Mar 302023
 March 30, 2023  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  88 Responses »

Roy Lichtenstein Woman With Flowered Hat 1963


Lies, Nuttery & Craziness Everywhere in America – James Howard Kunstler (USAW)
Musk, Wozniak Call For Pause In Developing ‘More Powerful’ AI Than GPT-4 (ZH)
The Government Is Fomenting Mass Hysteria (Whitehead)
Moscow Outlines Ukraine Peace Demands (RT)
Kremlin Only Sees Military Solution To Ukraine Conflict (RT)
West’s War Against Russia Is Bound To Last – Peskov (TASS)
Ukrainian Army ‘Almost Destroyed’ – Wagner Chief (RT)
Zelensky Explains Why He Won’t Withdraw From Bakhmut (RT)
Zelensky: “If They Stop Helping Us, We Will Not Win” (ZH)
Only 20% Of US Financial Aid For Ukraine Goes To Kiev, Lawmaker Says (TASS)
Kiev Discloses Its Military Spending (RT)
China Is Winning The Diplomatic Struggle Against The US (Fomenko)
Rosneft Announces Major Oil Deal In India (RT)
ASEAN Looking To Dump Dollar And Euro, Use Local Currencies (RT)
Why You Should Destroy Your Smart Phone Now (OffG)










Norm McDonald, 2016









Ron Johnson





Jim lays it out very well. Maybe because he’s an avid reader of the Automatic Earth.

Lies, Nuttery & Craziness Everywhere in America – James Howard Kunstler (USAW)

Renowned author and journalist James Howard Kunstler (JHK) has been complaining and pointing out that the American public is told one lie after another by the Lying Legacy Media (LLM), the government and the medical community. This kind of lying, according to JHK, is pure treason by all parties, from the 600 million CV19 bioweapon/vax injections, to the crumbling banking system, to the war in Ukraine. Let’s start with the genocide of the CV19vax. JHK says, “They are pretending that they didn’t cause any damage, and they are ignoring their own assembled statistics, and they don’t want to paint a realistic picture for the American public to see what the consequences were for their vaccination program. . . . I don’t think they can suppress the reality of it that much longer. There are just too many people who know too many people who have been injured or killed by the vaccines.

The basic problem is dishonesty puts you in a place of weakness, and the truth puts you in a position of strength. Eventually, if you are not being honest with yourself and the other people around you, you are going to be found out. . . . They have to keep doubling and tripling down on narratives that are manifestly untrue, and pretty soon I think people are going to be super pissed off about how all this went down.” With the banking crisis, JHK says the lie that everything is under control is going to be exposed too. JHK says, “When you are compelled to liquidate like Silicon Valley Bank, they are liquidating their assets below their supposed value and they become insolvent. I would imagine there is a great deal of damage waiting to express itself out there, and we haven’t seen much action in the derivatives racket so far, and that’s going to be a big deal when that happens because of the completely reckless contracts that are made. . . .

It’s really a bad bet, and the people taking the bet can’t pay off the bet, and the whole thing is really a disaster waiting to happen.” JHK says the so-called reset is going to happen, but not the way Klause Schwab wants it to happen. All will go extremely local, and JHK says, “Social discourse will make it all much worse.” The lies about Ukraine and the losing war started by NATO are summed up by JHK, “In retrospect, we could see why Donald Trump would want to have a phone call with Zelensky over the Biden family activities in Ukraine. . . . The whole Ukraine portfolio is just a big bag of crap. . . . Because of those activities, there is a war against the people, and that includes a war against Donald Trump. They are trying every way possible to shove him off the playing field. . . . I think it is safe to say the U.S. government is not your friend.”

In closing, JHK says, “This is an extremely socially and politically perverse period of history. . . .I grew up in the hippie period. . . .It was quite based compared to the baseless nuttery and lunacy that this country is involved in now. The fact that there has to be any debate about drag queen story hour for children is amazing. . . . That’s okay? Deliberately, demonstrable male imitation of a female. That’s supposed to be good for kids and not scare them? . . . There is a uniform craziness across the culture, and people are being asked to swallow increasingly absurd propositions. That’s where we are now. We are being asked to swallow absurd ideas one after another.”

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“Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth?”

My take is: instead of doing the exact same ourselves?

Musk, Wozniak Call For Pause In Developing ‘More Powerful’ AI Than GPT-4 (ZH)

Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio and others have signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause in developing new AI tools more powerful than GPT-4, the technology released earlier this month by Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI, the Wall Street Journal reports. “Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human-competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders. Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable.”

“We’ve reached the point where these systems are smart enough that they can be used in ways that are dangerous for society,” said Bengio, director of the University of Montreal’s Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, adding “And we don’t yet understand.” Their concerns were laid out in a letter titled “Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter,” which was spearheaded by the Future of Life Institute – a nonprofit advised by Musk. “The letter doesn’t call for all AI development to halt, but urges companies to temporarily stop training systems more powerful than GPT-4, the technology released this month by Microsoft Corp.-backed startup OpenAI. That includes the next generation of OpenAI’s technology, GPT-5. OpenAI officials say they haven’t started training GPT-5. In an interview, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said the company has long given priority to safety in development and spent more than six months doing safety tests on GPT-4 before its launch.” -WSJ

“In some sense, this is preaching to the choir,” said Altman. “We have, I think, been talking about these issues the loudest, with the most intensity, for the longest.” Goldman, meanwhile, says that up to 300 million jobs could be replaced with AI, as “two thirds of occupations could be partially automated by AI.” So-called generative AI creates original content based on human prompts – a technology which has already been implemented in Microsoft’s Bing search engine and other tools. Soon after, Google deployed a rival called Bard. Other companies, including Adobe, Salesforce and Zoom have all introduced advanced AI tools.

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24/7. Who needs AI?

The Government Is Fomenting Mass Hysteria (Whitehead)

We have become guinea pigs in a ruthlessly calculated, carefully orchestrated, chillingly cold-blooded experiment in how to control a population and advance a political agenda without much opposition from the citizenry. This is mind-control in its most sinister form. With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry. Take this latest shooting in Nashville, Tenn. The 28-year-old shooter (a clearly troubled transgender individual in possession of several military-style weapons) opened fire in a Christian elementary school, killing three children and three adults.

Already, fingers are being pointed and battle lines are being drawn. Those who want safety at all costs are clamoring for more gun control measures (if not at an outright ban on assault weapons for non-military, non-police personnel), widespread mental health screening of the general population, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more CCTV cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more “See Something, Say Something” programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do random bag searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more surveillance of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.

This is all part of the Deep State’s master plan. Ask yourselves: why are we being bombarded with crises, distractions, fake news and reality TV politics? We’re being conditioned like lab mice to subsist on a steady diet of bread-and-circus politics and an endless spate of crises. Caught up in this “crisis of the now,” the average person has a hard time keeping up with and remembering all of the “events,” manufactured or otherwise, which occur like clockwork in order to keep us distracted, deluded, amused, and insulated from reality. As investigative journalist Mike Adams points out: “This psychological bombardment is waged primarily via the mainstream media which assaults the viewer by the hour with images of violence, war, emotions and conflict. Because the human nervous system is hard wired to focus on immediate threats accompanied by depictions of violence, mainstream media viewers have their attention and mental resources funneled into the never-ending ‘crisis of the NOW’ from which they can never have the mental breathing room to apply logic, reason or historical context.”

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“Moscow will simply not tolerate “an openly anti-Russian state, whatever its borders..”

Moscow Outlines Ukraine Peace Demands (RT)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin has offered a ten-point list of things the government in Kiev needs to do in order for hostilities to cease. In an interview on Wednesday, Galuzin said the future of Ukraine itself will depend on how soon Kiev and its Western backers come to grips with reality. For Ukraine to bring about peace, its military forces must stand down and the West must halt all deliveries of weapons to Kiev, Galuzin told the outlet RTVI. Several other conditions he listed have been on the table since the hostilities escalated in February 2022, such as Ukraine’s demilitarization and “denazification,” a pledge to never join the EU or NATO, and the affirmation of Kiev’s non-nuclear status. Another was added in October 2022, and involves the recognition of “new territorial realities” – commonly understood to mean the decision of Kherson, Zaporozhye and the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk to join Russia.

Ensuring the protection of the Russian language and the rights of Russian-speaking citizens, as well as all other ethnic groups in Ukraine also made Galuzin’s list. Moreover, he said Ukraine needs to reopen the border with Russia and restore the legal framework of relations with Moscow and other ex-Soviet republics, which it renounced following the US-backed coup in 2014. For the first time, Moscow has demanded the lifting of all anti-Russian sanctions and the “withdrawal of claims and termination of prosecutions against Russia, its individuals and legal entities,” presumably including the recent International Criminal Court (ICC) warrants for President Vladimir Putin and the children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova. The last demand on Galuzin’s list was for the West to pay for the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure destroyed by Ukraine’s military since 2014.

Ukraine’s peaceful future depends on respecting the rights of its Russian population, restoring friendly relations with all neighbors, and returning to its founding principle of neutral and non-bloc status, enshrined in the 1990 declaration of independence, Galuzin said. “The future of the territories of present-day Ukraine should be determined by the inhabitants of this country themselves,” Galuzin told RTVI, noting that this includes “Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Hungarians, Moldovans, Bulgarians, Romanians, Poles, and Greeks.” Moscow will simply not tolerate “an openly anti-Russian state, whatever its borders,” as a neighbor, said Galuzin. “Neither Russia, nor any other state, would accept this from the standpoint of security.” The “peace platform” adopted by the government in Kiev includes Russia’s total withdrawal from all territories Ukraine claims as its own, payment of reparations, and war crimes tribunals for the military and political leadership in Moscow.

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“These are politico-diplomatic or – if politico-diplomatic are currently impossible, and in the case of Ukraine, they are impossible, to our regret – through military means..”

Kremlin Only Sees Military Solution To Ukraine Conflict (RT)

There’s no political or diplomatic solution for the ongoing conflict with Ukraine at the moment, with Moscow seeking to resolve it through military means, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. Speaking to Russian journalists on Wednesday, Peskov reiterated Moscow’s resolve to reach its goals, which were outlined by President Vladimir Putin at the start of the military operation over a year ago. “We have repeatedly said that Russia’s goals … can be achieved in various ways. These are politico-diplomatic or – if politico-diplomatic are currently impossible, and in the case of Ukraine, they are impossible, to our regret – through military means, that is, through the special military operation,” Peskov stated. The spokesman did not provide any estimates on when exactly the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev might end, re-addressing the question to the country’s Defense Ministry.

At the same time, he said the broader conflict – a “hybrid war” between Russia and its adversaries – is likely to drag on for a long time. “This confrontation with hostile states, with the unfriendly countries, this is a hybrid war that they unleashed onto our country, it’ll be there for a long time,” Peskov said. Separately, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin confirmed that the goals of Moscow in the Ukraine operation are unchanged, and reaching them is the only way to achieve a “comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in Ukraine and Europe.” They include a neutral, non-aligned status of Ukraine, Kiev dropping its plans to join NATO and the EU, confirmation of its non-nuclear status, as well as the demilitarization and denazification of the country, he explained in an interview on RTVI on Wednesday.

Apart from that, Kiev and the international community must recognize the new “territorial reality” on the ground, Galuzin stressed, apparently referring to the incorporation of the four former Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, as well as of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics into Russia following referendums held last September. Moscow has repeatedly expressed its readiness for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing hostilities, blaming the lack of any diplomatic efforts on Kiev and its Western backers, who are seeking to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia. “Washington, European capitals, but first of all, Washington is filled with the desire not to let, under any pretext, [Kiev] enter into peace negotiations. They simply do not let Kiev even think about it,” Peskov said earlier this month.

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“..a hybrid war that they have unleashed against our country – it is bound to last..”

West’s War Against Russia Is Bound To Last – Peskov (TASS)

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that Russia’s struggle with the West is a war in the broad sense and warned that it is bound to last. “If you mean, let’s say, war in a broad context – a confrontation with hostile states, with unfriendly countries, a hybrid war that they have unleashed against our country – it is bound to last. We need to stay firm, confident, self-concentrated and united around the president,” he told a news briefing on Wednesday in response to a question about how long the special military operation might take and if there was any chance it might end this year. As for progress in combat operations, Peskov said, only the authorities concerned, such as the Defense Ministry, were in a position to comment.

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“The Russian army alone will be left on the chessboard, and all other pieces will be removed..”

Ukrainian Army ‘Almost Destroyed’ – Wagner Chief (RT)

The head of the Wagner Group private military company (PMC) Evgeny Prigozhin has described Ukraine’s losses in the battle for the city of Artryomovsk as almost fatal to Kiev’s entire military. The sacrifices made by his force for the sake of Russia were worth it, he added. “As of today, the battle for Bakhmut has almost destroyed the Ukrainian army,” Prigozhin said in a statement on Wednesday, using the name by which Kiev calls the city. The clash also “gave a serious beating to PMC Wagner,” he acknowledged. He called the battle the “general engagement” of the entire conflict and said that in it Wagner troops got pitted against Ukrainian armed forces and “foreign units installed into them.”

A victory by his troops would be “a turning point” and a historic event, securing a Russian victory, Prigozhin predicted. “The Russian army alone will be left on the chessboard, and all other pieces will be removed,” he forecast. “Even if PMC Wagner is destroyed in the Bakhmut meat grinder but takes the Ukrainian army with it … it would mean that we have accomplished our historic mission.” The fight for Artyomovsk has emerged as one of the most intensive and bloody engagements of the armed conflict in Ukraine, with both sides reportedly suffering significant casualties.

Western officials said that the city poses no strategic military value, but Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky pledged to defend it as long as possible after proclaiming the city a fortress. The Ukrainian leader explained his refusal to withdraw in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week. He claimed that if Russia were to capture Artyomovsk, his government would come under international and domestic pressure to seek peace with Moscow. “Our society will feel tired,” he told the news agency of this scenario. “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.”

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“Our society will feel tired [if the Russians gain victory in Bakhmut]” “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.”

Zelensky Explains Why He Won’t Withdraw From Bakhmut (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said that if his troops were to surrender the city of Artyomovsk, known as Bakhmut in Ukraine, his government would come under domestic and international pressure to seek peace with Russia. “Our society will feel tired,” he told the Associated Press (AP) in an interview released on Wednesday. “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.” Western officials have described Artyomovsk, the scene of fierce fighting for several months, as lacking in military importance. Behind closed doors, they – along with Zelensky’s own military leadership – have reportedly urged the president to order a withdrawal, so that his forces can focus on preparing a counteroffensive with heavy weapons provided by the US and its allies.

Speaking to AP mostly in English, during what the agency described as a “morale-building journey” by train across Ukraine, Zelensky suggested that Russia would be emboldened if it were to capture Artyomovsk. Russian President Vladimir Putin would “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” he predicted. “If he will feel some blood – smell that we are weak – he will push, push, push.” “We can’t lose the steps because the war is a pie – pieces of victories. Small victories, small steps,” Zelensky added. The battle for Artyomovsk, a key logistics hub, has been one of the fiercest and bloodiest in the Ukraine conflict so far. According to media reports, Kiev has lost some of its most experienced troops while holding the city. It has also allegedly been pouring in newly conscripted, untrained soldiers, to shore up the defensive line, leading to significant casualties.

In the interview, Zelensky also complained about his lack of contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Moscow last week. The Ukrainian leader claimed that as president he chose to “unite” the country rather than divide it. Zelensky was elected in 2019 on a promise to end ongoing hostilities in Donbass and reintegrate the then-breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics into a federalized Ukrainian state. However, while in office, he maintained the policy of his predecessor Pyotr Poroshenko by stonewalling the so-called Minsk Agreements. Poroshenko later admitted the accords were used by Kiev to buy time to rebuild its military.

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“The loss of Bakhmut would mean a political defeat, could lead to a general defeat in conflict.”

Zelensky: “If They Stop Helping Us, We Will Not Win” (ZH)

President Volodymyr Zelensky is deeply concerned over ‘Ukraine fatigue’ taking over the West, and especially among the populace of his government’s biggest supporter, funder, and weapons supplier – the United States. “The United States really understands that if they stop helping us, we will not win,” he told the AP in a fresh interview published Wednesday. Waning support has been especially noticeable among Republican voters, according to recent polls, and as we recently reviewed in an article, “The Trump, DeSantis, Tucker Effect: New Polls Show Republicans Increasingly Done With Ukraine.” He issued the words specifically in reference to the still raging battle for the strategic city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. Russian forces have it nearly surrounded, even as Kiev has continued to throw additional manpower and weaponry into the city’s defense at a huge cost and amid mounting casualties.

Zelensky described that the capture of Bakhmut will mean that Putin will smell weakness. According to the Ukrainian leader’s words: Speaking with The Associated Press, Zelenskyy said that if Bakhmut were to fall, Putin could “sell this victory to the West, to his society, to China, to Iran,” as leverage to push for a ceasefire deal that would see Ukraine agree to give up territory. “If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push,” Zelensky continued.

“Our society will feel tired” if the Russians gain victory in Bakhmut, he said. “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.” Implicit in these words are perhaps a first-time admission that significant sectors of the Ukrainian population are ready for compromise and peaceful negotiations to end the war. And tellingly, CBS commentary on the AP interview included the following observation: “He appeared acutely aware of the risk that his country could see its vital support from the U.S. and Europe start to slip away as the 13-month war grinds on.” Zelensky: “The loss of Bakhmut would mean a political defeat, could lead to a general defeat in conflict.”

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“..with about 60% of this money being received by the US side itself..”

Only 20% Of US Financial Aid For Ukraine Goes To Kiev, Lawmaker Says (TASS)

Washington hands over only about 20% of financial aid allocated for Ukraine directly to Kiev, with about 60% of this money being received by the US side itself, head of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Michael McCaul said during Committee hearing Wednesday. “Of the $113 billion appropriated across four supplementals, approximately 60% is going to American troops, American workers and modernizing American stockpiles. In fact, only 20% of the funding is going directly to the Ukrainian government in the form of direct budgetary assistance,” the lawmaker said. He pointed out that, when the Republicans gained majority in the House after mid-term elections in November last year, they made it clear that accountability would have key importance for continued aid to Ukraine. The current House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned last fall that the Republicans would not allow allocation of unlimited and not thoroughly justified aid to Ukraine.

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“Only 20% Of US Financial Aid For Ukraine Goes To Kiev”, and they still spend $3.5 billion a month on their military?!

Kiev Discloses Its Military Spending (RT)

Ukraine spends 130 billion hryvnia ($3.5 billion) a month on its military, Finance Minister Sergey Marchenko has revealed. The minister, who was meeting with the country’s European Business Association (EBA) on Wednesday, also disclosed that Ukraine’s budget receives 80 billion hryvnias in revenue (almost $2.2 billion) monthly. “The key task is to create conditions for financing the military,” Marchenko reportedly said while disclosing the numbers, according to EBA’s press service. He stressed it’s important to collect the anticipated taxes this year, adding that no major tax changes have been planned. Last week, the Ukrainian Parliament, the Verkhovnaya Rada, adopted a law on increasing budget spending on defense by more than $14.6 billion.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denis Shmygal had previously specified that the Cabinet of Ministers proposed to allocate additional funds for payments to the military, as well as the purchase of military and special equipment. According to him, the money will be allocated through the support of Western partners. While approving the 2023 draft budget last November, the parliament set aside more than a trillion hryvnias ($31 billion) to the armed forces and national security, which is 43% of all spending, or 18.2% of the country’s GDP. Ukraine’s budget deficit this year is expected to be a record $38 billion. The government plans to cover the deficit using Western foreign aid.

Last month, the US announced $12 billion in additional aid for Kiev, including a $2-billion arms package and $10 billion more to support energy costs and the Ukrainian government’s budget. According to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Washington has provided nearly $50 billion in support since last year, much of it devoted to weapons. Meanwhile, the European Union in February approved another €545 million ($590 million) in military aid to Ukraine, bringing its total support for Kiev’s forces to €3.6 billion ($3.8 billion). Since the beginning of war, the EU and its member states have reportedly provided €50 billion ($54 billion) in direct support to Ukraine.

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“..a potential consequence of China’s strategic partnership with Russia, down the line, could be the weakening of American influence over the EU, which Washington is trying to strengthen by fanning the flames of the Ukraine war..”

China Is Winning The Diplomatic Struggle Against The US (Fomenko)

The past few weeks have seen a comprehensive show of diplomatic force by China. Shortly after Xi Jinping completed a successful trip to Moscow, where he met with Vladimir Putin, Beijing announced it had brokered a deal to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The breakthrough was widely regarded as a blow to US influence in the Middle East. Then China persuaded Honduras to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing, and now high-ranking Western politicians and EU officials, including French president Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and the Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sanchez, are piling in to visit Beijing.

When viewed as a whole, the last several weeks have seen China enjoy massive diplomatic gains at the expense of the US, pouring freezing water on Washington’s attempts to isolate Beijing ‘Cold War-style’ on the global stage and on a relentless propaganda campaign steeped in negativity and fear-mongering. But in spite of it all, the reality continues to shine through that China is simply too big and too globally significant to isolate, illustrating that Biden’s strategy of creating overlapping multilateral alliances in a bid to contain Beijing, isn’t going to work. China has demonstrated that it is a superpower with the ability to steer global affairs in its own direction, a privilege which the US believed was its own exclusive entitlement. Beijing’s peace proposal for Ukraine and the Saudi-Iran normalisation deal caused a shock to the system in Washington.

Xi’s visit to Moscow in particular has brought a new balance to the dynamic around the Ukraine conflict and jeopardized hubris-led US miscalculations that it can escalate the conflict to the point of forcing a zero-sum outcome in favour of its own strategic objectives. As noted above, European leaders have responded to Xi’s visit, not by turning against China as was hoped, but by intensifying their diplomatic engagement with Beijing and scrambling to remain on board. But what is China’s response going to be? It is reasonable to expect an element of “Then stop siding with the United States against us”. Thus, a potential consequence of China’s strategic partnership with Russia, down the line, could be the weakening of American influence over the EU, which Washington is trying to strengthen by fanning the flames of the Ukraine war. Beijing is thus bringing some much-needed balance to the equation.

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“..oil purchases by New Delhi surged more than 20-fold last year..”

Rosneft Announces Major Oil Deal In India (RT)

Moscow and New Delhi have agreed to “substantially increase” the supply of crude oil to India and diversify its grades, Russian energy major Rosneft announced on Wednesday. A deal was reached with the Indian Oil Company during a trip by Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin to the Asian country, the Russian firm said in a press release on its website. Sechin also met with the heads of some of India’s largest oil and gas companies and discussed wider cooperation in the energy sector, the press release states. Possible trade settlements in national currencies were also on the agenda. Russia has for the first time become one of India’s top five trading partners, with turnover reaching $38.4 billion in 2022, according to statistics from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, as cited by Rosneft.

Energy accounts for a major portion of bilateral trade. According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Novak, oil purchases by New Delhi surged more than 20-fold last year. India, the world’s third-largest crude importer, began to boost purchases of Russian oil shortly after the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine and the ensuing Western sanctions. New Delhi, which has repeatedly stressed that energy security is its top priority, chose not to succumb to Western pressure and continued to stock up on Russian supplies even after the G7 price cap on Russian oil came into force late last year.

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Local currencies are the future. Backed by gold?!

ASEAN Looking To Dump Dollar And Euro, Use Local Currencies (RT)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is set to discuss dropping the US dollar, euro, yen and pound sterling from transactions and moving to settlements in local currencies, according to the news magazine Tempo. An official meeting of ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors kicked off on Tuesday in Indonesia. A regional grouping that aims to promote economic and security cooperation among its members, ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. “Efforts to reduce dependence on major currencies through the Local Currency Transaction (LCT) scheme will be discussed. This is an extension of the previous Local Currency Settlement (LCS) scheme that has already begun to be implemented between ASEAN members,” said the report.

Tempo specified that a digital cross-border payments system, allowing ASEAN member states to use local currencies in trade, would be expanded further. An agreement on such cooperation was reached between Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand in November 2022. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has urged regional authorities to abandon Visa and Mastercard payment systems and start using credit cards issued by local banks. Moving away from Western payment systems is necessary to protect transactions from “possible geopolitical repercussions,” Widodo said. Board member of the Indonesian Credit Cards Association (AKKI), Dodit Proboyakti, told RIA Novosti that Indonesia would apply the experience of Russia and its Mir payment system in promoting its own domestic financial network.

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“..within the next few years, smartphones will become the digital wallet through which the Bank of England will have complete control over how much, on what and where we spend its Central Bank Digital Currency.”

Why You Should Destroy Your Smart Phone Now (OffG)

In the imminent future, smartphones are the instrument onto which, in the guise of the digital verification of our identity — the Government’s ‘consultation’ on which closed this month — the compliant will upload their biometric data (fingerprints, photograph and DNA swab) to a centralised database to which the 32 public authorities presiding over the UK biosecurity state will have access.=

Under the Digital Economy Act 2017, these public authorities include the Cabinet Office; the Home Office; the Department for Defence; HM Treasury; the Ministry of Justice; the Department for Education; the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; the Department for Work and Pensions; the Department for Communities and Local Government; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; the Department for Transport; the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs; Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs; all county, district and London councils; the Greater London Authority; the Council of the City of London; all fire and rescue authorities; all police authorities; all education authorities; all gas and electricity authorities; HM Land Registry; and, under Section 35, any other public authority, or private agent providing a service for a public authority, designated for a specific purpose justifying access to that data.

Smartphones are the instrument that will monitor whether their owners are up-to-date with what the UK biosecurity state decides is fully ‘vaccinated’ with whatever our Government and its partners in the pharmaceutical industry decide we must inject into our bodies as a condition of access to the rights of citizenship. Smartphones are the instrument that will monitor and record how many times we leave or enter our 15-minute grazing range currently being implemented by our public authorities to restrict and limit our freedom of movement on the justification of ‘saving the planet’.

Smart phones are the instrument that will track our carbon footprint in order to monitor and control the quantity of meat, dairy products, energy, oil, petrol and other products to which the UK biosecurity state — under the terms of the agreements of Agenda 2030 signed by the UK Government in 2015 — will progressively cut off our access between now and 2030. Smartphones are the means by which our compliance with lockdowns, masking mandates and programmes of gene therapy dictated by the World Health Organization’s Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response Treaty and enforced by the UK biosecurity state will be monitored, recorded and enforced by, among other recourses, cutting off our access to the electronic and digital grid. And, within the next few years, smartphones will become the digital wallet through which the Bank of England will have complete control over how much, on what and where we spend its Central Bank Digital Currency.

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Mar 082021





I can’t NOT do something with a piece my long time friend Jim Kunstler wrote recently, see below, since he so completely encapsulates the ghost of our time. I can’t, because this goes to my heart. It started out a year ago with people wanting to tear down statues, and now we have progressed to world literature, and even Looney Tunes. Jim turns to Winnie the Pooh because he’s sort of the ultimate anti-bad guy.

I mailed Jim to give him my compliments for the piece, and tell him of Automatic Earth commenter V. Arnold’s “That Kunstler piece is just…just…just…just incredibly excellent… I never in my life read such an excellent piece of literature…aimed at todays world… Kunstler rules…Thanks Ilargi…”, and he replied: “Raul – Why thank you for that lavish compliment. I felt a little insecure about the Winnie burlesque. Very reassuring to hear that it was appreciated.”

What I said about the statues “cancelling” when it happened was that it would be endless, and therefore useless. But literature is way worse. Literature, books, made me who I am, just like watching Rembrandt and van Gogh, and listening to Mozart and Bach, and yes, people may have had different views 400 or 2,000 years ago, but this is our history, this is where we come from, this is who we are. And trying to deny who we are won’t make us any less so.

I’m not particularly in favor of erecting statues of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao, but trying to erase the worst of mankind from our memories won’t make them go away. A slaveholder will still always be the first president of the United States, and its capital will also still be named after him. And this is repeated in a million places and names around the world, and perhaps we should leave all those things and aim to do better today, instead of cancelling and erasing yesterday, because that may well increase the risk that such acts will rise again, and we’ll have nothing left to remind us.


But I care more about literature than I do about statues of US civil war generals. Though at the same time I do wonder what it would take to lead some people to start questioning Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci, or Rodin, and then we would be back at square one anyway, this thing is truly endless. And there’s always something that people in the past have said or thought or done that someone in 2021 can find fault with. And that may leave them to find fault in 2021, when black and brown girls and boys are still bombed into oblivion.

In essence, it’s simply a question of nobodies trying to cancel the work of geniuses, until we’re all nobodies. Art is the ultimate expression of what the human mind is capable of, other than love and compassion. What we’ve recently seen “attempting to be cancelled” are fantastic works like To Kill a Mockingbird, Odyssey, Dr. Seuss, and you wonder when they’ll get around to Shakespeare and the Bible. They will.

And yesterday we see the cancel culture targeting Pepé Le Pew. Good golly, Batman, once you start going through the Looney Tunes catalogue, it’s hard to see how any of it would survive. And how about Disney? Meanwhile, today’s kids are playing “Grand Theft Auto” and “Call of Duty”. How lost are we? Do I want my MTV, or do I want my Dostojevsky? Well, I want it all. And the classics, and the Bard.

And I don’t want you to cancel culture any of it away from me. Because it’s what made me who I am. And I know what’s good about it, and what’s not. I can think, and I don’t need or want you to think for me. This is so important to me that I find it hard to find both the rationale and the emotion to express it. Cut it out. As I said the other day, there’s no difference between book banning and book burning.


From his site,, here’s Jim Kunstler’s ultimate, brilliant take on it:





The Trial of Winnie the Pooh



A solemn silence turned collective gasp in the District of Columbia Woke Circuit courtroom as two bailiffs entered the door beside the jury box with the small cream-colored bear suspended between them, his stumpy hind legs wheeling fruitlessly to seek purchase in the unavailing air. The Queen of Hearts, presiding, banged her gavel as the little bear was seated at the table for the defense beside another rather small, darkish, furtive figure.

The Queen of Hearts peered over her half-glasses at the defendant and snarled, “State your full name and residence.”

“Winnie-the-Pooh,” the defendant said. “From the Hundred Acre Wood.”

“What is your personal pronoun?”

The bear looked perplexed. “Oh, bother,” he said. “Nobody I know has such a thing?”

“Of course they do,” the Queen said.

“Perhaps it’s ‘the’,” the bear said.

“That is a definite article, not a pronoun!” the Queen barked. “Are you an imbecile?”


“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s ‘dear’”—

“That’s enough out of you!” the Queen said. “And let’s have no more impertinence! Do you have counsel?”

“Why, yes,” the bear said. “Mr. Kafka, who is seated beside me.”

“You are mistaken,” the Queen said. “That is a cockroach seated beside you, and the court is displeased to see it. Bailiff, please remove that disgusting cockroach from my court.”

Mr. Kafka, gesticulating in protest with all six arms and legs, had to be dragged out.

“First witness!” the Queen screeched. “Counsel for the prosecution….”

“Calling Uncle Remus,” said the prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, famous for his exploits in the Enron case and with The Mueller Team in the old Russia collusion days.

An elderly gentleman-of-color with white beard and a kindly face limped forward and took the witness stand.

“Do you know this bear?” Weissmann asked.

“I knows a Brer B’ar,” Uncle Remus said. “But he a black b’ar. Dishyere one a white b’ar.”

“Exactly!” Weissmann said. “Dismissed.”

“Dat all?” Uncle Remus asked.

“It’s plenty,” Weissmann retorted and smirked at the jury, composed of members from the United Federation of Teachers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Antifa, who all nodded amongst themselves.

“A white bear!” Weissmann repeated for emphasis, shaking his head. “And not a polar bear, either. A white bear. From England. Think about it…!”

The jurors emitted growls of opprobrium.

“Next witness,” the Queen cried.

“Calling N-Word Jim,” Weissmann said.

A strapping middle-aged gentleman-of-color, dressed in ragged clothes, strode to the witness chair.

“You reside in libraries all over the world, is that correct?” the attorney asked.

“Yassuh, dat is so. But I’se originally fum Hannibal, Missouri.”

“Are you acquainted with the defendant?”

“I done seen him on many a shelf ‘round de worl’.”

“How much shelf space does he occupy compared to you?”

“Well, fur as I knows, ‘bout double.”

“Does that seem fair to you?”

“Way I sees it, he in mebbe twice as minny books as me and Huck.”

“Huck! Who is this Huck?”

“White boy I done made a journey down de ribber wif one time.”

“What is your experience with white folks, Jim?”

“Well, dey runs mos’ everything, I ‘spect. Leas’ as fur as I kin see.”

“Exactly!” Weissmann argued. “Is it not white privilege to — as you say — run everything?” he added, shaking his head gravely. “Hegemonizing and colonizing literature everywhere you look.”

“Say, what…?” the witness rejoined and pulled his chin.

“You can go back to your raft, Jim,” Weissmann said. “Dismissed. Calling Mr. Christopher Robin.”

A very old man, bent and trembling, shuffled forward to the stand, leaning on his brass-headed cane.

“You’ve been acquainted with the defendant for how many years?”

“Oh, yes, many, since…let’s see… uh, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, I’d say.”

“In all those years, did he ever… touch you?”

“We held hands. And hugged frequently.”

“I see,” Weissmann sneered. “And this ‘touching’ started when you were, what? About five years old?”

“I suppose. Yes. It was a very long time ago.”

“Do you recall an incident involving the defendant, a person named Piglet, and a broken balloon?”

“Yes… yes, I do!”

“That was not really a balloon, was it, Mr. Robin?”

“At the time, I thought…”

“You thought!” Weissmann barked. “We all think, don’t we? Sometimes maybe a little too much! I’ll tell you what I think: I think the jury can see exactly what was going on between you and the defendant, this very privileged bear. And if they think the way I do — that is, as a normal person with healthy morals — they’ll think that this was depraved behavior on the part of this bear, routinely abusing a five-year-old boy, year after year after year!”

The jury members all nodded avidly and buzzed between themselves.

Christopher Robin looked up at the bench.

“Balloon, indeed!” the Queen snorted, wagging her finger at both the bear and Christopher Robin. “I think we’ve heard enough.”

“No! I have one other witness,” Weissmann said. “Calling Peter Pan….”

A figure wearing a leaf-green tunic and tights, and a feathered cap, flew across the room and landed in the witness seat.

“You’ve had occasion to work at the Disney Studios with the defendant, have you not?”

“I would see him around the lot on lunch breaks,” Pan said. “But we weren’t on the same pictures — except one time for a TV Christmas special where we all did cameos.”

“And what was your impression of this bear?”

“He made a crack about not believing in fairies. I didn’t know if he was kidding or not.”

“Were you hurt by that remark?”

“Not personally, but I saw what it did to my sidekick, Tinkerbelle. Her light almost went out.”

“Your honor, ladies, gentlemen, and non-binaries of the jury, We have definitely heard enough.”

“The defense rests!” the Queen of Hearts screeched. “Mr. Pooh, you have led a life of disgusting racism, colonialism, hate-ism, white supremacy, and depravity. I am directing the jury to find you guilty as charged and sentence you to be cancelled.” She pounded the bench with her gavel.

“Oh, bother,” Winnie the Pooh said, still perplexed and bewildered.

“Take him out, burn all those wicked books of his, and put him on top of the fire.”

“Lawks a’mercy,” Uncle Remus cried from the back of the room.

“See you up in sweet Beulah-land, Pooh, honey,” N-Word Jim said.

“Next case!” the Red Queen yelled above the commotion. “The people versus Robin Hood and his so-called Merry Men.”

Roll credits.

Fade to black….




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Oct 312019
 October 31, 2019  Posted by at 8:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »

Paul Gauguin Van Gogh painting sunflowers 1888


Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Revealed (GP)
Adam Schiff Coached Vindman Throughout Impeachment Testimony – Nunes (ZH)
Tulsi Gabbard Unleashes On Erdogan: “Radical Islamist Megalomaniac” (ZH)
We May Not Have A 2020 Election – Kunstler (USAW)
The Fumes of Fanaticism (Kunstler)
Boeing Employee Raised Concern Over Max Sensor Three Years Before Crashes (G.)
Over 50 Boeing 737NG Grounded Globally With Wing-Related Cracks (RT)
Union Calls On Qantas To Ground Entire 737 Fleet For Investigation (G.)
The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers (Pepe Escobar)
Russia-India Counter-Terrorism Group Vows ‘Credible Action’ (RT)
Famed Pathologist Michael Baden Says Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Was Homicide



Yeah, I know what I said: no more Debt Rattles. But then yesterday I found myself looking at the Epstein story, the whistleblower revealed, and some Boeing stuff, Jim Kunstler etc., and I was thinking: I should at least keep those for reference. So I injected them into the Debt Rattle format, and that sort of gelled. And so I decided I can perhaps do this, but I did give myself a deadline: it can not cost more than two hours in the morning. Which means some of these Things will be short, and some days there may not be one.

Oh, and we still need financial support, badly. People have been mighty generous this week, but we would need 52 such weeks in the year.



OK, now we know. What is the next step?

Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Revealed (GP)

The anti-Trump whistleblower behind the Ukraine witch hunt was revealed on Wednesday night. According to investigative reporter Paul Sperry, one person’s name keeps coming up in the impeachment hearings that fits the description of the whistleblower — Eric Ciaramella. We have reported on Ciaramella previously at The Gateway Pundit. 33-year-old Ciaramella is a registered Democrat, worked for Obama, worked for Biden, worked for CIA Director John Brennan, he’s a vocal critic of Trump and he helped initiate the ‘Russia collusion’ hoax investigation! Ciaramella’s identity was an open secret in the DC swamp, says Paul Sperry.

Mr. Ciaramella is a CIA officer who specializes in Russia and Ukraine who was detailed to work in the National Security Council under Susan Rice in 2015. He was then moved into the West Wing in 2017 to ‘fill a vacancy’ where he was able to ‘see and read everything.’ The Gateway Pundit and others had already identified Ciaramella as Schiff’s CIA whistleblower. But we were not the first to point out that this dangerous Obama operative was working in the Trump White House and was given access to top secret information. Mike Cernovich warned the Trump administration about Eric Ciaramella back in June 2017.

Read more …

Vindman is yet another ‘witness’ whose import is heavily promoted.

Adam Schiff Coached Vindman Throughout Impeachment Testimony – Nunes (ZH)

Rep. Devin Nunes claims that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was coaching Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC), as he told House committees that he “did not think it was proper” for President Trump to ask Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate former VP Joe Biden during a July 25 phone call. “I have never in my life seen anything like what happened today, during the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman,” Nunes told Fox News’ “Hannity.”

“It was unprecedented,” Nunes continued. “I mean, they’ve been bad at most of these depositions, but to interrupt us continually to coach the witness, to decide… what we’re going to be able to ask the witness.” “And, to see someone coach a witness, this isn’t the first time that Schiff — Schiff is very good at coaching witnesses.”

Read more …

I see more and more people suggesting Tulsi is really a Republican. Ostensibly because you cannot be a Democrat and not agree with Hillary and her DNC. Expect ugliness.

Tulsi Gabbard Unleashes On Erdogan: “Radical Islamist Megalomaniac” (ZH)

A day after the US House of Representatives in a historic vote overwhelmingly passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide, resulting in an immediate fierce rebuke from Ankara, Democratic Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard issued a video statement slamming Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as “a radical Islamist megalomaniac” who for years supported ISIS. Erdogan has been “slaughtering the Syrian Kurds and he’s using terrorists from ISIS and al-Qaeda as his militia,” she explained, and has “been helping ISIS/AQ for years,” according to the social media video message.

She also reiterated her consistent position that the Islamic State was born of the externally funded and weaponized push to overthrow the Assad government. “He has denied this but is now openly using militias of ‘former’ ISIS/AQ terrorists, exposing him for what he really is: a radical Islamist megalomaniac who wants to establish a caliphate with himself as the Caliph — the supreme ruler.” The Democratic presidential candidate said Turkey is now doing this “openly” and “brazenly” but also reminded her audience that she’s been warning about this for years.

[..] Concerning the Saudis, she joined relatives of Sept. 11 victims on Tuesday to demand the US government release its full findings on the role that Saudi state operatives played in the 9/11 attacks. “We are 18 years removed from this terrible crime, and the victims of this crime, the families who are here today, the American people deserve all of the evidence to fully come to light,” the Hawaii congresswoman said.

Read more …

Jim Kunstler is one of very few people who agree with me that Trump is not the biggest factor, his antagonists are, in intelligence, in the Democratic party, and perhaps most of all in the media. The MSM have taken it upon themselves to control what you think. And if you get your news mostly from CNN or the NYT or WaPo, what defenses do you have?

We May Not Have A 2020 Election – Kunstler (USAW)

“What I am waiting for is if and when indictments come down from Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham. I am wondering whether the editors and publishers of the Washington Post and New York Times and the producers at CNN and MSNBC are going to be named as unindicted co-conspirators in this effort to gaslight the country and really stage a coup to remove the President and to nullify the 2016 election. I say this as someone who is not necessarily a Trump supporter. I didn’t vote for the guy. I am not a cheerleader for the guy, but basically, I think the behavior of his antagonists has been much worse and much more dangerous for the nation and the American project as a long term matter.

I really need to see some action to hold people responsible for the acts they have committed. . . . I am not an attorney, and I have never worked for the Department of Justice, but it seems to me that by naming the publishers and editors of these companies as unindicted co-conspirators, that allows you to avoid the appearance of trying to shut down the press because you are not going to put them in jail, but you are going to put them in disrepute. That may prompt their boards of directors to fire a few people and maybe change the way they do business at these places.”

“When all is said and done, I am not convinced there is enough there to convict President Trump of anything. At the same time, there is probably going to be a lot of legal actions brought against the people who started this coup against him, and that’s going to be extremely disturbing to the Left. I think one of the possibilities is we may not have a 2020 election. In some way or another, the country may be so disorderly that we can’t hold an election. There may be so much strife that we cannot handle the legal questions around holding the election, and it may be suspended. I don’t know what that means, but I am very impressed of the disorder that we are already in. It’s more of a kind of mental disorder between the parties, but it could turn into a lot of kinetic disorder on the ground and a lot of institutional failure.”

Read more …

And some more of that.

The Fumes of Fanaticism (Kunstler)

Judging by the volume of intemperate emails and angry social media blasts that come my way, the party of impeachment seems to be inhaling way too much gas from the smoking guns it keeps finding in the various star chambers of its inquisition against you-know-who. You’d think that the failure of Mr. Mueller’s extravaganza might have chastened them just a little — a $32 million-dollar effort starring the most vicious partisan lawyers inside-the-Beltway, 2,800 subpoenas issued over two years, 500 search warrants exercised, and finally nothing whatever to pin on Mr. Trump — except the contra-legal assertion that now he must prove his innocence.

When you state just that, these frothing hysterics reply that many background figures — if not the Golden Golem of Greatness himself — were indicted and convicted of crimes by Mr. Mueller’s crew. Oh yes! The Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency was indicted for spending $400,000 on Facebook ads (and never extradited or tried in a court-of-law). Pretty impressive victory there! The hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails by “Russia”? Still just alleged, never proven, with plenty of shady business around the search for evidence. Paul Manafort, on tax evasion of money earned in Ukraine, 2014? We’ll see about that as the whole filthy business of the 2014 Ukraine regime change op under Mr. Obama gets reviewed in the months ahead.

George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI? Stand by on that one, too; still a developing story. General Michael Flynn, for ditto? You may have noticed that General Flynn’s case is shaping up to be the biggest instance of prosecutorial misconduct since the Dreyfus affair (France, 1894-1906, which badly-educated Americans most certainly know nothing about). To set the record straight I’m forced to repeat something that these New Age Jacobins seem unable to process: you don’t have to be a Trump cheerleader to be revolted by the behavior of his antagonists, which is a stunning spectacle of bad faith, dishonesty, incompetence, and malice — and is surely way more toxic to the American project than anything the president has done.

Read more …

Haven’t really seen much of day 2, but it looks like more posing by Capitol Hill. If one person, dies, you get a crminal investigation. And when 346 die, you get a hearing in the House?!

Boeing Employee Raised Concern Over Max Sensor Three Years Before Crashes (G.)

In a second day of congressional hearings into Boeing’s handling of its ill-fated 737 Max plane, lawmakers were shown internal records revealing that three years before two fatal crashes one employee had expressed concern that an anti-stall flight system at the center of crash investigations could be triggered by a single sensor. “Are we vulnerable to single [angle-of-attack] failures with [the system’s] implementation or is there some checking that occurs?” a Boeing employee asked in an email from December 2015, nearly three years before the first Max 737 crash in Indonesia almost exactly a year ago. The employee, who has not been identified, was referring to a sensor on the outside of the plane that measured its angle in flight and could trigger a system, known as MCAS, to push it down if it thought the aircraft was at risk of stalling.

Relying on a single sensor, aviation experts say, is fundamentally dangerous. With no back-up any malfunction could trigger the plane into a dive – as investigators believe happened with both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline crashes, killing 346. The release of the document, in addition to warnings from Boeing’s chief test pilot that the MCAS system could engage without warning, adds to belief that Boeing overlooked safety in a rush to put the Max 737, its most profitable model, into production. The new email is among others unearthed during withering transportation committee hearings during which lawmakers have repeatedly assailed Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, over a failure to prioritize safety. “You have a systemic problem in your company. You’re driving profit. You’re not driving quality, and you’re sure as heck not driving safety,” the California Democrat John Garamendi told the chief executive.

Read more …

NG=Not Good.

Over 50 Boeing 737NG Grounded Globally With Wing-Related Cracks (RT)

Boeing has confirmed that it has grounded over 50 of its planes around the world, after wing-related cracks were discovered, while the company’s CEO has admitted to making safety mistakes. It’s the US aviation giant’s 737NG (Next Generation) model that is now under scrutiny. The plane is a precursor to the infamous Boeing 737 MAX, which killed 346 people in two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and has been grounded since March. A Boeing spokesperson told AFP that some 1,000 planes worldwide had “reached the inspection threshold.” The problem these inspections zeroed in on was the so-called ‘pickle fork’ – a part of the plane that connects the fuselage to the wing. The US aviation authority this month ordered checks of Boeing 737NG planes that had made over 30,000 flights.

Read more …

33 planes at over $100 million a piece. When are the airlines going to sue Boeing?

Union Calls On Qantas To Ground Entire 737 Fleet For Investigation (G.)

Australia’s aircraft engineers association has called on Qantas to ground all of its Boeing 737 aircraft after cracks were discovered in one of its planes. Steve Purvinas, the federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), said the fleet of 33 should be “grounded until such time that Qantas can establish which aircraft are safe and which aircraft aren’t”. According to Purvinas, the crack was discovered in a part of the plane known as the “pickle fork”, which is part of the landing gear. “It is a primary structure which takes the load off the wing,” he told the ABC on Thursday. “This could cause loss of control of an aircraft, and Qantas shouldn’t be flying them.”

“The first [crack] found on a Qantas aircraft was about an inch long, it’s very small. But these things do propagate very quickly when they’re under load…It’s when that grows, and that grows very quickly, that you have problems.” He told the ABC on Thursday that another crack had been found in a second plane overnight. On Thursday morning, Qantas announced it would bechecking more than 30 of its Boeing 737 aircraft after cracking was discovered in one plane during a maintenance check. But Purvinas said the airline should go further and ground the fleet.

[..] The problem came to light after Boeing said that it had found cracking in a part of the 737NG (the model before the troubled 737 Max) called the “pickle fork” on jets being overhauled in China. Nearly 5% of 810 inspections subsequently conducted have found cracks in the part, which attaches the plane’s fuselage to the wing. Purvinas told the ABC that repairs on this kind of crack take “months to fix” and require a special Boeing team.

Read more …

The IMF. All the way down.

The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers (Pepe Escobar)

The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global South. It pitted, in a nutshell, the people versus neoliberalism. The people won – with new President Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his VP. Neoliberalism was represented by Mauricio Macri: a marketing product, former millionaire playboy, president of football legends Boca Juniors, fanatic of New Age superstitions, and CEO obsessed with spending cuts, who was unanimously sold by Western mainstream media as the new paradigm of a post-modern, efficient politician.

Well, the paradigm will soon be evacuated, leaving behind a wasteland: $250 billion in foreign debt; less than $50 billion in reserves; inflation at 55 percent; the U.S. dollar at over 60 pesos (a family needs roughly $500 to spend in a month; 35.4 percent of Argentine homes can’t make it); and, incredible as it may seem in a self-sufficient nation, a food emergency. Macri, in fact the president of so-called Anti-Politics, No- Politics in Argentina, was a full IMF baby, enjoying total “support” (and gifted with a humongous $58 billion loan). New lines of credit, for the moment, are suspended. Fernandez is going to have a really hard time trying to preserve sovereignty while negotiating with foreign creditors, or “vultures,” as masses of Argentines define them.

There will be howls on Wall Street and in the City of London about “fiery populism,” “market panicking,” “pariahs among international investors.” Fernandez refuses to resort to a sovereign default, which would add even more unbearable pain for the general public. The good news is that Argentina is now the ultimate progressive lab on how to rebuild a devastated nation away from the familiar, predominant framework: a state mired in debt; rapacious, ignorant comprador elites; and “efforts” to balance the budget always at the expense of people’s interests.

Read more …

Don’t really know what to make of this, let’s see.

Russia-India Counter-Terrorism Group Vows ‘Credible Action’ (RT)

Moscow and New Delhi will boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism and destroy militant “safe havens” around the world, the two countries’ counter-terror working group said in a joint statement. Meeting in India’s capital on Wednesday, the working group condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” and called for deeper ties on counter-terror issues, including through “intensifying exchange of information” and “regular meetings at [the] experts level.” The two parties also stressed the need for “credible, irreversible … action against terrorists” and terrorist “safe havens” – particularly in the South Asia region – “without double standards.” Drug trafficking and other avenues of funding for militant groups, as well as countering extremism on the internet, were also touched upon.

Read more …

Strongly denied by the NY medical examiner.

Famed Pathologist Michael Baden Says Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Was Homicide

New York City’s former chief medical examiner insisted Wednesday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a homicide. Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was hired by the pedophile’s brother, Mark Epstein, to observe his autopsy after he was found hanged in his Manhattan lockup in August. “I think that the evidence points toward homicide rather than suicide,” Baden insisted on Fox News Wednesday. “The brother is concerned that if [Epstein] was murdered, then other people who have information might be at risk,” Baden insisted, suggesting powerful players may have been involved in the death.

“If they think he has information, his life could be in jeopardy.” Baden said there were signs of “unusual” activity “from day one” of the autopsy, saying the wounds were “more consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation.” Baden noted three fractured bones in the sex attacker’s thyroid that he insisted he has never before seen from a hanging death in 50 years of examinations. “Hanging does not cause these broken bones and homicide does,” he insisted on Fox. “A huge amount of pressure was applied.”

Read more …


Saw this map of remaining elephant populations and noticed most of them are where recently researchers said the origin of mankind is.






Oct 292018

Mestre da Família Artés The Last Judgment and the Mass of Saint Gregory 1500-1520


It’s been quite a while since I first wrote that I resented the MSM (New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC etc etc) for effectively monopolizing the entire discussion about Donald Trump. Don’t remember exactly when I wrote that, do remember Jim Kunstler sent a mail and thanked me for saying it. Because he felt- and feels- the same way.

The 24/7 daily Trump bashing machine that was unleashed in late 2015/early 2016 meant that people like us had a choice of criticizing Trump where he needed to be criticized, but that would put us in the MSM camp, where we don’t want to be. And we don’t want to not criticize him either, because there’s so much that needs scrutiny.

A third choice would be to not write at all, but hey, we’re writers. And so we’re either Trump-fans, something I’ve been accused of a lot, and I’m sure Jim has too, or we’re Trump haters, depending on what we publish. In reality, of course, we’re neither, but the way the conversation has been built, there’s no neutral ground. You’re either with us or with him.

Today, almost 3 years later, nothing much has changed about this. Other than, as I wrote at a later date, the mass media have become consciously aware that Trump is their money machine. Their financial people started pointing out that posting negative stuff about Trump all the time got them a lot of new readers and viewers and income streams. And so they continued doing it.

Their ‘news’ didn’t have to necessarily be true, or provable, it only had to look as if it could be true, until the next show or article, or the next day. That’s how we got the Russiagate story, which still lacks all evidence. Like a million other narratives, none of which have really gotten anywhere. It doesn’t matter. People who don’t like Trump eat it up. And there’s plenty of those, not in the least because of the picture the MSM has painted. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy thing.


And today, if you take a good look, you can see that the MSM are stuck. Their entire business model over the past 2.5 years has been built on bashing Trump, and now they have to stick with that. This is how they make their money. If their viewers and readers would understand this, then perhaps some of them would wonder: ‘What am I watching here really?’ But they don’t.

There are some who are simply gullible, there are those who fall victim to information overkill and can’t tell black from white anymore, and then there’s still quite a large group who will never like anything Trump does, no matter what. Because.

But that should never be enough for an organization that purports to report only the news, impartial and objective. You can’t publish stuff solely because you know it will be eaten up and make you money. That’s not the news business, that’s entertainment.

Now, I rarely watch TV. When I’m in Greece, where I’ve spent most of my time the past few years, I see none, other than the odd soccer game at a sports bar. But last weekend I flew to Holland, and there I got to see me some CNN. Oh boy. It was when the first dummy bomb package had been reported, and more of them started to spread.

Nobody knew anything about the ‘bombs’ themselves (we still don’t), about motive, about who sent them, none had gone off, they didn’t know if these things could have gone off, nothing at all. But nevertheless CNN labeled the event: ‘Mass Assassination Attempt’. And then, you know, they have all these time slots to fill, so they all yap and yap as if this is something real that they know something about.


And then at some point Trump called for civility in the nation. And CNN, sadly and predictably, reacted by agreeing with him. Only to follow that up with: “Trump has to become more civil”. Which may or may not be true, but that was not his point and neither is it mine today.

You see, CNN pulled a perfect bait and switch: While demanding that Trump tone it down in response to his own call for civility, they categorically and emphatically denied that their tone, their ‘news reporting’ must come down too. They didn’t just deny it, they entirely ignore the whole issue. Because according to them, all they do is report the news, you know, objective and neutral, no opinions involved.

After bashing Trump for two years+ they react to his call for a more civil tone by … bashing Trump and ignoring their own role completely. The exact opposite. And then they’re surprised that his reaction to being bashed one more time, again, is to point out that they do, in fact, play a role.

CNN et al paint themselves as victims, as the ones being targeted by Trump (and not even by whoever sent the bombs), completely omitting to what extent they themselves were the ones who targeted Trump. CNN is entirely blind to their own role. They proclaim, and really seem to believe, that they speak for the American people.

But if that were true, Trump would not be president. They may speak for part of the American people, but certainly not ‘the people’. And if they continue in their present ways, they never will. As long as the MSM puts all their chips on making money off of the segment of the American population who despise their president, they only sharpen the divide.


Another thing I’ve mentioned before is that with the midterms coming up in a few days, the MSM don’t actually want to impeach Trump, or get rid of him in any other way. They want to continue writing negative stuff about him forever. They want him to maybe lose the midterms, but then to win in 2020. Obama was killing them financially. Now they got their golden goose.

And it’s not Trump who profits from the nation being so divided, or at least not nearly as much as the media does. Trump would like to be appreciated for what he achieves, but when it comes to that, he can’t get a word in edgewise. They can’t risk writing positive stuff about him, it would risk their new business model.

Moreover, after that court ruling that said Trump can’t ban people on Twitter, everyone feels free to call Trump whatever they want, idiot, lunatic, you name it, I even saw Hitler pop up again, and he cannot ban them. Trump is America’s national piñata. While he’s also the President.

And the media say they’re just reporting the news. “Trump calls for civility, but continues his attacks on the media”. Well, the media continue their attacks on him, too. “Trump refuses to acknowledge his rhetoric makes this happen.” So does the MSM rhetoric. “Words Matter”. Indeed, they do. But not only Trump’s words. Everybody’s words.

The MSM have never managed – nor tried- to move beyond the notion that Trump supporters are deplorables. They’re stuck in a time warp. That is what divides the nation. Sarah Sanders was right: the first thing Trump did was to condemn the violence, the first thing CNN did was to blame Trump for it. CNN says that’s not true, they only reported the news. Yeah, 100% objectively.


Let’s do a test: when is the last time CNN, or the WaPo, have said anything truly positive about Trump? And I don’t mean three words strung together, but an actual report on for instance jobs and the state of the economy. When is the last time they complimented him, other than perhaps when American rockets landed in some remote and deserted Syrian sandbox?

So you don’t like Trump. And in the MSM you find voices that express your ideas. What you probably don’t realize is that they amplify those ideas as well, and that’s no coincidence. You’re being used by the MSM to prolong their newly-found very profitable anti-Trump rhetoric business model. You’re an easy victim. All they have to do is confirm your thoughts all the time, and tomorrow you’ll tune in for more, and so on.

Or how about this one: There’s so much to blame Trump for, there are so many negative sides to the man, and then the media focus for a long time on a made-up story about collusion with Russians, for which a special counsel with unlimited budget and resources hasn’t found any proof after two whole years. Doesn’t that make you think? Shouldn’t it?

The MSM’s interest is to divide the country, that’s how they make money. If they would write or broadcast positive stories about Trump, which must exist, they would threaten the dividing line that keeps people from talking to each other. Once they do start talking, Trump-bashing will become much less lucrative. They can’t have that.

You don’t need to be a Trump fan to see that, and I’m definitely not, you need to be blind NOT to see it. You’re being played. And what are you going to do when the GOP wins the midterms, despite what you’ve been told would happen, what if there is no blue wave? Are you going to start talking to the other half of the country then, or are you going to dig deeper into the trenches with the MSM? Honest question.



Apr 012017
 April 1, 2017  Posted by at 9:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle April 1 2017

Claude Monet The Pond at Montgeron 1876


Boaty McBoatface, or Don’t Listen To The Public -BoE’s Haldane (Tel.)
UK Households’ Savings Fall To Record Low (G.)
Multiple Bubbles Are Going To Bring America To Its Knees (Lang)
Ports In China Have Enough Iron Ore To Build 13,000 Eiffel Towers (R.)
French Banks Posted ‘Multi-Billion Euro Profits’ In Tax Havens (F24)
European Right Hopes Macron Will Save France (EUO)
Racket of Rackets (Jim Kunstler)
The Big Contraction – An Interview With Jim Kunstler
Julian Assange Waits For Ecuador’s Election To Decide His Future (G.)



Haldane is not the dumbest of central bankers. But this is crazy. See, the question is this: would Brexit have been prevented by not listening to people, or did not listening to them cause Brexit? And what’s wrong with calling a ship Boaty McBoatface? Maybe it’s an idea to listen more to people, not less? What else would you like to decide for people to protect them from their own madness?

Boaty McBoatface, or Don’t Listen To The Public -BoE’s Haldane (Tel)

The public should not have a direct say in setting interest rates because they can show “madness” when making collective decisions – just look at Boaty McBoatface, the Bank of England’s chief economist has warned. Central bankers have come under pressure to be more accountable to the public after the financial crisis and years of ultra-low interest rates, but it could be dangerous to hold a referendum on rates. It would be feasible to canvas the public online, said Andy Haldane, but could be dangerous. He pointed to the example of Boaty McBoatface, the name chosen in a public ballot for a new polar research ship last year, winning 80pc of votes cast. The National Environmental Research Council overruled the public and called the ship “Sir David Attenborough”, instead using the comedy name for a smaller submersible.

“This is an object lesson in the perils of public polling for policy purposes,” Andy Haldane, the chief economist, said in a speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. “Sometimes, there is madness in crowds.” He joked: “For some, it was a shameful example of the perils of populism.” He does propose more regular surveying of the public on the economy so the Bank of England knows what people think and how they are affected by monetary policy, however. Mr Haldane also said that “Marmite-gate” – the public row between Tesco and supplier Unilever over the price of the yeast extract spread – was useful in preparing the public for a bout of price rises. “Arguably, “Marmitegate” raised public awareness of rising inflation much more effectively than any amount of central bank jawboning,” he said. “Stories, like Marmite itself, stick.”

Typically the Bank of England struggles to get its message through to the public, often because officials use long words and technical language rather than using phrases which normal people use. “Simple words can make a dramatic difference to readability. ‘Inflation and employment’ leaves the majority of the public cold. ‘Prices and jobs’ warms them up,” he said. Officials should learn from Facebook and from pop songs to learn how to speak in a way which is more clear for the general public, rather than specialist audiences of financiers, Mr Haldane said. “Facebook posts are more likely to be shared the more frequent nouns and verbs and the less frequent adverbs and adjectives,” he said. “The ratio of nouns and verbs to adverbs and adjectives in an Elvis song is 3.3. In my speeches it is 2.7.”

Read more …

Hard to believe, this. Brits are scared, they would hoard. It’s just not in their banks accounts that they do. It’s Go To The Mattresses time.

UK Households’ Savings Fall To Record Low (G.)

British households ran down their savings to a record low at the end of 2016 and disposable incomes fell in a warning sign for the economy that a squeeze in living standards is under way. The savings ratio – which estimates the amount of money households have available to save as a%age of their total disposable income – fell sharply in the fourth quarter to 3.3% from 5.3% in the third. It was the lowest since records began in 1963 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and suggested that people are increasingly dipping into their savings to maintain spending. “Today’s figures should set alarm bells ringing. The last thing our economy needs right now is another consumer debt crisis,” said the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady.

“People raiding their piggy banks and borrowing more than they can afford is what helped drive the last financial crash.” In a further sign that household finances are coming under increasing strain from rising inflation and falling wage growth, disposable incomes also fell over the quarter. Real household disposable income – which adjusts for the impact of inflation – shrank by 0.4% compared with the previous three months, the steepest drop in nearly three years. UK growth since the financial crisis has been heavily reliant on consumer spending. The ONS confirmed the wider UK economy grew by 0.7% between October and December, but economists said a weaker consumer backdrop could weigh on growth in the coming months. Growth in 2016 was unrevised at 1.8% as the ONS updated its estimates.

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And the rest of the world.

Multiple Bubbles Are Going To Bring America To Its Knees (Lang)

If you’ve been paying attention to the ongoing degradation of the American economy since the last financial crisis, you’re probably flabbergasted by the fact that our economy has managed to make it this far without imploding. I know I am. I find myself shocked with every year that passes without incident. The warning signs are there for anyone willing to see, and they are flashing red. Even cursory research into the numbers underlying our system will tell you that we’re on an unsustainable financial path. It’s simple math. And yet the system has proven far more durable than most people thought. The only reasonable explanation I can think of, is that the system is being held up by wishful thinking and willful ignorance.

If every single person knew how unsustainable our economy is, it would self-destruct within hours. People would pull their money out of the banks, the bonds, and the stock market, and buy whatever real assets they could while their money is still worth something. It would be the first of many dominoes to fall before the entire financial system collapses. But most people don’t want to think about that possibility. They want the relative peace and prosperity of the current system to continue, so they ignore the facts or try to avoid them as much as possible. They keep their money right where it is and cross their fingers instead. In other words, the only thing propping up the system is undeserved confidence.

Unfortunately, confidence can’t keep an unsustainable system running forever. Nothing can. And our particular system is brimming with economic bubbles that aren’t going to stay inflated for much longer. Most recessions are associated with the bursting of at least one kind of bubble, but there are multiple sectors of our economy that may crash at roughly the same time in the near future. [..] Our economy is awash in cheap money and financial bubbles that threaten to wipe out tens of trillions of dollars worth of savings, investments, and assets. Everyone can close their eyes and hum while they hope that everything is going to be just fine, but it won’t be.

Read more …

But the economy is fine, of course…

Ports In China Have Enough Iron Ore To Build 13,000 Eiffel Towers (R.)

With enough iron ore to construct Paris’s Eiffel Tower nearly 13,000 times over, China’s ports are bursting with stockpiles of the raw material and some of them are demolishing old buildings to create more storage space, trading sources said. China’s domestic iron ore production jumped 15.3% in January-February as a price rally last year extended into 2017, causing imported ore to pile up at the ports of the world’s top buyer. Stockpiles are at their highest in more than a decade and are affecting prices. Inventory of imported iron ore at 46 Chinese ports reached 132.45 million tonnes on March 24, SteelHome consultancy said, the highest since it began tracking the data in 2004. A third of the stocks belongs to traders and the rest is owned by China’s steel mills, SteelHome said.

That volume would make about 95 million tonnes of steel, enough to build 12,960 replicas of the 324-metre (1,063-foot) high Eiffel Tower in Paris. Global iron ore prices are now at just above $80 a tonne from a 30-month peak of $94.86 reached in February, largely due to the growing port inventory. Prices surged 81% last year, bringing relief to miners after a three-year rout. The rally stretched into 2017, inspiring marginal producers to resume business and lifting supply as China’s steel demand waned. Further falls in the price of iron ore risk shuttering Chinese capacity again. That could boost China’s reliance on top-grade exporters Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

Read more …

Not going to stop as long as we don’t stop it.

French Banks Posted ‘Multi-Billion Euro Profits’ In Tax Havens (F24)

The Eurozone’s 20 biggest banks earned over a quarter of their profits in tax havens in 2015, according to a report released Monday by Oxfam. The report details how, in 2015, top Eurozone banks generated €25 billion in profits in low-tax territories like the Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands and the American state of Delaware. Despite the massive profits, the banks only conducted 12% of their total business and employed 7% of their workers in those countries – a clear sign of the “tricks” that banks are willing use to avoid countries with stricter tax regimes, according to Oxfam’s Manon Aubry, one of the report’s authors. In Europe, banking is now the only sector in which companies must declare country-by-country tax and profit figures, thanks to legislation passed in the wake of the financial crisis.

The anti-poverty NGO Oxfam took advantage of the new data to write its report. Several of France’s biggest banks figure prominently in the report, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale and BPCE (which owns Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne). French banks declared almost €2 billion in profit in Luxembourg, as much as they reported in Germany and Spain combined, despite the fact that Luxembourg’s population is only 1% that of Spain’s. Some of the most telling figures come from discrepancies between profit and other key economic measures. “Société Générale, for instance, reported 22% of its profits in tax havens,” Oxfam’s Aubry told FRANCE 24, “but only 4% of its employee pay was generated there.”

In another example, BNP Paribas declared €134 million of profit in the Cayman Islands in 2015, although it had zero employees there. However, Servane Costrel, Wealth Management Press Officer for BNP Paribas, said that these figures were “obsolete”. “Profits earned in the Cayman Islands were taxed in the United States,” Costrel told FRANCE 24 by email. “But this is a non-issue since that figure [of profits in the Cayman Islands] dropped to zero in 2016.”

Read more …

Save the right from the right. That should work. The French massively hate their own politicial system.

European Right Hopes Macron Will Save France (EUO)

Not long ago, Francois Fillon was considered the most likely winner of the French presidential election in May. But after he was charged for embezzlement over suspicions of fake parliamentary jobs for his wife and children, even his European allies seem to have lost hope. Meanwhile, the fear of seeing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen taking power is growing. “People are worried, they are wondering what is going on in France,” Joseph Daul, president of the European People’s Party (EPP), told EUobserver on the margins of the EPP congress in Malta this week. “And it goes further than that. There are already committees, at the highest level, working on the hypothesis that France leaves the euro and the EU,” he said. He declined to specify whether these working groups were in EU capitals or in the EU institutions.

Officials in Brussels have warned about the consequences for France and the EU if Le Pen were to be elected, but have said so far that that they do not want to envisage a Le Pen scenario. The National Front (FN) leader has said that she wants to “do away with the EU,” and has promised to organise a referendum on the country’s EU membership. Her possible election “has been a risk for some time,” a high level EU source said recently, pointing to the “explosion” of the two main parties, the Socialist Party (PS) of outgoing president Francois Hollande and Fillon’s Republicans. In the most recent poll published on Wednesday (29 March), Socialist Party (PS) candidate Benoit Hamon was credited with only 10% of voting intentions and Fillon with 18%. Both were far behind Le Pen (with 24%) and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron (with 25.5%).

Read more …

Pecora for health care.

Racket of Rackets (Jim Kunstler)

My suggestion for real reform of the medical racket looks to historical precedent: In 1932 (before the election of FDR, by the way), the US Senate formed a commission to look into the causes of the 1929 Wall Street Crash and recommend corrections in banking regulation to obviate future episodes like it. It is known to history as the Pecora Commission, after its chief counsel Ferdinand Pecora, an assistant Manhattan DA, who performed gallantly in his role. The commission ran for two years. Its hearings led to prison terms for many bankers and ultimately to the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932, which kept banking relatively honest and stable until its nefarious repeal in 1999 under President Bill Clinton — which led rapidly to a new age of Wall Street malfeasance, still underway.

The US Senate needs to set up an equivalent of the Pecora Commission to thoroughly expose the cost racketeering in medicine, enable the prosecution of the people driving it, and propose a Single Payer remedy for flushing it away. The Department of Justice can certainly apply the RICO anti-racketeering statutes against the big health care conglomerates and their executives personally. I don’t know why it has not done so already — except for the obvious conclusion that our elected officials have been fully complicit in the medical rackets, which is surely the case of new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, a former surgeon and congressman who trafficked in medical stocks during his years representing his suburban Atlanta district. A new commission could bypass this unprincipled clown altogether.

It is getting to the point where we have to ask ourselves if we are even capable of being a serious people anymore. Medicine is now a catastrophe every bit as pernicious as the illnesses it is supposed to treat, and a grave threat to a nation that we’re supposed to care about. What party, extant or waiting to be born, will get behind this cleanup operation?

Read more …

“’s unclear whether we will land back in something like the mid-nineteenth century, or go full-bore medieval, or worse.”

The Big Contraction – An Interview With Jim Kunstler

We’ve been sowing the seeds for our predicament since the end of World War II. You might even call this process “The Victory Disease.” In practical terms it represents sets of poor decisions with accelerating bad consequences. For instance, the collective decision to suburbanize the nation. This was not a conspiracy. It was consistent with my new theory of history, which is Things happen because they seem like a good idea at the time. In 1952 we had plenty of oil and the ability to make a lot of cars, which were fun, fun, fun! And we turned our war production expertise into the mass production of single family houses built on cheap land outside the cities. But the result now is that we’re stuck in a living arrangement with no future, the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.

Another bad choice was to offshore most of our industry. Seemed like a good idea at the time; now you have a citizenry broadly impoverished, immiserated, and politically inflamed. Of course, one must also consider the possibility that industrial society was a historic interlude with a beginning, middle, and end, and that we are closer to the end of the story than the middle. It was, after all, a pure product of the fossil fuel bonanza, which is also coming to an end (with no plausible replacement in view.) I don’t view all this as the end of the world, or of civilization, per se, but we’re certainly in for a big re-set of the terms for remaining civilized. I’ve tried to outline where this is all going in my four-book series of the “World Made By Hand” novels, set in the near future.

If we’re lucky, we can fall back to sets of less complex social and economic arrangements, but it’s unclear whether we will land back in something like the mid-nineteenth century, or go full-bore medieval, or worse. One thing we can be sure of: the situation we face is one of comprehensive discontinuity — a lot of things just stop, beginning with financial arrangements and long-distance supply lines of resources and finished goods. Then it depends whether we can respond by reorganizing life locally in this nation at a finer scale — if it even remains a unified nation. Anyway, implicit in this kind of discontinuity is the possibility for disorder. We don’t know how that will go, and how we come through it depends on the degree of disorder.

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At some point I can see this turning into a Free Mandela kind of movement.

Julian Assange Waits For Ecuador’s Election To Decide His Future (G.)

For Ecuador’s 15 million inhabitants, Sunday’s presidential election runoff will pose a fundamental question: whether to continue with a leftwing government that has reduced poverty but also brought environmental destruction and authoritarian censorship, or to take a chance on a pro-business banker who promises economic growth but is accused of siphoning money to offshore accounts. But they are not the only ones for whom the result will be critically important. Thousands of miles away, in the country’s tiny embassy in central London, Julian Assange will be watching closely to see if his four and a half years of cramped asylum could be coming to an abrupt, enforced end. Guillermo Lasso, the businessman and leading opposition candidate, has vowed that if he wins, the WikiLeaks founder’s time in the embassy will be up.

Lasso has said he would “cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate”, because his presence in the Knightsbridge embassy was a burden on Ecuadorian taxpayers. His government opponent, Lenin Moreno, has said Assange would remain welcome, albeit with conditions. “We will always be alert and ask Mr Assange to show respect in his declarations regarding our brotherly and friendly countries,” Moreno said. The most recent polling showed Moreno at least four percentage points ahead of his rival, though earlier polls had Lasso in the lead, and many analysts caution that the results are within the margin of error. Could this weekend really trigger the beginning of the end for Assange’s extraordinary central London refuge? Neither Lasso’s victory, nor precisely what he would do if he won, are certain (he later softened his position to say Assange’s status would be “reviewed”).

Read more …

Nov 252014
 November 25, 2014  Posted by at 9:49 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »

John Vachon Rain. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Jun 1941

US Q3 GDP was revised up by the BEA to 3.89%, but that’s no longer what financial markets react to. They sit and wait for more QE somewhere on the planet to be doled out. Will Americans, if they see this at all, take those numbers, add them to the sweet drop in prices at the pump and spend what they save on more holiday purchases? I’m not saying I know, but I do see that US consumer confidence is down, as is global business confidence – the latter at a five year low.

The Case/Shiller index reports a “broad-based slowdown” for US home prices, and that in the rear view mirror that looks at Q3. So that’s not where those 3.89% came from, it wasn’t housing (wonder what it was). The Gallup Christmas survey lost 8% of exuberance in one month. What this adds up to is that Americans may not spend all of that saved gas money, and that means there’s a real danger of deflation coming to America too – as if Japanese and European attempts to export their own were not enough yet.

While the media continue to just about exclusively paint a picture of recovery and an improving economy, certainly in the US – Europe and Japan it’s harder to get away with that rosy image -, in ordinary people’s reality a completely different picture is being painted in sweat, blood, agony and despair. Whatever part of the recovery mirage may have a grain of reality in it, it is paid for by something being taken away from people leading real lives. US unemployment numbers are being massages three ways to Sunday, as is common knowledge, or should be; the amounts of working age people not working, and not being counted as unemployed either, is staggering.

But there’s a very large, and growing, number of people who do work, but find it impossible to sustain either themselves or their families on their wages. That’s how the recovery, fake as it even is, is paid for. And this will have grave consequences for many years, if not decades, to come.

If a government would come clean with its citizens, explain the overwhelming debt situation a nation is in, that everyone will have to do with less at least for a while, and then openly start restructuring the debts, those consequences would be much less damaging. But all governments choose to talk about only recovery and growth, and to let their people suffer the consequences of the policies enacted to achieve these goals, even if after 6-7 years of crisis and dozens of trillions in stimulus, we’re no closer to either. Quite the contrary. We’re not in ‘drive’, we’re stuck in ‘reverse’. We’re backing up. We’re moving backwards.

Lance Roberts at StreetTalkLive provides stats on how many Americans have been made dependent on some sort of handout:

The Dismal Economy: 148 Million Government Beneficiaries

.. the Federal Reserve has stopped their latest rounds of bond buying and are now starting to discuss the immediacy of increasing interest rates. This, of course, is based on the “hopes” that the economy has started to grow organically as headline unemployment rates have fallen to just 5.9%. If such activity were real then both inflation and wage pressures should be rising – they are not. According to the Congressional Budget Office study that was just released, approximately 60% of all U.S. households get more in transfer payments from the government than they pay in taxes.

Roughly 70% of all government spending now goes toward dependence-creating programs. From 2009 through 2013, the U.S. government spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs. In fact, today, the percentage of the U.S. population that gets money from the federal government grew by an astounding 62% between 1988 and 2011. Recent analysis of U.S. government numbers conducted by Terrence P. Jeffrey, shows that there are 86 million full-time private sector workers in the United States paying taxes to support the government, and nearly 148 million Americans that are receiving benefits from the government each month.

Yet Janet Yellen, and most other mainstream economists suggests that employment is booming in the U.S. Okay, if we assume that this is indeed the case then why, according to the Survey of Income and Program Participation conducted by the U.S. Census, are well over 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government. Importantly, that figure does not even include Social Security or Medicare. (Here are the numbers for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare: More than 64 million are receiving Social Security benefits, more than 54 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare and more than 70 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid.) Furthermore, how do you explain the chart below? With roughly 45% of the working age population sitting outside the labor force, it should not be surprising that the ratio of social welfare as a percentage of real, inflation-adjusted, disposable personal income is at the highest level EVER on record.

Tyler Durden addresses deteriorating wages in America with a great metaphor:

The Mystery Of America’s “Schrodinger” Middle Class, Which Is Either Thriving Or About To Go Extinct

On one hand, the US middle class has rarely if ever had it worse. At least, if one actually dares to venture into this thing called the real world, and/or believes the NYT’s report: “Falling Wages at Factories Squeeze the Middle Class.” Some excerpts:

For nearly 20 years, Darrell Eberhardt worked in an Ohio factory putting together wheelchairs, earning $18.50 an hour, enough to gain a toehold in the middle class and feel respected at work. He is still working with his hands, assembling seats for Chevrolet Cruze cars at the Camaco auto parts factory in Lorain, Ohio, but now he makes $10.50 an hour and is barely hanging on. “I’d like to earn more,” said Mr. Eberhardt, who is 49 and went back to school a few years ago to earn an associate’s degree. “But the chances of finding something like I used to have are slim to none.” Even as the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill and in Fortune 500 boardrooms all agree that expanding the country’s manufacturing base is a key to prosperity, evidence is growing that the pay of many blue-collar jobs is shrinking to the point where they can no longer support a middle-class life.

In short: America’s manufacturing sector is being obliterated: “A new study by the National Employment Law Project, to be released on Friday, reveals that many factory jobs nowadays pay far less than what workers in almost identical positions earned in the past.

Perhaps even more significant, while the typical production job in the manufacturing sector paid more than the private sector average in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, that relationship flipped in 2007, and line work in factories now pays less than the typical private sector job. That gap has been widening — in 2013, production jobs paid an average of $19.29 an hour, compared with $20.13 for all private sector positions. Pressured by temporary hiring practices and a sharp decrease in salaries in the auto parts sector, real wages for manufacturing workers fell by 4.4% from 2003 to 2013, NELP researchers found, nearly three times the decline for workers as a whole.

How is this possible: aren’t post-bankruptcy GM, and Ford, now widely touted as a symbol of the New Normal American manufacturing renaissance? Well yes. But there is a problem: recall what we wrote in December 2010: ‘Charting America’s Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society:”

.. one of the most important reasons for lower pay is the increased use of temporary workers. Some manufacturers have turned to staffing agencies for hiring rather than employing workers directly on their own payroll. For the first half of 2014, these agencies supplied one out of seven workers employed by auto parts manufacturers. The increased use of these lower-paid workers, particularly on the assembly line, not only eats into the number of industry jobs available, but also has a ripple effect on full-time, regular workers. Even veteran full-time auto parts workers who have managed to work their way up the assembly-line chain of command have eked out only modest gains.

And that’s not some isolated incident, as the Guardian makes clear, it’s the same thing in Britain.:

Record Numbers Of UK Working Families In Poverty Due To Low-Paid Jobs

Insecure, low-paid jobs are leaving record numbers of working families in poverty, with two-thirds of people who found work in the past year taking jobs for less than the living wage, according to the latest annual report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The research shows that over the last decade, increasing numbers of pensioners have become comfortable, but at the same time incomes among the worst-off have dropped almost 10% in real terms. Painting a picture of huge numbers trapped on low wages, the foundation said during the decade only a fifth of low-paid workers managed to move to better paid jobs. The living wage is calculated at £7.85 an hour nationally, or £9.15 in London – much higher than the legally enforceable £6.50 minimum wage.

As many people from working families are now in poverty as from workless ones, partly due to a vast increase in insecure work on zero-hours contracts, or in part-time or low-paid self-employment. Nearly 1.4 million people are on the controversial contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours, most of them in catering, accommodation, retail and administrative jobs. Meanwhile, the self-employed earn on average 13% less than they did five years ago, the foundation said. Average wages for men working full time have dropped from £13.90 to £12.90 an hour in real terms between 2008 and 2013 and for women from £10.80 to £10.30.

Poverty wages have been exacerbated by the number of people reliant on private rented accommodation and unable to get social housing, the report said. Evictions of tenants by private landlords outstrip mortgage repossessions and are the most common cause of homelessness. The report noted that price rises for food, energy and transport have far outstripped the accepted CPI inflation of 30% in the last decade. Julia Unwin, chief executive of the foundation, said the report showed a real change in UK society over a relatively short period of time. “We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have so many people living in poverty. It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet.

And it’s even worse in Greece and Spain and Italy, all so northern Europe and the Brussels politicos can keep alive the idea that Germany and Holland are doing well, and overall growth is almost at hand. That southern Europe must suffer for that idea has been justified away for years now, and it’s not even an issue deemed worth discussing anymore.

And that attitude will blow up in their faces, it’s inevitable that it will. Very few people understand how dangerous the games are that our governments and central banks play. And when the effects do play out, they will be blamed on other causes. Debt and propaganda rule our world supreme.

Excellent writer and great friend Jim Kunstler shows how simple the entire facade is to fathom, and how the next step away from the mess we’re in is so painfully obvious: downscale.

Buy the All Time High

Wall Street is only one of several financial roach motels in what has become a giant slum of a global economy. Notional “money” scuttles in for safety and nourishment, but may never get out alive. Tom Friedman of The New York Times really put one over on the soft-headed American public when he declared in a string of books that the global economy was a permanent installation in the human condition. What we’re seeing “out there” these days is the basic operating system of that economy trying to shake itself to pieces. The reason it has to try so hard is that the various players in the global economy game have constructed an armature of falsehood to hold it in place — for instance the pipeline of central bank “liquidity” creation that pretends to be capital propping up markets.

It would be most accurate to call it fake wealth. It is not liquid at all but rather gaseous, and that is why it tends to blow “bubbles” in the places to which it flows. When the bubbles pop, the gas will tend to escape quickly and dramatically, and the ground will be littered with the pathetic broken balloons of so many hopes and dreams. All of this mighty, tragic effort to prop up a matrix of lies might have gone into a set of activities aimed at preserving the project of remaining civilized. But that would have required the dismantling of rackets such as agri-business, big-box commerce, the medical-hostage game, the Happy Motoring channel-stuffing scam, the suburban sprawl “industry,” and the higher ed loan swindle.

All of these evil systems have to go and must be replaced by more straightforward and honest endeavors aimed at growing food, doing trade, healing people, traveling, building places worth living in, and learning useful things.

All of those endeavors have to become smaller, less complex, more local, and reality-based rather than based, as now, on overgrown and sinister intermediaries creaming off layers of value, leaving nothing behind but a thin entropic gruel of waste. All of this inescapable reform is being held up by the intransigence of a banking system that can’t admit that it has entered the stage of criticality. It sustains itself on its sheer faith in perpetual levitation. It is reasonable to believe that upsetting that faith might lead to war.

But that’s not yet where we are, though Ferguson sure looks close to that war Jim talks about. Our leading classes will not let us downscale, no matter how much sense that makes for the ‘lower’ 95% of the population, because that would risk their leading positions. And so we’ll have to deal with a lot more misery before the whole edifice finally blows up, and we’ll end up with huge swaths of traumatized people. In a great article, Lynn Stuart Parramore describes how that works:

So Many People Are Badly Traumatized by Life in America: It’s Time We Admit It

Recently Don Hazen, the executive editor of AlterNet, asked me to think about trauma in the context of America’s political system. As I sifted through my thoughts on this topic, I began to sense an enormous weight in my body and a paralysis in my brain. What could I say? What could I possibly offer to my fellow citizens? Or to myself? After six years writing about the financial crisis and its gruesome aftermath, I feel weariness and fear. When I close my eyes, I see a great ogre with gold coins spilling from his pockets and pollution spewing from his maw lurching toward me with increasing speed. I don’t know how to stop him. Do you feel this way, too?

All along the watchtower, America’s alarms are sounding loudly. Voter turnout this last go-round was the worst in 72 years, as if we needed another sign that faith in democracy is waning. Is it really any wonder? When your choices range from the corrupt to the demented, how can you not feel that citizenship is a sham? Research by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page clearly shows that our lawmakers create policy based on the desires of monied elites while “mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” Our voices are not heard.

When our government does pay attention to us, the focus seems to be more on intimidation and control than addressing our needs. We are surveilled through our phones and laptops. As the New York Times recently reported, a surge in undercover operations from a bewildering array of agencies has unleashed an army of unsupervised rogues poised to spy upon and victimize ordinary people rather than challenge the real predators who pillage at will. Aggressive and militarized police seem more likely to harm us than to protect us, even to mow us down if necessary.

Our policies amplify the harm. The mentally ill are locked away in solitary confinement, and even left there to die. Pregnant women in need of medical treatment are arrested and criminalized. Young people simply trying to get an education are crippled with debt. The elderly are left to wander the country in RVs in search of temporary jobs. If you’ve seen yourself as part of the middle class, you may have noticed cries of agony ripping through your ranks in ways that once seemed to belong to worlds far away.

[..] A 2012 study of hospital patients in Atlanta’s inner-city communities showed that rates of post-traumatic stress are now on par with those of veterans returning from war zones. At least 1 out of 3 surveyed said they had experienced stress responses like flashbacks, persistent fear, a sense of alienation, and aggressive behavior. All across the country, in Detroit, New Orleans, and in what historian Louis Ferleger describes as economic “dead zones” — places where people have simply given up and sunk into “involuntary idleness” — the pain is written on slumped bodies and faces that have become masks of despair. We are starting to break down.

When our alarm systems are set off too often, they start to malfunction, and we can end up in a state of hyper-vigilance, unable to properly assess the threats. It’s easy for the powerful to manipulate this tense condition and present an array of bogeymen to distract our attention, from immigrants to the unemployed, so that we focus our energy on the wrong enemy. Guns give a false sense of control, and hatred of those who do not look like us channels our impotent rage. Meanwhile, dietary supplements and prescription painkillers lure us into thinking that if we just find the right pill, we can shut off the sound of the sirens. Popular culture brings us movies with loud explosions that deafen us to what’s crashing all around us.

The 21st century, forged in the images of flames and bodies falling from the Twin Towers, has sputtered on with wars, financial ruin and crushing public policies that have left us ever more shaken, angry and afraid. At each crisis, people at the top have seized the opportunity to secure their positions and push the rest of us further down. They are not finished, not by a long shot.

Trauma is not just about experiencing wars and sexual violence, though there is plenty of that. Psychology researchers have discussed trauma as something intense that happens in your life that you can’t adequately respond to, and which causes you long-lasting negative effects. [..] trauma comes with a very high rate of interest. The children of traumatized people carry the legacy of pain forward in their brains and bodies, becoming more vulnerable to disease, mental breakdown, addiction, and violence. Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, an expert on trauma, emphasizes that it’s not just personal.

Trauma occupies a space much bigger than our individual neurons: it’s political. If your parents lost their jobs, their home or their sense of security in the wake of the financial crisis, you will carry those wounds with you, even if conditions improve. Budget cuts to education and the social safety net produce trauma. Falling income produces trauma. Job insecurity produces trauma.

There’s much more at the link, and every word is worth reading. The mental consequences of the gutting of our societies by governments and the financial industry does not get nearly enough scrutiny. We act, or politicians and media do, as if millions of people losing their jobs, and over half of young people in certain nations never having had a chance of a job, is just a matter of numbers, of mere statistics.

And then all sorts of ‘experts’ claim it’s all just the price to pay for technological progress, that will make everything so much better for everyone some sunny day soon. But that sunny say will never come, the techno happy ideal version of the future has already died with the debt incurred to facilitate it. We need to take a step backwards, or we’ll continue to drive backwards. Or be driven, to be more precise, since we’ve handed over the steering wheel to people who have no intention of taking us where we want to, and should, go. They are only intent on taking us where they can squeeze us most.

Thing is, there’s precious little left to squeeze. And they know that much better than most of us do. That’s why it’s imperative that we should get rid of these clowns, or there’ll be a whole lot more trauma. We can organize our societies, and we can even organize ways to downscale them peacefully . But not with those at the helm who see us only as mere entities to draw blood from.

We need to be a whole lot more assertive about this; we shouldn’t want to be surrounded by traumatized friends and family members and neighbors There’s nothing good for us in that. It’ll be used against us in increased surveillance and clampdowns and all that comes with it.

We can have good jobs for everyone, all it takes is to have what we need, produced in our own communities and societies, instead of having it shipped over from China. It’s not rocket science. It’s just that there’s a certain segment in society, which unfortunately happens to be the most powerful one, that doesn’t want us to do that. They want more and bigger, not smaller and better.

Until we solve that issue, things will keep getting worse. And not just a little bit. We need to find leaders that actually represent us, our needs and desires and ideas, and we need to find ways to elect them. If we don’t, we face a very bleak future in which there won’t be much left for us to choose. Or enjoy. We live in a pivotal moment in time, but we don’t recognize it for what it is. We seem to think it’s all some minor hiccup. We are dead wrong.