May 222024
 


Roy Lichtenstein Crying girl 1964

 

Judge Merchan Becomes an Oddity in his Own Courtroom (Turley)
Lawrence O’Donnell Mocked Over Pathetic Defense of Michael Cohen (Turley)
Biden Drains Entire Northeast Gasoline Reserve In Bid To Lower Gas Prices (ZH)
Estonia PM Calls For Breakup Of Russia (RT)
Zelensky ‘Yelling At Generals’ – The Economist (RT)
West Sweating Over Zelensky’s Crashing Popularity – Russian Intel (RT)
Zelensky Wants NATO To Shoot Down Russian Missiles (RT)
Nuland Comments On Potential Official NATO Deployment To Ukraine (RT)
Let Ukraine Use US Weapons To Strike Inside Russia – Nuland (RT)
Lavrov Reveals Zelensky’s ‘Hysterical’ Demand for Support in Switzerland Talks (Sp.)
Ukraine ‘a Classic Failed State’ – Medvedev (RT)
FBI Agents Were Prepared for Secret Service Resistance at Mar-a-Lago (ET)
The Failure of Western Financial Sanctions (Metri)
Klaus Schwab Steps Down As World Economic Forum Executive Chairman (ZH)
Assange Granted ‘Last Chance Appeal’ For Freedom (Cradle)

 

 

Elon Musk: “In sharp contrast, X supports child safety bills”

 

 

Leavitt
https://twitter.com/i/status/1792631963355881787

 

 

Pam Bondi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1792942935861850122

 

 

 

 

Bobb

 

 

 

 

“The judge chastised Costello and even challenged him: “Are you staring me down?” In fact, it was hard not to stare. What is happening in the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan is anything but ordinary.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.”

Judge Merchan Becomes an Oddity in his Own Courtroom (Turley)

The completion of the testimony of Michael Cohen left the prosecution of Donald Trump, like its star witness, in tatters. In the final day of cross-examination, Cohen admitted to committing larceny in stealing tens of thousands of dollars from his client. Even more notably, he admitted to the larceny on the stand — after the statute of limitations had passed. There will be no dead felony zapped back into life against Cohen, as it was for Trump. Cohen clearly has found a home for his unique skill as a convicted, disbarred serial perjurer. It was not the first time that prosecutors looked the other way as Cohen admitted to major criminal conduct: In a prior hearing, Cohen admitted under oath that he lied in a previous case where he pleaded guilty to lying. If that is a bit confusing, it was just another day in the life of Michael Cohen, who appears only willing to tell the truth if he has no other alternative.

The result is truly otherworldly. You have a disbarred lawyer not only casually discussing lies and uncharged crimes, but prosecutors who proceeded to get him to remind the jury that he is not facing any further criminal charges. If any one of those jurors had stolen tens of thousands of dollars, they would be given a fast trip to the hoosegow. Yet Cohen then matter-of-factly said he plans to run for Congress due to his “name recognition” — the ultimate proof that it does not matter whether you are famous or infamous, so long as they spell your name right. As a legislator, Cohen would have the unique ability to say he will not be corrupted by Congress — because he came to Congress corrupted. While most members wait to take office to commit felonies, Rep. Cohen would show up with a self-affirming criminal record. He could then take one of the few oaths that he has not previously violated as the Honorable Rep. Michael Cohen.

At the end of the day, Cohen is the ultimate shining object for prosecutors to use as a distraction from the glaring omissions in their case. Prior witnesses testified that Trump’s payments to Cohen were designated as “legal expenses” not by Trump but by his accounting staff. Moreover, Cohen admitted that he worked for Trump for years in his murky capacity as a fixer. References to payments as a retainer were approved by Allen Weisselberg, a retired executive with the Trump Organization. The “legal expense” label was a natural characterization for a lawyer who was paid monthly and was on-call as Trump’s personal counsel. In any other district, this case would never have been allowed in trial. It certainly now should be facing a directed verdict by the court. Indeed, with any other defendant, a New York jury would be giving a Bronx cheer in derision. Even CNN hosts and experts have admitted that this case would never have been brought against another defendant or in another district. That is what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is counting on.

Costello

The biggest problem facing the defense is not the evidence, but the judge: Judge Juan Merchan seems to be channeling George Patton’s warning, “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t.” Merchan has not given any indication that he is seriously considering a directed verdict, which he should clearly grant before this goes to the jury. Merchan’s rulings have largely favored the prosecution, including some rulings that left some of us mystified. Judge Merchan continues to allow the jury to hear references to campaign-finance violations that do not exist. After gutting any use of a legal expert to testify on the absence of any such violations, the judge allowed the jury to hear Michael Cohen state that the payments to Stormy Daniels were clearly campaign violations. All that Merchan would offer is a weak instruction telling jurors not to take such statements as proof of a violation. The alleged campaign-finance violations allowed Cohen to try to implicate Trump. However, it is doubtful that Trump could have been convicted on such a charge in any other venue.

It is precisely what the Justice Department tried and failed to do with John Edwards, a Democratic candidate. After that unmitigated failure, the Justice Department dropped this theory of hush money as a campaign contribution. Indeed, after reviewing the Trump payments, not only did the Justice Department decline any charges but the Federal Election Commission did not even seek a civil fine. On Monday, Judge Merchan’s orders became even more inexplicable when Cohen’s former attorney Robert Costello took the stand. Merchan immediately started to sustain a flurry of prosecutors’ objections as Costello basically accused Cohen of multiple acts of perjury. At one point, Costello — one of the most experienced lawyers in New York and a former prosecutor — exclaimed that one of the judge’s rulings was “ridiculous.” The judge chastised Costello and even challenged him: “Are you staring me down?” In fact, it was hard not to stare. What is happening in the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan is anything but ordinary.

Read more …

How much did Cohen take in total over the years? No way it’s just $30,000.

Lawrence O’Donnell Mocked Over Pathetic Defense of Michael Cohen (Turley)

After his disastrous testimony in Manhattan, Michael Cohen lost even hosts and legal analysts at MSNBC and CNN. MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin described Cohen as a “fabricator, liar or forgetful person.” CNN’s Anderson Cooper discussed how the testimony was “devastating for Michael Cohen’s credibility.” CNN’s legal analyst Elie Honig said that Cohen had his “knees chopped out” by the defense. All of that was before Cohen admitted that he committed grand larceny in stealing tens of thousands from the Trump company. Most analysts honestly expressed disgust at the admission and expressed shock that he was not prosecuted. The question is whether anyone could find a way to excuse grand larceny to spare viewers in the echo chamber. That is when host Lawrence O’Donnell stepped forward. So to recap. Here is what Cohen said under oath under questioning by Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche:

Blanche: “So you stole from the Trump Organization, right?” Cohen: “Yes, sir.” Not much ambiguity but Cohen went on to explain that he intentionally inflated costs to just pocket tens of thousands of dollars. He admitted it was theft, plain and simple. For O’Donnell, it is not that simple. He rushed outside to assure MSNBC viewers that everything is fine and that this is just a form of what Cohen laughingly called “self-help.” “Cohen [was trying] to rebalance the bonus he thought he deserved, & it still came out as less than the bonus he thought he deserved & the bonus he had gotten the year before.” It would have been more convincing if O’Donnell, a self-proclaimed socialist, had just called it a redistribution effort from the super-rich to the rich. However, there was a sense of desperation in O’Donnell’s interview in offering viewers an assuring alternative explanation. Larceny did not fit with the past coverage lionizing Cohen. For many viewers, O’Donnell’s account relieved them of the need to question the basis for the prosecution of Trump.

We will have to wait to see if O’Donnell’s defense is picked up in the nearby trial of Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.). It appears that taking those gold bars and other gifts may have been just an effort of Menendez to secure a bonus that he believed was warranted from his public service. It would also mean that anyone who was denied a bonus or received less from their employer can simply steal the difference. There is a serious aspect to the O’Donnell statement. It is not clear if O’Donnell actually believes that Cohen was justified in stealing this money. However, he does show the level of self-delusion or denial that is common with many citizens who cannot see beyond the identity of the defendant. These are the same citizens who elected candidates like Letitia James as state attorney on a pledge to bag Trump for something, for anything. These are the same citizens who voted roughly 90 percent against Trump in Manhattan. These are the same citizens that are likely represented by some on this jury.

That may explain why the Trump team decided to take the risk of a “killer shot” witness like Robert Costello. Some of us believe that this case is already fatally flawed and that no reasonable jury could convict Trump. Indeed, I cannot see how any reasonable judge could deny a directed verdict. However, the Trump team does not want to wait for a long appeal. Costello comes with a risk of opening up issues on cross examination, particularly the involvement of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The fact is that the jury has MSNBC viewers and some who likely hold the same bias as O’Donnell. For them, what most of us see unfolding in Manhattan may not be what they see. They may only see one person in the courtroom and it is not any witness.

Read more …

“Biden just drained the Northeast strategic gasoline reserve to push gas lower by a few cents on July 4..”

Biden Drains Entire Northeast Gasoline Reserve In Bid To Lower Gas Prices (ZH)

Back in March, when reading the mammoth, 1050-page bill that was meant to avert government shutdown, but was yet another pork filled free-for-all bonanza authorizing $1.7 trillion in in discretionary spending, we stumbled upon something that was truly shocking: after Biden singlehandedly drained half of the US strategic petroleum reserve to avoid obliteration for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections, Congress has snuck in a provision that would sell off and shutter the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve, a move that while perhaps keeps gas prices lower for a day or two, would also leave the entire continental northeast defenseless to any true environmental catastrophe or shock. We were so dismayed by the inclusion of this particular text, we wondered if it hadn’t been put there solely for the benefit of America’s enemies…

… because surely nobody in their right mind, not even the illegitimate senile occupant of the White House, would ever pursue such short-term gains at the expense of potentially disastrous long-term consequences to the entire nation. We were wrong: earlier today, just two months after the bill was signed by Biden into law, the panicking administration announced that it would sell the nearly 1 million barrels of gasoline in the US managed stockpile in northeastern states, the Department of Energy said, effectively closing the reserve.The department created the Northeast Gasoline Supply Reserve (NGSR) in 2014 after Superstorm Sandy left motorists scrambling for fuel. But, according to some megabrains hoping to justify the dumping of gas so its price drops for a few weeks ahead of the summer and avoid even more anger aimed at the president, storing refined fuel is costlier than storing crude oil, so closing the reserve was included in U.S funding legislation signed by President Joe Biden in March.

Bids to buy the gasoline located at the two NGSR storage sites in Port Reading, NJ (900,000 bbl) and South Portland, ME (98,824 bbl), are due on May 28 and the Treasury Department’s general funds gets proceeds from the sale. Incidentally, the proceeds from the reserve liquidation – which will amount to roughly $125 million gross (and far less net) – is roughly how much the government spends every 15 minutes! So is it better to have a gasoline reserve for unexpected events, or to fund a quarter hour of US government’s spending? Don’t answer that. Of course, the answer is neither – the whole point of selling the gasoline is to depress prices at the pump if only for a few days to help Americans forget about the great inflationary nightmare they have been in for the past 3 years.

The volumes will be allocated in quantities of 100,000 barrels with each barrel containing 42 gallons, the department said and said it would require that fuel is transferred or delivered no later than June 30. That will ensure the gasoline can flow into local retailers ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and that it will be sold at competitive prices. Translation: Biden just drained the Northeast strategic gasoline reserve to push gas lower by a few cents on July 4. For context, gas prices at the pump this Memorial Day will be the second most expensive in a decade – dramatically above the ten-year average of $2.91…

Read more …

Start with the US.

Estonia PM Calls For Breakup Of Russia (RT)

The conflict between Moscow and Kiev should end with the defeat and breakup of the Russian Federation, Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has proposed. Kallas made the suggestion on Saturday during a debate in the country’s capital, Tallinn, at an annual event dedicated to her country’s first post-soviet president. “Russia’s defeat is not a bad thing because then you know there could really be a change in society,” the prime minister told the 17th Lennart Meri Conference. The Russian Federation is comprised of “many different nations” and suggested that they should become separate states after the end of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, she argued. “I think if you would have more like small nations… it is not a bad thing if the big power is actually [made] much smaller,” Kallas said.

The Constitution of the Russian Federation describes the polity as a multinational state. According to the 2020-2021 census, the country’s population speaks 155 different languages, with Russian being the most common. Estonia’s Prime Minister also urged Ukraine’s Western backers not to be afraid to do more to assist the government in Kiev in its fight with Moscow.”Fear keeps us from supporting Ukraine. Countries have different fears, be it nuclear fear, fear of escalation, fear of migration. We must not fall into the trap of fear because that is what [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin wants,” she said. According to Kallas, the West must help Kiev “push Russia back to its borders” and continue to pressure Moscow via sanctions until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored. She also called for reparations to be paid and for the country’s leadership to be held accountable for the conflict. The prime minister insisted that in order for stable peace to be achieved in Europe, Ukraine has to be made a member of both the EU and NATO.

In February, Russia issued an arrest warrant for Kallas over her campaign to destroy Soviet WWII memorials across Estonia. The authorities in Moscow have said repeatedly that due to the unwillingness of both Kiev and the West to look for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, Russia will continue its military operation until all of its goals are achieved, including assuring the security of the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine, the demilitarization and “denazification” of the country, and making sure that it never becomes a NATO member. Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Ukrainian conflict will be decided militarily in Moscow’s favor if that is the wish of the US and its allies. “If they want it to be on the battlefield, they will have it on the battlefield,” Lavrov stressed.

Read more …

“..A military official described how at one point the president’s office issued a direct order to a unit on the ground to “retake” a certain city, and received the reply: “With what?”

Zelensky ‘Yelling At Generals’ – The Economist (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky believes his generals are hiding the truth from him and has taken to shouting at them, The Economist has claimed, citing a government source. Purported fits of presidential rage were mentioned in a Monday report on the situation in Kharkov Region, where Russian forces have gained significant ground over the last month. According to the British newsweekly, Ukrainian troops deployed there are angry at the development and have competing theories about the causes. Some blame the US and its allies for insufficient and untimely aid, not unlike Zelensky himself, while others “suspect that incompetence, or even treachery, played a more significant role.” There are also “conspiracy theories” about politicians in Kiev and Washington conspiring to sell the territory “down the river ahead of an ugly peace deal.”

Denis Yaroslavsky, a local commander who made national headlines for complaining that fortifications that were supposed to prevent Russian advances did not really exist, told The Economist that Zelensky “is being kept in a warm bath” – that is, being told comforting lies by his aides. The Economist’s anonymous government source said the president has been clashing with Ukrainian generals after allegedly sensing that he was not getting the whole truth about the frontline situation. Zelensky’s strained relations with the military leadership, which reportedly stems from him putting his political goals ahead of military objectives, has previously been covered by Ukrainian and international media. In December, the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda claimed that the president was actively undermining Valery Zaluzhny, who at the time was Ukraine’s most senior general, in favor of Aleksandr Syrsky.

“It seems Zelensky has two kinds of troops: ‘good’ ones commanded by Syrsky and other favorites and ‘bad’ ones under Zaluzhny,” a source told the outlet. “This demoralizes [Zaluzhny] and prevents him from commanding the army as a whole.” In February, the Ukrainian leader fired Zaluzhny and appointed Syrsky as his replacement. A profile of Zelensky published by Time magazine last November said the president’s uncompromising drive for a battlefield victory over Russia was “verging on the messianic” and had put him at odds with some officers. A military official described how at one point the president’s office issued a direct order to a unit on the ground to “retake” a certain city, and received the reply: “With what?” The unit had neither weapons nor soldiers, the source explained.

Read more …

“The Ukrainian Constitution forbids certain democratic processes under martial law, such as parliamentary elections or referendums on constitutional amendments, but does not spell out the same restriction for presidential elections.”

West Sweating Over Zelensky’s Crashing Popularity – Russian Intel (RT)

Kiev’s Western backers are seriously concerned by the rapidly decreasing public support for President Vladimir Zelensky, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has claimed. Zelensky’s five-year term in office technically expires on Monday, though he is expected to keep his position. Kiev has refused to hold a new presidential election due to martial law. The SVR claimed on Monday that opinion polls conducted in Ukraine by the US and its allies for their own internal use show a lack of trust in the incumbent leader and in some of the country’s key institutions. “The level of support for Vladimir Zelensky has dropped to 17% and keeps decreasing. Over 70% of the public distrusts all Ukrainian media, while some 90% would like to leave the country,” the statement said. “Even among the troops, who are being subjected to constant ideological conditioning, Zelensky’s popularity stands below 20%.”

Western nations have urged the Zelensky government to ramp up propaganda efforts to create fear among Ukrainians that a Russian victory would result in a disaster for them, SVR said. The president, who is allegedly concerned for his life, also launched a purge in the military and security service to eliminate possible threats, the statement continued. Kiev’s recent claim, that a ‘plot’ by senior officials to assassinate Zelensky had been outed, was “obviously fictitious” and stemmed from the crackdown on dissent, it assessed. Zelensky’s legal claim to his office is in dispute as of Tuesday. The Ukrainian Constitution forbids certain democratic processes under martial law, such as parliamentary elections or referendums on constitutional amendments, but does not spell out the same restriction for presidential elections.

Senior government officials have reasoned that organizing a national ballot under the circumstances would be unsafe for voters and prohibitively costly. Some international media have reported that in a hypothetical election, Zelensky’s popularity would make him the default choice of Ukrainians. “Many people in Ukraine see no sense in holding elections, if the obvious victor already holds the presidency. Not a single Ukrainian politician today can compare with Zelensky in terms of the level of trust and support,” the Russian-language branch of British state broadcaster BBC declared on Sunday, in a thread on X (formerly Twitter). Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Zelensky’s shaky status would put into question any treaties with Moscow that he may sign in the future.

Read more …

“Do you think it is too much?” he asked. “For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?”

Zelensky Wants NATO To Shoot Down Russian Missiles (RT)

The US and its allies should shoot down Russian missiles, give Ukraine more weapons, and allow Kiev to strike Russia directly, Vladimir Zelensky has told the New York Times. Zelensky spoke to the US outlet in Kiev, on the last day of his presidential term, which he has sought to extend for the duration of martial law he declared due to the conflict with Russia. He demanded that NATO countries shoot down Russian missiles over Ukraine, wondering if they are too afraid to provoke Moscow. “So my question is, what’s the problem? Why can’t we shoot them down? Is it defense? Yes. Is it an attack on Russia? No. Are you shooting down Russian planes and killing Russian pilots? No. So what’s the issue with involving NATO countries in the war? There is no such issue,” Zelensky told the Times.

“Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine,” he added. “And give us the weapons to use against Russian forces on the borders.” Zelensky pointed to what the US and the UK did in mid-April, when Iran targeted Israel with a drone and missile barrage. Both the US and the EU have pushed back, saying the two situations were not comparable. The Ukrainian leader also begged for Patriot air defense systems, asking if he could get seven of them by the NATO summit in Washington. “Do you think it is too much?” he asked. “For a country that is fighting for freedom and democracy around the world today?” Zelensky also dismissed any criticism of Ukrainian democracy, given the indefinite postponement of both parliamentary and presidential elections, by announcing that Kiev “doesn’t need to prove anything about democracy to anyone, because Ukraine and its people are proving it through their war, without words, without unnecessary rhetoric.”

With Russian troops advancing all along the frontline, Zelensky and his aides have ramped up calls for more of everything – Patriot air defense systems and F-16 fighters in particular – but also demanded the lifting of restrictions on use of Western-provided weapons to strike deep inside Russia. The US and its allies have struggled to maintain the legal fiction that their missiles can only target Russian territory that Ukraine claims as its own – i.e. Crimea, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Donetsk and Lugansk – though Western-supplied weapons have been used against Belgorod Region on multiple occasions, including the Christmas market massacre.

Read more …

Wasn’t she demoted recently? Oh, wait: “..The retired US diplomat..”

Nuland Comments On Potential Official NATO Deployment To Ukraine (RT)

Former US diplomat Victoria Nuland has argued that officially sending Western instructors into Ukraine would create unnecessary risks – as NATO already provides a “huge amount” of training for Kiev’s forces on member states’ territory. Facing a severe troop shortage, Kiev has allegedly asked the US and NATO to help train some 150,000 new recruits inside Ukraine, so they can be sent to the front faster, the New York Times reported last week. In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Nuland – who was responsible for Ukraine in her State Department role and served as US ambassador to NATO – acknowledged Russia’s renewed offensive is making it hard for Ukrainian troops to “come off the front” and train abroad. However, she warned against sending Western instructors in. “I worry that NATO training bases inside Ukraine will become a target for Vladimir Putin. And it does directly implicate NATO on the ground, which could… escalate the war in a different direction and cause Putin to think that NATO territory might be fair game for him,” Nuland said.

The White House has repeatedly insisted that it will not deploy American troops – even instructors – in Ukraine. The retired US diplomat argued that “it still makes most sense to do most of the training outside of Ukraine but to give advice inside Ukraine.” The US-led military bloc has been training Ukrainian soldiers on the territory of member states including the UK, Germany and Poland, teaching them how to use Western-provided weapons. European officials have previously acknowledged the presence of some military personnel in Ukraine since the outbreak of the conflict in 2022, without clarifying whether they were training local forces. However, on Monday Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas claimed that military personnel from some NATO member states are already training Ukrainian soldiers inside the country. She insisted this will not lead to a direct confrontation with Russia because the personnel are doing it “at their own risk.”

French President Emmanuel Macron first raised the issue of sending NATO troops to Ukraine back in February, calling it an idea that should not be ruled out. Estonia and Lithuania have since expressed support for either sending instructors or support troops, to free up Ukrainian soldiers for combat duty. In early May, the Russian Defense Ministry estimated that Ukrainian military losses had surpassed 111,000 this year alone. Kiev now intends to mobilize hundreds of thousands of additional troops under a new law cracking down on draft avoidance. Over the past six weeks, Russian forces have taken more territory than Ukraine managed to capture in the six months of its failed counter-offensive last year, the Washington Post admitted last week, citing numbers from the Institute for the Study of War, a DC-based think tank run by Kimberly Kagan – Victoria Nuland’s sister-in-law.

Read more …

WWIII.

Let Ukraine Use US Weapons To Strike Inside Russia – Nuland (RT)

The US must allow Kiev to use its weapons to strike “Russian bases” deep inside the country, former senior Department of State official Victoria Nuland believes. American military aid has been provided to Ukraine on the condition that it would not use the weapons to attack targets on what the US considers Russian soil, as opposed to territories contested by Kiev. Nuland, who for decades directed Washington’s foreign policy in Europe, has called for the limitation to be lifted. ”They need to be able to stop these Russian attacks that are coming from bases inside Russia,” she told ABC News on Sunday. “The United States and our allies ought to give them more help in hitting Russian bases, which heretofore we have not been willing to do.” “Those bases ought to be fair game, whether they are where missiles are being launched from or where they are where troops are being supplied from,” Nuland added.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron similarly suggested this month that Ukraine “has the right” to strike targets inside Russia with UK-provided weapons. Moscow in response warned that if such an attack was to happen, it would consider any British military assets, be they on Ukrainian soil or elsewhere, fair game for retaliation. Ukrainian officials have reportedly launched a massive lobbying effort on Capitol Hill this month in an attempt to pressure the White House on its arm policy. Its legislators have claimed that Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region were a result of Kiev’s inability to deliver preemptive cross-border strikes.

Nuland accused Moscow of escalating the conflict with the operation and claimed that its goal was to “decimate [the city] without ever having to put a boot on the ground.” She claimed without evidence that Russian forces “have flattened a third of Kharkov” already. The avowed neocon reasoned that US permission to attack “Russian bases” under these circumstances would not be escalatory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the operation in Kharkov Region was meant to dismantle Kiev’s ability to attack Russia’s Belgorod Region. Ukrainian forces have been hitting villages close to the border and the city of Belgorod itself with rocket artillery and drones for months. According to Putin, Moscow has no intention to fight for Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, at this point or time.

Read more …

“..almost hysterically demanded support for his peace formula as a means to force Russia to its knees..”

Lavrov Reveals Zelensky’s ‘Hysterical’ Demand for Support in Switzerland Talks (Sp.)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the Ukrainian president strongly demanded support for his “peace formula” while discussing the upcoming Switzerland “peace conference” with foreign diplomats in Kiev. Russia’s top diplomat has exposed that the Ukrainian president “hysterically” demanded that other nations back his proposed “peace formula” ahead of a ‘Peace Conference’ that is to be held in Switzerland next month. “We have information – we have the ability to receive information that is not usually intended for publication. At the end of April, while discussing this idea [Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’] with foreign diplomats in Kiev, Zelensky, according to some participants, mostly improvised in a chaotic manner, almost hysterically demanded support for his peace formula as a means to force Russia to its knees,” Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Kazakhstan.

Switzerland will host a peace conference on Ukraine on June 15-16 near Lucerne with up to 120 heads of state expected to participate. Vladimir Khokhlov, the press secretary of the Russian Embassy in Bern, previously told Sputnik that Switzerland did not invite Russia to participate in the summit and that Moscow would not participate in any case. He added that the heavily promoted idea of a peace conference is unacceptable for Russia as it “involves another attempt to push through the unworkable ‘peace formula’ that ignores Russian interests.”

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in turn, stated that the negotiating process on Ukraine without Russia’s involvement is meaningless, but it is necessary to understand what peace formula will be discussed at the summit in Switzerland. Moscow has repeatedly stated its readiness for negotiations, but Kiev has legislatively prohibited them. The West calls on Russia to negotiate but at the same time ignores Kiev’s constant refusal to engage in dialogue. Earlier, the Kremlin stated that there are currently no preconditions for the situation in Ukraine to move towards a peaceful resolution and Russia’s absolute priority is to achieve the goals of the special operation, which is currently possible only by military means. Kremlin officials have said that the situation in Ukraine could move towards peace only if the de facto situation and new realities are taken into account, and that all of Moscow’s demands are well known.

Read more …

“Kiev is run by a lawless and criminal regime, the former Russian president has said..”

Ukraine ‘a Classic Failed State’ – Medvedev (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s decision not to hold elections means his government has no legitimacy, according to Dmitry Medvedev, the head of Russia’s Security Council. Zelensky’s five-year mandate expired on Tuesday but he has argued that the Ukrainian constitution does not allow him to call new presidential or parliamentary elections during martial law, which he declared in February 2022. “All these manipulations with laws mean only one thing – the death of the failed state of Ukraine, its transformation into a classic failed state, to use American vocabulary,” Medvedev told TASS news agency on Monday. The US and its allies have supported Zelensky’s efforts to stay in power because they feared “the shameful fall of his criminal regime,” Medvedev added.

“That’s why there is such a high probability that Zelensky would have lost this election miserably, and the citizens of his non-existent country would have wanted a new president in the hope that he would start peace negotiations with Russia,” said the former Russian president and prime minister. Medvedev reminded reporters that Zelensky, “a political upstart,” won in 2019 precisely because he campaigned “on the rhetoric of peace.” However, Western sponsors of the regime in Kiev could not allow peace because “they make good money from the bloody bacchanalia,” he added.

The US and its allies have sought to portray the sending of weapons and ammunition to Kiev as an “investment” in their military-industrial complex worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and openly said most of that money would never reach Ukraine. Medvedev dismissed the notion that anything substantial will change in Ukraine after May 21, however. Ukrainians “didn’t live in a rule-of-law state anyway,” he said, arguing that “law and justice were forgotten ten years ago,” with the US-backed coup in Kiev and the start of the Donbass conflict. As for Zelensky, Medvedev said, he can either be captured and put on trial, or meet the same fate as his “spiritual teacher” Stepan Bandera. The leader of Ukrainian nationalists, who sought to collaborate with Nazi Germany during WWII, was assassinated by Soviet operatives in Munich in 1959.

Read more …

FBI killing Secret Service details? Really?

FBI Agents Were Prepared for Secret Service Resistance at Mar-a-Lago (ET)

FBI agents executing a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s home in 2022 prepared for the possibility U.S. Secret Service agents resisted the agents, according to newly unsealed court documents. An operations plan for the raid of Mar-a-Lago in southern Florida stated that should President Trump arrive at Mar-a-Lago during the period when agents were there, FBI agents would be prepared to “engage with” him and U.S. Secret Service (USSS) agents who protect him.If the Secret Service agents “provide resistance or interfere with FBI timeline or accesses,” then FBI officials would contact certain individuals—their names and positions were redacted—the documents stated. The documents also stated that if Mar-a-Lago employees refused to provide a list of occupied guest rooms, FBI agents would “knock on each guest room door to determine occupation status.” Agents would request a map, list of rooms, and a skeleton key for all rooms, and were preparing to bring lock-picking equipment with them.

The documents, produced to President Trump through discovery in the criminal case against him, were placed on the docket on May 21. President Trump’s lawyers attached the documents as exhibits to a motion asking to suppress evidence seized by agents, arguing the raid was unconstitutional. The warrant was cleared by a U.S. magistrate judge after agents said there was probable cause to believe sensitive materials were being kept at unauthorized places at the resort. Officials said the raid would likely uncover evidence of obstruction of justice. Agents arrived at Mar-a-Lago at 8:59 a.m. on Aug. 8, 2022, and initiated the search at 10:33 a.m.. A summary of what transpired stated that FBI leaders coordinated with local Secret Service leaders and that Secret Service agents “facilitated entry onto the premises, provided escort and access to various locations within, and posted USSS personnel in locations where the FBI team conducted searches.”

In addition to 25 FBI employees from the bureau’s Miami office, the group of DOJ personnel included five officials from Washington and two DOJ lawyers. The group took numerous photographs, including pictures in the bedroom of former First Lady Melania Trump and a “child’s bedroom suite,” according to picture logs that were released on Tuesday. President Trump’s lawyers said in the motion that the search was “roving and highly inappropriate,” citing how it covered a gym, a kitchen, and the bedrooms where the pictures were taken. They said the warrant was too broad and authorized agents to seize virtually any document from Mar-a-Lago. Government officials have acknowledged they improperly seized passports and some other materials. Agents remained on the scene until 6:39 p.m. They flew the seized evidence to Washington the following day.

President Trump, after the execution of the warrant, was charged with mishandling national defense information, concealing documents, and making false statements. The documents included a statement on the use of deadly force, which quoted government policy in stating that “law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice (DOJ) may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.” The FBI also brought a medic and paramedic along on the raid, according to the documents, and listed the nearest trauma center in case anyone was injured during the execution of the warrant. Agents were equipped with standard-issue weapons, ammunition, handcuffs, and badges and brought medium and large bolt cutters.

There was no basis for the FBI to bring guns into Mar-a-Lago, according to President Trump’s lawyers.“There were no threats and no risk to agents’ safety arising from their allegations relating to possession of documents at a premises already guarded by the Secret Service,” the lawyers said. The lawyers also argued that an FBI agent omitted relevant information from the affidavit submitted to the judge as part of the request to authorize the warrant. The agent, for instance, “failed to disclose that presidents are not required to obtain clearances and that sensitive briefings including classified information had been provided to President Trump at Mar-a-Lago and other residences before and during his presidency,” the lawyers said.

Read more …

“..China’s share of world GDP based on purchasing power parity reached 18.73%, while that of the USA was 15.56%..”

The Failure of Western Financial Sanctions (Metri)

On March 24, 2024, some newspapers reported the 25th anniversary of the plane’s U-Turn over the Atlantic, with the then-Russian foreign minister, Yevgeny Primakov, due to the kick-off NATO bombings over Serbia, without approval from the UN Security Council. Amid the onslaught against Belgrade, NATO forces deliberately struck the Chinese embassy. Beijing hasn’t forgotten the date, and on May 7, 2024, President Xi Jinping was in the capital of Serbia to pay his respects to the dead and pass a message to the West. These events determined the beginning of Russia’s reconstruction, the acceleration of the Chinese rise process, and the deepening of Sino-Russian partnerships. During this period, starting from economic fragility and a military delay position concerning the USA, Russia established a strategic advantage in weapons in 2018 by developing hypersonic weapons. It also rebuilt its national economy, circumventing unprecedented economic sanctions against it.

Despite the sanctions, Russia’s economy expanded significantly in 2023 compared to other North Atlantic countries. This year, the IMF corrected its forecasts for Russia, doubling its estimates upward. The financial sanctions policy is one of the expressions of the monetary power of the dollar in the international system, especially after the Bush Doctrine of 2002 (2). However, the effectiveness of Washington’s economic sanctions regarding its foreign policy objectives has been very low, not to say null. For example, despite the severe sanctions introduced in 2007, Iran has acquired the ability to resist and develop an adequate offensive military capacity, allowing it to change the balance of forces in Southwest Asia. A month ago, on April 12, 2024, Tehran abandoned its “policy of strategic patience” and revealed to the world, through the missile attack, its ability to pierce the Israeli anti-aircraft defense system.

The main targets of U.S. sanctions (Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba) have generally succeeded in withstanding this kind of violence, and one of the most relevant reasons for this is China’s rise to the status of the largest economy, surpassing the U.S. one. In 2023, China’s share of world GDP based on purchasing power parity reached 18.73%, while that of the USA was 15.56%. Due to its dynamism, size, and sophistication, the Chinese economy made bypassing the payment systems controlled by Washington possible. For instance, after the start of Russian military intervention in Ukraine, when one imposed unprecedented sanctions, Sino-Russian trade grew 64%, reaching a record U.S. $240 billion in 2023. Not for any other reason, on April 8, 2024, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, visiting Beijing, threatened Chinese companies, stating, “There will be significant consequences for companies that provide material support to Russia. Those who do not comply will face the consequences”.

Read more …

“..Will Schwab and Soros retire on a deserted island together to watch the end of the chaotic world they enabled from a distance?”

Klaus Schwab Steps Down As World Economic Forum Executive Chairman (ZH)

Wit the organization he founded 50 years ago bringing in nearly $500 million in revenue in the year ending March 2023 (and sitting on a neat pile of 200 million Swiss francs cash), Klaus Schwab will own some things as he reportedly steps back from his role running the World Economic Forum has has headed since 1971. Semafor reports that Schwab announced his intentions to step down as executive chairman in an email to staff on Tuesday that was shared with Semafor by a person connected to the organization. The change in his role is pending approval by the Swiss government but should be finalized ahead of the WEF’s annual meeting in 2025.

Schwab, now 86, will be transitioning to a role as non-executive chairman. But Globalists should not worry about their agenda as Semafor reports that Schwab has seeded his organization with various family members to take up the tyrannical new world order torch – Schwab’s children appointed to high-ranking positions and his wife Hilde heading the organization’s foundation and awards ceremonies in Davos. Will Schwab and Soros retire on a deserted island together to watch the end of the chaotic world they enabled from a distance?

Read more …

Q again: is this a full appeal?

Assange Granted ‘Last Chance Appeal’ For Freedom (Cradle)

The UK High Court ruled on 20 May that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will have the right to appeal against extradition to the US, marking his final push for freedom. Assange’s legal team argued that judges should not accept Washington’s previous assurances that the embattled WikiLeaks founder would be able to rely on protection under the US First Amendment. He has been given a chance to make a full appeal for his legal team’s argument that he could be discriminated against, given that he is a foreign national. Assange’s legal team had previously been demanding assurances from the US that he would not face the death penalty if extradited. At Monday’s hearing, Assange’s lawyers argued that Washington had provided “blatantly inadequate” assurances that he would be protected. Problems with the US assurances were “multifold,” they said. It was only guaranteed “merely that he can seek to raise” assurances of First Amendment protection and not “rely” on them.

One of the lawyers pointed to a “deafening silence” from US prosecutors, including Gordon Kromberg – assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the WikiLeaks founder would face trial. “Specific promises from prosecutors are pretty common. We will not object to bail. We will not seek the death penalty as in this case. No such specific assurance has been given here,” Edward Fitzgerald, one of Assange’s representatives, said. Fitzgerald accepted US assurances that Assange would not face the death penalty, calling it an “unambiguous promise not to charge any capital offense.” Previously, Assange’s legal team contested claims by US prosecutors that WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic cables created a risk that sources named in the documents would be put in harm’s way, arguing that no evidence for this exists.

“The position of the US prosecutor is that no one, neither US citizens nor foreign citizens, are entitled to rely on the first amendment in relation to publication of illegally obtained national defense information giving the names of innocent sources to their grave and imminent risk of harm,” US prosecutor James Lewis KC said during the court session. Assange could not make it to court – as in previous sessions – due to deteriorating health conditions. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the UK High Court in support of Assange’s cause. His legal team was reportedly jubilant following the court session. Last month, US President Joe Biden said he was “considering” an Australian request to drop the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the local broadcasting corporation that Biden’s words were encouraging and that the case against Assange, an Australian citizen, “needs to be brought to a conclusion.”

A report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in March said that the US is considering a plea deal offer for the WikiLeaks founder, which would allow the imprisoned journalist to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense and avoid extradition to the US. However, his legal team said at the time that it is unlikely that Washington will change its approach.

Assange is charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for releasing classified US military documents that implicate Washington in war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other charges. He founded WikiLeaks in 2006. The non-profit publisher came to prominence in 2010 when it released a leaked video from inside a US helicopter as it attacked civilians and journalists in Iraq. That same year, WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as thousands of US diplomatic cables. Assange is currently being held at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison. According to Fitzgerald, it could be months before the appeal is heard. If it is unsuccessful, he will have exhausted his appeals in the UK, which would lead to the start of his extradition to the US. In that event, he could potentially appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to block the extradition.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Aether

 

 

Rhino

 

 

Huge fish

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

May 072024
 


Paul Klee In the Houses of Saint Germain 1914

 

Russia Issues Military Ultimatum To UK (RT)
The ‘Escalation Ladder’: French, British Threats Provoke Russian Warning (Sp.)
Russia To Hold Nuclear Drills To ‘Cool Hot Heads’ In West – FM (RT)
Western Leaders Are ‘Infantile Morons’ – Medvedev (RT)
Israeli Tanks Enter Rafah (RT)
The Beast Of Ideology Lifts The Lid On Transformation (Alastair Crooke)
Russian Intelligence Claims US Wants To Replace Zelensky (RT)
China Causing De-industrialization in EU – von der Leyen (RT)
A Disbarred, Serial Perjurer Walks into a Court, Asks to Take an Oath (Turley)
Witness Says Trump Did Not Ask Him to Carry Out ‘Hush Money’ Payments (ET)
Trump Says Jack Smith Should Be ‘Arrested’ After Documents Revelation (ET)
Trump Found In Contempt Again, Judge Threatens “Jail Sanction” Next (ZH)
Prisoners of Themselves (Kunstler)

 

 

Merchan

 

 

Jan 6
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787540670883725753

 

 

Kash
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787550215592989176

 

 

Easter as a time of peace?

Russia Issues Military Ultimatum To UK (RT)

Moscow will retaliate against British targets in Ukraine or elsewhere if Kiev uses UK-provided missiles to strike Russian territory, the Foreign Ministry told London’s ambassador on Monday. Ambassador Nigel Casey was summoned to the ministry following remarks by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron to Reuters that Ukraine has the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia. ”Casey was warned that the response to Ukrainian strikes using British weapons on Russian territory could be any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the meeting.

The US and its allies had previously qualified their deliveries of long-range weapons to Kiev by saying they could only be used on territories that Ukraine claims as its own – Crimea, the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Cameron’s statements to the contrary “de facto recognized his country as a party to the conflict.” Russia understands Cameron’s comments as “evidence of a serious escalation and confirmation of London’s increasing involvement in military operations on the side of Kiev,” the ministry added. Casey was urged to “think about the inevitable catastrophic consequences of such hostile steps from London and to immediately refute in the most decisive and unequivocal manner the bellicose provocative statements of the head of the Foreign Office.”

Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry announced an exercise to test the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills after “provocative statements and threats” by Western officials, the military said. Moscow hopes the drills will “cool down the ‘hot heads’ in Western capitals and help them understand the possible catastrophic consequences of the strategic risks they generate,” as well as “keep them from both assisting the Kiev regime in its terrorist actions and being drawn into a direct armed confrontation with Russia,” the Foreign Ministry said in a follow-up statement. French Ambassador Pierre Levy was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry. Moscow has not yet disclosed the details of the meeting.

Read more …

“The Russians are speaking pretty tough – tougher than ever before..”

The ‘Escalation Ladder’: French, British Threats Provoke Russian Warning (Sp.)

While defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war,” said former US President John F. Kennedy during an address at American University in 1963. The remark, coming a few months after the previous year’s Cuban Missile Crisis, demonstrated Kennedy’s newfound sense of restraint in navigating Cold War tensions. The confrontation with the Soviet Union brought the world to the brink of nuclear war with both Washington and Moscow poised to save face by unleashing the deadliest weapons ever conceived by mankind. A repeat of the scenario must be avoided, Kennedy reasoned, with each world power tacitly accepting the other’s existence. Half a century later the slain leader’s realization has been forgotten, claimed former CIA analyst Ray McGovern on Sputnik’s The Critical hour program Monday.

The founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity joined hosts Garland Nixon and Wilmer Leon to discuss the latest developments in NATO countries’ proxy war against Russia in the Donbass. “Things are getting pretty intense and the Russians are pretty much saying, ‘okay, that’s enough,’” said McGovern, responding to the latest statement from Russian government officials. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron was quoted by media saying Ukraine could use UK-supplied weapons to strike within Russian territory during a visit to Kiev last week. The comment provoked a strong response from Moscow suggesting Russia could target British military assets in Ukraine or elsewhere in response to such an attack on its territory.

“We have those reports that [French President Emmanuel] Macron is crazy enough to want to send French troops into battle there in Ukraine, and… the Russians actually have claimed to have killed seven of them this morning,” McGovern added. “Friends vacationing in Cyprus or other military facilities run by the British, I would tell them to go and sun themselves on some other beach,” he said. “The Russians are speaking pretty tough – tougher than ever before. If one of these British long-range missiles does significant damage in Russia proper there will be retaliation. It will be tit-for-tat, and the Russians will be perspicacious, but they’ll be offensive. These will not be defensive measures.” McGovern claimed Russia’s response could even be nuclear in nature, noting, “the Russians are waving the nuclear possibility as never before. I can say ‘never’ because I’ve been around a while – would you believe six decades of watching Soviet and then Russian leaders? They don’t brandish nuclear weapons. Now they are.”

Read more …

Russia won’t back down.

Russia To Hold Nuclear Drills To ‘Cool Hot Heads’ In West – FM (RT)

Russia’s upcoming exercises to test its tactical nuclear weapons should be viewed in light of the “belligerent statements” made by some Western officials and NATO’s “destabilizing actions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Earlier in the day, Moscow announced plans to test its military’s ability to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. The exercises, which were ordered by President Vladimir Putin, will be held in the near future, the Russian Defense Ministry said. According to the Foreign Ministry, the move was a response to the continued “power politics” pursued by the US and its allies against Russia. Washington and Kiev’s other backers openly declare their support for Ukrainian “terrorist acts” and “directly contribute” to such attacks, the statement read, pointing to the continued supply of ever more powerful Western weapons to Ukraine. It particularly drew attention to the US-made ATACMS missiles capable of “striking targets deep inside Russian territory.”

Last week, former UK prime minister and current Foreign Secretary David Cameron stated that Kiev had every right to use British weapons to strike targets inside Russia as well. The US has also created new threats to Russia’s national security through deployment of its intermediate-range ground-based missile systems around the world, the ministry said. Such weapons were banned under the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but Washington unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2019. The move left Russia with no choice but to leave the treaty as well. However, Moscow introduced a moratorium on fielding weapons that used to be covered by the treaty. Russia now reserves the right to a “mirror response” to American actions, the ministry said, adding that the moratorium could be lifted.

Moscow also slammed statements by French President Emmanuel Macron about a potential NATO troop deployment to Ukraine. “This cannot be perceived in any other way than a demonstration of the readiness and willingness to enter a direct military confrontation with Russia,” the ministry warned. Last week, Macron said that Western nations would have to consider such an option if Kiev officially requested it. “Such actions of the NATO member states show that they deliberately strive for further escalation of the Ukraine crisis towards a direct military clash between NATO and Russia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Read more …

Putin’s alter ego.

Western Leaders Are ‘Infantile Morons’ – Medvedev (RT)

The US, the UK, France and other Western nations should take a Russian nuclear drill as a reminder of where escalation of the Ukraine conflict could take them, former President Dmitry Medvedev has said. On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced an imminent exercise to test the capability to deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons. It said the training was ordered by President Vladimir Putin after “provocative statements and threats” by Western officials. Medvedev, who serves as deputy head of the Russian security council, referred to debates in the West about possible deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine, as well as “active encouragement [of Kiev] to use [Western] missile weapons against the entire Russian territory” as grounds for the drill. Russia “will have to respond” to the proposed deployment of Western soldiers, “and this response will not be” in Ukraine, the Russian official warned.

In that case “there will be no hiding on Capitol Hill, in the Elysee Palace or at 10 Downing Street. The situation is comparable to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, according to Medvedev. He said current Western elites were “infantile morons” who refuse to see the risk, unlike US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khurshchev, who managed to walk back the escalation six decades ago. French President Emmanuel Macron has been advocating “strategic ambiguity” regarding Ukraine, maintaining that he could not exclude deployment of troops to the country under certain conditions. Multiple Western leaders said they had no intention to send their soldiers to fight Russia on Ukraine’s behalf, after he voiced his idea in February. Macron’s rhetoric may be explained by his ambition to make France the leader among EU members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Reuters last week that Kiev “has the right” to use British-provided missiles to strike targets deep inside Russia. For years, major Western arms donors were reportedly conditioning their aid on Kiev’s pledge not to use the weapons outside of the territory that it claims. US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said American policy remained unchanged following Cameron’s remark. On Sunday, Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries claimed that “there’s a significant likelihood that America will have to get into the conflict – not simply with our money, but with our servicewomen and our servicemen” in the event of Ukrainian defeat. A victorious Russia would pose a threat to NATO, he reasoned during an interview with CBS News, repeating the case for continued aid made by the Biden administration for months. Moscow has said it has no intention of starting a direct conflict with the US-led military bloc.

Read more …

Footage is crucial.

Israeli Tanks Enter Rafah (RT)

The Israeli army has entered the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, as West Jerusalem announced strikes against Hamas militants in the area. In a statement on Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was conducting “a precise counterterrorism operation in the eastern Rafah area” in a bid “to eliminate Hamas terrorists.” A video released by the IDF shows at least four Israeli tanks on the Gazan side of the Rafah Crossing on the border with Egypt. Part of the clip was apparently filmed by a soldier sitting on top of one of the vehicles. The IDF also said its troops have “managed to establish operational control of the Gazan side of the crossing.” It added that ground troops and the air force had destroyed Hamas military structures in the area, claiming to have eliminated approximately 20 militants. According to an unnamed Palestinian security official and an Egyptian official cited by the Times of Israel, Israeli tanks reached as close as 200 meters from the Rafah Crossing terminal, which is directly on the Egyptian border.

The Egyptian official told the paper that “the operation appeared to be limited in scope.” The IDF said it had encouraged local residents to evacuate to the expanded humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi, located on the coast and further away from the Rafah Crossing. The Rafah operation comes after the IDF said mortar shells had been fired from the area at Israeli troops, killing four soldiers and injuring several others. It also follows the decision by Hamas to accept an Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire proposal, the details of which so far remain unclear. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, however, said that the deal “is far from meeting Israel’s core demands.” It added that the national war cabinet had unanimously decided to push ahead with an IDF operation in Rafah, “in order to apply military pressure on Hamas” and to make progress on freeing hostages captured by the Palestinian militant group since the start of hostilities on October 7.

Read more …

“..collapsing under the leaden weight of western hypocrisy..”

The Beast Of Ideology Lifts The Lid On Transformation (Alastair Crooke)

The Transformation is accelerating. The harsh, often violent, police repression of student protests across the U.S. and Europe, in wake of the continuing Palestinian massacres, exposes sheer intolerance towards those voicing condemnation against the violence in Gaza. The category of ‘hate speech’ enacted into law has become so ubiquitous and fluid that criticism of the conduct of Israel’s behaviour in Gaza and the West Bank is now treated as a category of extremism and as a threat to the state. Confronted by criticism of Israel, the ruling élites respond by angrily lashing out. Is there a boundary (still) between criticism and anti-semitism? In the West the two increasingly are being made to cohere. Today’s stifling of any criticism of Israel’s conduct – in blatant contradiction with any western claim to a values-based order – reflects desperation and a touch of panic.

Those who still occupy the leadership slots of Institutional Power in the U.S. and Europe are compelled by the logic of those structures to pursue courses of action that are leading to ‘system’ breakdown, both domestically – and concomitantly – provoking the dramatic intensification of international tensions, too. Mistakes flow from the underlying ideological rigidities in which the ruling strata are trapped: The embrace of a transformed Biblical Israel that long ago separated from today’s U.S. Democratic Party zeitgeist; the inability to accept reality in Ukraine; and the notion that U.S. political coercion alone can revive paradigms in Israel and the Middle East that are long gone. The notion that a new Israeli Nakba of Palestinians can be forced down the throats of the western and the global public are both delusional and reek of centuries of old Orientalism.

What else can one say when Senator Tom Cotton posts: “These little Gazas are disgusting cesspools of antisemitic hate, full of pro-Hamas sympathisers; fanatics and freaks”? When order unravels, it unravels quickly and comprehensively. Suddenly, the GOP conference has had its nose rubbed in dirt (over its lack of support for Biden’s $61bn for Ukraine); the U.S. public’s despair at open border immigration is disdainfully ignored; and Gen Z’s expressions of empathy with Gaza is declared an internal ‘enemy’ to be roughly suppressed. All points of strategic inflection and transformation – likely as not. And the rest of the world now is cast as an enemy too, being perceived as recalcitrants who fail to embrace the western recitation of its ‘Rules Order’ catechism and for failing clearly to toe the line on support for Israel and the proxy war on Russia. It is a naked bid for unchecked power; one nevertheless that is galvanising a global blow-back. It is pushing China closer to Russia and accelerating the BRICS confluence.

Plainly put, the world – faced with massacres in Gaza and West Bank – will not abide by either the Rules or any western hypocritical cherry-picking of International Law. Both systems are collapsing under the leaden weight of western hypocrisy. Nothing is more obvious than Secretary of State Blinken’s scolding of President Xi for China’s treatment of the Uighurs and his threats of sanctions for Chinas trade with Russia – powering ‘Russia’s assault on Ukraine’, Blinken asserts. Blinken has made an enemy of the one power that can evidently out-compete the U.S.; that has manufacturing and competitive overmatch vs the U.S. The point here is that these tensions can quickly spiral down into war of ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ – ranged against not just the China, Russia, Iran “Axis of Evil”, but vs Turkey, India Brazil and all others who dare to criticise the moral correctness of either of the West’s Israel and Ukraine projects. That is, it has the potential to turn into the West versus the Rest. Again, another own goal.

Read more …

“..war financing schemes that yield “enormous profits” to both Kiev and Western arms manufacturers..”

Russian Intelligence Claims US Wants To Replace Zelensky (RT)

The US has stepped up efforts to find a replacement for Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and has already talked with a number of politicians, including former President Pyotr Poroshenko and Kiev mayor Vitaly Klitschko, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) claimed on Monday. Zelensky is “clearly losing the battle for the hearts and minds” of Ukrainians, especially since his legitimacy as president will be “completely lost” after his term in office expires on May 20, the SVR wrote in a statement. Ukraine was supposed to hold a presidential election on March 31, but last December Zelensky canceled it along with all other elections, citing martial law and the conflict with Russia.

The US State Department and EU’s Diplomatic Service are “extremely” concerned by the growing discontent among Ukrainians over the “endless” protraction of the hostilities with Russia, according to the intelligence service. “Distrust in government institutions is growing and apathy is spreading rapidly,” the SVR said, adding that the number of desertions and voluntary surrenders in the Ukrainian armed forces is soaring. The US is now looking for alternatives to Zelensky, the SVR claimed, noting that Washington “is not even trying to hide the fact that essentially it doesn’t care” who will lead Ukraine. For the West, it’s crucial that the new president be capable of continuing the armed conflict, so that the “war till the last Ukrainian” does not stop, the agency said.

According to the SVR, Washington is in talks with Poroshenko and Klitschko. “Secret work” is also being carried out with the presidential head of office, Andrey Ermak, former top Ukrainian commander General Valery Zaluzhny, and the ex-speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Dmitry Razumkov. However, the US and EU would like Zelensky to remain in his post for now as long as he is tied to war financing schemes that yield “enormous profits” to both Kiev and Western arms manufacturers, SVR added.

Read more …

Dumb.

China Causing De-industrialization in EU – von der Leyen (RT)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen intends to talk to visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping about policies that she claims pose a threat of de-industrialization in the bloc. The Chinese leader arrived in France on Sunday as part of a six-day, three-country trip to Europe, his first since 2019. The head of the EU executive branch said she would discuss “current imbalances” in Chinese trade during talks with Xi on Monday. ”China is currently manufacturing, with massive subsidies, more than it is selling due to its own weak domestic demand. This is leading to an oversupply of Chinese subsidized goods, such as EVs (electric vehicles) and steel, that is leading to unfair trade,” she claimed. ”Europe cannot accept such market-distorting practices that could lead to de-industrialization in Europe,” von der Leyen added.

In the last several weeks, the EU authorities have launched investigations into alleged unfair Chinese practices, including restrictions on the supply of European medical devices to the Asian nation’s market and subsidies for Chinese firms producing wind turbines, electric vehicles, and trains. Meanwhile, China has opened an anti-dumping probe into brandy imported from the EU, which particularly affects French exporters. The mutual investigations are perceived as a mounting tit-for-tat stand-off over protectionism. Von der Leyen has pushed for “de-risking” trade with China, but has not gone as far as to advocate decoupling from the economic powerhouse.

EU members have largely decoupled their economies from Russia in an attempt to penalize Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The loss of access to cheap Russian natural gas has hit energy-intensive industries in Western Europe, forcing businesses to move manufacturing to other locations. The US was among their primary destinations, as the government offered subsidies to certain producers under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. In an op-ed published in the French press ahead of his visit, Xi said Beijing was committed to reaching “new vistas” in its relationship with the country. He wrote: “France is advancing re-industrialization based on green innovation, whereas China is accelerating the development of new quality productive forces.” After France, the Chinese president is scheduled to visit EU member Hungary and Russia-friendly non-member Serbia.

Read more …

“..He has long marketed his curious skill of voluntarily saying whatever the highest bidder wants him to say..”

A Disbarred, Serial Perjurer Walks into a Court, Asks to Take an Oath (Turley)

A disbarred, serial perjurer walks into a courtroom and asks to take an oath . . . No, seriously, this is not a joke. Michael Cohen will soon appear in a Manhattan courtroom in what is sure to be one of the most bizarre moments in legal history. Cohen nearly comprises the prosecution’s entire case against former President Donald Trump under a criminal theory that still has many of us baffled. It is not clear what crime Trump was supposedly trying to conceal by making “hush-money” payments to former porn actress Stormy Daniels. What is clear is that none of the witnesses called in recent weeks has had any direct involvement with Trump on the payments. The witnesses had a lot to say about Cohen, and most of it was not good. They described an unprofessional, self-proclaimed “fix-it man” who created a shell corporation to buy out Daniels with his own money. The money was later paid back by Trump after the election, with other legal expenses.

So Cohen will now make the pitch to the jury that they should put his former client in jail for following his own legal advice. This would be difficult even for a competent and ethical lawyer. For Cohen, it is utter insanity. But Bragg is betting on a New York jury looking no further than the identity of the defendant to convict. Cohen has an impressive history of lies and exaggerations that may be unparalleled. Just weeks ago, another judge denounced him as a serial perjurer who was still gaming the system. This is not the defendant, mind you, but Alvin Bragg’s star witness. I have been an outspoken critic of Cohen going back to when he was still representing Trump. His unethical acts were matched only by his unprofessional demeanor. In 2015, after students on the Harvard Lampoon played a harmless prank on Trump, Cohen was quoted by a student on the Lampoon staff as threatening them with expulsion.

When a journalist pursued a story Cohen did not like, he told the reporter that he should “tread very f—ing lightly because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?” It is not hard to “understand” Cohen. He has long marketed his curious skill of voluntarily saying whatever the highest bidder wants him to say. He is a convicted perjurer who seems to lie even when the truth would do. Each time he is caught lying, he claims to be the sinner who has finally seen the light, seeking redemption. When he was called before the House to testify against Trump soon after his plea agreement with the Justice Department (for lying), Cohen was again accused of perjury. House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), warned Cohen repeatedly that he had better tell the truth this time. Cohen then testified that Trump wanted him to work in his administration and offered him multiple jobs, which he turned down. He also claimed, “I have never asked for, nor would I accept, a pardon from President Trump.”

Read more …

It was all Michael Cohen.

Witness Says Trump Did Not Ask Him to Carry Out ‘Hush Money’ Payments (ET)

A witness in President Donald Trump’s New York “hush money” trial on May 6 appeared to confirm his attorneys’ claims that payments at the center of the case were legal expenses and that he was not personally directed by the former president to make those payments. Former Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney testified that payments sent to former attorney Michael Cohen were legal expenses, confirming defense attorneys’ arguments. “Michael Cohen was a lawyer?” Trump defense attorney Emil Bove asked Mr. McConney. Mr. McConney replied, “Sure, yes.” Mr. Bove asked, “And payments to lawyers by The Trump Organization are legal expenses, right?” Mr. McConney replied, “Yes.” Later, Mr. McConney said President Trump and Trump Organization official Allen Weisselberg never told him to log the payments to Mr. Cohen as legal expenses. “President Trump did not ask you to do any of the things you just described?” the attorney then asked. Mr. McConney replied, “He did not.”

Mr. Bove asked, “And as far as you know, President Trump did not ask anyone to do those things? “In none of the conversations that you had with Weisselberg, did he suggest that President Trump had told him to do these things?” Mr. Conney replied, “Allen never told me that.” Mr. McConney said his interactions with Mr. Cohen were “minimal.” He said that other than emails about invoices, he never spoke to Mr. Cohen about the reimbursement arrangement. In court papers, Trump lawyers have described the payments that were sent to Mr. Cohen as legal expenses, while prosecutors say it was an attempt to cover up the true nature of the payments during an election. Mr. Cohen used the funds to pay adult film actress Stormy Daniels to not speak publicly about allegations about an affair in 2006, which President Trump has denied. At one point, Mr. Bove asked Mr. McConney about the internal payment system, and Mr. McConney suggested that it was antiquated.

“Legal expenses [were] part of a drop-down menu?” Mr. Bove asked him. Mr. McConney replied, “Yes.” Mr. Bove asked, “[It] was a bit antiquated?” Mr. McConney replied, “Yes.” Mr. Bove asked, “These categories, there was a level of rigidity to them?” Mr. McConney replied, “Yes.” Mr. Bove asked, “So if you are talking about payments to an attorney, legal expenses was the category that was used?” Mr. McConney replied, “Yes.” The defense argued that the legal expenses were legitimate and not illegal. Mr. Bove got Mr. McConney to say that he didn’t know whether Mr. Cohen did legal work for President Trump in 2017. Also, when he was asked by the attorney if President Trump personally asked him to carry out any of the tasks, the former controller said that he “did not.” He also said he didn’t speak to President Trump on a regular basis, noting that any talks with him wouldn’t be about accounting programs.

Read more …

“..committed blatant Evidence Tampering by mishandling the very Boxes they used as a pretext to bring this Fake Case..”

Trump Says Jack Smith Should Be ‘Arrested’ After Documents Revelation (ET)

Former President Donald Trump argued that special counsel Jack Smith’s classified documents case against him should be tossed after prosecutors wrote that they misled a judge about the order of items in an evidence box. In a post on Truth Social over the weekend, President Trump called for the arrest of Jack Smith and argued that the case should be thrown out based on the new court filing. It came after Mr. Smith’s team wrote that that the order of items within a box was “not the same” as they appear in digital photographs of materials after the FBI obtained those boxes from President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August 2022. “Since the boxes were seized and stored, appropriate personnel have had access to the boxes for several reasons, including to comply with orders issued by this Court in the civil proceedings noted above, for investigative purposes, and to facilitate the defendants’ review of the boxes,” Mr. Smith’s team told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon last week.

They added that there are “some boxes where the order of items within that box is not the same as in the associated scans.” His team also acknowledged in a footnote that federal prosecutors effectively misled the court after telling the judge that the evidence was exactly the same when it was seized. “The Government acknowledges that this is inconsistent with what Government counsel previously understood and represented to the Court,” the footnote said. Mr. Smith’s team provided multiple “possible explanations” as to why the documents were rearranged after seizing the boxes from Mar-a-Lago, according to the filing. “There are several possible explanations, including the above-described instances in which the boxes were accessed, as well as the size and shape of certain items in the boxes possibly leading to movement of items,” they wrote. “For example, the boxes contain items smaller than standard paper such as index cards, books, and stationary, which shift easily when the boxes are carried, especially because many of the boxes are not full.”

But President Trump wrote that Mr. Smith’s filing is effectively an admission of what he has “been saying happened since the Illegal RAID on my home, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach … that he and his team committed blatant Evidence Tampering by mishandling the very Boxes they used as a pretext to bring this Fake Case. He then called for the case to be immediately dropped. President Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 charges connected to allegations that he illegally retained classified documents at his home after leaving in January 2021 and obstructed officials’ attempts to retrieve them. Two of his aides, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, have also been charged in the case. Legal group Judicial Watch also suggested that Mr. Smith’s classified documents case against President Trump should be tossed after the admission.

Judicial Watch head Tom Fitton wrote on X that prosecutors’ latest filing suggesting that there was “evidence tampering” involved is “yet more reason to throw out this sham prosecution.” He said that the filing also included an FBI “admission” that the agency was “completely screwing with the classified documents.” His comment pointed to a statement from the FBI that said that its agents had “created an index to correlate the documents with classification markings to codes,” labeled the cover sheets in the boxes, and “generally replaced the handwritten sheets with classified cover sheets annotated with the index code” after the boxes were brought to the Washington field office after they were taken from Mar-a-Lago, according to the court filing. “In many but not all instances, the FBI was able to determine which document with classification markings corresponded to a particular placeholder sheet,” it added.

Last week, President Trump’s lawyers wrote to Judge Cannon that the case should be dismissed, arguing that Mr. Smith and his team have an “improper political animus” against him. He said that White House lawyers worked with the National Archives and Records Administration when it referred the allegations to the Department of Justice and that it is an attempt to ensure that President Trump doesn’t get reelected.

Read more …

“Mr. Trump, I want you to understand the last thing I want to do is put you in jail.”

Trump Found In Contempt Again, Judge Threatens “Jail Sanction” Next (ZH)

Former President Donald Trump has been found in contempt of court for a second time by a New York judge overseeing his hush-money trial. On Monday, judge Juan Merchan said that Trump had violated a gag order with additional social media posts about witnesses in the case, and will consider jail if there are additional violations. It appears that the $1,000 fines are not serving as a deterrent,” said Merchan. “Mr. Trump, I want you to understand the last thing I want to do is put you in jail.” “The magnitude of such a decision is not lost on me, but at the end of the day, I have a job to do.” Last week, Merchan fined Trump $9,000 and held the former president in criminal contempt of court for violating the gag order nine times.

Read more …

“Who will prosecute it if Jack Smith can no longer function as Special Counsel?”

Prisoners of Themselves (Kunstler)

You realize, don’t you, that the gross misconduct of government officials from RussiaGate on down to the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan has amounted to one continuous operation against the American people? If it were ever honestly adjudicated, many hundreds of them might go to prison, or worse. Each successive seditious and treasonous action they attempt against their arch-nemesis, Mr. Trump, only compounds their criminal liability — the Steele Dossier, CIA agent Eric Ciaramella’s 2019 impeachment prank, the Covid-19 caper, the George Floyd-BLM hustle, the 2020 election hijinks, the J-6 op and the House J-6 Committee conjured up to spin it, the present battery of farcical court cases — and yet the Golden Golem of Greatness not only remains defiantly at large, but seems to amass ever more electoral mojo.

The epic failure of these mighty efforts, and the humiliation entailed, has lately driven this vast bureaucratic cabal — collectively styled as “the blob” — to a stage of abject desperation that looks a lot like insanity. They fear for their lives, their fortunes, their chattels, and their families, and they seem ready to wreck the republic to save themselves. They have so far pretty much wrecked American justice with their lawfare tactics — a degenerate campaign to use the vested authority of prosecutors and judges to twist and cheat the law at the cost of the law’s legitimacy. Merrick Garland, Norm Eisen, Andrew Weissmann, Mary McCord, Lisa Monaco, Marc Elias, Christopher Wray, Letitia James, Fani Willis, Alvin Bragg have made law the enemy of the people.

All this becomes more obvious each day, for instance events of the past week in Judge Aileen Cannon’s federal courtroom in Florida where the Mar-a-Lago documents case proceeds. Turns out that Special Counsel Jack Smith has deliberately messed with the evidence, which is patently felonious. Also, turns out that sometime between the “Joe Biden” inauguration and the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago in August, 2022, boxes of presidential documents stored by the US General Services Administration were “delivered” to Mr. Trump’s mansion without any proper accounting for what might have been in them. A set-up you suppose? Why not? After everything else the FBI and the DOJ have attempted since 2015?

Christopher Wray in particular might have wanted some surefire probable cause to get his agents into Mar-a-Lago where, rumor has it, Mr. Trump kept his own dossier of evidence against the FBI and DOJ officials who concocted the “Crossfire Hurricane” chapter of RussiaGate. Even if you assume that Mr. Trump had multiple copies of the thing, FBI Director Wray — in position since 2017 throughout most of RussiaGate — surely wanted to see what Mr. Trump was holding if it would become necessary for current and former FBI / DOJ officials to defend themselves in court against very serious charges.

You see the desperation, don’t you? And how stupendously amateurish these machinations have been? Planting evidence and then fiddling around with it? I’m waiting for the moment when Judge Cannon summons Jack Smith and announces to his face that she is tossing the case for prosecutorial misconduct. Will she add a criminal referral to that? How will that affect the other case (attempting to overturn the 2020 election) brought against Mr. Trump in Judge Tanya Chutkan’s DC federal district court? Who will prosecute it if Jack Smith can no longer function as Special Counsel? And since the case was contrived in his name — even if Eisen, McCord, Weissmann, and others are really the authors — does that case blow up, too?

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Fish
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787532840034279879

 

 

GOAT
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787595853001019729

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

May 022024
 
 May 2, 2024  Posted by at 8:58 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  47 Responses »


Edvard Munch Separation 1896

 

Student Protests Among ‘Biggest Things’ in US in Decades – Scott Ritter (Sp.)
‘All Because Columbia Refuses to Divest’ (CD)
The US Student Intifada: Palestine’s New Soft Power Leverage (Cradle)
Google Workers Fired Over Israel Protests File Federal Labor Complaint
Weissmann: “One Vote Away from … the End of Democracy” (Turley)
The Death of Ireland and Replacement of the Irish People (Paul Craig Roberts)
The Ukraine Conflict Is Spinning Out of Control (Paul Craig Roberts)
Ukraine Must Defeat Russia To Join NATO – Zelensky (RT)
China Humiliated Blinken But Blinken Kept Begging (Chang)
Trump Campaign Slams Commission’s Refusal to Hold Earlier Debates (ET)
Appeals Court Denies Trump’s Bid to Have Judge Merchan Recused (ET)
BRIC-O-Rama: On The Road In Brazil, With An Eye On Russia-China (Pepe Escobar)

 

 

 

 

Watters

 

 

KJP

 

 

Kash Patel
https://twitter.com/i/status/1785699469457023055

 

 

LA

 

 

Model 3

 

 

The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money. – Benjamin Franklin

 

 

 

 

Scott Ritter: “I think these student protests right now are some of the most important things to have happened in American society in many, many decades..”

I didn’t know. Let’s see.

Student Protests Among ‘Biggest Things’ in US in Decades – Scott Ritter (Sp.)

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address that the protests against his country on American universities that had then only recently sprung up were “antisemitic mobs” that had “taken over” college campuses. He called on US authorities to do more to stop them. The growing student protest movement against the continued bombardment of Gazans by the Israeli government is among one of the most important things to happen in the US in “many, many decades,” former UN inspector and military expert Scott Ritter told Sputnik’s The Critical Hour on Tuesday. “If you were an American like myself, who is not inclined to go out and protest and hold signs and disrupt things, man, we have to wake up,” he explained. “I have to wake up. We have to join these students one way or another and join their cause in letting the government know that we will not stand silent in the face of police oppression of the right of American citizens to speak out, to assemble, to hold their government [to] account.”

“I think these student protests right now are some of the most important things to have happened in American society in many, many decades,” Ritter emphasized. Tuesday night, what appeared to be hundreds of officers with the New York Police Department entered Columbia University in riot gear and military-grade vehicles, arresting approximately 300 people, according to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. That raid came after similar raids across the country, including in Texas, where 79 people, including some faculty members who joined students, were arrested. Meanwhile, a 65-year-old professor, Steve Tamari, was hospitalized after an officer at Washington University in St. Louis slammed him to the ground, breaking multiple ribs and his hand, according to a statement he put out from the hospital. More than 100 people were arrested in that protest. Colleges being a place for the free exchange of ideals is a critical part of our society, Ritter argued, adding that he believes the crackdown is designed to end this.

“As somebody who has taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States… I respect not only [the] students’ constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly, I also recognize that college is one of the great zones of developing good citizens,” Ritter said. Over the weekend, presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested at a protest. Stein says she was told she was being charged with assaulting an officer, but clarified in a later interview with journalist Glenn Greenwald that was not on her paperwork. Part of the purpose of colleges is “to create an incubator for the development of good citizenship, not compliant zombies,” Ritter explained, arguing that the US needs, “citizens who think, who empower themselves with knowledge and information and express that individually and collectively.”

At University of California, Los Angeles, a group of pro-Israeli protesters reportedly fired pepper spray and fireworks at student protesters during clashes. Witnesses claim that while the police were standing by, they did not intervene for hours. Ritter noted the US government is doing “just about everything possible wrong,” underscoring that the US “needs these students to come out and they’ve picked an issue, Gaza, which is the manifestation of the totality of all we do wrong as a government.” “When you go to university, we need you to become radical. We need you to think. We need you to exercise your brain and your spirit and your conscience. And [the government is] trying to suppress them because apparently we don’t want good citizens anymore,” the analyst concluded.

Read more …

Overkill.

‘All Because Columbia Refuses to Divest’ (CD)

Hundreds of New York City police officers descended on Columbia University Tuesday night to arrest dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters and dismantle a Gaza solidarity encampment that inspired campus protests across the United States, with demonstrators calling on their schools to divest from companies profiting off Israel’s devastating war. Police, some wearing riot gear, entered Columbia’s campus at the request of the university’s president, Minouche Shafik, who authorized the NYPD to “clear all individuals from Hamilton Hall and all campus encampments.” Video footage shows officers entering a campus building that students occupied hours earlier, renaming it “Hind’s Hall” after a 6-year-old girl who was killed by Israeli forces earlier this year. The Columbia Daily Spectator, the university’s student newspaper, reported that “as they entered the building, officers threw down the metal and wooden tables barricading the doors and shattered the glass on the leftmost doors of Hamilton to enter with shields in hand.”

“Several officers drew their guns, according to footage posted by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry,” the newspaper added. “At around 9:37 pm, officers led dozens of protesters out the entrance of Hamilton. The protesters’ hands were zip-tied behind their backs. The arrested individuals chanted, ‘Free, free Palestine’ as they were led away from the building.” Other footage shows NYPD officers forcing their way through students who locked arms in front of the occupied campus building. One cop is seen kneeing a student on the ground. Students reported that police used tear gas, which is banned in war, on demonstrators. “Tonight, my university called in a militarized police force—armed in riot gear, with guns drawn, deploying weapons banned under international law—to attack teenagers,” Lea Salim, a student member of Jewish Voice for Peace-Columbia/Barnard, said in a statement. “All because Columbia refuses to divest from the Israeli military and its genocidal campaign on the people of Gaza.”

As police set up barricades around the perimeter of the campus, onlookers gathered and chanted, “Let the students go!” in solidarity with the arrested demonstrators. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) said he was “outraged” by the police presence at both Columbia and the City College of New York, writing on social media that the “militarization of college campuses, extensive police presence, and arrest of hundreds of students are in direct opposition to the role of education as a cornerstone of our democracy.” “I call upon the Columbia administration to stop this dangerous escalation before it leads to further harm,” Bowman added, “and allow the faculty back onto campus so that all parties can collectively come to a solution that centers humanity over hate.”

In a letter to the New York City Police Department on Tuesday, Shafik—who is facing mounting calls to resign—requested that officers maintain a presence on Columbia’s campus “through at least May 17, 2024 to maintain order and ensure encampments are not reestablished.” The police crackdown on Columbia students is part of a broader wave of repression against campus protests that have emerged across the country in recent weeks as Israel’s assault on and forced starvation of Gaza civilians continues with no end in sight. Police actions, approved by the leaders of some universities and cheered on by right-wing government officials, have drawn international rebukes. In a statement Tuesday, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said he is “concerned that some of law enforcement actions across a series of universities appear disproportionate in their impacts.”

Read more …

“..soft power can be more effective than hard power in achieving political outcomes, because it influences the preferences of others rather than forcing them to change through coercion.”

The US Student Intifada: Palestine’s New Soft Power Leverage (Cradle)

On 18 April, students at Columbia University in New York initiated a sit-in on the campus lawn, protesting the Ivy League institution’s ongoing financial links to companies connected to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its brutal war on Gaza. The demonstrations quickly spread to other top US universities, including New York University, Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of North Carolina, as demands intensified for an end to both the war and support for the occupation state. This growing wave of US and global student activism is of vital importance: it represents the soft power ripple effects of the resistance‘s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, and as with other historic, mass US student movements against South African apartheid and the Vietnam war, will likely begin to fray at American support for Israeli aggressions. For decades, the US has portrayed Israel as a beacon of democracy in a region dominated by authoritarian regimes, often citing it as “the only democracy” in West Asia to justify its unwavering support.

However, recent shifts in public perception, particularly among western youth, now increasingly portray Israelis as “terrorists” and “colonizers.” This sea change in the discourse, driven by the global spread of information and activism, will have a significant impact on the Zionist entity. Israel’s global reputation had already been tarnished by the time South Africa filed genocide charges against the state in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this year, the first time Israel has faced such accusations at this level. In March, the ICJ demanded that Israel take immediate, effective measures to ensure the entry of essential food supplies to Gaza’s residents, emphasizing the severe famine conditions already present. “Soft power” is defined by Joseph Nye as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or pressure.”

Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the influential Council on Foreign Relations, argues that “soft power can be more effective than hard power in achieving political outcomes, because it influences the preferences of others rather than forcing them to change through coercion.” This form of influence arises through culture, values, and policies that are universally attractive and morally legitimate – and, therefore, harder to contain. Decades of Tel Aviv’s “nation branding” or soft power initiatives in the west, geared at deeply entrenching the notion of Israel as “the only democracy” in West Asia that shared the occident’s “Judeo-Christian values,” aimed to justify Washington’s unconditional support for the occupation state. It took a show of Palestinian hard power, however, to unlock that narrative stranglehold in the west. Within weeks of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, western populations began for the first time to see the real face of Zionism – unleashed in an overwhelming military assault on Gaza’s hospitals, universities, infrastructure, and civilian populations.

Read more …

No Tech for Apartheid

Google Workers Fired Over Israel Protests File Federal Labor Complaint

Dozens of Google workers who were fired for protesting the tech giant’s cloud deal with the Israeli government filed a complaint on April 29 with the National Labor Relations Board over their termination. The complaint, obtained by The Washington Post, alleges that Google violated the workers’ rights by “terminating and/or placing them on administrative leave in response to their protected concerted activity, namely, participation (or perceived participation) in a peaceful, non-disruptive protest that was directly and explicitly connected to their terms and conditions of work.” The workers are seeking reinstatement of their jobs and back pay, alleging that Google “unlawfully retaliated” against them for engaging in “peaceful” protest, Jane Chung, a spokesperson for No Tech for Apartheid, was quoted as saying by the New York Post.

No Tech for Apartheid, the group organizing the protests, claimed that Google fired more than 20 workers on April 23, including bystanders who were not participating. This adds to the 30 workers fired last week for their involvement in sit-in protests at Google offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, bringing the total number of terminated workers to more than 50. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The protests targeted a $1.2 billion deal known as Project Nimbus that provides artificial intelligence (AI) technology to the Israeli government. The fired workers contend that the system is being lethally deployed in the Gaza war. “Google’s aims are clear: the corporation is attempting to quash dissent, silence its workers, and reassert its power over them,” the group said in an April 23 statement. “In its attempts to do so, Google has decided to unceremoniously, and without due process, upend the livelihoods of over 50 of its own workers.” The activist group has vowed to continue organizing until Google meets their demands: that it “drop Project Nimbus and stop powering Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza now.”

Project Nimbus was signed in 2021. It involves joint cloud computing and AI services provided by Google and Amazon to the Israeli government. Google has said that the program is not being used for military or intelligence purposes. Google has said that it fired the workers after gathering details from coworkers who were “physically disrupted” and it identified employees who used masks and didn’t carry their staff badges to hide their identities. Google didn’t specify how many were fired. In a blog post on April 18, Google CEO Sundar Pichai hinted that workers will be on a short leash as the company intensifies its efforts to improve its AI technology at a pivotal moment in the industry and, potentially, history. He did not openly refer to a specific incident. “But ultimately we are a workplace and our policies and expectations are clear: this is a business, and not a place to act in a way that disrupts coworkers or makes them feel unsafe, to attempt to use the company as a personal platform, or to fight over disruptive issues or debate politics,” Mr. Pichai wrote. “We have a duty to be an objective and trusted provider of information that serves all of our users globally.”

Read more …

Weissmann ran the Mueller probe.

Weissmann: “One Vote Away from … the End of Democracy” (Turley)

When Robert Mueller appointed Andrew Weissmann as one of his top advisers, many of us warned that it was a poor choice. Weissmann seemed intent to prove those objections correct in increasingly unhinged and partisan statements. This week, he ratcheted up the rhetoric even further in claiming that the nation is “one vote away” from the end of democracy if the Supreme Court does not embrace the sweeping claims of Special Counsel Jack Smith. At the time of his appointment, many Republicans objected to Weissmann’s status as a democratic donor, including his reported attendance of the election night party for Hillary Clinton in 2016. My objection was not to his political affiliations but to his professional history, which included extreme interpretations that were ultimately rejected by courts. Weissmann was responsible for the overextension of an obstruction provision in a jury instruction that led the Supreme Court to reverse the conviction in the Arthur Andersen case in 2005.

Weissmann then became a MSNBC analyst and a professor at New York University. In his book, he attacked prosecutors for refusing to take on his extreme views. Weissmann called on prosecutors to refuse to assist John Durham in his investigation. Now he is predicting the end of democracy if the Court remand the immunity case for further proceedings. Weissmann told MSNBC anchor Jen Psaki on Sunday: “I think that it’s important to remember that at the outset, the court had already given Donald Trump the win that he was seeking, which is the delay of the DC trial.” So going into this, this was all upside for him. I mean, I think he had to be thinking, I’m making this really outlandish argument, with ramifications that couldn’t possibly be squared with the text and history. The text of the Constitution or the history of the presidency? So it’s all upside if the court would actually bite on this.

And so what was surprising is that there were justices who actually were taking this seriously. And it just was, frankly, shocking. Remember, going into this, the given was that private conduct was certainly not, immunized from criminal liability. What everyone’s talking about now is, hey, maybe they think that some of this is private and they can go forward, but that was what was given going into this. And the reason people are thinking that is because there seem to be four justices who were really taking Donald Trump’s claim of criminal immunity seriously. And we are. I mean, I know it sounds like hyperbole, but I think your opening is so correct that we are essentially, as Neil put it, one vote away from sort of the end of democracy as we know it with checks and balances. And to say it’s an imperial presidency that would be created is, it’s frankly saying it would be a king, he would be criminally immune. And that that is what is so shocking is how close we are.

And we are really on the razor’s edge of that kind of result. But for the chief justice. Just for the record, it sounds less “like hyperbole” than hysteria. The justices were exploring the implications of the sweeping arguments on both sides of the immunity question. What they were not willing to do (as does Weissmann) is simply dismiss any arguments of official status on the part of the accused. That would establish a dangerous ambiguity for the future as prosecutors claim that political statements are private matters for the purpose of prosecution. Ironically, Weissmann’s lack of concern for the implications of such an interpretation is reminiscent of his prior sweeping arguments as a prosecutor that led to the stinging defeat in the Anderson case.

Of course, there is another possibility is that the justices were not seeking the end of democracy. The Court was honestly trying to get this standard correct not just for this case but future cases. To do so, it will require a record on the underlying actions rather than the categorical threshold judgment made by the district court. The argument showed justices exploring how to avoid a parade of horribles on either extreme with a more moderate approach. As I previously noted, it has been almost 50 years since the high court ruled presidents have absolute immunity from civil lawsuits in Nixon v. Fitzgerald. That protection applied to acts taken “within the ‘outer perimeter’ of his official responsibility.”

Read more …

The Conquest of Ireland and the UK Nears Completion

The Death of Ireland and Replacement of the Irish People (Paul Craig Roberts)

Gaza is not the only genocide. Genocide is taking place all over Europe and in the US. All over Europe and the US governments prefer immigrant-invaders over their own citizens.“The migrants are eligible for free accommodation, free social welfare, free medical care, food, clothes, and various other perks. Whilst at the same time that the Irish government is facilitating mass immigration there are 14,000 Irish homeless people on the streets.” And many more homeless Irish citizens are on the way. Migrants are given free accommodation in hotels and country estates throughout the land, while the Irish people are seriously struggling to make ends meet in a rigged inflationary system, with a never-ending story of sky-high rents, high taxes, inflation, and an ongoing extremely serious accommodation crisis. Many young Irish citizens are left with little option but to live with their parents or emigrate to countries such as Australia as they cannot afford to live in their own country.

This is an extremely important article. It shows that the West is being intentionally destroyed by its own governments. The threat that all citizens in the West face comes not from Russia, China, Iran, but from their own government. Irish citizens who peacefully protest their replacement by immigrant-invaders are brutally beaten–even mothers and children–by police, which emphasizes the second class status of Irish ethnicity. “Many of the Irish police in balaclavas that are enforcing these tactics against the Irish people are not Irish at all, but are more akin to non-Irish hired mercenaries, or more like an EU army.” “The stark reality is the Irish government is not really the Irish government it is just a puppet of the EU bureaucracy. Ireland has been a fully controlled vassal state of the banker-controlled EU, in particular since the controversial (and rerun) Lisbon referendum 14 years ago, which hammered a nail in the coffin of Irish sovereignty.”

Read more …

“..they are walking into Armageddon by betting that Washington is rational..”

The Ukraine Conflict Is Spinning Out of Control (Paul Craig Roberts)

In my effort to awake humanity to its extinction in the nuclear war that is advancing upon us, I have pointed my finger at Putin and Xi’s mistaken belief that the way to avoid it is to ignore provocations and wait for Washington to come to its senses. This shows diplomacy at its highest level, but it is mistaken. The ignored provocations encourage more and worst provocations. The Asia Times, if the story can be believed, reports that NATO has begun deploying troops in Ukraine’s defense. “NATO is starting to deploy combat troops to Ukraine. Soldiers from Poland, France, the UK, Finland and other NATO members are arriving in larger numbers.“ Although Russia says there are over 3,100 mercenaries in Ukraine, these newly arriving troops are not mercenaries. They are in uniform, home country proclaimed via insignia.

They mostly are concentrated in the western part of the country, although in some cases they are close to the actual fighting in the east. “NATO is putting out the word these are not combat soldiers but are in Ukraine to operate sophisticated western hardware. But if they are firing at the Russians the only proper way to interpret their presence is that they are playing an active part in the shooting war.” It is the same plan as Washington’s intervention in Vietnam. What will the sequel be? Putin and XI are diplomats. But they have no comprehension of Washington. Their naiveness has blinded them to reality. Consequently, they are walking into Armageddon by betting that Washington is rational.

Read more …

Cut it out.

Ukraine Must Defeat Russia To Join NATO – Zelensky (RT)

Ukraine needs to defeat Russia on the battlefield in order to be admitted to NATO, President Vladimir Zelensky has said. The US-led alliance has made it clear earlier that Kiev cannot become a member while the fighting is ongoing. “I believe that we will be in NATO only if we win. I don’t think that we will be admitted to NATO during the war,” Zelensky said on Tuesday during a meeting with a group of military officers in Kiev. He explained that the admission of Ukraine would require unanimous approval by the alliance’s 32 members. Some members are reluctant to admit Ukraine in the midst of an ongoing armed conflict because “they feel the risks, while others are simply skeptical,” Zelensky argued. “Therefore, for Ukraine to be accepted into the alliance, we need victory.” He went on to add that eventual membership would secure Ukraine’s security and independence.

Ukraine formally applied to join NATO in September 2022. While NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and individual members agree that Ukraine should someday become part of NATO, Kiev has not been presented with a concrete timetable. It is widely understood that the country will not be admitted until the conflict with Russia is resolved.v Stoltenberg, who visited Kiev on Monday, admitted to Reuters that the delays in promised weapons deliveries had “put a dent into the trust” between Ukraine and its foreign backers.

While the EU is struggling to find enough arms and ammunition for Ukraine’s wartime needs, the newest aid package from the US had been stuck for months in Congress due to political wrangling. The delays sparked worries in Kiev, with Zelensky openly warning that Ukraine would lose if ammunition shortages are not remedied. Ukrainian officials have blamed the slowdown of deliveries for last year’s failed counteroffensive, as well as more recent losses of cities in the east to the Russian army. Russia, for its part, has cited NATO’s continuing expansion eastward and the bloc’s military cooperation with Ukraine as one of the root causes of the conflict. Moscow considers NATO a threat to its national security and insists that Ukraine must become a neutral country.

Read more …

“In substance, therefore, Blinken in Beijing continued talking about talking.”

China Humiliated Blinken But Blinken Kept Begging (Chang)

It is not clear whether a Chinese official was at the Beijing airport to bid farewell to Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he ended his three-day visit to China on Friday, but the send-off was in any event low-key and Chinese leader Xi Jinping slighted America’s top diplomat at the end of his troubled stay. Also, China, literally and figuratively, did not roll out the red carpet for his arrival in Shanghai on Wednesday. Only a low-level official was on hand to greet Blinken as he stepped off the plane. “The Chinese government flouted international protocols at the airport on the secretary of state’s arrival in Shanghai and departure from Beijing,” Charles Burton of the Prague-based Sinopsis think tank told Gatestone. “It was petty.” “This was more than a slight,” Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who served in Beijing, said. “Aside from a calculated insult to the dignity of the United States, the move indicates Xi Jinping is making clear that the accepted norms of diplomacy will not be respected by China anymore.”

Blinken was in China to discuss the growing list of disagreements between Washington and Beijing. Not surprisingly, he did not accomplish anything there other than register America’s complaints on matters such as Beijing’s support for the Russian war effort in Ukraine and unfair treatment of U.S. companies. On every major issue, the U.S. and China take different sides, and the Chinese have clearly dug in. Blinken was reduced to begging. As a result, America is resorting to the dialogue-is-progress narrative. “I think it’s important to underscore the value—in fact, the necessity—of direct engagement, of sustained engagement, of speaking to each other, laying out our differences which are real, seeking to work through them, as also looking for ways to build cooperation where we can,” Blinken said to Chen Jining, Communist Party secretary of Shanghai, ahead of his talks in the Chinese capital.

After the end of fruitless sessions in Beijing—Blinken met with, among others, President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi—all the secretary of state could do is highlight new dialogue issues. “I’m pleased to announce that earlier today, we agreed to hold the first U.S.-PRC talks on artificial intelligence to be held in the coming weeks,” he said at a press availability on April 26, as he wrapped up his trip to China. “We’ll share our respective views on the risks and safety concerns around advanced AI and how best to manage them.” Blinken’s comments repeated those of President Joe Biden after his November 15 meeting with Xi Jinping in Woodside, California. In substance, therefore, Blinken in Beijing continued talking about talking.

There is no question that AI is an important topic, especially when it comes to the control of nuclear weapons. Yet this does not mean the U.S. should seek an agreement with China on that topic. “The latest shambolic display by the Biden administration comes in the form of Secretary of State Antony Blinken groveling before China’s Ruler-for-Life Xi Jinping for a new set of protocols for governing the development of artificial intelligence between America and China, the two nations contributing the most to both the advancement of AI and its weaponization,” Brandon Weichert, a national security analyst at The National Interest, told Gatestone. “Although creating such protocols may sound like a good idea, it seems like a bad idea for Washington to unilaterally agree to limit its own activities.”

Read more …

“..the first debate scheduled for Sept. 16 “will be the earliest televised general election debate ever held.”

Trump Campaign Slams Commission’s Refusal to Hold Earlier Debates (ET)

The Trump campaign on Tuesday issued a rebuke of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) refusal to move up its debate schedule until after millions of Americans have already cast their ballots, calling it “unacceptable” and a “grave disservice” to the electorate. In a statement, former President Donald Trump’s campaign representatives Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles intensified criticism of the body that sponsors all general election presidential debates. Previously, they had requested debates to be held “much earlier” than the commission’s planned first debate in mid-September. The Trump campaign repeated its argument that voters deserve to hear from both candidates before they begin casting their votes.

“The Presidential Debate Commission’s schedule does not begin until after millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots. This is unacceptable, and by refusing to move up the debates, they are doing a grave disservice to the American public who deserve to hear from both candidates before voting begins,” the statement read. The statement comes after the nonprofit commission told Fox News that it would stick with its debate schedule, which was released last November. Four debates are planned: three presidential and one vice presidential.The first presidential debate takes place on Sept. 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos; the second takes place on Oct. 1 at Virginia State University in Petersburg; and the third takes place on Oct. 9 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The commission said that it “is proceeding with production and broadcast plans at its four debate sites as also announced on November 20, 2023.” Responding to the criticism, the CPD issued a statement on Wednesday, clarifying its decision-making process regarding the schedule for the 2024 debates. The commission noted that the first debate scheduled for Sept. 16 “will be the earliest televised general election debate ever held.” The selection of debate dates aimed to ensure accessibility for the American public, taking into account factors such as religious and federal holidays, early voting, and state ballot closing dates, according to the CPD.

Read more …

“It’s a disgrace to our Country — They’ve taken away my Right to Free Speech.”

Appeals Court Denies Trump’s Bid to Have Judge Merchan Recused (ET)

A New York state appeals court denied a request from former President Donald Trump to have his so-called “hush-money” judge removed. Lawyers for the former president sought a stay in the proceedings and the recusal of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial that will likely last for at least another month. Both the application for his recusal and for a stay in the case were denied on Tuesday without explanation by the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division for the First Department. His lawyers had argued that the trial judge should be removed because he had acted out of his jurisdiction by refusing to recuse himself and restricting the number of docket entries, among other matters. “Now, upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon,” Tuesday’s court order stated. “It is ordered that the motion is denied.”

In April, before the jury selection process started, Judge Merchan himself denied a request from President Trump’s attorneys to step down. Several days before that, the former president’s lawyers said in a hearing that the trial should be delayed, which the court also denied. “The unconstitutional effects of Justice Merchan’s rulings are causing ongoing, irreparable constitutional harms to Petitioner and the voting public and, if not stopped, will prevent Petitioner from receiving a fair trial,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche wrote in an application to the court. A judge, Ellen Gesmer, denied the application. Also last month, the state appeals court rejected another bid to stay the trial while the defense tried to move the trial away from Manhattan, arguing that they were concerned that the jury pool would be tainted. The court also rejected an appeal to pause the trial while President Trump appealed a gag order that was handed down by Judge Merchan earlier this year.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Merchan fined President Trump $9,000 for nine separate posts he made online that he believes violated the gag order. He further warned President Trump that he could be incarcerated if he continues to make the posts. Previously, President Trump and his attorneys argued that the gag order, which prohibits the former president from commenting on most people connected to the case, is a violation of his First Amendment rights. In a social media statement after the fines were handed down, President Trump wrote: “This gag order is not only unique, it’s totally unconstitutional. I am the Republican Candidate for President of the United States.” “This is a total Witch Hunt. Hours of sitting down and listening to nothing except EXONERATION AND LIES,” he continued. “The Trial is going like a speeding bullet, because the Judge is working hard to make all of his friends happy. Merchan is Rigged, Crooked and above all, and without question, CONFLICTED. It’s a disgrace to our Country — They’ve taken away my Right to Free Speech.”

Read more …

Pepe left Asia.

BRIC-O-Rama: On The Road In Brazil, With An Eye On Russia-China (Pepe Escobar)

I have just been immersed in an extraordinary experience: a mini-tour of conferences in Brazil encompassing four key cities – Sao Paulo, Rio, Salvador, Belo Horizonte. Full houses, sharp questions, fabulously warm people, divine gastronomy – a deep dive into the 8th largest economy in the world and major BRICS+ node. As much as I was trying to impress the finer points of the long and winding road to multipolarity and the multiple instances of frontal clash between NATOstan and the Global Majority, I was learning non-stop from an array of generous Brazilians about the current inner contradictions of a society of astonishing complexity. It’s as if I was immersed in a psychedelic journey conducted by Os Mutantes, the iconic trio of the late 1960s Tropicalia movement: from the business front in Sao Paulo – with its world-class restaurants and frantic deal-making – to the blinding beauty of Rio; from Salvador – the capital of Brazilian Africa – to Belo Horizonte, the capital of the third-wealthiest state in the Federation, Minas Gerais, a powerhouse of iron ore, uranium and niobium exports.

I learned about how China chose the state of Bahia as arguably its key node in Brazil, where Chinese investment is everywhere – even if Brazil is not yet a formal member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In Rio, I was presented with an astonishing work on Stoics Zeno and Cleanthes by essayist Ciro Moroni – delving among other issues into the equivalences between Stoic theogony/theology and the Hindu Vedanta – the tradition of culture, religion and sacred rituals in India up to the Buddha era.

And in a sort of psychedelic synchronicity, I felt like Zeno in the Agora as we debated the NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine at a lovely round pavillion – a mini-Agora – in fabled Liberty Square in Belo Horizonte, across the street from a fabulous exhibition of Treasures of Peruvian Art. Much to my astonishment, a Peruvian, Carlos Ledesma, flew in from Lima especially for my conference and the exhibition; and then he told me about the Chancay port being built south of Lima, owned 70% by COSCO and the rest by private Peruvian capital; that will be a sister port of Shanghai.

Chancay-Shanghai: APEC in action across the Pacific. Next November, there will be three nearly simultaneous key events in South America: the G20 in Rio, the APEC summit in Lima, and the inauguration of Chancay. Chancay will be boosted by no less than five rail corridors that may eventually be built – certainly with Chinese investment – from the agribusiness Valhalla in the Brazilian Center-West all the way to Peru. Yes, China is all over the place in its largest trade partner in Latin America – much to the despair of a Hegemon sending lowly functionary Little Blinken to Beijing to hear the letter of the new law by Xi Jinping himself: it’s cooperation or confrontation, a “downward spiral”. Your downward spiral.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Markkula

 

 

Horse herd
https://twitter.com/i/status/1785657926448820571

 

 

Bugs
https://twitter.com/i/status/1785832474494279693

 

 

Rebel
https://twitter.com/i/status/1785599235297075474

 

 

Transform
https://twitter.com/i/status/1785594023543238942

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 162024
 


Charles Sprague Pearce The Arab jeweler c1882

 

“I Can’t Go To My Son’s Graduation”: NY Judge Threatens Trump With Arrest (ZH)
Trump Trial in Manhattan is an Indictment of the New York Legal System (Turley)
Jury Selection Begins In Trump Hush-money Trial (RT)
Johnson, Trump Announce Election Integrity Bill (ET)
US House Speaker To Put Ukraine Aid Bill To A Vote (RT)
How Iran’s ‘Strategic Patience’ Switched To Serious Deterrence (Pepe Escobar)
Iranian Strikes On Israel Represent ‘Spillover’ Of Gaza Conflict – China (RT)
Biden Tells Netanyahu US Won’t Support Attack on Iran (Antiwar)
US Mulling New Sanctions Against Iran Over Attack on Israel – Scalise (Sp.)
Netanyahu a Threat for Israel, Opposition Leader Says (TASS)
Ukraine ‘Owned’ by US, US ‘Owned’ by Israel – Scott Ritter (Sp.)
De-electrification And Unconditional Surrender Of The Kiev Regime (Helmer)
Germans Can Now Change Gender Every Year (RT)
The Palestine Congress (CJ Hopkins)
Two Senior Tesla Executives Leave Amid 14,000 Global Layoffs (ZH)
Airbus Beats Boeing For Deliveries In 2024 (ZH)
Trump Biopic To Compete At Cannes Film Festival (RT)

 

 

 

 

Habba
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779925234868470134

 

 

 

 

Look up Mary McCord
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779853383525933207

 

 

Jury
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779876987697295817

 

 

Pastor

Dalton

 

 

 

 

“..that I can’t go to my son’s graduation, or that I can’t go to the United States Supreme Court, that I’m not in Georgia or Florida or North Carolina campaigning like I should be..”

Engoron tried to take away his money. So Merchan takes his freedom instead. Count on this judge to lock him up at some point. He’ll find a reason.

“I Can’t Go To My Son’s Graduation”: NY Judge Threatens Trump With Arrest (ZH)

Update (1750ET): The first day of Donald Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial was fairly uneventful – aside from the judge, a complete dick, barring the former President from attending his son’s graduation and threatening arrest if he does. Speaking after a long day of jury selection and ground rules (with more than 50 jurors dismissed), Trump walked out of the courtroom and expressed his obvious displeasure. “As you know my son is graduating from High School, and looks like the judge will not let me go to the graduation for a son who’s worked very, very hard,” Trump said, adding that he was “looking forward for years to having graduation with his mother and father there,” adding that the trial is a “scam” and a “political witch hunt.”

Judge Juan Merchan also won’t allow Trump to attend a Supreme Court hearing in DC regarding immunity. “We got a real problem with this Judge,” Trump continued, adding “that I can’t go to my son’s graduation, or that I can’t go to the United States Supreme Court, that I’m not in Georgia or Florida or North Carolina campaigning like I should be… it’s perfect for the radical left Democrats – that’s exactly what they want,” he continued, adding that it’s “election interference.”

Vivek

[..] The case stems from a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s former lawyer, convicted felon and admitted liar Michael Cohen, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels at the end of the 2016 election in an alleged scheme to buy her silence. Trump is required to be present for the trial, which will take place four days a week and could last up to two months. Judge Juan Merchan kicked off the day by refusing a request by Trump’s legal team to recuse himself from the case over an interview he gave to the press in which he mentioned the case, which Merchan said was within the law – while Merchan’s wife and daughter have worked for prominent Democrats and/or made anti-Trump statements.

Prosecutors sought to include evidence from the Access Hollywood ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ tape, as well as various sexual assault allegations from Trump accusers. Merchan allowed a transcript of the tape, and denied a request to present the other allegations in court. Next, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Trump’s attorneys to explain how the former president shouldn’t be held in contempt for allegedly violating Merchan’s gag order – arguing that Trump’s efforts have continued to this day, and that witnesses in the case “have incurred the wrath of Trump supporters.” And now, jury selection begins… with Merchan telling the court that 500 prospective jurors are waiting.

Merchan

Read more …

Good write-up from Turley. But it’s an indictment of the entire US legal system, not just New York.. Bragg and Merchan keep Trump from campaigning in 49 other states as well.

Trump Trial in Manhattan is an Indictment of the New York Legal System (Turley)

After an absurd $450 million decision courtesy of Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will bring his equally controversial criminal prosecution over hush money paid to former porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Lawyers have been scouring the civil and criminal codes for any basis to sue or prosecute Trump before the upcoming 2024 election. This week will highlight the damage done to New York’s legal system because of this unhinged crusade. They’ve charged him with everything short of ripping a label off a mattress. Just a few weeks ago, another judge imposed a roughly half billion dollar penalty in a case without a single victim who lost a single cent on loans with Trump. (Indeed, bank officials testified they wanted more business with the Trump organization). Now Bragg is bringing a case that has taken years to develop and millions of dollars in litigation costs for all parties. That is all over a crime from before the 2016 election that is a misdemeanor under state law that had already expired under the statute of limitations.

Like his predecessor, Bragg previously scoffed at the case. However, two prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, then resigned and started a public pressure campaign to get New Yorkers to demand prosecution. Pomerantz shocked many of us by publishing a book on the case against Trump — who was still under investigation and not charged, let alone convicted, of any crime. He did so despite objections from his former colleague that such a book was grossly improper. Nevertheless, it worked. Bragg brought a Rube Goldberg case that is so convoluted and counterintuitive that even liberal legal analysts criticized it. Trump paid Daniels to avoid any publicity over their brief alleged affair. As a celebrity, there was ample reason to want to keep the affair quiet, and that does not even include the fact that he is a married man. It also occurred before the 2016 election and there was clearly a benefit to quash the scandal as a candidate. That political motivation is at the heart of this long-delayed case.

It is a repeat of the case involving former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. In 2012, the Justice Department used the same theory to charge the former Democratic presidential candidate after a disclosure that he not only had an affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter but also hid the fact that he had a child by her. Edwards denied the affair, and money from donors was passed to Hunter to keep the matter quiet. The Justice Department spent a huge amount on the case to show that the third-party payments were a circumvention of campaign finance laws. However, Edwards was ultimately found not guilty on one count while the jury deadlocked on the other five. With Trump, the Justice Department declined a repeat of the Edwards debacle and did not bring any federal charge.

But Bragg then used the alleged federal crime to bootstrap a defunct misdemeanor charge into a felony in the current case. He is arguing that Trump intentionally lied when his former lawyer Michael Cohen listed the payments as retainer costs rather than a payment — to avoid reporting it as a campaign contribution to himself. Thus, if he had simply had Cohen report the payment as “hush money,” there would be no crime. Once again, the contrast to other controversies is telling. Before the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign denied that it had funded the infamous Steele dossier behind the debunked Russian collusion claims. The funding was hidden as legal expenses by then-Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias. (The FEC later sanctioned the campaign over its hiding of the funding.). When a reporter tried to report the story, he said Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman declared, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”

Likewise, John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, was called before congressional investigators and denied categorically any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who reportedly said nothing to correct the misleading information given to Congress. Yet, there were no charges stemming from the hiding of the funding, though it was all part of the campaign budget. Making this assorted business even more repellent will be the appearance of Cohen himself on the stand. Cohen recently was denounced by a judge as a serial perjurer who is continuing to game the system. Cohen has a long record as a legal thug who has repeatedly lied when it served his interests. He has a knack for selling his curious skill set to powerful figures like Trump and now Bragg.

For those of us who have been critics of Cohen from when he was still working for Trump, it is mystifying that anyone would call him to the stand to attest to anything short of the time of day . . . and even then most of us would check our watches. Fortunately witnesses are no longer required to put their hand on the bible in swearing to testify truthfully in court. Otherwise, the court would need the New York Fire Department standing by in case the book burst into flames. So this is the case: A serial perjurer used to convert a dead state misdemeanor into a felony based on an alleged federal election crime that was rejected by the Justice Department. They could well succeed in a city where nine out of ten potential jurors despise Trump. Trying Trump in Manhattan is about as difficult as the New York Yankees going to bat using beach balls rather than baseballs. It is hard to miss.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1779874197918863646

Turley

Read more …

“The trial will keep Trump at the Manhattan courtroom every day of the proceedings for the next six weeks or more, effectively taking him off the campaign..”

Jury Selection Begins In Trump Hush-money Trial (RT)

Jury selection has begun for a trial at which former US President Donald Trump stands accused of falsifying records related to hush-money payments to a porn star during the 2016 election. Trump becomes the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges. Twelve jurors, along with six alternates, will be chosen from among hundreds of New Yorkers. The judge in the case has released the extensive questionnaire that potential jurors will have to fill out. “Nothing like this has ever happened before,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom, calling the trial “political persecution” and “an assault on America.” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, charged Trump last year with 34 counts of “falsifying business records,” alleging that the Republican politician sought “to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.”

The case is based on claims by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, so she would keep quiet about an alleged affair with him. Trump has denied any relationship with Daniels. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of campaign-finance violations, tax and bank fraud, and spent two and a half years in a federal prison. He also lost his New York bar license. Judge Juan Merchan has granted Bragg’s request for a gag order, meaning that Trump can’t criticize the prosecutor or his staff. The trial will keep Trump at the Manhattan courtroom every day of the proceedings for the next six weeks or more, effectively taking him off the campaign. Trump was the 45th president of the US (2017-2021) and is currently the presumptive Republican nominee to challenge President Joe Biden in November.

Read more …

Trump gives Johnson some loving.

Johnson, Trump Announce Election Integrity Bill (ET)

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and former President Donald Trump are urging support for a bill aimed at preventing non-citizens from voting in federal elections. At a Friday, April 12, press conference at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence, the Republican leaders announced the bill as part of larger efforts to bolster election integrity. “What we’re going to do is introduce legislation to require that every single person who registers to vote in a federal election must prove that they are an American citizen first,” Mr. Johnson said. Though some jurisdictions allow noncitizens to participate in local elections, it is illegal for them to vote in all state and federal elections. However, the United States’ federal voter registration form does not require documentary proof of citizenship, and states’ efforts to impose such a requirement have been challenged by the Biden administration.

The new legislation, the speaker said, would establish new safeguards to ensure only citizens can vote. The provisions would require states to remove noncitizens from their voter rolls and would provide them with access to Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration databases to help them do so. “Congress has this responsibility. We cannot wait for widespread fraud to occur … especially when the threat of fraud is growing with every single illegal immigrant that crosses that border,” the speaker said. He added that he expected the bill to receive widespread Republican support while also forcing Democrats to go on record with where they stand. The push to secure elections from illegal votes comes amid the flood of illegal immigrants pouring across the southern border.

Illegal immigration, though a persistent problem for decades, has exploded to unprecedented levels under the Biden administration. The deluge has included individuals on the United States’ terror watch list and others with prior convictions for violent crimes. Republicans have repeatedly said that President Joe Biden has the power to end the crisis but simply chooses not to. President Trump repeated that claim Friday, asserting that the president could and should “close the border immediately.”

Read more …

Will the loving remain?

US House Speaker To Put Ukraine Aid Bill To A Vote (RT)

US House Speaker Mike Johnson has promised to finally advance the long-stalled Ukraine aid bill sought by President Joe Biden, multiple news outlets reported on Monday. The proposed legislation has been stuck in Congress for months due to the bitter in-fighting between Democrats and Republicans. According to reports, Johnson told Republican colleagues at a closed-door meeting that he intends to allow the House to vote on a standalone bill this week that would ensure additional military aid to Kiev. The House will also be expected to vote on separate bills providing more aid to Israel and Taiwan. “We know that the world is watching us to see how we react,” Johnson told reporters after a meeting with GOP legislators, as quoted by the New York Times. He added that the leaders of Russia, China and Iran are “watching to see if America will stand up for its allies and our interests around the globe – and we will.”

House Republicans have previously refused to back the omnibus foreign aid bill unveiled by Biden in October, which includes $61 billion worth of assistance to Ukraine. The legislation stalled for months because the GOP was trying to force the White House to crack down on the influx of illegal migrants across the border with Mexico. The Republicans were encouraged by Biden’s reelection rival, former president Donald Trump, who argued against unchecked aid to Ukraine. The delay in approving more weapons for Ukraine rattled President Vladimir Zelensky and other officials in Kiev, who are blaming mounting battlefield losses on the increasing shortages of foreign-supplied ammunition and air defenses. “If Congress does not help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” Zelensky warned last week. Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that no amount of foreign help will change the course of the conflict, and accused the West of escalation.

Read more …

“This was a highly choreographed show. Multiple early warning signs gifted Tel Aviv with plenty of time to profit from US intel and evacuate fighter jets and personnel..”

How Iran’s ‘Strategic Patience’ Switched To Serious Deterrence (Pepe Escobar)

A little over 48 hours before Iran’s aerial message to Israel across the skies of West Asia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov confirmed, on the record, what so far had been, at best, hush-hush diplomatic talk: The Russian side keeps in contact with Iranian partners on the situation in the Middle East after the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. Ryabkov added, “We stay in constant touch [with Iran]. New in-depth discussions on the whole range of issues related to the Middle East are also expected in the near future in BRICS.” He then sketched The Big Picture: “Connivance with Israeli actions in the Middle East, which are at the core of Washington’s policy, is in many ways becoming the root cause of new tragedies.” Here, concisely, we had Russia’s top diplomatic coordinator with BRICS – in the year of the multipolar organization’s Russian presidency – indirectly messaging that Russia has Iran’s back.

Iran, it should be noted, just became a full-fledged BRICS+ member in January. Iran’s aerial message this weekend confirmed this in practice: their missile guidance systems used the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system as well as the Russian GLONASS system. This is Russia–China intel leading from behind and a graphic example of BRICS+ on the move. Ryabkov’s “we stay in constant touch” plus the satellite navigation intel confirms the deeply interlocked cooperation between the Russia–China strategic partnership and their mutual strategic partner Iran. Based on vast experience in Ukraine, Moscow knew that the biblical psychopathic genocidal entity would keep escalating if Iran only continued to exercise “strategic patience.”

The morphing of “strategic patience” into a new strategic balance had to take some time – including high-level exchanges with the Russian side. After all, the risk remained that the Israeli attack against the Iranian consulate/ambassador’s residence in Damascus could well prove to be the 2024 remix of the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Tehran did manage to upend the massive Western psychological operations aimed at pushing it into a strategic misstep. Iran started with a misdirecting masterstroke. As US–Israeli fear porn went off the charts, fueled by dodgy western “intel,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made a quick sideways move, seizing an Israeli-owned container ship near the Strait of Hormuz.

That was an eminently elegant manoeuvre – reminding the collective west of Tehran’s hold on the Strait of Hormuz, a fact immeasurably more dangerous to the whole western economic house of cards than any limited strike on their “aircraft carrier” in West Asia. That did happen anyway. And once again, with a degree of elegance. Unlike that ‘moral’ army specialized in killing women, children, and the elderly and bombing hospitals, mosques, schools, universities, and humanitarian convoys, the Iranian attack targeted key Israeli military sites such as the Nevatim and Ramon airbases in the Negev and an intel center in the occupied Golan Heights – the three centers used by Tel Aviv in its strike on Iran’s Damascus consulate. This was a highly choreographed show. Multiple early warning signs gifted Tel Aviv with plenty of time to profit from US intel and evacuate fighter jets and personnel, which was duly followed by a plethora of US military radars coordinating the defense strategy.

Read more …

“Ultimately, there is no alternative to the full implementation of the two-state solution, the only way to end the vicious circle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once and for all..”

Iranian Strikes On Israel Represent ‘Spillover’ Of Gaza Conflict – China (RT)

Iran’s retaliatory strikes on Israel constitute an “adverse spillover” of the Gaza conflict, China’s ambassador to the United Nations has said, warning that it could spread further and make the entire Middle East even more unstable. Dai Bing made the remarks after Tehran launched a series of airstrikes on Israel over the weekend in retaliation for the bombing of an Iranian consular compound in Syria, which killed seven military personnel, including two generals. Israel has not commented on the incident since Iran accused it of conducting an extraterritorial assassination. Speaking at a UN Security Council emergency meeting on Sunday, Dai condemned Israel’s “vicious attack,” which he described as a “grave violation of the UN Charter and international law, and a breach of the sovereignty of both Syria and Iran.”

The war in Gaza “bears on the peace, stability and long-term security in the [Middle East] region,” he added, and called for an immediate end to the hostilities. Dai warned that if “the flames of the Gaza conflict are allowed to continue raging, the adverse spillover is set to spread still further” across the entire region. The Chinese envoy also called for “maximum calm and restraint” from Israel and Iran to prevent further escalations. “Ultimately, there is no alternative to the full implementation of the two-state solution, the only way to end the vicious circle of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once and for all,” Dai said.

China has called on the international community, particularly countries with influence, to play a “constructive role for the peace and stability of the region,” the ambassador added. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also warned at Sunday’s emergency meeting that the entire Middle East is on the brink of a full-scale war in the wake of Iran’s strike on Israel. Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador to the global body, Vassily Nebenzia, told members of the UN Security Council that the retaliatory strike “did not happen in a vacuum.” He claimed that the West had helped give rise to Iran’s attack by failing to take action over the illegal bombing of Tehran’s consulate in Damascus that provoked the latest violence in the region.

Read more …

On Saturday, I said: “And you bet they gave advance notice”. Here is more: “..announcing it fired the drones hours before they reached Israeli territory, and Tehran said it gave other regional countries a 72-hour notice..”

Biden Tells Netanyahu US Won’t Support Attack on Iran (Antiwar)

President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US wouldn’t join Israel in any offensive action against Iran, multiple media outlets have reported. US officials are touting Israel’s defense of Iran’s attack as a victory, and that’s the message Biden conveyed to Netanyahu, a sign the US doesn’t want the situation to escalate. Iran fired over 300 missiles and drones at Israel, which was a response to Israel’s bombing of Iran’s consulate in Damascus on April 1. “Israel really came out far ahead in this exchange. It took out the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp] leadership in the Levant, Iran tried to respond, and Israel clearly demonstrated its military superiority, defeating this attack, particularly in coordination with its partners,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters, according to The Times of Israel.

In a statement on the attack released by the White House, Biden said he would convene with other G7 leaders to “coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.” Israeli officials claimed 99% of the Iranian missiles and drones were intercepted by Israeli air defense systems and with assistance from the US, Britain, and Jordan. Some missiles got through and damaged the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. Only one person was injured in the attack, a seven-year-old Bedouin girl in the Negev, and nobody was killed. Iran gave Israel plenty of time to respond to the attack by announcing it fired the drones hours before they reached Israeli territory, and Tehran said it gave other regional countries a 72-hour notice. Iranian officials said the attack was “limited” and made clear they do not seek an escalation with Israel.

But Tehran is also warning it will launch an even bigger attack if Israel responds. “If the Zionist regime or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a statement on Sunday. While the US is signaling it seeks de-escalation and won’t support a potential Israeli attack on Iran, it’s unclear what Israel will do next. The Israeli war cabinet convened to discuss the situation on Sunday, and Israeli media reports said they agreed a response would come but didn’t decide on where or when. Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz vowed Israel would respond but signaled it wouldn’t be imminent. Gantz said the “event is not over” and that Israel should “build a regional coalition and exact a price from Iran, in a way and at a time that suits us.”

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that Biden also told Netanyahu “that the United States is going to continue to help Israel defend itself,” signaling the US would intervene again to help Israel if it does choose to escalate the situation and comes under another attack. Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria killed 13 people, including seven members of the IRGC. Israel has a history of conducting covert attacks inside Iran and killing Iranians in Syria, but the bombing of the diplomatic facility marked a huge escalation.

Read more …

Toothless.

US Mulling New Sanctions Against Iran Over Attack on Israel – Scalise (Sp.)

Members of the US Congress plan to consider a number of draft laws on new sanctions against Iran after the latter’s attack on Israel, US House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said, adding that the first bill could be submitted to the House of Representatives as early as Monday night. “It’s a growing sentiment in the Congress that we need to increase sanctions. So we’re going to be bringing a number of bills to ratchet those up and raise the stakes against Iran for their actions,” Scalise told The Jerusalem Post newspaper on Sunday. The US Congress will also consider a number of bills that are related to the country’s alleged use of oil sales income to fund Palestinian movement Hamas, the lawmaker was cited as saying by the newspaper. The first bill could be submitted to the House on Monday evening, Scalise said.

On Saturday night, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched over 300 drones and missiles at Israel in its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said. The attack came in response to Israel’s airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iranian state media reported that Iran had fired at least seven hypersonic missiles at Israel, with none of them intercepted. Meanwhile, CNN reported, citing US officials, that the US military had intercepted more than 79 drones and at least three hypersonic missiles during the attack. IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel had intercepted 99% of the aerial targets fired by Iran, including all drones.

Read more …

“I was in Washington last week in a meeting with top administration officials. They are appalled by this government: The irresponsibility, the lack of professionalism, the failed management, the ingratitude..”

Netanyahu a Threat for Israel, Opposition Leader Says (TASS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet pose a threat to their own country, Yair Lapid, leader of the Israeli opposition, said, calling to hold new elections. Speaking before reporters after his trip to Washington, the politician said that the US Administration is “appalled” by the behavior of the Israeli government, led by Netanyahu, according to The Jerusalem Post. “This government, this prime minister, has become an existential threat against Israel,” Lapid said. “They destroyed Israeli deterrence. Our enemies look at this government, smell weakness, and raise their heads.” According to Lapid, Israeli allies “smell this weakness,” too.

“I was in Washington last week in a meeting with top administration officials. They are appalled by this government: The irresponsibility, the lack of professionalism, the failed management, the ingratitude,” he claimed. He pointed out that Netanyahu previously called himself “Mr. Security,” promising to guarantee order in Israel. Instead, the current authorities have brought the country to the opposite: a “wasteland from Kiryat Shmona [a city on the Lebanese border – TASS] to Beeri [a settlement on the Gaza Strip border], violence by Jewish settlers [in the West Bank – TASS] that is out of hand, and a complete loss of Israeli deterrence.” “Our problem is Iran, but our problem is also here. […] It is time for an election now,” Lapid believes.

Read more …

“You don’t matter to us. You’re not Israel. You don’t own us. We’re not going to fight and die for you. I hope I made that clear..”

Ukraine ‘Owned’ by US, US ‘Owned’ by Israel – Scott Ritter (Sp.)

President Zelensky took to X on Sunday to plead with US lawmakers not to forget about Ukraine, saying “it is critical that the United States Congress make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies in this critical time” by delivering on the aid package promised by President Biden six months ago. Zelensky’s comments were echoed by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who told reporters on Monday that Ukraine also needs help from its Western partners, even if it’s not in the form of direct military help – like Israel got. “All we ask our partners is, even if you cannot act the way you act in Israel, give us what is needed, and we will do the rest ourselves,” Kuleba urged. “Let me make this very clear to the Ukrainian crowd. You see, the difference between Israel and Ukraine is that, whether you like it or not, Israel has bought and paid for the United States’ support,” while Ukraine hasn’t, Scott Ritter told Sputnik.

“Israel, through its political action committee, AIPAC, in the United States, has pretty much bought the United States Congress. They’ve bought the United States presidency. They control American media. And as a result, America comes to the defense of Israel because we’ve been paid to do so,” Ritter said. With Ukraine, it’s the other way around, the observer said. “America, on the other hand, has bought and paid for Ukraine.You’re not a friend. You’re not an ally. You’re a tool being used by the United States for its larger foreign policy and national security objectives vis-à-vis Russia. We provide you weapons only so far as it facilitates our objective of creating a problem for Russia. We don’t want you to win. We don’t care about you. We give you just enough to keep you going. And then we stand by and watch you bury your dead. Because we don’t care,” Ritter said, channeling the sentiments of the American establishment.

“You’ve done your ‘duty’. You created a problem for the Russians. But now you’ve become inconvenient. And we’re going to stand by and let the Russians finish the job without spending any more money or providing you with much more assistance. You don’t matter to us. You’re not Israel. You don’t own us. We’re not going to fight and die for you. I hope I made that clear,” Ritter summed up.

Read more …

“This is an ultimatum without alternatives for either Moscow or Kiev. In electric war, are there any alternatives?”

De-electrification And Unconditional Surrender Of The Kiev Regime (Helmer)

It was a relatively bright day, November 21, 1920, when Vladimir Lenin, having won the civil war and driven off the American, British, French, Canadian, and Australian invasion forces, announced: “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country, since industry cannot be developed without electrification.” Come November 2024 it will be a century and four years to count what Lenin meant, and how Russia is proving itself against everything which the military industries, special forces, weapons, intelligence so-called, operations, and plans of the old invasion coalition, plus Germany, can throw at it. So on November 21, 2024, it will be time to revise Lenin’s maxim to read: Russia is military power plus the de-electrification of the countries which attack it. This is electric war.

To make the war aim unambiguously clear, President Vladimir Putin ordered his ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Vasily Nebenzya, to read out a paper at his desk in the UN Security Council chamber on April 11: “very soon, the only topic for international meetings in Ukraine will be the unconditional surrender of the Kiev regime.” Note what the terms “unconditional surrender of the Kiev regime” mean: total military defeat of the Ukrainian, American, British, French, Polish, and other forces on the Ukrainian territory and in the air surrounding; surrender of the municipal administrations of the east-bank cities, including Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk, and Odessa; disarmament and demilitarization of the territory between Kiev and the Polish border; exit of every member of the regime, starting with Vladimir Zelensky. This is an ultimatum without alternatives for either Moscow or Kiev. In electric war, are there any alternatives?

Nebenzya was making his announcement on the evening of Thursday, April 11, Kiev time. In the time it took for his text to be drafted, edited by the Foreign Ministry, authorized at the Kremlin, and Nebenzya given the go-ahead, it had been only a few hours after the lights of Kiev went out when the Tripolskaya power station was destroyed by a new Russian missile, the X-69.

Read more …

“..parents will be allowed to make a request to change the gender of a child as young as five, with the consent of the child present..”

Germans Can Now Change Gender Every Year (RT)

German citizens will be able to change their sex on legal documents without undergoing surgery or hormone therapy, under a new bill passed by the Bundestag last Friday. It stipulates that an oral request is sufficient, eliminating the need for expert assessment, which was previously mandatory. The law comes into effect in November. The legislation on ‘self-determination’ in gender was backed by 374 MPs, mostly from the ruling ‘traffic-light’ coalition, with another 251 lawmakers against and the remaining 11 abstaining. The current regulations date back to 1981, and state that individuals wishing to change their gender must first undergo two psychological evaluations. The final decision under that law rests with a district court. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition argued that the existing procedures were degrading toward transgender individuals, as they had to share intimate details with officials.

Under the new law, parents will be allowed to make a request to change the gender of a child as young as five, with the consent of the child present. Minors over 14 will be able to change their first name and gender alone, as long as they have the consent of their parents or legal representatives. Individuals will be allowed to make a change once per year. Germans will also have the right to replace the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in the family register with the neutral term ‘parent.’ Non-binary individuals can register as ‘diverse’ instead of having to choose between ‘male’ and ‘female.’ Under the recently passed legislation, anyone who attempts to expose an individual’s past gender identity can be fined up to €10,000 ($10,630). The law leaves it up to saunas, swimming pools, gyms, and other sports facilities to decide whether to allow biological males into women’s changing rooms and toilets.

When it comes to competitive sports, individual associations may decide if biological males identifying as women can compete against females. The bill faced heated debate in the Bundestag on Friday, with the government’s commissioner for LGBTQ+ issues, Sven Lehmann, hailing it as historic and ending “human rights abuse.” However, opposition parties were largely unconvinced, with a lawmaker from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Mareike Wulf, describing the legislation as “irresponsible” and “socially explosive.” Wulf also argued that criminals could use the new regulations to obscure their identity. Sahra Wagenknecht, a former leader of the Left Party who now leads her own party, warned that with males now allowed to proclaim themselves female, “women’s protection rights and women’s protection shelters [are] a thing of the past.” A representative of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party said the bill poses a threat to young people, denouncing it as “trans-hype.”

Read more …

“..and call for solidarity with the Palestinians, and so on, right here in the middle of Berlin, the epicenter of European democracy, as if they thought they had a right to do that..”

The Palestine Congress (CJ Hopkins)

Thank God for the German Hate Police! Or heil … or whatever the appropriate salutation is for these unsung heroes. They just saved us all from “hate” again! Yes, that’s right, once again, democracy-loving people here in New Normal Berlin and all across the New Normal world were right on the brink of being exposed to “hate,” and would have been exposed to “hate,” had the Hate Police not sprang into action. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about. OK, what happened was, some pro-Palestinian activists organized a “Palestine Congress,” and attempted to discuss the situation in Gaza, and call for solidarity with the Palestinians, and so on, right here in the middle of Berlin, the epicenter of European democracy, as if they thought they had a right to do that. The German authorities were clearly intent on disabusing them of that notion.

Early Friday morning, hundreds of black-clad Hate Police descended on the congress location. Reinforcements were called in from throughout the nation. Metal barricades were erected on the sidewalks. Hate Police stood guard at the entrance. The German media warned the public that a potential “Hate-Speech” attack was now imminent. Berliners were advised to shelter in place, switch off their phones and any other audio-receptive communication devices, and wad up little pieces of toilet paper and ram them deep into their ear canals to prevent any possible exposure to the “hate.” Sure enough, minutes into the congress, the anticipated “Hate-Speech” attack was launched! A Palestinian activist — Salman Abu Sitta — who had written an article that allegedly “expressed understanding of Hamas,” and thus had already been placed on the official German “No-Speak” list, started speaking to the congress on Zoom or whatever.

Or … it isn’t quite clear whether he actually started speaking. According to a Hate Police spokesperson, they raided the congress because “there [was] a risk of a speaker being put on the screen who in the past made anti-Semitic and violence-glorifying remarks.” Anyway, the Hate Police stormed the venue, pulled the plug, dispersed the crowd, and banned the rest of the “Palestine Congress,” which was scheduled to continue on Saturday and Sunday. Then they arrested a Jewish guy who was wearing a Palestinian-flag-kippah, presumably out of an abundance of caution. But the “Hate-Speech” attack wasn’t over yet. It was one of those multi-pronged “Hate-Speech” attacks, or at least it involved one other prong. Earlier that morning, or perhaps while the Hate Police were still neutralizing the threat at the venue, Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, a prominent British surgeon, who had volunteered in Gaza and was due to speak at the congress, was intercepted by the Berlin Airport Hate Police, refused entry into Germany, and forced to return to the UK.

The Airport Hate Police informed the doctor that he was being denied entry in order to ensure “the safety of the people at the conference and public order,” Abu Sitta told the Associated Press. Kai Wegner, Berlin’s mayor, presumably feeling a bit nostalgic for the fanatical days of 2020 to 2023 when one could persecute “the Unvaccinated” with total impunity, took to X to celebrate the Hate Police’s thwarting of this “Hate event.” The pro-Palestinian activist community also took to X and expressed their displeasure. Yanis “Vaccinate Humanity” Varoufakis, who was one of the organizers and was scheduled to speak, was particularly incensed over the new German “fascism,” which apparently he has just now noticed, despite the fact that it has been goose-stepping around in a medical-looking mask for the last four years.

Read more …

Not as bad as it looks.

• They grew (too?) fast: “Tesla has around 140,000 employees, nearly double the 2020 level.”

• China’s BYD Co. delivered just 300,114 battery-electric vehicles in the first quarter, down 43% from the final three months of last year.

• Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have delayed, dialed back or altogether scrapped EV projects.

Two Senior Tesla Executives Leave Amid 14,000 Global Layoffs (ZH)

The Wall Street Journal reports Tesla plans to reduce 10% of its global workforce, approximately 14,000 employees, confirming an earlier report by the EV blog Electrek. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk sent a letter to employees detailing how the company needed to reduce costs and increase productivity. WSJ obtained a copy of the email. “As part of the effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally,” Musk wrote in the letter, adding, “There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done. This will enable us to be lean, innovative, and hungry for the next growth phase cycle.” Separately, Bloomberg journalists on X reported that Tesla Senior Vice President Drew Baglino and Tesla Vice President of Public Policy and Business Development Rohan Patel are leaving the company. And… Bloomberg noted, “The departure of Baglino is likely to reinforce concerns among some investors about succession planning at Tesla, where Musk has been CEO since 2008.” We suspect Musk will be commenting on these reports sometime today.

* * *

Shares of Tesla Motors are muted in the early premarket trading hours in New York after a report from the EV blog Electrek cited an “internal company-wide email” detailing layoffs at the EV company amounting to more than 10% of its global workforce. Electrek alleges that Elon Musk sent an email to staff explaining a “duplication of roles and job functions in certain areas” as the main reason for the layoffs, which could affect as many as 14,000 employees. Here’s the full text of the email (courtesy of Electrek):

“Over the years, we have grown rapidly with multiple factories scaling around the globe. With this rapid growth there has been duplication of roles and job functions in certain areas. As we prepare the company for our next phase of growth, it is extremely important to look at every aspect of the company for cost reductions and increasing productivity. As part of this effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally. There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done. This will enable us to be lean, innovative and hungry for the next growth phase cycle. I would like to thank everyone who is departing Tesla for their hard work over the years. I’m deeply grateful for your many contributions to our mission and we wish you well in your future opportunities. It is very difficult to say goodbye. For those remaining, I would like to thank you in advance for the difficult job that remains ahead. We are developing some of the most revolutionary technologies in auto, energy and artificial intelligence. As we prepare the company for the next phase of growth, your resolve will make a huge difference in getting us there. Thanks, Elon”

The latest data from Bloomberg shows that Tesla has around 140,000 employees, nearly double the 2020 level. Electrek noted, “We don’t know which specific teams will be most or least affected by Tesla’s layoffs.” The alleged layoffs come after the company recorded its first quarterly decline in four years and delivered 386,810 vehicles in the first quarter, far below the Bloomberg consensus of 449,000. Slowing EV demand has weighed on Tesla shares this year, down 31%, and one of the worst performers in the S&P 500 Index. As Bloomberg notes, the EV slowdown has hit other automakers: The EV slowdown Tesla has felt of late has been widespread. China’s BYD Co. delivered just 300,114 battery-electric vehicles in the first quarter, down 43% from the final three months of last year, when it briefly pulled ahead as the world’s top EV seller. Manufacturers including Volkswagen AG, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. have delayed, dialed back or altogether scrapped EV projects as consumers balk at still-high prices and a dearth of charging stations.

On Tesla’s most recent earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Vaibhav Taneja said, “We just have to chase down every penny possible.” Tesla will report next Tuesday, April 23. Wall Street analysts expect the company to turn a profit of about 50 cents a share, down from around 85 cents a share in the first quarter of 2023. If Electrek’s report is correct, Elon appears to be tightening Tesla’s belt, suggesting broader troubles are ahead for the US economy.

Read more …

“Airbus and Boeing continue to have a long backlog of orders (8,598 at the end of 2023 for Airbus; 5,591 at the end of March for Boeing)..”

Airbus Beats Boeing For Deliveries In 2024 (ZH)

Boeing’s deliveries of commercial aircraft have faltered in the first three months of the year, according to the company’s reports, published this week. The U.S. aircraft manufacturer delivered just 83 planes in Q3, down from 130 in the same three-month period of last year. In the meantime, its sole major competitor, Europe’s Airbus, saw an uptick in Q1, having delivered 142 of their planes, marking an increase from their Q1 2023 figure of 127. Boeing has been mired in a series of safety issues since the start of the year, following a mid-air panel blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 jet in January. This has led to a slowdown in production for the U.S. company, which is now limited to producing 38 of the 737 planes per month until it is clear that quality and safety procedures are being properly adhered to, as per the advisory of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Boeing has slowed production even below this limit, with the company’s Chief Financial Officer Brian West stating that once the company has it “right” it will ramp up production, expecting to see figures improve in the latter half of the year. Prior to 2019, Boeing had been in the lead for deliveries out of the two companies, but this changed following the two deadly 737 MAX 8 crashes of 2018 and 2019, and the ensuing temporary production halt of the model. While the same family, these were different planes than those involved in the more recent incidents and they were caused by different issues. As Statista’s Anna Fleck shows in the following chart, both companies saw dips in deliveries in 2020 with the Covid pandemic.

Boeing and Airbus are the world’s two major competitors when it comes to commercial plane manufacturing. While other manufacturers exist, they produce far lower numbers of aircraft than either of these two giants. In a report by CNN, writer Allison Morrow explains that since pilots are trained in either Boeing or Airbus operating systems, it is difficult for airlines to switch planes. With few companies having the capacity to produce large jets, both Airbus and Boeing continue to have a long backlog of orders (8,598 at the end of 2023 for Airbus; 5,591 at the end of March for Boeing).

Read more …

Wonder what Trump thinks of this.

Trump Biopic To Compete At Cannes Film Festival (RT)

A biopic about the formative years of former US President Donald Trump will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month. Directed by acclaimed Iranian-Danish filmmaker Ali Abbasi, ‘The Apprentice’ tells the story of how young Trump got started in the real estate business in New York in the 1970s and 1980s and met his mentor Roy Cohn. The film is among the 18 entries competing for Palme d’Or, the festival’s main award. “The Apprentice is a dive into the underbelly of the American empire. It charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Roy Cohn,” according to the film’s official description.

Sebastian Stan – the star of Marvel superhero movies and the 2022 mini-series ‘Pam & Tommy’ – plays Trump, while Emmy-winning ‘Succession’ actor Jeremy Strong portrays Roy Cohn, a high-profile lawyer. “His playbook has a tentacular reach that is staggering – the most fascinating person I’ve ever tried to inhabit,” Strong told the New York Times. “So while I personally might have a lot of judgment about Roy Cohn, that is not the part of me that engages in creative work.” Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova plays Ivana Zelnickova, Trump’s first wife and the mother of his daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric.

The film is set to depict Trump’s early business ventures and rise after he joined and subsequently took over his father’s real-estate empire. Under his leadership, the company branched out from residential housing to casinos and hotels, including the famous Trump Tower in Manhattan and other Trump-branded properties. Trump shocked the world by beating Hillary Clinton in 2016 and becoming the 45th president of the United States. He left office after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden. He is currently the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the 2024 election.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Kid judge

 

 


From Elon

 

 

Russell

 

 

UFO

 

 

Shop dog

 

 

Koala
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779619528743211352

 

 

Sun fish

 

 

Wooden post

 

 

 

 

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