Sep 012022
 
 September 1, 2022  Posted by at 7:51 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  100 Responses »


Frank Walton Crows on a beach 1884

 

Era of Fake Money is Gone – Egon von Greyerz (USAW)
Europeans Face Mass Poverty – Expert (RT)
European Gas Prices Surge As Russia Reduces Supplies (RT)
Russia Has Enough Gas For At Least 100 Years – Gazprom (RT)
Hungary Signs Deal With Gazprom For Extra 5.8bn Cubic Metres Natural Gas (EN)
German Companies Shutting Down In Response To Record Energy Prices (ZH)
Most Germans Want Talks With Russia – Poll (RT)
Northern EU Sees The Light (K.)
Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization (Escobar)
Western Propaganda and its Aftermath (AT)
Ukrainian Officials Accused Of Stealing Trainloads Of Aid (RT)
Russian Foreign Ministry Explains Who Is Dividing The West (RT)
US Life Expectancy Plummeting (RT)
Western Allies Sabotaged Tentative Ukraine-Russia Peace Deal… In April (ZH)
DOJ Alleges That “Obstructive Conduct Occurred” at Mar-a-Lago (Turley)

 

 

The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again. And we will never be tormented by the boredom of eternity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half the country.
Karine Jean-Pierre says that people who voted for Donald Trump are “a threat to our democracy, to our freedom, to our rights.”

 

 

 

 

Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You have to remember when the debt collapses, all the assets that were supported by this debt will collapse. You will have an implosion of values, I expect 90% plus.”

Era of Fake Money is Gone – Egon von Greyerz (USAW)

“I did forecast that . . . the stock market is going to fall at this particular point. The 1,000-point drop on the DOW last Friday came right on cue. Fundamentally, the markets should have crashed a long time ago. . . . It appears clear to me we are going to see a 30% or so fall in the markets in the next one to two months. That’s the first fall, but that’s just the beginning. . . . Markets will fall, in real terms, by 90% to 95% in the coming years. That’s not going to happen overnight, but if it does happen overnight, then all bets are off and there will be a total disaster. The world is going to shut down. . . . Then there will be some extra money printing and people will be optimistic for a while. There is no money anymore because the money that is printed will make zero difference.

There will be nothing that will drive the world forward. All the decisions on top of the with energy, climate change, sanctions, etcetera, will mean it all will crash a lot faster. . . . The world is going to see a collapse that it has never seen before in history, and there is absolutely no remedy for that. They are not going to be able to do anything. Everybody who is not in power is going to promise something that they can’t deliver. When they get into power, they will be thrown out because they couldn’t deliver. So, the era of Shangri-la and money printing and saving the world by fake money—that era is totally gone.”

EvG goes on to say, “I am not a prophet of doom and gloom, but it may sound like it. I am just someone who just looks at risk. This is why I got into gold 20 years ago. Gold was the best solution to a risk situation in the financial world. . . . We almost had a collapse in 2008, and it was patched up temporarily. This time they won’t succeed . . . . We have a situation nobody can solve. . . . Initially, there will be money printing, but adding new debt to pay old debt is not a great solution to the problem. I don’t think there will be any orderly reset at all . . . . At some point, there will be an implosion of the system. There has to be. . . . You have to remember when the debt collapses, all the assets that were supported by this debt will collapse. You will have an implosion of values, I expect 90% plus. Stocks crashed in 1929 to 1932 by 90%. The risk back then and the magnitude of the problems then were nothing compared to what we have today. Remember, today it’s global, and it’s every single country in the world. . . . It’s everywhere, and no one can escape what’s coming.”

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“..in Belgium, households on average will be paying $10,000 a year for power and heating.”

Europeans Face Mass Poverty – Expert (RT)

Rising energy prices could lead to mass impoverishment in the EU, Professor at the University of Liege in Belgium Damien Ernst told French news site Atlantico on Monday. He warned there is no indication that the situation will improve after this winter. According to him, “the perfect storm” that has formed in energy markets is expected to have a major economic impact on households and businesses. Ernst suggested that in Belgium, households on average will be paying €10,000 ($10,000) a year for power and heating. The energy crisis will be far worse than the 2008 financial crisis and the oil shocks of the 1970s, he said, adding: “This will have economic consequences, especially for purchasing power, and lead to financial constraints.” With such a jump in energy prices, “it will be impossible to control inflation,” Ernst warned. Power prices in Europe have continued to reach record highs, intensifying the region’s energy crisis and stoking fears about access to electricity and heating as the weather begins to cool.

Kyle Bass
https://twitter.com/i/status/1564962742259400705

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I think prices have come down a bit. Not that it matters much anymore.

European Gas Prices Surge As Russia Reduces Supplies (RT)

European spot prices for natural gas rose in early trading on Wednesday after Russian energy major Gazprom shut down supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. According to the Intercontinental Exchange data, the price of October gas futures on the TTF hub in the Netherlands rose 5.5% to €280 ($280) per megawatt-hour, or $2,906 per thousand cubic meters, at around 07:00 GMT, after falling below $2,600 the day before.= Earlier on Wednesday, Gazprom confirmed the temporary halt of natural gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream 1 due to scheduled maintenance.


Unless there are technical setbacks, the gas flow will be resumed on September 3, with supply volumes restored to 33 million cubic meters per day, or roughly 20% of the pipeline’s full capacity. Following Gazprom’s announcement on August 19 regarding the temporary suspension, gas prices reacted sharply. Last week, the price of September futures exceeded $3,500 per thousand cubic meters. However, after German Economy Minister Robert Habeck announced that the country’s underground gas storages were 85% filled ahead of schedule, the gas price rally somewhat subsided.

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And the west wants it.

Russia Has Enough Gas For At Least 100 Years – Gazprom (RT)

Russia has huge natural gas reserves that could last for more than a century, the head of state-owned Gazprom, Alexey Miller, said on Wednesday at the International Business Congress. “Our consumers, Russian citizens, will have access to [this] cheap, reliable energy resource. It is especially important to note that they could be optimistic about the country’s gas future. Why? Because we are provided with reserves for 100 years ahead,” Miller said, noting that some of Gazprom’s fields will still be providing gas even in 2120. The energy giant’s chief executive attributed such an optimistic forecast to the development of the vast resources in Russia’s northern Yamal Peninsula, adding that Gazprom is currently preparing to launch the Kharasavey gas field and has also started developing the deep deposits of the Bovanenkovo field. Russia holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, estimated at 48 trillion cubic meters, or roughly a quarter of the global total.

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Move to Budapest while you can. It’s a pretty city.

Hungary Signs Deal With Gazprom For Extra 5.8bn Cubic Metres Natural Gas (EN)

Hungary says it has signed a deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom for 5.8 billion cubic metres of extra natural gas. Zoltan Kovacs, international spokesman for Hungary’s government, said it would be on top of the country’s current supplies. “Hungary’s energy supply is safe,” he added. Hungary’s foreign affairs minister also announced the deal with Gazprom on Facebook during a break from his meeting with other EU ministers. Péter Szijjártó specified that in September and October, Gazprom will deliver a maximum of 5.8 million cubic meters more natural gas per day to Hungary via Serbia than what was specified in its long-term contract. EU foreign affairs ministers were meeting to debate a possible visa ban on Russian tourists in response to the war in Ukraine.


Szijjártó added that during the foreign affairs meeting, he spoke out against a possible visa ban on Russians. The announcement comes as Europe scrambles to cut energy consumption and cope with a reduction in supply of Russian gas. The Russian state-owned energy company had increased supplies to Hungary earlier this month even as it stopped flows to other European countries. Gazprom stopped gas supplies to Europe’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline earlier on Wednesday for maintenance. The company also said it had suspended gas flows to French gas company Engie “due to failure to pay for July supplies in full.”

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“..the entire German economy is about to get its plug pulled..”

German Companies Shutting Down In Response To Record Energy Prices (ZH)

It’s not just European smelters shutting down due to soaring energy prices: the entire German economy is about to get its plug pulled. While a handful of macro tourists rejoice that record European year-ahead electricity prices plunged by 50% to levels not seen since… last week… Europe is facing economic devastation and depression at a scale that will make 2008 seems like a walk in the park. As the FT reports, German manufacturers are halting production in response to the surge in energy prices, a trend the government has described as “alarming”. German economy minister Robert Habeck said industry had worked hard to reduce its gas consumption in recent months, partly by switching to alternative fuels like oil, making its processes more efficient and reducing output.

But he amusingly clarified, some companies had also “stopped production altogether” — a development he said was “alarming”. “It’s not good news,” he said, “because it can mean that the industries in question aren’t just being restructured but are experiencing a rupture — a structural rupture, one that is happening under enormous pressure.” Habeck said rising gas prices were affecting everyone from big industrial companies to small trading firms and the medium-sized enterprises that make up the “Mittelstand”. “Wherever energy is an important part of the business model, companies are experiencing sheer angst,” he said. And since energy is a crucial part of every business model, one can only imagine the chaos, fear and loathing hammering the largest European economy right now.

Confirming that Trump was right all along, the German minister said the business model of large parts of German manufacturing was based on the abundance of gas from Russia that was cheaper than gas from other regions. That competitive advantage “won’t come back any time soon, if it ever comes back at all”, Habeck said. Whether he was aware of it or not, Habeck effectively echoed what Zoltan Pozsar said over the weekend, that Europe is facing a Minsky moment triggered by excessive financial leverage “and in the context of supply chains, leverage means excessive operating leverage: in Germany, $2 trillion of value added depends on $20 billion of gas from Russia… …that’s 100-times leverage – much more than Lehman’s.”

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Their gov’t has explicitly said they don’t care what the voters want.

Most Germans Want Talks With Russia – Poll (RT)

The majority of Germans want the West to take concrete steps to initiate talks with Russia to end the Ukraine conflict, a recent survey has indicated. Published on Wednesday, the poll commissioned by Germany’s RTL/ntv-Trendbarometer was conducted from August 26 through August 29, with 1,011 people taking part. According to the survey, some 77% of Germans believe that the West should make concrete efforts to try to launch negotiations with Russia, which could help bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine. Only 17% would oppose such talks. When asked whether it is the right thing for Western leaders to keep phoning Russian President Vladimir Putin, 87% of the respondents replied in the affirmative, with 11% against.


Regarding the extent of German aid to Ukraine, 43% said they are content with the current state of assistance, while 26% want Berlin to do more and a quarter believe the country is already doing too much in this respect. The latter sentiment is particularly prevalent in eastern Germany and among supporters of the Alternative for Germany party, the researchers noted. Although some politicians from the ruling ‘traffic-light’ coalition are calling for continued deliveries of heavy weaponry to Ukraine, even at the expense of Germany’s own military, 62% of the respondents expressed skepticism about whether this would be a prudent move, while only 32% would welcome such deliveries.

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The way the EU’s been going, they can only make it worse.

Northern EU Sees The Light (K.)

The EU is rushing to intervene in the electricity and energy markets to prevent a further price escalation, now that the crisis is threatening to destabilize the biggest European economies, especially the highly dependent on Russian gas Germany. Those who loudly and with more than a hint of contempt pushed back on proposals by Greece and other southern European countries for a price ceiling on natural gas and the decoupling of gas prices from electricity rates, are now at the forefront of efforts for immediate intervention on exactly these issues, seven months late. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made public Monday the EU’s intent for an “emergency intervention and a restructuring of the electricity market” and, on Tuesday, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner sent a message to his EU colleagues that Berlin was open to considering a price ceiling on natural gas in the emergency meeting of EU Energy Ministers on September 9.


Across Europe and at EU headquarters, in Brussels, officials are weighing the pros and cons of the price ceiling and the decoupling, proposals that Greece had first made, through Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in October 2021. The task is to find the most effective mix of policies that will restore a certain equilibrium in the natural gas market and will lead to a price de-escalation. Moreover, these measures must be agreed upon by all 27 EU members. In this complicated effort, Europe is certain that, whatever decision it takes, it will lead to a Russian reaction. Also, and independently of what it decides about natural gas, Russia will keep reducing flow, under a variety of pretexts, continuing a policy that begun with demands that it be paid in rubles and whose latest manifestation was Tuesday’s reducing of supply to France’s Engie.

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“..Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses..”

Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization (Escobar)

The Russian military never made a conscious decision to interrupt the multi-channel flow of western weapons to Kiev. Methodically destroying those weapons once they’re in Ukrainian territory – with plenty of success – is another matter. The same applies to smashing mercenary networks. Moscow is well aware that any negotiation with those pulling the strings in Washington – and dictating all terms to puppets in Brussels and Kiev – is futile. The fight in Donbass and beyond is a do or die affair. So the battle will go on, destroying what’s left of Ukraine, just as it destroyed much of Syria. The difference is that economically, much more than in Syria, what’s left of Ukraine will plunge into a black void. Only territory under Russian control will be rebuilt, and that includes, significantly, the bulk of Ukraine’s industrial infrastructure.


What’s left – rump Ukraine – has already been plundered anyway, as Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses. That translates de facto as BlackRock, Blackstone and Vanguard, top agro-business shareholders, owning whatever lands that really matter in non-sovereign Ukraine. Going forward, by next year the Russians will be applying themselves to cutting off Kiev from NATO weapons supplies. As that unfolds, the Anglo-Americans will eventually move whatever puppet regime remains to Lviv. And Kiev terrorism – conducted by Bandera worshippers – will continue to be the new normal in the capital.

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“Russians Targeting Kids’ Beds, Rooms With Explosives: Ukrainian Bomb Team”

Western Propaganda and its Aftermath (AT)

The western propaganda we’re currently experiencing is nothing new. Today’s President Putin joins yesterday’s Middle East “monsters” as current Ukrainian Nazi militias become “freedom fighters” and the Russians become “Nazis.” Likewise, the previous Middle Eastern terrorist groups became “moderate Islamist’s” but only if they were fighting for a US led NATO in Iraq and Syria. Yet such is the power of belief on an already stupefied majority western population that it’s become factual. In our upside down world, reality has long vanished to 15% of our western leaders who regard themselves as the “international community.” On August 24th, only 54 countries out of 193 supported a UN resolution which condemned Russia for not stopping its intervention in the Ukraine, which begs the question of why, if the majority population loathe today’s western politicians, do they passionately and often even fanatically believe their every word?

Supplying weapons and financial aid to the Ukraine which enables Russia to get bogged down in an endless war with mounting casualties, coupled with sanctions to bring down Russian middle-class living standards is just another attempt at regime change. Moreover, having failed to control the Middle East oil producers, it has not gone unnoticed that Russia is itself a major gas and oil producer. Bathsheba Crocker, US Ambassador to the UN warned in the New York Times on February 21st before the incursion occurred that Russia had a ‘hit list’ of people destined for arrest, detention and torture including “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.” How she knew that is not explained, but the inclusion of homosexuals as a vulnerable group now appears mandatory in any media story.

From allegations presented as facts by Ukraine’s Human Rights Commissioner Lyudmyla Denisova and picked up by The British Daily Mail and the US New York Times in May, of multiple repeated child rapes and murders near Kiev. Meanwhile, Newsweek also in May ran the headline “Russians Targeting Kids’ Beds, Rooms With Explosives: Ukrainian Bomb Team”; what kind of sick minds dream this up?! Although written in a news format, both headlines carried disclaimers that the content remained unverified. In which case, why report it as news? One assumes that in time these stories will join Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and the Ghost of Kyiv hoaxes.

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Fraud. The only infrastructure still in place in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Officials Accused Of Stealing Trainloads Of Aid (RT)

Ukrainian officials in the eastern Zaporozhye Region are being investigated for allegedly stealing massive amounts of humanitarian aid sent to them. They are accused of looting hundreds of freight cars’ worth of goods. Raids at offices and addresses associated with the suspected embezzlers were reported on Tuesday. Agents of the SBU, Ukraine’s successor to the KGB, and the anti-corruption agency NABU conducted the operations, according to a statement by the agencies. The region is mostly controlled by Russian forces, but its capital Zaporozhye and some of the surrounding areas are under Kiev’s control. The raids targeted the Kiev-appointed administration and members of the city council, according to the SBU and NABU. The agencies also reported confiscating what they believe to be narcotics and illegal firearms while searching the premises.

While the official statement offered few details, a more comprehensive account of the ongoing probe came from Ukrainian public figure Evgeny Shevchenko, who is widely described by the local media as an unpaid agent for the NABU. The agency had previously confirmed working with him. According to his post on Facebook, the suspected grifters made off with “almost all humanitarian aid” sent to the region, selling the goods through local retail chains. The total volume of what was stolen amounts to 22 sea transport containers, 389 freight train cars and 220 trucks, Shevchenko claimed. The activist named several senior officials in Zaporozhye Region as suspects and shamed them for posing as Ukrainian patriots while profiting at the expense of the country.

Shevchenko is a controversial figure in Ukraine. He emerged from the radical wing of the so-called Maidan protests of 2013-2014 and made a name for himself as an associate of militia commander and former MP Konstantin Grishin, who prefers to be called by his nom de guerre Semyon Semenchenko. Last year, Shevchenko and Semenchenko were arrested on allegations of involvement with an illegal militia. The arrests came after Shevchenko had accused the office of President Vladimir Zelensky of derailing an intelligence operation aimed at luring a group of Russian security contractors to Ukraine and detaining them. Shevchenko believes that his arrest and that of Semenchenko were an act of revenge by Zelensky’s chief-of-staff, Andrey Ermak. In his post about the raids in Zaporozhye Region, he linked the suspects with the president and the head of his office, pointing out that the officials targeted had been appointed by Kiev.

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“Zakharova compared the EU to the group of blind men in the painting ‘The Blind Leading the Blind’ by Dutch Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder.”

“..“strange suicidal initiatives that are attributed to the EU, but are actually imposed or planted” by an outside force..”

Russian Foreign Ministry Explains Who Is Dividing The West (RT)

Russia does not pursue a foreign policy aimed at dividing the West, or the EU in particular, despite claims to the contrary, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said. However, the bloc could benefit from being more tolerant of dissenting voices, considering how much it has hurt itself with its ‘united’ approach to Russia, she said in a radio interview on Wednesday. Zakharova compared the EU to the group of blind men in the painting ‘The Blind Leading the Blind’ by Dutch Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. “They are united. No one in this group, who are being led towards a ditch, voices any doubt, objects, asks questions or protests,” she said.

Brussels’ approach towards Russia is similar, the spokeswoman suggested, noting the “strange suicidal initiatives that are attributed to the EU, but are actually imposed or planted” by an outside force. She added that when it comes to Russia, the bloc does not tolerate dissenting voices – which is surprising, given that the EU claims to cherish democracy, a system in which opinions that differ from the dominant line of thinking are supposed to be appreciated. While many Western politicians claim that Russia wants to divide the bloc with its policies, this is not the case, Zakharova said. “If anything, our goal is to return common sense into international relations.”

Her remarks came during a discussion in the radio interview on the EU’s proposed ban on visas for Russians. The plan is promoted by Ukraine and some Eastern European member states, but Western European nations such as Germany and France believe less radical restrictions should be adopted. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested this week that an implosion within the EU could occur unless all member states follow the hardline Russia policy that Warsaw has adopted.

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Yeah, yeah, Covid…

US Life Expectancy Plummeting (RT)

The average American’s life expectancy notably dropped between 2019 and 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in a report published on Wednesday. It is the first two-year drop recorded since 1961-1963. Over the last two years, the US life expectancy decreased by 2.7 years, leaving the average lifespan at 76.1 years – the same as it was in 1996. According to the CDC, the primary factor in driving down life expectancy was the Covid-19 pandemic, which has contributed to the deaths of over one million Americans. “Unintentional injuries” – a category that includes overdoses and other drug-related misadventures – as well as heart disease were also major factors contributing to the decline.

Before the pandemic, heart disease had long been the top-recorded cause of death in the US, while the opioid epidemic has led to record numbers of overdoses for several years running. Breaking the CDC’s numbers down by race yields even more alarming trends. Native Americans suffered a 6.6 year drop in life expectancy between 2019 and 2021, compared to about four years for black and Hispanic people and 2.4 years for white people. The statistical burden disproportionately fell on males, whose life expectancy has declined to just 73.2 years, while females can still expect to live a comparatively long 79.1 years.

The report found most of the decline in life expectancy took place during the first year of the pandemic for nonwhite populations, while white Americans suffered the worst losses during the second year. Similar studies have found that Covid-19 worsened an already-yawning gap between the US, which has the most expensive healthcare in the world, and other developed nations in terms of life expectancy. Americans can now expect to live five fewer years than their European counterparts. Researchers studying the decline in life expectancy have blamed high rates of preexisting conditions like obesity and heart disease for the US’ outsized losses during the pandemic compared to 19 of its economic peers.

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“..the collective West, which back in February had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee..”

Western Allies Sabotaged Tentative Ukraine-Russia Peace Deal… In April (ZH)

There’s mounting evidence that the war in Ukraine could have been over by this point, but key Western backers of Kiev sought to sabotage the potential for peaceful settlement through negotiations. That’s precisely what regional Ukrainian media reports concluded as early as May, soon after the UK’s Boris Johnson showed up in the capital on a “surprise” visit to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time the month prior This is what a bombshell story in Ukrainska Pravda said at the time, but which was almost completely ignored in Western mainstream media: According Ukrainska Pravda sources close to Zelenskyy, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson, who appeared in the capital almost without warning, brought two simple messages. The first is that Putin is a war criminal, he should be pressured, not negotiated with.

And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they [the UK and US] are not. Johnson’s position was that the collective West, which back in February had suggested Zelenskyy should surrender and flee, now felt that Putin was not really as powerful as they had previously imagined, and that here was a chance to “press him.” The Ukrainian media English-language report went on to emphasize that Three days after Johnson left for Britain, Putin went public and said talks with Ukraine “had turned into a dead end”. At the time the Istanbul peace talks, which saw top officials from each warring side gather in the Turkish capital, was hailed in some corners as “the quickest way to end the war in Ukraine” – according to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s words, who was seeking to mediate between Moscow and Kiev.

But as the invasion ordered by Putin pressed on, Britain especially was the earliest out front in making large weapons and munitions deliveries to Ukraine via military transport planes a high priority. UK press reports also took note of the ‘convenient’ timing of London going all-in hawkish on Ukraine given Prime Minister Johnson’s enduring ‘Partygate Scandal’ at home. Again, recall the tone of Ukrainian media following the arrival of the British prime minister in Kiev (and it should be noted Johnson was the first leader of a G7 country to visit, coming two weeks after Russian forces withdrew from suburbs around Kiev) on April 9: “Following the arrival of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv, a possible meeting between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin has become less likely.”s

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A President’s impunity is almost limitless.

DOJ Alleges That “Obstructive Conduct Occurred” at Mar-a-Lago (Turley)

Last night, Department of Justice Tuesday filed in opposition to the appointment of a Special Master in Florida. It used the filing to add new facts and allegations to the public record, including the statement that “obstructive conduct occurred” at Mar-a-Lago by concealing or moving documents. The Department makes many of the same claims that it used to opposed the release of a redacted affidavit, claims shown to have been misleading and exaggerated after the magistrate ordered the release. Notably, this filing contained details that were likely redacted in the affidavit but just released on the public record. In the most direct challenge to the former President’s public claims, the Justice Department claimed that he and his staff had failed to turn over classified material and that the Department had no choice but to search areas outside of the storage room. Indeed, it says that it found three classified documents in Trump’s desk without indicating the level of classification or subject matter.

It also said that the Trump staff barred the FBI from looking at documents in the storage room after turning over classified information to them. “As the former President’s filing indicates, the FBI agents and DOJ attorney were permitted to visit the storage room. See D.E. 1 at 5-6. Critically, however, the former President’s counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained.” The filing also adds new disclosures on past claims of declassification by Trump. It states that “[w]hen producing the Fifteen Boxes, the former President never asserted executive privilege over any of the documents nor claimed that any of the documents in the boxes containing classification markings had been declassified.”


That was in January 2022. It then alleges that, in the June 3, 2022 meeting, “neither counsel nor the custodian asserted that the former President had declassified the documents or asserted any claim of executive privilege.” It is not clear if or when the Trump team made the declassification claim. The filing also includes this notable allegation: “The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” The Justice Department told the court that it was vindicated in its suspicions and that “the FBI, in a matter of hours, recovered twice as many documents with classification markings as the ‘diligent search’ that the former President’s counsel and other representatives had weeks to perform calls into serious question the representations made in the June 3 certification and casts doubt on the extent of cooperation in this matter.”

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Not a fan of the man, but he’s right here.

David Icke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undefeated
https://twitter.com/i/status/1565077573863985159

 

 


The long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) is found throughout Europe and the Palearctic. Photo Hajime Nakatsuka

 

 

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Aug 292022
 
 August 29, 2022  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  72 Responses »


Samuel Peploe Beach scene 1907

 

Wave Of European Ammonia Plant Closures To Exacerbate Food Crisis (ZH)
Russia Can Afford Complete Halt In Gas Supplies To Europe – Bloomberg (RT)
Hungary Says It ‘Won’t Even Negotiate’ Energy Sanctions On Russia (RT)
The Real World Consequences Of Europe’s Coming Energy Crisis (ZH)
You Have No Idea How Bad Europe’s Energy Crisis Is (FP)
Germany Vows To Support Ukraine ‘For Years’ (RT)
Britain’s Financial Support For Ukraine To Run Out By New Year – Times (RT)
50,000 Ukrainian Refugees Face Homelessness In UK (RT)
Putin Is Trapped And Desperate. Will His Friends In The West Rescue Him? (G.)
IAEA Assembles Team For Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant (RT)
Ukraine Relying On US-developed Blueprint To Fight Russia – CNN (RT)
EU To Suspend Visa Deal With Russia – FT (RT)
New York Times Calls For Merrick Garland To Indict Donald Trump (PM)
Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Reveals The Government Has No Case Against Trump (Brock)
The Truth About Lockdown (Lord Sumption)
Latest Covid Booster Shots To Be Released Without Human Testing (NYP)

 

 

 

 

Covid theater

 

 

 

 

Dark Brandon

 

 


Situation under control

 

 

Ages of companies:

Twitter: 16 years
Facebook: 18 years
Tesla: 19 years
Google: 24 years
Netflix: 25 years
Amazon: 28 years
Apple: 46 years
Microsoft: 47 years
Sony: 76 years
Samsung: 84 years
Boeing: 106 years
IBM: 111 years
Nintendo: 133 years
Nokia: 157 years

 

 

 

 

If you were doubting they are creating a “you have nothing” society that needs to be built back better, then ask yourself why Europe doesn’t support its fertilizer industry. The consequences are clear enough. And sure, there’s the nitrogen narrative. But closing down both farmers and ammonia plants will lead to a civil war of sorts. Your leaders think they can win that. I’m not so sure.

Wave Of European Ammonia Plant Closures To Exacerbate Food Crisis (ZH)

A wave of European ammonia-plant shutdowns due to soaring natural gas prices has resulted in a devastating fertilizer crunch, worsening by the week, with as much as 70% of production offline. “Ammonia prices, though volatile, rose 15% in 3Q and could climb higher as Europe’s record gas prices curtail output and send ammonia producers to the global market in search of replacement supplies to run upgrade facilities — with winter still around the corner,” Bloomberg Intelligence’s Alexis Maxwell wrote in a note. As of Friday, 70% of capacity is offline across the continent, according to Fertilizers Europe, representing top regional producers.

“The current crisis begs for a swift and decisive action from EU and national policymakers for both energy and fertilizer market,” Jacob Hansen, director general of Fertilizers Europe, said in a statement.” Producers from Norway’s Yara International ASA to CF Industries to Borealis AG recently reduced or halted production because European NatGas prices hit a record high of 343 euros per megawatt hour, making it uneconomical to operate. “We confirm we are reducing and stopping production of some fertilizer plants in the different EU sites and this for economic reasons,” a spokesperson for Borealis AG said.”

Europe’s benchmark NatGas price soared nearly a third this week as Russian supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been reduced to 20% over the summer and face a temporary halt on Aug. 31 for three days. The region’s fertilizer industry association warned the energy crisis is rippling across many industries and could heavily impact the food industry. “We are extremely concerned that as prices of natural gas keep increasing, more plants in Europe will be forced to close. “This will switch the EU from being a key exporter to an importer, putting more pressure on fertilizer prices and consequently affecting the next planting season,” said Maximo Torero, chief economist at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

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Stop the sanctions, negotiate for peace, and you can have all the oil you want. Blaming this on Russia is just a stupid story.

Russia Can Afford Complete Halt In Gas Supplies To Europe – Bloomberg (RT)

Russia can shut down its natural gas exports to Europe entirely for more than a year, without inflicting significant damage on the national economy, Bloomberg has reported, citing strategists at Capital Economics. In light of the current price situation, Russia’s “balance of payments is in such a strong position that, if oil prices and oil exports remain at current levels, Russia could keep gas exports to Europe at 20% of normal levels for at least three years,” analysts at the consultancy said in a note seen by the agency. A year-long supply cut-off by Russia could happen “without adverse consequences for its economy,” Liam Peach, one of the economists at Capital Economic said. sAccording to Peach, despite reduced volumes, Russia’s quarterly earnings generated by gas exports could amount to $20 billion.


“Whether or not Russia turns off the taps completely will be a political decision and the length of any cut-off would depend on the size of offsetting oil revenues,” Peach said. Several European leaders have repeatedly accused Moscow of using gas as a weapon of political pressure, with the Kremlin rejecting the allegation. The latest technical problems with Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a key gas route from Russia to Europe, prompted Gazprom to slash deliveries, sending prices skyrocketing. Another major test for the market is expected to arise next week, when the energy giant halts gas flows through Nord Stream 1 for three days due for maintenance work, starting on August 31.

Chomsky Unprovoked

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Waiting for the next country to “fall out of line”. Not much time left.

Hungary Says It ‘Won’t Even Negotiate’ Energy Sanctions On Russia (RT)

Budapest refuses to negotiate any further EU restrictions targeting Russian energy because there is no current alternative to supplies from Moscow, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Saturday. The EU has slapped several rounds of sanctions on Moscow in response to the conflict in Ukraine, and is pushing for a complete phasing-out of energy supplies from Russia. “We’re not even willing to negotiate any sanctions on energy, be it oil or gas,” Szijjarto said at an economic forum in Tihany, adding that “the courage of the Hungarian government” has helped Budapest to withstand pressure from Brussels.


“There is no security of energy supply to Europe without using Russian sources,” Szijjarto stated, arguing that Russian gas cannot be replaced in the foreseeable future. The foreign minister added that the “largely misguided sanctions response” to Russia’s military campaign is one of the factors driving up inflation and contributing to a global recession.Hungary, whose economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas from Russia, was exempted from an EU-wide ban on Russian crude in May. The bloc banned the import of oil by sea, but Hungary continues to receive the commodity via a pipeline. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last month that Europe has “shot itself in the lungs”with its ill-considered sanctions against Russia.

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“..the European people are being positioned to face the consequences while being told there will be no consequences..”

The Real World Consequences Of Europe’s Coming Energy Crisis (ZH)

The IEA is an institution that is hostile to carbon based energy and industries and calls for the end of all carbon emissions by 2050. This is why none of their bullet points from March that have been attempted have worked; because they aren’t designed to work, only promote further carbon controls while harming global power generation in the process. There are currently no practical replacements for oil, coal and natural gas; none. Especially not in a reasonable time frame that would spare Europeans from a full blown disaster. The only way green technology would be able to provide enough energy for the world’s populations would be if the human population was greatly reduced. Europe’s energy crisis actually helps the IEA agenda, just as it helps the UN and WEF climate agendas. But what about all the people that will suffer in the meantime?

Expect to see extensive energy rationing this winter in the EU. Around 80% of all EU natural gas is imported and Russia’s natural gas exports make up around 40% of Europe’s heating and electricity. With Russia now reducing exports down to 20% of their original levels, there is zero chance that the EU will be able to maintain their normal energy usage. Supply-side shortages will mean a price explosion going into winter as demand increases. Prices have the potential to double (or more) by the beginning of 2023. European governments will likely prioritize heating for public homes over energy for industry; they will do this to prevent civil unrest, as some government officials are already warning about. There is a chance that EU industry will be hobbled as energy supplies are rerouted for public consumption. We have seen something similar to this in China this year as their drought conditions worsen.

Civil unrest will probably happen anyway. Climate restrictions, green energy rules on carbon emissions and other ludicrous measures are making it impossible for Europeans to adapt to crisis events. Prices will be high, and price caps won’t help with supply shortages. When people start to freeze, there will be anger and desperation. The only legitimate short term solution to prevent a historic energy calamity in the EU this winter would be to remove sanctions on Russia. But, NATO has made it clear that this will not happen. So, the European people are being positioned to face the consequences while being told there will be no consequences. And, when the pain starts to hit, they will be told that it’s all for the “greater good.”

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Actually, we do.

You Have No Idea How Bad Europe’s Energy Crisis Is (FP)

Normally, Europe can refill its gas storage during the summer and coast in the winter, when usage is higher. Now, with colder months looming and Russia’s tightening chokehold on natural gas flows, Europe has been locked in a race against time to fill its tanks, which leaders have stocked by paying eye-watering prices. So far, experts said, European nations have been largely on track with their plans—but that doesn’t mean that they will be out of the woods come winter. In the winter, Europe typically “uses a lot of what it has in storage while, at the same time, importing lots of gas from other sources,” Munton said. “It needs both. But as we think about this winter, there is a very real threat that there won’t be any Russian gas at all.” In normal times, Russian gas supplies about 40 percent of European imports.

Without Russia’s supply in the winter, Munton added, European nations will be forced to rely on imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) even more from suppliers such as the United States. The problem is that Asia—a larger LNG market—is also vying for the same supplies, which means prices are always going to be higher than old piped gas from the East. “That’s really the crisis that Europe and the world confronts,” he added. As Europe abandons Moscow’s energy supply, many leaders have rushed to secure alternative deals and supplies with other countries. Italy has secured more gas from Algeria while other nations have turned to Azerbaijan, Norway, and Qatar.

Germany has also expressed its hopes for a new LNG deal with Canada, which in turn has been considerably less optimistic. Others have invested considerably more into LNG infrastructure, with Germany racing to build five floating LNG terminals and the Netherlands, Finland, and Italy all preparing for more floating units to import gas. But in the immediate future, energy experts said there is only so much that countries can do to shore up their supplies. “There’s a limit to what you can do in the near term to bring additional supplies into Europe because there’s only so much LNG in the world,” said Jason Bordoff, founding director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former special assistant to former U.S. President Barack Obama.

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The 10-year war scenario. Question: will Putin tolerate that? I don’t see it.

Germany Vows To Support Ukraine ‘For Years’ (RT)

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia could “could go on for years”, but Berlin will keep supporting Kiev all the way, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has said. “Unfortunately, we have to assume that Ukraine will still need new heavy weapons from its friends next summer,” Baerbock told the Bild tabloid on Sunday. “Ukraine is also defending our freedom, our peace,” the minister said, adding that Berlin will support Kiev “financially and militarily — and for as long as it is necessary, full stop!” Baerbock’s pledge comes despite her admission earlier this week that Germany’s military is facing an “absolute deficit” of hardware, due to arms shipments to Ukraine. Berlin has so far supplied artillery pieces, shoulder-fired rockets and anti-aircraft self-propelled guns to Ukraine.


Nevertheless, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has faced criticism throughout the six months of the conflict, for his apparent reluctance to send more sophisticated weaponry to Kiev. Baerbock said on Wednesday that Germany’s Iris-T anti-aircraft missile system will be sent to Ukraine in the coming weeks, and that more deliveries should be expected by the end of the year. In her interview with Bild, the diplomat pledged to “cushion the social imbalances resulting from high energy prices” in Germany, caused by a drop in deliveries of Russian gas to Europe, amid sanctions against Moscow. Baerbock also defended Ukraine’s claim to Crimea, which overwhelmingly voted to reunite with Russia in a referendum in 2014. “Crimea also belongs to Ukraine. The world has never recognized the annexation of 2014, which was against international law,” the Green party politician claimed.

Lord Dannatt

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Oh-oh.

Britain’s Financial Support For Ukraine To Run Out By New Year – Times (RT)

The UK’s financial support for Ukraine’s military will run dry by the end of the year, a Defense Ministry source has told the Sunday Times. London has already given Kiev more than £2.3 billion ($2.7 billion) in military aid, but whoever leads the country next will have to deal with strained public finances and declining public enthusiasm for a protracted conflict. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kiev last week, where he announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth £54 million ($63 million), on top of the £2.3 billion committed by the UK since Russia’s military operation began in February. Johnson promised to support Kiev’s military for “however long it takes,” and his likely successor, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, is known for her even more hawkish stance toward Russia.


“The reality, as one Ministry of Defence source acknowledged, is that the UK’s financial contribution to the war effort will have dried up by the end of the year,” the Sunday Times article noted. “This means that the new prime minister will very soon face the question of whether to commit billions of pounds of additional support at a time when the public finances are under intense strain.” Britain is currently grappling with soaring inflation – predicted to hit 18% in early 2023 – and record fuel prices. Driven by market forces, supply disruption due to the conflict in Ukraine, and Britain’s decision to cut off its energy imports from Russia, much of this price hike is being passed on to consumers, with energy regulator Ofgem raising the energy price cap on Friday by 80%. This move will see the average household pay more than £3,500 per year in energy bills.

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Victims of failed western policies.

50,000 Ukrainian Refugees Face Homelessness In UK (RT)

Some 50,000 Ukrainians could be homeless in the UK next year, as the government’s scheme to match refugees with British families breaks down, The Guardian reported on Sunday. With the cost of living spiraling, the opposition wants the government to boost payments to host families. Analysis by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and children’s charity Barnardos found that, based on feedback from British hosts, between 15,000 and 21,000 Ukrainians could be homeless by the winter, rising to more than 50,000 by mid-2023, the newspaper reported. To date, 83,900 refugees have arrived in the UK since March under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, under which British households are paid £350 ($411) per month to house refugees for six months.

However, as of earlier this month, 1,330 Ukrainian households in England – 385 single refugees and 945 families with children – have left the scheme and are now homeless. It is unclear why these matches did not work out, but campaigners told The Guardian that some hosts signed up enthusiastically without understanding “the implications and consequences of this sort of responsibility,”while others are finding that due to the rising cost of living in the UK, £350 per month is no longer sufficient to support new additions to the household. A further wave of homelessness is expected from September onwards, when most of the six-month sponsorship agreements expire.

Minister of State for Refugees Lord Harrington has lobbied the Treasury to double monthly payments for those who can host refugees for more than six months, but the government has given no indication that it will act on his recommendations, and Harrington has taken to pleading with British households to join the scheme. However, while some of the activists who spoke to The Guardian said the impending crisis could be averted with more financial support from the government, a majority of sponsors aren’t motivated by money. According to a recent government survey, only a quarter of those quitting the scheme after six months said they were doing so because they could no longer afford to take part, and just four in ten said that more money would encourage them to extend their participation. A majority (58%) said they only ever intended to provide short-term accommodation. sYet Ukrainian refugees arriving in Britain under the scheme have been given visas for three years.

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Simon Tisdall in the Guardian. Does he really see things this way?

Putin Is Trapped And Desperate. Will His Friends In The West Rescue Him? (G.)

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” So wrote American author Henry David Thoreau in 1854. It’s a fate that is rapidly overtaking Vladimir Putin as he struggles to escape the disastrous trap he set for himself in Ukraine. Russia’s president keeps understandably schtum about his “special military operation”. But indefinite stalemate is not what he expected. He didn’t expect car bombs in Moscow and humiliating attacks on fortress Crimea, either. Least of all did Putin anticipate 80,000 Russian soldiers dead or wounded. Dying with them is his Peter the Great pipe dream of a “greater Russia”. Extinct already is his reputation as anything other than a killer and a crook. An endless military quagmire is not a scenario Putin can afford as slow-burn western sanctions corrode his economy and his military’s manpower and materiel are steadily depleted.

So what are his options? He could declare a specious victory, claim the Nato “threat” is neutralised and propose a settlement recognising Russia’s annexation of occupied areas. But he surely knows Kyiv will never willingly accept such terms. He could gamble on a huge battlefield escalation, for example, using Belarus to open a second front north of Kyiv – the region he failed to overrun in February. But it’s uncertain his generals have the capability or the stomach. He certainly dare not retreat. So as pressure on him grows to produce a breakthrough, Putin may well decide his best option is to raise the cost of the war to Ukraine’s backers – and undermine Kyiv’s resistance that way. In fact, he has already begun. It’s telling that British, French and German leaders all proclaimed long-term support for Ukraine last week. They know Putin is betting they will buckle.

The context is rising anxiety over Europe’s energy and cost of living crises, largely caused by the invasion and Kremlin cuts to gas supplies. The winter fallout from this coldest of cold wars could prove paralysing. Yet Putin may just be getting started. He has many means by which to undermine western unity and staying power. Europe is littered with easily exploited potential flashpoints and geopolitical faultlines bequeathed from Soviet times. Likewise, Russia has surprising numbers of allies and sympathisers scattered across a politically fractured European landscape. So will Putin’s friends in the west help rescue the beast from the east? Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko is already in Putin’s pocket. Moscow ensured the dictator survived after his theft of the 2020 presidential election provoked nationwide protests. Lukashenko will do as he’s told.

Inside the EU, Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, is seen as Putin’s Trojan horse. Like many on Europe’s far right, Orbán admires his intolerant nationalist ideology and shares his racist, homophobic outlook. He has repeatedly obstructed EU sanctions. Last month he cut a unilateral gas deal with the Kremlin. Orbán plainly cannot be trusted.

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Imagine the pressure on these people.

IAEA Assembles Team For Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant (RT)

The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has cobbled together a team of independent experts to visit Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which is now under Russia’s control, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The plant and the nearby city of Energodar have been repeatedly shelled by Kiev’s forces in recent weeks. According to the outlet, the members of the delegation include Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA chief, and 13 other experts from “mostly neutral countries.” The report also reveals that neither the US nor Britain have any representatives on the team, given that Russia had dismissed those countries as “unfairly biased” over their support for the government in Kiev.

The NYT report says the IAEA mission includes experts from Poland and Lithuania, countries that support Ukraine, but also others from Serbia and China, which have much warmer relations with Russia. A number of delegation members also come from Albania, France, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, and North Macedonia. The goal of the mission, according to Grossi, is to see what exactly is happening at the plant, inspect its integrity, speak to both Russian and Ukrainian staff there, and establish a permanent presence on the ground. The move follows a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron last week, during which the two leaders agreed on dispatching an international mission to the area “as soon as possible.”

The team will apparently travel on terms arranged by Ukraine and the United Nations, which means the experts will arrive at Zaporozhye via territory currently controlled by Kiev’s forces. Moscow had previously insisted that such a mission should arrive only via Russian-controlled territory. Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of attacking the nuclear plant, while warning that the shelling could trigger a disaster that would eclipse the 1986 Chernobyl incident. At the same time, Kiev insists that it is Russian forces who are shelling the site while stationing military hardware there.

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When will Russia take out the offices of Ukraine intelligence?

Ukraine Relying On US-developed Blueprint To Fight Russia – CNN (RT)

During its conflict with Russia, Ukraine has been relying on a US-developed doctrine that involves both the military and civilians taking part in defensive activities, CNN reported on Saturday. The Resistance Operating Concept (ROC), which is said to provide a blueprint for smaller states to counter larger powers, was developed in 2013 in response to Russia’s conflict with Georgia in 2008. It was further enhanced after Crimea’s “nearly bloodless” reunification with Moscow in 2014, which “stunned Ukraine and the West,” CNN said. The ROC represents “an innovative and unconventional approach to warfare and total defense,” and guides the actions not only of the Ukrainian military, but also the civilian population.

“It’s all hands on deck in terms of the comprehensive defense for the government of Ukraine,” explained retired Lt. Gen. Mark Schwartz, who was in charge of Special Operations Command Europe during the development of the concept. “They’re using every resource and they’re also using some highly unconventional means by which to disrupt the Russian Federation military.” Schwartz said it was “just incredible to watch… despite the unbelievable loss of life and sacrifice, what the will to resist and the resolve to resist can do.” Explosions at Russia’s military facilities in Crimea – far from the front line in Donbass – earlier in August were signs that the ROC had been in play, claimed Kevin D. Stringer, a retired army colonel who led the development team for the concept.

Kiev never officially confirmed its involvement in the incidents, but CNN said it saw a Ukrainian government report confirming that it was behind them. Russia said the blasts at its Saki airfield in western Crimea were the result of an accident, while an ammunition depot in the north of the peninsula had been targeted in an “act of sabotage.” “Since you can’t do it conventionally, you would use special operations forces, and those [forces] would need resistance support – intelligence, resources, logistics – in order to access these regions,” Stringer said, explaining the alleged actions by Kiev. Civilian resistance under the ROC includes nonviolent actions such as boycotting public events, labor strikes, and even using satire and jokes as means of resistance. Violent actions, like using Molotov cocktails, arson and putting chemicals in gas tanks to sabotage enemy vehicles, are also part of the concept.

Generally, the doctrine calls for a major PR campaign to control the narrative of the conflict, preventing the dissemination of the other side’s message, and keeping the population united. Video footage showing destroyed Russian hardware and edited to catchy tunes forms part of the strategy, along with clips of Ukrainian troops rescuing stray animals, and daily addresses by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky – “whether intentional or not,” CNN claimed. At least 15 countries have taken part in some form of training on the Pentagon’s resistance doctrine over the past decade, Nicole Kirschmann, a spokeswoman for Special Operations Command Europe, revealed. The program isn’t universal. It’s being tailored in accordance with each country’s population, resources and terrain. CNN’s report mentioned Estonia, Lithuania and Poland as nations that have expressed enthusiasm for the ROC.

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“The Kremlin also expressed hope at the time that “common sense” would eventually prevail.”

EU To Suspend Visa Deal With Russia – FT (RT)

EU foreign ministers plan to back a suspension of the 2007 EU-Russia visa facilitation deal at a two-day meeting in Prague, next week, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing three officials familiar with the matter. In response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, several member states have actively been lobbying for either a ban or heavy restrictions on the number of Russian citizens entering the bloc. “It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities, on our marinas,” a senior EU official told the newspaper. “We have to send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable.” The suspension of the agreement would make the process of applying for all EU visas more complicated and expensive, as well as increasing waiting times.


“We are in an exceptional situation and it requires exceptional steps. We want to go beyond suspending the visa facilitation,” an EU official was quoted as saying. The official stated that additional restrictions could be adopted by the end of the year, according to the FT. Countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia have already stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said this week that Russian tourists pose a security threat to the country, and that a travel ban could incentivize some Russians to “pressure” the Kremlin. Others, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell, spoke out against a full ban on Russian travelers. They argued that the bloc should not punish ordinary Russians for the actions of their government. Moscow blasted the proposed measures as “flagrant nationalism” and xenophobia. The Kremlin also expressed hope at the time that “common sense” would eventually prevail.

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“..January 6 Committee, which hauled witnesses before the cameras to give hearsay testimony.”

New York Times Calls For Merrick Garland To Indict Donald Trump (PM)

The New York Times Editorial Board has called for the Biden administration’s Department of Justice to prosecute former President Donald Trump. The crimes of which he’s accused have not yet been fully elucidated, due to a heavily redacted affidavit, provided under duress by the DOJ to explain why a search warrant was approved for an FBI raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The Times asserts that the “nation has been transfixed” by the overly produced, prime time hearings of the essentially partisan, Democrat-run January 6 Committee, which hauled witnesses before the cameras to give hearsay testimony.

The DOJ’s seeking of a search warrant to raid Trump’s home was not connected to any charges that may be brought by that Committee. The DOJ is seeking criminal charges against the former president for how he handled documents, while the January 6 Committee is searching for evidence that Trump was involved in planning the riot at the Capitol that occurred on that day in 2021 The Times asserts that there is no question as whether or not Trump spurred on an angry mob to enter the Capitol, saying that “When all else failed,” in his political redress to seek potential election improprieties, “he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.”

The results of the January 6 Committee, they say, is that “Mr. Trump must have known he was at the center of a frantic, sprawling and knowingly fraudulent effort that led directly to the Capitol siege. For hours, Mr. Trump refused to call off the mob.” They further encourage Attorney General Merrick Garland to seek an indictment against Trump, saying “If Attorney General Merrick Garland and his staff conclude that there is sufficient evidence to establish Mr. Trump’s guilt on a serious charge in a court of law, then they must seek an indictment too.” What the Times asserts is that “If Mr. Garland decides to pursue prosecution, a message that the Justice Department must send early and often is that even if Mr. Trump genuinely believed, as he claimed, that the election had been marred by fraud, his schemes to interfere in the certification of the vote would still be crimes.

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Kevin R. Brock is a former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

Mar-a-Lago Affidavit Reveals The Government Has No Case Against Trump (Brock)

When two dozen or more FBI agents searched former President Trump’s residence three weeks ago, most Americans initially were left wondering what in the world must Trump have done. After all, a prodigious FBI search logically indicates an equally prodigious violation of some federal statute; therefore, it must be really serious. One former Department of Justice (DOJ) official told Politico that the evidence sought “was likely so pulverizing in its force” that it would “eviscerate” the possibility of the optics for such an invasive law enforcement action not being good. Well, it’s now pretty official: The optics aren’t good. Everyone in America, from plumber to president, is constitutionally protected from a government search that lacks adequate cause.

We now know why the DOJ wanted the affidavit — which is supposed to articulate the probable cause needed for a legitimate search — to be kept under seal. After the magistrate who authorized the search forced the DOJ to unseal a redacted version, two realities came into better focus. First, the affidavit confirmed that the FBI’s investigation was triggered in January 2022 at the request of the National Archives, which wanted certain documents, especially classified documents, that it considered to be presidential records to be turned over to it by Trump. Second, from what I have seen, I don’t believe the affidavit articulates how a federal law was or is being broken. For those who hold out hope that the affidavit’s redacted sections fill that gap, there is almost no chance that they do.

As to the first point, this matter is, as suspected, nothing more than a document dispute that was chugging along, appropriately, as a negotiation behind the scenes and apparently making some progress. I don’t see anything in the affidavit asserting a refusal by Trump to cooperate. Any clinging hope — in certain quarters — that the affidavit possessed “pulverizing” cause to believe Trump was engaged in a truly serious federal violation can — I think — be considered dashed. The pipe dream that Trump was engaged in espionage, actively providing secrets to an enemy I think is as fanciful as the Steele dossier’s Moscow hotel bed reverie. And, no, I don’t believe a smoking gun of espionage or something equally shocking will be in the redacted sections. If the FBI had that, it would have fronted that in the unredacted portions.

But that’s not all that’s needed — in this case in particular. A criminal violation of those statutes only exists if it can be established that the person being investigated was not authorized to possess, store, transfer or copy those documents. This is an easy element to establish against anyone in America. Except one person. The unredacted parts of the affidavit make no attempt to articulate cause that Trump was not authorized to have these documents in his home. The reason is that, as president, he had broad, legally intimidating authority, established by law and court determinations, to declassify any and all documents and to determine what is and is not a presidential record. Trump and his legal team have asserted that this authority was exercised while he was still president. Therefore, a violation of these fairly low-level and seldom-prosecuted document-oriented statutes cannot be proven.

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“..our children and grandchildren will be paying for it for decades to come..”

The Truth About Lockdown (Lord Sumption)

It was always obvious that you could not close down a country for months on end without serious consequences. The shocking thing that emerges from Sunak’s interview is that the government refused to take them into account. There was no assessment of the likely collateral costs of lockdown. There was no cost-benefit analysis. There was no planning. In government the issues were not even discussed. Sunak’s own attempts to raise them hit a brick wall. Ministers took refuge in evasive buck-passing, claiming to be “following the science”. Yet the critical question was never a scientific one. It was a political question, in which the likely hospital admissions and deaths from Covid were just one element.

The scientists said it was not their job to think about the social or economic implications of their advice. They were right about that. The problem was it turned out to be no one else’s job. We are still paying for this negligence, and our children and grandchildren will be paying for it for decades to come. In 2020, U.K. GDP fell by nearly a tenth, the biggest hit to the economy for at least a century. According to Treasury estimates, 460,000 people left the workforce never to return. The policy took a wrecking ball to the public finances. The IMF estimates that government spending rose by more than £400 billion, or about £6,000 for every man, woman and child. Most of this was unproductive spending. It went on paying people for not working and supporting businesses forced to cease operations.

At one point, in the spring of 2020, the government was spending about twice as much on compensating for the lockdown as it was on the NHS. Borrowing rose to £330 billion, a peacetime record. Then there are the non-financial costs. Other mortal conditions went undiagnosed and untreated. In October 2020, after four months of lockdown, the Office for National Statistics reported more than 25,000 excess deaths at home from conditions such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. A year after the last lockdown ended, the NHS still has a vast backlog. Excess deaths, 95% of them due to conditions other than Covid, are running at about 1,000 a week. There has been a huge impact on mental health, with children and the poor worst affected.

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Tell them to fuck off.

Latest Covid Booster Shots To Be Released Without Human Testing (NYP)

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve new COVID-19 booster shots this week — before the vaccines are tested on humans, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal. The new boosters are similar to the COVID vaccines currently available in the US with minor modifications that protect recipients from the latest version of the Omicron variant. Instead of waiting on data from testing in humans, the agency will use data from trials in mice — as well as the real world evidence of the safety of currently available COVID vaccines and test results from earlier iterations of boosters targeting older strains to evaluate the newest boosters, FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said.

“Real world evidence from the current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, which have been administered to millions of individuals, show us that the vaccines are safe,” Califf said on Twitter. “As we know from prior experience, strain changes can be made without affecting safety.” He added that modifying existing vaccines to include protection against different viral strains doesn’t require a change in ingredient and is a common practice the FDA does with flu vaccines. “FDA has extensive experience with reviewing strain changes in vaccines, as is done with the annual flu vaccine,” Califf said. Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have submitted new COVID vaccine boosters to the agency for approval and the FDA hopes to roll out a booster campaign this fall.

However, some health experts are wary of the decision to release the shots without completed human trials. In June, two experts penned an op-ed demanding that the FDA not rush through the roll-out of the newest shots. “I’m uncomfortable that we would move forward — that we would give millions or tens of millions of doses to people — based on mouse data,” one of the authors, Paul Offit, told the Journal. Offit, an FDA adviser and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, believes the comparison between flu shots and COVID-19 shots is not well grounded due to the differences in mutations and protection levels.

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Ukraine Planning Nuclear Provocation On Friday – Moscow (RT)
Russia Warns Of Another Chernobyl Over Ukraine’s Attacks (RT)
Playing With Fire in Ukraine (Mearsheimer)
Ukraine Conflict Could End Western Hegemony – Hungary (RT)
Xi and Putin Confirmed For November’s G20 Summit In Bali (AlJ)
Russia Deploys MiG Jets Armed With Hypersonic Missiles To Kaliningrad (ZH)
US Must Arm Ukraine Now, Before It’s Too Late (Hill)
Dozens Of Foreign Fighters Eliminated In Strike On Ukrainian Base – Russia (RT)
Russia Explains Terms For Nuclear Arms Use (RT)
Sabotage, Terroristm, Diversionary Attacks Are A Real Risk For Russia (Saker)
Sleepy Greek Port Becomes US Arms Hub (NYT)
Winter Is Coming For Europe (Bill Blain)
EU Gas Prices Seven Times Higher Than In US – CNN
FBI Unit Leading Mar-a-Lago Probe Earlier Ran Russiagate Hoax (Sperry)
Big Pharma Spent $205 Million In 2 Years Lobbying vs Lower Drug Prices (CHD)
1,200 Scientists and Professionals Say “There is No Climate Emergency” (DS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stelter Biden
https://twitter.com/i/status/1560354199954653185

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malhotra

 

 

 

 

Not just Moscow.

Ukraine Planning Nuclear Provocation On Friday – Moscow (RT)

Ukraine plans to carry out artillery strikes on the Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant on Friday, and then accuse Russia of causing a disaster at the site, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday. The predicted attack will be timed to coincide with the ongoing visit to Ukraine by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the ministry claimed. The Russian ministry said it has detected movements of Ukrainian troops, indicating a looming “provocation.” Kiev has deployed units trained in responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction, pre-positioning them to report a radiation leak and demonstrate a purported action to mitigate it, Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

The ministry said it expects a Ukrainian artillery unit to attack the plant on Friday from the city of Nikopol. “The blame for the consequences [of the strike] will be attributed to the Russian armed forces,” the statement said. In a separate statement on Thursday, Igor Kirillov, who heads Russia’s Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense Troops, said his directorate has modeled possible scenarios for a disaster at the Zaporozhye plant. A plume of radioactive materials from the site may reach Poland, Slovakia and Germany, he warned. Russia has accused Ukraine of conducting frequent drone and artillery strikes against the nuclear power plant in the city of Energodar over the past few weeks.

Kiev has denied responsibility and said Russian forces were attacking the plant to discredit Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have also claimed that Russia is using the Zaporozhye facility as a military base. During the briefing, Konashenkov denied Ukrainian claims that Russia has deployed heavy weapons at the Zaporozhye plant and is attacking Ukrainian troops from the site. The only Russian troops at the facility are lightly armed guards providing physical security, the official said. The ministry pledged to do its best to prevent damage to the nuclear facility.

Gonzalo

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So does Erdogan.

Russia Warns Of Another Chernobyl Over Ukraine’s Attacks (RT)

Ukraine’s ongoing attacks on the Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant may cause a far worse disaster for Europe than the current energy crisis, a Russian Defense Ministry official has warned. Igor Kirillov, who heads Russia’s Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense Troops, illustrated the likely worst-case scenario of a direct hit on Europe’s largest nuclear plant, during a briefing on Thursday. He showed journalists a map, with plumes of radioactive material from the site reaching Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Belarus and even Germany. He blamed Ukraine’s Western backers for trying to downplay the danger of targeting the atomic plant, and forgetting the lessons of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear incident.

According to Kirillov, both disasters involved “the failure of support systems, the disruption of power supply and partial and complete shutdown of the cooling systems, which led to overheating of nuclear fuel and the destruction of the reactor”. The fallout of the Chernobyl disaster affected some 20 countries, while causing 4,000 deaths, a major spike in cancer cases, and the permanent relocation of around 100,000 people. The effects of the Fukushima nuclear incident might seem “insignificant” at first glance, but up to 500,000 people have abandoned their homes because of it, he noted. “Our experts believe that the actions of the Ukrainian armed forces may cause a similar situation at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant,” Kirillov said.

Strikes by the Kiev forces could render the plant’s cooling systems and other support infrastructure inoperable, which would lead “to overheating of the core and, as a result, the destruction of reactor units at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, with the release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere and their spreading for hundreds of kilometers,” he warned. “Such an emergency will cause mass migration of the population and will have more catastrophic consequences than the looming energy crisis in Europe,” the military official added. Moscow has accused Kiev of carrying out 12 attacks on the nuclear facilitity, which provides energy to both Russian- and Ukrainian-controlled areas, since mid-July.

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“..given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern..”

Playing With Fire in Ukraine (Mearsheimer)

Western policymakers appear to have reached a consensus about the war in Ukraine: the conflict will settle into a prolonged stalemate, and eventually a weakened Russia will accept a peace agreement that favors the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Ukraine. Although officials recognize that both Washington and Moscow may escalate to gain an advantage or to prevent defeat, they assume that catastrophic escalation can be avoided. Few imagine that U.S. forces will become directly involved in the fighting or that Russia will dare use nuclear weapons. Washington and its allies are being much too cavalier. Although disastrous escalation may be avoided, the warring parties’ ability to manage that danger is far from certain.

The risk of it is substantially greater than the conventional wisdom holds. And given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern. To understand the dynamics of escalation in Ukraine, start with each side’s goals. Since the war began, both Moscow and Washington have raised their ambitions significantly, and both are now deeply committed to winning the war and achieving formidable political aims. As a result, each side has powerful incentives to find ways to prevail and, more important, to avoid losing. In practice, this means that the United States might join the fighting either if it is desperate to win or to prevent Ukraine from losing, while Russia might use nuclear weapons if it is desperate to win or faces imminent defeat, which would be likely if U.S. forces were drawn into the fighting.

Furthermore, given each side’s determination to achieve its goals, there is little chance of a meaningful compromise. The maximalist thinking that now prevails in both Washington and Moscow gives each side even more reason to win on the battlefield so that it can dictate the terms of the eventual peace. In effect, the absence of a possible diplomatic solution provides an added incentive for both sides to climb up the escalation ladder. What lies further up the rungs could be something truly catastrophic: a level of death and destruction exceeding that of World War II.

Putin premeditated

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“He pointed to “the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, South Africa, the Arab world, Africa” as regions not supporting the Western line on the conflict.”

Ukraine Conflict Could End Western Hegemony – Hungary (RT)

The deadly conflict in Ukraine has the potential to “demonstratively” put an end to Western hegemony globally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has claimed. In an interview with German online magazine Tichys Einblick, published on Thursday, Orban said he expects the European Union to emerge weaker in the global arena once the fighting in Ukraine is over. The Hungarian leader argued that the West is incapable of winning the conflict militarily, and that the sanctions it has imposed on Moscow have failed to destabilize Russia. To make matters worse, the punitive measures have spectacularly backfired on Europe, he said. Orban also noted that a “large part of the world” is clearly not getting behind the US when it comes to Ukraine.

He pointed to “the Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, South Africa, the Arab world, Africa” as regions not supporting the Western line on the conflict. “It is quite possible that it will be this war that will demonstratively put an end to Western supremacy,” Orban said. On the other hand, non-EU powers are already benefiting from the situation, he said, pointing toward Russia, which “has its own energy sources.” The premier noted that while EU energy imports from Russia have plummeted, Russia’s majority state-owned gas giant Gazprom has seen its revenues skyrocket.

Beijing, too, is now better off than before the start of the conflict, Orban claimed. He explained that China had previously been “at the mercy of the Arabs,” but is not anymore, apparently referring to the oil market. The other beneficiaries, in the Hungarian prime minister’s view, are “big American corporations.” To prove his point, Orban pointed to profits doubling for Exxon, quadrupling for Chevron and increasing six-fold for ConocoPhillips. While going along with EU sanctions against Russia, Hungary has maintained a neutral stance since the outbreak of the conflict, by not providing either side with weapons or making any harsh statements against Moscow or Kiev. Budapest has insisted that it cannot not risk the security of Hungarians, and will not be dragged into the conflict.

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Last chance for the west to talk peace and prevent their ecoomies from freezing.

Xi and Putin Confirmed For November’s G20 Summit In Bali (AlJ)

Chinese and Russian presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have both confirmed they will attend the G20 summit on the resort island of Bali this November, according to President Joko Widodo. “Xi Jinping will come. President Putin has also told me he will come,” Widodo told Bloomberg News in an interview, confirming their attendance for the first time. The November summit will mark the first time that Putin, Xi and United States President Joe Biden will have met in person since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, triggering sanctions from Western countries as well as G20 members Japan and South Korea. China has avoided condemning the attack or joining the sanctions, which took place days after Beijing and Moscow announced a “no limits” partnership. A longtime adviser to the Indonesian president also confirmed Putin and Xi would attend the summit.

“Jokowi told me that Xi and Putin are both planning to attend in Bali,” Andi Widjajanto, who heads the National Resilience Institute, told the Reuters news agency. The Kremlin said in a statement that Putin and Widodo had discussed preparations for the G20 summit in a phone call on Thursday without confirming that the Russian leader would attend. Another official familiar with the situation told Bloomberg that Putin plans to attend the meeting in person. A trip to Bali would be significant given it would be Xi’s first time outside China since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. China has maintained a strict zero-COVID policy that has all but sealed its borders, and Xi is preparing to secure an unprecedented third term as president during the congress of the ruling Communist Party, which is expected to take place in late October or early November.

Chinese officials are also thought to be making plans for a meeting in Southeast Asia between Xi and US President Joe Biden, who will also be in Bali, according to the Wall Street Journal, amid rising tension between the two countries. As head of the G20 this year, Indonesia has faced pressure from Western countries to withdraw its invitation to Putin because of the invasion of Ukraine, which he has called a “special military operation”. Indonesia has also invited Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Bali summit. Widodo has sought to position himself as a mediator, and at the end of June travelled first to Moscow and then to Kyiv to meet both presidents and urge an end to the war. This week, he said both countries have accepted Indonesia as a “bridge of peace”.

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Supersonic jets with hypersonic missiles.

Russia Deploys MiG Jets Armed With Hypersonic Missiles To Kaliningrad (ZH)

Russia’s defense ministry announced Thursday that it has deployed fighter planes equipped with cutting edge hypersonic missiles to its Baltic region exclave of Kaliningrad, which a statement said will provide “additional measures of strategic deterrence.” The statement detailed that three MiG-31 fighters armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles have landed at the Chkalovsk air base in Kaliningrad Oblast. The defense ministry emphasized that the warplanes will be put on “round-the-clock alert” – at a moment tensions with Ukraine’s powerful Western backers like the United States continue to soar. On a few alleged occasions over the last six months of war in Ukraine, Russia has been accused of launching hypersonic missiles on Ukrainian targets; however, the Pentagon has downplayed that it’s not a gamechanger.

But such an intentionally publicized move as placing hypersonic missile armed MiG fighters on “alert” at Russia’s Baltic outpost is an escalatory move aimed at NATO and Ukraine’s Western backers which have been ramping up longer-range missile and weapons shipments to Kiev. Kaliningrad borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania, both of which will see this move as a severe threat to their national security. The Associated Press is reporting that Finland is alarmed its airspace may have been violated by the MiGs as they were en route to the Kaliningrad base: A video released by the Defense Ministry showed the fighters arriving at the base but not carrying the missiles, which were apparently delivered separately.

Finland’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that two Russian MIG-31 fighter jets were suspected of having violating Finnish airspace in the Gulf of Finland off the southern town of Porvoo, west of Helsinki. The Nordic country’s Border Guard started a preliminary investigation into the incident. sThe Russian MoD and state media released video of the MiG fighters arriving in Kaliningrad. Ukraine government-linked officials have also highlighted the transfer with alarm…

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View from the dark ages:

“..a campaign of genocide aimed at erasing the Ukrainian nation from the map..”

US Must Arm Ukraine Now, Before It’s Too Late (Hill)

Nearly 20 of our fellow experts and national security professionals — whose digital signatures appear at the end of this op-ed — agree: The war in Ukraine has reached a decisive moment and that vital U.S. interests are at stake. Long before the Kremlin first invaded Ukraine in 2014, we have — from senior positions in the U.S. government and military — followed Moscow’s foreign policy and the grave dangers it presents to the United States and our allies. We have carefully watched Moscow’s major offensive since February and the response of the Biden administration and its allies and partners. We have maintained close touch with Ukrainian, U.S. and European officials. Two of us just returned from meetings with Ukraine’s defense and military leaders.

Although the Biden administration has successfully rallied U.S. allies and provided substantial military assistance, including this month, to Ukraine’s valiant armed forces, it has failed to produce a satisfactory strategic narrative which enables governments to maintain public support for the NATO engagement over the long term. By providing aid sufficient to produce a stalemate, but not enough to roll back Russian territorial gains, the Biden administration may be unintentionally seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. Out of an over-abundance of caution about provoking Russian escalation (conventional as well as nuclear), we are in effect ceding the initiative to Russian President Vladimir Putin and reducing the pressure on Moscow to halt its aggression and get serious about negotiations.

Moscow’s imperialist war against the people of Ukraine is not just a moral outrage — a campaign of genocide aimed at erasing the Ukrainian nation from the map — but a clear danger to U.S. security and prosperity. American principles and interests demand the strongest possible response, one sufficient to force the Russians as much as possible back to pre-February lines and to impose costs heavy enough to deter Russia from invading a third time. With Russian forces struggling to regroup in the east and stave off Ukrainian efforts to retake Kherson in the south, now is the time for Ukraine’s allies to pull out all the stops by providing Ukraine the means it needs to prevail. Dragging out the conflict through so-called strategic pauses will do nothing but allow Putin to regroup, recover and inflict more damage in Ukraine and beyond.

But so far, neither the administration nor European allies have succeeded in making clear why this is important to the United States and the West. It is important because Putin is pursuing a revisionist foreign policy designed to upend the rules-based security system that has ensured American and global stability and enabled prosperity since the end of World War II. Putin’s aggressive designs do not end in Ukraine. As Russian officials have repeatedly made clear, if Russia wins in Ukraine, our Baltic NATO allies are at risk, as are other allies residing in the neighborhood. Prudent policy today identifies tomorrow’s risk and seeks the right place and time to deal with that risk. For the U.S. and NATO, that time is now — and the place is Ukraine, a large country whose population understands that its choice is either defeating Putin or losing their independence and even their existence as a distinct, Western-oriented nation. With the necessary weapons and economic aid, Ukraine can defeat Russia.

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“Thousands of fighters from Poland, Canada, the US, the UK and other countries..”

Dozens Of Foreign Fighters Eliminated In Strike On Ukrainian Base – Russia (RT)

Dozens of foreign mercenaries, fighting for Kiev against Moscow, have been killed in an attack on a compound in the city of Kharkov in northeastern Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday. “A temporary base of foreign mercenaries in the city of Kharkov was hit with a ground-based high-precision weapon. More than 90 militants were killed,” ministry’s spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov announced during his daily briefing. The Russian Air Force also struck Ukrainian manpower and military hardware in Kherson and Nikolaev Regions, eliminating 80 combatants and injuring 50 others, he added. Compounds, hosting foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, have already been targeted by Russia several times this month, leading to multiple casualties.


Thousands of fighters from Poland, Canada, the US, the UK and other countries responded to a call by President Vladimir Zelensky and flocked to Ukraine. In April, the Russian military estimated their numbers at nearly 7,000. However, last month it said that only 2,741 foreign fighters remained in Ukraine. Many of them were killed, while others fled to their home countries and later complained about chaos in the ranks of the Kiev forces, and a lack of arms and other equipment. Konashenkov had earlier warned that mercenaries aren’t viewed as combatants under international law and “the best thing that awaits them if they are captured alive is a trial and maximum prison terms.”

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“the use of the nuclear arsenal is possible only in response to an attack as a self-defense measure and in extreme circumstances..”

Russia Explains Terms For Nuclear Arms Use (RT)

Russia is a responsible nuclear power and will only use its nuclear arms if attacked with weapons of mass destruction or if its existence is under threat, a spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry has said. Meanwhile, some Western officials argue that nukes can play a role on the battlefield, Ivan Nechaev added. According to Russia’s official nuclear posture,“the use of the nuclear arsenal is possible only in response to an attack as a self-defense measure and in extreme circumstances,” the deputy press secretary of the ministry said during a daily briefing on Thursday. The diplomat was responding to a question about the risk of nuclear escalation in the conflict with Ukraine. Russia is not in the habit of “saber-rattling, especially with nuclear weapons,” he said.


Moscow is determined to keep the situation in Ukraine conventional and has no need to use a nuclear option in Ukraine, Nechaev asserted. He lamented that the leaders of Western powers have become far less responsible than their Cold War-era predecessors when it comes to deterrence issues. “The liberal-globalist circles think it possible to discuss lowering the benchmark for the use of nuclear weapons,” he said, citing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as one example. The Russian Defense Ministry has repeatedly reassured that its goals in Ukraine can be achieved without the use of nuclear arms. Deploying them would not make any military sense, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said this week.

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” The entire Russian military is trained, and well trained, to operate in a hostile nuclear, chemical or bacteriological environment.”

Sabotage, Terroristm, Diversionary Attacks Are A Real Risk For Russia (Saker)

The only thing Russians can do is to 1) prepare for a very long counter-intelligence and counter-diversionary operations lasting many years and 2) accept the reality of war for what it is and not freak out the next time the Ukronazis blow up something, be it a ship, a train, an aircraft, a bridge or any other target in the LDNR or Russia. The one good news the Russians also need to keep in mind is that most of such diversionary/terrorist attacks are still fundamentally part of PSYOPs and are mostly designed for PR effect. In terms of their actual impact on Russian military capabilities, it is close to zero, just like the Israeli strikes in Syria have made exactly *zero* difference on the ground in Syria.

To really affect military operations you need to have a large, viable and sophisticated partisan/”stay behind” force, which the Ukrainians do not have, not by a long margin. Also, to really affect military operations, such diversionary tactics need to be carefully coordinated with “regular” friendly military forces (like the Soviet partisans during WWII who closely worked with the Soviet armed forces). So yes, this is a problem, a very unpleasant one, one which will be hard to deal with, but not one which will affect Russian military operations. Even if the Ukronazis blow up both the Chernobyl AND Zaporozhiie NPs, this will not significantly affect the SMO or even the war between Russia and the united West. The entire Russian military is trained, and well trained, to operate in a hostile nuclear, chemical or bacteriological environment.

As for Russian logistics, they are extremely sophisticated and highly redundant, so even if the Ukronazis blow up one node of the resupply network, it will be quickly fixed and/or easily replaced or bypassed. That being said, I would personally recommend that we all mentally prepare for what is almost certainly about to happen in the not too distant future. If we understand what such operation can and cannot achieve we will see them in a sober, pragmatic way, and not cave in to the hysterics (by many sides, including the Russian 6th column) which will inevitable follow any such attack.

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“..Erdogan – always willing to chart a different course – has positioned Turkey as a mediator…”

Sleepy Greek Port Becomes US Arms Hub (NYT)

It is an unlikely geopolitical flashpoint: a concrete pier in a little coastal city, barely used a few years ago and still occupied only by sea gulls most of the time. But the sleepy port of Alexandroupoli in northeastern Greece has taken on a central role in increasing the US military presence in Eastern Europe, with the Pentagon transporting enormous arsenals through here in what it describes as the effort to contain Russian aggression. That flow has angered not only Russia but also neighboring Turkey, underlining how war in Ukraine is reshaping Europe’s economic and diplomatic relationships. Turkey and Greece are both NATO members, but there is long-standing animosity between them, including conflict over Cyprus and territorial disputes in the Mediterranean, and Turkey sees a deeper relationship between Greece and Washington as a potential threat.

The spike in military activity has been welcomed by the government of Greece, most of its Balkan neighbors and local residents, who hope that Americans will stimulate the regional economy and provide security amid rising regional tensions. “We’re a small country,” said Yiannis Kapelas, 53, an Alexandroupoli cafe owner. “It’s a good thing to have a big country to protect us.” Raising the strategic stakes is the impending sale of the Alexandroupoli port. Four groups of companies are competing to buy a controlling stake – two include American firms, backed by Washington, and two have ties to Russia. US military operations in Greece have expanded greatly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and top officials from Russia and Turkey have called that a national security threat.

“Against whom were they established?” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said in June, referring to the US military outposts in Greece. “The answer they give is ‘against Russia.’ We don’t buy it.” While most of NATO has sided emphatically with Ukraine, Erdogan – always willing to chart a different course – has positioned Turkey as a mediator. In May, the Greek Foreign Ministry said Turkish fighter jets violated the country’s air space over Alexandroupoli, 11 miles from the Turkish border. The incident unnerved local residents concerned with Turkey’s claims to parts of Greece. The complex interplay of interests at Alexandroupoli highlights how the war is shifting the strategic focus of Europe to the Black Sea region.

“The Black Sea is back on the global agenda in an unprecedented way,” said Ilian Vassilev, a former Bulgarian ambassador to Moscow who now works as a strategic consultant. “Security in the Black Sea is central to the issue of how you contain and deal with Russia.” Greece and Russia share deep historical, economic and cultural ties centered on the common Orthodox Christian religion. Greeks are among the few Europeans who largely want to maintain economic ties to Russia, polls show. But the war in Ukraine has badly strained those bonds.

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‘For’, not ‘In’.

Winter Is Coming For Europe (Bill Blain)

Vladimir Putin could not have planned or executed his crippling energy strike on Europe better. While we promise ourselves Western Sanctions must be impacting Russia, the reality is Europe’s problems are about to get much, much worse through the run up to Winter. What possible incentives does Russia have to increase Nord Stream 1 supplies from their current 20% of capacity? They can feed Europe 1/6 of the Energy they delivered in January this year, and still make as much – selling the rest to the very many nations that have failed to condemn to assault on Ukraine. They may decide to cut supplies completely even as planned maintenance in Norway’s gas infrastructure cuts supplies. A dismal European winter is coming, and European politicians will do anything to avert it.

That will include appeasement – putting pressure on Ukraine to come to a deal with Russia that allows Putin to end the war looking like he achieved something. It would be a major long-term blow to Europe – knowing we’d had to cut a deal with the Devil, and would not immediately solve the West’s reliance on Russian power. (It could take 3 years before Europe can eliminate its reliance of Russian gas with new gas distribution infrastructure – but it can be done!) Power cuts, factory closures, business crisis already appear nailed on. It’s difficult to contemplate German workers welcoming job losses and stagflation, plus the expectation they pay the costs of Southern Europe to cope with the Energy war – but that’s effectively the ECB strategy: to balance European debt market credibility with German money to support Italy’s debt weakness.

While there may be many good reasons and indications to accept the US economy has already passed the nadir of economic woe for this year, the instability engendered by rising European energy prices, the threat of autumnal and winter power outages, combined with rising industrial strife across Europe as inflation and power trigger rising wage demands… means the whole Western Economy is going to struggle. It’s difficult to envisage the US market thriving when Europe is suffering a potentially crippling winter of stagflation and economic strife.

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“Every spare molecule we can find, we are shipping to the Eurozone..”

EU Gas Prices Seven Times Higher Than In US – CNN

European natural gas prices are trading at levels equivalent to about $70 per million British Thermal Unit (BTUs), which is roughly seven times higher than prices in the United States, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing Lipow Oil Associates. Analysts told the outlet that Europe’s natural gas crisis is contributing to higher prices in America, noting however that it’s not the main driver. US natural gas prices have surged to levels unseen since 2008, closing at $9.33 per million BTU on Tuesday. “Higher global prices are trickling down to the US. Natural gas has become a global commodity with the emergence of LNG,” said Rob Thummel, senior portfolio manager at Tortoise Capital Advisors.


The United States has stepped up its exports of LNG to Europe in an effort to mitigate the impact of declining flows from the continent’s major natural gas supplier, Russia. “Every spare molecule we can find, we are shipping to the Eurozone,” Robert Yawger, vice president of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, said. European gas prices have quadrupled since the start of the year on thinning Russian flows. This week, the cost of gas futures on the TTF hub in the Netherlands exceeded $2,600 per thousand cubic meters for the first time since March. Prices are forecast to spike 60% this winter, exceeding $4,000 per thousand cubic meters.

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Same people. It’s a big club, and Trump’s not in it.

FBI Unit Leading Mar-a-Lago Probe Earlier Ran Russiagate Hoax (Sperry)

The FBI division overseeing the investigation of former President Trump’s handling of classified material at his Mar-a-Lago residence is also a focus of Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation of the bureau’s alleged abuses of power and political bias during its years-long Russiagate probe of Trump. The FBI’s nine-hour, 30-agent raid of the former president’s Florida estate is part of a counterintelligence case run out of Washington – not Miami, as has been widely reported – according to FBI case documents and sources with knowledge of the matter. The bureau’s counterintelligence division led the 2016-2017 Russia “collusion” investigation of Trump, codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane.”

Although the former head of Crossfire Hurricane, Peter Strzok, was fired after the disclosure of his vitriolic anti-Trump tweets, several members of his team remain working in the counterintelligence unit, the sources say, even though they are under active investigation by both Durham and the bureau’s disciplinary arm, the Office of Professional Responsibility. The FBI declined to respond to questions about any role they may be taking in the Mar-a-Lago case. In addition, a key member of the Crossfire team – Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten – has continued to be involved in politically sensitive investigations, including the ongoing federal probe of potentially incriminating content found on the abandoned laptop of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden, according to recent correspondence between the Senate Judiciary Committee and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

FBI whistleblowers have alleged that Auten tried to falsely discredit derogatory evidence against Hunter Biden during the 2020 campaign by labeling it Russian “disinformation,” an assessment that caused investigative activity to cease. Auten has been allowed to work on sensitive cases even though he has been under internal investigation since 2019, when Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred him for disciplinary review for his role in vetting a Hillary Clinton campaign-funded dossier used by the FBI to obtain a series of wiretap warrants to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz singled out Auten for cutting a number of corners in the verification process and even allowing information he knew to be incorrect slip into warrant affidavits and mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

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In praise of the Inflation Reduction Act?!

Big Pharma Spent $205 Million In 2 Years Lobbying vs Lower Drug Prices (CHD)

As the Inflation Reduction Act heads to President Biden’s desk that includes long overdue authority for Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with big drug companies, an analysis from Accountable.US found the pharmaceutical industry has spent at least $205 million in recent years lobbying and resisting lower drug prices for seniors and families. This includes over $57 million in paid ads PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a lobbying group) and its allies ran against Medicare drug negotiations over the last year. According to Liz Zelnick, Accountable.US Spokesperson:

“Big Pharma spent massive sums to maintain the broken status quo where drug companies could charge whatever they please while millions of seniors are left to choose between food and medicine. Medicare finally being allowed to harness its bulk purchasing power will save lives. “The same big drug companies that claim they can’t afford to offer fairer prices have continued to break profit records and enrich a small group of wealthy investors on the backs of patients in need for years — all while paying virtually nothing in taxes. Industry opposition to lower drug prices has always been about squeezing maximum profits out of vulnerable consumers. Luckily their efforts failed, and the American people won. “The Inflation Reduction Act is a case study in how change demanded by Americans for years didn’t come easily in the face of powerful and greedy special interests with plenty of lawmakers in their pockets — but it’s possible.”


The analysis follows Accountable.US’ recent findings that major drug company CEOs have raked in over $292.6 million in compensation while their companies saw skyrocketing profits — at a time Americans spend an average of $1,200 per person on prescription drugs and as many as 18 million Americans simply cannot afford their prescribed medications. The government watchdog also previously found Republican lawmakers on the House Energy & Commerce Committee who voted against allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs with drug companies (H.R. 3) have taken nearly $1.7 million in career contributions from industry groups and the five largest pharmaceutical companies opposed to Medicare drug negotiations.

Aus vaccines

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Discuss!!

1,200 Scientists and Professionals Say “There is No Climate Emergency” (DS)

The political fiction that humans cause most or all climate change and the claim that the science behind this notion is ‘settled’, has been dealt a savage blow by the publication of a ‘World Climate Declaration (WCD)’ signed by over 1,100 scientists and professionals. There is no climate emergency, say the authors, who are drawn from across the world and led by the Norwegian physics Nobel Prize laureate Professor Ivar Giaever. Climate science is said to have degenerated into a discussion based on beliefs, not on sound self-critical science. The scale of the opposition to modern day ‘settled’ climate science is remarkable, given how difficult it is in academia to raise grants for any climate research that departs from the political orthodoxy.

Another lead author of the declaration, Professor Richard Lindzen, has called the current climate narrative “absurd”, but acknowledged that trillions of dollars and the relentless propaganda from grant-dependent academics and agenda-driven journalists currently says it is not absurd. Particular ire in the WCD is reserved for climate models. To believe in the outcome of a climate model is to believe what the model makers have put in. Climate models are now central to today’s climate discussion and the scientists see this as a problem. “We should free ourselves from the naïve belief in immature climate models,” says the WCD. “In future, climate research must give significantly more emphasis to empirical science.” Since emerging from the ‘Little Ice Age’ in around 1850, the world has warmed significantly less than predicted by the IPCC on the basis of modelled human influences.

“The gap between the real world and the modelled world tells us that we are far from understanding climate change,” the WCD notes. The Declaration is an event of enormous important, although it will be ignored by the mainstream media. But it is not the first time distinguished scientists have petitioned for more realism in climate science. In Italy, the discoverer of nuclear anti-matter Emeritus Professor Antonino Zichichi recently led 48 local science professors in stating that human responsibility for climate change is “unjustifiably exaggerated and catastrophic predictions are not realistic”. In their scientific view, “natural variation explains a substantial part of global warming observed since 1850”. Professor Zichichi has signed the WCD.

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B,S&T

 

 

 

 

 

Recursion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 182022
 


Odilon Redon Fallen angel 1872

 

Something is Looming Geopolitically, We Better Start Taking It Seriously (CTH)
A Eurasian Jigsaw: BRI and INSTC (Escobar)
Russia Urges International Inspection Of Shelled Nuclear Site (RT)
Europe’s Powers Gave Ukraine No New Military Pledges In July (Pol.eu)
Ukraine Could Be Put On ‘Ammo Diet’ – US Military Expert (RT)
Germany Declares War On Europe And Refuses To Ban Russians (CdS)
Putin First, Populists Next – Who To Blame For The Energy Crisis? (RT)
Russia Names Main Victim Of US Energy ‘Victory’ (RT)
Government Must Quickly Start Repairing Purchasing Power – Professor (AD)
Central Bank Warns Gov’t: Be Cautious With Purchasing Power Repairs (NOS)
UK Green Party Calls For Nationalisation Of Big Five Energy Firms (G.)
Audio Tapes In Bill Clinton’s Sock Drawer And Mar-a-Lago Search Dispute (JTN)
FBI Sought Documents Trump Hoarded for Years, Including about Russiagate (NW)
CDC Admits To Botched Covid-19 Responses (RT)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roth

Roth/Ratner

 

 

France

 

 


Gas & electricity bill for a business owner in the South of Italy. – July 2021: EUR 120k – July 2022: EUR 979k In his own words: ”A holiday in July would have been more profitable than running my business with these input costs”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawyer sundance: “.. the think-tanks and high-minded climate change ideologues do not have the ability to manage a transition and still meet the needs of people..”

Something is Looming Geopolitically, We Better Start Taking It Seriously (CTH)

As a result of western governments’ taking collective action under the auspices of a ‘climate change’ agenda, we are on the cusp of something happening with ramifications that no one has ever seen before. Western governments’, specifically western Europe, North America (U.S-Canada) and Australia/New Zealand, are intentionally trying to lower economic activity to meet the intentional drop in energy production. This is the core consequence of the Build Back Better agenda as promoted by the World Economic Forum. Anyone who says there is a reference point to determine both the short-term and long-term consequences is lying. There is no precedent for nations’ collectively and intentionally trying to reduce economic activity.

Hiding behind the false justification that current inflation is driven by too much demand, central banks in Europe, the Bank of England, Bank of Canada and U.S. federal reserve are raising interest rates. The outcome we are currently feeling is an intentional economic contraction and global recession. The Build Back Better monetary policy is successfully shrinking western economic activity; however, the impacted nations that produce goods for markets in North America and Europe, specifically southeast Asia, Japan and China, are not raising interest rates in an effort to try and offset the drop in demand. China has announced they are dropping their central bank rates in a desperate effort to lower costs and keep their export dependent economy working.

Underneath all of this, is a drop in energy production in the same nations trying to lower economic activity. The political policymakers are attempting to manage this process without informing the citizens of the unspoken goal. Shortages of oil, coal and natural gas are self-inflicted problems, all part of the BBB agenda. Beyond the massive increases in energy costs, which is the true source of inflation and a direct/intentional outcome of the BBB effort, Europe is now facing a looming winter without the energy resources to heat homes and sustain people. Things are going to be very uncomfortable in Europe this winter as roaming brownouts are now predicted.

As the collective west attempts to, using their words, “manage the transition,” they do not have mechanisms to control an outcome of this magnitude. It is simply too big a situation to manage. Where the rubber meets the road, the think-tanks and high-minded climate change ideologues do not have the ability to manage a transition and still meet the needs of people. Beyond the esoteric thinking, there are real consequences from these actions.

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What would we know about modern Asian politics without Pepe Escobar?

A Eurasian Jigsaw: BRI and INSTC (Escobar)

There’s no question that the proxy war in Ukraine between the US and Russia has been creating serious problems for BRI expansion. After all, the US war on Russia is also a war against BRI. The top three BRI corridors from Xinjiang to Europe are the New Eurasian Land Bridge, the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor, and the China-Russia-Mongolia Economic Corridor. The New Eurasian Land Bridge uses the Trans-Siberian and a second link through Xinjiang-Kazakhstan (via the dry land port of Khorgos) and then Russia. The corridor via Mongolia is in fact two corridors: one from Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei to Inner Mongolia and then Russia; and the other from Dalian and Shenyang and then to Chita in Russia, near the Chinese border.

As it stands, the Chinese are not using Land Bridge and the Mongolian corridor as much as before, mainly because of western sanctions on Russia. The current BRI emphasis is via Central Asia and West Asia, with one branch then bisecting toward the Persian Gulf and on the Mediterranean. And this is where we see another – highly complex – level of intersection quickly developing: how the increasing importance for China of Central Asia and West Asia mixes with the increasing importance of the INSTC for both Russia and Iran in their trade with India. Call it the friendly vector of the War of Transportation Corridors.

The hardcore vector – real war – is already being deployed by the usual suspects. They are predictably bent on destabilizing and/or smashing any node of BRI/INSTC/EAEU/SCO Eurasia integration, by any means necessary: be it in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Balochistan, the Central Asian “stans” or Xinjiang. As far as the major Eurasian actors are concerned, that’s bound to be an Anglo-American train to nowhere.

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Someone will find excuses not to go. They first need to hide evidence.

Russia Urges International Inspection Of Shelled Nuclear Site (RT)

Russia is calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant as soon as possible to fulfill its mandate as the UN’s nuclear watchdog, a senior Russian diplomat said. “We would like such an IAEA mission to take place soon. Russia will do its best to facilitate it,” Igor Vishnevetsky, the deputy foreign minister for arms control, said during a Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty conference on Wednesday. The inspection was supposed to happen sometime ago, he added, but was derailed “not due to a fault of ours.” The diplomat pointed the finger at Ukraine, saying that its regular attacks on the nuclear site was why it was not safe for IAEA monitors to visit it. “People should not attack nuclear sites, should not use artillery or other weapons against nuclear power plants,” Vishnevetsky stressed.


“The Ukrainian side knows it very well, and nevertheless does it, effectively committing acts of nuclear terrorism.” The Ukrainian power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, comes under regular artillery shelling. One projectile this week reportedly struck ten meters from a container holding spent nuclear fuel. Kiev denies carrying out the strikes and claims that Russian troops are shelling the plant to discredit Ukraine. It also accused Russia of stationing its military forces at the Zaporozhye plant. The UN would neither confirm nor deny allegations by either side and called for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear facility. The US said that Russia had to cede control of the plant and the city of Energodar, where it’s located, to Ukraine, to prevent the risk of a nuclear disaster.

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“..European military aid commitments for Ukraine have been on a downward trend since the end of April…”

Europe’s Powers Gave Ukraine No New Military Pledges In July (Pol.eu)

Throughout all of July, Europe’s six largest countries offered Ukraine no new bilateral military commitments, according to new data — the first month that had happened since Russia invaded in February. The revelation is a sign that despite historic shifts in European defense policy — which have seen once reluctant countries like France and Germany ship arms to Ukraine — military aid to Ukraine may be waning just as Kyiv launches a crucial counteroffensive. The fresh data, covering the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Poland and set for release on Thursday, comes from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, which has been maintaining a Ukraine Support Tracker throughout the war.

It illustrates a point Ukrainian military officials and politicians have been repeatedly making: That major European powers are not keeping up with the military aid coming from the U.S., and that having led the charge, big-hitting Britain and Poland may be running out of steam. Military specialists and some members of European Parliament have increasingly echoed the point recently. Christoph Trebesch, head of the team compiling the Ukraine Support Tracker, said the organization’s data showed European military aid commitments for Ukraine have been on a downward trend since the end of April. “Despite the war entering a critical phase, new aid initiatives have dried up,” he said.

Western allies did meet last week in Cophenhagen to gather pledges for boosting Ukraine’s military, amassing €1.5 billion in commitments. But Trebesch, who said his team is still analyzing the numbers, cautioned the figure “is meager compared to what was raised in earlier conferences.” Trebesch argued that European countries should be considering the Ukraine war as more akin to the eurozone crisis or the coronavirus pandemic, two events that promoted the Continent to funnel hundreds of billions into emergency funding measures. “When you compare the speed at which the checkbook came out and the size of the money that was delivered, compared to what is on offer for Ukraine, it is tiny in comparison,” he said.

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You won’t see it in the rhetoric, but “we” are withdrawing.

Ukraine Could Be Put On ‘Ammo Diet’ – US Military Expert (RT)

Ukraine’s European backers may be about to put the country on an “ammunition diet”, an American military analyst has claimed in an interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel. Michael Kofman said these nations may already have reached their limit in terms of weapons supplies to Kiev. In an article published on Tuesday, Kofman was quoted as saying it is not in the Ukrainian military’s best interests to bide its time, as the weather will soon begin to worsen, making any counteroffensive more difficult to pull off. On top of that, according to the US expert, Russian troops could use a hiatus to regroup and “solve some of their personnel problems.” He noted that time would be on Kiev’s side if Western support was unlimited. However, that is likely not the case, and the Ukrainian leadership is well aware of this, Kofman suggested.

He added that the “Ukrainians are apparently quite concerned about for how long they can expect further support, especially from the Europeans.” The analyst went on to suggest that Kiev’s European backers may already have “given Ukraine most of the weapons they are ready to give.” “The Ukrainians will likely go on a kind of ammunition diet,” Kofman predicted. The analyst told journalists that, with this in mind, the leadership in Kiev may be concerned that Ukraine “could come under pressure to accept the stalemate” in the absence of any major success by the start of next year. Such a scenario “would be a defeat for Ukraine,” he noted. Kofman concluded that Kiev’s ability to reclaim territories seized by Russia ultimately hinges on the extent of its Western support.

He also acknowledged “some small Russian successes in the southern part of Donbass, like in Peski,” adding, however, that the offensive is largely being carried out by the militaries of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), as well as by “Wagner mercenaries.” When asked about the possibility of a Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim the southern city of Kherson, which is currently held by Russian forces, Kofman pointed out that while Kiev has a lot of personnel on paper, only a limited number of units are “really trained and equipped for that.”

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Translated from Le Courrier du Soir. “The European Union on the brink of a new unprecedented political crisis.”

Germany Declares War On Europe And Refuses To Ban Russians (CdS)

The European Union on the brink of a new unprecedented political crisis. Less than a year after the violent crisis over Russian gas which had deeply divided the Union, it is now the thorny issue of the visa granted to Russian citizens which risks provoking a real internal war. Indeed, it all started a few days ago when the Ukrainian President, Zelensky, asked that European countries prohibit access to their soil to all Russian nationals. His wishes seem granted because for three days, EU countries have been working hard to stop granting visas to Russians. But the project risks leading to a total fiasco because Germany, Europe’s leading economic power, is firmly opposed to it. This is at least the information that Lecourrier-du-soir.com obtained on August 16 from several reliable sources including the Euronews media.

Indeed, according to information provided by this press organ, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his disagreement (on this subject) during a trip to Oslo. In front of the press, his remarks were blunt. “This is not the Russian people’s war. It’s Putin’s war and we have to be clear about it,” he said. The German Chancellor also made a point of pointing out that several Russian citizens are fleeing Russia because they are not in phase with the policy of the regime in place. Meanwhile, the subject is already on the table but could trigger a new political crisis within the EU where some believe that banning Russians from entering Europe is a good move. This is at least the opinion of Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia who, in a tweet posted on August 09, did not mince words.

“Stop granting visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right. Airspace must be closed. This means that while Schengen countries continue to issue visas, Russia’s neighbors bear the burden. It is time to end tourism from Russia immediately”, she reacted. And Estonia is not the only European country to refuse to grant visas to Russians. Because, on August 14, in a tweet posted on his official account, Andriy Yermak, close to the Polish president, also made it known that his country will prohibit access to its territory to all Russian nationals.

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“..close the local swimming pool amid the record summer heat, citing a choice between the cost of feeding school kids increasingly pricy organic food in the cafeteria… or keeping the facility open.”

Putin First, Populists Next – Who To Blame For The Energy Crisis? (RT)

At the outset of the Ukraine conflict, Western officials proclaimed their unity against Moscow and vowed to accelerate their transition away from Russian fossil fuels and towards greener energy. The idea was to deprive the Kremlin of revenues which, in their minds, would result in defunding the military operation in Ukraine. So they went full scorched-earth on their own cheap energy supply – that is, gas from Europe’s largest country – and sanctioned it. It wasn’t long before it became obvious that was something much easier said than done. Soon, officials started making public requests of their citizens to “do their part” by sacrificing their everyday comforts and quality of life, like taking shorter showers – as though that would remedy the fact that industrial representatives were already sounding the alarm about rationing and manufacturing shortages.

Next, Western officials started backpedalling on their pledges to eradicate those forms of energy they had previously considered non-green. It was barely a few months earlier that Germany was chastising France for persisting with nuclear energy. Now, Berlin may potentially be joining Paris in turning back to it as a source, all while it also fires the old coal plants back up. Western Europeans had initially figured that they could at least maybe rely on hydroelectric energy from Norway, but the dry summer heat now threatens that, too, as Oslo considers cuts to its exports. And even liquified natural gas from Britain may not be exportable to the EU, since toxic and even radioactive contaminantshave recently been found in the supply originally sourced from countries like the US and Qatar.

The first flickers of real trouble are already evident – well ahead of the winter heating boom. The British consulting firm, Cornwall Insights, is warning of possible planned blackouts and empty shelves in Britain. Average household energy costs in the UK have reached £4,000 ($4,860) per year and are estimated to go even higher. The Bank of England is warning of a recession amid inflation which, in Germany, has just hit the highest level since reunification in 1990. Countries like Spain and Italy are imposing limits on heating and air conditioning in both public and commercial buildings. The EU’s imposition of a 15% energy cut across all member states has just come into effect, providing yet another pretext to reduce services to taxpayers. The mayor of the French town of Cabriès used it as an excuse to close the local swimming pool amid the record summer heat, citing a choice between the cost of feeding school kids increasingly pricy organic food in the cafeteria… or keeping the facility open.

And whose fault is all this? It should seem obvious, no? Western officials cut themselves off from their own energy source in order to play geopolitics by pulling Ukraine into their orbit – but the blame is squarely on Russia. That’s what they said and that’s what they’re doubling down on. Britain’s Daily Mail refers in a graphic to Putin cutting the gas supply. “Putin’s new gas squeeze condemns Europe to recession and a hard winter of rationing,” according to a CNBC headline. US President Joe Biden has framed it as “Putin’s tax on both food and gas.”Yet these officials did it to themselves – and to their citizens – “for Ukraine.”

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“US attempts to divide the energy markets into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leads to destabilization, rising fuel prices and inflation..”

Russia Names Main Victim Of US Energy ‘Victory’ (RT)

Europe’s current woes with natural gas supplies are due to US pressure to block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from coming online, Russian ambassador in Washington Anatoly Antonov said in a TV interview on Wednesday. With this, he said, the US won a victory not so much over Russia, but over European industry, which now has to rely on far more expensive American “molecules of freedom.” “No matter how much Washington tries to present Russia as an unreliable supplier, this is not true,” Antonov told Russia-24 in an interview that aired Wednesday evening. “The problems of our buyers began solely as a result of sanctions and restrictions imposed or inspired by the US,” the ambassador added. “We are ready to sell to everyone who needs inexpensive and high-quality resources.”

He cited the example of Nord Stream 2, the pipeline under the Baltic Sea that was supposed to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany. It was completed last year but Berlin halted its certification in February – prior to the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine – and refused to make it operational despite appeals from German industry and local officials to do so. “The pipeline was ready to launch and could solve almost all the supply problems that arose with [Nord Stream 1] due to the sanctions confusion,” Antonov said. “The only thing missing is political will, the EU states just need to press the button and the pipeline will start working. But in the EU capitals they gave in to persistent pressure from the White House. As a result, a bet was made on expensive LNG.”

Liquefied natural gas is exported by the US in quantities nowhere near sufficient for the European market. Antonov made a pointed reference to the US Department of Energy calling it “molecules of freedom” back in 2019. Nord Stream 2 was a victory for Washington, which “struck a massive blow not so much against Russia, but against European competitiveness,” Antonov said. Addressing the reports that the US and its allies are trying to impose a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports, Antonov pointed out that such attempts would backfire, as there would be a realignment of commodity markets “not in favor of Western countries.” “US attempts to divide the energy markets into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ leads to destabilization, rising fuel prices and inflation,” Antonov said.

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Google translate from Dutch. Don’t think this guy buys his own groceries.

Government Must Quickly Start Repairing Purchasing Power – Professor (AD)

The passive attitude of the cabinet to protect the purchasing power of citizens is incomprehensible, says Tilburg economics professor Harald Benink. “A lot was possible quickly during the corona pandemic, now it is going very slowly.” High inflation, especially the high prices for energy and food, will become a huge problem, Benink predicts. “It is unprecedented what is happening with purchasing power. Energy bills that go from 2000 euros to 6000 euros per year. New families are confronted with this every day. And then the groceries are also 10 to 20 percent more expensive,” says Benink. High inflation threatens to put millions of households in financial trouble. And that will lead to more problems, Benink fears. “There will be a great demand for debt relief. But the municipalities do not have the capacity to help all those people at all.”

Benink foresees major economic damage if nothing is done to repair purchasing power. Sooner or later people will have to cut their spending. An economic contraction of more than 4 percent is then possible. And it’s not just about low-income people, middle-income people are also affected by the declining purchasing power.” Added to this is the consequential damage of problematic debts. People get stressed by money problems and that leads to illness, failure and reduced productivity. According to Benink, the government is probably so passive because they underestimated the increase in energy prices. “It was immediately clear during the corona pandemic that it was a major problem. A package of tens of billions of aid was quickly rigged. Now it is less than 10 billion euros.”

While it is the government’s turn, the professor believes. “It is a classic government function to protect people against uninsurable risks. And that’s inflation. You cannot get vaccinated against that. It’s a tsunami that’s hitting the people.” Benink thinks the cabinet will have to come up with a mix of measures to repair purchasing power. Targeted support for lower and middle incomes. I am thinking of the proposal from the Eneco director who wants an income-related energy discount. But it will also be possible to take generic measures, such as a further reduction in VAT or lower income tax.” Money is not the problem. “For example, if we spend 8 billion extra, the government debt will increase by one percentage point. We can have that easily. Doing nothing costs a lot more.”

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Ha! Also Google translate from Dutch. The Central bank plays with fire. Not a matter for a central bank. The government should talk to Russia.

Central Bank Warns Gov’t: Be Cautious With Purchasing Power Repairs (NOS)

The government is under great pressure to do something about sky-high inflation and high energy bills and is considering measures to compensate for rising prices and save purchasing power. However, the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) warns the cabinet against excessively generous financial support measures, because this could be counterproductive and actually fuel inflation. In NRC, DNB director Olaf Sleijpen argues for restraint in compensating companies and households for the increased prices. It is true that companies and households were kept afloat during the corona crisis in 2020 and 2021 with aid measures costing billions of euros, but the current price crisis works differently. “Large-scale support is now unwise and even counterproductive”, says Sleijpen. “During the corona crisis, we benefited from broad financial support – and therefore a decisive role for the government. Now we are not. As difficult as that message is, we can’t get around it.”

The cause of the high inflation is not in demand but in supply, because there is a scarcity and shortage of products and energy. Financial support does not remedy scarcity, but it does stimulate demand and thus fuel prices. “The ECB is trying to slow down demand with its interest rate policy. If the government presses the accelerator at the same time, it does not help to reach the destination (lower inflation),” Sleijpen told the newspaper. On the other hand, DNB shares the concerns about the major economic and social consequences of the rising prices of energy and groceries. Payment problems are looming for low-income households. “It goes without saying that the government will at least address the worst needs, and really focus on the hardest hit households.”

However, generic measures, such as lower energy taxes and fuel taxes, mainly benefit the higher incomes who do not need them. Additional income support measures should also not lead to a larger budget deficit. “Financing income compensation with a higher government debt means that the bill is passed on to the next generations,” says Sleijpen. The idea of asking employers to raise employees’ wages to keep up with rising inflation has raised eyebrows at DNB. It must be “an appropriate wage increase”. “We do not benefit from the full effect of inflation on wages”. There is as yet no sign of the feared wage-price spiral, DNB notes. and so there is room for stronger wage growth for the time being.

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Saw a pic of this on Twitter. Went looking on the Guardian frontpage, nothing. Their UK page: nada. Went through Google search in the end. So they finally publish something useful, and then try to hide it. But it’s not about the Green Party, or even the UK: we will see this discussion in many European countries.

UK Green Party Calls For Nationalisation Of Big Five Energy Firms (G.)

The Greens have called for the permanent nationalisation of the main energy supply companies and for domestic fuel bills to be reduced to the level of last autumn, describing this as a solution to the failed experiment with a market-based energy system. In a proposal that goes well beyond Labour’s idea for a freeze on energy bills for at least six months, the Greens said nationalising the main five energy firms was a necessary part of a plan sufficiently ambitious “to avoid a catastrophe this winter”. The scheme would be based on one proposed by the TUC last month. This was based on a cost of about £2.85bn to nationalise the big five supply firms – British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Scottish Power and Ovo. As a comparison, the government spent £2.2bn bailing out another firm, Bulb.

The Green plan would also involve the energy price cap – the maximum households can pay – being put back to the level of last autumn, before this April’s increase of nearly £700 a year for the average household. Putting this in place throughout the autumn and winter would cost about £37bn, the party said, compared with the £29bn estimated cost of Labour’s proposal to keep the cap at its current level. The cost would be paid for in part by tightening up the government’s windfall tax on oil and gas firms’ extra profits from higher global prices, and the party also proposes higher taxes for very wealthy people. Carla Denyer, a co-leader of the Greens alongside Adrian Ramsay, said the party would also aim to create more energy efficiency by introducing differential tariffs under which households that use a lot of power face proportionally rising prices, with exceptions for people with disabilities or chronic health conditions.

The party is already committed to a mass programme of home insulation to improve energy efficiency. “This experiment with an energy supply market has failed,” Denyer said. “Only the government can intervene at the scale required to avoid a catastrophe this winter.” She said there was “nationwide anxiety about the prospect of unpayable energy bills”, adding: “Other parties have only offered to fix energy prices at current levels, but we know these are already unaffordable. We would return energy prices to an affordable level.” s

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I sense a link with Melania’s underwear.

Audio Tapes In Bill Clinton’s Sock Drawer And Mar-a-Lago Search Dispute (JTN)

When it comes to the National Archives, history has a funny way of repeating itself. And legal experts say a decade-old case over audio tapes that Bill Clinton once kept in his sock drawer may have significant impact over the FBI search of Melania Trump’s closet and Donald Trump’s personal office.= The case in question is titled Judicial Watch v. National Archives and Records Administration and it involved an effort by the conservative watchdog to compel the Archives to forcibly seize hours of audio recordings that Clinton made during his presidency with historian Taylor Branch. For pop culture, the case is most memorable for the revelation that the 42nd president for a time stored the audio tapes in his sock drawer at the White House. The tapes became the focal point of a 2009 book that Branch wrote.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington D.C. ultimately rejected Judicial Watch’s suit by concluding there was no provision in the Presidential Records Act to force the National Archives to seize records from a former president. But Jackson’s ruling — along with the Justice Department’s arguments that preceded it — made some other sweeping declarations that have more direct relevance to the FBI’s decision to seize handwritten notes and files Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago. The most relevant is that a president’s discretion on what are personal vs. official records is far-reaching and solely his, as is his ability to declassify or destroy records at will.

“Under the statutory scheme established by the PRA, the decision to segregate personal materials from Presidential records is made by the President, during the President’s term and in his sole discretion,” Jackson wrote in her March 2012 decision, which was never appealed. “Since the President is completely entrusted with the management and even the disposal of Presidential records during his time in office, it would be difficult for this Court to conclude that Congress intended that he would have less authority to do what he pleases with what he considers to be his personal records,” she added.

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FBI cover-up.

FBI Sought Documents Trump Hoarded for Years, Including about Russiagate (NW)

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago last Monday was specifically intended to recover Donald Trump’s personal “stash” of hidden documents, two high-level U.S. intelligence officials tell Newsweek. To justify the unprecedented raid on a former president’s residence and protect the source who revealed the existence of Trump’s private hoard, agents went into Trump’s residence on the pretext that they were seeking all government documents, says one official who has been involved in the investigation. But the true target was this private stash, which Justice Department officials feared Donald Trump might weaponize. “They collected everything that rightfully belonged to the U.S. government but the true target was these documents that Trump had been collecting since early in his administration,” says the source, who was granted anonymity to discuss sensitive issues.

The sought-after documents deal with a variety of intelligence matters of interest to the former president, the officials suggest—including material that Trump apparently thought would exonerate him of any claims of Russian collusion in 2016 or any other election-related charges. When Trump left the White House in January 2021, many of the normal processes of transition were not followed, especially because the president would not admit that he had lost the election or that he would be leaving office. As a result, we now know, some 42 boxes of documents were shipped to Mar-a-Lago by mistake: officials papers under U.S. law, which the National Archives is supposed to take custody of and catalog.

Over the past 18 months, the Trump camp and the Archives were engaged in a back-and-forth which resulted in the return of 15 boxes (and some additional documents). As late as June 3, when officials from the FBI and Justice visited Mar-a-Lago to serve a Grand Jury subpoena for specific documents, these negotiations were largely cordial. But in the course of its investigation, the FBI and Justice became aware of Trump’s private collection. As Newsweek previously reported, a confidential human source revealed that the former president wasn’t planning to divulge that he had possession of some of his own documents and that he did not intend to return them.

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Disband. First fire Walensky.

CDC Admits To Botched Covid-19 Responses (RT)

The CDC has acknowledged flaws in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and announced plans to restructure the agency to rehabilitate its public image and better respond to future public health crises. “For 75 years, CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Wednesday. “As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better.” The overhaul announcement follows an internal review that found the CDC’s “rigid, compartmentalized bureaucracy” undermined its response to Covid-19 and slowed its data analysis and releases of public advisories. When pandemic guidance was offered, it was often “confusing and overwhelming,” the review found.

The US leads the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths, by far, and the CDC has been criticized for confusing messaging and slow response times. The agency also held back much of the data it collected, in some cases because it feared the information could be “misinterpreted.” For instance, it withheld dataon Covid-19 infections among fully vaccinated Americans and the efficacy of vaccine booster shots for 18- to 49-year-olds. “Our public health infrastructure in the country was not up to the task of handling this pandemic,” Walensky told CBS News on Wednesday. She added, “We learned some hard lessons over the last three years, and as part of that, it’s my responsibility, it’s the agency’s responsibility, to learn from those lessons and do better.”

The CDC also has drawn criticism for its handling of the monkeypox outbreak. The reorganization plan, which will require approval from higher-ups in President Joe Biden’s administration, aims to get information to the public more quickly and speak about health issues in plain English, rather than scientific jargon. Walensky also plans to make the CDC more streamlined, with fewer reporting layers, and to develop a nimbler workforce that is prepared to respond to crises. “We need to have special forces, if you will, to deploy during pandemic times,” she said. Plans also call for creating a new office to promote “equity in health care,” though Walensky didn’t clarify how that would improve pandemic response.

Brilliant Sagan

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Britain’s railways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mark Morris: My family owned an iconic restaurant, Bens Deli, in Montreal for 100 years. This is Leonard Cohen entering its doors in 1965. What a beautiful picture and legacy.

 

 

 

 

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Aug 152022
 
 August 15, 2022  Posted by at 8:39 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  48 Responses »


Odilon Redon Street in Samois 1888

 

The Second Coming of the Heartland (Escobar)
Ukraine To Target Russian Soldiers At Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (G.)
EU Ramps Up Exports To Russia (RT)
Sanctions Are ‘Wrong To The Core’ – Hungarian Parliament Leader (RT)
Gazprom Has Increased Gas Supply To Hungary (G.)
Ukraine To Legalize Guns Soon – Minister (RT)
US Fumes Over India’s Role In Transporting Banned Russian Oil – Reuters (RT)
A Deeper Dive Into the CDC Reversal (Tucker)
Trump And His Family Watched FBI Raid on CCTV (CB)
FBI Took Documents Protected By Attorney-Client Privilege From Mar-a-Lago (CB)
Rand Paul Calls To Repeal Espionage Act Following Mar-a-Lago Raid (JTN)
House GOP To Issue Scathing Report About Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal (CNN)
Atlantic Op-ed Claims Catholic Rosary Has Become ‘An Extremist Symbol’ (Fox)
South America’s ‘Lithium Fields’ And The Dark Side Of Our Electric Future (EN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoax

 

 

Schiff

 

 

 

 

Irish farmer
https://twitter.com/i/status/1558723257695600643

 

 

 

 

“This unelected gaggle of insufferable mediocrities – from von der Leyden and Borrell to that piece of Norwegian wood Stoltenberg..”

The Second Coming of the Heartland (Escobar)

[..] the inestimable Alastair Crooke has illustrated the death of Eurocentrism alluding to Lewis Carroll and Yeats: only through the looking glass we can see the full contours of the tawdry spectacle of narcissistic self-obsession and self-justification offered by “the worst”, still so “full of passionate intensity”, as depicted by Yeats. And yet, unlike Yeats, the best now do not “lack all conviction”. They may be few, ostracized by cancel culture, but they do see the “rough beast, its hour come out at last, slouching towards…” Brussels (not Jerusalem) “to be born”. This unelected gaggle of insufferable mediocrities – from von der Leyden and Borrell to that piece of Norwegian wood Stoltenberg – may dream they live in the pre-1914 era, when Europe was at the political center.

Yet now not only “the center cannot hold” (Yeats) but Eurocrat-infested Europe has been definitely engulfed by the maelstrom, an irrelevant political backwater seriously flirting with reversion to 12th century status. The physical aspects of the Fall – austerity, inflation, no hot showers, freezing to death to support neo-Nazis in Kiev – has been preceded, and no Christianized imagery need apply, by the fires of sulphur and brimstone of a Spiritual Fall. The transatlantic masters of those parrots posing as “elites” could never come up with any idea to sell to the Global South centered on harmony and much less “community”. What they sell, via their Unanimous Narrative, actually their take on “We Are the World”, is variations of “you will own nothing and be happy”. Worse: you will have to pay for it – dearly.

And you have no right to dream of any transcendence – irrespective if you’re a follower of Rumi, the Tao, shamanism or Prophet Muhammad. The most visible shock troops of this reductionist Western neo-nihilism – obscured by the fog of “equality”, “human rights” and “democracy” – are the thugs being swiftly denazified in Ukraine, sporting their tattoos and pentagrams. The Collective West Self-Justification Show staged to obliterate its ritualized suicide offers no hint of transcending sacrifice implied in a ceremonial seppuku. All they do is to wallow in the adamant refusal to admit they could be seriously mistaken. How would anyone dare to deride the set of “values” derived from the Enlightenment? If you don’t prostrate yourself in front of this glittering cultural altar, you’re just a barbarian set to be slandered, law-fared, canceled, persecuted, sanctioned and – HIMARS to the rescue – bombed.

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Nothing new.

Ukraine To Target Russian Soldiers At Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (G.)

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has said his forces will target Russian soldiers who shoot at or from Europe’s largest nuclear power station, amid warnings that the Kremlin may falsely claim Kyiv has directly struck the critical site. Zelenskiy said anyone giving orders for attacks on the site or nearby towns and cities should face trial by an international court, as concern about the safety of the nuclear site remained high. “Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday night.


He called for new sanctions against Russia that would “necessarily block the Russian nuclear industry”, and he argued that “absolutely all officials of the terrorist state, as well as those who help them in this blackmail operation with the nuclear power plant, must be tried by an international court.” Russian troops captured the station – the biggest nuclear plant in Europe, responsible for up to 20% of Ukraine’s energy needs – early in the war. Two of its six reactors are currently operating and Ukraine has said Russia is trying to reconnect the power plant to occupied Crimea and shut off electricity supply to towns held by Kyiv.

German reporter

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But but sanctions?!

EU Ramps Up Exports To Russia (RT)

EU exports to Russia surged by 18% in June from the previous month, reaching €4.45 billion ($4.57 billion), foreign trade data from the statistics agency Eurostat shows. This was the second consecutive month that exports to Russia rose, following the April low of just €2.78 billion. However, the value of goods shipped to Russia remains well below the June 2021 figure of €7.21 billion, as some 28% of EU exports to Russia remain under Ukraine-related sanctions. In response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Brussels banned the export to Russia from the EU of airplanes, bearings, dual-use technology, luxury goods, and other products. These restrictions delivered an instant blow to the bloc’s exports to Russia, one of its largest trading partners in previous years.

Nevertheless, industrial equipment retained its position as the largest EU export to Russia, with June having seen shipments worth €1.12 billion, up 21% from May. The supply of medicines also increased, growing by 6% to €791 million over the previous month and surpassing last year’s figures by 31.5%. Medicine is now the second-largest EU export to Russia. The bloc’s exports of perfumes and cosmetics, excluding luxury goods that exceed €300 per single item, rose in June by 38% to €108 million. Shipments of plastics and plastic products grew by 16% to €234 million, while deliveries of optical, measuring, control, medical devices and instruments and electrical equipment and components also jumped. However, exports in all of these categories remain well below last year’s levels.

Germany remains the largest EU exporter to Russia, with €1.16 billion worth of goods shipped in June, a 5.4% increase against May. Poland nearly doubled its shipments to Russia against April-May to €395 million, while exports from the Baltic states increased by 34% month-on-month, to €481 million. Due to sanctions, the export of aircraft and aircraft components from Europe to Russia, which approached €3 billion in 2021, has dropped to zero since April 2022. Deliveries of cars and auto parts fell by more than ten times in annual terms and amounted to only €62 million in June.

Russia stopped publishing trade statistics shortly after the operation in Ukraine began. However, according to a report from the Bank of Russia in late July, citing data from Russia’s trading partners, the country’s overall imports of goods and services fell 22% in the second quarter of the year from the same time in 2021. Moscow repeatedly said that it will be able to overcome the impact of sanctions on imports, and that measures will be taken to substitute any missing goods with ones produced at home or obtained from other sources, such as China, Turkey and India. In a draft of the directive on monetary policy published earlier this week, Russia’s central bank predicted that despite the political pressure, imports would gradually recover.

“The pace of this recovery will be determined by the emergence of new financing and insurance mechanisms, the construction of new logistics routes and the formation of new trade relations. The mechanism of parallel imports, launched at the end of March, will also contribute to the growth of imports,” the regulator stated, as cited by the news agency RBC.

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Hungary says it; the rest do it secretly.

Sanctions Are ‘Wrong To The Core’ – Hungarian Parliament Leader (RT)

Hungarian National Assembly Speaker Laszlo Kover has condemned the EU’s economic sanctions on Russia as “wrong to the core,”predicting economic devastation as a result. Kover, a long-time critic of the EU, added that Hungary’s success depends on cooperation with both East and West. Speaking in the Hungarian town of Bugac on Saturday, Kover used a Hungarian proverb to describe the EU’s decision to impose massive economic sanctions on Russia while still relying on its energy exports. “Brussels politicians swung their legs without a horse under them,” he told attendees of the Kurultaj festival, an annual event celebrating Eurasian and Turkic steppe-nomadic horse culture. Kover added that the sanctions – imposed in seven successive rounds since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February – are “wrong to the core,” and will result in economic ruin for Europe.

Kover is a member of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party, and Orban himself has expressed a similar view on Brussels’ sanctions policy. In a speech last month, Orban bluntly assessed that “the sanctions are not destabilizing Moscow” as intended. Instead, he remarked, “Europe is in trouble.” The EU, which depends on Russia for around 40% of its gas and a third of its oil, is facing soaring energy costs and record inflation, having imposed a partial ban on Russian oil and announced a phased reduction of Russian gas imports. With multiple EU states imposing power rationing and the situation expected to worsen as winter sets in, Hungary has managed to carve out an exemption from the oil embargo, and has been in talks with Moscow to increase its gas purchases from Russia.

This stance has made Hungary an outlier in the EU, as has Orban’s insistence that NATO’s policy of arming Ukraine against Russia is a lost cause. The Hungarian premier responded to critics earlier this month by stating that “Brussels is not our boss,” and that the “independent, sovereign Hungarian nation”would work to “prevent” EU policies that aren’t in its national interest. As an EU member, Hungary is nevertheless party to most of Brussels’ sanctions on Russia. Likewise as a NATO country, Hungary would be bound to side with the US-led alliance if it became involved in open war with Russia. In his speech on Saturday, Kover described Hungary’s history and geography as making the country a “bridge” between East and West. “When the East and the West confronted each other, it only brought decline,” he said. “But if they cooperated, it brought Hungary a chance to rise.”

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“It is the only EU member state to have categorically ruled out acting on a plan to cut gas consumption by 15%..”

Gazprom Has Increased Gas Supply To Hungary (G.)

Gazprom has ramped up flows to Hungary through the TurkStream pipeline that transports gas via Bulgaria and Serbia, a Hungarian foreign ministry official has said. The Russian state-owned company started delivering more gas than it was contractually obliged to on Friday, Menczer Tamás, an official in Hungary’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade, wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. By the end of August, Gazprom would supply Hungary with an addition 2.6m cubic metres a day, said Menczer, a member of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party. TurkStream, which runs through the Black Sea, is called Balkan Stream in Bulgaria, where the pipeline enters EU territory. While Russia has stopped gas deliveries to Bulgaria, an EU member, Sofia continues to transit Russian gas to Serbia and Hungary.

Three weeks ago Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, travelled to Moscow to discuss buying an additional 700m cubic metres of gas, becoming the only top official from an EU member state to visit Russia since late February, bar the Austrian chancellor, Karl Nehammer, who made a trip in April. Hungary, which is about 85% dependent on Russian gas, has consistently opposed the idea of any EU sanctions on Russian gas imports, and Orbán, the prime minister, has also lobbied hard to secure an exemption from EU sanctions on Russian crude oil imports. It is the only EU member state to have categorically ruled out acting on a plan to cut gas consumption by 15% from August this year until March 2023.

In Germany, which is also reliant on Russian gas imports, the economic ministry announced on Saturday night that the country needed to reduce its gas consumption by 20% to help the EU meet its 15% reduction target. As a first step, the government moved to lower the mandatory minimum temperature in offices in the private and public sector by one degree to 19C. The heating of private swimming pools, as well as lighting up buildings or monuments “for purely aesthetic purposes”, will be banned. Outdoor advertising signs are to be switched off from 10pm until 6am.

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They’re going to shoot each other.

Ukraine To Legalize Guns Soon – Minister (RT)

Ukraine will adopt a law legalizing firearms in the near future, amid the nation’s ongoing armed conflict with Russia, Internal Affairs Minister Denis Monastirsky told local media on Saturday. According to Monastirsky, the Ukrainian parliament may allow citizens to buy handguns and other weapons to protect their homes. While stating that he believes people should be able to do so, he said the Internal Affairs Ministry is against granting people the right to carry guns in public. “We are opposed to carrying weapons freely in public places, because we believe that the risks to public safety outweigh the benefits,” he stated, adding that the ministry has been working with Ukrainian MPs on the issue, and that a law could be adopted soon.

“[It] has been approved in the first reading and is now being prepared for the second one. I think that it would be submitted to the Parliament for consideration in the near future.” A bill on gun control that was approved by the Ukrainian parliament in late February, shortly before Moscow launched its military operation, allows citizens to buy and store at home short-barreled firearms, as well as using them at shooting ranges. In March, Monastirsky revealed that the Ukrainian authorities had distributed “tens of thousands” of assault rifles, usually reserved for the trained personnel, among civilians, in a move to turn the public into a resistance force against Russian troops.

At the time, Kiev also announced it would set free combat-experienced felons who agree to take up arms and fight against the Russian Army. According to media reports, on February 24 alone – the day Russia began the attack – the Kiev authorities handed out at least 10,000 automatic rifles among residents. In July, Viktor Andrusov, a former adviser to Monastirsky, announced that Ukrainians could gain the right to carry pistols for self-defense as early as next year. He also claimed, citing an unspecified poll, that 70% of Ukrainians support the move. Even before full-scale hostilities between Russia and Ukraine broke out, the number of unregistered firearms in Ukraine was estimated at between 3 and 5 million.

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“..that’s the way war works, it works in strange ways..”

US Fumes Over India’s Role In Transporting Banned Russian Oil – Reuters (RT)

Washington has approached New Delhi with queries about Russian oil products that were allegedly shipped to the US from India, Reuters reported on Saturday, citing Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor Michael Patra. According to Patra, the US Treasury informed the country’s authorities that an Indian vessel allegedly picked up oil from a Russian tanker on the high seas and delivered it to a port in the state of Gujarat on the country’s west coast, where the oil was processed and then shipped to New York. “You know that there are sanctions against people who are buying Russian oil, and this was reported to us by the US Treasury… It turns out, an Indian ship met a Russian tanker in mid-seas, picked up oil in the mid-seas, came to a port in Gujarat, it was processed in that port and converted into a distillate which actually goes into making single-use plastic.


“The refined output was put back on that ship and it set sail without a destination. In the mid-seas it received the destination so it reached its course, went to New York,” Patra said at an event in Odisha celebrating 75 years of Indian independence. The official did not reveal the name of the ship in question, nor provide any other details on the matter, but said “that’s the way war works, it works in strange ways.” The US banned Russian oil and oil products from entering the country earlier this year, as part of sanctions aimed at Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine. India has abstained from sanctioning Moscow and, while prior to this year it rarely bought Russian oil, has stepped up purchases tenfold since March, taking advantage of the discount Moscow has offered. According to Bloomberg, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the South Asian nation’s second-biggest supplier in June, second only to Iraq.

https://www.rt.com/business/560800-india-us-russian-oil-products/ Read more …

“Meanwhile, as of this writing, the blasted US government still will not allow unvaccinated travelers across its borders!”

They’ll keep that up till after the US Open, just to spite Djokovic.

A Deeper Dive Into the CDC Reversal (Tucker)

It would have been fascinating to be a fly on the wall in the brainstorming sessions that led to this little treatise. The wording was chosen very carefully, not to say anything false outright, much less admit any errors of the past, but to imply that it was only possible to say these things now. “As SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to circulate globally, high levels of vaccine- and infection-induced immunity and the availability of effective treatments and prevention tools have substantially reduced the risk for medically significant COVID-19 illness (severe acute illness and post–COVID-19 conditions) and associated hospitalization and death. These circumstances now allow public health efforts to minimize the individual and societal health impacts of COVID-19 by focusing on sustainable measures to further reduce medically significant illness as well as to minimize strain on the health care system, while reducing barriers to social, educational, and economic activity.“

In English: everyone can pretty much go back to normal. Focus on illness that is medically significant. Stop worrying about positive cases because nothing is going to stop them. Think about the bigger picture of overall social health. End the compulsion. Thank you. It’s only two and a half years late. What about mass testing? Forget it: “All persons should seek testing for active infection when they are symptomatic or if they have a known or suspected exposure to someone with COVID-19.” Oh. What about the magic of track and trace? “CDC now recommends case investigation and contact tracing only in health care settings and certain high-risk congregate settings.” Oh. What about the unvaccinated who were so demonized throughout the last year?

“CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur, though they are generally mild, and persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection.” Remember when 40% of the members of the black community in New York City who refused the jab were not allowed into restaurants, bars, libraries, museums, or theaters? Now, no one wants to talk about that. Also, universities, colleges, the military, and so on – which still have mandates in place – do you hear this? Everything you have done to hate on people, dehumanize people, segregate people, humiliate others as unclean, fire people and destroy lives, now stands in disrepute.

Meanwhile, as of this writing, the blasted US government still will not allow unvaccinated travelers across its borders! Not one word of the CDC’s turgid treatise was untrue back in the Spring of 2020. There was always “infection-induced immunity,” though Fauci and Co. constantly pretended otherwise. It was always a terrible idea to introduce “barriers to social, educational, and economic activity.” The vaccines never promised in their authorization to stop infection and spread, even though all official statements of the CDC claimed otherwise, repeatedly and often. You might also wonder how the great reversal treats masking. On this subject, there is no backing off. After all, the Biden administration still has an appeal in process to reverse the court decision that the mask mandate was illegal all along. “At the high COVID-19 Community Level,” the CDC adds, “additional recommendations focus on all persons wearing masks indoors in public and further increasing protection to populations at high risk.”

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“Neither he nor any of his family have publicly said they were able to watch the raid as it unfolded.”

Trump And His Family Watched FBI Raid on CCTV (CB)

One of former President Donald Trump’s attorneys has revealed new details regarding the raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., early last week. Lawyer Christina Bobb said that the former president and many family members watched the FBI during “the whole” raid, meaning that they likely would have been able to see if agents planted any evidence, as Trump suggested last week. “It’s kind of funny. I think the folks in New York, President Trump and his family, probably had a better view than I did because they had the CCTV, they were able to watch,” Bobb told the streaming network Real America’s Voice, according to the New York Post. “I was, you know, I was stuck in the parking lot there to you know, collect paper and answer questions,” she added.

“But they were actually able to see the whole thing. So they actually have a better idea of what took place inside.” Bobb said that the FBI had initially instructed Trump’s staff and his attorneys to shut off the closed circuit TV security system, but they refused to do so and allowed it to remain in operation the entire raid. Since last Monday’s raid, Trump has repeatedly said that it is possible that the FBI could have planted evidence in order to give Joe Biden’s Justice Department something to charge him with since, as others have speculated, the partisan Jan. 6 Committee hearings have yet to produce anything significant.

“The FBI and others from the Federal Government would not let anyone, including my lawyers, be anywhere near the areas that were rummaged and otherwise looked at during the raid on Mar-a-Lago,” Trump wrote on Truth Social last week, The Post noted. “Everyone was asked to leave the premises, they wanted to be left alone, without any witnesses to see what they were doing, taking or, hopefully not, ‘planting.’ Why did they STRONGLY insist on having nobody watching them, everybody out? Obama and Clinton were never ‘raided,’ despite big disputes!” he added. Trump was physically in New York City when the raid took place. Neither he nor any of his family have publicly said they were able to watch the raid as it unfolded.

DeSantis

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“I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you! ”

FBI Took Documents Protected By Attorney-Client Privilege From Mar-a-Lago (CB)

The FBI grabbed documents that were protected by attorney-client privilege, and possibly executive privilege, during its raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The Department of Justice opposed the request of the former president’s attorneys to appoint a special master to review the records, a source said to Fox News exclusively. Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News Saturday that the former president’s team was informed that boxes labeled A-14, A-26, A-43, A-13, A-33, and a set of documents—all seen on the final page of the FBI’s property receipt —contained information covered by attorney-client privilege.

The FBI seized classified records from Trump’s Palm Beach home during its unprecedented Monday morning raid, including some marked as top secret. But the former president is disputing the classification, saying the records have been declassified. “Sources told Fox News that some records could be covered by executive privilege, which gives the president of the United States and other officials within the executive branch the authority to withhold certain sensitive forms of advice and consultation between the president and senior advisors,” Fox News said. The former president responded to the news on his truth Social account on Sunday, saying “Oh great! It has just been learned that the FBI, in its now famous raid of Mar-a-Lago, took boxes of privileged “attorney-client” material, and also “executive” privileged material, which they knowingly should not have taken. By copy of this TRUTH, I respectfully request that these documents be immediately returned to the location from which they were taken. Thank you!

Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart unsealed the warrant on Friday after a request from both the Department of Justice and the former president. The warrant said that the search be done “on or before August 19, 2022,” and “in the daytime 6:00 am. to 10:00 p.m.” “The locations to be searched include the ‘45 Office,’ all storage rooms, and all other rooms or areas within the premises used or available to be used by FPOTUS and his staff and in which boxes or documents could be stored, including all structures or buildings on the estate,” it said. The warrant gave the FBI the authority to seize “all physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed” in violation of U.S. Code.

[..] Trump noted on his Truth Social platform on Friday that he, as president, had already declassified the documents that were confiscated by agents. “Number one, it was all declassified. Number two, they didn’t need to “seize” anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago. It was in secured storage, with an additional lock put on as per their request,” the former president posted. “They could have had it anytime they wanted—and that includes LONG ago. ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS ASK.” he continued.

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He doesn’t defend Trump, he attacks that stupid Act. But all of DC thinks: it might come in handy some time.

Rand Paul Calls To Repeal Espionage Act Following Mar-a-Lago Raid (JTN)

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul called for the Espionage Act to be repealed as the Department of Justice is investigating whether former President Donald Trump mishandled classified materials under the 1917 law. “The espionage act was abused from the beginning to jail dissenters of WWI. It is long past time to repeal this egregious affront to the 1st Amendment,” Paul tweeted on Saturday, including a link to a 2019 article titled, “Repeal the Espionage Act” by Jacob G. Hornberger at the Future of Freedom Foundation. The article described the Espionage Act as a “tyrannical law” that was enacted during World War I “not to punish people for spying but rather for criticizing the draft and the war.”


Hornberger specifically defended WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange, who is facing prosecution under the Espionage Act for releasing what Hornberger describes as “a mountain of evidence disclosing the inner workings and grave wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. national-security establishment.” Paul’s defense of the former president comes despite a tense relationship at times between the two. The FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last week to try and find “physical documents with classification markings,” information about national defense, and “any government and/or Presidential Records created between January 20, 2017, and January 20, 2021,” according to a warrant from the agency.

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“The committee requested transcribed interviews with more than 30 administration officials, but the Biden administration refused to take part.”

House GOP To Issue Scathing Report About Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal (CNN)

At the height of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan there were only 36 State Department officials on the ground at the Kabul airport to process Afghans who were trying to evacuate, according to a soon-to-be released report from House Republicans, despite the department’s claims that they had surged resources to handle the crowds desperately trying to flee. This figure — which meant there was “roughly one consular officer for every 3,444 evacuees” — is one of several previously undisclosed details outlined in the highly critical report examining the chaotic US withdrawal last August.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans’ report, which is being published around one year after the country’s capital fell to the Taliban, reveals additional new details about the Biden administration’s failure to adequately plan for and execute the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The report, a final draft of which was obtained by CNN, also says the administration did not accurately portray the nature of the events on the ground and failed to put a plan in place to prevent American-trained Afghan commandos from being recruited by America’s adversaries.

“A lot of the Biden administration’s evacuation plans were done in the spring 2021 — some even before the president announced the withdrawal. And they were never updated despite the Taliban battlefield gains, despite the deteriorating security situation, and despite the revised intelligence assessments,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. President Joe Biden announced in mid-April 2021 that the US would withdraw all remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of that year — the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that launched America’s war there. While Biden long wanted to end US involvement in the Afghanistan war, he attributed the decision, in part, to the deal brokered with the Taliban by the Trump administration, which had a commitment to withdraw by May 1, 2021.

The House report found that it was not until mid-June 2021 that the US Embassy in Kabul held an Operational Planning Team (OPT) meeting with members of the US military and US diplomats focused on pre-planning for non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO). The meeting was described by one US military officer involved as “the first time” that the embassy began “looking at the possibility of NEO.” Because of the “complete lack of proper planning by the Biden administration” there were consequences: evacuation flights “were taking off at only about 50% of their capacity” five days into the NEO, the report says. The report references slow processing at the gates and mayhem outside the gates — a government evacuation process so chaotic and disorderly that even staffers for Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden were contacting outside groups to try to get people out, representatives for the groups told the committee.

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Is there a more peaceful symbol than a rosary?

Atlantic Op-ed Claims Catholic Rosary Has Become ‘An Extremist Symbol’ (Fox)

Atlantic contributor Daniel Panneton declared that the Catholic rosary has become a “symbol” of religious radicalism. The rosary is a string of beads or knots used by Catholics as they pray a sequence of prayers, but one writer warned they have taken on a far darker meaning in modern times. “Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or ‘rad trad’) Catholics,” Panneton claimed in the Sunday piece titled, “How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol.” He added, “On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.”

Panneton slammed an entire online ecosystem for disseminating imagery featuring Christian warriors both historical and modern, suggesting that “social-media pages are saturated with images of rosaries draped over firearms, warriors in prayer, Deus Vult (‘God wills it’) crusader memes, and exhortations for men to rise up and become Church Militants.” He observed that rosary beads “provide an aide-mémoire for a sequence of devotional prayers, are a widely recognized symbol of Catholicism and a source of strength. And many take genuine sustenance from Catholic theology’s concept of the Church Militant and the tradition of regarding the rosary as a weapon against Satan.”

The Atlantic contributor gave a wide variety of examples of how the modern association between rosaries and fighting men has become marketable to a niche audience, noting that “radical-traditional Catholics sustain their own cottage industry of goods and services,” such as one store that “sells replicas of the rosaries issued to American soldiers during the First World War as ‘combat rosaries.'” The Swiss Guard, who have been protecting the Vatican in their iconic 16th-century armor and uniforms for centuries, were also addressed, as Panneton recounted: “In 2016, the pontifical Swiss Guard accepted a donation of combat rosaries; during a ceremony at the Vatican, their commander described the gift as ‘the most powerful weapon that exists on the market.'”

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This is from Feb 2022, but I include it anyway, to show that the industry relies on not-yet existing tech to keep going. That’s always a very bad sign.

South America’s ‘Lithium Fields’ And The Dark Side Of Our Electric Future (EN)

Lithium extraction fields in South America have been captured by an aerial photographer in stunning high definition. But while the images may be breathtaking to look at, they represent the dark side of our swiftly electrifying world. Lithium represents a route out of our reliance on fossil fuel production. As the lightest known metal on the planet, it is now widely used in electric devices from mobile phones and laptops, to cars and aircraft. Lithium-ion batteries are most famous for powering electric vehicles, which are set to account for up to 60 per cent of new car sales by 2030. The battery of a Tesla Model S, for example, uses around 12 kg of lithium. These batteries are the key to lightweight, rechargeable power. As it stands, demand for lithium is unprecedented and many say it is crucial in order to transition to renewables. However, this doesn’t come without a cost – mining the chemical element can be harmful to the environment.

[..] Gleb Yushin, a professor at the School of Materials and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, US, argues that new battery technology needs to be developed using more common, environmentally-friendly materials. His paper is published in the journal Nature, alongside co-authors including Kostiantyn Turcheniuk. As reserves of lithium and cobalt will not meet future demand, suggested elements to focus on instead are iron and silicon. Researchers like Yushin are working on new battery alternatives that would replace lithium and cobalt (another harmful metal) with less toxic and more easily accessible materials.

As reserves of lithium and cobalt will not meet future demand, suggested elements to focus on instead are iron and silicon. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, iron flow batteries are also cheaper to manufacture, renewable energy veteran Rich Hossfeld told Bloomberg recently, in an article entitled ‘Iron battery breakthrough could eat lithium’s lunch’. “We call on materials scientists, engineers and funding agencies to prioritise the research and development of electrodes based on abundant elements,” maintains Yushin.“Otherwise, the roll-out of electric cars will stall within a decade.”

Lithium Fields’ in the Salar de Atacama salt flats in northern Chile. Tom Hegen

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Totally normal

 

 

Lucky chops

 

 

 

 

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Jan 042020
 


Jack Delano Near Shawboro, North Carolina, Florida migrants on way to Cranberry, NJ 1940

 

The Dubious Official Story Behind the Soleimani Assassination (Whitney Webb)
Israel Had Advance Notice Of US Plan To Kill Iranian General Suleimani (LAT)
How Trump Decided To Kill Iran’s Soleimani (Pol.)
Inside The Plot By Iran’s Soleimani To Attack US Forces In Iraq (R.)
Iraqi PMF Militias Retract Claims Of Medics Targeted By US Airstrike (RT)
The Dogs of War (Kunstler)
Fed Policymakers Broadly See Eye To Eye On 2020 Outlook (R.)
Fed’s Mester Warned Of Inflation Risks, Says Current Policy ‘Well Calibrated’ (R.)
Australian Troops Called To Tackle Fires (BBC)
Slow Burn (John Quiggin)
Australia’s Bushfires Push Countless Species To Extinction (G.)
Mexico President Calls For Julian Assange To Be Released From UK Prison (R.)

 

 

See far too many people pretending they’re far too sure about what’s going on. Mostly in line with their pre-conceived views, but others, too, appear to think there’s shame in not having a strong opinion on things they don’t know much about (there will be a war!). While Israel and Saudi are almost completely missing from those opinions and reports.

First victim of war is truth, guys, and that war for now only exists in opinions. And don’t believe everyone in Iran is in deep mourning now. There, too, in the upper echelons there’s a constant power battle, with lots of bloodshed and torture and renditioned people. Just like in America. Plenty Iranians will be happy to see Soleimani gone.

The Dubious Official Story Behind the Soleimani Assassination (Whitney Webb)

Much has been written by MintPress and other outlets about the long-standing efforts by prominent neoconservatives in the U.S. as well as the Israel lobby and Israeli government to prod the U.S. into a major war with Iran. Neoconservative efforts at regime change in Iran have been decades in the making and the current presidential administration has several notable Iran hawks in prominent positions. Furthermore, both President Trump and his foremost ally in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are facing domestic efforts aimed at removing them from office and are facing fresh elections, giving both leaders incentive to ratchet up tensions abroad to distract from their own domestic conflicts.

Yet, the current pressure facing both Trump and Netanyahu in their respective policies is only the latest factor that has pushed both administrations into a renewed and increasingly desperate push to satisfy the decades-old effort of Iran hawks in both countries to stoke war and “reshape” the Middle East in favor of the U.S.-Israel axis. Given the recent assassination of Soleimani, however, it is essential to point out that the U.S. airstrike targeting the Quds Force leader came just a few months after Israel tried but failed to assassinate the general. Indeed, the most recent of these failed attempts was slated to occur early last October and, per The Times of Israel:

“The assassins planned to dig under a religious site associated with Soleimani’s father and set off an explosion under the building when he was inside, and then try to deflect blame so that it ignited an interfaction[al] religious war. The assassins prepared some 500 kilograms to use for the bomb.” Israel’s government did not comment on the alleged plot, though it is notable that the plan to dig below a Muslim holy site and plant a bomb has been attempted by Israeli extremist groups in the past, groups which have a major foothold in Israel’s current government.


This alleged attempt by Israel to kill Soleimani came after claims that, in 2018, the Trump administration had given Israel a “green light” to assassinate the general. The report claimed that “there is an American-Israeli agreement” that Soleimani is a “threat to the two countries’ interests in the region” and was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida, which is widely considered to be “an Israeli platform for conveying messages to other countries in the Middle East,” according to Israeli media.

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Geez, what a surprise.

Israel Had Advance Notice Of US Plan To Kill Iranian General Suleimani (LAT)

Israel had advance notice of the U.S. plan to kill Iranian military leader Gen. Qassem Suleimani, Israeli military and diplomatic analysts reported Friday night while refraining from providing further details due to heavy military censorship. “Our assessment is that the United States informed Israel about this operation in Iraq, apparently a few days ago,” Barak Ravid, a journalist and commentator with deep sources in the Israeli security establishment, said on Channel 13. An Israeli army officer with knowledge of Israeli military assessments, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to reporters, told the Los Angeles Times that the attack on Suleimani “did not come as a surprise.”

The reactions of Israel’s political leadership to Suleimani’s assassination were mostly positive, though deep concern was registered throughout the leadership. Iran and Israel maintained warm relations for almost four decades before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that overthrew the shah and imposed a theocratic Shiiite Muslim regime that for four decades now has called for “death to Israel” and is accused of backing and masterminding numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets, including the 1992 and 1994 attacks on the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that left over 100 people dead. Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Iranian proxy militia, has in recent years been accused of perpetrating further attacks against Israeli targets in India, Thailand and Bulgaria.


[..] Due to the heightened alarm, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a visit to Greece, where he had signed an agreement for a regional gas pipeline. He made a statement on the tarmac ahead of boarding his flight back to Israel, saying that the United States had the right to defend itself. “Qassem Suleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks. President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defense.” The Israeli army officer described the situation as “definitely higher readiness than usual, but not DEFCON One. We want to err on the side of caution, but we know we are not the first target. We are the second.”

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Lots of stories of Trump spilling the beans before the attack to run of the mill Mar-a-Lago guests. While Howie Carr didn’t know anything until afterwards. Don’t let news outlets shape your opinions for you.

How Trump Decided To Kill Iran’s Soleimani (Pol.)

Hours before the U.S. military sent a Reaper drone to kill one of the most wanted men on the planet, President Donald Trump was relaxing at his palatial Florida properties. In the morning, he played 18 holes at Trump International, his West Palm Beach golf club. At around 3 p.m., he returned to Mar-a-Lago, the historic oceanfront estate he’s branded “the Winter White House,” and waited, donning a navy blue suit with a powder-blue tie and an American flag pinned to his lapel. He’d already made a risky—and potentially world-altering—decision to allow the U.S. military to kill Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces.

Earlier this week, he’d been surrounded at Mar-a-Lago by top officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. Throughout the entire week, Trump sought input from other advisers by phone. “He was calm, cool and collected,” said conservative radio host Howie Carr, who spoke with Trump on Thursday at Mar-a-Lago soon after the news first broke, as the president dined with GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy. “I had no idea there was anything out of the ordinary going on until I got home.”

As rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq intensified over the last two months, the president had granted the Pentagon extraordinary latitude: The U.S. military had his permission to kill Soleimani the next time it had an opportunity to do so, according to a senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record. “We had authority before the strike to take that action,” said the official, who wouldn’t say how recently Trump gave the Pentagon that authorization—whether it was hours, weeks or even months earlier. As recently as New Year’s Eve, the president was telling reporters that he didn’t want war with Iran.


For a man U.S. officials have portrayed as a terrorist mastermind, an evil genius responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, Soleimani often flaunted his influence as he jetted between Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut for meetings with local potentates. “I don’t think it was so hard [to find him] because he was not below the radar in the last two or three years,” said a former senior Israeli government official, who noted that Soleimani had previously moved around under strict operational secrecy. “But the last two or three years, he worked in the open.”

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We simply don’t know what is fact and what fiction. And that’s okay.

Inside The Plot By Iran’s Soleimani To Attack US Forces In Iraq (R.)

In mid-October, Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani met with his Iraqi Shi’ite militia allies at a villa on the banks of the Tigris River, looking across at the U.S. embassy complex in Baghdad. The Revolutionary Guards commander instructed his top ally in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other powerful militia leaders to step up attacks on U.S. targets in the country using sophisticated new weapons provided by Iran, two militia commanders and two security sources briefed on the gathering told Reuters. The strategy session, which has not been previously reported, came as mass protests against Iran’s growing influence in Iraq were gaining momentum, putting the Islamic Republic in an unwelcome spotlight.

Soleimani’s plans to attack U.S. forces aimed to provoke a military response that would redirect that rising anger toward the United States, according to the sources briefed on the gathering, Iraqi Shi’ite politicians and government officials close to Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. Soleimani’s efforts ended up provoking the U.S. attack on Friday that killed him and Muhandis, marking a major escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran. The two men died in air strikes on their convoy at a Baghdad airport as they headed to the capital, dealing a major blow to the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi paramilitary groups it supports. Interviews with the Iraqi security sources and Shi’ite militia commanders offer a rare glimpse of how Soleimani operated in Iraq, which he once told a Reuters reporter he knew like the back of his hand.


Two weeks before the October meeting, Soleimani ordered Iranian Revolutionary Guards to move more sophisticated weapons – such as Katyusha rockets and shoulder-fired missiles that could bring down helicopters – to Iraq through two border crossings, the militia commanders and Iraqi security sources told Reuters. At the Baghdad villa, Soleimani told the assembled commanders to form a new militia group of low-profile paramilitaries – unknown to the United States – who could carry out rocket attacks on Americans housed at Iraqi military bases. He ordered Kataib Hezbollah – a force founded by Muhandis and trained in Iran – to direct the new plan, said the militia sources briefed on the meetings. Soleimani told them such a group “would be difficult to detect by the Americans,” one of the militia sources told Reuters.

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That second strike everyone’s talking about? Did it even happen?

Iraqi PMF Militias Retract Claims Of Medics Targeted By US Airstrike (RT)

The Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) have dropped their claims that a medical convoy was destroyed in a US air raid along Taji road, north of Baghdad. In a new press release cited by several news agencies, the PMF leadership retracted their statement in which the group said their medics were hit by a US airstrike. This happened after Reuters cited Iraqi Army sources who said that six people were killed in a raid near Taji. The Iraqi Army, however, later denied that an airstrike took place there. In a statement quoted by local media, the military urged everyone to be “careful” about spreading unverified information and “rumors” in the future. The US-led coalition in Iraq also said that no air raids have been conducted in that area in recent days.

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“..the little towns that dotted that landscape where all the carnage and horror played out. Not a strip-mall in the whole gorgeous panorama. The rolling fields neatly fenced in the stillness of a summer’s day. A peaceful tranquility we today cannot even imagine.”

The Dogs of War (Kunstler)

In that mercifully quiet week between Christmas and New Years, I re-watched Ken Burns’ documentary of the first Civil War, in contemplation of a possible second. What an almighty bloodbath that was. Thousands butchered in minutes in one battle after another, heads and limbs flying, men turned inside-out, and horses, too. The blue and the gray were hostage to their battlefield tactics and didn’t seem to learn from the insane extravagance of souls wasted in massed assaults against massed artillery again and again and again. The population of the whole nation (Confederacy included) was 31 million in 1860 and the war killed two percent of that, almost entirely young men.

Another impression left by that documentary was the startling beauty of the countryside in that day, and of the little towns that dotted that landscape where all the carnage and horror played out. Not a strip-mall in the whole gorgeous panorama. The rolling fields neatly fenced in the stillness of a summer’s day. A peaceful tranquility we today cannot even imagine. Everything human-scaled and so many buildings graced with beauty deliberately made: pediments, steeples, cupolas, columns, and swags. Walt Disney could not have imagined a more tender and appealing place. The lyrical names of those towns are linked to rivers of blood: Shiloh, Spotsylvania, Missionary Ridge, Cold Harbor….


And the last impression accumulated over each installment was that this we did it to ourselves, and couldn’t seem to stop, just as today various parties to current events can’t seem to stop their provocations to a new episode of national domestic violence. This time it is the very government at war with itself, and so far the war is merely legalistic, the battles of lawyers — of which, one senses, we have far too many for our own good. The Department of Justice in particular is at war with itself, one faction in it refusing to cooperate with the other, hiding documents, trafficking in political muck, kluging up the works with deceptions, and still at it in the yet-unresolved case of General Flynn, which should have been thrown out of court months ago based on obvious prosecutorial malice.

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These people think you are really really stupid…

Fed Policymakers Broadly See Eye To Eye On 2020 Outlook (R.)

Federal Reserve policymakers who last year were frequently at odds over where to set U.S. borrowing costs opened 2020 telegraphing confidence in the state of the economy and signaling broad agreement that monetary policy is right where it should be. In their first remarks in the new year, heads of several regional Fed banks noted a strong job market, robust consumer spending and a rising optimism for a resolution to the trade tensions that had nicked growth in the second half of 2019.


And after cutting interest rates three times last year to bring the Fed’s target to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% and ensure global headwinds didn’t short-circuit the longest U.S. economic expansion in history, “I think most of us think that we are well-calibrated now,” Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said in an interview on the sidelines of an economics conference in San Diego. Based on forecasts of her fellow policymakers on the Fed’s rate-setting committee, she said, “the committee thinks a flat path (for interest rates)… is appropriate.” Mester had been among a handful of Fed policymakers who argued last year that the U.S. economy did not need lower rates to continue to grow.

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… so stupid, in fact, that they say whatever sounds good, truth be damned.

Fed’s Mester Warned Of Inflation Risks, Says Current Policy ‘Well Calibrated’ (R.)

Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester, among the Fed policymakers most concerned that easy monetary policy would risk excessive inflation, said on Friday she has put those fears to rest for now and is willing to leave rates at their current level absent some substantial change in the economy. Her comments in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the American Economic Association conference suggest how firmly the Fed is anchored to its current setting for overnight interest rates, fixed in a range of between 1.5% and 1.75% after three rate cuts last year. Advocates for even deeper rate reductions now agree the current setting is helping the economy enough that the Fed can stand pat while Mester and others who worried that lower rates might court faster inflation or risky lending have concluded that at this point there is little cause for concern.


I have been kind of forecasting inflation to go up to 2% for quite a while and we have been undershooting,” said Mester, who assumes a voting role this year on the Fed’s policy-setting committee. Mester, who was skeptical last year that rate cuts were needed, said, “I think we are really well calibrated now.” A rate increase would not be needed, “until I see either financial stability issues looming or some indication that inflation is going to pick up strongly. I don’t see that now and it is not in my forecast.” “You want to see that inflation really is at 2%. You want persistence. You want to be able to say that I am confident now that inflation is meeting our goal,” which was set at 2% in 2012 but never consistently achieved, she said.

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Finally, and even then it’s just reserve troops.

Australian Troops Called To Tackle Fires (BBC)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 3,000 reserve troops will be deployed to help tackle raging bushfires across the country. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said this is the first time this has happened in Australia’s history. Temperatures have surpassed 40C (104F) in parts of south-east Australia. Officials had warned that Saturday was set to be a “dangerous day”. Since September, fires in Australia have killed at least 23 people. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Mr Morrison told reporters: “We have seen this disaster escalate to an entirely new level.”


An emergency warning was issued for areas of eastern Victoria that told remaining residents it was now too late to leave. “The safest option is to plan how you will safely take shelter indoors as conditions worsen,” the warning said, adding: “Leaving now would be deadly.” Residents were instructed to attempt to take shelter indoors or in a large clearing or body of water. Dozens of people are missing and some 1,500 homes have already been lost this fire season. Mr Morrison also announced A$20m (£10m) has been allocated to lease four water bomber planes. Defence force bases would provide temporary accommodation, he said.

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Just think about all the plastics and paints etc. that are burning.

Slow Burn (John Quiggin)

At least eighteen people have already been killed by this season’s bushfires — and, with most of January and all of February still to come, that number is sure to rise. But these dramatic deaths are far outweighed by the hundreds, perhaps thousands, that will ultimately result from the toxic smoke blanketing Australian cities.

The most dangerous component of bushfire smoke are tiny particulates, no more than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, known as PM2.5. Over the past twenty years, studies have shown that high levels of PM2.5 have contributed to millions of premature deaths in highly polluted cities like Beijing and Delhi. Sydney, Canberra and other Australian cities have recently joined this list. In 2016 alone, exposure to PM2.5 contributed to an estimated 4.1 million deaths worldwide from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease and respiratory infections.

Even before the current cataclysm, air pollution was a major health hazard. While Sydney’s prevailing average of 6 micrograms per cubic metre (6 μg/m3) is within international health standards, it is above the levels observed in most European and American cities. A study led by the Sydney Public Health Observatory’s Richard Broome estimated that particulates and associated forms of pollution already account for between 310 and 540 premature deaths annually.

As far as can be determined, the mortality and health risks of PM2.5 are a linear function of the level of exposure. Being exposed to 6 μg/m3 every day for a year, for example, amounts to 2190 “microgram days.” Broome and his colleagues’ work implies that each microgram day is associated with between 0.14 and 0.25 premature deaths. This figure is consistent with a range of international studies they cite.

The overall mortality effects are also a linear function of the number of people exposed. That’s why a city like Delhi, with thirty million people and an average PM2.5 of 150 μg/m3, suffers tens of thousands of premature deaths every year.

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Think anyone cares? Always had the impression white Australia only wants to sell off all resources as fast as they can, because they know they stole all of them to begin with. Before you get caught, make sure the money’s in your pocket.

Australia’s Bushfires Push Countless Species To Extinction (G.)

Close to the Western River on Kangaroo Island, Pat Hodgens had set up cameras to snap the island’s rare dunnart – a tiny mouse-like marsupial that exists nowhere else on the planet. Now, after two fires ripped through the site a few days ago, those cameras – and likely many of the Kangaroo Island dunnarts – are just charred hulks. “It’s gone right through the under storey and that’s where these species live,” said Hodgens, an ecologist at Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, a not-for-profit conservation group. “The habitat is decimated.” On Friday afternoon word came through that three other Land for Wildlife sites protecting dunnarts and other endangered species, including the southern brown bandicoot, had also been consumed by fire on the island off the South Australian coast.


Prof Sarah Legge, of the Australian National University, said the prognosis for the Kangaroo Island dunnart was “not good” and its plight was symbolic of what was happening all across the east coast of Australia. “Many dozens” of threatened species had been hit hard by the fires, she said. In some cases “almost their entire distribution has been burnt”. So far, the Australian bushfire season has burned through about 5.8m hectares of bush, known across the world for its unique flora and fauna. Ecologists say the months of intense and unprecedented fires will almost certainly push several species to extinction. The fires have pushed back conservation efforts by decades, they say, and, as climate heating grips, some species may never recover. Climate scientists have long warned that rising greenhouse gases will spark a wave of extinctions.

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AMLO doesn’t appear to be very effective so far, certainly not internationally. A socialist right on America’s doorstep. Can’t be easy.

Mexico President Calls For Julian Assange To Be Released From UK Prison (R.)

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday called for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be released from prison in London, urging an end to what he described as his “torture” in detention. Assange, 48, is in a British jail for skipping bail when he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he spent nearly seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape that were dropped in November. Assange is also battling U.S. attempts to extradite him over Wikileaks’ publication of vast caches of leaked military documents and diplomatic cables. He faces a lengthy prison term if extradited to the United States.


A U.N. human rights investigator last year said Assange has suffered psychological torture from a defamation campaign and should not be extradited to the United States where he would face a “politicized show trial.” Lopez Obrador, a leftist who has close ties with Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, expressed his solidarity with Assange and said he hoped the former hacker and activist is “forgiven and released” from prison. “I don’t know if he has recognized that he acted against rules and norms of a political system, but at the time these cables demonstrated how the world system functions in its authoritarian nature,” Lopez Obrador said in response to a question about Assange at a regular government news briefing. “Hopefully consideration will be given to this, and he’s released and won’t continue to be tortured.”

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