Jun 072024
 


Edward John Poynter Erato, Muse of Poetry 1870

 

Supporting Genocide To Halt Multipolarity (Pepe Escobar)
Israel’s Response To 7 Oct Does Not Resemble War, But Genocide: Putin (Cradle)
Normalizing War with Russia (Paul Craig Roberts)
Russian Public Opinion Sharpens On End-of-War Objectives (Helmer)
‘Bulls**t’ – Putin On ‘Plans’ To Attack NATO (RT)
Hungary Urges Immediate Ukraine Peace Talks (RT)
Russia Has Become ‘Economic Role Model’ to Rest of the World (Miles)
US Uses Aid Pier to Roll Out New Military Tech for Testing in Gaza (Sp.)
Just Ask Mookie: Hunter Biden Has No Defense Other Than Nullification (Turley)
AG Garland Faces a Clear Choice Between Principle and Politics (Turley)
Patriotism Has Destroyed America (Paul Craig Roberts)
“Fallen On Her Fani”: Trump Lawyer Gloats After Georgia Case Collapses (ZH)
Biden Could Cause Nuclear War – Trump (RT)
Bill Maher: Biden “Is Going To F***ing Lose” (MN)
Biden Claims He Knew Putin in 1980s (RT)
New York Police Set To Revoke Trump’s Gun License – CNN (RT)

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1798327385986941372

 

 

Scharf Merchan

 

 

Bill Barr
https://twitter.com/i/status/1798545408995856779

 

 

Watters ICE

 

 

Comer

 

 

Biden border hawk

 

 

Tucker CIA
https://twitter.com/i/status/1798732957043298693

 

 

 

 

“..only “a new horizon of human sacrifice” is capable of allowing the west’s “Ultimate Truth” to continue standing on its clay feet..””

Supporting Genocide To Halt Multipolarity (Pepe Escobar)

Andrea Zhok is a professor of Ethical Philosophy at the University of Milan and one of the foremost independent Italian intellectuals. Zhok takes us further into the – appropriately tragic – dead-end now contemplated by the collective west. The west under the Hegemon, he says, only ever had a Plan A. There was no Plan B. That implies the west will continue to apply all forms of Divide and Rule against the major Eurasian powers – Russia, China, and Iran. Zhok notes, correctly, that India is substantially under control. That’s the crossroads scenario we’re in right now. Looking ahead, it’s either an Open Hot War or an array of Hybrid Wars between major powers and their vassals – essentially, the Third World War. Zhok shows how the west under the Hegemon is now obsessed with creating “systemic wounds” capable of cyclical destruction. To open these “wounds,” there are two main procedures: war and pandemics.

He argues that only “a new horizon of human sacrifice” is capable of allowing the west’s “Ultimate Truth” to continue standing on its clay feet. In fact, it is this “new horizon of human sacrifice” that is conditioning the west’s non-response – or worse, legitimization – of the Gaza genocide. And that is inexorably corroding the European psyche from the inside. What used to be called European civilization – now completely vassalized by the Hegemon – may not ever be cured of the cancer. If these trials and tribulations were not enough, irrational messengers – under orders – are busy bringing us closer day after day to a nuclear war. And some lowly functionaries even admit it, point blank. It’s all here, in a conversation between Judge Andrew Napolitano and analysts Larry Johnson and Ray McGovern, during which the former refers to an email he received from a military/intel source. This is what the source told him:

Today, I listened to an extensive interview with an IDF ex-intelligence officer. His position was clear: ‘We are,’ he said, ‘aiming towards a world war’. Israel, therefore, shouldn’t stop itself from implementing some of the most radical measures because its actions will be measured retroactively in the context of the brutal world conflict to come. This should be seen as the ultimate explanation for the Hegemon/Vassals’ nonstop frantic escalation in the intertwined Forever Wars front – from Gaza to Novorossiya. That includes genocide – and genocide spin-offs, such as the $320 million ‘aid’ pier scam now turned into junk on the Gaza shore, bringing it all back to genocide all over again as the breadcrumb ploy of expelling/shipping Palestinians abroad has miserably failed. “Aiming towards a world war” makes it all so clear who’s really running the show. And the whole multipolar world is still being held hostage.

Read more …

“The United States is holding on to enormous amounts of money to maintain its dominant role by supporting its [military] bases, but this contradicts the interests of the American people.”

Israel’s Response To 7 Oct Does Not Resemble War, But Genocide: Putin (Cradle)

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the Israeli war on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on 6 June, saying, “Israel’s response to the Hamas attack does not resemble a war, but rather a genocide of the people of Gaza.” Putin made the comments during a meeting with the World News Agency at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The Russian President also criticized the US, Israel’s strongest backer, for blocking efforts to end the war. “Russia was always in favor of working for a ceasefire” in Palestine, “but the United States was obstructing these decisions,” Putin said. The Russian President said that in contrast to the US, “Russia’s position on Palestine is consistent and unchangeable, and it is necessary to resolve the issue.”

In addition to supplying Israel with vast quantities of weapons, the US has vetoed multiple UN Security Council resolutions seeking to end the war. In seven months, Israel’s onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip has killed almost 37,000 Palestinians, the majority women and children. Regarding the global role of the United States and China, the Iranian nuclear energy program, and the war in Ukraine, Putin explained, “The United States is holding on to enormous amounts of money to maintain its dominant role by supporting its [military] bases, but this contradicts the interests of the American people.”

The Russian President considered that “the current American leadership is seeking by all means to maintain its dominant role, but it will inevitably fail.” Regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program, Putin announced that “Iran has implemented everything required of it regarding the nuclear agreement, but the United States withdrew from this agreement.” He added that Russia “continues to cooperate with Iran in advanced technology regardless of the sanctions.” Regarding China, Putin stated that “the Chinese economic model is more important than what they are doing in Europe” and that Europe should “not place obstacles to economic relations with China.”

Read more …

“Faced with the outbreak of a devastating war, what does the insane West do? Does the West sit down with Putin and resolve the situation. No. The West announces its plans of how it is going to get US troops to the front lines to fight Russia.”

Normalizing War with Russia (Paul Craig Roberts)

Russia has warned in no uncertain terms that NATO and the US will be held responsible for long range missiles launched into Russia and that such launches will turn Russia’s conflict with Ukraine into a war between Russia and the West. Putin has asked Western leaders to give clear thought to what they have in mind as their destruction will be the consequence. It is extraordinary that such a forceful warning is not heard except as an opportunity for more propaganda against Russia. The British response was to reveal NATO’s plan not for defusing a dangerous situation, but for delivering troops to counter a Russian invasion. In other words, the West poured oil on the fire. The British newspaper, The Telegraph published an article accusing Putin of “pursuing his paranoid obsession of confronting the West,” thus reversing the facts. It is the West that is confronting Russia in Ukraine, and it is the Western leaders who are preparing their publics for war with Russia.

Putin made it clear that his intervention in Ukraine was limited to Donbas, a Russian province stuck into the Ukraine province of the Soviet Union by Soviet rulers. When Washington overthrew the Ukrainian government and installed a Russian-hating one, Donbass seceded into two independent republics and formed armed forces to stop the murder of Donbas Russians by the Ukrainian nazi militias. Both Republics requested Putin to accept them back into Russia where they belong. But Putin refused. Instead he came up with the Minsk Agreement that would keep Donbas in Ukraine but provide Donbas with semi-autonomy so that courts and armed force could not be used against them. Washington’s puppet government in Kiev banned the use of the Russian language and was set on erasing Russian culture from Donbas. Putin got Kiev and the Donbas republics to sign the agreement and France and Germany agreed to enforce it. But as the German chancellor and French president later acknowledged, it was a trick to deceive Putin while the US built and equipped a large Ukrainian army to retake the Donbas republics.

Putin tried to avoid this looming conflict with diplomatic efforts in December 2021- February 2022, but was given the cold shoulder by Washington and NATO. It was not possible for Putin to stand aside while Donbas Russians were slaughtered, as the Arabs have stood aside while Palestinians are slaughtered. Putin was intentionally forced by Washington to intervene in Donbas. As I predicted, Washington and NATO described the limited intervention as “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” and became progressively more involved. The conflict dragged on, because having declared the intervention limited, the Kremlin left Kiev able to continue the war, thus playing into Western hands as the West gradually widened the war. Putin did not expect to be confronted by an insane West willing to risk its existence rather than lose its proxy war against Russia. Currently the West is desperately trying to keep the war alive with long range missiles to be used against Russian cities and by pulling off a color revolution in Georgia in order to open a second front against Russia.

No Russian leader can submit to missiles sent by the West into Russian territory. Putin and other members of the Russian leadership have made this clear. If this is the West’s intention, Putin said, Europe and the US can expect serious consequences. The consequences are that every Western country involved will find themselves attacked. Putin being a reasonable and intelligent man sees no point in war. He did his best to avoid intervening in Ukraine and once at war he has refused to widen the war to all of Ukraine. Putin’s reasonableness in the face of provocations encouraged more provocations, and now as I said would happen, his back is to the wall. The war that is about to happen is being forced on Russia by Washington. We are about to experience the self-suicide of the West over the borders of an artificial country of no consequence to the West. Indeed, no Western country will even defend its own borders. Faced with the outbreak of a devastating war, what does the insane West do? Does the West sit down with Putin and resolve the situation. No. The West announces its plans of how it is going to get US troops to the front lines to fight Russia.

Do you realize that our leaders have normalized the idea of war with Russia? Clearly our leaders do not understand what this means? Do you?

Read more …

First time I’ve seen Putin address Russian casualties.

Russian Public Opinion Sharpens On End-of-War Objectives (Helmer)

A newly released national poll reveals that Russian public support for the Army and for President Vladimir Putin is growing. At the same time, the proportion of Russians in favour of expanded military operations is rising at the expense of those who favour negotiations. The outcomes for negotiations acceptable to the Russians who support them are rapidly shrinking, too. This Russian conviction is strengthening in the face of the battlefield casualty rate which, unusually, Putin acknowledged this week to be ten thousand a month. Putin told a press conference on June 5 : “our losses, especially as concerns irreparable losses, unfortunately, then they are several times less than on the Ukrainian side. If we talk about approximate irretrievable losses, then the ratio is the same: one to about five… According to our calculations, the Ukrainian army loses 50,000 people per month as sanitary and irretrievable losses both, although their irretrievable and sanitary losses are approximately 50/50.”

Since the Russian rate of casualty survival for troops at the front is substantially better than the Ukrainian rate because of superior evacuation, front-line and rear medical care, Putin’s numbers suggest that the Russian killed-in-action (KIA) number is at least 3,000 per month. According to a nationwide survey by face-to-face interview in Russian homes between May 23 and 29, the Levada Centre in Moscow, an independent polling organisation, reports: “Half of the respondents believe it is necessary to move on to peace negotiations — 43% are in favour of continuing military operations, their share has been growing in recent months. However, the majority is not ready to make concessions regarding Ukraine and this share is growing. Russians consider the exchange of prisoners of war and a ceasefire to be acceptable conditions for signing a peace agreement, while the return of new regions and Ukraine’s accession to NATO are completely unacceptable.

If there was an opportunity to go back in time and cancel the start of Special Military Operation, slightly more than a third of respondents would reverse this decision — their share has decreased slightly in recent months.” This also means that Ukrainian missile, artillery, and drone attacks on civilians, refinery and other targets on Russian territory are having no impact on the nationwide commitment to the war and its strategic objectives. On the contrary, threats by NATO leaders to intensify these attacks and extend their range into Russia are increasing public Russian support for lifting Kremlin restrictions on the General Staff’s operational plans for finishing the war at and over the Polish border. For the official interpretation of what Putin said at his press conference, RT, the state propaganda organ for non-Russian audiences, published “key takeaways”, omitting the casualty disclosures. RT had reported Putin’s remarks on the casualty rates shortly after he made them, with emphasis on the Ukrainian losses and with the claim that “without specifying the number of Russian casualties, Putin said the number of [Russian] irrecoverable losses was at least five times less than those incurred by Kiev’s forces.”

Read more …

“Have you gone completely insane? Are you as thick as this table?”

‘Bulls**t’ – Putin On ‘Plans’ To Attack NATO (RT)

The idea that Moscow has some kind of plan to attack NATO is a stupid attempt to maintain the West’s global hegemony by fear, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Putin was asked about NATO’s preparations to defend from a Russian “invasion” at a meeting with the heads of major international news agencies on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). “Look, someone has imagined that Russia wants to attack NATO. Have you gone completely insane? Are you as thick as this table? Who came up with this nonsense, this bulls**t?” Putin said. The Russian president suggested that the “bulls**t” was in the service of deceiving the Western public, urging them to arm themselves and send more weapons to Ukraine.

“Why is this being done, really? To maintain their own position of greatness, that’s why. There’s nothing to these scary stories, intended for the townsfolk in Germany and France and elsewhere in Europe,” Putin explained. “In Ukraine, we’re just protecting ourselves.” “Don’t make up things and then form opinions about Russia on the basis of them,” he added. “You only hurt yourselves this way.” During the session, which lasted more than three hours, Putin repeatedly addressed the root causes of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, from the 2014 US-backed coup to the atrocities of the Kiev government in the Donbass and the failed Minsk peace process that Western leaders have admitted to being a sham.

The Russian president argued that the US hasn’t poured billions of dollars in cash, weapons, ammunition and equipment into Ukraine because it loves Ukrainians, but because of the belief that this will further American “greatness and global leadership.” “Nobody in the US cares about Ukraine’s interests,” Putin told the agency heads. While Moscow has no intention of “invading” Europe, it will consider retaliating against the US and its allies for providing Kiev with long-range missiles by supplying adversaries of the West with similar weapons in “sensitive” areas, he added.

Read more …

“..because we participate in all events that have peace on the agenda.”

Hungary Urges Immediate Ukraine Peace Talks (RT)

Peace talks must start right now to end the Ukraine conflict, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told journalists on Thursday on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Russia. The minister is attending the economic forum to discuss energy cooperation between Hungary and Russia, among other things. Hungary differs from the majority of EU and NATO members in opposing the continued arming of Ukraine. Szijjarto said Budapest’s position is driven by the fact that as long as hostilities continue, the risk of a major escalation will grow “each day.” “Peace needs to be achieved as soon as possible. Peace talks need to start, and a ceasefire has to be achieved now,” he was quoted as saying.

”It is absolutely obvious that the war cannot be resolved with arms,” he added. “The sooner negotiations start, the fewer people will die.” Next week Switzerland is hosting an international conference that it organized on Kiev’s behalf, where the Ukrainian government will promote its so-called “peace formula” – which Moscow says amounts to a demand for capitulation. China has said it will not participate in the summit because Russia has been excluded at Kiev’s behest. Szijjarto said Hungary likewise considered this fact regrettable, but chose to attend “because we participate in all events that have peace on the agenda.” He will be representing Budapest in Switzerland, although he expects no breakthrough due to Russia’s absence.

The top Hungarian diplomat declined to comment on Moscow’s assertion that Vladimir Zelensky has usurped power in Ukraine since his presidential term expired last month. ”Without Russian energy, we will not be able to provide for the country,” he said. “This is not a question of politics or ideology. So we need to continue energy cooperation in Russia. And, frankly, I see no reason to do otherwise.” The EU declared decoupling from the Russian economy to be one of its priorities after Russia began its special military operation in 2022. Hungary argues the attempt to punish Moscow by replacing its natural gas with more expensive sources of energy has dealt a major blow to members of the bloc and thus was shortsighted.

Read more …

“They’ve suffered enough that they’re looking for an inspiration and a model that works. And a partner in how to get out from under that jackboot.”

Russia Has Become ‘Economic Role Model’ to Rest of the World (Miles)

The emergence of the Russian Federation from a recent set of severe US-led sanctions largely unscathed, then, is seen as a landmark moment by Global South nations seeking to resist a tactic often employed by the West. Moscow has not only survived the economic aggression but has thrived, surpassing Germany and Japan to become the world’s fourth-largest economy, notes security analyst Mark Sleboda. The international relations expert joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Wednesday to discuss why countries around the world increasingly see Russia as an economic model and partner. “I don’t think we’re quite at a multipolar world yet, but we definitely see it envisioned and it’s birth taking place, even if the US-led Western global hegemon is trying to strangle that birth and prevent it from taking place,” said Sleboda, agreeing with the premise of analysis on the website Orinoco Tribute that examined participation in this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The article posits the creation of “new growth centers” as a building block for such an order, with Global South countries strengthening bilateral relations to build power independent from the Western-led economic system. The article notes efforts to strengthen ties in areas such as pharmaceuticals, energy production, education, security, and space programs. “Isolation” was “the buzz word of 2022,” Sleboda noted, with observers predicting Russia’s economic demise in the face of denunciations from the West over its special military operation in the Donbass. But “out of 192 countries, plus or minus, in the world, 136 of them are going to have participants at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,” the analyst noted, “including several heads of state. “In terms of GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity, during this time period of the existential economic war of sanctions on Russia by the West, Russia’s economy has leapfrogged from sixth place to jump Germany for fifth place,” he added.

“And now, in recent months – the World Bank has announced the new numbers – Russia has jumped Japan as well to reach the fourth-largest economy in the world… despite the West’s best and most heated efforts to destroy Russia’s economy.” “Boom. That is the sound of the US-led Western global hegemony cracking. That is amazing,” the analyst added. “Everyone wants to know how did Russia become the Teflon Don of global geoeconomics,” Sleboda explained. “Because they don’t know when they might be put in the same position. Now there’s a train coming and Russia is directing that train.” The international relations expert noted that African countries, in particular, are seeking cooperation with Russia as they look to break away from patterns of dependency established after their independence from Western colonial rule in the 20th century.

“[Sergey Lavrov] is being welcomed by the Africans and there are a number of Africans that he is visiting who also have representatives, of course, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum,” he reported. “And all of those countries right now are seeing the performance of Russian weapons on the battlefield against the vaunted wonder weapons of the West. And, let me tell you, there is a queue right now for when this special military operation ends.” “And that’s why Lavrov is being greeted as almost a conquering hero as a representative of the Russian government and the foreign minister of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia is an inspiration because the countries of Africa have long been very much suffering under the heel of US-led Western global hegemony… They’ve suffered enough that they’re looking for an inspiration and a model that works. And a partner in how to get out from under that jackboot.”

Read more …

What the $320 million pier was always intended for.

US Uses Aid Pier to Roll Out New Military Tech for Testing in Gaza (Sp.)

New analysis by the Libertarian Institute takes a look at how the United States is unloading new anti-drone weapons via Gaza’s aid pier to test the technology for use in the Russo-Ukraine conflict. “The US has deployed a new combat vehicle to Gaza with the aim of field testing the weapon for use in Ukraine, as the Pentagon hopes it will help repel Russian drone attacks,” reports the Libertarian Institute via the newspaper The Telegraph. “The Defense Department stationed two Mobile-Low, Slow, Small-Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat Systems (M-LIDS) in Gaza starting in May.” “When the US Army sailed some of its coastal landing ships to Gaza as part of the US military’s humanitarian flotilla, the ships carried – along with a floating pier for food aid – one of the initial M-LIDS vehicle sets,” the British media outlet noted.

“As the humanitarian pier took shape in early May, at least one M-LIDS vehicle rolled down the pier and took up station at the edge of the beach alongside a heavylift truck packing a radar-guided 20-millimeter auto-cannon – a land-based version of the US Navy’s main anti-missile gun.” The report confirmed speculation by observers that US President Joe Biden’s aid pier may serve a military purpose in addition to its purported humanitarian justification. Regis Tremblay, an American filmmaker living in Crimea, joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Wednesday to offer insight on the development. “When we look at this, what we see is $320 million for the pier – one of the things which, of course, is falling apart, right?” noted host Garland Nixon. “They said it was $320 million for the pier, but buying weapons was part of the $320 million. So that’s the whole neoliberal fraud. Part of what we’re seeing here in the Ukraine conflict is Russia has nationalized a good part of their military industrial complex so they can make things that work, and they’re not really expensive to make.”

“They cost what they cost,” he continued. “We keep seeing with neoliberalism, with the US – whether it’s the F-35 or whatever, these boondoggles – it doesn’t work. It costs a fortune and a bunch of crooks fill their pockets – and the big guy always gets his 10%, of course. And that’s one of the reasons that the whole militarism can’t work, because it’s all just a self-serving racket.” Analysts have noted the rapid privatization of the US defense industry after World War II, with private contractors increasingly responsible for much of the country’s military production. Critics allege the dynamic has damaged the country’s military effectiveness, with significant waste built into the system. “I agree with you completely,” said Tremblay. “Most of the Russian military industrial complex is nationalized. They are able to produce weapons, missiles, artillery shells – you name it, whatever – for a fraction of the cost that it costs for the United States and their military industrial complex, which is bloated, which is overrun with cost overruns everywhere you look.” “And what Russia is spending on the same things, it’s just a fraction of the cost because they have nationalized their military industrial complex.”

Read more …

“The defense is not asking the jury to consider the evidence. It is asking the jury to ignore it.”

Just Ask Mookie: Hunter Biden Has No Defense Other Than Nullification (Turley)

The day after he bought the gun, Hunter was texting a guy named “Mookie” to score drugs behind a minor league baseball stadium. Mookie appears to have come through for Hunter since the next day (two days after denying that he used drugs), Hunter allegedly texted Hallie Biden that he was “waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” Then, two days after the gun purchase, Hunter texted, “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney.” That corner appears less than a mile and half from the federal courthouse where Hunter is sitting. It is roughly five miles from the gun shop where he denied using drugs. Hallie will also testify. She was the widow of Hunter’s deceased brother and started an intimate relationship with Hunter after Beau’s death. She was also allegedly doing crack.

Yet, when Hallie saw the gun in the console of Hunter’s car, she had the presence of mind to realize he was an unstable addict. She took the gun and threw it into a dumpster behind a restaurant. The brutal start of the hearing raises the question — again — of why Hunter decided to go to trial. There is no viable defense. The most that the defense can come up with is a claim that someone else may have completed the form, or that he had a moment of sobriety before heading off to meet Mookie. In his book, Hunter describes an addiction that led him to smoke crack almost every 15 minutes. That would seem likely to come to mind when you are given a form asking “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Certainly his need for drugs was much on Hunter’s mind when he was texting Mookie.

Indeed, not long after the purchase, the Biden family held an intervention at their Delaware home to deal with Hunter’s raging addiction. These defenses are about as convincing as saying that your client got locked into the bank vault after losing his way to the restroom . . . hours after the bank closed. So why present unbelievable defenses in Wilmington? Because it is Wilmington. This is Biden’s hometown. The President maintains his residence in the city and remains the town’s favorite son. As if the jury needed any reminder, First Lady Jill Biden sitting behind Hunter brings home that this is a Biden trial in Bidentown. The combination of sympathy for a reformed addict and identification with the Bidens could be enough for a jury nullification strategy. The defense is not asking the jury to consider the evidence. It is asking the jury to ignore it.

Every juror appeared to confirm knowing someone with a drug addiction, including siblings or other relatives. Given that panel, Hunter could well take the stand to describe his addiction and lack of clarity of thought. Hunter’s book offers moving descriptions of his struggle with addiction and could sway some jurors, especially given the relatively minor criminal charges. Wilmington for Biden is the opposite of Manhattan for Trump. This is a town that overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2016 and 2020. It is a great jury pool for the defense. Viewed through a nullification defense, it does not matter how absurd the actual defense is in the case. It is merely a pretense. Whether it is sympathy for a drug addict or a Biden, the defense clearly hopes that the jury will look beyond the evidence and the crime in this case.

Read more …

“Now, Garland has what appears flagrant perjurious statements made by the President’s son and brother..“

AG Garland Faces a Clear Choice Between Principle and Politics (Turley)

For each of us, there often comes a moment when our principles are put to an undeniable and unavoidable test. It may be as simple as cheating on a test, shoplifting a product, or admitting to a wrong. It is natural to want to avoid such moments, particularly when we cannot even admit to ourselves that we may not be the person we have long claimed. For Attorney General Merrick Garland, that moment of truth has finally arrived. Garland has long maintained that he is an apolitical attorney general who does not even consider the political consequences of his actions. Over the last three years, some of us have questioned that commitment in a series of actions or, more importantly, non-actions.

Yet, Garland has always been able to evade responsibility by shifting decision-making to others or claiming a lack of knowledge. Yesterday, Garland ran out of room to maneuver when three House committees (Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means) sent him formal referrals for the perjury prosecution of Hunter Biden and his uncle, James Biden. The evidence of false answers to Congress is overwhelming and Garland’s department has prosecuted Trump associates and others with far less in past cases, including the prosecution of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Here is the Committee’s summary of the allegations, which I also previously discussed in an column:

“During his deposition, Hunter Biden made false statements about holding a position at Rosemont Seneca Bohai (RSB), a corporate entity that received millions of dollars from foreign individuals and entities who met with then-Vice President Biden before and after transmitting money to the RSB account that then transferred funds to Hunter Biden. After deposing Hunter Biden, the Committees obtained documents showing Hunter Biden represented that he was the corporate secretary of RSB. Additionally, Hunter Biden during his testimony relayed an entirely fictitious account about threatening text messages he sent to his Chinese business partner while invoking his father’s presence with him as he wrote the messages. Hunter Biden testified he had transmitted this threat to an unrelated individual with the same surname.

However, documents released by the Committee on Ways and Means demonstrate conclusively that Hunter Biden made this threat to the intended individual, and bank records prove Hunter Biden’s Chinese business partners wired millions of dollars to his company after his threat. A portion of the proceeds has been traced to Joe Biden’s bank account. During James Biden’s transcribed interview, he stated that Joe Biden did not meet with Tony Bobulinski, a business associate of James and Hunter Biden, in 2017 while pursuing a deal with a Chinese entity, CEFC China Energy. His statements were contradicted not only by Mr. Bobulinski, but Hunter Biden. Mr. Bobulinski also produced text messages that establish the events leading up to and immediately following his meeting with Joe Biden on May 2, 2017.”

These are straight-forward questions and answers. More importantly, both men knew and prepared for these questions. They were widely discussed before their testimony. They appear to have knowingly lied. The question is what Garland is now prepared to do about it. For Garland, a bill has come due. I supported his appointment as Attorney General because I respected his integrity and intellect as a federal judge. I believed his claim that he could not allow political considerations to cloud his judgment. I grew more critical as I saw Garland struggling to avoid decisions that would work against President Biden or his family.

Now, Garland has what appears flagrant perjurious statements made by the President’s son and brother. Given the fact that these were anticipated questions, the false answers appear premeditated and egregious. Hunter and Jim Biden displayed a sense of impunity in denying facts that the committees (and many commentators) believe are well established on the available evidence. Those facts were highly embarrassing to the Biden family and they allegedly chose to lie rather than admit to them. The fact that such alleged false statements occurred in the midst of an impeachment investigation only magnifies the concerns. This was an effort to establish the President’s knowledge of a massive corrupt influence peddling operation maintained by his family. The gun charge in Delaware is a relatively minor criminal allegation. This is far more serious and could impose far greater punishment for the President’s son.

Read more …

” Washington is not worthy of your defense. Washington is so much against you that Washington is about to provoke Russia into bringing about your destruction..”

Patriotism Has Destroyed America (Paul Craig Roberts)

First, let’s understand who we are talking about. Not the liberals, not the leftwing, not the woke. These are the creatures who spend their time denouncing America. We are talking about conservatives. They are the patriots. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with patriotism. It is a good thing when it is not blinding. But patriotism can be very blinding.

I could write a book about this, but who would read it? So I will go straight to the basic point. Conservatives are not blind to the fact that much is wrong, but who do they blame? They blame foreign “enemies”–Russians, Chinese, Muslim terrorists, Iranians, Palestinians. The fault is never in their own government. When you tell them it is, they get defensive, angry, and call you a “commie who hates America.” Their patriotism confuses country (that is, the Constitution) with the government, and they defend the government that is the cause of the problems. Consequently, conservatives do not understand Washington’s hand in all of the crises that we currently face and, therefore, conservatives are impotent and can do nothing to avoid the crises. Instead, they project the blame externally as the propaganda does. Their patriotism makes them victims of propaganda serving agendas of which they are unaware.

Try telling a conservative that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine, but merely intervened in Donbas, Russian Ukraine, to protect the Russians there from being massacred by a Ukrainian army trained and equipped by Washington. This is an absolute fact. One that is child’s play to document and prove beyond every doubt. But if you tell an American conservative this, you will be regarded as a traitor of your country in service to Russia. If you tell a conservative that the real sources of America’s economic trouble is not China, but Washington, Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve, He will wonder how much China is paying you to help China take over America. For conservatives, patriotism requires you to believe the government’s narrative. If you don’t, you are suspect. Consequently, conservatives find themselves going along with the developing American Police State as it “protects” them by dismantling the Constitution that actually does protect them.

[..] American patriots have been indoctrinated, even brainwashed, to see Russia as a deadly enemy. This goes back to the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Cold War served, as President Eisenhower reminded us in his farewell speech, to institutionalize a powerful military/security complex that had a massive vested interest in Russia as an adversary. All sorts of power and profit flowed from having the Russian (Soviet at that time) enemy.The CIA controls the narrative with “leaks” to the compliant, unquestioning media. Putin was forced to send troops into Donbas, formerly a Russian province, to protect Russians from slaughter by a Ukrainian army raised by Washington. Instantly in the Western whore media, this became a “Russian invasion of Ukraine.” The narrative quickly coalesced. Ukraine had to be defended or Europe would be next.

Putin misjudged his enemy, thinking the West more capable of reason than it is. Putin did not realize that his slow process of evicting Ukrainian troops from Russian Donbas would provide time for the West to get involved and to widen the conflict, which has now occurred. Now Russia is faced with long range missiles fired by US and NATO operators deep into Russia and with NATO troops occupying the large areas of Ukraine where there is no Russian presence. At a recent press conference in Tashkent, Putin advised Europe to think, because it was putting its continued existence in question. It only requires a tiny percentage of Russia’s nuclear weapons to wipe Europe and the UK off the face of the earth.

The morons in Washington, the people whose narratives are defended by patriots, were also told that American military inferiority and nuclear inferiority also means that with minimum expenditure of resources Russia can disappear America. What was the response? Non-reporting. Instead, Putin’s straight talk was turned into Russian threats and propaganda. In other words, when confronted with a direct warning, Washington and the whore media turned a deaf ear. Dear conservative American, Washington is not worthy of your defense. Washington is so much against you that Washington is about to provoke Russia into bringing about your destruction. Sometimes foreign governments and foreign media tell you more truth than your own government and media. Learn to listen and to think. Your very survival depends upon it.

Read more …

Now do Bragg and Jack Smith.

Note: this is the case where we know the White House held 8-hour sessions to instruct the prosecutors… No doubt they did for the other 3 cases too.

“Fallen On Her Fani”: Trump Lawyer Gloats After Georgia Case Collapses (ZH)

Donald Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba took a victory lap after a Georgia appeals court halted DA Fani Willis’ election interference case against the former president. “She’s fallen on her fanny since the very beginning,” Habba told Newsmax’s Carl Higbie. “This has completely been a disaster. It was a fake case to start with, her arrogance, her demeanor has been incredibly telling.” On Wednesday, the Georgia Court of Appeals halted the case while it reviews Judge Scott McAfee’s ruling allowing Willis to remain on the case amid several scandals. The ruling prevents McAfee – who donated to Fani Willis – from moving forward with pretrial motions he had planned while the appeal was pending. While the case was unlikely to go forward before the November US election, this was the final nail in the coffin. On Monday, the appeals court docketed appeals filed by Trump and eight other defendants. Oral arguments are tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4, after which the court will have until mid-March to rule.

The losing side can then appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. “The Georgia Court of Appeals has properly stayed all proceedings against President Trump in the trial court pending its decision on our interlocutory appeal which argues the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct,” said Trump attorney Steve Sadow in a statement. Trump and 18 other defendants were indicted last August on allegations that they participated in a scheme to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election. The case was upended when one of the defendants revealed that Willis had paid over $600,000 to her lover – who was obviously prosecuting more than just the case on lavish, (effectively) taxpayer-funded trips that Willis claims she paid back in cash.

Read more …

“Biden is “not at the top of his game” and “was never the brightest bulb” among American politicians – even when he was younger.”

Biden Could Cause Nuclear War – Trump (RT)

US President Joe Biden may end up destroying the world in a nuclear conflict, his election rival Donald Trump has claimed. Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday, the former president warned that “we have a chance of going into World War III because of our leader.” The remark came after Hannity suggested that Biden was in a state of mental decline, showing several clips of the president appearing distracted or fumbling his words during public appearances. Hannity and Trump were discussing a report published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, which said the incumbent was showing “signs of slipping” behind closed doors. Trump suggested that, unlike the leaders of Russia, China and North Korea, Biden is “not at the top of his game” and “was never the brightest bulb” among American politicians – even when he was younger.

It is currently the “most dangerous time in the history of our country,” he warned, citing the destructive potential of nuclear weapons. In the event of a nuclear exchange, “nothing will matter because practically nothing will be here anymore,” he warned. “This is obliteration. Maybe world obliteration. And we have a man that is incapable of even discussing it.” Trump pointed to the Ukraine conflict as a major source of danger. Russian President Vladimir Putin “is talking about nuclear weapons,” he said. The Biden administration has recently granted Kiev permission to strike targets outside of what Washington recognizes as Ukrainian territory with US-donated weapons.

When asked on Wednesday how he would react to possible attacks deep inside Russia using Western arms, Putin said Moscow may “supply our weapons of the same class to parts of the world, where strikes would be delivered against sensitive assets of the nations that act like that against Russia.” The US and its allies are getting “directly involved in the war against us,” he added, and this path of escalation “leads to very serious problems.” Asked directly whether Moscow would consider using nuclear weapons, Putin said he’d rather stay clear “not only from the use, but even from the threat of use” of such arms. However, he warned people in the West not to delude themselves that such a scenario was impossible.

Read more …

“Maher recently described Biden as “cadaver-like,” and that “he should get out, because he’s just lost the faith (of) people.”

Bill Maher: Biden “Is Going To F***ing Lose” (MN)

Bill Maher warned his leftist audience this week that Donald Trump is going to beat an ailing Joe Biden in the November election. During a podcast interview with Kara Swisher, Maher stated “I would vote for [Biden’s] head in a jar of blue liquid over Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean that I’m — first of all, I think it’s a moot point at this point. He’s going to fucking lose.” Maher cited Biden’s age and the efforts his campaign are making to pretend that isn’t the case. Maher added that too many Democrats are ignoring concerns about the physical and mental fitness of now 81-year-old Biden.

Swisher refused to accept Maher’s assertion, claiming that a “silent majority” will vote for Biden. “We don’t want chaos again,” she said. Maher responded, “Do I think that’s absolutely possible, what you described? Yes. Or it could not be, and I can’t tell the difference.” “The shy Trump voter is the one who is going to vote for Trump but doesn’t want you to know it because it’s a little déclassé,” he added. Maher’s comments come as a Wall Street Journal report citing several Democrats and Republicans claims Biden is showing signs of severe cognitive decline behind the scenes as well as in public.

The report notes that over 45 lawmakers and staffers from both sides of the aisle were interviewed and described Biden as “not the same person” as he was even four years ago. Maher recently described Biden as “cadaver-like,” and that “he should get out, because he’s just lost the faith (of) people.” The ‘Real Time’ host also stated that many leftist ideas are “stupid,” and that is stoking even more division which could lead to a civil war with “MAGA nation” types if jailing Trump is really on the table.

Read more …

“Putin was an undercover Soviet KGB agent in Leningrad in the early 1980s. He turned 30 in 1982 and worked in East Germany during the latter half of the decade..”

Biden Claims He Knew Putin in 1980s (RT)

US President Joe Biden has made an apparent mental stumble in trying to disparage Vladimir Putin, saying he has known the Russian leader for more than four decades and has been concerned about him all that time because he’s “not a decent man.” Biden’s latest gaffe came in an ABC News interview on Thursday in Normandy, France, where he was attending a ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Asked about President Putin, he said, “I’ve known him for 40 years. He’s concerned me for 40 years. He’s not a decent man. He’s a dictator, and he’s struggling to make sure he holds his country together while still keeping this assault going [in Ukraine].” The comment drew online ridicule, as observers pointed out that Putin was an undercover Soviet KGB agent in Leningrad in the early 1980s.

He turned 30 in 1982 and worked in East Germany during the latter half of the decade. He didn’t become an internationally known public figure until 1999, after his surprise appointment as acting prime minister. “Either Biden is lying, or he is admitting he was in contact with a KGB agent since 1984, or Biden’s brain is so cooked that he doesn’t know what on earth he is talking about,” former US Senate staffer Steve Guest said. The 81-year-old Biden, who is ten years older than Putin, was a US senator from 1973 until he took office as vice president in 2009. He reportedly met Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, for the first time in March 2011. Biden has repeatedly insulted Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and other world leaders. For instance, he called Putin a “crazy SOB” in February, and he claimed last year that China was run by “bad folks.” The Kremlin has denounced such attacks as “shameful.”

Polls have shown that most Americans believe Biden is mentally unfit to serve as president. A Wall Street Journal report earlier this week claimed that beyond his frequent mental gaffes in public, Biden was showing “signs of slipping” in closed-door meetings with US lawmakers. The article was based on interviews with 45 people, including Republicans and Democrats, who had spent time with the president in recent months. US Representative Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who served as White House physician under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, told Fox News that the media report confirmed what he has been saying about Biden for years. “He’s got significant issues,” the congressman said. “He shouldn’t have the job. You know, it’s a national security issue for us.”

Read more …

No Secret Service and no gun.

New York Police Set To Revoke Trump’s Gun License – CNN (RT)

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is set to revoke Donald Trump’s license to carry a concealed gun after the former US president was found guilty on 34 felony charges last week, CNN has reported, citing a senior police official. Trump obtained a concealed carry permit in New York a decade ago and had three pistols registered under it, the broadcaster said on Wednesday. According to the police official, the permit was “quietly” suspended on April 1, 2023, following the former president’s indictment on criminal charges. A day before, Trump handed two of his guns over to the NYPD, while his third pistol “was lawfully moved to Florida,” he said. Under federal and state law in both New York and Florida, it is illegal for people with felony convictions to possess firearms.

It is unclear if the presumptive Republican presidential nominee still owns a gun in Florida. The NYPD’s Legal Bureau will complete an investigation into Trump’s possession of the third pistol “that will likely lead to revocation of his license,” the source claimed. The former president would still have the right to legally challenge any revocation. In a statement issued after the report by CNN, Trump’s campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, claimed that “[US President Joe] Biden’s cronies in the Democrat Party are panicked and have chosen to continue to abuse our once great justice system to pursue their number one political opponent and interfere in the coming election.”

Last Friday, Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, becoming the first US president to ever be convicted of a felony. The trial was related to supposed ‘hush money’ payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, and the alleged altering of paperwork to conceal them. The 77-year-old has denied the accusations, branding the case a politically motivated “witch hunt,” and dismissing the trial as “rigged” and “disgraceful.” The former president’s sentencing has been scheduled for July 11. Trump has claimed he is “OK” with serving potential jail time or being placed under house arrest. He has insisted that the “real verdict” will be delivered by the public in the presidential election on November 5.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Starship

 

 

Kirsch Amish
https://twitter.com/i/status/1798086508811063368

 

 

Tortoise
https://twitter.com/i/status/1798729055388270641

 

 

Deaf and blind

 

 

Whale shark

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 122018
 
 November 12, 2018  Posted by at 8:26 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Ivan Kramskoy Christ in the desert 1920

 

If and when a former Rothschild banker starts telling us what the words in our respective languages actually mean, beware. Even if he has dozens of professional speech writers and spin doctors to do it for him. And even if the meaning and interpretation of words, though they may seem easily translatable, differ between English, French, German, Russian, Chinese to such an extent that Lost in Translation may appear to be an understatement.

But if you’re that Rothschild banker who became president of France through a process that nobody will ever understand, and you host the 100th commemoration of perhaps the worst war ever in history, to be ‘celebrated’ with ‘leaders’ none of whom have exhibited any memory through their actions of the ‘This must never happen again’ that the war ended with, you can expect to get away with bending both history and language.

Macron’s entire audience was ready for, and willing to absorb, a message that seemed so benevolent and sincere and loving, and that perhaps most of all was yet another jab at one of his guests, the American president. They were eating it up. As long as they can appear to stand together against Trump, they can make their people, their voters, and perhaps even each other forget how divided they themselves are.

It was nothing but one more circus, one more theater piece, albeit this one extremely carefully scripted for many months and by many of the finest directors and script writers France has to offer. The underlying theme: the EU is good, so is the UN, NATO is good etc. The list would include the IMF, World Bank and on and on. Big global institutions are good, the bigger the better, and criticism of them is not.

Macron’s spin doctors had come up with a few choice lines to express these sentiments. And since I couldn’t find anyone who had looked at those lines with anything but silent and blind admiration (undoubtedly only due to the solemn occasion) , please allow me. Here’s some of the things Macron said, the way they were translated into English, according to Anglo media:

 

“The old demons are rising again, ready to complete their task of chaos and of death.” “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.

“In saying, ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others’, you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values.”

 

Well, yes, the old demons are rising again. Or rather, they have been for years. French arms sales to countries and their often dictatorial leaders who one could classify as ‘nationalists’ have never really abated in the past 100 years. As a country, as a society, at least on the leadership level, nothing has been learned. The only ‘excuse’ Paris could provide for this is that all the other countries who sent away their young and strong to be slaughtered never learned a thing either.

But the spin doctors’ finest hour comes after this: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.” I’m not a linguist, but I know enough about languages -and so do you- to know this is utter nonsense. You may attempt to find some differences between nationalism and patriotism, if you want, but they will never be each other’s opposite. Unless you either are Macron looking for a catchy line or you write his speeches for him.

Obviously, Macron said this because Trump declared himself a nationalist recently. And Macron could now claim that this means Trump is not a patriot. Which we all know is hollow talk. Because Trump said it while speaking about trade, about the US economy. Which does nothing to ‘prove’ he doesn’t love his country. But that is what Macron suggests. He claims patriots love their country, and since nationalism is the opposite of patriotism, Trump does not love America.

Also, and again referring to Trump without mentioning him (if only he had the guts), Macron alleged that nationalists don’t care one bit about what happens to anyone who’s not a citizen of their country. Whereas it is much more likely to mean -I’m treading softly here- that there are people who look out for their own people first, and others after, and they expect all countries to do the same. Macron does the same. A long way away from “whatever happens to others”.

 

Trump was elected because many Americans feel shortchanged, because jobs have disappeared, because they can’t make ends meet. Macron was elected for largely similar reasons: the existing political system failed to protect people. In many other countries, the exact same dynamics are playing out. Macron’s answer to this is to emphasize -make that celebrate- the importance of the exact institutions that have been instrumental in making it all happen.

Ergo: Macron is a globalist. Or maybe I should say he believes in globalism, before someone chimes in to link this to Judaism. Macron believes in global economies and global institutions, whereas Trump does not. The Donald recognizes that global banks and multinationals are responsible to a large extent for the loss of American jobs to low-wage countries. His tariffs, especially on China, address exactly that. Even if he’s clearly conflicted when it comes to US companies who profit from the exact same thing.

Still, that doesn’t mean Trump is not a patriot. But that is precisely what Macron insinuated on Sunday. According to him, one can’t be both a nationalist and a patriot. He might have done better to let the millions who died a 100 years ago, and whom he commemorated, have their own say on that. Did the unfortunate frail forms bleeding to death in the trenches see themselves as nationalists or patriots? Wouldn’t that have been the last thing on their minds? And doesn’t that question tell the entire story?

Doesn’t it put into perspective Macron’s veiled attacks on Trump while the latter was sitting right there? The wonderboy banker trying to gain some sort of moral superiority over the real estate mogul over the heads and rotten bodies and memories of the French and British AND American troops who died deaths the western world can no longer even imagine (while they actively help inflicting them on Yemen) ? And then the entire media run with how beautiful Macron’s words, nay dedications, were?

100 years after the ‘Never Again’, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and the US are still selling billions worth of arms to regimes they know will abuse them. As long as they get their cut, right? The suggestion that Trump is somehow worse than the rest is ludicrous. If anything Trump is a little better on the warmonger front. He still has to prove that, true. The rest have proven their role already though.

Last thought: Xi Jinping is going out of his way to claim China is opening up its economy. That makes him a globalist, right? And globalists can only be nationalists, according to Macron, never patriots? Can we get someone to ask Xi how he sees this? And what about Vladimir Putin? Russia’s been bounced off the global stage through sanctions and allegations, but perhaps he would still like to be a globalist. So is Putin a nationalist or a patriot? Asking for a friend.

Again, according to Macron, you can’t be both. You think about that. What are you?

 

 

Nov 122018
 


Vincent van Gogh Burning weeds 1883

 

Macron: Nationalism Is A “Betrayal Of Patriotism” (Ind.)
Putin Says Had Good Conversation With Trump In Paris (AFP)
Eastern Ukraine Elects Separatist Leaders As West Rejects Polls (AFP)
May Says Britain Open To ‘Different Relationship’ With Russia (R.)
Boris Johnson Says Britain On Verge Of ‘Total Surrender’ In Brexit Talks (R.)
May Shelves Crunch Brexit Talks With Cabinet (Ind.)
Alibaba Has Record $30.8 Billion In Sales In 24 Hours On Singles Day (CNBC)
Foreign Capital Has Propped Up China’s Currency. What If It Leaves? (CFR)
What Plunging Oil Prices Tell Us About The Stock Market And Global Economy (MW)
A Worldwide Debt Default Is A Real Possibility (Mauldin)

 

 

As Macron nears record low approval rating for a French president, he lectures the world through a game of semantics. The ‘brilliance’ is that while not many could have told you the difference between nationalism and patriotism, Macron claims to have it down. Even if it has to be translated into dozens of languages, each of which may have slightly different interpretations of the -local- meaning of the words. Macron has good speech writers, but they don’t write in all the languages involved. So it’s merely semantics. The terms mean to everyone what they want them to mean.

The take-away: according to Macron, patriotism can exist along globalism, nationalism cannot. A jibe against Trump. Which also means that because Xi Jinping touts globalism all the time, we must accept, if we follow Macron, that he is not a nationalist, but a patriot.

Macron: Nationalism Is A “Betrayal Of Patriotism” (Ind.)

Emmanuel Macron has issued a hard-hitting warning about the dangers of nationalism and of countries that put their interests before the collective good – in front of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The French president denounced those who evoke nationalist sentiment to disadvantage others, calling it a “betrayal of patriotism” and moral values. The US and Russian leaders listened in silence as Mr Macron took a swipe at the rising tide of populism in the US and Europe, warning: “The old demons are rising again, ready to complete their task of chaos and of death.” During a gathering of dozens of world leaders to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, the French president went on: “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism.

“In saying, ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others’, you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: its moral values.” [..] In a speech lasting nearly 20 minutes, Mr Macron also called on fellow leaders to fight for peace. “Ruining this hope with a fascination for withdrawal, violence or domination would be a mistake for which future generations would rightly find us responsible,” he said. The French leader also defended the European Union and the United Nations, which he said guaranteed peace and enshrined “a spirit of cooperation to defend the common property of a world whose destiny is inextricably linked”.

Read more …

Okay, is Putin a nationalist or a patriot? He seems to like globalism, but he likes Russia better. And he’s been pushed out of globalism through sanctions and tall tales.

Putin Says Had Good Conversation With Trump In Paris (AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had a brief but good conversation with US leader Donald Trump at World War I centenary events in Paris, Russian media reported. When journalists asked Putin whether he managed to speak to Trump on Sunday, he said: “Yes,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported. Asked how it went, Putin said: “Well.” He did not provide further details, but the French presidency said the pair had a wide-ranging discussion during lunch after the commemoration. Host and French President Emmanuel Macron was there and German Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in some of the exchanges, the presidency said.

Subjects discussed included the situation in the Middle East, notably Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump had sat with world leaders including Putin, Macron and Merkel at lunch and the group had held “very good and productive discussions”. “The leaders discussed a variety of issues, including the INF (nuclear treaty), Syria, trade, the situation in Saudi Arabia, sanctions, Afghanistan, China, and North Korea,” she said. Expectations have been growing for a new Trump-Putin meeting as tensions pile up over the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and US sanctions against Moscow.

Read more …

Macron and Merkel: “These so-called elections undermine the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine..”

Wasn’t it John McCain and Vcitoria Nuland who undermined it back in 2014 on Maidan Square?

Eastern Ukraine Elects Separatist Leaders As West Rejects Polls (AFP)

People in Russian-backed areas of eastern Ukraine re-elected separatist leaders at the weekend, according to results released Monday of polls condemned as illegal by Kiev and Western countries. Elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk “People’s Republics”, controlled by separatists since breaking away from Ukraine’s pro-Western government in 2014, took place after the killing of the rebel Donetsk “president” in a bomb attack in August. Security was tight for Sunday’s vote with gun-toting, camouflage-clad guards deployed to ensure order. Denis Pushilin, the 37-year-old acting Donetsk leader, was elected with 61 percent of the vote with almost all ballots counted, the local electoral commission said. Leonid Pasechnik, the acting Lugansk leader, took 68 percent of the vote.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel branded the vote “illegal and illegitimate” following a meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko on the sidelines of World War I commemorations also attended by Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Sunday. “These so-called elections undermine the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” the pair said in a joint statement. Washington and Brussels had asked Russia not to allow the polls to go ahead, arguing they would further hamper efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014. “The people in eastern Ukraine will be better off within a unified Ukraine at peace rather than in a second-rate police state run by crooks and thugs, all subsidized by Russian taxpayers,” tweeted Kurt Volker, the US special envoy to Ukraine, on the day of the polls.

Read more …

if only they confess to the narratives Britain has spouted without evidence.

May Says Britain Open To ‘Different Relationship’ With Russia (R.)

Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday Britain is “open to a different relationship” with Russia if Moscow takes a new path and stops “attacks” that undermine international treaties and security. Just a year ago, May used her annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to accuse Moscow of military aggression and of meddling in elections, some of her strongest criticism even before the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Salisbury. This year, she will tell London’s financial center that the action taken since – including the largest ever coordinated expulsion of Russian intelligence officers – has deepened her belief in a “collective response” to such threats.

“We will continue to show our willingness to act, as a community of nations, to stand up for the rules around the world,” May will say, according to excerpts of her speech. Describing evolving threats, May will say the past year, including Salisbury, has “shown that while the challenge is real, so is the collective resolve of likeminded partners to defend our values, our democracies, and our people.” “But, as I also said a year ago, this is not the relationship with Russia that we want … We remain open to a different relationship – one where Russia desists from these attacks that undermine international treaties and international security,” she will say.

Read more …

Boris still wants to be King.

Boris Johnson Says Britain On Verge Of ‘Total Surrender’ In Brexit Talks (R.)

Former British foreign minister Boris Johnson accused Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday of forcing through a deal that would keep the country locked in the European Union’s customs union after Brexit in what he described as a “total surrender”. “I really can’t believe it but this government seems to be on the verge of total surrender,” he wrote in his weekly column in the Telegraph newspaper. “I want you to savour the full horror of this capitulation … we are on the verge of signing up for something even worse than the current constitutional position. These are the terms that might be enforced on a colony.”

Read more …

Unsolved issues.

May Shelves Crunch Brexit Talks With Cabinet (Ind.)

Theresa May has been forced to abandon plans for an emergency cabinet meeting to approve a Brexit deal, after fresh opposition at home and abroad plunged her timetable into turmoil. The prime minister shelved the meeting, pencilled in for Monday, slamming on the brakes after fierce resistance in her cabinet and in Brussels threatened to derail the path to an agreement. A government source conceded that an outline deal might not be ready by Tuesday – making it increasingly unlikely that a special EU summit to sign it off can be held in November, as hoped.

That would leave the UK having to ramp up hugely expensive no-deal preparations and in danger of being unable to pass all necessary legislation before the Brexit deadline next March. At home, Ms May faced an open challenge to her plans from Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, who vowed the UK “cannot be held against its will” by the backstop plan for the Irish border. Ms Leadsom became the second cabinet minister to insist on a unilateral power to escape being bound in the EU customs union – something explicitly ruled out by Brussels.

Read more …

1.35 billion packages delivered.

Alibaba Has Record $30.8 Billion In Sales In 24 Hours On Singles Day (CNBC)

Alibaba on Sunday tore through last year’s Singles Day sales record, racking up more than $30.8 billion in the 24-hour shopping event. Gross merchandise value (GMV), a figure that shows sales across the Chinese e-commerce giant’s various shopping platforms, surpassed last year’s $25.3 billion record at around 5:34 p.m. SIN/HK (4:34 a.m. ET) on Sunday, and kept marching higher through the rest of the day. In Chinese currency terms, GMV totaled 213.5 billion yuan, easily beating last year’s figure of 168.2 billion yuan and representing a nearly 27 percent year-on-year rise. That was, however, smaller than the 39 percent year-on-year growth recorded in 2017.

Alibaba’s Singles Day GMV beat last year’s figure in yuan terms earlier than it toppled the dollar record. The Chinese currency is weaker against the greenback from a year ago, which means more sales in yuan are required to get the same dollar amount. It was the 10th edition of the annual Singles Day event, which is also called the Double 11 shopping festival because it falls on Nov. 11. During the 24-hour period, Alibaba offered huge discounts across its e-commerce sites such as Tmall. Alibaba’s Singles Day sales haul easily exceeded the spending by consumers during any single U.S. shopping holiday.

Read more …

Wait! Shadows?

Foreign Capital Has Propped Up China’s Currency. What If It Leaves? (CFR)

“I think China’s manipulating their currency, absolutely,” President Trump said back in August. Yet the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) was, and has been, intervening to keep the RMB up, and not to push it down, as Trump was alleging. And we believe such interventions are about to get much larger. Here is why. Over the past two years, as our left-hand figure below shows, foreign portfolio investors have piled prodigiously into Chinese assets, helping to support the RMB. But history suggests this trend is about to reverse. While inflows have been rising, Chinese stocks have been tumbling—they are down over 20 percent from their January peak. Dreadful performance like this typically drives funds out of emerging markets. We may be seeing the beginning of such outflows in China.

Repatriation of liquid foreign capital will make it far more challenging for China to keep its currency up. Of course, China could change course and let it fall, but that risks exacerbating the foreign-debt burden of its highly leveraged corporates. It could raise interest rates, but that would further slow a slowing economy. It could, to keep capital at home, demand higher returns on its foreign lending, but that would mean sacrificing its efforts to subsidize its companies operating abroad, as well those aimed at putting dollars to the service of geostrategic objectives—like Belt and Road. n short, then, there is every reason to expect that the PBoC will boost its support for the RMB by selling dollar reserves.

This is what it did back in 2015, when a plunging stock market scared away foreign capital. So in spite of President’s Trump’s repeated charges that China is manipulating its currency for competitive advantage in trade, all evidence suggests that it will continue to do the opposite. But if China were to sell reserves at the same pace as in 2015, its reserve levels would, by mid-2020, actually fall below the safety threshold implied by the IMF’s framework for reserve adequacy—as shown in the right-hand figure above.

Read more …

Not much for now. Oil rising this morning on Saudi cuts promised.

What Plunging Oil Prices Tell Us About The Stock Market And Global Economy (MW)

What the heck happened to oil prices? But more significantly, what does it mean for the broader stock market and the global economy? That is what has some Wall Street investors scratching their noggins, as crude futures and U.S. stocks staged a tandem tumble this week, just when investors thought the worst was over following a bruising October for risk assets. Now, oil futures are unraveling, down at least 20% after putting in a 52-week high early last month. And it isn’t so much the descent into bear-market territory—as the recent slump for crude can be characterized—as it is the celerity of the selloff that has market participants unsettled.

About five weeks: That’s all it took for bulls to pivot from cavalierly pondering if $100-a-barrel oil was a genuine possibility before the end of 2018 on the back of Iranian oil export sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Nov. 4, to wondering how ugly the current implosion in black gold could get before finding a bottom. On Friday, West Texas Intermediate crude for December delivery lost 48 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $60.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, for the lowest front-month contract settlement since March 8, according to FactSet data. Prices lost 4.7% for the week, tallying their fifth straight weekly drop. The 10th session decline in a row matched the longest skid since 1984.

But beyond that, the most important question is this: What does oil’s decline really mean? That is the query that Yves Lamoureux, president of macroeconomic research firm Lamoureux & Co., posed to MarketWatch via email last week as the decline in oil was gaining steam. “Very large monthly down moves in crude oil has often heralded something more ominous,” he wrote on Nov. 1. “Most market observers think there is enough damage to see a bottom in stocks. Consensus therefore looks for new record highs or a solid bounce back. We strongly disagree with this perspective.”

Read more …

No doubt there. But it’ll start somewhere.

A Worldwide Debt Default Is A Real Possibility (Mauldin)

Is debt good or bad? The answer is “Yes.” Debt is future spending pulled forward in time. It lets you buy something now for which you otherwise don’t have cash yet. Whether it’s wise or not depends on what you buy. Debt to educate yourself so you can get a better job may be a good idea. Borrowing money to finance your vacation? Probably not. The problem is that many people, businesses, and governments borrow because they can. It’s been possible in the last decade only because central banks made it so cheap. It was rational in that respect. But it is growing less so as the central banks start to tighten. Earlier this year, I wrote a series of articles predicting a debt “train wreck” and eventual liquidation. I dubbed it “The Great Reset.”

I estimated we have another year or two before the crisis becomes evident. Now I’m having second thoughts. Recent events tell me the reckoning could be closer than I thought just a few months ago. Central banks enable debt because they think it will generate economic growth. Sometimes it does. The problem is they create debt with little regard for how it will be used. That’s how we get artificial booms and subsequent busts. We are told not to worry about absolute debt levels so long as the economy is growing in line with them. That makes sense. A country with a larger GDP can carry more debt. But that is increasingly not what is happening. Let me give you two data points.

Lacy Hunt tracks data that shows debt is losing its ability to stimulate growth. In 2017, one dollar of non-financial debt generated only 40 cents of GDP in the US. It’s even less elsewhere. This is down from more than four dollars of growth for each dollar of debt 50 years ago. This has seriously worsened over the last decade. China’s debt productivity dropped 42.9% between 2007 and 2017. That was the worst among major economies, but others lost ground, too. All the developed world is pushing on the same string and hoping for results. Now, if you are used to using debt to stimulate growth, and debt loses its capacity to do so, what happens next? You guessed it: The brilliant powers-that-be add even more debt.

Read more …

Sep 242017
 
 September 24, 2017  Posted by at 6:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Robert Frank London 1952-53

 

‘Tis the jolly time of elections, referendums, flags and other democracy-related issues. They are all linked in some way or another, even if that’s not always obvious. Elections, in New Zealand and Germany this weekend, referendums in Catalonia and Kurdistan the coming week, a looming Party Congress in China, quarrels about a flag in the US and then there’s always Brexit.

About China: the Congress is only in October, Xi Jinping looks sure to broaden his powers even more, and it ain’t all that democratic, but we should still follow it, if only because party officials will be either demoted or promoted, and some of them govern more people than most kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but in China everything really is. Including debt.

New Zealand: the election very early this morning didn’t bring a much hoped for win for Labour, or any clear winner at all, so don’t expect any grand changes in policy. New Zealand won’t wake up till its economy dives and the housing bubble pops.

Germany: Angela Merkel has set up today’s election so that she has no competition. Though she will see the ultra-right AfD enter parliament. Still, her main ‘rival’, alleged left wing Martin Schulz, is a carbon copy of Merkel when it comes to the main issues, i.e. immigration and the EU. An election that is as dull as Angela herself, even though she’ll lose 10% or so. The next one won’t be, guaranteed.

As for the US, no elections there, but another round of big words about nationalism, patriotism and the flag. Donald Trump is well aware that 75% or so of Americans say the flag must be respected, so criticizing people for kneeling instead of standing when the anthem gets played is an easy win for him. No amount of famous athletes is going to change that.

It all doesn’t seem very smart or sophisticated. But then, the US is the only western country I know of that plays the anthem at domestic sports games and has children vow a Pledge of Allegiance to it every single day. Other countries can’t even imagine doing that. They keep their anthems for special occasions. And even then only a few people stand up when it’s played. For most, it’s much ado about nothing but a strip of cotton.

What is perhaps interesting is that a whole list of NFL team owners donated a million dollars to Trump, and now speak out against him and ‘side with their players’, even though not one of them has offered Colin Kaepernick a job since he got fired for going down on one knee. Should I add ‘allegedly’? The only right way to handle the issue would seem to be to talk about why Kaepernick and others do what they do, not that they do it. There’s more than enough division in the country to warrant such talks.

Let Trump invite Kaepernick and Stephen Curry, maybe even Lebron and Stevie Wonder, to the White House with the very intention to talk about that. In the current hostile climate that is not going to happen though, even if Da Donald might want to. There’s a group of people who after 30 years of a deteriorating economy said ‘this is not my country anymore’, and voted for the only -apparent- alternative available, Trump, and another group who then said ‘this is not my president’.

And never the twain shall have a conversation. Somebody better find a way to get them to talk about it, or worse is to come. Far too many Americans identify themselves solely as not being someone else. Yeah, Trump too, but he’s been under constant siege from all sides, and of course he’ll fight back. No, that does not make me a Trump cheerleader, as some have suggested, but what’s happening today threatens to blow up the entire nation, after first having eroded the whole political system. This is a serious risk.

Now spymaster James Clapper is saying again that the whole Russia thing, for which there still is zero proof, could make the election invalid. Well, not without proof, Jimbo. And until you do have that proof, shut up, it’s poisonous (he knows). Instead, go help the 3.5 million literally powerless Americans in Puerto Rico. There are plenty issues to deal with that don’t involve bashing your president. Keep that for later.

 

(Proposed) referendums (referenda?) in Catalunya and ‘Kurdistan’ raise interesting questions about sovereignty and self determination. We’ll see a lot more of that going forward. I’ve repeatedly mentioned the issue of sovereignty when it comes to Greece, which cannot really be called sovereign anymore because others, foreigners, make all main decisions about its economy.

There may be plenty different definitions of sovereignty, but there can be no doubt it means that a domestic authority has control over a country. That also means that possible changes to that authority can only be made domestically. To come back to Greece briefly, I’m surprised that no constitutional lawyers or scholars have questioned respective governments handing de facto control to ‘outsiders’.

But that can be both deepened and broadened to the decision to join both first the EU, and later the euro. Have all 27 EU countries run these decisions by their constitutional lawyers and highest courts? I’ve never seen an opinion like that from any country. Does a country’s ruling authority have the power to sign away its sovereignty? I would bet in most cases it does not, or the constitution involved was/is either shoddily written or not worth much to begin with.

That any elected US president -or Congress, Senate- would have the power to sell the country to the highest bidder -or any part of it- sounds preposterous, even if I’m no constitutional lawyer or scholar. What countries CAN do, of course, is sign treaties and other agreements concerning defence or trade, among others. But any possible sovereignty violations would always need to be scrutinized at the highest domestically available level of judicial power.

Moreover, I would argue that sovereignty is not something that can be divided, split up or broken into separate parts. You’re either sovereign or you’re not. One country, indivisible, as the US Pledge of Allegiance states (but that doesn’t mean a group of people inside a country can’t seek its own sovereignty).

 

The ‘composition’ of the EU raises a lot of questions. Many countries have given up their rights to control over their currencies, and therefore their entire economic policies, and though the euro is undoubtedly beneficial in some areas, it has turned out to be a straight-jacket in others, when less sunny economic times arrived.

So what happens if those less sunny times are here to stay? Will countries like Greece continue to bend over for Germany, and for the ECB it controls, or will some of these countries (re-)examine their rights to sovereignty? How is this defined in the EU charter anyway? It has to be there, or many constitutions were violated to begin with when countries signed up. Sovereignty that is not properly defined is meaningless.

Another, non-economic, example concerns the Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. It’s wonderfully ironic that Wikipedia says the Visegrad alliance (est. in 1991) was formed “for the purposes of furthering their European integration”, ironic because one might be tempted to think it does the opposite. The Visegrad countries refuse to be part of the EU’s scheme to resettle refugees.

And Brussels tries to force them to comply with that scheme, with threat after threat. But that too, no matter how one views the issue or where one’s sympathies lie, is in the end a sovereignty issue. And what use is it to force refugees upon a country that doesn’t want them? The bigger question is of course: why were they ever invited into the EU when they think that way, and that way is fundamentally different from that prevalent in Brussels and other member countries?

Or perhaps the even bigger question should be: how do you combine a country’s sovereignty with a political and economic union of nations that must sign away parts of their sovereignty -and therefore all of it, as argued before-. If you ask me, it’s not nearly as easy -let alone legal- as they try to make it look.

 

Catalunya and ‘Kurdistan’ are good examples – albeit from a different angle- of that same conundrum. A topic closely linked to sovereignty is self-determination. Wikipedia:

The right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the {UN] Charter’s norms. It states that a people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

[..] on 11 February 1918 US President Woodrow Wilson stated: “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.

‘Self determination’ is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action.

The Kurds have been denied that right for a very long time. For reasons related to divide and rule policies in a whole slew of different global powers both in the region and outside of it, and reasons related to oil. After being a major force in the fight against ISIS, and after seeing Turkey get ever more agressive against them -again-, the Kurds have -not for the first time- planned a referendum for a sovereign state. As the UN charter unequivocally says is their right.

The problem is, they want to establish their state on land that other countries claim is theirs. Even if the Kurds have lived there for a long time. And that’s a common theme in most of these ‘events’. Catalunya, Palestina, ‘Kurdistan’, they’re told they can perhaps have independence and sovereignty, but not on land where their people have lived for 1000s of years, because that land ‘belongs to us’.

And holding a referendum is therefore unconstitutional, says Spain, or whatever legal term is thrown out. But if the UN charter makes the international community’s position as clear as it does, how can it contradict a member nation’s constitution? Was that member not paying attention when it signed up to the Charter, or did the UN itself let that one slip?

 

 

Catalunya (Catalonia) is the northeast tip of Spain. Its people have long wanted independence and never gotten it. When present day Spain was formed, it was made part of Spain. And now the people want their own nation. It is not hard. But then again it is. We are now one week before October 1, the date the referendum was planned, and the Spanish government has done everything it could and then some to frustrate the referendum, and therefore the will of the people of Catalunya.

As the politicians who inhabit the EU and UN sit by idly, scared silly of burning their fingers. After arresting Catalan politicians and confiscating anything that could be used to hold the referendum, Spain has sent cruise ships full of police to Catalan harbors, and tried to take over control of the Catalan police force. But Catalan politicians and harbor crew have refused to let the ships dock, and Catalan police won’t obey Spanish orders.

It’s starting to look like Spain PM Rajoy wants to provoke a violent Catalan reaction, so he can send in his army and blame Barcelona and environs. What he doesn’t want to understand is that this will be the end of his government, his career, and of any chance Catalunya will remain part of Spain other than in the short term. It feels like Franco’s military, who, don’t forget, only relinquished control some 40 years ago, are still there in spirit if not physically.

For everybody’s sake, we can only hope someone does something to stop Rajoy and whoever’s behind his decisions, because if anyone ever wondered why the Catalans wanted to be independent, after those decisions there can be no question anymore. If he sends in the army, Spain as a whole will be something of the past. But first the referendum result, which was very doubtful all along, has now been settled: nearly all Catalans stand united against Rajoy today.

And Catalans are a mixed people. Many do not have their roots there, or even speak the language. But they will not turn on their friends and neighbors.

 

Kurdistan’s situation is even a lot more convoluted than Catalunya’s. Borders in the Middle East were drawn more or less at random by the French and British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. And the Kurds never got their independence, or their country. But now they want it. However, they live spread over 4 different countries, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. And some of the land they live on has oil. Lots of it. And the cradle of civilization, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

 

 

Just about everyone, including the US, all countries in the region, and the old colonial powers, have declared their resistance to the Kurdish referendum. Getting back to the UN charter et al, isn’t that a curious position? Politicians sign lofty declarations, but when their successors are called upon to uphold them, nobody’s home. And it’s not as if self-determination is such a difficult topic to understand.

The referendum will be held on September 25 in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, so not in other Kurdish regions. Therefore only 900,000 people, out of some 35 million Kurds, get to vote. But the question on the ballot will be:

“Do you want the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistani areas outside the region’s administration to become an independent state?”

And that of course means something much more, and much bigger. There’s a ‘Kurdistan’ in Iran, Syria and Turkey as well. Kurds there don’t get to vote, though.

Quoting Bloomberg: “The vote will be held in the three governorates officially ruled by the KRG, as well as in disputed areas currently controlled by Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga. The Kurds expanded their domain in 2014 when, faced with Islamic State attacks, the Iraqi army deserted the oil-rich city Kirkuk.”

Here’s where the Kurds were living according to the 2014 CIA World Factbook:

 

 

As is the case in Catalunya, Iraq’s parliament and top court have declared the vote unconstitutional. That again raises the question: how can a vote violate a country’s constitution if and when that country has signed the UN charter which explicitly defines every people’s right to self-determination? Who’s been asleep when both documents were signed?

How could the UN let countries sign its charter whose constitutions violated that same charter? Have we all just been playing fast and loose all along? Or, more interestingly, what are we all going to do now that we know about this? Are we going to take self-determination away from people, and sign that into a whole new UN charter? Or are we going to make sure the charter is upheld and make countries change their constitutions to comply with it?

 

There is a third option (very much in favor): to not do anything. But that gets more dangerous all the time. The days that people could just be ignored are gone. Social media have probably played a large role in that. And so have changing power relationships.

The EU is blowing itself up through increasing calls for more Europe just as people want less. I’ve said it often before: centralization stops when and where economic growth does. And despite all the creative accounting we see, economic growth is definitely gone in Europe. Just ask Greece, Spain. Ask the people, not the politicians. People will only accept their decisions being made by far away ‘leaders’ if they perceive them as beneficial to their lives, the lives of their children.

Those days are gone, no matter the propaganda. That’s true all over Europe, and it’s true all across the US. The refusal by incumbent powers to recognize this, admit to it, is what gives us the likes of Trump and Brexit and countless other challengers. That Marine Le Pen and others have failed to date doesn’t mean the status quo wins; others will follow. In that vein I was surprised to see Yanis Varoufakis, whom I hold in very great esteem, declare in name of his DiEM 25 movement that:

“I am not taking sides on whether Catalonia should be independent or not” and “What we’re promoting in DiEM25 would solve the problem. We want a real European Union that becomes a single jurisdiction, a country if you want to call it that. In that scenario, it doesn’t matter if Catalonia is part of Spain!”

Europe will not be one country. Nor should it want to be. Europe has 1000 different ways to work together, and the EU has been an utter failure at that. While it has done a ton of good, it is being -predictably- destroyed by the power politics at its top levels. Nobody ever told Europeans that they would wind up living as German provinces. But that is what they are.

As Varoufakis himself makes abundantly clear is his book Adults in the Room. That’s why Germans have no real choice in today’s election: they have such utter control of the EU they would be crazy to vote against it. But at the same time, the rest of the ‘Union’ would be crazy to let them hold that power.

And I know that DiEM25 wants to change and reform the EU, but how will they do that knowing they need Germany, more than all other countries, to accomplish it, as Germany is sitting so pretty? Calls for a one-country Europe seem at the very least irresponsibly premature. That’s very far from reality. First things first. No cheating. You can’t say it doesn’t matter what happen to the Catalans today because ‘we’ have bigger plans for tomorrow. That means abandoning them. That’s not a new Europe: that’s what they already have today.

 

As for ‘Kurdistan’, what can we do but hope and pray? Hope that the old European colonial powers, as well as Turkey, Iraq and Iran, plus Russia and China, live up to the UN Charter they signed, and let the Kurds show they can be a force for peace in the region, which needs one so badly?! They have shown in no uncertain terms they can defend themselves, and their land, against anyone who threatens them. The Kurdish women army, YPJ, is all you need to know when it comes to that. They are the bravest amongst us.

If they had their own country, they would continue to do just that, and better. Which just goes to show that nationalism and patriotism are not of necessity negative emotions. It gives people an identity. Which is exactly why brighter heads than the present ones put the right to self-determination in the UN Charter, at a time, 1945, when the world had seen indescribable destruction.

There’s a lesson there. That we seem to have forgotten already. And now have to learn all over again. Through Colin Kaepernick, through the unbelievable Kurdish women’s YPG army, though the streets of Barcelona. Our world is screwed up, and we need to unscrew it.

 

 

Sep 242017
 
 September 24, 2017  Posted by at 9:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Elliott Erwitt Gateway Center Demolition Area Pittsburgh 1950

 

All The Bubbles That Are About To Pop In One Chart (Dillian)
America’s $20 Trillion Debt In Global Context (HowMuch)
Accounting Error Spells Chaos For Global Economy (Graeber)
The American Golden Calf (PL)
Boobs on Credit (Jim Quinn)
Bernanke Past the Point of No Return (AM)
Janet Yellen’s 78-Month Plan for US National Monetary Policy (AM)
A Private Solution For China’s Zombie Company Problem? Unlikely (R.)
More Chinese Cities Impose Property Control Measures (R.)
The Tide Is Starting To Turn Against The World’s Digital Giants (G.)
Why Uber’s Fate Could Herald Backlash Against ‘Digital Disruptors’ (G.)
France’s Far-Left Leader Urges French ‘Resistance’ Against Macron (R.)
Spain Rebuffed in Boosting Control Over Catalonia’s Police (BBG)
No Storm Ever Destroyed a Grid Like Maria Ruined Puerto Rico’s (BBG)

 

 

It’s big graphs day today. This is Jared Dillian’s.

All The Bubbles That Are About To Pop In One Chart (Dillian)

It wasn’t always this way. We never used to get a giant, speculative bubble every seven to eight years. We really didn’t. In 2000, we had the dot-com bubble. In 2007, we had the housing bubble. In 2017, we have the everything bubble. I did not coin the term “the everything bubble.” I do not know who did. Apologies (and much respect) to the person I stole it from. Why do we call it the everything bubble? Well, there is a bubble in a bunch of asset classes simultaneously. And the infographic below that my colleagues at Mauldin Economics created paints the picture best. I don’t usually predict downturns, but this time I bet my reputation that a downturn is coming. And soon.

Read more …

Private debt would be more useful. But okay…

America’s $20 Trillion Debt In Global Context (HowMuch)

The U.S. federal government just passed a record $20 trillion in publicly held debt. That’s bigger than the entire economy of every country in the European Union, combined. The debt will only grow higher unless President Trump and the U.S. Congress can agree to unprecedented spending cuts combined with tax increases. Don’t count on that happening anytime soon. Most people think that an eye-popping $20+ trillion debt is insurmountable, and in fact, it is the largest in the world by far. But when you look at another fiscal measure—the ratio of debt-to-GDP—the U.S. is not in the worst situation. Our visualization allows you to quickly see how the U.S. government’s debt compares to other countries around the world. The size of the country correlates to the size of the debt. The U.S. and Japan stand out because they have the highest debts in the world ($20.17T and $11.59T, respectively).

Other countries, like Germany and Brazil, appear much smaller because their debts are comparatively tiny ($2.45T and $1.45T, respectively). We then color-coded each country according to its debt-to-GDP ratio. Green countries have a healthy margin, but dark red and fuchsia countries have debts that are even bigger than their entire economies. The debt-to-GDP ratio is a critical metric for evaluating a country’s fiscal health. It makes a lot of sense for the American government to have a higher debt than a much smaller country, like Germany. That’s why it’s important to consider the GDP of each country, a number which represents the sum of all transactions occurring in the economy. Once you understand the public debt as a percentage of GDP, you get a level playing field for countries on different economic scales. When you think about it like this, the U.S. isn’t even among the ten worst sovereign debts in the world.

Top 10 countries with the Worst Debt-to-GDP Ratios
1. Japan (245% at $11.59B)
2. Greece (173% at $338B)
3. Italy (138% at $138B)
4. Portugal (133% at $274B)
5. Belgium (111% at $111B)
6. Spain (106% at $106B)
7. Canada (106% at $106B)
8. Ireland (105% at $105B)
9. France (98% at $98B)
10. Brazil (82% at $82B)

Read more …

Dave Graeber suggests (strongly) that official UK numbers miss -intentionally or not- a huge chunk of household debt. Government debt could be involved, but even then.

Accounting Error Spells Chaos For Global Economy (Graeber)

The thing that always struck me is how much the morality of debt—that anyone in debt has only themselves to blame, that deadbeats are contemptible—stubbornly refuses to die. Even now, when the situation is largely engineered by government policy, the first impulse of pundits and other popular moralists is invariably to assume the real problem must, somehow, be a bunch of lazy freeloaders, living beyond their means. As a result, by the standards of public discourse that exist today—that is, the sort of things it’s considered acceptable coming from the mouth of a politician or TV commentator or government economist—it’s not really legitimate to worry about rising levels of household debt simply because it causes misery or deprivation, if it means millions of actual flesh and blood human beings will be living lives of fear, anxiety, and constant humiliation.


Illustration Rachel Bolton

It’s only really legitimate to worry about rising levels of household debt insofar as it might be likely to cause another financial crisis. (Such a crisis, after all, might well affect the lives of the rich and upper reaches of the professional and managerial classes, that is, the kind of lives that policy-makers feel they have to take account of.) And even then, it must be posed as a moral problem caused by irresponsible self-indulgence—as one Daily Mail headline recently put it: “Your neighbour’s shiny new SUV is about to crash the economy!” Yet the two impulses are clearly in tension. To look at debt in macro-economic terms does make it easier to see it as a structural problem, as the result of self-conscious policy decisions. As a result, everyone seems to want to minimise the problem. Here are the numbers that they published in 2017, which a friend of mine who works in the City translated into handy tabular form:

The attentive reader will note that the image is symmetrical. Up to around 2014, at least, the top and bottom half exactly mirror one another. This is exactly as things should be: it’s an “accounting identity”, as in a ledger sheet, debits and credits have to add up. The remarkable thing is that after 2014, they don’t, and in the projected future, the top and bottom are actually quite different. When I first saw this diagram I was startled and confused. Was I missing something? Was there something about the math I didn’t understand? I passed the image on to two different economists and asked just that: isn’t there something wrong with the numbers here?

Read more …

A version of the ugly duckling. Behind Trump’s words on athletes and the anthem. Many people like the athletes, but some 75% of Americans think they should respect the flag. Trump thought this through.

The American Golden Calf (PL)

As a young boy, I enjoyed my family’s bantam chickens that laid very small eggs and hatched very small chicks. Theirs was a small and miniature world. One day one of my bantams started sitting on eggs to hatch its chicks. Something happened to her eggs but she continued to sit, so I decided to put a duck egg under her. Duck eggs are at least three times bigger than bantam eggs and take a few days longer to hatch, but she dutifully sat on the egg several days longer. She hatched the duckling and, as you can imagine, it thought that his world was normal and that the bantam hen was his mother. The duckling eventually grew into a full sized mallard duck, probably five or six times the size of its bantam mother. The full-grown duck would follow its hen mother around as would normal chicks. It was a funny sight to watch.

But I remember thinking, even as a small boy, that the duck’s entire reality was that the bantam hen was his mother and that was the way the world worked. He had no need to consider anything else. This is the world of the American people today. Their perceptions of reality control them and they who control their perceptions control the American people. Our perception of America has always been that she is the mother country and ordained by God, good and just and a beacon of freedom. This is hammered into our psyches from our early days. From pre-school up, we are taught to worship the state. I don’t know if it is still done, but in the public (non)education system, for many years, schoolchildren across the South — and elsewhere, I suppose — recited the Pledge of Allegiance each morning.

Political rallies and government meetings are still often begun with a recitation of the pledge. People say it with patriotic fervor, with their hands placed dutifully on their hearts. Sporting events, political rallies and other public venues are often kicked off with the playing and/or singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Before the song begins, people are instructed to rise, men to remove their hats,and people place their hands over their hearts. They don’t realize its value as a propaganda tool. We have come to equate the flag, the pledge and the national anthem with patriotism, and patriotism with government, country and support for government, support for foreign wars and veterans. Anything less is “un-American.”

Read more …

“What happens when a bimbo defaults on her boob loan? How narrow minded of me.”

Boobs on Credit (Jim Quinn)

As I was driving to work yesterday morning on the Schuylkill Expressway a commercial comes on the radio from a plastic surgeon advertising for anyone looking for a better set of boobs. I had never heard a plastic surgeon commercial before, so I thought that was unusual. But, that wasn’t the best part. This plastic surgeon was offering no money down 18 month interest free financing on your new boobs. I wonder if they are moving boobs with subprime debt the same way the auto companies have used subprime debt to move cars. Of course, when a deadbeat defaults on an auto loan the car is easily repossessed. What happens when a bimbo defaults on her boob loan? How narrow minded of me. What happens when some dude who wants to be a bimbo defaults on his/her loan? I guess it was just a matter of time before breast enhancement met debt enhancement in this warped world of materialism, narcissism, financialization, and delusions.

Now that revolving credit has reached a new all-time high of $1 trillion and total consumer debt outstanding has exceeded it’s 2008 peak at $12.8 trillion, the Fed has completed its job of helping the average American again in-debt themselves up to their eyeballs. This is considered a success story in this twisted, perverted, bizarro world we call America today. The solution to an epic debt induced global financial catastrophe caused by Federal Reserve easy money, Wall Street fraud, and Washington DC corruption has been to increase global debt by 50% since 2007, with virtually all of it created by central bankers and the governments they control. In what demented Ivy League educated academic mind would piling $68 trillion more debt on the backs of taxpayers as a cure for a disease caused by the initial $149 trillion of debt be considered rational and sustainable? It’s like having pancreatic cancer and trying to cure it with a self inflicted gunshot.

Read more …

The following two pieces are fom the same article.

Bernanke Past the Point of No Return (AM)

In late November 2008, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke put in place a fait accompli. But he didn’t recognize it at the time. For he was blinded by his myopic prejudices. Bernanke, a self-fancied Great Depression history buff with the highest academic credentials, gazed back 80 years, observed several credit market parallels, and then made a preconceived diagnosis. After that, he picked up his copy of A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, turned to the chapter on the Great Depression, and got to work expanding the Fed’s balance sheet. Now here is something all those “Great Depression experts” always neglect to mention: the Fed’s holdings of government securities expanded my more than 400% between late 1929 and early 1933.

Friedman’s often repeated assertion that the Fed “didn’t pump enough” in the early 1930s – which is held up as the gospel truth by nearly everyone – is simply untrue. It is true that the money supply collapsed anyway – but not because the Fed didn’t try to pump it up. Many contingent circumstances mitigated against money supply expansion: too many banks went bankrupt, taking all their uncovered deposit money to money heaven, as there was no FDIC insurance; only 50% of all banks were even members of the Federal Reserve system; no-one wanted to borrow or lend in view of the massive economic contraction and the Hoover administration’s ill-conceived interventionism. We can also tentatively conclude that the economy’s pool of real funding was under great pressure, which was exacerbated as a result of the trade war triggered by the protectionist Smoot-Hawley tariff enacted in June 1930.

The collapse in international trade and investment meant that the pool of savings of the rest of the globe was no longer accessible. Bernanke’s dirty deed commenced with the purchase of $600 billion in mortgage-backed securities, using digital monetary credits conjured up from thin air. By March 2009, he’d run up the Fed’s balance sheet from $900 billion to $1.75 trillion. Then, over the next five years, he ballooned it out to $4.5 trillion. All the while, Bernanke flattered his ego with platitudes that he was preventing Great Depression II. Did it ever occur to him he was merely postponing a much-needed financial liquidation and rebalancing? Did he comprehend that his actions were distorting the economy further and setting it up for an even greater bust?

Perhaps Bernanke understood exactly what he was doing. As many readers have insisted over the years, the Fed works for the big banks and big money interests. Not Main Street. Regardless, the Fed recognizes that the optics of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet have become a bit skewed. The Great Recession officially ended over eight years ago. Why is the Fed’s balance sheet still extremely bloated?


US broad true money supply TMS-2 and assets held by the Federal Reserve

Read more …

A 6.5 year plan.

Janet Yellen’s 78-Month Plan for US National Monetary Policy (AM)

By our back of the napkin calculation, starting with October’s initial $10 billion reduction, then incrementally increasing the reduction by $10 billion each quarter until hitting $50 billion per month, and then contracting by $50 billion a month from there, it will take 78-months for the Fed to get its balance sheet back to $900 billion (i.e., where it was before Bernanke’s act of depravity). Thus, in roughly six and a half years, or in March 2024, monetary policy will be back to normal. If you recall, the Soviets operated under five-year plans for the development of the national economy of the USSR. Now, Yellen, an ardent central planner and control freak, has charted the Fed’s 78-month plan for the national monetary policy of the United States. Have you ever heard of something so ridiculous?

However, while the Soviets were zealous believers in their plans, we suspect the Fed will be as committed to the cause as a fat person to a New Year’s Day diet. In truth, the Fed will never, ever reduce its balance sheet to $900 billion. They won’t even get close; they are well past the point of no return. In the early 1930s the Soviet planners under Stalin had a great idea: why not fulfill the 5 year plan in four years? This showed that nothing was impossible for the “new Soviet man” and two plus two was henceforth five. As Marxists will explain, this is in perfect keeping with the rules of polylogism. Even the laws of mathematics must bend to proletarian logic. For starters, financial markets will not allow the Fed to execute its 78-month tightening program according to plan. At some point, credit markets will have a severe reaction.

This would ripple through stock markets and nearly all assets that are propped up by cheap credit. What’s more, if this doesn’t panic the Fed from its master 78-month monetary policy plan, the economy will. No doubt, at some point within the next 78-months the U.S. economy will shrink. What will the Fed do then? Will they continue to tighten in the face of a contracting economy? No way. They will ease, and then they will ease some more. They won’t stop until it is near impossible for an honest person to work hard, save their money, and pay their way in life. Many fine fellows were already pickled over by the Fed in the last easing cycle and lost their way. More are bound to follow.


Guess who’s lying in wait… it will be found out that a creature long held to be extinct was merely hibernating in its cave, sharpening its claws.

Read more …

China’s just shifting debt around, hoping it’ll end up under a carpet some place. But the zombies merely start infecting healthy businesses.

A Private Solution For China’s Zombie Company Problem? Unlikely (R.)

China’s latest push to revive its bloated state-owned sector is set to pick up pace this year, with bankers and investors expecting possible spin-offs and asset sales to follow a key Communist Party Congress in October. But the effort is likely to only involve a limited role for private money, even as Beijing has been promoting it as crucial for reforming state-owned enterprises (SOEs), according to people familiar with China’s plans. Beijing would likely lean on cash-rich SOEs like China Life Insurance and Citic Group to bail out the largest of the struggling companies, the people said. They cited China Life stepping in to help China Unicom raise $12 billion last month. A limited role for private capital would raise questions about the depth of any overhaul of the SOEs.

China hopes to speed up the reforms in order to meet ambitious economic growth targets and manage its corporate debt burden. “The current model allows winners, companies doing better, to partially own those doing worse,” said Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief Asia Pacific economist at Natixis. “In other words, this is a reshuffling of profit, loss among SOEs to a large extent.” China Life is in talks with China Three Gorges New Energy, a unit of the country’s top hydropower developer, according to sources familiar with the matter. China’s state-run companies dominate the country’s key industries, from banking to insurance, energy, and telecoms. They retain an edge over their private rivals in investing both locally and overseas, in part thanks to easier financing.

But they also produce lower returns than their private counterparts and account for the biggest proportion of the bad loans on the books of the country’s banks. The fund raising by Unicom, a state-owned telecoms group, had sparked hopes for the mixed ownership effort, as outlined in a 2015 government plan. The partial privatization of Unicom in August, involving 14 investors, including the tech giants Alibaba and Tencent, was welcomed by markets. But, as Beijing balanced the need for cash with the need for control, China Life ended up with a 10.6 percent stake in the company, nearly a third of the total sold. New investors, including China Life, were given three of 15 board seats.

Read more …

Feels half ass.

More Chinese Cities Impose Property Control Measures (R.)

A number of second-tier cities in China have rolled out property speculation curbs in an effort to cool home property sales, according to the official Xinhua News Agency and documents published by some municipal governments. The city of Shijiazhuang, southwest of Beijing, has banned investors from selling newly bought homes for up to five years, while Changsha in Hunan province banned homeowners from buying a second property for up to three years from the time of their first home purchase, Xinhua said. Changsha has also limited property sales to non local residents to one unit per person. The city of Chongqing, as well as Nancang in the southern province of Jiangxi, meanwhile, banned transactions of new and second-hand homes for two years after purchase.

The various measures took effect last week. Additionally, Xian in Shaanxi province has asked real estate developers from Monday to report home prices to local price-monitoring departments before sale and reiterated its pledge to crack down on property price manipulation and speculation. The latest property clampdowns follow moves in June by two Chinese cities, Xian in Shaanxi and Zhenzhou in Henan province, to cool their property markets. Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.2 percent in August from a month ago, data from the statistics bureau showed.

Read more …

I’m not convinced. Besides, Google and Facebook already are branches of the intelligence industry.

The Tide Is Starting To Turn Against The World’s Digital Giants (G.)

In his wonderful book The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began, the literary historian Stephen Greenblatt traces the origins of the Renaissance back to the rediscovery of a 2,000-year-old poem by Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things). The book is a riveting explanation of how a huge cultural shift can ultimately spring from faint stirrings in the undergrowth. Professor Greenblatt is probably not interested in the giant corporations that now dominate our world, but I am, and in the spirit of The Swerve I’ve been looking for signs that big changes might be on the way. You don’t have to dig very deep to find them. Some are pretty obvious. In 2014, for example, the European Court of Justice decided that EU citizens had the so-called “right to be forgotten” and that Google would have to comply if it wanted to continue to do business in Europe.

In May this year, the European commission fined Facebook €110m for “providing misleading information” about its takeover of WhatsApp. And in June the commission levied a whopping €2.4bn fine on Google for abusing its monopoly in search. Since the European commission is the only regulator in the world that seems to have the muscle and inclination to take on the internet giants, these developments were relatively predictable. What’s more interesting are various straws in the wind that show how digital behemoths are losing their shine. Many of these relate to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, and to the dawning of a realisation that Google and Facebook in particular may have played some role in these political earthquakes.

This was not because the leadership of the two companies actively sought these outcomes, but because people began to realise that the infrastructure they had built for their core business of extracting users’ data and selling it to companies for ad-targeting purposes could be – and was – “weaponised” by political actors in order to achieve political goals. Public concern about these discoveries was not exactly mollified by the responses of the companies’ bosses – which were variously dismissive, evasive (“it’s just the algorithms – nothing to do with us”), disingenuous, inept and politically naive. They had to be like that, because a franker response would reveal that taking responsibility for what happens on their platforms would vaporise the business model that has made them so rich and powerful.

Read more …

Why let Uber grow as big as it has and only then act?

Why Uber’s Fate Could Herald Backlash Against ‘Digital Disruptors’ (G.)

In the mind of many Uber supporters, the Transport for London (TfL) decision – coming a few days before Khan’s appearance at the Labour party conference – revealed an organisation in thrall to established labour interests. Sources told the Observer that the decision was communicated to Uber only two minutes before it was announced and that there had been only one meeting in the last year between the company and the senior team at TfL who insisted that the licence renewal could not be discussed. “TfL has once again caved into pressure from unions who never miss an opportunity to rip off passengers,” said Alex Wild, research director at the rightwing pressure group Taxpayers’ Alliance. The pushback against the laissez-faire philosophy of the US west coast’s tech community is being waged on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the US, calls to regulate technology companies have made strange bedfellows of Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren and ex-White House aide and Breitbart chief Steve Bannon. Last week the former chief strategist to Donald Trump reiterated his view that firms such as Facebook and Google should be regulated like “public utilities”. Meanwhile progressives such as Warren warn of the monopolistic behaviour of Google, Amazon, and Apple while pushing for a renewed debate over antitrust laws. “Silicon Valley is going from being heroes to villains,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a distinguished fellow and adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s been brewing for quite a while, but there’s a big shift happening.” But, still, the speed of this shift has surprised many. “In our wildest dreams we didn’t think TfL would refuse the licence,” said Maria Ludkin, legal director at the GMB union. “We thought they’d attach conditions to make sure Uber would improve passenger and driver safety.”

[..] Ironically, while many drivers like Abdul have leapt to Uber’s defence, it was the company’s treatment of them that drew attention to the aggressive corporate culture which brought about its downfall in the capital. Last October, following a case brought by the GMB that has wide-ranging implications for all companies in the gig economy, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber’s UK drivers should be classed as workers rather than as self-employed. “We’d had an epidemic of companies saying their people are self-employed when in fact, when you examine their rights and responsibilities, the way they’re acting each day, it’s pretty clear they’re either fully employed or are workers entitled to sickness pay, etc,” Ludkin said. “We brought the Uber case because we had so many drivers coming to us. We looked at their contracts and thought it was a ludicrous idea that 30,000 of them were self-employed, which was Uber’s position.”

Read more …

Let’s see what’s left of the famed French protests. Note: the US is not alone in contesting crowd sizes.

France’s Far-Left Leader Urges French ‘Resistance’ Against Macron (R.)

French far-left opposition party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon drew tens of thousands to a rally on Saturday against President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms, aiming to reinforce his credentials as Macron’s strongest political opponent. Trade union protests against Macron’s plan to make hiring and firing easier and give companies more power over working conditions seem to be losing steam, but Melenchon said his “France Unbowed” party was calling on unions to join them and together “keep up the fight”. “The battle is not over, it is only starting,” Melenchon told the crowd gathered on the Place de la Republique where the rally against what Melenchon has called “a social coup d‘etat” ended.

In a warning to Macron, who has said he will not bow to street pressure, Melenchon said: “It is the street that defeated the kings, it is the street that defeated the Nazis,” while the crowd chanted “Resistance! Resistance!” It remains to be seen whether Melenchon and his party have the capacity to mobilize the kind of street resistance which forced the last two presidents to dilute their own attempts to loosen the labor code. Melenchon tweeted that over 150,000 demonstrators had turned up while police put the number at 30,000. A campaign rally in March, weeks before the presidential election, drew some 130,000 people, party officials had said.

Read more …

Pitting police forces against each other is a recipe for trouble. Peaceful resistance is teh way to go for Catalonia. But…

Spain Rebuffed in Boosting Control Over Catalonia’s Police (BBG)

Police in Spain’s rebel region of Catalonia rejected giving more control to the central government in defiance of authorities in Madrid who are trying to suppress an independence referendum on Oct. 1. The SAP union, the largest trade group for the 17,000-member Mossos d’Esquadra regional force, said it would resist hours after prosecutors Saturday ordered that it accept central-government coordination. The rejection echoed comments by Catalan separatist authorities. “We don’t accept this interference of the state, jumping over all existing coordination mechanisms,” the region’s Interior Department chief Joaquim Forn said in brief televised comments. “The Mossos won’t renounce exercising their functions in loyalty to the Catalan people.”

The disobedience may fuel speculation the Mossos aren’t committed to work with the national Civil Guard in Spain’s largest regional economy. The standoff came a day after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government acknowledged it’s sending more reinforcements to help control street demonstrations and carry out a separate court order to halt the vote. Officials in Madrid have quietly rented cruise ships including the Rhapsody and moored them in Catalan ports as temporary housing for riot police and other security officials being sent to the region in what El Correo newspaper said may ultimately exceed the number of Mossos by the referendum date.

Read more …

“100% of the system run by the Puerto Rico Power Authority is offline”. How long till people will start dying in hospitals?

No Storm Ever Destroyed a Grid Like Maria Ruined Puerto Rico’s (BBG)

You don’t even have to leave the airport to see that Hurricane Maria has laid waste to Puerto Rico’s power grid. On Friday, the San Juan airport was abandoned. No electricity meant no air conditioning, and no air conditioning meant hot and muggy air wafting through the terminals. Ceilings were leaking. Floors were wet. Only the military, relying on its own sight and radar systems, was landing planes. The airport is one of the first places crews will restore power – whenever they can get to it. Hundreds are still waiting for the all-clear to move in and start the arduous task of resurrecting Puerto Rico’s grid. The devastation that Maria exacted on Puerto Rico’s aging and grossly neglected electricity system when it slammed ashore as a Category 4 storm two days ago is unprecedented – not just for the island but for all of the U.S.

100% of the system run by the Puerto Rico Power Authority is offline, because Maria damaged every part of it. The territory is facing weeks, if not months, without service as utility workers repair power plants and lines that were already falling apart. “I have seen a lot damage in the 32 years that I have been in this business, and from this particular perspective, it’s about as large a scale damage as I have ever seen,” said Wendul G. Hagler II, a brigadier general in the National Guard, which is assisting in the response. No federal agency dared on Friday to estimate how long it’ll take to re-energize Puerto Rico. If it’s any indication of how far they’ve gotten, the island’s power authority known as Prepa is only now starting to assess the damage.

“We are only a couple of days in from the storm – there could be lots of issues and confusion at the beginning of something like this,” said Kenneth Buell, a director at the U.S. Energy Department who is helping lead the federal response in Puerto Rico. “We are in the phase where we have people queued up and lining up resources.” What Buell does know is Puerto Rico’s power plants seem inexplicably clustered along the island’s south coast, a hard-to-reach region that was left completely exposed to all of Maria’s wrath. A chain of high-voltage lines thrown across the island’s mountainous middle connect those plants to the cities in the north.

Puerto Rico’s rich hydropower resources have also taken a hit. On Friday, the National Weather Service pleaded for people to evacuate an area in the northwest corner of the island after a dam burst. “All areas surrounding the Guajataca River should evacuate NOW. Their lives are in DANGER!,” the service said on Twitter. And that’s not to mention the state of Puerto Rico’s grid before the storm. Government-owned Prepa, operating under court protection from creditors, has more than $8 billion in debt but little to show for it. Even before the storm, outages were common, and the median plant age is 44 years, more than twice the industry average.

Read more …