threat to anyone, so his prolonged solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis.”
The progressively severe suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange, as a result of his prolonged solitary confinement, amounts not only to arbitrary detention, but also to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Melzer said. He expressed particular concern about Mr. Assange’s exposure to COVID-19 given his pre-existing medical condition. “Prison decongestion measures seen around the world in response to COVID-19 should be extended to all inmates whose imprisonment is not absolutely necessary,” the expert said. “First and foremost, alternative non-custodial measures should be extended to those with specific vulnerabilities such as Mr. Assange who suffers from a pre-existing respiratory health condition.”
Citing a desire to gain influence in Washington, the American people confirmed Friday that they have hired high-powered D.C. lobbyist Jack Weldon of the firm Patton Boggs to help advance their agenda in Congress. Known among Beltway insiders for his ability to sway public policy on behalf of massive corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, and AT&T, Weldon, 53, is expected to use his vast network of political connections to give his new client a voice in the legislative process. Weldon is reportedly charging the American people $795 an hour. “Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals,” a statement from the nation read in part. “Jack Weldon gives us that access.”
“His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table,” the statement continued. “And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington.” The 310-million-member group said it will rely on Weldon’s considerable clout to ensure its concerns are taken into account when Congress addresses issues such as education, immigration, national security, health care, transportation, the economy, affordable college tuition, infrastructure, jobs, equal rights, taxes, Social Security, the environment, housing, the national debt, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, nutrition, imports, exports, foreign relations, the arts, and crime.
John Vachon Paramount Theater and dairy truck, 44th Street, NYC 1943
Like most of you, I too see an increase in the use of the term ‘fascism’ in the media, and it is -almost- always linked to the rise of Donald Trump in the US and various politicians and parties in Europe, Le Pen in France, Wilders in Holland, Erdogan in Turkey, plus a pretty bewildering and motley crew of ‘groups’ in Eastern Europe (Hungary’s Orban) and Scandinavia. I guess you could throw in Nigel Farage and UKIP in Britain as well.
And while I -sort of- understand why the term is used the way it is, and it’s not possible to say it’s used wrong simply because ‘fascism’ knows so many different interpretations and definitions, very few of which can be classified as definitely wrong, that doesn’t mean that just because you’re not definitely wrong, you’re therefore right, and certainly not comprehensive or complete. And there’s a story in there that deserves to be told. Who is really the fascist? From Wikipedia:
George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist'”. Richard Griffiths said in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”. “Fascist” is sometimes applied to post-war organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term “neo-fascist”.
I’m inclined to venture that ‘terrorism’ is a good second for most misused word, but something tells me that once you get into economics and the way terms like ‘stimulus’, ‘unemployment’ and ‘inflation’ are used, this is an argument that would never end. Let’s stick with ‘fascism’ for now.
The prevalent definition -and public notion- of fascism today is connected first and foremost to Adolf Hitler, to the Holocaust, the SS and other German WWII ‘phenomena’. And it’s quite something to link Trump or Le Pen to that, even if they say things at times that may make you shudder. It seems at least a tad hyperbolic, no matter how much you may not like these people. Neither is responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
What’s more interesting, because it can provide perspective, is to look at what fascism is (or was) prior to, and beyond, Hitler and Germany. One man stands out in this: Benito Mussolini, Italian prime minister slash wannabe dictator from 1922 till 1943, who’s even often labeled the founder of fascism (though its roots go back much further). But for Mussolini, fascism was not what Hitler has made us define it as.
For Mussolini, fascism was much more about corporatism (or corporativism, or fascist corporatism), of letting corporations write, define and perhaps even execute a country’s economic policies. And have a strong man -he meant himself- coordinate these policies in government. Where civil servants would inflict them on the people. Mussolini’s idea(l) of fascism was very nationalistic, but also -surprisingly?- anti-conservative. It was “against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left”.
“Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center … These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don’t give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words.”
Hitler, in his early days, remained very close to Mussolini’s (and other people’s) definitions. Nazism stands for national socialism.
But what I’m really trying to get at is that if you look closer at these definitions and interpretations, you can made a solid case that it’s not Trump and Le Pen who are the fascists, but instead the present incumbents in our governments, as well as those belonging to the same political class and parties as them, and who aspire to one day fill their seats and shoes.
That the fact that politics and economics (‘politico-economics’) can no longer be seen as separate entities, as I argued recently in “The Only Thing That Grows Is Debt”, conforms pretty much one-on-one to Mussolini’s definition of fascism.
‘Politico-economics’ (a.k.a corporatism) is our present form of government, even of organizing our entire societies, and it’s the very thing people protest against when they vote for Trump and Le Pen (and against Cameron when they vote for Brexit). This would seem to put the claim that Trump is a fascist on its head. Trump is the reaction to fascism as defined by Mussolini, as are le Pen and Orban and Wilders and the others, even as they are accused of being fascists themselves.
Corporations, the elite, govern our societies, no matter that there is still a thin veneer of democratic rights -barely- visible. It makes no difference in the States whether you vote Democratic or Republican, they are the same thing – except for a few intentionally well-conserved minor details.
The same is true all across Europe. In Greece, left-wing Syriza governs in a coalition with very-right-wing Independent Greeks. In Holland, former adversaries from the left and right sit happily in a cabinet and nobody thinks that’s strange. That why people like Le Pen and Wilders and Trump can become what they are today. There is a politico-economic vacuum.
The former differences between parties don’t matter anymore because on major issues politicians have no decision-making voice, they simply do what they are told. And if they do that well, they get handsomely compensated for it. The ultimate paragons of this development are not Trump and le Pen, but Obama, Cameron, both Clintons, Hollande, Merkel, the list is endless because the corporatist takeover is well-nigh complete across the board.
These ‘leaders’ represent a society in which there is no dividing line between politics and economics. They, and their paymasters, have achieved Mussolini’s ideal, something he himself -ironically- never accomplished.
And we could take this argument a step further: even if you would want to talk about the ‘Hitler brand of fascism’, the violence, the large-scale murder, you still have Trump and Le Pen with zero kills to their name, while Obama, Cameron, both Clintons, Hollande, Merkel et al are responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives lost. Just watch what’s coming in the next batch of Clinton emails Wikileaks is set to publish.
In a next step, while we’re at it, we could hold up Mussolini’s fascism ideals and look at what they have in common with trade deals such as TPP and TTiP. Plenty, obviously. Though they are not in sync with the nationalist component of his definition, they do represent a much larger drive than anything that has preceded them in human history, to hand over -the last vestiges of- political power to the corporate sector.
And who’s in favor of these deals? The incumbent politico-economic classes that have taken over our governments. Even as resistance to the deals is surging, they are undoubtedly as we speak scrambling to find ways, legal or not, democratic or not, to push them through. Trump, Le Pen, Wilders want nothing to do with them.
Obviously, the sitting parties in Congress want nothing more than for Trump to be branded a fascist. Which is why Hillary Clinton not long ago compared him to Adolf Hitler. Through a wider philosophical and historical lens, there are two issues with that claim. First, Trump hasn’t killed anyone. Second, the person making the claim has.
The problem for Hillary is that a lot of Americans understand this. And that because of this such claims have started to backfire in a 180º turnaround. You can witness the same process in Britain’s Brexit debate, and in many other countries.
I’m not writing this to support Trump or Le Pen, they’re not my kind of people at all. But neither is Hillary. I write it to warn people away from vacuous claims and statements. Which are not only dishonest, they have started to support the very people they’re made against. The political climate is changing, because the economy is tanking.
And I write this to indicate that fascism may well already be amongst us, and it would be a good idea if we learned to recognize it. To suggest that perhaps, if we’re honest, Hillary is closer to Mussolini than Trump is to Hitler.
Look, we could talk our faces blue about the differences and analogies between fascism and racism, something the ‘new right wing’ seems to have plenty of, and something Muhammad Ali’s death and yesterday’s Orlando massacre should teach us yet another lesson about. And we could talk about what they might potentially do if/when they acquire political power. But none of that makes these people fascists. Whereas the other side of the equation, the incumbents…