May 272024
 


Edward Hopper Summertime 1943

 

Trump Vows to Stop ‘Biden’s March to WWIII’ (RT)
US Strike On Russian Targets Would Be ‘Start Of World War’ – Medvedev (RT)
Serbian President Vucic: World Heading For Greater Tragedy Than World War II (RT)
British PM Promises To Bring Back Conscription (RT)
Orban Foresees Dire Consequences If EU Militarism Continues Unchecked (Sp.)
No Country Can Survive Conflict With Russia Alone – Zelensky (RT)
US World’s Only Superpower – Biden (RT)
Republicans Winning Voter Registration Battle in Battleground States (ET)
“The Laptop is Real” (Turley)
Meltdown in Florida (Julie Kelly)
Biden Marketing Team To Make Trump a Mega Martyr (ZH)
How Will Trump, Voters Respond To The Outcome Of His Trial? (JTN)
Von der Leyen Proposes Vaccines For Minds, A Shield For Democracy (Marsden)
Russia and China Have Had Enough (Pepe Escobar)
Congressional Candidate Smiley Pushes For Better Help For Veterans (JTN)

 

 

Elon’s favorite dog has passed away.

 

 

Trump libertarian
https://twitter.com/i/status/1794756316126384294

 

 

Back in the New York Groove

 

 

Trump bitcoin
https://twitter.com/i/status/1794539283300155678

 

 

 

 

Alina – must watch

 

 

• People worry about dumb stuff
• In the grand scheme, you’re nothing
• Think less of yourself
• Remember: you’ll die one day

Now go do epic stuff.

 

 

 

 

Trump, for all his faults, may be the only way to avoid WWIII.

“I am committed to restoring peace and stability and to stopping Joe Biden’s march to World War Three..”

Trump Vows to Stop ‘Biden’s March to WWIII’ (RT)

Former US President Donald Trump has reiterated his promise to swiftly end the Russia-Ukraine conflict if re-elected in November. The Republican frontrunner argued that by financing “other people’s wars” the US is increasing the likelihood of a global war, and promised to end such funding. Speaking at the Libertarian Party’s national convention in Washington DC on Saturday, Trump claimed that under the current leadership, the US is turning into a “failed nation” and promised to restore “peace and stability” if he returns to the White House. He named the main priorities as ending the border crisis, stopping the waste of US taxpayer dollars on funding foreign militaries, and protecting “American sovereignty from the creeping hands of global government.”

“We will say freedom, prosperity, and capitalism in America,” Trump told the cheering crowd. “And before I even arrive at the Oval Office shortly after we win the presidency I will have the horrible war between Russia and Ukraine settled so we quit spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fight other people’s wars and so that we start immediately saving thousands and thousands of lives,” he added. “I am committed to restoring peace and stability and to stopping Joe Biden’s march to World War Three,” he continued, warning that a potential global war would be “like no other” because of the “massive weaponry” and claiming that he is “the only one” who can stop it. Although Trump did not elaborate on how he plans to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he previously told Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that he had a “detailed plan” and pledged to end the hostilities “in 24 hours.”

“If the US will not provide the money, Europeans on their own will not be able to finance this war, and then the war will end,” Orban said in an interview earlier this year, adding that Trump proved himself to be “a man of peace.” Earlier this week, the Pentagon revealed an additional $275 million aid package for Kiev amid Russia’s offensive in Kharkov Region, and hinted that it could greenlight strikes “deep into Russian territory” using US-supplied weapons. The move sparked criticism from Moscow, with Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, saying Washington is not interested in restoring peace in Europe and “is doing everything to prolong the conflict and increase casualties on the Russian and Ukrainian sides.”

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“..only “if something threatens the existence of our country..”

US Strike On Russian Targets Would Be ‘Start Of World War’ – Medvedev (RT)

Any US attack on Russian targets in Ukraine would automatically trigger a world war, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned. The official, who currently serves as Deputy Chair of Russia’s Security Council, made the remarks after Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski claimed Washington had threatened to conduct such a strike should Russia use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, Medvedev suggested that Sikorski “apparently, has decided to scare his masters.” He noted that Washington, unlike Warsaw, has so far refrained from making any such threats publicly “because they are more cautious” than the Poles. “Americans hitting our targets means starting a world war, and a Foreign Minister, even of a country like Poland, should understand that,” Medvedev added.

The former Russian president also cited remarks made by Polish President Andrzej Duda last month, when he said his country would be willing to host US nuclear weapons if offered such an opportunity under NATO’s sharing mechanism. Medvedev warned that in case of a nuclear confrontation “Warsaw won’t be left out, and will surely get its share of radioactive ash,” asking if this is the outcome the Polish leadership really wants. On Saturday in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Sikorski expressed skepticism regarding a hypothetical Russian nuclear strike in Ukraine. “The Americans have told the Russians that if you explode a nuke, even if it doesn’t kill anybody, we will hit all your targets [positions] in Ukraine with conventional weapons, we’ll destroy all of them,” he claimed, describing the presumed warning as a “credible threat.”

The Polish diplomat alleged that China and India have also warned Russia against a nuclear escalation. The minister also suggested that Ukraine’s Western backers should allow Kiev to use their weapons to strike military targets on Russian territory as “apart from not using nuclear weapons, [Moscow] does not limit itself much.” According to Sikorski, the EU should not be afraid to escalate the situation, and should not impose limits on itself regarding the Ukraine conflict, so that Moscow is left guessing what the next step will be. While the US and its allies have on several occasions accused Moscow of nuclear saber-rattling, President Vladimir Putin insisted in March that at no point during the Ukraine conflict has Russia considered using such weapons.

Around the same time, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stressed that Russia’s nuclear doctrine envisages the use of weapons of mass destruction only “if something threatens the existence of our country,” echoing a previous statement by the head of state. The official also described the deterrent as a “farewell weapon.” During his annual address to the Federal Assembly in late February, Putin warned would-be aggressors that the nuclear arsenal was in a state of “complete readiness for guaranteed deployment.” Earlier this month, the Russian leader ordered an exercise in the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the Southern Military District, which borders Ukraine. According to statements by the Foreign and Defense Ministries, the exercises were meant as a warning to the US and its allies, following escalatory rhetoric from the West.

Read more …

“When the war machine starts to heat up, then there is a military lobby and a military industry lobby who want it to intensify, and then there will be no more [peace] effort, it is difficult to stop..”

Serbian President Vucic: World Heading For Greater Tragedy Than World War II (RT)

There is little time left to conclude the Ukraine conflict, which risks escalating out of control and inciting a global war, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has warned. Speaking on Friday to the broadcaster Prva Srpska Televizija, Vucic claimed the world is standing on the brink of an all-out global conflict, and it is likely already too late to avoid it. “I am afraid that there is little time left for the war in Ukraine to be stopped. I hope it’s still possible, but I’m afraid it’s actually not. I’m afraid that the train has already left the station, started moving, and no one will stop it,” he said. In my opinion, things will get worse and worse, and it may happen that we will have a greater tragedy than World War II. I’m afraid we are heading towards a great world conflict, and few want to stop it.

Explaining his doomsday prediction, the Serbian leader said the conflict is being pushed by the global military industry, war profiteers who are interested in expanding and prolonging it rather than seeking a resolution. “When the war machine starts to heat up, then there is a military lobby and a military industry lobby who want it to intensify, and then there will be no more [peace] effort, it is difficult to stop,” Vucic said. The president also urged “someone” to do something “real” to stop the hostilities instead of “just shifting the blame to the other side.” He warned that “if this doesn’t happen, I’m afraid we’re headed for disaster.”

While Russia and Ukraine sought to reach a peace deal early on during the ongoing conflict, then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was successful in pressuring Kiev not to do so, suggesting it should just keep fighting instead of striking any agreements with Moscow. While Johnson has denied such allegations, his involvement was confirmed by senior Ukrainian officials later on. While Moscow has repeatedly expressed a readiness to negotiate, Kiev has refused; Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has explicitly banned himself from entering any talks. The prospects of somehow restarting negotiations have now apparently become even slimmer since Zelensky’s presidential tenure expired. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated that Moscow’s readiness to engage in meaningful negotiations must be based on “common sense” and an acknowledgement of “realties on the ground.”

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There is a plan here. They want this across all of NATO. The UK is the trial balloon.

British PM Promises To Bring Back Conscription (RT)

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to re-introduce mandatory national service if the Conservative Party remains in power after the general election, set for July, British media reported on Sunday. Under the scheme, which is expected to cost around £2.5 billion ($3.19 billion) per year, all 18-year-olds would be required to either join the military full-time or volunteer one weekend per month, with community organizations such as the police or National Health Service (NHS). Sunak argued that compulsory service would help revive the “national spirit” and “provide life-changing opportunities for our young people,” according to manifesto pledges published by British media on Sunday. “This is a great country but generations of young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve and there are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world,” Sunak explained, as quoted by the BBC.

“I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new model of National Service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country,” the prime minister continued, arguing that the move would provide young people with “life-changing opportunities” to learn “real world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country.” “As a father, I look forward to my own two daughters doing their National Service: I think they will find it a rewarding experience,” the politician claimed. According to the plan, if re-elected, the Conservative Party will establish a Royal Commission to finalize a “National Service Program” and launch the pilot in September next year. According to the Mail on Sunday, the plan to reintroduce national service was drawn up in secret, with only Sunak’s closest advisers privy to the details. In the 40-page document, advisers argued that expanding the Armed Forces is necessary in the face of “the growing international threats posed by countries such as Russia and China.”

The announcement has been slammed by the opposition, who accused the Conservatives of crashing the British economy and cutting troop numbers. “This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon,” a Labour Party spokesperson told the BBC. “Our armed forces were once the envy of the world. This Conservative government has cut troop numbers and is planning more cuts to the size of the Army,” Liberal Democrat defense spokesperson Richard Foord said. Throughout its 364-year history, the British Army has mostly been an all-volunteer force, but conscription was introduced during WWI and WWII with the National Service ending in 1960. In recent decades, the British Armed Forces have seen significant cuts, with the number of troops falling by more than a quarter between 2010 and 2024.

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“Earlier in May, Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party, the largest one in the European Parliament, suggested reinstating compulsory military service across the entire European Union..”

Orban Foresees Dire Consequences If EU Militarism Continues Unchecked (Sp.)

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Sunday that he had never seen greater irresponsibility than Europe getting involved in the conflict in Ukraine without calculating what it would cost. “Europe is becoming so involved in the war that it does not even have an estimate of the scale of the costs and means necessary to achieve its military objective. I have never seen anything more irresponsible in my life,” Orban said in an interview with the Patriota YouTube channel. He added that, in his opinion, NATO wanted to become a party to the conflict in Ukraine and “the chances that the alliance can be kept from doing so are limited.” Budapest is against having decisions on the service of Hungarian citizens made “in Brussels or Germany,” Orban emphasized. “We don’t want anyone else to be able to make decisions about conscription and sending our young men of draft age anywhere. We have to forget about a European army with compulsory conscription, this is a crazy idea,” the prime minister stressed.

Earlier in May, Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party, the largest one in the European Parliament, suggested reinstating compulsory military service across the entire European Union. If Weber’s idea was implemented, “Hungarian families would be told from Brussels or Germany that their children would be compulsorily conscripted into the European army and told where they would go,” Orban added. In the years to come, current events may be seen as a prelude to World War III or even its first episode if Brussels’ militarism is not countered, the Hungarian prime minister warned. “Perhaps in 10 years the current processes will be called a prelude to World War III. It cannot be ruled out that if things go badly and we fail to control the military psychosis developed in Brussels, the history of these years will also be an episode of the first years of the big world war,” Orban said in an interview with the YouTube channel Patrióta.

Although European politicians see nuclear weapons as a deterrent, unforeseen worst-case scenarios could come to life, the Hungarian prime minister emphasized. “In my opinion, European politicians think of the nuclear bomb as a tactical deterrence tool and not as something that should really be used, but what they don’t consider at the beginning of a war can still happen at the end, thus worst-case scenarios can come to life,” Orban explained. Previously, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper that the United States threatened Moscow with the “destruction” of Russian forces in the special military operation zone if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitriy Medvedev said Poland should understand that an American strike on Russian troops would mean the beginning of a world war.

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All you need to do is be neutral. Problem fixed.

No Country Can Survive Conflict With Russia Alone – Zelensky (RT)

Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has urged the global community to work together against Russia, stressing that no nation can single-handedly survive a war with Moscow. In an interview with Central Asian media outlets on Saturday, Zelensky said the goal should be to ensure that President Vladimir Putin “thinks about his survival and his security,” and that “the Russians think about how they can avoid losing the independence of their country – without threatening them – simply by showing how united the world is, how strong it is.” Such unity is needed because “no one can survive a full-scale war with the Russians on its own,” the Ukrainian leader stated, as quoted by the Kazakh online magazine Vlast. “We were alone, we were on our own” when Russia launched its military operation against Ukraine in February 2022, Zelensky claimed.

“But then we agreed with our partners on some sort of sanctions, some sort of weapons and other things,” he said, referring to the support provided by the West since the start of the conflict. Even Beijing “must protect Ukraine because we were attacked,” as “China says that territorial integrity must be respected,” the politician argued. Beijing has maintained a policy of neutrality on the Ukraine conflict, while consistently calling for a political settlement that would respect the interests of all sides. The Chinese authorities have blamed the hostilities on NATO’s eastward expansion, rebuffed Western calls to impose sanctions on Russia, and opted to boost trade with its neighbor. Zelensky was also asked if he was concerned about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement earlier this week that in Moscow’s view the Ukrainian leader’s legitimacy has “expired.”

Zelensky’s five-year term as Ukrainian President ended on Monday after he refused to stage a new election, citing martial law imposed due to the conflict. ”They don’t concern me much at all,” he replied. “These statements by the illegitimate president of Russia regarding the legitimacy of the president of Ukraine are, frankly speaking, boring and uninteresting.” Putin won a fifth term in office in March, claiming 87.28% of the vote amid a record turnout of over 77%.

Zelensky argued that anybody who knows how to read laws can swiftly confirm that his continued stay in power is legal. “The Ukrainians know their Constitution, they know the law,” he added. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said last month that attempts by the US and its allies to isolate Russia have failed, and pledged to “expand pragmatic, equal, mutually beneficial, partnership relations with friendly countries in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America.” According to the president, unlike the European elites, “who aren’t pursuing policies that are beneficial for their peoples,” there are many citizens on the continent who support Russia’s stance.

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“America is also the “leading democracy” and “indispensable nation,” the US president claims..”

US World’s Only Superpower – Biden (RT)

The US is the “world’s only superpower” and the “leading democracy,” which is playing a critical role in supporting its allies around the globe, President Joe Biden said on Saturday. The president spoke at the commencement of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, addressing more than 1,000 graduating cadets. In his speech, Biden praised the role of the US military in the purported effort of “standing up to tyrants” around the globe, as well as of “protecting freedom and openness.” “Thanks to the US Armed Forces, we’re doing what only America can do as the indispensable nation, the world’s only superpower, and the leading democracy in the world,” he stated. “Never forget: America is the strongest when we lead not only by our example of our power but by the power of our example. You can clap for that,” he added.

Biden reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to propping up its allies around the world, specifically mentioning Israel and Ukraine. “There are no American soldiers at war in Ukraine. I’m determined to keep it that way. But we are standing strong with Ukraine, and we will stand with them,” the president said, launching a new bitter attack on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. “We’re standing against a man who I’ve known well for many years, a brutal tyrant. We may not – we – and we will not – we will not walk away,” Biden stated. Biden has repeatedly made insulting remarks about the Russian leader, describing Putin as a “dictator” and “tyrant.” Coincidentally, the US president received similar treatment on the same day from his arch-rival Donald Trump, who fired a broadside at Biden at the Libertarian Party National Convention in Washington, DC.

Among other things, Trump described Biden as a “crooked” and “corrupt tyrant,” as well as “the worst president in the history of the United States,” with even former head of state Jimmy Carter “being a brilliant president by comparison.”

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Shift.

Republicans Winning Voter Registration Battle in Battleground States (ET)

Republicans are closing the gap on voter registrations in key swing states. Political observers say it could be a sign the party will perform well in November. The gap between registered voters in the Democratic Party and Republican Party shrank significantly in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and North Carolina, according to voter registration statistics collected in April. Taking the combined voter totals in the three states, Republicans have eroded the Democratic registration advantage by more than 54 percent between 2019 and 2024. In Arizona, a fourth critical state, Republicans extended their lead in registered voters by more than 71 percent during the same period. The four states are among the most prized possessions in presidential politics. Collectively, they represent 52 electoral votes. In 2020, Joe Biden carried all except North Carolina. In 2016, Donald Trump took everything but Nevada. The registration trends don’t necessarily mean Republicans will sweep the states, but they’re a sign that the GOP will be able to more easily target and turn out its voters in those states than it did in 2020.

Pennsylvania – The largest numerical shift occurred in the Keystone State where the Democrat lead has shrunk by some 400,000 votes since May 2019. In May 2019, more than 4 million were registered as Democrats, and about 3.2 million were registered Republicans, according to voter registration data collected by the Pennsylvania Department of State. By the end of April, almost 3.9 million Pennsylvanians were registered as Democrats, while nearly 3.5 million were registered as Republicans. During the same period, the total number of registered voters increased to more than 8.7 million from nearly 8.5 million. The electorate registered with the Libertarian Party or “other parties,” as the state identifies them, remained relatively stable at 1.2 million during the same period.

Along with the rematch between President Biden and former President Trump, Pennsylvania voters will consider a Senate race crucial to the balance of power in Washington. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) will square off against Republican businessman Dave McCormick. Mr. Hopkins said the seismic change in voter registration could be linked to a growing number of what he called “ancestral Democrats” in rural Pennsylvania either falling off the rolls or registering with another party. These moderate voters are just as likely to vote Democratic as Republican, he predicts. Nevertheless, Mr. Hopkins said the statistics indicate the state’s voters are moving toward the right and there is more parity in the electorate than in previous cycles. This aligns with the Republican Party’s growing appeal with white, high-school-educated voters, he said. Pennsylvania GOP chairman Lawrence Tabas said erasing the voter registration deficit is a “top priority” in the state.

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What was it, 51 former intel officials?! How many arrests so far?

“The Laptop is Real” (Turley)

“The defendant’s laptop is real.” With those words and pictures like this one of Biden using crack, the Justice Department introduced the Hunter Biden laptop as evidence in his upcoming trial over federal gun violations. The federal prosecutors went on to denounce suggestions of Russian disinformation, long peddled by the Bidens, the media and former intelligence officials, as nothing more than a “conspiracy theory.” The media eagerly spread the claim of Russian disinformation before the presidential election. Twitter and others suppressed the story. This was done through one of the most skillful disinformation campaigns in history. It later came out that associates of the Biden campaign (including now Secretary of State Antony Blinken) pushed a long effort to get former intelligence officials to sign a letter making the claim, knowing that an ever accommodating media would accept the claim without question or further inquiry.

At the time, some of us wrote that the laptop was “self-authenticating” since many of the emails were confirmed by third parties and other evidence. The Justice Department last week made the same claim of “self-authentication” as well as independent confirmation by federal investigators. In the now debunked letter of former intelligence officials just before the election, figures such as Leon Panetta, former CIA Director in the Obama Administration, claimed that the letter had all of the markings of a Russian disinformation effort by intelligence services. (Panetta continued to make the assertion late last year in pushing what the federal government is now calling a “conspiracy theory.”). The Washington Post’s Phillip Bump and others also continued to push the conspiracy theory. Indeed, in 2021, when media organizations were finally admitting that the laptop was authentic, Bump was still declaring that it was a “conspiracy theory.” Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Bump continued to suggest that “the laptop was seeded by Russian intelligence.”

What is equally astonishing is that in 2023 the Post expressly stood by Bump’s reporting on the laptop and other debunked claims. Even after the government has declared this reporting as part of a “conspiracy theory,” the Post continues to support the reporting by Bump and others. The laptop includes not just pictures of Hunter using drugs but brandishing a handgun. The court clearly agrees with the government on the authenticity of the laptop. It has ruled against the defense and will allow it to be introduced into evidence. Despite the conclusions of American intelligence and others, the Biden team continued to push the disinformation. That led the Justice Department to tell the court that “The defendant’s theory about the laptop is a conspiracy theory with no supporting evidence.” It added that Hunter’s “laptop is real (it will be introduced as a trial exhibit) and it contains significant evidence of the defendant’s guilt.” The response from the media has been a collective shrug. Worse yet, many of these same political and media figures continue to support censorship and government regulations of “disinformation” while the government is now acknowledging that they carried off one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in history.

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“Cannon is in effect putting the Department of Justice on trial to account for its corrupt, dirty, and sloppy prosecution into Trump and two co-defendants.”

Meltdown in Florida (Julie Kelly)

“I’m going to ask that you just calm down. I understand this is sensitive and it’s difficult, but these questions are briefed and they’re before the Court.” So said Judge Aileen Cannon to David Harbach, one of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s lead prosecutors in the government’s espionage and obstruction case against former president Donald Trump, during a hearing on Wednesday. While temperatures spiked outside the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida throughout the day, so too did the climate inside Cannon’s courtroom. The May 22 proceeding, as I explained here, represented the first of a series of hearings that will turn the tables on Smith; Cannon is in effect putting the Department of Justice on trial to account for its corrupt, dirty, and sloppy prosecution into Trump and two co-defendants.

Cannon’s admonishment came after what can only be described as a prolonged meltdown by Harbach after he ranted for several minutes in response to a defense motion seeking to dismiss the case against Waltine Nauta, Trump’s longtime personal valet also charged in the indictment, based on selective and vindictive prosecution. At times pounding the podium and clapping his hands in anger to emphasize a point, Harbach, usually the cooler head of the prosecution side, escalated the war of words between Cannon and the special counsel’s team. A longtime DOJ apparatchik having served as former FBI Director James Comey’s special counsel and alongside Smith in the DOJ public integrity unit during the Obama administration, Harbach is used to getting his way before federal judges. Not this time. Cannon is a slow-moving freight train, systematically and almost to the point of torment exposing every government fault line in the imploding case.

Just this month alone, Cannon has forced Smith to admit key evidence seized during the 2022 FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago has been bungled and possibly misplaced, contrary to his team’s representations to her. She continues to authorize the unsealing of motions and exhibits including records the DOJ never thought would see the light of day. In fact, Harbach’s outburst came less than 24 hours after Trump’s lawyers filed a motion related to the Mar-a-Lago raid, a document Cannon ordered unsealed; the motion, as I reported on Twitter/X Tuesday afternoon as well as here, revealed the stunning news that FBI agents had authority to use deadly force during the nine-hour raid. The disclosure instantly prompted fury on the Right, leading to a damage-control statement by the FBI several hours later. Attorney General Merrick Garland also addressed the controversy the following day, calling Trump’s claims about a potential assassination, “false and extremely dangerous.”

Garland also claimed, without evidence, that the consensual search of Joe Biden’s home for classified documents involved the same authorization for use of force. Late Friday night, Smith filed a motion asking Cannon to prohibit Trump from making public statements “that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.” But Harbach’s bad behavior in court specifically related to accusations of prosecutorial abuse. Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, has accused the DOJ of retaliating against Nauta for refusing to flip on Trump and become a cooperating witness. (Nauta faces several charges including conspiring to obstruct the investigation and making false statements.) Woodward further alleged that Jay Bratt, the other lead DOJ prosecutor, made threats against Woodward during an August 2022 meeting to discuss Nauta’s potential cooperation.

Woodward said Bratt noted his pending judicial nomination before the D.C. Superior Court and said something to the effect of “I wouldn’t want you to do anything to mess that up.” Bratt’s conduct during the meeting is the subject of both a congressional investigation and an Office of Professional Responsibility probe at the DOJ. (The OPR inquiry is on hold pending resolution of the classified documents case.) Woodward wants all records and communications about the meeting given to the defense—something Cannon appears inclined to do.

Read more …

“Do voters want a president being transparently pursued for partisan reasons by a behemoth government that fewer than two-in-ten Americans trust?”

Biden Marketing Team To Make Trump a Mega-Martyr (ZH)

Joe Biden’s galaxy brain handlers plan to use any ‘guilty’ verdicts in Donald Trump’s criminal trials to campaign on, unaware that most of the country views them as political lawfare by the permanent ruling class hatched in coordination with Biden’s own DOJ. According to Politico, citing four people familiar with internal deliberations; Biden intends to initially address the verdict in a White House setting — not a campaign one — to show his statement isn’t political, according to the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.If the jury convicts Trump, Biden’s team will then argue that the result shows Trump is ill-suited for office and that it demonstrates the extremes to which the former president would go to win again.

The campaign’s social media team is considering leveraging the line of attack further, with discussions underway about referring to the ex-president online as “Convicted Felon Donald Trump.” The report comes as closing arguments are set for Tuesday in Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial, which saw the prosecution’s star witness, Michael Cohen, implode on the stand. Of course, a Manhattan jury won’t care – so a Trump ‘guilty’ verdict wouldn’t come as a surprise. “This is an important moment and the president first and foremost needs to stress that the American system works, even and especially in an election year,” said one of Politico’s anonymous sources.

“And in a measured way, it becomes part of his argument against Trump too: Do Americans really want this?” Do voters want a president being transparently pursued for partisan reasons by a behemoth government that fewer than two-in-ten Americans trust? This goes hand-in-hand with why the left can’t meme and are desperate to find someone who can. At least one Democrat sees how stupid this is. “I don’t think it’s important to rub it in,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) told Politico. “I don’t think anybody on our side should be reacting with glee. It just should be a tragedy that an American president has been convicted of real crimes.”

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“Bragg’s was the first case to go to trial and an acquittal in that case would almost certainly see Trump cast doubt on the legitimacy of the remaining cases..”

How Will Trump, Voters Respond To The Outcome Of His Trial? (JTN)

The defense has rested in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial and closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, meaning a verdict could come as early as next week. The jury’s decision remains the subject of considerable speculation as does the impact of either a conviction or an acquittal. But a verdict will come eventually and the Trump campaign will have to respond accordingly. Trump is almost certain to appeal a conviction while an acquittal could conceivably lend legitimacy to his claims of a broader, baseless political witch hunt designed to derail his 2024 bid to return to the White House. Alternatively, if the verdict comes in against him, Trump could file for a “Judgement of Acquittal.” Judges have the ability to overturn a jury verdict if there is insufficient evidence to support that verdict. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has brought the first criminal prosecution of a former president in U.S. history. He charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 payment that his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and the trial has proceeded for the past several weeks. The Trump campaign, for its part, has remained resolute in its assertion that the case, like the other prosecutions involving him, are political in nature and insists the proceedings will not stop his victory in November. “President Trump has established a commanding polling lead and Crooked Joe Biden is on the ropes. His Democrat Party allies are desperate, so they continue to try and push their ongoing Witch Hunts by abusing and misusing the power of their offices to interfere in the 2024 presidential election,” Trump Campaign National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt told Just the News. “President Trump and his legal team will continue to fight and crush the Biden Hoaxes all across the country and the American People will hold Crooked Joe and his comrades to account this Fall,” she continued. Whether Trump is convicted or acquitted, the trial’s outcome could conceivably provide Trump with rhetorical fodder to advance his campaign.

Trump has repeatedly categorized the myriad prosecutions against him as part of a larger political witch hunt and has linked the prosecutors pursuing each case together as part of a so-called “Fraud Squad.” He currently faces two criminal cases, one in federal court brought by special counsel Jack Smith and one in Georgia state court from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. He has appealed a civil fraud verdict in a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Bragg’s was the first case to go to trial and an acquittal in that case would almost certainly see Trump cast doubt on the legitimacy of the remaining cases. In the event of a conviction, Trump has already laid the groundwork for his messaging in how he has used some of his prior legal woes to campaign. Among the most notable instances was his incorporation of his mugshot from the Fulton County jail into campaign merchandise. He has also used Merchan’s imposition of fines for violating a gag order to solicit donations.

The case itself has had legal experts and media pundits struggling to find an underlying crime in the matter, a point Trump has repeatedly highlighted throughout the trial. Without the jury being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt there was an underlying crime, acquittal is a certainty. “Every single legal scholar that I see, maybe there’s somebody out there some whack job, but virtually everyone that I’ve seen have said that there’s absolutely no case. It’s a case that shouldn’t have been brought,” Trump said earlier this month. The former president has long sought to paint the case as a legal farce and, should he be convicted, would almost certainly use the conviction to claim the proceedings had been politicized and biased against him. Judge Juan Merchan, who has overseen the case, twice refused Trump’s requests that he recuse himself in light of his daughter’s employment with Authentic, a firm that boasts both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as clients. Merchan’s handling of the case and Trump’s messaging on the matter already appears to have struck a chord with some legal analysts.

“The judge in Donald Trump’s trial was an absolute tyrant, though he appeared to the jury to be a benevolent despot,” Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz wrote this week in an op-ed for the New York Post. One week prior, Dershowitz told the “Just the News, No Noise” television show that he was “fairly confident this case will be reversed on appeal.” “But the goal was to get a down and dirty conviction to influence the election, along with a gag order, and keeping him in the courtroom,” he added. “And they’re achieving those political goals, even if they are using improper legal means to do it.”

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“..compliance – that everyone piles into the clown car on command so these bozos can take everyone on a joyride down Dystopian Highway..”

Von der Leyen Proposes Vaccines For Minds, A Shield For Democracy (Marsden)

One of the hallmarks of the European Union is that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In fact, it often means the exact opposite. Take, for instance, the idea that Ursula Von der Leyen, the European Commission president, is running for re-election when in reality she’s just publicly squabbling with a few other establishment hacks to be handpicked and confirmed by the establishment itself, not by popular vote. But that hasn’t stopped her from cosplaying as an actual democratic candidate. It’s not like she didn’t have the opportunity to actually be one rather than just play one, but when her German colleagues asked her to run for an elected EU seat in Germany to establish some democratic credibility, she reportedly declined the inconvenience. But that hasn’t stopped her from posting “campaign” ads on social media, as though she’s actually trying to appeal to voters. In one such video, she promises that if she’s re-coronated, er, “re-elected,” she’ll defend Europe with a “Democracy Shield.”

The whole idea, she says, is to “detect disinformation and malign interference… remove content, including [artificial intelligence] deepfakes, [and] to make our societies more resilient.” Nothing about defending Europe’s democracy from unelected bureaucrats wielding excessive power though, I guess? Ever since billionaire tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, took over Twitter, renamed the social media platform ‘X’, and publicly shamed all the Western government authorities that tried to exploit the platform directly for their own propaganda purposes, his “community notes” feature has allowed users to react directly and in real time to content, including deep fake videos, and has proven that the antidote to inaccuracy is more free and democratic speech, not less. “Democracy,” in the case of this “Democracy Shield” is really just a euphemism for censorship. Because what does this “shield” really protect Europe from, that more free speech can’t achieve, other than inconvenient facts?

Or from Queen Ursula and the rest of the European establishment having to defend their own ideological lunacy and explain to citizens why the narratives they peddle often don’t jibe with reality. Apparently, they figure that democracy would be better off if everything and everyone that didn’t fit their top agenda narratives could just be whacked over the head and dragged off into the shadows by the online Gestapo serving von der Leyen’s online “Democracy Shield.” But maybe characterizing the Democracy Shield as little more than a “propaganda shield” is unfair. After all, it’s not like the EU or Ursula actually say that they’re interested in doing propaganda. No, instead she says that she just wants to do a little “pre-bunking,” which totally doesn’t sound like propaganda at all. Speaking at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit earlier this month, von der Leyen explained that “research has shown that pre-bunking is more successful than de-bunking. Pre-bunking is the opposite of de-bunking. In short, prevention is preferable to cure.

Think of information manipulation as a virus. Instead of treating an infection once it has taken hold, that’s the de-bunking, it is better to vaccinate, so that our body is inoculated. Pre-bunking is the same approach.” Yeah, folks, just think of free debate and discussion as a nasty virus that could get really messy. May provoke verbal diarrhea. Ugly stuff. Wouldn’t it just be better if the EU could inject its narratives like a vaccine straight into the minds of citizens to eliminate any risk of messy opposing views or information? What if the pre-bunk narrative IS the disinformation, though? Of course that never happens, right? Everything that the EU and Western governments say is always the total and complete objective truth and anyone questioning it is some kind of foreign agent. By the way, von der Leyen’s “societal resilience” here really just means compliance – that everyone piles into the clown car on command so these bozos can take everyone on a joyride down Dystopian Highway towards wherever fresh Hell their hidden special interests dictate at any given time.

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“Both have had enough of being “polite”. You want confrontation? Confrontation is what you’re gonna get.”

Russia and China Have Had Enough (Pepe Escobar)

Now couple all of the above with the head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, being more than explicit at a CIS summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on what the Empire of Chaos and its vassals are up to next. The four main takeaways:

1. The U.S., UK and NATO are now on Full Hybrid War mode against Russia.

2. NATO is facilitating a massive transfer of terrorists/jihadis from several latitudes to Ukraine, with some of these, especially branded ISIS-K, instrumentalized all across the Heartland. Call it a Terror Foreign Legion – which should be regarded as the SCO’s number one enemy. Bortnikov referred to “the constant rotation of militants in the Syria-Iraqi and Afghan-Pakistani zones, and the emergence of new militant training camps near the southern borders of the commonwealth.”

3. Ukraine has turned to Total Terror – complete with non-stop sabotage raids across Russia’s borders.

4. On a positive note, the Global Majority is on the move: Russia is closely cooperating, increasingly, with scores of nations in West Asia, wider Asia, Africa and Latin America.

After a series of extraordinary “coincidences” these past few weeks, from “lone gunman” assassination attempts to engineered coups, outright threats and mysterious disappearances, the whole BRICS-SCO ecosystem has to be on very high alert. After the epic Putin-Xi summit in Beijing and the stranger than fiction Raisi helicopter drama, the renewed solidity of the interlocked Russia-China-Iran strategic partnerships is pointing to Russia-China about to take their velvet gloves off. Putin and Xi, each in their own way, have already warned the collectively imbecilized West: if you want confrontation, you’re gonna get confrontation. In spades. And at your own peril.

The impeding Mother of All Tests, coming this summer, is how far NATO will go when it comes to directly attacking the Russian Federation. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warns that “Europe is preparing to start a war with Russia”. Uncultured, uneducated political-military Eurotrash “elites” of course are completely incapable of understanding reality outside of their bubble. Moreover, they interpret Russian patience and legalistic approach as weakness. Well: intel sources in Moscow are now making it very clear – off the record; the response, if they try anything stupid, will be devastating.

On a BRICS level, there is a sort of last-minute attempt to defuse the incandescence. Wang Yi and President Lula’s top foreign policy advisor, Celso Amorim, have released a statement outlining a “common understanding” over an endgame in Ukraine. Essentially, the statement reads that “China and Brazil support holding an international peace conference at an appropriate time, recognized by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation by all parties, and fair discussion of all peace plans.” The Empire of Chaos will obviously reject it. Beijing has all its attention focusing on Empire of Chaos provocations in Taiwan while Moscow focuses on NATO provocations in Ukraine. Both have had enough of being “polite”. You want confrontation? Confrontation is what you’re gonna get.

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“President Trump put veterans as the number one priority,” she said. “There was a hotline where you could call the White House and have your concerns answered. He understood also, which I think is so important, that it wasn’t just the veteran, but the whole family. This affects the whole family.”

Congressional Candidate Smiley Pushes For Better Help For Veterans (JTN)

Washington state GOP congressional candidate Tiffany Smiley said that one of her main focuses is getting veterans the help they need when they come home from serving the country and to cut through red tape. “It’s time to stand up for our country,” Smiley said on a Memorial Day special on the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show. “It’s time to stand up for those who so graciously served our country and have sacrificed. You know, my first wedding anniversary with Scotty…… we spent apart [because] he was in Iraq.” Smiley married her high school sweetheart Scotty, an Army veteran. In 2005, he was blinded by a suicide car bomber in Iraq. Smiley, who was a nurse, said that the experience was life changing and forced her to see the lack of care veterans and their families get. “I would walk the halls in the evening,” Smiley said when describing her time at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“I would see soldiers alone. Some had families. Some families left. Some spouses left, and it just broke my heart. You know, I knew I could be an advocate for Scotty. But what about everyone else?” Smiley is running for Washington state’s fourth district and praised former President Donald Trump for his policies and their impact on veterans and their families. “President Trump put veterans as the number one priority,” she said. “There was a hotline where you could call the White House and have your concerns answered. He understood also, which I think is so important, that it wasn’t just the veteran, but the whole family. This affects the whole family.” Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs put patients’ safety at significant risk with a bungled rollout of its new electronic health records (EHR) system that created inaccuracies in medicine and prescription data, an internal investigation found in the latest black eye for the federal agency that cares for America’s millions of retired armed services members.

In a stinging report, the VA’s inspector general, its internal watchdog, said a complaint about prescription backlogs at a veterans’ facility in Columbus, Ohio led to the discovery of massive problems in the EHR system nationwide and it pointedly warned that some of the issues still persist. The current congressman representing Washington state is Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wa., who voted to impeach Trump in 2021 for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. “The people of the fourth district are not happy,” Smiley said. “Dan Newhouse let us down. We are a God fearing fourth district [that] loves America and loves Trump, and they know that his policies work.” Smiley added that Newhouse put the district in a vulnerable position. “He is not going to be able to legislate with President Trump and that’s exactly why I got in this race,” she said. “We have issues in the fourth district that will require executive branch intervention and Dan Newhouse let us down.”

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Organ failure

 

 

Bush Putin dance

 

 

 

 

Life hack

 

 

Brave Monkey

 

 

Escalator

 

 

 

 

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Apr 142015
 
 April 14, 2015  Posted by at 7:51 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


NPC Walker Hill Dairy, Washington, DC 1921

The Shocker Crushing The Economy Revealed (Zero Hedge)
China’s Economy: Hard Landing Or Welcome Rebalancing? (Guardian)
The Risks Behind China’s Silk Road Growth Gamble (CNBC)
Citi Analysts Call The ‘End Of The Iron Age’ (CNBC)
Shale Oil Boom Could End in May After Price Collapse (Bloomberg)
Scrap Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Bring In Carbon Tax – World Bank Chief (Guardian)
The New Militarism: Who’s The Real Enemy? (Ron Paul)
Optimising The Eurozone (Frances Coppola)
Greece Prepares For Debt Default If Talks With Creditors Fail (FT)
Why Europe Needs to Save Greece (Anders Borg)
Greece, The Euro’s Greatest “Success” (Constantin Xekalos)
Ackman Says Student Loans Are the Biggest Risk in the Credit Market (Bloomberg)
Chavez’s Ghost Haunts Spanish Budget Rebels Podemos in Polls (Bloomberg)
Anti-Euro Finnish Party Gets Ready to Rule as Discontent Brews (Bloomberg)
The Power of Lies (Paul Craig Roberts)
She’s Back! (Jim Kunstler)
Greenpeace’s Midlife Crisis (Bloomberg)
The Real Reason Californians Can’t Water Their Lawns (Bloomberg)
Italy Rescues Nearly 6,000 Migrants In A Single Weekend (Guardian)

“..why the consumer has literally gone into hibernation..”

The Shocker Crushing The Economy Revealed (Zero Hedge)

We are grateful to Alexander Giryavets at Dynamika Capital for pointing us to something which is far more troubling than even the Atlanta Fed’s collapse in Q1 GDP tracking: namely the latest Credit Managers Index for the month of March which “deteriorated significantly over the last two months and current readings stand at the recessionary levels not seen since 2008.” To be sure, we have previously shown the collapse in consumer debt as reported by the Fed, which as we noted, just suffered its worst month for revolving credit since December 2010 and explains “why the consumer has literally gone into hibernation – it has nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with the unwillingness to “charge” purchases, which in turn is a clear glimpse into how the US consumer sees their financial and economic future.”

It turns out it may not have been just a matter of demand: apparently something very dramatic has been happening in February and especially in March. Instead of spoiling the punchline, we will leave it to the National Association of Credit Managers to explain what happened: From the latest NACM Credit Managers Index: We now know that the readings of last month were not a fluke or some temporary aberration that could be marked off as something related to the weather. There is quite obviously some serious financial stress manifesting in the data and this does not bode well for the growth of the economy going forward. These readings are as low as they have been since the recession started and to see everything start to get back on track would take a substantial reversal at this stage. The data from the CMI is not the only place where this distress is showing up, but thus far, it may be the most profound.

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“..house prices are declining at 6% a year, compared with double digit growth a year ago..”

China’s Economy: Hard Landing Or Welcome Rebalancing? (Guardian)

The worse-than-expected trade data from China on Monday was the latest evidence of the struggleBeijing faces in achieving a soft landing for the world’s second-largest economy. Before the Great Crash of 2008, China’s role as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, shipping cut-price goods from shoes to smartphones out across the world, seemed like the economic equivalent of alchemy: turning the sweat and toil of hundreds of millions of workers into gold. But seven years later, with eurozone policymakers resorting to quantitative easing to kickstart demand, and US interest rates still at zero, being saddled with a growth model that relies on selling cheap products to the west no longer looks like such a winning strategy.

Global trade growth remains well below the levels that pre-crisis trends would have predicted. Beijing has made clear that after initially cushioning the slowdown with a massive fiscal stimulus, it is now aiming to engineer a shift to a more sustainable growth model, from a dependence on investment and exports towards consumption. On that basis, the sharp decline in exports is to be welcomed as a sign that the rebalancing is working. But some analysts believe it is the latest sign that something is badly amiss. Erik Britton, of City consultancy Fathom, says its analysis, based on rail freight, electricity production and bank lending, suggests growth is running at closer to 3% than the 7% or so suggested by official GDP data.

“China is in a hard landing now,” he says. “They have faced a situation where their previous growth model is not working.” He points out that house prices are declining at 6% a year, compared with double digit growth a year ago — similar to the kind of reversal that plunged the US into the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Furthermore, banks are saddled with non-performing loans and industries are struggling to tackle overcapacity. He believes China will eventually have to accept a drastic depreciation in the renminbi, of perhaps 25%, in order to regain competitiveness and prevent a crash.

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“.. the proposed projects could end up “little more than a series of expensive boondoggles..”

The Risks Behind China’s Silk Road Growth Gamble (CNBC)

China is betting on a massive infrastructure and cross-border trade initiative to cushion the economy as it transitions to a period of slower, more sustainable growth, but experts warn the program could do more harm than good. Years in the making, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative is composed of two primary projects: the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” a network of road, rail and port routes that will connect China to Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. President Xi Jinping hopes the plan will spur more regionally balanced growth as annual GDP hovers at a 24-year low. However, OBOR is unlikely to resolve Beijing’s long-term growth problem as it doesn’t address domestic consumption, noted Bank of America in a recent report.

“OBOR tries to export China’s savings and import foreign demand, so it represents a continuation of China’s old growth model (which had brought China to its current predicament in the first place),” it said. “We suspect that many local governments may leverage off OBOR for a new round of infrastructure spending…This, while helpful in holding up short-term investment, will delay the long overdue rebalancing toward consumption in China,” it added. Some of the countries participating in the OBOR scheme have large current account deficits and unfavorable economic fundamentals, making them high-risk borrowers, BoFAML pointed out. This means Beijing is taking on greater default risk by providing them with capital and financing projects in those nations.

“For example, China swaps renminbi for country Z’s currency at the current exchange rate. If country Z uses the funds to buy Chinese rail equipment and China doesn’t immediately spend currency Z to purchase goods from country Z, China would be exposed to the risk of partial default if currency Z depreciates,” the bank said. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) agrees. In a note this week, it stated that borrowers’ failure to pay back loans, or businesses’ inability to recoup their investments could place additional stress on the Chinese economy. Beijing’s past difficulties investing in infrastructure abroad, especially through bilateral arrangements, suggest that the proposed projects could end up “little more than a series of expensive boondoggles,” CSIS remarked.

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“The real challenge for this market is that it still has lots of supply coming..”

Citi Analysts Call The ‘End Of The Iron Age’ (CNBC)

Oversupply and a lack of demand growth has led some market analysts to speculate that iron ore prices will never recover to former levels, and warn of a divergence in different base metals going forward. The price of iron ore is now just over $47 a ton, according to The Steel Index (TSI), which measures a benchmark of 62-percent ore. This is its lowest level since the TSI started compiling spot market prices in 2008, according to Reuters. On Monday, analysts at Citi slashed their forecasts for the price of the metal and now expect iron ore to average $45 a ton in 2015 and $40 a ton in 2016. These are downgrades of 23% and 36.6%, respectively. “We believe the upside in the sector is now capped, however the downside is being protected by dividend yield. We think it is going to be a tough 1-2 years for the mining sector until we clear surplus capacity in the bulk commodity prices,” Heath Jansen, metals and mining analyst at Citi, said in a note Monday morning.

Another analyst, Colin Hamilton, head of global commodities research at Macquarie, explained that iron prices needed to fall in lower in the short term to clear an oversupply that isn’t prevalent in other commodity markets. “The real challenge for this market is that it still has lots of supply coming,” Hamilton, who has also downgraded is forecasts for iron ore prices, told CNBC. Caroline Bain, senior commodities economist at Capital Economics, highlighted in a note last week that iron ore output grew by 9% in 2014, while copper mine supply grew by just over 1%. She added that low-cost iron ore producers in Australia and Brazil were continuing to ramp up output despite the fall in prices, and said she believed this would boost iron ore supply again this year.

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“..If it’s fast, if it’s steep, there could be a big jump in the market.”

Shale Oil Boom Could End in May After Price Collapse (Bloomberg)

The shale oil boom that pushed U.S. crude production to the highest level in four decades is grinding to a halt. Output from the prolific tight-rock formations such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale will decline 57,000 barrels a day in May, the Energy Information Administration said Monday. It’s the first time the agency has forecast a drop in output since it began issuing a monthly drilling productivity report in 2013. Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and IHS have projected that U.S. oil production growth will end, at least temporarily, with futures near a six-year low. The plunge in prices has already forced half the country’s drilling rigs offline and wiped out thousands of jobs. The retreat in America’s oil boom is necessary to correct a supply glut and rebalance global oil markets, according to Goldman.

“We’re going off an inevitable cliff” because of the shrinking rig counts, Carl Larry, head of oil and gas for Frost & Sullivan LP, said by phone from Houston on Monday. “The question is how fast is the decline going to go. If it’s fast, if it’s steep, there could be a big jump in the market.” West Texas Intermediate crude for May delivery climbed 27 cents Monday to settle at $51.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down 50% from a year ago. The decline in domestic production will come just as U.S. refineries start processing more oil following seasonal maintenance, easing the biggest glut since 1930. The withdrawal from U.S. oil stockpiles is expected to bring relief to a market that’s seen prices drop by more than $50 a barrel since June.

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But the industry is going to say they already have it so hard..

Scrap Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Bring In Carbon Tax – World Bank Chief (Guardian)

Poor countries are feeling “the boot of climate change on their neck”, the president of the World Bank has said, as he called for a carbon tax and the immediate scrapping of subsidies for fossil fuels to hold back global warming. Jim Yong Kim said awareness of the impact of extreme weather events that have been linked to rising temperatures was more marked in developing nations than in rich western countries, and backed for the adoption of a five-point plan to deliver low-carbon growth. Speaking to the Guardian ahead of this week’s half-yearly meeting of the World Bank in Washington DC, Kim said he had been impressed by the energy of the divestment campaigns on university campuses in the US, aimed at persuading investors to remove their funds from fossil fuel companies.

“We have a whole new generation that is interested in climate change”, he said as he predicted that putting taxes on the use of carbon would trigger a wave of clean technology which would lift people out of poverty in the developing world while preventing the global temperature from rising by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels. Kim said it was crazy that governments increased the use of coal, oil and gas by providing subsidies for consumers. He said that in low and middle-income countries, the richest 20% received six times as much from fossil fuel subsidies as the poorest 20%. He added: “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now.”

Kim insisted that the recent fall in energy prices meant there had never been a better time to reduce the payments made by governments to help people with their fuel bills. Politicians around the globe currently spend around $1tn (£680bn) a year subsidising fossil fuels, but Kim said: “Fossil fuel subsidies send out a terrible signal: burn more carbon.”

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“.. the real enemy is the taxpayer..”

The New Militarism: Who’s The Real Enemy? (Ron Paul)

Militarism and military spending are on the rise everywhere as the new Cold War propaganda seems to be paying off. The new “threats” that are being hyped bring big profits to military contractors and the network of think tanks they pay to produce pro-war propaganda. Here are just a few examples: The German government announced last week that it would purchase 100 more “Leopard” tanks — a 45-percent increase in the country’s inventory. Germany had greatly reduced its inventory of tanks as the end of the Cold War meant the end of any threat of a Soviet ground invasion of Europe. The German government now claims these 100 new tanks, which may cost nearly half a billion dollars, are necessary to respond to the new Russian assertiveness in the region. Never mind that Russia has neither invaded nor threatened any country in the region, much less a NATO member country.

The US Cold War-era nuclear bunker under Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, which was all but shut down in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, is being brought back to life. The Pentagon has committed nearly a billion dollars to upgrading the facility to its previous Cold War-level of operations. U.S. defense contractor Raytheon will be the prime beneficiary of this contract. Raytheon is a major financial sponsor of think tanks like the Institute for the Study of War, which continuously churn out pro-war propaganda. I am sure these big contracts are a good return on that investment.

NATO, which I believe should have been shut down after the Cold War ended, is also getting its own massively expensive upgrade. The Alliance commissioned a new headquarters building in Brussels, Belgium, in 2010, which is supposed to be completed in 2016. The building looks like a hideous claw, and the final cost — if it is ever finished — will be well over one billion dollars. That is more than twice what was originally budgeted. What a boondoggle! Is it any surprise that NATO bureaucrats and generals continuously try to terrify us with tales of the new Russian threat? They need to justify their expansion plans!

So who is the real enemy? The Russians? No, the real enemy is the taxpayer. The real enemy is the middle class and the productive sectors of the economy. We are the victims of this new runaway military spending. Every dollar or euro spent on a contrived threat is a dollar or euro taken out of the real economy and wasted on military Keynesianism. It is a dollar stolen from a small business owner that will not be invested in innovation, spent on research to combat disease, or even donated to charities that help the needy.

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Europe will never be like the US.

Optimising The Eurozone (Frances Coppola)

[..] there is evidently far greater convergence of unemployment rates in the USA than there is in the Eurozone. So if neither is an OCA, why would this be? There are a number of reasons.

Firstly, the USA is a federation. Each state has its own government, but there is also a fully functional fiscal authority at federal level with tax and spending powers. Automatic fiscal stabilisers – unemployment benefit and income taxes – are harmonised across the federation (states have their own unemployment insurance programmes, but these must comply with federal guidelines). There are also federal-level programmes for other major government expenditures such as pensions, education, healthcare and defence. In contrast, the Eurozone has no federal fiscal authority with tax and spending powers. Automatic stabilisers operate at state, not federal, level and there is little attempt to harmonise them – indeed attempts to harmonise tax rates are met with fierce resistance from member states. Similarly, budgets for pensions, education, healthcare and defence are set by the individual states without reference to each other, although Brussels now supervises member state budgets to ensure compliance with fiscal rules.

Secondly, the USA is a transfer union. Richer states support poorer ones by means of federal fiscal transfers. States can borrow on their own account, and they can – and do – go bankrupt. But because of federal programmes and fiscal transfers, living standards tend to be maintained even in states that completely foul up their budgets. In contrast, the Eurozone has little in the way of fiscal transfers: there is development aid to poorer regions, and systematic help for farmers in the Common Agricultural policy, but that’s about all. The lack of federal programmes and fiscal transfers means that living standards can fall catastrophically when states make a mess of their finances (see Greece) or suffer local economic shocks (see Cyprus), while lack of fiscal harmonisation coupled with free movement of capital means that states are vulnerable to “sudden stops” even if they are fiscally responsible (see Spain).

Thirdly, the USA has a monetary authority with a dual mandate. The Fed is responsible for maintaining both price stability and full employment. Consequently, high unemployment can be fought with monetary stimulus as well as fiscal measures. In contrast, the ECB is only responsible for price stability. Provided that inflation is under control, the ECB has no reason to do anything at all about high unemployment. Consequently, the ECB has maintained far tighter monetary conditions than the USA over the last few years despite considerably higher unemployment. This has seriously hampered the efforts of member states, particularly in the distressed periphery, to reduce unemployment.

Finally, the USA – although not an OCA – has a common language and free movement of people both in theory and practice (though parts of the USA can be unfriendly to migrants, as anyone who has read Steinbeck will know). The ease with which people can migrate within the US to find work is a primary cause of the convergent unemployment rates.

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This was presented like some big news thing; it’s not.

Greece Prepares For Debt Default If Talks With Creditors Fail (FT)

Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April, according to people briefed on the radical leftist government’s thinking. The government, which is rapidly running out of funds to pay public sector salaries and state pensions, has decided to withhold €2.5 billion of payments due to the IMF in May and June if no agreement is struck, they said. A Greek default would represent an unprecedented shock to Europe’s 16-year-old monetary union only five years after Greece received the first of two EU-IMF bailouts that amounted to a combined €245 billion. The warning of an imminent default could be a negotiating tactic, reflecting the government’s aim of extracting the easiest possible conditions from Greece’s creditors, but it nevertheless underlined the reality of fast-emptying state coffers.

Default is a prospect for which other European governments, irritated at what they see as the unprofessional negotiating tactics and confrontational rhetoric of the Greek government, have also begun to make contingency plans. In the short term, a default would almost certainly lead to the suspension of emergency European Central Bank liquidity assistance for the Greek financial sector, the closure of Greek banks, capital controls and wider economic instability. Although it would not automatically force Greece to drop out of the eurozone, a default would make it much harder for Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, to keep his country in the 19-nation area, a goal that was part of the platform on which he and his leftist Syriza party won election in January.

Germany and Greece’s other eurozone partners say they are confident that the currency area is strong enough to ride out the consequences of a Greek default, but some officials acknowledge it would be a plunge into the unknown. Greece’s finance ministry on Monday reaffirmed the government’s commitment to striking a deal with its creditors, saying: “We are continuing uninterruptedly the search for a mutually beneficial solution, in accordance with our electoral mandate.” In this spirit, Greece resumed technical negotiations with its creditors in Athens and Brussels on Monday on the fiscal measures, budget targets and privatisations without which the lenders say they will not release funds needed to pay imminent debt instalments.

The government is trying to find cash to pay €2.4 billion in pensions and civil service salaries this month. It is due to repay €203m to the IMF on May 1 and €770 million on May 12. Another €1.6 billion is due in June. The funding crisis has arisen partly because €7.2 billion in bailout money due to have been disbursed to Greece last year has been held back, amid disagreements between Athens and its European and IMF creditors over politically sensitive structural economic reforms.

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“Whether or not the Greeks are deserving of assistance, it is in Europe’s interest to help them..”

Why Europe Needs to Save Greece (Anders Borg)

The fundamental problem underlying Greece’s economic crisis is a Greek problem: the country’s deep-rooted unwillingness to modernize. Greece was subject to a long period of domination by the Ottoman Empire. Its entrenched political and economic networks are deeply corrupt. A meritocratic bureaucracy has not emerged. Even as trust in government institutions has eroded, a culture of dependency has taken hold. The Greeks, it can be argued, have not earned the right to be saved. And yet a Greek exit from the euro is not the best option for either Greece or for the European Union. Whether or not the Greeks are deserving of assistance, it is in Europe’s interest to help them. The OECD, the EC, the IMF, and the World Bank have emphasized, in report after report, the fundamental inability of Greece’s economy to produce long-term sustainable growth.

The country’s education system is sub-par and underfunded. Its investments in research and development are inadequate. Its export sector is small. Productivity growth has been slow. Greece’s heavy regulatory burden, well described by the World Bank’s indicators on the ease of doing business, represents a significant entry barrier in many sectors, effectively closing off entire industries and occupations to competition. As a result, Greece’s economy struggles to reallocate resources, including workers, given the rigidity of the labor market. After Greece was allowed to enter the eurozone, interest-rate convergence, combined with inflated property prices, fueled an increase in household debt and caused the construction sector to overheat, placing the economy on an unsustainable path.

In the years before the beginning of the financial crisis, current-account deficits and bubbly asset prices pushed annual GDP growth up to 4.3%. Meanwhile, public spending rose to Swedish levels, while tax revenues remained Mediterranean. In the eight years that I served on the EU’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council, I worked alongside seven Greek ministers, every one of whom at some point admitted that the country’s deficit numbers had to be revised upward. Each time, the minister insisted that it would never happen again. But it did. Indeed, the pre-crisis deficit for 2008 was eventually revised to 9.9% of GDP – more than 5% higher than the figure originally presented to the Council. And yet, as bad as Greece’s economy and political culture may be, the consequences of the country’s exit from the euro are simply too dire to consider. In the end, such an outcome would be the result of a political decision, and the European values at stake in that decision trump any economic considerations.

(Anders Borg, a former Swedish finance minister, is Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Financial System Initiative.)

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“..when the Germans were there during the occupation in the Second World War, the people lived exactly like they are living now.”

Greece, The Euro’s Greatest “Success” (Constantin Xekalos)

Greece is a social disaster zone. 3 million people are without guaranteed healthcare, 600,000 children are living under the breadline and more than half of them are unable to meet their daily nutritional needs. 90% of families living in the poorer areas rely on food banks and feeding schemes for survival, and unemployment is approaching 30%, with youth unemployment approaching 60%. These are not just numbers, they are real people. In order to show their faces and tell their stories, writer and documentary film maker from Crete and now living in Florence, Constantin Xekalos, decided to make a documentary film entitled: “Greece, the Euro’s greatest success “. In today’s Passaparola he talks about this documentary film and about the suffering of the Greek people that he has encountered in his personal experience. Today it is all happening, but is Italy next?

“Good day to everyone, my name is Constantin Xekalos. I was born in Crete many years ago. I now live in Florence and I will explain why I created this documentary that is doing the rounds on the Web, namely “ Greece, the Euro’s greatest success ” taken from Monti’s statements while he was Prime Minister. My decision was sparked by an Albanian family that was in serious difficulty and was going to Crete in November to pick olives with two tiny children in tow and facing serious financial difficulties. When I saw that the official media was never saying what they should be saying, I said to myself: “do something with your friends in order to report the reality of what Europe is doing”. I shared this idea of mine with a number of friends and bit by bit we formed a group of 5 people, then a sixth person joined us and we got going.

The healthcare tragedy in Greece When we made this documentary it was said that 1/3 of the Greek population, (more than 3 million people,) were without any guaranteed healthcare. In the interim that number has grown. They have been abandoned. If you go to a hospital, obviously a public one, they will treat you and they will accept you if it is an emergency, but if you are admitted, you then have to pay. If you are unable to pay, they send the bill to the Receiver of Revenue’s office and they take it from there. If you have no money, they start with foreclosure, even your home , even if it is your only home!

This is crime against society that is totally unacceptable. In an advanced and so-called democratic Country that is part of the western world, things like this are totally inconceivable, absurd and unacceptable. I repeat, this is crime against society that we absolutely cannot accept! If you are ill, democracy guarantees the treatment you need, otherwise it should be called by some other name. When a child is not guaranteed the nutrition he/she needs, a mere helpless child, or elderly people that are no longer able to look after themselves, then that is no longer democracy. Some of the older Greeks were telling me that when the Germans were there during the occupation in the Second World War, the people lived exactly like they are living now.

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“..there’s no way students are going to pay it back..”

Ackman Says Student Loans Are the Biggest Risk in the Credit Market (Bloomberg)

Bill Ackman says the biggest risk in the credit market is student loans. “If you think about the trillion dollars of student loans we have outstanding, there’s no way students are going to pay it back,” Ackman, who runs $20 billion Pershing Square Capital Management, said today at 13D Monitor’s Active-Passive Investor Summit in New York. The balance of student loans outstanding in the U.S. – also including private loans without government guarantees – swelled to $1.3 trillion as of the second quarter 2014, based on data released by the Federal Reserve in October. The rising level has prompted investors and government officials to draw parallels to the subprime mortgage market before housing collapsed starting in 2006.

About $100 billion of federal student loans are in default, 9% of outstanding balances, according to a Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee update on student lending trends released in November. Ackman, 48, said “young people are the kind of people that protest” and predicted that one administration or another will forgive student debt. The investor, who last year trounced other money managers with a 40% gain in his public fund, said at the conference he doesn’t like fixed income markets generally because of very low U.S. interest rates and that investors should be wary of aggressive lending terms.

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Not a main issue.

Chavez’s Ghost Haunts Spanish Budget Rebels Podemos in Polls (Bloomberg)

After a meteoric rise before this year’s Spanish election, anti-austerity party Podemos is finding the past might now be catching up with the future. Leader Pablo Iglesias and senior party officials have been embroiled in allegations for the past three months over their ties to the former Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez. Podemos’s support slipped for a third month to 22% in a Metroscopia poll published on Sunday from a peak of 28% in January. The controversy is forcing Iglesias, who says he worked as an adviser to the Venezuelan government before entering Spanish politics, to decide where he takes the party now.

Embracing the radical label, like his ally in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, may limit Podemos’s broader appeal, while reshaping the policy program toward the mainstream risks alienating some of the activists who’ve powered the party’s rise. “If you want to support Venezuela, it’s very difficult to reach the center of the political spectrum,” said Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The bigger issue is how this will affect Podemos’s grassroots support and its political affinities on its journey toward the center.” Opponents of Podemos including former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said the links with the socialist Chavez undermine Spanish democracy.

YouTube videos of Podemos leaders extolling the virtues of Chavismo have spread across Spain, just as the economy in Venezuela gets hit by falling oil prices and the inflation rate edges toward 70%. Iglesias, his deputy, Inigo Errejon, and Juan Carlos Monedero, the party’s head of policy, studied revolutionary movements in Latin America as part of their academic work and went on to advise governments there, in particular Venezuela. Between 2006 and 2007, Iglesias worked for Chavez’s office in Caracas and led classes on “ideology and constitutional law,” according to his resume. Monedero also worked with Chavez, who died in 2013. Podemos denied reports that the party had received financing from Venezuela in a March 2 statement.

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Europe’s going to wish Syriza were their biggest problem.

Anti-Euro Finnish Party Gets Ready to Rule as Discontent Brews (Bloomberg)

The anti-euro The Finns party, which eight years ago got just 4% of the vote, is now dressing itself up for Cabinet seats as Finnish voters are set to oust the government after four years of economic failure. The Finns, whose support is based on equal parts of anti-euro, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment sentiment, have captured voters on the back of the euro-area’s economic crisis and a home-grown collapse of key industries. In the 2011 election, during the height of the euro crisis, it shocked the traditional parties by winning 19% of the vote. “We can’t be ignored, because a strong majority government won’t be possible without us,” Timo Soini, the party leader, said in a phone interview April 9.

Europeans are seeing their political landscape shifting with the emergence of non-establishment parties from Greece in the south to Finland in the north. In the Hellenic nation, anti-austerity Syriza grabbed power in January elections and in Spain, where an election is due this year, its ally Podemos has topped polls. Almost a third of voters expect The Finns party to be part of government, according to a March 13 survey by the Foundation for Municipal Development.

The country is struggling to emerge from a three-year recession after key industries such as its papermakers have buckled amid slumping demand and Nokia Oyj lost in the smartphone war, cutting thousands of jobs. The government has raised taxes and lowered spending, adding to unpopularity, and on top of that have been bailout costs for Greece and Portugal, among others, which have eroded finances for Finland, still top-rated at Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service. “Our stance will be very tight, no matter what,” Soini said. “Nothing is forcing Finland to participate in these bailout policies. If we don’t want to take part, we can refuse.”

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Nice history lesson.

The Power of Lies (Paul Craig Roberts)

It is one of history’s ironies that the Lincoln Memorial is a sacred space for the Civil Rights Movement and the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Lincoln did not think blacks were the equals of whites. Lincoln’s plan was to send the blacks in America back to Africa, and if he had not been assassinated, returning blacks to Africa would likely have been his post-war policy. As Thomas DiLorenzo and a number of non-court historians have conclusively established, Lincoln did not invade the Confederacy in order to free the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation did not occur until 1863 when opposition in the North to the war was rising despite Lincoln’s police state measures to silence opponents and newspapers. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure issued under Lincoln’s war powers. The proclamation provided for the emancipated slaves to be enrolled in the Union army replenishing its losses.

It was also hoped that the proclamation would spread slave revolts in the South while southern white men were away at war and draw soldiers away from the fronts in order to protect their women and children. The intent was to hasten the defeat of the South before political opposition to Lincoln in the North grew stronger. The Lincoln Memorial was built not because Lincoln “freed the slaves,” but because Lincoln saved the empire. As the Savior of the Empire, had Lincoln not been assassinated, he could have become emperor for life.cAs Professor Thomas DiLorenzo writes: “Lincoln spent his entire political career attempting to use the powers of the state for the benefit of the moneyed corporate elite (the ‘one-percenters’ of his day), first in Illinois, and then in the North in general, through protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare for road, canal, and railroad corporations, and a national bank controlled by politicians like himself to fund it all.”

Lincoln was a man of empire. As soon as the South was conquered, ravaged, and looted, his collection of war criminal generals, such as Sherman and Sheridan, set about exterminating the Plains Indians in one of the worst acts of genocide in human history. Even today Israeli Zionists point to Washington’s extermination of the Plains Indians as the model for Israel’s theft of Palestine. The War of Northern Aggression was about tariffs and northern economic imperialism. The North was protectionist. The South was free trade. The North wanted to finance its economic development by forcing the South to pay higher prices for manufactured goods. The North passed the Morrill Tariff which more than doubled the tariff rate to 32.6% and provided for a further hike to 47%. The tariff diverted the South’s profits on its agricultural exports to the coffers of Northern industrialists and manufacturers. The tariff was designed to redirect the South’s expenditures on manufactured goods from England to the higher cost goods produced in the North.

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Hillary and the Three Stooges.

She’s Back! (Jim Kunstler)

[..] what does the flight of Hillary say about party politics in this land? That a more corrupt and sclerotic dominion has hardly been glimpsed since the last Bourbons cavorted in the halls of Versailles? Hence, my view that America will witness a very peculiar spectacle leading up to and perhaps beyond the 2016 election: the disintegration of seeming normality against a background of mounting disorder and insurrection. Hillary will go on caw-cawing platitudes about togetherness, diversity, and recovery while the economy sinks to new extremes of unravelment, and the anger of a swindled people finally boils over.

Neither party shows even minimal competence for understanding the actual crises facing this land, and indeed the project of techno-industrial civilization itself. If the people don’t overthrow them, and grind their pretenses underfoot, then events surely will. In the trying months leading up to the presidential election of 2016, Americans will witness the death of their “energy independence” fantasy — actually a meme concocted by professional propagandists. The shale oil “miracle” will go up in a vapor of defaulting junk bonds. Violence will escalate through North Africa and the Middle East, threatening the world oil supply more generally. I would give a low-percentage chance of survival to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and to the Saud part of Arabia more particularly as civil war among the rival clans breaks out there, with an overlay of Islamic State mischief seeding even greater chaos, and the very likely prospect of sabotage to the gigantic oil terminal at Ras Tanura on the Persian Gulf.

In comparison, the fiasco of Benghazi will look like a mere Three Stooges episode. If a third party were to arise in all this turmoil, it might not be savior brigade, either. In 1856 the Republicans welled up as the Whigs expired in sheer purposelessness and the Democrats romanced slavery. The nation had to endure the greatest convulsion in its lifetime to get to the other side of that. This time, I’m not at all sure we’ll get to the other side in one piece.

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Greenpeace’s crisis is its corporate culture.

Greenpeace’s Midlife Crisis (Bloomberg)

Greenpeace’s account of its mission to board and occupy an enormous oil-drilling rig in the middle of the Pacific evoked a familiar image of daring environmental activists confronting determined opposition from a corporate titan. The six people who used ropes and harnesses last week to scale the Royal Dutch Shell rig from inflatable rafts dodged “jets of water from high-powered hoses aimed at them by the rig’s crew.” There was only one problem: The encounter involved no hoses. In fact, as a later clarification from Greenpeace made clear, the activists met no resistance at all. It was a small but telling slip-up for Greenpeace, which has been mired in an internal debate over how far to go to capture the public’s attention at a time when its traditional stunts often seem familiar.

Many corporate targets are now savvy enough to avoid the confrontations that hand Greenpeace camera-ready scenes to generate publicity and support. “It’s no longer maybe the mind-blowing tactics that it was in the ’70s or ’80s to go out and take some pictures,” says Laura Kenyon, a Greenpeace campaigner who participated in the latest effort to shadow the Artic-bound Shell rig across the Pacific. “People now expect things from Greenpeace.” It seems scaling a moving oil rig in the middle of an ocean isn’t enough to guarantee attention. The activists managed to spend almost a week aboard Shell’s Polar Pioneer before departing over the weekend. In that time Kenyon’s colleagues set up camp, unfurled a “Save the Arctic” banner, and shot videos of themselves. Shell made no physical attempt to dislodge the Greenpeace team—some crew members could be seen waving to them.

Shell sought a restraining order to keep the activists away, and a federal judge in Alaska granted the measure on April 11. Procter & Gamble was similarly unruffled last year when a Greenpeace team, including one in a tiger suit, used zip lines to hang a banner between two of the company’s Cincinnati office towers in a bid to draw attention to the use of palm oil from rain forests in shampoos. A local police officer rapped on a window and calmly asked the activists when they would be done. Later, in a sign of just how far corporate targets can take nonconfrontational tactics, P&G even persuaded prosecutors to reduce the charges against the activists from felony vandalism and burglary to misdemeanor trespassing.

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Highly debatable. Why should they water lawns in the first place? Why have lawns? It’s not as if they’re living in (New) England.

The Real Reason Californians Can’t Water Their Lawns (Bloomberg)

In response to the ongoing drought, California Governor Jerry Brown has set limits on urban water use—ordering cuts of as much as 25%. Cities across the state will stop watering highway median strips and rip up grass in public places. Golf courses and cemeteries will turn on the sprinklers less frequently, and water rates might rise. In many ways, this is an odd response to a water problem that’s largely about agriculture. But in that, California is a microcosm of an increasing proportion of the world: underpriced water used mainly for agriculture driving shortages that have nasty side effects on urban areas. The difference between California and the world’s poorest regions is that the side effects aren’t browning fairways but diarrhea, dehydration, and tens of thousands of deaths. California has plenty of water for the people who live there—it’s the crops and gardens that are the problem.

Agriculture accounts for about 80% of the state’s water use. The state’s urban residents consume an average of 178 gallons of water per day, compared with 78 gallons in New York City, in large part because of how much they spray on the ground: Half of California’s urban consumption is for landscaping. The big problem with the 90% of California’s water used on soil is that it’s frequently provided below cost and according to an arcane distribution formula. Angelenos do pay more for their water than New Yorkers—at 150 gallons per person per day, a recent water pricing survey suggests they would pay $99 a month for a family of four, compared with $63 in New York. But they’d use less on the garden if water were priced to reflect long-term cost.

And thanks to a skewed system of water rights and underpricing, many of California’s farms are idling land while others are devoted to water-hungry crops like almonds, using wasteful systems. A little under one-half of California farms still use inefficient forms of flood irrigation. The struggle California faces is increasingly common around the world. By 2030, without greater water efficiency, as much as a third of the world’s population will live in areas where water needs will be as much as 50% above accessible, reliable supply. Fixing the problem isn’t that complex: A McKinsey study of water use in India, for example, suggests that about a third of the gap between 2030 water demand and current supply in that country could be met by measures that actually save money—steps like avoiding over-irrigation and introducing no-till farming. The most expensive of measures required would involve costs below one cent per hundred gallons of water. The impact on food costs would be marginal.

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And 1,300 more just yesterday.

Italy Rescues Nearly 6,000 Migrants In A Single Weekend (Guardian)

Italy’s coastguard and navy have rescued nearly 6,000 migrants since Friday, as warm weather and improving sea conditions prompted an even higher number of boats than usual to set off from north Africa. Rescue operations are still under way and at least nine migrants have died after their boat capsized about 80 miles off the coast of Libya, according to reports on Monday morning. About 144 people were saved in that operation. Concerns have already been raised about the logic and morality of Europe’s decision to cut back maritime rescue operations in the Mediterranean last autumn. The EU is expected to announce a review of its policies in early May. The new arrivals bring the total number of migrants who have entered Italy to more than 15,000 since the start of the year, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which tracks the figures closely.

It was the second weekend in a row in which huge numbers of migrants were rescued crossing the Sicilian channel. The majority of the operations this month have been performed by the Italian coastguard and navy and some commercial ships in international waters, rather than the European-backed Triton mission that patrols waters within 30 miles of the Italian coast. Triton replaced a far more ambitious programme conducted by Italy, the Mare Nostrum mission, at the end of last year. Mare Nostrum was a one-year programme that cost Italy about €9m a month, compared with Triton’s budget of €2.9m, and carried out search and rescue missions over a 27,000 square-mile area. Refugee advocate groups have pointed to this year’s migrant death toll of about 480, compared with 50 at the same time last year, as a sign of Triton’s inability to cope with the scale of the migration crisis.

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