Jan 232023
 
 January 23, 2023  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


Edward Hopper Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina 1929

 

Zelenskyy: 50 Tanks Will Not Solve Problem (Az.)
US Lawmaker Proposes ‘Just One’ Abrams Tank For Ukraine (RT)
Macron Comments On Heavy Tanks For Ukraine (RT)
Medvedev Predicts New Anti-US Military Alliance (RT)
AOC Heckled Over Ukraine Weapons (RT)
Moldova Fails To Remain Neutral In Global Proxy War – Ex-Leader (RT)
The Nord Stream Pipeline Could Be Repaired Within A Year (OP)
Immaculate Possession: Biden Defense is Fast Becoming Unsustainable (Turley)
Biden Family: The Delaware Sopranos (Newt Gingrich)
House Members To Press Secret Service About Biden’s Classified Records (JTN)
Biden Admin Finally Admits Mistake in Canceling Keystone XL Pipeline (RCE)
‘Succession’ Has Nothing On Davos: Elite Conclave Mulls Next Leader (Pol.eu)
Al Gore Amassed a $330 Million Climate Fortune by Terrifying Everyone (RedS)
Trump and DeSantis Both Leading Biden In Hypothetical 2024 Matchup (JTN)
WSJ Shreds Vaccine Makers, Biden Admin Over “Deceptive” Booster Campaign (ZH)

 

 

 

 

McCullough

 

 

 

 

Safety signal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jourova

 

 

 

 

Why get them then?

“..they motivate our fighters to fight for their values. Because they see that the whole world is on your side..”

Zelenskyy: 50 Tanks Will Not Solve Problem (Az.)

Western tanks will not be able to solve the issue of Russian aggression completely, but will give additional motivation to the Ukrainian defenders, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, Report informs. “When the Russian army with a thousand tanks is against us, 10, 20, or 50 tanks provided by the countries will not solve the problem. They do a very important job – they motivate our fighters to fight for their values. Because they see that the whole world is on your side,” Zelenskyy said.

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“..Even saying we’re gonna put Abrams tanks in, I think, would be enough for Germany to unleash [its Leopard tanks]”

US Lawmaker Proposes ‘Just One’ Abrams Tank For Ukraine (RT)

US Representative Michael McCaul has argued that announcing plans to provide America’s vaunted M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine – even if only one of the behemoths is actually shipped out – would leave Germany with no excuses to further delay sending its Leopard tanks to Kiev. “If we announced we were going to give Abrams tanks, just one… what I hear is that Germany is waiting for us to take the lead,” McCaul said on Sunday in an ABC News interview. “Then they would put Leopard tanks in.” The Texas Republican, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, added that such a tactic also would prompt Berlin to give its permission for other European countries that use the Leopard to give some of their tanks to Ukraine.

McCaul has been among the most hawkish Republicans in the House, vowing to continue providing weaponry for Ukraine to fight Russian forces, regardless of growing public opposition to the aid. He claimed that Kiev must be provided tanks and longer-range artillery urgently, to help repel an alleged imminent offensive by the Russians. Asked by ABC anchor Martha Raddatz whether just one Abrams tank would be sufficient to trigger Germany to provide more advanced weaponry to Ukraine, McCaul hinted that Washington could trick its ally.” Even saying we’re gonna put Abrams tanks in, I think, would be enough for Germany to unleash [its Leopard tanks]” McCaul also said Kiev needs longer-range artillery to strike targets in Crimea, dismissing the risks of enabling attacks on the peninsula, which Moscow considers to be sovereign Russian territory. Asked how Russian President Vladimir Putin might react, McCaul pointed to how Washington apparently got away with past escalations in aid, such as giving Ukraine HIMARS rocket launchers.

Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, also called for sending battle tanks to Ukraine. “If it requires our sending some Abrams tanks in order to unlock getting the Leopard tanks from Germany, from Poland, from other allies, I would support that,” he told Raddatz. Media reports suggested that Berlin was unwilling to send its tanks unless the US made a similar commitment. Washington has so far refused to provide its Abrams tanks, arguing that they are very complex to operate and require extensive training. Key NATO nations failed to reach an agreement about sending the German-made battle tanks to Ukraine during a Friday meeting of Western military donors at the US Ramstein air base. However, on Sunday, Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock hinted that Berlin “would not stand in the way” if Poland decides to sends its own Leopards to Ukraine.

Gonzalo 2023.01.22 The Endgame—or Escalation?—of The War

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“..only “real and effective support” in the form of weaponry that Ukrainian forces can actually use on the battlefield without months or years of training..”

Macron Comments On Heavy Tanks For Ukraine (RT)

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirmed their continued “unwavering support” for Ukraine for “as long as it takes” in a joint press conference on Sunday, but both said that any decision on supplying heavier arms must be reached jointly by all “friends” of Kiev. Macron said that “nothing is excluded” when asked about the possibility of sending Leclerc main battle tanks to Kiev, and confirmed he had “asked the Defense Ministry to work on it.” However, any final decision would have to be a “collective” call based on several considerations, he noted, according to AFP. France does not want the move to “weaken our own defense capabilities,” and at the same time is cautious of “escalating” the conflict.

Another concern is to provide only “real and effective support” in the form of weaponry that Ukrainian forces can actually use on the battlefield without months or years of training. Scholz dodged a similar question about Leopards, saying vaguely that Germany “will continue to act according to the concrete situation” and in close coordination with “important friends and allies.” “Germany is doing a lot, too… We have constantly expanded our deliveries with very effective weapons that are already available today,” the chancellor said. Last week, Politico reported that Paris was considering deliveries of Leclerc tanks in an effort to provide a joint framework to overcome Germany’s reluctance. Amid reports that Berlin was unwilling to send its tanks unless the US made a similar move, a US lawmaker proposed giving Ukraine a single Abrams tank to leave Berlin with no excuses for further delays.

Calls for Germany to supply Kiev with Leopards grew louder after the UK confirmed earlier this month that it would send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. Poland also announced that it would transfer a company of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but the re-export of these tanks must be greenlit by Germany. On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock hinted that Berlin “would not stand in the way” if Poland makes the move. Baerbock noted that Warsaw has not yet reached out to Berlin on the matter. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the “importance of such supplies in terms of their ability to change something” on the battlefield should not be exaggerated.

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BRICS+.

Medvedev Predicts New Anti-US Military Alliance (RT)

The continuous flow of military aid to Kiev clearly shows that the collective West is seeking to “wear out or, preferably, destroy” Russia, the country’s former president, Dmitry Medvedev, remarked on Sunday. The effort, however, may ultimately backfire for the US and its allies, he believes. Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy chair of the Russian Security Council, made the comments in a social media post, days after a meeting at the US Ramstein air base in Germany at which Western powers pledged to continue supporting Kiev. “The meeting at Ramstein and the allocation of heavy weaponry to Kiev leave no doubt that our enemies will be trying to wear us out for an indefinite period of time, or, preferably, to destroy us,” the ex-president wrote.


However, the prolongation of the hostilities in Ukraine may ultimately lead to the emergence of a new military bloc that brings together nations “fed up with the Americans,” Medvedev suggested. “This has always happened in the history of mankind during long wars. And the US then will finally abandon old Europe and what remains of the unfortunate Ukrainians, and the world will return to an equilibrium once again,” the former leader said, warning, however, that it might be “too late” before this happens. Moscow has repeatedly urged the collective West to stop “pumping” Ukraine with weapons, maintaining that it would only prolong the hostilities rather than change the ultimate outcome. Top Russian officials have repeatedly characterized what is happening as a proxy war between Russia and the US-led NATO alliance rather than merely a conflict with Ukraine.

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Warmonger.

AOC Heckled Over Ukraine Weapons (RT)

US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) had an event in New York on Saturday disrupted by a group of demonstrators who rose to their feet and began singing a Latin hymn for peace. The protestors were voicing their objection to the self-professed progressive’s vote to send billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine. Holding signs reading “negotiation not annihilation” and “stop sending weapons to Ukraine,” the group sang ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’, a Latin hymn used in the Catholic mass that translates as ‘Give Us Peace’. “We always support everyone’s First Amendment rights here and everyone has the complete right to political expression,” Ocasio-Cortez responded, but only after the protesters had been removed from the premises by security.


A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ocasio-Cortez has voted against sending military aid to Saudi Arabia and abstained from voting on funding Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. However, she voted in May to provide Ukraine with $40 billion in military and economic aid, a decision that led a left-wing activist to accuse her of “voting to start a nuclear war” during a similar town hall in October. Despite giving a green light to such a massive arms fund, Ocasio-Cortez added her name to a letter by Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal in October urging President Joe Biden to “seriously explore all possible avenues, including direct engagement with Russia, to reduce harm and support Ukraine in achieving a peaceful settlement.” The letter, which was signed by 30 House Democrats, was retracted a day later and the pro-peace progressives stated that they backed Biden’s policy of indefinite military aid to Kiev.

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“Dodon said Sandu made her statement after meeting in Davos with Alexander Soros, son of Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, “who brought her to power.”

Moldova Fails To Remain Neutral In Global Proxy War – Ex-Leader (RT)

Moldovan President Maia Sandu has put the former Soviet republic at risk of turning into “cannon fodder” in NATO’s proxy war with Russia by failing to remain neutral over the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, her predecessor said on Saturday. “Maia Sandu continues to draw Moldova into NATO – contrary to the neutrality prescribed in the Constitution and the will of the Moldovan people, who are categorically against joining this military structure,” ex-President Igor Dodon claimed in a Telegram post. He made his comments in response to Sandu’s statement on Friday that her government was seriously considering joining a “larger alliance” amid Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Abandoning military neutrality would be “dangerous” for Moldova, said Dodon, who served as president from 2016 until Sandu defeated him in the country’s 2020 election.

The nation of just 2.6 million people consistently ranks among the poorest countries in Europe and has maintained a delicate peace with its breakaway Transnistria region since agreeing to a 1992 ceasefire, brokered by Moscow. Dodon said Sandu made her statement after meeting in Davos with Alexander Soros, son of Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, “who brought her to power.” He added, “Obviously, Sandu is implementing his scenario in Moldova, and joining NATO is one of his points.” Although Moldova isn’t yet a member of NATO, it has cooperated with the Western military bloc, such as when it sent peacekeeping troops to Kosovo. Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu attended a NATO summit in Bucharest last November, marking the first time that Chisinau sent a representative to a meeting of the bloc.

At the time, Popescu reportedly said that joining NATO was out of the question because of the neutrality provision in Moldova’s Constitution. By apparently changing that stance, Sandu is “acting on the orders of overseas masters, against the interests of the country and the people, against the sovereignty, territorial integrity of Moldova,” Dodon said. “Our citizens want to maintain neutrality and peace, as evidenced by the results of numerous public opinion polls, and they will never agree to become cannon fodder for NATO in the fight against Russia.” Moscow has blamed NATO’s eastward expansion – contrary to promises made after the Cold War ended in 1991 – for undermining Russia’s security interests, helping to trigger the current conflict.

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Will it be?

The Nord Stream Pipeline Could Be Repaired Within A Year (OP)

The Nord Stream pipeline can be repaired within a year, but it’s unclear whether Germany would want to receive Russian natural gas at all, said Klaus-Dieter Maubach, the outgoing CEO at German energy giant Uniper, which was Russia’s top gas customer before Moscow cut off supply via Nord Stream. “The first question that needs answering: what’s the political will on a European level and in Berlin to bring Russian gas to Germany?” Maubach said at the annual Handelsblatt Energy summit on Tuesday, as carried by Reuters. Last summer, the German government bailed out Uniper as losses at the German company continued to mount after Russia slashed gas deliveries via Nord Stream in June, before cutting off supply in early September.

At the end of December, it was Uniper, the operator of the Wilhelmshaven import terminal, that welcomed the first tanker carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the newly opened LNG terminal, with the cargo arriving from the Calcasieu Pass export facility in the United States. Meanwhile, the investigation into the Nord Stream explosions at the end of September continues amid accusations from Russia that some Western intelligence services are “hiding something.” Sweden’s refusal to share information about the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines is “puzzling,” and withholding the results of the investigation means that “Swedish authorities are hiding something,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week.

Traces of explosives were found near the sites of the explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, Sweden said in November, noting that the incident is “gross sabotage.” Nord Stream 2 was never put into operation after Germany axed the certification process following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia, for its part, shut down Nord Stream 1 indefinitely in early September, claiming an inability to repair gas turbines because of the Western sanctions.

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“..if any witness or forensic evidence shows that Biden came into contact with any of these documents over the last 10 years, this dubious defense will take on a far more sinister appearance..”

Immaculate Possession: Biden Defense is Fast Becoming Unsustainable (Turley)

In 1977, as senator from Delaware, Biden torpedoed President Jimmy Carter’s nominee for CIA director over his alleged mishandling of classified documents. As with the current scandal, Ted Sorensen was accused of having the documents for work on a book. The motive did not matter. Sen. Biden expressed his signature revulsion at the very thought of the possession. There was no evidence of ill intent, but Biden insisted that was not the issue. Biden argued that Sorensen could still be prosecuted under the Espionage Act and insisted the “real issue” during Sorensen’s confirmation hearing was “whether Mr. Sorensen intentionally took advantage of ambiguities in the law, or carelessly ignored the law.” After all, Biden continued, “If he did so, can he now bring the activities of the intelligence community within the strict limits of the law? We will expect that in the future of intelligence agencies. If that is to be the case, then we must hold the director – DCI – accountable as well.”

Notably, some of the recently discovered classified documents may have been from Biden’s time as a senator — over ten years ago. I have previously noted that Biden “has always been better at expressing revulsion than responsibility.” When it came to Sorensen, Biden could not imagine a rationalization for a nominee to excuse such mishandling of classified material, but as a president, “there is no there there.” Biden has continued to make the case against himself with remarkable determination. His defense that some documents were housed in his “locked garage with my Corvette” may go down as one of the most imbecilic statements in modern political history. He then followed up with his “no regrets” comments (and his assurance of “no there there”) just before more classified documents were found “there.”

While special counsel do not mind defendants making fools of themselves, they do not want to join them in such public spectacles. In this investigation, the Biden defense is looking increasingly implausible in his claim of no knowledge or responsibility. Indeed, if any witness or forensic evidence shows that Biden came into contact with any of these documents over the last 10 years, this dubious defense will take on a far more sinister appearance. It would establish not just intent and knowledge, but an effort to deceive the public and prosecutors. Yet, even after the latest batch was found, Biden and allies like Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., are continuing to maintain that “there is no there there.” These continuing denials now border on willful blindness and the public reaction is likely to echo the president’s favorite tagline: “Come on, man.”

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“..Hunter Biden, is like the ambitious-but-dull son who wants to inherit the family business but always screws up..”

Biden Family: The Delaware Sopranos (Newt Gingrich)

Watching HBO’s “the Sopranos” can really help you understand the Biden family. Between Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal, and the Bidens’ various shady private-equity schemes with foreign fraudsters, it’s not too hard to make the analogy. President Joe Biden is clearly the head of a family. He has repeatedly exploited his public offices to make money. His son, Hunter Biden, is like the ambitious-but-dull son who wants to inherit the family business but always screws up. Some of what the Bidens have done is clearly inappropriate. Even more of what they have done is an abuse of public office. Most of what they have done is simply secret. The best example of Bidens’ manipulation of the system for profit surrounds the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania.

The center has given the Bidens remarkable access to Chinese Communist Party money. According to reports in the New York Post, the university, “raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016.” As the paper reported, about $15.8 in anonymous Chinese gifts came after the Biden Center was announced in 2017. As soon as Biden left the White House as vice president, he was tapped to lead the center and given a professorship. Shortly after the center fully opened, another $14.5 million in anonymous Chinese gifts were delivered in May 2018. In another report about this flood of money, The Free Beacon said $61 million in Chinese donations went to the university from 2017 to 2020.

The numbers vary because there is virtually no public accountability or transparency about the money trail. It’s a given that Chinese sources aren’t going to share any information. And the University of Pennsylvania is simply refusing to obey the law and report the foreign donations. I worked with the Trump administration’s Department of Education on this for several years, and we simply could not get the University of Pennsylvania to open its books and explain where all the Chinese money was coming from. Consider that now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the manager of the Penn Biden Center. Several other Biden team members were paid by the University of Pennsylvania in the period between Joe Biden’s vice presidency and presidency. Meanwhile, in apparent appreciation for setting him up at the center, Joe Biden appointed former University President Amy Gutmann to be U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Similarly, David Cohen, the former chairman of the university’s board of trustees, is now the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

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Who’s seen them?

House Members To Press Secret Service About Biden’s Classified Records (JTN)

Stonewalled by the White House, House investigators are turning their attention to the Secret Service in hopes of finding records showing who had access to the five tranches of classified records found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and Washington think tank office. House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said Sunday the latest discovery of documents by the FBI during a search Friday had escalated the scandal from simply a question of incompetence, especially since the home where many of the documents were found was frequented by Hunter Biden as he pursued significant business deals with communist China.

“This has all the pattern of an influence peddling scheme, and it also has the makings of a potential coverup,” Comer told Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. “… There’s a lot of connections with the CCP directly to both Hunter Biden, Hunter Biden’s Uncle Jim and Joe Biden.” The Biden administration has refused to provide any information about the classified documents, citing last week an ongoing special counsel probe into the discoveries of five tranches of classified documents at the Wilmington, Del., family home and the Penn Biden Center in Washington since Nov. 2. Comer said Sunday the distribution of the documents at multiple locations raised concerns.

“Does anyone believe that those classified documents, when they left the vice president’s office, they just took them to multiple locations all over the East Coast?” he asked. “It has the appearance that someone would have taken them and moved them around. I mean, this is very concerning.” Comer said his committee would be sending letters to the Secret Service on Monday for any records the presidential security agency has about who visited either location. “Hopefully, the Secret Service is going to work with us,” he said. “We’re requesting tomorrow formally any type of correspondence, any type of emails, any type of documentation that would help us determine who actually had access to those documents. And hopefully the Secret Service will work with us despite the fact that this White House is not.”

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“..oil’s share of energy production in the United States will only fall 8 percent in the next two decades, from 31 to 23 percent…”

Biden Admin Finally Admits Mistake in Canceling Keystone XL Pipeline (RCE)

At long last, the Biden administration is admitting what experts have always known: reckless energy policies have disastrous consequences. This time, the Department of Energy quietly released a report highlighting the positive economic benefits of developing the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, an energy project canceled by President Biden in the hours following his inauguration. But the DOE’s report is a proverbial day late and a dollar short. The cancelation of the Keystone XL pipeline has already cost the United States thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth while families suffer under the weight of record high energy prices. It’s time for lawmakers to make American energy independence a top priority.

Released without a formal announcement, the DOE’s report points out that the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,000 jobs and would have had an economic benefit of between $3.4 and 9.6 billion. That’s no small impact. Yet with one stroke of his pen, Biden slashed the project and instead focused his efforts on costly “green energy” goals. As a result of his executive action, 11,000 pipeline workers were promptly laid off and told to “go to work to make solar panels” instead. But Biden’s green energy efforts are bound to backfire sooner rather than later. That’s because today, more than 70 percent of the energy produced and consumed in America comes from oil, gas and coal. That’s not likely to substantially change anytime soon.

In fact, the International Energy Agency predicts that oil’s share of energy production in the United States will only fall 8 percent in the next two decades, from 31 to 23 percent. And that’s assuming a sustained commitment to green energy policies. The forecast spells bad news for the Biden White House. At his political peril, Biden ignores the lessons of Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, who both lost elections due to spiked oil prices and accompanying recessions. Two years into sowing its Green New Deal policies, the administration is reaping a bitter harvest. Due to Biden’s folly, oil, natural gas and electricity prices have more than doubled in just a single year. Meanwhile, more than 28 percent of Americans abstained from purchasing food or medicine to pay an energy bill in 2021. And now, the misnamed Inflation Reduction Act includes wind and solar spending that will cost Americans $369 billion.

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“Klaus Schwab will stay in office until he dies..”

‘Succession’ Has Nothing On Davos: Elite Conclave Mulls Next Leader (Pol.eu)

It’s the political race everyone is afraid to talk about. For 52 years the World Economic Forum has been synonymous with its founder and executive chair Klaus Schwab, whose humble manner belies what many who know him describe as great ambition and boundless energy, even into his mid-80s. Schwab has grown WEF’s $6,000 startup capital in 1971 into a $390 million a year business, turning a once sleepy organization into the think tank world’s FIFA. Today, WEF’s annual meeting attracts more billionaires and CEOs than any other event on earth, and more political leaders than any gathering outside the United Nations General Assembly. So what (and who) comes after Klaus Schwab?

Schwab turns 85 in March, and it’s an open question whether he will pass the torch at all. Rupert Murdoch hasn’t. Warren Buffet hasn’t. In an era of active aging, why should Schwab? POLITICO spoke to 29 WEF corporate strategic partners, current and former WEF staffers, and members of the forum’s committees and communities. They all agree: Schwab tightly controls the succession discussion. Even those who know Schwab well profess little knowledge of his plans. Forum staffers have become used to Schwab putting a high-profile political figure in the frame for succession, only to see the idea disappear before it becomes a plan. Schwab has been reluctant to talk about succession, and has consistently refused to discuss a timetable.

Five of the people POLITICO spoke to said they suspect he will stay in the job until he dies, like the monarchs and popes his critics say he styles himself after. WEF insiders are typically unwilling to talk on-the-record about the organization’s post-Schwab future. All 29 people told POLITICO they feared being barred from WEF events, while others said even speaking anonymously could get them fired. WEF is registered as a non-profit, but it’s also a multi-generation family business. Schwab’s children Nicole and Olivier hold high-ranking positions in the organization, and his wife Hilde presides over a foundation and awards ceremony in Davos. WEF’s governing statutes give family members rights to board seats. In 2017 Schwab brought in Børge Brende, a former Norwegian foreign minister, to serve as WEF’s president, while Schwab himself remained executive chair. If some outsiders expected the then 79-year-old to ease into the shadows, they were wrong: Per WEF’s website, the organization’s 800-strong staff is still “led by Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab.”

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“An Inconvenient Truth” amassed $49 million at the world box office and catapulted Al into the top ranks of climate hysterics, and he’s never looked back..”

Al Gore Amassed a $330 Million Climate Fortune by Terrifying Everyone (RedS)

Former Vice President and 2000 presidential election loser Al Gore has spent his post-political career warning anyone who will listen that the earth is in its death throes due to global warming (now called climate change because somehow that’s better). His 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” amassed $49 million at the world box office and catapulted Al into the top ranks of climate hysterics, and he’s never looked back, constantly jetting to meetings around the world to preach his truth. This week he’s at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, because of course he is. Is he doing this because he truly believes what he’s saying, or because he cares so very much about you? While we can’t read his mind, one thing we do know for sure: climate change has been very, very good to Al Gore.

Though he was worth approximately $1.7 million at the end of his vice presidency, he has now amassed an estimated $330 million fortune, owns houses in Virginia, California, and Tennessee, and receives a cool $2 million a month for a figurehead position at the Generation Investment Management green energy fund he founded with former Goldman Sachs Managing Director David W. Blood. There are only two conclusions I can come to upon learning this news—1) I should have been a climate activist. 2) Hunter Biden has nothing on this guy. If he’s so concerned about rising seas, why would Gore buy a huge oceanview mansion in flood-prone Montecito? One might ask the same question of former president Barack Obama, who dropped $12 million for a waterfront view on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Gore’s other property holdings are pretty sweet, too, according to Daily Mail:”Gore’s family has owned farming land in his native Tennessee for generations, while his mansion in Nashville is valued at $7.5 million, his waterfront villa in Montecito, where he counts Oprah as a neighbor [and don’t forget Prince Harry], is worth $13 million, his Virginia home is worth around $3 million as is his apartment in the St. Regis building in San Francisco.” Where did he get all this money? He has a stake in the aforementioned $36 billion Generation Investment Management fund, around $80 million worth of stock in companies such as Apple and Google, and a salary from Apple as a compensation committee member. He receives $200,000 a pop per public speaking engagement and also advises companies on “going green” for undisclosed (but presumably huge) fees.

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Trump still looks strong.

Trump and DeSantis Both Leading Biden In Hypothetical 2024 Matchup (JTN)

If the 2024 presidential election were held today, either of the two top presumed Republican contenders for their party’s nomination would defeat President Joe Biden, according to a new survey. Both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would beat the current president if he chooses to run again, according to the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll, which was released Friday. The survey polled 2,050 registered voters, 65% of whom said that Biden should not run again. Of those polled, 46% said they would support Trump with 41% for Biden and 13% uncertain at this time. This was the same 5-point margin that Trump led by in the December poll results.


If the GOP candidate is Gov. DeSantis, the poll shows him defeating Biden by a margin of 42% to 39%. News of the scandal regarding Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents appears to make little difference to those surveyed, comparing the two months’ results. While Trump remains the clear favorite for the Republican nomination, leading DeSantis by a 48% to 28% margin, the co-director of the poll is not convinced the lead will hold. “Trump is ahead but already has every vote he can get,” Mark Penn told The Hill. “DeSantis is the candidate of potential.” Other potential Republican candidates all registered in single digits, with Mike Pence at 7%, Nikki Haley at 3%, and Mike Pompeo at 1%.

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WSJ only took 3 years. Underwhelming.

WSJ Shreds Vaccine Makers, Biden Admin Over “Deceptive” Booster Campaign (ZH)

Wall Street Journal editorial board member Allysia Finley has taken a flamethrower to vaccine makers over their “deceptive” campaign for bivalent Covid boosters, and slams several federal agencies for taking “the unprecedented step of ordering vaccine makers to produce them and recommending them without data supporting their safety or efficacy.” “You might have heard a radio advertisement warning that if you’ve had Covid, you could get it again and experience even worse symptoms. The message, sponsored by the Health and Human Services Department, claims that updated bivalent vaccines will improve your protection. This is deceptive advertising. But the public-health establishment’s praise for the bivalent shots shouldn’t come as a surprise. -WSJ”

The narrative behind the campaign was simple; mRNA Covid shots could simply be ‘tweaked’ to to target new variants – in this case, the jabs were claimed to confer protection against BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, along with the original Wuhan strain. To call this wishful thinking would be extremely generous. As Finley writes, three scientific problems have arisen. 1/ The virus is mutating much faster than vaccines can be updated. 2/ Vaccines have ‘hard wired’ our immune systems to respond to the original Wuhan strain, “so we churn out fewer antibodies that neutralize variants targeted by updated vaccines.” 3/ Antibody protection wanes after just a few months. Finley has brought receipts too…

Two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine this month showed that bivalent boosters increase neutralizing antibodies against the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but not significantly more than the original boosters. In one study, antibody levels after the bivalent boosters were 11 times as high against the Wuhan variant as BA.5. The authors posit that immune imprinting “may pose a greater challenge than is currently appreciated for inducing robust immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants.” This isn’t unique to Covid or mRNA vaccines, though boosters may amplify the effect. Our first exposure as children to the flu—whether by infection or vaccination—affects our future response to different strains. -WSJ”

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Actual Delta ad, 1973

 

 

Drive train

 

 

Lizard

 

 

 

 

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Jan 212023
 
 January 21, 2023  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  58 Responses »


Edward Hopper Night in the park 1921

 

Russo-Ukrainian War: The World Blood Pump (Big Serge)
Russia ‘Fights To The End’ – Borrell (RT)
Germany Says ‘Nein’ On Tanks At Allies’ Big Ramstein Meeting (ZH)
Poland Could Send Leopard Tanks To Ukraine Without German Approval (G.)
Pentagon Wants Kiev’s Backers To ‘Dig Deeper’ (RT)
Elon Musk Warns Against ‘Relentless Escalation’ In Ukraine (RT)
Top EU Official Comments On Sanctions ‘Debate’ With Kiev (RT)
Moscow Outlines What West Can Do To Resolve Ukraine Crisis (RT)
UK Finds Loophole To Buy Russian Oil – Media (RT)
A Page Turns (Jim Kunstler)
World Economic Fuck’em (QTR)
Investigation Pulls Back Veil On Soros’ ‘Indoctrination’ Efforts (RT)
I Have No Regrets: Biden Breaks Long Silence With Shattering Admission (Turley)
Men Live Longer (Happier?) Lives Taking Viagra; New Study Finds (ZH)
Medical Board Takes Action Against Misinformation Doc (MPT)

 

 

 

 

Tucker Biden is done

 

 

CNN turns on Biden

 

 

 

 

Dowd 23%

 

 

 

 

BARDA

 

 

Lavrov UN Charter

 

 

 

 

From yesterday: “United States advises Ukraine to withdraw its forces from Artemovsk (Bakhmut),” Agence France-Presse reports, citing a senior American official.

Russo-Ukrainian War: The World Blood Pump (Big Serge)

At the present moment, the Ukrainians are not encircled, but the continued creep of Russian positions ever closer to the remaining highways is easily discernable. At the present moment, Russian forces have positions within two miles of all the remaining highways. Even more importantly, Russia now controls the high ground to both the north and south of Bakhmut (the city itself sits in a depression surrounded by hills) giving Russia fire control over much of the battle space. I am currently anticipating that Russia will clear the Bakhmut-Siversk defensive line by late March. Meanwhile, the denuding of Ukrainian forces on other axes raises the prospect of decisive Russian offensives elsewhere.

At the moment, the front roughly consists of four main axes (the plural of axis, not the bladed implement), with substantial agglomerations of Ukrainian troops. These consist, from north to south, of the Zaporozhia, Donetsk, Bakhmut, and Svatove Axis (see map below). The effort to reinforce the Bakhmut sector has noticeably diluted Ukranian strength on these other axes. On the Zaporozhia front, for example, there are potentially as few as five Ukrainian brigades on the line at the moment. At the moment, the majority of Russian combat power is uncommitted, and both western and Ukrainian sources are (belatedly) becoming increasingly alarmed about the prospect for a Russian offensive in the comin weeks. Currently, the entire Ukrainian position in the east is vulnerable because it is, in effect, an enormous salient, vulnerable to attack from three directions.

Two operational depth objectives in particular have the potential to shatter Ukrainian logistics and sustainment. These are, respectively, Izyum in the north and Pavlograd in the South. A Russian thrust down the west bank of the Oskil river towards Izyum would simultaneously threaten to cut off and destroy the Ukrainian grouping on the Svatove axis (S on the map) and sever the vital M03 highway from Kharkov. Reaching Pavlograd, on the other hand, would completely isolate the Ukrainian forces around Donetsk and sever much of Ukraine’s transit across the Dneiper.

The bird’s eye view of this conflict reveals a fascinating meta-structure to the war. In the above section, I argue for a view of the front structured around Russia progressively breaking through sequential Ukrainian defensive belts. I think that a similar sort of progressive narrative structure applies to the force generation aspect of this war, with Russia destroying a sequence of Ukrainian armies. Let me be a bit more concrete. While the Ukrainian military exists at least partially as a continuous institution, its combat power has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times at this point through western assistance. Multiple phases – life cycles, if you will – can be identified:

In the opening months of the war, the extant Ukrainian army was mostly wiped out. The Russians destroyed much of Ukraine’s indigenous supplies of heavy weaponry and shattered many cadres at the core of Ukraine’s professional army. In the wake of this initial shattering, Ukrainian combat strength was shored up by transferring virtually all of the Soviet vintage weaponry in the stockpiles of former Warsaw Pact countries. This transferred Soviet vehicles and ammunition, compatible with existing Ukrainian capabilities, from countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, and was mostly complete by the end of spring, 2022. In early June, for example, western sources were admitting that Soviet stockpiles were drained.

With Warsaw Pact stockpiles exhausted, NATO began replacing destroyed Ukrainian capabilities with western equivalents in a process that began during the summer. Of particular note were howitzers like the American M777 and the French Caesar. Russia has essentially fought multiple iterations of the Ukrainian Army – destroying the pre-war force in the opening months, then fighting units that were refilled from Warsaw Pact stockpiles, and is now degrading a force which is largely reliant on western systems. This led to General Zaluzhny’s now-famous interview with the economist in which he asked for many hundreds of Main Battle Tanks, Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and artillery pieces. In effect, he asked for yet another army, as the Russians seem to keep destroying the ones he has.

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“It would be absurd to think that Russia has lost the war or that its military is incompetent..”

Ergo: Double down on Hitler and Napoleon’s errors.

Russia ‘Fights To The End’ – Borrell (RT)

EU foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell said on Friday that the West must keep sending weapons to Kiev, warning those who think Russia has lost or is doing poorly that Moscow has a history of winning long wars. “Russia is a great country, a great nation that is used to fighting to the end, almost losing and then recovering,” Borrell said in a speech in Madrid, bringing up the 1812 invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte’s French empire and the 1941 invasion by Adolf Hitler’s Germany as historical examples of this. “It would be absurd to think that Russia has lost the war or that its military is incompetent,” Borrell added. He claimed that so far Moscow “has been losing the war but it still has enormous strength and capacity to continue [fighting].” Because of this, he said, “now is the time to continue arming Ukraine with the necessary material and military means to wage the kind of war it has to wage.”

He described this as “not only a defensive war but one that allows it to take the initiative and break fronts and prevent Russia from launching a new, very powerful and bloody offensive in a few months.” Borrell’s invocation of Napoleon and Hitler was unusual, as Moscow has repeatedly compared the current efforts by the collective West with the two invasions, known as the Patriotic War and the Great Patriotic War, respectively. Napoleon led a multinational army recruited from all across French-dominated Europe and reached Moscow, but failed to compel Russia’s surrender. The war ended with Russian cavalry on the streets of Paris two years later. Hitler’s effort, also aided by numerous continental allies and vassals, fell just short of Moscow. The Axis armies were savaged at Stalingrad and turned back at Kursk, with Russian soldiers taking Berlin in 1945.

According to Russian estimates, the US and its allies funneled almost $100 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and supplies to the Ukrainian military in 2022. Despite this unprecedented effort, Borrell on Friday continued to insist the West was not a party to the conflict, and that the EU did everything it could to avoid it. Former leaders of Germany and France, however, publicly admitted that the European-mediated Minsk agreements had been a ploy to buy Ukraine time to prepare for war. The EU’s high commissioner for foreign affairs spoke at Madrid’s Teatro Real, where he was presented with the New Economy Forum 2022 Award. One of the presenters was Javier Solana, Borrell’s predecessor at the EU post and NATO’s secretary general in 1999, when the US-led bloc launched an unprovoked war against Yugoslavia.

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“..we have to be careful because we have a duty to look carefully and intensively at what might be the consequences for anybody in that conflict.”

Germany Says ‘Nein’ On Tanks At Allies’ Big Ramstein Meeting (ZH)

Is that a definitive nein on tanks? New German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in fresh statements has confirmed that defense leaders gathered for a much anticipated meeting in Ramstein failed to achieve consensus on tanks for Ukraine. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was present for the meeting which reportedly involved top military officials from some 50 nations, most of them NATO, who met to coordinate the path forward in arming Ukraine. There’s been intense, uneasy back-and-forth this week between Berlin and Washington on the question of supplying Western-manufactured heavy tanks to Kiev, namely the Leopard as well as M1 Abrams. Hawks among the alliance have seen Berlin as essentially standing in the way.

“Today, we can all not yet say when a decision will be made about Leopard and what this decision will look like,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said at the end of the Ramstein Air Base meeting. Amid accusations that Germany is waffling and thus weakening Western allies’ resolve, Pistorius continued, “We are not really hesitating we are just very carefully balancing all the pros and contra [cons] — we are not talking just about delivering anything to anybody, this is a new kind of measure we would choose, so we have to be careful because we have a duty to look carefully and intensively at what might be the consequences for anybody in that conflict.” While there was agreement to boost military aid to Ukraine among the allies gathered for the meeting, CNBC underscores that “Germany wavered on further EU tank deliveries despite mounting calls from Kyiv and fellow allies.”

The German defense minister continued, according to the remarks translated by CNBC: “I must say there is very clearly no unanimous opinion. The impression that has occasionally been made that there is a closed coalition and Germany stands in the way of this is wrong. There are many allies who say we share the opinion that I explained here today again, there are good reasons for the delivery and there are good reasons against it.” Going into the meeting it was widely reported days ago that Berlin has told European allies that it will authorize Leopard tanks only if Washington first leads the way with supply its own Abrams tanks. But the Biden administration has shut the door on these heavy, advanced tanks for the time being.

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Abrams tanks: “..three gallons to the mile with jet fuel..”

And then you have to supply that fuel. To battle theaters. And Abrams are prone to breaking down. Get real.

Poland Could Send Leopard Tanks To Ukraine Without German Approval (G.)

The Polish prime minister has said his country would be willing to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine without securing Germany’s approval if Berlin does not agree to their re-export at Friday’s meeting of western defence ministers at Ramstein airbase. Mateusz Morawiecki said in a radio interview on Thursday that “consent was of secondary importance” when it came to German-made tanks, because the key issue was to get military aid to Ukraine urgently. “We will either obtain this consent quickly, or we will do it ourselves,” Morawiecki added, heaping further pressure on Berlin to allow German made Leopard 2s to be sent to Ukraine in preparation for a spring offensive.

His comments came as the US Defense Department formally announced new military assistance for Ukraine valued at up to $2.5bn, including armoured vehicles and support for Ukraine’s air defence. The aid includes 59 Bradley fighting vehicles and 90 Stryker armoured personnel carriers, but not Abrams tanks. Poland, along with Finland, has said it wants to give 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, which would normally require German approval, but it is one of a number of countries trying to force the pace at a time when Berlin is still negotiating. Arvydas Anusauskas, Lithuania’s defence minister, said others could follow suit at the Ramstein meeting on Friday. “Some of the countries will definitely send Leopard tanks to Ukraine, that is for sure,” he said.

Lloyd Austin, the US defence secretary, met his newly appointed German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, in Berlin on Thursday, but neither mentioned the Leopard standoff in brief commentsbefore their meeting. Previously, German officials signalled Berlin was willing to break the logjam if the US would also agree to send over some of its own Abrams tanks to Ukraine. But the US said on Wednesday it did not want to do that, because the Abrams, which has a jet turbine engine, is fuel inefficient and so requires complex logistics support. Colin Kahl, the US undersecretary of defence for policy, said: “The Abrams tank is a very complicated piece of equipment. It’s expensive, it’s hard to train on, it has a jet engine – I think it’s about three gallons to the mile with jet fuel. It is not the easiest system to maintain.”

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Maybe they can empty our bank accounts?!

Pentagon Wants Kiev’s Backers To ‘Dig Deeper’ (RT)

Nations providing weapons to Ukraine need to double down on their effort because the country is facing a make-or-break moment, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday ahead of a key meeting of military donors in Germany. “We need to keep up our momentum and our resolve, and we need to dig even deeper,” the Pentagon chief said in his opening remarks before a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the US Ramstein air base. He described this as “a decisive moment for Ukraine and a decisive decade for the world.” Austin touted the latest military assistance package announced by the Pentagon this week as an example of Washington’s leadership. The $2.5 billion commitment boosted total US military aid to Ukraine since hostilities with Russia broke out last February to over $26.7 billion, the US official noted.

He praised a number of NATO partners, including Poland, Canada, Germany, France, for their lethal aid to Kiev and urged further arming of the Ukrainian forces. “The Ukrainian people are watching us. The Kremlin is watching us. And history is watching us,” Austin declared. Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov will ask donors at the Ramstein meeting for more anti-aircraft systems, offensive weapons, including tanks, and “systematic ammo supplies,” his department said in a tweet. Whether or not Kiev will be given Western-made tanks has been a point of contention among NATO members. Poland and several other nations have said they were willing to provide German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks from their fleets, pending Berlin’s consent. The German government has reportedly conditioned its permission on the US leading by example.

The Pentagon declined to include M1 Abrams tanks in its latest package to Ukraine, citing “sustainment issues.” The tank requires jet fuel to operate and is difficult to maintain, so it “just doesn’t make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists on Thursday. Moscow has accused the US and its allies of prolonging the conflict in Ukraine by forcing Kiev to eschew the pursuit of peace and also pumping it with weapons. It has pledged to achieve its security goals in the conflict regardless of how much support its adversary receives.

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“I am super pro Ukraine, but relentless escalation is very risky for Ukraine and the world.”

Elon Musk Warns Against ‘Relentless Escalation’ In Ukraine (RT)

Billionaire Elon Musk urged caution on Friday following reports that the US is changing its stance on whether it should assist Ukraine in attacking Russia’s Crimean Peninsula. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported, citing sources, that Washington is starting to concede that Kiev needs to have the ability to strike deep into Russian territory, even if this entails the risk of escalation. US officials are said to be “discussing with their Ukrainian counterparts the use of American-supplied weapons, from HIMARS rocket systems to Bradley fighting vehicles, to possibly target … Crimea.” The peninsula overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in 2014 following the Maidan coup in Kiev. Musk responded to a Twitter user who posted a link to the Times article by saying: “I am super pro Ukraine, but relentless escalation is very risky for Ukraine and the world.”


This is not the first time the tycoon has weighed in on the Ukraine conflict. In October, Musk came up with a peace plan to end the hostilities between Moscow and Kiev. According to his proposal, Russia should “redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision,” with Moscow withdrawing from these areas if this is what the people want. He was referring to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, which overwhelmingly voted to join Russia last year. However, the Twitter CEO also suggested that Crimea should remain part of Russia, sparking outrage in Kiev. Ukraine’s former ambassador to Berlin, Andrey Melnik, told him to “f**k off.” Later, Musk noted that Russia views Crimea as an integral part of its territory, and attempts to seize it by a foreign power could trigger a nuclear war. “If Russia is faced with the choice of losing Crimea or using battlefield nukes, they will choose the latter,” he wrote at the time.

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“Negotiations regarding further sanctions on Russia with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky are becoming increasingly complicated with each new round..”

Top EU Official Comments On Sanctions ‘Debate’ With Kiev (RT)

Negotiations regarding further sanctions on Russia with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky are becoming increasingly complicated with each new round, European Council President Charles Michel said during a trip to Kiev on Thursday. The statement came after Zelensky urged the EU to impose even tighter restrictions on Moscow. “Each debate on sanctions is much more difficult than the previous one,” Michel told reporters, as quoted by Bloomberg. “We have good debates with President Zelensky, and I will brief my colleagues on what are the Ukrainian proposals and we will consult. I’m confident we will be able to strengthen the pressure on the Kremlin.” Michel added that the EU will adopt a tenth sanctions package on Moscow. “We have to see which additional sectors can be targeted in the future,” he said.

The EU imposed sweeping restrictions on Russia after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February. Zelensky called on Brussels on Thursday to target Russia’s nuclear industry, including “all entities involved in the Russian missile program.” He also asked for a full ban on Russian energy exports. The bloc’s efforts to completely relinquish Russian oil and gas have been met with resistance from countries such as Hungary, whose economy is heavily dependent on Russian energy. Budapest has managed to gain several carve-outs that allow it to continue receiving supplies from Moscow. “Russian [energy] accounts for 85% of Hungary’s gas consumption and 65% of oil demand. This cannot be changed overnight,” Tamas Menczer, the state secretary for foreign affairs, explained last week.

The Hungarian government shared survey results this month indicating that “97% of Hungarians reject sanctions that cause serious damage.” It added that “the message is clear: the Brussels sanctions policy must be reviewed.” The Kremlin stated last month that the Russian economy has adapted to the sanctions and that it is impossible to deny that the restrictions are hurting the EU countries as well. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West on Wednesday of trying to use sanctions to incite “a revolution” in Russia and assert “the dominance of the US by all means.”

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“Germany, France and Ukraine were playing a swindle game with the Minsk agreements. Now is payback time..”

Moscow Outlines What West Can Do To Resolve Ukraine Crisis (RT)

US-Russia relations are at their lowest point ever amid the crisis in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. As the conflict deteriorates, the only way to reverse it is for Western nations to acknowledge their mistakes and change their policies, he added. Despite initial hopes that under President Joe Biden the US would engage Russia diplomatically, the last two years “have been very bad for our bilateral relations,” the official told journalists. They are now “probably at their lowest point, historically” he added, and “there is no hope for improvement anytime soon.” The Ukraine hostilities – the focus of the confrontation between Russia and Western nations – are in “an upward spiral” according to Peskov.

“We can see a growing indirect, and sometimes direct involvement of NATO nations in this conflict,” he stated. The nations that back Kiev are acting under “a delusion that Ukraine has any chance to win on the battlefield,” he explained. Asked how the vicious circle could be broken, Peskov suggested that the US and its allies had to mentally turn the clock back to the end of 2021, “when Russia was suggesting a discussion of its concerns at the negotiations table” only to be dismissed. Western repentance for its “cynicism” was also in order, he added. “Germany, France and Ukraine were playing a swindle game with the Minsk agreements. Now is payback time,” he said, referring to the roadmap for Ukraine reconciliation, which the three nations signed with Russia in 2015.

Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and Pyotr Poroshenko, the leaders at the time of Germany, France and Ukraine respectively, have since stated that the deal they negotiated with Russia was meant to give Kiev time to rebuild its military. Moscow considers these admissions to be evidence that the negotiations were conducted in bad faith and that the Ukrainian government and its backers had always intended for the Minsk agreements to fail and for the Donbass standoff to be resolved by military means. Russia claimed that its military campaign in Ukraine launched last February preempted an offensive planned by Kiev with NATO’s help. Ukraine, Germany, and France “lied to the people of Donbass, as they had a terrible fate planned for them, which Russia prevented,” Peskov explained.

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I see the name Singapore pop up in these schemes, not just India.

UK Finds Loophole To Buy Russian Oil – Media (RT)

British consumers are indirectly buying Russian oil and petroleum products despite a Western embargo on crude exports from the sanctioned country, OilPrice reported on Monday, suggesting that the bulk of it may come from India. A ban on Russian seaborne oil exports, along with a price cap of $60 per barrel, was introduced by the EU, G7 nations and Australia on December 5. Another embargo banning almost all imports of Russian oil products kicks in on February 5. The UK, which has been among the most vocal advocates of abandoning Russian energy imports, has claimed to be one of the most successful countries in achieving this target. London committed to phasing out Russian oil by the end of 2022, slashing down imports to £2 million ($2.45 million) in October.

However, diesel accounted for 18% of its total demand last year, according to OilPrice, and a number of UK consumers may have replaced direct Russian imports with supplies from Russian-fed refineries. The outlet suggests that the UK has been using India as a “back door,” given a sharp increase in the country’s imports of Russian oil, which hit a record high of 1.2 million barrels per day in December. Prior to last year, India’s imports of Russian crude were insignificant, due to high freight costs. However, the volumes that New Delhi is now buying and re-exporting suggest that some of the refined crude from the sanctions-hit country may ultimately be pumped in UK filling stations.

High diesel prices in Europe and steep discounts on Russian crude offer “a window of opportunity” for Indian refiners, the outlet said. According to tracking data from Kpler, in 2022 the Jamnagar refinery on India’s west coast boosted, by a factor of four, its imports of oil and fuel oil from Russia compared to 2021. Meanwhile, the UK has purchased a total of 10 million barrels of diesel and other refined products from Jamnagar since the beginning of 2022.

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“..We do understand how “Joe Biden” won the 2020 election: via massive fraud engineered by fraud-master Marc Elias, king of the Lawfare trolls..”

A Page Turns (Jim Kunstler)

I’ll never understand — and neither will you — how “Joe Biden” got propelled out of ignominious defeat in the earliest presidential primaries, to sweep the field on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Around the same time, all his rivals magically dropped out of the race for the nomination. Some kind of message must have gone out from Deep State Central. Who wanted this licentious old grifter in White House? Well, probably his old boss, Barack Obama, and just about everyone in officialdom connected to the shenanigans in Ukraine dating back to 2014, and then the RussiaGate illegalities that ensued from it, especially former CIA boss John Brennan and his cronies. Under Mr. Obama, the whole US government had become something like a rotten log infested with sowbugs of grift, deceit, and malfeasance. Installing the dotty old bird in the White House would give Mr. Obama a stealth third term. Mostly, it would prevent the dreaded Golden Golem of populism, Donald Trump, from bringing any harm to that cabal and its, ahem, interests.

We do understand how “Joe Biden” won the 2020 election: via massive fraud engineered by fraud-master Marc Elias, king of the Lawfare trolls, who fine-tuned the mail-in ballot operation during the likewise engineered Covid-19 public health ruse. That wicked election business, of course, is just another grave matter requiring the utmost protection to prevent any inquiry from ever gaining traction. And yet all of it, the monumental government crime spree of recent years is all unraveling before our eyes — even before Jim Jordan or anyone else has even said boo from a House committee chair.

It’s all falling apart — along with America’s economy, our institutions, and our culture. The Biden family’s cover stories are collapsing, the government’s censorship and propaganda machine has thrown a rod, the Covid-19 story looks day-by-day like organized mass murder, election fraud issues still stalk the land despite every effort to squash them — and the grim reality coalesces that Russia is going to clean up the mess we made in Ukraine, and, in the aftermath, probably produce a shit-ton of evidence of American corruption and villainy there.

“Joe Biden,” the phantom president, has entered the air-lock, waiting to be jettisoned into the deep space of ignominy, chocolate mint chip ice cream cone in hand. Kamala Harris watches the action offstage in a fugue of anxiety and depression. She does not want to become president — and, guess what, nobody really wants her to be, either. She won’t even have to be induced to step aside. Her hysteria will be so great that not even the hypnotists of the Intel Community will be able to calm her down. She’ll run shrieking from it back to California. The levers of control finally fail. By a caprice of history, and the genius of the founding fathers, Kevin McCarthy lands in the White House. A page turns. The coup is finally over. That’s my fantasy du jour.

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“..authoritarian catnip to the dingleberries that assemble at the World Economic Forum every year..”

World Economic Fuck’em (QTR)

[..] the “Forum” is harboring incredible influence, mostly with “useful” bureaucratic idiots on the left who are happy to take their cues on how to napalm individual rights for betterment of advancing their agendas from anyone who will help, regardless of their motivation. That’s right: gone are the days of joking about The Great Reset, owning nothing and liking it and shifting to a diet of mealworms and crickets.I’ve arrived at a point past that – a point of being sickened by watching people that in no way, shape or form represent me or the people in my life, yammer on about what my future will or won’t look like and what things I stand for are “right” or “wrong”.


It’s right in the WEF’s mission statement: “The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.” The truth is no matter how much each narcissistic and likely psychotic guest would love to speak on behalf of millions, or even billions of people, they simply don’t. I don’t expect these people to understand the consequences of painting with a broad brush, nor do I think they care about them. Take the Covid vaccines as an example. Isn’t the idea of jabbing every single person on Earth, regardless of age, health status and lifestyle (lest we forget whether or not they consent to it reckless? Of course it is. But it doesn’t matter – because someone wanted it to be done…and, with that, it was put into action.

Wild, right? This unilateral implementation of mandates during Covid, regardless of what the individual may want for themselves and their families, was authoritarian catnip to the dingleberries that assemble at the World Economic Forum every year. I’m certain it has enabled many participants to think: we did it with vaccines – we cut them off from travel, we put their jobs and their livelihoods on the line and we even arrested and jailed them – now we can do it with anything else. I don’t need to be in Davos this week to understand how little I have in common with the people of the World Economic Forum. I know this because I was recently in Washington DC during the International Monetary Fund’s most recent circle jerk world conference.

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“Maria Zakharova: [..] Should it be proven that the leading US media outlets “received money for adjusting their coverage, all US democracy could be wrapped up in their Constitution and thrown out into the garbage heap of history..”

Investigation Pulls Back Veil On Soros’ ‘Indoctrination’ Efforts (RT)

Billionaire George Soros has links to dozens of prominent media figures in the US and beyond via organizations he funded, a conservative US watchdog claims. In the last report of a three-part investigation, published on Tuesday, MRC Business examined the ties of the Budapest-born liberal mogul, coming to the conclusion that he “cemented himself as one of the most powerful influencers in global politics through his incredible influence in the media.” MRC Business said that it had uncovered at least “54 major figures in journalism and activist media who are connected to Soros-funded organizations.” The list includes CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour, NBC News anchor Lester Holt, and Cesar Conde, the NBCUniversal News Group chairman, who oversees the outlets NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC.

Many of the 54 individuals play prominent roles in institutions funded by Soros. For instance, Amanpour is a senior adviser at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which received $2.75 million from the mogul between 2018 and 2020, while Holt is listed as a board member in the same organization. Conde is a trustee at the Aspen Institute, which received over $1 million from the billionaire between 2016 and 2020. According to MRC, in total Soros has funneled over $32 billion into his organizations in a bid “to spread his radical ‘open society’ agenda on abortion, Marxist economics, anti-Americanism, defunding the police, environmental extremism and LGBT fanaticism.” These efforts have paid off, allowing him to “help indoctrinate millions with his views on a day-to-day basis”, the group claims.

MRC has previously claimed that Soros has financial ties to at least 253 media organizations globally, funding them through his non-profit groups and enabling him to reach viewers and listeners in virtually every corner of the world. Commenting on the report, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted on Thursday that such revelations could be compared to a “nuclear bombshell.” Should it be proven that the leading US media outlets “received money for adjusting their coverage, all US democracy could be wrapped up in their Constitution and thrown out into the garbage heap of history,” she said.

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If his own party goes after him, this is probably how.

I Have No Regrets: Biden Breaks Long Silence With Shattering Admission (Turley)

President Joe Biden has something that he wants the public to know. After the discovery of highly classified material in Biden’s former office, his garage and library, the President wanted to make one thing (and only one thing) perfectly clear: “I have no regrets.” It was a moment that rivaled his disastrous observation that, while classified material was found in his garage, it is a locked garage that also housed his beloved 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. While Biden’s “corvette standard” for storing classified documents was baffling, his declaration of “no regrets” is downright infuriating. It is also remarkably moronic with a special counsel in the field. Either the President believes that Special Counsel Robert K. Hur will paper over the entire affair or he is doing his best to force his hand with a criminal charge.

Biden was miffed to be even asked about the matter after stonewalling the press for days. He ventured out of his White House bunker to tour storm damage in California and used the victims as a virtual human shield: “You know what, quite frankly, bugs me is that we have a serious problem here we’re talking about. We’re talking about what’s going on. And the American people don’t quite understand why you don’t ask me questions about that.” The problem is that recent polls show that, while the President has no regrets, the public overwhelmingly does. Most citizens view his conduct as negligent. Roughly two-thirds believe that Congress should investigate the President, including a majority of Democrats. Sixty percent believe that he acted inappropriately with classified material.

Nevertheless, after days to hunkering down with this aides and polls, Biden decided to stick with total and absolute denial of regret or responsibility. It was not a surprise for many of us who have following Biden and his family through the years. I wrote at the start of this scandal that Biden’s ” silence is hardly surprising. Biden has always been better at expressing revulsion than responsibility. Time and again, he has literally rushed before cameras to denounce others, often without basis, for alleged crimes. He has not waited for investigations, let alone trials.” When it has come to his own alleged misconduct, Biden will deflect, deny, but rarely declare responsibility.”

The comments on Thursday were classic Biden. He first deflected by using the California victims. He then denied any real responsibility. Despite the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his conduct, he shrugged off the entire matter as something akin to finding a neighbor’s borrowed hammer from 2017 in his garage: “We found a handful of documents were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department …I think you’re going to find there’s nothing there. I have no regrets. I’m following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. It’s exactly what we’re doing. There’s no there there.”

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Hey, it makes the blood flow!

Men Live Longer (Happier?) Lives Taking Viagra; New Study Finds (ZH)

The second study in two years shows Viagra might reduce the risk of heart disease in men. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) found that men who took the little blue pill experienced a 39% reduction in heart disease. USC researchers gathered data from 70,000 men with an average age of 52 who were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction within the last decade. They believe Viagra increases blood flow and oxygen into the heart and throughout the body. Viagra users also were 17% less likely to suffer heart failure and had a 22% reduction in developing unstable angina. All of those conditions are fatal if untreated. Men who used the drug achieved longer life and decreased the risk of early death by 25%.


“Viagra was associated with lower incidence of [heart complications], cardiovascular death, and overall mortality risk compared to non-exposure,” the researchers wrote. The last study, published in the American College journal of Cardiology and titled “Association of Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors Versus Alprostadil With Survival in Men With Coronary Artery Disease,” showed older men with cardiovascular disease who took the erectile dysfunction pill lived a healthier life. According to the American Heart Association, erectile dysfunction could be an early warning sign of heart disease in otherwise healthy men.

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Straight from the Middle Ages.

Medical Board Takes Action Against Misinformation Doc (MPT)

An Idaho pathologist who previously came under fireopens in a new tab or window for prescribing ivermectin to COVID-19 patients and spreading falsities about vaccines, is facing disciplinary actionopens in a new tab or window by the Medical Commission in Washington state, where he is also licensed to practice. Ryan Cole, MD, is said to have made “numerous false and misleading statements” during public presentations on the pandemic, COVID vaccines, the use of ivermectin to treat COVID, and the effectiveness of masks, according to a statement of chargesopens in a new tab or window issued by the Washington Medical Commission earlier this month. He also allegedly provided negligent care to a number of patients in the prevention or treatment of COVID.

“Due to their specialized knowledge and training, licensed physicians possess a high degree of public trust,” the commission wrote in the statement. “That public trust is essential to effective delivery of medical care. Knowingly false statements or those made in reckless disregard for the truth, such as the medical disinformation statements by respondent … erode the public’s trust in physicians and their medical treatment and advice, and thereby injure public health.” Specifically, at all times relevant to the case, Cole, an anatomical and clinical pathologist, ran an independent medical laboratory that he owns, provided direct care to patients via telemedicine through the website MyFreeDoctor.com, and spoke at public and private forums, as well as on news shows and podcasts, the statement noted.

According to the commission, since March 2021, Cole is said to have made false and misleading comments during his presentations, including, “Children survive [COVID-19] at a hundred percent,” and “A hundred percent of world [ivermectin] trials have shown benefit.” Other public statements Cole is said to have made include that the COVID vaccine is “an experimental biological gene therapy immune-modulatory injection,” in addition to “a fake vaccine … the clot shot, needle rape.”

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Apr 192017
 
 April 19, 2017  Posted by at 9:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Jan van Eyck Saint Barbara 1437

 

The Great Western Economic Depression (Nielson)
How Western Civilisation Could Collapse (BBC)
Why the Federal Reserve Is Bad for America (DDMB)
Trump’s New Problem: Americans Aren’t Shopping (CNN)
British PM Wants Election Now, Before Cost of Brexit Becomes Clear (ICept)
UK Tory MPs Still Under Investigation For Election Fraud (Can.)
China’s $8.5 Trillion Shadow Bank Industry Is Back in Full Swing (BBG)
So China’s Authorities Crack Down on Housing Speculation? (WS)
Subsidiarity – A European Union Smokescreen To Justify Failure (Bilbo)
Greece’s Migration Policy Ministry to Spread Migrants in Small Towns (GR)
How the Greek Crisis is Profitable for the International Monetary Fund (GR)
Key South Africa Leopard Population Crashing (AFP)

 

 

“Consider 0% and near-zero interest rates to be the economic equivalent of a defibrillator: the most-extreme, last-resort attempt to “stimulate” the human body when it is near death. Our economies have had this economic defibrillator attached to them for more than eight years – without the slightest glimmer of life.”

The Great Western Economic Depression (Nielson)

Western economies are “recovering”. How do we know this? We are told this, over and over and over again by our governments. Then this assertion is repeated thousands of times more by the dutiful parrots of the Corporate media. The problem is that in the real world there is not a shred of evidence to support this assertion. In the U.S.; ridiculous official lies were created claiming the creation of 15 million new jobs. In reality, there are three millionless Americans with jobs today than at the official end of the “recession”. These imaginary jobs are invented by assorted statistical frauds, with the primary deceit being so-called “seasonal adjustments”. To be legitimate, all seasonal adjustments must to net to zero at the end of each year. Instead, in the U.S.A., the biggest job creator in the nation every year is the calendar.

Beyond the grandiose but absurd claims of new jobs in the U.S., there have been few signs of economic health across the Corrupt West. Despite this, these traitorous regimes continue the pretense that their horrific mismanagement of our economies is making things better rather than worse. There are numerous subtle means of demonstrating that Western economies have never been in more calamitous ill health than they are today. Fortunately, there are also two very large and important indicators which provide absolute proof that all of the economies of the Corrupt West are in a Greater Depression: interest rates and energy demand. Regular readers have often seen the observation in these commentaries that interest rates across the West have never been this low for this long in the entire history of these nations – not even close. Why not? Two reasons:

1) Interest rates this low have always been perceived (by our governments and all legitimate economic commentators) as being so reckless that any short-term benefit from such rates would have been more than offset by long-term harm.

2) The reason why our governments have always deemed interest rates this low to be reckless is that in remotely healthy economies such rates would cause these economies to “over-heat” so rapidly and extremely that they would reach unsustainable levels of production and demand.

Are our economies over-heating? No. Nothing could be further from the truth. We see nothing but over-capacity all around us: one hundred million permanently unemployed people across the West, relentless business closures, declining real wages, and near-empty shopping malls (in “consumer economies”). Interest rates this low are supposed to cause such rapid business expansion that the economy suffers from a labour shortage. Why are there a hundred million people unemployed across the West instead of labour shortages? Regular readers have seen this question answered in the past in the form of a metaphor.

Consider 0% and near-zero interest rates to be the economic equivalent of a defibrillator: the most-extreme, last-resort attempt to “stimulate” the human body when it is near death. Our economies have had this economic defibrillator attached to them for more than eight years – without the slightest glimmer of life. What would happen to a human body if it was defibrillated continuously for more than eight years? Charred meat. This is what Western economies have become: charred meat.

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Bit bland, because BBC. But useful to note that inequality collapses civilizations.

How Western Civilisation Could Collapse (BBC)

While it’s impossible to predict the future with certainty, mathematics, science and history can provide hints about the prospects of Western societies for long-term continuation. Safa Motesharrei, a systems scientist at the University of Maryland, uses computer models to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that can lead to local or global sustainability or collapse. According to findings that Motesharrei and his colleagues published in 2014, there are two factors that matter: ecological strain and economic stratification. The ecological category is the more widely understood and recognised path to potential doom, especially in terms of depletion of natural resources such as groundwater, soil, fisheries and forests – all of which could be worsened by climate change.

That economic stratification may lead to collapse on its own, on the other hand, came as more of a surprise to Motesharrei and his colleagues. Under this scenario, elites push society toward instability and eventual collapse by hoarding huge quantities of wealth and resources, and leaving little or none for commoners who vastly outnumber them yet support them with labour. Eventually, the working population crashes because the portion of wealth allocated to them is not enough, followed by collapse of the elites due to the absence of labour. The inequalities we see today both within and between countries already point to such disparities.

For example, the top 10% of global income earners are responsible for almost as much total greenhouse gas emissions as the bottom 90% combined. Similarly, about half the world’s population lives on less than $3 per day. For both scenarios, the models define a carrying capacity – a total population level that a given environment’s resources can sustain over the long term. If the carrying capacity is overshot by too much, collapse becomes inevitable. That fate is avoidable, however. “If we make rational choices to reduce factors such as inequality, explosive population growth, the rate at which we deplete natural resources and the rate of pollution – all perfectly doable things – then we can avoid collapse and stabilise onto a sustainable trajectory,” Motesharrei said. “But we cannot wait forever to make those decisions.”

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Seeing the world through beer goggles.

Why the Federal Reserve Is Bad for America (DDMB)

Commercial real estate and bonds are more overvalued than at any time in history and stocks are trading at their priciest level save one period, the late 1990s before the dotcom implosion. The beer goggles, it would seem, have blinded investors to the bubble wrap that’s enveloped their portfolios. There are a few brave souls at the Fed who have raised a red flag. On March 22nd, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren warned, “…we must acknowledge that the commercial real estate sector has the potential to amplify whatever problems may emerge when we at some point face an economic downturn.”

Wiser words, especially given so few who recall that it was not the decline in oil prices that made the late 1980s such a painful period for the economy, but rather the crash in commercial real estate the energy crunch catalyzed. Underlying the multiple overheating markets is a persistent underappreciation of financial instability among Fed policymakers. The institution, overladen as it is with PhD economists, has yet to revisit the models that drive its setting of interest rate policy. Had the Fed’s inflation metrics taken into account runaway stock prices in the late 1990s and skyrocketing home prices in the early 2000s, it’s likely they would have intervened to tighten financial conditions much sooner than they did. Revisiting the wisdom of former Fed chair McChesney Martin is useful:

The danger with these econometricians is they don’t know their own limitations, and they have a far greater sense of confidence in their analyses than I have found to be warranted. Such people are not dangerous to me because I understand their limitations.

They are, however, dangerous to people like you and the politicians because you don’t know their limitations, and you are impressed and confused by the elaborate models and mathematics. The flaws in these analyses are almost always embedded in the assumptions on which they are based. And that is where broader wisdom is required, a wisdom that these mathematicians generally do not have.

You always want these technical experts on tap in positions like this, but never on top. The hope is that President Donald Trump heeds McChesney Martin’s 1970s-era wisdom, that he respects the wishes of those who originally envisioned the Fed as an appreciably more intellectually diverse entity. After all, the original 1913 Federal Reserve Act requires the president to appoint leaders across a diversity of industries.

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How is it possible that these people completely miss out on the reason why? Which is: they have no money to spend. They’re not stingy, or skeptical, they’re simply poor.

Trump’s New Problem: Americans Aren’t Shopping (CNN)

President Trump keeps pushing “Buy American.” He’s planning to tout it again at a stop in Wisconsin on Tuesday. But the alarming reality is Americans aren’t spending much money on anything right now, regardless of where it’s made. Retail sales declined in February and March from the prior month, according the Commerce Department. Shoppers haven’t been this stingy since early 2015, and it’s likely to hurt the economy. The U.S. is on track for very sluggish 0.5% growth in the first three months this year, according to the latest estimates from Macroeconomic Advisers and the Atlanta Federal Reserve. That falls massively short of the 4% growth that Trump has promised. Trump loves to plug how Americans’ confidence in the economy has skyrocketed since he won the election. He’s right.

Consumers, businesses (big and small) and investors are all feeling a lot more optimistic, according to various surveys. But all that enthusiasm isn’t translating into more shopping, which drives the U.S. economy. About 70% of the American economy comes from people buying stuff. Kate Warne, a long-time investment strategist at Edward Jones, calls this the era of “skeptical optimism.” “People are more optimistic, but they’re skeptically optimistic,” Warne told CNNMoney. “I don’t think they are confident yet that things will change as much as they would like them too.” [..] Another twist is that Republicans are a lot more optimistic than Democrats. [..] Overall, the University of Michigan index of consumer confidence has jumped from 87 in October to 98 today. But that headline figure masks a wild division.

Democrats believe “a deep recession” is coming under Trump (their confidence index is a mere 55), while Republicans expected a “new era of robust economic growth” (their index level is a sky-high 122). Independents are in between, as you might expect. If half the country thinks recession is near, that might explain why retail sales are slowing, or even showing some signs of decline.

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Good observation. But a good chance for May’s opponents.

British PM Wants Election Now, Before Cost of Brexit Becomes Clear (ICept)

Prime Minister Theresa May, who was actually against Brexit before she was for it, made another dramatic U-turn on Tuesday, declaring that Britain needs to elect a new Parliament in June, three years ahead of schedule, despite her clear promise not to call an election when she campaigned to succeed David Cameron last year. Her decision to subject Britons to a third national election campaign in just over two years — after the 2015 general election and the referendum on exiting the European Union ten months ago — was met with something less than enthusiasm by many voters. In her address to the nation, May claimed that a fresh election was necessary to keep opposition parties from obstructing her Conservative government during negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

That argument rang hollow, however, given that the opposition Labour Party had just voted for the government’s bill to begin the process of leaving the E.U. and is not campaigning to overturn the results of last year’s referendum. To most political observers, it was clear that May’s decision was driven by something else: a desire to capitalize on the unprecedented weakness of the Labour Party, which is divided over Brexit, and its own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and has trailed the Conservatives by up to 21 points in recent polls. As the writer Robert Harris and the broadcaster James O’Brien suggested, it might also be in May’s own self-interest, and that of her party, to ask the nation for a five-year term now, before the costs of Brexit become apparent. Although even many die-hard Labour supporters seemed resigned to defeat, some on the left welcomed the chance to vote against what they see as the potentially disastrous policy of a complete break with Europe.

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What is this, Brazil?

20 UK Tory MPs Still Under Investigation For Election Fraud (Can.)

Theresa May has announced a snap election on 8 June 2017. But as the country prepares for another election campaign, it’s important to remember that MPs in her party are being investigated for election fraud for the 2015 general election. And given the mainstream media’s reluctance to report the issue, we need to ensure it is kept firmly on the agenda. 12 police forces have submitted files to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over allegations that up to 20 MPs and/or their agents broke election spending limits in the 2015 election. The CPS is deciding whether charges should be brought. And a decision is expected soon – and is likely to come during the election campaign. The allegations centre around the ‘battle bus’ campaign, and associated expenses such as hotel rooms.

Many argue that the campaign promoted prospective local MPs in key seats. Under election law, any expenditure which promotes a local candidate should be covered locally. But the ‘battle bus’ and associated costs were declared nationally. Each constituency has a fixed amount of money it can spend locally. And including the ‘battle bus’ expenditure would have meant many candidates overspent. Additionally, the Election Commission has fined the Conservatives £70,000 for multiple breaches in connection to election spending during the 2015 campaign. But it isn’t just the ‘battle bus’ campaigns where the Conservatives have been accused of fraud. As The Canary previously reported, there are questions over how the party used social media and, particularly, Facebook, to target voters.

A report by the London School of Economics has also warned [pdf] that Facebook targeting opens the door to electoral fraud: “The ability to target specific people within a particular geographic area gives parties the opportunity to focus their attention on marginal voters within marginal constituencies. This means, in practice, that parties can direct significant effort – and therefore spending – at a small number of crucial seats. Yet, though the social media spending may be targeted directly at those constituencies, and at particular voters within those constituencies, the spending can currently be defined as national, for which limits are set far higher than for constituency spending.”

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“..the property and construction industries, which contribute about 25 to 30% of China’s economic output..”

China’s $8.5 Trillion Shadow Bank Industry Is Back in Full Swing (BBG)

China’s shadow banking is back in full swing, an unintended side effect of the government’s campaign against financial leverage, which has curbed traditional lending and squeezed bond financing. Data from the central bank Friday showed that off-balance sheet lending surged 754 billion yuan ($109 billion) in March, taking the first quarter’s total increase to a record 2.05 trillion yuan. Efforts by the People’s Bank of China to curb fresh lending may have prompted borrowers, especially real estate developers, to resort to alternative forms of financing, said Xu Gao at Everbright Securities. Since late last year, the PBOC and regulators have taken steps to rein in risks to China’s financial system, including raising short-term interest rates, clamping down on leverage in the bond market, and curbing funding for property speculation.

The measures have sent debt-reliant borrowers scurrying to shadow financing, an industry Moody’s Investors Service estimates is worth about $8.5 trillion, and another area where regulators are trying to reduce risk. “You must tread a fine line,” said Everbright’s Xu. “Choking the bond market to death doesn’t mean the financing needs will be curbed as well. Instead, it will drive funding to areas that are more unreachable for the regulators. At the end of the day, risks may be declining in the bond market, but in the overall financial system, they would be rising.” The PBOC in January ordered the nation’s lenders to strictly control new loans in the first quarter of the year, putting a particular emphasis on mortgage lending to contain runaway home prices.

The move saw banks extending 4.22 trillion yuan of new loans in the first quarter, 8.5% less than the same period in 2016. It was the first year-on-year decline since 2011. The government is trying to contain the possibility of a shock emanating from the property and construction industries, which contribute about 25 to 30% of China’s economic output, Moody’s estimates. The increasing role of shadow banks as providers of finance is among characteristics that have raised the financial system’s vulnerability to a property-related shock, Moody’s said in a March report. In a move to curb shadow banking, financial regulators are working together to draft sweeping new rules for asset-management products, people familiar with the matter said in February.

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Cracking down on what is 25-30% of your economy?!

So China’s Authorities Crack Down on Housing Speculation? (WS)

Dozens of cities have imposed ever tougher buying restrictions, more stringent down-payment requirements especially for second homes, stricter resale limits, etc. etc., and they’ve redoubled their efforts since mid-March when it became apparent that the prior redoubled efforts had not produced results, as people figured out how to get around them. But China depends heavily on property development and property speculation for its economic growth, and no one really wants to bring it down: The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported on Monday that first-quarter growth in property investment – residential, commercial, and office spaces combined – soared 9.1%. This red-hot property sector, and the 40 other sectors that are directly affected by it, drove China’s official GDP growth in Q1 to 6.9%.

As always, analysts keep saying that it would take a few more months for the restrictions to take effect and start cooling the market. That line was once again repeated on Monday, officially: “Because the latest round of cooling measures came out after March 17, their impact on the entire economy including home prices may show in April or later,” Mao Shengyong, a spokesman for the NBS said at a briefing, according to Reuters. Houses are for habitation, not for speculative investment, he said. That would be a novel concept in these crazy times. But who really wants to cool the market, when state-owned developers and state-owned banks are firing it up? Yet, everyone sees the risks. Reuters: “Most analysts agree an overheating property market poses the single biggest risk to China’s economic growth, with increasingly tough government measures to cool soaring prices raising the risk of a nasty crash.”

But the cooling off is not happening yet. New construction measured in floor space soared 11.6% in the first quarter, year-over-year, the NBS reported, and sales jumped 19.5%, though that growth rate was down a notch from the year 2016, when sales at soared 22.5%, the highest in seven years, as the boom in first-tier cities was spilling into second- and third-tier cities. With state-owned developers, funded by state-owned banks, firing up much of the show, and with speculators, who assume the government has their back, running wild in a gushing celebration of ever-soaring prices and huge automatic profits, there’s little chance that this scheme that has already transcended irrational exuberance will simply “cool” to a level of “stability,” and plateau somewhere soon, as it is hoped. Phenomenal bubbles like this don’t go quietly.

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“The Oxford Dictionary defines subsidiarity as “(in politics) the principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level”

Subsidiarity – A European Union Smokescreen To Justify Failure (Bilbo)

One of the various smokescreens that were erected by the European Commission and the bevy of economists that it either paid or were ideologically aligned to justify the design of the monetary union around the time of the Maastricht process was the concept of subsidiarity. In 1993, the Centre for Economic Policy Research (a European-based research confederation) published its Annual Report – Making Sense of Subsidiarity: How Much Centralization for Europe? – which attempted to justify (ex post) the decisions imported from the 1989 Delors Report into the Maastricht Treaty that eschewed the creation of a federal fiscal capacity.

It was one of many reports at the time by pro-Maastricht economists that influenced the political process and pushed the European nations on their inevitable journey to the edge of the ‘plank’ – teetering on the edge of destruction and being saved only because the European Central Bank has violated the spirit of the restrictions that a misapplication of the subsidiarity principle had created. It is interesting to reflect on these earlier reports. We find that the important issues they ignored remain the central issues today and predicate against the monetary union ever being a success. One of the authors of the 1993 Report, Jean-Pierre Danthine has recently reflected on the work some 25 years after its publication.

In his Op Ed (April 12, 2017) – Subsidiarity: The forgotten concept at the core of Europe’s existential crisis – he argues that “the disenchantment with Europe can arguably be traced to the failed application of the subsidiarity principle that was enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty.” He recognises that: “Europe’s deep-seated institutional design problem is tied to the inevitable trade-off between efficiency-enhancing centralisation and democracy-enhancing sovereignty.” Let’s go back to the Delors Report 1989, which I argue in my book – Eurozone Dystopia: Groupthink and Denial on a Grand Scale – misapplied the concept of subsidiarity. It is clear from the historical record that the Delors Committee mainly relied on the concept of subsidiarity to justify the absence of a European-level fiscal function in the plan it outlined for monetary union.

The term, subsidiarity, a long-standing concept in political theory (as far back to Aristotle), entered the European dialogue in 1989 as part of a new ‘Eurolanguage’ as the political leaders were intent on pushing through the economic and monetary union. The Oxford Dictionary defines subsidiarity as “(in politics) the principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed at a more local level”. The concept was popularised by the Roman Catholic Church in the 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno, which pronounced that: “It is a fundamental principle of social philosophy, fixed and unchangeable, that one should not withdraw from individuals and commit to the community what they can accomplish by their own enterprise and/or industry.”

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An ‘everybody gets rich’ scheme.

Greece’s Migration Policy Ministry to Spread Migrants in Small Towns (GR)

The Migration Policy Ministry is developing a plan to spread about 20,000 migrants in small towns and rural communities across Greece, offering economic incentives to locals. According to a Proto Thema report, the project has been implemented in the town of Livadia with relative success. Now the ministry is looking for similar communities (with populations of 10,000-15,000) that have economic problems. According to the plan, such communities can accommodate 500-1,500 migrants in rented homes, while migrants can buy food and services using coupons provided by the State and the UNHCR. As authorities expect that some communities will be hostile to Muslim migrants, the ministry aims at counter-balancing religious differences and possible frictions by offering strong financial incentives to boost the ailing local economies.

The project will be extended in towns of Epirus, Western Macedonia and North-Western Greece that have high unemployment rates, provided that they are not located close to international borders. The Migration Policy Ministry also plans to offer high wages to people who wish to work in the migrant hospitality infrastructure. According to the Proto Thema report, a project coordinator working in Livadia right now earns an annual salary of 24,933 euros and a housing program director earns 22,666, wages that are double of that of an average public sector employee. Similar wages are offered to people who wish to work with migrants. The report says that such wages and overall economic incentives aim at mitigating any reactions by locals. Characteristically, the report says, apartments of 60-90 square meters in Livadia are rented for around 400 euros, again, a price above an average rental.

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“Interest rates of 3.6% for a super senior risk free lender were almost three times as high as the more junior ESM loans..”

How the Greek Crisis is Profitable for the International Monetary Fund (GR)

The relationship between Greece and the International Monetary Fund has been, from the start, very contentious to say the least. There is no question that Greece needs to build the trust and confidence of taxpayers and the global capital markets. But, the IMF advice more often than not seems to be more political or ideological than practical. However, the IMF should not be used as a scapegoat for successive Greek governments disappointing performance in building trust and confidence. The EC, especially Germany, enlisted the IMF to act as a foil for any failed policies, arguably smart political insurance. As the political foil, the IMF was provided with a cash cow to milk: Greece. And, milk Greece it has.

Greece has paid almost €4 billion in fees and interest to the IMF since the start of the programme. Interest rates of 3.6% for a super senior risk free lender were almost three times as high as the more junior ESM loans. Greece payments are so important to the IMF that they were 118% of IMF’s operating profit. Since 2010, IMF personnel expense have increased 48% compared to a decline of 8% in the prior seven years. And, not to go unnoticed, the IMF newly refurbished headquarters is 31% over budget at $562 million. With 97% of IMF’s cost now essentially fixed, losing Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, would cause massive financial trauma at the IMF and may well render it insolvent. So, the obvious question is: does the IMF have an incentive to keep Greece in crisis to protect its own financial survival and continue to milk the Greek cow?

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How many will just glance over a story like this? In only a few years, species are pushed over a cliff.

Key South Africa Leopard Population Crashing (AFP)

The leopard population in a region of South Africa once thick with the big cats is crashing, and could be wiped out within a few years, scientists warned on Wednesday. Illegal killing of leopards in the Soutpansberg Mountains has reduced their numbers by two-thirds in the last decade, the researchers reported in the Royal Society Open Science journal. “If things don’t change, we predict leopards will essentially disappear from the area by about 2020,” lead author Samual Williams, a conservation biologist at Durham University in England, told AFP. “This is especially alarming given that, in 2008, this area had one of the highest leopard densities in Africa.” The number of leopards in the wild worldwide is not known, but is diminishing elsewhere as well. The “best estimate” for all of South Africa, said Williams, is about 4,500.

What is certain, however, is that the regions these predators roam has shrunk drastically over the last two centuries. The historic range of Panthera pardus, which includes more than half-a-dozen sub-species, covered large swathes of Africa and Asia, and extended well into the Arabian Peninsula. Leopards once roamed the forests of Sri Lanka and Java unchallenged. Today, they occupy barely a quarter of this territory, with some sub-species teetering on the brink of extinction, trapped in 1 or 2% of their original habitat. Leopards were classified last year as “vulnerable” to extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species, which tracks the survival status of animals and plants.

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