Jan 122023
 


Heinrich Hofmann Christ and the Rich Young Man 1889

 

Is Coincidence Now The Leading Cause Of Death? (Emerald)
The City Of Soledar Has Been Liberated By The Wagner PMC (Saker)
Wagner Comments On Ukrainian Casualties In Soledar (RT)
Zelensky Tries To Reassure Hollywood: “There Will Be No Third World War” (ZH)
Nothing That Our Adversaries Predicted Has Happened – Putin (RT)
Kremlin Explains Why There Are No Peace Talks On Ukraine (RT)
Using Ukraine as a Bloodied Pawn (Antiwar)
Share Prices Of NATO Weapons Makers Surge (RT)
Why Biden and Trump Are Treated Differently in Classified Document Cases (ET)
Biden’s ‘Surprise’: Classified Documents Were Moved At Least Twice (Turley)
Top Dems Fume As Kevin McCarthy Boots Them From Key Committee Positions (AW)
India Won’t Support G7 Price Cap On Russian Oil – Analyst (RT)
Italy and the EU Are on Collision Course as Economic Conditions Worsen (NC)
Greece, Malta Lag Behind In Sanctioning Russian Assets – EU Official (RT)
WEF Partner Behind Sudden Push to Ban Gas Stoves (GP)

 

 

 

 

Pentagon controlled Covid – Whole FDA approval process was theater.
https://twitter.com/TheChiefNerd/status/1613316088690876418

 

 

 

 

Tucker RFK jr

 

 

 

 

Trust the science

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good video.

Is Coincidence Now The Leading Cause Of Death? (Emerald)

Vaccinated people around the world are now dying of “sudden cardiac events” according to the latest data we have from the CDC. Just comb through the data published by the Ethical Skeptic on Twitter if you don’t believe me.

But you knew that already — if you watched what happened to NFL player Damar Hamlin. The situation was so bad that our corrupt corporate media actually pulled the arch-villain Dr. Fauci out of exile to defend the experimental COVID vaccines — thus implicating his “Wuhan baby” in Hamlin’s medical case of course. CBS News’ Major Garrett completely disgraced himself with this abject display — he might as well retire now to the Dan Rather Rest Home for Disgraced Journalists after he takes his next booster and prays to his pocket Dr. Fauci bobble-head doll. Big Pharma had already deployed its Twitter bots and its paid media shills to defend their products in the Damar Hamlin incident — only to discover that former NFL player Uche Nwaneri had died of a heart attack (aged 38) at home on the same day. That should be one coincidence too many for most people.

In fact, Damar Hamlin and Uche Nwaneri were just the tip of the iceberg. Two days later, pro surfer Marcio Freire died of a “sudden cardiac event” while surfing. (He was 47.) The next day, a 16 year-old girl died of the same thing while playing flag football at a Las Vegas school and an 18 year-old girl died of a “sudden cardiac event” while playing basketball in the Bahamas. The day after those tragic deaths, pro soccer player Modeste M’Bami died of a heart attack as well. (He was 40.) Two days later, a coach at Devine Middle School died of a heart attack in front of his students while teaching class. (He was 35.) Then a 21 year-old student at the Air Force Academy died of a “sudden cardiac event” while walking to class — and a boy at Western Brown High School in Ohio died of the same thing on the same day at his school.


It was getting hard to keep track of all these “sudden cardiac events” killing young and healthy people. Our corporate media was not keeping track of the deaths — so much as claiming that literally anything could have caused those deaths other than the experimental vaccines. You might call it Sudden Invented Syndrome Syndrome: our political elites and Big Pharma and MSM were creating new medical syndromes to cover up the biggest failed medical experiment in human history. You know it’s true. It could be Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS)! It could be commodio cordis! It could be climate change! It’s all a coincidence, you understand — and you should definitely not doubt the COVID vaccines, or Big Pharma, or your doctors, or your government. This situation was captured perfectly in the best video of 2023.

Coincidence

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“..NATO wants to fight Russia down the the last Ukrainian while Russia does not want to fight NATO down to the last Russian…”

The City Of Soledar Has Been Liberated By The Wagner PMC (Saker)

I do not have access to Russian plans, but I do not believe that the liberation of Soledar by itself will have a major impact for the planned “Big Offensive” the Russian forces are ready to execute. Yes, time is of the essence in warfare, but that means that, like in chess, sometimes that critical feature of time means that waiting is the correct use of that time. That being said, the liberation of Soledar will have a major effect on NATO supply lines, both on roads and railways. Again, the idea here is to transform the once unified NATO forces into smaller “chunks” unable to help each other. By all signs, this has been an extremely effective Russian tactic. Another location which NATO tried really hard to exploit is Kherson, yet all the NATO attacks failed and have now petered down to almost nothing (mostly UAV recon flight and regular artillery strikes).

Ditto for the Kharkov oblast were Ukie attacks mostly stopped. Finally, here is another important marker: the size of the NATO offensives. Remember how in the first months of the war the Ukrainian counter-attacks typically involved several brigades? Then much of what we saw were battalion-size attacks. Now most of what we see are very small, company-level, engagements. Such, engagements are futile by definition: why bother with a company-level attack which, even if fully successful you won’t be able to develop even tactically, nevermind operationally? The ONLY reason for such attacks are optics and PSYOPs. Period. The Russians won’t fight that way, because that way implies sending wave after wave after wave of bodies through into the Russian meat grinder for the sole purpose of taking a photo, making a video or claim another absolutely huge “peremoga” (all the NATO victories are huge, didn’t you know?).

Right now the KIA/MIA ratio between NATO and Russia is roughly about 10:1 and that is exactly how the Russians like it, even if they now have several hundred of thousand of soldiers in the South, East and North. Simply put, NATO wants to fight Russia down the the last Ukrainian while Russia does not want to fight NATO down to the last Russian. This is why NATO fights with bodies and Russia with (mostly) artillery shells. Conclusion: let’s not start acting like NATO and Ukie airmchair generals and declare that the liberation of Soledar is a “huge” victory. It is, however, very good news as it strongly suggests that the NATO first and second line of defense have been breached forcing NATO to regroup. Could that be the “first crack” in the NATO defenses? Maybe, maybe not, we need to see how NATO will respond before coming to conclusions.

Russian winter
https://twitter.com/i/status/1613153895638863876

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“..Russian control of the town now threatens to unravel the entire Ukrainian front in Donbass..”

Wagner Comments On Ukrainian Casualties In Soledar (RT)

Ukrainian soldiers surrounded in Soledar have either surrendered or been killed, Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Wednesday. Fighters of the private military company completely surrounded the Donbass town the day prior and are now clearing the extensive tunnel network in the salt mines underneath. “I want to repeat that Soledar has been fully liberated and cleared of Ukrainian army units,” Prigozhin said in a statement on Wednesday evening. “The Ukrainian troops that refused to surrender have been destroyed.” Prigozhin estimated that around 500 Ukrainian troops have been killed after Wagner forces closed the encirclement of Soledar. “The entire town is littered with the bodies of Ukrainian servicemen,” he said. Wagner fighters first circulated a video taken in downtown Soledar on Tuesday, as proof the town administration was under their control.


Later in the day, Prigozhin was filmed touring the salt mine tunnels as well, which he said Wagner was starting to clear as well. The tunnel network is approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) long and reaches hundreds of meters below the ground level. Prigozhin also quashed rumors, circulating due to a meeting of Russian and Ukrainian officials in Türkiye on Wednesday, that some kind of evacuation was being arranged. “There can be no word of any humanitarian corridor,” he said, noting that all civilians have already been evacuated from the town. Soledar had around 10,000 residents before the conflict. The Ukrainian army turned it into a strongpoint after being pushed out of Popasnaya in mid-2022. Russian control of the town now threatens to unravel the entire Ukrainian front in Donbass. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky had acknowledged on Sunday that the situation in Soledar was “very difficult” but vowed that Ukrainian troops would continue to hold “no matter what.”

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And while -at least- 100s of his people are dying, Frankie goes to Hollywwod.

Zelensky Tries To Reassure Hollywood: “There Will Be No Third World War” (ZH)

When we first heard that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would make a virtual appearance at 80th annual Golden Globe Awards Tuesday night in order to update the audience and American public on the status of the conflict, we thought it was a joke. It should be remembered too that the Oscar Awards rejected efforts for a Zelensky appearance last year (though he did give an emotional speech at the Grammys last April). But like with much else connected with Zelensky and the unprecedented pandering of American institutions for a foreign leader, it was all too absurdly real. He told the audience of Hollywood A-listers that “there will be no third World War” – citing Ukraine’s momentum on the battlefield. “The war in Ukraine is not over yet, but the tide is turning and it is already clear who will win,” Zelensky said after being introduced by friend and actor Sean Penn. “There are still battles and tears ahead.”

He launched into a bit of a history lecture, akin to his December in-person Congressional speech, reminding the television viewing audience that the Golden Globe Awards first got its start during WWII, and compared the current Russian invasion to “the struggle for the right of the new generations to know about the war only from movies.” That’s when Zelensky sought to assure Americans against what’s become a legitimate overarching concern – uncontrollable escalation between the US and Russia: “The First World War claimed millions of lives. The Second World War claimed tens of millions of them. There will be no third World War. It is not a trilogy,” Zelensky said, promising that Ukraine “will stop the Russian aggression” with the help of the free world.

“The war in Ukraine is not over yet, but the tide is turning and it is already clear who will win… We will make it together with the whole free world and I hope that all of you will be with us on the victorious day the day of our victory,” Zelensky said. For anyone worried that the world is inching toward nuclear Armageddon, these words are not cause for comfort – but quite the opposite… after all, it’s 2023 and a foreign head of state just appeared at a Hollywood awards show to tell celebrities he’s not expecting World War 3 to break out. But Kiev wants to combat growing global skepticism regarding the war’s outcome, in order to keep the Western weapons pipeline flowing of course. He also just pledged “victory” over nuclear armed super power Russia, and that a Ukrainian “win” is becoming “clear”… so let that sink in.

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“..there’s still much that needs to be done to secure Russia’s “absolutely … sovereign independent development despite all the external pressure and threats.”

Nothing That Our Adversaries Predicted Has Happened – Putin (RT)

None of the gloomy forecasts the West made about Russia’s fate in 2022 have come to pass, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the government on Wednesday as he commented on the West’s failure to disrupt the national economy. “Nothing that our adversaries predicted has happened to us,” Putin said as he thanked the government for its effective work throughout 2022, which helped Russia withstand international pressure amid unprecedented sanctions imposed by the US and its allies. “In no small way, that was the result of the government’s work,” he added. The president then said that there’s still much that needs to be done to secure Russia’s “absolutely … sovereign independent development despite all the external pressure and threats.”

He highlighted the fact that more efforts should be aimed at supplying the Russian forces involved in the conflict in Ukraine. Russia should also expand the technological capacities of its economy and encourage the creation of new industries and workplaces, he said, while strengthening the financial sector, the agriculture industry and some other economic fields. Following the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine in late February, the US and its allies in Europe and beyond imposed unprecedented sanctions against Moscow, targeting entire sectors of its economy, including finances and banking as well as aviation and space industries. In December, the EU, along with the G7 countries and Australia, introduced a price cap on Russian seaborne oil, set at $60 per barrel.

Last spring, many Western officials and media outlets predicted that the Russian economy would collapse under the pressure of sanctions and military expenditures, only to admit that Moscow managed to defy all of those predictions. In May, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic admitted that the Western sanctions were not working, as The Economist reported that the Russian economy proved to be “surprisingly resilient” amid high oil and gas revenues. In August, Bloomberg and the Washington Post reported that the sanctions failed to bring about the economic collapse that Western leaders had hoped for. In December, Putin said that Russia was outperforming many of the G20 nations despite sanctions. Earlier the same month, the Russian Finance Ministry said that oil and gas budget revenues exceeded the full-year target in the first 11 months, bringing an additional $9 billion to Russia’s coffers.

Putin 2016

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“Moscow says Washington and its allies are waging a proxy war at the expense of the Ukrainian people.”

Kremlin Explains Why There Are No Peace Talks On Ukraine (RT)

Russia would prefer peace talks with Ukraine over fighting, but sees no potential for them due to the positions taken by Kiev and its Western backers, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. The official reminded journalists on Wednesday that Ukrainian law “forbids the president of Ukraine [from having] any dialogue with us.” “Under the circumstances, in which Westerners are apparently not prone to allow Kiev to show any flexibility on the issue, we cannot say that there is any potential [for negotiations] at the moment,” he added. In October, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed into law an order by the Security and Defense Council, which banned any talks with Russia while its President Vladimir Putin remains in office.


Senior Ukrainian officials declared that talks with Moscow may only be possible after Kiev seizes control of all the land it considers to be under its sovereignty, including the Crimean Peninsula. Moscow said it was on the verge of signing a truce with Kiev in early April, after a breakthrough was achieved during Türkiye-mediated talks in Istanbul. The Ukrainian government made a U-turn, however, which Russia believes to have been the result of Western meddling. The US has declared “strategic defeat” of Russia in Ukraine as its policy goal and pledged to help Kiev “for as long as it takes” to achieve military victory. Moscow says Washington and its allies are waging a proxy war at the expense of the Ukrainian people.

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“Achieving such an objective would indisputably require a prolonged war in Ukraine – regardless of the consequences to the Ukrainian people.”

Using Ukraine as a Bloodied Pawn (Antiwar)

US and NATO officials routinely contend that assisting Ukraine in its war against Russia is a moral as well as a strategic imperative. Ukraine is supposedly on the frontlines of a global struggle between democracy and freedom on one side and brutal authoritarianism on the other. That justification lacks credibility for two reasons. First, Ukraine itself is a corrupt, repressive autocracy, not a freedom-loving democracy, even if one uses the most flexible, expansive definition of “democracy.” Second, the Russia-Ukraine war is a nasty turf fight over mundane stakes, not part of an existential global confrontation between good and evil.

It is hard to determine how much Western political leaders and their media mouthpieces actually believe their own moralistic propaganda. Some likely have drunk the Kool Aid, but others clearly have more practical (and less savory) reasons for wanting Washington to wage a proxy war against Russia. First and foremost, the financial benefits to the military-industrial complex are enormous. The United States has already provided more than $100 billion in aid to Kyiv, and a major portion of those funds are going to pay for Ukraine’s purchases (now or in the near future) of weapons systems from Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, or other manufacturers. Those firms also will benefit from the destruction of weapons already provided to Kyiv, since US stockpiles supposedly must be replenished. The usual collection of hawks already are sounding alarms that the arsenals of the United States and its NATO allies have become significantly depleted.

However, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin may have inadvertently disclosed a broader, ignoble motive for the proxy war. An April 2022 statement that he issued in Poland at the end of his stealth visit to Kyiv emphasized that Washington’s goal was not merely to help Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion, but to “weaken Russia” to the point that it could no longer pose a threat to any other country. Achieving such an objective would indisputably require a prolonged war in Ukraine – regardless of the consequences to the Ukrainian people.

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What kind of people hold and purchase these shares?

Share Prices Of NATO Weapons Makers Surge (RT)

The largest military and defense corporations of NATO member states have seen a 21.5% boost in market value in 2022 amid the military operation in Ukraine and the rearmament in Europe, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing data from Defense News and Tradingview analytics. Their combined market capitalization increased from $579 billion in December 2021 to $703 billion in December 2022, according to the estimates. The ranking included 25 companies with a capitalization of over $1 billion which are traded on the stock market and have military products dominating in their revenues, and are also actively involved in arms supplies to Ukraine.


Authors of the report name German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall as the top gainer over the last 12 months, with a 122% surge in share price. French drone and missile producer Thales saw its market value rise 54%. American defense contractor Northrop Grumman was up 44%, while stock in HIMARS rocket launchers maker Lockheed Martin gained 42%. Other notable mentions in the report include BAE Systems (+40%), Kongsberg Gruppen (+37%), General Dynamics (+24%), and Raytheon Technologies (+19%). The report pointed out that the value of NATO’s military giants was soaring while the overall Western corporate sector sank by 16% last year, according to the S&P 1200 index, suggesting that arms manufacturers were likely the main beneficiaries of the political crisis in Europe.

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Garland knew of the “Biden files” on Nov. 2, said nothing. But did order the raid on Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 16. There is no excuse.

Why Biden and Trump Are Treated Differently in Classified Document Cases (ET)

As Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) express concern that President Joe Biden’s retention of classified materials from his vice presidency may be “[swept] under the rug,” legal experts told The Epoch Times why Biden and former President Donald Trump appear to have been treated very differently in two strikingly parallel cases. FBI agents executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, in August 2022. The warrant said there was probable cause to believe there were “additional documents that contain classified NDI [national defense information]” or “presidential records subject to record retention requirements” at Mar-a-Lago.

By contrast, neither the Penn Biden Center nor any other address associated with Biden has been raided after classified materials were reportedly found at the center’s Washington office, which is located in a nondescript building about a mile from the White House. “What’s the difference in what President Trump did versus what we now know President Biden did?” asked House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), as reported by CBS. Biden’s attorneys have said that the materials were identified on Nov. 2, just days before an underwhelming midterm election performance by Republicans. Yet, the public wasn’t told of the existence of those materials until Jan. 9, two months after those elections took place.

That delay is indicative of “a political cover-up,” says Mike Davis, former chief counsel for nominations to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and the founder of the Article III Project. He sees it as part of a pattern under the Biden administration. “There’s a clear political double standard at the Biden Justice Department, which has been politicized and weaponized against Republicans,” Davis told The Epoch Times on Jan. 10. An expert on administrative law had a similar perspective. “The fact that this has happened really creates a rule of law: if you’re a Republican, you have to meet certain exacting standards when it comes to records, and if you’re a Democrat, you don’t,” according to the expert, who requested anonymity because company policy doesn’t allow employees to speak to the media.

“A Republican president must operate in a fishbowl. If you’re a Republican president, the presumption is you have to preserve everything. And you just have to be extra careful. If you’re a Democrat, rest assured, you’re going to have different procedures applied.” Under a more consistent system, he added, the standard set by Trump’s case would also have applied to Biden’s case. “The Justice Department shouldn’t have said, ‘Let’s negotiate. You guys review and tell us what you find.’ The Justice Department should have immediately had the FBI raid the offices. Why? How do we know, without documenting and creating an inventory, whether the documents were classified or top secret?”

Tucker Biden files

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“Clinton was also “surprised” by the discovery of the documents . . . after they could not be used as part of the earlier investigation.”

Biden’s ‘Surprise’: Classified Documents Were Moved At Least Twice (Turley)

With the reported discovery of a second batch of highly classified documents connected to President Biden, the decisions of Attorney General Merrick Garland are fast moving from the inexplicable to incomprehensible. Garland was presumably briefed that classified documents were discovered in Joe Biden’s old office on Nov. 2. He also presumably knew about the Biden documents when he appointed a special counsel to investigate the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago 16 days later. At the time of the appointment of Jack Smith, some of us noted the inexplicable refusal of Garland to appoint a special counsel to look into alleged Biden influence peddling and other crimes. Garland continued to refuse such an appointment even as he justified the appointment of Smith on the basis that Trump was running for the presidency.

Joe Biden is the president. What is the difference? President Biden, meanwhile, is feigning ignorance, simply saying he was “surprised” the documents were there. By not discussing the content of the documents, Biden minimizes his vulnerability to charges of obstruction or false statements. He can simply declare “surprise,” knowing that many in the media will welcome his silence as they spin the scandal. Despite the lack of information, the press and pundits have already declared there is no real national security danger and certainly no comparison to Mar-a-Lago. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, declared “There is no comparison. They were in a locked closet. They were not accessible.” So that is the standard? A locked closet? The Mar-a-Lago storage room was locked and later the security was enhanced at the request of the FBI.

It is fair to note that Trump and his staff are accused of false statements and obstruction. However, that does not change the same alleged crime of unlawful removal and possession. Biden is taking a page from the Hillary Clinton playbook. Recall the long-sought Whitewater documents. After the case was effectively over, they suddenly appeared. The New York Times called the documents “elusive,” as if they moved by free will. Clinton was also “surprised” by the discovery of the documents . . . after they could not be used as part of the earlier investigation. There are some obvious explanations for the documents being present in the office, particularly given Biden’s work on a book that discussed his work in some of the referenced countries like Ukraine. However, even that explanation raises more questions.

For example, Biden left office as vice president in 2017 and had an office at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after finishing his term until 2019. On February 8, 2018, the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement says that it opened its doors in Washington, D.C. So if these documents were removed when Biden left office, where were they in the prior year and were they moved repeatedly before they ended up in the Washington office? This does not appear a “one-and-done” mistake. Rather documents may have been at various locations over a five year period. None of this could be clarified with Biden simply expressing “surprise.”

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“McCarthy has the power to block Schiff and Swalwell. But the House will need to act against Omar serving on Foreign Affairs.”

Top Dems Fume As Kevin McCarthy Boots Them From Key Committee Positions (AW)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has just made good on another promise Tuesday to remove Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the Intelligence Committee. The Daily Mail is contending that it is payback from former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) stripping GOP Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) from their committee assignments during the 117th Congress. However, Republicans are asserting it is a promise kept to clean the House of radical leftists who they see as a national security threat. Republicans warned Democrats this was coming. Although conservatives won back the House with a slim majority, it is just enough to give them control and allow McCarthy the power to boot leftists from powerful committees.

Normally, the new Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries would present names for the committees to McCarthy, but the Speaker had already made it clear who would be blocked, which includes the three far-left representatives, according to Punchbowl News. “It’s not like it’s anything new,” McCarthy informed the media outlet. “Remember, this is what Nancy Pelosi – this is the type of Congress she wanted to have.” “Swalwell can’t get a security clearance in the private sector,” he noted of the California lawmaker who was allegedly honey potted by a Chinese spy named Fang Fang. “I’m not going to give him a government security clearance.” The woman helped Swalwell raise money for his 2014 campaign and many suspect he was sleeping with her.

The California Democrat claimed that he cut all ties to the alleged spy, but it was shown that he remained friends with her on Facebook long after an FBI briefing on her connection to China. “Schiff has lied too many times to the American public. He should not be on Intel,” McCarthy bluntly asserted. And then there are Omar’s antisemitic outbursts and anti-American sentiments. She even made conciliatory comments at the last moment, but it didn’t save her committee assignment. [..] McCarthy has the power to block Schiff and Swalwell. But the House will need to act against Omar serving on Foreign Affairs. With a Republican majority and numerous Jewish Democrats who don’t care for her, it should be no problem making sure she’s off the Foreign Affairs Committee.

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“At the beginning of 2022, Russia’s share of India’s oil imports amounted to just 0.2%. By the end of last year, it had grown to nearly one million barrels per day, reaching more than 20% of the country’s oil import basket.”

India Won’t Support G7 Price Cap On Russian Oil – Analyst (RT)

The chances of India backing the G7 price cap imposed on Russian oil are almost zero, as the country will prioritize its own political and economic interests, an Observer Research Foundation (ORF) analyst told TASS on Wednesday. Nandan Unnikrishnan said India would not be targeted with secondary sanctions for rejecting the mechanism introduced by the EU, G7 countries and Australia in December. The measures target Russia’s seaborne crude, banning Western businesses from providing insurance and other services in respect of the country’s oil cargo unless it’s purchased at or below $60 per barrel. “At the moment, prospects of India joining the oil price ceiling are almost zero,” Unnikrishnan said in an interview with the news agency. His comments followed media reports suggesting that New Delhi could join the Russian oil price cap if crude costs go above $60 per barrel. “India will pursue its own interests – economic, political, strategic. It is currently interested in importing cheap crude from Russia and won’t give up on this, as the nation makes big profits,” added the ORF analyst.


Unnikrishnan also noted that 85% of the Indian economy relies on the private sector, stressing that Reliance Industries, the country’s largest buyer of Russian oil, has significant assets in the US, but it has not stopped imports. He said Indian companies would act purely in accordance with their business interests. India, the world’s third-biggest importer of crude oil after China and the US, has been steadily increasing purchases of Russian crude over the past several months, taking advantage of discounts Moscow offered to attract buyers. At the beginning of 2022, Russia’s share of India’s oil imports amounted to just 0.2%. By the end of last year, it had grown to nearly one million barrels per day, reaching more than 20% of the country’s oil import basket. India reportedly remained Russia’s top importer for three months in a row as of December.

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“The 10-year bond yield has climbed above four percent (the level at which investors say panic sets in), nearly quadrupling the level of a year ago..”

Italy and the EU Are on Collision Course as Economic Conditions Worsen (NC)

Despite NATO’s Ukraine war being the driver of Eurozone inflation, the European Central Bank is determined to keep hiking interest rates even if that means recessions for bloc countries and another debt crisis for Italy. The ECB raised its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points In December, but also signaled that more hikes would follow in the coming months, which triggered a sell-off of Italian government bonds. Italy’s borrowing costs have risen to over four percent and are causing alarm in Rome. Meloni said the ECB should avoid making “choices that make things worse.” Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called the ECB’s decisions “unbelievable, baffling, worrying.” Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto criticized the ECB and its president Christine Lagarde for blindly following economic theory despite the harm it will inflict on businesses and workers.

“You have to justify this politically to your European citizens. You are not a Martian,” he said. Crosetto even resorted to accusing the ECB of aiding Russia with its rate hikes. The situation for Italy could worsen as growth slows and interest rates rise further. According to FT: “The new Italian government had “given little cause for concern for investors for now,” said Veronika Roharova, head of euro area economics at Swiss bank Credit Suisse. “But concerns may resurface if growth slows, interest rates continue to rise and [debt] issuance is picking up again.” Economists are now widely expecting all three of those to occur. Two-thirds of economists polled by FT predicted the ECB would start cutting rates in 2024 – likely after Italy and other states in the EU are in a recession. Again from FT:

“The ECB will start shrinking its €5 trillion bond portfolio by €15 billion per month from March by replacing only partially matured securities, putting further pressure on Italian borrowing costs. Ludovic Subran, chief economist at German insurer Allianz, said the eurozone risked a repeat of the 2012 bond market collapse “as fiscal options differ across countries without the heavy lifting of the ECB”.” Italy’s borrowing costs have already risen sharply since the ECB started raising interest rates over the summer. The 10-year bond yield has climbed above four percent (the level at which investors say panic sets in), nearly quadrupling the level of a year ago, and 2.1 percentage points above the equivalent yield on German bonds. According to Bloomberg, such conditions “threaten to unlock the same Pandora’s box that fueled the euro crisis of 2010-12, when the currency bloc nearly split apart as more-indebted countries faced a sudden, harsh tightening of financial conditions as investors sold off their bonds.”

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“..the EU is also working on making bypassing sanctions a criminal offence in all the member states.”

Greece, Malta Lag Behind In Sanctioning Russian Assets – EU Official (RT)

Greece and Malta lag behind their European Union peers in freezing Russian assets sanctioned over Moscow’s war against Ukraine, according to an EU official and an internal document, as the bloc considers confiscating the funds to help Kyiv, Report informs via Reuters. The 27 EU countries have so far reported freezing some 20.3 billion euros ($22 billion) of sanctioned Russian assets, with Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria each notifying actions totalling more than a billion euros. Almost every other EU country has frozen millions worth of assets, according to the document from the EU’s executive European Commission, which was seen by Reuters. By comparison, Greece had only notified the bloc of freezing assets worth 212,000 euros, and Malta 147,000 euros. “That is a bit surprising,” said the EU official, who spoke under condition of anonymity.


“Either they don’t have much, or they are not doing their job. Or they have done something but not communicated to us even though they had chances.” More than 10 months since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU currently has some 1,300 individuals and 120 entities blacklisted, as well as economic sanctions in place that include trade, transport, energy, banking, media and defence sectors. The EU’s attention turns this year to how and whether to confiscate the frozen Russian assets, and spend it on rebuilding Ukraine, an exercise where an estimated 300 billion euros worth of Russian central bank assets in Europe could also be at stake. There is little legal precedent and some member states voice major concerns about ensuing lawsuits, while others say turning the assets over to Ukraine’s benefit would be the right thing to do. Linked to that, the EU is also working on making bypassing sanctions a criminal offence in all the member states, which is not the case currently.

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“it’s all part of the plan.”

WEF Partner Behind Sudden Push to Ban Gas Stoves (GP)

The abrupt push by Democrats led by the Biden Regime to ban gas stoves has enraged and confused Americans across the country. The good news is we may have found the primary culprit behind the push and it’s connected to the World Economic Forum. RedState.com, which first broke this story, points out prominent Democrats and liberals never demonstrated an iota of concern over gas stoves before. Not even noted low-IQ Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who made an utter fool of herself by claiming a study shows gas stoves are dangerous to brain health. A major Twitter leftist named Max Kennerly also got in on the act pushing the supposed dangers of cooking with gas. Like AOC, he had never tweeted about gas stoves before. Look at this tweet by Libs of TikTok showing Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, Pocahontas, and AOC all cooking on gas stoves. Do they appear alarmed over the potential impact to their health?

So why the manufactured outrage over gas stoves? Where did this study AOC cited come from? RedState.com has the answer: “Regardless, it’s worth asking where this is all coming from, right? Why did Democrats all start moving in lockstep to ban gas stoves, seemingly with no prior concern at all? And sure enough, with a little digging, it’s been revealed that this isn’t just idle science taking place.” “The company behind the study is called “Carbon-Free Buildings.” That company is a partner of the World Economic Forum and has a true-believer CEO who wants to rid the world of all carbon emissions (which is impossible and would lead to mass extinction).” To no one’s surprise this all connects back to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The same megalomaniacs who years ago informed the masses that they “will own nothing and be happy.”


Certainly looks like the Regime and its fellow Democrats have received marching orders from their globalist masters. The WEF and the Democrats both share a common goal of eliminating fossil fuels for the commoners while they fly gas-guzzling private jets across the globe. The elimination of gas stoves qualifies another step toward completing their scheme. As the Joker from The Dark Knight once said, “it’s all part of the plan.” If you have not realized this until now, then you really have not been paying attention.

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The most famous figure in human history, according to the ranking of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is Aristotle. (MIT) collected and analyzed data on history and culture around the planet from 4,000 BC. until 2010. There are six people from Greece in the top ten.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The green heron with its neck at rest vs. fully stretched

 

 

 

 

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Mar 132018
 


Mayfair Building, Times Square NYC 1954

 

Sea Change Is Underway in Money Markets for Banks, Investors (BBG)
The Real Reasons Trump Blocked Broadcom’s Qualcomm Takeover (CNBC)
Donald Trump’s Attack on German Prosperity (Spiegel)
Trump Pushes EU to Cut Tariffs as Bloc Vows to Resist ‘Bullies’ (BBG)
Trump’s Metal Tariffs ‘Like An Atomic Bomb’ For European Firms (CNBC)
Is The Dot.Com Bubble Back? (Roberts)
China Plans New Ministries, Merger Of Regulators In Massive Revamp (R.)
Central Banks Are Looking for New Ways to Meet Inflation Targets (BBG)
Labour’s Nationalisation Plans As Damaging As ‘No Deal’ Brexit – CBI (G.)
Another Quandary (Jim Kunstler)
Russian Foreign Ministry Slams UK’s Comments On Skripal Poisoning Case (Tass)
Saudis Reportedly Wielding Veto Power Over Prince Alwaleed (CNBC)
The Rich Aren’t Happy About New Zealand Foreign Bolthole Ban (BBG)
The Pentagon & Hollywood’s Successful And Deadly Propaganda Alliance (RT)
Krill Fishing Poses Serious Threat To Antarctic Ecosystem (G.)

 

 

Is this where central banks fail in their quest for control?

Sea Change Is Underway in Money Markets for Banks, Investors (BBG)

While many fixed-income investors may be focused on the specter of higher long-term Treasury yields, there’s a sea change afoot at the shorter end – in U.S. money markets. The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and rates on Treasury bills are at levels not seen since 2008. The Fed’s move to tighten policy forms the backdrop for the increase, but an added force behind the surge this year has come from a deluge of supply as U.S. deficits widen. Higher short-term borrowing costs have implications for investors and also for banks, which find themselves paying up to borrow through the commercial-paper market as they compete to lure cash. “We are in a new paradigm,” said Jerome Schneider at Pimco. “The clear focus for the market is where will incremental demand come from to meet this supply.”

The Treasury has been jacking up debt sales this quarter: Net issuance is slated to exceed $400 billion, with the bulk coming in bills. The Treasury increased the 4-week bill sale to $65 billion, from as low as $15 billion earlier in the year. The march higher in Libor has widespread consequences despite regulatory efforts to replace it following a price-fixing scandal. About $350 trillion of financial products and loans are linked to Libor, with a large chunk hinged to the dollar-based version of the benchmark. Libor is among the main indexes, along with one-year T-bill rates, used to set U.S. adjustable-rate mortgages.

Assets in U.S. government-only money funds, which include bills among key holdings, have risen to $2.26 trillion, from $2.07 trillion last year. As the Fed keeps hiking, with the next move likely this month, the influx may continue. But for banks, the increasing appeal of T-bill rates is making them pay up to compete, through offering better returns on the commercial paper they use for short-term borrowing. “Banks still need funding and they need to entice investors,” Schneider said.

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Protectionism, national security. Where’s the anti-Trump lobby on this?

The Real Reasons Trump Blocked Broadcom’s Qualcomm Takeover (CNBC)

The threat of China factored heavily into the U.S. government’s decision to block Broadcom’s proposed buyout of Qualcomm. President Donald Trump, for his part, officially declared on Monday that the proposed $117 billion deal was prohibited on national security grounds. The president said in his order that “there is credible evidence” leading him to believe that Broadcom through control of San Diego-based Qualcomm “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” That conclusion may seem extreme given that Broadcom is based in Singapore — and looking to redomicile to the U.S., where it conducts most of its operations — but it’s not a fear of the Southeast Asian city state that is raising national security concerns.

“The case that has been constructed is that, given Broadcom’s business practices, the worry is that they will cut investment significantly, particularly in the 5G roadmap, weaken Qualcomm, as well as the U.S. position and allow Huawei, a Chinese company to take the lead,” explained Stacy Rasgon, chip analyst at Bernstein. The Treasury Department said last week in a letter to lawyers involved in the deal that Qualcomm was trusted by the U.S. government and cited Huawei as a competitive threat in the development of 5G, which is a telecommunications standard that will allow for faster transfer of data. Beyond those 5G concerns, there’s even more to Trump’s decision to block the deal, experts said.

“It is not just China, it is not just chips. It is broad technology. It is U.S. military power and economic power going forward and he’s got a very consistent point of view,” said Ron Napier, head of Napier Investment Advisors. “Trump has been saying all year long since he was inaugurated that security is very important to him, technology is very important to him, trade is very important to him and getting jobs back to the United States is very important to him. He’s making this all into one fabric,” he added. “He sees this as the U.S.’ last big stand if it’s going to remain the leader of the free world,” Napier told CNBC.

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Far too much steep is produced every year. THAT is the problem.

Donald Trump’s Attack on German Prosperity (Spiegel)

The looming conflict is a sign of the turning point at which the global economy finds itself. Recently, the economy in most corners of the globe has been healthy, with the world experiencing a rare phase of synchronous growth. But it looks as though that phase is now coming to an end. Interest rates are rising and sovereign debt is growing, the result of which is that governments are beginning to lose their flexibility and it is likely that some countries will soon face difficulties borrowing money on the open market. Increasing financial market instability shows that insecurity is on the rise. And in this situation, protectionist policies pursued by populists and nationalists harm economic growth and endanger international prosperity.

It is something on which a majority of economists actually agree: tariff barriers slow growth, put jobs at risk and drive up inflation. Once a trade war is triggered, there is no winner, although Munich-based economist Gabriel Felbermayr says that Germany has the most to lose. “There is no other country in the world that would be hit as hard.” Felbermayr, 41, heads up the Center for International Economics at the Center for Economic Studies (CES). The shaved-headed economics professor, originally from Austria, has examined just how devastating Trump’s economic policies could be for the German economy. Every fourth job in the country, he says, is dependent on exports. And in five key sectors – automobiles, machinery, electrical engineering, pharmaceuticals and precision instruments – fully three-quarters of all exports go to the United States.

“If the U.S. were to cut itself off, it would threaten the German business model,” Felbermayr says. “Everything would start teetering.” [..] The global steel market has been imbalanced for years, with producers manufacturing 1.6 billion tons of crude steel each year against an annual demand of just 900 million tons. China is primarily to blame for this lopsidedness. Inexpensive energy and low wages enable the country’s steel producers to sell their products cheaply around the world. If the U.S. were to make moves to protect its domestic steel producers, even more cheap steel would flow into the EU than is already the case. Were that to happen, says Wolfgang Eder, head of the Austrian steel concern Voestalpine, “Europe would threaten to become the world’s garbage pail.”

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The EU vows to stand up to bullies. Ask the Greeks about that one. What kind of person has the guts to say that?

Trump Pushes EU to Cut Tariffs as Bloc Vows to Resist ‘Bullies’ (BBG)

The EU told U.S. President Donald Trump it won’t be cowed by his escalating protectionist rhetoric and talk of punitive tariffs. “Europe is prepared,” Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said Monday as he headed into a meeting with his counterparts from the rest of the euro area. “We are not afraid, we will stand up to the bullies,” Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said earlier in the day. Trump returned to the offensive over the weekend, raising the prospect of higher levies on European cars and telling supporters at a rally that the countries of the EU have banded together “to screw the U.S. on trade.” The latest brinkmanship follows new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that are straining a transatlantic relationship already tested by disputes from climate change to Middle East policy.

“Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will be speaking with representatives of the European Union about eliminating the large Tariffs and Barriers they use against the U.S.A.,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers.” Trump’s rhetoric drew unanimous condemnation from European finance ministers gathering in Brussels. France’s Bruno Le Maire said that he’s concerned about “a trade war between the EU and the U.S.” while his Spanish counterpart Roman Escolano, making his debut as minister, said protectionism is always a mistake. Malmstrom accused the Trump administration of using trade “to threaten and intimidate” Europeans and using the issue as a “scapegoat.”

A meeting in Brussels between Malmstrom and her U.S. counterpart Robert Lighthizer on Saturday ended without a breakthrough, as the EU didn’t receive assurances that it will be exempted from the metal tariffs. “If anyone starts throwing stones, it’s better first to make sure he’s not living in a glass house,” European Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio said.

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If even more Chinese steel floods into Europe, that is now Trump’s fault.

Trump’s Metal Tariffs ‘Like An Atomic Bomb’ For European Firms (CNBC)

Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum could cause major disruption for companies in Europe, a business lobbyist told CNBC Monday, who argued that the U.S. president should have taken less severe measures to protect his domestic market. U.S.’s allies, including the European Union and Japan, are hoping to be excluded from new tariffs that Trump announced last week. The decision to raise steel import taxes by 25% and aluminum by 10% could hurt not only those industries directly, but also carmakers and construction firms which use the raw materials. Trump decided that the tariffs would be the best way to deal with overcapacity in these sectors and based his argument on national security.

“This is a very exceptional mechanism that is rarely used. It’s a bit considered like an atomic bomb, because really to use this is like saying ‘look we are really at a level where we cannot use anti-dumping or anti-subsidies’,” Luisa Santos, the international relations director at BusinessEurope, told CNBC Monday. [..] European steel and aluminum businesses are reportedly preparing for a collapse in local prices if the tariffs are indeed applied to their region. Charles de Lusignan, from the Steel Association for Europe, said ultimately the tariffs could mean a scaling back in Europe, with firms letting people go, cutting investment and also innovation. “We need to act immediately because the damage will be done within the first weeks,” he said. “In fact it might already be happening, because obviously an exporter knows that the steel might be blocked in the future so they already start sending it ahead.”

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Not a relevant question.

Is The Dot.Com Bubble Back? (Roberts)

Whether you believe there is a “bubble” in the Technology stocks, or the markets, is really not important. There are plenty of arguments for both sides. At the peak of every bull market in history, there was no one claiming that a crash was imminent. It was always the contrary with market pundits waging war against those nagging naysayers of the bullish mantra that “stocks have reached a permanently high plateau” or “this is a new secular bull market.” (Here is why it isn’t.) Yet, in the end, it was something unexpected, unknown or simply dismissed that devastated investors. This is why the discussion of “this time is not like the last time” is largely irrelevant.

Individuals no longer “invest” to become a “shareholder” in a publicly traded business. The “quaint concept” of “valuations” died with the mainstreaming of investing during the 1990’s as the “Wall Street Casino” opened for business. Today, investors only think in terms of speculating on “electronically traded bits of paper” in the hopes the value will rise over time. The problem, of course, is they are never told when to “sell” to capture that valuation increase which is the most critical aspect of the investment process. Instead, individuals continue to “bet” the “greater fool” will always appear. For now, the “bullish case” remains alive and well. The media will go on berating those heretics who dare to point out the risks that prevail, but the one simple truth is “this time is indeed different.”

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There goes the last shred of transparency.

China Plans New Ministries, Merger Of Regulators In Massive Revamp (R.)

China said it will merge its banking and insurance regulators, according to a parliament document released on Tuesday, in a series of proposed changes in the biggest ministry shake-up in years. In a long-awaited move to streamline and tighten oversight of the financial system in the world’s second-biggest economy, China will also transfer some of the banking and insurance regulators’ roles to the central bank, documents showed. In much-anticipated plans to create seven new ministries and a raft of government agencies announced on Tuesday, one of the most significant changes was creation of the national markets supervision management bureau.

The new body will decide on antimonopoly and pricing issues, replacing the roles played by the three national antitrust regulators: the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). Unifying the structure under one agency, rather than handing the responsibility to one of the three existing watchdogs, reflects the growing importance of the issue for the government. China will also form a powerful new competition regulator in a bid to ramp up oversight of mergers and acquisitions and price-fixing as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to make policymaking more efficient and coordinated. Since the beginning of last year, Beijing has cracked down on leverage and risky market practices, with China’s various regulators releasing a flurry of new rules in an attempt to rein in risks.

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Only, they don’t know what it is.

Central Banks Are Looking for New Ways to Meet Inflation Targets (BBG)

With so many central banks failing to hit their inflation targets, some are considering changes to the tool kits they use to steer their economies. Norway’s decision to lower its price target is just the latest example, and follows more or less official adjustments in Sweden, Argentina and the euro area. Even in New Zealand, the birthplace of inflation targeting, the central bank is shifting to a broader goal that includes a focus on employment. But there’s no one-fits-all solution for monetary authorities and debate is splintered. Raising inflation targets has been discussed equally intensively in recent years as reducing or amending them.

And while some central banks acknowledge a need to reconsider their mandates, others are doubling down on existing policies. Claudio Borio, a top official at the Bank for International Settlements, poured fuel on the debate in September with a provocative speech calling for a broad rethink that accounts for how globalization and technological advances have influenced inflation. “Shall we throw away the books?” ECB President Mario Draghi asked on Thursday. “There are serious costs about changing course on credibility and the anchoring of expectations. We can go on on this for a while about changing objective.”

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Think tanks are your friend.

Labour’s Nationalisation Plans As Damaging As ‘No Deal’ Brexit – CBI (G.)

The head of Britain’s biggest business lobby group has attacked Labour’s nationalisation plans as potentially just as damaging to the economy as Britain leaving the European Union without a deal. In a speech on Monday, Paul Drechsler, the CBI president, said renationalising large parts of the economy would cause serious harm to the UK’s reputation as a place for international investors, which he argued would be as bad as a hard Brexit and would damage job prospects and living standards. “So you want to nationalise energy, rail and water, and bring public services contracts back in house? Let’s see the evidence that it will deliver a better service to consumers at a lower cost,” he said.

The intervention by the lobby group – which represents about 190,000 companies, including transport and utility firms – constitutes a warning from the boardrooms of corporate Britain that they harbour concerns over Labour’s plans for the economy despite supporting the party over its stance on Brexit. The CBI was among leading business voices supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s move to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU. The lobby group warned before the referendum that Brexit could lead to almost a million job losses and cost the economy £100bn – the equivalent of 5% of GDP – by 2020. Drechsler challenged Labour to provide evidence that its plans would lead to a better service for consumers at a lower cost.

He said private investment had helped create jobs and improve the efficiency of utility companies since they were sold off under the Thatcher government of the 1980s, and argued that progress could be undone if they were taken back into state control. However, utility companies and railway operators have faced intense pressure over their service standards and prices at a time when households are under increasing financial strain. Public support has swung behind Labour’s plans for greater state control of several key industries – shown in recent polls that suggest widespread backing for nationalisation of the railways, water, gas and electricity.

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Mentally ill, cannabis.

Another Quandary (Jim Kunstler)

That crusty ole rascal, Gov. Jerry Brown of California, seems to be enjoying his sunset journey into Civil War Two or maybe the destination is more like Blade Runner (since we know that history only rhymes but does not repeat). Anyway, it’s not a good place. The once-golden state begins to look something like what one federal official recently called — dare I say it? — a shithole. “A mix of used hypodermic needles, human feces, and other trash litters the streets and sidewalks in a large section of downtown San Francisco, a local news outlet reported Sunday night. It’s a problem that has grown by epic proportions in recent years and has many concerned for the health and safety of some the city’s youngest residents…” — The Blaze

Yes, quite literally. This particular failure of the political Left started in the 1970s when states began aggressively shuttering their large mental hospitals. Many of these institutions dated from the late 19th century – ghastly old gothic revival warehouses for the mentally ill, fraught with overtones of abuse and neglect, scenes out of Vincent Price movies… lightning flashes through the barred windows… a scream in the night… hysterical laughter echoing down the dark, tiled hallways…. They were an embarrassment, for sure, and certainly an affront to liberal sensibilities. But, of course, they fucked up the remedy for that. Instead of replacing the giant old state insane asylums with smaller, better-managed institutions, they just released the inmates under the rationale that they were a politically oppressed minority group. And there it ended.

And so here we are, going on a half-century later, with an economy that manufactures failure and immiseration at a greater volume than its other finished products, and many more lost souls out on the city streets, and now we are an even more ideologically inflamed society than we were in 1973, with the ranks of intersectional oppressed minorities and aggrieved victim groups grown into virtual armies-of-the-night — and the mentally ill just lost in the crowd. It never seems to occur to anyone that a mental hospital can be run humanely, at an appropriate scale, and that these poor, sad creatures might, at least, be better off there with a bed, a bathroom, and somebody to check in on them daily than they are wallowing in the gutters of San Francisco and other cities. Surely there are up-to-date models in other lands for this kind of caretaking — if maybe we sent a few bureaucrats overseas to have a look.

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Who needs proof in an echo chamber? Whether it’s Theresa May or the House Intelligence case, the lines have been drawn long ago.

Russian Foreign Ministry Slams UK’s Comments On Skripal Poisoning Case (Tass)

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has dubbed as a ‘circus show’ comments of UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the poisoning of Sergey Skripal, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence, and his daughter. “This is a circus show in Britain’s parliament,” she stressed. “The conclusion is obvious – a next political media campaign based on provocation,” Zakharova added. Earlier, Theresa May said it is “highly likely” that Russia is responsible for the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter. Moscow urges London to make public the results of the investigation into the deaths of Alexander Litvinenko and Boris Berezovsky, Zakharova said.

“Before making up new stories, let somebody in the Kingdom tell us what the previous fairy-tales ended in – those about Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Perepilichny and many others who died under mysterious circumstances on British soil,” the diplomat said. Former GRU Colonel Sergey Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Julia on March 4 suffered from the effects of an unidentified nerve agent. They were found in an unconscious condition on a bench near The Maltings shopping center in Salisbury. Both are now in hospital in critical condition.

In 2004, Skripal was arrested by the federal security service FSB, charged, tried and convicted of high treason and stripped of all ranks and awards. In 2010 he was handed over to the United States under an arrangement to exchange persons arrested on spying charges. Later in the same year Skripal settled in Britain.

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The price of freedom.

Saudis Reportedly Wielding Veto Power Over Prince Alwaleed (CNBC)

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal remains chairman of Kingdom Holding Company following his release from detention, but the Saudi government reportedly has final say over decisions at the investment firm. Investment decisions at Kingdom Holding are now subject to approval by the government, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing senior Saudi advisers. Kingdom Holding has $12.5 billion invested across more than a dozen sectors around the world, according to its website. Alwaleed’s personal investment portfolio is also under government control, according to the Journal. Alwaleed holds substantial stakes in companies like Citigroup, Twitter, Lyft and Time Warner.

The Journal report does not indicate whether the government has exercised its newfound influence over these investments. However, sources tell the Journal the government has already intervened in a major real estate project, ordering senior managers at Kingdom Holding to abandon the Jeddah Tower, which would be the world’s tallest skyscraper when — and if — it is completed. Officials have directed Kingdom Holding to instead focus its energy on a new city called Neom, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build. The project was announced in October by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the influential king in waiting who is overseeing the kingdom’s economic transformation and spearheaded the campaign that led to Alwaleed’s detention.

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What happens when there’s only rich people left? Or: who cares about New Zealanders?

The Rich Aren’t Happy About New Zealand Foreign Bolthole Ban (BBG)

Rich-listers like Californian billionaire Ric Kayne have issued a warning to New Zealand – banning house sales to foreigners could hurt the country’s reputation and turn wealthy investors away. Kayne, who has built an exclusive golf course in New Zealand and wants to expand his investments, is one of several rich businessmen who claim the proposed new law will have unintended consequences. They’re seeking amendments to the draft legislation or its withdrawal in its current form. “The vision we have for what we would like to contribute to New Zealand is now being threatened,” Kayne wrote in submissions to a parliamentary committee examining the proposed law change.

“The new rules will “impact on us personally, and others like us who, having discovered this country, want to devote considerable resources to preserving, protecting and enhancing it.” The new Labour-led government came to power in October on a pledge to fix a housing crisis with a raft of measures, including a ban on foreign speculators buying residential property. While data suggest non-residents have only a minor impact on the wider housing market, support for the move was boosted by headlines about rich foreigners buying mansions and farms in New Zealand as boltholes away from the world’s ills.

House prices have surged more than 60% in the past decade amid record immigration and a construction shortfall. In biggest city Auckland, prices have almost doubled since 2007 to an average of more than NZ$1 million ($730,000). That’s made it more difficult for first-time buyers to enter the market and driven up rents, leaving increasing numbers of poor people homeless. “It’s really important for us that we sort our housing market out, that we give New Zealanders a fair go at buying their first home,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a television interview Sunday. While the country welcomes foreign investment, “what we want is good-quality investment that supports the productivity of the New Zealand economy,” he said.

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Ethics and Hollywood.

The Pentagon & Hollywood’s Successful And Deadly Propaganda Alliance (RT)

The Pentagon helps Hollywood to make money and, in turn, Hollywood churns out effective propaganda for the brutal American war machine. The US has the largest military budget in the world, spending over $611 billion – far larger than any other nation on Earth. The US military also has at their disposal the most successful propaganda apparatus the world has ever known… Hollywood. Since their collaboration on the first Best Picture winner ‘Wings’ in 1927, the US military has used Hollywood to manufacture and shape its public image in over 1,800 films and TV shows. Hollywood has, in turn, used military hardware in their films and TV shows to make gobs and gobs of money.

A plethora of movies like ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘Captain Philips,’ and even blockbuster franchises like ‘Transformers’ and Marvel, DC and X-Men superhero movies have agreed to cede creative control in exchange for use of US military hardware over the years. In order to obtain cooperation from the Department of Defense (DoD), producers must sign contracts that guarantee a military approved version of the script makes it to the big screen. In return for signing away creative control, Hollywood producers save tens of millions of dollars from their budgets on military equipment, service members to operate the equipment, and expensive location fees.

Capt. Russell Coons, director of the Navy Office of Information West, told Al Jazeera what the military expects for their cooperation: “We’re not going to support a program that disgraces a uniform or presents us in a compromising way.” Phil Strub, the DOD chief Hollywood liaison, says the guidelines are clear. “If the filmmakers are willing to negotiate with us to resolve our script concerns, usually we’ll reach an agreement. If not, filmmakers are free to press on without military assistance.”

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We’ve screwed up even the bottom of the food chain. Winning!

Krill Fishing Poses Serious Threat To Antarctic Ecosystem (G.)

Industrial fishing for krill in the pristine waters around Antarctica is threatening the future of one of the world’s last great wildernesses, according to a new report. The study by Greenpeace analysed the movements of krill fishing vessels in the region and found they were increasingly operating “in the immediate vicinity of penguin colonies and whale feeding grounds”. It also highlights incidents of fishing boats being involved in groundings, oil spills and accidents, which it said posed a serious threat to the Antarctic ecosystem. The report, published on Tuesday, comes amid growing concern about the impact of fishing and climate change on the Antarctic.

A global campaign has been launched to create a network of ocean sanctuaries to protect the seas in the region and Greenpeace is calling for an immediate halt to fishing in areas being considered for sanctuary status. Frida Bengtsson, from Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, said: “If the krill industry wants to show it’s a responsible player, then it should be voluntarily getting out of any area which is being proposed as an ocean sanctuary, and should instead be backing the protection of these huge swaths of the Antarctic.” Last month a study found a combination of climate change and industrial-scale fishing is hitting the krill population, with a potentially disastrous impact on larger predators.


Photograph: Justin Hofman/Alamy Stock Photo

The study warned that the penguin population could drop by almost one-third by the end of the century due to changes in krill biomass. Krill are a key part of the delicate Antarctic food chain. They feed on marine algae and are a key source of food for whales, penguins and seals. They are also important in removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by eating carbon-rich food near the surface and excreting it when they sink to lower, colder water. There is a growing global demand for krill-based health products which are claimed to help with a range of ailments from heart disease to high blood pressure, strokes and depression. A recent analysis of the global krill industry predicted it was on course to grow 12% a year over the next three years. Krill populations have declined by 80% since the 1970s.

Read more …

Jul 062017
 
 July 6, 2017  Posted by at 9:07 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Roy Lichtenstein Woman With Flowered Hat 1963

 

The Fed Grows Worried Its Loose Policy Threatens US Financial Stability (CNBC)
Fed Eyes September Announcement on Balance-Sheet Reduction (WSJ)
China’s Debt Binge Threatens Australia (CB)
Australian Housing ‘Bubble’ Fears Overblown, HSBC Economist Says (BBG)
Europe’s Quietly Growing Poor Population Is Getting Louder (Occupy)
German Banks Pose A Threat That Politicians Want To Hide (CNBC)
Saudi Arabia Chief Foreign Promoter Of Islamist Extremism In UK – Report (Ind.)
Theresa May: Austerity Prevents UK From Turning Into Greece (G.)
China’s Electric Cars Are Actually Pretty Dirty (BBG)
After Failure To Prove Trump-Russia Collusion, There’s Pro-Trump Websites (ZH)
Terrorists in Syria to Stage Provocations to Justify US Strikes – Moscow (Sp.)
Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA and NSA (M.)
Report In Sweden Claims Erdogan Orchestrated July 15 Coup In Turkey (SCF)
Three In Four Recent Greek Graduates Work For Less Than €800 A Month (K.)
EU Calls On Members To Aid Migrants Amid Rising Mediterranean Death Toll (G.)
EU Blamed For ‘Soaring’ Migrant, Refugee Death Toll (BBC)

 

 

I think the Fed has known this for a long time.

The Fed Grows Worried Its Loose Policy Threatens US Financial Stability (CNBC)

The Federal Reserve’s most recent interest rate hike came amid worries that keeping policy loose was posing increasing risks to financial stability and the economy. Fed officials indicated a determination to continue raising rates even with muted inflation levels, which they considered to be temporary and likely to rise over the long run to a targeted level of 2%, according to a summary from the June meeting of the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee. The Fed raised its benchmark rate target a quarter point at the meeting and outlined a plan to reduce its $4.5 trillion balance sheet of bond holdings it accrued while trying to stimulate the economy during and after the financial crisis. Meeting minutes released Wednesday indicated that Fed officials believe the balance sheet can be reduced with “limited” disruption to financial markets.

Officials also expressed little concern that low inflation would persist. However, Fed officials were divided on when the balance sheet runoff should begin, and did not release a timetable on when it would happen. Recent readings below the Fed’s 2% goal were attributed to “idiosyncratic factors, including sharp declines in prices of wireless telephone services and prescription drugs, and expected these developments to have little bearing on inflation over the medium run.” The rate hike came as several officials voiced concern over the effect, or lack thereof, that their recent measures were having on financial markets. Rather than causing conditions to tighten, they actually have grown looser since the central bank embarked on a series of hikes.

While the Fed has increased its benchmark rate target four times since December 2015, government bond yields have declined in recent months. Stocks have continued to gain in the second-longest bull market ever recorded, and multiple other measures of financial conditions remain loose. The meeting minutes reflected considerable discussion over why that was happening. Low bond yields, they reasoned, could be the product of “sluggish longer-term economic growth” as well as the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet of bond holdings.

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It’s time to say goodbye to the Fed and other central banks. They’re too destructive.

Fed Eyes September Announcement on Balance-Sheet Reduction (WSJ)

Federal Reserve officials have indicated there is a strong chance they will announce in September a decision to start shrinking the central bank’s portfolio of bonds and other assets, while putting off until December any further interest-rate increase. The moves would give officials time to assess how markets react to the balance-sheet reductions and to confirm their view that a recent slowdown in inflation will fade. Launching the balance-sheet plan in September also would afford Chairwoman Janet Yellen an opportunity to initiate it well ahead of any potential leadership transition. Her term as chair expires in February, and President Trump hasn’t indicated whether he would nominate her to a second term or replace her. While a final decision on the next Fed moves hasn’t been made, officials will have several opportunities in coming weeks to clarify their thinking.

The central bank releases minutes of the June meeting on Wednesday, and Ms. Yellen testifies before Congress next week. Officials will also gather in Jackson Hole at the end of August for an annual monetary-policy conference that will provide ample opportunities for them to offer further guidance. Earlier this year, some officials indicated they were considering raising interest rates in March, June and September and then starting the portfolio reduction plan in December. They did raise rates in March and June, but are considering the new strategy for several reasons. First, they agreed at their June policy meeting on how they would reduce the $4.5 trillion portfolio, and made that plan public. Some officials now think they might as well get started soon, given the U.S. economic expansion appears steady and global growth is improving.

Second, if Ms. Yellen isn’t nominated to a second term as chair, they would prefer not to wait until December and launch the plan shortly before her successor takes charge. Third, inflation remains a puzzle for the Fed. The unemployment rate fell to 4.3% in May, a 16-year low, yet price pressures have diminished in recent months, moving year-over-year inflation gauges further below the central bank’s 2% target. Some Fed officials in recent weeks have said they want to see more proof that such price softness is transitory before resuming rate increases, but haven’t signaled similar qualms about initiating the balance-sheet runoff. “Take the balance sheet, get that started, and position ourselves for a December rate increase,” said Chicago Fed President Charles Evans in an interview last month.

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But.. wasn’t it supposed to make Australia rich?

China’s Debt Binge Threatens Australia (CB)

No country can be indifferent to China’s economy, especially not Australia. We’re more exposed to what goes on in it than just about any other nation. China has long been the biggest market for our commodities, such as iron ore, coal and wool. And now it is the largest foreign buyer of our services, especially education and tourism. The upshot? Many thousands of Australian jobs depend on the health of the Chinese economy. Big Asian economies in our region – China, India and Indonesia – are bound to become even more important to us during this, the Asian Century. Our politicians like to dwell on the opportunities presented by the historic economic transformation to our north. But we’ll also need to be prepared for some nasty bumps along the way. The aftermath of China’s enormous corporate debt bubble could well be one of them.

For some years now China’s economic growth has been underpinned by an explosion in corporate lending. China has accounted for half – yes half – of all new credit created globally since 2005 according to the New York Federal Reserve. That’s a huge share for an economy that now only accounts for about 15% of the global economy. Alarm bells rang last August when the IMF pointed out the trajectory of credit growth in China was eerily similar to countries that experienced painful post-debt boom adjustments in the recent past. This includes Japan in the 1980s, Thailand prior to Asian Financial Crisis and Spain prior to the European debt crisis. The sheer pace of lending growth makes it likely many loans are going to marginal borrowers or unviable projects.

A recent Oxford University study that evaluated 65 major road and rail projects in China concluded just 28% could be considered “genuinely economically productive”. The rapid expansion of China’s less regulated “shadow banking” sector adds to the complexity. The Reserve Bank has described China’s financial system as “increasingly large, leveraged, interconnected, and opaque”. Authorities have recently taken steps to reduce credit growth in China but it continues to expand at a rapid pace. The Reserve’s latest review of financial stability published in April, said the risks continue to build. “The level of debt in China has risen significantly over the past decade to reach very high levels, with particularly strong growth in lending from the less regulated and more opaque parts of China’s financial system,” it said.

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Fire the guy, and all others like him.

Australian Housing ‘Bubble’ Fears Overblown, HSBC Economist Says (BBG)

Soaring home prices in Australia’s biggest cities are driven by strong demand and a lack of supply, rather than indicating a “bubble,” according to HSBC’s local Chief Economist Paul Bloxham. “At a national level, a key reason for rising housing prices has been housing under-supply,” Bloxham wrote in a research note on Thursday. “This also suggests that a significant fall in Australian housing prices, as occurred in the U.S. and Spain during the global financial crisis, is unlikely.” Five years of red-hot growth have left prices in Sydney and Melbourne up 80% and 60% since mid-2012, fueling bubble concerns. In June, Moody’s Investors Service cut the long-term credit ratings of Australia’s four biggest banks, saying surging home prices, rising household debt and sluggish wage growth pose a threat to the lenders.

Bloxham, a former staffer at the Reserve Bank of Australia, said that “fundamental factors” largely explain the price boom and, “as a result, we do not judge it to be a bubble.” Demand for housing in Melbourne and Sydney has been supported by domestic and international migration, foreign investment and a lack of new supply, he said. Price increases have been much smaller in places such as Perth, where demand has been weaker amid the waning of a mining boom. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has gradually been ratcheting up restrictions on riskier loans and in recent months the big lenders have all raised interest rates charged on interest-only loans. Bloxham said he believes these regulatory measures will help cool the market, along with lower demand from overseas and increased supply.

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“..more than 240 million people now live on the poverty line..”

Europe’s Quietly Growing Poor Population Is Getting Louder (Occupy)

[..] early last month, financial analysts lauded the explosive growth of the Eurozone, claiming that it had outdone the U.S. The ECB predicted that countries like Germany and France would be able to issue bonds worth over 600 billion euros by the end of the year. By all accounts it would seem that the storm has passed. The E.U. suffered long and hard, endured the departure of one of its most economically sound member-states, and has apparently managed to come out on top, even amid one of the most dire humanitarian crises in recent memory. However, a brief look at some the official reports published by E.U. economists paints a wholly different, less rosy picture. In March 2010, the European Commission published a detailed economic strategy that was intended to rescue the then 80 million citizens of the Eurozone from falling below the poverty line.

In a manner reminiscent of the Soviet Union, the Commission extensively defined “poverty” in as loose a terminology as possible, hoping to reduce the number of that population. It also measured income inequality using the wildly fluctuating per-capita incomes of each member-state. One of the more prevailing definitions used by the European Commission at the time was relative poverty: “People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in the society in which they live. Because of their poverty they may experience multiple disadvantage through unemployment, low income, poor housing, inadequate health care and barriers to lifelong learning, culture, sport and recreation. They are often excluded and marginalized from participating in activities (economic, social and cultural) that are the norm for other people and their access to fundamental rights may be restricted.”

The purpose of the strategy was to implement, for lack of a better term, a “glorious 10-year plan” that would lift up the failing economies of the less developed or ailing member-states, encourage mobility within the Union and enable those 80 million citizens to be lifted above the poverty line. In 2017, the strategy was given a new, thorough assessment by Bruegel, a Brussels-based economic think-tank, which revealed that it not only failed to achieve its goal (an understandable outcome under the circumstances) but also increased the number of E.U. citizens risking poverty almost threefold. As of June, the European Commission website stated that more than 240 million people now live on the poverty line (around one-third of the E.U. population), with a full 9% of citizens suffering from deprivation.

That doesn’t factor in the considerable population of refugees and other marginalized communities such as the Roma, or the desperate populations of underdeveloped areas in countries like Romania. So where does all this leave the E.U.’s poor? According to predictions, financial troubles will escalate the already growing trend of social exclusion affecting women, single parents, immigrants and others in the E.U. for years to come. Already, E.U. citizens are choosing to abandon higher education in favor of steady employment. In countries like Greece, Macedonia and other member-states with expansive rural areas, the exodus of able-bodied young people combined with an aging population will lead to a long-term economic drain from which they may never recover.

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Too many banks? Or too much debt?

German Banks Pose A Threat That Politicians Want To Hide (CNBC)

With the Italian banking system in the spotlight, analysts have highlighted that Germany’s lenders are still not out of the woods, saying shipping loans and too many bank branches are some of the very real problems they are currently facing. German officials repeatedly tell EU members from the south of Europe to restructure their banking systems but industry experts believe they have a problem of their own as federal elections approach. “Germany is overbanked, too many banks, very little consolidation has taken place,” Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany, told CNBC via email on Wednesday. There are approximately 2,400 separate banks with more than 45,000 branches throughout the country and over 700,000 employees, according to Commercial Banks Guide, an industry website.

This increases the cost income ratio for banks, Brzeski explained. Meanwhile, the IMF warned last May that cost-to-income and leverage remain high in Germany. “Low profitability reflects structural inefficiencies, persistent crisis legacy issues, provisions for compliance violations, and the need to adjust to the new regulatory environment,” the IMF said in the report last May. Another problem seems to be the reliance on the shipping industry for many banks. “I would point towards some specific issues with asset quality: Shipping is one of the priorities of the single supervisor, the ECB, for next year,” Gildas Surry, senior analyst at Axiom Alternative Investments, told CNBC on Wednesday when citing the biggest problem for the German banking sector.

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As May refuses to make public a government report. Dead end.

Saudi Arabia Chief Foreign Promoter Of Islamist Extremism In UK – Report (Ind.)

Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a report has warned. The conservative Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations preaching violence and foreign state funding. In a new report entitled “Foreign Funded Islamist Extremism in the UK”, the thinktank calls for a public inquiry into extremism bankrolled by other countries. It suggests several Gulf states and Iran are responsible for much of the foreign funding of extremism in the UK, but that Saudi Arabia in particular had spent millions on exporting its conservative branch of Wahhabi Islam to Muslim communities in the West since the 1960s.

The thinktank, run by controversial journalist and political commentator Douglas Murray, said this typically took the form of endowments to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which host radical preachers and distribute extremist literature. The report calls for a public inquiry in Saudi Arabia’s connections with UK based extremism. The UK’s Saudi Arabian embassy told the BBC the allegations were “categorically false”. But it comes as the Government is facing mounting pressure to release its own report into Saudi funding of extremism. Responding to a parliamentary question on Tuesday, Theresa May said ministers were “considering advice on what is able to be published and will report to Parliament with an update in due course”.

The report, which has been in Ms May’s personal possession for six months, was first commissioned by David Cameron in 2015 following an agreement with the Liberal Democrats to get their support for Syrian air strikes. But last month a spokesman for the Home Office admitted to the Guardian that the report may not be published because its contents were “very sensitive”. Since coming to power in July last year, Ms May has courted the conservative kingdom, which is one of the main buyers of UK-made arms. Earlier this year, the Government approved £3.5bn-worth of arms exports licences to the Gulf state.

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This is getting too absurd. She’s claiming austerity can rescue a nation, but look at Greece. Someone like Steve Keen should set May straight once and for all. Corbyn doesn’t sound terribly clear either.

Theresa May: Austerity Prevents UK From Turning Into Greece (G.)

Theresa May raised the spectre of a Greek-style economic collapse if Britain fails to press ahead with tackling the deficit on Wednesday, as she was challenged repeatedly by Jeremy Corbyn over the public sector pay cap. With intense political pressure on the prime minister – including from her own cabinet colleagues – to ease the strain for cash-strapped public servants, including nurses and teachers, she warned MPs about the risks of loosening the purse strings. “This is not a theoretical issue. Let us look at those countries that failed to deal with it. In Greece, where they have not dealt with the deficit … What did we see with that failure to deal with the deficit? Spending on the health service cut by 36%. That does not help nurses or patients,” she said.

Comparisons with Greece were repeatedly used by George Osborne in 2010 to justify public spending cuts, as riots erupted on the streets of Athens over the stringent bailout conditions imposed by the IMF and the eurozone. But the analogy represented a significant ratcheting up of the pro-austerity argument from May. A Conservative spokesman emphasised remarks afterwards, saying: “There are siren calls from Labour to abandon any kind of fiscal restraint whatsoever. What happens, we’ve seen as a case study, is what happened in Greece.” He added: “I think she was suggesting if Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party got the chance to impose its fiscal policies on the United Kingdom that is a very real threat.”

A spokesman for Corbyn described the claims as “preposterous”. “The situation in Greece is tied up with the eurozone and the management of the eurozone banks – we’re not remotely in that situation. Our manifesto and our pledges were costed, unlike the government’s,” he said.

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Prediction: the Green crowd is not going to listen.

China’s Electric Cars Are Actually Pretty Dirty (BBG)

China has been making great strides toward electrification. Electric vehicle sales are booming: Consumers bought more than 300,000 last year, and more than 5 million are expected to be on the road by 2020. The government just announced bold plans for a wave of big new battery factories. Encouraging as that may be, though, the move away from conventional cars and trucks won’t immediately reduce the country’s carbon emissions. On the contrary, the production and exploitation of electric vehicles in China actually produces more greenhouse gases and consumes more overall energy. In the short run, China’s moves could make greenhouse emissions go up, not down. Electric vehicles seem environmentally benign. They’re lightweight, energy-efficient, and potentially greener than their conventional counterparts.

But the reality is more complex. Their manufacture entails energy-intensive mining of rare elements, such as the lithium required for their batteries. Their fuel efficiency can make up for that in the course of use, but only if the electricity is produced in a relatively clean way. Developed nations get the best results, because they tend to generate electricity using cleaner sources. By one estimate, the average electric car in the U.S. has just half the greenhouse gas impact of a conventional car over its life cycle. It’s even less in the western, southern and northeastern parts of the country, where power plants draw more renewable power. A comprehensive energy model being developed by Argonne National Laboratory produces a similar estimate.

Europe does well, too. Looking at all the processes involved in the manufacture, use, and ultimate disposal of a range of both electrical and conventional vehicles, Norwegian researchers found that electric vehicles offer at least a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (assuming they were driven about 150,000 kilometers). To be sure, electric-vehicle batteries impose a host of other environmental costs linked to the mining of rare metals. But on carbon emissions, electric vehicles win out. The real challenge to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be in developing nations – especially China, which is likely to dominate the global auto market for decades to come. Unfortunately, the structure of China’s industrial economy will make it difficult. One recent study by Chinese engineers estimated that electric vehicles generate about a 50% increase in both greenhouse gas emissions and total energy consumption over their life cycle. The manufacture of the lithium-ion battery alone accounts for 13% of the energy consumption and 20% of the emissions.

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It’s high time for a reset. The narrative is dead.

After Failure To Prove Trump-Russia Collusion, There’s Pro-Trump Websites (ZH)

Having failed miserably to produce even one single shred of tangible evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to stage a coup in 2016’s presidential election, Democrats, rather than simply admit that their entire crusade to prove a false narrative was nothing more than a charade designed to cover up their embarrassing defeat, have decided to shift the narrative to target “pro-Trump websites.” You know, because a couple of websites sharing stories over Facebook clearly overshadowed the 24/7 Hillary Clinton cheerleading sessions on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, Washington Post, New York Times… Per The Guardian, this convenient shift in the ‘Russian hacking’ narrative comes just as Trump’s former head of digital media has been summoned to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer for his alleged ‘sins:”

“The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Investigators are looking into whether Trump supporters and far-right websites coordinated with Moscow over the release of fake news, including stories implicating Clinton in murder or pedophilia, or paid to boost those stories on Facebook.The head of the Trump digital camp, Brad Parscale, has reportedly been summoned to appear before the House intelligence committee looking into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US election. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee carrying out a parallel inquiry, has said that at least 1,000 “paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia” were pumping anti-Clinton fake news into social media sites during the campaign.”

Ironically, the same investigators digging into the “Trump collusion” narrative admit that similar media campaigns were used during the Democratic primaries in favor of Bernie Sanders. Oddly, however, there has been no organized effort to figure out whether or not Bernie conspired with Putin to destroy Clinton’s chances at the White House. A huge wave of fake news stories originating from eastern Europe began washing over the presidential election months earlier, at the height of the primary campaign. John Mattes, who was helping run the outline campaign for the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders from San Diego, said it really took off in March 2016. “In a 30-day period, dozens of full-blown sites appeared overnight, running full level productions posts. It screamed out to me that something strange was going on,” Mattes said. Much of the material was untraceable, but he tracked 40% of the new postings back to eastern Europe.

Four of the Facebook members posting virulent and false stories about Clinton (suggesting, for example, that she had profited personally by arming Islamic State extremists) had the same name, Oliver Mitov. They all had a very small number of Facebook friends, including one which all four had in common. When Mattes tried to friend them and contact them there was no reply.

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Does anyone still notice the lack of evidence?

Terrorists in Syria to Stage Provocations to Justify US Strikes – Moscow (Sp.)

According to information in the possession of Russian Foreign Ministry, terrorists in Syria are planning to stage chemical provocations in order to justify US strikes on government forces, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during her weekly presser on Thursday. Russia believes terrorists in Syria plan to stage chemical attacks in order to justify US airstrikes against the Syrian military, Zakharova said. “According to information available [to us], Syrian terrorist groups plan staged provocative actions with the use of chemical poison gases to justify US strikes against the positions of the Syrian government forces,” Zakharova told a weekly briefing.

Daesh has deployed chemical laboratories and special equipment for creating chemical bombs to Deir ez-Zor from Raqqa in Syria, Zakharova revealed. The relocation of the laboratories from Raqqa speaks to the US-led coalition’s “selective reluctance to see facts” and “aiding insurgents,” according to Zakharova. The spokeswoman reiterated that Russia will seek thorough probe of the April 4 incident in Khan Sheikhoun in addition to other ‘chemical’ provocations against the Syrian authorities. “We will continue to consistently seek the most professionally rigorous and politically impartial investigation into the investigation of both the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident and other persistent chemical provocations against the legitimate Syrian government,” Zakharova said.

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Setting the social mood. Robert Prechter can tell you a lot about that. But he sees it as a phenomenon that moves itself.

Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA and NSA (M.)

When we first looked at the relationship between politics, film and television at the turn of the 21st century, we accepted the consensus opinion that a small office at the Pentagon had, on request, assisted the production of around 200 movies throughout the history of modern media, with minimal input on the scripts. How ignorant we were. More appropriately, how misled we had been. We have recently acquired 4,000 new pages of documents from the Pentagon and CIA through the Freedom of Information Act. For us, these documents were the final nail in the coffin. These documents for the first time demonstrate that the US government has worked behind the scenes on over 800 major movies and more than 1,000 TV titles.

The previous best estimate, in a dry academic book way back in 2005, was that the Pentagon had worked on less than 600 films and an unspecified handful of television shows. The CIA’s role was assumed to be just a dozen or so productions, until very good books by Tricia Jenkins and Simon Willmetts were published in 2016. But even then, they missed or underplayed important cases, including Charlie Wilson’s War and Meet the Parents. Alongside the massive scale of these operations, our new book National Security Cinema details how US government involvement also includes script rewrites on some of the biggest and most popular films, including James Bond, the Transformers franchise, and movies from the Marvel and DC cinematic universes.

A similar influence is exerted over military-supported TV, which ranges from Hawaii Five-O to America’s Got Talent, Oprah and Jay Leno to Cupcake Wars, along with numerous documentaries by PBS, the History Channel and the BBC. National Security Cinema also reveals how dozens of films and TV shows have been supported and influenced by the CIA, including the James Bond adventure Thunderball, the Tom Clancy thriller Patriot Games and more recent films, including Meet the Parents and Salt. The CIA even helped to make an episode of Top Chef that was hosted at Langley, featuring then-CIA director Leon Panetta who was shown as having to skip dessert to attend to vital business. Was this scene real, or was it a dramatic statement for the cameras?

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Expect Erdogan to be loud and poresent this weekend around the G20.

Report In Sweden Claims Erdogan Orchestrated July 15 Coup In Turkey (SCF)

Last year’s failed coup attempt in Turkey is nothing but a false flag orchestrated by Turkey s autocratic President Recep Tayip Erdogan and his henchmen to create a pretext for a mass persecution of critics and opponents in a state of perpetual emergency, a new detailed study titled ‘July 15: Erdogan’s Coup’ by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) concluded. Based on publicly available data, the coup indictments, testimonials in court trials, private interviews, reviews of military expert opinions and other evidence collected by researchers, SCF is fairly confident that this attempt did not even qualify a coup bid in any sense of military mobilization which was unusually limited in numbers, confined in few cities, poorly managed, defied the established practices, tradition, rules of engagement and standard operating procedures in Turkish military.

This was a continuation of a series of false flags that were uncovered in the last couple of years under the authoritarian rule of Erdoan regime and it was certainly the bloodiest one, said Abdullah Bozkurt, the President of SCF. Erdogan appears to have tapped on widely circulated coup rumors in Turkish capital and staged own show to steal wind and set up his opposition for a persecution, he added. Judging from the results of the coup bid, Erdogan won big time by securing imperial presidency, consolidating his gains, stifle the opposition and even launching cross border military incursion into Syria for which he had been itching for too long. No wonder why he immediately called the attempt ‘a gift from God’. The report was originally published in Turkish. SCF plans to release an English edition soon with new changes and updated data.

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Shock doctrine. What can they do but leave?

Three In Four Recent Greek Graduates Work For Less Than €800 A Month (K.)

Almost three in every four (73%) people who graduated after 2011 in Greece collect no more than 800 euros per month, while one in six gets less than 400 euros per month, if they have a job, according to the findings of a survey the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) presented on Wednesday. That compares with just 24% of pre-2011 graduates who get less than 800 euros per month. In the years of the financial crisis graduates have found it much more difficult to find work, as the unemployment rate among degree-holders soared from 7% in 2009 to 18% in 2016.

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Report after report circles around money. Not people.

EU Calls On Members To Aid Migrants Amid Rising Mediterranean Death Toll (G.)

Brussels will urge European countries to give shelter to more refugees from Africa to ease the pressure on Italy, as record numbers of people attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The European Union executive wants all member states – including the UK – to contribute to resettling a total of 37,000 vulnerable people from five north African countries by the end of 2018. Interior ministers meeting in Tallinn on Thursday will be called on by Dmitris Avramopoulos, the EU home affairs commissioner, to make voluntary pledges by the middle of September. The appeal came as Amnesty International released a damning 31-page reportlinking “failing EU policies” to the the rising death toll in the Mediterranean, and shocking abuses faced by refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres.

The EU resettlement plan is focused on children, as well as victims of people smugglers and torture, from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Ethiopia. Most people making the perilous sea crossing from north Africa are deemed to be economic migrants not eligible for international protection. But the EU announced a relocation plan for vulnerable people as part of a package of emergency measures to help ease pressure on Italy. “It can be an important safety valve for people with vulnerabilities,” said an EU source. Frans Timmermans, European commission vice president, has made clear Brexit does not exclude the UK from the 2017-2018 programme, although pledges are voluntary. The plan, which has a strong emphasis on returning unwanted migrants, emerged as it was revealed that EU countries have paid in less than half of the funds promised to help African governments manage migration.

The Africa “trust fund” was announced with fanfare in 2015 to win African support for the deportation of unwanted migrants in Europe. Brussels has contributed €2.6bn (£2.3bn) from the EU budget, but officials are frustrated that national capitals are not digging deeper into their state coffers. Only €90bn of a promised €202bn has so far materialised. The UK has paid in €0.6bn of its promised €3bn, far less than Italy, which has paid €32bn. France, Germany and Spain have put in €3bn each, according to the latest data from the European commission.

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The EU will say: but look at all the money we gave! And then blames member states.

EU Blamed For ‘Soaring’ Migrant, Refugee Death Toll (BBC)

Amnesty International has blamed “failing EU policies” for the soaring death toll among refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean. In a report, it said “cynical deals” with Libya consigned thousands to the risk of drowning, rape and torture. It said the EU was turning a blind eye to abuses in Libyan detention centres, and was mostly leaving it up to sea rescue charities to save migrants. More than 2,000 people have died in 2017 trying to get to Europe, it said. The EU has so far made no public comments on Amnesty’s report. It comes as interior ministers from the 28-member bloc are meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, to discuss the migrant crisis. They will review a $92m (£71m) action plan unveiled by the European Commission to deal with the issue.

The commission proposes to use more than 50% of the funds to boost the Libyan coastguard’s capacity to stop traffickers launching boatloads of migrants out to sea to be rescued. The rest is to help Italy feed, house and process the migrants who get there. “Rather than acting to save lives and offer protection, European ministers… are shamelessly prioritising reckless deals with Libya in a desperate bid to prevent refugees and migrants from reaching Italy,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe director. “European states have progressively turned their backs on a search and rescue strategy that was reducing mortality at sea in favour of one that has seen thousands drown and left desperate men, women and children trapped in Libya, exposed to horrific abuses,” he said.

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