Sep 132022
 


Kazemir Malevich Floor polishers 1912

 

Covid Vaccine Destroys Natural Immunity – NEJM Study (DS)
94% of Vaxxed Patients With Subsequent Health Issues Have Abnormal Blood (ET)
Russian Energy Revenues Forecast To Soar (RT)
German GDP Forecast To Plunge (RT)
Germany Risks Deindustrialization — The Economist (RT)
The Specter of Germany Is Rising (Diana Johnstone)
Germany Has ‘Crossed Red Line’ – Russia (RT)
Europe Commits Suicide-by-Sanctions (Ron Paul)
Hungarian Official Says EU Is The Losing Side In Ukraine Conflict (RT)
New Gazprom Plant Is Shipping Its First LNG Cargo To Greece (BI)
Spain Doubles Russian Gas Imports (RT)
Ukrainian Mayor Announces Hunt For ‘Collaborators’ (RT)
Special Military Operation, Season 2 (Big Serge)
Armenia Requests Russian Military Assistance In Fight Against Azerbaijan (ZH)
New Orleans Mayor Justifies Luxury Flights Citing Skin Color And Gender (RT)
The Continued DOJ Targeting of Joe Biden Political Opposition (CTH)
UK Police Arrests Anti-Monarchy Protesters (G.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russia 2023

 

 

 

 

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Can we now finally put an end to the nonsense? Yeah, I didn’t think so. One of the world’s prime medical journals, the New England Journal of Medicine, says “vaccines” kill your immune system, and numerous countries will still go with mandates. As all of their experts read the New England Journal of Medicine. This is not just a little bit crazy, it’s outright criminal. Stay away from the stuff.

Covid Vaccine Destroys Natural Immunity – NEJM Study (DS)

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows not only that the effectiveness of the Pfizer Covid vaccine becomes negative (meaning the vaccinated are more likely to be infected than the unvaccinated) within five months but that the vaccine destroys any protection a person has from natural immunity. The study is a large observational study that looks at 887,193 children aged 5 to 11 years in North Carolina, of whom 273,157 (30.8%) received at least one dose of Pfizer vaccine between November 1st 2021 and June 3rd 2022. The study includes 193,346 SARS-CoV-2 infections reported between March 11th 2020 and June 3rd 2022. The researchers used a form of statistical modelling with adjustments for confounding factors (such as underlying conditions) to calculate estimates of vaccine effectiveness over time and against the different Covid variants.


The findings are depicted in the charts below. In chart A, notice that the green and blue lines, representing children vaccinated in November and December respectively, go through zero into negative territory at a sharp gradient within five months of the first injection. It’s unclear why the green line is not continued past April, as the researchers presumably had the data, but from what is shown it looks very much like the vaccine effectiveness will continue declining deep into negative territory. In chart B, we see both the red and blue lines – which represent children who are vaccinated and have been previously infected and not previously infected respectively – again going through zero at a steep gradient within five months of vaccination. The fact that the vaccinated who have natural immunity from previous infection also see negative effectiveness is a surprise as one would not expect those with natural immunity to be more susceptible to infection than those without it.

Charts C and D suggest that it is the vaccine that is causing this worrying erasure of natural immunity. Chart D shows the effectiveness of natural immunity from previous infection among the vaccinated. Notice that the blue line, which is protection against the Delta variant among the vaccinated-and-previously-infected, hits zero at a steep gradient within seven months. Now look at the blue line in chart C, which is protection against Delta in the previously infected and unvaccinated. It, too, is waning, but much more slowly, and after eight months it is still very much in positive territory at over 50%. The same can be said for natural immunity against earlier variants (green line), which wanes slowly and remains positive after 16 months. Why is natural immunity remaining protective for the unvaccinated, whereas in the vaccinated their ‘protection’ goes negative even if they have natural immunity?

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Need a blood transfusion? Don’t look at the vaccinated! Donor sperm? You know what to do.

94% of Vaxxed Patients With Subsequent Health Issues Have Abnormal Blood (ET)

Physicians in Italy studied the blood of patients who had been injected with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and found foreign matter long after vaccination, a new study shows.The three doctors, all of whom are surgeons—Franco Giovannini, M.D., Riccardo Benzi Cipelli, M.D., and Giampaolo Pisano, M.D.—examined freshly drawn blood of more than a thousand patients using direct observation under microscopes to see what was happening in the blood. Their results were published in the International Journal of Vaccine Theory, Practice, and Research in August 2022. For this study, the Italian doctors used optical microscopy, that is, regular light microscopes, to examine the blood. Blood cells are easily visible under a microscope.

Their shape, type, and how and if they are aggregated—clumped together—can help the skilled physician better understand the patient’s health. In their 60-page peer-reviewed study, the Italian researchers reported case studies from their observations. Although they could not explain what they observed, they noted in the study that what they saw was so strange that they felt the need to alert the medical community. [..] Of the 1006 patients, 426 were men and 580 were women. One hundred and forty-one received only one dose of an mRNA vaccine, 453 got two doses, and 412 received three doses in total. The patients ranged in age from 15 to 85. The average age of the patients was 49. All 1,006 patients were seeking healthcare because they were not feeling well: presenting with a wide variety of health issues.

On average, the patients whose blood was examined had been vaccinated about one month prior. Of the 1,006 patients, after vaccination, only about 5 percent—just 58 people—had blood that looked normal. [..] Each of the patients was being reviewed for symptoms, a wide range of which had arisen since their vaccinations. The images are dramatic. Side-by-side pictures of a patient’s blood before and after vaccination show stark differences. Before vaccination, the red blood cells are separate from each other and are round, while the blood drawn after vaccination shows red blood cells that are deformed, and that cluster in coagulation around visible foreign matter that was not present before. This foreign material seemed to collect itself into structures, sometimes forming crystals and other times forming long tubes or fibers.

Reminder

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Half the output, twice the income. Now there’s a business model.

Russian Energy Revenues Forecast To Soar (RT)

Russia expects to receive a boost in revenues from energy exports this month, according to its finance ministry. September is expected to bring an extra $6.67 billion into the state coffers, adding to August’s additional earnings of $1.4 billion. “Thus, the total amount of funds to be received as additional oil and gas revenues will reach $8.07 billion,” the ministry said in a statement released last week. According to the statement, the finance ministry is not planning to purchase foreign currency or gold with the extra funds received through energy sales.


In August, Western analysts predicted that Russia’s energy export revenues would surge by 38% year-on-year, totaling $337.5 billion in 2022. According to their outlook, energy export earnings will ease to $255.8 billion next year, but will still be higher than the 2021 figure of $244.2 billion. Growing demand from some of the world’s major economies, including India and China, boosted Russia’s energy exports to the volumes seen prior to the conflict in Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions. Moscow was forced to redirect supply to Asia and the Middle East, where countries refused to take sides in the conflict between Russia and the West.

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Half the output, 4x the cost. Not a business model.

German GDP Forecast To Plunge (RT)

The German economy is headed for a sharp decline next year, researchers from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy warned on Thursday. “The German economy is in a downward spiral. The recent price jumps for electricity and gas will reduce the purchasing power of private households and lead to a decline in private consumer spending. In addition, the slowing world economy will dampen not only exports but also investment activity. As a result, the German economy will slide into recession once again, at a time when it was just recovering from the pandemic-related crisis,” a press release stated.


Analysts explained that while in their summer forecast they assumed that “recovery would prevail despite the burdens” and predicted a strong rise in GDP, lingering concerns regarding the energy sphere forced them to lower their expectations significantly. “Now we expect GDP to increase by only 1.4% in the current year. In 2023, it is expected to decline by 0.7%,” they wrote, while previously the institute predicted a 3.3% growth for the country’s economy next year. Researchers also expect inflation to rise to 8% this year and 8.7% in 2023. Germany’s spending on energy imports is expected to rise by €123 billion this year and another €136 billion next year. As a result, the country’s industrial output is likely to drop. Private households’ purchasing power is also forecast to fall by 4.1%, the steepest drop recorded since Germany’s reunification in 1990.

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People cannot imagine the implications. But they will have to soon.

Germany Risks Deindustrialization — The Economist (RT)

The biggest challenge the German industrial sector currently faces is posed by rising energy costs, The Economist reported on Sunday, citing the association of German industry BDI. “The substance of our industry is under threat,”BDI President Siegfried Russwurm said as quoted by the media, adding that the situation was looking “toxic” for many businesses. According to the association, the electricity price for next year has already increased fifteen-fold, and the price of gas ten-fold. In July, the country’s industry, which has been forced to reduce production capacities, reportedly consumed 21% less gas than in the same month in 2021.

Smaller companies are struggling more than bigger ones, according to a study by the consulting company FTI Andersch, as cited by the media. Some 25% of firms with fewer than 1,000 employees were forced to cancel or decline orders, or are planning to do so, compared with 11% of those with over 1,000 employees. Almost 10,000 bread manufacturers are reportedly struggling as never before in post-war Germany, as the cost of the electricity and gas needed to heat ovens and run kneading machines have increased enormously. The BDI survey of 600 medium-sized companies showed that nearly one in ten interrupted or reduced output because of high input costs, while more than nine in ten said that the soaring prices of energy and raw materials is a big or an existential challenge for them.

One in five are reportedly considering relocating part or all of their production to another country. Bigger companies that use energy-intensive production capacities, such as chemicals or steel producers, may also relocate abroad, as they have to compete with rivals in other countries, where the cost of energy is lower. If energy prices remain high for a while, up to 3% of Germany’s energy-intensive businesses will relocate abroad, according to Holger Schmieding, the chief economist of private bank Berenberg.

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In light of the previous articles, this is funny. A bigger, stronger Germany? Better first worry how much longer Scholz is in the saddle.

The Specter of Germany Is Rising (Diana Johnstone)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is a colorless SPD politician, but his Aug. 29 speech in Prague was inflammatory in its implications. Scholz called for an expanded, militarized European Union under German leadership. He claimed that the Russian operation in Ukraine raised the question of “where the dividing line will be in the future between this free Europe and a neo-imperial autocracy.” We cannot simply watch, he said, “as free countries are wiped off the map and disappear behind walls or iron curtains.” (Note: the conflict in Ukraine is clearly the unfinished business of the collapse of the Soviet Union, aggravated by malicious outside provocation. As in the Cold War, Moscow’s defensive reactions are interpreted as harbingers of Russian invasion of Europe, and thus a pretext for arms buildups.)

To meet this imaginary threat, Germany will lead an expanded, militarized EU. First, Scholz told his European audience in the Czech capital, “I am committed to the enlargement of the European Union to include the states of the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova and, in the long term, Georgia”. Worrying about Russia moving the dividing line West is a bit odd while planning to incorporate three former Soviet States, one of which (Georgia) is geographically and culturally very remote from Europe but on Russia’s doorstep. In the “Western Balkans”, Albania and four extremely weak statelets left from former Yugoslavia (North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and widely unrecognized Kosovo) mainly produce emigrants and are far from EU economic and social standards.

Kosovo and Bosnia are militarily occupied de facto NATO protectorates. Serbia, more solid than the others, shows no signs of renouncing its beneficial relations with Russia and China, and popular enthusiasm for “Europe” among Serbs has faded. Adding these member states will achieve “a stronger, more sovereign, geopolitical European Union,” said Scholz. A “more geopolitical Germany” is more like it. As the EU grows eastward, Germany is “in the center” and will do everything to bring them all together. So, in addition to enlargement, Scholz calls for “a gradual shift to majority decisions in common foreign policy” to replace the unanimity required today.

What this means should be obvious to the French. Historically, the French have defended the consensus rule so as not to be dragged into a foreign policy they don’t want. French leaders have exalted the mythical “Franco-German couple” as guarantor of European harmony, mainly to keep German ambitions under control. But Scholz says he doesn’t want “an EU of exclusive states or directorates,” which implies the final divorce of that “couple.” With an EU of 30 or 36 states, he notes, “fast and pragmatic action is needed.” And he can be sure that German influence on most of these poor, indebted and often corrupt new Member States will produce the needed majority.

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For Russia, this is about WWII. And about letting Germany unify.

“The German government “has unilaterally acted to destroy bilateral relations [with Russia] that were unique in scale and depth and had been built over decades..”

Germany Has ‘Crossed Red Line’ – Russia (RT)

Germany has crossed a red line with Russia by sending arms to Ukraine, Moscow’s ambassador in Berlin said on Monday. The decision undermined decades of reconciliation since the end of World War II and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the diplomat added. “The very fact that the Ukrainian regime is being supplied with German-made lethal weapons, which are used not only against Russian military service members, but also the civilian population of Donbass, crosses the red line,”Ambassador Sergey Nechaev said in an interview with Izvestia newspaper. He added that Berlin should have known better, “considering the moral and historic responsibility that Germany has before our people for the Nazi crimes.” “They have crossed the Rubicon,” Nechaev stated, using an idiom for passing the point of no return.

Berlin discarded its longstanding policy of not sending weapons into zones of armed conflict to join the US and other NATO allies in providing weapons to Ukraine. The German government says it has a moral responsibility to back Kiev so it can defend itself against Russia. Germany also joined an effort by the EU to decouple the economies of member states from Russia’s. German businesses have been relying on cheap Russian natural gas for five decades, since before the Soviet Union collapsed. The German government “has unilaterally acted to destroy bilateral relations [with Russia] that were unique in scale and depth and had been built over decades,” the Russian ambassador noted. “In essence, the post-war reconciliation of our nations and peoples is being eroded,”Nechaev said.

According to the diplomat, economic restrictions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine conflict have resulted in a sharp increase in utility bills, a surge in consumer prices, and a decrease in real incomes in Germany. Nechaev said the “sanctions war” against Moscow is being increasingly seen as “shooting yourself in the foot” in Germany, which has already faced protests over the cost-of-living crisis. The ambassador noted that Russia took no pleasure in seeing the damage, even if Berlin has itself to blame for it. “We believe the ongoing processes to be Germany’s domestic issue, in which we do not get involved,” he said. “And we certainly are not in the habit of delivering pompous lectures, the likes of which the West constantly makes about Russians.”

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“The solution, as always, is non-intervention. No sanctions, no “color revolutions,” no meddling. It’s really that simple.”

Europe Commits Suicide-by-Sanctions (Ron Paul)

European sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine earlier this year will likely go down in history as a prime example of how sanctions can result in unintended consequences. While seeking to punish Russia by cutting off gas and oil imports, European Union politicians forgot that Europe is completely dependent on Russian energy supplies and that the only people to suffer if those imports are shut down are the Europeans themselves. The Russians simply pivoted to the south and east and found plenty of new buyers in China, India, and elsewhere. In fact, Russia’s state-run Gazprom energy company has reported that its profits have increased by 100 percent in the first half of this year.

Russia is getting rich while Europeans are facing a freezing winter and economic collapse. All because of the false belief that sanctions are a cost-free way to force other countries to do what you want them to do. What happens when the people see dumb government policies making energy bills skyrocket as the economy grounds to a halt? They become desperate and take to the streets in protest. This weekend thousands of Austrians took to the streets in a “Freedom Rally” to demand an end to sanctions and the opening of Nord Stream II, the gas pipeline on the verge of opening earlier this year. Last week an estimated 100,000 Czechs took to the streets of Prague to protest NATO and EU policy. In France, the “Yellow Vests” are back in the streets protesting the destruction of their economy in the name of “defeating” Russia in Ukraine. In Germany, Serbia, and elsewhere, protests are gearing up.

Even the Washington Post was forced to admit that sanctions on Russia are not having the intended effect. In an article yesterday, the paper worries that sanctions are inflicting “collateral damage in Russia and beyond, potentially even hurting the very countries that impose them. Some even worried that the sanctions intended to deter and weaken Putin could end up emboldening and strengthening him.” This is all predictable. Sanctions kill. Sometimes they kill innocents in the country targeted for destruction and sometimes they kill innocents in the country imposing them. The solution, as always, is non-intervention. No sanctions, no “color revolutions,” no meddling. It’s really that simple.

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“Powers outside Europe are trying to condemn the bloc’s members to “military vulnerability, political subjugation, economic and energy incapacity, financial indebtedness and social disintegration..”

Hungarian Official Says EU Is The Losing Side In Ukraine Conflict (RT)

The EU has suffered severe political and economic damage from its handling of the situation in Ukraine, and can already be declared the loser in the conflict, the speaker of Hungary’s National Assembly claimed on Sunday.Laszlo Kover, who is a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, accused Brussels of failing to prevent the conflict through political means, with the result that it’s “unable to restore peace diplomatically.” “Under external pressure, the EU is acting against its most basic economic interests and should already be considered a loser, regardless of which of the parties directly involved in fighting will declare itself the winner,” he said.

Powers outside Europe are trying to condemn the bloc’s members to “military vulnerability, political subjugation, economic and energy incapacity, financial indebtedness and social disintegration,” with Brussels helping them to achieve this goal, the parliament speaker claimed. The EU is grappling with soaring natural gas prices, the prospect of energy shortages in winter and spiking inflation in the wake of sanctions it imposed on Russia over its military operation in Ukraine. Brussels has largely followed the US stance of seeking to weaken Russia through sanctions, while supplying Kiev with weapons and financial aid.

Hungary has remained relatively neutral since the outbreak of fighting in late February. It has refused to send arms to Ukraine and remained critical of the EU sanctions against Moscow, calling them ill-conceived and self-defeating. Budapest, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, was also able to negotiate an exemption for itself from the bloc-wide ban on Russian oil. Last week, Mikulas Bek the European affairs minister of the Czech Republic, which now presides over the EU Council, has warned that Hungary’s stance on Russia could theoretically end up with it exiting the bloc. The country “has come a long way, reaching the edge of an abyss, and now it has to decide whether to go back from that edge or risk a jump,” Bek said.

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A new kind of self-flaggelation: we’ll buy your gas, but only if you make it twice as expensive.

New Gazprom Plant Is Shipping Its First LNG Cargo To Greece (BI)

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union pledged to reduce the bloc’s reliance on natural gas from Russia. But it appears new deals are still pushing through. The first cargo from Russia’s Portovaya liquefied natural gas, or LNG, plant, which is near the shut Nord Stream 1 pipeline, will be going to EU nation Greece, Bloomberg reported on Saturday, citing a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The identity of the buyer and size of the cargo was not reported, but Greece has only one LNG facility that supplies the domestic market, as well as Bulgaria — also an EU country — and North Macedonia.

This is at odds with EU plans, rolled out in March, that aim to cut the bloc’s dependency on Russian gas by two-thirds by the end of 2022 and end its reliance on Russian supplies of the fuel “well before 2030.” Europe depends on Russia for 40% of its natural-gas needs, such as cooking in homes and firing up power stations. It’s fretting over a winter energy crisis, as Russia has reduced natural-gas flows to the continent, citing sanctions-related challenges. Challenges abound, particularly in the short-term after Russia halted natural-gas supply via the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Europe is busy setting up LNG terminals to counter the energy crisis, as these facilities will turn the super-cooled fuel to gas.

Sweden, another EU nation, is also still importing Russian LNG. Last week, activists from Greenpeace Nordic protested Russian imports by blocking an LNG tanker from unloading Russian fuel in Sweden. s”The fact that Russian fossil gas is still allowed to flow into Sweden, more than six months after Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, is unacceptable,” Karolina Carlsson, a campaign leader at Greenpeace Nordic, said in a statement on September 8.

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Sanctions at work.

Spain Doubles Russian Gas Imports (RT)

The volume of Russian gas bought by Spain in August soared by 102.2% compared to the same period last year, according to data published on Monday by the Spanish energy company Enagas. The report highlighted that Madrid purchased 4,505 gigawatt hours (GWh) of gas from Moscow compared to 2,228 GWh in August 2021. Meanwhile, imports from Algeria, traditionally a major gas supplier to the country, dropped by 34.8%. Data also showed that imports from the United States accounted for 26.5% of supplies. Russia ranked fifth among the country’s main providers (11.8%), after the US, Algeria, Nigeria and France.


In total, in the first eight months of 2022, Spain purchased 32,770 GWh of gas from Russia, which is 22.88% more than in the same period of the previous year. The EU countries have been boosting gas purchases lately to stockpile for the winter season. On Friday, member states failed to reach a consensus on setting a price cap on Russian gas which was aimed at calming skyrocketing energy prices across the region.

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Support the neo-nazis.

Ukrainian Mayor Announces Hunt For ‘Collaborators’ (RT)

The city of Izyum, which fell under the control of Ukrainian forces last week, is about to see “cleanup” operations by the Ukrainian military, its mayor, Valery Marchenko, told the BBC on Monday. During these efforts, Ukrainian soldiers will search for Russian soldiers who could have potentially remained in the city, as well as those they call “collaborators,” Marchenko added. “The military are doing the cleanup [by] going around the city and looking for enemy soldiers that [could have been] hiding in private houses,”the mayor said, adding that the Ukrainian soldiers then forcefully drove them out. After they finish with the “cleanup,” the mayor added, the Kiev forces will “look for collaborators.”


According to him, these efforts might take up to ten days. After that, the civilians who fled the city would be allowed to return, according to Marchenko. Last week, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations said it would conduct similar operations in Balakleya, another town in Kharkov Region that has recently been retaken by Kiev’s forces. According to Marchenko, at least 1,000 Izyum residents died “as a result of military action” in the city and “even more” perished due to the lack of medical assistance. He did not blame any specific deaths on any side of the conflict but slammed Russia for “bombing” and “destroying” the city.

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“Plausible deniability works both ways; because NATO is not officially in Ukraine – only “volunteers” – targeting their personnel is not an overtly aggressive act.”

Special Military Operation, Season 2 (Big Serge)

First, I would like to comment on why I am against mobilization. One of the most important dimensions of this war is the economic front. Europe is being driven to the brink by the energy crisis. The Wall Street Journal keyed in on what I believe to be the most apt descriptor of the crisis, warning of a “new era of deindustrialization in Europe.” A full mobilization would be very costly for Russia’s economy, risking the edge that it currently holds in the economic confrontation with Europe. This, I believe, is the main reason that the Russian government was quick to quash rumors of mobilization today. There are other steps on the escalation ladder before going to total war footing.

There are already rumors that Russia is planning to change the formal designation of the war, from “Special Military Operation”. While that could mean a formal declaration of war, I think that is unlikely. Rather, Russia will likely give the Ukraine operation the same designation as its operations in Syria, loosening the rules of engagement and beginning to target Ukrainian assets in earnest. We saw a foretaste of this last night, when Russia wiped out over half of Ukraine’s power generation with a few missiles. There are many more targets that they can go after – more nodes in the electrical grid, water pumping and filtration facilities, and higher level command posts. There is at least some probability that Russia begins targeting the command facilities with NATO personnel in them.

Plausible deniability works both ways; because NATO is not officially in Ukraine – only “volunteers” – targeting their personnel is not an overtly aggressive act. Russia also has many ways to boost its force deployment in Ukraine that fall short of full mobilization. They have a pool of demobilized contract soldiers that they can call up, as well as a pool of reservists that they can raise with a partial mobilization. The Russian line is hardening. Just in the past 24 hours, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were “no prospect for negotiations” with Ukraine, and Putin said “Unfriendly forces are targeting us, and we must take initiative in order to succeed in confronting them.”

Medvedev went even further just now: “”A certain Zelenskyy said that he will not hold a dialogue with those who issue ultimatums. The current ‘ultimatums’ are a warm-up for kids, a preview of demands to be made in the future. He knows them: the total surrender of the Kiev regime on Russia’s terms” If you believe the Russian government is utterly incompetent and duplicitous, feel free to view statements like this as bluster. But given the warning shot at Ukrainian power generation yesterday, my sense is that Russia is preparing to escalate to a higher level of intensity, which Ukraine cannot match with its indigenous resources. The only other player on the escalation ladder is the United States. Dark times are ahead for Ukraine – and perhaps for Americans on the other front of this war.

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Trying to open a second theater? Russia knows this territory like the back of its hand. NATO does not, but thinks it does.

Armenia Requests Russian Military Assistance In Fight Against Azerbaijan (ZH)

The overnight outbreak of fighting in multiple spots along the Armenian-Azerbaijan border is serious enough for Yerevan to have asked for its powerful ally Russia’s help. This has been revealed hours after Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a late night telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin. The Armenian government has since confirmed it has requested Russian military assistance to repel Azerbaijan aggression and shelling, according to a statement (machine translation): “During the meeting, further steps were discussed to counter the aggressive actions of Azerbaijan against the sovereign territory of Armenia that began at midnight. In connection with the aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, it was decided to officially appeal to the Russian Federation in order to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, as well as to the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the UN Security Council.

Armenia is basing the request on the Collective Security Treaty Organization pact it has with Russia, and under which Russia previously sent peacekeeping forces to Nagorno-Karabakh after the Fall 2020 conflict. Independent geopolitical analyst and Russia watcher Clint Ehrlich concludes of the hugely significant request at a time the Ukraine war is raging: “If Russia accepts, we could see a second NATO-Russia proxy war explode.” Of the earlier in the night Putin phone call, the Kremlin said via TASS: “The Prime Minister gave details about the provocative, aggressive actions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in the direction of the sovereign territory of Armenia, which began at midnight and were accompanied by shelling from artillery and large-caliber firearms. The Prime Minister considered the actions of the Azerbaijani side unacceptable and stressed the importance of an adequate response from the international community.”

However, it should be noted that during the last major flare-up in fighting between the two longtime rival nations which share a restive border, Moscow was careful to not get too deeply drawn in – only agreeing to help broker a ceasefire and send several hundred Russian peacekeeping forces to oversee the terms of the agreement. If Moscow does get pulled in, it might be seen in the West as an opportunity to “weaken” Russian forces on a separate front.

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The mayor feels threatened in economy, but her staff is not?! Bet you there are black women in that staff. Moreover, letting your security detail travel apart from you is hardly the safest option.

New Orleans Mayor Justifies Luxury Flights Citing Skin Color And Gender (RT)

The Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, has insisted that spending tens of thousands of dollars on first-class plane seats was necessary, suggesting that flying economy would be unsafe for a black woman. Cantrell is refusing to refund the $30,000 of taxpayers’ money she spent on the luxury seats to France and Switzerland. Speaking at a press conference last week, Cantrell insisted that her “travel accommodations are a matter of safety, not luxury.” That’s despite her entourage and security staff reportedly traveling coach during the trips.

“As the mother of a young child whom I live for, I am going to protect myself by any reasonable means in order to ensure I am there to see her grow into the strong woman I am raising her to be,” Cantrell explained, adding that “anyone who wants to question how I protect myself just doesn’t understand the world black women walk in.” The mayor took a luxury American Airlines flight to Switzerland back in July and a first-class trip to France earlier this year, insisting that she was “doing business on behalf of the city.” “All expenses incurred doing business on behalf of the city of New Orleans will not be reimbursed to the city of New Orleans,” LaToya Cantrell said, speaking outside the Nix Library on Thursday. However, New Orleans’ travel policy for city officials makes it clear that all employees “are required to purchase the lowest airfare available” and that those who choose to upgrade their seats are responsible for the difference in cost.

Furthermore, if the city ends up overpaying for any travel expenses, the employees are required to reimburse the city within 20 business days. Speaking to Fox 8, the mayor’s staff said they are checking to see if the city policy applies to Cantrell, as she is an elected official and not specifically hired by the city itself. As reported by 4WWL, Cantrell also spent over $2,800 dollars back in March on a first-class trip to Miami for a US Conference of Mayors, while her entourage spent between $300 and $677. In January she also reportedly spent $2,300 on a luxury flight to a Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington while her staff paid just $250.

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It’s getting out of hand.

The Continued DOJ Targeting of Joe Biden Political Opposition (CTH)

During his opening monologue today, Fox News host Tucker Carlson outlined the history of the Biden administration targeting the democrat political opposition by using the Dept of Justice and FBI. During one part of the lengthy segment, Carlson outlined the recent subpoenas to people within the MAGA movement.

The technique most often deployed, is for the DOJ/FBI to claim an anonymous source has provided information against the subpoena target, and therefore the target must prove their innocence against the “sources” claims. Having received one of these DC subpoenas directly, my experience with the construct leads me to believe the DOJ is just making up the “anonymous sources.” However, if you refuse to participate in the bizarre demand to prove your innocence, the lack of cooperation becomes the Lawfare angle used to entrap the target. The process is something like this: It is unlawful to rob banks. We were told you rob banks. Prove you do not rob banks or be subject to arrest for being unresponsive.


It is not quite impossible to construct an accusatory claim that is grounded in abject absurdity, but it is highly unlikely these absurd claims -factual lies without any basis whatsoever- would organically lead to the origin of DOJ investigations. Yet, this is what Merrick Garland’s DOJ would have us believe. Either the DOJ is making this stuff up, or affiliates in ideological alignment are making stuff up in order to feed the DOJ. Regardless, the political weaponization of the DOJ and FBI as described by Mr. Carlson is absolutely accurate.

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How to end a monarchy.

UK Police Arrests Anti-Monarchy Protesters (G.)

Civil liberties campaigners and others have expressed alarm about the response of police to anti-monarchy protesters after a number of incidents, the latest of which included the arrest of a man in Edinburgh for apparently heckling Prince Andrew. The advocacy group Liberty said that new powers recently given to the police to curtail protest, and how they were being enforced by officers, were a cause for deep concern. The Labour MP Zarah Sultana said in response to incidents in Edinburgh, London and Oxford: “No one should be arrested for just expressing republican views. Extraordinary – and shocking – that this needs saying.”

Police Scotland said a 22-year-old man and a 52-year-old man had been arrested in connection with a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh shortly before 3pm on Monday. It came after police were seen pulling a man out of a crowd of people, some of whom appeared to push him, after he was seen shouting at the procession accompanying the Queen’s coffin as King Charles, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex marched behind the hearse. Earlier, a woman was charged after being arrested by police in Edinburgh on Sunday as she staged a protest during the accession proclamation for the King. Police said the woman, 22, had been arrested on Sunday outside St Giles’ Cathedral in connection with a breach of the peace and would appear at Edinburgh sheriff court at a later date.

The woman, called Mariángela and who had been seen holding a sign that said “Fuck imperialism, abolish monarchy”, was arrested moments before the reading of the proclamation. The incident took place outside the cathedral, where the Queen’s coffin lay on Monday. On Monday night Global Majority Vs Campaign, the group Mariángela represents, released a statement following the arrest, saying it “condemned the centuries of colonial injustice, genocide, and unlawful extraction that have been – and continue to be – carried out in the name of the British Crown”. It added: “Calling for the abolition of the monarchy is as old as the monarchy itself and is a cornerstone of freedom of speech in the UK.”

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Sagan

 

 

 

 

Brian Catt

 

 

 

 

Trees Height

 

 

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Sep 102022
 


Marc Chagall The Smolensk newspaper 1914

 

Ukraine Will Retake Crimea In A Year – Ex-US General (RT)
Ukraine’s Top General Doesn’t Rule Out “Limited” Nuclear War (ZH)
Zelensky Is Literally Selling Ukraine To Wall Street Corporations (Norton)
Ukraine Counterattacks! Please Remain Calm (Big Serge)
Izyum: The Non-Salient (Big Serge)
Belgium Objects To Russian Gas Cap Plan (RT)
EU Fails To Agree Russian Gas Price Cap – Hungary {(RT)
Germany Frustrated Over Neighbors’ Gas-sharing Reluctance – Bloomberg (RT)
Germany Is Now Generating Nearly A Third Of Its Electricity From Coal (BI)
Ukrainian Grain Going To EU Instead Of Africa – El Pais (RT)
Ukraine Faces Winter Food Shortages – Economist (RT)
Major LNG Supplier Issues Dire Warning To EU (RT)
EU: Neocolonialism, Hyper-Financialization and Hyper-Globalization (CHS)
Here It Comes (Kunstler)
COVID-19 and the Surge in Decidual Cast Shedding (GMS)
The High-Speed, Bivalent COVID Boosters are Here (Nass)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean Lock

 

 

Putin: We are the flesh and blood of our heroes

 

 

 

 

He’s not stupid enough to actually believe this. He’s a second hand car salesman.

Ukraine Will Retake Crimea In A Year – Ex-US General (RT)

Ukraine could “restore full sovereignty” within a year, retaking all of its lost territory including Crimea, retired US General Ben Hodges told Newsweek on Thursday at the Tbilisi International Conference of the McCain Institute in Georgia. Hodges is now a lobbyist at the Centre for European Policy Analysis, a pressure group funded by NATO and US arms manufacturers. Western support for Kiev has resulted in a financial bonanza for these companies. “The Ukrainians saved their country,” Hodges gushed, declaring that “half a year after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion…the supposed second-best army in the world is now the second-best army in Ukraine,” with Russia’s “ability to conduct further offensive operations…all but exhausted.”

Now, Hodges said, it was up to the US and NATO to step in and make sure the war is won, starting with a full-throated proclamation of support for Kiev. Washington should stop publicizing the cost of the military aid it sends overseas, he continued, suggesting the deliveries be framed in terms of the percentage of “what is needed for Ukraine to defeat Russia and regain their territory.” The retired general did not elaborate on how those numbers could be calculated. The administration of US President Joe Biden has poured over $44 billion into the war effort since February. While Ukraine and its Western backers have declared the Kherson counteroffensive a rousing success, boasting of recapturing several villages, Kiev has banned journalists from the front lines, making these claims difficult to verify.

Russia has argued the initiative “failed miserably,” pointing to the loss of over 1,200 Ukrainian servicemen in a single day of fighting. Ukrainian MP Alexey Goncharenko echoed Hodges’ optimism in comments to Newsweek, declaring “next year will be the decisive year of the war” and that “with the help of the free world, Ukraine has an opportunity to win.” That will require a lot more weapons, he clarified, mentioning aircraft, air defense systems, and rockets superior to the HIMARS. Crimea became part of Russia in the wake of a 2014 referendum following the US-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev.

Ukraine and NATO consider it illegally annexed territory, and the US has reportedly given Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky the go-ahead to attack the peninsula. The Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk declared their independence that same year and were recognized as independent states by the Kremlin this past February. Zelensky has vowed to retake all three regions, promising on Sunday that “Ukraine will return” to Donbass, Kharkov, Zhaporozhye, Kherson, and “definitely to Crimea.”

Putin 2007

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Ukraine has no nukes.

Ukraine’s Top General Doesn’t Rule Out “Limited” Nuclear War (ZH)

Ukraine’s top military chief has warned that Russia could unleash nukes if its army is against the ropes in Ukraine. The comments were issued Wednesday amid an ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east which both Kiev and Washington say has so far had “success”. Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Gen. Valery Zaluzhny stated “There is a direct threat of the use, under certain circumstances, of tactical nuclear weapons by the Russian armed forces.” He wrote this in an op-ed published by state run outlet Ukrinform, with the alarming words being picked up by The Washington Post and others. “It is also impossible to completely rule out the possibility of the direct involvement of the world’s leading countries in a ‘limited’ nuclear conflict, in which the prospect of World War III is already directly visible,” Zaluzhny added.

The top commander further issued his first official confirmation that the unprecedented large strikes on Russia’s Crimea bases and an arms depot widely reported in August were Ukrainian operations. The initial early August huge Saki air base explosion had previously only been acknowledged as a Ukrainian strike via anonymous leaks to Western media outlets by senior Kiev officials. At around the same time as those opening Crimea attacks, which have continued sporadically since then, President Zelensky vowed to “liberate” the Russian-held territory, which the Kremlin gained control of after a 2014 popular referendum, which wasn’t recognized by Europe or the US. According to Gen. Zaluzhny’s words as featured in The Washington Post:

“With the fighting all but certain to continue into 2023, Ukraine has to make the war “even sharper and more tangible for the Russians and for other occupied regions, despite the massive distance to the targets,” Zaluzhny wrote. He called the Crimean strikes a “convincing example” of Kyiv’s calls for allies to send longer-range weapons for its outgunned soldiers. Moscow, he said, can hit 20 times farther.” Moscow for its part has also expressed alarm over the potential for nuclear-armed confrontation with the West over Ukraine, given Washington’s steadily growing involvement – especially the billions of dollars in weapons and military aid being poured into the Ukrainian side. It has also rejected charges that it is prepared to use nukes.

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I’m going to have to get back to this in a separate article. They are trying to create a world war.

Zelensky Is Literally Selling Ukraine To Wall Street Corporations (Norton)

Ukraine’s Western-backed leader Volodymyr Zelensky virtually opened the New York Stock Exchange on the morning of September 6, symbolically ringing the bell via video stream. Zelensky announced that his country is “open for business” – that is to say, that foreign corporations are free to come and exploit its plentiful resources and low-paid labor. In a speech launching the neoliberal selloff program Advantage Ukraine, Zelensky offered Wall Street “a chance for you to invest now in projects worth of hundreds of billions of dollars.” The financial news service Business Wire published a press release from the Ukrainian government in which Zelensky boasted:


“The $400+ [billion] in investment options featured on AdvantageUkraine.com span public private partnerships, privatization and private ventures. A USAID-supported project team of investment bankers and researchers appointed by Ukraine’s Ministry of Economy will work with businesses interested in investing.” It also quoted the president of NYSE Group, Lynn Martin, who said: “As the largest exchange globally, we stand for freedom, investor protection and unfettered access to capital. We are pleased to welcome President Zelenskyy virtually to the NYSE bell podium, a symbol of the freedom and opportunity our U.S. capital markets have enabled around the globe. We are honored the President has chosen the NYSE to mark the kickoff of Advantage Ukraine and engage with the world’s business community.”

The press release cited executives of US corporate giants Google, Alphabet, and Microsoft, who salivated over the economic possibilities offered by Ukraine. Reuters noted that the Ukrainian government hired British public relations firm WPP to run the marketing operation for Advantage Ukraine. Zelensky coordinated his New York Stock Exchange publicity stunt with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal imploring US capitalists to “Invest in the Future of Ukraine.” “I committed my administration to creating a favorable environment for investment that would make Ukraine the greatest growth opportunity in Europe since the end of World War II,” Zelensky wrote. He continued:

“To create a safe, transparent environment for business engagement, Ukraine is pursuing investment guarantees from both the Group of Seven and the European Union, reforming the country’s tax system, and establishing a strong new legal framework. Our country has already adopted rules and laws to allow companies to build transparent corporate structures, attract foreign investment more easily, and use additional mechanisms to protect intangible assets. Favorable conditions will allow us to establish Ukraine as a powerful IT hub and implement innovative business ideas quickly and effectively.”

In an interview with Multipolarista, economist Michael Hudson compared the new emergency anti-labor laws imposed by the Ukrainian government to the brutal neoliberal policies implemented by Chile’s far-right Pinochet dictatorship after a CIA-backed coup in 1973. “It’s jaw dropping,” Hudson said of Zelensky’s Wall Street Journal op-ed. “It’s like a parody of what a socialist would have written about how the class war would be put in into action by a fascist government.” “So of course he was welcomed on the stock exchange for abolishing labor’s rights,” Hudson added. “You could not have a more black-and-white example” of class war. “This is exactly what [French President] Macron said when he said the ‘end of abundance.’ The Ukrainian labor force has just experienced the end of affluence, neoliberal style.

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Izyum is pivotal. Russia took it very early in the SMO.

“..they are attempting a thrust toward Kupyansk, with the aim of cutting the line connecting Izyum to Belgorod in the north. This operation, I believe, is doomed to spectacular failure.”

Ukraine Counterattacks! Please Remain Calm (Big Serge)

A modest city with a prewar population of perhaps 50,000 people, Izyum was always slated to be a focal point in this war, due to its location at a critical intersection. The topography of northeastern Ukraine is dominated by a few critically important features which determine patterns of movement. These include the crucial E40/M03 highway, which connects the metropolis of Kharkov and the urban agglomeration of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, which are the largest and most important cities in the western Donbas. The region is furthermore shaped by the Severodonetsk River – alternatively called simply the Donets (from which the Donbas, or Donets Basin, draws its name) – which snakes lazily around the plain.


The Donets forms a geographic barrier between the Donbas to the south and the Kharkov region to the north, while the E40/M03 highway forms the main arterial for transit between Kharkov and the urban centers of the western Donbas. Izyum is a strategically crucial city because it is where the highway crosses the river; as an added cherry on top, the Oskil River – a major tributary of the Donets – confluences with the Donets less than five miles to the east of Izyum, meaning the city essentially sits directly on the intersection of all the most important geographic features of the region. A highly simplified map of the area looks like this:

Capturing Izyum was a major objective for Russia in the early weeks of the war (as I argued in a previous piece, this was a major reason for the pinning move on Kiev), because it not only interdicts and complicates supply to Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, but it also gave Russia an early position on the Donets river. It is obvious why Ukraine would want to dislodge Russia from Izyum. This would simplify and secure lines of communication to Slovyansk and greatly complicate the Russian push in the Donbas by freeing Ukraine’s northern flank. To achieve this, they are attempting a thrust toward Kupyansk, with the aim of cutting the line connecting Izyum to Belgorod in the north. This operation, I believe, is doomed to spectacular failure.

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From same long article by Big Serge.

“..a salient is a position where a force is already encircled on 3 sides, leaving only the exit to be snapped shut.”

And then it becomes a cauldron.

Izyum: The Non-Salient (Big Serge)

In military parlance, a “salient” simply means a bulge in the frontline, where one side has achieved some level of penetration at a particular point. A salient is a classically vulnerable position – a glaringly obvious operational focal point, because simultaneous attacks at the base of the bulge can easily cut it off and trap the forces inside. Essentially, a salient is a position where a force is already encircled on 3 sides, leaving only the exit to be snapped shut. In the opening phase of the war, Izyum was indeed a salient. Russia had captured an exposed position which jutted out into Ukrainian territory, and there was talk of a Ukrainian counteroffensive to take advantage of this. Furthermore, the only safe supply line to Izyum ran through Kupyansk, making this a vulnerable position indeed. However, throughout the following weeks, Russia took control of the territory directly to the east of Izyum, including the town of Lyman.


This concretized the Russian flank and secured additional lines of communication into Izyum, creating redundancies for the highway from Kupyansk. The window of opportunity for an easy encirclement or interdiction of supply to Izyum ended when Russia cleared all the Ukrainian forces from the north side of the Donets river. Supply lines to Izyum are now shielded from the south by the Donets, and from the west by the Oskil. Because Russia has redundant supply lines to the northeast of Izyum, for Ukraine to reach operational depth, they must cross the Donets and Oskil rivers. Even suppressing Kupyansk is not enough to disrupt Russia’s ability to project force here. The Oskil river – which, incidentally is more than a kilometer wide in places – presents a major barrier that will prevent Ukraine from exploiting their early advances. They have more or less advanced into a wall, and already the map presents an unfolding catastrophe for them. Courtesy of Rybar:


“This is a Salient with Ukrainians inside”

In short, the Ukrainian advance has been too slow and lacks a clear path to reach operational objectives. Already, Russia has begun to deploy huge reserves to this theater, and fear is beginning to show among the more operationally aware Ukrainians. One Ukrainian journalist at the front had this to say: “There is heavy fighting near Kupyansk, worse than Balakleysky. We are taking heavy losses. The enemy is transferring a bunch of reserves by air. The “Wagnerites” have already arrived in the city itself. The sky is filled with aircraft. Hearing about all this, a haunting feeling of an ambush arises in the soul. What if this all really turns out to be a strategic level ambush?”


I do not believe this is an “ambush” per se by the Russian army. The word ambush implies that the Russian forces were already in position, drawing the Ukrainians into a specific maneuver plan where they could be attacked from prepared positions. That’s not what’s happening at all – Russian forces are coming in fresh from reserve and were not pre-deployed to the sector. What the operation reflects instead is Russia’s preference to wage a high-firepower, mobile defense. Frontline positions are, relatively speaking, thinly manned, which powerful mobile reserves are held back. This is a flexible, firefighting approach which allows the Ukrainians to advance into vulnerable positions so that they can be destroyed.

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US/NATO wants a price cap on Russian gas only. De Croo wants a cap on all gas.

Belgium Objects To Russian Gas Cap Plan (RT)

Imposing a price cap on Russian gas would be insufficient, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has said, calling for the proposed ceiling to be applied to all gas imported into the European Union. In an interview with POLITICO on Thursday, De Croo said this “key measure” on the part of the bloc “needs to [include] all types of gas.” He also warned that failure to heed his advice would be a “big mistake.” In the Belgian official’s view, the price cap would have to be implemented in a “dynamic way,” that is, making sure it would still make sense for exporters to sell gas to the EU instead of shifting to Asian markets. De Croo clarified that with the current gas prices in Asia being roughly 50% lower, setting the price cap just 5 percent higher than Asia would ensure that “all traders in the world will still continue to sell in Europe.”

Earlier on Thursday, Belgium’s Energy Minister revealed that his country would not support the European commission’s plan to impose a price cap specifically on Russian gas imports. “A cap on Russian gas only is a purely political objective,” the minister said, adding that Belgium “will not agree to this” as it did not “see the added value in that.” De Croo has been lobbying his plan since March, and while some member states such as Poland and Greece back the proposal, others, like France, remain skeptical, POLITICO reports. Gas prices in Europe surged following the start of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February and have remained considerably higher than last year’s levels. This has led to a rise in overall inflation.

Last Friday, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced that it would not resume supplying gas to EU consumers via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, citing sanctions-related maintenance issues. The bloc, meanwhile, has accused Russia of weaponizing energy supplies.

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“If price restrictions were to be imposed exclusively on Russian gas, that would evidently lead to an immediate cut-off in Russian gas supplies. It does not take a Nobel Prize to recognize that,” he warned.”

EU Fails To Agree Russian Gas Price Cap – Hungary {(RT)

EU energy ministers have failed to reach a consensus on setting a price cap on Russian gas at an emergency meeting on Friday, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjarto told reporters. “Today there was no solution, there was only a political dispute, which served as a reference point for the European Commission. We now expect that next week or the week after that, not only the member states, but also the European Commission will make written, substantial proposals,” Szijjarto said, as cited by RIA news agency. Earlier this week, the European Commission prepared suggestions on measures aimed at tackling rising energy prices, which were to be discussed by the energy ministers.


Among them was the proposal to introduce a price cap on Russian pipeline gas. The idea, however, faced opposition among member states and was not widely supported at Friday’s meeting, Reuters reported, citing two unnamed diplomats. Earlier, reports also emerged that some EU countries suggested that a price cap should not single out Russia, but instead be applied to all gas imports to the bloc. In a Facebook video posted ahead of the meeting, Szijjarto said the proposed price cap on Russian gas goes against both European and Hungarian interests. “If price restrictions were to be imposed exclusively on Russian gas, that would evidently lead to an immediate cut-off in Russian gas supplies. It does not take a Nobel Prize to recognize that,” he warned.


@WallStreetSilv: They seriously are going to get the rest of the world to quit using the US Dollar with their arrogance on this issue. They are pushing the entire world towards China and the BRICS.

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Germany screwed up its energy policy like no-one else. And now they resort to blackmail.

Germany Frustrated Over Neighbors’ Gas-sharing Reluctance – Bloomberg (RT)

Germany’s neighbors Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland have refused to engage in “constructive negotiations” about gas solidarity deals, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a report to lawmakers seen by Bloomberg. The paper, which was presented to the Bundestag’s energy and climate committee late on Wednesday, reportedly assumed that the reluctance could exacerbate the gas crunch in Germany “because a substantial building bloc of the EU’s gas crisis resilience in the form of bilateral agreements would not be available.” The gas-sharing pacts between member states are part of a larger EU mechanism for energy emergency situations. They guarantee that one country will supply the other if they don’t have enough gas to provide the needs of households and social services, which enjoy special protection under EU law.


According to Habeck, the main reason the countries are refusing bilateral agreements with Berlin is because they don’t want to be on the hook to compensate their suppliers in case gas gets rerouted to Germany. The economy minister also highlighted that Germany is in talks with Italy and the Czech Republic. The agreement with Italy would be a trilateral deal involving Switzerland as gas would need to transit that country into Germany. Discussions with Rome are on hold until after elections later this month, Habeck noted. The Czech Republic would be willing to sign such an agreement, but only if there’s a cap on government compensation for suppliers. Given these problems, “there is currently no progress to be expected from negotiations about bilateral solidarity agreements,” Habeck stressed in the report.

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Makes Trump look awfully smart.

Germany Is Now Generating Nearly A Third Of Its Electricity From Coal (BI)

Germany is relying more on coal to generate electricity, as Russian gas cuts force the country to seek alternative sources of fuel before winter. The European nation produced 82.6 kilowatt-hours of electricity from coal-fired power plants in the first six months of 2022, a 17.2% rise from the the same period last year, according to new data from Germany’s national statistics office, Destatis. As a result, it generated 31.4% of its electricity from coal. Meanwhile, Germany slashed its electricity production from natural gas, reducing it from 14.4% to 11.7% of its total electricity mix, Destatis noted. Soaring prices have made natural gas less and less affordable in recent months.

The shift from gas to coal highlights Germany’s desperate efforts to stockpile fuel before cold weather takes hold later this year, as repeated gas cuts from Russia deplete European supplies. Russia has been accused of “weaponizing” energy in retaliation to Western sanctions and boycotts imposed on the nation following its invasion of Ukraine. Given coal is cheaper than gas and a more accessible fuel resource for Germany, the country has effectively been forced it to make a u-turn back to the dirtiest fossil fuel. One of its energy companies, Uniper, recently fired up a mothballed coal-fueled power plant to cut its dependency on Russian energy. Dutch TTF natural gas futures, the European benchmark for natural gas prices, have been soaring as the market tightens, with prices reaching record highs above 340 euros this year.

Prices were down 4% at 204 euros at last check Thursday, thanks to prospects of a European plan to cap Russian gas prices. Rotterdam coal delivery for October fell 5% to $338, down from more than $430 in March, according to ICE Futures. Analysts warned that greater demand for coal could dial up the cost of the commodity. “When nat gas is this expensive then consumers prefer coal and oil instead, so this goes also up in price,” SEB analyst Ole Hvalbye told Insider. While Europe faces a crippling energy crisis, Germany has been hit the hardest with one of the country’s biggest banks, Commerzbank, predicting it could fall into a 2009-style recession if Russia permanently chokes off supply.

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As Putin said.

Ukrainian Grain Going To EU Instead Of Africa – El Pais (RT)

At least 38% of the grain exported from Ukraine under the UN-brokered deal is shipped to the EU instead of the developing countries in Africa for which it was intended, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported on Thursday, citing UN data and ship tracking figures. According to the report, more than 2.3 million tons of corn, wheat, barley and other agricultural products were exported through the Black Sea corridor from Ukraine between August 1 and September 7. Of this total, about 900,000 tons were sent to the ports of EU member states. The report notes that it is impossible to trace from the available data whether the EU is the final destination of the shipments or a transit point. On July 22, multilateral agreements were signed in Istanbul establishing the framework of exports of Ukrainian grain, food, and fertilizers via the Black Sea.


The agreements also lifted restrictions on Russian grain and fertilizer exports. However, according to Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, the part of the food deal that concerns the export of Russian products has not been implemented, which could lead to the termination of the deal by Moscow. Speaking at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Western nations of lying when they claimed Ukraine needed access to sea shipping to alleviate surging food prices and the risk of famine in poor countries, as a lion’s share of the grain is being exported to Western states. In his remark earlier on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sided with the Russian leader, saying that Ukrainian grain is “unfortunately” going mostly to rich countries.

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“..disproportionate grain exports under a UN-brokered deal that can offset massive debts for weapons and aid..”

Any questions?

Ukraine Faces Winter Food Shortages – Economist (RT)

Ukraine may face food shortages this winter due to disproportionate grain exports under a UN-brokered deal that can offset massive debts for weapons and aid. That’s according to economist Yegor Klopenko, founder of the ITLEADERS venture investors club, who spoke to the news agency Prime on Friday. Ukraine’s debt to the West grew by $70-100 billion just in the first half of the year, according to Klopenko’s estimates. He is certain that Ukraine will never be able to repay this money. Instead, it is bartering its grain in an effort to ensure more aid in the future. “As a result, Ukraine may have problems with food, as the authorities there are ready to give the West everything without thinking about the population,” he says.

More than 2.3 million tons of corn, wheat, barley and other agricultural products were reportedly exported through the Black Sea corridor from Ukraine between August 1 and September 7. Spain’s El Pais newspaper on Thursday reported that at least 38% of this grain is currently shipped to the EU instead of developing countries in Africa for which it was intended. “In turn, Europe cannot admit publicly that Ukrainian grain will end up on the tables of Europeans and not in starving Africa,” the expert states, adding that he thinks that, thanks to Russia’s help, the food situation in Africa will not be as severe as it could have been. Russia is expected to have a record harvest this year, and he believes its grain will go to African countries, driven by the EU’s reluctance to lift sanctions on Russian exports.

According to Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, the part of the Ukraine food deal that concerns the export of Russian products has not been implemented, which could lead to the termination of the entire deal by Moscow. Klopenko says that while Russia, the EU, Africa and the Middle East all seem to have sources for grain supplies, Ukraine may be the only country facing food shortages come winter.

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“Prices, which were $2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2020, have rocketed 2,750% to $57 per MMBtu in August..”

Major LNG Supplier Issues Dire Warning To EU (RT)

The biggest US exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Cheniere Energy, has warned that limited supplies worldwide mean this winter could be “really, really tight.” According to Reuters, Cheniere, which has sent 70% of its output to Europe this year, also said that a resurgence in Chinese LNG demand would exacerbate the energy crisis. “At the end of the day, what’s going to decide how tight the market will be is how cold it is and how government policies, industry rationing work,” Cheniere’s executive vice president for worldwide trading, Corey Grindal, said at a Gastech conference on Thursday. Grindal noted that for now the current price environment indicates that LNG supplies will continue to go to Europe.


Prices, which were $2 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2020, have rocketed 2,750% to $57 per MMBtu in August. The US has stepped up exports of the fuel to the EU this year, taking advantage of elevated prices in the region. China has also been supplying leftover LNG to the EU, as its zero-Covid policies are still weighing on domestic demand, according to Bloomberg. Analysts, however, warn that a total Russian gas shutoff would send the EU into an energy crisis that would last multiple winters. Natural gas deliveries from Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline to the bloc remain cut off indefinitely due to maintenance issues. According to the Kremlin, technical issues with gas deliveries via the pipeline will persist until the West lifts its sanctions on Russia.

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Re: Germany demanding gas from its neighbors.

EU: Neocolonialism, Hyper-Financialization and Hyper-Globalization (CHS)

The European Union (EU) was seen as the culmination of a centuries-long process of integration that would finally put an end to the ceaseless conflicts that had led to disastrous wars in the 20th century that had knocked Europe from global preeminence. Wary of the predations of the U.S. and rising Asian powers, European nations sought the economic and diplomatic strength of a confederation that would be greater than the sum of its parts, a union that would restore Europe’s rightful place as a global power. This worthy goal was undermined by the destructive dynamics of the past forty years: Neocolonialism, Financialization and Globalization. These dynamics are unstable due to their internal contradictions.

In classical colonialism, the Core dominates the Periphery with force, extracting economic value by exploiting the subject states’ commodities and forcing the colonies to buy the valued-added finished goods produced by the colonial power’s domestic economy. This extractive model was at odds with the liberal worldview of the colonial powers which held self-rule and open markets as necessary to stable prosperity. The contradictions of classical colonialism led to its collapse as colonies broke free and the colonial powers were forced to navigate a more open global economy. Beneath the glossy vibe of strength through unity, the EU institutionalized a Neocolonial Model in which some EU members are more equal than others, a divide that was starkly revealed in the debt crisis of 2011-2012.

In Neocolonialism, the forces of financialization (debt and leverage controlled by State-approved banking cartels) are used to indenture the local Elites and populace to the banking center: the peripheral Neocolonials borrow money to buy the finished goods sold by the Core, doubly enriching the center with 1) interest and the transactional skim of financializing assets such as real estate, harbors, etc. and 2) the profits made selling goods to the debtors. (China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is another version of the Neocolonial Model in which credit and financialization indebt and disempower the Periphery nations to the benefit of the Neocolonial Power.)

In essence, the Core nations of the EU colonized the Periphery nations via the euro which enabled a massive expansion of debt and consumption in the Periphery. The banks and exporters of the Core extracted enormous profits from this expansion of debt-fueled consumption. The Periphery’s neocolonial status was starkly revealed by the debt crisis: the assets and income of the Periphery flowed to the Core as interest on the private and sovereign debts that are owed to the Core’s commercial and central banks. This was the perfection of Neocolonial Neofeudalism. The Periphery nations of the E.U. are effectively neocolonial debtors of the Core countries’ banks, and the taxpayers of the Core nations are now feudal serfs whose labor is devoted to making good on any bank loans to the Periphery that go bad.

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“Germany is just flat-out hanging itself in the basement.” “They need a “national emergency” and they’ll manufacture one if necessary. Wait for it.”

Here It Comes (Kunstler)

A federal judge this week ordered the White House, Anthony, Fauci, Secretaries Becerra and Mayorkas, and a slew of other US officials to surrender their email correspondence with social and news media companies in the matter of government working to suppress the first amendment and, in the censoring, de-platforming, and defaming of many individual citizens who attempted to present views of the Covid melodrama contrary to the official narratives. This was in a suit brought by state Attorneys General Eric Schmidt (MO) and Jeff Landry (LA). From it, a million more lawsuits for personal injury may bloom. Mark Zuckerberg let the cat out of the bag days ago as to how the FBI leaned right on him.

Prepare for an avalanche of unwelcome news evading the censors as we slide out of summer into the cold-and-flu season, as it’s called. Hundreds of millions throughout the highly-vaxxed nations will be walking around with crippled immune systems. The life insurance companies may require a bail-out, from all those “unknown causes” that killed people. But so will every other institution in Western Civ. Alas, the money for that is fated to go up in a vapor later this fall as history’s greatest margin call gets underway. Let’s face it, Europe and North America are sloughing off their industrial economies and the financialization racketeering underneath all that doesn’t produce anything of value. Seventy percent of the pubs in the UK are shuttering because they can’t pay the electric bill.

Germany is just flat-out hanging itself in the basement. The Euro is going to trash. A little birdie told me to expect a last gasp stock market rally the next ten days, with the Dow nearing 35,000. What a set-up. Markets are truly diabolical the way they prey on human wishes. God help the suckers watching CNBC. Following his Mouth-of-Hell speech last week, declaring war on half the country, “Joe Biden’s” prospects are dimming along with sclerotic circuits in his brainpan. The Party of Chaos is desperate to survive the midterm election. Therefore, look for them to grudge up an excuse to make them not happen. They need a “national emergency” and they’ll manufacture one if necessary. Wait for it.

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The scariest thing I’ve read in a while. Imagine if I were a woman. And had been jabbed. My medical know-how doesn’t go far enough to know if the uterus lining is restored, but I’m scared regardless.

Decidual cast shedding (DCS) less than 40 reports in 109 years. 243 reported in survey in 7 months in 2021. The complete lining of the womb is shed.

COVID-19 and the Surge in Decidual Cast Shedding (GMS)

The COVID-19 pandemic expanded recognition and discussion across social media sites of a variety of symptoms related to SARS-CoV-2 infection and side effects related to COVID-19 vaccines. After the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines specifically, there was a marked increase of women sharing irregular menstruation experiences on a variety of social media platforms, and a few formal surveys were conducted. One survey launched in April 2021 had more than 150,000 respondents [1]. The survey was limited because it did not differentiate between specific symptoms, length, or severity of symptoms, nor did it address potential causes. The survey indicated that menstrual irregularities increased exponentially starting in 2021.

To follow up those findings and gather a wider array of general and menstruation-related symptom data, a new user-centered survey, the MyCycleStorySM survey, was designed and disseminated [2]. As survey submissions accumulated, it became clear that individuals were reporting a variety of unusual symptoms, many severe. One such rare symptom was the passage of decidual casts, also known as decidual cast shedding (DCS). Some of the respondents provided detailed descriptions of their experiences. A subset of these testimonials is included in the below hyperlink [26].

A decidual cast may occur when the cessation of progesterone levels results in loss of support for the decidualized endometrial lining [3]. This results in a synchronized detachment of the entire decidualized layer of endometrium, and it passes from the uterus through the cervix and vagina. This tissue mass/clot is often triangular, consistent with the internal shape of the intrauterine cavity (Figure 1). Other less common causes of DCS include cessation of exogenous estrogen/ progesterone therapies, and use of oral contraceptives and injectable progesterone [4].


Depictions of DCS specimens from MyCycleStorySM participants. Participants were so distressed by their abnormal menstrual phenomena documented with photographs.

A Google search of the phrase “decidual cast shedding” brings up the following definition: “a large, intact piece of tissue that is passed through the vagina in one solid piece. It happens when the thick mucus lining of the uterus, called the decidua, sheds in the near exact shape of a uterine cavity, creating a triangular cast” [19]. An extensive literature review of previous documented decidual cast shedding cases was performed by the authors, substantiating that this experience is extremely rare. Literature search terms “decidual cast” and “membranous shedding” and “membranous dysmenorrhea” were used to identify the prevalence of DCS in the pre-pandemic era. We found fifteen publications between 1913 and 2022 detailing less than 40 cases of “decidual cast shedding” or “membranous dysmenorrhea” [3-18]. There were 292 (4.83 % of the sample) predominantly non-Hispanic white women who identified a DCS incident during the 7.5 months of data collection in mid-to-late 2021, and 96.2% of these respondents reported that they had experienced health problems or menstrual irregularities since January 2021.

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8 mice.

The High-Speed, Bivalent COVID Boosters are Here (Nass)

This is the fastest rollout of a new vaccine in world history. How did it happen? Instead of this being a tale of human grit and ingenuity, it is a tale of human weakness and recklessness. Let me ask again: how did such a rapid vaccine rollout occur? It occurred the only way it could possibly occur: by bending the rules, creating a new regulatory playbook and failing to obtain any human data for the new vaccines. The manufacturers did not have to go through months-long trials, and FDA did not have to pore over any human trial data, because there weren’t any. Let that sink in: the new BA.4/5 bivalent vaccines have only been tested in mice, not humans.

Here is an amazing fact: On the same day that the CDC gave its approval to start the vaccine program, September 1, health agencies in Canada, Switzerland and the European Union’s FDA (the European Medicines Association) also rolled out new, bivalent booster shot programs. Almost simultaneously, the UK authorized 2 different bivalent boosters on August 15 and September 3. The UK has told people to expect the largest rollout in history for the new bivalent boosters. And it has started the program by promising large bonuses to doctors if they manage to vaccinate every single resident of a nursing home by October 23. These other countries are using an earlier omicron mRNA as the template for their omicron-ancestral bivalent vaccines, while the US is using the mRNA code for the later omicron variant BA.4/5 spike.

[..] Omicron variants have been present since last November, and it was soon discovered that both vaccine-induced and natural immunity due to earlier variants were very limited for omicron variants, because they are so different from the ancestral strain. The health agencies and manufacturers have been testing omicron vaccine prototypes for up to 9 months. Most of those tests involved BA.1 and BA.2 omicron strains. However, 90% of current cases are caused by omicron BA.5, which is genetically far from BA.1 and BA.2. But there was some human data (involving a few hundred subjects each) for several of the earlier omicron vaccine prototypes, so the health agencies decided to simply pretend that mRNA designed for BA.1 and BA.2 was close enough to BA.5 that the data were comparable.

Since 50% of the vaccine contents would be the old vaccine, FDA claimed it had already established the safety and efficacy of that half. Then, to round things out, there were data from mice, which generated comparable antibody levels to the new vaccines as they had to older vaccines. And of course, we can rely on mice to behave exactly like people, right? After all, they have been ‘humanized’ to contain a human ACE-2 receptor. No, we cannot rely on mice. We cannot even rely on nonhuman primates as a model for vaccines, as every species reacts uniquely and unpredictably to infections and to vaccinations. But mice data do bulk up FDA’s authorization ‘package’ so it looks like FDA did a more thorough review.

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Steve Bannon

 

 

Steve Bannon just broke that at least 35 Trump Allies had their homes raided yesterday by the FBI.

 

 


Inflation in Turkey. Seven years ago 55,000 lira got you a car. Today it gets you a phone.

 

 

Climate denier

 

 

Should you go first and I remain,
One thing I’d have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I’ll follow you.
I’ll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You’ll hear me call your name.

– A. Rowswell

 

 

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

 

 

 

Jul 162022
 
 July 16, 2022  Posted by at 9:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  27 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Guernica [Study] V 1937

 

Useful European Idiots (Vilches)
The Imaginary War (Lawrence)
Is A US-Russia War Becoming Inevitable? (Pat Buchanan)
The Stupendous Tale (Tarik)
Europe’s Thirst For LNG Is Causing Blackouts In Developing Countries (OP)
Geert Vanden Bossche: Mass Covid Vax Triggering New Pandemics (NA)
Low Demand For Young Kids’ Covid Vaccines Is Alarming Doctors (Pol.)
Health Experts Are Quitting The NIH and CDC In Droves (DM)
Elon Musk Wants To Push Twitter Trial Back To 2023 (NYP)
A Tale of the Taco (Jim Kunstler)
Assange Fights Extradition To United States With Two Appeals (Dissenter)

 

 

 

 

Twitter board

 

 

 

 

NATO myths

 

 

 

 

“The US-UK cabal does not want Europe and Russia to trade, do business, relate, or grow together in any way, shape, or form.”

Useful European Idiots (Vilches)

“ Washington and London have drawn ´useful European idiots´ into an economic war against Russia ” – said former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev – adding that “the onset of a systemic crisis in the Eurozone is beginning to come true.” He added that Anglo-Saxons on both sides of the Atlantic conned EU members “like a couple of shell-game tricksters” by drawing them into an unwarranted economic war against Moscow which is actually an Anglo-Saxon project, not theirs. Paraphrasing James Carville, “it´s the Anglo-Saxons, stupid”. The US-UK cabal does not want Europe and Russia to trade, do business, relate, or grow together in any way, shape, or form. So they designed, built and forced upon Europe the current John Bolton-Ukraine war which had plan A (now failed) with Russia as target and plan B as substitute with Europe itself as the intended victim coming next.

What Dmitry Medvedev may not know though is that such ”useful European idiots” can be broken down into 3 fairly distinct categories starting with the EU “well-trained career idiots” basically focused on continuously earning salaries and perks way above their capabilities. So they know that (a) the EU system rewards them generously despite their obvious mediocrity and limitations and (b) thus do not dare to question, doubt, let alone defy the EU system or dictats. They all know and feel every day of their lives that the EU ´system´ has a very strict pecking order and what top-cock (or top-hen) says to do or say or think is to be summarily executed without questioning the mandate, even if against European best interests as is the case.

This simplifies the problem from the Washington-London perspective as by controlling a handful of EU leaders (more on that later) the rest just follow the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Furthermore, these EU-captured intellectual simpleton retards are not dumb enough to the extreme of questioning their unequivocal role (they are aware of it) and accordingly constantly strengthen their vested-interests relationship. In sum, they work hard at it. Then there is a second category of “useful European idiots” grouping the visible top EU leaders – many unelected — who can either be (a) plain corrupt as traditionally allowed for in Europe or (b) perceive themselves as God-chosen to lead Europe to a glorious yet undefined destiny no matter if actively hijacking any representational capacity and values they may have received.

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“.. a Marvel Comics of a conflict with little grounding in reality..”

The Imaginary War (Lawrence)

What were the policy cliques, “the intelligence community” and the press that serves both going to do when the kind of war in Ukraine they talked incessantly about turned out to be imaginary, a Marvel Comics of a conflict with little grounding in reality? I have wondered about this since the Russian intervention began on Feb. 24. I knew the answer would be interesting when finally we had one. Now we have one. Taking the government-supervised New York Times as a guide, the result is a variant of what we saw as the Russiagate fiasco came unglued: Those who manufacture orthodoxies as well as consent are slithering out the side door. I could tell you I don’t intend to single out the Times in this wild chicanery, except that I do.

The once-but-no-longer newspaper of record continues to be singularly wicked in its deceits and deceptions as it imposes the official but imaginary version of the war on unsuspecting readers. As Consortium News’s properly suspecting readers will recall, Vladimir Putin was clear when he told the world Russia’s intentions as it began its intervention. These were two: Russian forces went into Ukraine to “demilitarize and de–Nazify” it, a pair of limited, defined objectives. An astute reader of these commentaries pointed out in a recent comment thread that the Russian president had once again proven, whatever else one may think of him, a focused statesman with an excellent grasp of history. At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the Allied Control Council declared its postwar purpose in Germany as “the four D’s.” These were de–Nazification, demilitarization, democratization and decentralization.

Let’s give David Thompson, who brought this historical reference to my attention, a deserved byline here: “Putin’s reiteration of the de–Nazification and demilitarization principles established from the Potsdam Conference is not just some quaint tip of the hat to history. He was laying down a marker to the United States and the United Kingdom that the agreement reached at Potsdam in 1945 is still relevant and valid ….” The Russian president, whose entire argument with the West is that a just and stable order in Europe must serve the security interests of all sides, was simply restating objectives the trans–Atlantic alliance had once signed on to accomplish. In other words, he was pointing out said alliance’s gross hypocrisy as it arms the ideological descendants of German Nazis.

I dwell on this matter because the imaginary war began with the Biden regime’s and the press’s quite irresponsible misrepresentations of the Russian Federation’s aims in Ukraine. All else has flowed from it. You remember: Russian forces were going to “conquer” the whole of the nation, wipe out the Kiev regime, install a puppet government and then drive on to Poland, the Baltic states, Transnistria and the rest of Moldova, and who could imagine what after that. De–Nazification, we can now read, is a phony Kremlin dodge. Having lied outright on this score, the next edition of the comic went onto the market. Russia is failing to achieve its imaginary objectives. Low morale, desertions, poorly trained troops with not enough to eat, logistical failures, lousy artillery, inadequate ordnance, incompetent officers: The Russians were riding for a fall on Ukrainian soil.

The corollary here was the heroism, courage and battlefield grit of Ukrainian troops, least of all, the Azov Battalion, who were not any longer neo–Nazis. Never mind the Times, The Guardian, the BBC and various other mainstream publications and broadcasters had earlier told us about these ideological fanatics. That was then, this is now.

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Not yet.

Is A US-Russia War Becoming Inevitable? (Pat Buchanan)

At the NATO summit in Madrid, Finland was invited to join the alliance. What does this mean for Finland? If Russian President Vladimir Putin breaches the 830-mile Finnish border, the United States will rise to Helsinki’s defense and fight Russia on Finland’s side. If Putin makes a military move into Finland, the U.S. will go to war against the world’s largest nation with an arsenal of between 4,500 and 6,000 battlefield and strategic nuclear weapons. No Cold War president would have dreamed of making such a commitment — to risk the survival of our nation to defend territory of a country thousands of miles away that has never been a U.S. vital interest. To go to war with the Soviet Union over the preservation of Finnish territory would have been seen as madness during the Cold War.

Recall: Harry Truman refused to use force to break Joseph Stalin’s blockade of Berlin. Dwight Eisenhower refused to send U.S. troops to save the Hungarian freedom fighters being run down by Soviet tanks in Budapest in 1956. Lyndon B. Johnson did nothing to assist the Czech patriots crushed by Warsaw Pact armies in 1968. When Lech Walesa’s Solidarity was smashed on Moscow’s order in Poland in 1981, Ronald Reagan made brave statements and sent Xerox machines. While the U.S. issued annual declarations of support during the Cold War for the “captive nations” of Central and Eastern Europe, the liberation of these nations from Soviet control was never deemed so vital to the West as to justify a war with the USSR.

Indeed, in the 40 years of the Cold War, NATO, which had begun in 1949 with 12 member nations, added only four more — Greece, Turkey, Spain and West Germany. Yet, with the invitation to Sweden and Finland to join as the 31st and 32nd nations to receive an Article 5 war guarantee, NATO will have doubled its membership since what was thought — certainly by the Russians — to have been the end of the Cold War. All the nations once part of Moscow’s Warsaw Pact — East Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria — are now members of a U.S.-led NATO — directed against Russia. Three former republics of the USSR — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — are now also members of NATO, a military alliance formed to corral and contain the nation to which they had belonged during the Cold War. Lithuania, with 2% of Russia’s population, has just declared a partial blockade of goods moving across its territory to Kaliningrad, Russia’s enclave on the Baltic Sea. To Putin’s protest, Vilnius has reminded Moscow that Lithuania is a member of NATO.

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Stupendously long, too.

The Stupendous Tale (Tarik)

I love Elvira. She’s my sweetheart, ma babe. Were I set to marry a central banker, she’d be the one. And if Putin is the Father of modern Russia, then Nabiullina is the fiercely protective Mother. Her handling of the Ruble attack after the Crimean intervention, was truly heroic. I can almost hear the strident cries from all her brats: the public, the business class, academia, media and the government, to lower rates and open wide the money spigot. Had she fallen under the pressure as they all do since Volker, had she not risen interest rates to 17%, the ruble would have been irrevocably broken.

The entire economy would have loaded up on unsustainable debt that would trigger the familiar hyper inflationary trend common to US$ vassals going rogue with no understanding of the money game (Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Turkey, Argentina…), and thus annihilated Putin’s achievements on all fronts. Instead, by letting inviable western focused businesses fail, financial resources could flow to local production and eastbound and southbound ventures. As a result the economy cleansed itself of obsolete dead weights, excessive unserviceable debt, and business discipline was enforced, leaving it lean and mean, ready do tackle any future rough patch.

Once the last treacherous FDI dollar and Euro left the space, the ruble stabilized, interest rates slowly normalized, dollar reserves now kept at strict minimum to cover trade requirements while overall reserves quickly recovered all losses. Sure some short term pain on certain sectors, but necessary and long term well worth it. No wonder Putin today would ask her for another term (note that he asked, she did not offer). With roughest seas ahead, he imperatively needs a proven captain that can handle any coming economic tempest. What’s funny, those accusing her of “Atlanticism” seem to have completely missed that her policies selectively strained precisely those western bent businesses, while protecting the Eurasianists and patriots. Some reproach her playing into IMF hands yet she kept the RCB free from its predatory loans, thus keeping Russia safe from the coercive influence. Go figure.

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BRICS getting stronger by the day. This is why.

Europe’s Thirst For LNG Is Causing Blackouts In Developing Countries (OP)

In June, the European Union imported more liquefied natural gas from the United States than pipeline gas from Russia for the first time ever. The unprecedented shift came as the EU scrambled to fill up its gas storage facilities ahead of the next heating season in fear Russia could turn off the gas tap at any moment. It also pushed LNG prices sky-high, making it unaffordable for developing countries. “Because of the Ukraine war, every single molecule that was available in our region has been purchased by Europe, because they’re trying to reduce their dependence on Russia,” Pakistan’s Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik said earlier this month as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.


Pakistan has been suffering from blackouts because of insufficient LNG supplies that the country needs to keep its power plants going. And the reason for the insufficient supplies is that Europe can pay more for the commodity, so traders are sending their cargos there, including cargos originally destined for Pakistan and other Asian countries. According to data from Wood Mackenzie cited by the Wall Street Journal, while Europe’s LNG imports soared 49 percent from the start of the year to mid-June, Pakistan’s imports fell by 15 percent during the same period, those to India shed 16 percent, and China’s LNG imports fell by more than a fifth. “The European gas crisis is sucking the world dry of LNG,” Valery Chow, head of Asia Pacific gas and LNG research at Wood Mackenzie, told the WSJ.”Emerging markets in Asia have borne the brunt of this and there is no end in sight.”

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“If the antiviral treatments are not made massively available to the vaccinated people, the highly vaccinated countries will likely experience a tsunami of hospitalizations and death..”

Geert Vanden Bossche: Mass Covid Vax Triggering New Pandemics (NA)

In his first interview with The New American, renowned scientist Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche described why mass vaccination with non-sterilizing (“leaky”) vaccines could not lead to herd immunity, and why he expected the Covid infection and disease to aggravate in the vaccinated individuals. The New American is proud to become the first media to speak with Dr. Vanden Bossche about his latest research dedicated to the issue of Covid mass vaccination initiating a chain reaction of new pandemics and epidemics with a potentially catastrophic impact on global health. In addition to that, the doctor explained how the constant Covid reinfections trigger relapse or metastasis of certain cancers in vaccinated people.


If the antiviral treatments are not made massively available to the vaccinated people, the highly vaccinated countries will likely experience a tsunami of hospitalizations and deaths among the vaccinated, especially the elderly and those vaccinated early on, said Dr. Vanden Bossche. The doctor pleaded with the parents NOT to vaccinate their children against Covid. The vaccination would irreparably damage their innate immune system and leave them vulnerable to infection and re-infection by Covid and a range of other deadly pathogens. That would result in a massive loss of children’s lives.

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They should listen to Geert.

Low Demand For Young Kids’ Covid Vaccines Is Alarming Doctors (Pol.)

States where parents have hesitated to inoculate their children against Covid-19 are now ordering fewer doses of the vaccines for children under 5 than others, underscoring the challenge facing the Biden administration as a highly transmissible variant sweeps the nation. Experts broadly agree states shouldn’t order more doses than they think they’ll use. But they worry the low demand in states such as Alabama and Mississippi is a warning sign of the widening ambivalence among many parents about the benefits of vaccinating children against the virus and continuing politicization of health care. “Never before have we had a vaccine available for young children that has been in billions of people before it was given to a young child,” said Kawsar Talaat, a vaccine expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“The distrust in government, the distrust in public health and the distrust in science is growing and is very, very worrisome.” OLITICO contacted each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to ask how many of the recently authorized Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines they ordered and 38 jurisdictions provided that data. Several of the states that reported placing some of the lowest orders relative to their under-5 populations also have low Covid-19 vaccination rates for 5- to 11-year-olds, an early indication that vaccinations for the youngest kids could follow a similar pattern. Since they became eligible last fall, 36.6 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds have received one Covid-19 shot and only 30 percent are fully vaccinated, compared to 69 percent of adults aged 18 to 49.

Public health experts and doctors attribute the slow uptake in part to the fact that many parents don’t believe that the vaccine is necessary, effective, or that its benefits outweigh any risks. [..] Florida — the only state to explicitly advise against Covid-19 vaccines for young children — did not pre-order any of the 5-and-under vaccines. It has now permitted practitioners and health systems to order the shots through a state portal, but is not making them available in state-run health programs.

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No credibility left. Or trust.

Health Experts Are Quitting The NIH and CDC In Droves (DM)

Two of America’s top health agencies are reportedly hemorrhaging staff as poor decision-making, described by staff as ‘bad science,’ has led to low morale. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are both suffering staff shortages, according to Dr. Marty Makary, a top public-health expert at Johns Hopkins University, writes at Common Sense, the Substack run by former New York Times columnist, Bari Weiss. Major decisions made by the agencies that hurt morale included support for masking in schools, school closures during the pandemic and the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children four and under.

Both agencies, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been mired in controversy throughout the pandemic for inconsistent messaging and for decision-making that didn’t seem to line up with available science. ‘They have no leadership right now. Suddenly, there’s an enormous number of jobs opening up at the highest level positions,’ an anonymous NIH scientist told Common Sense. Schools became a battleground of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. When the virus stormed the world in 2020, many officials immediately shut things down – schools, retail stores, entertainment venues, restaurants – out of an fear of the unknown. Initial data showed children suffered limited risk when they contracted the virus, though, and that it was mainly the elderly and severely immunocompromised that bore the virus’s burden.

Despite the evidence, the CDC still recommended schools stay closed until the end of the 2019-2020 school year. While individual school districts were allowed to make decisions for themselves – and many Republican leaning counties did quickly reopen schools – many major metropolitan areas under Democratic control kept schools closed for extended periods of time. Earlier this year, Makary told DailyMail.com that the decision to keep schools closed was one of the worst made in the pandemic, specifically citing that minority communities who disproportionately lived in these areas were set the furthest behind academically. ‘CDC failed to balance the risks of COVID with other risks that come from closing schools,’ an anonymous CDC scientist told Common Sense.

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“Human reviewers randomly sampled 100 accounts per day (less than 0.00005% of daily users)..” “That’s it. No automation, no AI, no machine learning.”

Elon Musk Wants To Push Twitter Trial Back To 2023 (NYP)

Elon Musk told a judge Friday that he needs until next year to respond to Twitter’s “meritless” claims that the mogul tried to scuttle the $44 billion deal to buy the social media platform. Musk’s attorneys accused Twitter of fudging the figures over fake accounts and want the trial pushed back until at least Feb. 13, 2023, to gather information over the disputed bot data, according to court documents filed with the Delaware court Friday evening. “The core dispute over false and spam accounts is fundamental to Twitter’s value,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the 14-page filing. “It is also extremely fact and expert intensive, requiring substantial time for discovery.”

Musk, who first agreed to buy the site for $44 billion in April, pulled out of the deal last week after repeatedly claiming Twitter may be lying about what percentage of its users are bots — a move that Twitter’s lawyers blasted in their suit filed Wednesday as a “bad faith” attempt to walk away from the agreement. Twitter is seeking an unusually short four-day Delaware Court of Chancery trial starting in September, which some observers have interpreted as a show of confidence in its legal case. Musk’s lawyers called Twitter’s request an unjustifiable “bid for extreme expedition,” and accused the company of “a two-month treasure hunt of delays, technical bottlenecks, evasive answers, and, ultimately, refusals,”

“In a May 6 meeting with Twitter executives, Musk was flabbergasted to learn just how meager Twitter’s process was,” Musk’s lawyers wrote in the filing. “Human reviewers randomly sampled 100 accounts per day (less than 0.00005% of daily users) and applied unidentified standards to somehow conclude every quarter for nearly three years that fewer than 5% of Twitter users were false or spam. That’s it. No automation, no AI, no machine learning.”

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“Have Americans been wearing their masks over the wrong bodily orifice? Is anyone conducting a peer-reviewed study on this?”

A Tale of the Taco (Jim Kunstler)

Has anyone noticed, by the way, that the US is under an invasion of breakfast tacos? So many of them, and so many kinds! Huevos con chorizo… Huevos y tocino… Huevos con queso! The diversity is staggering! Oddly, the US fast food industry has remained silent on the issue, despite the threat to their operations. Someone, please, send a memo to Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas: a mighty influx of breakfast tacos marches day-and-night across our border with Mexico. They are being distributed — for free! — by bus and airplane from sea to shining sea — while millions of Egg McMuffins, Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Croissan’wiches, Grand Slamwiches, Kickin’ Maple Chicken BreakFEASTs, Country Fried Steak Biscuits, Chocolate Chip/Pecan Waffles, and Texas Melts go uneaten, wilting under the infrared Glo-Ray warming bulbs of American franchise eateries.


The wonder really is: how can America even manage to eat breakfast with its head so far up its ass? Perhaps Dr. Jill Biden can address that question in an upcoming speech to the National Association of Colorectal Surgeons. Now that the mRNA vaccines have Covid-19 so well under control — ask Dr. Anthony Fauci (he knows!) — shouldn’t we be concerned with this new scourge of cranialrectosis (the next pandemic)? Have Americans been wearing their masks over the wrong bodily orifice? Is anyone conducting a peer-reviewed study on this?

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“..Baraitser failed to recognize that the US government “misrepresented” facts in the case and the case was “pursued for ulterior political motives.”

Assange Fights Extradition To United States With Two Appeals (Dissenter)

On June 23, grounds for appeal were submitted against Patel’s Home Office. They claimed Patel erred by failing to recognize that the US-UK Extradition Treaty prohibited extradition for a political offense.Edward Fitzgerald QC emphasized to the district judge that due process protections, like the Magna Carta of 1215, were enshrined in UK law for centuries. He noted the US Constitution contained protections against arbitrary detention as well. Yet as the “Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign” observed, during proceedings Baraitser acted like she could discard the Magna Carta in favor of a lesser law, which the UK Parliament passed.

Attorneys also maintained Patel erred when she accepted that “specialty arrangements” with the US government would protect Assange from the death penalty, criminal contempt proceedings, and further prosecution for “conduct outside of the extradition request.”The legal team filed long-awaited grounds of appeal against District Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s decision on June 30. They claimed the district judge erred when she determined it would not be “unjust and oppressive” to extradite him given the passage of time. On human rights grounds, the attorneys maintained the district judge was wrong to determine extradition would not deny his right to fair trial, his right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, his right to freedom of expression, and his right to be free from a novel and unforeseeable extension of the law.

Further grounds of appeal included a claim that Baraitser failed to recognize that the US government “misrepresented” facts in the case and the case was “pursued for ulterior political motives. “His attorneys objected to Baraitser accepting a second superseding indictment that was sprung on Assange just weeks before the extradition hearing in September 2020. They contend she should have “excised” all allegations from this indictment to uphold “procedural fairness.” Patel approved Assange’s extradition on June 17, and the Westminster Magistrates’ Court ordered his extradition on April 20 after the UK Supreme Court refused to hear a prior appeal. But Assange’s legal team did not appeal that decision. They appealed an earlier decision issued by Baraitser on January 4, 2021.

Baraitser’s decision initially determined that extradition would be “oppressive” for mental health reasons and blocked extradition, however, the UK High Court of Justice overturned the decision after the US government appealed. The rest of the district judge’s decision was troubling to Assange’s attorneys, as well as press freedom and human rights groups opposed to the prosecution. It was not appropriate for the attorneys to file an appeal until after the US government’s appeal was settled. The challenge to the district judge’s refusal to recognize Assange’s right to freedom of expression is a relief to press freedom organizations. Human rights organizations like Amnesty International will appreciate the appeal related to the risk of cruel and inhuman treatment. Assange’s legal team requested an extension for drafting their appeals, and the US government did not object. The extension was granted by the UK High Court.

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Read the whole note

 

 


One of the best examples of cryptic plumage and mimicry in Australian birds is seen in the tawny frogmouth, which perch low on tree branches during the day camouflaged as part of the tree

 

 

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Jun 132022
 
 June 13, 2022  Posted by at 8:54 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  68 Responses »


Caravaggio I musici 1595-96

 

Russia Gains More Ground in Donbas Region (WSJ)
Should Russia Pay Reparations For The Ukraine War? (Barry Eichengreen)
Effort to Force Russia to Pay Reparations to Ukraine Faces Uphill Battle (WSJ)
Global Nuclear Arsenal Set To Grow For First Time In Decades (R.)
Army Official Predicted Vaccines Might Be Paused Over Myocarditis (ET)
99% Certain Justin Bieber’s Facial Paralysis Caused By Covid Vaccine (Kirsch)
USS Liberty: A Forgotten Anniversary (Moglia)
Greens Unlikely To Survive The Coming Winter (CoS)
Freeport LNG Explosion Raises Risk Of European Winter Energy Crisis (CNN)
Jan. 6 Committee Caught ‘Lying and Altering Evidence’ (TH)
Cost of Living Crisis a Result of Lockdowns, Experts Tell MPs (DS)
Elon Musk’s Twitter ‘Best’ Offer Looks Bogus (Gasparino)
Henry Kissinger At 99: How To Avoid Another World War (Ferguson)

 

 

 

 

3xvaxxed

 

 

 

 

Tulsi woke
https://twitter.com/i/status/1535920648622444545

 

 

 

 

Are the leaders of France, Germany and Italy going to talk some sense into Zelensky?

Russia Gains More Ground in Donbas Region (WSJ)

The leaders of France, Germany and Italy plan to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv this week, officials said, as reports showed Russia making gains in the country’s east and Ukrainian officials urgently sought arms from Western nations to hold Russian forces at bay. French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi were planning to visit the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, said two European officials, who cautioned that plans could yet change. The trip would be the first to Ukraine since the beginning of the war for the three Western leaders.

News of the planned meeting came as Ukrainian officials said Russia had made fresh gains in its efforts to encircle and capture the city of Severodonetsk, which would bring Moscow significantly closer to its goal of controlling the Donbas area in the country’s east, its foremost target recently in the war. Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, which includes Severodonetsk, said on Sunday that Russians had destroyed a second bridge connecting Severodonetsk to Lysychansk, a Ukrainian stronghold just across the Siverskyi Donets river. Russian forces also shelled a chemical plant in the city’s industrial section, where civilians had taken shelter in bunkers, Mr. Haidai said.

The battlefield advances were the latest evidence that Russia is outgunning Ukrainian forces, using its superior artillery power to steadily take territory. Its gains have thrown added focus onto Ukraine’s pleas for more powerful and longer-range artillery and other weaponry from the West, as well as on Ukraine’s lack of capacity to manufacture ammunition for the Soviet-era heavy weapons in its arsenal.

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Why would an economist want to opine on this?

Should Russia Pay Reparations For The Ukraine War? (Barry Eichengreen)

Russia’s war on Ukraine shows no sign of ending, but it is not too soon to start thinking about how to ensure postwar Ukraine’s stability, prosperity, and security. Already, two discussions are occurring: one about financing economic reconstruction, and the other about affirming Ukraine’s external security. The problem is that these discussions are proceeding separately, even though the issues are intimately related. Reconstruction costs are uncertain because the course of the war is uncertain. Ukraine’s prewar GDP was about $150bn (£120bn). Given a capital-output ratio of three, and assuming that a third of the capital stock will be destroyed, we are again talking about $150bn. As always, alternative assumptions yield alternative scenarios, but $150bn seems like a reasonable starting point.


This is not an impossible amount of aid for donors to commit. It is one-sixth the size of the NextGenerationEU program on which EU states agreed in July 2020. It is one-twelfth the size of the American Rescue Plan Act signed by Joe Biden in March 2021. Still, it seems wrong to ask the US and Europe to repair what Russia has broken. So, it is tempting to suggest that Ukraine’s reconstruction should be financed by garnishing Russian assets. At $284bn, the Bank of Russia’s frozen reserves would certainly fit the bill. True, there is a moral case for reparations: Russia started an unprovoked war and has almost certainly committed war crimes in prosecuting it. There is also an argument grounded in deterrence. As Volodymyr Zelenskiy put it at Davos this year: “If the aggressor loses everything, then it definitely deprives him of his motivation to start a war.”

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It’s a popular topic.

Effort to Force Russia to Pay Reparations to Ukraine Faces Uphill Battle (WSJ)

Since Russian forces swept into Ukraine on Feb. 24, swaths of the country’s buildings and infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed, leading to calls for Moscow to pay for the damage. As the leading western backer of Ukraine in the conflict, the U.S., which also holds some of Russia’s frozen assets, would likely be critical to any effort to get Moscow to pay for that damage. Yet even if Washington were to try to force Russia to pay reparations, the Biden administration would have limited options for making Moscow comply, particularly while the war rages on, according to former officials and legal experts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on Russia to compensate his country, saying in early May the war had caused more than $600 billion in damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure. The figure has only grown as the war continues.


There is, in theory, a pot of money for the West to draw on if it wants to force Russia to pay. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in March that half the country’s gold and foreign-currency reserves were frozen as a result of sanctions, denying Moscow access to roughly $300 billion, according to the TASS news agency. The share of Russia’s foreign-exchange reserves held in Chinese currency wasn’t affected. When the Biden administration in late April submitted its $33 billion supplemental funding request for Ukraine, the White House said it was “proposing legislation to streamline the process to recoup proceeds from seized and forfeited assets and use them to remediate the harm caused in Ukraine.”

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Cui bono?

Global Nuclear Arsenal Set To Grow For First Time In Decades (R.)

The global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow in the coming years for the first time since the cold war, and the risk of such weapons being used is the greatest in decades, a leading conflict and armaments thinktank says. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and western support for Kyiv has heightened tensions among the world’s nine nuclear-armed states, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) thinktank said on Monday in a new set of research. While the number of nuclear weapons fell slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, Sipri said that unless immediate action was taken by the nuclear powers, global inventories of warheads could soon begin rising for the first time in decades.

“All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,” Wilfred Wan, the director of Sipri’s weapons of mass destruction program, said in the thinktank’s 2022 yearbook. “This is a very worrying trend.” Three days after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”, President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert. He has also warned of consequences that would be “such as you have never seen in your entire history” for countries that stood in Russia’s way.

Russia has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal with a total of 5,977 warheads, 550 more than the United States. The two countries possess more than 90% of the world’s warheads, though Sipri said China was in the middle of an expansion with more than 300 new missile silos according to the latest estimate. Sipri said the global number of nuclear warheads fell from 13,080 in January 2021 to 12,705 in January 2022. An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000 – nearly all belonging to Russia or the US – were kept in a state of high readiness.

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No, it’s too rare.

Army Official Predicted Vaccines Might Be Paused Over Myocarditis (ET)

A U.S. military official predicted a pause in the administration of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines could happen if more cases of post-vaccination heart inflammation were detected, according to newly obtained emails. Harry Chang, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, made the prediction on April 27, 2021—the same day the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the agency was not seeing a safety signal when it came to heart inflammation experienced after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Chang noted the pause in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clots and said an increased number of heart inflammation issues could trigger a similar action.


“A pause of the Pfizer/Moderna administration (much like the J&J blood clot pause) will have an adverse impact on US/CA vaccination rates; assessed as unlikely due to causes of myocarditis can come from multiple sources (eg. COVID, other conditions, other vaccines/prescriptions, etc),” Chang wrote in an email. Myocarditis is a type of heart inflammation. “However, increased reported #s & media attention is likely to trigger a safety review pause by ACIP/FDA,” he added, referring to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the CDC on vaccines, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which decides whether to clear immunizations. Chang was talking to Tricia Blocher, an official at the California Department of Public Health, and other California and military officials. He was reacting to a story about the U.S. Department of Defense detecting a higher-than-expected number of cases of heart inflammation in troops following COVID-19 vaccination.”

Montagnier

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Very rare,

99% Certain Justin Bieber’s Facial Paralysis Caused By Covid Vaccine (Kirsch)

The VAERS data shows that Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (RHS) is 160 times more likely after a COVID vaccination than for all the other vaccines combined in any given year. And if you exclude the anthrax vaccine from that comparison, the likelihood is simply too high to calculate (0 cases in 32 years). So the COVID vaccine should definitely be considered as a possible cause for this rare disease because when you’ve been vaccinated, it’s no longer rare. For example, one doctor tweeted he say 4 cases in a month, but had never seen any cases before in the 32 years he’s practiced medicine. All the cases had gotten the COVID vax 3 to 4 months earlier.


I show below that the estimated rate of RHS after COVID vaccination is likely at least 338 cases per 100,000. The medical literature says it occurs naturally in 5 cases per 100,000. Therefore, because it is much more likely after vaccine than by chance, it is 99% likely that Justin’s RHS was caused by the vaccine, and only 1% chance that he got “unlucky.” Sadly, it’s unlikely Bieber’s doctors will ever acknowledge that so it’s unlikely he’ll get the care he needs (treat both the RHS and the vaccine injury). He’ll simply assume he is just unlucky. The mainstream press isn’t doing its job if they don’t report this (which they won’t).

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“..the attack on the Liberty dramatically demonstrates the nature of who exercises actual power in the United States.”

USS Liberty: A Forgotten Anniversary (Moglia)

It is a property of the past to sink into oblivion, and of unpleasant truths to fade into evanescence. To such past belongs the attack on the USS Liberty. When to the session of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, Israel’s 1967 war of Middle East invasion is/was for me but a negligible blip compared to other important personal events. Such as my getting ready to read the thesis for my degree in Electronic Engineering, in Genova, Italy. Therefore, without particular consciousness I submitted to the sentences of the official media without examining the authority of the judge. My first doubts arose not long later when I decided to visit the Eastern Orthodox Saint Catherine’s Monastery, located on the Sinai Peninsula at the very foot of Mt. Sinai. It could then only be reached from Tel Aviv via Sharm-el-Sheikh and a bus trip.


On welcoming the tourists on the bus the guide announced with pride that the Sinai was “now and forever an unalienable part of Israel.” I found the declaration irrelevant, if not odd, but I consider that moment as the beginning of my associated historical interest. The official US line is that, on Jun 8, 1967, the Israelis mistakenly attacked by air, and torpedoed by sea, an unarmed US intelligence ship, killing 34 sailors and wounding 171 others. 2022 marks the 55th anniversary of that attack. Following are some details of the ship, of the episode and of its aftermath. For, similar to occasions that perhaps we all have felt, a detail that uncalled-for returns to mind, rekindles fuller memories of a larger connected event, not otherwise spontaneously recalled. The detail is the inspired arrogance of the Israeli guide I mentioned. More in general, I think that the attack on the Liberty dramatically demonstrates the nature of who exercises actual power in the United States.

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“..there is simply no way of maintaining even a fraction of the western standard of living in the event that anyone were foolish enough to remove the fossil fuels..”

Greens Unlikely To Survive The Coming Winter (CoS)

By 2017, real-life James Bond Villain Klaus Schwab was inviting celebrities, representatives of the technocracy, the godzillionaires and the political class to fly their carbon-belching private jets to Switzerland to learn about The Fourth Industrial Revolution, and to discuss how they could get the little people to cut their carbon footprints. By 2020, this had morphed in to the Green New Great Reset in which we – but not they, of course – would own nothing, and allegedly be happy as we ate our insects, spent our central bank digital basic incomes, and were driven around in a new fleet of corporate-owned, hydrogen-powered self-driving cars. There was – to paraphrase Captain Blackadder – just one teensy-weensy problem with the Great Plan adopted by the Davos crowd… it was bollocks!

Only by ignoring the physicists, engineers and technicians who were expected to make it happen, and by listening instead to the siren voices of climate NGOs, bankers and economists, could the technocracy convince itself that the world could seamlessly transition to the proposed bright green future. And to our cost, politicians of all stripes who bought into this nonsense are now grappling with the inevitable economic consequences. The problem, at is simplest, is that much of what was considered “green” was largely a conjuring trick. States like Britain and Germany, which claim to be world leaders simply offshored their most polluting industries (and a large part of the waste) to less prosperous parts of the world where governments were happy to load the environmental costs onto the indigenous population in exchange for tradable foreign currency.

This was the only politically-acceptable means of hiding the fact that there is simply no way of maintaining even a fraction of the western standard of living in the event that anyone were foolish enough to remove the fossil fuels which make up some 80 percent of the energy mix in the UK, and 85 percent of the global economy. Even this is a simplification of the problem because each fuel source has its uses in specific niches of the global economy and so is not interchangeable. Wind and solar, for example, cannot generate the heat required to manufacture steel (although they can recycle it) or, ironically, to produce the silicon wafers and high-grade glass required in solar panels.

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In 2021, LNG was maybe 10% of EU gas. It will have to be much more going forward. Disaster assured.

Freeport LNG Explosion Raises Risk Of European Winter Energy Crisis (CNN)

A fire at one of the world’s biggest suppliers of liquefied natural gas has thrown Europe’s fragile energy security into doubt and spooked global gas markets. Freeport LNG, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer in Texas, will shut its doors for at least three weeks, the company confirmed to CNN Business. “The cause of the fire at Freeport LNG’s liquefaction facility on Quintana Island remains under investigation,” Heather Browne, a company spokesperson, said.
Europe has snapped up global stocks of LNG in recent months as it attempts to sharply pivot away from Russia’s natural gas exports. The region, including the United Kingdom, imported 28.2 million tons between February and April, according to Independent Commodity Intelligence Services — up 29% from the same period last year.


The United States is the world’s largest supplier of LNG, accounting for just over a fifth of global exports, according to data from analytics firm Vortexa. Output from the Freeport LNG facility makes up 18% of these exports. With no direct pipeline between the United States and Europe, American energy companies cool their natural gas for export to -260 degrees Fahrenheit and place the liquefied gas on tanker ships for overseas transport. That process, though more complex than land transport, has become crucial to Europe meeting its energy demands during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Freeport blast could deal a blow to that stopgap solution, particularly if the facility fails to come back online soon. “Despite the initial estimate of three weeks of downtime by the operator, the production impact is likely to stretch into July,” Felix Booth, head of LNG at Vortexa, told CNN Business.

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Adam Schiff is back.

Jan. 6 Committee Caught ‘Lying and Altering Evidence’ (TH)

The January 6 committee is facing pressure as details reveal it lied and altered evidence to favor Democrat’s radical narrative of the Capitol Hill protests. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) called out the committee for changing text messages between him and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during an interview on Fox News. A spokesperson admitted that the messages Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA.) showed during the hearings had been adjusted to support the idea that Meadows wanted former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results. In a statement, the spokesperson confessed that “the Select Committee on Monday created and provided Representative Schiff a graphic to use during the business meeting quoting from a text message from ‘a lawmaker’ to Mr. Meadows.

The graphic read, ‘On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.’ In the graphic, the period at the end of that sentence was added inadvertently. The Select Committee is responsible for and regrets the error.” Jordan fired back saying “this committee has altered evidence and lied to the American people about it, so much so that they had to issue a statement which says, ‘We regret the error,’ which is government speak for, ‘We got caught lying.’” The “error” was that Schiff presented the message out of context by cutting out key words and ending it with a period.

According to the Federalist, the original text message was a summary of a legal briefing Jordan forwarded from lawyer Joseph Schmitz to Meadows the day before the Capitol protests, meaning that a “lawmaker” did not write the message at all. Jordan has been blocked from taking part in the committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.). He is now undergoing his own investigation of the events that took place that day last year.

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“..the ability of governments to respond to this cost-of-living crisis via either tax cuts or increased benefits is limited due to the hit to public finances caused by lockdown-induced government spending.”

Cost of Living Crisis a Result of Lockdowns, Experts Tell MPs (DS)

The cost of living crisis and runaway inflation are a result of imposing ruinous lockdowns on society, experts have told MPs and Peers. The comments came in the latest meeting of the the Pandemic Response and Recovery All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). Chaired by the Rt Hon Esther McVey MP, the group heard from experts about the societal consequences of closing businesses and schools, prohibiting healthcare, ordering the public to stay at home and unchecked money printing. One businessman told the group how government COVID-19 policies personally affected him, costing him £120,000, destroying his previously thriving business and leaving him in debt. Professor of Industrial Economics at the University of Nottingham Business School, David Paton, explained why lockdowns are at the root of the current crisis:


“Eye-watering sums of money were spent during lockdowns, on furlough and business support schemes which helped mask the inevitable economic consequences we are now seeing. Many of our current problems could have been avoided had the government carried out an effective cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns and other restrictions. Quite simply, the lack of spending opportunities during lockdown contributed to a build up of personal and corporate savings. As restrictions eased, people began to spend these savings and, combined with the supply chain issues that built up in the meantime, sustained inflation became the inevitable result. Even worse, having spent about £70 billion, paying healthy people not to work and some £150 billion in total on support measures, the ability of governments to respond to this cost-of-living crisis via either tax cuts or increased benefits is limited due to the hit to public finances caused by lockdown-induced government spending.”

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Gasparino doesn’t appear to like Musk.

Elon Musk’s Twitter ‘Best’ Offer Looks Bogus (Gasparino)

[..] here’s the viewpoint of two bankers, one who has worked with his Tesla board, and another at a firm involved in his Twitter financing machinations. They say virtually the same thing. Musk is telling people he still wants Twitter. He thinks he can make it work as a private company, clean up the bot problem and sell it at a profit sometime in the next five years. But Musk wants the company (like everything else) on his terms, which are always in flux. He doesn’t read balance sheets but goes by his gut and has no issue with flouting conventional banker norms (i.e. your word is your bond) to get his prize. His gut told him to waive due diligence. It’s now telling him that even though he signed a deal leaving him on the hook for the $1 billion breakup fee and maybe more in damages, he can get Twitter to the table and agree to his terms, aka a much lower purchase price.

He might be right. Twitter first said it would enforce the initial deal terms, maybe even go to court, but now appears to be playing ball with Musk. It recently said it will turn over more data on its bot issue — a move that means talks are back on. The bankers tell me the Twitter board knows that finding another suitor will be difficult even at around the $40 a share it’s trading at now. The board can’t just accept anything, but also can’t tell Musk to just pound sand. So the thinking among my two guys is that Twitter agrees to a lower price, possibly significantly lower, and Crazy Elon gets his public square, albeit for much cheaper. That means the deal is on, right? Seems so. But no one really knows with Crazy Elon.

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Kissinger and Niall Ferguson. Not my favorite people, but here goes…

Henry Kissinger At 99: How To Avoid Another World War (Ferguson)

Henry Kissinger turned 99 on May 27. Born in Germany at the height of the Weimar hyperinflation, he was not yet ten years old when Hitler came to power and was just 15 when he and his family landed as refugees in New York City. It is somehow almost as astonishing that this former US secretary of state and giant of geopolitics left office 45 years ago. As he heads towards his century, Kissinger has lost none of the intellectual firepower that set him apart from other foreign policy professors and practitioners of his and subsequent generations. In the time I have spent writing the second volume of his biography, Kissinger has published not one but two books — the first, co-authored with the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and the computer scientist Daniel Huttenlocher, on artificial intelligence, the second a collection of six biographical case studies in leadership.


We meet at his rural retreat, deep in the woods of Connecticut, where he and his wife, Nancy, have spent most of their time since the onset of Covid. The pandemic had its silver linings for them. It was the first time in 48 years of marriage that the compulsively peripatetic Dr Kissinger came to an enforced halt. Cut off from the temptations of Manhattan restaurants and Beijing banquets, he has shed pounds. Though he walks with a stick, depends on a hearing aid and speaks more slowly than of old in that unmistakable bullfrog baritone, his mind is as keen as ever. Nor has Kissinger lost his knack for infuriating the liberal professors and progressive or “woke” students who dominate Harvard, the university where he built his reputation as a scholar and public intellectual in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Bach

 

 

 

 

Mariupol

 

 

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Feb 272019
 


Salvador Dali Remorse – Sphinx Embedded in the Sand 1931

 

Michael Cohen Testimony: Trump A ‘Racist’, ‘Cheat’ And ‘Conman’ (G.)
3 Days That Will Decide Brexit – March 12-14th Will Seal Britain’s Fate (Exp.)
UK Economy Could Be 9% Weaker Under No-Deal Brexit – Government (G.)
The UK Doesn’t Have The Right Pallets For Exporting To The EU (BI)
The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies (Pilger)
Survival of the Richest (Nomi Prins)
Hey Yellen, It Was Trump Who Was Right (Every)
Now that Housing Bubble #2 Is Bursting…How Low Will It Go? (CHS)
Russia’s Share Of European Gas Market Surges To Almost 37%, Dwarfing LNG (RT)
UK Hunger Survey To Measure Food Insecurity (G.)
Glyphosate Found In 95% Of Wine And Beer (Ind.)
Am I The Only One Who’s Terrified About The Warm Weather? (G.)

 

 

Lots of wet panties, male and female, today in anticipation of Michael Cohen’s testimony. Of course, it’s been leaked, full text is here. A few quotes:

I may once again be in a party of one, but I think it’s awfully weak, it’s grasping for stuff rather than conveying it. First, there’s the inevitable Assange link:

In July 2016 [..] Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Trump responded by stating to the effect of “wouldn’t that be great.”

Anything related to Assange, whether from Mueller or Cohen, lacks credibility as long as he can’t defend himself against it. And Trump merely says: wouldn’t that be great? Not exactly the stuff of collusion or conspiracy.

Just as inevitable in smear campaigns: Trump the racist.

Mr. Trump is a racist. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries “shitholes.” While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.

Calling a country a shithole is not racist. The policies that have created a situation in which many shithole countries are populated by black people stem from many decades of US/Europe policies that predate Trump. The rest is not racist either, if you look closer. Perhaps Trump is a bit racist, like so many Americans. But Cohen’s prepared words don’t show that.

Also: Trump doesn’t tell the full truth about his wealth. But Michael Cohen always has…

It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

Gee, lock him up. I don’t get it. There’s so much wrong with Trump, but politics and media have singled out Russia collusion, and then failed to prove a thing about it, and now they switch to ‘racist conman’, with the weakest of accusations. I swear, they might as well all be working for the Donald.

Michael Cohen Testimony: Trump A ‘Racist’, ‘Cheat’ And ‘Conman’ (G.)

Michael Cohen is to accuse Donald Trump of being a “conman” and a “cheat” who had advanced knowledge that a longtime adviser was communicating with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, according to opening testimony he will deliver to Congress on Wednesday. Cohen’s prepared remarks, confirmed by the Guardian, include a series of explosive allegations about the presidential campaign. The president’s former lawyer, who will publicly testify before the House oversight committee on Wednesday, will state that Trump was told by Roger Stone that WikiLeaks would publish emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“In July 2016, days before the Democratic convention, I was in Mr Trump’s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr Trump put Mr Stone on the speakerphone,” Cohen’s opening statement reads. “Mr Stone told Mr Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr Assange told Mr Stone that, within a couple of days, there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr Trump responded by stating to the effect of ‘wouldn’t that be great.’” The remarkable allegations by Cohen go further than what has been made public thus far by the special counsel investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign in Moscow.

Cohen will also suggest his instructions to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the 2016 campaign came from the president – albeit not directly. “In conversations we had during the campaign, at the same time I was actively negotiating in Russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there’s no business in Russia and then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing,” Cohen will say. “In his way, he was telling me to lie.” “Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” he will add.

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Humor me and please read this. It’s so confusing that you almost forget it’s also complete madness.

3 Days That Will Decide Brexit – March 12-14th Will Seal Britain’s Fate (Exp.)

In a dramatic statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May confirmed that she will put her Withdrawal Agreement – including whatever additional assurances she has secured from Brussels – to a “meaningful vote” by March 12. If that fails, MPs will be offered two separate votes the following day – one on a no-deal Brexit, and the other on requesting an extension to the two-year Article 50 negotiation process to delay EU withdrawal beyond March 29. The sequence of votes will be proposed in an amendable motion tabled by the Prime Minister for debate and vote in the Commons on Wednesday. To uproar in the Commons, Mrs May told MPs: “They are commitments I am making as Prime Minister and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates.”

Deputy Political Editor for Sky News Beth Rigby tweeted of Mrs May’s speech: “This really is a big shift. “May has finally played her cards and sided with the Europhile wing of her party .. “Vote for her deal (March 12) Vote for no-deal (March 13) Vote for delay (March 14) .. “Only yesterday she refused to even acknowledge there might have to be a delay to Brexit.”

Mrs May has declared a meaningful vote will take place by March 12, where MPs will vote on her Brexit deal. Should this deal not be voted through, on March 13, MPs will then be offered two separate votes by March 13 on whether the UK leaves with no deal or delays Brexit beyond March 29. The delay will then be voted on March 14, when a motion would be brought forward on whether Parliament wishes to seek a short limited extension to Article 50. If the House votes for an extension, this extension will have to be approved by the House with the EU and then necessary legislation will be brought forward to change the exit date.

[..] In her statement to MPs following a Cabinet meeting with senior colleagues at 10 Downing Street, Theresa May said she wanted to set out “three further commitments” to the Commons. She said: “First, we will hold a second meaningful vote by Tuesday, March 12 at the latest. “Second, if the Government has not won a meaningful vote by Tuesday, March 12, then it will – in addition to its obligations to table a neutral amendable motion under Section 13 of the EU Withdrawal Act – table a motion to be voted on by Wednesday March 13 at the latest, asking this House if it supports leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement and a framework for a future relationship on March 29.

“So the United Kingdom will only leave without a deal on March 29 if there is explicit consent in the House for that outcome. “Third, if the House, having rejected the deal negotiated with the EU, then rejects leaving on March 29 without a Withdrawal Agreement and future framework, the Government will on March 14 bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to Article 50.” The Prime Minister also said she still believes she will be able to secure a deal: “I’ve had a real sense from the meetings I’ve had, and the conversations I’ve had in recent days, that we can achieve that deal. “It’s within our grasp to leave with a deal on March 29 and that’s where all of my energies are going to be focused.”

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Scared yet? Because that’s the idea.

UK Economy Could Be 9% Weaker Under No-Deal Brexit – Government (G.)

The government has issued a bleak warning over a no-deal Brexit, estimating the UK economy could be 9% weaker in the long run, businesses in Northern Ireland might go bust and food prices will increase. In an official document only published after repeated demands by the former Conservative MP Anna Soubry, the government also revealed it was behind on contingency planning for a third of “critical projects” in relation to business and trade. The latest no-deal notice states:

• The economy would be 6%-9% smaller over the next 15 years than it otherwise might have been, in the event of no deal, in line with Bank of England forecasts. • The flow of goods through Dover would be “very significantly reduced for months”. • With 30% of food coming from the EU, prices are likely to increase and there is a risk that panic buying might create shortages. • Only six of the 40 planned international trade agreements have been signed.

The document was published just hours after Theresa May was forced to promise two key votes, allowing MPs the option to reject no deal and to potentially delay Brexit for a short period, following pressure from remain-minded cabinet ministers. The prime minister set out a timetable that includes a vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March; if that fails, a vote the following day to support no deal, and if that also fails, a vote on 14 March on extending article 50. The delay is likely to further agitate the Tory party’s Eurosceptics, with Brexiter ministers including Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss expressing their frustration over the issue in cabinet on Tuesday morning. Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, May did not specify the length of any delay, saying only that she would prefer it to be the shortest possible. An extension beyond the end of June would involve the UK taking part in the European parliament elections.

[..] The no-deal notice said customs checks alone could cost businesses £13bn a year and that it was impossible to predict the impact of new tariffs. It said this was partly because the government’s communications to businesses and individuals about the need to prepare for no deal had not been effective. [..] The EU, which would treat the UK as a third country in the event of no deal, could impose tariffs of 70% on beef exports, 45% on lamb and 10% on cars, it said. “This would be compounded by the challenges of even modest reductions in flow at the border.”

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Absolutely fabulous.

The UK Doesn’t Have The Right Pallets For Exporting To The EU (BI)

The UK government is due to hold emergency talks with industry leaders on Tuesday after discovering that the country doesn’t have the right pallets to continue exporting goods to the European Union if it leaves without a deal next month. Under strict EU rules, pallets – wooden or plastic structures that companies use to transport large volumes of goods – arriving from non-member states must be heat-treated or cleaned to prevent contamination and have specific markings to confirm that they meet standards. Most pallets that British exporters are using do not conform to the rules for non-EU countries, or “third countries,” as EU member states follow a much more relaxed set of regulations.

The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs last week told business leaders that the UK would not have enough EU-approved pallets for exporting to the continent if it leaves without a withdrawal agreement next month. That means UK companies would be competing for a small number of pallets that meet EU rules, and those that miss out would be forced to wait for new pallets, which could take weeks to be ready. DEFRA has arranged for a conference call on Tuesday morning to discuss the pallet shortage, with 31 days until Brexit day on March 29. “It is the tiny, procedural, mundane-seeming stuff that will absolutely trip people up,” one industry figure briefed by Theresa May’s government told Business Insider, adding that the country was “not even remotely ready” for a no-deal Brexit.

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Chavez is the guy US intelligence have been chasing for so long, and still trying to get at after his death.

Got to love the man quoting world literature. Also because in the next article, Nomi Prins does the same.

The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies (Pilger)

Travelling with Hugo Chavez, I soon understood the threat of Venezuela. At a farming co-operative in Lara state, people waited patiently and with good humor in the heat. Jugs of water and melon juice were passed around. A guitar was played; a woman, Katarina, stood and sang with a husky contralto. “What did her words say?” I asked. “That we are proud,” was the reply. The applause for her merged with the arrival of Chavez. Under one arm he carried a satchel bursting with books. He wore his big red shirt and greeted people by name, stopping to listen. What struck me was his capacity to listen. But now he read. For almost two hours he read into the microphone from the stack of books beside him: Orwell, Dickens, Tolstoy, Zola, Hemingway, Chomsky, Neruda: a page here, a line or two there. People clapped and whistled as he moved from author to author.

Then farmers took the microphone and told him what they knew, and what they needed; one ancient face, carved it seemed from a nearby banyan, made a long, critical speech on the subject of irrigation; Chavez took notes. Wine is grown here, a dark Syrah type grape. “John, John, come up here,” said El Presidente, having watched me fall asleep in the heat and the depths of Oliver Twist. “He likes red wine,” Chavez told the cheering, whistling audience, and presented me with a bottle of “vino de la gente.” My few words in bad Spanish brought whistles and laughter. Watching Chavez with the people, la gente, made sense of a man who promised, on coming to power, that his every move would be subject to the will of the people. In eight years, Chavez won eight elections and referendums: a world record. He was electorally the most popular head of state in the Western Hemisphere, probably in the world.

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See? Like Pilger and Chavez, Nomi talks about literature. No space here to do this justice, please go read it. Key point: unlike the poor(er), the rich don’t live off the rewards of labor, but of that of wealth.

Survival of the Richest (Nomi Prins)

In George Orwell’s iconic 1945 novel, Animal Farm, the pigs who gain control in a rebellion against a human farmer eventually impose a dictatorship on the other animals on the basis of a single commandment: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In terms of the American republic, the modern equivalent would be: “All citizens are equal, but the wealthy are so much more equal than anyone else (and plan to remain that way).” Certainly, inequality is the economic great wall between those with power and those without it. As the animals of Orwell’s farm grew ever less equal, so in the present moment in a country that still claims equal opportunity for its citizens, one in which three Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom half of society (160 million people), you could certainly say that we live in an increasingly Orwellian society.

Or perhaps an increasingly Twainian one. After all, Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner wrote a classic 1873 novel that put an unforgettable label on their moment and could do the same for ours. The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today depicted the greed and political corruption of post-Civil War America. Its title caught the spirit of what proved to be a long moment when the uber-rich came to dominate Washington and the rest of America. It was a period saturated with robber barons, professional grifters, and incomprehensibly wealthy banking magnates. (Anything sound familiar?) The main difference between that last century’s gilded moment and this one was that those robber barons built tangible things like railroads.

Today’s equivalent crew of the mega-wealthy build remarkably intangible things like tech and electronic platforms, while a grifter of a president opts for the only new infrastructure in sight, a great wall to nowhere. In Twain’s epoch, the U.S. was emerging from the Civil War. Opportunists were rising from the ashes of the nation’s battered soul. Land speculation, government lobbying, and shady deals soon converged to create an unequal society of the first order (at least until now). Soon after their novel came out, a series of recessions ravaged the country, followed by a 1907 financial panic in New York City caused by a speculator-led copper-market scam.

To fully grasp the nature of inequality in our twenty-first-century gilded age, it’s important to understand the difference between wealth and income and what kinds of inequality stem from each. Simply put, income is how much money you make in terms of paid work or any return on investments or assets (or other things you own that have the potential to change in value). Wealth is simply the gross accumulation of those very assets and any return or appreciation on them. The more wealth you have, the easier it is to have a higher annual income.

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Tyler got his hands on a piece by Michael Every at Dutch Rabobank.

Hey Yellen, It Was Trump Who Was Right (Every)

Rabo are already predicting a US recession in 2020, which will drag many down with it, and as the OECD now warns that swollen corporate debt piles, which central banks have so encouraged, is of ever lower quality and potentially more dangerous than it was back in 2008. 54% of investment grade bonds are now BBB-rated, up from 30% in 2008. The OECD argues “In the case of a downturn, highly leveraged companies would face difficulties in servicing their debt, which in turn, through higher default rates, may amplify the effects…Any developments in these areas will come at a time when non-financial companies in the next three years will have to pay back or refinance about USD4 trillion worth of corporate bonds. This is close to the total balance sheet of the US Federal Reserve.”

Guess what guys? China is right ahead of you on that curve – which is why it is trying to find another whale to nuke ASAP: things are looking truly ugly given many firms can’t even pay the interest on their debt, let alone the principle. And guess what else? That OECD and China warning sounds like an admission of the Minsky debt dynamic that you might have thought all central banks would have to have learned the lessons of post-GFC. Apparently not, however – because they think they already know everything. As former Fed Chair Yellen mocked yesterday, Trump doesn’t understand what the Fed’s dual mandates of price stability and stable employment are. That might well be true.

But was it the Fed or Trump who publicly called out how dangerous continuous Fed rate hikes are in a debt-laden, Minsky-teetering financial system where the yield curve is still inverted 9bps on 1s-5s even after a pause? I think Yellen will find it was Trump who was right and the Fed who was forced into a humiliating and frankly incongruous policy U-turn. So much expertise! Trump also made a similar intervention over oil prices overnight, and once again they dipped, though are opening up strongly this morning in Asia. [..] easy policy in the UK; ultra-easy policy in China; promises of more easing in Japan; an ECB U-turn to come(?); and the Fed on hold and stopping QT soon at least. And that’s with bullish markets and reasonable global growth – just wait until things head south: if all you have is a nuke, everything looks like a whale.

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Every bubble that bursts ends up below its starting level. Nicole had these graphs, Tulip, South Sea etc., that showed just that. This graph doesn’t quite do that.

Now that Housing Bubble #2 Is Bursting…How Low Will It Go? (CHS)

There are two generalities that can be applied to all asset bubbles: 1. Bubbles inflate for longer and reach higher levels than most pre-bubble analysts expected 2. All bubbles burst, despite mantra-like claims that “this time it’s different” The bubble burst tends to follow a symmetrical reversal of very similar time durations and magnitudes as the initial rise. If the bubble took four years to inflate and rose by X, the retrace tends to take about the same length of time and tends to retrace much or all of X. If we look at the chart of the Case-Shiller Housing Index below, this symmetry is visible in Housing Bubble #1 which skyrocketed from 2003-2007 and burst from 2008-2012.

Housing Bubble #1 wasn’t allowed to fully retrace the bubble, as the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to near-zero in 2009 and bought $1+ trillion in sketchy mortgage-backed securities (MBS), essentially turning America’s mortgage market into a branch of the central bank and federal agency guarantors of mortgages (Fannie and Freddie, VA, FHA). These unprecedented measures stopped the bubble decline by instantly making millions of people who previously could not qualify for a privately originated mortgage qualified buyers. This vast expansion of the pool of buyers (expanded by a flood of buyers from China and other hot-money locales) drove sales and prices higher for six years (2012-2018).

As noted on the chart below, this suggests the bubble burst will likely run from 2019-2025, give or take a few quarters. The question is: what’s the likely magnitude of the decline? Scenario 1 (blue line) is a symmetrical repeat of Housing Bubble #2: a retrace of the majority of the bubble’s rise but not 100%, which reverses off this somewhat higher base to start Housing Bubble #3. Since the mainstream consensus denies the possibility that Housing Bubble #2 even exists (perish the thought that real estate prices could ever–gasp–drop), they most certainly deny the possibility that prices could retrace much of the gains since 2012.

More realistic analysts would probably agree that if the current slowdown (never say recession, it might cost you your job) gathers momentum, some decline in housing prices is possible. They would likely agree with Scenario 1 that any such decline would be modest and would simply set the stage for an even grander housing bubble #3. But there is a good case for Scenario 2, in which price plummets below the 2012 lows and keeps on going, ultimately retracing the entire housing bubble gains from 2003.

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Interesting how Europe smears Putin wherever it can, except where it counts.

Russia’s Share Of European Gas Market Surges To Almost 37%, Dwarfing LNG (RT)

Russia’s state-run energy major Gazprom said its share of sales of natural gas in the European Union has increased to 36.7 percent last year, rising over two percent against 34.2 percent in 2017. “In 2018, according to preliminary data, the share of gas supplies to the EU countries and Turkey has reached an all-time high and totaled 36.7 percent,” the director general of Gazprom Export Elena Burmistrova said at Gazprom’s Investor Day event, taking place in Singapore. Burmistrova added that Gazprom’s gas exports to Europe last year amounted to record 201.8 billion cubic meters, and is expected to significantly grow by 2035 due to the increasing demand.

According to a member of Gazprom’s management committee, Oleg Aksyutin, the company saw no threat to Gazprom’s business in the European market from global producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), including the US. The company’s gas exports to Europe are reportedly three times more than the amount of LNG shipped to Europe by all global producers combined. Though the share of LNG shipments have been growing, it still makes up only 13 percent of the entire gas market, according to Burmistrova. The executive added that prices for natural gas saw a significant surge. “In 2018, in accordance with linked fuel prices, the average price of Gazprom gas increased by 24.6 percent to $245.5 for 1,000 cubic meters,” she said, stressing that in 2016 it stood at $167.

When it comes to China, one of the world’s biggest energy consumers, Gazprom is planning to become the country’s biggest supplier as soon as 2035, with the company’s share expected to reach 13 percent of Chinese overall consumption by the same year.

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It’s completely insane that any western country would have to do a Hunger Survey. Don’t fall for thinking it’s normal.

UK Hunger Survey To Measure Food Insecurity (G.)

The government is to introduce an official measure of how often low-income families across the UK skip meals or go hungry because they cannot afford to buy enough food, the Guardian can reveal. A national index of food insecurity is to be incorporated into an established UK-wide annual survey run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that monitors household incomes and living standards. Campaigners, who have been calling for the measure for three years, said the move was “a massive step forward” that would provide authoritative evidence of the extent and causes of hunger in the UK. They say food insecurity is strongly linked to poverty caused by austerity and welfare cuts and is driving widening health inequality.

Food insecurity is generally defined as experiencing hunger, the inability to secure food of sufficient quality and quantity to enable good health and participation in society, and cutting down on food because of a lack of money. The decision, which took campaigners by surprise, was revealed at an informal meeting on Tuesday attended by the DWP, the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England and the Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as a number of food poverty charities. Ministers have for years resisted calls to bring England into line with the US and Canada by measuring food insecurity. Critics said this was to avoid shedding unwanted light on the impact of welfare policy and the public health consequences of being unable to eat regularly or healthily.

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Why the hunger? Here’s why: we feed ourselves with plastics and poison.

Glyphosate Found In 95% Of Wine And Beer (Ind.)

A new study has shown that traces of a commonly-used and possibly cancerous weed killer can be found in the majority of wine and beer. Researches tested five wines and 15 beers from the US, Asia and Europe for traces of pesticide glyphosate. The research found that of the 20 samples, 19 (95 per cent) contained particles of the chemical, including products labelled as organic. The US Public Interest Research Group, which conducted the study, said the levels of the pesticide aren’t necessarily dangerous, but are still concerning. In 2015, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency categorised glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, leading the state of California to add it to its list of chemicals that can cause cancer, which makes companies responsible for providing warnings to potential consumers.

The findings of the study coincide with the beginning of a class action lawsuit against Bayer, which acquired Monsanto last year. The suit claims that Roundup caused thousands of plaintiffs to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The first plaintiff, Ed Hardeman, testified this week, alleging that his use of the chemical on his 56 acres of land caused him to develop cancer aged 66. [..] Bayer has not commented on the results of the study, but the researchers are calling for glyphosate to be banned unless it can be proven safe.

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The earth’s weather system is far too complex to draw conclusions from a sunny day. The only things we can say about the climate must be based on long-term stats. This kind of article doesn’t help one bit, it merely points out the author literally doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Am I The Only One Who’s Terrified About The Warm Weather? (G.)

They were everywhere in London on the weekend. The people in short sleeves or sandals. The ones with sunglasses ostentatiously hanging from the front of their shirts or balanced on top of their heads. The beer gardens and riverside pubs of the capital were heaving; corner shops ran out of ice-cream. Outside it was 17C (62F). Monday was another warm day, without a cloud in the sky, and in the late afternoon the light took on a magical, honey-coloured hue. It brought to mind one of those summer evenings you remember from childhood, when you’d be in the park all day and your parents let you stay out until bedtime, and you felt like you were doing something deliciously naughty just by being there.

Except it isn’t early summer: it’s February. And the entire developed world has not so much been doing something slightly naughty as systematically attacking the global ecosystem over a period of decades, and that’s how we go into this mess. We should try to hold on to this fact as young, posh men the nation over develop a strange delusion that anyone would want to see their elbows; this is not supposed to be happening. Less than a month ago, there was video footage of extreme cold weather coming out of Chicago. Forks supported in midair by suddenly frozen noodles, water poured from kettles instantly freezing on its way to the ground: you know the sort of thing.

OK, that was on the other side of the world, and was extreme and terrifying enough. But at least it was terrifying in the right direction. On Monday, though, the temperature hit 20.3C in Ceredigion, west Wales: the highest February temperature ever recorded in Britain and the first time the thermometer had breached 20C in winter. The BBC weather account tweeted it out with a gif of the sunshine icon and the same excitable breathlessness with which Springwatch would announce it had found a new type of vole. My response contained a single word, repeated seven times. It began with F.

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 December 3, 2018  Posted by at 10:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Jules Adler Panorama de Paris vu du Sacré Coeur 1935

 

How Trump’s Bashing Of The New York Times and CNN Has Benefited All (F24)
Dow Futures Surge After Trump And Xi Agree To Pause Trade War (CNBC)
China Agrees To ‘Reduce And Remove’ Tariffs On US Cars: Trump (AFP)
UK Faces Constitutional Crisis Over Brexit Legal Advice – Labour (BBC)
Qatar To Withdraw From OPEC, Focus On LNG Exports (R.)
Macron Tells PM To Hold Talks, Mulls State Of Emergency (R.)
France’s Meltdown, Macron’s Disdain (Milliere)
Deutsche Bank Takeover Speculation Intensifies (ZH)
Merkel Protege Suggests Reducing Gas Flow Through Nord Stream 2 Pipeline (R.)
EU Delays Euro Zone Budget, Deposit Insurance Plans (R.)
World Bank Promises $200 Billion In 2021-25 Climate Cash (AFP)

 

 

A topic I’ve addressed a lot. It’s just that I would say “The New York Times and CNN’ Bashing of Trump”, not the other way around., After all, who started? Read the whole thing, it shows how smart Trump is when it comes to media.

“Concluding his December 2017 interview with The New York Times, Trump said: “Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes […] So they basically have to let me win.“

How Trump’s Bashing Of The New York Times and CNN Has Benefited All (F24)

Although Donald Trump has an antagonistic relationship with The New York Times and CNN, the ‘Trump bump’ has been a business boon to these outlets, while the US president has been keen to use them to pursue publicity and legitimacy. While Trump often rails against the US media generally – most notably as “enemies of the people” – the country’s foremost newspaper of record, The New York Times, and its oldest 24-hour news network, CNN, are frequently singled out for opprobrium as “The Failing New York Times” and “Fake News CNN”. The acrimony between Trump and CNN reached its zenith on November 8 when the White House revoked the press access of its reporter Jim Acosta after a rancorous post-midterm news conference – only for his press pass to be restored thanks to judicial review three days later.

Meanwhile the vitriolic rhetoric from the White House has provoked considerable alarm amongst the press. New York Times’ publisher A.G. Sulzberger warned on July 30 that Trump’s increasingly splenetic attacks on the news media “will lead to violence”, before its sister paper The Boston Globe led the way in launching the #EnemyofNone campaign against the president’s relentless attacks on the American press. Despite these tensions, The New York Times – like CNN – is far from failing. On the contrary, both outlets are enjoying booming subscription and viewer figures thanks to Trump’s presidency. From Trump’s election on November 8, 2016 until the end of that month, The New York Times saw an increase of 132,000 in paid subscriptions – 10 times the growth rate in November 2015.

This trajectory has continued. “NYT has well surpassed initial expectations for subscriber growth […] following the ‘Trump bump’,” JP Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani wrote to clients in April 2018. The New York Times Company’s share price outperformed those of Apple, Amazon and Facebook between Trump’s election in 2016 and the end of June 2018, soaring by 141 percent. “When I talked to the [executive] editor of The New York Times [Dean Baquet], he told me with a smile on his face that Donald Trump has done at least one good thing – and that is that he has boosted the circulation of The New York Times,” Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and author of “Enemy of the People”, a book on Trump’s hostile regard towards the US media, told FRANCE 24.

“People who subscribe to and read [The New York] Times are for the most part people who oppose Trump, who do not think it is fake news,” explained Robert Shapiro, a professor of political science at Columbia University, whose area of expertise includes the relationship between mass media and US politics, in an interview with FRANCE 24. The paper has “used the facts of the Trump presidency to draw attention to the bad things that he is doing, and that’s attracted readers who want to get information to use against Trump”, Shapiro continued.

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Anything to buy and sell some more.

Dow Futures Surge After Trump And Xi Agree To Pause Trade War (CNBC)

U.S. stock market futures surged after U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day ceasefire in the trade war that has weighed heavily on global stock markets for most of 2018. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 488 points as of 11:31 p.m. ET Sunday. The advance implied a 471.54 point gain for the Dow at Monday’s open. Meanwhile, S&P 500 futures added around 1.71 percent, while futures on the Nasdaq-100, home of many technology companies which sell to China, jumped about 2.75 percent. Futures on oil and copper jumped on hopes a possible new China-U.S. trade agreement would boost global economic growth.

The two leaders, who met for dinner on Saturday at the G-20 summit in Argentina, agreed to hold off on additional tariffs on each other’s goods at the start of the new year to allow for talks to continue. The U.S. agreed to leave tariffs on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese products at 10 percent. If after 90 days the two countries are unable to reach an agreement, that rate will be raised to 25 percent, according to the White House. Trade negotiations will address forced technology transfer and intellectual property. “The explicit delay in tariffs is on the positive end of expectations,” said Helen Qiao, China and Asia economist with Bank of America Lynch, in a note to clients. “In contrast to the fear — especially in Asia —that the hawks in US administration would make impossible demands, evidence of President Trump working towards a trade deal with China has emerged.”

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Something tells me they’ll want something in return.

China Agrees To ‘Reduce And Remove’ Tariffs On US Cars: Trump (AFP)

China has agreed to scale back tariffs on imported US cars, President Donald Trump said Sunday, one day after agreeing with Xi Jinping to a ceasefire in the trade war between the world’s top two economies. Asia stocks had rallied on the news that Washington and Beijing would not impose any new tariffs during a three-month grace period, during which the two sides are meant to finalize a more detailed agreement. “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40 percent,” Trump said on Twitter. On Saturday, Trump and Xi agreed to put a stop to their tit-for-tat tariffs row, which had roiled world markets for months.

The Republican president called their agreement – which Washington hopes will help close a yawning trade gap with the Asian giant and help protect US intellectual property – an “incredible” deal. Trump agreed to hold off on his threat to slap 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from January 1, leaving them at the current 10% rate. In return, China is to purchase “very substantial” amounts of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products from the US. In July, China reduced auto import duties from 25 percent to 15 percent, a boon for international carmakers keen to grow sales in the world’s largest auto market. But as trade tensions ratcheted up with the US this summer, Beijing retaliated by slapping vehicles imported from the US with an extra 25 percent tariff, bringing the total tariff rate to 40%.

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May’s worst crisis to date. Parliament first votes on December 11.

UK Faces Constitutional Crisis Over Brexit Legal Advice – Labour (BBC)

The UK faces a “constitutional crisis” if Theresa May does not publish the full legal advice on her Brexit deal on Monday, Labour has warned. The PM says the advice is confidential. but some MPs think ministers do not want to admit it says the UK could be indefinitely tied to EU customs rules. Ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson has joined calls for its publication, which critics say could sink the PM’s deal. Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will make a statement about it on Monday. He is set to publish a reduced version of the legal advice – despite calls from MPs from all parties to publish a full version.

His statement to the House of Commons will be followed by five days of debate on the deal. MPs say the statement from the attorney general does not respect a binding Commons vote last month, which required the government to lay before Parliament “any legal advice in full”. Labour is planning to join forces with other parties, including the DUP, who keep Mrs May in power, to initiate contempt of Parliament proceedings unless the government backs down. Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News: “If they don’t produce [the advice] tomorrow (Monday) then we will start contempt proceedings. This will be a collision course between the government and Parliament.”

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Reuters manages to do an entire article on this without mentioning the Saudi-led Qatar boycott even once. Well done!

Qatar To Withdraw From OPEC, Focus On LNG Exports (R.)

Qatar said on Monday it was quitting OPEC from January 2019 but would attend the oil exporter group’s meeting this week, saying the decision meant Doha could focus on cementing its position as the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter. Doha, one of the smallest oil producers in OPEC, is locked in a diplomatic dispute with the group’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia but said the move to leave OPEC was not driven by politics. Minister of State for Energy Affairs Saad al-Kaabi told a news conference that Qatar, which he said been a member of OPEC for 57 years, would still attend the group’s meeting on Thursday and Friday this week, and would abide by its commitments.

“Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning,” the minister said. “For me to put efforts and resources and time in an organization that we are a very small player in and I don’t have a say in what happens … practically it does not work, so for us it’s better to focus on our big growth potential,” he said. [..] Qatar has oil output of only 600,000 barrels per day (bpd), compared with the 11 million bpd produced by Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest oil producer and world’s biggest exporter. But Doha is an influential player in the global LNG market with annual production of 77 million tonnes per year, based on its huge reserves of the fuel in the Gulf.

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Perhaps the best indicator of where Macron finds himself are the policemen taking off their helmets to show solidarity with the gilets jaunes.

Macron Tells PM To Hold Talks, Mulls State Of Emergency (R.)

Riot police on Saturday were overwhelmed as protesters ran amok in Paris’s wealthiest neighborhoods, torching dozens of cars, looting boutiques and smashing up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968. The unrest began as a backlash against fuel tax hikes but has spread. It poses the most formidable challenge yet to Macron’s presidency, with the escalating violence and depth of public anger against his economic reforms catching the 40-year-old leader off-guard and battling to regain control.

After a meeting with members of his government on Sunday, the French presidency said in a statement that the president had asked his interior minister to prepare security forces for future protests and his prime minister to hold talks with political party leaders and representatives of the protesters. A French presidential source said Macron would not speak to the nation on Sunday despite calls for him to offer immediate concessions to demonstrators, and said the idea of imposing a state of emergency had not been discussed. Arriving back from the G20 summit in Argentina, Macron had earlier rushed to the Arc de Triomphe, a revered monument and epicenter of Saturday’s clashes, where protesters had scrawled “Macron resign” and “The yellow vests will triumph”.

The “yellow vest” rebellion erupted out of nowhere on Nov. 17, with protesters blocking roads across France and impeding access to some shopping malls, fuel depots and airports. Violent groups from the far right and far left as well as youths from the suburbs infiltrated Saturday’s protests, the authorities said. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had indicated the Macron administration was considering imposing a state of emergency. The president was open to dialogue, he said, but would not reverse policy reforms.

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A president with a low enough approval rating and etractors that are sufficiently organized will always have a hard time.

France’s Meltdown, Macron’s Disdain (Milliere)

On November 11th, French President Emmanuel Macron commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I by inviting seventy heads of state to organize a costly, useless, grandiloquent “Forum of Peace” that did not lead to anything. He also invited US President Donald Trump, and then chose to insult him. In a pompous speech, Macron – knowing that a few days earlier, Donald Trump had defined himself as a nationalist committed to defending America – invoked “patriotism”; then defined it, strangely, as “the exact opposite of nationalism”; then called it “treason”. In addition, shortly before the meeting, Macron had not only spoken of the “urgency” of building a European army; he also placed the United States among the “enemies” of Europe.

This was not the first time Macron placed Europe above the interests of his own country. It was, however, the first time he had placed the United States on the list of enemies of Europe. President Trump apparently understood immediately that Macron’s attitude was a way to maintain his delusions of grandeur,as well as to try to derive a domestic political advantage. Trump also apparently understood that he could not just sit there and accept insults. In a series of tweets, Trump reminded the world that France had needed the help of the USA to regain freedom during World Wars, that NATO was still protecting a virtually defenseless Europe and that many European countries were still not paying the amount promised for their own defense.

Trump added that Macron had an extremely low approval rating (26%), was facing an extremely high level of unemployment, and was probably trying to divert attention from that. Trump was right. For months, the popularity of Macron has been in free fall: he is now the most unpopular French President in modern history at this stage of his mandate. The French population has turned away from him in droves. Unemployment in France is not only at an alarmingly high level (9.1%); it has been been alarmingly high for years. The number of people in poverty is also high (8.8 million people, 14.2% of the population). Economic growth is effectively non-existent (0.4% in the third quarter of 2018, up from 0.2% the previous three months). The median income (20,520 euros, or $23,000, a year,) is unsustainably low. It indicates that half the French live on less than 1710 euros ($1946) a month. Five million people are surviving on less than 855 euros ($973) a month.

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Deutsche is the archetypical too big to fail hot potato. The Fed must help, and so does Merkel. But to what end?

Deutsche Bank Takeover Speculation Intensifies (ZH)

Since taking over troubled German lender Deutsche Bank back in April, Christian Sewing has watched the recidivist lender’s troubles go from bad to worse. On Friday, the bank’s shares reached an all-time low; they’re now down 50% YTD, making Deutsche the worst performer in a poorly performing index of the world’s largest global banks. The latest selloff was inspired by the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office deciding to raid six Deutsche buildings, including the bank’s headquarters The raid, which continued for two days, doubled as the first public revelation about the latest criminal scandal involving Europe’s biggest bank by assets, which has already paid $18 billion in legal penalties since the financial crisis.

Prosecutors revealed that they were investigating at least two employees in the bank’s wealth management unit (part of the division overseen by Sewing before he took the CEO job) for allegedly helping customers set up accounts in offshore tax shelters and helping criminals launder their ill-gotten gains – allegations that prosecutors said were inspired by the infamous ‘Panama Papers’ leak. During their raid, prosecutors searched the offices of five senior Deutsche executives, including the bank’s chief compliance officer, who was rumored to be leaving the bank in a report published just days before nearly 200 police officers, tax inspectors and prosecutors showed up outside Deutsche’s international headquarters and demanded that everybody step away from their computers.

Given the abysmal week the bank just had, it’s hardly surprising that the financial media has published a barrage of negative stories featuring anonymously sourced quotes from Deutsche “investors” effectively demanding that, if Sewing can’t get his shit together in the next quarter or two, he will need to abandon the “strategic alternatives” (cost-cutting, shifting the bank’s investment strategy to emphasize growth in wealth management) that he championed as a road toward salvation (alongside cost-cutting, of course) and seriously consider a sale.

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Nordstream2 would bankrupt Ukraine. Hence the anti-Russia desperation.

Merkel Protege Suggests Reducing Gas Flow Through Nord Stream 2 Pipeline (R.)

Germany must answer urgent, growing political concerns about the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project given Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crew off the coast of Crimea, a senior German conservative said on Sunday. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a top candidate to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democrats, told public broadcaster ARD it would be “too radical” to withdraw political support for the project, but Berlin could reduce the amount of gas to flow through the pipeline. Russia is resisting international calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last weekend in the Kerch Strait near the Crimea region that Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Moscow has accused the 24 sailors of illegally crossing the Russian border, which Ukraine denies. After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Merkel on Saturday called on Russia to release the sailors and allow free shipping access to the Sea of Azov, but stopped short of endorsing any additional sanctions against Moscow. Kramp-Karrenbauer is a close Merkel ally but has taken a firmer stance on Russia’s actions in recent days. On Friday, she told Reuters the EU and the US should consider banning from their ports Russian ships originating from the Sea of Azov in response to the incident. She told ARD on Sunday that it was time to draw a firmer line against Russian actions, including its annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

[..] Her suggestion of banning Russian ships from European ports triggered criticism from some Social Democrats, including former foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, who urged calm and accused Ukraine of trying to drag Germany into a war with Russia.

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They’re still dead set on more Europe.

EU Delays Euro Zone Budget, Deposit Insurance Plans (R.)

EU finance ministers will agree on Monday to give the euro zone bailout fund new responsibilities, but they will delay decisions on the euro zone budget and a deposit guarantee scheme after failing to reach agreement, a draft document showed. The ministers will discuss deeper economic integration of the 19 countries sharing the euro, to prepare the single currency bloc for the next potential crisis. However, after a year of negotiations, fraught with political difficulties, little of the original ambition, championed by French President Emmanuel Macron, remains.

The two flagship ideas – a separate budget for euro zone countries to help stabilize their economies and a deposit guarantee scheme to make all euro zone bank deposits safe – are too controversial and will be worked on further until June 2019, according to the draft document, seen by Reuters. In the case of the deposit guarantee scheme, mistrust among euro zone countries is so great that they could not even agree on a roadmap for beginning political negotiations on EDIS (European Deposit Insurance Scheme), as mandated by EU leaders. “Further technical work is still needed to agree on a roadmap. We will establish a High-level working group with a mandate to work on next steps. The High-level group should report back by June 2019,” said the draft report by EU finance ministers.

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Advice: don’t support anything the World Bank is involved in. They are not your friends.

World Bank Promises $200 Billion In 2021-25 Climate Cash (AFP)

The World Bank on Monday unveiled $200 billion in climate action investment for 2021-25, adding this amounts to a doubling of its current five-year funding. The World Bank said the move, coinciding with a UN climate summit meeting of some 200 nations in Poland, represented a “significantly ramped up ambition” to tackle climate change, “sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.” Developed countries are committed to lifting combined annual public and private spending to $100 billion in developing countries by 2020 to fight the impact of climate change — up from 48.5 billion in 2016 and 56.7 billion last year, according to latest OECD data.

Southern hemisphere countries fighting the impact of warming temperatures are nonetheless pushing northern counterparts for firmer commitments. In a statement, the World Bank said the breakdown of the $200 billion would comprise “approximately $100 billion in direct finance from the World Bank.” Around one third of the remaining funding will come from two World Bank Group agencies with the rest private capital “mobilised by the World Bank Group.” “If we don’t reduce emissions and build adaptation now, we’ll have 100 million more people living in poverty by 2030,” John Roome, World Bank senior director for climate change, warned. “And we also know that the less we address this issue proactively just in three regions – Africa, South Asia and Latin America – we’ll have 133 million climate migrants,” Roome told AFP.

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Jan 022018
 
 January 2, 2018  Posted by at 10:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Horacio Coppola Avenida de Mayo entre Bolívar y Perú, Buenos Aires 1936

 

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No Financial Stress (Mish)
Bitcoin Is Already Having A Bad Year (BBG)
Bitcoin Fever To Burn Out In ‘Spectacular Crash’ – David Stockman (CNBC)
Britain’s Benefits System Has Become A Racket For Cheating Poor People (G.)
Russia Posts Highest-Ever Natural Gas Output in Expansion Drive (BBG)
US Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria (CJ)
More Than 170 Refugees Reach Lesbos, Samos Early New Year’s Day (K.)
Syrian Grandmother Defies Perils To Cross Aegean At Age 110 (K.)
Drones Over Africa Target $70 Billion Illegal Poaching Industry (ZH)

 

 

Article by Mish. Graph annotation by Jesse Colombo.

No Financial Stress (Mish)

As we head into 2018, the St. Loius Fed reports there is no financial stress. The STLFSI measures the degree of financial stress in the markets and is constructed from 18 weekly data series: seven interest rate series, six yield spreads and five other indicators. Each of these variables captures some aspect of financial stress. Accordingly, as the level of financial stress in the economy changes, the data series are likely to move together. The average value of the index, which begins in late 1993, is designed to be zero. Thus, zero is viewed as representing normal financial market conditions. Values below zero suggest below-average financial market stress, while values above zero suggest above-average financial market stress.

Financial stress has been negative since June 18, 2010. I expect 2018 will not be so complacent.

Jesse’s annotations: “Bubbles form during periods of very low financial stress”.

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Check back minutes later and it’s rising.

Bitcoin Is Already Having A Bad Year (BBG)

Bitcoin is already having a bad year. For the first time since 2015, the cryptocurrency began a new year by declining, extending its slide from a record $19,511 reached on Dec. 18. The virtual coin traded at $13,624.56 as of 5 p.m. in New York on Monday, down 4.8% from Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s also a fall from the $14,156 it hit Sunday, according to coinmarketcap.com, which tracks daily prices. The cryptocurrency fluctuated in early Asian trading on Tuesday.

Bitcoin got off to a much stronger start last year, and then kept that momentum going, helping to create a global frenzy for cryptocurrencies. It rose 3.6% on the first day of 2017 to $998, data from coinmarketcap.com show. It ended the year up more than 1,300%. That rally drew a growing number of competitors and last month brought bitcoin to Wall Street in the form of futures contracts. It reached the Dec. 18 peak hours after CME Group Inc. debuted its derivatives agreements, which some traders said would encourage short position-taking.

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Any questions?

Bitcoin Fever To Burn Out In ‘Spectacular Crash’ – David Stockman (CNBC)

David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s former director of the Office of Management and a relentless Wall Street bear, is warning investors that the cryptocurrency boom will end disastrously. “It’s basically a class of really stupid speculators who have convinced themselves that trees grow to the sky,” he told CNBC’s “Futures Now” last week. “It will burn out in a spectacular crash. All of these latter-day speculators will have their hands burned to a crisp, and they will learn the proper lesson.” Stockman’s latest prophecy isn’t exclusive to bitcoin. He’s been saying a “gigantic, horrendous storm” could soon hit stocks. In September, he warned investors that a 40% to 70% correction wasn’t too far down the road. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirted with 25,000, with the S&P trading just shy of a new record.

Stockman blamed the Federal Reserve and central banks for creating the hype surrounding the stock and cryptocurrency markets. He argued that too much liquidity was pumped into the marketplace to deal with the 2008 global financial crisis — noting that not even regulators can improve the frothy situation. “What we really need to do is not think these are regulator problems, but understand they’re monetary problems,” he said. “It’s an irrational, overheated market like never before.” In the past two years, bitcoin prices have soared by more than 3,000%. Its wild price swings have sparked debates on Wall Street over how much it’s really worth. Bitcoin’s less expensive peers such as litecoin and ether have also surged. Stockman can’t put a price tag on them.

“I have no idea. I mean it could double or triple from here or it could fall to zero. But the point is that it’s not real money because real money for transactions has to be stable,” he said. According to Stockman, the CBOE and CME decisions to add bitcoin futures to their exchanges don’t give this emerging asset class legitimacy. “Anytime Wall Street sees an opportunity to shear the sheep, and they see the sheep stampeding to the slaughter, they line up with some new gimmick to take advantage of the circumstances. That’s all,” he said. “There is nothing that’s being validated by the opening up of a futures market. It’s just everybody trying to get on the train for the ride,” he added.

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Who needs the poor?

Britain’s Benefits System Has Become A Racket For Cheating Poor People (G.)

When Moira gets scared, she cuts herself. “It’s my way of taking control.” Right now she’s very scared. In a few days she faces a tribunal that will judge whether she is entitled to her disability benefit. She has been through forms and examinations and the officials who tell her one thing and those who tell her another, and she is nearly broken. In a low-ceilinged office at the back of a housing estate, she starts sobbing. “I cannot live like this any more.” Steph Pike lets Moira talk, before telling her, “stay focused”. After years as a welfare rights adviser, Pike knows what tribunals want: short, direct answers shorn of humiliation and pain. Now in her late 40s, Moira was raised in care, went to jail and has been repeatedly cheated of her benefits. Part of her life story is of being let down and punished by authority – but Pike needs her to set all that aside. “Bear with me,” Pike keeps saying. “This is important.”

Such meetings are normally confidential, but for three days over two weeks I had exclusive access to Pike in her work for the Child Poverty Action Group charity. I saw her advise others who appeared to have been wronged by state officials – and I accompanied Moira to that tribunal. That our benefits system is broken is no longer up for debate. Ministers are told universal credit is a fiasco and MPs weep over starving families in one of the richest societies in human history. Even rightwing tabloids run grim updates on how men with terminal cancer are declared fit to work just weeks before they die. Such cases are described as shameful. As failures. They are lined up like so many one-offs – not representative of fair-play Britain. But Pike and her colleagues know different. They see a system that routinely snatches money out of the hands of people who need and are entitled to it and bullies claimants with contempt.

Moira never went looking for welfare advice; she was just starving That’s Moira’s experience, too. Her trouble started when she found herself feeling steadily worse – and so did as she was told and rang the Department for Work and Pensions. Her recent back operation hadn’t worked, the arthritis in her spine, hips and knees was getting worse and the heavy-duty painkillers were wrecking her kidneys. She was summoned for a reassessment in Southend, a 70-mile round trip from her home in London – tricky for a woman who cannot walk more than 10 steps without crutches. Claimants such as Moira are entitled to a home assessment, but Pike told me they are often dispatched “miles away”. She was still told off for being late, says Moira. After the examination, she lost her personal independence payment.

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Selling to the west and east.

Russia Posts Highest-Ever Natural Gas Output in Expansion Drive (BBG)

Russia registered its highest-ever natural gas production last year amid plans to expand into China and boost sales of liquefied natural gas. The nation’s output of the fuel jumped 7.9% to 690.5 billion cubic meters, according to data emailed Tuesday by the Russian Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That beat the previous record, set in 2011, by 2.9%. Russia, the world’s largest gas exporter, is working to boost output with plans to increase production of LNG with new plants in an area that stretches from the Baltic region to its Pacific coast. That will put the country up against the biggest producers of the super-chilled fuel, including Qatar, Australia and the U.S. Russia has resources to increase its LNG production almost 10 times by 2035, led by the privately-owned Novatek PJSC in the Arctic, according to the nation’s Energy Ministry.

The country is also working to keep shipments to Europe near record levels this year as state-run Gazprom PJSC, the continent’s biggest supplier, plans to start pipeline exports to China in late 2019. Gazprom meets more than a third of Europe’s demand for natural gas, Russia’s biggest and most lucrative market worth some $37 billion in revenue this year. The U.S. became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2009, leapfrogging Russia thanks to its fracking revolution. It pumped 22.1 trillion cubic feet (about 626 billion cubic meters) of dry gas in first 10 months of 2017, according to December data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This was 11% higher than Russia for the same period.

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Create chaos.

US Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria (CJ)

Two weeks ago a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how Secretary of State and DC neophyte Rex Tillerson was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports: The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. ‘Allies should be treated differently -and better- than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,’ argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.

With what would be perfect comedic timing if it weren’t so frightening, Iran erupted in protests which have been ongoing for the last four days, and the western empire is suddenly expressing deep, bipartisan concern about the human rights of those protesters. So we all know what this song and dance is code for. Any evil can be justified in the name of “human rights.” In October we learned from a former Qatari prime minister that there was a massive push from the US and its allies to topple the Syrian government from the very beginning of the protests which began in that country in 2011 as part of the so-called Arab Spring. This revelation came in the same week The Intercept finally released NSA documents confirming that foreign governments were in direct control of the “rebels” who began attacking Syria following those 2011 protests.

The fretting over human rights has occurred throughout the entirety of the Syrian war, even as the governments publicly decrying human rights abuses were secretly arming and training terrorist factions to murder, rape and pillage their way across the country. We’ve seen it over and over again. In Libya, western interventionism was justified under the pretense of defending human rights when the goal was actually regime change. In Ukraine, empire loyalists played cheerleader for the protests in Kiev when the goal was actually regime change. And who could ever forget the poor oppressed people of Iraq who will surely greet the invaders as liberators?

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Conveyor belt.

More Than 170 Refugees Reach Lesbos, Samos Early New Year’s Day (K.)

More than 170 undocumented migrants reached the shores of Lesvos and Samos in the early hours of New Year’s Day, according to government figures. The first incident occurred at 12.30 a.m. when a plastic boat carrying 52 people reached the coastline of Mytilene, the main port of Lesvos. Another 83 migrants arrived at 1.30 a.m. on another boat that followed the same route from neighboring Turkey. Shortly after midnight, a vessel belonging to the European Union’s border monitoring agency Frontex intercepted another plastic boat east of Samos, with 38 people aboard. All the migrants were transferred to reception centers on the two islands.

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“..The family now live in Athens and are getting to know their new neighborhood until their asylum hearing – unfortunately set for 2019, despite Laila’s age…”

Syrian Grandmother Defies Perils To Cross Aegean At Age 110 (K.)

How far can a desire to see a loved one take us? Laila Saleh was so desperate to see the granddaughters she helped raise that she didn’t think twice about following the rest of her family out of northern Syria, despite being 110 years old. Her yearning to see Nisrin and Berivan, who had fled Kobani for Europe three years ago and now live in Germany after being granted asylum, bolstered her determination. “The journey was not easy, of course,” Laila’s grandson, Halil, told Kathimerini as he welcomed us into an apartment rented by Solidarity Now for asylum seekers in downtown Athens. The family, which is of Kurdish descent, traveled from Kobani to Izmir on the Turkish coast, and from there to the Greek island of Lesvos by inflatable boat. “Our grandmother can walk a little bit, but not long distances.”

Their group consisted of seven people, spanning four generations, and tried to ensure that as little as possible of the journey was on foot. When finding transport proved impossible, Halil and his father would carry Laila. “I carried the two children, one on my front and one on my back,” said his young wife, Saousan, as she played with twins Azar and Ari, Laila’s great-grandchildren. Despite the enormous challenges of the journey and a treacherous sea crossing – a first for Laila – the idea of leaving the elderly woman behind never crossed her children’s minds. “Our house had been bombed and we had to rent another one, but living conditions were bad,” said Halil. “Even though Grandmother is independent, she wouldn’t want to live anywhere without her children.”

The family had already suffered tremendous loss and there was little to keep them in war-ravaged Kobani. “In Syria, it is the duty of the youngest son to take care of his mother when she grows old,” said Laila’s son Ahmet, who has a heart problem and couldn’t carry his mother alone. He thankfully has his wife of 33 years, Ali, by his side, who helps care for the elderly woman. “I sleep very lightly at night because she often needs me,” said the 58-year-old woman. “She is very confused right now because of all the changes,” she added of her mother-in-law. Born in December 1907, Laila had a birthday this month, though the family does not know her exact date of birth. He longevity may make an impression on outsiders, but the family thinks it normal. “Our grandfather, Laila’s husband, died at the age of 115. That was in 1987, and Grandmother has lived with us since,” said Halil.

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“.. a 9000% increase in rhino killings since 2007 in South Africa alone..

” .. a rhino is slaughtered twice a day and an elephant is killed every 14 minutes…”

I’ve said it before, unless and until the penalty for killing big game is death (and even then!), we won’t solve this.

Drones Over Africa Target $70 Billion Illegal Poaching Industry (ZH)

In addition to the central bank-created bubble in financial markets, there is another bubble festering in the fields of Africa, called the “poaching boom.” Economic development in Vietnam, China, and the United States have fueled an illegal $70 billion industry of killing elephants and rhinoceroses for tusks. Poachers illegally hunt elephants and rhinos under the cover of darkness using surveillance equipment and high-tech weaponry.

The boom in poaching has contributed to a 9000% increase in rhino killings since 2007 in South Africa alone. Across Africa, a rhino is slaughtered twice a day and an elephant is killed every 14 minutes. According to Air Shepherd, a wildlife conservation group aimed at stopping poachers through a new AI drone system that targets poachers said, “at this rate elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years.”

According to Air Shepherd, a wildlife conservation group aimed at stopping poachers through a new AI drone system that targets poachers said, “at this rate elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years.” Air Shepherd has already conducted 6,000 flight hours over the skies of Africa testing the new AI drone system. Air Shepherd’s drones use high-tech airborne sensors, such as thermal infrared vision to detect heat coming from human or animal bodies. The mobile command center fits into the back of a van and uses AI systems developed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon, the University of Southern California, and Microsoft to detect potential poachers.

For now, the new AI drone surveillance system could greatly expand the area of coverage used to protect endangered wildlife by spotting poachers and alerting officials before the killing of an elephant and rhinoceros occurs. Which begs the question: are AI drones set to disrupt an illegal $70 billion industry in Africa? Perhaps, but not without a fight. Which is why we expect that the poaching industry will soon unveil a new set of aggressive countermeasures, which renderd the drone system powerless, which leads to the next question: are we about to observe the first drone-on-drone violence deep in the bowels of Africa?

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Jul 232017
 


Vincent van Gogh Women Picking Olives 1889

 

Lock Them Up! (David Stockman)
This Recovery Isn’t All That Resilient (DDMB)
Is Productivity Growth Becoming Irrelevant? (Adair Turner)
EU Sounds Alarm, Urges US To Coordinate On Russia Sanctions (R.)
EU Will Hit Poland With Deadline To Reverse Curbs On Judicial Freedom (G.)
EU’s Car Regulator Warns Against Car Diesel Ban In Cities (R.)
100 British Tenants A Day Lose Homes On Rising Rents And Benefit Freeze (G.)
Australia and Its Volatile Future as an LNG Superpower (Nikkei)
Fukushima Robot Images: Massive Deposits Thought To Be Melted Nuclear Fuel (G.)
US Continues Supporting Terrorists in Syria (Lendman)
Meow (Jim Kunstler)
Europe Seeks Long-Term Answer To Refugee Crisis That Needs Solution Now (G.)
Indigenous Australians Take Carbon Farming To Canada (G.)

 

 

Watch out. Stockman’s had enough.

Lock Them Up! (David Stockman)

We frequently hear people say they have nothing to hide—-so surrendering privacy and constitutional rights to the Surveillance State may not be such a big deal if it helps catch a terrorist or two. But with each passing day in the RussiaGate drama we are learning that this superficial exoneration is dangerously beside the point. We are referring here to the unrelenting witch hunt that has been unleashed by Imperial Washington against the legitimately elected President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. This campaign of lies, leaks and Russophobia is the handiwork of Obama’s top national security advisors, who blatantly misused Washington’s surveillance apparatus to discredit Trump and to effectively nullify America’s democratic process.

That is, constitutional protections and liberties were systematically breached, but not simply to intimidate, hush or lock up citizens one by one as per the standard totalitarian modus operandi. Instead, what has happened is that the entire public debate has been hijacked by the shadowy forces of the Deep State and their partisan and media collaborators. The enabling culprits are Obama’s last CIA director, John Brennan, his national security advisor Susan Rice and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. There is now mounting evidence that it was they who illegally “unmasked” NSA intercepts from Trump Tower; they who confected the Russian meddling narrative from behind the protective moat of classified intelligence; and they who orchestrated a systematic campaign of leaks and phony intelligence reports during the presidential transition—-all designed to delegitimize Trump before he even took the oath of office.

So all three of them should be locked up -that’s for sure. But the more urgent solution would be to unlock and make public all the innuendo, surmises, assessments, half-truths and boilerplate intelligence chatter on which the entire false narrative about Russian meddling and collusion is based. Stated differently, without the nation’s massive intelligence apparatus and absurd system of secrecy and classified information to hide behind, the RussiaGate witch hunt would have never gotten off the ground. In truth, as we will essay below, there is no there, there. So what this new chapter in McCarthyite hysteria actually demonstrates is that the Imperial City’s far-flung, 17-agency, $75 billion Intelligence Behemoth is a plenary threat not just to individual liberty, but to the very constitutional democracy on which the latter depends.

To appreciate the severity of the threat, it is necessary to recognize that the post-9/11 Deep State has lowered a double whammy on our system. That is, it unconstitutionally collects the entirety of all internet based communications of America’s 325 million citizen, while at the same time it has effectively disenfranchised 98% of the 535 members of the House and Senate who have been elected to represent them. Accordingly, behind the Surveillance State’s vast wall of secrecy and so-called “classified” information, there operates a Dark Government that is unaccountable to the public and largely unconstrained by normal constitutional limits, which the Patriot Act and secret FISA courts have more or less suspended. [..] Unfortunately, the Donald doesn’t seem to recognize that he is actually President. If he did, he would have the Justice Department launch a prosecution against the faithless officials—-Brennan, Rice and Power—-who concocted the whole RussiaGate defamation in the first place.

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No, Danielle. It’s not about resilience. It’s simply not a recovery. No series of numbers, no matter how impressive looking can change that.

This Recovery Isn’t All That Resilient (DDMB)

Are Federal Reserve stress tests leading economic indicators? That certainly seems to be the case. Just ask Capital One. As of the first quarter, credit card loss provisions at Capital One were above 5%, a six-year high. The company recorded some improvement for the second quarter, yet Fed stress tests of the bank’s overall loan portfolio in a deep downturn show losses topping 12%. That explains Capital One’s “conditional” passing score, a black eye that prompted a reduced share buyback plan and no increase in its dividend. Most economists today applaud the resilience of the current recovery, which has stretched into its eighth year, the third-longest in postwar history. Resilience and rising household defaults, though, don’t tend to go hand in hand. Pressures have been building in the background for some time.

When adjusted for inflation, credit card usage has grown faster than incomes for 18 months. According to Fed data, that time frame coincides with the upturn in revolving credit, a proxy for credit card debt. In November 2015, outstanding revolving credit crossed above the $900-billion threshold for the first time since December 2009. By May of this year, annual growth was clocking 8.7%. Meanwhile, credit card balances hit $1.02 trillion, the highest level in almost eight years. Whether by choice or force, the aftermath of the financial crisis prompted households to ratchet back their usage of credit cards. As the recovery got underway, frugality prevailed, punctuated by an increase in debit card purchases. It is thus notable that Bank of America data find debit card usage has weakened in recent years as households grew more comfortable rebuilding their credit card balances.

“Confidence” is the term most associated with the rising credit card debt. But it’s fair to ask why confident households would choose to pay so dearly for the privilege. At 15.83%, the average rate on credit card balances is at a record high. It is more likely that households are increasingly tapping their credit cards to cover the cost of necessities, that they are less confident and more anxious about their future finances. The latest University of Michigan consumer confidence data suggest anxiety is indeed setting in. At 80.2, the expectations component is at the lowest since October and running below the 2016 average of 81.8.

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Productivity in a so-called service economy. A mirage.

Is Productivity Growth Becoming Irrelevant? (Adair Turner)

Our standard mental model of productivity growth reflects the transition from agriculture to industry. We start with 100 farmers producing 100 units of food: technological progress enables 50 to produce the same amount, and the other 50 to move to factories that produce washing machines or cars or whatever. Overall productivity doubles, and can double again, as both agriculture and manufacturing become still more productive, with some workers then shifting to restaurants or health-care services. We assume an endlessly repeatable process. But two other developments are possible. Suppose the more productive farmers have no desire for washing machines or cars, but instead employ the 50 surplus workers either as low-paid domestic servants or higher-paid artists, providing face-to-face and difficult-to-automate services.

Then, as the late William Baumol, a professor at Princeton University, argued in 1966, overall productivity growth will slowly decline to zero, even if productivity growth within agriculture never slows. Or suppose that 25 of the surplus farmers become criminals, and the other 25 police. Then the benefit to human welfare is nil, even though measured productivity rises if public services are valued, as per standard convention, at input cost. The growth of difficult-to-automate service activities may explain some of the productivity slowdown. Britain’s flat productivity reflects a combination of rapid automation in some sectors and rapid growth of low-productivity, low-wage jobs – such as Deliveroo drivers riding around on plain old-fashioned bicycles. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that eight of the ten fastest-growing job categories are low-wage services such as personal care and home health aides.

The growth of “zero-sum” activities may, however, be even more important. Look around the economy, and it’s striking how much high-talent manpower is devoted to activities that cannot possibly increase human welfare, but entail competition for the available economic pie. Such activities have become ubiquitous: legal services, policing, and prisons; cybercrime and the army of experts defending organizations against it; financial regulators trying to stop mis-selling and the growing ranks of compliance officers employed in response; the huge resources devoted to US election campaigns; real-estate services that facilitate the exchange of already-existing assets; and much financial trading. Much design, branding, and advertising activity is also essentially zero-sum. It is certainly good that new fashions can continually compete for our attention; choice and human creativity are valuable per se. But we have no reason to believe that 2050’s designs and brands will make us any happier than those of 2017.

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The new House sanctions under fire from Merkel AND Trump.

EU Sounds Alarm, Urges US To Coordinate On Russia Sanctions (R.)

The European Union sounded an alarm on Saturday about moves in the U.S. Congress to step up U.S. sanctions on Russia, urging Washington to keep coordinating with its G7 partners and warning of unintended consequences. In a statement by a spokeswoman after Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress reached a deal that could see new legislation pass, the European Commission warned of possibly “wide and indiscriminate” “unintended consequences”, notably on the EU’s efforts to diversify energy sources away from Russia. Germany has already warned of possible retaliation if the United States moves to sanction German firms involved with building a new Baltic pipeline for Russian gas.

EU diplomats are concerned that a German-U.S. row over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built by Russia’s state-owned Gazprom could complicate efforts in Brussels to forge an EU consensus on negotiating with Russia over the project. “We highly value the unity that is prevailing among international partners in our approach towards Russia’s action in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions. This unity is the guarantee of the efficiency and credibility of our measures,” the Commission said in its statement. “We understand that the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations,” it went on, referring to a bill passed in the U.S. Senate last month and to which lawmakers said on Saturday they had unblocked further obstacles.

“As we have said repeatedly, it is important that any possible new measures are coordinated between international partners to maintain unity among partners on the sanctions that has been underpinning the efforts for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” the Commission said, referring to an accord struck with Moscow to try to end the conflicts in Ukraine. “We are concerned the measures discussed in the U.S. Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests. This impact could be potentially wide and indiscriminate, including when it comes to energy sources diversification efforts.

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The heavy hand tactics will backfire at some point, it’s just a matter of time.

EU Will Hit Poland With Deadline To Reverse Curbs On Judicial Freedom (G.)

The EU is expected to give Poland’s rightwing government until September to reverse a controversial set of laws that give the country’s politicians control over its supreme court. The Polish senate defied international condemnation early on Saturday and mass demonstrations in Warsaw to approve a law that allows the firing of its current supreme court judges, except those chosen by the justice minister and approved by the president. Protests continued in Poland on Saturday. But despite increasing dismay at developments, the European commission knows it needs time to build support before moving towards what is regarded as the nuclear option – of suspending a country’s voting rights in the EU for the first time. Last week the first vice-president of the EU’s executive, Frans Timmermans, warned that Brussels was “very close” to triggering the sanction, which would spark a major confrontation with one of the EU’s most populous member states.

The legislation passed on Saturday is only one of a series of contentious legal reforms being pursued by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) which have prompted thousands to take to the streets in protest against what many claim is the death of Polish democracy. The new law gives the president the power to issue regulations for the supreme court’s work. It also introduces a disciplinary chamber that, on a motion from the justice minister, would handle suspected breaches of regulations or ethics. The law now requires only the signature of the president, Andrzej Duda, who was previously a member of PiS, to become binding. With Brexit negotiations in full flow, there is unease in Brussels at taking any action that could be seen as heavy-handed in relation to a member state.

With the EU engaged in a difficult balancing act, it is understood Timmermans will suggest at a meeting of commissioners on Wednesday that Poland be given until the next general affairs council of EU ministers, on 25 September, to respond to claims that its measures are a systemic threat to the rule of law. While Poland has ignored the commission when it has previously set deadlines on this issue, the move would at least give the commission the summer months to garner the support required to impose tough sanctions. The EU believes, however, that it will be in a position to launch two infringement proceedings against Poland as soon as this week, in an attempt to slow the country’s drift towards what Brussels regards as authoritarianism.

[..] The Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said on Saturday that Budapest would fight to defend Poland. “The inquisition offensive against Poland can never succeed, because Hungary will use all legal options in the European Union to show solidarity with the Poles,” he said.

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So both Berlin and brussels are in bed with the automakers. Lovely.

I have a question: why are cities full of cars in the first place?

EU’s Car Regulator Warns Against Car Diesel Ban In Cities (R.)

Banning diesel cars in European cities could hamper automakers’ ability to invest in zero-emission vehicles, the European Union’s commissioner for industry has warned the bloc’s transport ministers. In a letter seen by Reuters, Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said there would be no benefit in a collapse of the market for diesel cars and that the short-term focus should be on forcing carmakers to bring dangerous nitrogen oxide emissions into line with EU regulations. “While I am convinced that we should rapidly head for zero-emission vehicles in Europe, policymakers and industry cannot have an interest in a rapid collapse of the diesel market in Europe as a result of local driving bans,” Bienkowska said. “It would only deprive the industry of necessary funds to invest in zero-emissions vehicles,” she said in the letter, dated July 17.

Germany’s three major carmakers have invested heavily in diesel technology, which offers more efficient fuel burn and lower carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline-powered cars. But since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating on U.S. emissions tests, worries about vehicle pollution have left the entire auto industry under scrutiny. A particular concern is emissions by diesel cars of nitrogen oxide, which is blamed for causing respiratory diseases. In the letter, Bienkowska told ministers she was concerned that the latest emissions violations at Audi and Porsche (PSHG_p.DE) were discovered by prosecutors and not Germany’s vehicle and transport authorities. Bienkowska’s letter also called for all cars with excessively high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions to be taken of European roads, but said carmakers should act on a voluntary basis. The commissioner did raise the prospect of an EU testing agency if national regulators failed to spot more emissions-test cheats.

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Once again: what a society. Makeover!

100 British Tenants A Day Lose Homes On Rising Rents And Benefit Freeze (G.)

A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants. More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It is an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded. The research appears to confirm fears that a mixture of rising costs and falling state support would lead to a rise in people being forced out of their homes. It will raise concerns that even those in work are struggling to pay their rent.

High numbers of “no-fault” evictions by private landlords is driving the increase. More than 80% of the extra evictions had occurred under a Section 21 notice, which gives a tenant two months to leave. The landlord does not have to give a reason and there does not need to be any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant. The study found that changes in welfare benefits have combined to make rents unaffordable to claimants in many areas. Housing benefit was no longer covering the cost of renting in some cases, with average shortfalls ranging from £22 to £70 a month outside of London, and between £124 and £1,036 in inner London. Housing benefit has not risen in line with private rents since 2010, and a current freeze means the rates paid will not increase until 2020. A series of interviews with private renters who are struggling to meet their bills exposed the pressure some low-paid tenants are now under.

One man said that the £50 shortfall he had suffered was “almost a week’s money in itself”. “And then you’ve got the other bills…I just couldn’t make it work. I had to choose, what do I pay this month – do I pay the rent? Do I pay the electricity? Do I buy some food? And it just snowballed.” A single mother in her 20s said: “I paid it as much as I could, but my youngest child has been quite sickly … If my kids are sick, I don’t get paid.” The problem is particularly acute in London and the south-east. Four out of every five repossessions using Section 21 orders are in London, the east of England and the south-east. Nearly two-thirds are in London. Within the city, Section 21 repossessions are concentrated in the boroughs of Newham, Enfield, Haringey, Brent and Croydon. Of the 40,000 evictions, there were 19,019 repossessions in the social housing sector, and 22,150 in the private rented sector.

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Burn baby burn! But not all of it. Maybe. Or not right now.

Australia and Its Volatile Future as an LNG Superpower (Nikkei)

Australia is expected to overtake Qatar to become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in 2019, but a political risk has emerged that is casting a dark cloud over the resource-rich nation’s future as an LNG export superpower. The government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a new energy policy this month to prioritize the domestic gas supply and regulate LNG exports. Australian oil and gas major Santos has seen its stock price decline as the company is expected to be subjected to the regulations as early as next year. Australia’s conservative ruling coalition, whose approval rating is languished since a narrow election win a year ago, is aiming to allay public discontent with rising electricity and gas bills. But the new energy policy has sparked confusion across corporate Australia.

On April 27, the Turnbull government announced the introduction of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism, or ADGSM. According to details released on June 20, the Australian resources minister every summer will discuss plans for the following year’s domestic g

as supplies by consulting gas companies, industry regulators and other parties. The resources minister is to then determine by Sept. 1 – or Nov. 1 at the latest – whether the country will face a gas shortage the following year. LNG export controls will be imposed in the event of a supply shortage at home. Three LNG projects in the eastern state of Queensland will be subject to the new regulations for the time being. They are the world’s first projects to extract coal bed methane, also known as coal seam gas in Australia, and export the gas in the form of LNG.

The three LNG projects, which include the Santos-operated Gladstone LNG, or GLNG, project, went on stream over 2014 and 2015 in anticipation of swelling Asian demand. They have a combined annual production capacity of 25.3 million tons. The resources minister is to take into account the volume of exports and that of domestic shipments from each project and determine whether each project is denting the domestic supply, including through emergency procurements for export purposes. If any of the projects is deemed to be harming domestic supplies, the project operator will be required to take measures, such as cutting exports and increasing domestic shipments.

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Fukushima. Where robots go to die.

Fukushima Robot Images: Massive Deposits Thought To Be Melted Nuclear Fuel (G.)

Images captured by an underwater robot on Saturday showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant. The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1m on the bottom inside a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 reactor, said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day investigation of Unit 3 ended on Saturday.

Locating and analysing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant’s three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant. The search for melted fuel in the two other reactors has so far been unsuccessful because of damage and extremely high radiation levels. During this week’s probe, cameras mounted on the robot showed extensive damage caused by the core meltdown, with fuel debris mixed with broken reactor parts, suggesting the difficult challenges ahead in the decades-long decommissioning of the plant. TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said it would take time to analyse the debris in the images to figure out removal methods.

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Will the CIA destroy Trump and Putin’s ceasefire?

US Continues Supporting Terrorists in Syria (Lendman)

It’s naive to believe otherwise. It’s central to US strategy since launching war for regime change. Tactics alone changed from then to now, not Washington’s objective – allied with Israel and other rogue states to topple Syria’s legitimate government. In response to Trump’s announced end to covert CIA-arming and training of so-called “moderate rebels” (aka terrorists like all other anti-government groups), Russia’s Information and Press Department deputy director Artyom Kozhin said the following: “We have not heard anything regarding this decision from the official sources. Neither do we know about the status of other similar programs that could be implemented by other US agencies.” “(W)e have expressed how we feel when it comes to the US flirting with militants in Syria more than once. We have forewarned that this flirtation could have unpredictable military and political consequences.”

“We repeatedly pointed to the Americans’ unscrupulous actions taken in Syria in the pursuit of their self-seeking geopolitical interests.” “It is an open secret that a substantial number of militants who have been trained under the US Train and Equip program ultimately joined ISIS and al-Nusra.” “We regard this as a repetition of the tragic story of Afghanistan and Libya. The potential consequences of this should be obvious to everyone.” On Friday, Sergey Lavrov minced no words, saying Washington continues arming anti-government terrorist groups in Syria, euphemistically called the moderate opposition. It has illegal bases in the country, established without Security Council or Damascus authorization. According to CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel, US forces will remain in Syria after the battle for Raqqa is over – on the phony pretext of stabilizing the region.

Washington wants northern Syrian territory occupied, along with other areas it’s able to gain control over – a scheme risking direct confrontation with Russia and Damascus. Trump wants increased funding for US military bases in Iraq and Syria, reflecting plans for permanent (illegal) US occupation. Saying it’s to continue combating ISIS is willful deception, concealing America’s support for the terrorist group and likeminded ones. On July 19, Russia’s upper house Federation Council ratified a January protocol agreed on in Damascus to establish the legal presence of Russian aerial forces and support personnel in Syria for 49 years – to be automatically extended for subsequent 25-year periods. The move aims to secure and protect Syrian sovereignty. It continues longstanding mutually cooperative bilateral relations. It signifies Russia’s intention to challenge US, NATO and Israeli imperial designs on the country.

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” And then the US Treasury will destroy the dollar trying (again) to save the banks. And the bank accounts will be frozen. And the loans will stop being paid.”

Meow (Jim Kunstler)

I’d actually go further now than the “soft coup d’état” scenario that has Trump run over by the 25th amendment. It will happen, of course, but it will not satisfy anybody. Mike Pence will prove to be as ineffectual and unpopular as Trump, and he will be drowning in financial and fiscal problems, and he will get no help from the legislature in resolving any of it, and before too long there may be a general in the White House – or attempting to run things from someplace else, if he can. The whole nauseating spectacle will be attended by violent popular revolt of region against region and tribe against tribe in a great civil explosion of long-suppressed angst. Too many nasty forces are vectoring in on the scene to overthrow the dream state America has been languishing in.

Most of them involve money (or “money”) and the questions of how can we possibly keep paying for the way we live in this country, and who exactly has been fobbing off with the former wealth of every rusted and busted community in the land? It’s going to start in the stock and bond markets and it will be soon. And then the US Treasury will destroy the dollar trying (again) to save the banks. And the bank accounts will be frozen. And the loans will stop being paid. And the SNAP cards are going to stop working, and pretty soon the just-in-time deliveries to the supermarkets, and the resupply to the gas stations, and there won’t be much that Mike Pence can do about it. He’ll be shoved aside and the military will have to try to restore order in the land. When they do, it will not be the same land we sang about back in the fifth grade. Up in a cloud somewhere over Ohio, maybe, Schrödinger’s Cat will be gazing down on us, grinning.

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Europe only seeks a way to not have to deal with it.

Europe Seeks Long-Term Answer To Refugee Crisis That Needs Solution Now (G.)

European efforts to deal with the influx, hastily enacted two years ago at the height of Syria’s civil war, are faltering. A burden-sharing deal agreed by all 28 EU states in 2015, when Germany took nearly 1 million people, has arguably never worked. Of 160,000 refugees due to be accepted under the scheme, fewer than 21,000 have been relocated. Europe is split down the middle. Poland and Hungary have refused to take anyone. The Czech Republic initially accepted 12 people but has since slammed the door. The European commission has begun legal action against all three. Italy and Greece, so-called “frontline states”, are at odds with their northern neighbours, notably France and Austria. Dashing hopes of a new approach, the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, is proving inflexible on the issue.

As we report today, hundreds of migrants are effectively kettled in Ventimiglia on the Italian side of the border with France. Paris is preventing vessels carrying rescued migrants docking in French ports. Nor has France met its share of the European Union relocation quota. Austria is paying refugees to leave, amid a rise in far right and neo-Nazi attacks. The Vienna government says it will close the Brenner Pass if Italy issues temporary travel visas for the migrants. The Italian government, facing elections in 2018 and under pressure from the populist Five Star movement opposition, is furious about perceived French hypocrisy. “After saying they understand our problem, it doesn’t seem like France wants to help us concretely … we need more solidarity,” says Mario Giro, Italy’s deputy foreign minister.

The new refugee crisis is playing into a bigger, EU-wide battle about respect for national sovereignty. Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orbán, says he will “not give in to blackmail from Brussels”. Poland says the EU relocation scheme encourages more migrants, arguing most refugees do not genuinely fear persecution but are economic migrants seeking a better life. [..] Confusion and division also characterise Europe’s policy towards Libya, the main stepping-off point for migrants. Much of Libya is ungoverned following the US, British and French-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, and UN-led efforts to restore order are floundering. Overwhelmed by sheer numbers, Italy has been trying to limit its at-sea rescue efforts. But as elsewhere, political and humanitarian responses are in conflict.

About 3,000 people from Libya were picked up in one day in May in more than 20 rescue operations mounted by the Italian coastguard and navy, ships from the EU’s Mediterranean mission, its Frontex border agency, and merchant vessels. Merkel was widely praised for her open-door response in 2015 but public attitudes have hardened, and she faces a general election in September. Her focus now is her new “compact with Africa”, showcased at the Hamburg G20 summit, which seeks more state and private investment in Africa to combat poverty and the effects of climate change, and thereby deter mass migration to Europe. But Merkel’s solution is long-term. Europe’s new refugee crisis is happening now, as British beach-goers may soon testify.

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Love it. The wiser peoples of the world working together.

Indigenous Australians Take Carbon Farming To Canada (G.)

Australia’s world-leading Indigenous land management and carbon farming programs are spreading internationally, with a formal agreement signed to help build a similar program in Canada. A chance meeting between Rowen Foley from the Aboriginal Carbon Fund and a Candian carbon credit businessman at the 2015 Paris climate conference spawned a relationship that led to an agreement this week that will help Canadian First Nations peoples learn from the Australian Aboriginal carbon farming success. “Sometimes chance meetings are a form of karma or synchronicity at play,” Foley says. Foley set up the Aboriginal Carbon Fund in 2010 to help other Indigenous organisations make money by managing land in such a way that it sequesters carbon in the soil.

One of the most successful types of Indigenous carbon farming in Australia has been savannah burning, in which regular small fires are lit, replicating ancient Aboriginal practices and helping to prevent larger fires that release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The projects are often managed by workers in the Indigenous ranger program, which a recent government review concluded were enormously effective, increasing employment, building stronger communities and reducing violence, while also increasing income tax and reducing welfare payments. “Sustainable Indigenous land management, such as savannah burning, not only reduces carbon emissions but also builds communities by offering meaningful jobs for local traditional owners as rangers and an independent income,” Foley says.

One project – run by the Karlantijpa North Kurrawarra Nyura Mala Aboriginal Corporation – was awarded a contract for carbon credits under the Australian government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. By burning the savannah early in the season, it secured payments for sequestering 24,100 tonnes of carbon, in an auction where the average value for such abatement would have been $257,629. The Aboriginal Carbon Fund works with similar groups to produce carbon credits that can be bought by corporations as carbon offsets. Now the lessons learned in Australia are set to be taken to Canada, with an agreement between the Aboriginal Carbon Fund and the Canadian First Nations Energy and Mining Council. “It feels like the idea is coming of age,” Foley says.

Foley travelled to Vancouver to meet David Porter, the chief executive of the First Nations Energy and Mining Council, to sign the agreement. It notes the “strong similarities” between the First Peoples of Canada and the Indigenous people of Australia in relation to land management and climate mitigation.

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Jul 082017
 
 July 8, 2017  Posted by at 9:19 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Canaletto View of the Churches of the Redentore 1750

 

‘Neither Of Them Wanted To Stop’: Trump And Putin Enjoy Successful ‘First Date’ (G.)
US, Russia Agree To Cease-Fire In Southwest Syria Starting Sunday (AP)
Russia Disputes US Claim Trump “Pressed” Putin on Election Hacking (IC)
Trump Says Trade Deal With UK Will Be Agreed “Very Very Quickly” (BBC)
Why the Next Recession will be a Doozie for Consumers (WS)
U.S. Jobs Growth Picks Up, but Wage Gains Lag Behind (WSJ)
A Multibillion-Dollar Crack In One Of The World’s Largest LNG Projects (CNBC)
Even The IMF Says Austerity Doesn’t Work (G.)
RIvers Do Not Have Same Rights As Humans: India’s Top Court (AFP)
Greek Bankruptcies Grew Fivefold In Last Decade (K.)
War and Violence Drive 80% Of People Fleeing To Europe By Sea (G.)
The US Has Been at War for Over 220 in 241 Years (AHT)

 

 

I tried to find an objective description of the Trump-Puin meeting, but it’s all echo chamber all the way (like this from the Guardian). The world is full of people who seem to have convinced themselves and each other that any one of them would be a better US president than Trump. The problem is, they’re not, and he is. So it’s all about ‘topics’ such as handshakes, and the deeper meaning thereof. Apparently, Trump should have damned Putin to hellfire and threatened him with war, with election hacking accusations he has no proof of. But US intelligence says it’s so! Yeah, and they would never lie, would they, for power political reasons. Maybe they shouldn’t have turned on Trump in the first place.

Meanwhile, I am glad that the two prime world leaders took the time, and then some, to talk to each other. And I hope they will do so again, and regularly. The world is not a better place is they do not. No matter what the echo chamber says.

‘Neither Of Them Wanted To Stop’: Trump And Putin Enjoy Successful ‘First Date’ (G.)

It is a blossoming bromance. In what one US-based critic called a “first Tinder date”, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked for two and a quarter hours on Friday instead of their scheduled 30 minutes. “I think there was just such a level of engagement and exchange, and neither one of them wanted to stop,” US secretary of State Rex Tillerson said afterwards. “Several times I had to remind the president, and people were sticking their heads in the door. And they sent in the first lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, and that didn’t work either.” There were sighs of relief in Washington that Trump, an erratic and volatile president with little foreign policy experience, had avoided a major gaffe. The news website Axios summed it up: “Trump survives the Putin meeting.”

But diplomats and experts said this was hardly cause for celebration. Thomas Countryman, former US acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, commented: “It’s an indication of how rapidly our standards are falling when we’re reasonably pleased that President Trump has not made an obvious error.” Pre-meeting hype had focused on whether Trump would confront Putin over Russia’s interference in the US election. He delivered, according to Tillerson, pressing the issue repeatedly. But Putin denied it and Tillerson later admitted that the two leaders had focused on how to move on from here. There seemed little indication that Trump had held Putin’s feet to the fire.

Trump had accepted Putin’s assurances, Countryman said: “It certainly was the minimum that any US president should have done in this situation. I’m glad he brought it up. What we don’t know – and may never know – is what he replied when Vladimir Putin looked him in the eye and falsely said: ‘It was not us.’” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Trump had accepted Putin’s assurances, although the US disputed that.

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A good first outcome. Now don’t the US military dare interfere.

US, Russia Agree To Cease-Fire In Southwest Syria Starting Sunday (AP)

The United States and Russia struck an agreement Friday on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, crowning President Donald Trump’s first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is the first U.S.-Russian effort under Trump’s presidency to stem Syria’s six-year civil war. The cease-fire goes into effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, according to U.S. officials and the Jordanian government, which is also involved in the deal. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who accompanied Trump in his meeting with Putin, said the understanding is designed to reduce violence in an area of Syria near Jordan’s border and which is critical to the U.S. ally’s security.

It’s a “very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield,” Tillerson told reporters after the U.S. and Russian leaders met for about 2 hours and 15 minutes on the sidelines of a global summit in Hamburg, Germany. Of the agreement, he said: “I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.” [..] Russia’s top diplomat, who accompanied Putin in the meeting with Trump, said Russian military police will monitor the new truce. All sides will try to ensure aid deliveries to the area, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The deal marks a new level of involvement for the Trump administration in trying to resolve Syria’s civil war.

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No, Intercept, Lavrov, let alone Russia, has not disputed anything Tillerson said. To dispute something, you need to address it. Lavrov has simply provided his version of what was said.

Russia Disputes US Claim Trump “Pressed” Putin on Election Hacking (IC)

According to two widely divergent witness accounts, Donald Trump either “pressed” Vladimir Putin repeatedly on Friday to admit that Russia helped him get elected president of the United States — by stealing and releasing embarrassing emails from Democrats — or told the Russian leader that he accepted his claim that Russia had nothing to do with the hacking and called concern over the issue “exaggerated.” Those two very different accounts of what was said in the meeting between Trump and Putin in Hamburg, Germany, came in dueling press briefings given after it by the only other senior officials in the room when the conversation took place: Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, and Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

“The President opened the meeting with President Putin by raising the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election,” Tillerson told American reporters, according to audio recorded by PBS Newshour. “Now they had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject,” Tillerson continued. “The President pressed President Putin on more than one occasion regarding Russian involvement; President Putin denied such involvement, as I think he has in the past.” “The two leaders agreed though,” Tillerson added, “that this is a substantial hinderance in the ability of us to move the Russian-U.S. relationship forward, and agreed to exchange further work regarding commitments on non-interference.” The Russians, Tillerson said, also asked to see whatever proof of their role in the hacking American intelligence agencies claim to have.

Lavrov, who is fluent in both Russian and English, offered a very different summary of the conversation. Trump, he told Russian reporters, had raised the issue during a broader conversation about threats posed to society by the internet, including terrorism and child pornography. “President Trump said that in the U.S. there are still some circles who are talking about Russian alleged intrusion and Russian alleged attempts to influence the U.S. election,” Lavrov said, according to translation from Ruptly, a Russian state-owned news agency. “President Trump said that this campaign has already taken on a rather strange character because over the many months that these accusations have been made, not a single fact has been presented,” Lavrov added. “President Trump said that he had heard the clear statements from President Putin about this being untrue, that the Russian leadership did not interfere in the election, and that he accepts these statements.”

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Not possible until UK has left EU.

Trump Says Trade Deal With UK Will Be Agreed “Very Very Quickly” (BBC)

US President Donald Trump has said he expects a “powerful” trade deal with the UK to be completed “very quickly”. Speaking at the G20 summit in Hamburg, he also said he will come to London. The US president is holding one-to-one talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss a post-Brexit trade deal. It is one of a series of one-to-one meetings with world leaders which will also see Mrs May hold trade talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Ahead of their meeting, Mr Trump hailed the “very special relationship” he had developed with Mrs May. “There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries,” he told reporters.

“We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.” Mr Trump said he “will be going to London”. Asked when, he replied: “We’ll work that out.” But Sir Simon Fraser, a former diplomat who served as a permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, cast doubt on how soon any deal could be reached. “The point is we can’t negotiate with them or anyone else until we’ve left the European Union.”

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Running to stand still. And as Wolf says, these are the good times.

Why the Next Recession will be a Doozie for Consumers (WS)

But here is the thing about employment and recessions: Something big changed since 2000. It can be seen in the employment-population ratio, which tracks people over 16 years of age who have jobs, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From the 1960s until 2000, the ratio fell during recessions, but then during the recovery regained all the lost ground plus some, ratcheting up to new records after each recession. Some of this had to do with women entering the work force in large numbers. But since the ratio’s peak in April 2000 at 64.7%, a new pattern has developed. As before, the ratio drops before the official recession begins and keeps dropping until after the recession has ended. But when employment recovers, the ratio ticks up only slowly, recovering only a fraction of the ground lost, before the next recession hits. This has happened over the last two recessions.

For the 2001/2002 recession, the ratio started falling in May 2000 and continued falling until September 2003. During those 3.5 years, it fell 2.7 percentage points from 64.7% to 62%. Over the next three-plus years of the “recovery,” the ratio rose to 63.4% by December 2006, having regained only half of the lost ground, before the next downturn set in. This time, the ratio plunged from 63.4% to 58.2% in November 2010 and again in June and July 2011. It plunged 5.2 percentage points in 4.5 years. During that time, nonfarm payrolls plunged by 8.7 million jobs. Over the seven-plus years of the jobs recovery since then, the economy added 16.7 million jobs (146.4 million nonfarm payrolls, as defined by the BLS). But the employment-population ratio only made it to 60.1%. It regained only 1.9 percentage points, after having plunged 5.2 percentage points. In other words, after seven-plus years of jobs recovery, it has regained less than one-third of what it had lost:

And now the Fed is preparing for the next recession. There are all kinds of factors that move this equation one way or the other. Baby boomers are not retiring to the extent prior generations did. Millennials have fully entered into the working-age population (16 and over by this definition) though many are still in school. And according to Census Bureau estimates, the overall US population has surged by 16.7 million people from April 2010 through “today,” to 325.4 million. Since the bottom of the employment crisis in February 2010, the economy has created 16.7 million jobs as measured by nonfarm payrolls. During the same time, the population has grown by 16.7 million people. Not all of this population growth is working age. But this is the problem that the employment-population ratio depicts: jobs are being created, but not enough for the dual task of absorbing the growth in the working-age population and in putting people back to work who lost their jobs during the recession.

And these are the good times! What happens during the next recession?

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Why don’t you fit my theory? It’s failproof!

U.S. Jobs Growth Picks Up, but Wage Gains Lag Behind (WSJ)

U.S. employers are churning out jobs unabated as the economic expansion enters its ninth year, but the inability to generate more robust wage growth represents a missing piece in a largely complete labor recovery. U.S. employers added a seasonally adjusted 222,000 jobs in June, the Labor Department said Friday, and the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4% with more people actively looking for work. The U.S. has added jobs every month since October 2010, a record 81-month stretch that has absorbed roughly 16 million workers and slowly repaired much of the damage from the 2007-09 recession. The unemployment rate touched a 16-year low in May and the number of job openings hit a record earlier this year.

Still, average hourly earnings for private-sector workers rose slightly in June, 2.5% compared with a year earlier, a level little changed since March. As recently as December, the figure was 2.9% and in the months before the recession, wage gains consistently topped 3%. Since mid-2009, when the expansion started, hourly earnings of blue-collar workers—for which long-run data series are available—have grown on average 2.2% a year, much less than the 3% expansion of the 2000s, the 3.2% expansion of the 1990s or the 3.3% expansion of the 1980s. Tepid wage growth is a puzzle because worker incomes should in theory rise faster as employers compete for scarce labor, though some economists say broader economic forces are at work. “With both productivity growth and inflation continuing to prove sluggish, it is not altogether surprising that wage growth has disappointed,” said John E. Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo.

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“..it may suggest Inpex has lost control over costs.”

A Multibillion-Dollar Crack In One Of The World’s Largest LNG Projects (CNBC)

One of the biggest, most expensive liquefied natural gas projects in history may have developed a physical crack — and the managing company isn’t answering questions from investors. They may have reason to worry. The crack, which is believed to be in a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) unit, could add billions of dollars in upfront costs, and it could delay the project even further, likely costing more down the line as a major competitor plans to swoop in. The floating unit is sitting at a yard in Busan, South Korea, and is set to eventually operate at “Ichthys” — a giant gas and condensate field offshore western Australia led by Japan’s Inpex, with a 30% stake from France’s Total. That project first broke ground in 2012 and is set to be a mega-scale operation that produces about 8.9 million tons of LNG every year if it reaches full capacity.

Inpex said earlier this month that the unit would “soon” sail away to Australia, and the Japanese operator said the unit is undergoing “last-minute preparation work” including commissioning, cleaning and certification work. One person familiar with the project, however, told CNBC that they have firsthand knowledge of an unannounced crack in the equipment, which was driving up costs and delaying the unit’s journey to Australia, previously expected for 2015. An additional three sources said they had been told there was a crack, but could not independently confirm the defect. When CNBC reached out to the company and asked whether the rumored crack is real, Inpex said it “cannot provide details concerning reasons for the delay.” According to one person familiar with the matter, Inpex recently hired as many as 300 welders to fix the damage. Several sources said they believe the damage is the main reason for the delay.

The alleged fault is in the unit’s “turret,” a central part of an FPSO that conveys “almost everything that will enter or leave” the unit, including chemical injection lines and power cables, Ichthys LNG Project Offshore Director Claude Cahuzac said in comments available on Inpex’s website. A fault in a big piece of liquid natural gas equipment isn’t so abnormal, industry analysts told CNBC, with one suggesting LNG projects generally require “lots of trials and errors.” What is less common, they said, is the amount of investor concern being generated by the Ichthys project. Naturally enough, that concern comes down to money. The original budget of the project back in 2008 was around $20 billion. Inpex’s estimate now stands at $37 billion plus an additional amount of spending, Mizuho Securities said following an analyst briefing in May this year.

In fact, one portfolio manager who reviewed the recent spending projections by Inpex said that “with the 2018 capital expenditure guidance increasing by around 50% over the last six months, it may suggest Inpex has lost control over costs.”

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Writing about austerity without addressing Greece is useless, Britain.

Even The IMF Says Austerity Doesn’t Work (G.)

A few weeks on from the general election, and David Cameron has been disinterred to say giving public sector workers pay rises is the height of selfishness – while Theresa May is back to harping on in prime minister’s questions about the debt left by the last Labour government. It’s apparently 2015 all over again. It’s tiresome to have to keep pointing it out, but Dave from PR was wrong then, and he remains wrong now. He was a good salesman, for sure. Pretending that “The Deficit” is a scary monster that will eat us unless we appease it by sacrificing our wages plays into many instinctual beliefs about the virtues of probity and thrift. But if anything, the monster in the room is the prevalence of what economist John Quiggin called “zombie economics” – ideas that are constantly discredited, but insist on shambling back to life and lurching their way through our public discourse.

The supposed justifications for austerity were always, Quiggin writes, “absurd on the face of things”. The theory that government spending crowds out private sector investment never withstood scrutiny. As he points out, “the painfully evident fact that there is already plenty of room for private expansion, in the form of unemployed workers and idle factories, is simply ignored”. The IMF – historically the world’s foremost cheerleader of austerity – admitted that it was based on a false prospectus: these policies do more harm than good. Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University said that the issue was not whether attempts to reduce the deficit had damaged the economy, but “how much GDP has been lost as a result”. Amartya Sen said that while austerity “deepened Europe’s economic problems, it did not help in the aimed objective of reducing the ratio of debt to GDP to any significant extent”.

[..] With the evidence so prolific that Cameron’s supposed “sound finance” is anything but, and with battalions of respected economists lined up to denounce it, why does this zombie idea keep resurrecting itself? The answer must surely lie in its political utility. The global financial crisis was an opportunity for politicians to practise Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” capitalism in the west rather than in the developing world. The Conservatives have presented their ideological project of returning us to the early 19th century as being economically necessary, even unavoidable.

Before Jeremy Corbyn’s rise, elements in the Labour party were similarly enamoured with recession as an opportunity to push a culture war over what they saw as a betrayal of “authentic” left politics. Just as austerity economics relies on the demonisation of immigrants and “identity politics” to mask its own crippling impact, so authentocracy relies on a false zero-sum formula where the “white working class” is in a battle with new arrivals for a share of a fixed pot of cash. Its proponents can hide behind discredited economics to claim they are making “hard but necessary choices” about resource allocation which, somehow, never address the actual allocation of said resources.

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In other words: you can’t protect a river, not even if people are at risk by the failure to do so?!

RIvers Do Not Have Same Rights As Humans: India’s Top Court (AFP)

India’s sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers cannot be considered “living entities”, the country’s top court ruled Friday, suspending an earlier order that granted them the same legal rights as humans. The Supreme Court stayed a March order by a lower body that recognised the Ganges and its tributary the Yamuna as “legal persons” in an attempt to protect the highly polluted rivers from further degradation. The landmark ruling made polluting or damaging the rivers legally comparable to hurting a person, and saw three top government officials appointed as custodians. But the Himalayan state of Uttrakhand, where the Ganges originates, petitioned the top court arguing the legal status to the venerated rivers was “unsustainable in the law”.

In its plea, the state said the ruling was unclear on whether the custodians or the state government was liable to pay damages to those who drown during floods, in case they file damage suits. Petitioner Mohammad Saleem, on whose plea the Uttrakhand High Court bestowed the legal rights to the water bodies, will have the opportunity to appeal the ruling by a bench headed by chief justice J S Khehar. M C Pant, Saleem’s lawyer, said he was “shocked and surprised” over the government’s decision to oppose the status. “We will present our case before the court and convince them,” Pant told AFP. The Ganges is India’s longest and holiest river, but the waters in which pilgrims ritualistically bathe and scatter the ashes of their dead is heavily polluted with untreated sewage and industrial waste.

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Why Greece cannot recover.

Greek Bankruptcies Grew Fivefold In Last Decade (K.)

Corporate bankruptcies in Greece are still a staggering five times what they were in the period before the outbreak of the financial crisis, despite the small 2 percentage point decline recorded so far in 2017, according to international credit insurance company Atradius. The 2% decline is the smallest drop recorded among eurozone member-states, while Greece remains on top of the 22 countries Atradius monitors in Europe and beyond in terms of bankruptcies. While Greece’s rate is currently five times what it was before 2009, in Portugal it is four times as high, in Italy 2.4 times, in Ireland 2.2 times and in Spain it is twice as high.

The business sectors of food and electronics are expected to be among those to enjoy a reduction in their bankruptcy rate, unlike the construction, apparel and machinery sectors, which will continue to see high bankruptcy levels, the survey has found in Greece. The local credit system remains entrapped in the problem of nonperforming loans, which account for 37% of their total portfolios, Atradius says. This hampers lending to the private sector, it adds, calling for the swift enforcement of the recent law for clearing out or selling bad loans.

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As if there was any doubt about this. We need to stop bombing them. That’s the only answer there is.

War and Violence Drive 80% Of People Fleeing To Europe By Sea (G.)

The vast majority of people arriving in Europe by sea are fleeing persecution, war and famine, while less than a fifth are economic migrants, a report published on Friday reveals. More than 80% of an estimated 1,008,616 arrivals in 2015 came from refugee-producing countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and a quarter of that number were children. Researchers say the findings challenge the myth that migrants are coming to Europe for economic reasons. The study is based on 750 questionnaires and more than 100 interviews carried out at reception centres in Greece, Italy and Malta. It highlights the abuse many have faced, with 17% experiencing forced labour. Half of those questioned had been arrested or detained during their journeys.

Professor Brad Blitz, who led the research team, said the findings made it clear that people had complex reasons for coming to Europe. He said: “Governments and certain media organisations perpetuate the myth that the ‘pull’ factors are stronger than the ‘push’ factors with economic reasons being the key catalyst – but we found the opposite. “The overwhelming majority of people we spoke to were coming from desperately poor countries but also places where they were subject to targeted violence or other concerns around family security. They had no other option.” War was the biggest “push”, and given as the reason for leaving their homes by 49% of those questioned in Greece, and 53% of those in Malta. One Syrian said: “I used to live with my wife in Idlib. We had a normal life there until the outbreak of war. Our house was bombed and we lost everything, we hadn’t any option but to leave.”

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“U.S. soldiers gave poisoned cookies to children seeking their help.”

The US Has Been at War for Over 220 in 241 Years (AHT)

The United States presents itself to the world as a beacon of liberty and a proponent of human rights around the world, ready and willing to stand up for and defend the downtrodden. Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently said that the world looks to the U.S. as an example of democracy. This myth is not believed outside of the United States’ borders, and decreasingly within. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary. The U.S. has been at war for over 220 of its 241 year history. During that time, it has shown a complete lack of respect for the human rights of both the citizens of the nations against which it wages war, and its own soldiers. We’ll take a look at examples from recent history, and see how the U.S. continues these barbaric practices today.

During the U.S. war against Viet Nam, which lasted for several years, conservative estimates indicate that at least 2,000,000 men, women and children were killed. Entire villages were burned; soldiers were told to assume that anyone, of an age, was the enemy. U.S. soldiers gave poisoned cookies to children seeking their help. The My Lai massacre, in which between 350 and 500 innocent people were killed, mostly women, children and elderly men, garnered international publicity, but was only one example of U.S. barbarity. U.S. soldiers returned home from this and later wars with severe physical and emotional problems. Veterans’ organizations worked for years to have the effects of ‘Agent Orange’, a chemical defoliant used in Viet Nam that caused birth defects in the children of soldiers who used it, recognized by the government so they could get government assistance.

A generation later, the reality of Gulf War Syndrome was denied for years by the U.S. government. How does this continue in the current environment? When the U.S. invaded Iraq early in the administration of President George Bush, it bombed residential areas in a country where over half the population was under the age of 15. It destroyed government institutions, even as it protected oil lines, leaving millions of people without essential services.

In Yemen, drones have killed at least 6,000 people. In the first drone attack authorized by then President Barack Obama, 34 people were killed. Of these, two were suspected of having ties to so-called terrorist groups. The other 32 were innocent men, women and children. And these atrocities continue to this day. In Syria, the U.S. is supporting radical groups that are causing untold suffering. At least one third of the population of Syria has fled their homes; recently, due to the efforts of the Syrian army and its allies, some have begun to return. The death toll, directly attributable to the actions of the U.S., is at least half a million.

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Jun 082017
 
 June 8, 2017  Posted by at 9:37 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


Roy Lichtenstein Femme d’Alger 1963

 

UK Press Gang Up On Jeremy Corbyn In Election Day Coverage (G.)
US Market Risk Is Highest Since Pre-2008 Crisis – Bill Gross (BBG)
Global Financial System More Leveraged Than 2008 – Paul Singer (BBG)
UK Housing Weakens Further as Market Emits ‘Ominous’ Signals (BBG)
The Cost of Getting It Wrong (Claire Connelly)
The UAE Needs Qatar’s Gas to Keep Dubai’s Lights On (BBG)
Oil Prices Drop More Than 4% On Surge In Stockpiles (CNBC)
China’s Top Property-Bubble Prophet Says Prices Set to Soar 50% (BBG)
Banco Popular Wipeout Leaves CoCo Bonds On The Drawing Board (BV)
A Reform Beyond Macron’s Grip: The Revolving Door of French Politics (BBG)
OECD Puts Greek Growth At Just 1.1% This Year (K.)
Athens To Seek Growth Package At Eurogroup Meeting (K.)
Greece Says Colombian Gangs Plundering Hospitals Europe-Wide (AP)
Greek Room Owners Threaten To Return Permits in Airbnb Challenge (K.)
Bid For EU States To Stop Migrants, Refugees ‘Asylum Shopping’ (K.)

 

 

The Daily Mail ran 13 pages yesterday on the theme of Corbyn and Labour being terrorist apologists. No shame, no morals. In the same vein, I tried to find an objective piece on the Comey testimony, but couldn’t find one. The UK press has no faith in its voters, the US press has none in its Senate: the press draws the conclusions before anyone else can. The media cares little about credibility, it’s all echo chambers all the way down.

UK Press Gang Up On Jeremy Corbyn In Election Day Coverage (G.)

The Sun has urged its readers not to “chuck Britain in the Cor-bin” on its final front page before the country votes in the general election. The tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, published an editorial on its front page under the headline “Don’t Chuck Britain in the Cor-bin” alongside 10 bullet points that described the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “terrorists’ friend”, “useless on Brexit”, “puppet of unions” and “Marxist extremist”. The article said readers could “rescue Britain from the catastrophe of a takeover by Labour’s hard-left extremists”. The Daily Mail front page roared, “Let’s reignite British spirit” on the back of a Theresa May speech and also promoted a feature inside called “Your tactical voting guide to boost the Tories and Brexit”.

The Daily Mirror reiterated its support for the Labour party with a front page headline of “Lies, damned lies, and Theresa May”, while the Daily Telegraph ran a story headlined “Your Country Needs You” based on an editorial by the prime minister that urged “patriotic” Labour supporters to vote Conservative. The Daily Express front page said: “Vote for May Today”. Meanwhile, the Times reported that the Conservatives had a seven-point in the final opinion poll before the election, and the Guardian covered May and Corbyn’s late attempts to win support from voters. Thursday’s front pages come after the Daily Mail devoted 13 pages to attacking Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and John McDonnell on Wednesday under the headline: “Apologists for terror”. The tabloid urged readers to support the Conservatives in an editorial on its first and second pages, but concentrated its fire on Labour’s leadership, compiling hostile anecdotes dating back to the 1970s.

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“Instead of buying low and selling high, you’re buying high and crossing your fingers…”

US Market Risk Is Highest Since Pre-2008 Crisis – Bill Gross (BBG)

U.S. markets are at their highest risk levels since before the 2008 financial crisis because investors are paying a high price for the chances they’re taking, according to Bill Gross, manager of the $2 billion Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund. “Instead of buying low and selling high, you’re buying high and crossing your fingers,” Gross, 73, said Wednesday at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit. Central bank policies for low-and negative-interest rates are artificially driving up asset prices while creating little growth in the real economy and punishing individual savers, banks and insurance companies, according to Gross. The U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.2% this year and 2.3% in 2018, according to forecasts compiled by Bloomberg. Trump administration officials have said their policies will boost annual growth to 3%.

Despite being concerned about high asset prices, Gross said he feels required to stay invested and sees value in some closed-end funds. Examples he gave are the Duff & Phelps Global Utility Income Fund and the Nuveen Preferred Income Opportunities Fund. He also said he has about 2% to 3% in exchange-traded funds to get yield and add diversification. “They’re appetizers, not entrees,” he said in an interview outside the conference. Gross’s fund has returned 3.1% in the year through June 6, outperforming 22% of its Bloomberg peers. It has posted a total return of 5.4% since Gross took over management in October 2014 after he was ousted from PIMCO. ”If there’s a common factor it’s the expansion of credit,” Gross said on Bloomberg TV Wednesday. “And the credit that’s being generated by central banks. Money is being pumped out into the system and money that is yielding less than nothing seeks a haven not only in bonds that are under-yielding but in stocks that are overpriced.”

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We know.

Global Financial System More Leveraged Than 2008 – Paul Singer (BBG)

Billionaire investor Paul Singer said “distorted” monetary and regulatory policies have increased risks for investors almost a decade after the financial crisis. “I am very concerned about where we are,” Singer said Wednesday at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit. “What we have today is a global financial system that’s just about as leveraged – and in many cases more leveraged – than before 2008, and I don’t think the financial system is more sound.” Years of low rates have eroded the effectiveness of central banks to contend with downturns, Singer said at the event in an interview with Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. “Suppressive” fiscal, regulatory and tax policies have also exacerbated income inequality and led to the rise of populist and fringe political movements, he added. Confidence “could be lost in a very abrupt fashion causing conceivably a ruckus in bond markets, stock markets and in financial institutions,” said Singer, founder of hedge fund Elliott Management, which is known for being an activist investor.

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Volatility is back.

UK Housing Weakens Further as Market Emits ‘Ominous’ Signals (BBG)

While the general election had an impact on activity in May, damping buyer demand and new sellers coming to the market, RICS used its latest monthly report to highlight broader, and more damaging, risks. That includes the dearth of homes for sale, which has pushed up values in recent years, cutting off many potential first-time buyers. RICS Chief Economist Simon Rubinsohn said the report shows the issue of affordability may even worsen further.“Perhaps the most ominous signal is that contributors still expect house prices to increase at a faster pace than wages over the medium term despite the difficulty many first-time buyers are clearly having,” he said. On the shortage, “it’s hard to see this as anything other a major obstacle to the efficient functioning of the housing market.”

In May, RICS’s monthly price index fell to 17 – the lowest since August – from 23 in April, indicating modest price gains. A gauge for London, where prime properties have been under pressure, remained below zero for a 14th month. Nationally, the supply-demand imbalance means it’s a sellers’ market and recent reports show that any uncertainty about the election had little effect on U.K. asking prices, which according to Rightmove jumped 1.2% to a record in May. For some, it’s reminiscent of the overheating seen before the financial crisis.“Prices are too expensive,” Josh Homans at surveyors Valunation said in the RICS report. “Excessive” valuations are increasing and “we are now in a 2007 situation,” he said.

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One of those must reads. Economics is all but dead, but not entirely yet.

The Cost of Getting It Wrong (Claire Connelly)

What most of us have long believed about how the economy works is based on a set of fundamental myths, supported by a series of inappropriate and misleading metaphors, from which it is difficult to escape. The emotional investment we have made in these myths has allowed for levels of unemployment, underemployment, inequality and relative poverty which would have seemed incredible a generation ago. Somehow we have convinced ourselves of the following:
– Governments need taxpayers’ money to pay for things.
– Governments, like households, need to at least balance their budgets.
– Deficits are bad and government surpluses are good.
– Deficits paid for by printing money causes inflation.
– Surpluses set aside savings which can be spent in the future.
– Lower wages promote full employment.

Wrong, wrong, all wrong. The federal government does not need taxpayers’ money. Actually, it is the other way around. The government issues the currency. We use it. Taxes help to control inflation and stop us spending too much. (It can also be used to control behaviour, as witnessed by taxes on cigarettes and alcohol). Professor Steve Keen says the government, and the public, have the most basic fundamentals of macroeconomics backwards. “Expenditure is what causes income,” he said. “Reducing expenditure also reduces income.” “Individuals can save (without a significant effect on national income), but if you extrapolate that to the whole economy, you are going to make a huge error.” Similarly, the economist says the idea that the government can save by paying down the national debt is misleading.

“Believing that government saving will increase employment or growth is like believing the Earth sits at the centre of the universe”, he says. All it does is destroy spending which would otherwise have created private sector incomes. “If you don’t understand where income comes from, then it means you don’t understand economics, or the economy.” “Individuals can save money by spending less than they earn but if everyone decides to do that, income falls by precisely as much as you try to save. If the government does the same thing, by saving money at a national level, you cause a recession.”

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As solid as the Saudi grip on OPEC cuts: “Abu Dhabi’s Petroleum Ports Authority removed the ban on Wednesday – just one day after announcing it.”

The UAE Needs Qatar’s Gas to Keep Dubai’s Lights On (BBG)

When it comes to natural gas shipments, the United Arab Emirates needs Qatar more than Qatar needs the U.A.E. The U.A.E. joined Saudi Arabia in cutting off air, sea and land links with Qatar on Monday, accusing the gas-rich sheikhdom of supporting extremist groups. But the U.A.E., which depends on imported gas to generate half its electricity, avoided shutting down the pipeline supplying it from Qatar, which has the world’s third-largest gas deposits. Without this energy artery, Dubai’s glittering skyscrapers would go dark for lack of power unless the emirate could replace Qatari fuel with more expensive liquefied natural gas. Qatari natural gas continues to flow normally to both the U.A.E. and Oman through a pipeline, with no indication that supplies will be cut, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Qatar sends about 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day through a 364-kilometer (226-mile) undersea pipeline. Dolphin Energy, the link’s operator, is a joint-venture between Mubadala Investment, which holds a 51% stake, and Occidental Petroleum and Total, each with a 24.5% share. Since 2007, the venture has been processing gas from Qatar’s North field and transporting it to the Taweelah terminal in Abu Dhabi, according to Mubadala’s website. Dolphin also distributes gas in Oman. Apart from preserving gas shipments from Qatar, the U.A.E. on Wednesday actually eased efforts to isolate its smaller neighbor. The oil-port authority in Abu Dhabi, the U.A.E. capital, lifted restrictions on international tankers that have sailed to Qatar or plan to do so. Abu Dhabi’s Petroleum Ports Authority removed the ban on Wednesday – just one day after announcing it.

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The Saudi-Qatar spat is growing and oil plunges? Huh?

Oil Prices Drop More Than 4% On Surge In Stockpiles (CNBC)

U.S. crude prices plunged toward $46 a barrel on Wednesday after weekly government data left the oil market with virtually nothing to cheer. West Texas Intermediate futures dropped more than 4% as stockpiles of oil in the US surged by 3.3 million barrels in the week ended June 2, according to the Energy Information Administration. That confounded analysts’ estimates for a 3.5 million-barrel decline. WTI prices fell as far as $45.92, a four-week low, following the report. The drop below $47 was a “big deal” said John Kilduff at energy hedge fund Again Capital. The next level to watch is the March low just below $44 a barrel, struck after oil prices fell through a number of key technical levels, culminating in a flash crash to $43.76. The bad news kept on coming below the headline figure. Gasoline stocks also jumped by 3.3 million barrels, more than five times the expected increase. Inventories of distillate fuels like diesel and heating oil rose by 4.4 million barrels, 15 times the anticipated rise.

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Author of “China’s Guaranteed Bubble”.

China’s Top Property-Bubble Prophet Says Prices Set to Soar 50% (BBG)

China’s home prices could rise by another 50% in the nation’s biggest cities, as the latest measures to rein them in are likely to be eased by policy makers seeking to support the broader economy. So says Zhu Ning, deputy director of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing and author of “China’s Guaranteed Bubble: How Implicit Government Support Has Propelled China’s Economy While Creating Systemic Risk.” As measures to curb housing prices drag on growth in the second half and early next year, he says, the government will resort to its old playbook of dialing them back again to shore up expansion. “We’re living through a bubble,” Zhu said. “If we don’t engage in more meaningful reform, which we haven’t, we’re very likely to have a financial crisis or a burst of the bubble. It’s a matter of sooner or later.”

Real estate prices in major cities will surge again “by another 50% or so” after measures to rein them in are eased, said Zhu, without specifying a time. Because policy makers have previously imposed curbs only to ease them again, people see them as a bluff, he said. Last year 45% of new loans went to mortgages. Local authorities have boosted down-payment requirements, restricted purchases by non-residents, and capped the number of dwellings that a household can own. Since March, at least 26 cities have imposed resale lock-up periods, with Hebei’s Baoding city slapping a decade-long ban on some homes, according to Shanghai-based Tospur Real Estate Consulting.

Zhu said he arrived at the 50 percent estimate based on the average price appreciation after past curbs were lifted, an ever-stronger belief among buyers that housing prices will rise, China’s humongous supply of credit, and tighter controls on capital outflows. Over the past year, however, Zhu, who earned his doctorate in finance at Yale, said he’s had more doubts over whether the thinking of western-trained economists applies to a nation that’s proven naysayers wrong “with its might and its determination” for three decades. “Over the past 12 months my confidence has really been shaken,” he said, adding that a crisis remains probable. “Could China be the black swan that we’ve never seen before?”

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Where would the EU be without creative accounting?

Banco Popular Wipeout Leaves CoCo Bonds On The Drawing Board (BV)

Banco Popular’s wipeout has left CoCo bonds on the drawing board. The Spanish lender’s failure and rescue by rival Santander did not provide the expected test for bonds which convert into equity under stress: the securities were wiped out before they could be triggered. It’s still not clear whether the bonds work as intended. The collapse of Spain’s sixth-largest bank by assets marked the first big loss for investors in so-called contingent convertible bonds. The securities were created after the 2008 financial crisis to provide an extra buffer when banks are struggling. They permit lenders to preserve capital by suspending dividends, and convert into ordinary shares when capital ratios run low.

The Popular trauma has eased one fear: that investors would panic when a CoCo bond went down, creating a spiral of contagion to other lenders. Similar securities issued by other Spanish banks actually rose in value on June 7, suggesting that investors see Popular as an isolated case. Yet in another way, Popular’s bonds fell short. The securities are supposed to provide extra capital before a bank fails, allowing it to absorb losses over time without failing or requiring a government bailout. But regulators deemed Popular non-viable before any of the triggers in its bonds could blow. The CoCo bonds suffered the same fate as other, more senior bonds that only suffer losses when a bank goes bust.

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Civil servants and jobs for life. It’s like talking about dinosaurs.

A Reform Beyond Macron’s Grip: The Revolving Door of French Politics (BBG)

French President Emmanuel Macron has promised to change how politics is done in France, starting with the parliament to be elected beginning Sunday. Half of the 500-plus candidates for his young party are women. Half have never held office. They all had to apply online. But he isn’t taking the biggest step: requiring that anyone running for parliament resign from his or her government job. Unlike many other other developed countries, France allows bureaucrats to hold political office—multiple offices, in fact—without having to quit the civil service. And they have a guaranteed right to return. Should the bureaucrat-candidate lose an election, there’s a job for life waiting back at the Agriculture Ministry or the Ministry for Overseas Territories. And a pension at retirement.

Having lawmakers remain part of the civil service creates conflicts of interest, said Dominique Reynie, head of Fondapol, a political research institute. “You have lawmakers making funding decisions about institutions such as universities and hospitals where they are still officially employed,” he said. “We have a parliament that’s inbred.” Among the many beneficiaries of the system: Macron’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, several others in the cabinet and fully 55% of the parliament that just finished its five-year term. Macron himself, though he’s never been in parliament, kept bureaucrat status through several government and private jobs until he resigned last year to start his political party.

[..] “France is one of the rare countries in Europe where a civil servant can serve an elected mandate without resigning, and with the certainty of going back to their job in case of failure,” said Luc Rouban, a professor at Sciences Po in Lille who has compiled a database of all 2,857 French members of parliament back to 1958. “The absence of professional risk encourages employees from the public sector to run for office.”

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And that will make any agreements with the Troika impossible. All growth assumptions are wrong.

OECD Puts Greek Growth At Just 1.1% This Year (K.)

The OECD has further doused hopes regarding Greek growth this year, forecasting an expansion of 1.1%, and stresses the need to implement reforms and for the national debt to be lightened. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development wrote in its annual report on the global economy published on Wednesday that “delays in reform implementation and reaching an agreement on debt relief would weigh on confidence, hampering investment,” while adjusting its Greek GDP forecast. The 1.1% growth it expects contrasts with the 2.7% growth the budget provides for, the recent European Commission estimate for 2.1% and even the 1.8% forecast included in the midterm fiscal plan the government voted for last month.

Still, the OECD says in its Global Economic Outlook that the economy will expand by 2.5%. It anticipates the primary budget surplus to slide from last year’s 3.8% of GDP, but no lower than 2.5% of GDP for the next few years. The report notes that the Greek economy is beginning to recover although uncertainty remains over the country’s growth prospects. Further progress in reforms is necessary for productivity and exports to grow, the OECD argues. It makes special reference to the reforms in the products markets and in the reduction of nonperforming loans, which could lead to more exports and investments. It also warns that “the expansion of exports depends largely on the pace of world trade growth. Geopolitical tensions among Greece’s neighbors and a renewed large influx of refugees would pose additional risks.”

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Who does any of the parties involved think they’re fooling? A serious question.

Athens To Seek Growth Package At Eurogroup Meeting (K.)

Ahead of yet another crucial Eurogroup on June 15, the government has its mind set on seeking a package of growth-inducing measures which it hopes may, finally, pry open the door that will ultimately put Greece on the road to recovery. Athens believes that securing such a package could work to bridge the difference between the country’s EUpartners, and lead to an agreement which could pave the way for Greece to access international markets. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos outlined three basic principles that should govern any proposal that comes Greece’s way at the meeting of the eurozone finance ministers. Firstly, he insisted that the proposal must specify, in the clearest possible way, what midterm debt relief measures Greece should expect.

Secondly, these measures should also allow all the institutions, including the ECB, to proceed with positive sustainability studies of the Greek debt. Finally, he said, a proposal must include specific measures that will boost growth. The government reckons that a growth-oriented agreement will prompt the IMF to positively revise its projections on the Greek economy, reduce its demands with regard to the Greek program, and open the way for an agreement. Athens believes the formula that is being promoted to get the Fund to join the Greek bailout will stipulate that it will not have to provide immediate funding. Instead, the IMF’s contribution will be placed in a fund of sorts, which will be made available at a later date, on the condition that the midterm debt relief measures are implemented.

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Why have none of the other countries involved ever said a word?

Greece Says Colombian Gangs Plundering Hospitals Europe-Wide (AP)

Greek authorities say Colombian organized crime rings were behind a string of heists targeting costly medical diagnostic equipment from hospitals in Greece and another 11 European countries. Police say three Colombian suspects have been identified in connection with last month’s four thefts in Greece. Four out of about a dozen stolen pieces of equipment, worth more than half a million euros, have been recovered in Colombia. There were similar thefts in the past four years in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Croatia and the Czech Republic, Major-General Christos Papazafeiris said. Papazafeiris, head of security police for the greater Athens region, said Wednesday the stolen equipment had been mailed to Colombia, and was seized in cooperation with local authorities.

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Airbnb is huge in Athens. Must cost the government a fortune in taxes. Why then liberalize laws even more?

Greek Room Owners Threaten To Return Permits in Airbnb Challenge (K.)

Owners of rooms for rent are threatening to return their operating licenses to the state unless the government withdraws legal clauses that fully liberalize the short-term urban lease market where accommodation is advertised through platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway. According to a statement by the Confederation of Greek Tourism Accommodation Entrepreneurs (SETKE), if the room owners do hand in their licenses they will be able to enjoy the special privileges of the short-term rental market, which, it argues, has created unfair competition at the expense of legal accommodation. In its statement it claims this will lead to the elimination of the tourism accommodation sector’s 30,000 small entrepreneurs. “Instead of withdrawing the semi-liberal status of the short-term urban lease market under the 2016 law, the government is fully liberalizing it with a 2017 law abolishing the quantitative and qualitative limitations and permitting the rental for tourism purposes of all properties of all owners year round without any income limits,” SETKE says.

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The EU keeps thinking reality is whatever it wants it to be. The European Parliament President says: “The rules have to be the same for everybody.”. They’re not. They’re obviously different for Greece, and that’s not Greece’s doing.

Bid For EU States To Stop Migrants, Refugees ‘Asylum Shopping’ (K.)

As Greece continues to struggle to host thousands of migrants, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday called for a common agreement from all European Union member-states on the implementation of asylum procedures aimed at stopping migrants traveling from one country to another “shopping for asylum status.” “At the moment the rules are not properly harmonized,” Tajani told reporters. “The rules have to be the same for everybody. Otherwise we will end up with people shopping for asylum status, which undermines our credibility.” He noted that many refugees who have been accepted in European countries as part of an EU relocation program have continued their journeys to more prosperous nations such as Germany or Sweden.

Latvia welcomed 380 refugees as part of the relocation program but most of those – 313 – have already moved on to Sweden or Germany, according to Agnese Lace from Latvia’s Center for Public Policy. She said low salaries, a lack of jobs and language barriers meant asylum seekers had little incentive to remain in the country. Meanwhile Andras Kovats of the Hungarian Association for Migrants said Hungary’s failure to support integration was pushing new arrivals abroad. In a related development, Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, expressed concern at reports of collective expulsions of asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey. “I urge the Greek authorities to cease immediately the pushback operations and uphold their human rights obligation to ensure that all people reaching Greece can effectively seek and enjoy asylum,” Muiznieks said in a statement.

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