Vincent van Gogh Memory of the Garden at Etten (Ladies of Arles) 1888
They’ve announced that it’s over— but what if it never began in the first place?
What if it was all a big show?
On June 20th, we’re launching an online education that covers all the details, so that we can ensure this never happens again.
Finally, the show is over.… pic.twitter.com/ZcWQkVQtlg
— Daniel “Alec” Zeck (@Alec_Zeck) May 5, 2023
I love these retro Americana ads.
Great job @NvrBackDown24
This is a stellar ad ❤️pic.twitter.com/hGgvPCXhUX
— miguelifornia (@miguelifornia) May 5, 2023
Tucker Carlson: “There are members of Congress who are controlled by the Intel Agencies”pic.twitter.com/N3Nytp7QF3
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) May 6, 2023
Biden official: It's going to cost trillions of dollars. There's no doubt about it.⁰⁰
Me: So, if the U.S. spent $50T to become carbon neutral by 2050, how much is that going to reduce world temperatures?⁰⁰
Biden official: *No answer* pic.twitter.com/6u8QmeJRdq
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) May 4, 2023
“The American invasion of Iraq was both the apotheosis of post-Cold War American expansionism and a testament to its downfall. It is certainly not only a lesson for Washington, but also an illustration of the changes in the world. The era of superpowers is over. The world will be organized differently.”
• Iraq Was The Graveyard Of American Ambition (Lukyanov)
Twenty years ago, in May 2003, then-US President George W. Bush landed on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf and declared “mission accomplished.” The Texan announced the liberation of Iraq and the end of active combat, in effect a military victory. This was technically true. Baghdad was under American control, and although Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had escaped, he would be captured six months later. In fact, the invasion by Washington and its coalition had destroyed Iraqi statehood, led to a bloody civil war, the disintegration of the country, a dramatic shift in the balance of power in the region (not in the Americans’ favor, by the way), and was the root cause of the series of upheavals that engulfed the Middle East in the 2000s and 2010s.
Much has already been said about the war in Iraq, and we will not repeat it. We will simply note that only the most stubborn neo-conservatives now defend it, justifying the expediency of the action under what is now well known to have been a false pretext. Even their like-minded but less radical supporters admit that the intervention was unsuccessful and unnecessary. Nevertheless, most of the initiators of the campaign – former President Bush himself, his inner circle of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle – are comfortably retired, and Donald Rumsfeld left this world, without facing any repercussions, two years ago. Looking back at the events of that time, it is important to assess the role of the invasion in modern history. Iraq was the culmination of US efforts to assert complete and unchallenged hegemony.
Whatever the motives for the decision to go to war (and they ranged from the utterly mercenary to the personal and dogmatically idealistic), the political expediencies could not be concealed. The events of September 11, 2001, when America was attacked by a strange and seemingly unknown enemy, caused a shock. It was necessary to show that Washington was still capable of doing whatever it deemed necessary – even if it did not have the support of much of the world and of its key allies. And so it did. Bush’s aircraft carrier appearance was intended to shore up the status quo. What happened next, however, was that Iraq actually experienced the opposite: the limits of American capabilities and an eventual withdrawal in the face of an almost uncontrollable sectarian-political conflict.
It was not immediate, but it was already irreversible. Bush’s second term, which he won despite widespread dissatisfaction with the situation in Iraq in particular, was a period in which Washington’s ambitions were slowly relaxed. It should be remembered that the first term, in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, included ‘color revolutions’ in countries bordering Russia (Georgia and Ukraine), which were also part of the general desire for domination. America’s continued presence in the Middle East has become increasingly reactive rather than proactive, with Washington increasingly having to deal with the consequences of its own policies. ‘The Arab Spring’ initially generated enthusiasm and even revived an instinct for interventionism, but quickly became bogged down in confusing realities. The emergence of Islamic State potentially threatened immediate American interests and forced Washington into firefighting. In the end, however, it was put out by everyone, not just those who started it.
• Gonzalo Lira Arrested In Ukraine (RT)
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) on Friday confirmed the arrest of Gonzalo Lira, a Chilean national living in Kharkov, suspecting him of pro-Russian sympathies. Lira had been previously detained in April 2022, but released after a week and ordered not to leave the city. According to a SBU statement quoted by Ukrainian media, Lira “publicly justified the armed aggression” of Russia, denied or glorified alleged Russian war crimes, and “engaged in discrediting the top military and political leadership and the Defense Forces of our state.” The SBU filmed Lira’s arrest by heavily armed agents, blurring out the faces of everyone involved. He is suspected of “producing and distributing materials justifying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, committed repeatedly.”
A court ordered him jailed pending the outcome of the investigation. The SBU has reportedly seized Lira’s computer and multiple cell phones as evidence. Lira, 55, is a writer and filmmaker who used to work in the US. Several years ago, he moved to Kharkov, where he got married and began blogging as ‘Coach Red Pill’. This is the second time he has been detained by the SBU. He was first arrested in April 2022, but was released after a week. No charges were pressed at the time, and Lira would not discuss the details of what happened, saying only that he was not allowed to leave Kharkov.
He blamed the US outlet Daily Beast for directing Kiev’s attention to his work, accusing the outlet of trying to get him killed. The tabloid had reported on Lira’s activities in March 2022, calling him “sleazy”and a “pro-Putin shill,” and noting its reporters had reached out to Ukrainian authorities. While Lira kept a low profile for several weeks after his release, he eventually returned to social media and continued voicing criticism of Kiev’s policies. Since then, Ukraine has enacted laws criminalizing dissent and allowing President Vladimir Zelensky to ban opposition political parties, nationalize the media and even persecute the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for being in canonical communion with Moscow.
“The anger and hatred towards Russia with which Washington acts in a situation in which it frankly should think of its own safety, is inexplicable..”
• Russia and US On Verge Of ‘Open Armed Conflict’ – Moscow (RT)
After the recent drone incident at the Kremlin, which Moscow has called a US-backed attempt by Ukraine to assassinate President Vladimir Putin, the US and Russia are on the verge of a shooting war with each other, a senior Russian diplomat has said. “We are working on preventing a fall of our relations with the US into the abyss of an open armed conflict,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in a TV interview on Friday. “We are already on the verge of this abyss.” Ryabkov described officials in Washington as “opponents” and “enemies” of Russia due to what he called Russophobic policies which are being pursued in spite of the risks.
“The anger and hatred towards Russia with which Washington acts in a situation in which it frankly should think of its own safety, is inexplicable,” he said. At the moment, “no real diplomacy” regarding the Ukraine conflict is possible between the two nations, because the US “has bet on further escalation,”according to Ryabkov. The US has long been a direct participant in the conflict and has long been waging an open hybrid war against my nation. The deputy foreign minister said Washington tends to dismiss the statements of Russian officials, citing remarks made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding Russia’s claim that Ukraine was behind the drone attack on the Kremlin. “I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” Blinken told the Washington Post.
“We leave it to Ukraine to decide how it is going to defend itself,” he added. Kiev denies having any involvement in the attack on the Kremlin. The US government is treating “any signals coming from Moscow as an element of a disinformation campaign,” Ryabkov said. Meanwhile, Russia is “literally ready to use any means at its disposal” to deter threats to its security and the safety of its leadership, he added. He also reiterated the Russian claims that Washington shares responsibility with Kiev for the incident, which the US denies. Their statements of non-involvement are “not convincing anyone,” and are reminiscent of “how they attempted to pretty much blame us for the bombing of the Nord Stream,” Ryabkov said.
I’ve said it before: Borrell is not a diplomat. Diplomacy is alien to him. “If you want peace, push Russia to withdraw..” Not going to happen. So why bring it up? Because you don’t want peace.
• China’s Peace Plan For Ukraine ‘Wishful Thinking’ – Borrell (RT)
China’s proposal to end the conflict in Ukraine is “not a peace plan,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has claimed. The diplomat insisted that demands made by Kiev are the only viable solution to the crisis, despite Russia making clear it will not accept them. Speaking at an event hosted by the European University Institute in Florence on Friday, Borrell explained why the EU should continue to arm Kiev and argued that certain peace plans for Ukraine were undesirable. “The only thing that can be called a peace plan is [Vladimir] Zelensky’s proposal,” he stated, referring to the Ukrainian president. “The Chinese peace plan, well, it’s not a peace plan. It’s a set of wishful considerations, wishful thinking, but it’s not a peace plan.” “If you want peace, push Russia to withdraw,” Borrell added. “Don’t tell me to stop supporting Ukraine.”
Zelensky’s peace plan demands that Russia withdrawal from all territories that Kiev claims as its own, including Crimea, as well as calling for war reparations and NATO-like security guarantees, among other measures. The government in Kiev has repeatedly said it would not compromise and would continue to fight for as long as it takes. Borrell acknowledged that the Russian government would not accept Ukrainian demands, and blamed Moscow for continued hostilities. “If you have someone who says: ‘I have military objectives, and I will continue bombing, I will continue fighting until I get them’ – well, what kind of peace talk do you want to do?” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. If Kiev surrenders, Borrel claimed that Russian troops would be “on the Polish border” and Ukraine would become a “second Belarus”. Without Western support, this would happen “in a matter of days,” he predicted.
Russia launched its military operation against Ukraine in February 2022, citing Kiev’s continued attacks in Donbass and growing involvement with NATO. Beijing’s peace proposal, released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in February, urges the security concerns of each party to be addressed. The Chinese government has criticized NATO’s expansion in Europe, calling it the root of the conflict in Ukraine. Borrell suggested that China could have a role in resolving the crisis by pushing Russia towards accepting Kiev’s conditions, although he expressed concern about closer ties between Moscow and Beijing. The diplomat insisted that the EU was more united than ever in the face of an “enemy,” joking that he felt like the “defense minister” of the bloc.
“If the EU were in a position to have its own opinion, it would not be in the situation it is in today..”
• Zakharova Accuses Borrell Of ‘Colonialist Mindset’ (RT)
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell betrayed a colonial mindset and a lack of geopolitical understanding when he dismissed a Chinese peace plan for Ukraine as “wishful thinking,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has claimed. The Russian diplomat criticized Borrell on Friday for remarks he made earlier in the day at an event in the Italian city of Florence. The EU official had claimed that conditions set out by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky were the only viable path to resolving the conflict with Russia, and rejected a Chinese proposal unveiled in February as “not a peace plan.” “Not taking seriously proposals formulated on behalf of one fifth of the planet’s population and the leading world economy – that can only come from either a person who knows nothing about geopolitics, or someone with a colonial mentality who doesn’t respect people they consider beneath themself,” Zakharova insisted, referring to Borrell.
The Russian diplomat described Zelensky’s conditions for peace as “an American guidebook for inciting conflict in Europe,” suggesting that Borrell was advocating Kiev’s position under pressure from Washington. “If the EU were in a position to have its own opinion, it would not be in the situation it is in today,” she remarked. Moscow considers the conflict with Ukraine to be part of a proxy war waged against it by Washington. The EU, which followed the US lead in imposing sanctions on Russia and sending weapons to Kiev, does not decide its own foreign policy and has consequently sacrificed the national interests of member states, Russian officials have argued. Borrell faced accusations of racism last year after describing Europe as a “garden” and most other parts of the world as a “jungle.” He denied that the metaphor was intended to have colonialist connotations, but nonetheless apologized.
The EU would like to spend its money on improving the well-being of citizens, on hospitals and schools, but the EU has no choice: we must (!) spend all available money on protecting Ukraine," Jhopez Borrell told the EU diplomacy.
Have you asked EU citizens what they want?
— Spriter (@Spriter99880) May 5, 2023
Lavrov IS a diplomat.
“All this has to be discussed, of course, not with Zelensky, who is a puppet in the hands of the West, but directly with his masters..”
• Zelensky Is A ‘Puppet’ – Lavrov (RT)
The West and Russia will eventually sit down to discuss their differences, but this dialogue should be held not with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky but with those using him as a stooge, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday. Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Goa, India, Lavrov reiterated that Moscow had “never refused to settle issues arising from the actions of the US and their satellites to pump Ukraine with weapons” so that it could fight Russia. The minister noted that many countries around the world are growing increasingly aware that these tensions cannot be defused solely by freezing the Ukraine conflict. “Everyone understands that the ongoing events are geopolitical in nature,” he said.
“Without solving the main geopolitical problem – that of the West aspiring to hold onto its hegemony and impose its own will on all the others, – it is impossible to resolve crises in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world,” Lavrov added. The Russian diplomat pointed to China’s 12-point plan for a political settlement in Ukraine, which was released in late February. Lavrov said that while the plan does seek to settle the conflict itself, it also focuses on much more global and comprehensive issues. “All this has to be discussed, of course, not with Zelensky, who is a puppet in the hands of the West, but directly with his masters,” Lavrov said, noting that such talks would take place “sooner or later.”
In early April, amid speculation about an imminent Ukrainian spring counteroffensive, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ruled out any peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow, suggesting that such talks would only help Russia to “ratify” its territorial gains. Moscow has repeatedly said it is open to talks with Kiev if the latter recognizes “the reality on the ground,” including the new status of four former Ukrainian regions that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia last autumn. However, around the same time as the referendums, Zelensky signed a decree prohibiting negotiations with the current Russian leadership.
“..this is the clearest signal Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will ever receive on [his] country’s NATO bid..”
• Poland Has Designs On Remnants Of Ukraine – Zakharova (TASS)
Polish authorities have designs on the remnants of Ukraine, and this is the clearest signal Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky will ever receive on country’s NATO bid, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. The diplomat drew attention to Zelensky’s words, who said on Thursday that Ukraine understood that it could not join NATO during the conflict, but wanted a “clear signal” that it would be accepted later. “Poland has designs on the remnants of Ukraine. There are no clearer signals,” Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel.
Prigozhin feels disrespected. But not by Putin. You can bet they are still close. At least part of this is an act.
Wagner is an attack force, not a defense one. And the attacking work is done.
• Prigozhin Warns Wagner Forces To Exit Bakhmut By May 10 (ZH)
The infighting between Wagner Group mercenary firm and Russia’s defense ministry has come to a head, as on Friday Wagner chiefYevgeny Prigozhin declared he’s withdrawing his forces from Bakhmut on May 10 for lack of ammunition. He’s issued fierce complaints for weeks that ammunition is being withheld from the military chain of command as internal tensions have exploded into public view. “I declare on behalf of the Wagner fighters, on behalf of the Wagner command, that on May 10, 2023, we are obliged to transfer positions in the settlement of Bakhmut to units of the Defense Ministry and withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds,” Prigozhin said.
“I’m withdrawing Wagner PMC units because without ammunition, they are doomed to a senseless death,” Prigozhin continued, asserting that his firm had fallen “out of favor with envious near-military bureaucrats.” The day prior to this he issued a separate dramatic battlefield video on Telegram declaring “We are lacking 70% of the needed ammunition!” The clip is dramatic and disturbing as it shows Prigozhin standing over dozens of his fighters killed on the Ukrainian battlefield, while blaming their deaths on lack of adequate support. In the video, he expressly calls out the defense minister and chief of the armed forces: “Shoigu, Gerasimov, where … is the ammunition?” says Prigozhin. “The blood is still fresh,” he says of bodies around him. “They came here as volunteers and are dying so you can sit like fat cats in your luxury offices.”
It is by far the most scathing attack on the regular chain of command as well as unsupportive politicians at home launched by the Wagner chief, following weeks of public verbal denunciations and even warnings to take the matter directly to Putin, who is no doubt fully aware of the spat. The Thursday social media message included the following moment: “These are someone’s f**king fathers and someone’s sons. And you f**kers who aren’t giving [us] ammunition, you b*tches, will have your guts eaten out in hell!” yelled Prigozhin in Thursday’s video.
“The enemy is well equipped, well trained, acts as one and resists with dignity, so we move on..”
• Ukraine Brings 400-600 Troops To Bakhmut Every Day – Prigozhin (TASS)
Ukraine’s armed forces bring from 400 to 600 people to Artemovsk (the Ukrainian name is Bakhmut) every day and lose the same number every day. This was stated by the founder of PMC Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin. The corresponding video was posted on Saturday in the Telegram channel of his press service. “Behind us is Bakhmut, it remains approximately 2.5 km to take – and the city will be taken,” he said. “The enemy pulls up daily from 400 to 600 people, they lose approximately the same number daily. The units of PMC Wagner work in lockstep. The enemy does not spare artillery ammunition. A sufficient number of various foreign-made armored vehicles have appeared, a large number of drones. The enemy is well equipped, well trained, acts as one and resists with dignity, so we move on,” he said.
“My guess is that the nominal leader of this underworld in the USA — more like a master-of-ceremonies than an actual director — is Barack Obama..”
• Pretend to the End (Kunstler)
The creatures of the underworld running our country must think the public is awfully stupid. You are expected to take at face value the claim that “Joe Biden” is actually up for re-election. Could it be more obvious that he’s pretending? (Just as he’s been pretending to serve as CEO of our government.) Meanwhile, we are not supposed to notice that the entities behind him are scrambling to dismantle, demolish, and asset-strip what remains of the USA in body and spirit. But enough of us are noticing to make it a problem for them. First, who are these entities? They are exactly who you think they are. What you see around you is not just a complex system (Western Civ) unwinding and breaking apart — though that is part of the story. It is also the appearance of a controlled demolition by desperate, frightened, and crazy people who want to be the ones left standing when the demolition is complete. The catch is, they are pretending, too. They are control-freaks who cannot keep things under control.
This power underworld is a coalition of large public and private organizations, here and out there in the world, and the folks in charge of them, and they are all out of control, too, pretending that their operations are coherent and efficacious. For instance, the vast consortium of intelligence agencies in our country, the CIA, DIA, ad nauseam, their multitudinous spin-offs, and their international partners (e.g., MI6, Mossad, the World Health Organization). If you want to see how they actually work, watch the Coen Brothers’ movie Burn After Reading. You will see a bustle of perfectly hapless, frantic, and insanely self-destructive activity performed by clueless clowns in nice business suits. There is also the matrix of banking, including the international regulatory agencies such as the IMF, the World Bank, the Fed, the European Central Bank, and the banks themselves. And the bankers — Powell, LeGarde, Dimon, et. al — and the money managers, Fink, Soros, and their nefarious activities. They are all pretending to be in charge of a money system so burdened with fakery and legerdemain that it’s in the process of flying up the cosmic wazoo and vanishing, leaving Western Civ, functionally, broke.
My guess is that the nominal leader of this underworld in the USA — more like a master-of-ceremonies than an actual director — is Barack Obama. He has been running “Joe Biden” since the 2020 coup against Mr. Trump. The Clintons wanted to be in the mix somewhere, but it appears they’ve lost the fight for dominance — what with Bill in a perpetual doghouse and Hillary wearing that “loser” sign plastered on her back. For now, “Joe B” is a place-holder for the Party of Chaos. Who else have they got? Gavin Newsom? I’m sure. Hair and teeth only get you so far. Just wait until they roll the footage of San Francisco. Kamala Harris? Discussion unnecessary. Elizabeth Warren? (Grandma Oatmeal, we call her.) A bunch of governors no one has ever heard of? For now, they’ll just try ignoring RFK, Jr., since he wants to turn the Democratic Party upside-down and inside-out while rinsing it with Drano.
Who will they slot in when “Joe B” gets the hook? Michelle Obama, of course. Seems ridiculous, I know. (Actually, it’s completely ridiculous.) But our country has become so marinated in recycled products, celebrities, and narratives that Mr. Barack Obama (and cohorts) might just be bold enough to try it. Michelle is just another product at this point, like a can of Bud Lite, or a Hostess Ho-Ho, and that’s how they will try to sell her. The public’s collective mind has been successfully disordered to the degree that unreality no longer registers. If they pull this off, it will be Mr. Obama’s fourth term — and the coup-de-grace for the nation.
Has anything ever failed this badly?
• Nearly A Third Of The World Economy Is Now Subject To Sanctions (MoA)
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) just published a study about: The Human Consequences of Economic Sanctions. The results are as any observer of such acts would expect. Sanctions are used too broadly. They hardly ever serve their supposed original purpose and do not reach their aims. They hurt the poor more than the supposedly targeted leaders of this or that country. These numbers though are astonishing: “Over the past six decades, there has been significant growth in the use of economic sanctions by Western powers and international organizations. Less than 4 percent of countries were subject to sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union, or United Nations in the early 1960s; today, that share has risen to 27 percent. The magnitudes are similar when we consider their impact on the global economy: the share of world GDP produced in sanctioned countries rose from less than 4 percent to 29 percent in the same period. In other words, more than one fourth of countries and nearly a third of the world economy is now subject to sanctions by the UN or Western nations.”
Under international law only sanction imposed by the United Nations’ Security Council have legal standing. Sanctions by the U.S. or EU are under international law an illegal use of state instruments. The U.S. is using sanctions constantly to press under nations to do its bidding. Until the recent war in Ukraine the EU has used sanctions mostly to ‘do something’ because it had run out of ideas or diplomatic abilities. The recent sanctions on Russia proved to be hurting the Russians much less than they are hurting the people living in the European Union. It was a catastrophic mistake by EU leaders to preemptively agree to the sanctions the U.S. had been pushing for before Russia entered the civil war in Ukraine on the side of its Ukrainian brethren. The consequences had obviously not been gamed out and thought through.
When nearly one third of the world economy is under sanctions the other two-third are losing out too. It would therefore make sense for everyone to abolish all sanctions that have not been issued by the UNSC. Even UNSC sanctions should only be used sparsely and in a very narrowly targeted manner. Sanctions that hit the whole economy of a country are inhuman and should be prohibited.
Sanctions at work. Devastating.
• Russian Car Sales Triple (RT)
Sales of new passenger cars in Russia jumped 2.7 times in April compared to the same period in 2022, data from analytical agency Avtostat showed on Thursday. According to the report, more than 75,000 new vehicles were sold last month in total, which is 8% more than in March. Avtostat said that 44% of the cars sold were Chinese brands, while another 35% were Russian made. The combined share of South Korean, Japanese, European, and American automobiles fell to just over 20%. The top-selling brand in the country was Russian LADA (33.4%), and the most popular model was the Lada Granta (24.3%). Among foreign automakers, Chery was the best-selling Chinese brand, and the Geely Coolray crossover was the top selling model. The exit of Western and Japanese companies from the Russian auto market has provided an opportunity to rising industry players such as China and Iran.
Chinese automakers have embarked on a major expansion in the Russian market and are expected to reach a 60% share of total sales this year, according to car dealer chain Autodom. China exported over 160,000 cars to Russia last year, more than doubling its share of the country’s auto market. Iranian auto makers are also expected to launch sales in Russia this year. Experts say the situation could also boost the Russian auto industry. Car manufacturer AvtoVAZ revealed earlier that it plans to double production this year to more than 400,000 cars. According to the company’s press service, it has the capacity to produce up to 500,000 vehicles a year.
“..with the expansion of BRICS (to BRICS+), there will be a decline in the value of the dollar and the collapse of the IMF..”
• Russia Oil Floods Global Markets Via Major Asian Intermediaries (Shakil)
Despite western sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict, some Asian and specifically West Asian economies are importing significant amounts of Russian gasoline at discounted prices, and reselling it with windfall profits to the EU under their brand names. Western sanctions have forced Moscow to actively diversify its energy exports – oil and gas exports accounted for 45 percent of the Russian government’s 2022 budget – and it has rapidly filled the gap left by its diminished oil exports to Europe with new customers in China, India, and the Persian Gulf nations. Despite the EU’s prohibition on seaborne exports, during the initial quarter of the current year, Russian seaborne crude oil exports amounted to 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd), surpassing the 3.35 million bpd recorded at the onset of the Ukrainian conflict a year ago.
According to industry analysts and oil executives, this has transpired despite western sanctions that led to the severance of several active trading partnerships for Russian oil in the EU markets. Dubai-based oil tycoon Hakam Valliani tells The Cradle that, in general, sanctions did not significantly impact the Russian gasoline supply line as new buyers filled the gap left by the EU market. Washington, he says, had enforced these limitations to force the EU to buy expensive US gasoline rather than cheaper Russian oil. When compared to Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG), the price of US LNG is nearly $1,000 per ton more expensive, so “the European Union is paying a disproportionately huge amount for the US stuff,” Valliani explains. “Sanctions or no sanctions, individuals will find a way around by devising cunning strategies to bypass restrictions,” he says, adding:
“This is scary to see that the entire American-based price benchmark and the SWIFT system are collapsing, and a new benchmark will be needed within the next five years. Russia now accepts a variety of currencies when transacting fuel sales, including Indian rupees, Chinese renminbi, and other regional currencies.” Valliani predicts that with the expansion of BRICS (to BRICS+), there will be a decline in the value of the dollar and the collapse of the International Monetary Fund (IMF): “The world’s future source of gold and oil will come from BRICS+.” This has allowed countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, India, and Iran to import the majority of Russian oil, not for domestic consumption, but to transport it to third parties in energy-deficient markets in Europe and Asia.
Theater of the absurd.
• New Disinformation Office To Oversee All The Other Ones (IC)
Within the federal government, offices dedicated to fighting foreign disinformation are springing up like daisies, from the Pentagon’s new Influence and Perception Management Office to at least four organizations inside the Department of Homeland Security alone, as well as ones inside the FBI and State Department. To oversee the growing efforts — which arose in response to concerns about the impact of Russian meddling in the 2016 election but have now expanded — the director of national intelligence has created a new office. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines for the first time mentioned the creation of the Foreign Malign Influence Center, or FMIC.
“Congress put into law that we should establish a Foreign Malign Influence Center in the intelligence community; we have stood that up,” Haines said, referring to legislation passed last year. “It encompasses our election threat work, essentially looking at foreign influence and interference in elections, but it also deals with disinformation more generally.” The FMIC was established on September 23 of last year after Congress approved funding, but its creation was announced publicly only after The Intercept’s inquiry. Because it is situated within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, it enjoys the unique authority to marshal support from all elements of the U.S. intelligence community to monitor and combat foreign influence efforts such as disinformation campaigns.
The FMIC is authorized to counter foreign disinformation targeting not just U.S. elections, but also “the public opinion within the United States” generally, according to the law. Haines also made clear that the effort to counter disinformation has expanded beyond not just elections and Russia, but also to other foreign adversaries: “What we have been doing is effectively trying to support the Global Engagement Center and others throughout the U.S. government in helping them to understand what are the plans and intentions of the key actors in this space: China, Russia, Iran, etc.” The GEC is a State Department entity tasked with countering foreign disinformation by amplifying America’s own propaganda.
Creation of the FMIC was debated in Congress for months, with senators questioning how its mission would differ from the bevy of entities that already exist. “We want to be sure that this center enhances those efforts rather than duplicating them or miring them in unnecessary bureaucracy,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in January 2022, adding that there were “legitimate questions about how large such an organization should be and even about where it would fit.” Reached for comment, Warner’s office said the senator’s position hasn’t changed.
“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”
—William Colby, Former CIA Director pic.twitter.com/2k485FVb8l
— TexasLindsay™ (@TexasLindsay_) May 1, 2023
“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”
• A Kingly Proposal: Letter From Julian Assange To King Charles III
To His Majesty King Charles III,
On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh. You will no doubt recall the wise words of a renowned playwright: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.” Ah, but what would that bard know of mercy faced with the reckoning at the dawn of your historic reign? After all, one can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners, and your kingdom has surely excelled in that regard. Your Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is located at the prestigious address of One Western Way, London, just a short foxhunt from the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. How delightful it must be to have such an esteemed establishment bear your name.
“One can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners”. It is here that 687 of your loyal subjects are held, supporting the United Kingdom’s record as the nation with the largest prison population in Western Europe. As your noble government has recently declared, your kingdom is currently undergoing “the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century”, with its ambitious projections showing an increase of the prison population from 82,000 to 106,000 within the next four years. Quite the legacy, indeed. As a political prisoner, held at Your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honoured to reside within the walls of this world class institution. Truly, your kingdom knows no bounds.
During your visit, you will have the opportunity to feast upon the culinary delights prepared for your loyal subjects on a generous budget of two pounds per day. Savour the blended tuna heads and the ubiquitous reconstituted forms that are purportedly made from chicken. And worry not, for unlike lesser institutions such as Alcatraz or San Quentin, there is no communal dining in a mess hall. At Belmarsh, prisoners dine alone in their cells, ensuring the utmost intimacy with their meal. Beyond the gustatory pleasures, I can assure you that Belmarsh provides ample educational opportunities for your subjects. As Proverbs 22:6 has it: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Observe the shuffling queues at the medicine hatch, where inmates gather their prescriptions, not for daily use, but for the horizon-expanding experience of a “big day out”—all at once.
You will also have the opportunity to pay your respects to my late friend Manoel Santos, a gay man facing deportation to Bolsonaro’s Brazil, who took his own life just eight yards from my cell using a crude rope fashioned from his bedsheets. His exquisite tenor voice now silenced forever. Venture further into the depths of Belmarsh and you will find the most isolated place within its walls: Healthcare, or “Hellcare” as its inhabitants lovingly call it. Here, you will marvel at sensible rules designed for everyone’s safety, such as the prohibition of chess, whilst permitting the far less dangerous game of checkers.
Deep within Hellcare lies the most gloriously uplifting place in all of Belmarsh, nay, the whole of the United Kingdom: the sublimely named Belmarsh End of Life Suite. Listen closely, and you may hear the prisoners’ cries of “Brother, I’m going to die in here”, a testament to the quality of both life and death within your prison. But fear not, for there is beauty to be found within these walls. Feast your eyes upon the picturesque crows nesting in the razor wire and the hundreds of hungry rats that call Belmarsh home. And if you come in the spring, you may even catch a glimpse of the ducklings laid by wayward mallards within the prison grounds. But don’t delay, for the ravenous rats ensure their lives are fleeting.
I implore you, King Charles, to visit His Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, for it is an honour befitting a king. As you embark upon your reign, may you always remember the words of the King James Bible: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). And may mercy be the guiding light of your kingdom, both within and without the walls of Belmarsh.
Your most devoted subject,
Very interesting clip detailing the way they calculate "man made climate change".
Proving the methods are flawed, so ultimately a scam. pic.twitter.com/yTJHDai185
— DAVID E (@DAVID_STOIC1) May 5, 2023
This ceiling is entirely flat. Made 3D by the extraordinary genius of Andrea Pozzo.
Sea of Milk
Dudhsagar Falls (lit. 'Sea of Milk') is a four-tiered waterfall located on the Mandovi River in the Indian state of Goa. It is amongst India's tallest waterfalls with a height of 310 m (1017 feet)
— Massimo (@Rainmaker1973) May 5, 2023
One of the rarest animal sightings in the world: chirodectes maculatus, only seen once before pic.twitter.com/kRLSh8ApO3
— Scary Underwater (@WaterlsScary) May 5, 2023
A pelican befriended a stray dog who was often spotted hanging out all alone along the boat docks. The man who photographed this has adopted him but brings him back every day to see his friend, Petey the Pelican.
This is San Vicente camp in Darien Province, Panama. Most of the Chinese go through this camp. I’ve had full recent access inside this camp. About 30-40 busses like this leave Darien daily with aliens from about 140 countries. Panama is already becoming destabilized for… pic.twitter.com/nM7eatPm6m
— Michael Yon (@Michael_Yon) May 5, 2023
Walter Lantz’s 1953 cartoon of Aesop’s THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE fable.
Or is it? pic.twitter.com/v4NzJOzCSQ
— Michael Warburton (@MichaelWarbur17) May 5, 2023
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.