Oct 132022
 
 October 13, 2022  Posted by at 8:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  60 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Sunken lane 1884

 

Putin ‘Totally Miscalculated’ Russia’s Ability To Occupy Ukraine – Biden (G.)
Some of Us Don’t Think the Russian Invasion Was “Aggression” (Mike Whitney)
NATO Planned A Pre-emptive Strike On Russia (Milacic)
Europe: Lack Of Russian Oil Could Spark ‘Worst Energy Crisis In Decades’ (ZH)
Energy Crisis In Europe Will Last For Years – Hungary (RT)
Orbán: With Merkel, We Wouldn’t Have A War (EURActiv)
Putin Says Russia Ready To Send Natural Gas To Europe Via Nord Stream 2 (OP)
Leak Found In Key Russian Oil Pipeline To Germany – Polish Operator (RT)
Russia Names Chief Suspect In Crimea Bridge Attack (RT)
Putin Ponders EU’s Energy Future (RT)
American Gas ‘Inferior’ To Russia’s – Putin (RT)
1962: Cool Heads Prevented A Soviet-US Naval Encounter Sparking A Nuclear War (RT)
Saudi Arabia Unveils Biden Oil Demand (RT)
NATO Eyes 10-Year Plan For Ukraine – Politico (RT)
$1m Offer To Steele Shows FBI Misled Congress On Russia Probe: Kash Patel (JTN)
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Turns Negative Within Months (ET)
Europe’s Pension Funds Are Gambling With Food Prices (EUO)
‘They Are Stealing Russia’ (Adam Curtis)

 

 

 

 

Kolakusic

 

 

 

 

Stop the Spread

Tulsi Joe Rogan

 

 

Tell me again: how did we get here?

 

 

 

 

Don’t know where Biden’s handlers get this stuff, but it’s nonsense. Or do they just want to make Putin look as stupid as Biden? Russia knew exactly what was going on nextdoor. On the same page as this article, the Guardian has a link to:

“Would Lukashenko really throw Belarus into a war Russia is losing?”

Says it all. Sad thing is, their readers believe this crap.

Putin ‘Totally Miscalculated’ Russia’s Ability To Occupy Ukraine – Biden (G.)

Joe Biden has said he believes Vladimir Putin is a “rational actor” who badly misjudged his prospects of occupying Ukraine, but does not believe he would resort to using a tactical nuclear weapon. The US president told CNN on Tuesday that he believed his Russian counterpart had underestimated the ferocity of Ukrainian defiance in the face of invasion. “I think … he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv, and that where he was going to be welcomed, and I think he just totally miscalculated,” Biden said. “I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly.” When asked by interviewer Jake Tapper how realistic he believed it would be for Putin to use a tactical nuclear weapon, Biden responded: “Well, I don’t think he will.”


Biden’s comments came as Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, accused Russia of launching a “second wave of terrorist attacks” in the wake of the blast that engulfed Crimea’s Kerch bridge. Zelenskiy said in a video address that 20 of 28 missiles launched by Russia on Tuesday were shot down, as well as “most” of the 15 combat drones deployed. In smaller gains in announced by Ukraine’s Operational Command early on Wednesday, the army destroyed Russian equipment and an ammunition depot along Ukraine’s southern line. At least 23 Russian soldiers were killed, it said. Earlier, Zelesnkiy asked G7 leaders for more air defence systems and a monitoring mission on the Belarusian border, as Russia continued to attack key infrastructure in Ukraine with fresh missile strikes.

Biden 2016

Read more …

“They’re openly arming, training, funding, and directing Ukrainian troops to prosecute a war aimed at killing Russian soldiers and removing Putin from power.”

Some of Us Don’t Think the Russian Invasion Was “Aggression” (Mike Whitney)

Imagine if the Mexican army started bombarding American ex-pats living in Mexico with heavy artillery-rounds killing thousands and leaving thousands more wounded. What do you think Joe Biden would do? Would he brush it off like a big nothingburger and move on or would he threaten the Mexican government with a military invasion that would obliterate the Mexican Army, level their biggest cities, and send the government running for cover? Which of these two options do you think Biden would choose? There’s no doubt what Biden would do nor is there any question what the 45 presidents who preceded him would do. No US leader would ever stand by and do nothing while thousands of Americans were savagely slaughtered by a foreign government. That just wouldn’t happen. They’d all respond quickly and forcefully.

But if that’s true, then why isn’t the same standard applied to Russia? Isn’t the situation in Ukraine nearly identical? It is nearly identical, only the situation in Ukraine is worse, much worse. And if we stretch our analogy a bit, you’ll see why: Let’s say, the US Intelligence agencies discovered that the Mexican government was not acting alone, but was being directed to kill and maim American ex-pats on orders from the Chinese Communist government in Beijing. Can you imagine that? And the reason the Chinese government wants to kill Americans in Mexico is because they want to lure the US into a long and costly war that will “weaken” the US and pave way for its ultimate splintering into many pieces that China can control and exploit. Does any of this sound familiar? (Check out the Rand Strategy for weakening Russia here)

So, let’s say, the Chinese are actually the driving force behind the war in Mexico. Let’s say, they toppled the Mexican government years earlier and installed their own puppet regime to do their bidding. Then they armed and trained vast numbers of troops to fight the Americans. They supplied these warriors with cutting-edge weapons and technology, logistical support, satellite and communications assistance, tanks, armored vehicles, anti-ship missiles, and state-of-the-art artillery units all of which were provided with one goal in mind; to crush America in a proxy war that was concocted, controlled and micro-managed from the Chinese Capital of Beijing. Is such a scenario possible?

It is possible, in fact, this very same scenario is playing out right now in the Ukraine, only the perpetrator of the hostilities is the United States not China, and the target of this malign strategy is Russia not the US. Surprisingly, the Biden administration isn’t even trying to hide what they’re up-to anymore. They’re openly arming, training, funding, and directing Ukrainian troops to prosecute a war aimed at killing Russian soldiers and removing Putin from power. That’s the objective and everyone knows it.

Read more …

“..the Third World War was prevented only thanks to the Russian special operation in Ukraine.”

NATO Planned A Pre-emptive Strike On Russia (Milacic)

One of the largest French maritime exercises in the Mediterranean, POLARIS 21 (Préparation Opérationnelle en Lutte Aéromaritime, Résilience, Innovation et Supériorité), took place from November 18 to December 3, 2021 in the area west of the island of Corsica, between France and Spain. The exercise also included a segment on the Atlantic coast of mainland France. POLARIS 21 was set up entirely in the context of operational preparation on several fronts and had a high combat intensity, which was fully in line with the strategic vision of the Chief of the Armed Forces and the Mercator Acceleration 21 plan of the Chief of Staff of the Admiral of the French navy Pierre Vandier. In addition to naval warfare, the exercise also included the participation of many combat aircraft and surface-to-air defense.

[..] journalists came into possession of data related to the exercise POLARIS 2021. The data speak clearly about the advance preparation of the NATO to enter into an armed conflict with the Russian Federation in the event of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. According to the legend of the maneuvers, it was determined that in response to the alleged Russian intervention, the forces of the NATO coalition would form and send an aircraft carrier strike group led by the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the combat area in order to “stop the invasion and preserve the sovereignty of Ukraine.” The context and scenario of the “exercise“ (the consonance of the names of countries, settlements, the names of political figures, the specifics of maneuvers, etc.) became for the Russian Federation a signal of the real preparation of NATO to the start of hostilities against Russia, as it happened similarly to the operation of the United Defender alliance grouping of forces before the intervention in Libya (the exercises Baltops-2010 and Frisian Flag-2010), when, after the maneuvers at the sea ranges, a full-scale operation followed to overthrow of the legitimate government of Muammar Gaddafi.


POLARIS 2021 was also a demonstration of NATO support to Kyiv in the event of an armed conflict with Russia and was supposed to push Kyiv to start hostilities with the Russian Federation, after which the intervention of the NATO was supposed. In principle, NATO was looking for an excuse to attack Russia, with the factor of surprise, so that Russia would not be ready for an adequate response. In this situation, the preventive start of the Special Military Operation of the RF Armed Forces in Ukraine became the only possible response to the inevitable aggression of the Kyiv regime and the NATO. There is no doubt that thanks to the Russian special operation in Ukraine and the fact that Russia launched a preventive strike, it was NATO that was surprised but also scared by the Russian determination to defend its interests. It is precisely this fact that is responsible for why there was not and will not be conflict between Russia and NATO, that is, the Third World War was prevented only thanks to the Russian special operation in Ukraine.

Read more …

“A European ban on most crude imports from Russia will come into effect in December..”

Europe: Lack Of Russian Oil Could Spark ‘Worst Energy Crisis In Decades’ (ZH)

A European ban on most crude imports from Russia will come into effect in December. For EU leaders, the next task at hand has been finding new sources of crude oil ahead of what could be a very dark and cold winter. The move by EU countries to endlessly sanction Russia for President Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine by halting crude oil imports later this year is an attempt to “make the Kremlin pay” for the invasion, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently said. Though it’s only backfired as the Kremlin’s war chest has swelled by tens of billions of dollars as energy prices hyperinflate and new buyers are found in Asia. EU leaders have stepped up efforts to transition from Russian energy to other energy-rich countries, though they might find it challenging to increase energy imports due to limited spare capacity worldwide.

Monica Malik, the chief economist at the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told the audience at an energy security panel hosted by the Institute of International Finance in Washington, DC, on Monday that the Gulf states, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, won’t be able to increase production to replace Russian oil in Europe. After all, the world is moving into a much tighter oil market for the remainder of the year after OPEC+ cuts. This could unintentionally spur a supercycle in pricing as brent crude inches closer to $100 a barrel. So where will Europe source crude this winter if spare capacity worldwide is limited? Head of European Oil for Morgan Stanley Martijn Rats wrote in a recent note:

“The oil market is where it is because this question is so hard to answer. If we knew, we could all breathe a little easier.” Without spare capacity — EU leaders will find it challenging to source crude around the world because production cannot be quickly ramped up. Helima Croft, managing director at RBC Capital Markets LLC, warned, “I think we are facing the worst energy crisis in decades.”= Croft fears a populist backlash in Europe as sanctions against Russia has sparked a cost-of-living crisis. This could force some EU governments to focus on affordability. She said the probability of the US making deals with Venezuela or Iran to offset the energy crunch is unlikely. One top EU diplomat admitted: “Our prosperity has been based on cheap energy coming from Russia.”

Read more …

“..the sanctions “didn’t fulfill the hopes that were pinned on them,” while Europe is “slowly bleeding.”

Energy Crisis In Europe Will Last For Years – Hungary (RT)

The ongoing energy crisis in Europe is set to be a long one and will extend to 2023 and 2024, and possibly beyond, warned Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, following a meeting of EU energy ministers on Wednesday. “We are now seeing the first global energy crisis in history, and it is long-term,” proclaimed Szijjarto, explaining that the crisis is being fueled by underlying “structural geopolitical reasons tied to security,” which require “long-term solutions.” The diplomat noted that “international institutions which still retain a small amount of common sense” also warn that this is a long-term crisis and a problem which will exist “not just this winter, but the next one and the one after that as well.”

Szijjarto also mentioned that Hungary’s own energy supply has been secured, after the country reached an agreement with Russia and has been receiving gas through the TurkStream pipeline without interruption. “That is why the Hungarian government pays special attention to ensuring the physical and legal functioning of the Turkish Stream, as this is a fundamental interest of our national security,” he said, noting that Hungarian gas storage facilities are filled at 48.2% of annual consumption, while the average fill level for Europe is currently at 26.9%.

Hungary receives around 80% of its gas from Russia’s gas giant Gazprom. While Russia has cut off gas supplies to a number of countries, Hungary signed a deal with Moscow in late August for additional deliveries on top of already-agreed volumes. Hungarian President Viktor Orban had previously accused the EU leadership of sparking the ongoing energy crisis by introducing “counterproductive” sanctions on Russian energy over Moscow’s ongoing military campaign in Ukraine. Budapest has repeatedly called for “the failed policy of Brussels” to be changed, noting that the sanctions “didn’t fulfill the hopes that were pinned on them,” while Europe is “slowly bleeding.”

Read more …

Probably true.

Orbán: With Merkel, We Wouldn’t Have A War (EURActiv)

Russia’s war on Ukraine would not have happened if former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was still in office, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said during a visit to Berlin, where he met with both Merkel and current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.When Merkel announced that she would retire from politics, Orbán published a letter on his website saying the then-German Chancellor “understood us” and “we understood her”. Germany is Hungary’s main trading partner, accounting for approximately 27% of trade volume, while some 3,000 German companies are currently present in Hungary.

Merkel’s reaction to the 2014 crisis triggered by Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea was “a master stroke,” Orbán told a public event in Berlin on Tuesday (11 October), explaining that a war could have broken out at the time but was avoided due to the German chancellor’s actions.“Thank you, Angela!” he added. Asked whether this means the current war would have been prevented if the conservative ex-chancellor was still in office, Orbán said: “for certain.” Merkel, meanwhile, has been criticised since the onset of the Ukraine war for failing to reduce energy dependency from Russia and maintaining close economic ties with Moscow during her 16-year rule.

Nord Stream 2 pipeline, for many, Europe’s Achilles’ Heel, was a thorny issue during Merkel’s mandate. The pipeline, which aimed to carry 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to Germany, was backed by Merkel but is now frozen due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Back then, eastern European countries opposed the project, but Hungary did not voice any significant opposition.

Read more …

It will take a rebellion against US and NATO. But all these countries are members of NATO.

Putin Says Russia Ready To Send Natural Gas To Europe Via Nord Stream 2 (OP)

Russia is ready to supply gas to Europe on the one undamaged line on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if the EU wants to start the route, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an energy forum in Russia on Wednesday. Russia is ready to deliver additional volumes of natural gas to Europe this winter, but the ball is in the EU’s court to decide, Putin said, as carried by the Russian news agency Interfax. Putin also said that repairing the Nord Stream 1 and 2 lines that were found to have been sabotaged would only make sense if they will be used later, Interfax quoted the Russian president as saying. Nord Stream 2 was never put into operation after Germany axed the certification process following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia, for its part, shut down Nord Stream 1 indefinitely in early September, claiming an inability to repair gas turbines because of the Western sanctions. Before the Nord Stream 1 and 2 leaks were detected at the end of September, Putin said that Russia had nothing to do with Europe’s energy crisis and that if Europe wanted more gas, it just had to “push the button” on Nord Stream 2 and “everything will get going,” that is, lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2. A few days later, Stephan Weil, Minister-President of the northwestern German state of Lower Saxony, said that Germany could never rely on Russia for energy supply again, and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project would never go ahead.

Another few days later, the suspected sabotage on Nord Stream 1 and 2 lines in Swedish and Danish territorial waters in the Baltic Sea put Europe on heightened alert over the security of its energy infrastructure. Norway posted soldiers from its Home Guard to protect energy infrastructure as Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, and its Scandinavian neighbors are increasing security following the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines.

Read more …

This pipeline is from the 1960s. More than 50 years older than Nordstream. Not the same quality.

Leak Found In Key Russian Oil Pipeline To Germany – Polish Operator (RT)

Polish operator PERN has said it’s discovered a leak on the Druzhba pipeline, which supplies Russian oil to Germany. The rupture was detected late on Tuesday by automated systems on one of the two strings of the pipeline, some 70 kilometers from the town of Plock in central Poland, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The damaged half was switched off immediately, and the other string continues to operate as normal, the company said. “At this point, the causes of the incident are not known,” PERN said, adding that its staff and firefighters were deployed to the site to assess the situation and secure the area.


The Druzhba pipeline is one of the largest oil transport networks in the world, spanning some 4,000km and bringing oil from Russia to Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. The leak on the Druzhba pipeline follows explosions that were detected in late September on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, connecting Russia to the EU via Germany. The incident is widely considered to be the result of sabotage.

Read more …

“The list of people in custody includes five Russians..”

Russia Names Chief Suspect In Crimea Bridge Attack (RT)

Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, has announced arrests over the attack on the Crimean Bridge. It has also revealed details of the alleged Ukrainian terrorist plot, including its mastermind.The agency accused the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry of being behind the explosion, which damaged the strategic structure last Saturday. It claimed that Commander, Kirill Budanov, was personally responsible for the operation. Russia has identified 12 individuals as suspected accomplices in the plot and has arrested eight of them, the FSB said. The list of people in custody includes five Russians and three foreigners, who have citizenship of Ukraine and Armenia.


The FSB claimed that the deadly cargo came from the Ukrainian city of Odessa. The explosives were disguised as rolls with plastic construction film, which were shipped on pallets and weighed 22,770 kg, the statement said.Investigators said the shipment left Odessa in August and went through Ruse, Bulgaria, to Poti in Georgia. It was then moved to Armenia, a country which has a free trade agreement and a relaxed customs regime with Russia. It was then imported into Russia via Georgia on October 4, according to the timeline. The transportation paperwork identified a non-existent firm in Crimea as the final recipient, according to the Russian agency. But the set of documents was only the latest of several used to disguise the movement of the cargo, it added.

Read more …

Germany will have to stand up for itself.

Putin Ponders EU’s Energy Future (RT)

Russia could move the transit volumes lost through the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines to the Black Sea region, by establishing a ‘gas hub’ in Türkiye for EU supplies, President Vladimir Putin has said. He pointed out it was possible to repair the damaged pipelines but that Russia and the EU should decide their fate.“We could … thus make the main routes for the supply of our fuel, our natural gas to Europe through Türkiye, creating the largest gas hub for Europe in Türkiye,” Putin said, during an address on Wednesday to the Moscow Energy Week conference. “That is, of course, if our partners are interested in this. And economic feasibility also matters, of course.”

According to the president, Russian gas could still be supplied to the EU via one remaining part of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that remains intact, but the ball was now in the EU’s court on whether it wanted this to happen. Russia could open the gas taps on that line if the bloc wanted it to, Putin stressed. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines abruptly lost pressure last month, following a series of powerful underwater explosions off the Danish island of Bornholm. The incident caused massive gas leaks, with large volumes entering the sea. The ruptures are widely considered to be the result of sabotage by an unknown party. The routes were designed to carry Russian natural gas directly to Germany, bypassing transit states, including Ukraine and Poland.

Moscow has called the incident a terrorist attack and said the US, a long-time critic of Germany’s reliance on Russian energy, stood to benefit most from the disabling of the routes, both politically and economically. Washington has denied any involvement. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the incident as a “tremendous opportunity” for Europe “to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy.” Neither pipeline was operational at the time of the breach. Berlin refused to certify the newer Nord Stream 2 after its completion last year, and Russia halted supplies via the older Nord Stream 1 in late August, citing sanctions-related maintenance problems.

Read more …

Inferior not in quality, but in competitiveness.

“..the US “sells its liquefied natural gas at four times the price that it sets for its own industrialists..”

American Gas ‘Inferior’ To Russia’s – Putin (RT)

The US has ample opportunity to supply its shale gas to the EU now that Russia’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline has been made inoperable, but this gas is “inferior” to Russian natural gas supplies, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday. “It is quite clear who the beneficiaries [of the Nord Stream incident] are… the US, of course, which can now supply energy resources at high prices… It is now possible for them to force large liquefied natural gas volumes on European countries, which are clearly inferior in competitiveness to Russian pipeline gas,” the President said at the Russian Energy Week forum. He explained that the prices on US-produced LNG are much higher than those on Russian pipeline gas, “everyone was well aware of this before, and now is even more so,” and added that there are additional risks regarding US deliveries.

“The risks lie in the fact that all this supply is very unstable and can ‘float away’ to other regions,” Putin said, adding that US tankers carrying LNG to Europe may divert from Europe if sellers will be offered a higher price elsewhere. Putin’s words echo the statements made by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire earlier this week. Speaking at the National Assembly, he said that it is unacceptable that the US “sells its liquefied natural gas at four times the price that it sets for its own industrialists” and called for a “more balanced economic relationship on the energy issue” to be established between Brussels and Washington.

Russia used to cover over 40% of the EU’s gas needs prior to the start of the military operation in Ukraine and ensuing sanctions. Supplies dropped dramatically this year, especially after one of the major routes for gas deliveries was severed due to the under-investigation explosions that damaged Russia’s Nord Stream pipelines last month. The US, meanwhile, ramped up its supply of LNG to Europe over the past months, up to a point where it now accounts for nearly half of the bloc’s LNG imports, nearly twice the share recorded in 2021.

Read more …

Do such heads still exist in the west?

1962: Cool Heads Prevented A Soviet-US Naval Encounter Sparking A Nuclear War (RT)

On October 1, 1962, four Soviet submarines, each equipped with nuclear-armed torpedoes, departed Kola Bay in the Barents Sea en route to Cuba. The mini-fleet was intended to secretly bolster a vast Soviet military presence on and around the island and protect the construction of defensive missile sites requested by Havana in the wake of the CIA’s disastrous Bay of Pigs operation, in which Washington-backed rebel forces attempted to storm Havana and overthrow the popular Communist government of Fidel Castro. According to the private account of Vasily Arkhipov, the vice-admiral of submarine B-59, now published for the first time in commemoration of the event by the US National Security Archive, the weather during the transit was “generally conducive to keeping secrecy” over the long journey – “stormy weather, low clouds, low visibility, snow squalls, rain.”

Along the way, they detected “an elevated level of activity of anti-submarine aircraft radiolocation stations working in a short-interval regime,” but the covert convoy went unnoticed until October 18, when Soviet intelligence “intercepted a message from a French radio station informing some correspondents that Soviet submarines [had] entered the Atlantic and were now traveling to the American shores.” “How they discovered the submarine is hard to say…However, one can say with high confidence that the submarine was not discovered with aircraft radar,” Arkhipov claims. “[Soviet] commanders…were ordered to be on full alert and to continue to navigate in secret,” as a result, Arkipov recalled.


On October 24, the Soviet submarines arrived at their “designated areas” near Cuba, the very same day that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev told Washington’s high representative in Moscow that if US ships began searching Soviet merchant ships on the high seas, it would be considered piracy and he would give orders to Soviet submarines to destroy the harassing American vessels. It was a hugely tense situation and one that set the scene for what happened three days later, when a B-59 surfaced in order to recharge its batteries. According to the private account of Arkhipov, upon emerging it discovered: “An aircraft carrier, nine destroyers, four Neptune airplanes and three Trekkers, encircled by three concentric circles of coast guard forces…overflights by planes just 20-30 meters above the submarine’s conning tower, use of powerful searchlights, fire from automatic cannons (over 300 shells), dropping depth charges, cutting in front of the 5 submarine by destroyers at a dangerously [small] distance, targeting guns at the submarine, yelling from loudspeakers to stop engines, etc.”

Read more …

Output cut only after the midterms.

Saudi Arabia Unveils Biden Oil Demand (RT)

Saudi Arabia has said that OPEC’s decision to cut oil production was based solely on economic considerations, not politics, and that the organization resisted pressure from the United States to put off the move for several weeks.The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday pushing back on allegations that the oil cut was intended to benefit Russia, insisting it is not “taking sides in international conflicts” or making “politically motivated” decisions.“These outcomes are based purely on economic considerations that take into account maintaining balance of supply and demand in the oil markets, as well as aim to limit volatility that does not serve the interests of consumers and producers, as has been always the case within OPEC +,” the ministry said, adding that the cut was approved “unanimously by all member states” of the organization.

While Washington suggested “postponing the OPEC+ decision for a month,” the Foreign Ministry said US officials were informed such a delay “would have had negative economic consequences.” The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the request from the United States, noting that Riyadh considered the idea a “political gambit by the [Joe] Biden administration to avoid bad news ahead of the US midterm elections.”However, a National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, denied that characterization, telling the outlet that US officials “questioned a Saudi analysis that the price of oil was about to plunge and urged them to wait and see how the market reacted.”

“It’s categorically false to connect this to US elections,” Watson said. “It’s about the impact of this shortsighted decision to the global economy.” President Biden responded harshly to the production cut, suggesting the move would help Moscow reap higher prices for its energy exports as Western nations seek to choke off the Russian economy in retaliation for the war in Ukraine. Biden also vowed “consequences” for Saudi Arabia, and though he did not elaborate what that could mean, top NSC spokesman John Kirby later told reporters that the White House would review the US-Saudi relationship to ensure “it is serving our national security interests.”


Saudi Arabia confirms Biden attempted to coerce them to postpone oil cuts until after the midterms

Read more …

Treating Ukraine as de facto NATO member. Not wise.

NATO Eyes 10-Year Plan For Ukraine – Politico (RT)

The NATO alliance will soon launch a scheme to rebuild Ukraine’s defense industry over the next decade, hoping to phase out Soviet-era weapons in favor of Western gear as Washington and its allies pledge new rounds of military aid to Kiev. Officials from NATO and Ukraine are set to meet next week to discuss a “long-term commitment” to revitalize Kiev’s military-industrial complex following months of fighting with Russia, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing a senior NATO official. “We will be looking at defense planning requirements to get Ukraine fully interoperable with NATO,” the unnamed official said. “It’s about shifting away from Soviet equipment … to NATO-compatible Western equipment.” Though the NATO staffer offered few details about the rebuilding effort, they said it would focus on Ukraine’s longer-term needs and likely involve several international partners.

The initiative will be separate from another NATO project discussed by acquisition officials earlier this month, which also seeks to bolster Ukraine’s defense sector while replenishing Western stockpiles after heavy arms shipments to Kiev. Earlier on Wednesday, the so-called ‘Ukraine Defense Contact Group’ met to discuss continued military support, with Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov stating that air defense systems are his country’s “top priority.” US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said Washington and its allies would aim to provide such weapons, calling on members of the contact group to “chip in and help [Ukraine] rebuild and sustain an integrated air and missile defense system, specifically old systems.”

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren, meanwhile, vowed to send additional anti-aircraft missiles during Wednesday’s meeting, saying the “only result [Russia] is achieving with [continued attacks on Ukraine] is that we are going to deliver even more.” Those pledges came soon after Germany delivered the first of four IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine, while France, the United States and Britain have each announced new weapons transfers of their own, including French truck-mounted howitzers, US-made NASAMS air defense systems and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles from the UK.

Maersheimer Cohen

Read more …

‘Nobody is going to catch us. We are going to break a constitutional republic’s 250-year tradition because we don’t like the guy in the White House, and we’re going to manufacture a crime on it.'”

$1m Offer To Steele Shows FBI Misled Congress On Russia Probe: Kash Patel (JTN)

Following the bombshell revelation from the trial of Igor Danchenko that the FBI offered Christopher Steele $1 million to corroborate his dossier, former House Intelligence Committee investigator Kash Patel said this proves the bureau knew it hadn’t been able to verify the Trump-Russia collusion narrative and misled Congress. Danchenko, the primary source for the Steele dossier, is charged with five counts of lying to the FBI. As the prosecution opened its case against Danchenko Tuesday, Special Counsel John Durham questioned his first witness, FBI supervisory intelligence analyst Brian Auten. Auten testified that in early October 2016, the FBI offered Steele “up to $1 million” to provide corroborating evidence for his dossier, but the former British spy didn’t provide any such information to the bureau.

As a result, Steele wasn’t given the money because he was unable to “prove the allegations.” An application the FBI submitted to a FISA court on Oct. 21, 2016 for a warrant to initiate electronic surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page included uncorroborated information from the dossier. Auten testified that before the FBI received the dossier, it didn’t have enough evidence to obtain a FISA warrant. Auten also said the FBI contacted other intelligence agencies regarding the specific allegations in the dossier, but none were able to corroborate them. Durham asked Auten, “On October 21, 2016 did you have any information to corroborate that information?” “No,” Auten replied. Patel was asked about the purported reward offer on the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show Tuesday.

The House Intelligence panel chaired by then-Rep. Devin Nunes sent 17 congressional subpoenas “for information specifically related to payments and confidential human sources,” he said, “were denied this information, and we learn it four years after our investigation.” “That means somebody obstructed a congressional investigation with congressional subpoenas,” said Patel, a former national security prosecutor. This exposes “the depths that [the FBI] would go to to falsely corroborate the Steele dossier, which … shows they didn’t have it verified, which we’ve said the whole time,” Patel added. “And more importantly,” he continued, “they were willing to spend a million taxpayer dollars on shoveling political hot garbage through the federal court system just to surveil a political target that would have been totally baseless — it was baseless then.”

Referring to a group of senior FBI leaders during the James Comey era as “government gangsters,” Patel said “this bombshell” shows that they “were so arrogant, that they said, ‘Nobody is going to catch us. We are going to break a constitutional republic’s 250-year tradition because we don’t like the guy in the White House, and we’re going to manufacture a crime on it.'” Retired FBI supervisory special agent Bassem Youssef, one of the bureau’s most famous whistleblowers, said Tuesday’s revelation at the trial was unlike anything he ever saw in his three-decade FBI career.”Never in my entire career have I heard of such an offer to pay a source to corroborate their own information,” Youssef told Just the News. “The FBI queries other sources in order to validate the original source of information. It is unheard of that the FBI would offer to pay Steele $1 million to corroborate his own information.

Read more …

Just say no.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Turns Negative Within Months (ET)

The effectiveness of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine against infection turns negative over time, according to a new study that was funded by the vaccine maker. The effectiveness of three doses—a primary series and a booster—against infection remained above 50 percent after 150 days against BA.1, a subvariant of the Omicron virus variant, researchers estimated. However, against more recent strains, including the currently dominant BA.5, the effectiveness turned negative. Against BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5, the effectiveness went negative after 150 days; against BA.1.12.1, the effectiveness turned negative after 91 days. Negative effectiveness means that a vaccinated person is more likely to contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, than an unvaccinated person.

Researchers with Moderna and Kaiser Permanente, which carried out the study, also found that people who received three Moderna doses were more likely to become infected when compared to people who received just two doses. Researchers said that they attempted to reduce potential bias by taking actions such as adjusting for comorbidities, but that some confounding may remain. They said that some of the negative effectiveness estimates “could be due to differential risk behaviors among vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals when protection from antibodies becomes minimal.” Hung Fu Tseng, a researcher with Kaiser Permanente Southern California and the study’s corresponding author, declined to provide evidence for the statement or otherwise comment on the negative effectiveness estimates.

A slew of other studies and analyses have found that the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines turns negative over time, including a study that estimated the protection for children aged 5 to 11 turned negative after 18 or 20 weeks, and an analysis of data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) testing program that estimated the shielding turned negative around six months. Swedish researchers in September concluded that effectiveness turned negative within several months.

Read more …

“..these funds are funded by workers and yet they are “engaging in actions which destroy the living standards of those workers..”

Europe’s Pension Funds Are Gambling With Food Prices (EUO)

Some of Europe’s largest pension funds are investing billions of euros in volatile commodity markets, risking the hard-earned income of millions of workers while fuelling a global hunger crisis caused in part by such investments, a new investigation has found. The findings also raise questions over whether the European Union’s continued drive to deregulate its financial markets will worsen the situation in the future. The rules governing the bloc’s capital markets are currently under review. Soaring prices of key commodities such as food and energy have triggered a cost of living crisis around the world, including in Europe. The United Nations said the increases may have also pushed an estimated 71 million people in developing nations into poverty.

Lighthouse Reports, a European non-profit newsroom, analysed the accounts of more than 70 major pension funds in Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Finland and Denmark. While some funds explicitly forbid speculating in commodities, especially in food, 15 are currently investing in them, with the three biggest buyers the Netherlands, UK and Denmark held a total of €37.6bn between them at the end of 2021. According to Jayati Ghosh, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the findings show that pension funds are amongst the financial institutions that have aggravated the problem of investor speculation driving food prices. This is “particularly egregious” because these funds are funded by workers and yet they are “engaging in actions which destroy the living standards of those workers”, she said.

Most funds do not disaggregate between hard commodities, such as gold and oil, and soft commodities, such as agriculture and livestock, but experts say the ultimate impact — rising commodity prices — is likely to be the same. “Whether it is in food or energy, both are equivalently terrible from the point of view of workers and developing countries because a fuel price increase translates into prices of all other prices going up,” says Ghosh. In addition, commodity markets are risky to invest in, said Ann Pettifor, one of the few economists who predicted the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. “I don’t want my pension fund to go near something as volatile as a commodity market, basically, especially the ones in energy and in food,” she said.

Read more …

When Adam Curtis makes a film (series), you watch. When Adam Curtis writes, you read.

“..on how hyper-capitalism wrecked a nation – and why Liz Truss must take heed..”

In the 1990’s, Russia male life expectancy fell by 15-20 years. That’s what Putin inhereted.

‘They Are Stealing Russia’ (Adam Curtis)

The central mystery of our time is why, at a moment when the whole political and social system is out of control and in total chaos, no one seems able to imagine any alternative. The economic system is not delivering the good life it once promised, but is instead creating chaos and hardship for millions. Meanwhile, those in charge of the system are profiting massively from that chaos, feeding off the uncertainty. And the political class are in thrall to an economic theory that has become absurd and corrupted. I’ve just made TraumaZone, a series of films about another time when that was happening. It was in Russia in the 1990s after communism collapsed. Those in charge began an experiment to create an extreme form of capitalism. I made it because I don’t think we in the west understand what the Russians went through: a cataclysm that tore apart the foundations of society.

The films are made using a unique source of material: thousands of hours of raw footage recorded by BBC crews in Russia during that time, much of it never seen before. What makes it so extraordinary is that it records the experiences of Russians at every level of society as their world fell apart: from inside the Kremlin to the frozen mining cities of the Arctic circle, from life in the tiny villages of the vast steppes to the strange wars fought in the mountains and forests of the Caucasus. As I watched the footage I decided that I shouldn’t use my voice or paste music over it. The material was so strong that I didn’t want to intrude pointlessly, but rather let viewers simply experience what was happening, because it is was out of this – the anger, violence, desperation and overwhelming corruption – that Vladimir Putin emerged.

But as I made the films, the growing chaos here in Britain made me see parallels. There are of course vast differences between our society and the Russia of 30 years ago, but the more you find out about the extreme economic experiment there, and what is happening here now with the present government, the more you see that they both share very similar roots that have nothing to do with either capitalism or communism. The clue lies in the man who imposed the “shock therapy” experiment on Russia. Called Yegor Gaidar, he was at the heart of the communist establishment. His grandfather was the most famous writer of children’s books in the Soviet Union, and Gaidar had married the daughter of one of the Strugatsky brothers, science-fiction writers who wrote the novel the film Stalker was based on.

This economist who would become acting prime minister set out to create a perfect capitalist system in Russia. He had to do it fast, he said, to stop communism from ever returning. Overnight, he removed all controls over prices, while the government gave up on any attempt to manage the system. The aim, said Gaidar, was to create a new zone of perfect freedom in which, despite initial pain, the system would find its own natural equilibrium. But if you look closer, you will see that his plan had little to do with freedom. It was in fact an odd, machine-like vision of the world driven by pseudoscientific ideas.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PressTV

 

 

US soldier

 

 

Hologram

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 292022
 


Kazimir Malevich Sportsmen 1931

 

A Possible Strategy For Peace (Gav Don)
American Roulette (Batiushka)
Fourth Leak Found On Nord Stream Pipelines, Swedish Coast Guard Says (R.)
Nord Stream Damage Might Be Irreparable (RT)
Denmark Comments On Future Of Nord Stream (RT)
Lugansk Republic And Kherson Region Appeal To Moscow (RT)
Germany and EU Have Been Handed Over A Declaration Of War (Escobar)
Poland Wants ‘Devastating’ Retaliation Against Russia (RT)
Poland Attacks Germany And Blames Russia (John Helmer)
The Anglo-American Axis Benefits (Korybko)
Kremlin Says Nord Stream Explosions ‘A Big Problem For Russia’ (RT)
Russia Issues Emergency Call To UN Security Council (RT)
Brussels ‘Imposes’ Anti-Russia Sanctions On EU Members – Orban (RT)
EU To Ban Russian Toilet Paper (RT)
Giorgia On Our Mind (Escobar)

 

 

 

 

More Meloni

 

 

 

 

 

 

Record debt + record drawdown = strong dollar.

 

 

RIP

 

 

 

 

“If a negotiated peace is not available Moscow can still opt for an imposed one, in which it would complete the occupation of Donetsk Oblast and call a unilateral halt to offensive operations.”

A Possible Strategy For Peace (Gav Don)

Notwithstanding the Nordstream attacks it is possible to see, inside the announcements and moves that have emerged this week, the skeleton of a Russian strategy towards a negotiated peace with Kyiv. An uncomfortable one, to be sure, but peace nevertheless. If a negotiated peace is not available Moscow can still opt for an imposed one, in which it would complete the occupation of Donetsk Oblast and call a unilateral halt to offensive operations. Presented with that fait accompli Kyiv is likely to continue its present policy of shelling civilians in Russian-occupied territory wherever its guns can reach – a policy in blatant breach of the Law of Armed Conflict but one which has been consistently and thoroughly ignored by the major media channels in both Europe and the USA, and even by Turkish and Iraq media.

An enforced peace would therefore require Russia to create and police an effective artillery “no fire” zone for some 20 kms west of its new imposed border with Ukraine, and a “no-rocket” zone for another 50 kms on top. Russia’s present artillery and rocket forces cannot do that, since Ukrainian artillery can evade counterbattery fire by the tactic of “shoot and scoot”. Russian air forces are also unable to enforce a no-fire zone because at high altitude they are vulnerable to a SAM shoot-down, and at low altitude to the widespread presence of Man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS). To create an effective no-fire zone Russia needs a force of unmanned drones capable of delivering 20-40 kgs of high explosive within 2 metres of their targets, both stationary and evading counterfire in “scoot” mode.

These drones would have to be sufficiently numerous to give saturation coverage day and night, working in pairs (so that one of the pair can engage MANPADS and SAM launchers which target the other member of the pair), and cheap enough to be disposable. At the start of the war Russia did not have a drone with those specifications, but now it does. The 1,000 or so Shahed 136 drones ordered this month are beginning to arrive (the first examples of 136 wreckage with their distinctive wingtips have now appeared in Ukraine). Russia has renamed the model the Geranium.

The 136 is an ideal candidate for enforcing a deep no-fire zone. Its 36 kg warhead can completely destroy a heavy artillery piece, a mortar or a Multiple Launch Rocket launch truck. The 136 can loiter for some 20 hours at heights well above the reach of MANPADs, before being dived onto the target by its operator. It can also carry out a chase of a moving target (it was a 136 which hit the bridge of the merchant ship Mercer Street while under way off Oman last year), and can break away and re-attack repeatedly if the target evades successfully.

Read more …

“..when you depend on that someone else for vital gas, oil, fertiliser, wheat, paper, titanium etc, maybe you really should after all make an effort to understand their viewpoint.”

American Roulette (Batiushka)

1. Another Ukraine There will always be an East Slav-speaking country between south-eastern Poland and south-western Russia, whatever it will be called. However, in the future it will be a country within its natural borders, occupied only by those who voluntarily identify with the government and culture in their capital of Kiev. Moreover, deNazified, it will present no military, biological or nuclear threat to its neighbours and will be independent of geopoliticians in Washington and Brussels.

2. Another Russia As a result of the War against NATO, Russia will be freed of the froth of Westernised sycophants formed in the 1990s, the liberal chattering classes, called in Russian ‘the creative class’. The 5% who are enserfed to the West and its overpriced consumer baubles are only repeating the treason of the Westernised ruling class and traitors from before 1917 who also wasted their fortunes on overpriced Western consumer baubles. Those who will continue to behave like chimpanzees with regard to their Western lords and masters should go and live in the West, if they have not already fled Russian justice for Finland, Georgia or elsewhere. Russia at war against NATO (= the US) is a land that needs patriots, not traitors.

3. Another Europe At the present time Central and Western Europe risk ‘Donbassisation’ as a result of US demands for absolute obedience to their anti-Russian tyranny, known as ‘sanctions’. This means that NATO-ised Central and Western Europe will become deindustrialised, impoverished, cold, hungry and also left defenceless, as their arms will have been destroyed in the Ukraine. However, it is only at that low point that they will begin to understand that their future is not across the Atlantic, but next door, with Eastern Europe and Eurasia, the gateway to Asian growth and prosperity.

4. Another World Seven billion of the eight billion people of the world, 87.5% of the planet, await the day of freedom from Western imperialism, exploitation and nuclear threats, aspiring to humanity, truth, justice and prosperity. Their only hope is the coming Russian victory over the US. Once that is here, much will fall back into its natural place. Asia with China and India, Africa, Latin America and all the Western peoples (basically, Western and Central Europe, North America and Oceania), so long oppressed by the gloomy darkness of the feudal Western elite, will be able to follow in Russian footsteps and walk, at first dazzled, into the bright daylight of freedom.

In 1939, quite infamously, Winston Churchill expressed his extraordinary ethnocentric ignorance by calling Russia ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. Like many ignorant people, he was of course talking about himself. When you cannot be bothered to understand someone else’s viewpoint, just call it ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’. You will then have successfully defined yourself as a blinkered and selfish narcissist. The only thing is, when you depend on that someone else for vital gas, oil, fertiliser, wheat, paper, titanium etc, maybe you really should after all make an effort to understand their viewpoint. Otherwise, they will definitely consider your death-wish, the totally suicidal behaviour of your American Roulette as, ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’.

Read more …

No surprise.

Fourth Leak Found On Nord Stream Pipelines, Swedish Coast Guard Says (R.)

Sweden’s coast guard discovered a fourth gas leak on the damaged Nord Stream pipelines earlier this week, a spokesperson told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. The European Union suspects sabotage was behind the gas leaks on the subsea Russian pipelines to Europe and has promised a “robust” response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure. “Two of these four are in Sweden’s exclusive economic zone,” coast guard spokesperson Jenny Larsson told the paper late on Wednesday. The other two breaches are in the Danish exclusive economic zone.


The coast guard did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Thursday. While neither pipeline was in use at the time of the suspected blasts, they were filled with gas that has been spewing out in the Baltic Sea since Monday’s ruptures. The fourth leak was on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, in close proximity to a larger hole found on the nearby Nord Stream 1, the Swedish coast guard said.

Read more …

This looks overdone. Maybe go look first?! They will have to take out damaged pipes anyway. Once that is done, the salt will be removed with pressurized gas. An issue only if it takes years to repair.

Nord Stream Damage Might Be Irreparable (RT)

What is being touted as potential sabotage on the Russian Nord Stream gas pipelines might have dealt them irreparable damage, Germany’s Tagesspiegel reported on Wednesday, citing “government circles.” The two pipelines were seriously damaged earlier this week. If the damage is not repaired quickly enough, too much salty sea water could run into the pipes lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea and irreversibly corrode them, German officials have warned, according to the news media outlet. Denmark said on Wednesday that its authorities would be able to launch a probe into the issue no sooner than in a week or two due to “safety concerns,” Tagesspiegel added. The media outlet does not mention any plans for repair work by either Russia or Germany.

A group of senior German MPs were quick to point the finger at Russia and blame Moscow for the incident. “An attack on the energy supply infrastructure is intended to spread fear and terror,” Roderich Kiesewetter, a German MP and spokesman for crisis prevention for the Conservative Union parliamentary group, told the RND media group. “Therefore, it is likely that Russia is trying … to stir up uncertainty among the European population” and supposedly demonstrate its ability to attack critical infrastructure, he added, accusing Moscow of employing a “state terrorism” approach. The head of the German parliament’s Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, told journalists that “it cannot be ruled out that [such attacks] will be directed by Russia in order to shake our markets.”

She also used the occasion to call on Germany and the EU to “free” themselves from the “dependence on Russian raw materials as quickly as possible.” Danish authorities confirmed leaks on the pipelines on Monday after their operator reported a loss of pressure on both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines earlier that day. Danish and Swedish authorities then spoke of a series of undersea explosions in the area. Russian, American, and Swedish authorities said the leaks might have been the result of a deliberate attack. The EU vowed “the strongest possible response” to any attacks on its active energy infrastructure but stopped short of naming any suspects in the Nord Stream incident. Russia branded the incident a “terrorist attack” and said it would summon a UN Security Council meeting over it.

Read more …

Maybe not so irreparable.

“German gas pipeline grid company Gasunie Deutschland said the damage could be repaired. “There are good teams in place to handle pipeline accidents, there are emergency pipe inventories and experts for onshore and offshore..”

Denmark Comments On Future Of Nord Stream (RT)

More than half of all of the gas contained in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines has spilled out, the head of the Danish Energy Agency, Kristoffer Boettzauw, told journalists on Wednesday. The pipelines suffered a leak on Monday following what many officials suspect to have been a deliberate attack. Gas will keep leaving the pipes until at least the end of the week, Boettzauw said, speaking about a future investigation into the incident. Only after the pipes run out of gas can the Danish authorities “try to get out and investigate what the cause is, and approach the pipes,” he added. The ongoing emissions are not poisonous, the nation’s specialists said, according to the media.


Denmark’s energy agency also said that the leaks could discharge an equivalent of one third of Denmark’s total annual greenhouse emissions. The pipelines’ operators told the Danish authorities that the damaged pipes contained a total of 778 million standard cubic meters of natural gas. Earlier, the German media warned that the pipes could be rendered permanently inoperable if the damage was not repaired before sea water got into the pipes and corroded them. German gas pipeline grid company Gasunie Deutschland said the damage could be repaired. “There are good teams in place to handle pipeline accidents, there are emergency pipe inventories and experts for onshore and offshore,” its managing director, Jens Schumann, told Reuters, adding that he was “relatively optimistic” about the prospect of repair work.

Read more …

Russia is bringing troops to the regions, some newly conscripted, AND some from the northern Ukraine border.

Lugansk Republic And Kherson Region Appeal To Moscow (RT)

The leader of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and his counterpart in Kherson Region have officially asked President Vladimir Putin to be accepted into the Russian Federation. The move follows referendums on joining Russia, where the overwhelming majority voted in favor. In a video address published on Wednesday, LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik said the republic’s residents have not received support from any country other than Russia, and have been continuously bombarded by Kiev’s forces for the past eight years. Vladimir Saldo, leader of Ukraine’s Kherson Region, which is now mostly controlled by Russian forces, penned a similar address to Putin on Wednesday. In his letter, he also asked for his territory to be accepted into Russia, stating that the people of Kherson have expressed their desire to “reunite” with the country, which has “always lived in their hearts.”


The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR), along with Kherson Region and part of Zaporozhye Region in southern Ukraine, voted to join Russia in referendums that were held between September 23 and 27. While the process of officially integrating these new provinces into the Russian Federation may take some time, as it requires approval from parliament and the president, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has expressed optimism that it will be done “fast enough.” Meanwhile, the EU and the US have called the referendums a “sham” and have vowed to “never recognize” the regions as part of the Russian Federation.

Read more …

“The crucial vector is that we may be facing the case of a EU/NATO member involved in an act of sabotage against the number one EU/NATO economy. That’s a casus belli.”

Germany and EU Have Been Handed Over A Declaration Of War (Escobar)

It gets curiouser and curiouser when we know that simultaneously to the sabotage the Baltic Pipe from Norway to Poland was partially opened, a “new gas supply corridor” servicing “the Danish and Polish markets”: actually a minor affair, considering months ago their sponsors were in trouble finding gas, and now it will be even harder, with much higher costs. NS2 had already been attacked – in the open – all along its construction. Back in February, Polish ships actively tried to prevent the Fortuna pipe-laying vessel from finishing NS2. The pipes were being laid south of – you guessed it – Bornholm. NATO for its part has been very active on the underwater drones department.

The Americans have access to long distance Norwegian underwater drones which can be modified with other designs. Alternatively, professional navy clearance divers could have been employed in the sabotage – even as tidal currents around Bornholm are a serious matter. The Big Picture reveals the collective West in absolute panic, with Atlanticist “elites” willing to resort to anything – outrageous lies, assassinations, terrorism, sabotage, all out financial war, support to neo-Nazis – to prevent their descent into a geopolitical and geoeconomic abyss. Disabling NS and NS2 represents the definitive closure of any possibility of a German-Russia deal on gas supplies, with the added benefit of relegating Germany to the lowly status of absolute US vassal.

So that brings us to the key question of which Western intel apparatus designed the sabotage. Prime candidates are of course CIA and MI6 – with Poland set up as the fall guy and Denmark playing a very dodgy part: it’s impossible that Copenhagen was not at least “briefed” on the intel. Prescient as ever, as early as in April 2021 Russians were asking questions about the military security of Nord Stream. The crucial vector is that we may be facing the case of a EU/NATO member involved in an act of sabotage against the number one EU/NATO economy. That’s a casus belli. Outside of the appalling mediocrity and cowardice of the current administration in Berlin, it’s clear that the BND – German intel – as well as the German Navy and informed industrialists sooner or later will do the math.

This was far from an isolated attack. On September 22 there was an attempt against Turkish Stream by Kiev saboteurs. The day before, naval drones with English language IDs were found in Crimea, suspected of being part of the plot. Add to it US helicopters overflying the future sabotage nodes weeks ago; a UK “research” vessel loitering in Danish waters since mid-September; and NATO tweeting about the testing of “new unmanned systems at sea” on the same day of the sabotage. [..] Gazprom is threatening to sue the Ukrainian energy company Naftofgaz for unpaid bills. That would lead to the end of Russian gas transiting Ukraine towards the EU.

As if all of that was not serious enough, Germany is contractually obligated to purchase at least 40 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year until 2030. Just say no? They can’t: Gazprom is legally entitled to get paid even without shipping gas. That’s the spirit of a long-term contract. And it’s already happening: because of sanctions, Berlin does not get all the gas it needs but still needs to pay.

Read more …

“..the Russian military doctrine, which states that nuclear weapons may only be employed if such arms or other weapons of mass destruction are being targeted at the country or its being faced with an existential threat from conventional arms.”

Poland Wants ‘Devastating’ Retaliation Against Russia (RT)

NATO’s response to any use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine must be “devastating” but only employ conventional arms, as Moscow’s threat is not directed at the bloc, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau has said. “To the best of our knowledge, Putin is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons on Ukrainian soil, not to attack NATO, which means that NATO should respond in a conventional way,” Rau claimed during his Wednesday’s appearance on NBC News program Meet the Press. “But the response should be devastating. And I suppose this is the clear message that the NATO alliance is sending to Russia right now,” the minister pointed out.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that “the consequences would be horrific” for Russian if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, adding that this message has already been communicated to the Russian leadership publicly and privately. The warning followed an address by Vladimir Putin a week ago, in which he announced partial mobilization in Russia and slammed “some senior officials in NATO states” for suggesting that deploying nuclear weapons against Russia was justified. The President made it clear that such a move won’t be left unanswered by Russia, reminding that it has its own arsenal of destructive weapons, some of which surpass their Western-counterparts. “If the territorial integrity of our nation is threatened, we will certainly use all the means that we have to defend Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff,” Putin stated.

Over the past week, the US and allies have increased intelligence gathering and surveillance over concerns that signs that Russia decides to deploy nukes could “come too late,” Politico reported on Tuesday. According to US officials, who talked to the outlet, air, space and cyberspace monitoring of Russian units in Ukraine that could potentially receive the nuclear order from the Kremlin has been stepped up, with special attention also being paid to Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad. Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov reiterated last week that “we are not threatening anyone with nuclear weapons.” He referred the journalists to the Russian military doctrine, which states that nuclear weapons may only be employed if such arms or other weapons of mass destruction are being targeted at the country or its being faced with an existential threat from conventional arms.

Read more …

John Helmer is sure it was Poland. He approaches the issue in a different way than I did yesterday. I simply asked: Cui bono?

“This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.”

Poland Attacks Germany And Blames Russia (John Helmer)

The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island, was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces. It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.

Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”. The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says. But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.

Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits, LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”

Baltic Pipe
https://twitter.com/i/status/1574954366456700928

Read more …

While Andrew Korybko, American living in Moscow, feels sure it is NOT Poland.

The Anglo-American Axis Benefits (Korybko)

The unprecedented damage done to the Nord Stream pipelines Monday night was certainly an act of sabotage exactly as Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia suspect, though nobody can agree on who carried out this ecological terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea. Kiev, however, predictably blamed Russia for destroying its own pipeline in a remix of its earlier conspiracy theory alleging that Russia regularly bombs the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant that’s also under its control. That ridiculous scenario can therefore reasonably be ruled out, especially since Moscow could just keep the tap turned off for technical reasons without risking getting caught sabotaging its own pipelines in NATO-controlled waters.

Continental European countries like Poland also shouldn’t be suspected either even though that aspiring regional leader’s newly inaugurated Baltic Pipe from Norway makes it a major energy player nowadays. There’s just too much risk of serious ecological blowback to that country’s direct interests to justify carrying out such an act of terrorism just to forever cripple its only potential pipeline competitor, the two Nord Streams. That said, the attack nevertheless does indeed serve Poland’s larger interests for exactly that reason even if it most likely wasn’t behind what happened or had any advance knowledge about it, which is why suspicion should fall on its allies in the Anglo-American Axis (AAA).

Both have an interest in dividing and ruling the EU by facilitating Poland’s rise as a continental Great Power capable of eventually competing with the bloc’s de facto German leader (at least in Central & Eastern Europe [CEE]), which was explained in my mid-September analysis about how “Poland’s Hyping Up The German Threat To Central Europe To Consolidate Its Regional Influence”. In order to knock Germany out of the geopolitical and geo-economic game for good, the AAA must not only successfully trick it into committing economic suicide through its compliance with the anti-Russian sanctions, but also destroy any chance of a strategically meaningful rapprochement with Russia in the future.

Sabotaging the Nord Stream pipelines accomplishes precisely that by completely disincentivizing Germany from potentially clinging to whatever energy-driven plans it might have for eventually repairing relations with Russia. With that scenario confidently discounted after Monday night’s ecological terrorist attack in the Baltic Sea, which also served the purpose of making Poland among the continent’s most pivotal energy hubs, Germany might also figure that it doesn’t have anything more to lose vis a vis Russia by possibly being the first country to send cutting-edge battle tanks to Kiev. This artificially manufactured strategic inertia would thus doom Russian-German relations for decades. Considering these outcomes, both immediate and emerging, there’s no doubt that the AAA benefits the most from the ecological terrorist attack that was just carried out in the Baltic Sea against the two Nord Stream pipelines. They’re insulated from the consequences of the ecological disaster that they created and are thus able to advance their grand strategic goals without any cost to themselves.

Read more …

“American LNG suppliers, on the other hand, have been making incredible profits after having multiplied their deliveries to the European continent, Peskov pointed out, adding that these companies are “very interested in maintaining these super-duper profits in the future.”

Kremlin Says Nord Stream Explosions ‘A Big Problem For Russia’ (RT)

Moscow has denounced as “stupid and absurd” any allegations of its being behind the suspected explosions of the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines earlier this week, stating that the incident actually creates many issues for Russia. Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov explained that the damage to the pipelines posed a “big problem” for Russia as it had essentially lost its gas supply routes to Europe. Both lines of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline were pumped full of gas and were prepared to deliver it to Europe at the time of the alleged explosion, said Peskov, adding that “this gas is very expensive and now it is all going up in the air.”

Peskov also noted that neither Russia nor Europe had anything to gain from the destruction of the pipelines, especially Germany, for which this incident poses a threat to the future development of its industry, as well as its profitability and competitiveness. American LNG suppliers, on the other hand, have been making incredible profits after having multiplied their deliveries to the European continent, Peskov pointed out, adding that these companies are “very interested in maintaining these super-duper profits in the future.” While no suspects behind the incident have officially been named, the Kremlin spokesperson advised against making any official announcements before a proper investigation into the incident is carried out.

Peskov did, however, draw attention to US President Joe Biden’s statements from early February, when the American leader threatened to “bring an end” to Nord Stream 2. “What the US president meant by that, we don’t know,” admitted the Kremlin official, but highlighted the “borderline insane hysterical-euphoric reaction” of Polish officials who have already thanked Washington for sabotaging the pipeline. The Kremlin’s response comes after some European and Kiev officials, including President Vladimir Zelensky’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak, suggested that the attack on the pipeline was a “false flag” operation carried out by Russia in order to make Ukraine look bad and to further drive energy prices up in the EU.

However, after the former Polish FM publicly thanked the US for the apparent sabotage on Twitter, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova urged the EU to treat the US as the possible culprit behind the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines. She said Moscow would call for a UN Security Council session over the incident. A number of Western nations have repeatedly opposed Russia’s undersea pipelines delivering gas to Europe, both before and after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine. The recently built Nord Stream 2 network, which never went into operation due to Germany’s refusal to certify it, has drawn particular opposition from countries like the US and Poland, which has called for the pipeline to be “totally scrapped.”

Read more …

As multiple countries want to kick Russia off the council.

Russia Issues Emergency Call To UN Security Council (RT)

Moscow wishes to call an emergency UN Security Council session over the “provocations” at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday in a Telegram post. Both pipelines were severely damaged earlier this week in what many suspect was a deliberate attack. Danish authorities confirmed gas leaks from the pipelines not far from the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea on Monday after the operator reported a loss of pressure in both Nord Stream 1 and 2. Swedish and Danish authorities later confirmed a series of undersea explosions had been detected before the leaks were confirmed.

Russian, American, and Swedish officials all said that the damage might have been the result of a targeted attack on pipeline infrastructure. No suspects behind the incident have officially been named, although in a tweet former Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski “thanked” Washington for destroying the pipeline. Moscow, which called the incident a “terrorist attack,”also named the US as a potential suspect. Several high-ranking German MPs have pointed the finger at Russia, accusing it of attempts to “stir up uncertainty among the European population.”

There has been no shortage of threats from sfome Western nations against Russian undersea pipelines, particularly Nord Stream 2 both before and after late February, when Moscow sent troops into Ukraine. It had been ready to pump gas since September last year, but was not put into operation due to Germany’s refusal to certify it. Polish President Andrzej Duda demanded last month that the pipeline be “totally scrapped.” US President Joe Biden warned in early February, before Russia began its military operation in Ukraine, that if Moscow acts against Kiev, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” A journalist asked him to clarify what exactly he meant, to which Biden responded: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”

Read more …

He resorts to democracy (!), with national consultations. Can’t have that. If the people decide, we’ll have …. anarchy!

Brussels ‘Imposes’ Anti-Russia Sanctions On EU Members – Orban (RT)

The EU has forced anti-Russia sanctions upon the people of the bloc’s member states, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Wednesday, as he announced the launch at home of national consultations on the matter. Brussels did not ask Europeans about their opinion on the sanctions policy but made them pay the price as restrictions it imposed on Russia backfired, Orban said, in a series of posts on Facebook. The EU sanctions introduced over Russia’s military operation in Ukraine “will cause huge damage to Europe,” he warned, adding that the restrictions had already made “Europeans poorer”because of skyrocketing energy prices. “It is time to get honest about it with our American friends. Until it is too late,” the prime minister said, pointing to the role the US played in the global sanctions campaign against Russia.

The sanctions have failed to end the conflict in Ukraine, Orban argued, adding that they also appear to hurt Europe more than Russia. Hungary is heavily dependent on Russian energy supply. It has also been one of the staunchest opponents of Brussels’ energy sanctions against Moscow and in particular opposed banning imports of Russian oil until it was granted a waiver by Brussels. Budapest still declared a state of emergency over tightening energy supplies this summer. On Wednesday, Orban confirmed the plans to hold the national consultations on the EU sanctions imposed against Russia, saying that he’d asked “everyone to have their say, because we can only put an end to rising energy prices by acting together.” Hungary is the first EU nation to do so.

The developments come amid an ongoing energy crunch in the EU. Since the start of Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine in late February, gas prices have climbed to record highs in Europe. In late July, EU member states agreed on a plan to reduce their gas consumption by 15% over the coming months, to increase the bloc’s energy security at a time when it seeks to rid itself of its dependence on Russian energy. Russia also reduced its gas exports to Europe, citing technical issues related to sanctions the West imposed over Russia’s military action. Massive gas leaks on the Russian Nord Stream pipelines, which have allegedly been a result of a targeted attack, has sent gas prices in Europe further up.

The prices have been climbing up for quite some time, leaving some EU nations, including Germany –the EU’s economic powerhouse– in a bind. In early September, Germany’s largest gas importer, Uniper, requested additional financial aid from the government as it was struggling to replace missing Russian gas supplies despite already receiving billions of euro to cover gas purchases. The operators of the Large Hadron Collider – the European nuclear research center (CERN) – also admitted in September that the ongoing energy crisis threatens the operation of the world’s largest particle accelerator. It could be shut down to decrease the energy consumption burden at peak demand periods, CERN said at that time.

Read more …

As EU companies can’t produce because of energy prices.

EU To Ban Russian Toilet Paper (RT)

Seeking to deprive Moscow of trade revenue over the conflict in Ukraine, the EU has proposed banning the import of Russian-made hygiene products, from soap and shaving needs to toilet paper and deodorant. The eighth wave of anti-Russian sanctions, unveiled in Brussels on Wednesday, would also ban the import of several steel products and attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil. “We do not accept the sham referenda and any kind of annexation in Ukraine, and we are determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in Brussels. According to her, the proposed sanctions package is expected to deprive Russia of “an additional 7 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in revenues.”

The scheme requires EU residents to make do without Russian-made “beauty or make-up” products, shaving supplies, “personal deodorants,” dental floss, soap, and toilet paper, according to Politico. Von der Leyen’s announcement comes just days after one of Germany’s pioneer toilet paper manufacturers, Hakle, filed for bankruptcy citing the skyrocketing prices of energy and source materials. Hakle and other German companies had asked the federal government to cap the energy price as a way of staying solvent – but that was before a series of explosions on Monday damaged the two Nord Stream pipelines and cut off Germany from Russian natural gas, perhaps permanently. Meanwhile, government officials have been instructing Germans to shower less and use washcloths, to save on hot water.

Commenting on the proposed sanctions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that between the sanitation products and water savings, “one involuntarily recalls the famous letter from 200 years ago,” in which the French Emperor Napoleon allegedly told his wife Josephine, “Do not wash.” The EU also intends to sanction philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, whose daughter Darya was assassinated last month in a Moscow car bombing. Russia has identified two suspects in the terrorist attack, both Ukrainian nationals.

Read more …

“Ursula “My Grand Dad was a Nazi” von der Leyen, the sadomaso dominatrix in charge of the European Commission. The prime catfight cage match to watch in fact is Giorgia versus dominatrix Ursula.”

Giorgia On Our Mind (Escobar)

No one ever lost money betting on the EU oligarchy always behaving like a bunch of self-entitled, stubborn, unelected pricks. They never learn anything. And they always blame everyone except themselves. Giorgia, following her instincts, has a decent shot at burying them even deeper. She is more calculating and less impulsive than Salvini. She won’t go for a euro exit and much less an Italexit. She won’t interfere with her Finance Minister – who will have to deal with the ECB. But she remains a “semi-fascist”, so Brussels will want her scalp – in the form of cutting off Italy’s budget appropriations. These Eurocrats would never dare doing it against Germany or France. And that brings to the political set up of the – supremely undemocratic – European Council.


Giorgia’s party is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists bloc, along with only two other members, the PMs of Poland and Czech Republic. The Socialists & Democrats bloc has seven members. And so does Renew Europe (the former “liberals”): that includes the president of the European Council, the supremely mediocre Charles Michel. The center-right European People’s Party has six members. That includes Ursula “My Grand Dad was a Nazi” von der Leyen, the sadomaso dominatrix in charge of the European Commission. The prime catfight cage match to watch in fact is Giorgia versus dominatrix Ursula. Once again, Mediterranean swagger against the Teutonic techno-barbarians. The more Brussels harassment of Giorgia, the more she will counter-attack, with full support of her post-truth Roman legions: Italian voters. Grab the Negronis and the Aperol Spritz; it’s show time.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ardern

 

 


Saying goodbye to a species, the very last male Northern White Rhino. 2018

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Sep 282022
 
 September 28, 2022  Posted by at 3:00 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


M.C. Escher Fish and Boat 1948

 

 

For the past 24 hours, I’ve been reading, and jotting down quotes, like an idiot, about the Nordstream pipes’ sabotage. Just trying to figure out what the hell happened. I doubt we will ever know who “killed Kennedy”, but we can try. I find it remarkable how eager certain parties are to blame Russia for blowing up its own infrastructure, how equally eager to discard alternative options, and most of all perhaps how eager “EU functionaries” are to claim they want a full investigation. Really? Even if your own allies did it?

Thinking that Russia blew up its own pipeline, while they could just close the tap, much easier and cheaper, appears to be very far fetched. In any Whodunnit you want some logic. First, my notes, from the past day, much from Twitter, plus some other sources, more or less in random order:

Nord Stream 2 pipeline cost over 11 billion dollars and ten years to build. It’s going to take years to fix.

Note: it will take weeks, if not months, to just get started. Because all the gas will have to flow out first. The pipes were not active, but they were full of gas, over a very long distance. They were ready to go and supply Europe. Then when Germany suddenly reneged on the deal, where were they going to put the gas?

Laying (building) undersea pipelines is never an easy job, But the Baltic Sea adds a few extra problems, as per Lookout at the Saker :

Sitrep On Nord Stream 1 And 2 Gas Pipelines

The first step to building an offshore pipeline is to conduct extensive surveys of the seabed. In the case of NS2, this involved detailed seabed survey of areas potentially harmful to the building and operation of a pipeline. This was certainly the case for NS1 and NS2, especially in areas that were used to dump explosives and chemicals.


The Baltic Sea was the scene of maritime battles, laying of mines during WW2. Additionally, areas of it were used as a dumping ground for obsolete, damaged, or expired munitions & chemicals. This was widely carried out following the end of both world wars. “It is estimated that the Baltic Sea alone has around 50,000 tonnes of chemical munitions, 500,000 tonnes of conventional weapons, and 10,000 wrecks on its seabed.”

I loved this little bit:

German Economy Minister Habeck: “speculations about the reason for nord stream 1 leak are currently forbidden.”

That’s German politics on its last legs. Y’all, shut up!

Nordstream has never been uncontested. This is from November 2015, at pipeline-journal.net:

Explosive-Laden Drone Found Near Nord Stream Pipeline

Ruling out sabotage, the Swedish military has successfully cleared a remote operated vehicle (drone) rigged with explosives found near Line 2 of the Nord Stream Natural Gas offshore pipeline system. The vehicle was discovered during a routine survey operation as part of the annual integrity assessment of the Nord Stream pipeline. Since it was within the Swedish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) approximately 120 km away from the island of Gotland, the Swedes called on their armed forces to remove and ultimately disarm the object. “We don’t consider it to be dangerous to merchant vessels or the pipeline at this point,” Jesper Stolpe, Swedish Armed Forces spokesman, told Radio Sweden. According to Stolpe, the cable used to control the drone and to set off the explosive was cut off, so at the moment the vehicle is relatively harmless.

And more recently, there was activity in the area as well. Guess who…

Apparently US 6th Fleet undersea explosives specialists were “scoping out” the situation back in June.

An expeditionary detachment of US Navy ships led by the universal amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge days ago was in the Baltic Sea. It was 30 km from the site of the alleged sabotage on the Nord Stream-1 gas pipeline and 50 km from the threads of Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline

Tin Foil Hats: Russia and Germany were negotiating behind the scenes for gas, but a “3rd party caught on and put an end to it”.

The Nordstream 2 pipeline allows Russia to send gas to Western Europe without paying transit fees to Ukraine and Poland. Russia just completed it in the teeth of massive opposition from Ukraine, Poland and USA. Now they are trying to convince you it was Russia who blew it up.

The mother of all coincidences:

Baltic Pipe. This is the new Norway-Poland Baltic Pipeline that just coincidentally opened today.

A former Polish defense minister has credited the United States with blowing up two Russian natural gas pipelines to Europe, Nord Stream 1 & 2, the day before Poland opened a major new pipeline from Norway. A new 900km pipeline “Baltic Pipe” will be opened today, a branch connecting from the Norway-Germany ‘“Europipe”. This branch bypasses Germany.

That former Polish defense minister, Radek Sikorski, [now] Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with the US, and married to WaPo’s Anne Applebaum, writes “Thank you, USA”

[..] looks like the pipeline attack wasn’t totally successful, as it failed to breach one of the NS2 lines – taking down only three of the four pipes. it will be interesting to see if there is any attempt to finish the job.

Javier Blas, Bloomberg: The size of the Nord Stream pipeline gas leak is huge. According to the Danish armed forces, it measures about 1 kilometer in diameter. The smaller circle in the center is approximately 200 meters wide

Each line of the pipeline consists of about 100,000 24-tonne concrete-weight coated steel pipes laid on the seabed. The pipelines have a constant internal diameter of 1.153m, according to Nord Stream. Sections lie at a depth of around 80-110m.

The approximate locations of the leaks are in the Bornholm Basin area (mean depth of 43m), closest to the island. The depth is shallow enough for specialised diving operations as well as the use of Remotely Operated Vehicles, (as was the case for the construction of both pipelines). The shallow area of the Bornholm Strait separating the Arkona Basin from the Bornholm Basin has a maximum depth of 45 metres.

The steel pipe itself has a wall of 4.1 centimeters (1.6 inches), and it’s coated with another 6-11 cm of steel-reinforced concrete. Each section of the pipe weighs 11 tonnes, which goes to 24-25 tonnes after the concrete is applied.

Assessment is that the second, bigger explosion corresponded to more than 100 kilos of dynamite.

 

This gives us at least some idea. That Russia would kill its own $11 billion 10-year hard-fought investment makes little sense. Not impossible, but very unlikely. The US, however…

 

We have Biden in February this year:

And Victoria Nuland just before that:

 

Tucker Carlson summarized it pretty well last night:

 

But now we still don’t know Whodunnit.

Gonzalo Lira says it’s “The Americans Declared War On Europe”:

 

 

I’m sure the Americans had a role in it. But that’s not the same as saying they were the direct perpetrators. There are still other candidates. Let’s rule out Russia, unless someone comes with a good explanation for why they would have acted against their own interest -or the semblance of it.

Germany is another party to this. But they are suffering already, and may indeed have held secret talks with Russia about gas deliveries. Now, they can forget about that for a long time to come. There are voices saying today that the pipelines are damaged beyond repair. I’m not sure that’s true, maybe they can replace one damaged pipe segment with a non-damaged one, but it would certainly take a lot of time and money.

So we strike off Russia and Germany, and keep the US in the back of our heads. That leaves two very obvious parties. First, the Ukraine, which loves not having to compete with Nordstream. But as far as we know, Kiev doesn’t have the equipment and/or capability to blow up a pipeline 100 meters under water. They could have asked the US, though, true enough.

That leaves one country that no-one is talking about, but is in the thick of it all: Poland.

The Poles stand to profit in two different ways from the explosions (and unlike Ukraine, they have the equipment to make it happen). First, there is a pipeline from Russia to Germany that runs through Poland, and for which they can now demand a user fee if any gas would flow. Second, they just opened the Norway-Poland branch of the Norway-Germany “Europipe” yesterday, which is labeled the Baltic Pipe.

Poland can make a killing off of the situation. There’s no way they could pull it off without the US knowing about it, but that can be arranged.

 

This all still leaves me with a few questions. As I knew it would. For the same reason I don’t know who killed Kennedy. First, why did the CIA warn of an attack on Nordstream weeks in advance?

And second, why are people like Von der Leyen, Borrell etc. clamoring so loudly for a thorough investigation when the Whodunnit logic says it may well point to one of their allies? Do they know something they’re not telling, do they think they can suppress whatever comes out? To be continued.

 

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support.

 

 

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

 

Sep 282022
 
 September 28, 2022  Posted by at 8:52 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Salvador Dali Bather 1924

 

Four Regions Vote To Join Russia: What’s Next? (RT)
Russia’s Main Gas Pipeline To EU Suffers Unprecedented Damage – Operator (RT)
Kremlin Comments On Possible Causes Of Nord Stream Damage (RT)
European Nat Gas Prices Soar After Gazprom Warns Ukraine Flows At Risk (ZH)
Putin Blasts West’s ‘Predatory’ Food ‘Swindle’ (RT)
Ukraine Can Use Western Weapons Against ‘Territories Seized By Russia’ – US (RT)
Americans Are Growing Tired Of Support For Ukraine Without Diplomacy (BI)
US Preparing $1.1 Billion Arms Package for Ukraine (Antiwar)
Questions Over The Value Of Military And Political Alliances (Bordachev)
White House Mulling Potential Yellen Departure After Midterms (Axios)
Nadler Feuded With Schiff, Pelosi Over Unconstitutional Trump Impeachment (Fox)
Liberal Former PM Renzi Dismisses ‘Fascism’ Brewing in Italy Claims (BB)
Meloni Contra Mundum (Gonzalez)
Human Sacrifices: are They Coming Back? (Ugo Bardi)
Pro-Vaccine Doctor Suspects Pfizer Booster Sent His Cancer Into Overdrive (CHD)
CDC Finds Lasting Post-vaccine Heart Problems In Young Adults (JTN)

 

 

I’ve assembled so much material on the pipeline sabotage, I’ll -largely- deal with that separately.

 

 

 

 

Hurricane vaccine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosa Koire

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Immediately the Russian Constitution will come into force in relation to these territories where everything is very clearly stated in this regard..”

Four Regions Vote To Join Russia: What’s Next? (RT)

The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (LPR and DPR) along with Kherson Region and part of Zaporozhye Region in southern Ukraine have voted to join Russia in referendums that were held between September 23 and 27. In Lugansk, more than 98% of voters have supported the idea to join Russia, official figures show with all the ballots counted. Donetsk has shown similar results with more than 99% of voters supporting the move. Both Zaporozhye and Kherson regions have process all the ballots by late Tuesday, with 93% and 87% of voters respectively backing the split from Ukraine and reunification with Russia. The process of integrating new regions into Russia may take some time as it requires the approval of the country’s parliament and the president.

But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that he was “convinced it will be fast enough.” Under the Russian constitution and the federal law on the accession of new constituent members, the procedure includes several steps. Once the regions willing to become part of the Russian Federation submit their proposals to Moscow, the president should inform parliament and the government on the matter, Senator Konstantin Kosachev explained in a Telegram post last week. If a political agreement on the accession is reached, “draft international treaties on the admission of foreign states or parts of them” to Russia should be developed, Kosachev, the vice speaker of the upper house of parliament, said.

These agreements regulate issues such as the name and status of new territories, citizenship, succession, the functioning of public authorities, the operation of legislation, and so forth. After these treaties are signed, the Russian Constitutional Court should verify if they comply with the country’s supreme law. If there are no violations, the next step will be the ratification of the documents by the lower house, the State Duma, and their approval by the upper house, the Federation Council. Simultaneously, a draft federal constitutional law on the admission of new constituent units to Russia should be submitted to the Duma. If approved, it then goes to the upper house for consideration. “This law enters into force no earlier than the entry into force of the international treaties themselves,” Kosachev noted.

Moscow warned earlier that if the Donbass republics and the two southern Ukrainian regions united with Russia, it would consider any attempts by Kiev to retake them as attacks on its own land. “Immediately the Russian Constitution will come into force in relation to these territories where everything is very clearly stated in this regard,” Peskov told journalists last week. Shortly after the regions decided to hold referendums, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization that involved calling to arms some 300,000 reservists, according to the military. Media reports have suggested that Moscow allegedly plans to mobilize up to a million.

Read more …

“Experts say repairs on both pipelines could take up to several years.”

Russia’s Main Gas Pipeline To EU Suffers Unprecedented Damage – Operator (RT)

The simultaneous destruction of three gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea is unprecedented, Nord Stream AG, the operator of Nord Stream 1, said on Tuesday. It declined to provide a deadline for repairs. The pipeline had been supplying gas to the EU until late August, when Russia slashed deliveries, citing technical difficulties resulting from Western sanctions. “The destruction that occurred on the same day at once on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented. It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transmission infrastructure,” the company said.

On Monday, Danish authorities spotted a gas leak near the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, and closed off an area of five nautical miles (9.26km) around the site. The discovery came shortly after the defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline suffered a drastic loss of pressure overnight. German and Danish authorities are investigating the incidents. Nord Stream spokesman Ulrich Lissek said a “large bubble field near Bornholm” was spotted, adding that “the pipeline was never in use, just prepared for technical operation, and therefore filled with gas.” Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Sweden’s Maritime Authority also reported leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of the Bornholm island in Swedish and Danish waters, Reuters reported, citing the country’s officials.

“There are two leaks on Nord Stream 1 – one in the Swedish economic zone and one in the Danish economic zone. They are very near each other,” a Swedish Maritime Administration spokesperson said. As the German Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Tuesday, Nord Stream pipelines may have been damaged as a result of attacks. “A pressure loss in the two gas pipelines that occurred in rapid succession” could have happened due to a “targeted action,” it said. Experts say repairs on both pipelines could take up to several years. Lissek warned that it would be complicated to determine the reasons for the drop in pressure due “the sanctions regime and the lack of personnel on the ground.”

Read more …

“..a deliberate attack on the pipeline could only have been carried out using special forces, navy divers or a submarine”

Kremlin Comments On Possible Causes Of Nord Stream Damage (RT)

The Nord Stream pipelines may have been damaged in an act of sabotage, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov suggested when asked about the possible reasons for sudden pressure loss in three of the Baltic Sea gas network’s lines. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Peskov commented on a statement made by Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, which said three offshore lines of the Nord Stream pipeline system sustained “unprecedented”damage in just one day. “No option can be ruled out right now,” Peskov said when asked if the damage may have been the result of sabotage. He added that Moscow is very concerned about the situation, and called for an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident, which has implications for energy security on the “entire continent.”

Pressure in line A of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was pumped with gas but had yet to go into operation, suddenly dropped overnight between Sunday and Monday. Shortly after that, on Monday afternoon, both of Nord Stream 1’s pipelines also suffered a sharp loss of pressure. Sweden and Denmark’s coastguards have since reported gas leaks off the coast of Bornholm island in the Baltic Sea – one in the Swedish economic zone and one in the Danish zone – and closed off the area to maritime traffic. According to a report from the Tagesspiegel newspaper on Tuesday, Berlin believes the sudden pressure drop in three gas pipelines at the same time could not be a coincidence and is likely a “targeted attack” from either Ukraine or Russia.

The outlet explained that a deliberate attack on the pipeline could only have been carried out using special forces, navy divers or a submarine. Berlin reportedly believes the sabotage was carried out by either “Ukraine-affiliated forces” or by Russia itself as a “false flag” operation to make Ukraine look bad and drive energy prices in the EU even higher. Nord Stream 1 was completed in 2011. Construction work on Nord Stream 2 (NS2) began in 2018, and suffered delays due to political pressure and sanctions from the US. NS2 was finished and pressurized in September 2021. However, two days prior to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the German government put its certification on indefinite hold, and has categorically rejected any suggestion from Moscow – or domestically – to unblock the pipeline.

Read more …

With Nordstream gone, they have to pay transfer fees again, to Ukraine and Poland. In dollars and euros.

European Nat Gas Prices Soar After Gazprom Warns Ukraine Flows At Risk (ZH)

In a day of constant news surrounding European gas flows, including the potential sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline, moments ago, Russia state-owned gas giant Gazprom PJSC warned that another major source of gas flows to Europe was at risk, just hours after three massive gas pipelines were hit by suspected sabotage. As Bloomberg reports, in a dramatic escalation of the energy standoff between Russia and Europe in little over 24 hours, the Nord Stream pipeline was knocked out by what German officials said looked like sabotage. Gazprom then said that one of two remaining routes bringing gas to Europe – via Ukraine – was at risk because of a legal spat. Specifically, as Reuters notes, Gazprom rejected all claims from Ukraine’s energy firm Naftogaz in arbitration proceedings over Russian gas transit, and had notified the arbitration court.

It also said that Russia may introduce sanctions against Naftogaz in case it further pursues the arbitration case, meaning Gazprom would be prohibited by the sanctions from paying Ukraine the transit fees. Naftogaz had initiated a new arbitration proceeding against Gazprom earlier this month, saying the Russian company did not pay for the rendered service of gas transportation through Ukraine. The company had said “funds were not paid by Gazprom, neither on time nor in full” for the gas transit. Gazprom said on Tuesday that Naftogaz had no “appropriate reasons” to reject its obligations on transit via the Sokhranovka point, a key route for Russian gas exports to Europe. In May, Ukraine suspended the flow of gas through Sokhranovka, which it said delivers almost a third of the fuel piped from Russia to Europe through Ukraine, blaming Moscow for the move and saying it would move the flows elsewhere.

Following the report that Russia may soon halt natgas transit via Ukraine, gas prices quickly jumped almost 20% as traders factored in the prospect that Europe will have to live without Russian gas this winter – and beyond. Gazprom said that a legal dispute risks prompting Moscow to sanction Ukraine’s Naftogaz. If that happened, then Gazprom would be unable to pay transit fees, the company said on Telegram, putting at risk flows. “In practice, this will mean a ban on Gazprom from fulfilling obligations to sanctioned bodies under completed transactions, including financial transactions,” the company said. If, or rather when, supplies through Ukraine are shut down, it would leave Gazprom sending gas only via the TurkStream pipeline to Turkey and a handful of European countries that haven’t severed business ties with Russia.

Winter is coming

Read more …

“Russia is set to harvest a record amount of grain this year [..] But Russian food products have a difficult time finding their way to the global market due to Western economic sanctions, as do Russian fertilizers..”

Putin Blasts West’s ‘Predatory’ Food ‘Swindle’ (RT)

“Predatory” monetary and trade policies pursued by the US and its allies are the primary cause of the global food crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. Western nations are using their wealth and ability to print money to vacuum up food products from the global market, the Russian leader said during a government meeting on Tuesday. The unfolding crisis has been in the making for several years, he claimed. “Some leading nations have financial and food policies that led to the result we are observing now,” Putin said, adding that the behavior could be described as “predatory, without any exaggeration.” He noted that the US was a net exporter of food products last year, but now it is a net importer.

The Russian leader also reiterated his criticism of the Ukraine grain deal, which allowed Kiev to export food via the Black Sea. The arrangement was mediated by the UN and Türkiye, but Russia believes it is not working as intended, arguing that the shipments do little to alleviate food shortages in needy nations. Putin cited last week’s maritime traffic statistics in relation to the scheme, pointing out that most of the ships carrying Ukrainian grain that didn’t report Türkiye as their destination went to one of the EU nations. “Are they the poorest nations or what? The situation remains the same. Embarrassing as it sounds, but this is plain swindle, and nothing else,” he said.

Russia is set to harvest a record amount of grain this year, which is predicted to reach 150 million tons, including some 100 million tons of wheat, Putin said. But Russian food products have a difficult time finding their way to the global market due to Western economic sanctions, as do Russian fertilizers, he added. The West “is causing the global food crisis,” he claimed. The US and its allies deny that the restrictions they have imposed on Russian trade over the country’s military campaign in Ukraine are targeting its food and fertilizer exports. Officials in Moscow say that, while those products are technically not banned, restrictions on things like insurance and port services for Russian merchant ships effectively curb the country’s ability to export food and fertilizers.

Read more …

“Blinken also accused Russia of a “diabolical scheme” to deport or “disappear” the local Ukrainian population and “bus in” Russians..”

Ukraine Can Use Western Weapons Against ‘Territories Seized By Russia’ – US (RT)

Washington has no objections to Kiev using Western-supplied weapons to target territories that may decide to join Russia, as the US considers the vote to do so illegitimate, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. The US and its allies have supplied Ukraine with a variety of weapons, including tube and rocket artillery. At a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in Washington, Blinken was asked if the US had any objections to Ukraine using those weapons to attack targets in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson, which just wrapped up a vote on joining Russia. “We will never recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia,” Blinken told reporters.

“Ukraine has the absolute right to defend itself throughout its territory, including to take back the territory that has been illegally seized, one way or another, by Russia. And the equipment, the weapons that we and many other countries are providing, have been used very effectively to do just that.” Russia’s “annexation” of the Donbass republics and the two regions will make zero difference to either Ukraine or the US, Blinken insisted. “The Ukrainians will continue to do what they need to do to get back the land that has been taken from them. We will continue to support them in that effort.” In June, when the US first sent long-range HIMARS rocket artillery to Ukraine, Blinken said he had received “assurances” from Kiev that they will not be used on Russian territory, and that he believed them due to a “strong trust bond.”

Kiev’s forces have since used the US-supplied weapons to target civilians in Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye, which are under Russian control. Ukraine has also bombed Crimea and border towns in the Russian regions of Kursk and Belgorod. Crimea rejoined Russia in March 2014, after the US-backed coup in Kiev, while Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence. Blinken also accused Russia of a “diabolical scheme” to deport or “disappear” the local Ukrainian population and “bus in” Russians who would then vote in a manipulated referendum to get annexed by Moscow.

Read more …

Given that there is no real information available in the US, this is quite the poll.

Americans Are Growing Tired Of Support For Ukraine Without Diplomacy (BI)

A new poll suggests that many Americans are growing weary as the US government continues its support of Ukraine in its war with Russia and want to see diplomatic efforts to end the war if aid is to continue. According to a poll conducted by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and Data for Progress, 57% of likely voters strongly or somewhat support the US pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to end the war in Ukraine, even if it requires Ukraine making compromises with Russia. Just 32% of respondents were strongly or somewhat opposed to this. And nearly half of the respondents (47%) said they only support the continuation of US military aid to Ukraine if the US is involved in ongoing diplomacy to end the war, while 41% said they support the continuation of US military aid to Ukraine whether the US is involved in ongoing diplomacy or not.

The Biden administration and Congress need to do more diplomatically to help end the war, according to 49% of likely voters, while 37% said they have done enough in this regard, the poll showed. “Americans recognize what many in Washington don’t: Russia’s war in Ukraine is more likely to end at the negotiating table than on the battlefield. And there is a brewing skepticism of Washington’s approach to this war, which has been heavy on tough talk and military aid, but light on diplomatic strategy and engagement,” said Trita Parsi, executive vice president at the Quincy Institute. “‘As long as it takes’ isn’t a strategy, it’s a recipe for years of disastrous and destructive war — conflict that will likely bring us no closer to the goal of securing a prosperous, independent Ukraine.

US leaders need to show their work: explain to the American people how you plan to use your considerable diplomatic leverage to bring this war to an end,” Parsi added. The poll found close to half of likely US voters (48%) somewhat or strongly oppose the US providing aid to Ukraine at current levels if long-term global economic hardship, including in the US, occurs. Meanwhile, the poll showed that only four-in-10 Americans somewhat or strongly support the US providing aid to Ukraine at current levels if this occurs.

Read more …

“..will bring total US spending on the war since Russia invaded to $65.9 billion, which is the same number as Russia’s entire military budget for 2021.”

US Preparing $1.1 Billion Arms Package for Ukraine (Antiwar)

The US is preparing a new $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine that will be announced soon, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing unnamed US officials. The weapons package will likely include HIMARS rocket systems, HIMARS ammunition, counter-drone systems, radar systems, training, and technical support. The arms package is expected to be provided to Kyiv using the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) as opposed to sending the arms directly from US military stockpiles. The USAI allows the Biden administration to purchase military equipment for Ukraine from the US arms industry.


The new package will bring the total amount of US arms pledged for Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24 to over $16 billion. Funds for Ukraine are still being pulled from the $40 billion aid package President Biden signed into law back in May, but Congress is preparing to authorize more spending to support the war. Congress unveiled on Tuesday a new $12.3 billion aid package for Ukraine that will be included in a stopgap funding bill that needs to be passed this week to avoid a government shutdown. The $12.3 billion includes military and economic support for Ukraine and will bring total US spending on the war since Russia invaded to $65.9 billion, which is the same number as Russia’s entire military budget for 2021.

Read more …

Valdai Club Programme Director Timofey Bordachev.

Questions Over The Value Of Military And Political Alliances (Bordachev)

The continuing military and diplomatic clash between Russia and the West, led by the United States, raises questions to which, until recently, the answers seemed obvious. These include the phenomena of permanent alliances and allied relations. It is no secret that the behaviour of Moscow’s formal allies in the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in today’s environment raises questions for the Kremlin, while Russia’s opponents are raising hopes that the existence of these blocs is no longer an advantage, but a problem, for Russia’s foreign and defence policy. We see examples of individual member countries of the CSTO or the EAEU meeting US demands in matters related to economic warfare against Russia. This makes one wonder how important and necessary are Russia’s allies when it cannot, like the US, exercise authoritarian control over its foreign and defence policies?

The phenomenon of permanent alliance relations is a relatively recent invention in international politics – it emerged after the Second World War and it is entirely unknown whether the next round of global upheavals of a similar scale will see it survive. Even if we are not all blown to bits by a general nuclear catastrophe in the coming years, what is happening makes the prospects for all the phenomena that have shaped the fabric of international life in recent decades, without exception, highly uncertain. Today, the benchmark example of a permanent alliance of sovereign states is European integration. Another similar example is the NATO bloc, in which participation is cemented by the unconditional authority of a power far superior to its allies and not shy in making that clear.

It is no coincidence that the conflict around Ukraine, the first major war of the new era in international politics, is linked to the development of these two alliances. A strong group of states inevitably creates conflicts around itself. Indeed, this becomes a consequence of the fact that it protects the interests of its members. [..] the whole idea of an alliance in the usual sense of the word has lost all meaning. First and foremost, for its leading participant. The small member states obviously have neither alternative options nor the military, political or demographic resources for fully independent survival. This helps us to solve the problem of the formal preservation of such associations, even if they lose much of their necessary functions and content. However, it should be understood that, in the future, Russia, like its neighbors, will either have to give up the idea of institutionalizing its relations or resort to rather more authoritarian methods of governance.

Read more …

A decade of financial disaster.

White House Mulling Potential Yellen Departure After Midterms (Axios)

White House officials are quietly preparing for the potential departure of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen after the midterms, the first and most consequential exit in what could be a broad reorganization of President Biden’s economic team, according to people familiar with the matter. While her potential departure would give Biden an opportunity to respond to public concern over his handling of the economy, it would also create an immediate political headache: finding a successor who can be confirmed by the Senate. The process is in the early stages and a decision on Yellen, or any Cabinet replacement, has not been made. Multiple sources stressed the outcome of November’s election, including who controls the Senate, will factor into whether she stays.

Yellen will also have some say in her fate, and with the world’s economy teetering, there could be a convincing case for her to stay. In addition to Yellen, officials are also considering the possibility that Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, will leave early next year. Deese’s departure would present an opportunity for Gene Sperling, who is currently coordinating the implementation of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, to serve an unprecedented third term as NEC director after holding that post in the Clinton and Obama administrations. Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, is also expected to return to her academic post in the spring of 2023, opening up another Cabinet-level economic position.

Yellen, an economist by trade and at heart, has been reluctant to make overly political arguments when they violate her core academic beliefs. The former Fed and CEA chair has disagreed with the White House on several high-profile issues, including the White House faulting corporations for increasing inflation and — most recently — Biden’s decision to forgive some student debt. She has also made several statements that White House officials have privately viewed as blunders. Yellen publicly admitted this summer she was wrong on inflation, and last year said it would be a “plus” if the Fed raised interest rates.

Read more …

“..that Trump would not be able to face his accusers before being impeached did not sit right with Nadler, who warned Pelosi and Schiff of the ramifications it would have in the long run.”

You made your bed, Jerry. Lie in it.

Nadler Feuded With Schiff, Pelosi Over Unconstitutional Trump Impeachment (Fox)

A new book reveals that House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was at odds with how House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handling of impeachment proceedings against former President Trump, insisting that the methods used by the prominent Democrats were “unconstitutional” and could be used to attack the party. The revelation comes in a book set to be released on October 18 titled, “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” written by Politico Playbook co-author Rachael Bade and Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian. The book chronicles the methods Democrats used to target Trump.

In October 2019, amid the Democrats’ plan to hold a full House vote on a resolution outlining the structure of impeachment proceedings against Trump, Nadler, according to the book, took issue with how Schiff, who was tapped by Pelosi to lead impeachment efforts, was prepared to proceed with the impeachment without due process for Trump. Worried about the situation and the likelihood that his Judiciary Committee would not be able to cross-examine witnesses as the committee had done traditionally, Nadler confronted Schiff about the planned process, and, according to the book, said: “It’s unfair, and it’s unprecedented, and it’s unconstitutional.” “I don’t appreciate your tone,” Schiff allegedly responded. “I worry you’re putting us in a box for our investigation.”

Sidelined by Pelosi to handle impeachment proceedings in the House, the book claims Nadler made an “effort to get back into Pelosi’s good graces” and that his “aides sucked up to her staff relentlessly” in an attempt to show that his panel was prepared to step in and assist. Striving to earn approval from Pelosi, Nadler hired attorneys and had his team pour through records and books from the impeachments of former Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Those efforts worked and led Pelosi and Schiff to reconsider the Judiciary Committee’s involvement in the process, although they had “their own ideas about how he should run his committee process,” according to the book.

“She didn’t want the Judiciary panel to interview witnesses at all,” the book’s authors wrote. “Pelosi simply didn’t trust the panel — which was stacked with liberal crusaders and hotheaded conservatives — to handle the rollout of the complex Ukraine narrative with the careful, compelling treatment it required. She couldn’t afford another Nadler screwup. The Judiciary chairman could focus on the legal business of crafting the articles of impeachment and have academics testify, she allowed. But that was it.” Nadler’s frustration with the pair of Democrats grew. Research conducted by his team proved that presidents facing impeachment from Congress had been allowed to defend themselves before the House Judiciary Committee, with attorneys for the president having the opportunity to attend hearings, as well as cross-examine testifying witnesses or call their own.

That did not matter to Schiff, and the fact that Trump would not be able to face his accusers before being impeached did not sit right with Nadler, who warned Pelosi and Schiff of the ramifications it would have in the long run. “If we’re going to impeach, we need to show the country that we gave the president ample opportunity to defend himself,” Nadler told them, according to the book.

Read more …

“She is my rival and we will continue to fight each other, but the idea that now there is a risk of fascism in Italy is absolutely fake news.” – Renzi

Liberal Former PM Renzi Dismisses ‘Fascism’ Brewing in Italy Claims (BB)

Former liberal Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi has dismissed alarmist claims in the global media that incoming Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is a “danger to democracy”, telling CNN “the idea that now there is a risk of fascism in Italy is absolutely fake news.” “Personally, I was against Giorgia Meloni. I’m not her best friend. We grew up together in politics, but we are, and will be, rivals, always,” said Renzi, who served as Prime Minister of Italy for nearly three years until December 2016, and is the leader of the liberal “Italia Viva” party. “At the same time, I think [Meloni] is not a danger [to] Italian democracy,” Renzi continued. “She is my rival, and we will continue to fight each other, but the idea that now there is a risk of fascism in Italy is absolutely fake news.”


The former Prime Minister went on to say that Meloni won Sunday night’s election, “particularly because populism, a lot of times, [wins] in Italy.” “She has a majority coalition, and probably she will be — I think next month — the next Prime Minister,” Renzi said, before doubling down on his claim that “democracy” is not at risk. “That is very important, because I fought against her, but at the same time, I think there is not a danger for fascism in Italy,” Renzi affirmed. Elsewhere in the interview, Renzi mentioned that he is “exactly the opposite of Giorgia Meloni, because she is a sovereigntist and I’m for Europe” [the European Union]. The international media has been quick to compare her to wartime fascist leader Mussolini, a serious allegation. Yet as Renzi’s comments demonstrate, not even Meloni’s own opposition inside Italy believes this to be true.

Read more …

“Me, I believe Mussolini was a good politician,” Meloni said in an interview. “By which I mean that everything he did, he did for Italy.”

Meloni Contra Mundum (Gonzalez)

[..] liberal democracies across the West unified this weekend in denouncing the democratic will of the Italian people, who have just propelled Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing Italian nationalist party to electoral victory. Man is a symbolic animal, and Meloni’s victory is seen as a symbolic rejection of Western liberalism. Whether she lives up to that potential is yet to be seen. But the electricity of the moment is palpable: the Italians have voted against the times. It’s difficult to dislike this atypical politician. Meloni’s father abandoned his family when she was just 11 years old, leaving her mother to raise her alone. She has working-classes bona fides, working as a nanny, waitress, and bartender to support herself. She has been politically engaged since she was a teenager and has never been shy about her views.

“Me, I believe Mussolini was a good politician,” Meloni said in an interview. “By which I mean that everything he did, he did for Italy.” Though she may not have read Legutko, Meloni has also noticed the similarities between communism and liberal democracy. “We did not fight against and defeat communism in order to replace it with a new internationalist regime,” she said during the National Conservatism conference in Rome, “but to permit independent nation-states once again to defend the freedom, identity, and sovereignty of their peoples.” Meloni has denounced the mass immigration of non-European people to European lands and called for naval blockades in the Mediterranean to thwart migrant smugglers. She also went against the grain on COVID-19 vaccines and lockdowns. Meloni was the only party leader to oppose the so-called Green Pass—a vaccine passport that would have been required to work, travel, and shop.

Under different circumstances, the West might be celebrating the ascent of this underdog. But her politics are, for the most part, outside the West’s liberal democratic consensus, which is why Italians love her. Most of all, Meloni breaks the consensus on social and cultural issues at the center of liberalism’s moral universe. She emphatically opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, rejects gender ideology and the promotion of alternative sexual lifestyles. At a rally before an audience that stood to its feet and applauded ceaselessly at her words, Meloni thundered: “Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death, no to the violence of Islam, yes to safer borders, no to mass immigration, yes to work for our people.”

Read more …

“You may not like ms. Meloni’s political orientation but she is a human being and, as such, she deserves respect, especially considering that she has taken upon herself a tremendously difficult task.”

Human Sacrifices: are They Coming Back? (Ugo Bardi)

If there ever was a society under stress, it is ours. We passed all the limits of survival: destroyed the oldr-growth forests, killed off large number of species, poisoned the atmosphere, depleted our mineral resources, eroded the fertile soil, polluted water and the atmosphere, set the planet on a path to an irreversible warming and a few more little things, including having deployed a sufficient number of nuclear warhead to wreck the ecosystem and, most likely, kill everybody. And we haven’t renounced to our beloved habit of making war against each other. Would you be surprised if we were to indulge in large scale human sacrifices? We are not yet there, but the path seems to be traced. Have you noted how popular are the “Zombie” movies?

Take a look at them in light of what I have been saying here: do you see them as a blueprint for the mass extermination of suburbanites? First starve them, easy: just stop the delivery to the local supermarkets and service stations. Once they run out of food and fuel, they are doomed. Then, while they are still able to stumble along, finish them off with a bullet to the head. Truly, the fascination with this idea casts much light on what our society has in mind for the near future. We are not yet to the point of seeing the elites booking zombie-killing safaris in the suburbs of our cities. But other possible large scale sacrifices are possible. I already mentioned how the German government had hired the country’s doctors to cull the undesirables. They had complied, happily. That could be easily done in our times, too.

The concept of human sacrifice, though, is not about numbers, but about the visible high-status of the victim. Now, after the electoral victory of Giorgia Meloni in Italy, many people commented by publishing on their social accounts the images of Mussolini’s dead body and of his lover Claretta Petacci. A clear message to Ms. Meloni, just as the many published images showing her upside-down, just like Mussolini and Petacci were. Will she undergo the same treatment as Mussolini? For sure, Italy is going toward a difficult period and whoever will lead the country risks being deemed responsible for whatever disaster will befell Italy in the near future. And it is also true that people can be extremely nasty when they are in a dire situation. You may not like ms. Meloni’s political orientation but she is a human being and, as such, she deserves respect, especially considering that she has taken upon herself a tremendously difficult task. We can and we should wish her success. Good luck, Giorgia, you’ll need a lot of it.

Read more …

They don’t want to believe themselves.

Pro-Vaccine Doctor Suspects Pfizer Booster Sent His Cancer Into Overdrive (CHD)

Michel Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of immunology and pharmacotherapy at the Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, suspects his third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may have sent his cancer into overdrive. Goldman, 67, is one of Europe’s best-known champions of medical research and a lifelong promoter of vaccines. But he told The Atlantic he wants discussion of the COVID-19 vaccine to be transparent — so he went public about his suspicion that the Pfizer booster shot he received on Sept. 22, 2021, may have induced rapid progression of his angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), a type of lymphoma he’d been diagnosed with before he got the booster shot. After his diagnosis, Goldman said he rushed to get the booster shot, believing he would need it more than most people because once he started chemotherapy, his immune system would be compromised.

But after receiving the shot, Goldman’s follow-up CT scan showed something unexpected: Within only a few days, his cancer had grown so fast that cancerous points were lighting up all over his scan. “It looked like someone had set off fireworks inside Michel’s body,” The Atlantic reported. Goldman and his brother, Serge Goldman, a fellow scientist and head of nuclear medicine at the teaching hospital of the Université libre de Bruxelles, suspected Goldman’s COVID-19 booster shot may have triggered the rapid proliferation of cancerous growth in his body. The initial CT scan had been “a bit disturbing,” Serge Goldman told The Atlantic, because it showed an asymmetrical cluster of cancerous nodes around Goldman’s left armpit, where Michel’s first two doses of vaccine had been delivered.

The CT scan done after Michel’s third dose showed the cancer’s asymmetry had flipped and was clustered by his right armpit, where he received the third shot. The brothers knew it could be a mere coincidence, but they thought it was important to investigate the possibility that the vaccine might be behind the clustering — because it could mean other people with certain forms of cancer might be at risk of a COVID-19 vaccine causing their cancer to progress more rapidly. So on Nov. 25, 2021, the brothers — who had written prior papers together — and other colleagues published a case report in which they described Michel Goldman’s experience and urged the scientific community to study the phenomenon to see if it occurred in patients diagnosed with AITL.

Read more …

The CDC is politics disguised as science.

CDC Finds Lasting Post-vaccine Heart Problems In Young Adults (JTN)

The CDC continues to erase distinctions by COVID-19 vaccination status in public health guidance as ongoing global research — including its own — documents the mediocre performance of COVID vaccines and their unexpectedly high rates of lasting harm in some groups. Vaccination status is no longer used “to inform source control, screening testing, or post-exposure recommendations” for healthcare personnel, the Friday update to their CDC guidance says. The agency “[c]larified” that healthcare facilities, including nursing homes, have discretion on whether to screen-test asymptomatic personnel. It also now says asymptomatic patients “in general” do not require “empiric use of Transmission-Based Precautions” after exposure to an infected person.

A CDC study of 12-29 year-olds with heart inflammation following mRNA vaccination, published last week in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, found that 1 in 6 still had not “fully recovered” at least 90 days after myocarditis onset, including 1 in 100 who hadn’t improved at all. Myocarditis has increased so markedly among youth since vaccines were authorized for them that an Ivy League-affiliated hospital started running TV ads this month for its treatment in children. New York-Presbyterian marked the ad’s Sept. 6 YouTube video private less than two weeks later, following criticism that it was trying to “normalize” a vaccine-induced condition. The CDC’s COVID-19 Response Team found more than 800 myocarditis reports to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System from Jan. 12 to Nov. 5, 2021 that matched the parameters for age and time since onset.

Excluding those without phone numbers or who couldn’t be reached, they studied 393 individuals whose healthcare providers, mostly cardiologists, completed a survey. The median age was 17 and overwhelmingly male. The team deemed four in five patients “fully or probably fully” recovered (320). But two-thirds of those initially required non-intensive care hospitalization, and 27% required intensive care. At their last provider followup, 28% of the fully recovered were still on doctor-ordered physical activity restrictions. The figures for the 65 patients who were not fully recovered: 62% non-intensive hospitalization and 18% intensive, and 48% still on physical activity restrictions. Less than a third had been cleared for physical activity, half the figure for the fully recovered, who had a median clearance of 10 fewer days (104).

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach front

 

 

 

 

 

 


Staircase

 

 

 

 

Bird

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mar 282022
 
 March 28, 2022  Posted by at 8:02 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  51 Responses »


Salvador Dali Hallucination. Six Images of Lenin on a Grand Piano 1931

 

Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War (Lauria)
Propaganda Does Not Change The War – The Ukraine Is Still Losing (MoA)
A Manufactured World Crisis (Rockwell)
Springtime for GloboCap (CJ Hopkins)
Video Surfaces Showing Ukraine Military Torturing Russian POW’s (CTH)
WWIII Has Begun – Gerald Celente (USAW)
“The Adults in the Room” are Always the Most Colossal Screwups (Tracey)
India Is Snapping Up Cheap Russian Oil, And China Could Be Next (CNBC)
House Republicans Will Subpoena Hunter Biden (NYP)
Shutting Down Canadian Pipeline Would Cost US Consumers $23.7 Billion (ET)

 

 

Domestic support

 

 

OpenVAERS
https://twitter.com/i/status/1508112293648818177

 

 

“..we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia, or anywhere else, for that matter,” the last words inserted for comic relief..”

Biden Confirms Why the US Needed This War (Lauria)

The U.S. got its war in Ukraine. Without it, Washington could not attempt to destroy Russia’s economy, orchestrate worldwide condemnation and lead an insurgency to bleed Russia, all part of an attempt to bring down its government. Joe Biden has now left no doubt that it’s true. The president of the United States has confirmed what Consortium News and others have been reporting since the beginnings of Russsiagate in 2016, that the ultimate U.S. aim is to overthrow the government of Vladimir Putin. “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said on Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. The White House and the State Dept. have been scrambling to explain away Biden’s remark. But it is too late.

“The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region,” a White House official said. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.” On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia, or anywhere else, for that matter,” the last words inserted for comic relief. Biden first gave the game away at his Feb. 24 White House press conference — the first day of the invasion. He was asked why he thought new sanctions would work when the earlier sanctions had not prevented Russia’s invasion. Biden said the sanctions were never designed to prevent Russia’s intervention but to punish it afterward. Therefore the U.S. needed Russia to invade.

“No one expected the sanctions to prevent anything from happening,” Biden said. “That has to sh- — this is going to take time. And we have to show resolve so he knows what’s coming and so the people of Russia know what he’s brought on them. That’s what this is all about.” It is all about the Russian people turning on Putin to overthrow him, which would explain Russia’s crackdown on anti-war protestors and the media. It was no slip of the tongue. Biden repeated himself in Brussels on Thursday: “Let’s get something straight … I did not say that in fact the sanctions would deter him. Sanctions never deter. You keep talking about that. Sanctions never deter. The maintenance of sanctions — the maintenance of sanctions, the increasing the pain … we will sustain what we’re doing not just next month, the following month, but for the remainder of this entire year. That’s what will stop him.”

Read more …

“NATO: 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops dead in Ukraine” – AP

“Russia’s Defense Ministry just announced that as of today 1,351 Russian servicemen have been killed..”

Propaganda Does Not Change The War – The Ukraine Is Still Losing (MoA)

Here are my own takes: The Russian forces around Kiev are making no offensive moves but defend against minor unsuccessful counterattacks from the Ukrainian side (see below). I have seen no hint that Russian forces strives to get into Kiev. It would be too costly to do that and for little strategic gain. But the forces east and west of Kiev are binding a big part of the Ukrainian army and prevent it from sending reserves towards Donbas. Yesterday an air attack or missile strike destroyed the largest Ukrainian fuel depot left near Kiev. The Ukrainian army will soon lose its mobility (if it hasn’t yet done so). Kharkiv is about to get encircled. Dnipro is a strategic target that the Russian forces will like to isolate or take by coming up from the south on both sides of the Dnieper river as well as from the north.

Russian forces destroyed a railway station between Dnipro and Donbas from where resupplies were flowing to the Ukrainian forces fighting there. After large progress yesterday Mariupol is now in a mop-up situation. The Azov forces still there have no chance to survive. Russian passage through Mykolayiv towards Odessa has proven to be difficult. Artillery is now softening up the Ukrainian defense lines. There are unconfirmed reports of large Ukrainian losses in Mykolayiv (300+) due to a missile strike on their barracks. The U.S. has tried to use yesterday’s NATO and G-7 meeting to push the Europeans towards sanctioning Russian hydrocarbon exports. It also tried to attach China to Russia and to get the Europeans to sanction its biggest trading partner. Both attempts failed. There will be no additional sanctions on Russia. And while the NATO communique mentions China it only urges it to leave its neutral position. Everyone knows that that is not going to happen.

The only thing NATO agreed on is the release of a new load of fresh propaganda. “NATO: 7,000 to 15,000 Russian troops dead in Ukraine” – AP. A senior NATO military official said the alliance’s estimate was based on information from Ukrainian authorities, what Russia has released — intentionally or not — and intelligence gathered from open sources. The official spoke on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by NATO. Andrei Martyanov looks back at the casualties Soviet forces suffered in 1943 when they liberated Donbas from then still first class German Wehrmacht forces. Back then there were more than 1,000,000 Soviet soldiers involved against some 600,000 Germans. Some 1,600 Soviet soldiers were killed each day in fierce fighting.

We are now supposed to believe that the much smaller operation against a less fierce and less capable enemy in the Ukraine is killing 550 Russian soldiers per day? That’s obviously nonsense. As one anonymous Pentagon officer said about the NATO number: “We continue to have low confidence in those estimates” For the record Russia’s Defense Ministry just announced that as of today 1,351 Russian servicemen have been killed and 3,825 wounded. (The losses of the Lugansk and Donetsk militia are not included in those numbers.)

Read more …

“Unlike what has just happened, the Ukrainian attack did not result in US sanctions on Ukraine. There were no meetings of the UN to condemn Ukrainian aggression.”

A Manufactured World Crisis (Rockwell)

Few people today ask the most important question about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many people want America to stay out of the fight, but even they don’t ask the vital question. Why does the world face a crisis today? Why has a border dispute between Russia and Ukraine escalated to the point where people fear nuclear war? The answer is simple. America, under the “leadership” of brain-dead Biden and the forces controlling him, has done this and, by doing so, brought the world to the brink of disaster. As always, the great Dr. Ron Paul gets it right: “Three weeks into this terrible war, the US is not pursuing talks with Russia. As Antiwar.com recently reported, instead of supporting negotiations between Ukraine and Russia that could lead to a ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed, the US government is actually escalating the situation which can only increase the bloodshed.

The constant flow of US and allied weapons into Ukraine and talk of supporting an extended insurgency does not seem designed to give Ukraine a victory on the battlefield but rather to hand Russia what Secretary of State Blinken called ‘a strategic defeat.’ It sounds an awful lot like the Biden Administration intends to fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian. The only solution for the US is to get out. Let the Russians and Ukrainians reach an agreement. That means no NATO for Ukraine and no US missiles on Russia’s borders? So what! End the war then end NATO.”

Let’s look at an analogy that will help us understand Dr. Paul’s point. For years, the Ukrainian government has attacked an area in the Donbas region that has seceded from Ukraine and formed an independent, pro-Russian, republic. Just before Putin moved against Ukraine, Ukraianians increased the scale and scope of their attack. Rick Rozoff describes what they did: “Two-thirds of Ukrainian army servicemen have been amassed along the Donbas contact line, Eduard Basurin, spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia, said on Thursday.

“Another three brigades are on their way [to Donbas], which is 20,000 to 25,000 troops more. The total number will reach 150,000, not to mention the nationalists. This is about two-thirds of Ukrainian Armed Forces’ personnel,” Basurin said on the Rossiya 1 television channel (VGTRK) on Thursday. Ukrainian troops are stationed along the 320-kilometer front line, he said.” Unlike what has just happened, the Ukrainian attack did not result in US sanctions on Ukraine. There were no meetings of the UN to condemn Ukrainian aggression. There was no talk of world war. On the contrary, Ukraine government used American weapons in its attack and asked America for more weapons to continue their attack. Let’s listen to Rick Rozoff again: “The Armed Forces of Ukraine used the American anti-tank missile system Javelin in the hostilities in Donbas. This was announced by the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kirill Budanov in an interview….

Read more …

“..It’s New Normal Spring! The birds are buzzing! The bees are chirping!”

Springtime for GloboCap (CJ Hopkins)

In the blink of an eye, without missing a beat, both the white-supremacist Putin-Nazis that plagued Democracy throughout the Trumpian Reich and the Covid-denying Anti-Vax Nazis that plagued the New Normals throughout the Global Pandemic were seamlessly replaced by the GloboCap Nazis … but, the thing is, the GloboCap Nazis are the good guys, and the Putin-Nazis and Anti-Vax Nazis are … well, I guess they’re still technically Nazis, except for the fact that they aren’t actual Nazis and are mostly just regular working-class people, whereas the GloboCap Nazis are actual Nazis (i.e., Sieg-heiling, Jew-hating, Hitler-worshiping Nazis), who the US military and Intelligence community, NATO, and assorted private “military advisors” have been funding, arming, and otherwise supporting since the 2014 Ukrainian “revolution” (i.e., coup) that they orchestrated to destabilize Russia as part of that global Clear-and-Hold operation (which operation, of course, doesn’t actually exist, and is just another conspiracy theory disseminated by Putin-Nazi traitors like me to erode support for the GloboCap Nazis, who are really just wholesome young Aryan boys who are trying to defend Democracy from Evil, and cleanse their country of the Jews and the Roma, and exterminate the Russian race, starting with the children, apparently).


[..] Or … wait. Sorry, I got all confused again. These are the good Nazis … the GloboCap Nazis! The actual Nazis, not the fictional Nazis. Or … wait, no … never mind. I mean, it’s not like it really matters anyway, right? The point is, it’s Spring, and the goat-footed balloon-Man whistles … no, strike the balloon-Man. This is not the time for balloon-Man references. It’s New Normal Spring! The birds are buzzing! The bees are chirping! The ICBMs are tumescent with rocket fuel and throbbing in their silos! The New Normal masses are out prancing around with their “vaccination passports” and medical-looking masks, in their official neo-Nazi Azov hoodies, waving their Ukrainian flags, and otherwise desperately trying to pretend that they haven’t just been colossally mindfucked by GloboCap for the last two years!

Read more …

One more penny of support for Ukraine after this, and we’re done.

“Ukraine is taking wounded captured Russian soldiers laying them out and shooting them in the legs and groin. While they are bleeding out, they’re putting bags over their heads and kicking them in the face until they die. This is Zelensky’s Ukraine in all its glory.”

Video Surfaces Showing Ukraine Military Torturing Russian POW’s (CTH)

[..] as the narrative from the media propaganda machine continues to frame the Ukraine military as ‘freedom fighters’, they are now faced with videos surfacing showing Ukraine military regulars torturing Russian prisoners of war (POW’s). This is problematic for both NATO and Ukraine, as they must protect the image of the Ukraine military in order to maintain public support and funding. The videos of the torture are graphic and very disturbing to watch, and I would not recommend watching them if you are not comfortable seeing men get shot, brutalized and beaten. They are graphic, bloody and violent. However, the torture itself, while censored for political need, aligns with the official NATO and Big Tech position that advocacy for violence against Russians is sanctioned.


The first video shows Russian soldiers with canvas bags placed on their heads and then beaten in the face with rifle butts. The prisoners are shot in the kneecaps and genitals, and they are left on the ground to bleed to death. Several vans then arrive at the Ukraine military compound in Kharkiv (roughly 20 miles from the Russian border), and as each POW is removed from the van they are shot in the knees. A second video shows Russian POW’s lying face down in a paved courtyard, or compound, and then being shot in the knees from the rear. Apparently, one of the videos contains Russian soldiers who were part of a reconnaissance mission in the region and were captured. The Ukraine military gleefully torture the captives and record their endeavors for posterity. It was the Ukraine military units bragging about the torture that exposed their brutal behavior. All of the scenes are gruesome in the extreme.

Read more …

“..in the commercial real estate market in NYC alone, only 35% of the office space is being rented. That means 65% is vacant, and it’s the same all over the country.”

WWIII Has Begun – Gerald Celente (USAW)

Renowned trends researcher and publisher of “The Trends Journal,” Gerald Celente, has long said “when all else fails, they take you to war.” To say our world is failing is a profound understatement. Celente proclaims, “World War III has begun. . . . I was born one year after the end of WWII, and crazy people will take you to war in the blink of an eye. . . . The war criminals are leading us into another war.” Celente says the reason for war usually surrounds a failing economy. This time is no different. Celente explains, “I have been saying that when all else fails, they take you to war. What followed the Great Depression? War. What followed the dot com bust? More war. That’s right. Georgie Bush’s ratings were way down, and the Nasdaq was down 66% before 9/11.”

Celente goes on to point out the economy in the USA is failing. For proof, look no further than the “16% inflation” destroying paychecks of Americans, especially at the gas pump. Celente also says in the commercial real estate market in NYC alone, only 35% of the office space is being rented. That means 65% is vacant, and it’s the same all over the country. Celente predicts, “We are headed for an economic calamity the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime. They are getting our minds off it with the war in Ukraine. . . . You know, I wrote in the magazine in the beginning of the year, we said that the Covid war would wind down by late March and mid-April. It’s winding down. . . . So, now, as we said in the magazine, we went from the Covid war to the Ukraine war, and now to world war.

We are headed to World War III. . . . There is not a peep about a cease-fire. Biden is only bragging about more weapons being sent in. Biden says we are going to defeat the Russians. We are not backing down. No one is talking about a cease-fire, and no one is talking about peace. If we don’t unite for peace, we are all going to die in war.”

Read more …

“..a series of Biden remarks that are far more insane — and far more consequential in their insanity — than anything Trump ever managed to blurt out.”

“The Adults in the Room” are Always the Most Colossal Screwups (Tracey)

There was a recurring theme during the presidency of Donald Trump that went something like this: Trump’s most impetuous and destructive instincts — particularly in the realm of foreign policy — were being nobly restrained by the so-called “Adults in the Room.” Thank heavens! These impressive “adults,” a cadre of seasoned military men serving in Trump’s administration, included James Mattis (Defense Secretary), H.R. McMaster (National Security Advisor), and John Kelly (Chief of Staff). Their presence in the halls of power was supposed to be taken as a profound relief: whether you feared Trump would conspire with Vladimir Putin to collapse “the rules-based international order” — likely because you heard that phrase intoned on some Think Tank webcast — or simply believed that Trump was nuts, you could rest assured that the fate of the Republic would be protected by this crew of Serious Adults watching gamely over Trump’s shoulder. If any crazy ideas got into his head, such as withdrawing US military personnel from overseas deployments or forging a diplomatic accord with Russia, they’d spring boldly into action and put a stop to it.

[..] The “adults in the room” mentality would subsequently take on an electoral personification in the 2020 candidacy of Joe Biden. After four years of Trump’s reckless and volatile tweets, Biden solemnly pledged to “restore honor and decency to the White House.” He assured a weary electorate that under his tutelage, Americans could once again be confident that their Commander-in-Chief would conduct himself with care and rigor on the world stage. The immense foreign policy expertise Biden garnered over his multi-decade career made him perfectly suited to such a weighty task. With all the chaos left in Trump’s wake, “the next president will face the enormous responsibility of picking up the pieces of America’s foreign policy,” Biden regularly declared on the campaign trail.

Well, in the past few days, Biden has faced his biggest test yet on this score. And behold the result: giant new “pieces” of foreign policy carnage splattered all over the place, thanks to a series of Biden remarks that are far more insane — and far more consequential in their insanity — than anything Trump ever managed to blurt out.

Read more …

Sanctions don’t matter much for sales. Other than they raise prices and enable Russia to sell at huge discounts, and still get the same net revenues.

India Is Snapping Up Cheap Russian Oil, And China Could Be Next (CNBC)

There’s been a “significant uptick” in Russian oil deliveries bound for India since March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began — and New Delhi looks set to buy even more cheap oil from Moscow, industry observers say. China, already the largest single buyer of Russian oil, is also widely expected to buy more oil from Russia at deep discounts, they say. This could mean higher crude prices to come. Major oil importing countries such as India and China have been grappling with higher crude prices, which have soared since last year. While oil prices have been volatile in recent weeks, swinging between gains and losses, they are still around 80% higher compared to a year ago.


“We believe that China, and to a lesser extent, India will step up to buy heavily discounted Russian crude,” said Matt Smith, lead oil analyst at Kpler. This would mark a stark contrast from the rhetoric across major world powers and companies which are eschewing Russian oil. As a result of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine, the U.S. has hit the rogue country with sanctions on energy, while the U.K. plans to do so by the end of the year. The European Union is also considering whether to do the same. But sanctions would leave a gap in the market with Russia finding itself with excess crude it’s unable to sell, analysts said.

Read more …

My bet is they won’t be able to keep it under wraps. Question is timing. It’s already been two years.

House Republicans Will Subpoena Hunter Biden (NYP)

If the GOP retakes control of Congress, Hunter Biden will be hauled before the House of Representatives and forced to reveal the identity of “the big guy” and address other unanswered questions about the contents of his infamous laptop, Republicans said. “We will subpoena Hunter Biden,” said House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik bluntly in an interview with The Post. Hunter Biden, 52, abandoned his laptop at a Delaware computer repair ship in April 2019. The hard drive contained years’ worth of emails, texts, legal documents and photos detailing Hunter’s prolific international business ventures. Shop owner John Paul Mac Isaac gave the hard drive to the FBI and eventually offered a copy to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

The former mayor ultimately handed it over to The Post, which published an expose a month before the 2020 presidential election. The story of the laptop was falsely dismissed by much of the media as Russian propaganda and censored on Facebook and Twitter at the behest of the Democratic party. Last week the New York Times finally admitted the hard drive was real and at the center of a sprawling federal investigation into the president’s son. “It should concern every American that they did this for the Biden family’s financial gain, which came at the cost of our national security,” Stefanik said of the laptop evidence. The latest threat from GOP leadership comes amid growing calls by Republicans nationwide for a broad new inquiry into the president’s son.

“The big guy” — a mysterious moniker found on the hard drive — is described as a partner in a Chinese business venture entitled to 10 percent of the profits, according to a laptop email from Hunter Biden’s business partner James Gilliar. The big guy’s share was to be held for him by Hunter. Hunter Biden has never voluntarily explained who “the big guy” is — and has never been asked the question in multiple friendly interviews. “That’s one of the critical questions — perhaps the most critical question,” said Stefanik, adding that she believes “the big guy” was Joe Biden. Tony Bobulinski, another Hunter Biden business partner who appeared frequently in hard-drive emails, has said there is “no question” President Biden was “the big guy.”

Read more …

a 4.5-mile section of a pipeline

Shutting Down Canadian Pipeline Would Cost US Consumers $23.7 Billion (ET)

A recently published analysis by a consumer advocacy nonprofit maintains that shutting down a 4.5-mile section of a nearly 70-year-old pipeline that spans the Great Lakes from Wisconsin to Ontario would impose $23.7 billion in higher fuel costs for families and businesses in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Consumer Energy Alliance’s (CEA) 14-page report estimates closing Canada-based Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, would spur regional fuel price spikes of between 9.47 and 11.66 percent “independent of any other market conditions, such as the surge in fuel prices observed over the past 12 months that are tied to international oil markets and logistical challenges caused by the pandemic.”

Enbridge and the state of Michigan have been engaged in litigation for more than a year over the pipeline after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November 2020 revoked the pipeline’s original 1953 lakebed easement and ordered the pipeline shut down by May 2021, citing the risk of a spill in the ecologically sensitive straits. Enbridge ignored the order—the pipeline is still funneling 540,000 barrels per day (bpd) of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) through the straits—and petitioned to have the case heard in federal courts. In October, the government of Canada backed Enbridge in its challenge and invoked a 1977 pipeline treaty with the United States to demand bilateral negotiations at the federal level.

In November, a federal judge transferred Whitmer’s suit out of Michigan’s courts. That suit was subsequently dropped but a similar lawsuit filed by Michigan Attorney General Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel remains in state courts, although a ruling is pending regarding its jurisdictional status. Built in 1953 by Bechtel Corp., the Line 5 pipeline is actually two 20-inch-diameter parallel pipes with an enamel coating three times thicker than a typical pipeline. Enbridge maintains there has never been a leak in its 69-year operational existence.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Mar 072022
 


Marcel Duchamp The king and queen surrounded by swift nudes 1912

 

One Glorious Day In Sevastopol 12 Years Ago (Peter Hitchens)
Ukraine is Trying to Goad the US into World War III (Tracey)
Putin’s Last Warning Before Beginning Of The 2nd Phase (Saker)
No, Russia Didn’t Get its Propaganda From John Mearsheimer (IC)
The War on Humanity… (McKinney)
Maria Zakharova’s Full Statement About Russia And Greece (GR)
Foreign Fighters Arrive in Ukraine to Repel Russian Invasion (LI)
Russia’s Yamal-Europe Westbound Gas Pipeline Flows Stopped On Friday (R.)
Russian Showdown and Food Prices (Cortes)
China Ag Minister Says Winter Wheat Condition Could Be Worst In History (R.)
Trojan Horse | The Problem with Gene-based Injections – Part 2 (Remnant)
CDC Warned ‘Criminal’ Fraud Investigation ‘Ready to Go’ After Midterms (BN)

 

 

“The gas price in Europe has more than doubled since February 23: from 88 euros per megawatt hour to a record peak of 212 euros on Friday afternoon. Compared to a year ago (less than 17 euros), that is about a twelvefold increase.”

 

 

 

 

Karen
https://twitter.com/i/status/1500399860335493124

 

 

 

 

A Canadian
https://twitter.com/i/status/1500632350207754240

 

 

“..to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace..”

One Glorious Day In Sevastopol 12 Years Ago (Peter Hitchens)

In the long-ago summer of 2010, I found myself in the beautiful harbour of Sevastopol, surveying the rival fleets of Russia and Ukraine as they rode at anchor in the lovely Crimean sunshine. One great fortress was adorned with banners proclaiming ‘Glory to the Ukrainian Navy!’ Another frowning bastion across the water bore the words ‘Glory to the Russian Navy!’ In the streets of that elegant city, with its porticoes and statues and monuments to repeated wars, sailors from the two fleets mingled on the pavements. The Russians looked like Russians, with their huge hats and Edwardian uniforms. The Ukrainians looked more like the US Navy on shore leave in San Diego. It was almost funny to see. I hoped at that time that it would work out well. For the Ukrainians had begun to be silly. In a country crammed with Russians, they were trying to make Russian a second-class language.

Russians who had lived there happily for decades were pressured to take Ukrainian citizenship and adopt Ukrainian versions of their Christian names. The schools were promoting a national hero, Stepan Bandera, who Russians strongly disliked and regarded as a terrorist. And they were teaching history which often had an anti-Russian tinge. Quite a few people told me they felt put upon by these policies. Why couldn’t they just be left alone? Until that point, Ukraine had been a reasonably harmonious country in its 20-odd years of existence. After that visit I saw big trouble coming, both in the Crimea and in the Don Basin, where I also travelled that year. Far out among the abandoned slagheaps of the dying coalfields, I found the decaying semi-deserted town of Gorlovka, now in the midst of an unofficial war-zone, where it has been since 2014.

This town had been officially renamed Horlivka by Ukraine in its high-handed way, though hardly anybody I met there called it that. Gorlovka in those days still hosted the rather pleasant Cafe Barnsley, the last echo of the Soviet days when Gorlovka had been twinned with Barnsley in a gesture of Communist solidarity with Arthur Scargill’s miners. I remember, that boiling hot, almost silent afternoon, enjoying a Russian beer there, while listening to music from a Russian station on the radio. I wrote rather vaguely at the time that the people of Crimea and Donbas were hoping for – and expecting – a Russian future. I thought that if Ukraine wanted to be a rigid ethnic nationalist state, then some sort of peaceful deal with its Russian minority was going to be needed. Little did I know what passions I had touched on.

[..] I would like to end with two quotations. The first is from the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman who said: ‘I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.’ The other is from the ‘Benedictus’ in the Church of England’s 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which asks God ‘to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace’, which I fervently pray, for I am not sure that anything else will now do any good.

Read more …

“His nonstop lobbying offensive included a soaring address Friday to what some media outlets ludicrously described as an “anti-war rally”..”

Ukraine is Trying to Goad the US into World War III (Tracey)

The reason we know Ukrainian officials are trying to goad the US into war is because that’s exactly what they say they’re doing. There is no ambiguity here — at this very moment, a furious multi-front lobbying blitz is underway to solicit full-fledged US military intervention in Ukraine, and therefore open warfare against Russia. To put it bluntly, a foreign country’s representatives are doing all they possibly can to instigate the closest thing anyone on Earth has ever experienced to World War III. At the forefront of this campaign is the president, Zelensky, who’s been transformed overnight into an international folk hero. His nonstop lobbying offensive included a soaring address Friday to what some media outlets ludicrously described as an “anti-war rally” in Frankfurt, Germany.

Such a description is ludicrous because the headline takeaway from the rally was Zelensky passionately condemning the alleged cowardice of NATO countries — for, as yet, refusing to launch a war against Russia. “All the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you, because of your weakness,” he inveighed. In his pro-war advocacy, Zelensky uses the same clever euphemism that has now entered heavy circulation: “No Fly Zone.” At this point, everyone with a bare-minimum understanding of what a US-administered “No Fly Zone” would entail has readily acknowledged that it means direct war with Russia — and by extension a radically increased risk of nuclear annihilation. Still, this is what Zelensky is calling for any chance he gets, in his true-to-form showbiz style.

(For those unaware, his professional endeavors prior to assuming the presidency included a stint as “the Ryan Seacrest of Ukraine,” as VICE once put it, not to mention his role playing the character of “President” on a comedy TV show.) During an interview with CNN last week, masterfully choreographed from his underground bunker, Zelensky was asked what he would tell Joe Biden ahead of the State of the Union speech. His answer: impose the No Fly Zone immediately. To dispel any concerns about the dangers of his demand, Zelensky added that it “does not mean dragging NATO into this war.” Well, phew! That’s a relief. “Frankly, you know, everyone is drawn into the war now,” he explained. Unfortunately, if you actually examine the logic that’s operative here, your relief should quickly turn to dread. Zelensky is saying that NATO (or in other words, the US) has already been dragged into the war.

World War III has already commenced, is what he’s saying. In which case, a “No Fly Zone” wouldn’t really be an escalation per se — it would just be a retaliatory strike in a war that’s already ongoing, whether we like it or not. That’s the argument. In an op-ed generously facilitated by the New York Times last week, Zelensky’s chief of staff — also writing from the storied underground bunker, we’re told — laid out the logic even more clearly. He implored: We are calling on the West to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. We recognize that this would be a serious escalation in the war and that it could bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia. But we firmly believe that Russia won’t stop at just Ukraine, which would potentially drag NATO into this conflict anyway. A no-fly zone would at least give Mr. Putin some pause.

Read more …

“The logical solution would be to offer the combatants (and the civilians) corridors to exit the city, but the West can’t have that.”

Putin’s Last Warning Before Beginning Of The 2nd Phase (Saker)

Yesterday Putin had a most interesting conversations with members of what look like members of an flight attendant union. We hope to bring the the whole thing subtitled in English later today, but here is the key sentence made by Putin during that conversation: “If the leadership of Ukraine continues to do what they are doing, it will call into question the future of Ukrainian statehood, and that will be entirely their responsibility”. I think that it is important to understand the context in which Putin made this statement. As a reminder
• The Ukronazi armed forces are down to less than 25% of its original size.
• Almost all the remaining forces are in some type or another of cauldrons.
• Russia has full air supremacy
• The Ukronazi fleet does not exist anymore
• In spite of all the propaganda, no help from abroad will affect the outcome of this war
• It appears that Russia will surround Odessa and eventually take control of the entire Ukrainian Black Sea coast

In other words, what seems to be shaping up is that Russia will soon have control over the entire Ukraine except for the western provinces (west of Vinnitsa and Zhitomir). In other words, the war is over, at least militarily. There will be a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators tomorrow, and it shall be interesting to see if something, anything, will come out of it. The west is clearly determined to heroically fight Russia down to the last Ukrainian. Russia wants to stop this operation as soon as possible, but only after her double goals of 1) disarmament and 2) denazification are achieved. Right now the big question is Kiev. It’s a big city with plenty of civilians and probably 30-50 thousand combatants of all different kinds (VSU, SBU, Volkssturm, deathsquads, looters, etc.). The logical solution would be to offer the combatants (and the civilians) corridors to exit the city, but the West can’t have that.

Now if the Ukies won’t vacate Kiev, then some rather serious fighting will take place inside the city and clearing the city from the Nazis will demand the involvement of a major Russian force. It appears that these forces are now in their staging areas all around the city (except for the south). Think about it this way: the frontline (line of contact) is now very long and the Ukies don’t have enough forces to even try to hold any frontline in such a context. However, remember the number of Russian forces deployed along the Ukrainian border – about 100’000+ or so soldiers? It appears that there are currently not enough Russia forces to fully exploit the Russian advances over the past ten days. Alternatively, we could say that the Russian force is big enough, but that now it has to sharply increase its use of firepower to further develop its operations.

Read more …

I watched the 22 min. opening statement/analysis by Maersheimer. Highly recommended.

No, Russia Didn’t Get its Propaganda From John Mearsheimer (IC)

A minor squall on Twitter this past week may have largely gone unnoticed amid the larger hurricane about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But it’s worth taking a close look at it, because it illustrates something significant about U.S. foreign policy since World War II, and how propaganda works everywhere. It started when Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — the equivalent to the U.S. State Department — did something unusual: It tweeted out an endorsement of a 2014 article in Foreign Affairs — the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations, probably the most influential American think tank on U.S. foreign policy. The piece was by John Mearsheimer, a professor in the political science department at the University of Chicago and a prominent member of the “realist” school of foreign policy thought. You can understand why the Russian government liked it, because it was called “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.”

This led to a response from Anne Applebaum, a neoconservative journalist who’s currently a staff writer at The Atlantic. “Now wondering if the Russians didn’t actually get their narrative from Mearshimer et al.,” she wrote. “Moscow needed to say West was responsible for Russian invasions (Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, Ukraine), and not their own greed and imperialism. American academics provided the narrative.” The “et al” part is important here. In U.S. political lore NATO was created in 1949 as a defensive military alliance against the Soviet Union and its allies. The reality was somewhat different. But for realists in general, not just Mearsheimer, the Soviet collapse and the end of the Cold War meant that an expansion of NATO could lead to dangerous conflict with Russia.

Fifty American foreign policy leaders, largely realists, wrote to President Bill Clinton in 1997 that pushing NATO’s borders eastward would be “a policy error of historic proportions. We believe that NATO expansion will decrease allied security and unsettle European stability … In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West, bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement, and galvanize resistance in the Duma …”

Read more …

“We are all Russians now.”

The War on Humanity… (McKinney)

The current situation in Ukraine has once again invigorated the lying Western media and sent them into an anti-Russian frenzy. For the last two years the media has been enthusiastically pushing the genocidal Covid narrative on behalf of the Globalist faction. Whatever doubtful credibility they had prior to Covid they have destroyed with their relentless lies. With an astonishing lack of self-awareness they are now pushing the anti-Russian narrative like the unprincipled mindless hacks that they are. Ignoring both facts and context they are relentlessly promoting war propaganda to justify this hostility to their own beleaguered populations. The unfortunate reality is that despite unprecedented distrust in the media that propaganda works. Anti-Russian sentiment is rising throughout the West.

We have witnessed the same phenomena with the rabid anti-China narrative emanating from Western governments and their client stenographers in the media. The message is clear, unless you are a pliant puppet of the Anglo-American empire, then obviously you are evil and must be destroyed. The truth of course is deeper, the real war the Globalists are fighting is against the citizenry of every country on earth. As the Covid atrocity is being rapidly exposed the repression of the people is the only option open to the New World Order Davos cabal. As has always been the case, a war abroad is the best excuse to impose tyranny at home. The Western Neo-liberal governments of America, Canada, Australia and most of Europe cannot afford to be removed from power. The full anger of the people will be unleashed full power against those who imposed the Genocidal Covid lie upon them.

Trudeau, Macron et al will be held to account (one way or another) for their pivotal roles in this atrocity. They cannot allow that to happen, they have too much to lose. The tragic and unnecessary conflict in the Ukraine can be viewed as the “Great Reset War”. Although targeted towards Russia for media purposes, its real objective is the further subjugation of the peoples of their own countries. The Western Neo-liberal agenda is failing on every front, economically, socially and morally. The Cabal has destroyed the once prosperous and free societies that they governed. The dystopian future that they have planned for the world is now plain for all to see. It has been on display in Canada and Australia, New Zealand and throughout Europe. It is a prospect that should alarm everybody.

“The Great Reset” is the Cabal’s way of ensuring that the same Globalists who plunged the world into chaos are still in charge after the coming inevitable collapse. The Green agenda and the 4th industrial revolution are about de-industrialising the world and destroying successful industrial competitors such as Russia and China. Not surprisingly, neither Russia or China, along with India and Iran are going along with this insidious plan. They are not alone, many countries from Africa, South America and Asia are also gravitating more towards the Russian/Chinese orbit. All have good reasons to be distrustful and angry at the Empire. The Cabal is weak and failing, it has created powerful enemies who are formidable obstacles to the New World Order and the Great reset. Expect this to embolden other countries to resist the Empire’s plans.

Anne-Laure Bonnel

Read more …

Greece was for a long time perceived as being closer to Russia than other nations, both at home and abroad. That is why Zakharova addresses the current situation.

Maria Zakharova’s Full Statement About Russia And Greece (GR)

“We noticed the unprecedented campaign launched in Greece to defame Russia’s policy. Senior officials in Athens allow themselves to make crude accusations against our country and its leadership, they are literally competing with their like-minded people. They hypocritically speak of an “unprovoked attack” against Ukraine, for the first time since World War II, a “mass invasion” and so on. It should be recalled that with the efforts, first of all, of the US and its satellites, wars and conflicts have shaken the world for the last decades – the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the operations in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. No one has taken responsibility for the enormous sacrifices and suffering of the peoples of these countries. Today, the crimes of the Kiev regime, which came to power as a result of the bloody coup of 2014, remain in the shadow of the new wave of anti-Russian criticism.

The fact that Crimea and Sevastopol paid for their free reunification with Russia with total blockade and Western sanctions is silenced. In the besieged Donbas, as a result of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian clearing operations, more than 14,000 civilians have been killed in the past eight years, and the Russians have been offered to leave Ukraine. The meaning of the daily shootings can be explained, among others, by the Greek expatriates who live in the territories of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic. The European Union has chosen to silently watch the extermination of the Donbass civilian population, becoming an accomplice in the long-standing genocide of the people of southeastern Ukraine. Now Europe, including Greece, is fully integrated into the ranks of the Kiev regime’s advocates, while the anti-Russia hysteria cultivated by the authorities has reached a boiling point.

On this basis, profoundly wrong, criminal decisions are made, including the shipment of weapons to Ukraine. Eventually, weapons will be turned against civilians, including Greeks, by Ukrainian nationalist battalions that use them as human shields and who have already fallen victim to this inhumane tactic. In the name of collective Western plans – to do harm to Russia at all costs – common sense has been sacrificed. Bilateral ties are being deliberately damaged, and Russian-Greek relations, unfortunately, are no exception. Athens actively supports the EU sanctions regime. They accuse us of so-called “energy blackmail”, proclaiming the goal of rapid independence from Russian gas, the uninterrupted supply of which for decades has been a stabilizing factor for the national energy sector. With the collective directive of Brussels, the Greek sky closed for the Russian airlines.

The order was given for the suspension of any cooperation in the field of culture, for the interruption of the Common Dedicated Years. There are calls for a complete cessation of any cooperation. Essentially, for the sake of vague and dubious goals, the Greek leadership was to nullify our own common historical heritage, which only yesterday it characterized as its natural advantage in cooperating with Russia. “Time will put everything in its place, will show who was right and who – the critical one – showed a lack of insight, made the wrong choice. We believe that the eternal ties that unite the peoples of Russia and Greece will withstand these trials as well.“

Read more …

Hemingway romanticism?

Foreign Fighters Arrive in Ukraine to Repel Russian Invasion (LI)

At least 16,000 foreign nationals have volunteered to join an “international legion” created to resist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed, after Kiev lifted visa requirements for anyone willing to fight. “Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country, please come over,” Zelensky pleaded at a recent press conference, adding “We will give you weapons.” Though the president offered no details on the international fighting force, including the origin of the volunteers, the request comes as Kiev appears to grow more desperate for help in pushing back Russian troops – having already declared martial law and a “general mobilization” of its populace. Those policies include conscription for men aged 18-60 and the commandeering of civilian vehicles and structures, while Ukrainian convicts with military experience are being released from prison to back up the war effort.

Despite the lack of specifics from officials, however, media reports suggest that foreigners from a long list of nations are lining up to enlist. Around 400 Swedes have signed up for the legion, according to the country’s TT News Agency, which cited the group’s coordinator Philip Brannval. The first flight departed Thursday for Poland – thought to be a logistics hub for arms and aid deliveries – and from there the volunteers will enter Ukraine by land, Brannval said. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, meanwhile, announced on Thursday that the government would not punish those seeking to join up with Ukrainian forces, as the country typically prohibits citizens from serving in foreign armies. Up to 300 Czechs have reportedly vowed to ship out. Prague, unlike non-aligned Stockholm, is among NATO’s 30 member states.

The Czech government is also now moving to criminalize speech supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Russian invasion. Czech police report that they are already investigating hundreds of people for alleged support for Moscow, with criminal proceedings in nine cases. A small handful of American, Canadian and German special forces veterans are also set to join the fight, according to interviews by BuzzFeed News. The outlet noted the group – numbering just 10 people in total – is “NATO-trained and experienced in close combat and counterterrorism.” A pair of retired American infantry officers will also fly over to provide “leadership” for the squad, while several other US and Canadian citizens also told Reuters they intend to answer Zelensky’s call.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told reporters over the weekend that Ottawa would leave the decision to fight up to individual citizens. The US State Department, however, continues to urge Americans to avoid travel to Ukraine amid the hostilities.

Read more …

“Since December, however, it has been operating in reverse and driving European gas prices higher.”

Russia’s Yamal-Europe Westbound Gas Pipeline Flows Stopped On Friday (R.)

Westbound natural gas flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline stopped on Friday while Gazprom’s bids for additional transit capacity via Ukraine stand at high levels, data from pipeline operators shows. Flows to Germany via the Mallnow metering point stood at about 101,119 kilowatt hours per hour (kWh/h) earlier on Friday morning and were about 13.5 million kilowatt hours per hour overnight. Russian energy company Gazprom on Thursday resumed westbound natural gas supplies via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Germany from Poland and booked 7.8 million kilowatt-hours per hour of gas transit capacity via the pipeline for Friday morning until Saturday morning.


The pipeline between Poland and Germany usually accounts for about 15% of Russia’s westbound supply of gas to Europe and Turkey. Since December, however, it has been operating in reverse and driving European gas prices higher. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would continue to supply gas to world markets, though the United States and its European allies have been strengthening sanctions against Moscow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more …

“Washington’s insistence on hugely escalating the economic war with Russia incites enormous risks, including for our food.”

Russian Showdown and Food Prices (Cortes)

Since the invention of synthetic ammonia-based fertilizers roughly a century ago, yields on crops have rocketed higher, meaning far more output from every acre that is planted. During that same time, the global population went from 1.7 billion to 7.7 billion people, yet agriculture kept pace, feeding a more crowded and prosperous world, largely because of advances in fertilizers. Dependable and affordable foodstuffs became almost a given, especially for America, a land blessed with “amber waves of grain.” Now, much of that progress is put at risk. A Midwestern farmer explains the economics of the situation. Ben Riensche farms 16,000 acres in Iowa and warns Americans: “You think they squawk about having gas go from three to four dollars a gallon? Wait until the grocery bill is $1,000 a month.”


There are two main causes for this massive input price appreciation. The first is the overall explosion in inflation caused by the misbegotten policies of the Biden administration, including his eco-radical war on energy, a critical component of fertilizer production. But the second, new issue is Russia. The US has declared an unprecedent economic war against Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. While the offense against Ukraine’s sovereignty is inexcusable, Washington’s insistence on hugely escalating the economic war with Russia incites enormous risks, including for our food. Cutting off Russia equates to havoc for farming, right into planting season. Bloomberg’s fertilizer analyst Alexis Maxwell describes Russia’s importance: “No other nation has the same breadth of readily exportable fertilizer supply.” Not surprisingly, the price of fertilizer storms higher. This chart depicts the St. Louis Fed’s Fertilizer Index which combines synthetic ammonia, nitric acid, and urea.

Read more …

China is buying up all the world’s food.

China Ag Minister Says Winter Wheat Condition Could Be Worst In History (R.)

The condition of China’s winter wheat crop could be the “worst in history”, the agriculture minister said on Saturday, raising concerns about grain supplies in the world’s biggest wheat consumer. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliament meeting, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian said that rare heavy rainfall last year delayed the planting of about one-third of the normal wheat acreage. read more A survey of the winter wheat crop taken before the start of winter found that the amount of first- and second-grade crop was down by more than 20 percentage points, Tang said. “Not long ago we went to the grassroots to do a survey and many farming experts and technicians told us that crop conditions this year could be the worst in history,” he said. “This year’s grain production indeed faces huge difficulties.”

The minister’s comments underscore concerns about China’s grain supply at the same time as the war between Russia and Ukraine, which together account for about 29% of global wheat exports, has disrupted supplies causing wheat prices to surge to 14-year highs. However, Tang is confident China can ensure a bumper harvest of summer grain thanks to strong policy and technical support and the improving crop condition for the grain. Fuelled by the Ukraine crisis, wheat prices in China soared to a record this week on existing domestic supply worries. Tang’s comments also come as Beijing has refocused on food security, a long-standing priority for the central leadership that has become increasingly prominent in policy since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

China’s state planner said in its own report at the parliament meeting that grain supply remains tight, despite consecutive good harvests in recent years. To address the issue, the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) report said China will ensure that grain acreage for the year stays above 117.33 million hectares (289.93 million acres). China will also increase the production of soybeans and other oilseed crops, the NDRC said, reiterating top policy priorities in the farm sector. The country will also build up momentum to increase corn output, it said. China’s corn imports surged to a record last year, amid soaring domestic prices and low inventories. China will guarantee the supply-demand balance of grain, edible oil, cotton, sugar and fertilisers through the effective use of reserves and imports, the NDRC said.

Read more …

“Before your cells fused with LNPs, they were healthy..”

Trojan Horse | The Problem with Gene-based Injections – Part 2 (Remnant)

Here is a summary of the argument that these injections induce an autoimmune response against the cells which fuse with the lipid nanoparticles (LNP) that carry the mRNA transcript encoding the Spike protein.

  1. Spike-protein encoding genes are wrapped in lipid nanoparticles (LNP)
  2. LNPs are injected into a human
  3. LNPs enter the bloodstream
  4. Bloodstream spreads LNPs throughout the body
  5. Cells fuse with LNP & make the Spike protein – the antigen
  6. Cells then present the antigen via MHC I í! Train killer T-cells
  7. Killer T-cells circulate around the body and destroy any cell that is presenting the Spike protein antigen


This is the critical final step:
• Before your cells fused with LNPs, they were healthy
• After vaccination, killer T-cells now perceive those healthy cells as infected – requiring destruction

This is the definition of an autoimmune response – the host immune system turns on its own healthy cells. Unfortunately for us, this is just one of the consequences of these injections… [..] the aforementioned injections contain an RNA sequence which encodes the SARS-CoV-2 chimeric Spike protein. This RNA sequence is modified, and encased by lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) – fancy talk for nanometer-sized bubbles of lipids. One of the most significant obstacles in gene-therapy is a delivery system. You cannot just rub genes on a person’s skin, or give them a pill to swallow, and hope the genes makes it inside the target cells without degradation.

Lipid-based delivery systems have proven to be an effective mechanism in delivering chemicals, proteins, and gene-sequences to cells & tissue. LNPs serve two functions:
• Protect the payload while it reaches the target tissue
• Seamless fusion of LNPs with cell walls (also lipid bi-layers) to deliver the payload
However, the challenges do not end there. These LNPs have their own weaknesses which ultimately affects their degradation by the host cells. Thus, several other modifications have been developed over the years to compensate for this, including adding charges to the LNP (positive or cationic) and PEGylation (attaching a modified Polyethylene Glycol).


The relationship between RNA, cationic Lipids, and neutral lipids – Ge et al, 2021

Pay careful attention to the above image. As this gene-containing particle enters the cell (cytoplasm), the cationic (positively-charged) lipids allow it to form a lipid bi-layer that stabilizes the payload from the destructive forces inside the cell. The manufacturers will tell you that this is merely to protect the RNA, so it can get to the ribosomes and be transcribed into proteins. But, the cell is far more dynamic and complex. It will not just do what we want it to do.

Read more …

“If you think about it, the underlying thesis is, ‘well, the CDC didn’t say that, so therefore you’re spreading medical misinformation.’ But now we learn who’s really been spreading medical misinformation is the CDC.“

CDC Warned ‘Criminal’ Fraud Investigation ‘Ready to Go’ After Midterms (BN)

Dr. Robert Malone, a noted mRNA vaccine researcher, and Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the most-published medical doctors in the world, gave a joint statement to The New American on Friday where they accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of perpetrating “criminal” fraud. “In my opinion, withholding scientific data constitutes fraud,” Dr. Malone argued. “This is scientific fraud. In my opinion, if I was to publish a study in which I had a large body of epidemiologic data, and I decided to only public publish part of it because I wanted to advance some agenda, I would be guilty of scientific fraud. The paper would be withdrawn. I would be kicked out of my academic institution. I would be guilty of scientific fraud. That’s what this is.”

“And the CDC has, I’ve watched it over the years, become more and more and more a political arm and not serving its its function,” he continued. “This is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They are the archive of information which physicians have relied on for decades through the MMWR publication. They are the ones that are responsible for providing us the frontline data about what’s going on and where it’s happening and they have stopped performing that function.” “They no longer release that detailed information through MMWR,” Dr. Malone went on. “They have become purely a political organization and arm of the executive branch. And what they have done is in my opinion, obscene. And it is part of what’s underlied the attacks that Peter and I have sustained from the press. If you think about it, the underlying thesis is, ‘well, the CDC didn’t say that, so therefore you’re spreading medical misinformation.’ But now we learn who’s really been spreading medical misinformation is the CDC.”

[..] “There are going to be legal consequences, and I believe they have a choice,” Dr. Malone said. “These government employees that have been participating in hiding this data, they can either be defendants or they can be witnesses. It is time for them to step up and speak out. And if they want do a whistleblower action, speak to Senator Ron Johnson, his office is in business looking for this.” “And when the midterms are done and he’s reelected and the Republicans take the Senate, he’s going to be in charge of the Senate subcommittee on investigations,” Malone added. “And I can tell you that he is ready to go.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Dec 062016
 
 December 6, 2016  Posted by at 10:01 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  1 Response »


John M. Fox Midtown Dealers Corp. and Hudson showroom, Broadway at W. 62nd Street, NY 1947

Mark Carney: World Is Facing The “First Lost Decade Since The 1860s” (BBG)
Trump Must Fire Janet Yellen – First Thing! (Stockman)
Matteo Renzi’s Resignation Temporarily ‘Frozen’ By Italian President (G.)
Italian Bank Shares Slump as Renzi Loss Adds to Uncertainty (BBG)
Italy Already Requested Monte Dei Paschi Bailout Before Referendum (R.)
Could Renzi’s Exit Lead To An Italian Bank Rescue? (G.)
How Italy Became This Century’s ‘Sick Man Of Europe’ (G.)
Standing Rock Is A Modern-Day Indian War. This Time Indians Are Winning (G.)
Trump Advisors Aim To Privatize Oil-Rich Indian Reservations (R.)
Naked Capitalism Demands Retraction, Apology Over WaPo Fake News Story (NC)
Russia Remains The Only Target Country Of NATO’s Nuclear Weapons (SC)
The Deepening Deep State (Jim Kunstler)
Eurozone Agrees Debt Relief For Greece Amid IMF Row (AFP)
Greek Home Sellers Getting Paid In Banks Abroad (Kath.)
Greek Court Rejects Extradition Of 3 Turkish Officers Accused Of Coup (AFP)

 

 

But he had nothing to do with it!

Mark Carney: World Is Facing The “First Lost Decade Since The 1860s” (BBG)

Mark Carney launched a defense of globalization and set out a manifesto for central bankers and governments to boost growth and make the world economy more equal. The Bank of England Governor said they must acknowledge that gains from trade and technology haven’t been felt by all, improve the balance of monetary and fiscal policy, and move to a more inclusive model where “everyone has a stake in globalization.” Carney’s speech in Liverpool, England, comes amid rising disquiet about the state of the world economy and political status quo that helped propel Donald Trump to victory in the U.S. presidential election and boost support for the U.K.’s exit from the European Union.

Trump isn’t right to favor more protectionist policies in response to globalization, Carney said in a television interview broadcast after his speech. The answer is to “redistribute some of the benefits of trade” and ensure that workers are able to acquire new skills. “Weak income growth has focused growing attention on its distribution,” Carney said in the speech. “Inequalities which might have been tolerated during generalized prosperity are felt more acutely when economies stagnate.” Describing the world as facing the “first lost decade since the 1860s,” the BOE governor said public support for open markets is under threat and rejecting them would be a “tragedy, but is a possibility.”

Carney also defended the central bank’s current policy stance. The BOE has faced criticism from politicians after officials took measures including cutting interest rates and expanding asset purchases in August to support the economy after Britain’s June vote to leave the EU. “Low rates are not the caprice of central bankers, but rather the consequence of powerful global forces, including debt, demographics and distribution,” he said, adding that they helped to prevent a deeper economic downturn.

Read more …

“Essentially, the United States is held to be a closed economy resembling a giant bathtub.” Stockman says the Trump team have contacted him.

Trump Must Fire Janet Yellen – First Thing! (Stockman)

The Keynesian statists at the Fed think the devastating financial busts we’ve suffered since 1987 were due to a mix of too much investor exuberance, too much deregulation, a one-time housing mania and a smattering of Wall Street greed and corruption, too. And that’s not to overlook some of the more far-fetched reasons for the two big financial meltdowns of this century. Foremost among these is the Greenspan-Bernanke fairy tale that Chinese workers making under $1 per hour were saving too much money, thereby causing low global mortgage rates and a runaway housing boom in America! Needless to say, not only are these rationalizations completely bogus; but so is the entire underlying rationale for Keynesian monetary central planning.

The claim that market capitalism is chronically and destructively unstable and that the business cycle needs constant management and stimulus by the state and its central banking branch is belied by the historical facts. Every economic setback of modern times, including the foundation events of the Great Depression — was caused by the state. The catalyst was either inflationary war finance or central bank fueled credit expansion, not the deficiencies or inherent instabilities’ of market capitalism. Nevertheless, the Fed’s model robs the millions of workers, entrepreneurs, investors and savers who comprise the ground level economy and the billions of supply-side prices for labor and capital through which they interact and ultimately generate output, income and wealth.

Instead, the Fed focuses on the macroeconomic aggregates as the key to achieving its so-called dual mandate of stable prices and maximum employment. Essentially, the United States is held to be a closed economy resembling a giant bathtub. In the pursuit of “full employment,” the central bank’s job is to keep it pumped full to the brim with “aggregate demand.” But the domestic macroeconomic aggregates of employment and inflation cannot be measured on an accurate and timely basis. Neither can they be reliably and directly influenced by the crude tools of the central bank, such as pegging the money market rate, manipulating the yield curve via QE, levitating Wall Street animal spirits via wealth-effects and various forms of open-mouth intervention such as “forward guidance.”

Read more …

The president picking favorites. Dangerous at this stage. Italy’s had technocrat ‘caretakers’ before, and that didn’t go well. But everything to keep M5S out of power, including new changes to election laws.

Matteo Renzi’s Resignation Temporarily ‘Frozen’ By Italian President (G.)

Matteo Renzi will remain in office for at least a week after Italy’s head of state asked the centre-left prime minister to “freeze” his resignation temporarily until the senate passed a 2017 budget. Renzi met Sergio Mattarella on Monday at the presidential palace – the Quirinale – in order to formally submit his resignation following a stunning defeat in a referendum on Sunday. Renzi was expected to step down immediately but his departure could now be delayed until Christmas. Mattarella signalled that he will not call snap elections in response to the referendum results, putting him on a collision course with populist and rightwing parties that want a new poll to be called right away.

The Sicilian head of state said he believed it was important for Italy’s institutions to respect “commitments and deadlines”, and that they worked hard to find solutions that were worthy of the “demands of the time”. While the president must always appear to be independent of political allegiances, his comments were taken as a clear sign that he believed the current government needed to fulfil its obligation to not only pass a budget but also make changes to an election law that has been put in flux by the referendum results. Renzi’s months-long campaign to convince Italians to vote yes and overhaul the constitution and parliament was roundly rejected by 59.1% of voters on Sunday, on a turnout of 68%.

The high interest in the plebiscite did not escape Mattarella, who said it was a “testament to a solid democracy [and] an impassioned country capable of active participation”. Mattarella’s call for “serenity” after Italy was plunged into political chaos by the vote may have assuaged worries in Europe about what Renzi’s defeat signified for Europe, Italy’s fragile banking system, and the future of the euro. Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said the result was a “concern”, while finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Italy ought to continue on an economic path that had been adopted by Renzi. The results, however, were celebrated by French far-right candidate Marine Le Pen who said that, with the no win, Italians joined the British in turning their backs on “absurd European policies which are plunging the continent into poverty”.


Wikipedia

Read more …

Oh well, everything else went up…

Italian Bank Shares Slump as Renzi Loss Adds to Uncertainty (BBG)

UniCredit and Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena fell along with most Italian bank shares after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s decision to resign added to uncertainty about their plans for shoring up their finances. Monte Paschi will decide within the next few days whether it will proceed with a planned capital increase, people with knowledge of the matter said. The underwriters, who met with the bank’s executives on Monday, are still waiting for a formal commitment from possible anchor investors, the people said, asking to not be identified because the matter is private. Potential investors are seeking more time to review the political situation after the referendum, according to the people. Italy’s political vacuum threatens to usher in a period of uncertainty that may weigh on plans to reduce a pile of bad loans estimated at €360 billion.

UniCredit and Monte Paschi are among banks looking to raise capital as part of overhauls to clean up their balance sheets and strengthen profitability. UniCredit CEO Jean Pierre Mustier said he’s not worried that market volatility will compromise a strategic plan due next week, just as Renzi prepares to step down. “The events overnight won’t change our strategy,” he said on Monday, without elaborating on the changes ahead. Mustier is trying to restore confidence in a systemically important lender after a slide in its share price eroded more than 60% of the company’s market value this year. Italy’s biggest bank was trading 2.9% lower at 5:24 p.m. in Milan, while Monte Paschi was down 4.2%, after falling as much as 7.5% earlier Monday. Italy’s biggest bank plans to raise as much as €13 billion through a combination of asset sales and a stock offering.

Read more …

Italy will have to bail out banks, but doesn’t want EU rules to force it to victimize its own citizens, who hold a huge amount of bank bonds. Maybe they should let Beppe have a go at this.

Italy Already Requested Monte Dei Paschi Bailout Before Referendum (R.)

Italy is discussing with the European Commission the terms of a state bailout of ailing bank Monte dei Paschi that has already been requested and could be launched next week if needed, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on Friday. Italy’s third-largest bank needs to raise €5 billion by the end of the year to plug a capital shortfall identified by ECB stress tests or face the risk of being wound down. Quoting sources with knowledge of the matter, Corriere said that Italy had already filed a request to launch a public recapitalization of Monte dei Paschi as early as next week. The newspaper reported that the Commission was willing to limit the burden on shareholders and subordinated bondholders and it was being discussed to what extent retail investors who held subordinated bonds could be spared.

The bank’s finance chief Francesco Mele said this week that the Commission was expected to agree that only shareholders and junior bondholders share the bank’s losses before Monte dei Paschi is given any state aid. New EU rules on state aid to banks require investors to take a hit before lenders tap public money, but a lighter version of the rules can apply in cases such as Monte dei Paschi’s. Sources told Reuters last week that authorities would apply EU rules with flexibility with regard to a Monte dei Paschi bailout to avoid damage to the entire Italian banking system. A debt-to-equity swap aimed at reducing the size of a share sale ends on Friday, with Monte dei Paschi planning to launch its share issue after Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform this Sunday.

Read more …

Yup, Draghi.

Could Renzi’s Exit Lead To An Italian Bank Rescue? (G.)

Investors’ ability to look on the bright side on political turmoil is remarkable. In the case of Italy, the departure of Matteo Renzi, the market-friendly centre-left prime minister, was followed quickly by the thought that the crisis in the country’s banking system may, counterintuitively, become easier to address. That wasn’t last week’s theory, of course. Back then, Renzi’s survival was seen as critical to encouraging private sector investors to cough up billions of euros of new capital to refinance the likes of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and UniCredit. This week’s silver lining theory holds that a political vacuum isn’t so bad if it prods the ECBand the eurozone authorities to take a flexible approach to Italy’s banking mess.

Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, captured the new mood: “The president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, is Italian and I can’t envisage a situation in which the ECB under Mario Draghi will let the Italian banks get into difficulty.” He’s probably right. It seems quite possible that, if MPS struggles to get its required €5bn (£4.2bn) from big private sector investors such as Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the bank could be nationalised with ways found to compensate ordinary savers who hold bonds that would be wiped out. A wipeout of senior bondholders is meant to be an essential requirement of state bailouts in the eurozone these days. It causes problems in Italy because so many bondholders are retail savers.

But the eurozone’s capacity to bend its own rules is legendary: compensation for some bondholders, even if that is supposed to be a no-no, might be deemed a price worth paying after Renzi’s exit. Yet would that really be a cause for celebration? Only if the health of the Italian banking system is addressed once and for all. But it seems far more likely that a weak Italian government and reluctant eurozone authorities will serve up only half a solution – one big enough to get through the current crisis but insufficient to allow a proper cleansing of the bad loans in the system, which are estimated to stand at €360bn.

Read more …

Italy has a lot of small enterprises, often family owned. That doesn’t fit today’s globalization model (not competitive enough). But globalization is over anyway. The country had better save what’s left of its business model, because it’s ideal for a post-centralized world.

How Italy Became This Century’s ‘Sick Man Of Europe’ (G.)

On New Year’s Day in 2002, Italians gathered in Rome to throw their lire into the Trevi fountain. There were celebrations as Italians took possession of the new euro notes and coins that became legal tender as the clocks struck midnight. But hopes that the advent of the single currency would provide a fresh start for Italy’s economy were misplaced. The growth performance of the eurozone as a whole has been poor, but Italy’s has been dismal. Greece and Spain at least had booms before their painful busts; Germany and France have managed to claw back the ground lost in the deep recession of 2008-09. But national output per head in Italy is only 4% higher than it was 15 years ago. The economy is still smaller than it was in 2008.

Unemployment is at 11.6%, labour market participation is low, and its birthrate in 2014 was the lowest since the modern Italian state was founded in 1861. If there was a contest for the unwanted title of the sick man of Europe in the 21st century, Italy would walk it. The eurozone’s third biggest economy has one central problem: the goods and services it produces are more expensive than those of its rivals. This lack of competitiveness means that it has suffered the biggest drop in export market share of any developed country. There are three reasons for this. Firstly, Italy’s manufacturing sector has traditionally been dominated by small companies, many of them family-owned. These businesses have been reluctant to invest, poor at innovation, and were slow to take advantage of the the new information technology when it came on stream in the 1990s.

Productivity has increased less rapidly than in Germany or France. Secondly, Italy has tended to specialise in low-cost manufactured goods, a segment of the global economy that has been dominated by China since it gained membership of the World Trade Organisation in 2001. Italy’s competitiveness problem is not new. Since the second world war, it has tended to have higher costs and higher inflation than rival countries. But up until it joined the euro, Italy was able to restore competitiveness by devaluing the lire, which made exports cheaper. With that option no longer available, Matteo Renzi has been trying a different approach: structural reforms of Italy’s labour market.

Read more …

A bit overdone this, but not entirely.

Standing Rock Is A Modern-Day Indian War. This Time Indians Are Winning (G.)

As Indigenous peoples faced off against armed police and tanks near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Dakota, theirs wasn’t just a battle over a pipeline. It was a battle over a story that could define the future of America. The Obama administration’s decision yesterday to refuse the Dakota Access pipeline permission to complete its construction has now shaken up that story. Its old version was that Indigenous peoples have always been in the way of progress, their interests a nuisance or threat, their treaties a discardable artifact. In that story, the American heroes forged on these high plains of the west were never the Indians: they were the gold-diggers or gamblers, the cowboys or cavalry.

But over the past months, it became impossible to watch peaceful Indigenous people and supporters attacked by snarling dogs, maced, and shot with rubber bullets and water cannons in freezing conditions, and still see in them a threat. It was impossible to look upon these young Indigenous men and women, in jingle dresses or on horseback, and not observe the courage that America desperately needs. It was impossible to listen to the cry of their slogan and not hear a rallying vision for all of us: Water is Life. Along the snowy banks of the Missouri river, a new story is being painfully birthed. It tells us that frontiers must at some point close. That endless taking must become care-taking.

And that Indigenous rights, cast aside for too long, are a key to protecting land and water and preventing climate chaos. America is waking up to new heroes. This is not high-minded romanticism. It is hard-bitten reality. All over the world, there are massive pools of fossil fuels—and the infrastructure to rip and ship it—concentrated in the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples. This rush for extreme energy on their lands was never a new crisis for them—it was only the latest stage in a very old colonial pillage.

Read more …

Seems ridiculous, but he has support from various tribes and leaders.

Trump Advisors Aim To Privatize Oil-Rich Indian Reservations (R.)

Native American reservations cover just 2% of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. Now, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews. The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations.

The tribes have rights to use the land, but they do not own it. They can drill it and reap the profits, but only under regulations that are far more burdensome than those applied to private property. “We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” said Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member who is co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition. “As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.” [..] The plan dovetails with Trump’s larger aim of slashing regulation to boost energy production. It could deeply divide Native American leaders, who hold a range of opinions on the proper balance between development and conservation.

The proposed path to deregulated drilling – privatizing reservations – could prove even more divisive. Many Native Americans view such efforts as a violation of tribal self-determination and culture. “Our spiritual leaders are opposed to the privatization of our lands, which means the commoditization of the nature, water, air we hold sacred,” said Tom Goldtooth, a member of both the Navajo and the Dakota tribes who runs the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Privatization has been the goal since colonization – to strip Native Nations of their sovereignty.” Reservations governed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs are intended in part to keep Native American lands off the private real estate market, preventing sales to non-Indians.

Read more …

Go Yves!

Naked Capitalism Demands Retraction, Apology Over WaPo Fake News Story (NC)

As the lawyers like to say, res ipsa loquitur. Please tweet and circulate this letter widely. You will notice that our attorney Jim Moody is a seasoned litigator who has won cases before the Supreme Court. He has considerable experience in First Amendment and defamation actions. Past high profile representations include Westomoreland v. CBS and defending Linda Tripp. I also hope, particularly for those of you who don’t regularly visit Naked Capitalism, that you’ll check out our related pieces that give more color to how the fact the Washington Post was taken for a ride by inept propagandists, particularly our introduction to our spoof PropOrNot.org site, which uses the PropOrNot project as an example of sorely deficient propaganda and shows where it went wrong, or the humor site itself. Be sure not to miss its FAQ.

We have another post today that describes how the few things that are verifiable on the PropOrNot site don’t pan out, as in the organization is not simply a group of inept propagandists but also appears to deal solely in fabrications. If the site is flagrantly false with respect to things that can be checked, why pray tell did the Washington Post and its fellow useful idiots in the mainstream media validate and amplify its message? Strong claims demand strong proofs, yet the Post appeared content to give a megaphone to people who make stuff up with abandon. No wonder the members of PropOrNot hide as much as they can about what they are up to; more transparency would expose their work to be a tissue of lies.

Read more …

NATO expands in multiple dimensions.

Russia Remains The Only Target Country Of NATO’s Nuclear Weapons (SC)

For many years before the 2016 Warsaw summit, NATO had been deploying aircraft all round Europe that were capable of delivering nuclear weapons against Russia. The only difference in recent times is that NATO, as recorded by Arms Control in June 2016, «is beefing up its nuclear posture. Polish F-16s participated for the first time on the sidelines of a NATO nuclear strike exercise at the end of 2014. As a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, four B-52 bombers flew a nuclear strike mission over the North Pole and the North Sea in a bomber exercise in April 2015. Although these planes did not have nuclear weapons on board, they were equipped to carry 80 nuclear air-launched cruise missiles».

It goes further than that, because NATO’s most recent nuclear-associated deployments to the Baltic have involved aircraft from Belgium’s 10th Tactical Wing which is based at Kleine Brogel Air Base and flies US-supplied F-16 nuclear-capable strike aircraft. NATO reported that four of them are currently conducting missions from Ämari Air Base in Estonia, in order «to guard the Baltic skies against unauthorised overflights» and that their duties included «intercepting Russian aircraft flying in international airspace at the Baltic borders». According to NATO, the Mission of the 10th Tactical Wing is «to generate air power effects in the full operational spectrum by putting into action the best combat ready people and equipment to execute or support both conventional and nuclear operations in a joint, national or multinational environment, anytime and anywhere, in the most proficient, safe and efficient manner».

So it sends four of 10 Wing’s nuclear-capable F-16s, flown by nuclear-delivery trained pilots to Estonia to guard the Baltic skies. In Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia the Alliance has established «NATO Force Integration Units» which are advanced military headquarters whose Mission is «to improve cooperation and coordination between NATO and national forces, and prepare and support exercises and any deployments needed». The relentless expansion of US-NATO forces right up to Russia’s borders continues apace, with formation of a «new standing Joint Logistic Support Group Headquarters, to support deployed forces».

NATO is on a war footing, and has made it clear that «nuclear weapons are a core component of the Alliance’s overall capabilities». The Belgian F-16 deployments, deliberately and provocatively in a most sensitive area on Russia’s borders, together with creation of advanced military control organisations in eight countries, have been authorised and greeted with approval by western governments whose citizens have little understanding that the west’s policy of confrontation is increasing tension day by day. Russia has no intention of invading any of the Baltic nations, or, indeed, any other country. It has no interest whatever in becoming engaged in conflict that could result only in vast expenditure, no territorial gain of any value, and destruction of much-valued trade and other commercial arrangements.

Read more …

“..these newspapers and their handmaidens on TV, were far less concerned as to whether the leaked information was true or not..”

The Deepening Deep State (Jim Kunstler)

Pretty obviously, the struggle between mainstream news and Web news climaxed over the election, with the mainstream overwhelmingly pimping for Hillary, and then having a nervous breakdown when she lost. Desperate to explain the loss, the two leading old-line newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, ran with the Russia-Hacks-Election story — because only Satanic intervention could explain the fall of Ms. It’s-My-Turn / I’m-With-Her. Thus, the story went, Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC), gave the hacked emails to Wikileaks, and sabotaged not only Hillary herself but the livelihoods of every myrmidon in the American Deep State termite mound, an unforgivable act.

Also interestingly, these newspapers and their handmaidens on TV, were far less concerned as to whether the leaked information was true or not — e.g. the Clinton Foundation donors’ influence-peddling around arms deals made in the State Department; the DNC’s campaign to undermine Bernie Sanders in the primaries; DNC temporary chair (and CNN employee) Donna Brazille conveying debate questions to HRC; the content of HRC’s quarter-million-dollar speeches to Wall Street banks. All of that turned out to be true, of course. Then, a few weeks after the election, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 6393, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Blogger Ronald Thomas West reports:

“Section 501 calls for the government to “counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.”

The measure has not been passed by the Senate or signed into law yet, and the holiday recess may prevent that. But it is easy to see how it would empower the Deep State to shut down whichever websites they happened to not like. My reference to the Deep State might even imply to some readers that I’m infected by the paranoia virus. But I’m simply talking about the massive “security” and surveillance matrix that has unquestionably expanded since the 9/11 airplane attacks, creating a gigantic NSA superstructure above and beyond the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense’s DIA, and the hoary old FBI.

Read more …

They will continue to demand a full hand for every finger given. A road to nowhere for Greece.

Eurozone Agrees Debt Relief For Greece Amid IMF Row (AFP)

Eurozone finance ministers on Monday approved new debt relief measures to relieve Greece’s colossal debt mountain in the wake of its huge €86 billion bailout, but at levels far short of those demanded by the IMF. “The Eurogroup endorsed today the full set of short-term measures” including extending the repayment period and an adjustment to interest rates, the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers said in a statement. The ministers accorded Athens the small measures to reduce Greece’s debt as a reward for completing the latest round of reforms demanded in the country’s massive bailout programme – its third since 2010. “We will start implementing them in the next weeks,” said Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s bailout fund.

However the ministers refused to officially sign off on the bailout’s second review as expected, telling Athens that there still remained a few open questions on Greece’s reform efforts. The talks were marred by a row with the IMF, as Europe and the fund remain as far apart as ever on the level of need for debt relief measures. This is a crucial demand for the fund to back the bailout programme in which for now it plays only a technical role. The hardline stance on debt relief by the ministers, led by Germany’s powerful Wolfgang Schaeuble, comes as key elections approach next year in Germany and the Netherlands, where bailout fatigue is running rife with voters.

Read more …

Capital flight in thinly veiled disguise.

Greek Home Sellers Getting Paid In Banks Abroad (Kath.)

The bulk of transactions concerning Greek real estate acquired by foreign nationals are conducted outside the domestic banking system, making it even harder to get a clear idea of the situation in the Greek residential properties market, particularly as regards holiday homes. Estate agents who mainly work with foreign buyers say that the majority of sellers in agreed transactions ask for the money to be deposited in banks abroad. Sellers are even prepared to travel abroad themselves, with contracts in hand, in order to open a bank account.

“After the imposition of the capital controls [at end-June 2015], the cases of sellers requesting that money be deposited abroad have multiplied. Of course such transactions are entirely legitimate and taxed in Greece, but the revenues remain in other countries,” says Yiannis Ploumis, general director at the Ploumis-Sotiropoulos estate agency, which specializes in the luxury property market. That way, the funds paid by foreign property buyers do not enter the Greek credit system or the local economy in general. This trend concerns virtually the entire construction sector, as well as private owners, especially those selling houses of significant value, as transactions of €50,000-100,000 hardly ever lead sellers to open a new bank account abroad.

Read more …

More on this today.

Greek Court Rejects Extradition Of 3 Turkish Officers Accused Of Coup (AFP)

A Greek court on Monday rejected the extradition of three military officers demanded by Turkey over their alleged involvement in July’s failed coup, a judicial source said. The decision outraged Ankara, which has arrested tens of thousands of people as part of a wide-ranging crackdown since the attempted putsch. “Greece is in the NATO alliance with Turkey and is a NATO ally. Our expectation is that the Greek government make every effort to return” those individuals to Turkey, Defence Minister Fikri Isik said. The Greek court determined that the three men – out of a total eight officers seeking asylum in Greece – faced threats to their personal safety if returned to Turkey.

It also deemed that Turkish authorities have not provided sufficient evidence tying them to the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the source said. The court is expected to decide the fate of the other five officers on Tuesday. Turkey may still appeal the case, and any final decision to extradite rests with the Greek minister of justice. The two Turkish commanders, four captains and two sergeants requested asylum in Greece after landing a military helicopter in the northern city of Alexandroupoli shortly after the attempted government takeover in mid-July. The officers are currently appealing against a Greek refusal to grant them asylum in September.

Read more …

Dec 052016
 
 December 5, 2016  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  3 Responses »


Don’t let the door hit you on the way out..

Bloody Hell, John Key Just Quit As Prime Minister (Spinoff)
Trump Picks Twitter Fight With China (AFP)
Italy PM Renzi Quits After Crushing Referendum Defeat (AFP)
Italy Bank Recapitalizations A Harder Road After Referendum Flop (CNBC)
Austria Rejects Far-Right Candidate In Presidential Election (G.)
Greece Must Reform Or Leave Eurozone – Schäuble (G.)
Greece Sees Final Solution On Debt Crisis Amid Euro Uncertainty (R.)
Money-Laundering Networks Thrive Amid India’s Cash-Ban Chaos (BBG)
China Regulator Slams Leveraged Stock Acquirers as ‘Robbers’ (BBG)
Vancouver Housing Tax Pushes Chinese Into $1 Million Seattle Homes (BBG)
Pensions Time Bomb Spells Disaster For US Economy (RVTV)
US Reshaping Budget To Account For Russian Military Threat (R.)
Army Denies Dakota Pipeline Permit (R.)

 

 

“John Key took New Zealand, a nation of just 4.5m people, from almost no debt to $100 billion debt.” – Kim Dotcom

Bloody Hell, John Key Just Quit As Prime Minister (Spinoff)

It is one of the hoary rules of politics that leaders never – almost never – go of their own accord. But John Key, not for the first time, has proved his resistance to the forces of political gravity, announcing on Monday afternoon he will exit on his own terms. “For me this feels the right time to go,” the prime minister of New Zealand said. Already the conspiracy theorists are in full flight but there is no evidence to suggest he is doing anything but that: going on his own terms, sitting as strongly as ever, a year out from the next election. He’s only 55. A spring chicken in political terms.

Key said he “feels like I am going out on top”, that he had “never seen myself as a career politician” and “didn’t want to find myself in the position many leaders around the world find themselves, which is disgruntled and unhappy”. Some media are reporting he’s leaving “for family reasons”. But while he did say he’d made sacrifices on that front and family was “a factor”, this wasn’t a “spend more time with my family” exit, or not with that euphemistic freight. The National party under Key has been lauded, rightly, for its ability to renew, with underperforming MPs finding themselves nudged out or shouldered towards retirement. But now the prime minister has performed the biggest renewal of the lot. “To be blunt, I’ve taken the knife to some other people, and now I’ve taken the knife to myself.”

Read more …

Got to admit he’s way more entertaining in person than Saturday Night Live’s impression of him is. And these numbers are real:

“China charges an average 15.6% tariff on US agricultural imports and 9% on other goods [..] Chinese farm products pay 4.4% and other goods 3.6% when coming into the United States.”

Trump Picks Twitter Fight With China (AFP)

US President-elect Donald Trump fired a Twitter broadside at China on Sunday, accusing the Asian giant of currency manipulation and military expansionism in the South China Sea. The taunt came two days after Trump risked offending Beijing by accepting a call from the Taiwanese president, and heralded the prospect of a trade battle between the world’s largest economies. China was a frequent target of Trump’s during his presidential campaign and, as he prepares to take office next month, every sign points to his taking an aggressive line with Beijing. “Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the US doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?” he demanded, adding: “I don’t think so!”

China is the United States’ largest trading partner, but America ran a $366 billion deficit with Beijing in goods and services in 2015, up 6.6% on the year before. US politicians often accuse China of artificially depressing its currency, the renminbi, in order to boost its exports – its value has fallen by around 15% in the past two-and-half years. Trump has vowed to formally declare China a “currency manipulator” on the first day of his presidency, which would oblige the US Treasury to open negotiations with Beijing on allowing the renminbi to rise. With China holding about a trillion dollars in US government debt, Washington would have little leverage in such talks, but the declaration would harm ties and boost the prospect of a trade war. China charges an average 15.6% tariff on US agricultural imports and 9% on other goods, according to the WTO. Chinese farm products pay 4.4% and other goods 3.6% when coming into the United States.

Read more …

“Five Star founder and leader Beppe Grillo called for an election to be called “within a week”..” Not going to happen say the tea leaves.

Italy PM Renzi Quits After Crushing Referendum Defeat (AFP)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation on Monday, hours after it was confirmed he had suffered a crushing defeat in a referendum on constitutional reform. “My experience of government finishes here,” Renzi told a press conference, acknowledging that the No campaign had won an “extraordinarily clear” victory in a vote on which he had staked his future. Interior Ministry projections suggested the No camp, led by the populist Five Star Movement, had carried the vote by a margin of almost 60-40 with a near 70% turnout underlining the high stakes and the intensity of the debate. Markets seemed to take Renzi’s departure in their stride. Stocks and the euro fell in early trading in Asia but there were no signs of panic with the possibility of his resignation having already been largely factored in.

Renzi said he would be visiting President Sergio Mattarella on Monday to hand in his resignation following a final meeting of his cabinet. Mattarella will then be charged with brokering the appointment of a new government or, if he can’t do that, ordering early elections. Five Star founder and leader Beppe Grillo called for an election to be called “within a week” on the basis of a recently adopted electoral law which is designed to ensure the leading party has a parliamentary majority – a position Five Star could well find themselves in at the next election. [..] Most analysts see early elections as unlikely with the most probable scenario involving Renzi’s administration being replaced by a caretaker one dominated by his Democratic Party which will carry on until an election due to take place by the spring of 2018. Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan is the favourite to succeed Renzi as prime minister and the outgoing leader may stay on as head of his party – which would leave him well-placed for a potential comeback to frontline politics at the next election, whenever it is.

Read more …

Monte dei Paschi down 7.5% this morning. “Monte Paschi’s shares are trading at a 94% discount to the value of its assets.” “Italian households have highest share of wealth invested in bank bonds in the developed world..”

But Draghi to the rescue!

Italy Bank Recapitalizations A Harder Road After Referendum Flop (CNBC)

Recapitalization of Italy’s troubled banks will be harder following the failure of a referendum pushed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, with ratings agencies among key actors to watch as delays may loom as the country likely heads to early polls next year. Renzi resigned after failing to win a mandate to curb the powers of the upper house legislature, throwing into questions steps such as plans by Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena to conduct a €5 billion capital increase this week, a solution backed by the outgoing premier. Barclays Economics Research, in a note to clients following the defeat, suggested that concerns surrounding Italian banks are growing.

“This outcome is likely to exacerbate concerns about the Italian banking sector and increase downgrade risks from rating agencies such as DBRS, although we do not expect rating agencies to act anytime soon, as they are likely to wait for political developments before taking any rating decision,” Barclays said in the Dec. 5 note. Italy’s banking sector has struggled with toxic debts as 14 of the largest banks sit on €286 billion of bad loans, debt securities and off-balance sheet items. Asset managers, insurers and banks had agreed earlier this year to set up a euro fund to bail out the weaker Italian lenders.

But other analysts suggest after the referendum result, investors might pull out. “[Investors] are now drawing back, they think the situation is too volatile both in Italy and in the European Union,” said Mark Grant, chief strategist at Hilltop Holdings, in a Squawk Box interview. “It’s going to be very difficult to do a raise of capital for Monte Paschi and the regional investment banks, and I think then what happens is Italy is going to be at loggerheads with the EU and the ECB,” Grant said.

Read more …

“.. a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times..”

Austria Rejects Far-Right Candidate In Presidential Election (G.)

Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the EU getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a former leader of the Green party who said he would be an “open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president”. Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the far-right Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional court due to voting irregularities. Hofer conceded his defeat within less than half an hour of the first exit polls on Sunday, writing on Facebook: “I congratulate Alexander Van der Bellen for his success and ask all Austrians to pull together and work together.”

The 45-year-old, who said he was “endlessly sad” and “would have liked to look after Austria”, confirmed that he would like to run again for the presidency in six years’ time. The Freedom party secretary, Herbert Kickl, who has acted as Hofer’s campaign manager, said: “The bottom line is it didn’t quite work out. In this case the establishment – which pitched in once again to block, to stonewall and to prevent renewal – has won.” Speaking in front of international press at the end of the evening, a visibly emboldened Van der Bellen said the election had not just been a repeat, “but a new election after the world around us has changed” with the Brexit vote in June and Donald Trump’s win in November.

Referring to the colours of the Austrian flag, he described the result as “a red-white-and-red signal of hope and change to all the capitals in Europe”. Werner Kogler, a Green party politician, described the result as a “small global turning of the tide in these uncertain, not to say hysterical and even stupid times”. The endorsement of the retired economics professor was particularly emphatic in urban areas, with all of Vienna’s 23 districts showing up in Van der Bellen’s green than Hofer’s blue at the end of the night.

Read more …

The kind of headline where you really have to check the date of the article. But this is why Renzi lost, and this is why the EU will soon fall to bits.

Greece Must Reform Or Leave Eurozone – Schäuble (G.)

Greece must implement economic reforms if it is to keep its place in the eurozone, Germany’s finance minister has insisted, ruling out debt relief for the country ahead of a crucial euro group meeting on Monday. As the finance ministers of member states using the single currency prepared to discuss fiscal plans for the coming year, Wolfgang Schäuble in effect presented Greece with an ultimatum: either it must enforce unpopular structural reforms or exit the bloc. “Athens must finally implement the needed reforms,” he told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday. “If Greece wants to stay in the euro, there is no way around it – in fact completely regardless of the debt level.” Asked if German voters should be prepared for the inevitability of debt relief in the run-up to national elections next year, Schäuble quipped: “That would not help Greece.”

Schäuble, who also asserted the Greek budget was not burdened by debt servicing because interest rates were now so low, made the comments as speculation mounted over how best to put the thrice-bailed-out nation back on the road to economic recovery. On Friday the German finance ministry announced that short-term measures to lighten Greece’s debt load would be among the proposals up for discussion at the euro group meeting. Athens’s leftist-led government has long argued that the country’s staggering €330bn debt load is the single biggest impediment to sustainable growth. It is an argument that has won backing from the IMF. Time is of the essence. The economic crisis enveloping Greece is far from over despite more than €300bn of emergency loans since 2010 when, after its first brush with bankruptcy, it received its first EU-IMF sponsored bailout.

Read more …

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Greece Sees Final Solution On Debt Crisis Amid Euro Uncertainty (R.)

Political uncertainty in Europe has created fresh momentum for a “comprehensive and permanent” solution to the Greek debt crisis before the year ends, a government spokesman said on Sunday. Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss short-term debt relief for Greece, and Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble said it must implement reforms instead of hoping for further debt forgiveness. Greece remained optimistic for a final debt deal, however, just as Italians were voting on a constitutional referendum on Sunday and a victory for the opposition “No” camp may push the eurozone toward fresh crisis.

“Everyone realizes that Europe cannot stand a rekindling of the Greek crisis, when there are issues with Italy and amid a pre-election period in many European countries,” Dimitris Tzanakopoulos told Athens 9,84 radio. “The general uncertainty which prevails in Europe – which is both political and financial – creates … a momentum for a comprehensive and permanent solution for the Greek issue.” Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras said new measures were needed to lighten Athens’s debt burden. One option would be to extend the maturity of already granted long-term aid loans by some 20 years. “Greece needs debt sustainability and more realistic fiscal targets after the completion of the current adjustment program [in 2018],” Stournaras told German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview to be published on Monday.

Read more …

China and India, the world’s most populous countries, are both ruled by megalomaniacs. Thinking they are in full control.

Money-Laundering Networks Thrive Amid India’s Cash-Ban Chaos (BBG)

As Indians struggle with the chaos caused by last month’s sudden banning of their 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, money-laundering networks are spreading across the country, seizing on a new market in helping people turn their cash hoards into legal tender. While people have until year-end to deposit old notes in their bank accounts, the government has said it will scrutinize large cash deposits and money with undeclared origins — and will tax or penalize depositors. That’s created a scramble for ways to turn so-called black money, the local term for cash that has evaded taxation, into white.

Agents offering to launder money are using creative means, including flying banned cash by the planeload to northeastern states exempt from restrictions as well as connecting people to high-turnover businesses that can deem old cash as revenue, keep a portion of it, and return the rest, according to people involved in the networks. Premiums range from 10% to 50%, depending on the difficulty, they say. At least one property brokerage is offering to arrange the sale of apartments using banned money in an upscale suburb of Mumbai that’s popular with Bollywood movie stars.

While the government has been working to close loopholes – which Prime Minister Narendra Modi decried as people’s “illegal means to save their ill-gotten wealth” in a radio address last week – new ones are opening even faster. So far, the policy aimed at reducing the scale of the black economy and bringing more people into the tax net is, in the short term, leading to just the reverse: money-laundering, tax-avoidance, and new opportunities for existing organized crime, the evolution of the long-standing hawala money-transfer system, and the start of new illicit networks.

Read more …

“..you’ve gone from strangers at the gate, to barbarians and eventually robbers of the industry..”

China Regulator Slams Leveraged Stock Acquirers as ‘Robbers’ (BBG)

China’s top securities regulator resorted to unusually harsh language to denounce leveraged acquisitions of listed companies, as officials move to rein in financial risks associated with a surge in dealmaking. China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Shiyu also questioned the legitimacy of the funding sources at acquirers that he didn’t identify, saying their behavior challenges the nation’s rules, as well as their own professional ethics. Such acquisitions show “retrogress and decay in humanity and commercial morals, and is by no means financial innovation,” Liu said. “By using improperly obtained money to conduct leveraged acquisitions, you’ve gone from strangers at the gate, to barbarians and eventually robbers of the industry, ” he said at a meeting of the Asset Management Association of China in Beijing on Saturday, a transcript of which was posted on the regulator’s website. “That’s not allowed.”

The comments came after China Evergrande Group, the country’s largest property developer, last month stepped up a buying spree of shares in rival China Vanke in the weeks after a warning from the Shenzhen stock exchange that it is closely monitoring Evergrande’s investments in listed companies. The bourse said it strengthened supervision after finding “abnormal trading behaviors” that affected share prices of Vanke and others. [..] Evergrande joined the fray in a tussle for control at Vanke, which has been trying to fend off advances from the Baoneng Group. Vanke labeled Baoneng “hostile” after it emerged last year as the developer’s largest shareholder, amassing a 24% stake by borrowing from brokers and fund managers who raise the money selling private high-yield instruments to wealthy clients.

Read more …

There once was a time when homes were places that offered shelter.

Vancouver Housing Tax Pushes Chinese Into $1 Million Seattle Homes (BBG)

Just a few days after Vancouver announced a tax on foreign property investors, Seattle real estate broker Lili Shang received a WeChat message from a wealthy Chinese businessman who wanted to sell a home in Canada and buy in her area. After a week of showings, he purchased a $1 million property in Bellevue, across Lake Washington from Seattle. He soon returned to buy two more, including a $2.2 million house in Clyde Hill paid for with a single cashier’s check. Shang says she’s been inundated with similar requests from China and Hong Kong after Vancouver’s provincial government enacted a 15% tax on foreign homebuyers in August to help cool soaring real estate values.

With Chinese investors – the largest pool of foreign capital – looking for a place to put their cash, the unintended consequence of the fee has been to push demand to cities such as Seattle and Toronto. “The tax was the trigger of this new wave of investment now coming to Seattle,” Shang said. “Why pay more for the same thing?” Vancouver, which has seen detached-home prices double in a decade, joined areas including Australia and Hong Kong in taking steps to slow housing demand after an unprecedented surge of foreign investment. Chinese buyers, in particular, are accelerating purchases overseas, spurred by a weakening yuan, rising prices at home and the perceived safety of real estate. They’re also venturing farther afield as costs soar in some of their favored markets.

Read more …

“..the physiological decision to stay in the workforce won’t work for much longer….”

Pensions Time Bomb Spells Disaster For US Economy (RVTV)

The $1.3 trillion pensions deficit just takes into account state and municipal obligations and with promised returns of 8% and funds compounding at 3% for decades it will take nothing short of an economic miracle to recover. “The average state pension in the last fiscal year returned something south of 1%. You cannot fill that gap with a bulldozer, impossible,” DiMartino Booth said. “Anyone who knows their compounding tables knows you don’t make that up. You don’t get that back unless you get some miracle.” The last time we saw significant market weakness, the baby boomers pretty much accepted that they would be retiring at 70 instead of 65, she added. “Well, guess what? They’re turning 71. And the physiological decision to stay in the workforce won’t work for much longer. And that means that these pensions are going to come under tremendous amounts of pressure.”

“And the idea that we can escape what’s to come, given demographically what we’re staring at is naive at best. And it’s reckless at worst,” DiMartino Booth said. “And when you throw private equity and all of the dry powder that they have – that they’re sitting on – still waiting to deploy on pensions’ behalf, at really egregious valuations, yeah, it’s hard to sleep at night.” “This is where the smile comes off my face. We are an angry country. We’re an angry world. The wealth effect is dead. The inequality divide is unlike anything we’ve seen since the years that preceded the Great Depression,” she told Real Vision TV. “Where’s the money going to come from? And the answer is, for now, they cut services. I’ve just written about the Winter of Discontent and the rubbish piled up in central London streets in 1979, as Thatcher was coming in. I worry about the ambulance not getting there in time. I worry about firefighters being cut to the bone and policemen.”

Read more …

Russia is not the no. 1 threat. These people are.

US Reshaping Budget To Account For Russian Military Threat (R.)

Russia’s increasing military activities around the world have unsettled top U.S. military officials, who say they are reshaping their budget plans to better address what they now consider to be the most pressing threat to U.S. security. “Russia is the No. 1 threat to the United States. We have a number of threats that we’re dealing with, but Russia could be, because of the nuclear aspect, an existential threat to the United States,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told Reuters in an interview at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum. James, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson and Pentagon chief arms buyer Frank Kendall, all voiced growing concern about Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior in interviews late on Saturday.

Their comments come as the Pentagon finalizes a classified security assessment for President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to both pump up U.S. defense spending and build closer ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. European diplomats fear Moscow could use the time before Trump’s inauguration to launch more offensives in Ukraine and Syria, betting that President Barack Obama will be loathe to response forcefully so soon before he hands off power on Jan. 20. Kendall said U.S. policy had been centered on threats in the Asia-Pacific region and Middle East, but was now focused more on Russia. “Their behavior has caused us … to rethink the balance of capabilities that we’re going to need,” he said.

None of the officials gave details about how the concerns would affect the fiscal 2018 budget request, but defense officials have pointed to the need to focus on areas such as cyber security, space, nuclear capabilities and missile defense, where Russia has developed new capabilities in recent years.

Read more …

Washington better back down. Trump can’t afford this fight either.

Army Denies Dakota Pipeline Permit (R.)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it turned down a permit for a controversial pipeline project running through North Dakota, in a victory for Native Americans and climate activists who have protested against the project for several months. A celebration erupted at the main protest camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others have been protesting the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline for months. It may prove to be a short-lived victory, however, because Republican President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he supports the project. Trump takes over from Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 and policy experts believe he could reverse the decision if he wanted to.

The line, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, had been complete except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River. That stretch required an easement from federal authorities. The Obama administration delayed a decision on the permit twice in an effort to consult further with the tribe. “The Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record,” a statement from the U.S. Army said. Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, said in a statement the decision was based on a need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline, although it remains unclear what those alternatives will be. Protesters have said the $3.8 billion project could contaminate the water supply and damage sacred tribal lands.

Read more …

Jun 192015
 
 June 19, 2015  Posted by at 10:31 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


G.G. Bain New York, suffragettes on way to Boston 1913

Are Surpluses Normal? (Steve Keen)
Greece Is Literally Dying To Leave The Euro (Daily Mail)
Eurozone Ministers Insist On ‘New Proposals’ For Greece Summit (AFP)
Greece’s Proposals to End the Crisis: My Eurogroup Intervention (Varoufakis)
ECB Meeting To Decide On €3.5 Billion Greek Emergency Funding (Guardian)
Greece Faces Banking Crisis After Eurozone Meeting Breaks Down (Guardian)
Why Greece Might Now Have The Upper Hand In Crunch Talks (Guardian)
Grexit Would Be ‘Beginning Of End’ For Eurozone, Greek PM Tsipras Says (AFP)
Euclid Tsakalotos: Greece’s Secret Weapon In Credit Negotiations (Guardian)
Would An Argentina-Style Cure Work For Greece? Probably Not (Guardian)
What Greece Can Learn From Iceland’s Banking Crisis (Independent)
Leaving Greece To Its Own Devices Is Not An Option (FT)
Portugal Says It Has Reserves to Face Financing Restrictions (Bloomberg)
If Greece And Russia Feel Humiliated, Europe Cannot Ignore That (Guardian)
Russia, Greece Sign Deal On Turkish Stream Gas Pipeline (RT)
Moscow Threatens Retaliation Over Belgian Seizure Of State Assets (RT)
‘True Friend Of Ukraine’ Tony Blair Tapped To Join Kiev Advisory Council (RT)
New Zealand Posts Weakest GDP Growth In Two Years (MarketWatch)
Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical Will Launch A Revolution (Paul B. Farrell
The Green Pope: How Religion Can Do Economics A Favour (Guardian)

Another great explanation. Very simple to understand.

Are Surpluses Normal? (Steve Keen)

England’s Chancellor George Osborne took the Conservative Party’s claim to fiscal responsibility one step higher last week when he announced that they will enact a law which will require British governments to run surpluses “in normal times”: “in normal times, governments of the left as well as the right should run a budget surplus to bear down on debt and prepare for an uncertain future.” (“Mansion House 2015: Speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer”) This begs the question, “what is normal?” Can a word like “normal” even be applied to something as volatile as the economy? If we’re honest, when we say “why can’t you just be normal?” to someone or about something, what we really mean is “why can’t you be the way I’d like you to be?”

So by “normal times”, the Chancellor really means “when things are really good”. In that sense, the ultimate “normal times” for the Western world were the years from the end of the Korean War until just before the OPEC Oil crisis—from 1954 until 1973. These were the socially tumultuous years from Happy Days and The Fonz, to the Beatles, the Vietnam War and the death of Jim Morisson. But they were also the years when the economy boomed, with the real rate of growth in America averaging 4% a year (I use US data in this post rather than British since key UK data from that time period isn’t available). Can you imagine how happy George Osborne would be to report a real rate of growth of 4% today? So 1954 until 1973 is the yardstick for “normal times” in the modern, post-World-War era. And in those normal times, the annual change in US government debt was normally plus 1.72% of GDP.

Yes, that’s right, the “normal thing” for the government during those Happy Days was to run a deficit of just under 2% of GDP. As Figure 1 shows, only once—for about 6 months during 1956—did government debt actually fall. But at the same time, government debt as a percentage of GDP did fall—from almost 70% at the start of Happy Days to just under 40% by 1973. How did that happen? Because the rate of growth of the economy exceeded the rate of growth of government debt. In other words, the causation seems to run, not from the government deciding to “fix the roof while the sun is shining”, but from the sun shining so much that no roof was needed.

There is also little support in this data for Osborne’s mantra “that the people who suffer when governments run unsustainable deficits are not the richest but the poorest”—that is, unless we take his cue from the qualifier “unsustainable” to consider that there may in fact be “sustainable deficits”. The only problem for Osborne is that it appears that sustainable deficits apply even during “normal”—read “good”—economic times.

Read more …

I suggest you read through this with care.

Greece Is Literally Dying To Leave The Euro (Daily Mail)

How does a nation die? This week, in the beleaguered hospitals of Athens, I saw a glimpse of the shocking answer. It is when its own people die in their thousands simply because the state cannot afford to heal them. In the Reichstag in Berlin, it is now said openly that Angela Merkel is ready to discuss putting Greece out if its misery – to let it ‘Grexit’ and parachute free of its colossal European debt, which could have a huge impact across the globe. Yet to pay down this debt, Greeks have been battered by austerity measures that make Labour complaints about Osborne’s cutbacks utterly laughable.

There is no greater metaphor for a country’s health than its own healthcare system. And it is only when you see for yourself the horrors convulsing Greece’s NHS that you realise just how insane it is for this once-proud nation to continue as it is. If it was your country, it would make you weep with pain and shame. In its overloaded hospital wards, I either saw or heard first-hand accounts of babies held hostage for payments and dying patients left unattended; of porters sent out as paramedics, patients told to bring their own sheets, brakes failing on ancient ambulances travelling at high speed and hospitals running out of drugs and dressings. Operating theatres have been shut and staff numbers slashed because there simply is no money left.

Five years ago, Greece spent £13 billion on the health of its 11 million population – above the European average. It is now spending about half this. Worse still, in the first four months of this year the 140 state hospitals received just £31 million, a 94% fall on the previous year. And to make matters even blacker, any reserves have just been taken back by the government in its desperate scramble for cash to pay public servants and international debts. There are claims of an astonishing three-year fall in a Greek person’s life expectancy in just five years since the country’s economy crashed. If confirmed, this would be without precedent in modern Europe. And the individual human stories are pitiful, verging on the macabre.

Read more …

These guts are nuts. They didn’t even discuss the latest Greek proposals on Thursday.

Eurozone Ministers Insist On ‘New Proposals’ For Greece Summit (AFP)

Eurozone ministers Friday insisted that an emergency leaders summit called to solve the Greece debt crisis required firm proposals by Athens in advance of the meeting. “Calling a summit that will not be prepared if there is no arrangement this weekend, I don’t find that very constructive,” said Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jorg Schelling arriving for a meeting with his EU counterparts. “We don’t know if Greece is going to make a move and make new proposals. Taking this to the political level, as Greece does, is obviously a double-edged sword,” he added.

EU President Donald Tusk called a summit of the leaders of the 19 eurozone countries Monday in Brussels after finance ministers Thursday failed to break the five-month-old deadlock between the anti-austerity government in Athens and its EU-IMF creditors. “It’s very important that this is first prepared on the technical level because we need to have some kind of a proposal on the table for the euro summit,” Finnish Finance Minister Alex Stubb said Friday. Any deal between the Greek authorities and its creditors will first require an agreement on the technical details, negotiated by teams of experts from the institutions overseeing Greece’s bailout — the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

Several rounds of talks to strike a cash for reforms deal at this level have broken off in the five months since SYRIZA came to power, with the government insisting that any agreement be negotiated at the higher political level. But any deal “must be prepared by the institutions, then discussed in the Eurogroup [of euro finance ministers] and the heads, of course, have the right and responsibility to discuss political issues,” said Lithuanian Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius.

Read more …

These are those latest proposals.

Greece’s Proposals to End the Crisis: My Eurogroup Intervention (Varoufakis)

The only antidote to propaganda and malicious ‘leaks’ is transparency. After so much disinformation on my presentation at the Eurogroup of the Greek government’s position, the only response is to post the precise words uttered within. Read them and judge for yourselves whether the Greek government’s proposals constitute a basis for agreement.

Colleagues,

Five months ago, in my very first Eurogroup intervention, I put it to you that the new Greek government faced a dual task: We had to earn a precious currency without depleting an important capital good. The precious currency we had to earn was a sense of trust, here, amongst our European partners and within the institutions. To mint that precious currency would necessitate a meaningful reform package and a credible fiscal consolidation plan. As for the important capital we could not afford to deplete, that was the trust of the Greek people who would have to swing behind any agreed reform program that will end the Greek crisis.

The prerequisite for that capital not to be depleted was, and remains, one: tangible hope that the agreement we bring back with us to Athens:
• is the last to be hammered out under conditions of crisis;
• comprises a reform package which ends the 6-year-long uninterrupted recession;
• does not hit the poor savagely like the previous reforms did;
• renders our debt sustainable thus creating genuine prospects of Greece’s return to the money markets, ending our undignified reliance on our partners to repay the loans we have received from them.

Five months have gone by, the end of the road is nigh, but this finely balancing act has failed to materialise. Yes, at the Brussels Group we have come close. How close? On the fiscal side the positions are truly close, especially for 2015. For 2016 the remaining gap amounts to 0.5% of GDP. We have proposed parametric measures of 2% versus the 2.5% that the institutions insist upon. This 0.5% gap we propose to bridge over by administrative measures. It would be, I submit to you, a major error to allow such a minuscule difference to cause massive damage to the Eurozone’s integrity. Convergence had also been achieved on a wide range of issues. Nevertheless, I will not deny that our proposals have not instilled in you the trust that you need. And, at the same time, the institutions’ proposals that Mr Juncker conveyed to PM Tsipras cannot engender the hope that our citizens need. Thus, we have come close to an impasse.

Read more …

Given the push for bank runs, hard to say what this will result in. More bullying?

ECB Meeting To Decide On €3.5 Billion Greek Emergency Funding (Guardian)

The ECB is holding an emergency meeting on Friday morning to discuss whether to pump more funds into Greek banks to prevent a full-blown banking crisis. The meeting, starting at noon (11am UK time) via conference call, comes after the acrimonious breakdown of talks between finance ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday night raised the prospect of Greece’s exit from the eurozone. After the talks broke up with a war of words between Greece and its creditors, European leaders agreed to an emergency summit on Monday evening. The timing – just three days before a scheduled summit of all European Union leaders – was determined by fears of a run on the banks.

Greek depositors have withdrawn more than €3.2bn since Monday, including €1.2bn on Thursday, raising fears of a run on the banks. The ECB warned finance ministers on Thursday that Greek banks may not open on Monday. According to Reuters, when asked whether the banks would be open on Friday, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure said: “Tomorrow yes. Monday I don’t know.” On Friday morning, the ECB’s decision-making governing council will discuss a request from the Bank of Greece for an increase in liquidity to Greek banks. According to newspaper Kathimerini, the Bank of Greece will ask for – and expects to get – €3.5bn of assistance via the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) facility. The request comes just two days after the ECB threw Greece a €1.1bn lifeline in ELA funds.

Read more …

Used this for my article this morning. The quotes are insane.

Greece Faces Banking Crisis After Eurozone Meeting Breaks Down (Guardian)

Greece is facing a full-blown banking crisis after a meeting of eurozone finance ministers broke down in acrimony and recrimination on Thursday evening, bringing the prospect of Greek exit from the eurozone a step nearer. Some €2bn of deposits have been withdrawn from Greek banks so far this week – including a record €1bn yesterday – triggering fears that a breakdown in talks would spark a further flight of funds. The German leader Angela Merkel, French president François Hollande and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to stage an emergency EU summit on Monday as a last critical attempt to prevent Greece going bankrupt. A representative of the ECB told the meeting it was unsure whether Greek banks would have the funds to be able to open on Monday.

As thousands of pro-EU protestors gathered outside the Athens parliament building, leaders of the eurozone and the IMF aimed bitter criticism at the leftwing Greek government, accusing it of lying to its own people, misrepresenting and misleading other EU leaders, refusing to negotiate seriously, and taking Greece to the brink of catastrophe. The Luxembourg talks broke down within an hour of discussions about the Greek crisis starting, indicating the bad blood between both sides. Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said there was an urgent need for dialogue “with adults in the room”. She added: “We can only arrive at a resolution if there is a dialogue. Right now we’re short of a dialogue.”

Lagarde has taken a tough line on debt talks with Athens over the past four months, since the radical leftist Syriza government took control and insisted creditors drop proposals for further austerity as the price of releasing the last tranche of bailout funds. At the talks in Luxembourg she reportedly introduced herself to Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis as “the criminal in chief”, in reference to Tsipras’s claim earlier this week that the IMF bore “criminal responsibility” for the situation in Greece.

Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic affairs, who has been more sympathetic to the Greek case, said: “There’s not much time to avoid the worst.” He appealed to the Tsipras government to return to the negotiating table, making it plain that Athens has been treating its creditors and EU partners with contempt. He said Athens had made no credible counter-proposals on the bailout terms and said that Varoufakis tabled no new proposals on Thursday, despite the session of Eurogroup finance ministers being billed as the last chance to secure a deal sending Greece a financial lifeline and keeping it in the euro. He called on the Greek government “to avoid a fate that would be catastrophic”.

Read more …

Merkel’s legacy?!

Why Greece Might Now Have The Upper Hand In Crunch Talks (Guardian)

Greece knows it. The IMF knows it. Every European finance minister knows it. After the latest failure to secure a deal at the meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg, the crisis is coming to a head. The unescapable facts are that between Monday and Wednesday, some €2bn (£1.43bn) left the Greek banking system – more than the €1.1bn in additional emergency financing provided by the European Central Bank this week. The banks are losing around 0.5% of their deposits each day and cannot sustain losses of this sort. They are on the brink of collapse. Greek public finances also look dire, with tax revenues 24% below target in May. The government is balancing the books – but only by not paying its bills.

There will be an emergency summit of eurozone leaders on Monday, but by then it may already be too late. Capital controls look inevitable to stem the outflow from the banks and could be needed before the weekend after the latest setback. Athens has already said it will be unable to pay the IMF at the end of the month unless it gets some immediate financial assistance. There was little evidence in Luxembourg of a deal, no sign even that either side was adopting a more emollient approach. The idea that Greece might be offered a grace period after its debts become due to the IMF was rejected by Christine Lagarde. The fund’s managing director could not have been clearer: “I have a deadline, which is 30 June, when a payment is due from Greece. If 1 July it’s not paid, it’s not paid.”

Meanwhile in Athens, the government said it was preparing for the return of the drachma. “If we are forced to say the big no, the difficulties will last for a few months”, said the social security minister, Dimitris Stratoulis. “But the consequences will be much worse for Europe.” This is a reasonable point. Throughout the crisis, the IMF, the ECB and the European commission have been negotiating from what they perceive as a position of strength. That’s because traditionally debtors do what creditors tell them. But not this time
There have been four big factors that have allowed Alexis Tsipras to run rings round Angela Merkel. The first is that being flat broke can sometimes help. When a country has suffered as much as Greece has in the past five years, telling it that life will be awfully bad outside the eurozone is not that much of a threat.

Read more …

No doubt.

Grexit Would Be ‘Beginning Of End’ For Eurozone, Greek PM Tsipras Says (AFP)

A Greek exit from the eurozone would be the beginning of the end of the single currency, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was quoted as saying Friday in a newspaper interview. “The famous Grexit cannot be an option either for the Greeks or the European Union. This would be an irreversible step, it would be the beginning of the end of the eurozone,” Austrian daily Kurier quoted Tsipras as saying, in an interview published in German. “The Greek government cannot absorb the savings program forced upon it by the EU and the IMF. They would also not be positive for the Greek economy. Greece would not become more competitive and the debts would also not be reduced. The whole concept needs to be changed,” he said.

Read more …

Many highly educated people on the Greek side that is constantly ridiculed by the troika.

Euclid Tsakalotos: Greece’s Secret Weapon In Credit Negotiations (Guardian)

For those who thought the battle to save Greece was all about a rag tag bunch of leftists finally seeing the light, Euclid Tsakalotos has made many think again. At the eleventh hour, the Oxford-educated economist has emerged as Athens’ secret weapon, sounding every inch the man he was raised to be: a public school member of the British establishment. “It is rather surprising to the other side,” he says, the Greek parliament framed in the window of his eighth floor office. “But so, too, is the fact that I understand their economic arguments.” Phlegmatic, professorial, mild-mannered, Tsakalotos has spent the best part of 30 years in the ivory towers of Britain and Greece “engaging critically” with neoclassical economic thinking.

No other training could have prepared him better for his role as the point man in negotiations between Athens and the international creditors propping up its near-bankrupt economy. “The fact that he also sounds like an aristocrat helps too,” said an insider in the Syriza party. “He speaks their language better than they do. At times it’s been quite amusing to watch.” The son of a civil engineer who worked in the well-heeled world of Greek shipping, Tsakalotos was born in Rotterdam in 1960. When his family relocated to London, he was immediately enrolled at the exclusive London private school St Paul’s. A place at Oxford, where he studied PPE, ensued. The hurly burly world of radical left politics could not have been further away.

“My grandfather’s cousin was general Thrasyvoulos Tsakalotos who led the other side, the wrong side, in the Greek civil war,” he said of the bloody conflict that pitted communists against rightists between 1946-49. “He expressed the fear that I might end up as a liberal, certainly not anything further to the left.” Tsakalotos, who has written six books including The Crucible of Resistance, an analysis of Greece at the forefront of Europe’s economic crisis, embraced the left at Oxford when he joined the student wing of Greece’s euro communist party. What goaded him more than anything else was the treatment of the Greek left – who had led the resistance movement against Nazi occupation – after the second world war.

“Greeks have had a lot to resist, civil war, dictatorship, authoritarianism,” he said. “But perhaps the most terrible thing was the unfairness with which the left was treated in the postwar period. We were the only nation where people who had participated in what had been a very important resistance movement were treated like pariahs while those who had collaborated with the Germans had it good. It was just so wrong.”

Read more …

Just one of a myriad of theories.

Would An Argentina-Style Cure Work For Greece? Probably Not (Guardian)

There is a beguiling argument that life for Greece outside the eurozone wouldn’t be so bad. Sure, the immediate economic pain would be severe, but a new drachma, coupled with debt default, might deliver a whoosh of relief in time. Isn’t history full of countries that have devalued their way out of crisis by generating an export boom? Didn’t Argentina recover that way when it abandoned its currency peg to the US dollar in 2002? Taken to its logical extreme, this argument says the real threat to the survival of the eurozone is that Greece leaves and prospers. Come the next crisis, other strugglers might opt to quit, dumping their debts as they go. If this idea sounds far-fetched, Jim Leaviss on M&G’s bond team would agree. He makes an excellent case that Greece isn’t Argentina, not by any stretch.

Sure, there are parallels between the causes and symptoms of distress – an overvalued currency, unsustainable debts, shoddy tax collection, dodgy official statistics and high unemployment. But an Argentinian-style cure – massive devaluation and conversion of bank accounts – is unlikely to produce the same recovery in Greece, thinks Leaviss. Argentina was lucky with its timing of its devaluation, he argues. Global trade boomed after 2002 as the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates after the 9/11 terrorism attacks and China was welcomed into the world economy. A newly-competitive Argentina increased exports by 120% between 2002 and 2006. It’s hard to imagine Greece copying that performance. Tourism is already 18% of the economy, so probably can’t double as it almost did in Argentina.

The poorer quality of the land makes an agricultural boom harder. Greece’s biggest export (surprisingly) is refined petroleum, which is priced in dollars. And its biggest export market is Germany – “possibly problematic post a debt default”, notes Leaviss dryly. His common-sense conclusion is that countries that thrived after devaluation (Canada and Sweden are other examples) had trading partners that were growing strongly. “Greece does not have that luxury, nor an economy that can respond quickly to increased export competitiveness,” concludes Leaviss. Note, too, that the Argentinian revival looks less impressive these days with real growth at just 0.5%. They’re all good points, even if life inside the eurozone for Greece is also hellish.

Read more …

Tell ‘em to grow a pair.

What Greece Can Learn From Iceland’s Banking Crisis (Independent)

Greece is teetering on the brink of a financial crisis at the same time as Iceland is finally lifting controls imposed during one. The Icelandic finance minister has announced the end of capital controls – or limitations on what people there can do with their money – imposed after the 2008 crash. Iceland’s recovery has been celebrated. While other countries are still suffering from flat inflation and badly behaved bankers, Iceland has jailed those in charge when its banks were borrowing 20 times their worth. Unemployment is below 5 per cent, down from almost 10% at the height of the crisis in 2010.

Should Greece follow Iceland’s example? Iceland had its own currency, the krona, It could artificially devalue it relative to other currencies, reducing the real value of high wages by 50%, cutting spending, making exports more competitive and imports more expensive. The devalued currency also put Iceland on the map as a tourist destination. Greece can’t pull the same trick because it has the euro. The Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson told the BBC: “It can be difficult to leave the euro when you’re in. Since the Greeks are already within the Eurozone, this is a problem that must be solved not just by the Greeks but by the Eurozone as a whole.”

Many commentators watching the situation in Greece have raised fears about the possibility of the Greek government imposing capital controls if the country was unable to default on its debts. Iceland embraced capital controls, freezing foreign money in its banks, which stopped inflation. Now the government is relaxing these controls. It might be too late for capital controls to have the same impact in Greece. Around €30bn of capital has left Greek bank accounts since October.

Read more …

Better get going then.

Leaving Greece To Its Own Devices Is Not An Option (FT)

Spectators of the debt drama starring Greece and its eurozone creditors are shuffling uncomfortably in their seats. They do not know the ending, but every twist in the plot suggests that it is extremely unlikely to be happy. The Greek state is slipping closer to official default on its loans, and even exit from the eurozone. This creates an impression that the drama, which began in 2001 with the fatal decision to admit Greece into Europe’s monetary union, is approaching a sort of Act V dénouement. But real life is not a play, when the curtains come down after a fixed period of action. Some high-level eurozone politicians – by which I mean prime ministers and finance ministers – have made it clear for at least five weeks that they are ready to let Greece default and, if necessary, drop out of the 19-nation currency area.

Yet not all have thought hard enough about what might follow. To say “good riddance to the Greeks, they’ve been unreliable and irresponsible, we’ll be better off without them” does not amount to a serious policy. For the likely consequences would go beyond capital controls in Greece, or the issuance of scrip that ordinary Greeks would mark sharply down against the euro. This emergency is about more than money. It is about European security, especially in the Balkans, an area that for at least 140 years has repeatedly sucked in outside powers and left them licking their wounds afterwards. The economic, financial and political turmoil that would erupt in Greece after a debt default, let alone a eurozone exit, would be terrible for most Greeks – but it would also have repercussions beyond Greece’s borders.

It would add to the political disorder, economic distress, corruption, organised crime, irregular migration, great power manoeuvring and outright war that characterises an arc of countries stretching all the way from Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Balkans to Syria on the east Mediterranean coast. Now here is the point. As a matter of self-interest, European governments – and the US – would not want to let Greece slide into complete chaos, any more than they stood on the sidelines when armed conflicts erupted in nearby Kosovo in 1998-99 and in Macedonia in 2001. It is telling that, after 22 people were killed last month in political and ethnic violence in Macedonia, the Europeans and the US swung quickly into diplomatic action to broker early general elections in the former Yugoslav republic.

Read more …

Sure.

Portugal Says It Has Reserves to Face Financing Restrictions (Bloomberg)

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho said his country has cash reserves to weather developments that might come from Greece’s standoff with creditors. “If anything happens, we have reserves to face any more serious financing restriction that might occur in international markets,” Coelho said Tuesday night at an event in Oporto, northern Portugal. “And that’s the reason why if something more serious happens in Greece, Portugal won’t fall next because it doesn’t have any problem of financing in the markets.” His comments were broadcast by television station RTP.

The Portuguese government built up a cash buffer before the end of its aid program and the country’s debt agency forecast in a May 29 presentation that Portugal’s treasury cash position will be €9.8 billion at the end of 2015, compared with €12.4 billion at the end of 2014. Portugal has been selling longer-maturity bonds and easing debt repayments due in the next three years after exiting a bailout program provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Coelho’s government, which faces elections in September or October, in March made an early repayment of part of its IMF loan after the European Central Bank announced a bond-buying plan and borrowing costs fell.

The country’s 10-year bond yield is at 3.15%, after falling to 1.509% on March 12, the lowest since Bloomberg began collecting data in 1997. The yield climbed to more than 18% in 2012. The nation’s debt remains rated below investment grade by Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s. “Portugal’s treasury is able to face any volatility in external markets until the end of the year,” Coelho said. The debt agency said in the May 29 presentation that it had already sold 12.6 billion euros of bonds this year and planned to sell another 6.9 billion euros of the securities in 2015.

Read more …

That’s not how Brussels sees things.

If Greece And Russia Feel Humiliated, Europe Cannot Ignore That (Guardian)

Listening to the news these days, you’d assume that the politics of humiliation has taken over in Europe. Coming out of Greece and Russia, there is fiery rhetoric about nations being downtrodden, their pride trampled, their wellbeing attacked by hostile external forces. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has accused his country’s creditors of attempting to “humiliate our people”, while Vladimir Putin has announced that 40 intercontinental missiles would be added to his country’s arsenal, as a retaliatory measure against what he claims are western attempts to humiliate and intimidate Russia. The grievances that Putin and Tsipras harbour against Europe are different, and translate into acts of varying degrees of gravity: military aggression on one hand, and the threat to the eurozone on the other.

But they share a notion that national feelings have been severely damaged, and that amends need to be made. That Tsipras felt the need to travel to St Petersburg and seek solace in a meeting with Putin says a lot about this alliance of the aggrieved. Of course, their comments need to be seen in a context of heightened diplomatic posturing. Greece’s negotiations with creditors have reached crunch time. Russia’s regime pursues a strategy aimed at rewriting post-cold war rules to its advantage, after having launched a war in Ukraine last year. But the perception of humiliation is real nonetheless, not least because the Greek and the Russian people seem to share it with their leaders. And in international relations, careless rhetorical flourishes can leave lasting damage.

As the language of humiliation is being ratcheted up to hysterical heights, it’s increasingly hard to see how the involved parties can climb down to a more diplomatic level. After so much energy has been spent on claiming victimhood and nursing grievances, talk of a compromise would suddenly sound too much like a retreat. To deflate the situation, it would be helpful to ask two questions. First: was there ever an intention to actually humiliate? Second, if a conciliatory gesture is really required, should it entail a full-blown mea culpa from the supposed humiliators? My answer to both of these questions would be no.

Read more …

Russian Deputy PM reportedly said today the country is ready to help Greece with funds.

Russia, Greece Sign Deal On Turkish Stream Gas Pipeline (RT)

Russia and Greece have signed a deal to create a joint enterprise for construction of the Turkish Stream pipeline across Greek territory, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said. The pipeline will have a capacity of 47 billion cubic meters a year. The Greek extension of the Turkish Stream project is called the South European pipeline in the memorandum signed on Friday, Novak said at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Construction will start in 2016 and be completed by 2019. The two countries will have equal shares in the company, Novak added.Construction of the pipeline in Greece will be financed by Russia, and Athens will return the money afterward.

The Russian shareholder in the joint enterprise will be state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), Novak said. Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said the Friday meeting was”historical”. “The pipeline will connect not only Greece and Russia, but also the peoples of Europe,” Lafazanis was quoted as saying by Sputnik news agency. “Our message is a message of stability and friendship… The pipeline we are beginning today is not against anyone in Europe or anyone else, it is a pipeline for peace, stability in the whole region.”

Read more …

France is going the same route.

Moscow Threatens Retaliation Over Belgian Seizure Of State Assets (RT)

Moscow has summoned the Belgian ambassador to lodge a protest over the freeze of its state assets. It said that Moscow may consider retaliatory measures against Belgium if the assets are seized, including against Belgium diplomatic property in Russia. This comes after Belgian bailiffs notified Belgian, Russian and other international companies of the seizure of assets belonging to Russia at the behest of the Isle of Man-based Yukos Universal Limited, a subsidiary of the Russian energy giant, which was dismantled in 2007. They have given the target companies a fortnight to comply.

“The frozen Russian assets include accounts of the Russian Embassy and Russia’s Permanent Mission to the UN. Even without any further analysis, this means a blatant violation of international law. We don’t yet know what the official position of our Belgian partners is, but at first sight, this seems to be an excessive act,” Russia’s Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov said. Russia will appeal the court’s arrest of Russian property, Russian presidential aide Andrey Belousov said. According to the official, “the situation with the arrest of the property is politicized, [and] Moscow hopes to avoid a new escalation in relations.”

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it views Belgium’s actions as “an unfriendly act” and “a blatant violation” of the norms of international law, adding that it could consider retaliatory measures against Belgium if the assets are seized. “The Russian side will have to consider the adoption of adequate retaliatory measures against the property of Belgium located in the Russian Federation, including the property of the Embassy of Belgium in Moscow, as well as its legal entities,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Read more …

A low even for aburdist theater.

‘True Friend Of Ukraine’ Tony Blair Tapped To Join Kiev Advisory Council (RT)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has invited former British PM Tony Blair to “share his experience of public administration” on an international council of European public figures advising Kiev on government reforms. After meeting with Poroshenko in Kiev, the former UK leader told reporters that Ukraine faced “great challenges” from “Russian aggression” and “corruption.” Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, also called on Ukrainian leaders to follow “not self-interest but values” such as “freedom, democracy and a desire to serve the people.” Poroshenko boasted that “despite the war, we are carrying out reforms,” and said that Blair asked him “exactly what help was needed from the international community.”

“This is the approach of a true friend of Ukraine,” said Poroshenko, who was elected in June 2014 in a controversial poll boycotted by rebellious regions in Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s International Advisory Council for Reforms started working last month. Leading it is former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has since been appointed governor of the Odessa Region, in the south of the country. In Georgia, Saakashvili is wanted for crimes related to embezzlement during his time in office. Other members of the body, which has no executive or legislative powers, include former Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Slovak reformer Mikulas Dzurinda and economist Anders Aslund. US Senator John McCain, a prominent supporter of the 2014 Maidan coup that deposed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, said he was forced to decline a seat on the council, due to US Congress regulations.

Read more …

A nation on crack.

New Zealand Posts Weakest GDP Growth In Two Years (MarketWatch)

New Zealand’s economy continued to expand in the first quarter but growth was the weakest in two years, weighed by a fall in agriculture, forestry and mining. Gross domestic product rose 0.2% on the quarter in the three months to March 31, Statistics New Zealand said Thursday. On the year, GDP rose 2.6%. Both figures were below the median expectations in a Wall Street Journal poll of 14 economists, which had forecast growth of 0.6% on the quarter and 3.1% on the year. New Zealand’s agriculture-focused economy has started to flounder in recent months: global dairy prices are down more than 50% since early 2014 and New Zealand’s biggest trading partners, Australia and China, are experiencing slower growth.

“The lower growth reflected a 2.9% fall in primary industries–agriculture, forestry and mining–the largest fall since September 2010,” Statistics New Zealand said. Agricultural activity fell 2.3% in the March quarter on the back of decreased milk production in a quarter marked by drought conditions and lower dairy prices. However, Statistics New Zealand noted oil and gas were big factors in the lower GDP growth in the quarter. “There was less extraction and exploration, as international prices fall,” said national accounts manager Gary Dunnet. Mining activity was down 7.8%. Forestry production and exports of forestry products were also down, Statistics New Zealand said.

Read more …

Wishful thinking.

Pope Francis’s Climate Encyclical Will Launch A Revolution (Paul B. Farrell

Thursday is launch day for Pope Francis’s historic anticapitalist revolution, a multitargeted global revolution against out-of-control free-market capitalism driven by consumerism, against destruction of the planet’s environment, climate and natural resources for personal profits and against the greediest science deniers. Translated bluntly, stripped of all the euphemisms and his charm, that is the loud-and-clear message of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical released Thursday. Pope Francis has a grand mission here on Earth, and he gives no quarter, hammering home a very simple message with no wiggle room for compromise of his principles: ‘If we destroy God’s Creation, it will destroy us,” our human civilization here on Planet Earth.

Yes, he’s blunt, tough, he is a revolutionary. Pope Francis’s call-to-arms will be broadcast loud, clear and worldwide. Not just to 1.2 billion Catholics, but heard by seven billion humans all across the planet. And, yes, many will oppose him, be enraged to hear the message, because it is a call-to-arms, like Paul Revere’s ride, inspiring billions to join a people’s revolution. The fact is the pontiff is already building an army of billions, in the same spirit as Gandhi, King and Marx. These are revolutionary times. Deny it all you want, but the global zeitgeist has thrust the pope in front of a global movement, focusing, inspiring, leading billions. Future historians will call Pope Francis the “Great 21st Century Revolutionary.”

Yes, our upbeat, ever-smiling Pope Francis. As a former boxer, he loves a good match. And he’s going to get one. He is encouraging rebellion against super-rich capitalists, against fossil-fuel power-players, conservative politicians and the 67 billionaires who already own more than half the assets of the planet. That’s the biggest reason Pope Francis is scaring the hell out of the GOP, Big Oil, the Koch Empire, Massey Coal, every other fossil-fuel billionaire and more than a hundred million climate-denying capitalists and conservatives. Their biggest fear: They’re deeply afraid the pope has started the ball rolling and they can’t stop it. They had hoped the pope would just go away.

But he is not going away. And after June 18 his power will only accelerate, as his revolutionary encyclical will challenge everything on the GOP’s free-market capitalist agenda, exposing every one of the anti-environment, antipoor, antiscience, obstructionist policies in the conservative agenda.

Read more …

Well, it sounds cute.

The Green Pope: How Religion Can Do Economics A Favour (Guardian)

Small is Beautiful by EF Schumacher is probably the most influential text on green economics ever written. As a collection of essays by a former industrial economist, who for two decades after the second world war was chief economic adviser to the National Coal Board, it did more than anything else to reimagine economics as servant to a convivial society living in balance with the environment. But its most enduring idea from which the book’s title is derived, about the importance of scale, was taken straight from a papal encyclical. Schumacher took subsidiarity, the principle that things are always best done at the lowest practical level, from an encyclical of Pope Pius XII issued in 1931 in the wake of the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression.

It is an injustice and disturbance of right order to push power up rather than down, it said, insisting that nations which do the latter will be happier and more prosperous. Today local democracy, decentralised food and energy systems and local participatory budgeting are arguably better paths for progress. Following the Pope’s encyclical this week on the need for a more equal global economy that respects planetary boundaries, high-profile church figures from across the spectrum of faiths echoed his concerns.

The Christian faith has an honourable tradition of criticising capitalism and the excesses of the market, and of insisting on different ways of doing things, not least since the crash of 2007–08. Famously, medieval Christianity placed a prohibition on usury, the charging of punitive interest on loans. That was only relaxed with the emergence of an aggressive mercantile middle class. Islamic banking today, at least notionally, still operates without the charging of formal interest. There is also a debate in green economics about the degree to which interest-bearing loans are hard–wired to an environmentally destructive growth imperative.

Read more …

May 102015
 


G. G. Bain Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe De Luca, New York 1920

Capitalism is the West’s Dominant Religion (Michael Welton)
Stiglitz: “You Will Have Stronger Growth If You Reduce Inequality” (WEF)
Critical Choices Loom Ahead Of Eurogroup Meeting, IMF Repayment (Kathimerini)
Greece Calls On EU/IMF Lenders To Show Political Will For Deal (Reuters)
Greek Leader Faces Revolt By Party Hardliners As Debt Showdown Looms (Guardian)
The Greek Debt Writedown And Merkel’s Role In It (Kathimerini)
May 7th, 2015 – The Day The United Kingdom Died? (RT)
Sturgeon Vows To End Austerity Across UK (Sky)
An Ever More Fragile Union (FT)
US Urges Greece To Reject Turkish Stream, Focus On Western-Backed Project (RT)
US Trying To Create ‘Unipolar World’ Says Putin (Guardian)
Obama Scolds Democrats On Trade Pact Stance (NY Times)
President Obama Is Badly Confused About the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CEPR)
EU Proposes Plan to Take Up to 20,000 Migrants A Year (WSJ)
Americans Favor Jon Stewart, Colbert Over Conservatives For Punditry (Reuters)

Would anyone in his/her right mind dispute this?

Capitalism is the West’s Dominant Religion (Michael Welton)

David R. Loy, a professor of international studies at Bunkyo University in Japan and a Zen Buddhist teacher, offers us a compelling viewpoint on why we ought to understand our present economic system as the West’s dominant religion. In A Buddhist History of the West (2002), Loy argues that, although religion is “notoriously difficult to define,” if we “adopt a functionalist view and understand religion as what grounds us by teaching us what this world is, and what our role in the world is, then it becomes evident that traditional religions are fulfilling this role less and less, because that function is being supplanted by other belief systems and value systems.” This is a shocking statement for those of conventional religious sensibility. Certainly the monotheistic faith-traditions have not just disappeared into the thin air of modernity.

One could make a solid case that Islamic cultures still contain strong currents of resistance to Western consumer individualism (perceived as decadent and nihilistic). But in the West, Christianity in particular, has lost much of its power to resist the new god that has (and is) conquering the old ones (just like Christianity did in its displacement of Roman deities). Although the monotheistic religions contain many different streams and tendencies (including ascetic and contemplative traditions), these minority anti-materialist traditions have not been able to prevent the market from becoming our “first truly world religion, binding all corners of the globe into a worldview and set of values whose religious role we overlook only because we insist on seeing them as secular” (Loy).

Economics is the new theology of this global religion of the market; consumerism its highest good; its language of hedge funds and derivatives as incomprehensibly esoteric as Christian teachings about the Trinity. “Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses and the prophets! Marx cried out in the first volume of Capital. Loy wonders why we acquiesce in the appalling realities of global inequities and sleep so peacefully at night. He finds his answer in Rodney Dobell’s explanation that “lies largely in our embrace of a peculiarly European or Western [but now global] religion, an individualistic religion of economics and markets, which explains all of these outcomes as the inevitable results of an objective system in which … intervention is counterproductive.” [..]

We have made fetishes out of commodities as we believe we can derive sensuous pleasure from their magical properties. We sacrifice our time, our families, our children, our forests, our seas and our land on the altar of the market, the god to whom we owe our deepest allegiance.

Read more …

Across an entire economy, this may be true. But is it also true for those who profit from inequality?

Stiglitz: “You Will Have Stronger Growth If You Reduce Inequality” (WEF)

Nobel laureate and World Economic Forum on Latin America Co-Chair Joseph E. Stiglitz, Professor, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University, USA, has urged government and business leaders to make the fight against inequality a priority. Stiglitz was speaking at the 10th World Economic Forum on Latin America, taking place in Mexico. “We used to think there was a trade-off between equality and growth. Now we see the two as complementary. You will have stronger growth if you reduce the extremes of inequality,” he said. Latin America’s success in reducing inequality over the past decade, precisely when the region became more integrated into the global economy and more exposed to international market forces, proves that the increased inequality seen in much of the rest of the world comes from policy choices, Stiglitz said.

Latin America must not give up the fight to reduce poverty and equality – even now when many economies are slowing and government budgets are under pressure – since this fight is crucial for long-term growth. Stiglitz called Mexico’s recent round of structural reforms “very impressive” and said, “I’m very optimistic that these really will spur economic growth.” By breaking monopolies, the reforms will lower consumer prices in sectors such as electricity and the telecoms industry, leading to greater spending power for lower income Mexicans. Lower utility costs will make Mexico more attractive for business investment, which will increase jobs and wages. The reforms will therefore help the country reduce inequality.

Stiglitz criticized the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. He cited the negotiations’ secrecy, the proposals that would make governments vulnerable to lawsuits over regulations that protect their citizens, and the proposed expansion of intellectual property rights, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. These expanded IP rights would upset the balance that the United States has already achieved in this area and lead to higher drug prices worldwide, bankrupting some public health systems and putting treatment out of reach for many, he noted. “I am strongly opposed,” he said. As part of the fight against inequality, Stiglitz called for measures to fight racial, ethnic and gender discrimination, and for measures to redistribute resources between richer and poorer parts of a country, such as Mexico’s north and south.

Read more …

For the troika, it’s a power game clear and simple.

Critical Choices Loom Ahead Of Eurogroup Meeting, IMF Repayment (Kathimerini)

Greek officials are bracing for a difficult Eurogroup summit in Brussels on Monday after what promises to be a weekend of feverish negotiations with representatives of Greece’s international creditors as European officials increase the pressure on Athens to compromise and avert a default. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been engaged in a flurry of telephone diplomacy in a bid to drum up political support. Meanwhile prominent officials underlined the risks Greece is facing as its coffers run dry and financial obligations loom, notably a repayment of some €750 million to the IMF on Tuesday. Greek officials have expressed the government’s intention to pay the IMF but according to sources some are in favor of not paying if the outcome of Monday’s Eurogroup is not satisfactory.

Such a move would lead to Greece being declared bankrupt within a month with capital controls likely to be imposed on Greek banks much sooner than that to avert a bank run. European officials suggested that Greece should be cautious. “Experience in other parts of the world has shown that a country can suddenly slide into bankruptcy,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted as telling Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Other European officials made less dramatic statements, with European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stressing that reforms are not progressing quickly enough and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying Monday’s Eurogroup “won’t be decisive.”

Although a decision that will unlock loan money is not expected on Monday, at the very least Athens is hoping for a statement of support that will allow the ECB to provide some liquidity relief, or at least not turn the screws further. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will represent Greece at the Eurogroup but is to be flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis or Alternate Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who is the new negotiations “coordinator,” or possibly both.

Talks at the technical level continued in Brussels on Saturday with three key sticking points: pension and labor reforms and the level of Greece’s primary surplus, which will determine the extent of economic measures that Athens must take. According to sources, creditors put Greece’s primary surplus for this year at 2% of gross domestic product, at least 1% above Athens’s estimate. Talks were also said to focus on possible tax increases, particularly likely plans for a flat value-added tax rate. Although Greek officials insist they have made significant concessions, and Tsipras has called on Europe to show “political will” opposite Athens, it appears that creditors want to see signs of concrete progress – and legislation – before they issue a statement of support, much less unlock funds.

Read more …

Lots of polls being held designed to put pressure on Syriza.

Greece Calls On EU/IMF Lenders To Show Political Will For Deal (Reuters)

Greece’s main debt negotiator called on the EU and the IMF to show their willingness to break an impasse in debt talks, ahead of a crucial meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist-led government, which came to power promising to end the austerity terms under Greece’s existing €240 billion debt deal, has been locked for months in talks with its foreign lenders over reforms that could unlock much needed bailout funds. “Any delay in achieving this compromise has to do with one and only one reason, and this is the political differences between the government and the institutions,” Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s newly appointed coordinator of the talks, told Avgi newspaper.

With bailout aid frozen while it is shut out of debt markets, Athens risks running out of cash unless a deal is reached soon. “After weeks of laborious negotiations, if there is a real will from the other side, it will be clear that the discussion has reached a level where an agreement is very close and will be reached in the coming period,” Tsakalotos said. Athens’ foreign creditors are demanding further austerity in exchange for funds, while an angry Greek public has felt the pain of income cuts amid a six-year recession.

A poll by MRB for Sunday’s Realnews showed that 72% of Greeks wanted what Athens calls an “honorable compromise”, meaning concessions from both sides to reach a deal. A March survey showed that 57% wanted Athens to stick to its “red lines” on pension and labor reforms. Tsipras will hold a wider cabinet meeting on Sunday, a day before euro zone finance ministers discuss progress made so far in the negotiations. Greece needs to pay a €750 million IMF loan this week and pensions and public sector wages at the end of the month, and Athens hopes for the European Central Bank to allow Greece to raise cash by issuing more Treasury bills. “It’s now the political side that must offer a solution,” Economy Minister George Stathakis told Avgi.

Read more …

Helena Smith’s coverage from Athens for the Guardian is not getting better as time goes by. She looks a bit lost.

Greek Leader Faces Revolt By Party Hardliners As Debt Showdown Looms (Guardian)

The epic struggle to keep Greece solvent and in the eurozone intensified on Saturday night amid signs of a looming crisis within the anti-austerity government that took Europe ablaze barely three months ago.As prime minister Alexis Tsipras scrambles to secure a financial lifeline to keep the debt-stricken country afloat, hardliners in his radical left Syriza party have also ratcheted up the pressure. In a make-or-break week of debt repayments, the politician once seen as the harbinger of Europe’s anti-establishment movement has found himself where no other leader would want to be: caught between exasperated creditors abroad and enraged diehards at home.

With government coffers almost at nil and Athens facing a monumental €750mloan instalment to the IMF on Tuesday, it is the last act in a crisis with potentially cataclysmic effect. Either Tsipras betrays his own ideology to deter default – reneging on promises that got him into power – or he goes down as the man who allowed his country to do what no other EU member has done: enter the uncharted waters of euro exit. It is a moment of truth with consequences far beyond the borders of Greece. “No doubt he is having nightmares about betraying ideas that he has held dear all his life,” said Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economy at Athens University. “To make such a U-turn he is going to have to cross red lines that require a leap of faith I am not sure he has.”

The protracted standoff between Athens and the European Union and IMF – the bodies that have bailed out the country to the tune of €240bn since 2010 – has brought Tsipras to this point. To the dismay of inexperienced politicians in his left-dominated coalition, creditors have dug in their heels with cash reserves drying up inexorably as negotiations over a deal to unlock further bailout funds have gone to the wire.

Read more …

2nd part in the series.

The Greek Debt Writedown And Merkel’s Role In It (Kathimerini)

In his personal notes dated a day before the June 2012 general elections, Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos wrote: “Anxiety is mounting. Anxiety in every respect – even and particularly regarding the banks. The telephone call with [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel went very well. […] I gave her a general briefing and then discussed my communications with [European Commission President Jose Manuel] Barroso and [European Council President Herman Van] Rompuy. She was strict on this point. Greece’s declaration that it would abide by its commitments was not enough. She wanted a clear statement that there would be no request for a renegotiation of the memorandum, as is being so gratuitously promised in pre-election campaigns. ‘

They,’ she said – referring to the Commission – ‘do not have to answer to parliament.’” It was the most dramatic moment, up until then, of a crisis that showed no signs of abating – and which was threatening to drag the global economy into another recession. Twenty-five months after having approved, under pressure from a rapidly deteriorating situation, Berlin’s participation in the first bailout package for Greece, the German chancellor was without dispute the dominant figure on the European stage. In the period following the first Greek bailout and up until the end of 2011, she had managed to convince her eurozone partners to adopt new measures imposing fiscal discipline, while at the same time resisting calls for the mutualization of public debt, for example via the issue of eurobonds.

On the question of Greece she decided on a restructuring of the country’s soaring debt. This process, which took four months of negotiations and was completed (with all the requisite prior actions) just days before the first of two general elections in Greece in May 2012, at first appeared to be a success both because of the response from the private sector and because any legal difficulties had been avoided.

Read more …

No, it happened prior to that date.

May 7th, 2015 – The Day The United Kingdom Died? (RT)

Nobody doubts the UK General Election delivered an extraordinary outcome. However, in the long term, May 7th 2015 could eventually be remembered as the day the UK croaked it. The pundits and pontificators spun Election 2015 as a close run vote, certain to deliver a hung parliament. They were misguided. Instead, David Cameron reigns supreme with an overall majority for his Conservative Party and Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have all resigned. While the latter will probably reappear without much delay, the first two are now consigned to the wastebasket of history. In a single day, Miliband has gone from being the favorite to enter 10 Downing Street to the back-benches.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has spent the afternoon kicking back with the Queen. It all sounds like nothing has changed. This is wrong. Everything has changed. While the immediate analysis focuses on the destruction of political careers, May 7th 2015 has greater significance. It was the day the United Kingdom, as it’s presently constituted, entered its endgame. The Conservative majority and the SNP’s Scottish landslide mean checkmate for the union. Had Labour, as expected by pollsters, formed the next government, the UK’s current composition would have been safe, at least in the short-term. Instead, we have witnessed the triumph of nationalism, both Scottish and English, and the squeezing of the middle ground. There’s a smell resonant of Czechoslovakia in 1992 wafting from Britain.

David Cameron is now honor bound to hold an “in-or-out” referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017. It’s increasingly clear that the electorate will vote to leave. However, it won’t be the UK that decides to abandon the EU project, it will be England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will almost certainly vote to remain as members. This, I believe, will be catalyst for a second Scottish independence poll and the subsequent establishment of a Scottish state. Scotland’s needs are different from those of England and Edinburgh needs access to the world’s largest market in order to realize its dreams.

Read more …

Crucial point.

Sturgeon Vows To End Austerity Across UK (Sky)

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to carry an anti-austerity message to Westminster after the SNP gained a record 56 seats in the Commons. The SNP leader addressed her new MPs in Edinburgh and told them to “work with others” in Parliament to end austerity across the United Kingdom. “Let us be very clear – the people of Scotland voted for an SNP manifesto that had ending austerity as its number one priority and that is the priority for these men and women to now take to the very heart of the Westminster agenda,” she said. “We will continue to reach out to people of progressive opinion right across the UK so that we can put ending austerity, investing in public services like our precious NHS, investing in a stronger economy to get more young people in jobs… We will work with others to put those priorities right at the heart of Westminster.”

Voters granted the Conservatives a surprise majority on Thursday, but in taking all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, the SNP ensured they will be hard to ignore in the new-look House of Commons. Ms Sturgeon had a brief conversation with the Prime Minister on Friday, agreeing to face-to-face talks “as soon as possible” – an early indication of the First Minister’s likely influence over the next five years. She told her audience in front of the Forth Bridge: “As I told the Prime Minister when I spoke to him yesterday, it simply cannot and will not be business as usual when it comes to Westminster’s dealings with Scotland.

“Scotland this week spoke more clearly than ever before and my message to Westminster is that Scotland’s voice will be heard there more loudly than it has ever been before. “Our job is to repay the trust you have shown in us and I pledge today that that’s exactly what we’ll do. “We will not let you down.” While a left-of-centre alliance would not be able to outvote a united Tory party in the Commons, the situation may change if Conservative backbenchers become restless. Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor and the new MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond, has predicted the Tory majority will “erode and change within months”.

Read more …

Not the EU.

An Ever More Fragile Union (FT)

Britain has a Conservative government. David Cameron has confounded the pollsters, and left egg on the faces of the pundits blindsided by their predictions — this columnist among them. The Tory leader has led his party to its first outright victory since Sir John Major pulled off the same trick in 1992. Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that the young Mr Cameron served as an aide to the then prime minister. He should savour the moment. The election also told the story of two nations — a Scotland that handed a spectacular victory to Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National party alongside an England that cleaved to an increasingly parochial Tory party. The destruction of the centrist Liberal Democrats amplified the sense of polarisation. Ahead lie dangerous times — for Britain and for Mr Cameron’s Conservatives.

Two great questions are set to shape British politics: the fragile future of the four-nation union and the UK’s permanently irascible relationship with the rest of Europe. For Mr Cameron, they promise only trials and tribulations. History may well see the real significance of the election in the collision between resurgent Scottish, and resentful English, nationalism, the point at which the divisive politics of identity upturned the old order. The SNP’s landslide was widely forecast. The consequences are no less seismic for that. The election reopened the question that should have been settled by the No vote in last year’s independence referendum. Alongside their grip on the devolved government in Edinburgh, the nationalists now hold 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster.

For the first time since the arguments about Irish home rule at the turn of the 20th century, an overtly nationalist party has become the third force in the UK parliament. The SNP is celebrating Mr Cameron’s return to Downing Street. The election saw Scotland turn left, and England right. Nothing could better fit Ms Sturgeon’s insidious narrative of a progressive Scotland forever shackled by a Tory-led England. Here, Mr Cameron must now live with the consequences of his own campaign. There are many reasons why England voted Tory — not least the Labour leader Ed Miliband’s alternative prospectus for socialism in one country. But Tory strategists were unabashed in stirring the embers of English nationalism in order to neutralise the UK Independence party and stoke fears among the undecided that a Labour government would “sell out” to the Scots.

Read more …

Yawn.

US Urges Greece To Reject Turkish Stream, Focus On Western-Backed Project (RT)

Washington is pushing Athens not to abandon a Western-backed Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project in favor of the Russia-proposed Turkish Stream, a pipeline that would bring Russian gas to Europe via Greece. Greece should consider joining the TAP, which will link Europe to natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan via Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, top US energy diplomat Amos Hochstein said after talks with Greek officials, Reuters reported on Friday. “Turkish Stream doesn’t exist. There is no consortium to build it, there is no agreement to build it. So let’s put that to the side, and wait until there’s some movement on that and see if that’s relevant or not relevant and in the meantime focus on what’s important – the pipeline we already agreed to, that Greece already agreed to”, Hochstein claimed.

He didn’t give any details on the meeting with Greek officials, saying that they “more agreed than disagreed.” Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, however, responded that the country would continue supporting the Russian gas pipeline. “We are backing this project because we think it will be useful for our country,” the minister said in a statement after the talks. The US envoy said that the US position was the best way for Europe to secure its energy supply is by diversifying its sources and ensuring competition. He also added that having other gas sources would “help with price, reliability of supply, and that will help take the political element out of the supply system.” Meanwhile, on Thursday Putin reportedly told Greek PM Alexis Tsipras during a phone conversation that Russia was ready to consider providing financial support for Greek companies that join the Russian pipeline project.

Tsipras confirmed his country’s readiness to participate in the Turkish Stream project. Earlier in April during the Greek PM’s official visit to Moscow, Putin and Tsipras agreed to collaborate in the construction of a new pipeline, to be part of the Turkish Stream project, which would deliver Russian gas to Europe via Greece. The Russian president said at that time that by joining the project Greece could become one of the main power distribution centers in Europe, and earn hundreds of millions of euros annually from gas transit fees. The Greek PM voiced interest in the proposal, claiming that the project could be a way to boost jobs and investment in the Greek economy. Cash-stripped Greece can also use revenues from potential joint projects with Russia to pay off debt to international creditors.

Read more …

It’s a disgrace Obama and Merkel et al refused to go to Moscow. A slap in the face of millions who died in WWII.

US Trying To Create ‘Unipolar World’ Says Putin (Guardian)

Vladimir Putin has used an address commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany to accuse the US of attempting to dominate the world. Speaking at Moscow’s annual Victory Day parade in Red Square, which this year has been boycotted by western leaders over the continuing crisis in Ukraine, the Russian president berated Washington for “attempts to create a unipolar world”. Putin said despite the importance of international cooperation, “in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world”. That phrase is often used by Russia to criticise the US for purportedly attempting to dominate world affairs.

The US president, Barack Obama, has snubbed the festivities, as have the leaders of Russia’s other key second world war allies, Britain and France, leaving Putin to mark the day in the company of the leaders of China, Cuba and Venezuela. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has likewise ducked out of attending the parade but will fly to Moscow on Sunday to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier and meet the Russian president. As western sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine continue to bite, Moscow has increasingly appeared to pivot away from Europe and focus more on developing relations with China.

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, will be the most high-profile guests on the podium next to Putin. Other presidents in attendance include India’s Pranab Mukherjee, president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Raúl Castro of Cuba, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Russia used the parade to show off its latest military technology, including the Armata tank, in the parade, which included 16,000 troops and a long convoy of weapons dating from the second world war to the present day. Also on show for the first time was a RS-24 Yars ICBM launcher, which Moscow has said described as a response to US and Nato anti-missile systems.

The celebrations stand in contrast to the festivities a decade ago, when Putin hosted the leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The Soviet Union lost about 27 million soldiers and civilians in what it calls the “great patriotic war” – more than any other country – and the Red Army’s triumph remains an enormous source of national pride. On Saturday morning, many Muscovites sported garrison caps and black and orange striped ribbons that have become a symbol of patriotism in recent years. More than 70% of Russians say a close family member was killed or went missing during the war, making Victory Day an emotional symbol of unity for the nation.

Read more …

The pusher man.

Obama Scolds Democrats On Trade Pact Stance (NY Times)

President Obama on Friday lashed out at critics within his own party as he accused fellow Democrats of deliberately distorting the potential impact of the sweeping new trade agreement he is negotiating with Asia and standing in the way of a modern competitive economy. With the cutting tone he usually reserves for his Republican adversaries, Mr. Obama said liberals who are fighting the new trade accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, were ”just wrong” and, in terms of some of their claims, ”making this stuff up.” If they oppose the deal, he said, they ”must be satisfied with the status quo” and want to ”pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.”

”There have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he told an estimated 2,100 workers at the Nike headquarters here. ”And what’s interesting is typically they’re my friends coming from my party. And they’re my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy and on every progressive issue, they’re right there with me. And then on this, they’re like whupping on me.” But Mr. Obama said that he had no political motive for supporting freer trade with Asia. ”I’ve run my last election,” he said. ”And the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.” And so, ”on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong.”

Read more …

The pusher man doesn’t know what he’s pushing.

President Obama Is Badly Confused About the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CEPR)

That was the main takeaway from a NYT article on his trip to Nike. According to the article, he made many claims about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and opponents of the deal which are clearly wrong. For example, the article tells readers: “he [President Obama] scorned critics who say it would undermine American laws and regulations on food safety, worker rights and even financial regulations, an implicit pushback against Ms. Warren. ‘They’re making this stuff up,’ he said. ‘This is just not true. No trade agreement’s going to force us to change our laws.'” President Obama apparently doesn’t realize that the TPP will create an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism which will allow tribunals to impose huge penalties on the federal government, as well as state and local governments, whose laws are found to be in violation of the TPP.

These fines could effectively bankrupt a government unless they change the law. It is also worth noting that rulings by these tribunals are not subject to appeal, nor are they bound by precedent. Given the structure of the tribunal (the investor appoints one member of the panel, the government appoints a second, and the third is appointed jointly), a future Bush or Walker administration could appoint panelists who would side with foreign investors to overturn environmental, safety, and labor regulations at all levels of government. (Think of Antonin Scalia.) President Obama apparently also doesn’t realize that the higher drug prices that would result from the stronger patent and related protections will be a drag on growth. In addition to creating distortions in the economy, the higher licensing fees paid to Pfizer, Merck, and other U.S. drug companies will crowd out U.S. exports of other goods and services.

Obama is also mistaken in apparently believing that the only alternative to the TPP is the status quo. In fact, many critics of the TPP have argued that a deal that included rules on currency would have their support. This issue is hugely important, since it is highly unlikely that the U.S. economy will be able to reach full employment with trade deficits close to current levels. (It could be done with larger budget deficits, but no one thinks this is politically realistic.) Without a considerably tighter labor market, workers will lack the bargaining power to achieve wage gains. This means that income would continue to be redistributed upward.

The only plausible way to bring the trade deficit down is with a lower valued dollar which would make U.S. goods and services more competitive internationally. The TPP would provide an opportunity to address currency values, as many critics of the trade agreement have pointed out. It seems that Mr. Obama is unaware of this argument.

Read more …

One word: rudderless. Has it already been 10 days since they said 5,000?

EU Proposes Plan to Take Up to 20,000 Migrants A Year (WSJ)

The European Union may accept up to 20,000 refugees a year and set up an automatic redistribution program for migrants overcrowding southern European states, under plans currently being developed in Brussels. The proposed distribution among EU states of people who haven’t yet entered the bloc would use a formula that takes into account the size of the population, the strength of the economy and unemployment rates in each country, as well as the number of refugees they have taken in so far, according to a draft text seen by The Wall Street Journal. The text is due to be adopted by the European Commission—the bloc’s executive—on Wednesday. The 16-page “European Agenda for Migration” comes in response to the refugee crisis Europe is facing notably from the south, after thousands of migrants have died in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach EU countries.

The United Nations has called on the EU to take up to 20,000 refugees a year, directly from camps outside the EU—for instance from Turkey or Lebanon, where most of the four million people who fled the Syrian war are currently located. Under the plan, an EU-wide “resettlement scheme” to meet or get close to that target will be proposed by the end of May and funded with €50 million ($56 million) in 2015-16. The exact number of places for refugees is still the subject of discussions within the commission, where 28 commissioners from each EU country have a say on the matter. “Expect a last-minute quarrel in the college of commissioners on the 20,000 resettlement figure,” one EU official said.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is the main driver behind this initiative, which has the backing of the German government, two EU diplomats confirmed. Germany and Sweden have so far taken the bulk of refugees in Europe and insist that a “voluntary system” doesn’t mean other countries should shirk their responsibilities. The program wouldn’t be binding for the U.K., Ireland and Denmark, which have opted out of the EU asylum system. If national governments agree to take refugees from outside the EU, the same distribution “key” may be used for “automatic relocation” of migrants who are already in Italy, Malta or Greece. “We have to start somewhere. Agreeing on refugees outside the EU may be easier, because they are the most in need. Then, we may move on to relocation within the EU,” one EU diplomat said.

Read more …

For what it’s worth.

Americans Favor Jon Stewart, Colbert Over Conservatives For Punditry (Reuters)

Jon Stewart has spent 16 years skewering U.S. politicians and media as the liberal host of television’s “The Daily Show” – and many Americans think he gets it right on the issues with his satirical look at the news. In a Reuters/Ipsos online poll, the Comedy Central comic topped a list of 10 pundits, with more than half of respondents saying they agreed with him on at least some issues. Only 12% did not agree with him on any issues at all. Stewart, who will host his last Daily Show episode on Aug. 6, also ranked highest on two other traits – fearlessness and most admired. Of the 2,013 people 18 and older polled, nearly half found him unafraid in confronting “issues that others ignore,” while 48% said they admired him.

Daily Show alumnus Stephen Colbert, who spoofed conservative talk-show hosts for nearly a decade on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” tied Stewart as most admired and placed second to him on issues and fearlessness. Colbert will soon take over hosting “The Late Show” on CBS. By contrast, only 34% of respondents agreed with Rush Limbaugh. The fiery conservative talk show host was the least admired commentator on a list that also included political satirist Bill Maher, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and conservative author Ann Coulter. Nearly 90% of respondents were familiar with Limbaugh’s work, the most for any commentator. [..] O’Reilly was the best performing conservative in the poll, finishing third behind Stewart and Colbert with viewers on confronting tough issues and on sharing the same views. He scored 43% in both areas. He was fifth on the list of most admired pundits behind Stewart, Colbert, Maher and Briton John Oliver, another Daily Show veteran who now anchors a similar program on HBO.

Read more …