Jun 062022
 
 June 6, 2022  Posted by at 8:56 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  46 Responses »


Robert Rauschenberg Collection 1954-55

 

The War in Ukraine Can Be Over If the US Wants It (Barkan)
Russia Will Strike West If US Rockets Hit Us – Medvedev (Times)
Japan’s Perceptions of the Propaganda regarding the SMO (Patricia Ormsby)
UK Offers More Support For ICC War Crimes Investigation In Ukraine (G.)
US To Allow Venezuelan Oil To Be Shipped To Europe (Hill)
Biden Scrambles To Avoid Summit of the Americas Flop (AP)
Food, Gas Prices Soar With No End In Sight, Americans Change Habits (JTN)
Spanish Court Orders Mike Pompeo To Testify On CIA Plot vs Assange (ZH)
Ratcliffe: Durham Lost Sussmann Battle, But Winning War (NM)
Schiff Says Jan. 6 Panel Has More Revelations For Americans (Hill)
Twitter In Settlement Talks With Deplatformed Journalist Alex Berenson (JTN)
Musk’s Twitter Acquisition Clears US Antitrust Review (Fox)
Musk: Things I’ll Never See In My Life (CB)
Why Your Depression May Really Be Insulin Resistance (PT)

 

 

 

 

What Happens To Europe When Russia Wins
Europe Cannot Survive Without Russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desmet

 

 

Erdogan

 

 

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
–Albert Einstein

 

 

The US doesn’t want it…

The War in Ukraine Can Be Over If the US Wants It (Barkan)

The trouble with the seemingly bottomless pleas for more armaments for Ukraine is that with them a viable end to the war falls ever further out of reach. Though many American foreign-policy analysts and pundits believe the only acceptable outcome of the war is full freedom for Ukraine and a total repulsion of Russian forces, this remains highly unlikely and may put the world in further danger. That is Kissinger’s contention, and it’s one that must be heeded. If the American-backed military gains for Ukraine are fleeting and merely increase the odds of a more ruinous collision between NATO and Russia, should Ukraine keep receiving American missiles? This is the dilemma both Kissinger and Chomsky confront.

The economic shocks of the war cannot be dismissed any longer. Skyrocketing energy prices across the globe are destabilizing for affluent and precarious nations alike. Mass starvation looms — Russia is trapping 20 million tons of grain in Ukraine, which has been one of the world’s great breadbaskets. Ordinarily, Russia and Ukraine account for one-quarter of the grain traded internationally. Even before the war, strains on the global food supply were emerging with the pandemic and ongoing droughts in North America and the Horn of Africa. Wheat prices are now surging. And there is the faint possibility, always to be taken seriously, of nuclear conflict.

Kissinger is one of a vanishing number of men who worked in American government when nuclear war was a much-discussed existential threat to be averted at all costs. Russia is an enormous country that is going to play a role in global affairs for the rest of this century, just as it did in the past one. This fact cannot be hand-waved away, nor can the reality that Russia has stockpiled more nuclear weapons than any other nation in the world. Putin’s Russia is more unsettling than the Soviet Union because it is far weaker and dominated by fewer men; it simply has less to lose. As in the defeated Germany after the First World War, grievance culture might take hold, this time in a nation with enough nuclear warheads pointed outward to annihilate every large city on Earth.

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“The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are already on their way and all hope now is with Lord God the Almighty.”

Russia Will Strike West If US Rockets Hit Us – Medvedev (Times)

One of President Putin’s closest allies has warned that Moscow could target western cities if Ukraine uses rocket systems supplied by the United States to carry out strikes on Russian territory. Washington said this week that it was sending M142 high-mobility artillery rocket systems to Ukraine, which will more than double its army’s artillery range and allow it to strike targets 50 miles away. “If, God forbid, these weapons are used against Russian territory then our armed forces will have no other choice but to strike decision-making centres,” said Dmitry Medvedev, a former prime minister under Putin who is deputy chairman of Russia’s national security council. “Of course, it needs to be understood that the final decision-making centres in this case, unfortunately, are not located on the territory of Kyiv,” he said in an interview with Al Jazeera.


Officials in Moscow have accused Nato of using the war in Ukraine to wage a proxy war against Russia. Medvedev, who also served a single term as president from 2008 to 2012 but was widely viewed as Putin’s puppet, was once seen as a liberalising force in Russia but has transformed in recent months into one of Moscow’s biggest hawks. He also warned that the fighting in Ukraine was pushing the world dangerously close to nuclear Armageddon, saying: “The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are already on their way and all hope now is with Lord God the Almighty.” Kremlin-controlled state television has said on a number of occasions that Moscow could launch nuclear missiles against western countries, including Britain, if the war in Ukraine turns against Russia.

Long range rockets

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“Zelensky’s arming of civilians to help fight the invasion rendered the entire civilian population a military target under international law..”

Japan’s Perceptions of the Propaganda regarding the SMO (Patricia Ormsby)

I can attest as a woman living in Japan nearly four decades that I could not watch the news without feeling that I would be a monster if I didn’t have any sympathy at all for the victims, even if I considered it all unverified and mostly likely misleading. I can’t tolerate such a level of cognitive dissonance, and just flee after a few minutes. My husband and his brother, by contrast, can continue watching with no emotional involvement, just out of curiosity to see how far the authorities will take such obvious propaganda. In contrast to the successful emotional man-handling of the women, virtually all of the men I know in Japan quickly saw through the deception and many, in fact, took umbrage at it.

It was men who told me they were sick of hearing constantly about Ukraine. They pointed out how odd the unilateral condemnation of Russia was, considering this was the same sort of action America was constantly engaging in with other small impoverished countries far away that the news otherwise had no interest in. They recognized the attempted manipulation, and what they and an increasing number of women began to see behind it was an anticipated new attempt to rewrite Japan’s constitution enabling it to engage in military actions overseas. In addition, the talk shows never really managed to shut out pro-Russian views entirely. Prior to the SMO, there had been some positive coverage of Russia in the Japanese media. The knowledge people possessed from before the conflict could not be erased.

According to my husband, one commentator noted that Zelensky’s arming of civilians to help fight the invasion rendered the entire civilian population a military target under international law. The public’s perceptions of Zelensky’s role in the conflict changed. The Minsk Accords were brought up in one daytime program, catching one of the young “experts” off-guard. The general perception gradually formed among the public that there was indeed another side to this story. Russian signage was restored at train stations in April. I have not heard recently of on-line harassment of Russians (or anyone suspected of being Russian, including Ukrainians), which was occurring during the first few weeks of the SMO. Prior to Biden’s recent appearance in Japan, the propaganda increased, but seems to have subsided since then somewhat, though the other day they aired a documentary on what a dictator Putin is.

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“..the global community will work together to ensure justice is served.” Right, with another probe in Mariupol.

UK Offers More Support For ICC War Crimes Investigation In Ukraine (G.)

The UK Ministry of Justice has announced a second tranche of support for the international criminal court’s (ICC) investigations into war crimes in Ukraine, including the deployment of a specialist legal and police team. Karim Khan QC, the court’s chief prosecutor, will be in London on Monday to provide an update on the progress of the investigation. During this time, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab will present further support to the independent investigation on top of the £1m of funding provided earlier this year. The package includes a police liaison officer based in The Hague to lead on information sharing between the UK and the ICC, and seven legal experts to support the ICC with expertise in international criminal law and the handling of evidence to be presented to court.


The UK will also provide two police officers with expertise in the collection of intelligence through publicly available data sources, ongoing defence analysis and monitoring of events in Ukraine, as well as war crimes investigation training to Ukrainian police on behalf of the ICC, in collaboration with Norwegian police. “The UK has responded swiftly to a request from the international criminal court for more police and lawyers to aid their investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine,” Raab said. “Russian forces should know that they will be held to account for their actions and the global community will work together to ensure justice is served.” The attorney general, Suella Braverman, added: “Following my appointment of war crimes expert Sir Howard Morrison as an independent adviser to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, I am determined that British expertise continues to be available to our friends in Ukraine in their search for justice.

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Hmmm it doesn’t mention Guiado…

US To Allow Venezuelan Oil To Be Shipped To Europe (Hill)

The U.S. will reportedly resume allowing Venezuelan oil to flow to Europe, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The outlet on Sunday reported that Eni SpA and Repsol SA, which are Italian and Spanish respectively, could ship Venezuelan oil to Europe as early as next month after the Biden administration authorized the plan last month. People familiar with the matter told Reuters that the oil “has to go to Europe. It cannot be resold elsewhere.” The volume of oil Eni and Repsol will receive is expected to be fairly small with a minimal impact on oil prices around the world. The Biden administration’s reported permission to allow for the use of Venzeluan oil comes as part of a push to rely less on Russian oil and redirect Venezuela’s shipments from China, Reuters added.


In May, 18 progressive House Democrats wrote to Biden asking that he lift all sanctions against Venezuela that “exacerbate the humanitarian situation” amid President Nicolás Maduro’s alleged human rights violations. But earlier this year, talks of lifting those sanctions and engaging more with Venezuela about oil were criticized by lawmakers. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said a deal with Maduro for the purchase of Venezuelan oil “risks perpetuating a humanitarian crisis that has destabilized Latin America and the Caribbean for an entire generation.”

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It’s already a flop.

“The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.”

Biden Scrambles To Avoid Summit of the Americas Flop (AP)

When leaders gather this week in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas, the focus is likely to veer from common policy changes — migration, climate change and galloping inflation — and instead shift to something Hollywood thrives on: the drama of the red carpet. With Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador topping a list of leaders threatening to stay home to protest the U.S.’ exclusion of authoritarian leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, experts say the event could turn into a embarrassment for U.S. President Joe Biden. Even some progressive Democrats have criticized the administration for bowing to pressure from exiles in the swing state of Florida and barring communist Cuba, which attended the last two summits.

“The real question is why the Biden administration didn’t do its homework,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former Mexican foreign minister who now teaches at New York University. While the Biden administration insists the president in Los Angeles will outline his vision for a “sustainable, resilient, and equitable future” for the hemisphere, Castañeda said it’s clear from the last-minute wrangling over the guest list that Latin America is not a priority for the U.S. president. “This ambitious agenda, no one knows exactly what it is, other than a series of bromides,” he said. The U.S. is hosting the summit for the first time since its launch in 1994, in Miami, as part of an effort to galvanize support for a free trade agreement stretching from Alaska to Patagonia.

But that goal was abandoned more than 15 years ago amid a rise in leftist politics in the region. With China’s influence expanding, most nations have come to expect — and need — less from Washington. As a result, the premier forum for regional cooperation has languished, at times turning into a stage for airing historical grievances, like when the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez at the 2009 summit in Trinidad & Tobago gave President Barack Obama a copy of Eduardo Galeano’s classic tract, “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.”

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“..if these energy prices stay high in the long run then they will entirely work their way into food prices.”

Food, Gas Prices Soar With No End In Sight, Americans Change Habits (JTN)

Americans are changing their shopping habits because of soaring food prices. And disruptions in the international farming community have some worried about the food supply heading into 2023. The BMO Real Financial Progress Index, a quarterly survey from BMO and Ipsos, shows that 42% of surveyed adults “are changing how they shop for groceries,” including “opting for cheaper items, avoiding brand names and buying only the essentials.” The report found “46% are either dining out less or consciously spending less when dining out.” Record high energy costs and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been major factors in rising food prices.

Gas prices hit new record highs every day in the past week. According to AAA, the national average gas price rose to $4.85 on Sunday, with diesel gas prices at their own record of $5.64 per gallon. That added cost makes it more expensive for farmers to operate equipment, transport goods to market, and more. “By the economics textbook, higher costs work themselves up through the supply side of the market and raise prices,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation. “The prices are especially high right now because of the sudden lack of access to Black Sea grain, but if these energy prices stay high in the long run then they will entirely work their way into food prices.”

Ukraine is a major food exporter, and it also is an exporter of several key chemicals used to make fertilizer. “Ukraine is one of the largest wheat producers and suppliers, so wheat is definitely under pressure,” said Maksym Chepeliev, an agriculture professor at Purdue University and a Research Economist at the Center for Global Trade Analysis. “Corn as well, because apart from the fact that Ukraine is a large corn producer and supplier that needs to be replaced, there have been issues with some droughts in South America and also the U.S. that kind of reduced the corn supply, and China is demanding more corn … and that is … pushing the global corn market.”

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Saw the ABC Spain report a few days ago, but it was behind a paywall. Pompeo won’t show up, but with the extradition still in the air, this might be a useful twist.

Spanish Court Orders Mike Pompeo To Testify On CIA Plot vs Assange (ZH)

In a surprising development surrounding WikiLeaks and the fate of Julian Assange, who is still in London’s Belmarsh prison awaiting awaiting a decision from UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on extradition to the US, a Spanish court has summoned former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify on whether the CIA planned to assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Pompeo was head of the agency during the time period that a bombshell Yahoo News investigative report last year revealed that the CIA allegedly plotted to kidnap or even kill Assange, following Washington outrage that WikiLeaks made public a batch of documents exposing the agency’s ultra-secretive hacking tools known as Vault 7.

At the time, the Yahoo report quoted a former Trump national security official who described that Pompeo and other top intel officials “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7 … they were seeing blood.” As ABC Spain reports, the summoning comes after filings by Assange’s legal team related to his ongoing proceedings with the UK government: “According to legal sources consulted by ABC, Pompeo has been summoned this June, although he may appear by videoconference. The same resolution agrees to call William Evanina, a former key US counterintelligence official who reportedly made statements supporting that theory. Pedraz has made this decision after the prosecutor Carlos Bautista reported in favor of the petition filed by the lawyer Aitor Martínez who, together with Baltasar Garzón, defends Assange.”

The Spanish report continues, “Separately, Spain’s National Court has been probing a Spanish security firm that may have spied on Assange for the CIA while providing security for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.” “National High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz agreed to summon Pompeo and former U.S. counterintelligence official William Evanina as witnesses to explain whether a plot was drawn up,” it adds. Pompeo has yet to issue comment on the ruling or whether he plans to appear, which isn’t likely, given current or former top US intelligence officials do not subject themselves to legal examinations on classified intelligence matters.

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“The leadership at the FBI has played a prominent role in the American people losing faith in that organization..”

Ratcliffe: Durham Lost Sussmann Battle, But Winning War (NM)

Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Sunday denounced the acquittal of former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, calling the verdict “contrary to the evidence.” In an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Ratcliffe lamented the judicial decision to not allow certain evidence in the case. “The verdict was disappointing because it was contrary to the evidence,” he said. “Michael Sussmann’s own text messages confirmed exactly what the government said, which is that he claimed to just be a private citizen coming in when he had a story about a connection between the Trump campaign server and a Russian bank, which was clearly false, when the evidence clearly showed that he was acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign.”

“It wasn’t a judge verdict,” he added, because “the judge in this case wouldn’t allow certain evidence of the Clinton conspiracy to be included.” But Ratcliffe said the “bigger picture” is that though special counsel John Durham’s prosecution may have lost this battle … “they’re clearly winning the war.” “The most powerful testimony to come out of this was admissions by the Clinton campaign about the fact that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative was, in fact, approved by Hillary Clinton,” Ratcliffe said. According to Ratcliffe, some people in the FBI misled the American people for political reasons. “The leadership at the FBI has played a prominent role in the American people losing faith in that organization,” he declared. “Our law enforcement community was briefed on the fact that it was Hillary Clinton that created this entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative and that the FBI knew that from the beginning,” he said

“When that is the purpose of what your special counsel is to be, and you leave that out altogether, it shows that there was a deliberate effort here, unfortunately, on behalf of some folks in our law enforcement community to mislead the American people for political reasons,” he said. Ratcliffe railed that from the start, “the FBI and everyone in law enforcement that then became part of the Mueller investigation were aware from day one with that this whole Trump-Russia investigation that was playing out over years to the American people was created by the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

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He said numerous times he had “ample evidence” of collusion. He didn’t. But now he’s back as if that never happened.

Schiff Says Jan. 6 Panel Has More Revelations For Americans (Hill)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising, hinted on Sunday there are more revelations in store about the events that led up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying a “comprehensive narrative” would be mapped for the first time when the panel holds its first public hearing this week. Schiff told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Americans have already seen “a number of bombshells” come out of the panel’s investigation — but said more surprises would be revealed on Thursday, including a narrative of the events leading up to Jan. 6. “Our goal is to present the narrative of what happened in this country, how close we came to losing our democracy, what led to the violence,” Schiff said.


“Americans I think know a great deal already — they have seen a number of bombshells already [and] there’s a great deal they haven’t seen. But perhaps the most important is the public has not seen it woven together, how one thing led to another.” The Jan. 6 panel will hold its first public hearing at 8 p.m. on Thursday. It’s unclear exactly who will be testifying publicly, as the committee has not released the names of any witnesses. Chairperson Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has said up to eight public hearings could be held throughout June as the panel presents the findings of its investigation, which included more than 1,000 interviews. The Jan. 6 insurrection saw a mob of pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn certification of the 2020 election, which Trump and his allies and supporters continue to claim without evidence was stolen.

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“The case recently swung in Berenson’s favor when U.S. District Judge William Alsup greenlit his breach-of-contract claim against Twitter..”

Twitter In Settlement Talks With Deplatformed Journalist Alex Berenson (JTN)

Former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson and Twitter are in active settlement talks to resolve his censorship lawsuit against the company, which deplatformed him following a tweet that said COVID-19 vaccines don’t stop infection or transmission, a view that has long been confirmed by global data and reiterated by Bill Gates this year. In a joint filing Thursday, the parties asked the U.S. District Court in San Francisco for a “modest extension of the discovery deadlines” in the case so they can “focus their efforts on resolution,” a request granted Friday. They had mediation sessions May 27 and 31, the filing says.


A previous order required Berenson to produce certain documents by Monday, which has now been pushed off until June 16, and other deadlines were also moved back 10 days. The case recently swung in Berenson’s favor when U.S. District Judge William Alsup greenlit his breach-of-contract claim against Twitter, saying he plausibly alleged the company “fail[ed] to abide by its own five-strike policy and its specific commitments” made by a PR executive directly to Berenson before his first strike. Berenson shared the new filing with subscribers to his newsletter Thursday, saying he would let it “speak for itself.”

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“Neither agency requested additional information.”

Musk’s Twitter Acquisition Clears US Antitrust Review (Fox)

Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter is a step closer to completion as the regulatory waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 officially expired on Friday. The HSR requires companies to give advance notice of transactions above a certain threshold to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice. The agencies have 30 days from the notification to pursue an initial investigation of the transaction to determine whether additional information is needed to assess its legality. Neither agency requested additional information. While the expiration of the HSR waiting period has been satisfied, Twitter emphasized that the deal’s completion is still subject to remaining customary closing conditions, including shareholder and remaining applicable regulatory approvals.


The deal, which would take Twitter private at $54.20 per share, is expected to close in 2022. The latest development comes after Musk said the deal would be temporarily put on hold as he awaits calculations supporting the social media giant’s internal estimate that spam and fake accounts make up less than 5% of the platform’s users. Musk, who has vowed to crack down on Twitter’s spam bots, has said he believes at least 20% of its users are spam or fake accounts and that he would be willing to renegotiate the deal for a lower price proportionate to the total percentage.

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“Hey, why are they already writing my suicide story!?”

Musk: Things I’ll Never See In My Life (CB)

It came the day before he tweeted a meme that said, “Things I’ll never see in my life,” along with photos of a fire-breathing dragon, a unicorn, a dinosaur, and the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell client list. “Only thing more remarkable than DOJ not leaking the list is that no one in the media cares. Doesn’t that seem odd?” he added. A Twitter user posted a picture of Musk with Maxwell to which Musk replied: “Ah yes, Maxwell photobombing me at a @VanityFair Oscars party – you should ask them why they invited her.” “The same people who push this photo say nothing about prominent people who actually went to his island a dozen times. Also very strange…” he added.


It isn’t the first time Musk mentioned Maxwell’s client list. A Twitter user asked: “It says it all that we heard more about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock than we heard about Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial. It is also “interesting” that the account tracking the Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial got banned when it gained traction. Lovely people indeed…” Musk then quipped: “Where is their ‘client’ list? Shouldn’t at least one of them go down!?” Shortly thereafter he added: “Hey, why are they already writing my suicide story!?”

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I think fasting may be crucial.

Why Your Depression May Really Be Insulin Resistance (PT)

Remarkably, as of 2022, most people have still never heard of insulin resistance. This is true even though it is the single most common chronic health condition in the U.S. and a major contributor to six of the top eight causes of death in 2021 (heart disease, cancer, COVID, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes). How common can insulin resistance be if you’ve never heard of it? Extremely common; an estimated 88 percent of U.S. adults in 2018 had this condition (1). Briefly stated, insulin resistance is a process in which cells become less responsive to a hormone called insulin. Because insulin receptors are found in every cell in the body—muscle, fat, organs, bone, skin—how well cells respond to insulin signals is critical to how we feel and function.

One of insulin’s main functions is to help the body control blood sugar levels by putting excess blood sugar into cells for storage. This process occurs every time you eat. Because insulin is so crucial to blood sugar regulation, even people who have heard of insulin or insulin resistance mostly think of it as a problem for diabetics. Indeed, this is partly true. In people with diabetes, their cells have become so resistant to insulin that insulin can no longer keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range. As a result, blood sugar levels run high, with catastrophic consequences if left unchecked. Unfortunately, even when a person with diabetes receives treatment, this treatment doesn’t necessarily improve their underlying insulin resistance; a person can lower blood sugar levels while remaining insulin resistant, giving them a false sense of security about their health.

Insulin affects every organ in the body—including the brain. When insulin levels become chronically elevated, brain tissue also becomes insulin resistant. The consequences of this are numerous and severe. For example, although the science is not yet strong enough to make it an official diagnosis, many researchers now refer to Alzheimer’s disease, the progressive and fatal form of dementia associated with severe memory loss, as “Type 3 diabetes” in reference to the effects possibly being the result of long-term insulin resistance in the brain.

[..] The rapidly evolving science on insulin resistance and brain function now also suggests that effects could extend beyond dementia to include depression. Depression is a condition defined by a heterogeneous collection of symptoms. Some of the classic symptoms of depression—such as sadness, guilt, suicidality, and poor concentration—are believed to result from dysfunction in a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Popular antidepressants such as Prozac work by improving serotonin function in the brain. In contrast, other common symptoms of depression such as anhedonia (a lack of motivation or interest), fatigue, motor impairment, and loss of sex drive are more closely linked to dysfunction in other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. This is another area where insulin resistance becomes especially relevant.

Vitamin D reduces autoimmune disease

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Sep 112018
 
 September 11, 2018  Posted by at 9:16 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Claude Monet The Manneporte at Étretat 1886

 

 

Please Note: The mailing lists I’ve used for many years all of a sudden stopped working. This appears to be because there is some sort of discrepancy between Gmail and Apple Mail. I’ve lost all access to one Gmail account in Apple Mail, though it still works in a browser. Two other Gmail accounts still function in Apple Mail, but bounce back all mails sent as part of the mailing lists. Working on a solution.

Ilargi

 

 

 

America’s Sub-4% Unemployment Rate Means A Recession Is Not Far Off (Colombo)
Mass Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Florence Heads Toward Carolinas (R.)
EU’s Barnier Says Brexit Deal Still ‘Realistic’ As Deadline Looms (Ind.)
Three-Bagger (Jim Kunstler)
Kim Jong Un Asks Trump For Another Meeting In ‘Very Warm’ Letter (R.)
US Threatens To Arrest ICC Judges Who Probe War Crimes (AFP)
Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria (VIPS)
Netherlands Ends Support To Syrian Militants & White Helmets (RT)
Catalan Separatists Plan Mass Rally Tuesday For Independence From Spain (R.)
Creditors Warn Greece On Debt Relief As Inspectors Return (AP)
Greece’s Moria Migrant Camp Faces Closure Over Living Conditions (K.)
US Teens Prefer Remote Chats To Face-to-Face Meeting (AFP)

 

 

Not all that glitters is gold.

America’s Sub-4% Unemployment Rate Means A Recession Is Not Far Off (Colombo)

The strong job market has become a reason for optimism for many Americans in the past couple years in stark contrast to the dark days of the Great Recession and the ensuing “jobless recovery.” The unemployment rate fell beneath 4% for the past several months, weekly jobless claims are at a 49-year low, and wages are growing at their fastest rate since 2009. So, what’s not to like? Obviously, everyone likes good news on the economic front, but these strong job market statistics are a sign that the economic cycle is much closer to the end (including a recession and bear market) rather than the beginning. As the chart below shows, when the U.S. unemployment rate falls under 4%, recessions follow soon after (recessions are marked by the gray shaded areas on the chart).

Historically, U.S. unemployment under 4% is quite rare and typically occurs after a long, powerful economic expansion. By the time the unemployment rate is under 4%, the economic cycle is already mature, the labor market is tight, and inflation is becoming a concern. At this time, the Federal Reserve has been hiking interest rates steadily, which eventually causes the demise of the economic cycle. According to Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: “The 4 percent number is not exactly a number that economists are necessarily happy with.” “What’s been happening here is, if we look historically at other times when the unemployment rate has fallen below 4 percent, it’s times where it was the boom phase just before recession or just after a major war period.”

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Florence is dangerous. Get out of the way.

Mass Evacuations Ordered As Hurricane Florence Heads Toward Carolinas (R.)

Mass evacuations were ordered along the U.S. Atlantic Coast as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm and the most powerful to menace the region in nearly three decades, barreled toward the region on Tuesday. Governor Ralph Northam issued an evacuation order for about 245,000 residents in flood-prone coastal Virginia beginning at 8 a.m. local time while South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has ordered more than 1 million residents along his state’s coastline to leave starting at noon on Tuesday. “This is a serious storm and it’s going to effect the entire state,” Northam told a news conference. “Everyone in Virginia needs to prepare.”

Florence, packing winds of 140 miles per hour (220 kph), was expected to grow even stronger before making landfall on Thursday, mostly likely in southeastern North Carolina near the South Carolina border, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told a news conference his state was in “the bull’s eye.” At least 250,000 more people were due to be evacuated from the northern Outer Banks in North Carolina on Tuesday after more than 50,000 people were ordered on Monday to leave Hatteras and Ocracoke, the southernmost of the state’s barrier islands.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland governors have declared states of emergency. Authorities warned of life-threatening coastal storm surges and the potential for Florence to unleash prolonged torrential rains and widespread flooding, especially if it lingers inland for several days. NHC Director Ken Graham warned of “staggering” amounts of rainfall that may extend hundreds of miles inland and cause flash flooding across the mid-Atlantic region.

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If the UK change their positions, that is.

EU’s Barnier Says Brexit Deal Still ‘Realistic’ As Deadline Looms (Ind.)

It is “realistic” to believe Britain and the EU will sign a Brexit withdrawal agreement before the looming deadline, Michel Barnier has said. Speaking at the Bled Strategic Forum conference in Slovenia the EU’s chief negotiator said a deal was “possible” in the next six to eight weeks – the cutoff date set for talks. The pound jumped by nearly 1 per cent against the dollar on the foreign exchange markets following the comments, after traders apparently over-interpreted the official’s words. “If we are realistic, I want to reach an agreement on the first stage of the negotiation, which is the Brexit treaty, within six or eight weeks,” Mr Barnier said.

He added: “The treaty is clear, we have two years to reach an agreement before they leave… in March 2019. “That means that taking into account the time necessary for the ratification process in the House of Commons on one side, the European Parliament and the Council on the other side, we must reach an agreement before the beginning of November. I think it is possible.” The episode comes around a week after jumpy financial markets also boosted the pound after Mr Barnier repeated his mantra about wanting to do an ambitious and unique trade deal with the UK. Though little has changed on the ground, both sides of talks are staying publicly positive – if only to give them the upper hand in any ensuing blame game that follows a no deal.

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“..a cast of rogue spooks from the CIA, various FBI officers, and British Intelligence in a scheme that is now going to grand juries.”

Three-Bagger (Jim Kunstler)

The likely confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh may be a last straw for the “Resistance.” It would certainly affect the adjudication of any new disputes that arise over relations between Mr. Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the weeks ahead. The Mueller investigation into 2016 election “collusion” between Russia and Trump looks more and more like a case of displacement-projection syndrome, since dumpster-loads of evidence now point to collusion between the Hillary campaign, the DNC, a cast of rogue spooks from the CIA, various FBI officers, and British Intelligence in a scheme that is now going to grand juries.

All that nasty business, starting with the news that a grand jury has been secretly grilling former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for weeks, suggests that events are about to unspool dramatically. The story has been coiling for months as fresh documents emerge and officials, such as the DOJ Inspector General, confirm what they mean. It remains to be seen whether the Web chatter about dozens of “sealed indictments” coming down is horse-shit. The baffling part is the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I’m inclined to doubt that Mr. Trump’s regular vilifications of Sessions are a ruse, meant to mislead the media about the AG’s activities in these matters. But the DC Swamp is unnerved by Sessions’ extraordinary absence of presence on the scene. Has he actually been involved in any of this, or is he playing animal lotto on his desk?

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The Korea’s want peace and unison. Let nobody put a loophole, a loophole in their way.

Kim Jong Un Asks Trump For Another Meeting In ‘Very Warm’ Letter (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump received a “very warm, very positive” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting and the White House is looking at scheduling one, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday. The two countries have been discussing North Korea’s nuclear programs since their leaders met in Singapore in June, although that summit’s outcome was criticized for being short on concrete details about how and whether Kim is willing to give up weapons that threaten the United States. The likely timing of a second Trump-Kim meeting was unclear.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to have his third summit with Kim next week in Pyongyang, and his government had pushed for a three-way summit involving Trump, with the aim of agreeing a joint declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War. The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the U.S.-led United Nations forces including South Korea technically still at war with North Korea. While South Korea had hoped an accord formally ending the conflict could have been unveiled on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month, Moon’s security chief Chung Eui-yong said last week, without elaborating, that the necessary conditions for a three-way meeting were missing.

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The ICC was only ever meant to go after Arican dictators fallen out of favor with the west. Bolton protects himself and his ilk.

US Threatens To Arrest ICC Judges Who Probe War Crimes (AFP)

The United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.” “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.

“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system,” Bolton said. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.” Bolton made the comments in a speech in Washington to the Federalist Society, a powerful association of legal conservatives. Bolton pointed to an ICC prosecutor’s request in November 2017 to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees. [..] He also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations.

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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers.

Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria (VIPS)

Mr. President:

We are concerned that you may not have been adequately briefed on the upsurge of hostilities in northwestern Syria, where Syrian armed forces with Russian support have launched a full-out campaign to take back the al-Nusra/al-Qaeda/ISIS-infested province of Idlib. The Syrians will almost certainly succeed, as they did in late 2016 in Aleppo. As in Aleppo, it will mean unspeakable carnage, unless someone finally tells the insurgents theirs is a lost cause. That someone is you. The Israelis, Saudis, and others who want unrest to endure are egging on the insurgents, assuring them that you, Mr. President, will use US forces to protect the insurgents in Idlib, and perhaps also rain hell down on Damascus.

We believe that your senior advisers are encouraging the insurgents to think in those terms, and that your most senior aides are taking credit for your recent policy shift from troop withdrawal from Syria to indefinite war. Russian missile-armed naval and air units are now deployed in unprecedented numbers to engage those tempted to interfere with Syrian and Russian forces trying to clean out the terrorists from Idlib. We assume you have been briefed on that — at least to some extent. More important, we know that your advisers tend to be dangerously dismissive of Russian capabilities and intentions. We do not want you to be surprised when the Russians start firing their missiles.

The prospect of direct Russian-U.S. hostilities in Syria is at an all-time high. We are not sure you realize that. The situation is even more volatile because Kremlin leaders are not sure who is calling the shots in Washington. This is not the first time that President Putin has encountered such uncertainty . This is, however, the first time that Russian forces have deployed in such numbers into the area, ready to do battle. The stakes are very high. We hope that John Bolton has given you an accurate description of his acerbic talks with his Russian counterpart in Geneva a few weeks ago. In our view, it is a safe bet that the Kremlin is uncertain whether Bolton faithfully speaks in your stead, or speaks INSTEAD of you.

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A government spending million to support what it itself has labeled ‘terrorists’. We’re not even surprised. Standard fare in the west.

Netherlands Ends Support To Syrian Militants & White Helmets (RT)

The Netherlands has decided to end its support to militants in Syria, since the program did not yield “expected” results. The move comes as journalists found one of the groups had been labeled as terrorists by the country itself. “The opportunity to quickly change the situation [in Syria] is extremely small,” reads the letter the lower house of the parliament by Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok and Minister for Foreign Trade Sigrid Kaag, announcing the end of support programs for the militants in Syria. The program to support of “moderate” anti-government groups in Syria was established in close cooperation with “like-minded donors who pursued the same goals as the Netherlands” and cost the country over $80 million over the years, according to the document.

It failed to “bring the expected results,” however, and is to be closed since the Syrian troops “will soon win” the war against militant groups. Over the years, the Netherlands allocated $29 million to the so-called “non-lethal assistance” (NLA) program, $14.5 million were donated to the so-called White Helmets and $17.1 million went to the Access to Justice and Community Service (AJACS) program. The AJACS was supposedly designed to support “community police” work in Syria, specifically the so-called Free Syrian Police (FSP) group. The support for militants is set to end immediately, yet the White Helmets will be funded until December, according to the document.

Since the White Helmets now operate only in the Idlib province, which is believed to be the destination of the looming offensive by the Syrian Army and its allies, their future is quite doubtful, the document states. [..] The “non-lethal” goods supplied by the Dutch government included satellite phones, uniforms, assorted equipment and even the ‘iconic’ Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks, widely used by various militant groups in Syria. At least one of the groups supplied by the Netherlands, Jabhat al-Shamiya, turned out to be labeled a terrorist group by the country’s own justice department, the journalists have revealed. One Dutch man is currently prosecuted for joining the group back in 2015, with the indictment describing it as a “salafist and jihadist” movement which can qualify only as a “criminal organization with terrorist intent.”

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What year is it?

Catalan Separatists Plan Mass Rally Tuesday For Independence From Spain (R.)

Hundreds of thousands of Catalans are expected to fill the streets of Barcelona on Tuesday for the Spanish region’s first commemorative day since its leader declared independence last year and pitched the country into constitutional crisis. Supporters of splitting the wealthy northeastern region from the rest of Spain have in recent years used the Sept. 11 “Diada”, the anniversary of the fall of their coastal capital to Spanish forces in 1714, to promote the cause. This year, Catalonia’s leader Quim Torra, who took over from his exiled predecessor after Madrid ended an unprecedented period of direct rule, has called for a mass rally in support of his bid for a binding referendum on independence.

“Our government has committed to making the republic a reality,” Torra said in a televised address to mark the occasion. “I wish you all a very good Diada. Long live free Catalonia.” He wore a yellow ribbon signifying support for nine politicians whose jailing for their role in the independence bid is one of the Catalan government’s biggest grievances. Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took power in June, has taken a softer approach to one of the thorniest issues in national politics than that of his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy, but he has stood firm against allowing a vote on secession, or any unilateral attempt by Catalonia to secede.

Last year’s Diada, in which marchers often climb on each other’s shoulders in shows of the traditional sport of forming human towers, fell as the regional government was preparing to hold a referendum in defiance of Madrid, which ultimately sent riot police to try to stop the vote.

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Sovereignty, 2018.

Creditors Warn Greece On Debt Relief As Inspectors Return (AP)

Greece’s lead creditor warned the country on Monday not to stray from reforms agreed upon before the end of its international bailout, as European monitors arrived to check the nation’s finances. The five-day inspection is expected to focus on government promises over the weekend to offer tax relief as well as plans to scrap promised pension cuts that are due to take effect in 2019. Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s rescue fund, told Austria’s Die Presse newspaper that Greece’s needed to stick to its commitments. “We are a very patient creditor. But we can stop debt relief measures that have been decided for Greece if the adjustment programs are not continued as agreed,” he said.

“The debt level appears to be frighteningly elevated. But Greece can live with that as the loan maturities are very long and the interest rates on the loans are much lower than in most other countries.” Left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trailing opposition conservatives in opinion polls and must call a general election within the next 12 months. Amid large protest rallies led by labor unions over the weekend, the prime minister said that relief measures promised to taxpayers would not jeopardize fiscal performance targets and would be introduced gradually. Greece has promised to deliver high primary surpluses — the budget balance before calculating the cost of servicing debt — for years to come, along with a series of reforms in exchange for better debt repayment terms.

The end of the bailout means Greece will have to return to international capital markets to finance itself. However, the country faces a troubled return after the financial turmoil in Turkey and Italy halted a decline in Greek borrowing rates. The yield on Greece’s 10-year-bond remains above 4 percent. The bailout program ended Aug. 20 but the country’s debt level remains near 180 percent of gross domestic product.

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Let’s see what happens in the next 30 days.

Greece’s Moria Migrant Camp Faces Closure Over Living Conditions (K.)

The Regional Authority of the Northern Aegean has given the Ministry of Migration Policy 30 days to clean up the overcrowded Moria hot spot for migrants and refugees on the island of Lesvos, or face closure. The announcement is part of a report compiled by environmental and health inspectors from Lesvos’ public health directorate who found the camp is unsuitable and dangerous for public health and the environment. According to the report, inspectors said there is an uncontrolled wastewater spill at the entrance of the camp, which ends into an adjacent stream or even on the road.

In another section of the camp, toilet waste pipes are broken, resulting in a strong stench and creating a danger to public health. Inspectors said the overcrowding living conditions in Moria, in which up to 15 people are squeezed into the small houses and up to 150 in every tent, increases the risk of disease transmission. “There was also a strong stench and insects (flies) due to the inability to properly clean the living quarters,” the report added. North Aegean Regional Governor Christiana Kalogirou says the ministry will have to restore every damage or problem detailed in the report, otherwise the authority will forbid the hot spot’s operation.

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It’ll take years to assess the damage. And then it’ll be too late.

US Teens Prefer Remote Chats To Face-to-Face Meeting (AFP)

American teenagers are starting to prefer communicating via text instead of meeting face-to-face, according to a study published Monday by the independent organization Common Sense Media. Some 35% of kids aged 13 to 17 years old said they would rather send a text than meet up with people, which received 32%. The last time the media and technology-focused nonprofit conducted such a survey in 2012, meeting face-to-face hit 49%, far ahead of texting’s 33%. More than two-thirds of American teens choose remote communication — including texting, social media, video conversation and phone conversation — when they can, according to the study. In 2012 less than half of them marked a similar preference.

Notably, in the six-year span between the two studies the proportion of 13 to 17-year-olds with their own smartphone increased from 41 to 89%. As for social networks, 81% of respondents said online exchange is part of their lives, with 32% calling it “extremely” or “very” important. The most-used platform for this age group is Snapchat (63%), followed by Instagram (61%) and Facebook (43%). Some 54% of the teens who use social networks said it steals attention away from those in their physical presence. Two-fifths of them said time spent on social media prevents them from spending more time with friends in person. The study was conducted online with a sample of 1,141 young people ages 13 to 17, from March 22 to April 10.

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