Mar 232024
 
 March 23, 2024  Posted by at 9:46 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  37 Responses »


Edvard Munch Spring in Johan Karl Street 1891

 

Trump: “I Almost Have Five Hundred Million Dollars In Cash” (ZH)
Trump’s Third Act Has Begun. It’s a Beauty. (Scott Adams)
Wake-up Call (James Howard Kunstler)
No Ukraine Talks Because US Threatens Zelensky – Seymour Hersh (Sp.)
Let NATO Troops Enter Ukraine. The War Will End Much Faster Then – Orban (VV)
Russia is at War – Kremlin (RT)
Macron Believes Ukraine Could Fall Soon – Politico (RT)
La Macronnerie of a Failed French President: Ukraine (Jay)
France’s Megalomaniac Macron is Gambling With World Peace (SCF)
EU Eyes ‘Groundbreaking’ Change On Ukraine Arms Funding (RT)
Ukraine Makes Fresh Move To Draft More Soldiers (RT)
Washington In Denial Over Putin’s Victory While Gaming Its Own Elections (Cox)
World Sees Gaza as ‘US Genocide’ Not Just Israel’s (Sp.)
CIA Told DOJ to Stay Away from Kevin Morris in Hunter Biden Probe (Turley)
CIA Protecting Biden by Blocking IRS Interviews – Whistleblower (DeMartino)
Global Population Set To Fall For First Time In 700 Years (MN)

 

 


BREAKING: Shareholders have just voted to let Trump’s company, Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, become a public company, which could earn Trump $4 billion. NOTE: However, if Trump wants to use this money to help with his legal issues in a fraud case by Letitia James, he has to get special permission to sell his shares early. NOTE: Trump’s company will start being traded on the stock market under the symbol “DJT” as soon as next week.

 

 

Letitia

 

 

Vivek

 

 

Lawfare
https://twitter.com/i/status/1770861500103557197

 

 

Cannon

 

 

There’s plenty of money for enhanced border security in the $1.2 Trillion funding package. Just not the US border.

 

 

Stephen Miller

 

 

Watters

 

 

Watters Fani

 

 

Immigration

 

 

Will The Supreme Court Recognize Voter Fraud And Ensure It Doesn’t Happen in 2024?

 

 

 

 

“Letitia James is about to hand Trump a huge victory…… when she seizes Trump Tower, the case is now federal bc Trumps Atty’s are ready to go into Federal Court, claiming his 8th Amendment rights have been violated. Thus putting an immediate freeze on her. Many are wondering why a federal judge hasn’t stepped in…. well the reason is…. she hasn’t acted on her threats yet…. so Trump’s Constitutional rights have yet to be violated.”

Trump: “I Almost Have Five Hundred Million Dollars In Cash” (ZH)

Former President Trump on Friday said on Truth Social that “through hard work, talent, and luck, I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash.” The announcement comes as a Monday deadline fast approaches for him to come up with roughly $454 million to stay judgement in his civil fraud case while he appeals. According to Trump, he had intended to use a “substantial amount” of his money in his presidential campaign. “THE OFTEN OVERTURNED POLITICAL HACK JUDGE ON THE RIGGED AND CORRUPT A.G. CASE, WHERE I HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG, KNEW THIS, WANTED TO TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME,” President Trump wrote. “THAT’S WHERE AND WHY HE CAME UP WITH THE SHOCKING NUMBER WHICH, COUPLED WITH HIS CRAZY INTEREST DEMAND, IS APPROXIMATELY $454,000,000,” he continued.

As the Epoch Times notes further: “The judgment total was $363 million, but breaks down with about $355 million of that specifically applying to President Trump, $4 million to be recovered from Eric Trump, $4 million to be recovered from Donald Trump Jr., and $1 million to be recovered from former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg. With the applied 9 percent interest, court filings say the bond comes out to more than $464 million, with a little more than $10 million of that attributed to judgment on Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Mr. Weisselberg. Judgment was entered on Feb. 23, kicking off a 30-day clock to post the massive sum, set to expire on March 25. President Trump, in the post, decried the ruling as an example of “communism in America.” Meanwhile, even the AP found that in 70 years of similar cases involving civil fraud, Trump’s stood out as unique.

President Trump is billions of dollars richer after shareholders in Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) on Friday approved a merger with Trump’s media startup, Truth Social. The long-delayed merger adds roughly $3.5 billion to Trump’s net worth – however the former president won’t be able to sell any shares for at least six months unless the board waives it (or they can back a loan), raising questions over whether he’ll be able to leverage it to secure a $464 million bond in his New York civil fraud case – which his lawyers say is “impossible” to secure due to a lack of cash on hand. If Trump can’t secure the giant sum by Monday, he risks the seizure of assets – which New York has already begun positioning itself to do. Earlier this week, DWAC sued to force its former CEO, Patrick Orlando, to vote his 14.77% shareholding in favor of the merger, despite an ongoing dispute over compensation, Axios and FT report. Orlando was on the shareholder vote call.

“The professional relationship between Mr Orlando and Digital World became strained and has continued to deteriorate such that there is no assurance that Mr Orlando as a current member of our board or as a controlling affiliate of the sponsor will be co-operative,” DWAC warned in a filing last month. Following the merger, DWAC will effectively cease to exist, and will be replaced by TMTG – which will be listed on the Nasdaq. Its board of directors will include Donald Trump Jr. as well as several former members of the Trump White House, the report continues. Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) will serve as TMTG’s CEO. Meanwhile, and perhaps in anticipation of Trump selling to satisfy the bond, DWAC shares have plummeted on the news to the tune of 8% in early trading.

Beyond Trump’s massive payout from the deal, three hedge funds also stand to make huge profits – Anson Funds, Mangrove Capital Partners and All Blue Capital, which participated in a $50mm convertible debt offering earlier this year after other funds had walked away. They’re sitting on over $400 million in gains as of Thursday’s closing price. “The return will be amazing,” said one person involved in the financing, per FT. “Trump’s advisers have been keeping him on the sidelines . . . they want to get this vote clear with no issues with the government. Then, on Tuesday when it starts trading, it is game on for Trump.”

https://twitter.com/i/status/1770991128948420912

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X thread. “Trump turned Leticia James into his best fundraiser..”

Trump’s Third Act Has Begun. It’s a Beauty. (Scott Adams)

Next week, Trump could make over $4 billion when his media company goes public, removing all doubt about his billionaire status. And you can stop asking if he would have been better off putting his inheritance in a savings account in the 70s. I expect Trump to leave a 15% tip for Leticia James and the Democrats because they made his windfall possible by hunting him and censoring him for years. You can call it a bond, not a tip, if you prefer. When the Supreme Court tosses out the unconstitutional fine, Trump gets most of his “tip” back. The Democrats planned to cripple Trump financially so he couldn’t spend as much on the campaign. Trump turned Leticia James into his best fundraiser. Lots of interesting developments lately on the topic of the 2020 election. The Simulation wants at least one of those fresh allegations to be a Kraken.

Trump’s legal maneuvering is likely to keep him eligible for the election. You can fantasize about a heroic Democrat such as Newsom swooping in and replacing Biden, but it’s looking less likely every day. If it had always been the plan, it would have happened by now. Looks like Biden has to stay on the job to keep the Biden Crime Family out of jail. The predictable Democrat Summer Hoax will add some excitement, but it will be forgotten and debunked by November. Trump’s upcoming victory is looking like it will be, as Trump says, “too big to rig.” And by that I mean Democrats will try to rig it anyway and get caught. That will be fun.

The gears of the machine have become visible. We can all see the FBI is rotten and the DOJ is weaponized. We know the border is open intentionally. We know the cartels are working with our government. We know our elections are DESIGNED to not be auditable and there’s only one reason for it. We can see Biden is not in charge. We know the Ukraine war was always about its energy resources and who gets to own them. We know our rising debt is ruinous. We know our experts are liars. We know our pharma and food industries are poisoning us. We know our government is racist. We know the corporate media is essentially owned by Democrats who are controlled by intelligence entities and they are actively brainwashing the population. We know the 1st and 2nd amendments, and X, are under sustained government attack because they are the public’s last defense against the government. But we are not quitters. And the odds do not apply to us.

Trump Ad

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“But fiends got to fiend, and if you try to deprive them of being fiends then you are guilty of “hate.“

Wake-up Call (James Howard Kunstler)

Can you feel it? The tension rising to the red-line? It runs clear through all of Western Civ. We are ruled by governments of fiends. But now, the sun rides higher in the sky. The sap is rising in the northern forests. The earth heaves. The buds swell and blush. Something is in the air. The animals are waking from their long winter sleep. The natives are restless. The two traditional political divisions, liberal and conservative died with Covid. Now there are simply the sane versus the insane. The sane have had enough of being pushed around by the insane. The insane don’t register much of what reality tries to tell them. They have a body of insane ideas to comfort and protect them from the reality’s rigors. To call that body of ideas an “ideology” is way too polite. That the insane call themselves “progressive,” is a signature of their insanity. Progress toward what better state of things? Toward a supremacy of fiends, sadists, degenerates, and morons seizing riches and power by every dishonest means possible outside the rule of law and common decency?

It’s not even suitable to call them “communists.” They lack the necessary idealism for that. They don’t expect to put their shoulders to the wheel with their fellow man. They just want to grab your stuff and then kill you so they don’t have to hear any complaints. The insane do not believe any of the theoretical bullshit they want to force you to swallow. They don’t care about climate change. It’s just a cudgel they use to beat everyone over the head so they can steal your stuff. They don’t care about “democracy.” It’s just a line of bullshit to cover up their election-stealing. Do you suppose that sane people would keep using electronic vote-tabulating machines that were demonstrably connected to the Internet, and thus hackable, if they cared about election integrity? Of course not. They would arrange p.d.q. to junk them and use paper ballots, and only in person at polling places, with “absentee” exceptions only for people out of the country.

The insane do not care about public health. Everything that is known about the Covid-19 vaccinations tells you that they are unsafe and don’t prevent infection or transmission of a flu-like illness that might not even be what it was officially labeled as. Our public health officials in the FDA, the CDC, and in other corners of the Department of health and Human Services, lie about everything they’re responsible for. This week, the CDC (under Director Mandy Cohen) released a 148-page study on myocarditis reactions to mRNA shots. Every word on every page of the document was redacted. The CDC printed countless copies of the report with 148 utterly blank pages, and then proffered them to the news media. How is that not insane? The insane do not care about the rule of law. The conduct of “Lawfare” is the subversion of the law by dishonest means. It is a species of racketeering. And that is why Lawfare rogues such Marc Elias, Norm Eisen, Andrew Weissmann, Mary McCord, Lisa Monaco, Matthew Graves, and Merrick Garland, should be charged under the federal RICO statutes for conspiring to deprive sane citizens of their rights and property in the many cases related to the 1/6/21 riot at the US Capitol.

It is, so far, an abiding mystery of contemporary history as to how New York Attorney General Letitia James managed to get away with prosecuting a real estate case against Donald Trump that was no more than victimless business-as-usual between a borrower and his lenders. Ms. James ran for that elected office promising to “get” Mr. Trump on something, anything. That is not how the rule of law works. Under the rule of law, first you determine that there is a crime and then look for who did the crime. Letitia James must be insane and/or pretty stupid. The short-term gain of stealing Mr. Trump’s property under a false color-of-law and creating impediments to his election campaign, will, sooner or later, blow back at her as a matter of malicious prosecution and, plausibly, racketeering as well. (With whom did she conspire to bring this case? We shall find out.) She will eventually be disgraced publicly as her teammate Fani Willis has already been disgraced in Fulton County, Georgia.

I’ll tell you something that all sane people now know but won’t talk about for fear of being crushed by the levers of Lawfare: this looks like a concerted effort by people-of-color to railroad people of non-color. If you think that is a good thing for race relations in our country, then you are insane. Here are a bunch of other things that are insane: Re-litigating the first amendment is insane. It means what it says, and states it plainly. The open border is insane. No credible sovereign polity would allow it. It would be opposed with force, if necessary. Turning children into transsexuals on a wholesale basis is insane, and fiendishly so. Everybody knows that it is not good for the children or for our society as a whole. But fiends got to fiend, and if you try to deprive them of being fiends then you are guilty of “hate.”

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‘No negotiations or settlement or we won’t support your government with the $45 billion in non-military funds [that Ukraine is now receiving annually..'”

No Ukraine Talks Because US Threatens Zelensky – Seymour Hersh (Sp.)

Negotiations on resolving the conflict in Ukraine could have started months ago, but US authorities threatened Vladimir Zelensky with withdrawal of non-military funding, US journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh said in an article on Substack. “We were on the verge of a reasonable negotiation several months ago before Putin’s re-election and Zelensky’s military degradation. The US leaders got wind of the possibility and gave Zelensky the ultimatum-‘No negotiations or settlement or we won’t support your government with the $45 billion in non-military funds [that Ukraine is now receiving annually,'” the source told the journalist. According to Hersh’s information, US intelligence community recognises that “Ukraine has little chance of winning…”

Hersh’s interlocutor also added that US President Joe Biden has staked on confronting the “Russian threat to NATO” and will not change his course under any circumstances, while the end is inevitable. “There is no road to victory for Ukraine, and it will end with Putin as an historical icon in Russia…,” the source concluded. In autumn 2022, Zelensky signed a decree according to which his country will not negotiate with Russia as long as it is led by Vladimir Putin. Russia, for its part, has repeatedly noted its readiness to discuss the settlement of the conflict through diplomatic means. As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasised, the Russia does not see any prerequisites for a peaceful transition of the situation, and sovereignty over the new Russian regions and Crimea is not up for discussion.

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X thread. “And the West will get a lesson for memory that it is bad to fight with Russia..”

Let NATO Troops Enter Ukraine. The War Will End Much Faster Then – Orban (VV)

Viktor Orban: “It’s a strange feeling when you come from Hungary to Brussels. Hungary looks like a completely normal country. We have a calm and rational mindset, and if you come to Brussels and talk to politicians, you will be surprised. There is a military mood, military language, military logic. The leaders talk as if they are waging their own war against Russia. And now they are saying that soldiers should be stationed in Ukraine. It is not clear exactly what they mean, where they should be stationed, with what weapons and for what purposes. But they have already begun to prepare for the fact that in this situation it will be quite natural if Western European countries deploy military posts on the territory of Ukraine, which shocks Hungarians.

Therefore, I felt as if I had entered another galaxy, and we must be careful not to fall into the psychosis of these twenty or so state leaders. [How far are Western leaders willing to go in terms of supporting Ukraine? The most disturbing thing about this whole story is that two or three months ago it was unthinkable, now, two or three months later, it becomes an ordinary event.” That’s what I said – the worse, the better. Ukraine attacked the Belgorod region. Where is Ukraine’s energy sector now? Russia has always needed a good kick in the ass for it to act. So, let NATO troops enter Ukraine. The war will end much faster then. And the West will get a lesson for memory that it is bad to fight with Russia.

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“..Peskov explained that despite the conflict “de facto turning into a war,” legally it remains classified in Russia as a special military operation..”

Russia is at War – Kremlin (RT)

Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has turned into full-fledged war after the West became a participant in the conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with national media published on Friday. Moscow will continue to pursue its goal of ensuring that the Ukrainian military cannot pose a threat to Russian citizens or territory, the spokesman told the Argumenti i Fakty newspaper, noting that the country now has four new federal subjects which must be protected and fully liberated from Kiev’s forces. Peskov stressed that Russia cannot allow the existence on its borders of a state that publicly claims it will seize the Crimean Peninsula as well as Russia’s new territories, referring to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.

“We are at war,” Peskov stated, explaining that while the conflict began as a special military operation, as soon as “the collective West became a participant in this on the side of Ukraine, for us it became a war.” In a phone conversation with journalists later in the day, Peskov explained that despite the conflict “de facto turning into a war,” legally it remains classified in Russia as a special military operation and that nothing has changed in that regard. The Russian Defense Ministry recently reported that since the start of the military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, over 13,000 foreign nationals have taken part in the fighting on the side of Kiev’s forces.

Of these fighters, which Moscow describes as mercenaries, some 5,962 have been “eliminated,” according to the ministry. Most of them came from Poland, Georgia, the US, Canada, the UK, Romania, Germany, and France, it reported. The head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Sergey Naryshkin, claimed earlier this week that France is preparing its forces for deployment to Ukraine and is allegedly looking to send as many as 2,000 troops to fight for Kiev. French President Emmanuel Macron has hinted in recent weeks at the possible deployment of NATO forces to Ukraine, stating he could not “exclude” this possibility while branding Russia an “adversary.” Moscow has warned that such a step would likely lead to a direct clash between Russian and NATO forces, which, according to President Vladimir Putin, would be “one step shy of a full-scale World War III.”

Katyusha

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“..Marine Le Pen [..] accused the president last week of “hijacking” the Ukraine issue for the sake of domestic electoral politics..”

Macron Believes Ukraine Could Fall Soon – Politico (RT)

French President Emmanuel Macron believes Ukraine might be defeated on the battlefield in short order, the French edition of Politico reported on Wednesday. The outlet’s Playbook section spoke with several members of the president’s party who had attended a working dinner at the Elysee Palace the evening before. While most of the discussion centered on the upcoming European Parliament elections, the Ukraine conflict also came up. “Ukraine could fall very quickly,” one of the outlet’s sources quoted Macron as saying. Macron ramped up his rhetoric about Ukraine a few weeks after a number of French nationals fighting on behalf of Kiev were killed in a Russian missile strike. At a meeting of EU leaders in Paris in late February, he refused to rule out the possibility of a NATO intervention in Ukraine.

Though the idea was quickly rejected by almost all members of the US-led bloc and its secretary-general, Macron doubled down, declaring there would be “no limits” to French support for Kiev and calling Russia an “adversary.” Meanwhile, the French Army’s Chief of Staff Pierre Schill announced that the country’s military was “ready,” presumably for a war. Moscow has strongly condemned Macron’s remarks and cautioned NATO against taking further hostile moves. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the deployment of Western soldiers to Ukraine would make direct conflict with Russia “inevitable.” Marine Le Pen, a prominent member of the opposition National Rally party and Macron’s rival in the 2022 election, accused the president last week of “hijacking” the Ukraine issue for the sake of domestic electoral politics. Polls have shown that the French support helping Kiev with weapons and money, but draw the line at getting involved directly with boots on the ground.

Concerns that Kiev might be losing the war appear to be based on several French military assessments leaked earlier this month to the outlet Marianne. One report, following Kiev’s summer offensive, concluded that Ukraine could not win the conflict by military means. Another described the Battle of Avdeevka as a Ukrainian rout and had the French military “in cold sweat,” according to Marianne. A few days later, the daily Le Monde claimed that Macron’s talk of possibly sending troops dated all the way back to June 2023, when the Ukrainian counteroffensive was just starting. General Schill also told the outlet that Macron’s public statements have been “foremost a political and strategic message” to Russia about France’s “will and commitment,” rather than an actual escalation.

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“Western elites have the technology and well-trained soldiers. What they lack is the stamina and political courage to face the baptism of outrage once body bags start arriving back on home soil..”

La Macronnerie of a Failed French President: Ukraine (Jay)

Just what is Emmanuel Macron thinking with his recent media trysts which have gained the attention of the world? Initially, we thought his statements about sending French troops to Ukraine to fight Russian forces was merely chaf to throw up in the air to distract journalists and a gullible French public. It’s true, it has rattled Germany which promptly replied to Macron, reminding him that EU countries are not “at war with Russia” – a curious statement given that just a week earlier, a leaked audio conversation with German air force chiefs revealed that they wanted to send Taurus missiles to Ukraine so as to hit the Crimean bridge. Of course, now that we all know what the intentions of the Germans were, Scholz has been forced to backpedal and downplay the scandal, sticking to its position of neutrality. But if you think that’s funny, wait until you see what Macron has in store for Old Europe.

Could it be really true that he believes French troops could end up in Ukraine? A quick glance at the actual quote from Le Parisienne interview would suggest the opposite and that he’s hedging his bets, or, as some suspect trying to bait the Americans into wanting to get there first. Is this what the British expression “jumping the gun” really means? “Maybe at some point – I don’t want it, I won’t take the initiative – we will have to have operations on the ground, whatever they may be, to counter the Russian forces,” he is quoted as saying. In reality, it seems as though he has been misquoted as there is no story here. Even he is saying on the record that he won’t authorise it. So is he hinting at other western countries taking the lead, perhaps the Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians? Possibly. But in reality, the most likely scenario would be the U.S. biting the bullet and financing a private army made up of various nationalities.

Yet even this initiative would need to be prepared for media and even Russia itself so that the underlying point is clear: this is not a NATO war. Of course, this thinking is fatally flawed as it is based on a premise that Putin wouldn’t dare retaliate against those units of troops who he knows are located in a particular spot, as this could invoke Article V of the NATO treaty itself. Yet any two-bit geopolitical hack who knows Putin, knows this would not stop him as killing western troops – or even better capturing a small number – would mean the end of the West’s intervention. Western elites have the technology and well-trained soldiers. What they lack is the stamina and political courage to face the baptism of outrage once body bags start arriving back on home soil. It may well mean, for Macron, if he were ever to entertain the idea of French troops, that it would or could be African troops from former French colonies enrolled under private contracts as mercenaries.

But as I saw in Somalia in 1993, Western leaders like Clinton had no stomach whatsoever for even a small number of their own being killed or captured. Osama bin Laden watched how Clinton soiled his own pants when just 18 soldiers died in the spectacular U.S. Rangers failure in Mogadishu with an operation which was supposed to take an hour. Black Hawk Down and its implications inspired Bin Laden to bomb both the Dar Es Salam and Nairobi U.S. embassies after seeing how vulnerable the West is fighting terrorism, or merely sticking its nose into other countries problems. All it actually took was Newsweek to run a cover of a U.S. soldier’s body being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu to make Clinton not only pull out of Somalia altogether, but convince the UN itself to leave later in 1995. It also meant that the West would not help hundreds of thousands of victims of the civil war in Rwanda which led to the genocide in 1994. One U.S. soldier. One Newsweek cover.

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“..the French military contingency does not make sense from a military point of view, unless that is, the ulterior objective is to incite escalation..”

France’s Megalomaniac Macron is Gambling With World Peace (SCF)

It is unequivocally clear that if France or any other NATO member deploys combat troops to Ukraine, those troops will be targeted and killed by Russian firepower. In that case, the proxy war in Ukraine becomes an all-out war between the U.S.-led NATO alliance and Russia. That is, World War Three will have started, which in all probability leads inexorably to a nuclear conflagration. Anyone pushing that trajectory is contemptible and criminal. Step up, Monsieur Macron. This narcissistic wannabe Napoleon figure has been pushing the envelope for several weeks now since he hosted a conference on Ukraine in Paris on February 26 when he began publicly toying with the notion of sending NATO troops to Ukraine to combat Russia. This week, Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin claimed that a contingent of 2,000 French military personnel were preparing to enter the Ukraine conflict. France’s military commanders vehemently dismissed the Russian intelligence claim, decrying it as an “irresponsible provocation”.

Just who is being provocative here? The alleged French deployment is consistent with the unhinged and belligerent rhetoric of French President Emmanuel Macron over the past three weeks during which he has been hinting at sending troops and of having “no red lines” to make sure that Russia does not win the war in Ukraine. Macron – like a puerile character – has also taken to goading other European leaders, notably his German counterpart, about not being “cowards” when it comes to supporting Ukraine. Let’s be clear. NATO soldiers and weapons have been in Ukraine since the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in 2014 that installed a Russian-hating NeoNazi regime. The NATO proxy war has been targeting Russia for over a decade and killed more than 10,000 ethnic Russian civilians during a low-intensity war of aggression in formerly Eastern Ukraine. That aggression was finally countered when Russian forces intervened in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. However, the deployment of NATO combat battalions on the ground takes the conflict to the threshold of all-out war.

And Monsieur Macron appears to be willing to go there (while directing from his plush leather armchair in Elysée Palace and swirling a tumbler of vintage whiskey, bien sûr.) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said on several occasions – and most recently as of last week – that if Russia is threatened existentially, even with conventional weapons, then it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons for its defense. Putin warned that nuclear weapons exist to be used. The Russian doctrine for possible nuclear war is well-defined and long-established. Putin is not saber-rattling as the Western media stupidly make out. He is merely reminding potential enemies of the ultimate reality. Given the appalling stakes involved, it may seem bewildering that France’s Macron keeps talking about the possibility of deploying French and other NATO troops to fight in Ukraine. What is driving the French head of state to make such crass allusions?

First of all, it should be noted that such military contingents are crass from an objective military point of view. The deployment of 2,000 French troops would change nothing on the battlefield. They would be destroyed in two days, as American military analyst Scott Ritter points out. The risk is that the casualties inflicted on France would trigger other NATO members to intervene with greater numbers and firepower. That would lead to a spiraling escalation towards all-out nuclear war. As well as France, the Poles and Baltic states appear to be gung-ho about sending combat units. So, the French military contingency does not make sense from a military point of view, unless that is, the ulterior objective is to incite escalation. In other words, the French battle group is deliberately put forward as a sacrificial lamb to act as a tripwire for full NATO mobilization to war.

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“..by circumventing a clause in the bloc’s founding treaty..”

EU Eyes ‘Groundbreaking’ Change On Ukraine Arms Funding (RT)

EU officials are seeking legal advice on how to unlock more military spending for Ukraine by circumventing a clause in the bloc’s founding treaty, the Financial Times reported on Thursday. The move would involve bypassing a section of the Treaty on European Union which forbids charging expenditure that has “military or defense implications” to the bloc’s joint budget. Such funding can be directly provided by member states, but individual governments can opt out of paying, even if they don’t vote against the spending itself. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has proposed a legal task force to evaluate whether the section in question, Article 41(2), can be circumvented so that it doesn’t prevent Brussels from buying weapons for Ukraine to support it in the conflict with Russia, four people familiar with the matter told the British newspaper. Kiev’s military effort against Russia is currently being funded through the European Peace Facility (EPF), which exists outside of the bloc’s joint budget.

The legal theory is that Article 41(2) should apply only to the EU’s own military programs and not foreign states, the FT reported. If the interpretation is applied, “it would be absolutely groundbreaking,” one source said. Talks, however, are at an early stage and may not end in Kiev’s favor, the newspaper reported. Even if changes are made, member states may challenge them in court. While many EU countries support military assistance for Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia are in opposition. They argue that continued weapons deliveries merely result in more bloodshed, as opposed to a Russian defeat, and stand in the way of possible peace talks. There are also neutral members, such as Austria, which favor non-lethal assistance only. Last year the EU vowed to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine by March 2024, but has failed to deliver on the pledge. Ukrainian officials have complained that assistance from Western donors has been lackluster in both amount and capability.

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“..medical commissions would no longer classify Ukrainian recruits as ‘fit for limited military service’. She argued that “this will make life easier for tens of thousands of people.”

Ukraine Makes Fresh Move To Draft More Soldiers (RT)

Ukrainian recruits deemed ‘fit for limited military service’ could soon be thrown into the thick of the fighting after the nation’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, moved to abolish the term altogether. A bill to that effect was supported by the Rada on Thursday. According to the text, those who have been classified as fit for military service with restrictions would have to undergo a medical examination within the next nine months to determine their new health status, and whether they could be deployed to the front line. Those deemed fit for limited service could only be called up during time of war, and are not supposed to fill frontline positions, being allowed to serve only in support and rear units. The push to change conscription legislation comes amid calls from numerous officials in Kiev that every Ukrainian citizen should serve his country during the conflict with Russia. Commenting on the bill on national TV, Deputy Defense Minister Natalya Kalmykova said that medical commissions would no longer classify Ukrainian recruits as ‘fit for limited military service’. She argued that “this will make life easier for tens of thousands of people.”

“Both the service members and their relatives asked the Defense Ministry and other authorities to resolve this issue. We are very glad that the Verkhovna Rada has supported these changes,” she added. Meanwhile, since late December, Ukrainian lawmakers have been mulling a controversial bill that would lower the minimum conscription age from 27 to 25 to compensate for battlefield losses, with reported plans to call up around 500,000 troops. In early February, the legislation was passed in its first reading after numerous amendments. Later in the month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu estimated Ukraine’s losses at more than 444,000 troops since the start of the conflict in February 2022. On Wednesday, the minister claimed that Kiev’s casualties had reached 71,000 troops this year alone, a figure he said was three times the losses during the same period last year. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed in February that Kiev had sustained only 31,000 soldiers killed since the start of the conflict. He did not disclose how many were injured or missing in action.

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“Unlike most Western leaders, Putin is on the side of his own citizens..”

Washington In Denial Over Putin’s Victory While Gaming Its Own Elections (Cox)

America’s legacy media and political ruling class have thrown a predictably massive hissy fit over last weekend’s Russian election, insisting that President Vladimir Putin’s landslide victory was “preordained” and “stage-managed.” Every protest and anti-Putin statement before, during, and after the election was amplified. Every allegation of misconduct was reported with zero scrutiny or skepticism. Washington and its allies decried the results, arguing that the vote wasn’t free or fair. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron went so far as to call it “illegal.” The pearl-clutching over Russia’s vote was the most intense I’ve ever seen over a foreign election. It was so inordinate, in fact, that it reminded me of the nonstop media coverage last month after Russian political activist Alexey Navalny died in a Siberian penal colony.

The same media that showed no concern over the death of US journalist Gonzalo Lira in a Ukrainian jail – after he had been tortured, at American taxpayer expense, for daring to criticize the Kiev regime – huffed and puffed for weeks about the death of a Russian citizen in a Russian prison. Lost in all the hysteria over Putin’s victory is the fact that most of the Russian people like their president. The incumbent won over 87% of the votes, and as even CNN begrudgingly acknowledged before the election, a poll last month showed that Putin had an 86% approval rating. That compares with a 9% approval rating for Navalny, the great Western hope for destabilizing Russia, in a January 2023 poll. And by the way, it also compares with US President Joe Biden’s approval rating of around 38%. As US policy analyst Jeffrey Sachs explained in an interview this week with Russia-hating podcaster Piers Morgan, Putin’s popularity and reelection reflect the will of the Russian people. “It’s part of Russian culture,” said Sachs, who advised the Moscow and Kiev governments after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

“He’s a strong leader. The Russian people expect a strong leader, and we have to deal with a strong leader in Russia.” Therein lies the problem. Team America is unwilling to accept strong leadership of Russia with broad public support. Having failed to cripple Russia or its leadership through the proxy war in Ukraine, the US and its allies are in no mood to accept the political reality in Moscow. The political pouting was so bad in Berlin that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government refused to refer to Putin as Russia’s president. This is the same government that is mulling plans to ban one of Germany’s most popular opposition parties. However, for all the Western criticism of Putin and his policies, it’s not easy to argue that he doesn’t try to represent the interests of the Russian people. Unlike most Western leaders, Putin is on the side of his own citizens. He hit the nail on the head when he said Western attacks were directed not at him, but at “the forces that stand behind me, which seek to strengthen Russia – to improve its sovereignty, defense, and economic independence.”

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“..he does not think China will ever invest in Israel again. “They see on their own social media networks what you and I are seeing..”

World Sees Gaza as ‘US Genocide’ Not Just Israel’s (Sp.)

On Tuesday, four critical care doctors who recently returned from Gaza spoke to the UN. “I saw the most appalling atrocities, and I saw things I never would have expected to have seen in any healthcare setting,” Dr. Nick Maynard said, adding that he saw “mass indiscriminate bombing” and targeting of healthcare workers. Americans do not understand how badly the United States’ reputation has been damaged across the world, which sees Gaza as “a US genocide” and “not just an Israeli genocide,” Mohammad Marandi, a professor of English literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran told Sputnik’s The Critical Hour on Thursday. “It’s revealing the reality of [the US] empire in a way that not even [author of ‘A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn] could do because it’s being done in front of our eyes, it’s being done in front of a global audience. We’ve never seen such a thing before,” Marandi said, adding that he suspects that is why the US is attempting to ban TikTok.

“The United States has lost credibility across the world. I don’t think many Americans understand how bad this has become for the United States. People across the world see this as a US genocide, it’s not just an Israeli genocide.” Co-host Wilmer Leon asked about a recent freeze on Canadian arms shipments to Israel, which Marandi said showed that “public opinion is shifting” but that ultimately “stopping Canadian exports of weapons is nothing.” Marandi said Canada needs to take a much tougher approach. “They sanctioned Syria… they’ve imposed sanctions on Cuba, on Venezuela, on Iran, on Yemen. Why don’t they impose sanctions on Israel? They’re carrying out a holocaust. Why don’t they hit the economy?” Marandi asked, noting that Israel will, unlike Russia, be allowed to participate in the Olympics. “No one takes this seriously. And, of course, the bulk of the weapons come from the United States anyway.”

“In any case, there is no reason to believe that the Canadian government cares about Palestinians, that they oppose the genocide because they’ve done absolutely nothing to stop it,” Marandi added. Ultimately, Marandi believes that Israel has laid the path for its destruction through its actions in Gaza. “I believe that the Israelis have made a fatal mistake and that what they’ve done in Gaza will be the beginning of the end of the Zionist project,” he asserted. “The real catastrophe for the Israeli regime is the fact that it’s been carrying out the genocide for almost six months in front of the world and it has demolished the facade that the regime had created for itself… about it being a democracy… All that is gone now and across the board the regime is despised and the image of the United States has been destroyed.” Marandi noted that he has been to China twice and public opinion there has shifted as well. He noted that he does not think China will ever invest in Israel again. “They see on their own social media networks what you and I are seeing,” he noted.

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“He’s Hunter’s confidant, art patron, business partner, and his lawyer. Now there is a suggestion that we might have to add CIA asset or protected person..”

CIA Told DOJ to Stay Away from Kevin Morris in Hunter Biden Probe (Turley)

The New York Post has created a stir in Washington with its report that a whistleblower claims that the CIA reportedly blocked federal investigators from interviewing Kevin Morris, the entertainment lawyer who has subsidized the expenses and bought the art of Hunter Biden. (For full disclosure, Morris previously threatened me with a defamation lawsuit over my writing about his representation of Hunter. Fortunately, I have not received any summons from either the courts or the CIA). We will have to wait for more details on the allegations, but the response of the CIA struck me as rather curious. As discussed earlier, the Hollywood lawyer, producer and Democratic donor has emerged as a major figure in the corruption scandal surrounding Hunter Biden. For years, some of us have complained that we are not sure what Morris was at any given moment.

What became clear in the deposition is that Morris does not appear certain himself. He’s Hunter’s confidant, art patron, business partner, and his lawyer. Now there is a suggestion that we might have to add CIA asset or protected person. The unnamed whistleblower told the House Oversight and Judiciary that the “intelligence agency stopped IRS and Justice Department investigators from interviewing Morris in August 2021.” That has led Oversight chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Judiciary chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) to demand answers from the CIA on whether two DOJ officials were summoned to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. to discourage their interviewing Morris.

Given the allegations of special treatment by the Justice Department (including blocking efforts to interview Hunter or search Biden properties), the allegation is obviously quite serious. One would expect that the CIA would simply say that no such meeting related to the Hunter Biden investigation occurred. Instead, the agency responded that it “does not obstruct investigations.” The spokesman added “CIA does not comment on specific investigations. We can say that CIA cooperates with law enforcement partners and does not obstruct investigations. CIA also fully and routinely cooperates with our oversight committees and will continue to do so.”

Hunter met Morris when he attended a political fundraiser as a major donor. Soon thereafter, he warned Biden associates that Hunter’s unpaid taxes raised political problems during Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential run. He later proceeded to pay off Hunter’s taxes and to subsidize his lavish lifestyle. He also took an apparent lead in planning public campaigns against the critics of the Bidens, reportedly pushing a scorched-earth approach to attack potential witnesses and accusers. Then Morris seemed to take on the role of Hunter’s bank and art patron. He reportedly gave millions to Hunter while insisting that they are loans, not gifts. Most recently, it was revealed that, despite accounts of buyers flocking to buy Hunter’s overpriced art, it was Morris all along who bought most of the pieces. How the CIA would fit into any of this is anyone’s guess.

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“..why would you have 12 people armed with shotguns and machine guns, raid a doctor’s home in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and four years later never indict him?”

CIA Protecting Biden by Blocking IRS Interviews – Whistleblower (DeMartino)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jordan and Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman Comer revealed that a whistleblower told them the CIA intervened to prevent the IRS from interviewing Kevin Morris, an associate of Hunter Biden who loaned him millions of dollars, as part of the IRS investigation into the first son’s alleged tax crimes. The CIA said it would not comment on specific cases but added that while it cooperates with other law agencies, it does not interfere with investigations and claims to be fully cooperative with its oversight committees. Jordan and Comer have sent a letter to the CIA requesting more information, but have not yet received a response. They set a deadline for April 4, 2024. If the whistleblower’s testimony is true, it would represent an unprecedented move by the CIA that is tasked with countering foreign threats.

Brad Birkenfeld, a whistleblower who exposed tax fraud and money laundering schemes in the Swiss banking system, told Sputnik’s Political Misfits that the problem is that “so many people are trying to help the Bidens get out of the illegal conduct that they’re doing,” noting that he has himself attempted to provide investigators with information on the Hunter Biden case, but was met hostile response. “I was introduced to Dr. Keith Ablow, [who] was Hunter Biden’s psychiatrist,” Birkenfeld began. “He wanted me to help him with his whistleblowing case.” Birkenfeld says that Ablow told him things about Hunter Biden but that Ablow didn’t show for meetings that Birkenfeld set up for him in Washington. “Then I went to Senator [Charles] Grassley’s (R-IA) office and Senator [Ron] Johnson’s (R-WI) office, and I felt obligated as an American citizen to tell them about the information that [Ablow] had relayed to us,” including Hunter Biden’s involvement with Monkey Island, a Liquified Natural Gas company in Louisiana.

“Two days later, lo and behold, the Drug Enforcement Agency in Boston raided Dr. Keith Ablow’s home,” Birkenfeld continued. “[The DEA] took everything. Now, why would you have 12 people armed with shotguns and machine guns, raid a doctor’s home in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and four years later never indict him?” “Whatever the CIA does,” Birkenfeld added while discussing the CIA’s past, including their support of dictators Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein and Ferdinand Marcos, as well as their alleged efforts to undermine Donald Trump while he served as President. “Whatever the CIA does, this is like Cartoon Network over there in Langley. Yes, they do a job and some people work well. But there’s a lot of idiots over there that should be fired and prosecuted. And that’s the facts.”

Birkenfeld added earlier that Joe Biden -while serving as Vice President- was briefed in defense meetings “about his son interfering in US policies.” That, as of yet, has not been alleged by the committees investigating Hunter Biden but Birkenfeld insisted that it is “not conjecture.” “A lot of people don’t know this yet, but this is exactly what’s going to be coming out,” he asserted. While Democrats have consistently declared that the committees have yet to find any concrete evidence that President Biden committed any crimes, Birkenfeld argues that is because the power centers in Washington continue to obfuscate the case by blocking investigative efforts. “Give us the bank records, give us the credit cards offshore, and we can piece it together. But, once again, the Biden White House is obstructing, the DOJ is obstructing, the FBI is obstructing, the CIA [is] obstructing. So nobody can get the facts.”

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“..the potential causes of fertility decline, such as plastics and chemical shrinking penises and sperm counts, are relatively ignored..”

“In countries like South Korea and Japan, there are twice as many people dying as there are being born..”

Global Population Set To Fall For First Time In 700 Years (MN)

A major study published in scientific journal The Lancet has found that the global population will start to fall within decades due to vastly reduced fertility rates and may never recover. The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that by the year 2050, 155 of 204 countries are on course to have birth rates lower than required to sustain the population level. It notes that as of 2021, the “total fertility rate” worldwide was 2.23, hovering only just above the 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain population growth. That figure has fallen from 4.84 in 1950, with researchers predicting it will decrease to 1.83 in 2050 and go as low as 1.59 by 2100. The study notes that by that time only 26 countries will have birth rates that outpace the number of people dying, with “most of the world transitioning into natural population decline”. A fall in population would mark the first time in seven centuries such an occurrence has taken place. The last time it happened was after the Black Death bubonic plague pandemic killed as many as 50 million people in the mid-1300s, reducing the global population from 400 million to 350 million.


Dramatic declines in global fertility rates set to transform global population patterns by 2100

Commenting on the study, it’s co-author Dr Natalia Bhattacharjee said declining fertility rates “will completely reconfigure the global economy and the international balance of power and will necessitate reorganising societies”. Bhattacharjee, lead research scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, also noted that a major consequence will be increased immigration from countries where there is still a “baby boom,” such as sub-Saharan Africa, in order to make up workforce shortages in nations with aging populations. Professor Stein Emil Vollset, senior author from IHME, also noted that the world is “facing staggering social change through the 21st century” due to population decline. The findings are exactly what the likes of Elon Musk have been warning of for years, describing population decline as a ‘civilisational threat’ and urging that humanity is literally going to disappear if something is not done to reverse the trend.

While Eco loons rage about ‘moral issues’ with having children, the potential causes of fertility decline, such as plastics and chemical shrinking penises and sperm counts, are relatively ignored. The stark reality is that birth rates globally are collapsing and almost every country is on course to have shrinking populations by the end of the century. In countries like South Korea and Japan, there are twice as many people dying as there are being born. You don’t have to be a mathematic genius to do the calculations on what’s going to happen very soon. These countries are already considering embracing mass migration, with South Korea’s Justice Minister recently declaring the country faces a “demographic catastrophe” and potential extinction otherwise. Despite this horrifying reality, it is now commonplace in modern culture for young people to genuinely believe they need to abandon their human instincts to reproduce, all for the greater good.

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McCullough: Spike proteins from Saliva
https://twitter.com/i/status/1770987637257413092

 

 

FDA loses its war on ivermectin and agrees to remove all social media posts and consumer directives regarding ivermectin and COVID, including its most popular tweet in FDA history.

 

 

Shark
https://twitter.com/i/status/1770998255851036861

 

 

Fish

 

 

Elephant
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771065184980742232
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771160969823027645

 

 

How?

 

 


Find “A”

 

 

Queen of the night

 

 

 

 

Deep-Sea Ghost Shark

 

 

Lion up close

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in wartime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 222023
 
 September 22, 2023  Posted by at 8:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Girl Before A Mirror 1932

 

Ukraine Has Already Lost In Its Conflict With Russia – Seymour Hersh (RT)
Ukraine Shows US Military Not Ready for Major War (Scott Ritter)
Can Ukraine Use Corruption Charges to Blackmail Biden? (Tweedie)
US May Be Supporting ‘Neo-Nazis’ by Aiding Ukraine – Congressman (Sp.)
McCarthy Says GOP Hardliners Want to ‘Burn the Whole Place Down’ (Sp.)
Zelensky Accuses The Notoriously Russophobic Polish Of Helping Moscow (Marsden)
Poland Makes U-turn On Ukraine Aid (RT)
Polish Politician Reveals Why Warsaw Changed Its Tune on Ukraine (Sp.)
NATO Expansion & Ukraine’s Destruction (Jeffrey Sachs)
Half of US’ F-35 Fleet Not Capable of Flying at Any Time – Watchdog (Sp.)
Our Self-Induced Catastrophe at the Border (Hanson)
Third IRS Official Says DOJ Blocked Weiss From Charging Hunter Biden (WE)
Russell Brand Is Unlikely To Face Actual Justice (Hryce)
Intel-linked UK Official Pushing Censorship Of Russell Brand (GZ)
The Valorization of the Tyrants (Jeffrey Tucker)

 

 

 

 

Do watch please. Ken Paxton

 

 

Tim Ballard
https://twitter.com/i/status/1704614152549916967

 

 

 

 

Shaman

 

 

 

 

“‘The war is over. Russia has won. There is no Ukrainian offensive anymore, but the White House and the American media have to keep the lie going.’”

Ukraine Has Already Lost In Its Conflict With Russia – Seymour Hersh (RT)

US intelligence analysts believe that Ukraine has given up on its counteroffensive against Russia and the only thing prolonging the conflict is the unwillingness of Washington and Kiev to acknowledge their failure, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has claimed. Writing on Substack on Thursday, the veteran reporter cited an unnamed source, who “spent the early years of his career working against Soviet aggression and spying” as rejecting the Ukrainian narrative about a slow but steady progress of the counteroffensive. “‘It’s all lies,’” the source said, according to Hersh. “‘The war is over. Russia has won. There is no Ukrainian offensive anymore, but the White House and the American media have to keep the lie going.’”

This sentiment is shared by many figures in the US intelligence community, and the CIA in particular has been skeptical of Kiev’s claims of a continued push forward, unlike the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), he explained. Trent Maul, the director of analysis for the DIA, touted Ukraine’s success to The Economist earlier this month and claimed Kiev’s forces had a “realistic” chance to break through Russian defense lines this year. The British outlet contrasted the assessment with that of an unnamed senior US intelligence official, who said the battlefield “could look broadly similar” in five years. The source cited by Hersh blasted the leadership in both Moscow and Washington for acting “stupid”during the crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin got “provoked [into] violating the UN charter” with a poorly-prepared military campaign, he argued. US President Joe Biden retaliated with a proxy war and has had to rely on the vilification of Putin by the media “in order to justify our mistake.”

“The truth is if the Ukrainian army is ordered to continue the offensive, the army would mutiny. The soldiers aren’t willing to die any more, but this doesn’t fit the B.S. that is being authored by the Biden White House,” the source concluded. Moscow has denied the US claim that the operation against Ukraine was an act of “unprovoked aggression,” insisting that the people of Donbass had the right of self-determination under the UN Charter and acted accordingly when they broke away from Ukraine after the 2014 armed coup in Kiev. The Russian government has maintained that it acted lawfully when it recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luganks People’s Republics in February 2022. Days later, after Kiev refused to stop attacks on Donbass and pull out its troops, Moscow launched its offensive.

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“..80-90 out of every 100 men mobilized become casualties in this conflict. Calculating that roughly 90 days transpired between the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and Putin’s comments, this means that Ukraine was losing around 790 casualties per day.”

Ukraine Shows US Military Not Ready for Major War (Scott Ritter)

Before the Ukrainian conflict began, the US Army, drawing upon Cold War estimates, assessed in the 2019 edition of Field Manual (FM) 4-0 (Sustainment Operations) that US Army theater medical planners “may anticipate a sustained rate of roughly 3,600 casualties per day, ranging from those killed in action to those wounded in action or suffering disease or other non-battle injuries”, putting the US Army on track to lose some 50,000 casualties in two weeks of sustained combat operations against a Russian-style threat. Are these numbers realistic? Ask Ukraine. In the lead up to the current counteroffensive, Ukraine built up three brigades-worth of troops (around 20,000 soldiers) along with another nine brigades (some 37,000 troops) trained and equipped by NATO, all of which were slated to participate in the main offensive effort in and around the village of Rabotino, in southern Zaporozhye.

These forces were supplemented by an additional 40,000 territorial forces formed into eight so-called “shock brigades” intended to be deployed offensively in the vicinity of the city of Artemovsk (Bakhmut). The total number of Ukrainian troops mobilized and trained specifically for the counteroffensive was just under 100,000 men. Back in January 2023—five months before the start of the current counteroffensive, and two months before the Battle of Artemovsk (Bakhmut), US General Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US and NATO forces in Europe, told an audience at an Oslo defense forum that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine “out of proportion with all of our [NATO] recent thinking,” adding that “the magnitude of this war is incredible.” Cavoli spoke of artillery expenditure rates by the Russian Army that exceeded, on average, 20,000 rounds per day.

Violence begets violence, and with this much high explosive being sent down range, the Ukrainians were certain to be sustaining very high losses. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking to the Eastern Economic Forum, stated that in the three months that have transpired since the Ukrainian counteroffensive was begun, Ukraine had suffered some 71,000 casualties (killed and wounded), or roughly seven out of every 10 men participating. This number is consistent with a statement made by a Ukrainian official responsible for the mobilization of troops in the Poltava Region, which indicated that 80-90 out of every 100 men mobilized become casualties in this conflict. Calculating that roughly 90 days transpired between the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and Putin’s comments, this means that Ukraine was losing around 790 casualties per day.

The US Army currently has approximately 100,000 troops deployed to Europe, around 40,000 of which are organized into combat units expected to bear the brunt of the fighting. If these troops were subject to casualty rates approximating those sustained by Ukraine in the prosecution of its counteroffensive, the US Army would exhaust its combat power within 50 days. Of course, this calculation is misleading since it speaks of 100% casualty rates. According to US Army doctrine, if a unit is at 50 to 69 percent strength, it becomes combat ineffective, meaning it is no longer capable of accomplishing its assigned mission. The reality is that US combat forces subjected to the level of violence experienced by Ukraine at the hands of the Russians would become combat ineffective after around 2 weeks of fighting.

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“They have to worry about not only Biden, but people like Sullivan, people like Blinken, who are both demonstrably guilty of fooling around with elections..”

Can Ukraine Use Corruption Charges to Blackmail Biden? (Tweedie)

The Kiev regime could use its knowledge of the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine to blackmail the US president into continued support for a losing conflict with Russia, says an ex-CIA commentator. Republican House of Representatives speaker Kevin McCarthy has scheduled impeachment hearings into US president Joe Biden’s alleged influence peddling through his son Hunter — revealed among the contents of his abandoned laptop computer — to begin next week. This time McCarthy snubbed the Ukrainian leader by denying his request to address Congress. But Biden still found time to invite his protégé, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to visit Washington again after his poorly-attended UN General Assembly address.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern told Sputnik that the US ever-escalating involvement in Ukraine was dangerous, as nobody knows the extent of “Biden’s personal stakes in this” not just for his son Hunter but himself and his brother James. “The evidence is accumulating. What do the Ukrainians know about all this bribery?” McGovern asked. “If Ukraine were the pristine, pure nation of the world where there was no under underhanded stuff, no corruption, that would be one thing. But they’re the picture-boy for corruption.” The former intel-cruncher noted that Biden seems caught in a death spiral of support for Kiev’s military campaigns against Russia despite the increasingly pessimistic outlook for achieving any kind of victory. “So what does Zelensky … know about Biden that has Biden in more of a pickle than most of us even realize?” McGovern asked.

“Given the way the counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces, supported by US troops and material, that’s going south, what else does Biden worry about?” But he said more important was how Russia’s political leaders viewed the lay of the land in the Washington DC swamp. “They have to worry about not only Biden, but people like Sullivan, people like Blinken, who are both demonstrably guilty of fooling around with elections,” McGovern pointed out. “Blinken has revealed that, having collected 51 former intelligence leaders to say that [Hunter] Biden’s laptop was not genuine, that it had the smell or all the earmarks of a Russian disinformation operation. Well, that’s hooey now. But it helped get Joe Biden elected.” The intelligence community insider said the level of corruption in Washington now was “as bad as I’ve ever seen it, and that goes back six decades.” “The question is, how will this impede Biden from doing anything sensible with respect to Ukraine before the election, or even after the election?” McGovern asked.

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“It is imperative that both Congress and the American taxpayers know how much of this sum has been allocated to vicious anti-Semitic neo-Nazis..”

US May Be Supporting ‘Neo-Nazis’ by Aiding Ukraine – Congressman (Sp.)

In a letter addressed to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, US Congressman Paul Gosar voiced his misgivings about the Section 8138 of Public Law 117-328 that specifically prohibits the provision of US funds to the Azov Battalion, an infamous Ukrainian neo-Nazi unit*. In the missive dated September 20 and obtained exclusively by Sputnik, Gosar pointed out that not only does the Azov Battalion continue to exist despite having a “long history of human rights abuses,” it has been incorporated into the Ukrainian military and National Guard. “Thus, US aid of any type sent to Ukraine is being delivered, in contravention of the law, to this Nazi battalion. It is immoral and illegal for the United States to send money to a Nazi regime,” the congressman wrote.

Gosar also noted that Azov has a number of “spinoff units,” such as the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade that is a “component of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” “The US has foolishly allocated four rounds of Ukraine aid totaling at least $113 billion. As if this staggering sum is not enough, Mr. Biden recently called on more than $24 billion more to be sent to Ukraine. It is imperative that both Congress and the American taxpayers know how much of this sum has been allocated to vicious anti-Semitic neo-Nazis,” Gosar declared in the letter. While it is already bad enough that the US government willingly provided billions of dollars “to the authoritarian and corrupt Kiev regime,” the fact that Ukraine “may be able to make a fool out of the American people by abusing technicalities in Federal law to ensure neo-Nazis receive US security assistance” is worse, he added.

The US government ended up funneling billions of dollars’ worth of financial assistance and military equipment to the regime in Kiev after the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, prompting concerns among some members of the US Congress who were not amused by this generosity at the American taxpayers’ expense. While the US leadership and mainstream media sought to portray the Kiev regime as some kind of force for good that fights to uphold the ideals of freedom and democracy, it became increasingly clear that the Ukrainian military is rife with neo-Nazis who routinely engage in human rights abuses.

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They want no more money to Ukraine. How is that burning the place down?

McCarthy Says GOP Hardliners Want to ‘Burn the Whole Place Down’ (Sp.)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sent House members home on Thursday for a three-day weekend despite failing to find a resolution that would help the government avoid a shutdown at the end of the month.Five GOP hardliners demanded additional spending cuts, blocking the debate on a key military funding bill. After vowing to work through the weekend in order to find a solution to the crisis, those plans were canceled with members being told they would get “ample notice” if any votes are rescheduled. Failing to find a solution to the crisis, members are showing little faith in McCarthy’s ability to avoid a government shutdown, which could begin in just 11 days. House Republicans have voiced their frustrations regarding intraparty fighting to the media.

“We are very dysfunctional right now,” Rep. Tim Burchett, (R-TN) said, before fuming that GOP leaders “obviously can’t count” votes. He then compared McCarthy to his predecessor, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) saying: “Speaker Pelosi, love her or hate her, she put something out there and they’d rally around it.” “This is painful. It gives me a headache. This is a very difficult series of missteps by our conference,” US Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) said. “If you can’t do [the defense bill], what can you do?” US Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), a moderate Republican, seethed that the bickering within his party was a “clown show.” He added that Republicans will have to compromise if they want to get any work done in a government that is so heavily controlled by Democrats.

“For my colleagues, they have to come to a realization: If they are unable or unwilling to govern, others will. And in a divided government where you have Democrats controlling the Senate, a Democrat controlling the White House, there needs to be a realization that you’re not going to get everything you want,” he said. “And just throwing a temper tantrum and stomping your feet, frankly not only is it wrong — it’s pathetic,” he added McCarthy also slammed his conservative colleagues for wanting to “burn the place down.” “It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand how anyone votes against bringing the idea up and having the debate,” he said. “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down. That doesn’t work.”

The vote on Thursday failed 212 to 216, with five Republicans – Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Andy Biggs and Eli Crane, both of Arizona – voting no. Rules Committee Chairman Tom Cole, Oklahoma, also participated in the vote. Crane and Greene originally voted for the rule earlier this week, but changed their vote on Thursday, catching fellow Republicans off-guard. Absences also affected the Thursday voting outcome. Crane, a member of the House Freedom Caucus and a newcomer to Congress, said he is demanding lower spending levels and wants no more aid for Ukraine. “[Constituents] understand there’s no appetite to quit spending money we don’t have, and they expect me to do whatever I can to stop it and to change how we do business up here,” he said. With the House stuck in a sort of paralysis, the new plan is for Republicans to try and complete work on individual, long-term spending bills, as their short-term funding bill did not have enough GOP votes amid hardliner opposition, according to one American news source.

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“..you’re a side piece hoping for a ring and using toxic tactics to try to manipulate everyone into getting whatever you want all the time..”

Zelensky Accuses The Notoriously Russophobic Polish Of Helping Moscow (Marsden)

Ukraine and Poland’s relationship has apparently reached the throwing toys out of the pram phase. Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly this week, President Vladimir Zelensky said it was “alarming to see how some in Europe… are helping set the stage for a Moscow actor.” Who could he have been talking about? “I hope these words are not addressed to Poland,” replied a Polish government spokesman. If you have to ask yourself the question, you probably already know the answer. Yep, Zelensky is accusing Poland of cheating – with Russia. [..] It seems like just yesterday that Poland was bullying its fellow European Union member states to cough up gifts of weapons for Zelensky. Back in May, it managed to get Denmark and Finland on board with sending their German Leopard tanks to Kiev and browbeat Berlin for dragging its feet on giving permission to re-export the vehicles.

“Even if, eventually, we do not get this permission, we – within this small coalition – even if Germany is not in this coalition, we will hand over our tanks, together with the others, to Ukraine,” declared Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the time. Fast forward to this week. “We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” Morawiecki said. In other words, Warsaw has decided that it needs to focus on itself. Isn’t that what every exasperated partner says after spending time on a therapist’s couch and coming to their senses? Last week, Poland withdrew – along with Hungary and Slovakia – from the EU’s platform to coordinate Ukrainian grain imports. Sources claimed that the countries feared that details from any such involvement could be used against them in a lawsuit that Kiev filed earlier this week.

This was at the World Trade Organization in response to them maintaining their bans on Ukrainian grain imports despite Brussels’ decision to lift them on September 15. Thus, Poland has gone from loudly proclaiming its love for Kiev to suddenly acting like a party to a potentially messy divorce, now taking self-preservation measures against a toxic partner. One who keeps making demands even when you say “no.” And that’s exactly what these countries did by insisting that Ukraine’s grain be banned lest it compete with their own farmers’ produce, driving its value down – and not even a month before the next Polish parliamentary election on October 15. Instead of trying to see the situation from these countries’ perspectives, Kiev blew a gasket.

“The systemic approach of Budapest and Warsaw of ignoring the position of the EU institutions in trade policy, I think that will be a problem for the EU in general because there is no unity there,” said Taras Kachka, a trade representative. Kiev is acting like it can’t understand why Brussels is backing the three while it keeps stringing Ukraine along with promises of commitment.It’s because they’re in a binding relationship with the EU. By contrast, you’re a side piece hoping for a ring and using toxic tactics to try to manipulate everyone into getting whatever you want all the time. The gloves have really come off now, though, with Ukraine daring to suggest that the EU isn’t united. That threatens to ruin the main theme of unelected European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s virtue signaling.

Kiev is now doubling down on the psycho-ex vibe by threatening that unless the unilateral bans on grain are lifted, it will go after Polish apples and onions and Hungarian cars with retaliatory restrictions. (Why do bad breakups always have to target innocent cars – whether it’s keying/scratching, smashing, or blocking?) Poland has since pushed back in a tit-for-tat. “I warn the Ukrainian authorities because if they escalate this conflict in this way, we will add more products to the ban on import into the territory of the Republic of Poland,” Prime Minister Morawiecki said on Wednesday.

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That was quick.

Poland Makes U-turn On Ukraine Aid (RT)

The Polish government has attempted to walk back Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s threat to halt weapon shipments to Ukraine. Government spokesman Piotr Muller has stressed that Poland will continue to send military supplies to Ukraine under its existing agreements. “Poland is only carrying out previously agreed supplies of ammunition and armaments, including those resulting from the contracts signed with Ukraine,” the spokesman said, noting that Poland has “consistently helped” Kiev in the conflict. His statement comes after Morawiecki declared on Thursday that Warsaw will no longer provide arms to the Ukrainian military and will instead focus on arming its own forces with modern weapons. “Ukrainian authorities do not understand the degree to which Poland’s farming industry has been destabilized” by imports, the prime minister said.

One Polish government official, however, told Bloomberg on the condition of anonymity that the prime minister’s words had been wrongly interpreted. Another official claimed that while Poland has no more weaponry left that can be donated, it will continue to make ammunition shipments to Ukraine. Kiev’s public falling out with one of its staunchest supporters throughout the Russian-Ukraine conflict comes amid an escalating diplomatic row over Ukrainian grain imports to Europe. Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, had previously decided to go against the EU’s decision to lift the embargo on Ukrainian grain. Warsaw explained the unilateral move by stating it protecting its farmers and preventing cheap Ukrainian agricultural products from flooding the market and disrupting the agricultural industry.

Kiev responded to the move by condemning it as “illegal” and announcing that it would file a dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the three Eastern European countries. It also threatened to ban the import of Polish fruits and vegetables. The EU, meanwhile, has demanded that Warsaw, Budapest, and Bratislava reverse their bans because EU members are not allowed to take unilateral measures on trade. However, according to a report by the Financial Times, Brussels is now considering whether to protect the three countries against Kiev’s WTO filing. It is allegedly working to “coordinate” its legal rebuttals to the claim.

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“..Warsaw’s rhetoric is all about the upcoming parliamentary elections, “which the ruling Law and Justice party would lose by continuing to uncritically support Kiev.”

Polish Politician Reveals Why Warsaw Changed Its Tune on Ukraine (Sp.)

Relations between Warsaw and Kiev have soured recently after Polish authorities, along with their Hungarian and Slovakian counterparts, moved to restrict imports of cheap Ukrainian grain in a bid to protect local farmers. Kiev promptly retaliated by filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against all three countries and even threatened to block certain agricultural imports from Poland and Hungary if the ban on Ukrainian grain was not lifted. Many prominent Polish politicians appeared unamused by this turn of events, with Poland’s Minister of Defense Marius Blaszczak insisting that Warsaw essentially protects Polish farmers from the schemes of “Ukrainian oligarchs” who want to sell Ukrainian grain in Poland.

Polish politician and independent commentator Konrad Rekas, however, argued that Warsaw’s rhetoric is all about the upcoming parliamentary elections, “which the ruling Law and Justice party would lose by continuing to uncritically support Kiev.” “Of course, Ukraine does not intend to make the internal games easier for its Polish allies, fully understanding that it will receive everything it demands from the next Polish government, regardless of which party forms the government,” Rekas told Sputnik. He claimed that the spat between Ukraine and Poland is not really related to the matter of Ukrainian grain exports or Warsaw’s alleged intent to occupy certain Ukrainian territories and that it is unlikely to affect the course of the Ukrainian conflict.

“Poland will still be a hub for the Western military aid for the Kiev regime. Poles will continue to pay millions for the Ukrainian resettlement to Poland,” Rekas surmised. Since the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, Poland supplied large quantities of military hardware to the regime in Kiev, including battle tanks and warplanes, and helped accommodate tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees on Polish soil. This week, however, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that his country now focuses on arming itself with modern weapons and no longer transfers armaments to Kiev, while Polish government Press Secretary Piotr Muller said that Warsaw apparently has not got plans to continue supporting Ukrainian refugees in Poland next year.

These statements come ahead of the parliamentary election in Poland slated to take place on October 15, and it remains unclear whether Polish politicians are going to fulfill their promises or if it is all merely an attempt to sway voters. Meanwhile, Slovakia, another prominent backer of the Kiev regime, may change its stance on the Ukrainian conflict after the September 30 election in the country. Former Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose social-democratic Smer (Direction) party dominates the recent polls, has already stated that Slovakia will no longer “send any arms or ammunition to Ukraine” should his party form part of a new government.

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“..the entire Russian political class, not just Putin, was dead-set against NATO enlargement..”

NATO Expansion & Ukraine’s Destruction (Jeffrey Sachs)

According to the U.S. government and the ever-obsequious New York Times, the Ukraine war was “unprovoked,” the Times’ favorite adjective to describe the war. Putin, allegedly mistaking himself for Peter the Great, invaded Ukraine to recreate the Russian Empire. Yet last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg committed a Washington gaffe, meaning that he accidentally blurted out the truth. In testimony to the European Union Parliament, Stoltenberg made clear that it was America’s relentless push to enlarge NATO to Ukraine that was the real cause of the war and why it continues today. Here are Stoltenberg’s revealing words:

“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition to not invade Ukraine. Of course, we didn’t sign that. The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997, meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing some kind of B, or second-class membership. We rejected that. So, he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. He has got the exact opposite.”

To repeat, he [Putin] went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his borders. When Prof. John Mearsheimer, I, and others have said the same, we’ve been attacked as Putin apologists. The same critics also choose to hide or flatly ignore the dire warnings against NATO enlargement to Ukraine, long articulated by many of America’s leading diplomats, including the great scholar-statesman George Kennan, and the former U.S. ambassadors to Russia Jack Matlock and William Burns. Burns, now C.I.A. director, was U.S. ambassador to Russia in 2008, and author of a memo entitled “Nyet means Nyet.” In that memo, Burns explained to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the entire Russian political class, not just Putin, was dead-set against NATO enlargement. We know about the memo only because it was leaked. Otherwise, we’d be in the dark about it.

Why does Russia oppose NATO enlargement? For the simple reason that Russia does not accept the U.S. military on its 2,300 km border with Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Russia does not appreciate the U.S. placement of Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania after the U.S. unilaterally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Russia also does not welcome the fact that the U.S. engaged in no fewer than 70 regime change operations during the Cold War (1947-1989), and countless more since, including in Serbia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and Ukraine. Nor does Russia like the fact that many leading U.S. politicians actively advocate the destruction of Russia under the banner of “Decolonizing Russia.” That would be like Russia calling for the removal of Texas, California, Hawaii, the conquered Indian lands, and much else, from the United States.

Even Zelensky’s team knew that the quest for NATO enlargement meant imminent war with Russia. Oleksiy Arestovych, former adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine under Zelensky, declared that “with a 99.9 percent probability, our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”

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$1.7 trillion for jets that don’t fly.

Half of US’ F-35 Fleet Not Capable of Flying at Any Time – Watchdog (Sp.)

Almost half the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters that are supposed to be operational are not capable of flying and it will cost $1.3 trillion to keep them operational, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a new report. “The F-35 fleet mission capable rate – the percentage of time the aircraft can perform one of its tasked missions – was about 55% in March 2023, far below program goals,” the report said on Thursday. The GAO called this level of operational readiness “unacceptably low.” “The program was behind schedule in establishing depot maintenance activities to conduct repairs. As a result, component repair times remained slow with over 10,000 waiting to be repaired – above desired levels,” the report said.

Organizational-level maintenance has also been affected by a lack of technical data and training, the report added. It will cost $1.3 trillion to keep the full F-35 fleet operational and flying even if or when all the repair and maintenance bottlenecks, as well as ongoing development problems with the aircraft’s cannon, ejector seat, software and hardware are fixed, the report said. However, despite the downfalls associated with the F-35 program, the report also determined that the Biden administration and the Department of Defense remain committed to a $1.7 trillion expenditure on buying a total of 2,500 F-35s for the US armed forces.

“In the coming decades, the Department of Defense plans to spend an estimated $1.7 trillion on nearly 2,500 F-35s,” the report stated, acknowledging that the majority of the funds will go to operating, maintaining, and repairing the aircraft. The F-35 aircraft now represents a growing portion of the Defense Department’s tactical aviation fleet with about 450 of the aircraft fielded, the GAO said. From the start of the F-35 program, officials have dealt with a variety of major setbacks with the fleet, ranging from costly fixes to sensitivities with overheating and lightning strikes. More recently, the program made global headline news after a US Marine Corps F-35B crashed in South Carolina and sent authorities on a hunt after being unable to track the fighter once its pilot safely ejected.

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“The ethnic chauvinists and Democratic Party elites needed new constituents, given their increasingly unpopular agendas.”

Our Self-Induced Catastrophe at the Border (Hanson)

Since early 2021 we have witnessed somewhere between 7 and 8 million illegal entries across the now nonexistent U.S. southern border. The more the border vanished, the more federal immigration law was rendered inert, and the more Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas spun fantasies that the “border is secure.” He is now written off as a veritable “Baghdad Bob” propagandist. But how and why did the Biden administration destroy immigration law as we knew it? The Trump administration’s initial efforts to close the border had been continually obstructed in the Congress, sabotaged by the administrative state, and stymied in the courts. Nonetheless, it had finally secured the border by early 2020. Yet almost all its successful initiatives were immediately overturned in 2021.

The wall was abruptly stopped, its projected trajectory cancelled. The Obama-era disastrous “catch-and release” policy of immigration non-enforcement was resurrected. Prior successful pressure on Mexico’s President Andrés Obrador to stop the deliberate export of his own citizens northward ceased. Federal border patrol officers were forced to stand down. New federal subsidies were granted to entice and then support illegal arrivals. No one in the Democratic Party objected to the destruction of the border or the subversion of immigration law. However, things changed somewhat once swamped southern border states began to bus or fly a few thousand of their illegal immigrants northward to sanctuary city jurisdictions—especially to New York, Chicago, and even Martha’s Vineyard.

The sanctuary-city “humanists” there who had greenlighted illegal immigration into the southern states suddenly shrieked. They were irate after experiencing the concrete consequences of their own prior abstract border agendas. After all, their nihilism was always supposed to fall upon distant and ridiculed others. New York mayor Eric Adams went from celebrating a few dozen illegal immigrants bused into Manhattan, to blasting his own party by allowing tens of thousands to swamp his now bankrupt city. But why did the Biden administration deliberately unleash the largest influx across the southern border in U.S. history? The ethnic chauvinists and Democratic Party elites needed new constituents, given their increasingly unpopular agendas.

They feared that the more legal Latino immigrants assimilated and integrated into American society, the less happy they became with leftwing radical abortion, racial, transgender, crime, and green fixations. Democratic grandees had always bragged that illegal immigration would create what they called “The New Democratic Majority” in “Demography is Destiny” fashion. Now they slander critics as “racists” who object to leftwing efforts to use illegal immigration to turn southwestern red states blue. Mexico now cannot survive as a modern state without some $60 billion in annual remittances sent by its expatriates in America. But many illegal immigrants rely on American state and federal entitlements to free up cash to send home.

Mexico also encourages its own abject poor and often indigenous people from southern Mexico to head north as a safety-valve of sorts. The government sees these mass exoduses northward as preferable to the oppressed marching on Mexico City to address grievances of poverty and racism. The criminal cartels now de facto run Mexico. An open border allows them to ship fentanyl northward, earn billions in profits—and kill nearly 100,000 Americans a year. Illegal immigrants pay cartels additional billions to facilitate their border crossings.

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Weiss is two-faced.

Third IRS Official Says DOJ Blocked Weiss From Charging Hunter Biden (WE)

A third IRS official confirmed that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss faced roadblocks when attempting to bring charges against Hunter Biden, contradicting denials issued Wednesday by Attorney General Merrick Garland. IRS Director of Field Operations Michael Batdorf told the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed-door interview on Sept. 12 that he felt “frustrated” by the refusal of the Justice Department to approve tax charges that IRS agents viewed as well-supported by evidence, according to a transcript of the interview obtained by the Washington Examiner. He also said the IRS removed agent Gary Shapley, a whistleblower, from the Hunter Biden case at the direction of Weiss despite having done nothing wrong.

Batdorf’s testimony was the latest piece of evidence to suggest Weiss did not enjoy the unfettered authority to pursue Hunter Biden that Garland and others claimed he had. Still, Batdorf, who was above Shapley in the IRS chain of command, stopped short of attributing the DOJ’s actions to bias in favor of President Joe Biden. In addition to the two Joe Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys who refused to allow Weiss to bring charges against Hunter Biden in their districts, Batdorf said the DOJ Tax Division opposed bringing charges. Batdorf said DOJ Tax argued against charges for Hunter Biden during a June 2022 meeting with Weiss and IRS officials, who were in favor of advancing the case. “DOJ Tax would have to authorize charges prior to David Weiss recommending an indictment or prosecution,” Batdorf said during his interview.

“So, I mean, my understanding is that, I mean, he can’t make that decision without DOJ Tax authorization,” Batdorf said. The IRS supervisor confirmed that Hunter Biden’s defense team was given an unusual number of chances, possibly as many as four, to meet with DOJ Tax investigators and argue why its client should not face charges. Tensions between DOJ Tax and the IRS investigators over the strength of the case began after DOJ Tax officials started meeting with Hunter Biden’s defense lawyers, Batdorf said. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) asked Garland on Wednesday about whether DOJ Tax had the ability to stop a U.S. attorney from proceeding on a tax case. “Most of the time, but not when the attorney general has granted authority to a U.S. attorney to do what he thinks is best,” Garland said at the House Judiciary Committee hearing.

But Weiss did not appear to have that authority at the time. Batdorf said he sensed frustration on the team that Weiss had found roadblocks on multiple paths to prosecuting Hunter Biden. “I was frustrated,” he said. “[Weiss] was probably a little frustrated … because he now had to make some decisions on what he was going to do.” Then, in the fall of last year, the investigation seemed to stall. Batdorf said the case was effectively dormant from October 2022 until May this year. During the intervening months, investigators had little else to do except wait for Weiss to make a decision about whether to move the case forward or end it. Weiss did not decide to proceed until Shapley had already begun the process of testifying to Congress about the investigation. “David Weiss made his decision to go forward in May. I’m not sure what drove that decision,” Batdorf said.

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The MeToo manual.

Russell Brand Is Unlikely To Face Actual Justice (Hryce)

Last week, the controversial comedian and movie star Russell Brand became the latest high-profile target of the #MeToo movement. This should not come as a complete surprise, given his celebrity status and sordid history of self-confessed promiscuity. Brand has been a potential target in waiting for some years – and it was probably just a matter of time before the movement zeroed in on him. The attack on Brand followed the well-rehearsed, standard #MeToo modus operandi. A number of anonymous women, none of whom could ever hope to attain the celebrity status of their male target, have accused Brand of various kinds of sexual misconduct – including, most seriously, rape. These alleged acts occurred some years ago, and none were reported to the police at the time they supposedly occurred.

Nor have these acts been reported to the police even now. Making a formal complaint to the police would, of course, involve the police independently investigating the allegations – at least to the extent that the British police are capable of impartially investigating allegations of this kind. The ideological predisposition of the police in respect of such matters can perhaps be gauged from the statement issued by them after the media storm against Brand broke last week – the police immediately urged any victims of Brand’s sexual indiscretions to contact them and make complaints against him. It is unlikely that the women who have targeted Brand will make formal complaints to the police at this stage – that usually occurs long after the media campaign against the target has destroyed his reputation and career, and seriously prejudiced the likelihood of a fair trial occurring.

#MeToo complainants tend to avoid the courts if they can – because the law is based upon notions such as the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. The law also requires complainants to justify their allegations by means of credible evidence; and subjects them to cross-examination. Such notions and practices are completely foreign to the persecutory #MeToo modus operandi. More to the point, they afford the accused a degree of protection that, in some cases, may even enable them to escape the destructive rage of the movement altogether. Complainants prefer trial by an ideologically compliant media, as Brand is now discovering to his cost.

[..] Brand has already been found guilty as charged by the media. In the space of a few days, his reputation has been irretrievably damaged and his career is being progressively destroyed. Brand’s current stand-up comedy tour in Britain has been cancelled. He has been condemned by media organisations that once vied to employ him, and celebrities who once willingly basked in his reflected glory. Charities that he has supported have cast him aside, and ex-wives and former girlfriends have vengefully denounced him.

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“Rumble “stands for very different values,” and “emphatically reject[s] the UK parliament’s demands.”

Intel-linked UK Official Pushing Censorship Of Russell Brand (GZ)

Allegations of sexual impropriety and abuse by comedian and podcaster Russell Brand by the British media prompted YouTube to demonetize the star’s popular channel on September 20. The Grayzone can now reveal that YouTube’s financial censorship of Brand is the result of an effort waged by a former British government minister who was responsible for London’s crackdown on dissent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her husband has also participated in that campaign of state repression as deputy commander of 77th Brigade, the British Army’s psychological warfare division. YouTube justified its demonetization of Brand on the grounds that he violated its “creator responsibility policy.” This marks the first time a content creator has been financially punished by the company for reasons other than the videos published on the site.

A spokesperson has claimed, “if a creator’s off-platform behaviour harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action.” The allegations against Brand date from betwee 2006 and ’13, and have yet to be proven in court. There is no indication the charges are being investigated by law enforcement in Britain or the US, where the offenses allegedly occurred. Brand has vehemently denied accusations of abuse and rape. Brand’s videos analyzing political developments and topics such as the Covid-19 pandemic, corporate media propaganda and the Ukraine proxy war have earned him an audience of millions, making him one of the world’s most influential alternative media personalities. For this, he appears to have been marked as a threat to the narratives spun out by Washington and London.

New developments suggest YouTube’s censorship of Brand was driven by direct British government decree. On September 19, the social media companies TikTok and Rumble received a pair of almost identical letters dispatched from Caroline Dinenage, the head of the UK parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Dinenage informed the companies she was “concerned that [Brand] may be able to profit from his content” published on both platforms. She then suggested they impose financial penalties: “We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr Brand is able to monetise his […] posts, including his videos relating to the serious accusations against him, and what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal behaviour.”

The Committee’s letter to Rumble contained a direct demand for demonetization: “we would like to know whether Rumble intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform.” In a withering response to Dinenage’s letter, Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski asserted that while noting his company “obviously deplores sexual assault, rape, and all serious crimes, and believes that both alleged victims and the accused are entitled to a full and serious investigation.” Pavlovski went on to slam YouTube’s demonetization of Brand, declaring that Rumble “stands for very different values,” and “emphatically reject[s] the UK parliament’s demands.”

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“Everything she did during the COVID era flies in the face of values that the West has held for almost a thousand years since the Magna Carta.”

The Valorization of the Tyrants (Jeffrey Tucker)

This is surely one of the strangest twists in official narratives in perhaps hundreds of years. The bad guys have been christened as the good guys, and the good guys have been purged, deplatformed, canceled, and demonized. It’s a turn of events none of us could have imagined back in 2020. It cries out for an explanation. I truly fear knowing the answer as to why. Just consider the fate of former New Zealand Prime Jacinda Ardern. She locked down her country, trampling all rights of the people under the guise of controlling the spread of a virus. You could not go to church. You could not be unmasked. You could not leave the country and return. No one could travel there without official permission. As bad as the United States and Europe were during this period, New Zealand was worse, and it was backed up by speech controls.

Anyone protesting the policies was risking everything. And when the vaccine came along, Ardern outright said it: the people who get it will have rights but those who do not will not. It was a new biomedical caste system. Eventually, the country did open. Now speakers decrying the whole period are attracting audiences in the thousands, and Ardern is widely unpopular. Her successor who continues to defend all this despotism is under a cloud and also deeply unpopular. The tables have completely turned. Of course the virus came anyway, as it must, so the junta that did this has turned their attention to climate change, the defense of censorship, and the escalation of the Russia/Ukraine war. Five years ago, anyone would have supposed that a leader that acted this way would live in shame. I certainly assumed so.

My supposition is that Ardern had made horrific misjudgments and would be widely decried as a confused tyrant. She would live out her days in disrepute, surely. The opposite has happened. She is now the subject of celebratory biographies. She is lauded by mainstream media. She addressed the United Nations last year in a speech that was an open call for a new global censorship regime. True, the fact-checkers disagree with this interpretation. Instead she was merely calling out “the weaponization of free speech societies and platforms by misinformation agents.” Oh. In any case, in my imagination, I could not have dreamed up a specimen of error and tyranny more deserving of devaluing than Jacinda Ardern. Everything she did during the COVID era flies in the face of values that the West has held for almost a thousand years since the Magna Carta.

But I was wrong. Completely. I underestimated just how broken the world is. Instead of being disgraced, she is enjoying not one but two fellowships at Harvard University where she enjoys massive prestige and adoration by faculty, staff, and students. To me, this seems like the Twilight Zone—an ending to the story that I could not have imagined. Are we supposed to be against segregation, house arrest, forced medical treatments, locking people in nations, and censorship? I thought at least we would agree on that much. Apparently not. Apparently, it is the opposite. Everything that I believed was deprecated is exalted and all the public virtues I believed we extolled are now denounced.

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F-35
https://twitter.com/i/status/1704551135065805100

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 192023
 
 September 19, 2023  Posted by at 8:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  56 Responses »


Paul Cézanne Les (Grandes) Baigneuses 1905

 

Boldly Into the Chaos (Kunstler)
How Biden Will Circle the Wagons (Hanson)
‘It Was My Decision’: Trump Defends 2020 Election Challenge (ET)
Trump to Skip Second GOP Debate, Address Detroit Auto Workers Instead (Sp.)
Hunter Biden Sues IRS for ‘Violating His Privacy’ (Sp.)
The Surgical Charging of Hunter Biden Ignores a Pattern of Concealment (Turley)
Hunter Biden Claims Whistleblowers Tried To ‘Target’ And ‘Embarrass’ Him (ZH)
European Elite’s Dream Of Power Crumbles (RMX)
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia Pull Out Of EU Grain Platform (RT)
Kiev Demands West Take Measures To Combat ‘War Fatigue’ (RT)
Clintons Look to Cash in on ‘Aid’ for Ukraine (Sp.)
US Sanctions War Is Good For Russian Shipping, Greeks Too (Helmer)
The BRICS Commodity Powerhouse: Can It Force a New Economic ‘Order’? (Crooke)
Biden Wants to Salvage US Hegemony by Reforming UN Security Council (Sp.)

 

 

 

 

Trump NBC

 

 

RFK Brand

 

 

 

 

Stoltenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Much as the deck is stacked against Mr. Trump, his enemies have stupidly stuffed that deck full of jokers that are liable to shriek and giggle their way out of court when turned face-up..”

Boldly Into the Chaos (Kunstler)

The Ukraine war caper has pretty clearly lost its appeal as a supposed crusade for “democracy.” The yellow and blue flags vanished from the front porches and car bumpers months ago. It was a lie from the get-go that we have any national interest in that sad sack country. Our own government engineered the fiasco, and from every angle it has been a dead loss for all parties on our side. Ukraine has been reduced to a failed state in-waiting; Euroland has sacrificed its industrial economy for nothing; and the USA has squandered its last bits of prestige among other nations in this ignominious game of Lets You and Him Fight. Also, Americans have begun to notice that the billions funneled into Mr. Zelensky’s cadre of neo-Nazis and kleptocrats is money that is not going to places like East Palestine, Ohio, Lahaina, Maui, and the towns along our tortured southern border from Matamoros to Tijuana.

Even the people who supposedly elected “Joe Biden” are becoming a little concerned about blundering into World War Three over the mess created by Victoria Nuland & Company. How did we come to the point that it is now illegal to question the veracity of elections in America? And to charge a former president of the US for doing it? Much as the deck is stacked against Mr. Trump, his enemies have stupidly stuffed that deck full of jokers that are liable to shriek and giggle their way out of court when turned face-up. Judge Tanya Chutkan of the DC District Court is one of the jokers, having already branded Mr. Trump a seditious insurrectionist in the trails of many J-6 demonstrators she sent to jail on longer sentences than the prosecutors even asked for.

DA Fani Willis of Fulton County, Ga, is another joker who constructed a career-ending booby-trap for herself, and DA Alvin Bragg of New York County (Manhattan) will not be the one laughing when he’s finally bum-rushed out of his law license. An interesting fate awaits “Joe Biden” in the months ahead as the revenue stream of the Biden family foreign consulting firm gets audited in a House impeachment Inquiry. And an interesting-er fate awaits the Party of Chaos when it finally has to admit that it doesn’t have a candidate for the 2024 presidential election — at least a candidate anyone has ever heard of. The “president” stands (shakily) bestride a dilemma. He can gracefully bow out of office and avoid the historic humiliation of being unmasked as the crookedest chief executive ever — but if he does that, he loses the ability to pardon the son he so loves in any upcoming indictments, or pardon himself as CEO of Biden Consulting Inc.

Or, just maybe, the Blob will steal into the White House residence some gloomy pre-dawn morn, and settle its quivering, gelatinous endoplasm over “JB’s” face until his struggles with Congress and everything else on this plane of existence come mercifully (for us) to their end.

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“House Republicans will have to break through the labyrinth of Biden paywalls and find how much money was rerouted into Biden coffers.”

How Biden Will Circle the Wagons (Hanson)

The strategies of saving the Biden presidency from an impeachment and a Senate trial despite overwhelming evidence of his corruption are starting to emerge. The Family is confronted with damning evidence from the laptop, from the testimonies of Hunter’s business associates Bobulinksi and Archer, from Ukrainian oligarchs and Viktor Shokin, from IRS whistleblowers, from FBI writs, from a likely pseudonymous Biden trove of 4,000 emails to his son and associates, and from the absolute paranoia of a White House that must constantly change its narrative of denials to adjust to a growing portrait of utter corruption, bribery, and perhaps even the treason of warping U.S. policy to fit Biden family interests.

One of their strategies is to deny, then hedge, then ignore, then grow silent—and repeat the wash/rinse/spin cycle of stonewalling as many times as necessary to evade the mounting truth. Insidiously Joe Biden has retreated from his once loud protestations that he supposedly had no idea of what Hunter and his associates were doing. Such a patently dishonest denial set the model that the President would have no compunction about lying to the American people until the evidence of his wrongdoing becomes overwhelming. But this first line of defense did not crumble for years—only to be replaced by a second line of denial: Biden may have known of Hunter’s shenanigans, but he had no business interests with him. That was another blatant untruth.

And that additional stalling also allowed Biden to ignore the closing walls of incrimination for even more months. When these two forward lines of defense collapsed, as the Biden consortium knew they eventually would, a retreat to a third line of defense followed: yes, Joe knew, after all, of Hunter’s miscreant shakedowns; and, yes, Joe, after all, conceded that from time to time he did meet Hunter’s business associates, and upon requests made phone calls to Hunter’s clientele. But he did not profit from such knowledge and associations. Instead an upright old Joe from Scranton was playing along with the “illusion” of influence peddling: Scranton naiveté is not D.C. criminality. Biden’s tripartite lines of defense always got shorter and shallower as evidence mounted. But so far Biden has managed to consume 31 months of his presidency through these strategic retreats.

His fourth and final line of defense will likely be that he was involved, that he had rather than feigned contact, but that he did nothing other than what scores of other high-ranking politicians do who rub shoulders with would-be miscreants, sycophants, and crooks—and so did not knowingly take “loans” and “gifts” that had strings attached. To breach this fourth defense line, House Republicans will have to break through the labyrinth of Biden paywalls and find how much money was rerouted into Biden coffers. And then they must additionally compare what came into the Biden hands with a) what the family reported on their respective income tax returns, and b) whether their various properties and lifestyles were remotely possible without such massive hidden income. And getting bank records from the Bidens will be near impossible.

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“I was asked to speak, and I was the President of the United States. I’m allowed to do that.”

‘It Was My Decision’: Trump Defends 2020 Election Challenge (ET)

Special counsel Jack Smith is now prosecuting the Washington case against President Trump, alleging conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy against rights. They relate to Jan. 6 only in terms of his calls to delay the vote certification in Congress on that day. “First of all, I had very little to do with January 6th,” he said, referring to the Capitol breach. “I was asked to speak, and I was the President of the United States. I’m allowed to do that.” He said that “hundreds of thousands of people were there, and it was a beautiful, beautiful sight,” and that he spoke “peacefully and patriotically” at the event. He told Ms. Welker he had thought about going into the Capitol that day, but Secret Service advised him to go back to the White House.

“I wanted to go down peacefully and patriotically to the Capitol. Secret Service, who I have great respect for, said, ‘Sir, it’s better if you don’t do that. It could be unsafe,'” President Trump said. He clarified they didn’t mean they anticipated a riot, but because with such a large crowd, a single assailant would have significant cover. “So I didn’t have a dispute with them.” He further alleged that the breach happened because then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) turned down his offer of 10,000 additional National Guard. “She’s responsible for January 6th,” he alleged. “And the J6 Committee refused to interview her.” He noted that the treatment of those who were present was one reason he decided to run for reelection. “People that went [there], that didn’t even go into the building, have suffered gravely,” he said, pointing out that rioters in cities across the country calling to “defund the police” were not prosecuted in the same way.

The Department of Justice has thus far brought 1,100 cases against those who were present on Jan. 6, and efforts continue. “When you launched your campaign in March, you told the crowd, quote, ‘I am your retribution.’ What does that mean? What does that look like?” Ms. Welker asked President Trump. “I think retribution is talking in terms of I have to protect people,” he said. “What they’re doing to people is so horrible. They’re putting people in jail for long periods of time. Firemen, policemen, accountants, even lawyers. They’re in prisons for years now and don’t even have trials in some cases.” “I’m talking about fairness,” he said, adding he was open to pardoning those who were wrongly imprisoned, and dismissing rumors that he planned to fire or target his political opponents. “I’m looking to appoint an attorney general who’s going to be tough on crime and fair. Very simple.”

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The lion’s den?!

“Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers..”

Trump to Skip Second GOP Debate, Address Detroit Auto Workers Instead (Sp.)

Former US President Donald Trump is reportedly set to address current and former members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in Detroit instead of participating in the upcoming Republican primary debate.An insider with the Trump reelection campaign relayed to US media that the former commander-in-chief is looking to speak with a crowd of current and former union members, as well as blue-collar workers in the plumbing and electrical industries. However, early reports of the speaking event have not been warmly accepted by the UAW union, whose president issued a statement noting Trump is part of the problem the agency is trying to combat. “Every fiber of our union is being poured into fighting the billionaire class and an economy that enriches people like Donald Trump at the expense of workers,” UAW President Shawn Fain said told US media.

“We can’t keep electing billionaires and millionaires that don’t have any understanding what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to get by and expecting them to solve the problems of the working class.” Last week, some 13,000 workers from the auto industry initiated strikes following a call by the UAW. The strikes affected the so-called “Big Three” automakers in the United States – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The strikes commenced after negotiations failed to secure wage increases for workers by the deadline set for late Thursday night. Should Trump deliver on the speaking event, it would mark the second occasion in which he has decided to sidestep a Republican debate. The first instance took place in August and saw Trump participate in a pre-recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that was released as the initial debate came underway. The second GOP debate is scheduled to take place on September 27 at the Reagan Library in California.

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“..the Biden camp argued that the indictment was politically motivated and “unconstitutional.”

Hunter Biden Sues IRS for ‘Violating His Privacy’ (Sp.)

Hunter Biden was indicted on September 14 on three charges related to his alleged false statements to purchase a firearm. The First Son faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Hunter Biden’s legal team filed a lawsuit against the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday. The suit alleges that the privacy of the president’s son was violated by the two whistleblowers who went before Congress to testify against him. It adds that agents “targeted and sought to embarrass” the First Son. The filing, according to media reports, names IRS Agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, accusing them of having “mishandled” certain aspects of the investigation into Hunter Biden. According to the lawsuit, the IRS “willfully, knowingly, and/or by gross negligence, unlawfully disclosed Mr. Biden’s confidential tax information.”

But that is not all. The younger Biden is seeking $1,000 in damages for “each and every unauthorized disclosure of his tax returns.” A US federal court released a three-count indictment against the president’s son, Hunter Biden, on September 14. Two of the charges are related to the fact that Hunter Biden lied about not using illegal drugs when completing a gun purchase form for a Colt Cobra revolver. The third charge relates to the actual possession of a weapon while using narcotics. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the charges, according to court documents. According to the state prosecutors’ line of inquiry, the crimes were committed by the US president’s son in October 2018. In response, the Biden camp argued that the indictment was politically motivated and “unconstitutional.” The indictment came just weeks after an earlier plea agreement on tax and gun charges tied to Hunter fell apart in July after the presiding judge raised concerns about the terms of the deal.

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”The obvious value in not claiming income is to avoid taxes. However, claiming income also highlights not just the receipt of these funds but their sources..”

The Surgical Charging of Hunter Biden Ignores a Pattern of Concealment (Turley)

Thus far, the Justice Department has surgically avoided charges that would implicate the president. This may simply be a coincidence, and correlation does not constitute causation. However, the other charges (including those that the Justice Department effectively killed by slow-walking its investigation) have an obvious potential connection: They all worked to help conceal the influence-peddling operation. None of this means that this unifying theory is true, but it cannot be ignored by anyone investigating this corruption scandal. First, there are the tax violations. While Hunter may be charged with some tax violations, the statute of limitations has now run out on the most controversial payments in the 2014 and 2015 period for foreign sources such as Ukraine’s Burisma.

The obvious value in not claiming income is to avoid taxes. However, claiming income also highlights not just the receipt of these funds but their sources. Likewise, falsely claiming income as a “loan” can keep the money off the books or make it less likely to trigger scrutiny on the source and purpose of payments. Second, there are the money transfers. The House has now detailed millions in transfers to Biden family members from a dizzyingly array of dozens of companies and accounts. The use of a complex labyrinth raises obvious concerns that it is a tactic used by individuals to conceal money transfers. Third, many of us have noted that there seems ample basis for charging Hunter Biden under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, particularly given previous charges against such defendants as Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Registering as a foreign agent obviously invites much greater scrutiny over foreign dealings and the specific nations involved in lobbying efforts. Again Hunter could still eventually face charges for avoiding taxes. But there is little evidence that the Justice Department has actively pursued these broader implications or motivations. For many, the marginalization of these charges raises troubling concerns, particularly in light of the failed sweetheart deal and the allegations from the whistleblower. Even if the tax charges are brought, the framing of the investigation has been on the income rather than the influence sought in these dealings.

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“..under a presumption that the rights that apply to every other American citizen do not apply to Mr. Biden..”

Hunter Biden Claims Whistleblowers Tried To ‘Target’ And ‘Embarrass’ Him (ZH)

Fresh off his felony indictment for gun charges, Hunter Biden is suing the IRS, alleging that agents have “targeted and sought to embarrass” him. Yes, the same Hunter who tried to deduct hookers from his tax return. And the same IRS that let him ‘call in’ for interviews (so he never did), and abruptly swapped out the team investigating him in May – leading to several whistleblowers coming forward to allege not just slow-walking the case, but a coverup involving (obviously) preferential treatment. So, on Monday morning, with Hunter in congressional crosshairs, Hunter’s lawyers filed a lawsuit Monday morning which cites two major examples in IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who claimed that the agency mishandled aspects of the Biden investigation.

Biden’s lawyers allege that the IRS “willfully, knowingly, and/or by gross negligence, unlawfully disclosed Mr. Biden’s confidential tax information,” and have demanded $1,000 in damages for “each and every unauthorized disclosure of his tax returns,” Fox News reports. “Biden is the son of the President of the United States. He has all the same responsibilities as any other American citizen, and the IRS can and should make certain that he abides by those responsibilities,” reads the filing. “Similarly, Mr. Biden has no fewer or lesser rights than any other American citizen, and no government agency or government agent has free rein to violate his rights simply because of who he is.” “Yet the IRS and its agents have conducted themselves under a presumption that the rights that apply to every other American citizen do not apply to Mr. Biden,” the filing continues.

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How much longer can the EU exist?

European Elite’s Dream Of Power Crumbles (RMX)

For a long time, the major capitals of Western Europe dreamed their beautiful dream about how the EU, as a power, would become an increasingly important actor in building security policy after the end of the Cold War. In this dream, Great Britain was supposed to be the European anchor in transatlantic relations with America. Somewhere at the turn of the first and second decade of the 21st century, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel established a key division of labor between themselves. According to this, Paris was responsible for the security of the Mediterranean basin and West Africa, while Germany, due to its relations with Russia, was supposed to “take care” of the security of Eastern Europe and the Black Sea basin. However, recent years have shown the complete failure of these plans. One by one, elements of the beautiful dream of power fell apart.

Brexit ejected Great Britain from the orbit of European integration. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany’s Eastern policy collapsed. The disastrous intervention in Libya, followed by subsequent military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, as well as the entrenchment of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group there, clearly indicate that French leadership in European security policy toward Africa has ended in complete disaster for the time being. One might think that all these events would be enough for the European elite to realize the need to abandon dreams and return to reality. However, the only reaction to the geopolitical crisis in Europe is the proposal to establish majority decisions in the area of the EU’s foreign and security policy, which de facto means accepting the dominance of Paris and Berlin.

The current situation, however, requires a fundamental change in Europe’s thinking and action. Some time ago, there was an idea circulating to create a European Security Council by EU countries. Perhaps it is worth returning to it, provided it would establish a mechanism based on the real military resources of states and their competencies in the field of international policy. The current way of thinking about Europe’s security policy is still, unfortunately, some kind of mirage growing out of the old imperial and colonial ambitions of powers. It ignores the growing potential of Central and Eastern European countries, mainly Poland, but also the Baltic and Scandinavian states. Above all, however, it has proven to be completely ineffective.

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“..after Kiev announced that it would sue the three nations for banning the import of Ukrainian produce..”

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia Pull Out Of EU Grain Platform (RT)

Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia are withdrawing from an EU platform coordinating Ukrainian grain imports after Kiev announced that it would sue the three nations for banning the import of Ukrainian produce, Polish media reported on Monday. The Ukrainian government announced on Monday that it would bring a case against the three countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO), after they announced unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian seeds and grains. Earlier this summer, the EU allowed five Eastern European nations to block the import of these products for domestic sale, but refused to reauthorize the ban on Friday. As a result, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia imposed bans of their own.

Citing an anonymous source in Brussels, Poland’s PAP news agency said that these countries would withdraw from the EU platform that coordinated the first ban. The decision was made “out of caution and the fact that Ukraine could use information provided within the framework of the coordination platform against these three countries during WTO proceedings,” the source said. Officials in Budapest, Warsaw, and Bratislava argue that Ukrainian agricultural imports undercut domestic prices and threaten the livelihoods of local farmers. Speaking to Politico on Monday, Ukrainian trade representative Taras Kachka dismissed these concerns, arguing that “prices are global.”

Bulgaria and Romania have not imposed unilateral bans. In response, Bulgarian farmers staged a nationwide protest on Monday, causing blockades at dozens of highways and border crossings. In Bucharest, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said that he would consider a ban if Ukrainian produce began to flow into the country. The EU has condemned the unilateral bans, as has Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. The decision by Brussels not to extend the ban “is an example of true unity and trust between Ukraine and the EU. Europe always wins when the rules work and the treaties are fulfilled,” he said on Friday.

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” Western nations should create their own “agreed formula for … the vision of Ukraine’s victory” and also “enshrine military assistance to Ukraine in … legislation..”

Kiev Demands West Take Measures To Combat ‘War Fatigue’ (RT)

Ukraine faces the threat of its “carefully woven web of foreign assistance” being slowly unraveled due to waning optimism and growing disappointment among its Western backers, the head of the National Security and Defense Council, Aleksey Danilov, wrote in an opinion piece published on Saturday in the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda. The security chief accused “reputable and influential” Western media outlets of publishing materials suggesting Ukraine’s much-hyped summer counteroffensive is failing, Kiev’s troops are unable to take back territory from Russia, and Moscow’s resources are “limitless.” These sentiments slow down the Western military assistance to Kiev and stand in the way of Ukraine’s “peace formula,”Danilov added. He stated that the only solution to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, which has been going on for more than a year and a half, is a military solution.

“The peace formula is the weapons formula,” he said in the article. Danilov urged the West to combat its own growing skepticism about Ukraine’s prospects in the conflict. Western nations should create their own “agreed formula for … the vision of Ukraine’s victory” and also “enshrine military assistance to Ukraine in … legislation,” he said, adding that election cycles might affect “the stability of the partnership” between Ukraine and the West. The US and its allies should also “develop and implement a set of measures to neutralize so-called ‘war fatigue,’” Danilov maintained. He also admitted that “a sprint” – i.e. a short conflict – had been “replaced by a long run.” His words came more than three months into the Ukrainian counteroffensive, which has so far failed to bring about any meaningful changes to the front lines but has seen Kiev’s troops suffer heavy losses in attempts to penetrate Russian defenses.

Numerous Western media outlets have reported on the growing skepticism among Western officials about the prospects for the operation. The New York Times reported in August that US and UK officials were “perplexed” by Kiev’s tactics, while the Wall Street Journal said Washington would reduce military aid to Ukraine in 2024. Moscow has repeatedly expressed its willingness to engage in peace talks as long as its interests are taken into account and the “reality on the ground” is respected. However, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has imposed a legal prohibition on all discussions with Russia. He also insisted on his own “peace formula” – the one Danilov was referring to – which includes the withdrawal of Russian troops from all territories claimed by Kiev, reparations from Moscow, and a criminal tribunal for the members of Russian government.

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“The Clinton Foundation has been illegally raising money, in theory, for HIV/AIDS projects in Ukraine since 2004, without seeking or obtaining approval for these efforts, as is required in advance..”

Clintons Look to Cash in on ‘Aid’ for Ukraine (Sp.)

The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has announced plans to launch a “Ukraine Action Network,” ostensibly to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Ukrainians amid the West’s ongoing proxy war against Russia in the troubled Eastern European country. The campaign, set to be formally unveiled Tuesday at the CGI’s annual conference in New York, is said to be the outcome of a collaborative effort between former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenskaya that began a year ago. The Ukraine Action Network is expected to help “mobilize existing CGI partners, as well as new leaders from around the world, to create and finance new commitments for Ukrainians.” The details of the program, including which “Ukrainians” specifically are expected to benefit, have yet to be elaborated.

The Clintons shut down the CGI component of their Clinton Foundation non-profit in 2017, firing dozens of employees and shuttering the CGI’s New York office after donations by businesses and foreign nations dried up following Mrs. Clinton’s surprise loss in the 2016 presidential election. The Clintons revived the CGI in 2022, with thousands of donors and hundreds of partnering organizations announcing the launch of over 140 different projects at last year’s conference. In a letter to attendees of the upcoming Tuesday gathering, the foundation indicated that the 2023 meeting would “hear from those who are tackling some of today’s most pressing issues, including climate change, health inequities, food insecurity, economic inequality, threats to democracy around the world, and record-breaking refugee displacement.”

Officials, business leaders, and celebrities expected to attend include Bill Clinton, Biden Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, California Governor Gavin Newsom, former Obama and Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Pope Francis, NBA Hall-of-Famer Dwayne Wade, Google President Ruth Porat, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst who has been investigating the Clintons’ charity-related activities for about eight years, told Sputnik last month that the foundation’s plans to incorporate Ukraine into its agenda may be a sign that they’re hoping to cash in on some of the potentially vast package of reconstruction support for Kiev by Western countries. “The Clinton Foundation has been illegally raising money, in theory, for HIV/AIDS projects in Ukraine since 2004, without seeking or obtaining approval for these efforts, as is required in advance, from numerous domestic and foreign government authorities. No outsider actually knows exactly what they have been doing for nearly 20 years in that ransacked remnant of a country,” Ortel said.

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“The war is good, very good for the oil tanker companies which can run the gauntlet of the Americans”, says a Greek source. The international shipping media are fearful of reporting this publicly..”

US Sanctions War Is Good For Russian Shipping, Greeks Too (Helmer)

The US-led sanctions war against Russian fossil fuel exports, especially oil, has been the best thing to have happened to Sovcomflot, Russia’s leading shipping company and operator of the world’s largest oil and gas tanker fleets. Revenues are up, earnings and profits are multiplying; Sovcomflot has never had so much cash in the bank; its debt is down to the lowest level in more than twenty years – and none of it is in American or European bank hands. Released on August 28 and expressed in discreet language, the new company financial report says: “Revenues from tanker business segments (transportation of crude oil and petroleum products) are supported by favourable market conditions against the background of increased demand for tanker tonnage, taking into account the changing geography of international trade in oil and petroleum products.

Despite the presence of a seasonal reduction in freight rates in the summer, the company believes that the market fundamentals, including the limited growth of the global tanker fleet due to the small number of orders for the construction of new vessels, suggests a high probability of stability in the medium term of freight rates at a level above the historically average.” “Favourable market conditions” is Sovcomflot’s phrase for the US and NATO sanctions, first imposed on Sovcomflot’s financing and payment operations in February 2022, and escalated this year in EU and UK sanctions targeting Dubai and Hong Kong fleet management companies. The reference to “changing geography” means what shipping experts and analysts from London to Oslo, Piraeus to Singapore acknowledge privately:

“The war is good, very good for the oil tanker companies which can run the gauntlet of the Americans”, says a Greek source. The international shipping media are fearful of reporting this publicly. London-based shipping publications like Lloyds List, sold by the London-listed Informa group to the Montagu investor group, are not reporting what their industry sources agree is happening. “Some people tend to close doors behind them”, a veteran maritime news reporter coyly describes the news blackout. Seatrade, another Informa outlet, is restricting its reporting to NATO tracking of sanctions busting.

US maritime media like GCaptain (California) and Marine Money (Connecticut) refuse to respond to questions about their news blackout. Equally quiet, although for different reasons, are the Indian, Chinese and Singaporean shipping press. Sovcomflot is now confidently predicting the worldwide split between the Russian and US- NATO fleets will continue for the foreseeable future. “Despite the presence of a seasonal reduction in freight rates in the summer, the company believes that the fundamental market fundamentals, including the limited growth of the global tanker fleet due to the small number of orders for the construction of new vessels, suggests a high probability of stability in the medium term of freight rates at a level above the historically average.”

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“The newly expanded BRICS, after all, is now a Commodity Powerhouse. So, who now controls inflation in the U.S.: A trapped Fed, or the new commodity king?”

The BRICS Commodity Powerhouse: Can It Force a New Economic ‘Order’? (Crooke)

Although many in the West think everything ‘is fine’ – that the U.S. Fed likely will bring inflation under control, and soon will be cutting interest rates. Yet oil prices are up 37% and rising. This has been the case since the price bottomed out a few months ago. “People forget oil prices fell almost 50% from their peak, and that fall ended in May of this year. And that big decline in oil prices was the major factor in bringing headline inflation [down] from 9% to 3%”. Energy is a major cost input that needs to be passed on to consumers. And so is interest on debt, which increases as interest rate rises cut across the economic spectrum. Everybody is waiting for the Fed to cut rates, because the only way for the U.S. government, American consumers, and businesses to manage their present debt (on which they loaded-up – at zero rates) is if interest rates drop.

People may understand this, but they just assume that it’s not going to be an issue because, of course, the Fed ‘is going to cut rates’. It is very unlikely however, that the western authorities will be able to get rates down again to zero. Selling further oil from the U.S. Strategic Reserve just isn’t going to happen: At this point, the U.S. economy can only run for 20 days on its current oil reserves. And the Fed is not going to be able to launch much of another round of money-printing, should the economy drop into recession. The Fed may try to rescue the economy in this way, though when inflation is the problem, it is not possible to solve an inflation problem by creating more inflation. Inflation (and interest rates), after a short lag, would again rise.

The point is that much of the ruling strata still do not ‘get it’: the decades-long experience of near-zero inflation that the West has experienced has imprinted itself on the collective mindset – but that world of effortless money-making was an aberration, not a norm. Plainly put, the West now is somehow trapped in various diverse financial ways, such as fiscal exhaustion (i.e. U.S. deficit spending has reached 8.5% of GDP). Whilst true, that many in the West do not understand that the zero-inflation era was an aberration, caused by factors that no longer pertain – for sure, the aberration is well understood in Beijing and Moscow. Liam Halligan notes similarly that oil prices are up almost a third over the last three months: “It’s a hugely significant increase that could seriously aggravate the cost of living crisis. Yet the surge seems to have barely been noticed by much of our political and media class”.

Crude markets began to tighten earlier this summer after the Opec exporters’ cartel agreed to withhold oil supplies in a bid to raise prices, and Halligan tartly observes: “Anyone who downplays the power of Opec knows nothing about worldwide energy markets and even less about geopolitics”. Is it happenstance that a quiet financial war, triggered by the drip-drip of de-dollarisation and higher energy costs, might finally give BRICS the leverage to coerce a change of policy in the West? And should western reluctance to re-structure persist, might the BRICS leadership ratchet higher? The newly expanded BRICS, after all, is now a Commodity Powerhouse. So, who now controls inflation in the U.S.: A trapped Fed, or the new commodity king?

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“The US can’t win the geopolitical chess game anymore without trying to change the conditions of the test or the rules, or by cheating..”

Biden Wants to Salvage US Hegemony by Reforming UN Security Council (Sp.)

US President Joe Biden will urge the UN to expand the Security Council to water down Russia and China’s influence in the body, the Western press says. Could Biden succeed? Joe Biden “will take a look at the architecture of the Security Council,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting. Still, the British media assumes that the US president will advocate adding new members to the United Nations Security Council in order to weaken Russia and China’s role. Reportedly, Biden wants to add India, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, and Japan to the international body. Currently, the Security Council has 15 members: five of them are “permanent” (P5) and enjoy veto powers (Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US); and 10 are “non-permanent,” with five of them being elected each year by the General Assembly for a two-year term.

“It is empty posturing, because Biden knows that the UNSC can only be expanded by an amendment to the Charter, and any of the P5 can veto it,” Professor Alfred de Zayas, former UN independent expert on international order and author of 10 books, including The Human Rights Industry and Building a Just World Order, told Sputnik. “One can surmise that Biden is joining the ‘bandwagon’ of many countries and academics who are similarly asking for expansion. Perhaps Biden’s noises will be well received in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where the prestige of the US has been in decline, and the US could score points at low cost,” the former UN independent expert continued.

Biden is by no means an innovator: at the 15th BRICS Summit, which convened in August in Johannesburg, the core nations of the group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) stated in their final declaration that they are in favor of reforming the UN Security Council and expanding developing countries’ representation. The BRICS declaration named Brazil, India, and South Africa as potential new members of the UNSC. Thus, the US president de facto wants to add two of Washington’s ardent allies to the list – Germany and Japan. The two weren’t added to the original composition of the UNSC (which was formed immediately after the Second World War) since they were the two major WW2 aggressors. In addition, Team Biden seemingly wants to curry favors with major powers of the Global South in an apparent bid to drag them to Washington’s side.

“Since [the West’s] desperate efforts to expel Russia, a permanent member, from the principal organ of the UN have failed thus far, they are trying a different tactic of overhauling the P5 to salvage Western decline and one that only further demonstrates how disconnected the foreign policy establishment is from reality. The US can’t win the geopolitical chess game anymore without trying to change the conditions of the test or the rules, or by cheating,” Max Parry, a US independent journalist and geopolitical analyst, told Sputnik. According to Parry, “the reasons surrounding the timing of this attempt to propose changes could not be more clear, with Washington striking out virtually everywhere in proxy theaters of conflict and spheres of influence.”

“US hegemony is shrinking with more and more countries throughout the global south shifting away from the West toward Moscow and Beijing’s camps and the Ukraine proxy war has been yet another foreign policy disaster that has geostrategically backfired,” the journalist said.

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Bowie America

 

 

Water ant
https://twitter.com/i/status/1703836863847366841

 

 

Starling
https://twitter.com/i/status/1703840569716269160

 

 

Platypus

 

 

Wait for it
https://twitter.com/i/status/1703826158712713610

 

 

Fairy tale

 

 

 

 

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May 272023
 


Vincent van Gogh Pollard Willows and Setting Sun 1888

 

Air Defender 23: The Largest Exercise Since The Foundation Of NATO (Helmer)
G7 Members Want The Rest Of The World To Join Their Crusade (Lukyanov)
Lavrov Hails China’s “Balanced Position”, Ukraine Asked To Cede Territory (ZH)
NATO’s ‘Grave Mistake’ Led To Ukraine Conflict – Kissinger (RT)
Russia Protests To US Embassy Over Sullivan’s Crimea Statements (RT)
US Incites European Yes-Men To Poke Russia – Lavrov (TASS)
The EU Has No Leadership, Only NGOs And Think Tanks – Hungarian Minister (RMX)
Anti-China Bloc Tests AI-Powered Drone Swarms (RT)
Trial By Ordeal (Kunstler)
The Green Fraud (Jim Rickards)
IRS Whistleblower Defies the Biden Administration and the Media (Turley)
The DeSantis -Or GOP Generally- Political Question (Denninger)
US Debt A Pyramid Scheme – Russia’s Top MP (RT)
Inside Joe Biden’s Struggles To Create A ‘New Economic World Order’ (Pol.)

 

 

 

 

RFK jr
https://twitter.com/i/status/1662051461352632324

 

 

Kory
https://twitter.com/i/status/1662102658415575041

 

 

 

 

Steal election

 

 

 

 

“There is a grave risk that in three weeks’ time US and NATO forces will attempt direct combat against Russia..”

Air Defender 23: The Largest Exercise Since The Foundation Of NATO (Helmer)

There is a grave risk that in three weeks’ time US and NATO forces will attempt direct combat against Russia. The operational plan is to strike from Romanian airspace in the south and the Baltic states in the north, in camouflage of the NATO exercise called “Air Defender 23”, and under cover of US F-16 fighter aircraft purportedly operated by Ukrainian pilots but fuelled, directed, and guarded by more than two hundred US and NATO aircraft, including the most advanced US air war fighter, the F-35. “This [is] the largest deployment exercise since the foundation of NATO”, according to the cover story published by NATO headquarters. “ Commanded at US bases in Germany, ostensibly led by German officers, a Bundeswehr “fact sheet” claims “100 [US] Air National Guard aircraft from 35 different states will make the leap across the Atlantic to participate in Air Defender 2023.

In addition to the world’s most modern jets, the F35, more than 20 different types of aircraft and Airmen from 24 nations will practice air warfare operations together over Germany, but also over eastern Europe on the NATO border. Among them Eurofighter, F18, F16, A10, [Saab] Gripen jets.” Including the Ukrainian regime in Kiev as one of “our partners in East and South-Eastern Europe”, the German military announcement says “we want to promote collective defense of common values (freedom, democracy, prosperity) – attack on one NATO nation is an attack on responsiveness of airpower – Allied air forces are first responders.” Camouflaging US direction of the combined NATO attack operations from the Ramstein base in Germany, headquarters of the allied air command in Europe, are two parallel operations.

“Two NATO exercises, RAMSTEIN DUST for NATOs Deployable Air Command and Control capability, the DARS, and RAMSTEIN GUARD for Electronic Warfare are linked into our exercise.” In design since the start of the Russian Special Military Operation in February 2022, this plan of US and NATO air operations against Russia follows the defeat of the Ukrainian ground forces at Artemovsk (Bakhmut) and the strategic defeat of the US Patriot missile system at Kiev by the Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile on May 16. The use of NATO exercises to conceal active attacks on Russian targets was first demonstrated last September when the Nord Stream pipelines were blown up following the BALTOPS naval exercise. More recently, on May 13 a US-directed ambush of Russian aircraft was rehearsed when an Su-34 fighter-bomber, an SU-35 air-defence escort, and two Mi8 helicopters were hit simultaneously and downed in Russian airspace, over Bryansk region.

[..] The post-operational Russian intelligence reports of May 18 and May 20 indicate “a multifunctional radar station, as well as five launchers of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system manufactured by the United States were hit and completely destroyed.” In the days following, Russian military operations have intensified long-range missile attacks targeting anti-aircraft defence complexes, rail marshalling yards, fuel and ammunition stocks, equipment parks, and reserve assembly areas in the west of the Ukraine, including Khmelnitsky, Rivne, Zhitomir, and Lvov. The scope of targeting goes beyond the Electric War of previous months, a NATO forces veteran comments. “It’s now a full-on campaign. Now that the US/NATO air defence has proven to be useless against Russian strike capabilities, I expect them to take to the sky. It’s all they have left.”

The source agrees with retired US military experts in the alternative media who do not believe that supplying old F-16 aircraft to Kiev adds significant air defence or air attack capability against Russia. The F-16s for the Ukraine are a deception, camouflage for a much deeper NATO attack plan, the source warns. “How about the F-16s being cover for US F-22s or other US aircraft in Romanian or Polish airspace, firing stand- off weapons?”

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The G7 has rapidly become an irrelevant anachronism.

G7 Members Want The Rest Of The World To Join Their Crusade (Lukyanov)

One is reminded of American journalist Thomas Friedman’s international bestseller of the late nineties, ‘The World is Flat’. At the time, he was referring to the coming together of everything and everyone in the context of globalization. But nowadays the metaphor needs altering. Today, the message should be somehow simpler and even flatter, because otherwise there is no way for people to grasp the frightening multidimensionality that abounds. Such an approach is characteristic of contemporary international relations, and from there it spills over into the domestic politics of every country. That said, within states themselves everything is more closely understood, so real world factors are still important. On a global scale, however, the situation is more ambiguous.

The recent G7 summit in Hiroshima was a powerful illustration of the efforts being made to fix, if not cement, this very two-dimensional scheme at the global level. This is perhaps the first time that Russia and China have been given essentially equal status – as adversaries and major threats to the world that the US-led bloc represents. The organizers were very serious about widening their circle of sympathizers – with many of the major states of the non-Western world receiving invitations: India, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia. Joining them were the heads of major international organizations. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was the main guest, and this was noteworthy. His country’s issue is becoming, as the saying goes, a ‘rallying point’ for a community that considers itself to be ‘on the right side of history.’

Indeed, here is a curious detail: The Japanese press wrote that, after the summit, their Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was considering calling early elections because the success of the event, especially the arrival of the Ukrainian leader, had boosted his party’s ratings. In other words, Zelensky has managed to become a factor in the domestic politics of a country far removed from Ukraine. The need for a strong, personal, unifying motif is clear. In the absence of such elements, these communities tend to disintegrate because the world is not really two-dimensional. It is not only diverse, it is actually fragmented by interests, perceptions and agendas, and it needs maximum flexibility to respond to increasingly diverse challenges. It is very difficult to maintain cohesion without heavy artillery, both figuratively and, unfortunately, literally.

What should those against whom this consolidation is targeted do? Probably the opposite, i.e. they should aim to maximize the diversity of their connections and their options for development, and insist on the right not to make final and irrevocable choices about joining one bloc or the other. The good versus evil dichotomy is understandable and morally appealing, but in most cases irrelevant to the real international process. And the G7’s attempts to draw India, Brazil and others into its orbit on this basis will not be effective.

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China will call the shots…

Lavrov Hails China’s “Balanced Position”, Ukraine Asked To Cede Territory (ZH)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed China’s “balanced position” on the conflict in Ukraine during a Friday meeting with Chinese special envoy Li Hui in Moscow. China has thus far resisted Western pressure to condemn Moscow, but has instead tried to present a neutral stance while issuing occasional statements condemning NATO expansion and US global dominance. Beijing has also been among a handful of Asian countries to have greatly expanded Russian energy imports since the start of the war. The Chinese envoy on Friday once again called for an immediate ceasefire, at a moment Russian forces are consolidating gains in Donetsk, particularly in Bakhmut where Wagner finally declared victory over the weekend following more than 200 days of fierce fighting.

According to The Wall Street Journal Li Hui conveyed a clear message that: “US allies in Europe should assert their autonomy and urge an immediate ceasefire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts [of Ukraine] …that it now occupies.” China has also sent representatives to Ukraine and Europe, with EU officials conveying their stance that freezing the conflict was not in their interest. The Zelensky government too believes that a ‘freeze’ would only allow the Russians to resupply, regroup, and fortify their positions. Western allies have also been arguing against a freeze. EU officials reportedly told the Chinese envoy that “it’s impossible to split Europe from America” and that Europe remains committed and unified in support of Ukraine.

According to a review of Friday’s meeting between Russian and Chinese representatives: Russia’s Lavrov expressed gratitude for China’s “balanced position” and willingness to play a positive role in a meeting with China’s Ukraine envoy, the foreign ministry said. China’s Li Hui, who spent 10 years as ambassador to Moscow, has been on a tour of European capitals, and last week visited Kyiv. After those talks, China said it wanted to “form the greatest common denominator for resolving the Ukrainian crisis, and make its own efforts to stop the fighting and (establish a) ceasefire and restore peace as soon as possible”. Kyiv has told Li, however, that it would not accept any proposal that involved Ukraine losing territory.

Hawks in both Britain and the United States have urged Ukraine to stay the course, despite mounting troop casualties in the tens of thousands. The UK especially has long been accused of actively thwarting attempts at peace talks which were proposed last year – instead encouraging Ukraine to ‘win’ militarily. President Zelensky has all the while maintained that talks with Moscow are impossible until Russian troops leave every bit of Ukrainian territory.

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But now that is has all those weapons, it must join NATO anyway?! He doesn’t understand the “mistake”.

NATO’s ‘Grave Mistake’ Led To Ukraine Conflict – Kissinger (RT)

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger has explained how his views on prospective NATO membership for Ukraine changed between 2008, when the bloc first acknowledged Kiev’s “aspirations” to join, and now when the stream of Western military aid turned its into the “best-armed country” in the region. “I’m in the ironical position that I was alone when I opposed membership, and I’m nearly alone when I advocate NATO membership,” the veteran politician told a Wall Street Journal contributor in an interview recorded days before his 100th birthday. “I think the offer to put Ukraine into NATO was a grave mistake and led to this war,” he explained, yet claimed that the scale of the conflict and “its nature, is a Russian peculiarity, and we were absolutely right to resist it.”

But after Washington and its allies turned Ukraine into the “best-armed country in Europe,” it clearly belongs to the US-led military bloc, the politician stated, reiterating his firm belief that peace in Europe cannot be achieved without Ukraine in NATO. Back in 2008, NATO declared that Kiev would join the bloc, but did not specify a date for that to happen. Russia, which sees the bloc’s eastward expansion as a major security threat, had singled out Kiev’s growing push to join the bloc as among the main reasons for launching its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago. Kissinger drew the ire of Kiev last year when he suggested that Ukraine should accept a return to the “status quo ante,” or relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, in the name of peace.

In an interview with WSJ he went as far as to claim that from his “perspective, the Ukraine war is won,” but any peace terms are unlikely to include Crimea. “For Russia, the loss of Sevastopol, which was always not Ukrainian in history, would be such a comedown that the cohesion of the state would be in danger. And I think that’s not desirable for the world after Ukraine,” he said. The US-led bloc is already waging a proxy war against Russia, and Kissinger, despite his vast experience, is “totally wrong” to suggest that Ukrainian membership in NATO would somehow guarantee peace, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this month. Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that until the “Ukrainian nationalist regime” is dismantled it “won’t give up on attempts to regain lost territories,” and in response Moscow “would have to reply harshly with all available means,” likely triggering NATO’s Article 5.

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95+% of Crimeans voted to join Russia in 2014.

Russia Protests To US Embassy Over Sullivan’s Crimea Statements (RT)

The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned senior US diplomats and expressed a strong protest in connection with the words of White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan about strikes on the territory of Russia, Report informs referring to TASS. On May 21, Sullivan said Washington does not allow Kyiv to use Western weapons to strike at the territory of Russia, noting that he does not consider Crimea to be part of it. “Senior diplomats of the US diplomatic mission in Moscow were summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry on May 26, a strong protest was expressed about the unacceptable statements of the White House National Security Advisor J. Sullivan, who actually approved the strikes of the armed formations of the regime in Kyiv on Russian territory, including the Republic of Crimea and the Belgorod region,” the statement said.


Washington’s words about strikes on Crimea are hypocritical and false, the ministry said. “The assurances of US officials that the United States does not encourage such attacks on Russia are hypocritical and false, given the direct evidence of the use of weapons and equipment supplied for the needs of the Ukraine military by the Pentagon for the preparation and implementation of terrorist acts by Ukrainian militants,” the ministry said. The ministry noted that the hostile actions of the United States, which has long been a party to the conflict, plunged Russian-US relations into a deep and dangerous crisis, fraught with unpredictable consequences.

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“Washington believes that its self-preservation is ensured by the Atlantic Ocean.”

US Incites European Yes-Men To Poke Russia – Lavrov (TASS)

Washington is unleashing its European satellites to nip at Moscow’s heels, believing it can get away with anything, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. “For now, Washington is egging its European satellites on [to antagonize] the Russian Federation, thinking they can get away with anything,” he said in an appearance on the “Moscow.Kremlin.Putin” television program, according to an excerpt posted on Friday on journalist Pavel Zarubin’s Telegram channel. According to Lavrov, the US is sorely mistaken in entertaining the deluded belief that its “self-preservation” in any World War III scenario would be ensured by the Atlantic Ocean serving as a buffer zone. “Washington believes that its self-preservation is ensured by the Atlantic Ocean. This also represents a serious fallacy if they [the US] are preparing to bring the world to the very brink of World War III,” the top diplomat pointed out.

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“..Europe is stumbling around the stage of history as a clumsy sideshow, drifting from crisis to crisis..”

The EU Has No Leadership, Only NGOs And Think Tanks – Hungarian Minister (RMX)

No one has the courage and aptitude to lead Europe today, meaning there is no political leadership in the European Union, especially in the European Commission, said Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga at a Budapest conference on Thursday. “In the European Union today, it is non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations and think tanks that tell Europe how to run Europe, according to the will of their own leaders,” she said. “Recently, for asymmetric reasons, a crisis of confidence has arisen between the EU leadership and the Hungarian government. This is because the Hungarian government, unlike the EU institutions, says what it thinks and does what it says,” she added.

Varga said Europe is stumbling around the stage of history as a clumsy sideshow, drifting from crisis to crisis, and since the migration crisis, it has been trying to make policy in a way that is completely divorced from the real needs of its citizens. She said the institutional system also failed during the Covid crisis and then shot itself in the foot with sanctions against Russia after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war She warned that immigration is a crisis that still affects Europe and continues to cost the Hungarian budget heavily. “At the same time, by defending Europe, we have to constantly fight the judgments and proceedings of the European Court of Justice,” she said. “Waiting for yet another slap in the face instead of any good deed, that is the fate of Hungary.” Varga noted that during the coronavirus crisis, the EU made deals regarding vaccines, and yet those text messages have never been produced, referring to the murky case involving EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“We make no secret of the fact that we want to hold the functioning of the institutions in the European Union accountable in terms of the rule of law. Let’s talk about whether the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European institutions are respecting the rules, whether the rule of law is working in the institutions,” said the minister. On the issue of the Hungarian EU presidency, the European Parliament has no say in this, the minister said, stressing that more than 10 years ago, a unanimous European Council decision had established the order of the member states, which can only be changed by unanimity. The presidency is not only a right but also an obligation, and the opposition will not achieve anything by such an attempt, but it could do enormous damage. According to the minister, the European Parliament wants to block Hungary’s EU presidency precisely because it fears that Hungary will take stock of the dysfunctional state of EU institutions.

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“..urging the three members to stop “ignoring the concerns of the international community.”

Anti-China Bloc Tests AI-Powered Drone Swarms (RT)

The US, UK and Australia have shown off new AI-powered drone swarms, marking the first-ever collaboration on autonomous UAV technology between the members of the AUKUS security pact, described by officials as a way to counter China. The allies carried out the three-way “capabilities trial” late last month in Wiltshire, Britain, where they achieved the “live collaborative retraining of models in flight and the interchange of AI models between AUKUS nations” for the first time, according to the US military. “The work saw the initial joint deployment of Australian, UK and US AI-enabled assets in a collaborative swarm to detect and track military targets in a representative environment in real time,” the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday.

Formed in 2021 as a way to deter China in the Indo-Pacific region, the AUKUS pact has repeatedly come under fire from Beijing. Under the “Pillar I” of the deal, the United States pledged to furnish nuclear submarine technology to Australia “at the earliest date possible.” Hosted by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the drone tests were conducted as part of “Pillar II” of the AUKUS partnership, which calls to “develop and provide joint advanced military capabilities” between the three allies in order to “promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry insists that the new military initiatives will only “motivate an arms race, damage the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and harm regional stability and peace,” urging the three members to stop “ignoring the concerns of the international community.”

While officials have not offered extensive details about the UAV trials, the British military said they involved “more than 70 military and civilian defense personnel and industry contractors,” who tested swarms of Blue Bear Ghost and Boeing/Insitu CT220 drones. UK forces provided several tanks and armored vehicles for the demo, while private contractors supplied a number of self-propelled howitzers and Soviet-era BMP vehicles produced in the former Czechoslovakia. The gear was used to test the drones’ ability to track military targets on the battlefield.

“This trial demonstrates the military advantage of AUKUS advanced capabilities, as we work in coalition to identify, track and counter potential adversaries from a greater distance and with greater speed,” British Lt. Gen. Rob Magowan, a senior Defence Ministry official, said in a statement. The Australian military stated that the tests “achieved several world firsts,” including the live retraining of the drone swarms in flight. Russia also sees the West’s expansion of its military presence in Asia as a risk that could lead to prolonged conflict. “I cannot imagine the great Asian civilizations toeing the line the way the EU unfortunately did, and obediently delivering Washington’s agenda,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in March.

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“..we are living in a very badly-ordered society these days, a society in which anything goes and nothing matters, which is a poor principle for civilization.”

Trial By Ordeal (Kunstler)

Would it surprise you to learn that children well beneath the age of puberty are not inclined to think about sex at all? In a well-ordered society that recognizes children as different from adults, they don’t. And if something sexual comes to their attention, they are generally perplexed by it. Unless they’re born into an era when adults are busy erasing boundaries, guard-rails, and cultural inhibitions, in which case I must imagine that young children exposed to, say, pornography in a chaotic household find it traumatically sinister. So, why the gleeful celebration about sexualizing children now? I’ll tell you why: because we are living in a very badly-ordered society these days, a society in which anything goes and nothing matters, which is a poor principle for civilization.

It’s the same principle that has people shitting all over the sidewalks of San Francisco, looting Walgreens stores in broad daylight, pushing ineffective and unsafe vaccines (and lying about it), and arresting people for thought crimes. It’s a degenerate society. Morally bankrupt. Wicked. You might ask, how did it get that way? The concise answer is that a broken business model for daily life and a collapsing economy have so disordered millions of minds that values are seen as having no value. The scaffold for truth, beauty, honor, dignity, courage, prudence, generosity, etc., folded some time ago, in slow-motion, so we didn’t notice. The keepers of our culture have replaced it with a tacky system of ritual virtue-signaling fakery that they don’t really believe in, that persists simply because the moral vacuum it stands for provokes such unbearable anxiety.

The main lesson of the recent Durham Report — missed by even the most punctilious observers — is that our country does not want to fix itself, indeed the whole broken apparatus of fixing it is in the hands of the people who broke it. This epic negligence leaves the doors wide open for the broad range of lower-order criminal mischief we’re seeing expressed all around us. Now I will venture into shadowland. There is a rumor floating around the Internet that this seemingly coordinated campaign to sexualize children and initiate them into marginal behaviors was started to soften up the public for forthcoming shocking revelations contained in the much-whispered-about Jeffrey Epstein archive of videos that show eminent international figures caught in compromising sexual situations that include sexual acts with children.

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“What is new is that the climate crowd now has the political power they need to push their agenda using fear and the regulatory state..”

The Green Fraud (Jim Rickards)

Those yelling the loudest about climate change want to destroy the oil and natural gas industry, destroy nuclear power plant construction, shut down coal-fired plants, end coal mining, mandate electric vehicles (EVs) on very short deadlines and eliminate gas stoves in your kitchen, fireplaces and even outdoor barbecues. They also want to build wind turbine arrays offshore and on deserts, plains and even mountains near you. They want to install solar module fields on every rooftop and open space near a population center. The climate change radicals want to increase the mining of lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, rare earths and other dangerous chemicals to feed their obsession with EV batteries. They’re spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars to subsidize the EVs, battery manufacturing and a coast-to-coast network of charging stations to keep the EVs moving (even if they do have to stop for a charge every 180 miles).

The greenies also want to mandate “15-minute cities” where you can walk everywhere in town within 15 minutes, which means you won’t need your car to visit a doctor, dry cleaner, grocery store, pharmacy or any of the other locations we routinely visit for errands and necessities. That may sound attractive if you chose it voluntarily. That’s not what the greenies have in mind. They want 15-minute cities as a Trojan horse to eliminate automobiles entirely and force you to ride bicycles or use public transportation. In the end, you’ll need a permit to fly to another city. The permits will be rationed and you’ll have to put yourself on a waiting list until your turn. You can pay for your ticket with the new central bank digital currency (CBDC), assuming your social credit score is high enough and you didn’t vote for the wrong candidate in the last election.


In short, the climate change agenda is not about climate change. It’s about total political and economic control of the population. So-called climate change is an elite scare tactic to get you to fall into line and obey government orders (as most people do). Elites claim that if we don’t radically reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions, global warming will melt the ice caps, raise sea levels, put island nations underwater and flood the New York City subway system in 10 years or less. They’ve been making similar claims for 40 years and they’ve been wrong every time. That doesn’t stop them. Fear works. What is new is that the climate crowd now has the political power they need to push their agenda using fear and the regulatory state to attack your means of transportation, your personal conveniences and your consumer choices.

Rickards

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“I don’t want to do any of this.”

IRS Whistleblower Defies the Biden Administration and the Media (Turley)

“I don’t want to do any of this.” Those words from 14-year IRS veteran Gary Shapley may be the most important line in his CBS News interview this week. After weeks of Democrats dismissing whistleblowers alleging the president’s administration interfered with investigations of Hunter Biden, Shapley had enough. Putting his career and much of his life at risk, Shapley came forward to say he and others believe Hunter is being protected and identified the Justice Department as the source of the protection. Shapley has every reason not to want to do any of this. After all, as President Joe Biden stated last year, “No one f–ks with a Biden.” For years, a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to investigate Biden family influence-peddling, and the press dismissed people raising Hunter’s laptop as spreading “Russian disinformation.”

The media have worked hard to minimize the blowback after acknowledging the laptop’s authenticity and the growing evidence of millions in influence-peddling. Part of this effort at “scandal implosion” has been to dismiss any criminal charges as relatively minor tax violations unconnected to the president. Indeed, when the president recently agreed to a rare sit-down interview, the White House chose MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. Before asking about his son Hunter’s scandal, Ruhle emphasized it was “something personal” with “no ties to you.” Many of us guffawed at the claim given multiple references on the laptop to President Biden, including possibly sharing in the proceeds from influence-peddling with foreign governments.

The problem is Shapley suggests some uncomfortable questions on how Biden’s administration may have worked to minimize charges against his son and, according to Shapley, “slow-walked” the investigation. His interview explains why the Justice Department can indict figures like Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on a variety of fraud and money-laundering charges in a few months while spending years investigating Hunter Biden with no conclusion. Shapley made clear he had never seen this level of interference in his long service at the IRS and said it was done “at the direction of the Department of Justice.” And he said the interference began as soon as he “took control of this particular investigation”: “I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past.”

Navy Seal

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“Nobody would tolerate the price of gasoline varying by 10:1 based on which company you bought auto insurance from. Yet this sort of nonsense is bog-standard through the medical industry.”

The DeSantis -Or GOP Generally- Political Question (Denninger)

Is it not reasonable to expect that manufacturers are legally responsible for the integrity of their products? If, after discovering that a flaw or risk exists they continue trials, sweep said evidence under the rug or otherwise obfuscate what’s going on a courtroom is accessible to those allegedly harmed in which such evidence can be heard and a determination made? How about the rank price-fixing? What has DeSantis done in Florida about it? I can tell you what he did during the time I lived there: Nothing. In fact there are medical centers in NW FL in particular that feast on such disparities and have been known to be doing it for a very long time. In fact Florida has long been the capital of this sort of abuse and you have paid for it if you live in the state, directly and indirectly, particularly when inmates in a jail require care and thus you get the bill in your property taxes.

Can this be fixed at the state level with legislation or even just executive action? You bet; States are the exclusive issuers of both business and medical licenses. Any state can condition said licensing on non-discriminatory pricing irrespective of the method of payment. You expect this at WalMart, the grocery store and gas station. Nobody would tolerate the price of gasoline varying by 10:1 based on which company you bought auto insurance from. Yet this sort of nonsense is bog-standard through the medical industry. Where is the candidate who will put a stop to it and, if they’re a governor, can demonstrate they’re serious because they did put a stop to it? In addition the executive, which is the Governor’s department controls the prosecuting apparatus. DeSantis could have directed his prosecutors to go after medical providers for violations of the State anti-trust laws, which absolutely do exist in each state and which are available under existing law — no new legislation required. He, like the rest, actively refused.

DeSantis is NOT a governor who did either of these things. Folks if we are going to fix what’s wrong with this nation it starts with the medical system. If we don’t force one of the political parties to do it neither will because there are billions of reasons for them not to spread around the politicians in both parties. This has to stop because CMS, Medicare and Medicaid services, consumed one third of all dollars spent federally last year — $2 trillion of the $6 trillion total — and is in fact responsible for the entire trillion dollar deficit. That’s right — if it was stopped (that is, it spent only what it took in via taxes by stopping the screwing medical system-wide) the federal government would in fact run a modest surplus and the inflation you are having happen right now would not be happening.

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“The US public debt is a global financial pyramid, built by Washington to defraud other nations..”

US Debt A Pyramid Scheme – Russia’s Top MP (RT)

Senior Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Volodin has branded the US federal government debt a global pyramid scheme that is heading for an inevitable collapse. The comments come as Washington struggles to agree on raising its debt ceiling to avoid a default. “Just think about it, in 2023 interest payments on the US debt could reach $1.5 trillion – almost a third of all US budget revenue!”Volodin, who serves as chairman of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said in a Telegram post on Friday. “The US public debt is a global financial pyramid, built by Washington to defraud other nations,” the State Duma member wrote. “History has shown that all pyramid schemes eventually fail,”he added, warning that the dollar is becoming toxic. Countries dependent on the US dollar should start looking for alternatives such as national currencies, to reduce risks for their citizens, Volodin concluded.


The US government faces a default on its $31 trillion in debt if lawmakers fail to raise the federal borrowing limit. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress earlier this week that bills can’t be paid if the debt ceiling is not raised by June 1. Reuters reported on Thursday that President Joe Biden and top Republican lawmaker Kevin McCarthy were edging close to a deal on the debt ceiling but have yet to agree on cuts to discretionary spending, which powers a wide range of military and domestic programs. Russia started settling trade deals with its partners in national currencies after the US effectively cut it off from dollar-denominated trade as part of sanctions arising from Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Wednesday that the ruble and the yuan are now dominating trade between Russia and China, and are used in 70% of mutual payments.

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A/ Joe Biden creates nothing.

B/ The US sees itself in the center of this ‘New Economic World Order’. It won’t be.

Inside Joe Biden’s Struggles To Create A ‘New Economic World Order’ (Pol.)

The Biden administration has been trying to bury the free-trade era for months. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai drove a nail into its coffin in January, telling the world’s one percent at Davos that the Biden administration would try to shape a “new economic world order” around protecting workers. And National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan sought to deliver last rites in April, promising the White House would forge a “new Washington consensus” to replace the one that had governed the globe for over a generation. “I remain convinced that through all of this disruption we’re moving towards a new economic order,” Tai told POLITICO in an interview. “I’d really like to fill that gap with a positive vision that we will be prepared for it.”

The goal is to replace the old paradigms of globalization — free trade and a reliance on markets — with a “worker-centered” trade policy that raises wages not just for Americans, but around the world. But building a new world economy is proving more difficult than eulogizing the old one. While the pro-globalization consensus has shown cracks for years — from the financial crisis to the election of former President Donald Trump — Biden’s team has struggled to outline how it will shape new rules and institutions to replace those that governed the world for the last half-century. Biden’s team is moving slowly to transform a paralyzed World Trade Organization, once the premier facilitator of globalization, into a new-look economic club that reflects its progressive values.

As those efforts crawl along, Biden has sought to forge new economic partnerships in Asia and Latin America, but the nascent efforts pale in comparison to China’s trillion-dollar infrastructure program for developing nations and risk replicating the corporate-friendly trade policies of the old system. Meanwhile, Biden’s quest to counter China’s technological growth risks sparking a new Cold War and dividing the world into two or more global trading blocs — a fate the White House insists it is trying to avoid. More fundamentally, Biden’s brain trust has yet to settle on a vision for how the next era of global economics will be constructed. Their initial ideas are abstract at best.

[..] Biden’s critics — from centrist free-trade holdouts to Trump-fueled populists who focus on competition with China — are hardly more concrete in their own ideas. Across the political spectrum, American policymakers are grappling with how to shape a new global economic system to replace the one they built decades ago. “I don’t know if the administration has clearly outlined what that new world looks like,” Sen. Marco Rubio , the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, told POLITICO after a Capitol Hill hearing in February when he assailed the old, pro-globalization paradigm. “But I don’t know if anybody else has either.”

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Jimmy Dore Bitcoin
https://twitter.com/i/status/1662133413132873728

Sunfish

 

 

Cobra mantis
https://twitter.com/i/status/1662149543926939668

 

 

Flying fox
https://twitter.com/i/status/1662010935051968514

 

 

WTF

 

 

 

 

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Apr 202023
 


Claude Monet Grand Canal, Venice 1908

 

Turkish Interior Minister Claims “The Whole World Hates America” (BNN)
Ukraine Demands Shell’s ‘Russian Blood Money’ – Politico (RT)
Kiev Wants Most Out Of Grain Deal, Demands Bribes From Ship Owners (TASS)
US Military Industry Struggling To Meet Ukraine Demand – WSJ
Resolution Would Make Biden Disclose Number of US Troops in Ukraine (Antiwar)
No ‘Magic Wand’ For Ukraine – UK (RT)
US Fanning Ukraine Crisis as Beijing Proposes Peace Plan – Envoy (TASS)
China’s Role In The Yemen War Ceasefire Should Not Go Unnoticed (Blankenship)
Chinese Envoy: Negative US Role In Escalation On Korean Peninsula (TASS)
Western Countries Dodging Russian Oil Ban (RT)
Macron’s Europe (Patrick Lawrence)
The Dollar’s Dominance As A Reserve Currency Erodes Fast (BI)
Four Reasons The Dollar Is Here to Stay- Part 2 (Lebowitz)
EU Pledges Support For States Flooded With Ukrainian Grain – Politico (RT)
Did the Neocons Save the World from the Thucydides Trap? (Unz)
IRS Agent Alleges DOJ Thwarting Criminal Prosecution Of Hunter Biden (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Pepe

 

 

 

 

Vandana Shiva

 

 

 

 

 

 

Election time.

Turkish Interior Minister Claims “The Whole World Hates America” (BNN)

In a bold statement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has claimed that “the whole world hates America” while suggesting that Europe is merely a pawn of the United States. Soylu further downplayed Europe’s significance, asserting that it is a trend in America’s column. Süleyman Soylu’s remarks reflect a growing anti-American sentiment in some segments of the international community. By claiming that “the whole world hates America,” Soylu is highlighting the perception that the United States is losing credibility on the global stage. This sentiment can be attributed to various factors, such as foreign policy decisions, economic policies, and perceived cultural dominance.

Soylu’s characterization of Europe as an American pawn suggests that he believes the continent lacks independence and is heavily influenced by the United States. By stating, “There is no such thing as Europe. There is America. Europe is a trend in the Americas column,” Soylu implies that Europe’s actions and policies are primarily driven by American interests rather than its own. This perspective further underscores Soylu’s negative view of the United States and its global influence. The Turkish Interior Minister’s comments may have far-reaching implications for international relations, particularly between Turkey, the United States, and Europe.

Such strong anti-American rhetoric could contribute to increased tensions between the countries and may negatively impact diplomatic relations. Furthermore, Soylu’s dismissal of Europe’s significance could strain Turkey’s relationships with European nations, potentially affecting trade and cooperation in various areas. Soylu’s remarks should be considered within the larger context of global anti-Americanism, which has been rising recently. This sentiment can seriously affect the United States’ ability to maintain its influence and cooperate with other nations. As anti-American feelings continue to grow, the United States may face challenges in forming alliances, negotiating agreements, and projecting its values internationally.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1648657322271539201

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“We call on Shell to put any Russian sale or dividend proceeds to work for the victims of the war – the same war that those assets have fuelled and funded.”

Ukraine Demands Shell’s ‘Russian Blood Money’ – Politico (RT)

An adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has asked oil giant Shell to donate the proceeds from the sale of its Russian assets to Ukraine, Politico reported on Tuesday. In a letter to Shell CEO Wael Sawan dated Monday, Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to Zelensky, reportedly called on the firm to donate the proceeds from a supposedly upcoming sale of its stake in a Siberian oil and gas project to Kiev’s coffers. “If completed, this sale would represent the transfer of more than $1 billion in Russian cash into Shell’s accounts. That would be blood money, pure and simple,” Ustenko wrote, according to Politico. “We call on Shell to put any Russian sale or dividend proceeds to work for the victims of the war – the same war that those assets have fuelled and funded.”

Ustenko added that there is an “overwhelming” moral case for handing the cash over to his government. Shell pulled out of the Russian market after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine last February, announcing that it would write off up to $5 billion of its assets in the country. According to Russian media reports last week, Shell’s stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas development project will be bought out by Russian energy company Novatek for around $1.1 billion, although it is unclear whether the proceeds from this buyout will end up in the British oil firm’s hands. A Shell spokesperson told Politico that it is not involved in any negotiations inside Russia, and has no idea where the money from the sale will end up. The company did not say whether it would honor Ustenko’s request if possible.

Shell is not the only energy company being shaken down for cash by Kiev. Ustenko accused BP of taking “blood money” before it sold its share in Russian energy giant Rosneft last year, in addition to demanding almost half a trillion dollars from the Russian central bank’s frozen assets and asking Ukraine’s Western backers to double their financial aid to his country. With the conflict keeping fossil fuel prices high, Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko called on other firms to share some of their “enormous windfall profits” with his government “to help us restore, to rebuild the energy sector,” Politico reported last month.

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“..the Ukrainians first blocked the registration process having disagreed with our proposals, and then suspended all inspections, including inspections of outgoing ships..”

Kiev Wants Most Out Of Grain Deal, Demands Bribes From Ship Owners (TASS)

The Kiev regime is seeking to exploit the Black Sea initiative with might and main, not shunning either the abuse of the rules of procedure or demands for bribes from shipowners. This is stated in the comments by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, which was released on Wednesday. “Currently, the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul is indeed experiencing difficulties with registering new vessels and conducting inspections. They arise solely as a result of actions by Ukrainian representatives as well as UN officials who are apparently unwilling or unable to stand up to them,” she pointed out. “Having finally discarded not only humanitarian considerations, but even elementary human decency, they (the Kiev regime – TASS) are striving to make the most out of the Black Sea Initiative stooping to anything from outright abuse of the rules of procedure to demanding bribes from the ship owners, doing all of the above for the sake of maximizing commercial profits,” the diplomat added.

As Zakharova noted, the owners of incoming ships who refused to pay a bribe are forced to wait for registration for many months. “Outgoing dry cargo ships that have paid also have to wait for the inspection, because once they receive the money the Ukrainians lose interest in them. This situation stems from the fact that in line with the current practices (importantly, not the rules of procedure), the process for obtaining applications for registration under the Black Sea Initiative is in the hands of the Ukrainians, while the UN is in charge of the inspection plans (for the entry and exit of ships),” she went on. Under these circumstances, the registration of ships, which Russian experts carry out strictly within the approved rules of procedure and their respective powers, is the only way to restore order to some extent and to build a fair and transparent basis for participating in the initiative, the diplomat stressed.

“However, our proposal to add to the registration lists the ships which will then sail to the countries in need, in particular Africa, as well as those that have been waiting in line for more than one month, was met with hostility by Ukrainian representatives. Kiev was not ready to jeopardize its commercial corruption schemes. As a result, the Ukrainians first blocked the registration process having disagreed with our proposals, and then suspended all inspections, including inspections of outgoing ships (27 ships with 1.2 million tons of cargo on board). It is clear what they are banking on: launching a propaganda machine and playing the food card with the help of Westerners and the UN,” she noted.

As the diplomat pointed out, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and then US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Russia allegedly broke its promises to the countries in need of grain and blocked 50 ships in the Black Sea. “The EU did not stop there and expressed a belief that is striking in its absurdity and amateurishness: the sanctions imposed on Russia are so well calibrated and balanced that they do not interfere with Russia’s agricultural exports, an example of which is the supply of Russian grain under the Black Sea Initiative,” Zakharova said. “Unfortunately, Brussels still has not figured out that only Ukrainian food is being exported across the Black Sea under the grain deal. Washington is no stranger to issuing valuable tips to other countries about their obligations, completely forgetting about its own,” she added.

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“..the West’s support for Kiev “cannot influence the final outcome of the special operation.”

US Military Industry Struggling To Meet Ukraine Demand – WSJ

American arms manufacturers are struggling to obtain enough rocket motors to build missiles for Ukrainian forces, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. With multiple contractors relying on a single supplier, production targets have already been pushed back. In a quarterly earnings report released on Tuesday, Lockheed Martin said that although its overall sales rose from a year earlier, sales of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) fell due to a “lower volume” leaving its factories. GMLRS projectiles are artillery rockets, and are fired from Lockheed Martin’s M142 HIMARS platform. According to the most recent Pentagon figures, the US has given Ukraine 38 HIMARS platforms, and while the Defense Department does not disclose how many GMLRS projectiles have been sent to Kiev, a Reuters investigation put the figure at over 5,000 last November, more than the 4,600 Lockheed Martin can make in a year.

A shortage of rocket motors has hindered the company’s efforts to boost production, the Wall Street Journal reported. Other missile makers like Raytheon Technologies have also been affected, the newspaper’s source said. Lockheed Martin also uses solid-fuel rocket motors in its Javelin anti-tank missiles, of which more than 8,500 have been sent to Ukraine over the last year. During a visit by President Joe Biden to the company’s Javelin manufacturing facility in Alabama last May, CEO Jim Taiclet vowed to double production of the shoulder-fired missiles by 2024. However, the company and the Pentagon told the Wall Street Journal that the date has since been pushed back to 2026. “We thought we could get there earlier,” Lockheed Martin’s Chief Financial Officer, Jay Malave, told the paper. US missile makers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies source their rocket motors from a single supplier, Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.

However, although the Pentagon awarded Aerojet a $216 million contract last week to boost production, it said it was still recovering from a fire at one of its factories last year, while the sale of the company to aerospace giant L3Harris Technologies is still being scrutinized by antitrust authorities. While rocket artillery and guided missile production are apparently hindered, Ukraine is also grappling with a shortage of conventional artillery rounds. Leaked Pentagon documents recently suggested that the shortfall is delaying a planned spring offensive by Kiev’s forces, while the US is reportedly looking to its allies to replenish its depleted stockpiles. Russia has repeatedly warned that the influx of Western weapons will only prolong the conflict in Ukraine. The West’s involvement “is rising gradually,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month, adding that the West’s support for Kiev “cannot influence the final outcome of the special operation.”

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“The leaked document said there is a total of 29 Defense Department personnel inside Ukraine, including the special operations forces..”

Resolution Would Make Biden Disclose Number of US Troops in Ukraine (Antiwar)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Monday introduced a resolution that would require President Biden to disclose the number of US troops inside Ukraine and share all documents outlining US military assistance for Kyiv with the House. If the resolution is passed, it would require President Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to share the requested information within 14 days. The introduction comes after one of the documents allegedly leaked by Airman Jack Teixeira confirmed that US special operations forces are in Ukraine. “The Biden Administration and other allied countries have been misleading the world on the state of the war in Ukraine. There must be total transparency from this administration to the American people when they are gambling war with a nuclear adversary by having special forces operating in Ukraine,” Gaetz said in a statement.

According to the document, 97 NATO special operations soldiers in Ukraine, including 14 Americans. The leak confirmed an October 2022 report from The Intercept that said US special operations forces were deployed to Ukraine after Russia’s invasion. The Intercept report did not say what the American special operators were doing inside Ukraine but said it was part of a broad covert operation that includes CIA personnel who are also on the ground. The leaked document said there is a total of 29 Defense Department personnel inside Ukraine, including the special operations forces. The total also includes members of the Marine Security Guard Security Augmentation Unit (MSAU), who are typically deployed for embassy security.

The total also includes the defense attaché and members of the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). The Pentagon said in October 2022 that personnel under the defense attaché and ODC based at the US embassy in Kyiv are conducting “onsite” weapons inspections inside Ukraine.

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“..there is not going to be a single magic-wand moment when Russia collapses.”

No ‘Magic Wand’ For Ukraine – UK (RT)

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine will likely continue into next year, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Tuesday. “I’m optimistic that between this year and next year, I think Ukraine will continue to have the momentum with it and a position of strength,” Wallace told reporters during a trip to Washington, DC, as quoted by the New York Times. Wallace warned, however, that “there is not going to be a single magic-wand moment when Russia collapses.” The UK has been one of Kiev’s main backers, supplying the country with heavy weapons, including Challenger 2 tanks. Britain has trained 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers, according to the Defence Ministry, and pledged to train 20,000 more this year.

For the past several months, Kiev has been outspoken about its planned counteroffensive, but has not publicly revealed the timetable. Ukrainian officials have said, however, that the schedule and success of the endeavor will heavily depend on the supply of Western tanks and other equipment. Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told AP on Monday that the push will start at an appropriate time when the country is ready. Prime Minister Denis Shmigal recently said that the offensive will start “in the nearest future.” Shmigal stated that the recent leaking of the Pentagon files, which included reports about how Western countries were training and equipping Ukrainian troops, will not change the plans for the counteroffensive.

However, a source close to President Vladimir Zelensky told CNN that Kiev had altered some of its plans because of the leak. Some Western leaders, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, warned that the conflict, which broke out in February 2022, could last for years. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Washington is determined to support Kiev “for as long as it takes.” The Kremlin said this month that the Russian military has been “meticulously monitoring” information regarding Ukraine’s plans. Moscow has also repeatedly stated that countries which send weapons to Kiev become de facto parties to the conflict.

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“The world community should create conditions and provide a platform for the resumption of talks..”

US Fanning Ukraine Crisis as Beijing Proposes Peace Plan – Envoy (TASS)

The United States has been fanning the conflict in Ukraine, while China has come up with a peace plan, a senior Chinese diplomat said in an interview with TASS. “The Chinese side always takes a balanced and responsible approach to the export of military products. Unlike the United States and other Western nations, who have been adding fuel to the fire in the Ukrainian crisis, we put forward a peace plan to resolve it,” said Liu Xiaoming, Special Representative of the Chinese government on Korean Peninsula Affairs. In late February, the Chinese Foreign Ministry published a position paper on a political settlement of the crisis in Ukraine.


The twelve-point document includes calls for a ceasefire, respect for the legitimate interests of all countries in the field of security, settlement of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the exchange of prisoners of war between Moscow and Kiev, as well as the cancellation of unilateral sanctions imposed without a corresponding decision of the UN Security Council. In the published document, China described dialogue and negotiations as the sole way of resolving the crisis in Ukraine and called on all parties to support Moscow and Kiev in “moving toward each other”, urging a resumption of direct dialogue as soon as possible. The world community should create conditions and provide a platform for the resumption of talks, the document emphasized.

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It won’t. Just maybe in the west.

China’s Role In The Yemen War Ceasefire Should Not Go Unnoticed (Blankenship)

Estimates suggest at least 350,000 people have died from the war or its consequences, which began in 2014. This includes approximately 85,000 children under the age of five who have died of starvation. Basic civil infrastructure and supply chains have collapsed, and typically treatable communicable diseases like cholera have claimed countless lives. The war is primarily between the Yemeni government of Rashad al-Alimi, who took over in 2022 from Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the Houthi armed movement. The conflict escalated significantly when Saudi Arabia became involved in 2015 by backing Hadi (and now al-Alimi) in what is seen as a proxy war between Riyadh and Tehran, who is rumored to be supporting the Houthis. Some of my first memories as a writer and college radio host was speaking to victims of the war and learning about the situation on the ground.

Fortunately, it now looks like the war might come to a close. US media reported on April 6th that a ceasefire had been struck between warring parties at least through the end of this year. Then, on April 7th, Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen reported that Riyadh had informed the Yemeni presidential leadership council of its decision to end the war and close the Yemen file once for all. This was further corroborated by a Reuters report, confirming that Saudi delegates would travel to the capital Sana’a to discuss a “permanent ceasefire.” And indeed these talks just wrapped up on April 14th and are expected to have a follow-up. What is apparent from this situation, and what I had previously noted, is that the thawing of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would likely lead to an end to the conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

We are now seeing that play out. Most importantly, it was not US President Joe Biden – who had promised to end the conflict – but China that set the stage for this diplomatic achievement. And it’s not even a secret among US commentators since outlets like The Intercept, heavily quoting foreign policy experts, are giving China the credit. It is difficult to compare such horrors but in my years speaking with victims of conflict, including Ukrainian refugees now, or previously with Afghans, Syrians and others, some of the most striking stories I’ve heard are from Yemenis. It is undoubtedly one of the most brutal and total wars seen in modern history, yet almost entirely off the radar for most Western media for nearly a decade. Despite all of its diplomatic capital and links to the Middle East, somehow Washington managed – despite promising to halt the conflict – to be so anti-peace that it has driven perennial enemies to the table.

And now, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, CIA Director William Burns “expressed frustration” with Riyadh over its rapprochements with regional adversaries. Apparently, the US feels ‘blindsided’ by the deluge of peaceful resolutions – things it could never even fathom, apparently – and it’s angry with Riyadh, hitherto one of America’s largest arms importers. Of course, buried under this frustration is a sense of loss. Anyone with some degree of familiarity with US politics and especially US foreign policy knows it is dominated by big money. In foreign affairs, this is primarily the military-industrial complex, which thrives off war and hatred. Peace is bad for business. And thus, the owners of US officials – the people who bankroll their campaigns and/or their bosses’ campaigns – are probably ticked.

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“The escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula is ongoing, and this only raises our level of concern..”

Chinese Envoy: Negative US Role In Escalation On Korean Peninsula (TASS)

Beijing is extremely concerned about the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with the United States playing a negative role by holding joint drills with South Korea, Liu Xiaoming, Beijing’s special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs, said in an interview with TASS. “My trip [to Moscow] comes against the backdrop of the latest changes on the Korean Peninsula. On the one hand, we can often hear Westerners – both the Europeans and the Americans – complain that since last year North Korea has conducted a number of missile launches, while on the other hand, we can see that South Korea and the Americans held the largest drills over the past five years [on the peninsula],” the senior Chinese diplomat lamented. “The escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula is ongoing, and this only raises our level of concern,” he added.

Liu also criticized the United States for not having paid due attention to North Korea’s security concerns. “First of all, we should give our European and Russian counterparts a clear understanding of how we view the situation. The Americans always blame North Korea for causing tensions, but there is another reason that is worth noting. We see the reason as stemming from the US conducting such major military exercises. Second, a very important cause of instability on the Korean Peninsula, and of the Korean Peninsula becoming an issue, is that the United States has not paid due attention to North Korea’s concerns in the field of security and has imposed economic sanctions,” the Chinese envoy said. “They always put on the pressure by containing North Korea’s development; they exert political pressure and have imposed economic sanctions,” he added.

According to Liu, the goal of his tour is to share the Chinese vision of the situation on the Korean Peninsula with various counterparts and to find a recipe for promoting a political settlement jointly with European and Russian counterparts. The senior Chinese diplomat said Moscow was the last stop on his 24-day foreign itinerary, during which he said he had already visited Switzerland, Great Britain, Brussels, Germany and France. Liu urged efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “Amid the lack of a peace mechanism, the escalation of tensions is ongoing, which threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” he concluded.

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Their own ban.

Western Countries Dodging Russian Oil Ban (RT)

Western states that have banned direct purchases of Russian oil are now buying it indirectly from third countries, a report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) claimed on Wednesday. In December, the EU, G7, and allied countries imposed an embargo and a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil. Similar restrictions were introduced in February for exports of Russian petroleum products. While the so-called ‘price cap coalition’ cracked down on crude imports, it has increased purchases of refined products from “oil-laundering” countries, CREA claims. The EU, Australia, and most of the G7 countries imported a combined $45.9 billion worth of oil products from countries that have become the largest buyers of Russian crude in the 12 months since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, the report stated.

According to CREA, “among the price cap coalition, the largest importer of oil products from the laundromat countries was the EU,” with imports reaching $19.4 billion since last February. Australia reportedly purchased $8.8 billion worth of refined crude in the 12-month period, followed by the US with $7.2 billion, the UK with $5.5 billion, and Japan with $5.2 billion. The highest proportions of imported oil products into price cap coalition countries were for diesel (29%), jet fuel (23%), and gasoil (13%). China’s monthly exports of oil products to the EU and Australia spiked far above historical levels in late 2022, the Finland-based research center revealed.

According to the report, which is based on ship-tracking data, the price cap coalition countries ramped up imports of refined oil products from China by 94%, Turkey by 43%, the United Arab Emirates by 23%, Singapore by 33%, and India by 2%. “The price cap coalition countries are responsible for the vast majority of the increase in laundromat countries’ exports of oil products,” CREA said. It claimed that 56% of Russian oil shipped to new destinations “has been transported by vessels owned and/or insured” by Western nations.

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“A durable peace” is one that would recognize Russia’s security concerns, which Washington and its pilot fish in Europe refuse to do..”

Macron’s Europe (Patrick Lawrence)

The press and the trans–Atlantic political cliques ordinarily ignore Macron when he does his I’m-the-next-de-Gaulle act. But not this time. There is too much at stake between the West and China these days: Beijing’s leverage over Moscow, real or imagined, on the Ukraine question, Europe’s role as the U.S. foments a crisis over Taiwan, the independence or otherwise of Europe’s relations with China and the new world order Xi and his top foreign policy officials have declared as the mainland’s priority. Macron fairly leapt into all this as soon as he disembarked in Beijing on April 6. In his arrival speech at the Great Hall of the People, he appealed directly to Xi to exert his influence in Moscow. “I know I can count on you to bring Russia back to reason and everyone back to the negotiating table,” Macron said. The cause, he added, was “a durable peace that respects internationally recognized borders.”

These remarks are interesting in several ways. On one hand, Macron miscalculated. China has made it eminently clear that, if invited, it is willing to act as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine (and Kiev’s Western backers), but under no circumstance will it intervene into the sovereign affairs of the Russian Federation or any other nation. I wish Macron would spend more time doing his homework and less posing for historians and the sculptors of bronze busts. On the other hand, the wording is subtly suggestive. “A durable peace” is one that would recognize Russia’s security concerns, which Washington and its pilot fish in Europe refuse to do. Respecting internationally recognized borders is a fine idea, all would agree, but Macron appeared to leave open what these would be when maps are drawn at the conclusion of negotiations.

And on the other hand — there are three in this case — Macron suggested quite openly that negotiating with Russia was as valid an undertaking as negotiating with China. The French president’s “I know I can count on you” was wildly incautious: The Chinese leader was “inflexible in direct reply to French head of state,” as Le Monde put it. At the same time, Macron managed a nifty chime with Xi on the larger point. “Together with France, we appeal for restraint and reason,” Xi remarked during the Great Hall exchange, “in the quest for a political settlement and the building of a European security architecture that is balanced and lasting.” After extensive talks in Beijing, Xi took the unusual step of escorting Macron to Guangdong, the southern province where a lot of China’s manufacturing capacity is concentrated. There are a couple of things to say about this side trip, too. Three, actually.

One, Macron signaled his view that Europe’s relations with the People’s Republic should remain open and develop further on the economic side — an implicit rejection of Washington’s campaign to disrupt the extensive interdependence of economic ties between the West and China. Two, we have to think about why Xi invested so much time in this encounter with the French leader. If I know Macron is an inconstant lightweight and you know the same, we can count on Xi understanding very well Macron’s character. My reply: Xi’s intent was to demonstrate that Beijing remains open to developing a set of relations with Europe that amount to a common cause against America’s effort to line up the Atlantic world against China and, by implication, Russia. “Xi denounced ‘Cold War logic and the confrontation of blocs,” Le Monde’s correspondent, Claire Gatinous, reported from Beijing. Gatinous then quoted Xi saying, “China always considers Europe an independent pole in a multipolar world.”

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Reserve currency is not the same as trade currency.

The Dollar’s Dominance As A Reserve Currency Erodes Fast (BI)

The dollar’s standing as a reserve currency of choice saw a steep decline in 2022 even though its strength in international trade remains unchallenged, according to Eurizon SLJ Asset Management. In a Monday note, strategists Joana Freire and Stephen Jen calculated that the greenback accounted for about two-thirds of total global reserves in 2003, then 55% by 2021, and 47% last year. “This 8% decline in one year is exceptional, equivalent to 10 times the average annual pace of erosion in the USD’s market share in the prior years,” the authors said. The drop-off in the dollar’s standing as a reserve currency accelerated since the start of the war in Ukraine in particular.

“Exceptional actions” — namely sanctions taken by the US and its allies against Moscow — made many nations less willing to hold on to the dollar, the report said. After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Western nations largely cut off Russia from the world financial system and froze its currency reserves, forcing the Kremlin to rely more on the yuan. Meanwhile, the euro’s share as a reserve currency jumped by about 5%, Eurizon said, bringing its standing to the same level it hit in 2003 and effectively erasing two decades of losses. China’s yuan, meanwhile, continued to gain at its usual pace and didn’t see a big spike as a global reserve currency last year. To be sure, no other currency is set up to challenge the dollar’s dominance in international trade. It’s still the main conduit for country-to-country transactions, Eurizon said.

Citing data from the Bank for International Settlements’ Triennial Foreign Exchange Surveys, the dollar commanded 85% of all currency turnover in 2010, compared to its 88% market share in 2022, the note said. “We believe the erosion of the dollar’s reserve currency status has accelerated in recent years at an alarming pace, especially since the start of the Ukraine War, while the dollar will likely continue to enjoy dominance as an international currency for a while longer,” it added. Meanwhile, Fitch Solutions said the dollar’s dominance will erode over time but there won’t be a “paradigm shift,” given that there’s no viable alternative currency for international trade.

China’s rich
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648324373218992129

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“The U.S. bond markets are considered the world’s deepest and most liquid markets.”

Four Reasons The Dollar Is Here to Stay- Part 2 (Lebowitz)

The dollar will be extremely hard to replace for four reasons: The rule of law, liquid financial markets, and economic and military might. 60% of global currency reserves are in dollars, and about 90% of trade occurs in dollars. No other currency or block of nation’s currencies, gold-backed currency, or bitcoin is currently a viable candidate to replace the dollar as the global reserve currency.

The rule of law helps ensure that U.S. citizens and institutions are provided human rights, property, contracts, and procedural rights. While many other nations may claim to have similar legal processes, few live up to U.S. standards. The legal system equally protects foreigners with dollar and other financial and legal interests in the U.S. From a currency perspective, the court system, not a government decree, rules on financial disputes. It is undoubtedly flawed and biased. As Russia, Iran, and other countries have found, the U.S. government will seize their dollars if they deem it in its best interest. While such acts bend the value of the rule of law, almost all foreign nations are confident that the U.S. system of law and governance ensures their ability to hold and transact in U.S. dollars. Further, laws and regulations provide confidence in the proper functioning of U.S. markets they rely heavily on to meet their borrowing and investment needs.

Hedge fund mogul Mark Mobius is discovering why investing in countries less judicious than the U.S. can be dangerous. Per CNN: “I have an account with HSBC in Shanghai. I can’t take my money out. The government is restricting the flow of money out of the country,” Mobius, founder of Mobius Capital Partners, told FOX Business on March 2, 2023. For those thinking that China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia can cobble together a reserve currency, ask yourself a question. If you were the leader of a nation, would you leave funds in their banking system or trust their government with said funds? More importantly, do you even think those countries trust each other? From an operational perspective, the size and liquidity of U.S. financial markets and the ease with which foreigners can borrow and invest U.S. dollars are of utmost importance.

Foreigners enacting global trade need dollars to facilitate exchange. Therefore, they hold dollars and maintain the ability to borrow dollars. International trade requires a financial system with immense liquidity. Further, the more liquid a market, the lower the borrowing, investing, and hedging costs. In this respect, the U.S. is second to none. The U.S. bond markets are considered the world’s deepest and most liquid markets. As we quote below, the U.S. bond market accounts for almost 40% of all bonds outstanding globally. Per the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA): “As of 2021, the size of the bond market (total debt outstanding) is estimated to be at $119 trillion worldwide and $46 trillion for the U.S. market.”

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You lucky bastards: you get to pay for the exact same thing twice. First, to make Ukraine produce cheaper in the EU; then to make EU farmers whole. They offer €100 million. Of your money.

EU Pledges Support For States Flooded With Ukrainian Grain – Politico (RT)

The European Commission (EC) said on Wednesday it is considering complying with some of the demands from eastern EU member states to introduce tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural imports. The announcement comes as Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria have been lobbying for the reintroduction of tariffs in order to protect local markets from “destabilization” caused by an influx of cheap goods from Ukraine. Local farmers in those countries claim to have suffered substantial financial losses due to the glut of Ukrainian grain. In a letter to the five countries, cited by Politico, the commission reportedly proposed “preventative measures” on imports of Ukrainian maize, wheat, sunflower and rapeseed. The EC’s spokesperson told a daily briefing that the commission envisages imposing customs duties on those products, the outlet wrote.

It also said that Brussels is expected to allocate additional funding for so-called solidarity lanes for Ukrainian agricultural exports to the global market and distribute €100 million ($109 million) in support for the five eastern European member states. The proposal will reportedly be discussed on Wednesday during a meeting of the European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, European Commissioner of Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and the five countries’ trade ministers. Wojciechowski said earlier the commission would announce “good news” for farmers. The EU allowed imports of Ukrainian agricultural goods to help Kiev financially during the ongoing conflict in the country. All tariffs and quotas were lifted on Ukrainian grain exports to the bloc’s 27 member states in order to enable the further transit of the grain to global markets.

However, much of the supply has ended up getting stuck in eastern European countries, hitting local farmers’ business. This culminated in massive farmer protests earlier this month, which blocked border crossings and forced the five eastern EU nations to demand action from the EC over Ukrainian agricultural exports. The EC earlier approved an aid package worth €56 million to support farmers in frontline countries who have to deal with the consequences of a large amount of agricultural and food goods from Ukraine entering the bloc. However, even the latest €100 million in proposed aid may not be enough. According to the commission’s estimates, farmers from Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia have lost some €417 million over the past year due to the oversupply of grain.

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Rising powers.

Did the Neocons Save the World from the Thucydides Trap? (Unz)

Following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago, America had emerged as the sole, unchallenged global superpower. But over the last generation, the tremendous growth rate of the Chinese economy had propelled it past America’s in real size, the first such transition since our own country had overtaken Britain near the end of the 19th century. China’s technological progress had been equally rapid, and in our modern world these constitute the raw elements of global power, while China had also begun bolstering its military, not previously a high priority. I’d certainly been well aware of these same trends and several years earlier I’d published a long article of my own on the contrasting trajectories of China and America, but I’d never considered military conflict as a realistic possibility. However, when Allison and his associates sifted the last 500 years of history to locate cases in which the rapidly growing power of a rising nation had threatened to overtake that of a dominant reigning one, they discovered that in well over half the examples—12 out of 16— the result had been war.

Some of these individual historical cases may easily be disputed—and indeed a couple of the ones provided in his 2015 article differed from those in his 2017 book—but the general pattern seemed quite clear. Even the oldest and deepest cultural and political ties hardly prevented this outcome. Prior to World War I, Britain and Germany had never fought a war against each other, and indeed the latter’s Prussian predecessor had traditionally bee Britain’s staunchest Continental ally. The two imperial families were also deeply interwoven, with the British monarchy having multiple German antecedents, while Queen Victoria’s favorite grandchild was Kaiser Wilhelm II, and she’d died in his arms. The English language itself had German roots, hardly surprising since the Angles and the Saxons had originally been Germanic tribes.

Yet all these centuries of close ties counted for little compared to the simple geopolitical fact that Germany’s growing industrial and military power threatened to overshadow that of its kindred nation on the other side of the Channel. By contrast, the political, cultural, and racial gulf separating America from a rising China seems immense, easily lending itself to the crudest demonization, the sort of populist demagoguery able to stoke national hatred. Not only is China’s language and culture totally different from our own, but for three generations that country has been governed by a Communist Party whose official ideology is utterly contrary to our own democratic constitutionalism. Many hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops had fought against American forces during the Korean War, inflicting most of our 36,000 combat deaths.

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“..examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols..”

IRS Agent Alleges DOJ Thwarting Criminal Prosecution Of Hunter Biden (JTN)

A decorated supervisory IRS agent has reported to the Justice Department’s top watchdog that federal prosecutors appointed by Joe Biden have engaged in “preferential treatment and politics” to block criminal tax charges against presidential son Hunter Biden, providing evidence as a whistleblower that conflicts with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s recent testimony to Congress that the decision to bring charges against Biden was being left to the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for Delaware. According to a letter from the whistleblower’s attorney Mark Lytle to Congress obtained by Just the News, the IRS agent revealed he is seeking to provide detailed disclosures about a high-profile, sensitive case to the tax-writing committees in Congress, which have special authority under federal tax privacy laws to receive such information.


That could pave the way to share the details with other committees in coming weeks. The letter does not state that the whistleblower disclosures are related to Hunter Biden. However, Just the News has independently confirmed the agent’s allegations involve the Hunter Biden probe being led by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump holdover, according to multiple interviews with people directly familiar with the matter. In a letter Wednesday to Republicans and Democrats overseeing multiple oversight committees in Congress, Lytle wrote: “The protected disclosures: (l) contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee, (2) involve failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case, and (3) detail examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected.”

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Gorilla deer
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648723659010211844

 

 

 

 

Dugong

 

 

 

 

Hubert

 

 

Dog wave

 

 

Boss
https://twitter.com/i/status/1648800139010506752

 

 

Hide

 

 

Mirror

 

 

 

 

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Mar 282023
 


René Magritte The song of the storm 1937

 

US Democracy ‘A Facade’ – Patrushev (RT)
Russian Security Chief Calls US World’s Biggest Dictator (TASS)
US Politicians ‘Held Captive By Their Own Propaganda’ – Patrushev (RT)
Russia’s Newest Jets Provide Air Superiority – Ukrainian Official (RT)
The EU Is Losing Relevance In The Emerging New World (Fomenko)
Conscription May Be Intensified In Ukraine (RT)
Ukrainian Refugees Targeted For Sexual Exploitation (RT)
Moscow Mulls Demanding Damages For Nord Stream Blasts (RT)
World Bank: World Economy May Face “Lost Decade” (Az.)
An Eastertime Carol (Kunstler)
Durham Unveils Smoking Gun FBI Text Message, ‘Joint Venture’ Trump Smear (JTN)
Jim Jordan Demands Docs After IRS “Attempt To Intimidate” Matt Taibbi (ZH)
The Worst Model in History: How the Curve was not Flattened (Ugo Bardi)
US Expert Panel to Meet on Adverse Events Caused By COVID-19 Vaccines (ET)
Australia Bears Witness To Vaccine Deaths (Horowitz)
Climate Hysteria and Woke Gobbledegook Are Becoming Inseparable (DS)

 

 

Life expectancy

 

 

Douglas Macgregor: Limited resources and the collapse of Ukraine

 

 

 

 

RESTRICT

 

 

 

 

Yeadon
https://twitter.com/i/status/1640172796797140992
https://twitter.com/i/status/1640045360369356804

 

 

 

 

Toxicity

 

 

 

 

Patrushev:
“Russia is patient and does not intimidate anyone with a military advantage. But it has a modern unique weapon capable of destroying any adversary, including the United States, in the event of a threat to its existence.”

US Democracy ‘A Facade’ – Patrushev (RT)

The US is not really a democracy, nor does it seek to promote democracy in its relations with other nations, contrary to Washington’s claims, senior Russian security official Nikolay Patrushev has said. He made the remarks while commenting on the upcoming ‘Summit for Democracy’ hosted by the US government. Patrushev, who is the secretary of the Russian Security Council, described the US economy as “dependent on corruption and lobbying connections going to the White House and Capitol Hill.” Corporate interests have hijacked the levers of political power in the US and use the country’s international clout to pursue their own agenda, he said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper, to be published in full later today.

Their democracy is a pretty facade for the political system, which serves to hide the neglect of the rights of ordinary Americans. Washington pursues the same approach in the international arena, where it claims to be the champion of democracy but disregards other nations’ sovereignty, Patrushev said. He believes that this “hypocrisy” will be on display at the Summit for Democracy, which will kick off this week in Washington. The event will be “a gathering to support a world order in which Washington wants to play the central role forever. Dissenters will be labeled ‘undemocratic states,’”he predicted. The US, which “appointed itself the dictator of the world, will harass the nations whose sovereignties and democracies were undermined,”by Washington.

The reality is that “Washington has long been a leader in violating the sovereignty of other nations, in the number of wars and conflicts it has unleashed,” the security chief said. He called the nations that support this arrangement “vassals” that are constantly “humiliated” in their abusive relationships with the US. The international event, which is being held for the second time, is meant to promote democracy against what Washington increasingly sees as assertive “authoritarian” states. The US reportedly invited all participants of the first summit, which was held in 2021, including the administration of the self-governed Chinese island of Taiwan. NATO members Hungary and Türkiye were snubbed once again, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

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Patrushev:
“The collapse of the European Union is just around the corner…The United States is ready to fight Russia…to the last European. Even during the Cold War, the Pentagon, at the slightest danger from the USSR, was ready to turn Europe into a radioactive desert.”

Russian Security Chief Calls US World’s Biggest Dictator (TASS)

Washington actually violates the sovereignty of other countries while claiming to support free speech and is the world’s biggest dictator, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “While disingenuously talking about freedom of choice, the United States, which has proclaimed itself the world’s biggest dictator, will in fact simply abuse the countries whose sovereignty and democracy it violated,” he said, commenting on the upcoming Summit for Democracy. Patrushev emphasized that this event, which was organized by the White House, “certainly takes place within the framework of the US presidential race that has already begun.” He believes the summit will be “another meeting in favor of the world order, where Washington wants to play a central role indefinitely, and any dissidents can be expected to be labeled as ‘non-democratic states’.”


“Once again, the US will proclaim itself the defender of international law and declare that the rest of the world must follow its rules. The geopolitical opponents will be deliberately falsely accused of war crimes and corruption, but as usual they will turn a blind eye to real acts of genocide and financial fraud committed with the approval of the White House,” Patrushev added. He also believes that promises will be made to feed the hungry and release those wrongly imprisoned. “However, they will remain silent about the fact that about one-fifth of all prisoners in the world are held in US prisons, including those sentenced to multiple life terms. They will zealously support the rights of sexual minorities and impose a ‘green agenda’ on the entire globe, exacerbating the energy crisis in satellite countries,” Patrushev warned.

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“[Russia] saved the US at least twice – during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. But I believe that this time, helping the US to maintain its integrity would be inappropriate..”

US Politicians ‘Held Captive By Their Own Propaganda’ – Patrushev (RT)

US politicians are “held captive by their own propaganda” and still believe that Washington could deliver a fatal nuclear ‘first strike’ against Russia, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, has said. That Cold War-era strategy, however, is nothing but a “dangerous” and “short-sighted” delusion nowadays, Patrushev said in an interview with the newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta published on Monday. “Held captive by their own propaganda, American politicians for some reason remain confident that in the event of a direct conflict with Russia, the US is capable of delivering a preventive missile strike, after which Russia will no longer be able to respond. This is a short-sighted delusion, and a very dangerous one,” Patrushev stated.

The ‘first strike’ strategy dates back to the early days of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US. Its proponents believe that achieving a certain advantage in nuclear warheads and means of delivery would allow a preemptive strike on an adversary without suffering an equally destructive retaliation. The concept was among the primary reasons behind the Cold War-era arms race, with both sides fearing a first strike at various points. Nowadays, however, Russia possesses state-of-the-art weapons that Patrushev warned are capable of defeating any opponent, should the country’s existence be threatened. “Forgetting the lessons of history, some in the West are already talking about revanche, which will lead to a military victory over Russia,” he stated.

“Russia is patient and does not threaten anyone with its military advantage. But it has modern unique weapons capable of destroying any enemy, including the US, in case of a threat to its existence.” Moreover, Moscow no longer believes it would be “appropriate” to help the US once again defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity should it be threatened, the security official stated. “[Russia] saved the US at least twice – during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. But I believe that this time, helping the US to maintain its integrity would be inappropriate,” Patrushev said.

Lavrov
https://twitter.com/i/status/1640026645334487049

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As “..NATO members appeared to be using the Ukraine crisis to dispose of “old equipment they no longer need.”, Russia issues new jets.

Russia’s Newest Jets Provide Air Superiority – Ukrainian Official (RT)

Russia is increasingly dominating the skies over eastern Ukraine in its conflict with the former Soviet republic because the latest generation of its Su-35 fighter jet has capabilities that Kiev’s forces can’t neutralize, a senior Ukrainian government official has told ABC News. The newest Su-35s are equipped with “very effective radar and long-distance rockets,” enabling them to attack Ukrainian jets and provide air support for Russian ground troops, the unidentified official said in an article posted on Monday. Ukraine “does not have capabilities” to counter this threat, he told ABC. The Kiev regime sees Russian air superiority as a “real risk,” the official added, making its push for more air defense systems from the US “priority No. 1” for Ukraine.

“This is a problem,” another unidentified official said. “What we keep telling the Americans is that in the end, there is no other solution than to give us fighter jets.” He claimed that Russia has 12 times more military aircraft than Ukraine. The latest comments out of Kiev contradict recent claims by Western leaders. Russia’s air power in Ukraine is limited by Kiev’s air defenses, including surface-to-air missiles, one Western official told reporters in a briefing last week. “We’re not seeing a huge change in that situation.” However, the Ukrainian official noted that as Russia replaces older models of aircraft with the latest Su-35, it’s gaining a stronger advantage.

He conceded that with Washington refusing so far to provide fighter jets to Ukraine, there is increasing acceptance in Kiev that the government should focus on trying to get more air defense systems and artillery from the US. The governments of Slovakia and Poland pledged last week to give Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the two NATO members appeared to be using the Ukraine crisis to dispose of “old equipment they no longer need.”

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It’s what happens when you only blindly follow.

The EU Is Losing Relevance In The Emerging New World (Fomenko)

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping met in Moscow last week, and Western circles predictably responded by accusing Russia of becoming “subservient” or even a “vassal state” to China. MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a Euro-fantasist and former prime minister of Belgium, jeered on Twitter, “Putin’s appalling legacy now includes turning Russia more and more into a Chinese vassal state,” oblivious to the irony of his own words. As the United States took the lead in denouncing China’s peace plan for the Ukraine conflict, publicly setting out the conditions on which it should end, the European Union was nowhere to be seen, or at least had nothing original to say. This makes Verhofstadt’s comments a damning display of lacking self-awareness. Russia and China are setting out their vision for a new multipolar world, while the US struggles against them in seeking to maintain its hegemonic position.

Meanwhile, the European Union has been reduced to the status of a mere bench player in it all, and has become effectively irrelevant. The failure of EU countries to stake out their own will and position amidst the larger powers, as well as their total subservience to the US, has made a mockery of the “strategic autonomy” concept once championed by Emmanuel Macron. “Strategic autonomy” is a principle of European integration where the EU should be an actor in a multipolar world, which advocates for its own interests and pursues its own agenda. Supporters of this principle insist that the EU should not blindly follow the will of the US when it comes to every foreign policy issue, but should be proactive and enhance its role on the world stage. Therefore, they should not, as is commonly demanded by Washington, take sides on matters such as a new Cold War with China.

The term gained growing traction during the years of the Trump administration, when Europe’s relations with the US hit a low due to his particular interpretation of the “America first” doctrine. However, the practical reality of “strategic autonomy” is that the EU is not a unitary state, but a loose intergovernmental organization of states which, while seeking to establish common positions on a principle of unity, do not truly have a unified foreign-policy-making mechanism. The intra-institutional politics of the EU are often a messy compromise and battle of wills between different levels of actors, including the states themselves, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. This combines with the reality that “European integration” has been a broken process since 2008. Challenges such as the Eurozone financial crisis, Brexit, Covid-19, and internal conflicts with various states such as Poland have all weakened and fractured the EU.

As a result, the EU has been ill-suited to deal with what is, despite media misdirection, the single most explicit source of foreign influence and interference against it, the US. Washington has multiple channels whereby it exerts control over the EU’s many foreign policy actors. Firstly, it uses a web of government-funded think tanks and associated journalists to control public opinion and steer EU countries towards supporting its objectives. Secondly, the US has an extraordinarily political hold over the former Soviet bloc states to the east of the EU (with the exception of Hungary), which it uses to foment increased antagonism against Russia and China, and therefore undermines the attempts of the bloc’s most “autonomous” and powerful states – Germany and France – to pursue more reconciliatory foreign policies.

1957 CIA doc

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Wow: “..Ukrainian border guard service discouraged draft-dodgers from seeking asylum in the EU, noting in an interview on Monday that if the man had succeeded in his border crossing, “he would have been returned to Ukraine.”

Conscription May Be Intensified In Ukraine (RT)

Ukraine may need to conscript even more people into military service to potentially fight against Belarus, a key ally of President Vladimir Zelensky has told British television. David Arakhamia, an MP who heads the faction of the president’s Servant of the People party in the Ukrainian parliament, spoke of a potential a clash with Belarus during an interview with SkyNews on Monday. He was commenting on Russia’s announcement last week that it would place tactical nuclear weapons at a facility currently being built on Belarusian soil. “I think we are facing a real challenge to have a second front opened,” the Ukrainian lawmaker said. “That would mean a real challenge to get even more people to conscript into the army, because we will need at least eight more brigades to control the frontline.”

However, Arakhamia downplayed his own concerns by saying that much of the border his country shares with Belarus is rough terrain dominated by swamps and forests, which makes it easier to defend. He also acknowledged that despite Kiev perceiving Belarus as “the same aggressor as Russia,” there actually was “no evidence during one year of war … of any Belarussian soldier crossing the Ukrainian border.” Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has allowed the Russian military to use his nation’s territory in its military operation against Ukraine, but repeatedly stressed that Belarusian troops were not participating in it. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the decision to place nuclear weapons in Belarus was a step prompted by the UK’s announcement that it would send depleted uranium munitions to Ukraine.

Ukraine is believed to have suffered significant casualties in the conflict with Russia, in part because Kiev has reportedly been sending untrained soldiers to the frontline as it keeps its more experienced troops behind for an expected counter-offensive. Ukrainian military officials have already ramped up their mobilization efforts, according to various media sources. Reports have surfaced of conscription officers conducting raids at places where military-age men congregate, such as markets and even night clubs. Some Ukrainians appear willing to risk their lives to avoid joining the military. Last week, a 23-year-old man drowned while trying to sneak into Romania across the Tisza River. This was reportedly the 14th such fatality this year alone. A spokesman for the Ukrainian border guard service discouraged draft-dodgers from seeking asylum in the EU, noting in an interview on Monday that if the man had succeeded in his border crossing, “he would have been returned to Ukraine.”

DPR

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Lovely.

Ukrainian Refugees Targeted For Sexual Exploitation (RT)

Analysis of search engine traffic has revealed a growing interest in Ukrainian pornography, The Guardian reported on Sunday, citing a Thomson Reuters study. The findings have sparked concern over the increasing sexual exploitation of refugees. According to the outlet, researchers found that views of pornographic videos claiming to show Ukrainian refugees have seen a significant rise in the past six months. The growing interest could be encouraging human traffickers to act more regularly and with greater impunity, Thomson Reuters warned. It called for urgent action to strengthen protection for Ukrainian women and children who are at risk from sexual exploitation. It was noted that evidence of the sex trafficking of Ukrainians appeared long before Moscow launched its military offensive last year.

However, the latest data shows a significant increase in such reports in the past 12 months, while internet searches for terms such as “Ukrainian porn” are at a higher level than ever before, according to the researchers. The Guardian reports that Thomson Reuters is now working with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to raise awareness of the issue. The pair have launched a campaign to encourage the global community to provide Ukrainians with safety information, and to help spot the warning signs of trafficking. The OSCE’s special representative and coordinator for combating human trafficking, Valiant Richey, told The Guardian that “the high demand from men for sexual access to Ukrainian women and girls creates an enormous incentive for traffickers to recruit vulnerable people in order to meet the demand and profit from it.”

“We already found direct evidence of recruitment attempts on chats used by Ukrainians and an increase in the advertisement of Ukrainians online,” he added. According to the UN Refugee Agency, it is estimated that around 8.1 million Ukrainians have fled to Europe since Russia launched its military operation in February 2022. It is believed that around 90% of all Ukrainian refugees are women and children, as Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country.

Read more …

The UN Security Council did not accept Russia/China resolution on the establishment of a commission to investigate the sabotage at Nord Stream. The resolution was supported by 3 countries (Russia, China and Brazil), no one voted against, 12 abstained.

Moscow Mulls Demanding Damages For Nord Stream Blasts (RT)

Moscow may insist on compensation for the blasts that ruptured the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines last autumn, Dmitry Birichevsky, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for economic cooperation, said on Monday. Speaking to RIA Novosti, the diplomat said that Russia did not rule out “the possibility of later raising the issue of compensatory damages over the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines,” which directly connected Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea. Birichevsky did not say from whom Russia would be demanding payment, nor did he specify in what form or amount it should be.

He noted that after veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh released his bombshell report last month pinning the blame on the US for the sabotage – a claim dismissed in Washington – Russia prepared a resolution urging the UN Security Council to launch an independent international investigation into the matter. However, Birichevsky claimed that “Western countries are actively sabotaging the work on the draft resolution, claiming that the international investigation lacks ‘added value’.” Despite this opposition, Russia would continue to push for a “comprehensive and open international investigation,” he said, stressing that Moscow’s representatives should absolutely take part in the process.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov supported a possible push for compensation. He described the claim as “justified,” arguing that the available data “indicate that… such a terrorist attack against critical infrastructure could not have been staged without the involvement of the state and intelligence services.” In an interview on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he “fully agrees” with Hersh’s conclusions on who orchestrated the blasts. The American journalist alleged that US President Joe Biden ordered the attack because he did not like the German government’s reluctance to send more military support to Ukraine.

Western media, however, has presented another version of events. Earlier this month, the New York Times claimed, citing sources, that a “pro-Ukrainian group” may have been behind the attack on the pipelines while German media reported that a yacht allegedly used in the sabotage belonged to a Polish-based company owned by two Ukrainians. Kremlin Press Secretary Peskov has dismissed those reports as “a coordinated hoax” meant to divert attention from the real culprits behind the blasts.

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China and Russia will be fine.

World Bank: World Economy May Face “Lost Decade” (Az.)

The global economy’s potential growth through the end of the decade has slowed to the weakest in 30 years, the World Bank said, citing fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, Report informs referring to Bloomberg. Having started the millennium on a faster trajectory, the global economy’s “speed limit” – or the highest long-term rate at which it can grow without triggering inflation – is set to slow between 2022 and 2030 to 2.2% a year, the organization said in a report released on March 27. “A lost decade could be in the making for the global economy,” Indermit Gill, the World Bank’s chief economist and senior vice president for development economics, said in a release accompanying the report.


“The ongoing decline in potential growth has serious implications for the world’s ability to tackle the expanding array of challenges unique to our times – stubborn poverty, diverging incomes, and climate change.”The silver lining of the multilateral development bank’s 550-page report: Potential growth could reach as high as 2.9%, marking an acceleration should policymakers deploy the right plans to boost productivity and labor supply and shore up investment. The World Bank’s latest research is set against the backdrop of a fragile global economy that’s still reeling from Russia’s war in Ukraine and efforts to reopen after the darkest days of the Covid pandemic. Many economies, including China, are facing ongoing demographic crises that have meant a mad scramble for policies to promote more childbearing – or to push back the retirement age, as France has most recently demonstrated.

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“What do you want?” Bragg asks. “Your law license, asshole.”

An Eastertime Carol (Kunstler)

After wolfing down a heartburn-inducing Popeye’s Shrimp Tacklebox Combo for supper, Manhattan District attorney Alvin Bragg retires to his four-poster Sleep Number bed beset with anxiety about the grand jury he has convened for fulfilling his campaign promise to stuff Donald Trump into a state prison cell. From the wall-mounted flat-screen across from his bed, the specter of a of giant rabbit emerges, gaunt and grizzled, draped in chains and weighty padlocks. “Who are you, spirit?” Bragg asks.“I am the ghost of prosecutions past,” it moans. “This night you will be visited by three other spirits: The ghost of what you wish to be, the ghost of what should be, and the ghost of actually what-it-is.” Oh, Gawd,” Bragg groans, his esophagus on fire with acidified hot-sauce residue.

The DA falls back into a febrile sleep, but wakens minutes later. The bedroom of his condo has transformed itself into a sunny street scene. He is riding an open limousine down Broadway through a blizzard of tickertape, the sidewalks filled with cheering citizens. Beside him sits a nubile person of the birthing persuasion, with supernaturally large infant-feeding glands, not unlike a certain star of adult films at the center of his brilliant case against the former president. “I am the ghost of what you wish to be,” she says, her breath warm in his ear. “You’re a bigger star now than ever I was in life, and without all the mess.” “Yeah? What’s that up ahead?” he asks. “The steps of City Hall where you will receive your Nobel Peace Prize and be handed the nomination for governor, your stepping stone to the White House.” “We gonna have to change the name of that place,” Bragg grumbles.

Suddenly a box appears on Bragg’s lap. It contains two McDonald’s Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles® plus an apple fritter and a caramel macchiato. No sooner do his teeth close on that first delicious bite, when the confetti in the air turns to pixels, which dissolve along with the street scene, and then Bragg is back in his bed. Laughter rings across the big room, but with a demonic dissonance. A large white man with a silvery mane of hair and a nose like an Appalachian dulcimer, draped in black judicial robes, sits up behind a lofty bench, wearing a scowl of privilege. “What do you want?” Bragg asks. “Your law license, asshole.”

Read more …

Durham’s still around?!

Durham Unveils Smoking Gun FBI Text Message, ‘Joint Venture’ Trump Smear (JTN)

Special Counsel John Durham is revealing new smoking gun evidence, a text message that shows a Clinton campaign lawyer lied to the FBI, while putting the courts on notice he is prepared to show the effort to smear Donald Trump with now-disproven Russia collusion allegations was a “conspiracy.” In a bombshell court filing late Monday night, Durham for the first time suggested Hillary Clinton’s campaign, her researchers and others formed a “joint venture or conspiracy” for the purpose of weaving the collusion story to harm Trump’s election chances and then the start of his presidency.”These parties acted as ‘joint venturer[s]’ and therefore should be ‘considered as co-conspirator[s],'” he wrote.

Durham also revealed he has unearthed a text message showing Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann falsely told the FBI he was not working on behalf of any client when he delivered now-discredited anti-Trump research in the lead-up to the 2016 election. In fact, he was working for the Clinton campaign and another client, prosecutors say. The existence of the text message between Sussmann and then-FBI General Counsel James Baker was revealed in a court filing late Monday night by Durham’s team. Prosecutors said they intend to show Sussmann gave a false story to the FBI but then told the truth about working on behalf of the Clinton campaign when he later testified to Congress.

“Jim – it’s Michael Sussmann. I have something time-sensitive (and sensitive) I need to discuss,” Sussmann texted Baker on Sept. 18, 2016, according to the new court filing. “Do you have availability for a short meeting tomorrow? I’m coming on my own – not on behalf of a client or company – want to help the Bureau. Thanks.” Prosecutors said the text message will become essential evidence at trial to show Sussmann lied to the FBI. “The defendant lied in that meeting, falsely stating to the General Counsel that he was not providing the allegations to the FBI on behalf of any client,” Durham’s motion said. “In fact, the defendant had assembled and conveyed the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two specific clients, including (i) a technology executive (“Tech Executive-1”) at a U.S.-based Internet company (“Internet Company-1″), and (ii) the Clinton Campaign.”

Read more …

Some stories are crazier than others.

Jim Jordan Demands Docs After IRS “Attempt To Intimidate” Matt Taibbi (ZH)

It has been eleven years since Lois Lerner presided over (and then apologized for) the IRS targeting of conservatives during the 2012 election. But her “inappropriate… error of judgment” may just have been turned up to ’11’ as during the day when independent journalist Matt Taibbi was in Washington DC delivering testimony to the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on March 9, an IRS agent visited his home in New Jersey, leaving a note demanding he contact the agency within four days.

“Odd” indeed, Mr. Musk. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Mr. Taibbi was told in a call with the agent that both his 2018 and 2021 tax returns had been rejected owing to concerns over identity theft. The journalist has provided House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan’s committee with documentation showing his 2018 return had been electronically accepted, and he says the IRS never notified him or his accountants of a problem after he filed that 2018 return more than four-and-a-half years ago. He says the IRS initially rejected his 2021 return, which he later refiled, and it was rejected again – even though Mr. Taibbi says his accountants refiled it with an IRS-provided pin number. Mr. Taibbi notes that in neither case was the issue “monetary,” and that the IRS owes him a “considerable” sum.

The bigger question on everyone’s minds (most of all Rep. Jordan) is simple – since when did the IRS dispatch agents for surprise house calls? Is this the new $80 billion budget being well spent to ‘send a message’ to a reporter telling the truth? The coincidental timing of this unannounced IRS agent visit prompted Rep. Jordan to write to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, demanding answers: “In light of the hostile reaction to Mr. Taibbi’s reporting among left-wing activists, and the IRS’s history as a tool of government abuse, the IRS’s action could be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a witness before Congress. We expect your full cooperation with our inquiry.”

Jordan added that “the circumstances… are incredible,” and “demand a careful examination by the Committee to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.” And the committee Chair demanded that the IRS and Treasury provide the following documents and information: 1. All documents and communications referring or relating to the IRS’s field visit to the residence of Matthew Taibbi on March 9, 2023; 2. All documents and communications between or among the IRS, Treasury Department, and any other Executive Branch entity referring or relating to Matthew Taibbi; and 3. All documents and communications sent or received by Revenue Officer [James Nelson] referring or relating to Matthew Taibbi. Yellen and Werfel were given until April 10th to comply with the request.

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Complex systems.

The Worst Model in History: How the Curve was not Flattened (Ugo Bardi)

Multiparameter models of complex systems are mainly tools to interpret the data: they are meant to tell you what’s causing what and how. In the case of climate change, the models tell us that the correlation between temperature and the concentration of greenhouse gases is consistent with a causal relationship according to what we know of atmospheric physics. In other words, they provide evidence that greenhouse gases are “forcing” the climate system to heat up. But you could arrive at this conclusion even without models: just on the basis of known physics and observations. After all, Svante Arrhenius had already arrived at a reasonably correct estimation of the parameters of the system in 1896, without using sophisticated models. Then, suppose the concentration of greenhouse gases continues increasing. In that case, we can expect that temperatures will keep increasing, too, and over a certain level, that’s surely not a good thing for us.


Climate models, incidentally, tend to be optimistic in the sense that they are normally unable to describe the kind of abrupt climate changes that occur in the form of “Seneca Cliffs” which were observed in the remote past. In climate science, they are often called “climate tipping points,” going through one would surely be extremely bad for us. This said, there remains the typical problem of multiparameter models: that of separating the roles of parameters that have similar effects on the system. Climate models might overestimate the role of greenhouse gases and underestimate the cooling effects of the ecosystem’s metabolic processes, as argued, for instance, in this paper by Makarieva et al. In that case, we risk neglecting the role of an important factor in what we are seeing.

So, do we run the risk of making the same mistakes with climate change mitigation that were made with the attempt to flatten the curve during the Covid-19 epidemic? That is, do we risk disrupting the fabric of society for an overestimated risk or for the misattribution of the causes of the problem? I’d say it is unlikely, but we need to keep an open attitude and accept that, with new data, models must change (which is exactly what was not done with the Covid epidemic). The only certain thing is that disasters are unavoidable if complex systems are left to politicians to manage. There are several other areas of modeling that developed features that could be described as “flattening the curve” — perhaps the main one is the series of scenarios presented in the 1972 study, “The Limits to Growth.” One of the proposals, for instance, was to place a cap on industrial production to reduce the exploitation of natural resources.


It is likely that it was never intended as a realistic proposal but rather as an illustration of the features of the model. In any case, there were no global political structures that could have imposed such a rule, and its consequences on the real world would have been unknown and possibly negative or even disastrous. Indeed, if you look at the most recent incarnation of the concepts at the basis of “The Limits to Growth” idea, the 2022 study “Earth4All,” you’ll see that there are no proposals aiming at “flattening” any curve. The proposed interventions are all based on resource allocation, changes in the financial and political structure of society, and more aiming at steering, but not forcing, the system to move in a certain direction. It is an approach pioneered, among others, by one of the authors of the 1972 “The Limits to Growth,” Donella Meadows, with her concept of “leverage points.” We are still learning how to manage complex systems, but we are starting to understand that brutal, top-down actions do not usually work.

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“..if a sponsor doesn’t like what the committee has to say—the conclusions of the committee—… the sponsor can’t prevent the report from being made public,” Stratton said. “This is a very powerful tool that we have.”

US Expert Panel to Meet on Adverse Events Caused By COVID-19 Vaccines (ET)

A group of U.S. experts is set to meet soon as part of a project to determine which adverse events the COVID-19 vaccines cause. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has appointed a committee to review evidence on the relationship between the vaccines and specific adverse events that have occurred after vaccination, including infertility and sudden death. The committee’s process includes establishing methods, reviewing literature, drawing conclusions, and preparing a report. “The committee will make conclusions about the causal association between vaccines and specific adverse events,” the NASEM website states.

While their work is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the sponsors will not be able to examine the report before it is published to the public, Kathleen Stratton, a NASEM official, said during a recent meeting. “What that means is that if a sponsor doesn’t like what the committee has to say—the conclusions of the committee—… the sponsor can’t prevent the report from being made public,” Stratton said. “This is a very powerful tool that we have.” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC official, told panel members recently that the CDC would help members locate studies and data from the agency. “We very much value your expertise and your independence. We look forward to working with you, look forward to seeing the results of your findings,” he said.

The upcoming meeting will be held on March 27 and March 31, the latter of which will include time for public comments. The rest of the two-day meeting will be held behind closed doors. The panel already met on Jan. 25 and Feb. 1. “Your conclusions will help inform injury compensation recommendations and decisions when assessing whether specific adverse events are causally associated with vaccines,” Dr. George Reed Grimes, the official in charge of the HHS Division of Injury Compensation Programs, told panel members during the meeting. The report is slated to be published in March 2024.

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“Australia is experiencing worse excess mortality than at any point in 80 years, while neighboring New Zealand is experiencing the worst mortality since the Spanish flu.”

Australia Bears Witness To Vaccine Deaths (Horowitz)

Despite everything we know about the deadly and ineffective nature of the COVID shots, our government recommends four booster doses for people as young as 6 months old. The shots have even been added to the child immunization schedule. Yet there is no protest whatsoever from the GOP establishment, including the biggest voice among them – Donald J. Trump. Just how radical is this? Even Australia – the poster child for COVID fascism – now only recommends the shots for the elderly and those with health risks. Perhaps it’s because the excess deaths down under have become too big to ignore. Australia is experiencing worse excess mortality than at any point in 80 years, while neighboring New Zealand is experiencing the worst mortality since the Spanish flu.


Officials won’t openly acknowledge the likely cause, but their policy changes regarding boosters clearly demonstrate a quiet walk-back of the needle idol. The latest booster advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) only recommends new doses for those over 65 and those “at risk,” while recommending against the shots for children. Moreover, as our government continues to completely deny any risk in the shots, the government of Western Australia’s Department of Health recently revealed that its own safety monitoring showed that there is a 24 times greater risk of adverse events following the COVID shots than other vaccines. This was in 2021 before the boosters, when the excess deaths really accelerated in Australia. It would be nice to see the total numbers, but those 2021 numbers were hidden for over a year as officials pushed the boosters.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., we still have a total blackout from Republicans, including from Donald Trump, who not only falsely said the vaccines saved millions, but completely denied the existence of any risk. “I have had absolutely no side effects,” he coldly noted in an interview. Even the Australian Department of Health conceded, “Adolescents and younger adults have a lower age-related risk of severe COVID-19, and a comparatively higher risk of myocarditis following vaccination.” Who would have thought the top GOP leaders would be to the left of Australia? Obviously, the media is trying to cover up the pandemic of deaths in Australia by suggesting it has nothing to do with the shots. Of course, the Associated Press’ fact-check team, in their infinite wisdom, have concluded that the surge in deaths must be because of COVID itself.


But that is a self-indictment of the vaccine. How could Australians experience almost all of their COVID deaths AFTER the vaccine and boosters? We were all told that the vaccine itself was supposedly 95% effective against hospitalizations and deaths, if not against transmission. Yet a new preprint study estimates that Aussie excess deaths in 2021 were seven times higher than during the pre-vaccine pandemic year of 2020 and an unfathomable 19 times higher in 2022. That was the year of mild Omicron, and everyone was boosted. Checkmate.

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“Net Zero is becoming the dividing line in the age-old battle between Right and Left, Free markets and Socialism, Cavaliers and Roundheads..”

Climate Hysteria and Woke Gobbledegook Are Becoming Inseparable (DS)

One of Britain’s leading climate ‘experts’, Professor Kevin Anderson, has provided a valuable insight into the increasingly bizarre demands that surround the promotion of the collectivist Net Zero political project. Writing in the Conversation, he argues for Net Zero within 12 years, complete with a refit of U.K. housing stock, a withdrawal of all combustion engine cars in favour of expanded public transport, electrification of industry, the roll out of ‘zero-carbon’ energy, and the banning of all fossil fuel production. To achieve his aims, Anderson suggests mobilisation on the scale of the post-war European reconstruction Marshall Plan. Others might suggest his crackpot schemes will leave the country facing a similar scale of destruction, ruin and poverty to that caused by the Luftwaffe.

Anderson is currently a Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester and he has plenty of form when it comes to extremist claims and calls for widespread rationing. As early as 2010, he was calling on politicians to consider a rationing system “similar to the one introduced during the last time of crisis in the 1930s and 40s”. He also suggested a limit on electricity “so people are forced to turn the heating down”, and a limit on goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture. On a practical level, Anderson’s latest calls for radical societal restructuring under the guise of a ‘climate emergency’ are plainly ridiculous. Retrofitting Britain’s well-ventilated housing and industrial stock along with installing heat pumps would cost around £3 trillion, according to a paper published last year by the technology professor Michael Kelly – equivalent, it should be noted, to Britain’s annual GDP.

That, of course, is before we’ve factored in the cost of Anderson’s other plans such as retrofitting the entire industrial and transport infrastructure, all within the next 12 years. In its more sane moments, even Extinction Rebellion might be proud of such an ambitious plan. Collectivist economic solutions alongside the ubiquitous woke dogma are increasingly dominating debate around climate change. This blatantly political agenda is said to be dictated by ‘the Science’ which its advocates then refuse to discuss, a ruse used to disguise the paucity of evidence that humans control the climate thermostat. Net Zero is becoming the dividing line in the age-old battle between Right and Left, Free markets and Socialism, Cavaliers and Roundheads. In the U.S. the issue is rapidly becoming yet another fight between the Republicans and the Democrats. Similar trends are likely in the U.K. and Europe as Net Zero starts wreaking economic and social havoc.

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JFK Secret Society

 

 

Frequency+Bowie
https://twitter.com/i/status/1640042545416925185

 

 

Sinatra

 

 

 

 

The Mandelbulb is a 3-dimensional fractal that can be constructed as a Mandelbrot set in 4 dimensions using quaternions and bicomplex numbers. This is one spotted in the wild

 

 


The marvelous spatuletail gets its name from the male’s two longest tail feathers, which can be controlled independently and play a major role in the hummingbird’s courtship displays

 

 

Shark feeding frenzy

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 212021
 


Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) German artist, philosopher, composer, mystic Cosmic Tree

 

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)
Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)
How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)
Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)
FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)
UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)
Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)
How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)
Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)
NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)
The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)
Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

 

 

 

 

Germany Deaths
https://twitter.com/i/status/1373207960420253697

 

 

UK has already said: forget about summer travel abroad.

Europe’s Covid-19 Setbacks Risk Another Summer Travel Washout (R.)

Europe’s airlines and travel sector are bracing for a second lost summer, with rebound hopes increasingly challenged by a hobbled Covid-19 vaccine rollout, resurgent infections and new lockdowns. Airline and travel stocks fell on Friday after Paris and much of northern France shut down for a month, days after Italy introduced stiff business and movement curbs for most of the country including Rome and Milan. The setbacks hit recovery prospects for the crucial peak season, whose profits typically tide airlines through winter, when most carriers lose money even in good times. “If there’s no confidence there, demand just doesn’t come back,” said Dublin-based Alton Aviation consultant Leah Ryan, who expects the bad news on vaccines and lockdowns to hurt already weak bookings.

The summer outlook also has been dented by rising infections in Greece and elsewhere, and a suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by a number of European countries over health fears. Several countries announced resumption of use of the AstraZeneca shot this week after the European Medicines Agency said the benefits clearly outweigh its risks. Airlines that have already racked up billions in debt face further strain that some may not survive without fresh funds. British Airways owner IAG raised 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 billion) in a bond issue on Thursday, saying the cushion would protect it from a drawn-out slump. A patchy stop-start summer may pose fewer difficulties for low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air, which can redeploy planes quickly between routes.

But Ryanair’s home market expects to keep strict travel curbs in place at least throughout June, Irish health official Ronan Glynn said on Thursday, citing the “deteriorating situation internationally” and emerging more contagious virus variants. Ryanair shares traded 4.2% lower on Friday, with IAG down 4% and easyJet and Wizz both down 3.5%. Rebound hopes had driven travel stocks higher over the past month, led by IAG’s 25% gain. While ultra-low cost carriers can take the pain of another summer washout, analysts say, rivals such as easyJet and Virgin Atlantic could face renewed balance-sheet pressures. Air France-KLM is also seeking to raise capital and reduce debt from last year’s 10.4 billion-euro bailout. The Franco-Dutch airline group aims to fly more than 50% of pre-crisis capacity this year, compared with 40%-50% for Lufthansa – targets that could still prove ambitious.

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Much of this stuff is brutal. Police state material.

Massive Anti-Lockdown Protests Rage Worldwide (ZH)

Thousands, and possibly tens-of-thousands of protesters across Europe marched on Saturday against continued government lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions based on questionable science – which have resulted in mass unemployment, destroyed small businesses, stoked widespread depression and mental illness, and cost taxpayers trillions to keep the whole ship from sinking. Protesters in London, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Japan, Vienna and elsewhere came out for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom. In central London, thousands of anti-lockdown activists were seen walking through Hyde Park, chanting “stand up, take our freedom back!”


In Germany, police used pepper spray on protesters in the city of Kassel, where 15,000 – 20,000 demonstrators showed up, according to the Daily Mail. Some 1,800 officers were placed on standby in Berlin. “Several thousand people gathered at the main protest site on a square in Kessel’s city centre, packed closely together without wearing face masks, an AFP reporter saw. Scuffles erupted when a group of demonstrators tried to break through a police cordon to join up with other protesters, resulting in shoving and prompting officers to use pepper spray.” -Daily Mail.

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Fascinating. Orla Hegarty in Ireland focuses on cleaning the air inside buildings to prevent transmission. Chicago, after a massive campaign, in 1918 re-opened in 6 weeks, no vaccine. Lots of pics from that time here.

Where is the focus on clean air these days?

How Chicago Avoided A Second Wave Of Spanish Flu (Orla Hegarty)

[Thread] Chicago didn’t have a second wave of Spanish Flu.. so what did they do, & how did the city re-open when there was no vaccine? #Ventilation #COVID19 1/ ..here are the public health measures that Chicago took on the autumn of 1918 ‘open window ventilation in all school rooms.. pupils warmly dressed.. daily check on pupils & absentees in schools.. use of masks.. landlords required to heat homes.. ’ 2/ documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri… ..’isolation & quarantine.. home nursing provided (see my thread on home nursing).. churches required to improve ventilation.. 150 city health officers on full time service’ 3/ ..’closure of dance halls, theatres, restaurants in order to keep schools open .. ventilation of public transport.. public health doctors & nurses’ 4/

& then by late October/early November (just 6 weeks into the outbreak) theatres were allowed to reopen, social functions & public meetings resumed 5/ So what was happening to make this re-opening possible? The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation (1911-18 report) 6/ ..who understood airborne disease & spread in buildings ‘the most important factor in prevention is the air that we breath’ ‘buildings merit earnest study & attention in a program of real & effective work in preventing the spread of disease’ 7/ they had boots on the ground, ‘one man for every 100,000 of population’ & a regime of regulating, inspecting, investigating & enforcing ventilation standards in buildings for public health 8/ ..they had very detailed ventilation standards & buildings were inspected.. including measuring air temperature, humidity, velocity, dust particles &.. CO2 (carbon dioxide) monitoring was used to catch inadequate ventilation 9/

& Chicago had a head start on other cities, having been the first to regulate in 1911, & then having targeted improvements every year in picture-houses, street-cars, restaurants, garages etc .. then in September 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic arrived /10 Chicago had 1,700 street-cars, so ventilation on public transport received a lot of attention.. there were concerns about the cost of improving poor ventilation /11 but The Chicago Bureau of Sanitation prevailed.. 12/ so the Spanish Flu epidemic in Chicago pandemic was fought on the ground with building inspectors.. who measured, targeted & eliminated actual public health risks in actual buildings ‘while the work involved was enormous, the results obtained outweighed the difficulties’ /13

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“Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play.”

Printing Money in Times of Corona (AC)

The coronavirus has dominated all of our lives in recent months. Radical paths were taken by politicians in the form of lockdowns to contain the pandemic. But we should recognize that even if the coronavirus is a (major) challenge for us, we always have to keep a holistic view of world events. Just as there are epidemiological factors to consider in this crisis, there are also economic, social, cultural, political and other health factors at play. It is precisely these other factors that are so often forgotten in the panicky reporting, in the constant, manic tracking of the current infection numbers, that we want to take a look at in our series “The Costs of Coronavirus Lockdowns” in the coming weeks.

Monetary policy is the second primary tool, alongside fiscal policy, used by governments to influence economic activity. When a crisis hits, an economy is stimulated either by the state budget – which arises from the taxpayers – or silently through monetary expansion. By either lowering interest rates, issuing government-backed securities, or even purchasing corporate bonds the central banks increase the money supply in the economy. Ever since the beginning of the crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve has done all of the above. One of the most popular measures of the money supply used by economists is M1. It consists of the most highly liquid assets. In other words, the most easily exchangeable assets are used as payment for goods and services.

As Trading Economics data shows, the Fed has created 39% of all the “dollars” in the economy in 2020. To put it on its head, in 2020 the Fed has created more money than in almost a hundred years of its existence. Monetary policy effectiveness has its boundaries. As good as it might seem at first glance, creating money “out of thin air” doesn’t bring prosperity. It is true, inflation still hasn’t start banging on our doors. But looking no further than the asset prices, we can see that the low inflation rate is masked by the asset price inflation. Even with the sharp drop of the GDP and an unemployment rate that stands more than double the rate before the crisis started, the S&P 500 is more than 10% higher than on the day the pandemic rolled around. This also shows who profits from the economic response to the COVID-19 crisis: those with assets, i.e. those already wealthy anyway.

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We know they did. His aid literally said so.

FBI Investigating If Cuomo, Aides Lied To DOJ About Nursing Deaths (SAC)

The FBI is investigating whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides gave false numbers to the DOJ on nursing home deaths in New York state. Lawyers for the aides have been contacted by the FBI and his office has been subpoenaed, as first reported in the New York Times. According to the Times, interviews with aides have included questions on the reporting of COVID deaths in the state. The FBI traveled to some aides’ homes and interviewed others over the phone. A lawyer for Cuomo’s office said the original numbers submitted to the FBI months ago are factual.


“The submission in response to D.O.J.’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false,” lawyer Elkan Abramowitz said. The news comes as Cuomo’s first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, told the New Yorker former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is no longer her “hero” because of her reaction to the Cuomo accusations. “These stories are difficult to read,” the former secretary of state said in a March 1 statement, “and the allegations brought forth raise serious questions that the women who have come forward and all New Yorkers deserve answers to.”

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Lots of lawsuits, but…

UK Prepares Antitrust Probe Into Facebook (ZH)

Earlier this week, Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said during an antitrust hearing that “Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have reached monopoly status, and their behavior won’t change until Congress acts, the enforcement agencies do their job, and the courts move quickly to rein in their predatory conduct.” On Friday, sources told FT that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is preparing an antitrust investigation into Facebook within the coming months, which is the latest crackdown on Silicon Valley’s big tech dominance. Similar probes were launched into Apple and Google earlier this year. Sources said CMA “would take a sweeping look at the way Facebook allegedly uses customer data to squash rivals in social media and online advertising.”

CMA’s potential investigation into Facebook comes as the government agency recently announced inquiries into Apple’s App Store fees and Google’s privacy settings. CMA expects to follow European Union’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s investigation into Facebook, launched in December. She told lawmakers in Brussels how big tech is increasingly facing more stringent scrutiny around the world. “It’s a sign that the debate on tech dominance has been shifting over the last couple of years,” Vestager said of the US antitrust move. A person close to the CMA said the focus of the upcoming investigation would be on the social media platform’s digital advertising.

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s chief executive, vowed to take on Facebook and other big tech companies with a series of antitrust cases. He’ll be working with lawmakers in Brussels to combat big tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Facebook requested a federal judge earlier this month to dismiss landmark antitrust suits against it, claiming that its “innovative free products deliver value” is helpful to users, adding there’s no evidence whatsoever of anti-competitively. The Federal Trade Commission and almost every state have filed lawsuits against the social media platform for its market power abuse after acquiring Instagram and WhatsApp.

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Thomas Frank.

Liberals Blame Rightwing ‘Misinformation’ For Our Problems. Get Real (Frank)

The Republicans didn’t suffer the landslide defeat they deserved last November; the right is still as potent as ever; therefore Trumpist untruth is responsible for the malfunctioning public mind. Under no circumstances was it the result of the Democrats’ own lackluster performance, their refusal to reach out to the alienated millions with some kind of FDR-style vision of social solidarity. Or perhaps this new taste for censorship is an indication of Democratic healthiness. This is a party that has courted professional-managerial elites for decades, and now they have succeeded in winning them over, along with most of the wealthy areas where such people live. Liberals scold and supervise like an offended ruling class because to a certain extent that’s who they are.

More and more, they represent the well-credentialed people who monitor us in the workplace, and more and more do they act like it. What all this censorship talk really is, though, is a declaration of defeat – defeat before the Biden administration has really begun. To give up on free speech is to despair of reason itself. (Misinformation, we read in the New York Times, is impervious to critical thinking.) The people simply cannot be persuaded; something more forceful is in order; they must be guided by we, the enlightened; and the first step in such a program is to shut off America’s many burbling fountains of bad takes.

Let me confess: every time I read one of these stories calling on us to get over free speech or calling on Mark Zuckerberg to press that big red “mute” button on our political opponents, I feel a wave of incredulity sweep over me. Liberals believe in liberty, I tell myself. This can’t really be happening here in the USA. But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right’s class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for – a betrayal that we will spend years living down – may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true.

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“..journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia..”

How The Censors Won (Michael Tracey)

[..] The star witness in that 2017 hearing, appearing right alongside former National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander, was Thomas Rid. Impressively presented by C-SPAN as a “War Studies Professor” at King’s College London, Rid made a passionate case that the US body politic had been woefully unprepared to contend with an onslaught of what he called “the dark art of disinformation.” [..] the three entities that Rid singled out for condemnation in the testimony — WikiLeaks, Twitter, and “over-eager journalists” — either capitulated to varying degrees in the ensuing years to his demands, or were otherwise neutralized. The founder of WikiLeaks was prosecuted by the US government and currently languishes in UK prison, which removed one of the central threats that so troubled Rid.

Twitter, whose founder once espoused a relatively maximalist conception of free speech (at least compared to other social media companies) drastically changed its philosophy on such issues — embarking on repeat banning sprees, suppressing newsworthy materials falsely classified as “Russian disinformation” just weeks before the 2020 election, and eventually purging the sitting president from the platform. Even more excitingly for Rid, elite journalists’ attitude toward the alleged menace of “disinformation” became increasingly indistinguishable from his own. In the years since that 2017 testimony, it was more and more the journalists themselves who led the charge in demanding censorship to curtail supposed “disinformation,” especially if they could somehow speciously link such “disinformation” to “harassment” and/or “violence.”

And the “over-eagerness” of journalists to report newsworthy information that Rid had condemned was replaced by journalists instead harboring extreme paranoia about being accused of aiding scary foreign influence campaigns — and thereby turning into “unwitting agents” of those scary foreigners. That created a new industry-wide taboo against doing anything which may be perceived as assisting in the dissemination of unjustly “hacked” materials, even if those materials are authentic and expose the malfeasant conduct of powerful officials.

[..] The most telling part of the “Intelligence Community Assessment” was its contention that a key tactic of Russia is “exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” Variations on this Rid-adjacent theme have frequently percolated in elite discussions of the horrors of “Russian interference” since 2016: the idea that Russia seeks to gain world domination by inflaming domestic divisions in the US and undermining confidence in US institutions, and so journalism which unduly inflames domestic divisions and/or undermines confidence in institutions ipso facto helps Russia.

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“Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet..”

Federal Judge Alleges Democrats Control Almost All Major News Outlets (ZH)

A federal judge this week said that the Democrat Party is close to controlling the press as he detailed what he described as shocking bias against Republicans. D.C. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman outlined his opposition to the Supreme Court’s key decision in 1964 in New York Times v. Sullivan, which has since protected many media outlets from lawsuits. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, wrote that the ruling is “a threat to American Democracy” and must be overturned. “The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions. Our court was once concerned about the institutional consolidation of the press leading to a ‘bland and homogenous’ marketplace of ideas. It turns out that ideological consolidation of the press (helped along by economic consolidation) is the far greater threat,” he continued.


“Although the bias against the Republican Party—not just controversial individuals—is rather shocking today, this is not new; it is a long-term, secular trend going back at least to the ’70s. (I do not mean to defend or criticize the behavior of any particular politician). Two of the three most influential papers (at least historically), The New York Times and The Washington Post, are virtually Democratic Party broadsheets. And the news section of The Wall Street Journal leans in the same direction. The orientation of these three papers is followed by The Associated Press and most large papers across the country (such as the Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe). Nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet. Even the government-supported National Public Radio follows along,” he added.

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Project Veritas hardly ever loses a suit.

NYT Used ‘Deceptive Disinformation’ To Smear Project Veritas – Judge (RT)

A defamation suit from Project Veritas against the New York Times is moving forward, as a judge has ruled the newspaper posed opinion as fact in their coverage of the conservative news outlet. A New York Supreme Court judge handed Veritas, known for its undercover and whistleblowing videos, a big “win” this week, allowing a defamation suit against the paper and two reporters to proceed forward. In the ruling denying a motion to dismiss the suit, the Times was accused of acting with “actual malice” and “reckless disregard” in multiple articles covering a 2020 video report from Veritas on alleged illegal voting practices taking place in Minnesota. It was not the only voter fraud allegation Veritas covered in 2020, with one video expose actually leading to the arrest of a Texas political consultant on charges of election fraud and illegal voting.


In the Minnesota video, multiple people are seen taking part in or discussing ballot harvesting and linking the act to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota). The report alleged ballots were being paid for and even filled out for voters to favor certain candidates. One ballot harvester featured in the video, Liban Osman, has since claimed footage of him was heavily edited and that he was offered money to connect the alleged fraud to Omar – an allegation Project Veritas denied. The five Times articles in question called Veritas’ Minnesota videos deceptive, but Justice Charles Wood determined this was not fact, but rather opinion from reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu. “The Articles that are the subject of this action called the Video ‘deceptive,’ but the dictionary definitions of ‘disinformation’ and ‘deceptive’ provided by defendants’ counsel certainly apply to Astor’s and Hsu’s failure to note that they injected their opinions in news articles, as they now claim,” he wrote in his decision.

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“..a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.”

The IRS Is Letting Rich People Fleece Everyone Else (DP)

By some estimates, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans manage to avoid paying about a quarter trillion dollars of owed taxes every single year. Now, new government data show that audits of the super-rich and large corporations have hit a new low, leaving billions of dollars of uncollected taxes at precisely a moment when lawmakers say new revenue is needed to fund infrastructure and climate investments. In response, two progressive Democratic lawmakers have authored legislation cracking down on tax evasion. The new Internal Revenue Service figures compiled by Syracuse University researchers show that in the last eight years, there has been a 72-percent drop in the number of audits of those making more than $1 million. In all, 98 percent of those making more than $1 million did not face an audit last year.


Source: Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Similarly, there has also been a 55-percent drop in the number of audits of America’s largest corporations. In 2012, almost all corporate giants were audited. In 2020, however, almost two thirds of those corporations were not subjected to audits. Amid this decline in scrutiny of the rich, a letter to the Biden administration from 88 progressive groups pointed out: “Since 2011, audit rates for millionaires, who are disproportionately white, have dropped more than twice as much as for taxpayers claiming the (Earned Income Tax Credit), who are disproportionately people of color. Audit coverage is now the heaviest in many low-income majority-Black counties.” The sharp reduction in audits of the rich contributes to the tax gap between the amount of taxes owed and paid.


In 2012, audits of wealthy individuals and large corporations recovered roughly $29 billion of revenue. Eight years later, the far fewer audits recovered less than $7 billion. IRS referrals for criminal prosecution and Justice Department tax convictions have both hit an all-time low. “At a time when Americans face growing economic inequality and financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS is letting billions of dollars in tax revenue slip through its fingers,” wrote Syracuse researchers. “As public attention focuses on how the country can restore faith in our democratic institutions, one area that should not be overlooked is how the nation can better ensure that our income tax laws are fairly and effectively administered.”

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“The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution../”

Russia Set For Showdown With International Law Over Yukos & Navalny (RT)

What matters more: Rulings from overseas courts, or laws made by politicians back home? That’s the question Russian officials are weighing up, after a string of court orders they say are at odds with the country’s own principles. An international legal battle over the collapsed Yukos oil empire has been raging for more than a decade in courts across the world, most notably in the Netherlands and the US. A record-breaking $57 billion legal bill now hangs in the balance. Former shareholders in the now-defunct company accuse the Russian government, which regards them as oligarchs acting in bad faith, of “appropriating” its assets and causing it to go bankrupt. Appealing initial decisions by a Dutch tribunal in favor of the claimants, the country’s lawyers have said that judges had failed to take into account Russian laws against corruption and fraud.

According to Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko, the case is part of a “legal war” being waged against the country in international courts. “The situation is very difficult and serious,” he said. “Russia must adequately defend itself, and sometimes even attack back.” Quite how the state might strike back became clear in December, when the Constitutional Court, one of its highest judicial bodies, ruled that Moscow should refuse to pay the colossal sum if it loses the latest ongoing appeal over Yukos. The case is being litigated under the terms of the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia signed up to but never ratified, with foreign courts insisting they still have jurisdiction. The Russian judges claim that entering into the pact and supposedly agreeing to foreign mediation broke a fundamental provision of the country’s constitution.

Specifically, judges said, subjugating national laws to international rulings is against those principles, and therefore, when Boris Yeltsin’s government entered into the treaty in 1994, it did so on an invalid basis. No leader, the court claimed, has the right to trade away the sovereign right of self-determination, or to “challenge the competence” of Russian courts. If the judges in The Hague eventually uphold the decision to hand the multibillion-dollar sum to those who lost cash after the collapse of Yukos, stumping up the funds would therefore be optional, the ruling insists. This decision would effectively cut Moscow free from any obligations to foreign courts under the terms of treaties it might have signed, and acting on it would put the country on a collision course with the West, which could look to take unilateral action to enforce any settlement.

[..] Speaking ahead of a national vote on the constitution last year, President Vladimir Putin set out in no uncertain terms that he views domestic laws as more important than overseas rulings, a position that he shares at times with leaders in the US and China. “I believe that the time has come to make some changes,” he said, “which directly guarantees the priority of the Russian constitution in our legal environment.” “The requirements of international law and treaties, as well as decisions of international bodies, can act on the territory of Russia only to the extent that they do not entail restrictions on the rights and liberties of man and citizen, and do not contradict our constitution,” Putin added.

[..] Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the country to release jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The anti-corruption activist is serving time in prison after being found guilty of breaching the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud. In a statement, the Strasbourg-based court said “a Chamber of Seven judges of the Court decided… to indicate to the Government of Russia… to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect.” However, the country’s Justice Ministry rejected the calls outright, saying that they were “unenforceable” and unprecedented for a number of reasons. “Firstly, this is a clear and gross interference in the activities of the judiciary of a sovereign state. Secondly, this demand is unreasonable and unlawful, since… it does not include a single rule of law that would allow the court to make such a decision.”

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Mar 312019
 


Banksy Devolved Parliament 2009

 

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove Under Fire On Vote Leave’s Law-Breaking (G.)
EU Will Delay Brexit To Allow Another Referendum (Ind.)
May Risks ‘Total Collapse’ Of Government In Brexit Impasse – Sunday Times (R.)
Furious Tory MPs Tell May: We’ll Block Snap Brexit Election (G.)
Corbyn Accuses Government Of ‘Bullying’ MPs (G.)
The Insanity of Global Trade (Roar)
Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers File An Appeal Against Her Detention (Canary)
Who Is Paying For Monsanto’s Crimes? We Are (G.)
$80 Million Roundup Verdict Is Only $2.5M After Taxes, New IRS Math (F.)
EU Bans UK’s Most-Used Pesticide Over Health And Environment Fears (G.)
How The Lion Lost Its Strength (G.)
Chicxulub: Stunning Fossils Record Dinosaurs’ Demise (BBC)

 

 

For anyone who wanted to stop Brexit, this seemed the way out: show illegal activity. Plenty appears to be there, but it’s been swept under the carpet. Why hasn’t it been investigated much more?

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove Under Fire On Vote Leave’s Law-Breaking (G.)

Conservative leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are facing growing calls to account for illegal behaviour by the official Vote Leave Brexit campaign. The group has dropped its appeal against the Electoral Commission’s ruling that it broke the law by channelling hundreds of thousands of pounds of donations to an ostensibly independent campaign group, BeLeave. When the Observer revealed evidence a year ago that Vote Leave had broken spending rules, Johnson attacked the report on Twitter as “utterly ludicrous” and said it had “won … legally”. A Johnson adviser said on Saturday that the former foreign secretary would not comment on the end of the appeal.

There has been no government response to the appeal being dropped and little media coverage. And while national broadcasters and newspapers gave prime coverage to Vote Leave chief executive Matthew Elliot when he launched an aggressive media campaign against the watchdog’s initial findings, few covered the decision to to end the appeals process in any depth. After the announcement, whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, who was outed by a member of Theresa May’s team, lost his job and was vilified as a fantasist after his revelations about Vote Leave’s spending, said: “The [end of the appeal] feels extremely vindicating, but the way the media has responded to it has been extremely disappointing. The only excuse they had is that they were appealing. Now we know they broke the law, they need to be held to account.”


Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said the confirmation that Vote Leave had broken the law underlined the need for a second referendum. “It is now incumbent on the government to act. We have heard minister after minister say the referendum is valid. This is proof it was not,” she said. “Going ahead with Brexit in these circumstances would be the biggest betrayal of our democracy of all.”

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Britain can only do what the EU will allow.

EU Will Delay Brexit To Allow Another Referendum (Ind.)

EU leaders are prepared to let Britain delay Brexit again to allow time for a second referendum, The Independent understands. After parliament rejected Theresa May’s deal for a third time, the bloc called a summit on 10 April – two days before the UK is on course to leave without a deal. And senior Brussels officials familiar with leaders’ thinking say that barring a credible plan to get a majority for the withdrawal agreement, the UK would be given more time only if it was for another clear option such as a general election or a referendum. The EU has already warned that a further extension, which could run until at least the end of the year, would also require the UK to take part in European parliament elections scheduled for the end of May.


As reported by The Independent, the prime minister is considering a general election as a way out of the Brexit chaos in Westminster, where MPs have rejected all options – including a no-deal Brexit. Senior officials in Brussels have made clear that an extension would also be justified if it was to make time for a referendum. Indicative votes in the Commons this week showed relatively strong support for a confirmatory referendum among MPs, with numbers such that only around a dozen more would need to be convinced to back one to pass it. One senior EU official said there were “three possible justifications” for a long extension emerging in member states’ thinking following their summit last week.

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Obviously. But a lot more could collapse.

May Risks ‘Total Collapse’ Of Government In Brexit Impasse – Sunday Times (R.)

British Prime Minister Theresa May risks the “total collapse” of her government if she fails to get her battered Brexit deal through parliament, the Sunday Times newspaper said, amid growing speculation that she might call an early election. Underscoring the tough choices facing May to break the Brexit impasse, the newspaper said at least six pro-European Union senior ministers will resign if she opts for a potentially damaging no-deal departure from the EU. But at the same time, rival ministers who support Brexit were threatening to quit if May decides to stay close to the EU with a customs union or if she sought a long delay to Brexit, the Sunday Times said.

May’s Brexit strategy is in tatters after the exit deal she hammered out with other EU leaders was rejected for a third time by the House of Commons on Friday, the day that Britain was supposed to leave the bloc. [..] The Mail on Sunday newspaper said May’s advisors were divided over whether she should call an early election if she fails to win support for her Brexit deal from parliament in the coming week. The newspaper said a possible “run-off” vote could take place on Tuesday in parliament between May’s deal and whatever alternative emerges as the most popular from voting by lawmakers on Monday. That meant an election could be called as early as Wednesday, the newspaper said …


The Sunday Telegraph said senior members of the Conservative Party did not want May to lead them into a snap election, fearing the party would be “annihilated” at the polls if she faced down parliament over Brexit in the coming months. An opinion poll in the Mail on Sunday gave the opposition Labour Party a lead of five percentage points over the Conservatives. That lead fell to three points if voters were offered the chance to vote for a new group of independent lawmakers who have not yet created an official party.

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“The threat of an election immediately angered both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs. May would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure one..”

Furious Tory MPs Tell May: We’ll Block Snap Brexit Election (G.)

Conservative MPs from across the party are threatening to vote down any attempt by Theresa May to lead them into a snap election, warning it would split the Tories and exacerbate the Brexit crisis. In a sign of the collapse in authority suffered by the prime minister, cabinet ministers are among those warning that there will be a serious campaign by Conservative MPs to vote against an election headed by May, a move she hinted at last week to break the Brexit deadlock. The threat of an election immediately angered both pro-Brexit and pro-Remain MPs. May would need a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure one, meaning a serious rebellion by Tories could block it. May would then be forced to secure an election by backing a no-confidence vote in her own government, which only requires a simple majority of MPs.


Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan said: “If we have a general election before Brexit is resolved, it will only make things worse.” Antoinette Sandbach, a Tory MP who backs another referendum being held on any deal agreed by parliament, said she would vote against calling an election. “The answer is not a general election, and I would vote against that. We need to find a way forward in parliament and then put that to the people in a confirmatory referendum.” Mark Francois, a member of the European Research Group of pro-Brexit MPs, said there was “not a chance” that Conservative MPs would back an election under May. “‘Of course they wouldn’t – not after last time. And remember, she needs a super majority to do it.”

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Then call for a national government, you twit.

Corbyn Accuses Government Of ‘Bullying’ MPs (G.)

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has accused the government of running down the clock and “bullying and threatening” MPs as it tried to force through Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Speaking in Newport, south Wales, before a byelection on Thursday, Corbyn also refused to say what his party’s parliamentary tactics would be during a second round of indicative votes due to take place on Monday. He said that the option of giving the public a confirmatory referendum on any Brexit deal “is the Labour position so far, but there hasn’t been enough support for that across the floor in the House of Commons”. During this week’s indicative votes, the option for a public vote was whipped by Labour but was defeated by 295 to 268 votes, with 27 of the party’s MPs rebelling.


Corbyn said: “The absolute priority at the moment is to end this chaos the government has brought us to by their endlessly running down the clock and basically bullying and threatening people. The bullying hasn’t worked, the threats haven’t worked. It’s time now for the sensible people to take over.” He cautioned: “This is a very dangerous period, because if we crash out without a deal then the supply chains get interrupted, jobs are at stake, and also the sense of security of many EU nationals living in Britain, and of course British people living across Europe.” [..] “However people voted in the referendum, no one voted to lose their jobs, no one voted to be worse off, and no one voted to deregulate our society.”

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Maximizing waste production is our economic model. Lovely video.

The Insanity of Global Trade (Roar)

The way trade works in the global economy is often absurd. Food routinely gets shipped halfway across the world to be processed, then shipped back to be sold right where it started. Mexican calves — fed imported American corn — are exported to the United States to be butchered, and then the meat is exported back to Mexico for sale. More than half of the seafood caught in Alaska gets processed in China, and much of it is sent right back to American grocery store shelves. Compounding the insanity of this “re-importation” is the equally head-scratching phenomenon of “redundant trade”. This is a common practice whereby countries both import and export identical quantities of identical products in a given year.

For instance, in 2007, Britain imported 15,000 tons of chocolate-covered waffles, while exporting 14,000 tons. In 2017, the US both imported and exported nearly 1.5 million tons of beef and nearly half a million tons of potatoes. On the face of it, this kind of trade makes no economic sense. Why would it be worth the immense cost — in money as well as fuel — of sending perfectly good food abroad only to bring it right back again? The answer lies in the way the global economy is structured. Direct and indirect subsidies for fossil fuels, on the order of $5 trillion per year worldwide, allow the costs of shipping to be largely borne by taxpayers and the environment instead of the businesses that actually engage in it. This allows transnational corporations to take advantage of differences in labor and environmental laws between countries, not to mention tax loopholes, in service of making a bigger profit.


The consequences of this bad behavior are already severe, and set to become worse in the coming decades. Small farmers, particularly in the Global South, have seen their livelihoods undermined by influxes of cheap food from abroad. Trade agreements have made it impossible for companies to compete in the global economy unless they base their operations in places with the weakest protections for workers and the environment. And all the while, the share of global carbon emissions produced by commercial shipping is set to rise to 17 percent by 2050, if action isn’t taken to curb our addiction to trade.

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So far, the law has not been on Chelsea’s side. Or actually, it has. It just doesn’t count for much anymore.

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers File An Appeal Against Her Detention (Canary)

Chelsea’s Manning’s legal team have filed an appeal on her behalf. They’ve asked that the fourth circuit court order her release from detention. On 8 March, Manning refused to testify in front of a grand jury about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Judge Claude Hilton found that Manning was in contempt of court and ordered her jailed. Manning will walk free when she either chooses to testify or the grand jury finishes its work. As a result, Manning could be held in jail for a further 18 months. Her support group Chelsea Resists! published a statement about the appeal. It said that her legal team are basing the appeal on three issues. Firstly, it said: “Judge Hilton denied Chelsea’s motion asking the government to disclose the existence of any unlawful surveillance without actually considering the evidence.”

This is important, it argued, because “evidence derived from unlawful surveillance may not be used in a grand jury”. Secondly, it claimed judge Hilton did not get assurances that the government’s subpoenaing of Manning was “properly motivated”. Chelsea Resists! said: “Prosecutors may not use the grand jury for the primary purpose of preparing for trial of an already-secured indictment. Chelsea raised concerns that the government did not need her testimony to further their investigation, and that rather they intended to use the subpoena to preview and perhaps undermine any testimony she might give at trial for an already-pending indictment.” It said this is “an abuse of process” which would void the initial subpoena. It argued that the judge “did not consider the facts or the law on this motion”.


For now, the US government is still holding Manning in detention. As The Canary previously reported, her support group has also accused the government of torturing her. According to Chelsea Resists!, prison authorities confine Manning to her cell for 22 hours a day. It says that “this treatment qualifies as Solitary Confinement” which “amounts to torture” when maintained for over 15 days. In its latest statement, it also said that this confinement: “..is especially egregious given that Chelsea has not been charged with or convicted of a crime.” The US government previously held Manning in solitary confinement from May 2010 to April 2011.

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“..US district judge Vince Chhabria [..] said there were “large swaths of evidence” showing that the company’s herbicides could cause cancer. He also said there was “a great deal of evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of its product..”

Who Is Paying For Monsanto’s Crimes? We Are (G.)

The chickens are coming home to roost, as they say in farm country. For the second time in less than eight months a US jury has found that decades of scientific evidence demonstrates a clear cancer connection to Monsanto’s line of top-selling Roundup herbicides, which are used widely by consumers and farmers. Twice now jurors have additionally determined that the company’s own internal records show Monsanto has intentionally manipulated the public record to hide the cancer risks. Both juries found punitive damages were warranted because the company’s cover-up of cancer risks was so egregious.


The juries saw evidence that Monsanto has ghost-written scientific papers, tried to silence scientists, scuttled independent government testing, and cozied up to regulators for favorable safety reviews of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Even the US district judge Vince Chhabria, who oversaw the San Francisco trial that concluded Wednesday with an $80.2m damage award, had harsh words for Monsanto. Chhabria said there were “large swaths of evidence” showing that the company’s herbicides could cause cancer. He also said there was “a great deal of evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of its product… and does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue.”

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Oh dear…

$80 Million Roundup Verdict Is Only $2.5M After Taxes, New IRS Math (F.)

Another Roundup verdict is in. This time, jurors found that Monsanto failed to warn users its product was dangerous and awarded Edwin Hardeman $200,000 for economic losses, $5 million for past and future pain and suffering, and $75 million in punitive damages. Last year, jurors gave $289 million to a man they say got cancer from Monsanto’s Roundup. That verdict was later reduced, and is on appeal. But the latest case is federal, and suggests that others could be headed for big numbers. The jury had already concluded that the weedkiller was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Hardeman’s non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Monsanto faces over 10,000 claims, and can be expected to continue fighting hard. But even if Monsanto pays up, new tax rules could swallow up many of the verdicts plaintiffs might be hoping to collect. Wait until you see the new tax math.

Under President Trump’s tax bill passed in late 2017, there is a new tax on litigation settlements: no deduction for legal fees. Amazingly, many legal fees can no longer be deducted. That means many plaintiffs must pay taxes even on monies their attorneys collect. Of course, the attorneys must also pay tax on the same money. Here’s the new math. Hardeman was awarded a bit over $5 million in compensatory damages, and $75M in punitive damages. The combined contingent fees and costs Mr. Hardeman pays his attorneys might total as much as 50%. If so, the plaintiff would get to keep half, or $2.5 million of the $5 million compensatory award. Since it is for his claimed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that part for physical injuries should not be taxed.


Then, of the $75 million punitive award, $37.5 million goes to legal fees and costs, and $37.5 million to Hardeman. So before taxes, the plaintiff’s take home is $40 million. What about after taxes? The $75 million in punitive damages are fully taxable, with no deduction for the fees to his lawyer. Between federal taxes of 37% and California taxes of up to 13.3%, Hardeman could lose about 50% to the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board. That makes his after-tax (and after legal fee) haul from an $80 million verdict only $2.5 million.

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Everything dies baby that’s a fact. We live in a death culture.

EU Bans UK’s Most-Used Pesticide Over Health And Environment Fears (G.)

One of the world’s most common pesticides will soon be banned by the European Union after safety officials reported human health and environmental concerns. Chlorothalonil, a fungicide that prevents mildew and mould on crops, is the most used pesticide in the UK, applied to millions of hectares of fields, and is the most popular fungicide in the US. Farmers called the ban “overly precautionary”. But EU states voted for a ban after a review by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) was unable to exclude the possibility that breakdown products of the chemical cause damage to DNA. Efsa also said “a high risk to amphibians and fish was identified for all representative uses”.

Recent research further identified chlorothalonil and other fungicides as the strongest factor linked to steep declines in bumblebees. Regulators around the world have falsely assumed it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes, according to a chief scientific adviser to the UK government. Other research in 2017 showed farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses, while a UN report denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world.


A European commission spokeswoman said: “The [chlorothalonil ban] is based on Efsa’s scientific assessment which concluded that the approval criteria do not seem to be satisfied for a wide range of reasons. Great concerns are raised in relation to contamination of groundwater by metabolites of the substance.” Chlorothalonil has been used across the world since 1964 on barley and wheat, as well as potatoes, peas and beans. The ban will be passed formally in late April or early May and then enter into force three weeks later, the commission spokeswoman said.

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Inbreeding.

How The Lion Lost Its Strength (G.)

For more than a century, explorers and settlers have warned about the likely impact of the hunting of lions and other wild animals in Africa. One of the most prescient, Frederick Selous, the inspiration for the character Allan Quatermain in the novels of H Rider Haggard, wrote in 1908 that “since my first arrival in 1871, I had seen game of all kinds gradually decrease and dwindle in numbers to such an extent that I thought that nowhere south of the Great Lakes could there be a corner of Africa left where the wild animals had not been very much thinned out”.

Now researchers have uncovered the impact of that predation on the lion. Lion numbers and range have plunged – but it appears their genetic fitness has also declined. An alarming new study has revealed that lions shot by colonial hunters more than 100 years ago were more genetically diverse than the ones that now populate Africa. The discovery is worrying because it indicates that the species’ fight to survive may be even more difficult than had been previously thought. “Loss of genetic diversity means that lions are now less able to withstand new diseases or environmental problems, such as heatwaves or droughts,” said lead author Simon Dures, of the Zoological Society of London. “It means that we will have to be even more careful about how we try to protect them.”


In the late 19th century there were about 200,000 members of Panthera leo roaming the savannahs of Africa. Then European colonialists arrived and began shooting lions – the most social of all cats – in their thousands, first as sport and later to protect the cattle that the newcomers had begun to farm. With fewer than 20,000 of these majestic predators left on the continent, the species has now been designated as “vulnerable”.


Lions have lost some of their ability to cope with diseases, environmental changes or other threats. Photograph: Heinrich van den Berg/Getty Images

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Always fascinating.

Chicxulub: Stunning Fossils Record Dinosaurs’ Demise (BBC)

Scientists have found an extraordinary snapshot of the fallout from the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Excavations in North Dakota reveal fossils of fish and trees that were sprayed with rocky, glassy fragments that fell from the sky. The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water – the consequence of the colossal sea surge that was generated by the impact. Robert DePalma, from the University of Kansas, and colleagues say the dig site, at a place called Tanis, gives an amazing glimpse into events that probably occurred perhaps only tens of minutes to a couple of hours after the giant asteroid hit the Earth.


Fossilised fish piled one atop another as they were flung ashore by the seiche

When this 12km-wide object slammed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico, it would have hurled billions of tonnes of molten and vaporised rock into the sky in all directions – and across thousands of kilometres. And at Tanis, the fossils record the moment this bead-sized material fell back down and strafed everything in its path. Fish are found with the impact-induced debris embedded in their gills. They would have breathed in the fragments that filled the water around them. There are also particles caught in amber, which is the preserved remnant of tree resin. It is even possible to discern the wake left by these tiny, glassy tektites, to use the technical term, as they entered the resin.


Dating the tektites gives an age for the impact – 65.76 million years ago

Geochemists have managed to link the fallout material directly to the so-called Chicxulub impact site in the Gulf. They have also dated the debris to 65.76 million years ago, which is in very good agreement with the timing for the event worked out from evidence at other sites around the world. From the way the Tanis deposits are arranged, the scientists can see that the area was hit by a massive surge of water. Although the impact is understood to have generated a huge tsunami, it would have taken many hours for this wave to travel the 3,000km from the Gulf to North Dakota, despite the likely presence back then of a seaway cutting directly across the American landmass.


The outer rim (white arc) of the crater lies partly under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

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Jul 172018
 
 July 17, 2018  Posted by at 8:39 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


René Magritte The human condition 1935

 

IMF Warns Trump Trade War Could Cost Global Economy $430 Billion (G.)
Detente Bad, Cold War Good (Murray)
Mueller’s Latest Indictment Contradicts Evidence In The Public Domain (Carter)
Has Mueller Caught the Hackers? (RN/NC)
Putin Rejects UK’s ‘Ungrounded Accusations’ Over Novichok Poisoning (AFP)
Vote Leave Fined For Breaking Electoral Law (BBC)
May Narrowly Heads Off Defeat After Caving In To Brexit Hardliners (G.)
Brexit Is Like The Python That Swallowed An Alligator (Ind.)
Theresa May Told Her Chequers Deal Is ‘Dead In The Water’ (Ind.)
IRS To Revoke 362,000 Passports From US Citizens (Black)
Going Cashless Is Discriminatory (G.)
Netflix Stock Slammed As Subscriber Growth And Revenue Fall Short (MW)
Airbnb Warned It Breaches EU Rules Over Pricing Policy (G.)
High Housing Costs Prompt Thousands of Greeks To Disclaim Inheritance (K.)

 

 

US “as the focus of global retaliation”..

IMF Warns Trump Trade War Could Cost Global Economy $430 Billion (G.)

Rising trade tensions between the United States and the rest of the world could cost the global economy $430bn, with America “especially vulnerable” to an escalating tariff war, the International Monetary Fund has warned. Delivering a sharp rebuke for Donald Trump, the Washington-based organisation said the current threats made by the US and its trading partners risked lowering global growth by as much as 0.5% by 2020, or about $430bn in lost GDP worldwide. Although all economies would suffer from further escalation, the US would find itself “as the focus of global retaliation” with a relatively higher share of its exports taxed in global markets. “It is therefore especially vulnerable,” the fund said.

Trump raised the stakes in his mounting trade dispute with China last week by proposing 10% tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods entering the country, on top of $34bn of tariffs that were officially imposed on Beijing at the beginning of the month. The Chinese government, which hit back at the first wave of US tariffs with similar measures, was quick to warn of further retaliation on Monday.[..] Issuing its latest World Economic Outlook report on Monday amid the rising tensions, the IMF said there were greater risks emerging for the global economy since its last assessment in the spring. Although world growth remains strong, the expansion is “becoming less even, and risks to the outlook are mounting”, it said.

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So much vitriol these days. Craig Murray is one of many to tone it down.

Detente Bad, Cold War Good (Murray)

The entire “liberal” media and political establishment of the Western world reveals its militarist, authoritarian soul today with the screaming and hysterical attacks on the very prospect of detente with Russia. Peace apparently is a terrible thing; a renewed arms race, with quite literally trillions of dollars pumped into the military industrial complex and hundreds of thousands dying in proxy wars, is apparently the “liberal” stance. Political memories are short, but just 15 years after Iraq was destroyed and the chain reaction sent most of the Arab world back to the dark ages, it is now “treason” to question the word of the Western intelligence agencies, which deliberately and knowingly produced a fabric of lies on Iraqi WMD to justify that destruction.

It would be more rational for it to be treason for leaders to blindly accept the word of the intelligence services. This is especially true on “Russia hacking the election” when, after three years of crazed accusations and millions of man hours by lawyers and CIA and FBI investigators, they are yet to produce any substantive evidence of accusations which are plainly nuts in the first place. This ridiculous circus has found a few facebook ads and indicted one Russian for every 100,000 man hours worked, for unspecified or minor actions which had no possible bearing on the election result.

There are in fact genuine acts of election rigging to investigate. In particular, the multiple actions of the DNC and Democratic Party establishment to rig the Primary against Bernie Sanders do have some very real documentary evidence to substantiate them, and that evidence is even public. Yet those real acts of election rigging are ignored and instead the huge investigation is focused on catching those who revealed Hillary’s election rigging. This gets even more absurd – the investigation then quite deliberately does not focus on catching whoever leaked Hillary’s election rigging, but instead seeks to prove that the Russians hacked Hillary’s election-rigging, which I can assure you they did not. Meanwhile, those of us who might help them with the truth if they were actually interested, are not questioned at all.

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Excellent point by point take-down of the entire indictment.

Mueller’s Latest Indictment Contradicts Evidence In The Public Domain (Carter)

Mueller’s indictment leaves us with the premise that a supposed GRU officer working in league with other GRU officers, acquiring Podesta’s attachments and, just three days after Julian Assange announces leaks are coming in relation to Hillary Clinton, releases deliberately tainted files that serve to pin the blame on Russians, that only really hurt Trump, that ultimately undermined leaks and that provided fabricated evidence. Evidence that, for whatever reason, supported several claims made by CrowdStrike executives published in a legacy media article the previous day.

Guccifer 2.0 repeatedly tried to associate his efforts with WikiLeaks (from the day he appeared) – an organization for whistleblowers to be able to leak files anonymously. Something a hacker willing to publish leaks on his own blog would have had no need for, especially not if he was connected to a site that published leaks already (that is, DCLeaks.com). What we know about Guccifer 2.0 and his multi-layered efforts to be seen as Russian destroy the notion that he was anyone operating on the side of the Russian state.

Ultimately, the indictment produces a lot of new claims, many in keeping with what we know or have heard, however, it presents no evidence to support what it has introduced and an indictment by itself is not evidence, points that have already been noted by Consortium News, Moon of Alabama, Mark McCarty and others. They have also picked up on the timing of the indictment, which seems to have become a theme for Mueller’s indictments in particular. This latest example comes immediately following Rosenstein and Strzok being grilled and receiving negative press as well as immediately before Trump’s summit with Putin. Exactly how much of the indictment is bogus, I can’t know for sure, but definitely, some of it is, especially those parts that relate to the Guccifer 2.0 persona “being on Russia’s side” in all of this.

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The whole WMD presentation lost Mueller his right to be believed at face value.

Has Mueller Caught the Hackers? (RN/NC)

AARON MATE: Right. So, then let me ask you, Michael, this question, this belief that Putin personally ordered this interference campaign against the U.S. The strongest evidence to bolster it that I’ve seen was this Washington Post report in June 2017, I believe, that said that the U.S. had a mole inside Putin’s inner circle who reported that he personally instructed this operation to happen. Doesn’t that strike you as odd, that, well A, that the U.S. could penetrate Putin’s inner circle at that high level, and B, if they did, that they’d be willing to disclose that in a media report, thereby potentially compromising this incredibly sensitive source of information?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Now, you read Russian Roulette and you read about the secret source they had inside the Kremlin in 2014, who was warning the U.S. government that this is exactly what Putin’s government was up to. And this is what they were planning. And I know exactly. I know, we know a lot more about that secret source than we put in the book. This was something that was vetted very carefully. But it is not at all unusual that American spy agencies would seek to cultivate and develop sources who can provide insight into what Putin’s up to, and in these cases they clearly did.

AARON MATE: Someone claims they did. I just find it shocking that they would publicly reveal that, something that high level.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Well, so what’s your suggestion? That they invented the source, or what’s your-?

AARON MATE: My suggestion is it’s quite possible that, given the legacy of U.S. intelligence officials inventing intelligence to fix, to comport with political imperatives whatever they are, whether it’s the Iraq War, whether it’s allegations against any number of official U.S. enemies, that that may have happened here. And I’m just urging skepticism in the absence of evidence that we obviously disagree on whether it has been presented yet.

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Doesn’t look like we will ever see proof.

Putin Rejects UK’s ‘Ungrounded Accusations’ Over Novichok Poisoning (AFP)

Vladimir Putin has accused Britain of making baseless allegations against Russia over the former Soviet spy and three other people poisoned, one fatally, with the novichok nerve agent in Salisbury. Asked in a Fox News interview about the British government’s assertion that Moscow was behind the novichok attack on the former spy Sergei Skripal, Putin said London had not provided any evidence to back up the claim. “We would like to get documentary evidence but nobody gives it to us,” Putin, speaking through a translator, told the US network after a summit with Donald Trump in Finland.

“It’s the same thing with the accusations of meddling in the election process in America,” he added in reference to claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election which was won by Trump. Putin suggested the case could be driven by domestic issues in Britain, saying: “Nobody wants to look into these.” “We just see the ungrounded accusations – why is it done this way? Why should our relationship be made worse by this?” The former Russian double agent Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in Salisbury on 4 March after being exposed to novichok. Both have since recovered. On 30 June Charlie Rowley and his partner Dawn Sturgess fell ill not far from the Skripal attack after being exposed to the same nerve agent. Sturgess died on 8 July.

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Referred to the police. What are they going to do with this? At what point does the whole vote get nullified?

Vote Leave Fined For Breaking Electoral Law (BBC)

Brexit campaign group Vote Leave has been fined £61,000 and referred to the police after an Electoral Commission probe said it broke electoral law. The investigation found “significant evidence of joint working” between the group and another organisation – BeLeave – leading to it exceeding its spending limit by almost £500,000. Vote Leave also returned an “incomplete and inaccurate spending report”, with almost £234,501 reported incorrectly, and invoices missing for £12,849.99 of spending, the watchdog said. BeLeave founder Darren Grimes has also been fined and referred to the police for breaking the group’s spending limit by more than £665,000 and wrongly reporting the spending as his own.

Veterans for Britain were also found to have inaccurately reported a donation it received from Vote Leave and has been fined £250. Bob Posner, from the Electoral Commission, said: “The Electoral Commission has followed the evidence and conducted a thorough investigation into spending and campaigning carried out by Vote Leave and BeLeave. “We found substantial evidence that the two groups worked to a common plan, did not declare their joint working and did not adhere to the legal spending limits. These are serious breaches of the laws put in place by Parliament to ensure fairness and transparency at elections and referendums.”

He added: “Vote Leave has resisted our investigation from the start, including contesting our right as the statutory regulator to open the investigation. It has refused to cooperate, refused our requests to put forward a representative for interview, and forced us to use our legal powers to compel it to provide evidence. “Nevertheless, the evidence we have found is clear and substantial, and can now be seen in our report.”

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Like a full-time contortionist.

May Narrowly Heads Off Defeat After Caving In To Brexit Hardliners (G.)

Theresa May has narrowly seen off a Commons rebellion from Conservative remainers unhappy that she had caved in to hardline Brexiters by accepting their amendments to the customs bill. The government majority was reduced to just three votes on the two most controversial amendments after leading Tory remainer Anna Soubry complained that the prime minister had lost control of events by making concessions to the rightwing European Research Group of MPs. The most important of the four amendments from the ERG, chaired by Jacob Rees-Mogg, had been designed to frustrate May’s compromise proposals over customs arrangements and had initially been opposed by the government, until Downing Street made a sudden U-turn in the afternoon.

No 10 then concluded that all four amendments were “consistent with the Brexit white paper”, a decision that so incensed Tory remainers they vowed to vote against the amendments in Monday night’s Commons debate. One junior minister, Guto Bebb, resigned rather than support the ERG customs union amendment, which narrowly passed by 305 to 302. A total of 14 Tory remainers voted against the government, while three Labour MPs and former Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins voted the other way. A second ERG amendment, preventing the UK joining in with the EU’s VAT regime post-Brexit, passed 303 to 300.

A frustrated Soubry had told the Commons: “The only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament – the hard, no-deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago and should be seen off.”

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Nice metaphor.

Brexit Is Like The Python That Swallowed An Alligator (Ind.)

About a year ago, I described the passage of Brexit through parliament as being like that regularly reappearing photograph of a Burmese python that tried to swallow a six-foot alligator whole and accidentally exploded. The alligator suffocated, the python’s head got blown off. That much is not contested. But apart from that, no one knows quite what happened in the hours before an amateur photographer chanced upon it. We must presume the alligator struggled til the last, and that is the stage of Brexit at which we have now arrived. Parliament embraced Brexit of its own free will, but now it cannot handle the monster coming down its oesophagus. And the monster itself does not want to die.

More than a year on from triggering Article 50, the point at which the teeth of the two beast’s teeth first touched, Theresa May had hoped she had found a way of easing its passage that might keep both alive. The so-called “Chequers deal”, which is not a deal at all but an agreed position among the cabinet, detonated the cabinet within moments of it being agreed to. None of which engages with the fact that the European Union was highly likely to reject the agreement anyway. David Davis has quit. Boris Johnson has quit. Justine Greening, the former education secretary who quit in January, has said the only way forward is a second referendum with three choices on the ballot paper (hard Brexit, no Brexit, or the least damaging Brexit the government can manage to get).

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No there there.

Theresa May Told Her Chequers Deal Is ‘Dead In The Water’ (Ind.)

Theresa May has faced taunts that her Chequers deal is “dead in the water” after caving in to a series of changes to customs rules demanded by pro-hard Brexit Tories. Plans for the UK to collect duties for the EU – which lie at the heart of the prime minister’s hopes for a deal with Brussels – will only go forward if the EU in turn agrees to collect them for the UK. There appears to be no prospect of the EU bowing to such a request, apparently throwing the hard-fought Chequers proposals up in the air after just 10 days. In the Commons, Ms May was accused of “dancing to the tune of the European Research Group” – the 60-80 strong organisation of Brexiteer MPs led by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“By capitulating to their proposals on the Customs and [the] Trade Bill she is accepting that the Chequers deal is now dead in the water,” said Labour MP Stephen Kinnock. Ms May insisted he was “absolutely wrong”, telling MPs: “I would not have gone through all the work that I did to ensure that we reached that agreement only to see it changed in some way through these bills. They do not change that Chequers agreement.” Nevertheless, the Brexit white paper – published only four days ago – appeared to rule out a requirement for the EU to agree reciprocal arrangements. It said the two sides would have to “agree a mechanism for the remittance of relevant tariff revenue”, but added: “The UK is not proposing that the EU applies the UK’s tariffs and trade policy at its border for goods intended for the UK.”

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Disturbing.

IRS To Revoke 362,000 Passports From US Citizens (Black)

About two and a half years ago, I told you about a particularly nasty piece of legislation that President Obama quietly signed into law towards the end of his administration. They called it the “FAST Act”, which stood for Fixing America’s Surface Transportation. Yet despite $300 billion earmarked for infrastructure repairs, they didn’t manage to fix very much of America’s surface transportation. The legislation did, however, have two major effects: 1) The FAST Act authorized the US government to plunder excess capital from the Federal Reserve… which is about as stupid as thing as anyone could possibly do. The Federal Reserve is America’s central bank; they control the value and fate of the US dollar… which is still the most dominant currency in the world.

You’d think that having some excess cash on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet would be viewed as wise and conservative. But not Congress. These guys are so broke, they’ll grab every penny they can get. Even from their own central bank. So they buried a provision into the FAST Act demanding that the Federal Reserve hand over any excess capital to the Treasury Department at the end of every calendar year. They started doing that almost immediately, in December 2015. And in 2016. And in 2017. This is one of the reasons why, to this day, the Federal Reserve is borderline insolvent… which hardly inspires confidence. Now, I could go on for quite some time about what an idiotic idea this was. But believe it or not, there was an even worse section of the FAST Act– one they only started implementing recently:

2) Section 32101 of the FAST Act required the US State Department to revoke or deny the passport of any taxpayer that the IRS deems to have “seriously delinquent tax debt.” They define seriously delinquent tax debt as owing $50,000 or more. Well, it took them a couple of years, but the IRS has finally started enforcing this law. Earlier this month the IRS acknowledged that they had sent at least 362,000 names to the State Department to start revoking or denying passports. And that’s just the beginning. The IRS is sending these names out ‘in batches’, so there will be many more to follow. They hope to be finished by the end of the year.

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Washington DC, capital of cash.

Going Cashless Is Discriminatory (G.)

Mobile payments. Credit cards. Digital currencies. Going cashless seems to be a worldwide trend. In Belgium, it is illegal to buy real estate with cash. Some banks in Australia have eliminated cash from their branches. Sweden has seen its use of cash drop to less than 2% of all transactions, and the number could be heading even lower in the next few years. However, one city in the US is resisting that trend: Washington DC. In the nation’s capital cash is still king, and a new bill introduced this week wants to keep it that way. The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 would make it illegal for restaurants and retailers not to accept cash or charge a different price to customers depending on the type of payment they use.

City councilmember David Grasso, and five other councilmembers who co-introduced the bill, are responding to the recent tide of retailers in their city and around the country – like the salad chain Sweetgreen – who are no longer accepting cash. These retailers, which mostly serve upscale customers, say that going cashless speeds up transactions, improves customer service and makes for more accurate accounting. They also argue that having less cash lying around also minimizes the risk of crime and contributes to a safer environment for both their customers and employees.

But to some, not accepting cash is discriminatory. A report last year by the Washington City Paper found that 27% of people in the US would have trouble using only a credit card to purchase products, and that the percentage in Washington DC is even higher. “I’m concerned with more and more restaurants, businesses and shops going cashless because you’re systematically excluding a group of people who are already disadvantaged and disenfranchised,” Linnea Lassiter, an analyst at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, told the paper. “And now they can’t have access to this restaurant?”

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When growth slows…

Netflix Stock Slammed As Subscriber Growth And Revenue Fall Short (MW)

Netflix posted weaker-than-expected second-quarter revenue and subscriber numbers Monday afternoon, sending its stock into a sharp dive during after-hours trading. Netflix shares fell about 14% in the extended session after the Los Gatos, Calif-based company announced it added 5.2 million streaming users in the second quarter, a substantial drop from the 6.2 million estimate the company provided in April. The company added 4.47 million international subscribers and 670,000 domestic subscribers, missing its April estimates of 5.9 million and 1.2 million.

The company reported a profit of $384 million, or 85 cents a share, topping the FactSet consensus of 79 cents a share and up from $66 million, or 15 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose to $3.91 billion from $2.79 billion the year before, just below the FactSet consensus of $3.94 billion. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said the company had a “strong but not stellar” quarter, acknowledging the company had “over-forecasted” both domestic and global net subscriber additions and “acquisition growth was lower than we projected.”

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Doesn’t feel like the EU actually identifies the danger to society.

Airbnb Warned It Breaches EU Rules Over Pricing Policy (G.)

Airbnb has been found in breach of EU law and given until the end of the summer to ditch a range of practices, including that of belatedly applying additional fees to the prices it promotes online. The accommodation service has been accused by the European commission and national regulators of failing its customers and making the mistake of many global digital firms of “forgetting its responsibilities”. Vera Jourova, the commissioner for justice and consumers, told reporters in Brussels that the company had until the end of August to show it was reforming its ways or it could expect national regulators across Europe to launch coordinated action.

The commissioner said the prices displayed to those using the Airbnb website fail to reflect the fees and charges later passed on to the consumer, including cleaning costs. The site did not clearly identify if the offer of accommodation was being made by amateur hosts or professionals. The issue is important because the level of consumer rights differ according to the status of the owner, as do the health and safety requirements. The commissioner said Airbnb’s terms and conditions were unclear. She also said the company should put an end to its policy of seeking to tackle legal complaints made by its clients in courts outside the country where the complainant resides.

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Maybe the government can make a deal with Airbnb.

High Housing Costs Prompt Thousands of Greeks To Disclaim Inheritance (K.)

Thousands of properties are coming into the state’s possession not because they’re bogged down in debt, but simply because the people who inherit them are opting to give up the titles. According to real estate experts, more than 135,000 inheritances were disclaimed in 2017, because the beneficiaries were unable to pay the inheritance tax or they found the future financial demands of the property unbearable. The slump in the real estate market, in combination with the fact that many properties are suffering from neglect, meanwhile, are making it even harder for those who may be hoping to find a buyer before accepting their inheritance.

“Property has become a burden,” says Babis Haralambopoulos, a certified valuer, scientific consultant to Solum Property Solutions and former president of the Hellenic Valuation Institute. “Since the start of the crisis, residential properties have shed an average of 45 percent of their value, while there’s a trend toward stabilization right now.” Meanwhile, recent data from Eurostat showed that Greece had the highest housing costs as a percentage of disposable income among the European Union’s member-states. In 2016, the proportion of Greek households that spent more than 40 percent of their disposable income on housing costs came to 40.5 percent, which is almost four times the EU average of 11.1 percent.

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Dec 032017
 
 December 3, 2017  Posted by at 9:47 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Nicolas de Staël Paris la nuit 1954

 

Are We Too Optimistic On Global Growth? (Saxo Bank)
The Government Is Coming For Your Bitcoin (Black)
Bitcoin & Tax: The Coming Coinbase Fiasco (Mike Maloney)
Theresa May Faces New Crisis After Mass Walkout Over Social Policy (O.)
Corbyn Signals Labour Could Be Open to Second Brexit Referendum (BBG)
Theresa May Has Got To Come Clean About The Cost Of Brexit (Ind.)
The Coming Days Will Stretch The Politics Of Brexit To The Limit (RTE)
EU’s Net Starts To Close On Tax Havens (G.)
Greece, Creditors Strike Deal on the Conditions for Fresh Cash (BBG)
Islanders To Descend On Athens Over Refugee Crisis (K.)
US Pulls Out of UN’s Global Compact on Migration (AFP)
Why Did We Start Farming? (LRB)

 

 

Bits and pieces from A Saxo banks missive.

First graph: China credit impulse in the world economy plummeted 25% in Q2.

Second graph: Saxo smokes funny stuff. It says: Global trade but also non-construction investment in Western countries has been catching up with the pre-crisis long-term trend.. Well, not that I can see there.

Third graph: Stuff about inflation. Look, velocity is sinking through the floor. And Broad Money is not rising much (despite QE). Ergo: no inflation.

Are We Too Optimistic On Global Growth? (Saxo Bank)

Is economic growth on a solid footing?We have a contrarian view on global growth in 2018 and consider that the consensus is a bit too rosy. We expect lower GDP growth in the second and third quarters due to the contraction in the credit impulse in China. As mentioned by the IMF, China still represents one-third of the global growth impulse. In Q2’17, China’s credit impulse declined by 25% year-on-year, therefore reaching a new post-crisis low. Since this index leads the real economy by nine to 12 months, we expect worse data next year for China, but also for the global economy.

The global economic situation has been improving over the past years. Global trade but also non-construction investment in Western countries has been catching up with the pre-crisis long-term trend.

[..] Will inflation ever come back? Lowflation has been one of the main macroeconomic issues in recent years and it is expected to remain a thorn in the foot of central bankers for longer yet. Since September 2016, China – the main exporter of deflation – has started to export inflation along with higher global commodity prices (up 3% in October 2017 year-on-year, based on data from the World Bank), but global inflation still remains subdued. Central bankers, and particularly ECB president Mario Draghi, consider that low inflation is only a transitory phenomenon linked to hysteresis and underemployment and that job gains will eventually push inflation to target. Those elements certainly play a role in the short and medium terms but as pointed out by Benoit Coeuré, the problem is that the Phillips curve is “flatter, non-linear, mid-specified”.

We don’t expect that inflation will significantly pick up next year since, in our view, lowflation is primarily a structural phenomenon. More and more economists are agreeing with that take, including outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen who recently confirmed that we don’t properly understand inflation dynamics. Monetarists explain low inflation by the slow rate of growth in broad money since the great recession. This might be part of the problem, but it is not completely convincing since the money stock has not been constant and has started to decrease since 1997 in the United States.

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Two pieces on the same issue: the IRS and bitcoin. First Simon Black, then Mike Maloney.

The Government Is Coming For Your Bitcoin (Black)

The same day Bitcoin cracked its all-time high above $11,000, the government dealt its first blow to the crypto world… On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the popular Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, to provide the IRS with information on over 14,000 account holders. The taxman noticed that only 800-900 people reported gains related to Bitcoin in each of the years between 2013-2015. It seemed unusual given Bitcoin’s meteoric rise. So the IRS went for its pound of flesh. Initially, the government wanted complete data on every Coinbase user that transacted between 2013 and 2015. The exchange’s website says it has 13 million users (more than the number of Schwab brokerage accounts).

But Coinbase pushed back… and the government agreed to only take limited data (including name, date of birth, address, tax ID number, transaction statements and account logs) for accounts that have bought, sold, sent or received at least $20,000 worth of Bitcoin in a given year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Coinbase. I told Sovereign Man: Confidential readers last month: “If you’re tempted to purchase Bitcoin from the popular Coinbase exchange, don’t bother. They’ve sold out to regulators.” The IRS is calling this a “partial win.” But you can be sure, there will be a public beheading. This is something governments almost always do. [..] Now that it’s at all-time highs, the government wants its piece.

I read the 400+ pages of the proposed tax code. How many lines in there do you think deal with cryptocurrency? ZERO. How many lines deal with e-commerce? ZERO. The government had every opportunity to set the rules for the 21st century. And they failed miserably. So the rules remain as clear as mud. Instead of trying to make it clear, their tactic is intimidation, force and coercion. This is just the beginning. There will be more. And my advice is don’t be one of those guys. Every transaction that you make in Bitcoin is potentially a taxable event.

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“And guess what they’re going to have to sell to come up with the cash [to pay the IRS]; because you can’t pay your taxes with bitcoin…

Bitcoin & Tax: The Coming Coinbase Fiasco (Mike Maloney)

Mike Maloney takes a look at a very important Bitcoin issue that could prove to be a market-mover in the new year: The IRS has realized that Bitcoin is a cash cow for them, but at the same time there is just a small percentage of Coinbase users who are filing gains or losses. What could this add up to?

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May’s problems grow fast. Her own people are starting to leave her. They fear for their own political futures. Cue Corbyn.

Theresa May Faces New Crisis After Mass Walkout Over Social Policy (O.)

Theresa May was plunged into a new crisis on Saturday night after the government’s social mobility adviser revealed he and his team were quitting, warning that the prime minister was failing in her pledge to build a “fairer Britain”. In a major blow to No 10, Alan Milburn, the former Labour cabinet minister who chairs the government’s social mobility commission, said that he and all three of his fellow commissioners were walking out – including a leading conservative, Gillian Shephard. The move will be seen as a direct challenge to May’s vow in Downing Street to place fairness and social justice at the heart of her premiership. In his resignation letter, seen by the Observer, Milburn warns that dealing with Brexit means the government “does not seem to have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality.

“I have little hope of the current government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain,” he tells the prime minister. “It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.” The resignations come with the prime minister already under pressure, as she faces crunch Brexit talks and questions over the future of her most senior minister, Damian Green. Milburn says failing to deal with the inequalities that fuelled the Brexit vote would simply lead to a rise of political extremes. In a devastating assessment of the lack of progress, Milburn says: “The worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you’re going to heal social divisions and then do nothing about it. It’s almost better never to say that you’ll do anything about it.

“It’s disappointing at least that the government hasn’t got its shoulder to the wheel in the way it should to deal with these structural issues that lead to social division and political alienation in the country. “In America for 30 years real average earnings have remained flat. Now here the chancellor is predicting that will last for 20 years. That has a consequence for people, but a political consequence as well. It means more anger, more resentment and creates a breeding ground for populism.”

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Very risky, but once he can make the costs clear, he might pull it off. He’ll need Tory defectors, though, and they won’t want to help him. But if things get bad enough with May, they may.

Corbyn Signals Labour Could Be Open to Second Brexit Referendum (BBG)

U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn hinted that he could be open to holding a second referendum on Brexit as the consequences of leaving the European Union become clearer. Asked if he was prepared to rule out a second vote after meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Lisbon on Saturday, Corbyn said his party hasn’t fixed its position on the issue. “We’ve not made any decision on a second referendum,’’ Corbyn said at a European Socialist Party conference in the Portuguese capital. “What we’ve said is that we would respect the result of the first referendum.”

Britain’s main opposition party is trying to portray itself as a government-in-waiting after gaining seats in June’s general election and stripping Prime Minister Theresa May of her majority. Since going into that vote with a Brexit strategy similar to May’s Conservatives, Labour has diverged in recent months, saying it would keep open the options of remaining in the single market and customs union, both of which the premier has ruled out. “If we were in government, we would immediately legislate to guarantee British residence to all European Union nationals that live and work in Britain, and the right to bring their families to Britain as well,’’ Corbyn told reporters. “We will negotiate the issues of relations with Europe on the basis of a free-trade relationship with Europe.’’

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This is only about the divorce bill. Someone should ask about the total cost.

Theresa May Has Got To Come Clean About The Cost Of Brexit (Ind.)

We know what the Prime Minister is up to. She wants to keep quiet about the size of the exit fee she is offering to the European Union until after Monday’s lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, the Europan Commission President, and Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator. Indeed, she does not want her own MPs to know the sum until after the European Council on 14 and 15 December, at which she hopes to secure agreement to move to the next phase of Brexit talks. Once again, the national interest is being subordinated to the higher cause of holding the Conservative Party together – the sort of thing that prompted David Cameron to get us into the mess we are now in.

It is a small consolation, therefore, that the official opposition, led on this question by Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, is holding the Government to account. Labour is tabling an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill on Wednesday that would require any financial settlement to be assessed by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office. Of course, The Independent regards the prospect of a settlement amounting to between £45bn and £55bn as reasonable in principle. The reasons Conservative Eurosceptics might find it hard to accept are obvious. One is that they ran a referendum campaign on the assumption that leaving the EU would save the British people vast sums that could be diverted to the health service or other popular causes. The divorce bill gives the opposite impression.

This impression is reinforced by the way the sum, made up of several separate items, is rolled up into one very big number. In fact, of the £45bn-£55bn, about £20bn represents the continuation of our net contributions for the two years of a transition period, in which we would continue to be an EU member in all but name (and influence). The rest, Ms May insists, is similarly money that we owe in any case as a consequence of our membership. f so, there can be no objection to its being scrutinised to confirm it – or to giving Parliament the chance to approve or reject it in a vote. As Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister, told The Independent, “What would a Conservative opposition do if a Labour Party proposed to spend £30bn, £40bn or £50bn without telling Parliament what it was doing with it?”

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And then there’s the Irish question.

The Coming Days Will Stretch The Politics Of Brexit To The Limit (RTE)

When it comes to the border on the island of Ireland, the coming days will stretch the politics of Brexit to the limit. “For a border community, it impacts on every aspect of everyday life. When you get up in the morning, which road do you go out on?” “In Dublin or Belfast they won’t understand.” These are the views of one resident reported in a comprehensive survey of people living along both sides of the border on how Brexit will impact their lives, economically, socially, and psychologically. The paper, Bordering on Brexit: The Views of Local Communities in the Central Border Region of Ireland/Northern Ireland, has been published by a Queen’s University research team led by Dr Katy Hayward.

“That very close, tight way that it affects everything you think about and everything you do” continues the respondent. “For example, the man who fixes my car lives in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh – to drive you’d go out the Cavan road into Co Fermanagh, then into Co Monaghan, then into Co Fermanagh and then you get to his house. I could do that journey in 10 or 15 minutes; what would that be like if crossing an international European border?” These parochial but very real concerns, from Derry to Dundalk, are this weekend the subject of intense international diplomacy, gripping London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels in a seemingly irreconcilable tug of politics. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, has set Monday as an absolute deadline for Theresa May to tell the EU, during a working lunch with the Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, how she intends to solve the border problem, as well as the issue of Britain’s financial settlement and the rights of EU citizens.

Whether that deadline can be met, and what happens between Monday and the summit of EU leaders on 14 and 15 December, will have untold implications for the history of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The outcome may determine whether there is a hard border, no border, or something in between. It will have ramifications for the civil war in the Conservative Party and the stand-off between Sinn Féin and the DUP in Northern Ireland. It will have implications for millions of euro in cross-border trade, for cross-border healthcare, education, energy, waterways and other daily activities whose very nature is encouraged and facilitated by the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). And it will have implications for the man in Co Cavan who gets his car fixed in Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh.

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Just not their own., Ireland; Luxembourg; The Netherlands; Malta.

EU’s Net Starts To Close On Tax Havens (G.)

When Europe’s finance ministers sit down to a working breakfast in Brussels on Tuesday, after deciding whether to order the continental or the full English, the British delegation will be faced with an even tougher decision. Chancellor Philip Hammond and his counterparts will be asked to approve a list of those countries, island states and former colonies which the European Union has deemed to be “non-cooperative jurisdictions”. Put more plainly, the EU will be announcing a blacklist of tax havens. Coming as it does less than a month after the publication of the Paradise Papers – an investigation by the Guardian and 95 partners worldwide into a leak of 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers – the announcement is hotly anticipated. Campaigners, lobbyists and politicians on both sides of the offshore debate are on tenterhooks.

For the kind of small island economies whose GDP depends on selling secrecy and tax breaks, a blacklisting could be devastating, particularly if Brussels follows up with a series of sanctions for doing business in these countries. Speculation about who will be placed on the EU’s naughty step has reached fever pitch. The latest draft, according to reports last week, contains 20 names, down from a possible 92 at the beginning of the year. That number could be further whittled down – the horse-trading is continuing up to the wire. So fierce is the debate that some believe publication might be postponed. “The finance ministers of the member states must not let political considerations cloud their judgment when agreeing their final list next week,” says the influential tax reform campaigner and German MEP Sven Giegold.

One of the big questions is how many, if any, members of the UK’s sprawling offshore network will be named. Any decision taken by ministers on Tuesday will have to be unanimous. Britain may be exiting Europe, but it retains its veto until 2019 and Theresa May’s government has been pulling every lever to protect its dependencies. Whitehall sources have confirmed that those Caribbean territories which suffered the most damage during this year’s devastating hurricanes will be given extra time to get their house in order. It has been reported that seven jurisdictions, not all of them British, have been given a temporary reprieve in order to recover from the damage. This is likely to mean the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks & Caicos Islands – all of which are UK territories that took a battering from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria – are safe for now.

[..] In a recent report, Blacklist or Whitewash?, Oxfam applied the criteria the EU is using to draw up the blacklist to 92 countries screened by the union and its 28 member states. The criteria exclude EU member states, but if they did not, Oxfam concluded that four countries should be blacklisted: Ireland; Luxembourg; The Netherlands; Malta. It also concluded that 35 non-EU states should be on the list: Albania; Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Bahrain; Bermuda; Bosnia and Herzegovina; British Virgin Islands; Cook Islands; Cayman Islands; Curaçao; Faroe Islands; Macedonia; Gibraltar; Greenland; Guam; Hong Kong; Jersey; Marshall Islands; Mauritius; Montenegro; Nauru; New Caledonia; Niue; Oman; Palau; Serbia; Singapore; Switzerland; Taiwan; Trinidad and Tobago; UAE; US Virgin Islands; Vanuatu.

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Drip drip drip bloodletting.

Greece, Creditors Strike Deal on the Conditions for Fresh Cash (BBG)

Greece and its international creditors agreed on a set of economic overhauls the country must undertake in exchange for fresh loans, paving the way for a payment that will help it build a cash buffer as it seeks to prepare for its bailout exit. The so-called staff level agreement came after a week of talks in Athens saw the two sides reach common ground on politically sensitive issues such as reforms in the energy sector, public administration, the financial system, social-cohesion programs and fiscal performance among others. “We reached the staff-level agreement” Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the last meeting with creditor’s representatives in Athens. Greece is going to implement as soon as possible all the measures needed in order to get fresh bailout money, he added.

After January’s Eurogroup, Tsakalotos expects that discussions will start for further debt relief, the fourth bailout review that is expected to conclude in May or June, and for exiting the crisis. The deal marks the completion of a key step in the negotiations between Athens and the auditors of its aid program – representing euro-area governments and the IMF – as the country is starting to prepare for its post-bailout life. A successful conclusion of the current review will not only entail the release of fresh loans but it will also help Greece regain the trust of investors, as it plans to tap financial markets again. The continent’s most indebted state was the first euro-area nation to seek a lifeline from its peers in 2010 and the only one still reliant on such concessional loans to stay afloat. Additional bond sales are a crucial step in the efforts to build up a post-program cash cushion and ensure it can stand on its own feet without external help. “Looking ahead, our baseline remains that Greece will achieve a clean exit from the bailout program when it ends next summer,” Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of Teneo Intelligence said in a note to clients.

“To this aim, Greece would need to build a buffer of around 12-15 billion euros ahead of its exit from the program.” Still, the Greek government will first have to implement a long list of around 100 overhauls before it can receive any fresh disbursements and formally conclude the ongoing audit of its bailout. Some measures will be voted in December while an omnibus bill to implement the remaining prior actions must be voted in parliament before Jan. 11. Once Greece has undertaken the agreed reforms, euro-area finance ministry deputies can examine whether Athens has fully complied with the conditions attached to its bailout at a meeting on Jan. 11 and green-light the disbursement of fresh loans, which could take place by mid-February, an EU official said on Dec. 1.

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Athens will end up bringing thousands to the mainland. And housing many in deplorable conditions.

Islanders To Descend On Athens Over Refugee Crisis (K.)

Protesters will converge outside the Immigration Policy Ministry on Tuesday to demand immediate relief for the eastern Aegean islands of Samos, Lesvos and Chios, where facilities for migrants and refugees are overflowing with thousands of stranded asylum seekers. The rally is being organized by the municipalities of the three islands and aims to publicize the plight of asylum seekers who have been trapped there for more than a year, testing local communities. “We have decided to protest and to demand again the immediate decongestion of our islands, so that the government reacts to the problem,” a joint statement by the municipalities read. To this end, Samos Mayor Michalis Angelopoulos is in contact with islander associations in Athens to get their support.

Currently the islands of the Aegean are home to a total of 15,486 refugees and migrants, of whom 6,520 are at Lesvos’s Moria hotspot, which was designed to hold 2,300 people. Similarly, on Samos there are 2,083 people sheltered at the center near Vathi which has a capacity of just 700, as does the Vial facility on Chios, which is currently sheltering 2,377 people. With winter arriving, hundreds of people – half of whom are children – at the Lesvos and Chios hotspots are still living in summer tents and exposed to the elements, without access to basic hygiene facilities.

Reports said that work to place prefabricated huts next to the Vial hotspot to help ease the crowded conditions at the center and to make improvements to existing facilities was put on hold on Friday by a local court, pending a January 16 trial which will examine a lawsuit filed by the Chios Municipality against the Immigration Policy Ministry over its decision to house migrants and refugees at that specific hotspot. Meanwhile, in a government bid to relieve some of the pressure on the islands, 500 people were transferred in the last two days alone from the islands to the Greek mainland. Nonetheless, 50 more people arrived on the islands’ shores from Turkey on Friday.

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Given what we see of refugee conditions globally, that Compact doesn’t seem to amount to much.

US Pulls Out of UN’s Global Compact on Migration (AFP)

The administration of President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from a United Nations pact to improve the handling of migrant and refugee situations, deeming it “inconsistent” with its policies, the US mission to the global body announced Saturday. “Today, the US Mission to the United Nations informed the UN Secretary-General that the United States is ending its participation in the Global Compact on Migration,” the Americans said in a statement. In September 2016, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

“The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration’s immigration principles. As a result, President Trump determined that the United States would end its participation in the Compact process that aims to reach international consensus at the UN in 2018,” the US statement said. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the country would continue its “generosity” in supporting migrants and refugees around the world, but that “our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone.” “We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with US sovereignty.”

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Great discussion. Many false assumptions. Farming was not exactly a health booster.

Why Did We Start Farming? (LRB)

Fire changed humans as well as the world. Eating cooked food transformed our bodies; we developed a much shorter digestive tract, meaning that more metabolic energy was available to grow our brains. At the same time, Homo sapiens became domesticated by its dependence on fire for warmth, protection and fuel. If this was the start of human progress towards ‘civilisation’, then – according to the conventional narrative – the next step was the invention of agriculture around ten thousand years ago. Farming, it is said, saved us from a dreary nomadic Stone Age hunter-gatherer existence by allowing us to settle down, build towns and develop the city-states that were the centres of early civilisations. People flocked to them for the security, leisure and economic opportunities gained from living within thick city walls.

The story continues with the collapse of the city-states and barbarian insurgency, plunging civilised worlds – ancient Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica – into their dark ages. Thus civilisations rise and fall. Or so we are told. The perfectly formed city-state is the ideal, deeply ingrained in the Western psyche, on which our notion of the nation-state is founded, ultimately inspiring Donald Trump’s notion of a ‘city’ wall to keep out the barbarian Mexican horde, and Brexiters’ desire to ‘take back control’ from insurgent European bureaucrats. But what if the conventional narrative is entirely wrong? What if ancient ruins testify to an aberration in the normal state of human affairs rather than a glorious and ancient past to whose achievements we should once again aspire?

What if the origin of farming wasn’t a moment of liberation but of entrapment? Scott offers an alternative to the conventional narrative that is altogether more fascinating, not least in the way it omits any self-congratulation about human achievement. His account of the deep past doesn’t purport to be definitive, but it is surely more accurate than the one we’re used to, and it implicitly exposes the flaws in contemporary political ideas that ultimately rest on a narrative of human progress and on the ideal of the city/nation-state.

[..] But why did it take so long – about four thousand years – for the city-states to appear? The reason is probably the disease, pestilence and economic fragility of those Neolithic villages. How did they survive and grow at all? Well, although farming would have significantly increased mortality rates in both infants and adults, sedentism would have increased fertility. Mobile hunter-gatherers were effectively limited by the demands of travel to having one child every four years. An increase in fertility that just about outpaced the increase in mortality would account for the slow, steady increase in population in the villages. By 3500 BCE the economic and demographic conditions were in place for a power-grab by would-be leaders.

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