Mar 192024

Rembrandt van Rijn Christ In The Storm On The Sea Of Galilee 1633
Stolen from Gardner Museum March 18 1990, the single largest property theft in the world. Never recovered.


2024 Could Turn on Smell of Selective Prosecution (Turley)
Trump Lawyers Say Posting $464 Million Bond ‘Impossible’ in NY Fraud Case (ET)
Trump Tells Ramaswamy ‘No’ For VP, But Leaves Cabinet Door Open (ZH)
SCOTUS to Weigh Free Speech Case Regarding Social Media ‘Misinformation’ (Sp.)
Joe Biden’s Parting Gift to America Will be Christian Fascism (Chris Hedges)
Gags and Jibes (Kunstler)
Russia – A Democracy that Works (Paul Craig Roberts)
China To Boycott Ukraine Peace Talks Without Russia – Politico (RT)
Putin’s Firm Stance on Ukraine Highlights NATO’s Impotence (Sp.)
Western Coverage of Russian Elections Awash in Disinformation (Sp.)
EU Boss Calls For ‘War Economy’ (RT)
Macron ‘Trying to Go Backwards’ to Days of Imperial France? (Miles)
UK MP Calls For Death Penalty For Members of Covid Cabal (WT)


















Echo chamber








Elon Lemon



Tucker Shaman





“There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.”

“ unprecedented way of using a state law to effectively prosecute Trump for a federal offense that the Justice Department has already rejected..”

2024 Could Turn on Smell of Selective Prosecution (Turley)

For years, conservatives have objected that there is a two-tier system of justice in this country. I have long resisted such claims, but it has become increasingly difficult to deny the obvious selective prosecution in a variety of recent cases and opinions. I have long stated that the charges against Trump over documents at Mar-a-Lago are strong and based on established precedent. However, the recent decision of Special Counsel Robert Hur not to bring criminal charges against President Joe Biden has undermined even that case. Hur described four decades of Biden serially violating laws governing classified documents. The evidence included Biden telling a third party that he had classified material in his house and actually reading from a classified document to his non-cleared ghostwriter. There is evidence of an effort to destroy evidence and later an effort of the White House to change the report.

There is also Biden’s repeated denial of any knowledge or memory of the documents found in nine locations where he worked or lived. Hur ultimately had to justify the lack of charges based on a belief that he could not secure a conviction from a D.C. jury with an elderly defendant with diminished mental faculties. Although Special Counsel Jack Smith could still proceed on obstruction counts, his prosecution of Trump for the retention and mishandling of national security documents is absurdly in conflict with the treatment Biden is receiving. In New York, the legislature changed the statute of limitations to allow Trump to be sued while New York Attorney General Letitia James effectively ran on a pledge of selectively prosecuting him. She never specified any particular crime, just promising to bag Trump.

Ultimately, James used a law in an unprecedented way to secure an absurd penalty of roughly half a billion dollars, even though no one lost a dime because of the Trump loans. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has also come up with an unprecedented way of using a state law to effectively prosecute Trump for a federal offense that the Justice Department has already rejected. The same odor has been lingering in the Hunter Biden cases. The Justice Department had reached a ridiculous plea agreement with Hunter Biden that would have allowed for no jail time and a sweeping immunity agreement that would have protected him from all of his other alleged crimes. As the plea agreement fell apart in court, the prosecutor admitted that he had never seen a defendant given such a deal over his long career. This came after the Justice Department had allowed the statute of limitations to run out on major felonies and scuttled efforts to conduct searches and interviews. Even after that embarrassing hearing, the Justice Department was still trying to preserve the agreement.

[..] In California, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney issued an opinion that found such evidence of selective prosecution against conservative groups. In considering a far-right group, Carney noted that the Justice Department has had sharply different approaches based on the political views of the defendants. Antifa and other leftist groups often see charges dropped, whereas federal prosecutors seek draconian sentences against conservative defendants. “Such selective prosecution leaves the troubling impression that the government believes speech on the left more deserving of protection than speech on the right. The government remains free to prosecute those, like Defendants, who allegedly use violence to suppress First Amendment rights. But it cannot ignore others, equally culpable, because Defendants’ speech and beliefs are more offensive. The Constitution forbids such selective prosecution,” Carney noted.

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THE defining case. SCOTUS better hurry and get involved, or irreversible harm will occur. Like if Engoron and Letitia start selling Trump property.

Trump Lawyers Say Posting $464 Million Bond ‘Impossible’ in NY Fraud Case (ET)

Attorneys for former President Donald Trump urged a New York appeals court again on March 18 to remove or lower the $464 million bond President Trump must pay in less than a week as he tries to appeal a more than $350 million judgment from a civil fraud case. “Enforcing an impossible bond requirement as a condition of appeal would inflict manifest irreparable injury on Defendants, and ‘defeat or impair [this Court’s] appellate jurisdiction,’” they argued. The New York Attorney General’s office, which brought the civil fraud lawsuit, argued the appeals court had no authority to do so, while the defense pointed to other cases where it was found appropriate. The bond President Trump would have to put up would include backdated interest at 9 percent, adding another $100 million to the court ordered fine, which defense attorneys say has been improperly classified as disgorgement of ill-gotten gains. Defense attorneys submitted a hefty, nearly 5,000-page reply brief March 18, reopening arguments that had not been accepted during trial after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had already entered a summary judgment finding President Trump liable for fraud.

They pointed out, as they had repeatedly, that the case named no victims, and therefore no one would be harmed in a delay of payment. “The case involves no actual victims and no award of restitution, and [the attorney general] is fully protected by Defendants’ real-estate holdings. This factor alone warrants a stay,” the defense argued. “The judgment seeks to destroy a successful business that employs many hardworking New Yorkers, has contributed approximately $300 million in taxes to public coffers just during the dates in question in this case, and has made historic contributions to the State and City of New York.” Attorneys also revealed that 30 companies have already turned down the defense’s bond applications, attaching an affidavit from one of the brokers. A $454 million bond would require President Trump to have $1 billion in cash reserves, and four brokers have separate brokers have tried to obtain one so far to no avail. A ruling is expected from the appeals court in three to six weeks.

The attorney general had accused President Trump and other Trump Organization executives of persistent and repeated fraud and artificially inflating President Trump’s net worth through annual statements of financial condition (SFC), which were an informal summary document of Trump Organization assets. After a 45-day bench trial, Justice Engoron had ruled for the plaintiffs on all claims, setting disgorgement at more than $350 million in line with the calculation an expert witness called by the state devised. The judge had also put a ban on President Trump holding a director position in any financial or legal entity in the state for three years or taking out loans from any financial institution chartered in the state, and more limited bans for his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. Crucially, he extended the third-party monitorship of Trump Organization, with future reviews based on the monitor’s report for additional penalties including the extension of monitorship and even business certificate cancellations.

Defense attorneys argued the judgment was full of “manifold errors,” including the disregard of the statute of limitations set by the appeals court on both claims and disgorgement, the “ridiculously” valuing Mar-a-Lago between $18 million and $27 million, and “a massive disgorgement award in the absence of any evidence that misrepresentations caused the supposedly ill-gotten proceeds.” “Supreme Court double- and triple-counted damages, and committed elementary errors in the process, such as conflating the proceeds of a sale with the profits from that sale,” the defense attorneys argued. “Such basic mistakes would have been prevented if this case had been allowed to be adjudicated in the Commercial Division, where it belonged.” The defense attorneys argued that the disgorgement award was “unconstitutional,” as it violates the excessive fines clause in both the U.S. and New York constitutions, calling it an “irrational, punitive sanction.”

“This case has no victims, no damages, and no actual financial losses,” the brief reads. Defendants argue that their business partners—including Deutsche Bank and the Zurich financial group—were “sophisticated” major financial institutions that testified they did their own analyses, were aware of the Trump Organization SFC disclaimers, and would not have changed the terms offered to Trump Organization “in light of the alleged ’misrepresentations’” in the SFCs as the attorney general presented at trial. The massive figure is not an objective one; the state needed to tease out the portion of profit earned by Trump Organization that would have been a result only of inflated numbers presented on the SFCs. The state presented an expert who created formulas to calculate the figure, and defense attorneys sought to show through their own expert testimonies that the profits were not “ill-gotten.” In court filings, the defense also argued that several of these calculations relied on transactions that were outside of the statute of limitations, and faulted the trial court for allowing this.

The attorney general had argued that the transactions were, under the continuing wrongs doctrine, distinct violations that each restarted the statute of limitations period, but the appeals court had previously found the doctrine did not apply to this case.“The proper application of this Court’s previous ruling forecloses over 75 percent of the judgment,” the defense argued. About $351 million of the disgorgement, after interest, falls outside the statute of limitations, the defense argued. This covers the loans for Trump National Doral Miami, Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in New York, and Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, all in 2012, as well as the Old Post Office building in Washington in 2013. Yet even with the statute of limitations properly applied, the defense argues there was no show of causation that the alleged misrepresentations on the SFCs resulted in these specific gains. The case was brought under Executive Law § 63(12) and the defense argued the statutes are “inapplicable to the facts of this case in the first place,” and was “wrongfully relied upon” by both the state attorneys and court. The defense attorneys blasted the attorney general for using cases that had no relation to the Executive Law § 63(12), including one involving attorney disbarment, to argue against a stay of penalties during appeal. The appeals court had already temporarily stayed some of the nonmonetary penalties ordered, which the defense argued should continue throughout the appeal.

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Trump Tells Ramaswamy ‘No’ For VP, But Leaves Cabinet Door Open (ZH)

Donald Trump ‘personally told’ Vivek Ramaswamy that he’s been ruled out as a running mate, however the former president is eyeing a Cabinet job including the Homeland Security secretary, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. According to the report, “Some Trump allies see Ramaswamy as ideal for the job because they say he excels at public speaking and, as an Indian-American son of an immigrant, could neutralize criticism of sweeping immigration restrictions.” “Their conversation is just one of many Trump has had recently with allies about administration positions as he seized hold of the Republican nomination. Loyalty, ideological compatibility and perceived electoral power are the metrics by which Trump is evaluating possible picks, according to people familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Those who have impressed Trump and his team for possible Cabinet roles include another former GOP primary foe, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, as well as Representative Elise Stefanik and former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.” -Bloomberg

Trump is apparently looking for a running mate who isn’t “motivated by the limelight,” but who will give the former president a significant edge. According to the report, none of the VP picks circulating have impressed Trump much, and his list of options has only grown longer, instead of shorter. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is rumored to be a top candidate to serve as Trump’s deep state handler chief of staff. That said, after Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn were promptly squeezed out by dark forces the first time around, Trump is looking for a series of top-level aides and Cabinet members who can enable his agenda. Oh boy! Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law whose bed Bibi Netanyahu slept in one time, “has recently increased his presence in the campaign,” and has been “calling and texting to offer suggestions.” Trump Jr., meanwhile, has also expressed interest in a key transition role – in part because he can act as a gatekeeper to block people who are opposed by the MAGA movement.

In response to an inquiry by Bloomberg, senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said it’s way too early to start speculating about Cabinet or senior roles. “Apparently somebody has decided to list out everyone who has ever met President Trump and is now speculating as to their potential participation in a second Trump administration. The truth is that unless you hear it directly from President Trump or his campaign, this is all b.s.,” he said. “Those who have participated in the discussions describe a quintessentially Trump experience, in which the former president peppers the conversation with political observations and media critiques as a steady stream of food is served, while he keeps an eye on cable news or chooses his favorite musical selections over dinner at his Mar-a-Lago club. The former president has repeatedly expressed admiration for Burgum, a billionaire who mounted a short-lived presidential bid. He has been discussed as a good fit to lead a transition – and possibly the Energy Department. Burgum, like Trump, is a supporter of fossil fuels.” -Bloomberg

If we’re still believing the hype, one person who’s been cast out of the Trump tent is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), following his failed primary challenge. Trump “regularly vents” about DeSantis in private conversations, however the pair did reportedly have a phone conversation shortly after DeSantis dropped out.

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“..the government is seemingly gaining, gathering, usurping new powers by leaning on these intermediaries in order to do things that it isn’t authorized to do itself.”

SCOTUS to Weigh Free Speech Case Regarding Social Media ‘Misinformation’ (Sp.)

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will decide whether or not the government disobeyed the constitutional right to free speech when they pressured social media platforms to take down content they labeled as misinformation. The case stems primarily from the Biden administration’s efforts to remove misinformation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the US 2020 presidential election, according to a recent report.
SCOTUS is essentially tasked with deciding if the First Amendment has limits regarding what is written online and on social media platforms. “The key free speech issue is how far can the government go in verbally arm-twisting private speech intermediaries to remove speech before that constitutes a First Amendment violation or state action,” said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida. SCOTUS will be looking at two cases regarding free speech rights. In Murthy v. Missouri, the social media case, a suit was brought by five social media users and the Republican attorney generals of Missouri and Louisiana.

“By silencing speakers and entire viewpoints across social-media platforms, defendants systematically injure plaintiffs’ ability to participate in free online discourse,” state officials from Louisiana and Missouri wrote. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim that they were censored on social media regarding several topics including: a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election; the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic; the efficiency of measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; and the integrity of the US 2020 election. A federal district judge in Louisiana found that seven groups of Biden administration officials violated the First Amendment because they “coerced” or “significantly encouraged” changing social media platforms’ content-moderation decisions. The Biden administration argued that the social media users and states lack legal standing in their case, but said officials must be free “to inform, to persuade, and to criticize”, according to filings.

“The court imposed unprecedented limits on the ability of the president’s closest aides to speak about matters of public concern, on the FBI’s ability to address threats to the nation’s security, and on CDC’s ability to relay public-health information,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who represents the government before SCOTUS, said. SCOTUS will also hear an appeal from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over comments made by Maria Vullo, a former New York State official, after she urged insurance companies and banks to abandon their relationship with gun-promoting groups after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The group says that Vullo, who served as the former New York State Department of Financial Services superintendent, violated the group’s First Amendment rights. Vullo reportedly sent out “guidance letters” to businesses and in a press statement called on banks and insurance companies operating in New York to consider the “reputational risks” in doing business with the NRA or other gun groups.

“In both cases, the government doesn’t actually have the power to regulate speech or to decide whether the NRA can access banking institutions or not,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, adding that “the government is seemingly gaining, gathering, usurping new powers by leaning on these intermediaries in order to do things that it isn’t authorized to do itself.” David Greene, the civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said US officials will not lose their ability to combat misinformation or disinformation, but adds that they do have a responsibility to not appear as coercive or forceful. “There are two main issues, and that is what do courts look at to determine whether and at what point a government crosses the line from voicing its opinion about how a social media platform should treat a specific post to unconstitutionally coercing the censorship, the negative moderation of that post,” he said. “There’s no disagreement that there is a point at which it becomes unconstitutional, but what the parties disagree on is what is that line and what is the appropriate analysis for setting that line, what factors to consider?

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Excuse me, Chris?!

“..Our imperial presidency, if Donald Trump returns to power, will shift effortlessly into a dictatorship that emasculates the legislative and judicial branches..”

Joe Biden’s Parting Gift to America Will be Christian Fascism (Chris Hedges)

Joe Biden and the Democratic Party made a Trump presidency possible once and look set to make it possible again. If Trump returns to power, it will not be due to Russian interference, voter suppression or because the working class is filled with irredeemable bigots and racists. It will be because the Democrats are as indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza as they are to immigrants, the poor in our impoverished inner cities, those driven into bankruptcy by medical bills, credit card debt and usurious mortgages, those discarded, especially in rural America, by waves of mass layoffs and workers, trapped in the serfdom of the gig economy, with its job instability and suppressed wages. Biden and the Democrats, along with the Republican Party, gutted antitrust enforcement and deregulated banks and corporations, allowing them to cannibalize the nation.

They backed legislation in 1982 to green light the manipulation of stocks through massive buybacks and the “harvesting” of companies by private equity firms that resulted in mass layoffs. They pushed through onerous trade deals, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, the greatest betrayal of the working class since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which crippled union organizing. They were full partners in the construction of the vast archipelagos of the U.S. prison system — the largest in the world — and the militarization of police to turn them into internal armies of occupation. They fund the endless wars. The Democrats dutifully serve their corporate masters, without whom most of them, including Biden, would not have a political career. This is why Biden and the Democrats will not turn on those who are destroying our economy and extinguishing our democracy. The slops in the trough would dry up. Advocating reforms jeopardize their fiefdoms of privilege and power.

They fancy themselves as “captains of the ship,” labor journalist Hamilton Nolan writes, but they are “actually the wood-eating shipworms who are consuming the thing from inside until it sinks.” Authoritarianism is nurtured in the fertile soil of a bankrupt liberalism. This was true in Weimar Germany. It was true in the former Yugoslavia. And it is true now. The Democrats had four years to institute New Deal reforms. They failed. Now we will pay. A second Trump term will not be like the first. It will be about vengeance. Vengeance against the institutions that targeted Trump – the press, the courts, the intelligence agencies, disloyal Republicans, artists, intellectuals, the federal bureaucracy and the Democratic Party. Our imperial presidency, if Donald Trump returns to power, will shift effortlessly into a dictatorship that emasculates the legislative and judicial branches. The plan to snuff out our anemic democracy is methodically laid out in the 887-page plan amassed by the Heritage Foundation called “Mandate for Leadership.”

The Heritage Foundation spent $22 million to draw up policy proposals, hiring lists and transition plans in Project 2025 to save Trump from the rudderless chaos that plagued his first term. Trump blames “snakes,” “traitors,” and the “Deep State” for undermining his first administration. Our industrious American fascists, clutching the Christian cross and waving the flag, will begin work on day one to purge federal agencies of “snakes” and “traitors,” promulgate “Biblical” values, cut taxes for the billionaire class, abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, stack the courts and federal agencies with ideologues and strip workers of the few rights and protections they have left. War and internal security, including the wholesale surveillance of the public, will remain the main business of the state. The other functions of the state, especially those that focus on social services, including Social Security and protection of the vulnerable, will wither away.

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“misinformation” — that is, truth about what our government is doing that cannot be allowed to enter the public arena..”

Gags and Jibes (Kunstler)

Have you noticed how quickly our Ukraine problem went away, vanished, phhhhttttt? At least from the top of US news media websites. The original idea, as cooked-up by departed State Department strategist Victoria Nuland, was to make Ukraine a problem for Russia, but instead we made it a problem for everybody else, especially ourselves in the USA, since it looked like an attempt to kick-start World War Three. Now she is gone, but the plans she laid apparently live on. Our Congress so far has resisted coughing up another $60-billion for the Ukraine project — most of it to be laundered through Raytheon (RTX), General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin — so instead “Joe Biden” sent Ukraine’s President Zelensky a few reels of Laurel and Hardy movies. The result was last week’s prank: four groups of mixed Ukraine troops and mercenaries drawn from sundry NATO members snuck across the border into Russia’s Belgorod region to capture a nuclear weapon storage facility while Russia held its presidential election. I suppose it looked good on the war-gaming screen.

Alas, the raid was a fiasco. Russian intel was on it like white-on-rice. The raiders met ferocious resistance and retreated into a Russian mine-field — this was the frontier, you understand, between Kharkov (Ukr) and Belgorod (Rus) — where they were annihilated. The Russian election concluded Sunday without further incident. V.V. Putin, running against three other candidates from fractional parties, won with 87 percent of the vote. He’s apparently quite popular. Meanwhile, Saturday night, “Joe Biden” turned up at the annual Gridiron dinner thrown by the White House [News] Correspondents’ Association, where he told the ballroom of Intel Community quislings: “You make it possible for ordinary citizens to question authority without fear or intimidation.” The dinner, you see, is traditionally a venue for jokes and jibes. So, this must have been a gag, right?

Try to imagine The New York Times questioning authority. For instance, the authority of the DOJ, the FBI, the DHS, and the DC Federal District court. Instant hilarity, right? As it happens, though, today, Monday, March 18, 2024, attorneys for the State of Missouri (and other parties) in a lawsuit against “Joe Biden” (and other parties) will argue in the Supreme Court that those government agencies above, plus the US State Department, with assistance from the White House (and most of the White House press corps, too), were busy for years trying to prevent ordinary citizens from questioning authority. For instance, questioning the DOD’s Covid-19 prank, the CDC’s vaccination op, the DNC’s 2020 election fraud caper, the CIA’s Frankenstein experiments in Ukraine, the J6 “insurrection,” and sundry other trips laid on the ordinary citizens of the USA.

Specifically, Missouri v. Biden is about the government’s efforts to coerce social media into censoring any and all voices that question official dogma. The case is about birthing the new concept — new to America, anyway — known as “misinformation” — that is, truth about what our government is doing that cannot be allowed to enter the public arena, making it very difficult for ordinary citizens to question authority. The government will apparently argue that they were not coercing, they were just trying to persuade the social media execs to do this or that. Maybe one of the justices might ask how it came to be that a Chief Counsel of the FBI, James Baker, after a brief rest-stop at a DC think tank, happened to take the job as Chief Counsel at Twitter in 2020. That was a mighty strange switcheroo, don’t you think? And ordinary citizens were not generally informed of it until the fall of 2022, when Elon Musk bought Twitter and delved into its workings.

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“No, the election was not rigged. Americans are so accustomed to their elections being rigged that they think all other countries’ elections are rigged also..”

Russia – A Democracy that Works (Paul Craig Roberts)

With a 75% voter turnout, 87% of the turnout voted for Putin. No, the election was not rigged. Americans are so accustomed to their elections being rigged that they think all other countries’ elections are rigged also. The whore American media instantly began the required chant: “a fishy election.” Of course, American elections are never fishy, not even when under cover of darkness vote totals are suddenly reversed. The election turnout is high in Russia because Putin, like Ronald Reagan and unlike Biden, is a leader who focuses on unifying the country. From a Russian national perspective, there is little, if anything, about which to disagree with Putin. His recent address to the Russian people shows his concern as well as the active measures he is implementing to support families and soldiers. It is rare for a country to have a leader who is not trying to survive being in office or using the office for his personal benefit.

There is no hope for US/Russian relations. The budget and power of the US military/security complex, a powerful lobby encompassing the armaments industry, the Congress elected by campaign contributions, and the CIA and FBI, depends on having an enemy. Russia is the enemy of choice. Americans were trained by decades of Cold War that there is a “Russian threat.” Another reason is that US foreign policy in the Middle East is controlled by the Israel Lobby, second in power only to the US military/security complex and often united with it. Israel’s interests in the Middle East differ completely from Russia’s interests. Israel’s interest is the destruction of Iran, which would open a pathway for CIA “jihadis” to flow into the Russian Federation and the former Central Asian provinces of the Soviet Union. Instead of one Ukraine, there would be many. Putin has the concept of good and evil. He is learning that in the West he faces evil. The Russian Church sees it as well and supports him.

Some Russians are still influenced by the American propaganda from “Voice of America” and “Radio Free Europe” during the Cold War of the 20th century. But as the previous lack of political support for Alexei Navalny and the absence of support for Putin’s challengers demonstrate, the Russian people understand that they face a threat from Washington’s empire, the response to which requires national unity. Meanwhile in the US the Democrats and the corporations have the borders wide open in order to replace higher cost American employees and Republican voters. Unity in America and throughout the Western World has been destroyed by Identity Politics. In the Western World no government represents the ethnic base of the country. Governments only represent the elite ruling interests. President Trump tried to change that, and we have seen what happened to him.

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Meaningless without China.

China To Boycott Ukraine Peace Talks Without Russia – Politico (RT)

China will boycott the talks to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict unless Moscow will have a seat at the table, Politico magazine reported on Monday, citing officials familiar with the matter. According to Politico, the message was “amplified” during Chinese Eurasia envoy Li Hui’s European tour earlier this month. During his March 7 trip to Kiev, Li met with Andrey Yermak, chief of staff of President Vladimir Zelensky. Ukraine will likely be discussed during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China next month. Chinese President Xi Jinping will then travel to Paris in early May and meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Politico said. The South China Morning Post reported this month that Li told EU officials that a potential peace summit cannot turn into “a conference that produces a plan that is pushed down the Russians’ throat.”

Unlike many Western countries, China has refused to blame Russia for the ongoing conflict and stressed that the fighting can only be stopped through diplomatic means. In 2023, Beijing unveiled a 12-point roadmap to a peace settlement, urging both sides to de-escalate. Kiev has since rejected the Chinese proposal. Ukraine insists that a tangible peace can only be negotiated on Zelensky’s terms, which include the withdrawal of Russian forces from the “illegally occupied” territory of Ukraine. Moscow has rejected this demand as a non-starter, stressing that it will not surrender Crimea and four other former Ukrainian regions that joined Russia after holding referendums on the matter.

Meaningful negotiations between Moscow and Kiev effectively broke down in the spring of 2022, with both sides accusing each other of making unrealistic demands. Russian President Vladimir Putin subsequently said that Ukrainian negotiators had initially agreed to some of Russia’s terms, but then abruptly reneged on the deal. Kiev’s lead negotiator David Arakhamia revealed in November 2023 that his team’s main goal was to “buy time” for the Ukrainian military. Switzerland has proposed to host a major peace summit sometime this year. However, no specific date has been yet set, and no list of potential participants has been revealed.

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“..the whole name of the game is to keep it going without an obvious defeat until November, so that Biden has some reasonable prospect of not having to run having lost a war..”

Putin’s Firm Stance on Ukraine Highlights NATO’s Impotence (Sp.)

On Monday, Sputnik’s Critical Hour spoke to Ray McGovern, who served as a CIA analyst for 27 years and co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern explained Putin’s approach to a possible battle with NATO, as French President Emmanuel Macron has toyed with the idea of putting boots on the ground—a sentiment his Western counterparts have vehemently rejected. “This business about Macron and some of the European leaders saying, ‘oh, my God, we can’t let Putin win in Ukraine,’ it doesn’t really square with what’s reality here because there is no way to prevent Russia from winning in Ukraine except by use of nuclear weapons,” said McGovern. “What [Putin] has done is just reminded people in NATO that if they send troops into Ukraine, there’s going to be a fight with Russia, and a fight with Russia would be very dangerous because they have weapons that NATO doesn’t have—such as hypersonic missiles,” McGovern explained, adding that Russia’s weapons are “fast” and “precise” and can cause a lot of damage without any “nuclear fallout, figuratively or literally”.

“The Western press has taken to accusing Putin of threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons,” McGovern added. “[But] he has not raised the issue of tactical nuclear weapons. It’s the US that is raising this, which makes me suspicious. Does the US realize that there’s no way they can stop Russia in Ukraine short of using tactical nuclear weapons, which in my view happens to be the case?” “And so, they are considering that and preparing the propaganda play by blaming the Russians and specifically Putin,” the former CIA analyst added. Putin spoke to reporters and journalists following his election victory, and said that at “some point” Russia could set up a buffer zone in Kiev-controlled territories in order to protect the Russian population from Ukrainian strikes.

The president explained that if and when Russia considers it appropriate, they will establish a “security zone that would be quite difficult for the adversary to overcome with its weapons, primarily of foreign origin.” “This went back a whole year,” said McGovern of the buffer zones. “[Sergey] Lavrov, the [Russian] Foreign Minister said they will be satisfied with the Donbass and those other two oblasts but, as long as there continues to be longer range artillery and missile range that much farther to the west, they’re going to have to go. “So Putin made that very clear just the other day saying, ‘look, there needs to be a cordon sanitaire. There needs to be a kind of buffer zone, a zone where if you have weapons that you’re aiming at us, it’s got to be that much more towards the West that we will draw this line,’” the analyst clarified.

“As far as what the Ukrainians are trying to do, they’re trying to show in one burst of energy that they really have the initiative, or at least they can take an initiative and they got slaughtered just over the weekend. They’re all trying to show the US Congress that there’s still life in the Ukrainian military—all they need is another $60 billion from Mike Johnson, the speaker of the [US] House,” McGovern added. “In my view, the whole name of the game is to keep it going without an obvious defeat until November, so that Biden has some reasonable prospect of not having to run having lost a war,” he said.

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“Your criticisms don’t mean anything to anyone anymore. You are literally the emperor with no clothes.”

Western Coverage of Russian Elections Awash in Disinformation (Sp.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin will return to the Kremlin this year with a renewed mandate, having won 87% of the vote in an election with over 77% turnout. The outcome suggests strong support for the leader among the Russian public, but Western media has repeatedly attempted to delegitimize the presidential contest with a combination of misleading characterizations, half-truths, and outright lies. International relations and security analyst Mark Sleboda returned to Sputnik’s Fault Lines program on Monday to break down mainstream media coverage of the election and explain why Putin enjoys such massive support in Russia.“Putin has won this election by stunning margins,” said host Jamarl Thomas, with early results showing a convincing win for the Russian president immediately after polls closed on Sunday. “On some level people expected Putin to win it, and the question was going to be how much enthusiasm was there going to be in this race? And, apparently, there’s been a lot of it.”

“All of the polls, of course – domestic polls, opposition polls, foreign polls, take your pick – whichever ones you don’t want to trust, they all show the same thing for the election,” noted Sleboda. “Glancing over the absurdity of the Western media, it’s quite obvious they are not going to recognize the results of this election at all, which will make even a slim hope of diplomatic settlement of the current conflict in Ukraine essentially impossible going forward because they will not even recognize the results of the Russian election. But this is nothing new,” Sleboda said. “Take a look at elections in Palestine and Lebanon when the elections didn’t go the way the West wanted,” recalled the analyst. “They just didn’t recognize the results.” The United States has a long history of casting doubt on foreign elections that produce results contrary to the country’s foreign policy aims. In the book Manufacturing Consent, authors Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman recall how the US discounted Nicaragua’s 1984 election, which revealed the Sandinista movement enjoyed the support of more than two-thirds of its citizens.

The United States criticized electoral conditions there even while supporting elections in neighboring Central American countries that returned US allies to power in conditions considered far more repressive, according to international observers. The US then backed violent Contra death squads in the country, fueling a bloody civil war until Nicaraguans were compelled to vote for US-backed forces to quell the conflict. “‘In your country, one of the two major candidates… there’s legal battles trying to keep him off of ballots across the country,’” noted Sleboda, referring to Russian presidential spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s response to Western criticism of the country’s election. “Not to mention the Electoral College and all of the corruption with campaign finance… Your criticisms don’t mean anything to anyone anymore. You are literally the emperor with no clothes.”

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“If we do not get the EU’s response right and do not give Ukraine enough support to stop Russia, we are next..”

EU Boss Calls For ‘War Economy’ (RT)

The EU must reimagine its military strategy and drastically ramp up its defense production in order to help Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia, European Council President Charles Michel said on Monday. He made his call as Kiev has been increasingly warning about ammunition shortages. “Russia is a serious military threat to our European continent and global security. If we do not get the EU’s response right and do not give Ukraine enough support to stop Russia, we are next,” Michel wrote in an op-ed published in the newspaper La Libre Belgique and news website Euractiv. The EU chief argued that “for decades, Europe has failed to invest sufficiently in our security and defense,” and now urgently needs a “a radical and irreversible shift in our thinking towards a strategic security mindset.”

We must therefore be defense-ready and shift to a ‘war economy’ mode. It’s time to take responsibility for our security. We can no longer count on others or be at the mercy of election cycles in the US or elsewhere. The bloc’s defense production has increased by 50% since the start of the conflict in February 2022, Michel said, adding that the bloc will “double ammunition production to over 2 million shells yearly, by the end of next year.” The EU has been struggling to procure enough weapons and ammunition for Kiev’s needs as Ukrainian and international politicians and experts, as well as soldiers of the battlefield, are blaming shortages for the losses of territory to Russia.

The shipments were further delayed when US President Joe Biden’s $61 billion aid package got stuck in Congress due to the political in-fighting between Democrats and Republicans. The bill remains stalled due to the opposition of some GOP legislators. The situation with the supply of Western air defense systems is particularly dire, according to the New York Times. The newspaper cited an official US assessment in early February that, without replenishment, Ukraine’s air defenses could operate only until March 2024. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has renewed his call for additional deliveries, warning in February that an “artificial deficit of weapons” would only help Russia.


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Le petit roi.

Macron ‘Trying to Go Backwards’ to Days of Imperial France? (Miles)

“Ever since its ignominious defeat in the Napoleonic wars, France is entrapped in the predicament of countries that get sandwiched between great powers,” began a provocative article recently published on the Indian Punchline blog. As other European countries have accepted the United States as the great power of the Western world, France has never fully given up its global aspirations, argues M.K. Bhadrakumar. And what better leader to carry the torch than one who once confided France needs a king and sometimes, according to his critics, appears to see himself as one? Columnist and political cartoonist Ted Rall joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program on Monday to discuss the case of Emmanuel Macron, his comments about the war in the Donbass, and whether the French president’s megalomania borders on the pathological. “One of the things I used to say during the early days of the war on terror was that the United States should follow the example of France,’ said Rall. “Which back in the 2000s seemed to have accepted its fate as a post-colonial, post-imperialistic power, albeit still an important country in Europe.”

“France, at the time, seemed like it had… accepted that colonialism was a bad idea and that they needed to redirect their resources away from militarism and more toward their own people,” he continued. “Maybe he didn’t read his history. Maybe he’s too young to remember that glorious period when France, finally in the 80s and 90s, was able to start establishing a major social safety net that created free college and socialized health care and everything else for its people. But he seems to have forgotten all that and he’s trying to go backwards.” As much of the Western world moved towards neoliberalism in the 80s with leaders like US President Ronald Regan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, France went in the opposite direction, elevating Socialist Francois Mitterrand to power. The French leader left a lasting legacy in the country, investing in infrastructure, social programs and grand construction projects. His focus on domestic concerns was largely shared in the 2000s by President Jacques Chirac, who rejected French support for the war in Iraq.

Macron has broken from tradition in a number of ways, implementing neoliberal economic policy and promoting a strident French militarism. Fortunately, according to Rall, his ambitions aren’t shared by most of the French public. “The good news is, I don’t think that the French people – whether we’re talking about the populist right, Marine Le Pen’s party, or you’re talking about the radical left represented by Jean-Luc Melenchon, or – not much of anyone else is in the mood to follow him down this path to destruction,” said the columnist. “And, for that matter, he doesn’t really even seem to have much cooperation from other European powers in terms of direct involvement to go and fight in Ukraine, to fight the Russians in Ukraine.”

Rall insisted most French people are more worried about domestic concerns such as the economy, unemployment, and demographic issues rather than the conflict in the Donbass. And the last time the French military was directly involved in a major proxy war was in the 1960s, he noted. Additionally, Rall claimed many French people are sympathetic to Russia’s position. “Russia is not a distant country to them,” he claimed. “There are lots and lots of French people who are descended, who are related to Russians. There was a huge white Russian migration after the Russian Revolution to France and very close ties between Russia and France that go back to the Tsarist era.” “I just think they get it and they don’t want to get involved in something that’s so brazenly provocative,” Rall concluded.

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“I’ve always opposed capital punishment on the principle that it’s wrong to take a life so it can’t be right for the state to take a life in revenge. Events have caused me to reconsider my position.”

UK MP Calls For Death Penalty For Members of Covid Cabal (WT)

British Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen last week called for the death penalty for Bill Gates and the “Covid cabal” which he said committed “crimes against humanity” during the Covid pandemic. “Heads of governments around the world and others below them have engaged in what is tantamount to treason against the public,” declared Bridgen in response to a rebuttal from his colleague Penny Mordaunt, who is a long-term World Economic Forum (WEF) member. During a round of Business Questions in the UK House of Commons, Bridgen said: “I’ve always opposed capital punishment on the principle that it’s wrong to take a life so it can’t be right for the state to take a life in revenge. Events have caused me to reconsider my position.” Bridgen continued: “So can we have a debate on crimes against humanity and the appropriate punishment for those who perpetuate, collude and cover up for these atrocities, atrocities and crimes so severe that the ultimate punishment may be required?”

Business Questions are the oral questions to the Leader of the House that MPs are allowed to ask. As expected, UK liberals, including Mordaunt, and media dismissed Bridgen as a “conspiracy theorist.” “It is appropriate that the finale of this session, which has featured so heavily conspiracy theories, should fall to the honorable gentleman,” Mordaunt said of Bridgen. Bridgen said he has reached out to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley and plans to organize a meeting where experts and whistleblowers will present evidence to demonstrate criminal activities conducted by senior members of the UK government and civil service during the pandemic.

Bridgen also said that a senior cabinet minister shared details of a plan to use what he referred to as “turbo cancer” to depopulate the world. According to Bridgen, this revelation unfolded in the tea room at Westminster Houses of Parliament. The unnamed minister allegedly conveyed that Bridgen would be “dead of cancer soon” due to being misled into taking the vaccine during the pandemic. “You can speak out all you want,” the minister told Bridgen. “It doesn’t matter. You are vaccinated. You will be dead of cancer soon.” Bridgen, who has served as Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire since 2010, has become a prominent voice in the fight against globalist authoritarianism in the UK.

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Tiger Long Jump

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Sep 042019

Salvador Dali Neo-Cubist Academy (Composition with Three Figures) 1926


No, I’m still not taking sides in the Brexit proceedings. I have no horse in that fight. As I’ve said 1000 times, I can fully imagine that a country might want to leave the trappings of the EU. But just as often I’ve said that the way the Tories have gone about leaving appears deeply flawed. They have never seemed to take serious the amount of effort required for a smooth exit.

And after being an EU member for 40+ years, that effort could only be gigantic. But not one moment during Theresa May’s ‘reign’, let alone under Boris, have I gotten the impression that the UK is ready. They’ve spent their time fighting amongst each other about the shape and form Brexit should take, but neglected the practical implications of changing 1000s of rules and regulations and treaties and laws.

And sure, maybe a lot of work was done in secret, can’t very well do nothing at all, but none of that would matter very much; you need to show that you’re ready, not merely suggest it. And from what I can gather from the latest numbers I’ve seen, expectations are still that 50-60% of trucks (lorries) will not have the required paperwork once the UK leaves.

This may yet be brought down to 40% or even 30%, but that would still be highly disruptive. And it appears unnecessary. Three years should have been sufficient to accomplish much more and much better. Predictions of 48-hour waiting times for trucks are all over, and for an economy built on just-in-time delivery that won’t do.

But oh well, it may already be water under the bridge. Boris Johnson lost bigly yesterday in a vote over control of the Commons and chances are he’ll lose biglier in today’s vote over a no-deal Brexit bill. Unless he (or actually Dominic Cummings) plays 4-D chess and has seen it all coming from miles away.

I can see Johnson setting things up to get the election he wanted, but I have a harder time seeing why he would want Jeremy Corbyn to have the power to halt that election unless the Commons today vote down any and all odds of a no-deal. But then I’ll be the first to admit I’m not yet a grandmaster in 4-D chess.

Dominic Cummings would have to be, though, to pull this one off. Did he expect 21 Tories to side against ‘their own’ Boris? If they had voted with him, the result would have been 322-307 in favor of Boris. Did they know they wouldn’t get it? Do they know they won’t get it today either? An additional extension to January 31 2020 is also part of the whole package. Will Cummings still be around by then?



Sterling is surging as I write this, And I really must wonder why. Don’t think that’s due to my 4-D skills either. Jeremy Corbyn made it very clear last night that Labour won’t support snap elections (and without them Boris won’t have the 2/3 majority he needs) unless no-deal is off the table for real. Is the pound surging because Boris is plummeting, and Corbyn now calls the shots? Does that make sense? Man, it already hurts in 3-D…

Still, I started writing this, really, because of the title. Couldn’t let that one get away. It’s something used to describe Boris Johnson in a court case in Scotland yesterday by lawyer Aidan O’Neill QC, speaking for a group of 75 MPs and peers who brought the case (against prorogation of Parliament). Love the details here: Aidan O’Neill is a “double silk”, being Queen’s Counsel at both the Scottish and English Bars.

And love the term, obviously, especially since it’s not used in a tabloid, but in a courtroom. By a double silk, no less. In the end, it’s all about the theater. Still, what came to light was not merely a little detail.

Johnson Decided To Suspend Parliament ‘Two Weeks Before Asking Queen’

Boris Johnson had secretly decided to suspend parliament nearly two weeks before asking the Queen, according to memos from Downing Street read out in court. The court in Edinburgh heard the first memo was written by Nikki da Costa, the prime minister’s senior legal adviser, on 15 August and spelled out the plan to suspend parliament in the week beginning 9 September. Her memo was circulated to a very small circle of key figures in Downing Street, including Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, Ed Lister, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s controversial chief adviser.

In public Johnson was then refusing to confirm he planned to do so but he ticked the secret memo and said “yes”, before sending Da Costa a handwritten note the following day, where he criticised the convention where MPs return for several weeks of Commons business after the summer holidays before breaking again for conference season. He told Da Costa the “whole September session [at Westminster] is a rigmarole introduced to show the public that MPs are earning their crust. I don’t see anything especially shocking about this prorogation.”.


It appears very clear what was ‘shocking‘, and if it had not been shocking there would have been no reason to keep it secret. C’mon, at least try.


[..] The documents, revealed in heavily redacted form for the first time at 10.55pm on Monday, were sent to the legal team acting for 75 MPs and peers who are challenging prorogation in the court of session in Edinburgh. Aidan O’Neill QC, acting for the MPs and peers, said he only received an unredacted version of the documents on Tuesday morning.

He told Lord Doherty, the judge hearing the case, this proved Johnson was plotting to suspend parliament at the same time that his government’s lawyers had told the court in Edinburgh the question of prorogation was “hypothetical and academic” because no such decision had been taken. The UK government had also refused to give the court any sworn affidavits setting out why prorogation was necessary and the prime minister had ignored O’Neill’s suggestion last week that he should provide one to the court.


Yeah, well, that’s the ‘shocking’ thing: doing one thing in secret and saying the opposite in public.

Accusing Johnson of “incontinent mendacity, O’Neill said the prime minister had shown an unwillingness to acknowledge and speak the truth. He said: “He has chosen not to be accountable to this court and seeks not to be accountable to parliament.” David Johnston QC, acting for the UK government, apologised to the court for failing to produce the papers until the night before the hearing and admitted the government had breached the deadline for submitting them.

He said they were being produced in the spirit of transparency, to allow the court to understand the process behind the decision to seek prorogation. Reading from a brief prepared by the government, Johnston insisted the legal action was academic because MPs were still being given time to sit and vote before exit day on 31 October, and set their own agenda. “We are not dealing with an executive which is out of control,” he said.

It is very obvious what Boris et al were trying to do and they can call it the Will of the People all they want, but the Will of the People is not, and should not be, secret. Here’s a bit more of what Mr. Double Silk had to say about Boris in Edinburgh, via the Press Association:


Mr O’Neill described Mr Johnson as having a record that was “characterised by incontinent mendacity, an unwillingness or inability to speak the truth”. He pointed to the documents as showing the suspension of parliament policy was being considered much earlier than announced and argued the court had been misled. Mr O’Neill said: “This court was told nothing of that and was told in fact that this judicial review is academic, hypothetical and premature.

“That is not true. This court and these petitioners were being actively misled.” He argued the real reason to suspend parliament was to allow a no-deal Brexit to take place by removing proper scrutiny. Mr O’Neill also said Mr Johnson was trying to govern as an “autocracy” using “one-man rule” by these attempts. He added: “Why were these specific dates chosen? It’s because they think they’re gaming the system.”


Meanwhile, the Edinburgh court has rejected the case against prorogation, which was probably expected. British law, especially because the country has no constitution, is pretty opaque.


The court of session in Edinburgh has rejected an attempt to prevent Boris Johnson’s prorogation of the House of Commons. Lord Doherty, the judge who heard the case, said the decision could not be measured against legal standards as it was matter of high policy and political judgment, and was therefore for politicians to settle. “In my opinion, there has been no contravention of the rule of law. Parliament is the master of its own proceedings. It is for parliament to decide when it sits. Parliament can sit before and after prorogation,” he said.

He told the court it was for parliament, and ultimately the electorate, to hold the government accountable for such political decisions. The case was initiated by the campaigning barrister Jolyon Maugham QC alongside a cross-party group of 75 MPs and peers, including the SNP’s Joanna Cherry. After the ruling Maugham tweeted: “The idea that if the PM suspends parliament the court can’t get involved looses some ugly demons. If he can do it for 34 days, why not 34 weeks, or 34 months? Where does this political power end?

“It’s not the law as I understand it. Yesterday’s hearing was always going to be a bit of a pre-season friendly. We’re now focused on the inner house, hopefully later this week, and then the supreme court on 17 September.”

“Parliament is the master of its own proceedings. It is for parliament to decide when it sits. Parliament can sit before and after prorogation..” There appears to be a contradiction in terms here, which is exactly why the case was brought. On the one hand, the judge says Parliament decides to sit when it wants, on the other he acknowledges it can’t sit when a PM decides to pro-rogue it.

That’s the entire case right there. The PM decides when Parliament sits, not Parliament itself. It’s obvious why a judge wouldn’t want to interfere -hot potato-, just like -and because- it’s far from obvious that (s)he can. Ergo: the PM rules the UK. Not Parliament. Parliament is decoration. Amusing at times, but then decoration might as well be, since it’s the only function it has.

I’m done, One last thing. I was reading back some things from last week and happenstanced on this Boris quote: “We asked the people to vote on whether they wanted to stay in or leave the EU; they voted to leave by a big majority.”.

The vote was 51.89%. Makes you wonder how he would define a small majority. But you know, I’m good. To see Boris accused of incontinent mendacity made my day. And I don’t even have anything against him. It’s all just theater. The entire British political system is (and do throw in the Queen, as hard as you can). Just theater, that much is obvious now, if it wasn’t already.

And all these MPs are pretending they didn’t already know. Hello! You’re on the Truman Show!