Oct 252022
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Self portrait 1642

 

White House Responds To US Lawmakers’ Call For Russia Talks (RT)
Russia Warns US and UK About Ukraine’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plans (RT)
Russian Warning To The UN Security Council (Saker)
Ukraine Faces ‘Worst Winter In History’ – Head Of National Energy Giant (RT)
Russian Duma Speaker Compares ‘Kiev Regime’ To Al-Qaeda (RT)
The ‘War of Terror’ May Be About To Hit Europe (Escobar)
Full Demilitarization Area Around Zaporozhye NPP Impossible – Moscow (RT)
1000s of Years of Human Progress or the Donbas in Ukraine? (Cosgrove)
Potential Mass Layoffs At Twitter Could Cripple Content Moderation (ABC)
Cheney: Trump Won’t Be Allowed To Turn Jan. 6 Testimony Into ‘Circus’ (Hill)
Hunter Biden’s Laptop Documents At Least 459 Legal Violations (DW)
Recycling Plastic A ‘Failed Concept’ – Greenpeace (RT)
Chaos Is As Chaos Does (Jim Kunstler)
The Disastrous Effects of the “Zero Covid” Policy in China (Ugo Bardi)
I Hope People Can Imagine The Scale Of What Is Happening Here (Hodkinson)
Unvaccinated Children Are ‘Our Only Hope’ For Herd Immunity – Geert (ET)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call for peace talks, but only with Zelensky, who you know full well signed a decree forbidding any such talks. Then wash your hands and send more guns.

White House Responds To US Lawmakers’ Call For Russia Talks (RT)

US officials have dismissed the idea of direct talks with Moscow without Kiev’s involvement, after some 30 Democratic representatives wrote a letter urging President Joe Biden to pursue a diplomatic end to the conflict in Ukraine. “We’ve been very clear: Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday, adding that “this is a decision that President [Vladimir] Zelensky is going to have to make when it comes to any type of conversation with Russia, any type of negotiation.” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby similarly stated on Monday that the Ukrainians must be part of any future negotiations.

“We’re not going to have conversations with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented,” Kirby said, as cited by the Washington Post. “Mr. Zelensky gets to determine – because it’s his country – what success looks like and when to negotiate.” Kirby noted the US administration “appreciates [the lawmakers’] very thoughtful concerns,” while Jean-Pierre admitted she hasn’t seen the letter. Both, however, insisted that Russian President Vladimir Putin could choose to end the conflict “at any time.” In a letter to the White House on Monday, Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (Washington) cited the “destruction” of Ukraine, the threat of nuclear war and the economic turmoil visited upon Europe as reasons to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Signed by prominent progressives including Ro Khanna (Pennsylvania), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), the letter acknowledged that the ultimate decision on when to return to the negotiating table remains Ukraine’s. However, it concluded by urging Biden to open “direct talks with Russia,” without suggesting what kind of compromises the lawmakers think Ukraine should make for peace. Ukraine’s president previously said he would never negotiate with Russia as long as President Putin is in power, and has vowed to seize four formerly Ukrainian regions that recently joined the Russian Federation, as well as Crimea, which voted to rejoin Russia in 2014.

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“..the UK “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict.”

Russia Warns US and UK About Ukraine’s ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plans (RT)

Moscow has discussed the threat of Kiev potentially using a “dirty bomb” with London and Washington at the level of the chiefs of the General Staff, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday. The Russian chief of defense, General Valery Gerasimov, raised his country’s concerns in a phone call with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, after having a similar conversation with his British counterpart, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin. The Pentagon only mentioned that the two generals discussed “several security-related issues of concern” without providing any further details. It was the first such conversation between Gerasimov and Milley since May.

The British Defence Ministry said the phone call between Radakin and Gerasimov took place “at the request of the Russian Ministry of Defense,” adding that the UK “rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict.” Radakin also “restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine,” the ministry’s statement added. London also agreed it was important to keep communication channels with Moscow open to “manage the risk of miscalculation and to facilitate de-escalation.” The developments came a day after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu raised similar concerns in phone calls with the defense chiefs of the US, UK, and France. Moscow has been warning Western nations about Kiev’s alleged plans to use a “dirty bomb” to frame Russia for quite some time. The West, however, has remained largely dismissive of such warnings.

Earlier on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Kiev wants to frame Moscow as a “nuclear terrorist” by accusing it of using weapons of mass destruction and thus potentially launching a “powerful anti-Russia campaign.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also stated that the West’s disbelief in this scenario does not make the threat any less pressing. Kiev has denied Moscow’s allegations. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky also said that the only side capable of launching an attack using nukes is Russia itself. Meanwhile, the UN called on all sides of the conflict to show restraint. Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a briefing on Monday that all parties should “avoid” any actions that could lead to miscalculation or further escalation of the already devastating conflict.

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“.. this situation did not suit the West and thus caused a genuine hysterics among our Western “colleagues..”

Russian Warning To The UN Security Council (Saker)

Since during the eight years of bitter experience of the inhabitants of Donbass we know well, what the Kiev regime is capable of, a decision was made to cool down the militant ardour of the arrogant Kiev terrorists. With precision-guided missiles strikes and UAVs of Russian manufacture, were destroyed a large number of military installations, and also infrastructure facilities, [reducing] the military capabilities and undermining potentials of Zelensky’s repressive regime. Of course, this situation did not suit the West and thus caused a genuine hysterics among our Western “colleagues”, which we can observe in all its glory expressed during today’s meeting.

Naturally, as before, they do not want to see the truth and acknowledge that the civilian targets were hit and were damaged only in those cases when the drones were shot down near the targets by the Ukrainian territorial defense .. and because of that had deviated from the original course. Or the [damage happened] when civilian targets were hit by the Ukrainian air-defense missiles, which were not capable of Intercepting their targets. There are plenty of such cases, including recorded on video. Anyone who wants to, can watch them on the Internet. Right now Ukraine and its Western patrons are trying to spin another fake about the alleged deliveries to Russia of the Iranian UAVs, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2231.

We reject any such attempts to draw the UN Secretariat into this unscrupulous game. An example of this is the letter distributed in the Security Council today by Germany, France and the UK with a de facto petition to the UN Secretariat to violate the article 100 of the UN charter and mandate, prescribed in the note of the President UN Security Council S/2016/44 of 16 January, 2016. The US went even further and in their letter directly demanded from the Secretariat to conduct an investigation that the Secretariat is not authorized to open. This is an egregious situation and we submitted our legal assessments in our response letter, which was circulated before this session. We are waiting for the Secretariat to fully confirm that it does not intend to go along with the violation of the UN charter [demanded] by these Westerners’ instructions, and will not conduct any such “investigation”.

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“We expect constant power outages and problems with heating..”

Ukraine Faces ‘Worst Winter In History’ – Head Of National Energy Giant (RT)

Ukraine is facing its harshest winter, which will be marked by ongoing blackouts, Yuri Vitrenko, the head of the state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, has said. In an interview with German outlet Handelsblatt, Vitrenko explained that “about 40% of the power generation plants were destroyed” by recent Russian airstrikes. “It will be the worst winter in our history. We expect constant power outages and problems with heating,” Vitrenko said in the interview published on Monday, adding that Moscow has also hit Ukrainian refineries. Ukraine is preparing for winter blackouts, the Naftogaz boss said, admitting that “it is impossible to 100% prevent problems” and the country therefore needs help from its partners.

In an interview with The Guardian in late August, long before Russia launched its offensive against Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Vitrenko admitted that without Western financial support, Ukraine would “lack gas” and, consequently, might see its power system going down. In September, the Naftogaz boss urged Ukrainians to stock up on blankets and warm clothes, noting that this year’s heating season will start later and end earlier, while winter temperatures in apartments will be set at 17-18 degrees Celsius (62-64 degrees Fahrenheit), four degrees below the standard temperature. The ongoing shelling of Ukrainian infrastructure by Moscow prompted Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky last week to ask his compatriots to ease pressure on the struggling energy system by limiting their use of electricity between 5 and 11 pm.

On Sunday, he also asked the local authorities “to consume electricity very consciously” and emphasized that “this is not the right time for bright shop windows and signs.” Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a shift in the military offensive in Ukraine on October 10, with Moscow’s forces launching massive long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian military, communication, and energy facilities. He accused Kiev of masterminding several “terrorist attacks” on Russian infrastructure, including the Crimean Bridge bombing attack.

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“..the US president and the heads of European countries are becoming the sponsors and accomplices in nuclear terrorism..”

Russian Duma Speaker Compares ‘Kiev Regime’ To Al-Qaeda (RT)

The Ukrainian government employs the same tactics as Al-Qaeda in its conflict with Moscow, Vyacheslav Volodin, the head of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, said on Monday. Writing on his Telegram channel, Volodin compared Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to Osama Bin Laden, the leader of the Islamist group behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001. “Washington released information 20 years ago that Al-Qaeda terrorists led by Bin Laden got access to radioactive materials and were planning to make a ‘dirty bomb,’” he said. “The threat of using such a bomb in the US and Europe had existed until Bin Laden was killed in 2011.” Volodin claimed that Kiev had instructed its nuclear scientists to make a ‘dirty bomb’, while its forces shell the critical infrastructure of the Zaporozhye and Kursk nuclear power plants.


“Through financial and military aid to Zelensky’s regime, the US president and the heads of European countries are becoming the sponsors and accomplices in nuclear terrorism,” Volodin wrote. The comments came after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned his British and French counterparts on Sunday about “a potential Ukrainian provocation” involving a ‘dirty bomb’. Zelensky dismissed the allegations and accused Moscow of threatening the world with nuclear weapons. “If Russia alleges that Ukraine is preparing something, it means only one thing: that Russia itself is preparing it,” Zelensky said on Sunday. Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of shelling the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, which was seized by Russian troops after Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring country. Zaporozhye Region voted in September to leave Ukraine and has since been admitted into Russia.

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“Russia is working to eventually decommission all those US-controlled international organizations..”

The ‘War of Terror’ May Be About To Hit Europe (Escobar)

[..] the arrival of General Winter in Europe portends a socio-economic descent into a maelstrom of darkness – unimaginable only a few months ago in the supposedly “garden” of humanity, so far away from the rumbles across the “jungle.”Well, from now on barbarism begins at home. And Europeans should thank the American “ally” for it, skillfully manipulating fearful, vassalized EU elites. Way more dangerous though is a specter that very few are able to identify: the imminent Syrianization of Europe. That will be a direct consequence of the NATO debacle in Ukraine. From an imperial perspective, the prospects in the Ukrainian battlefield are gloomy. Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) has seamlessly morphed into a Counter-Terror Operation (CTO): Moscow now openly characterizes Kiev as a terrorist regime.

The pain dial is incrementally going up, with surgical strikes against Ukrainian power/electricity infrastructure about to totally cripple Kiev’s economy and its military. And by December, there’s the arrival on the front lines and in the rear of a properly trained and highly motivated partial mobilization contingent. The only question concerns the timetable. Moscow is now in the process of slowly but surely decapitating the Kiev proxy, and ultimately smashing NATO “unity.” The process of torturing the EU economy is relentless. And the real world outside of the collective West – the Global South – is with Russia, from Africa and Latin America to West Asia and even sections of the EU.

It is Moscow – and significantly not Beijing – that is tearing apart the hegemon-coined “rules-based international order,” supported by its natural resources, the provision of food and reliable security. And in coordination with China, Iran and major Eurasian players, Russia is working to eventually decommission all those US-controlled international organizations – as the Global South becomes virtually immune to the spread of NATO psyops.

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The plant was fine until Ukraine started targeting it.

Full Demilitarization Area Around Zaporozhye NPP Impossible – Moscow (RT)

Russia has ruled out complete demilitarization of the area around the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), but would support some kind of arrangement to ensure its safety, a senior Russian diplomat has said. “An agreement about demilitarization is impossible in principle. We cannot keep the station safe without guarding it,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the newspaper Izvestia on the sidelines of an international seminar on the prevention of nuclear war in Moscow. “Zone of protection is a different idea, and its parameters are being discussed,” he noted, referring to Russian contacts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in remarks published on Monday.

Moscow is engaged with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and has observers from the UN nuclear watchdog stationed at the facility, Ryabkov said, adding that Russia has “nothing to hide.” The Zaporozhye NPP has been under Russian control since the early stages of the military operation in Ukraine. Kiev and Moscow accused each other of shelling the station on multiple occasions. Ukraine also claimed that Russia deployed heavy weapons at the site and used them to attack Ukrainian troops. Russia took over formal responsibility for the station earlier this month, after Zaporozhye Region voted in a referendum to split with Kiev and become part of Russia.

The IAEA, however, still refers to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe as Ukrainian. The agency stressed “the need to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the facility, following frequent shelling at or near the plant in recent months,” in its latest briefing on the situation. Both Russia and Ukraine expressed discontent with the IAEA’s refusal to say who is responsible for the shelling of the plant. Speaking to Argentinian media last week, Grossi said his goal was to identify “the lowest common denominator” between the two nations and to ensure the physical safety of the nuclear site. He chose to ignore the mutual accusations, as taking “a militant or critical position” would have been detrimental to that goal, he explained in an interview with La Nacion newspaper.

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“..the idea that Russia and the US will just fight an infantry war and cordially accept the results is ridicu-fucking-lous..”

1000s of Years of Human Progress or the Donbas in Ukraine? (Cosgrove)

Neocons: WTF are you thinking? There is no winning scenario for the US on the path we are currently on. If Crimea is in jeopardy (a region controlled by Russia for almost a decade which the citizens overwhelmingly support), Putin will nuke Ukraine. It’s a lose-lose for the US from there as we can either escalate and destroy the world or not and appear weak. Don’t think Putin will nuke? According to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, former nuclear planner for Rand Corporation with personal access to Nixon, stated that the former President was dangerously close to going nuclear on Vietnam. In an interview for Mint Press News, he discusses Nixon’s plan to use nuclear blackmail to end the war quickly. “‘There was pressure to make the war larger’” if the offer was rejected, the whistleblower noted, and ‘nuclear targets were picked.’”

If Vietnam, a country nearly 8,000 miles from the continental US, was enough of a headache that Nixon nearly pushed the button… what do you think Putin is thinking right now with a war on his border and having just resorted to conscription? So stop this NATO theatre near the border. Putin does not want to invade NATO and take over Europe (let alone all of Ukraine). And if the plan is to deploy these troops in the event that a nuke is used (as many have advocated for), the idea that Russia and the US will just fight an infantry war and cordially accept the results is ridicu-fucking-lous.

The risk-reward of our military support for Ukraine has reached unfathomable levels of insanity. By the State Department’s own analysis, there are no material differences in human rights protections between the governments of Ukraine and Russia. Who exactly are we helping by using Ukraine as our military sandbox? Maybe Zelensky and a few other lucky oligarchs, but certainly not the Ukrainians. Friday saw talks between the US and Russia for the first time since May. This is somewhat reassuring. Regardless… I’m officially a single issue voter: will you or will you not vote to send money/weapons to Ukraine? I’d vote for fucking AOC if she vowed to not give another dime to Ukraine and push for a peace settlement. I’d rather be alive in a genderless socialist dystopia than not at all.

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The MSM is fully myopic. They can be, because they made their audience myopic. For all of them, free speech now equals harassment.

Potential Mass Layoffs At Twitter Could Cripple Content Moderation (ABC)

Over the course of a monthslong bid to purchase Twitter, Elon Musk has signaled major changes at the platform. As Musk stands poised to acquire the company in the coming weeks, the transformation appears even more far-reaching than some anticipated. In discussions about his plans for the company, in recent months, Musk talked about potential mass layoffs that would reduce the staff by 75%, the Washington Post reported. While details of the potential layoffs remain limited, the move could compromise the platform’s capacity to police false or harmful content, with ramifications that extend to social issues like election integrity, experts told ABC News. The experience of a typical user could change significantly, they added, noting the possible rise of harassment and other forms of corrosive discourse.

Even if Musk’s Twitter deal does not come to fruition, the company’s current management has reportedly planned to cut its payroll by $800 million by the end of next year, the Post reported. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the report of layoffs but confirmed to ABC News the existence of a company memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News. “We do not have any confirmation of the buyer’s plans following close and recommend not following rumors or leaked documents but rather wait for facts from us and the buyer directly,” the memo by Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett said. Speaking at a Twitter all-hands meeting shortly in June, Musk did not rule out downsizing if he were to acquire the company. “Anyone who is a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about,” Musk reportedly told employees, according to tweets from Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner.

Cuts to the content moderation workforce would align with statements made by Musk in recent months about his commitment to the principle of free speech, suggesting that Twitter should permit all speech that stops short of violating the law, the experts said. “Content moderation will be a lot harder without people doing content moderation,” Zeve Sanderson, the executive director at New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics, told ABC News. “If there is more harassment and other forms of toxic speech, if there is more misinformation and disinformation, then people’s experience on the platform is going to be really different,” he added.

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Because: Whose circus is it anyway? It’s OUR circus.

Cheney: Trump Won’t Be Allowed To Turn Jan. 6 Testimony Into ‘Circus’ (Hill)

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Sunday said the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol will not allow former President Trump to turn his testimony to the panel into a “circus.” Cheney told moderator Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the committee would treat any deposition with the former president with “great seriousness.” “We are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath,” Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, said. “It may take multiple days, and it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.”


“He’s not going to turn this into a circus. This isn’t going to be first debate against [President] Biden and the circus and the food fight that became,” the lawmaker added. The House committee, which wrapped up its final hearing on the Jan. 6 attack this month, unanimously voted to subpoena Trump before it formally issued a subpoena to the former president. Lawmakers are probing 19 areas of interest, including many covered during the series of hearings the committee held over the summer, in the subpoena. They include potential communications seeking to evaluate former Vice President Mike Pence’s role in certifying the 2020 election as well as efforts to communicate with state lawmakers, election officials and leaders at the Justice Department about the 2020 election.

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“We don’t want to hear that Republicans need another year to do an investigation. I’ve done that here.”

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Documents At Least 459 Legal Violations (DW)

A year-long exploration of Hunter Biden’s laptop has yielded a 630-page report that its authors say document 459 violations of state and federal laws and regulations by President Joe Biden’s son and his business partners. Marco Polo, a nonprofit formed by a one-time aide to former President Trump to enable a team of cyber gumshoes to take a deep dive into the laptop that the crack-addled Biden left at a Delaware repair store, claims the report is a road map for local, state, or federal prosecutors to pursue charges. The group also sent its report to each member of Congress. The timing of the report’s release, coming two weeks before the midterm elections, has a certain symmetry to the laptop’s initial introduction to the public.

In 2020, days before the election, the New York Post published news of the laptop’s existence, as well as bombshells from it, but social media suppressed the story after the FBI had warned companies of so-called misinformation. This time around, the timing is similar, but other factors are reversed. Legacy outlets have acknowledged that the laptop’s files are authentic, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey admitted that censoring the laptop was a mistake, and the social media platform is being sold to free-speech advocate Elon Musk. The team put together by Garrett Ziegler, Marco Polo’s 26-year-old founder, has mined the laptop with digital savvy, and produced a thorough report that is anything but vague or superficial, weighing in at 1 gigabyte because of the number of screenshots from the laptop.

“I’ve been focusing on this for 13 months,” Ziegler told The Daily Wire. “It was really a thing of necessity. I recognized how rich the material was. It requires utter focus. It is so hard to write something comprehensive about it and do anything else on the side.” “There’s been some phenomenal writing so far on the sex and degeneracy,” he added, but “The focus of the report is on crimes … I had a compulsion to log every crime, even the state-level statutes. The mission is simple: Hold Republicans’ feet to the fire. We don’t want to hear that Republicans need another year to do an investigation. I’ve done that here.” The report, which reviewed the laptop’s emails, videos, calendar items, photographs, phone records, financial documents and more, but also provided context and explanation, serves as a “Rosetta Stone of white- and blue-collar crime under the patina of ‘the Delaware Way,’” the report says.

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“Since peaking at 9.5% in 2014, recycling rates have been steadily decreasing..”

Recycling Plastic A ‘Failed Concept’ – Greenpeace (RT)

Plastic recycling has turned out to be a “failed concept” used by global corporations as a “smokescreen,” Greenpeace USA has said, urging companies to focus on abandoning single-use plastic. In a report titled ‘Circular Claims Fall Flat Again’ and released on Monday, the environmental organization stated that of 51 million tons of plastic waste generated by US households in 2021, only 2.4 million tons, or 5%, were recycled. “After more than 30 years, it is time to accept that plastic recycling is a failed concept. Unlike with paper or metals, there are two insurmountable barriers that prevent plastic recycling from ever working at scale: toxicity and economics,” Greenpeace said.

Due to its toxicity, plastic cannot be recycled back into new food-grade plastic products, the organization explained, adding that “the flood of 400 million tons/year of cheap new plastic production kills the business case for large-scale investment in plastic recycling.” The situation is further aggravated by the high costs and complexity of the recycling process, given that different plastics have different characteristics and thus must be treated differently. But, most importantly, the organization said, “thousands of types of synthetic plastic materials produced are fundamentally not recyclable.” Since peaking at 9.5% in 2014, recycling rates have been steadily decreasing, especially since China ceased accepting Western plastic waste in 2018, the report states.

Therefore, Greenpeace urged companies to stop using the “false path” of plastic recycling as “a smokescreen to divert attention from the systemic changes that are needed.” “Instead of continuing on this false path, companies in the US and around the world must urgently phase out single-use plastics by replacing their packaging with reuse and refill systems and offering packaging-free products,” it said. Greenpeace USA senior plastics campaigner Lisa Ramsden told AFP that corporations such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever are some of those that have been promoting recycling for decades but have “shirked all responsibility” for the effectiveness of the process.

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America has become Forrest Gump-istan.

Chaos Is As Chaos Does (Jim Kunstler)

Then there’s us, Crazyland, formerly known as the USA, floating the possibility of a nuclear missile exchange, as if that were any kind of workable answer to the completely unnecessary war we instigated in the crossroads of Eurasia. Now, the word is out that a 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” strike force is assembling in Romania, next door to Ukraine, for some supposed incursion into the war zone — where there would be a fair chance of them getting slaughtered. Are you serious, Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley, or is this just some new deranged Woke vaudeville act in your continuing effort to humiliate the US Armed Forces?

Factor in, of course, the fast-approaching midterm election, which seems to have driven the “Joe Biden” regime and its Party of Chaos into a fugue of extreme desperation as they face a possibly massive repudiation at the polls that will put them out of business for many election cycles to come — if not permanently — and bring an end to the Wokester-Jacobin freak show. How the Democratic Party became hostage to the worst array of political ideas ever assembled remains a profound mystery. How do they persist supporting a Covid “vaccine” campaign that is now obviously false and dangerous? Is it simply an inability to acknowledge a terrible mistake? Or is it — as things seem — something darker, a deliberate effort to inflict harm on the American people? Kind of looks that way.

Several states quickly and loudly opted out of “vaccine” mandates for schools since the CDC’s advisory committee’s bizarre 15 to 0 vote to include the janky mRNA shots on the childhood “schedule.” How did “JB” & Company imagine that a wide-open border along with big cash gifts to border-jumpers was going to play with the economically sore-beset public? Who imagined that drag queens grinding their junk in children’s faces was a winning ploy? Who told them that Americans would approve of turning the FBI into a Gestapo, barging into politically-targeted households with SWAT teams before dawn? How did they forget that there is a first amendment to the constitution that forbids the government to interfere with freedom of speech? Who is actually behind this insanity?

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“Zero Covid Hell”

The Disastrous Effects of the “Zero Covid” Policy in China (Ugo Bardi)

“Eugenic and cultural superiority” Really? Actually, it is not surprising that people, more or less everywhere, see themselves as the best people in the world. The West has a century old tradition of this idea, well expressed by Rudyard Kipling as the “White Man’s Burden.” But I found it hard to believe that the Chinese, intelligent as they are, would not realize the mess in which they find themselves with their insistence on evidently ineffective “Zero Covid” policies. You may have read about people locked shut in their apartments, streets closed by barbed wire, universal masking everywhere, forced testing and vaccination, household pets exterminated, and much more. It is a situation that Eugyppius correctly described as “Zero Covid Hell”. Can’t the Chinese realize that they are being bullied by a government that’s thinking only of its own survival?

And yet, it turns out that Chuck was right, as it is often the case. I realized that all of a sudden, a few days ago, while I was listening to the talk of a Chinese colleague at an online conference. One of the things she said was that the cultural superiority of China over the West is demonstrated by the willingness of Chinese citizens to wear face masks all the time. That doesn’t happen, she said, with the unruly Westerners, who refuse to act in harmony with each other and wear such a simple and completely harmless device as a face mask. She didn’t mention the genetic superiority of the Chinese, but it was just a small step to get there from what she said.

One of those moments in which you feel your painstakingly assembled worldview crumbling around you. Did she really say that? After the conference, I contacted her separately. I asked her if she was sure that face masks are harmless. And I sent to her a link to a peer-reviewed paper showing the many negative effects of masks on health. She answered me very politely, thanking me for the link, and saying that face masks are basically harmless; hence they have to be worn all the time in public. End of the discussion.

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“20 million dead by the injection,

2.2 billion injured …”

I Hope People Can Imagine The Scale Of What Is Happening Here (Hodkinson)

“20 million dead by the injection,

2.2 billion injured …” “I hope people can imagine the extent of what is happening here.

An unimaginable slaughter that is not yet over, because this number is the current estimate first.

It does not include future deaths of a similar kind that will come to you!”

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Immune escape.

Unvaccinated Children Are ‘Our Only Hope’ For Herd Immunity – Geert (ET)

For nearly two years, vaccine expert and virologist Geert Vanden Bossche has been on a mission to raise awareness of why healthy children should not receive COVID-19 vaccines. Vanden Bossche, who has 30 years of experience in the vaccine industry, claims that it is primarily the unvaccinated children and adults who can generate herd immunity.“The children are our only hope still, to generate herd immunity,” Vanden Bossche told The Epoch Times. “And herd immunity means, thanks to their natural immunity, they can kill the virus, they can sterilize the virus.” It is only herd immunity that “will be able, at the population level, to dramatically reduce infectious pressure and to tame the pandemic so that it can transition into an endemic phase,” he added, since the “vaccines cannot do this.


“On the contrary, the vaccines lead to the breeding of more and more infectious variants, which is enhancing the infectious pressure in the population.”Herd immunity is defined as when a percentage of the population becomes immune to a disease—either through a previous infection or vaccination—which acts to stop or slow down the spread. Yet, vaccines have never significantly contributed to ending influenza pandemics in the past. The virus in each pandemic had largely run its course and became endemic. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, caused by the H1N1 virus, began in March 1918 and ended in the summer of 1919 without the use of any vaccines. The 1957 Asian flu (H2N2) pandemic ended in 1958 with limited use of the flu vaccine. And in both the 1968 H3N2 and 2009 H1N1 pandemics, the pandemic had already reached its peak by the time the vaccines were ready, so demand for the vaccines declined.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time that mass vaccination is being done in the middle of a pandemic. According to Vanden Bossche, mass vaccination with vaccines cannot prevent infection during a pandemic when there is high infection pressure because it leads to immune escape, a phenomenon where a virus can escape the host’s immune system. The late Nobel laureate and virologist Luc Montagnier was also against vaccinating the entire population during a pandemic. In May 2021, he called the mass vaccination program “a huge scientific error” and that the “history books will show that it is the vaccination that is creating the variants.” Supporters of vaccination allege that the vaccines do not create more variants, arguing that the virus has mutated several times prior to the vaccine roll out in December 2020 and that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks. Vanden Bossche disagrees.


He said that while variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can occur naturally, it is the COVID-19 injections that are driving the process. The most important reason why children should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine is to protect their innate immune system from being compromised, according to Vanden Bossche. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against foreign pathogens. Children are “equipped with a special kind of antibodies that we call innate antibodies,” Vanden Bossche said in a video this summer, which “only lasts for some time during childhood and after that they disappear.” “These innate antibodies have an incredibly important function because they will help the child to kick off its own immune system,” he said, adding that these antibodies may be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and many other viruses that are encountered.

Marik

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Oborne

 

 

 

 

Plates

 

 

 

 

Bats

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 072022
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1940

 

Kremlin Accuses Zelensky Of Trying To Start A World War (RT)
Top Russian Senator Urges Ukraine To Start Peace Talks ‘Today’ (RT)
Vladimir Putin’s Battle Cry Against the Deep State (Silva-Valladares)
Russian Ambassador Assesses Relations With US (RT)
The NS1 and NS2 Sabotage Impact Potential (Jorge Vilches)
Europe Faces Deindustrialization And Social Unrest – Belgian PM (RT)
Moscow Wonders If Washington Knows About Kiev’s Terrorism Plans (RT)
EU Must Decide Where It Stands On Ukraine – Kremlin (RT)
Beyond Confidence (CoS)
Is Giorgia Meloni Bringing Fascism Back To Italy? (Cardini)
Twitter Refuses Elon Musk’s Renewed $44B Bid (Crider)
This Could Be How Turkey Attacks Greece in 2023 (Rubin)
Enough Evidence To Indict Hunter Biden – WaPo (RT)
Waiting Lines At French Gas Stations Due To Fuel Shortage (AA)
Want To Save The Oceans? Stop Recycling Plastic (Chivers)

 

 

 

 

Happy bulking season

 

 

 

 

Ye

 

 

 

 

Kamala

 

 

 

 

Not just a world war, a nuclear one.

Kremlin Accuses Zelensky Of Trying To Start A World War (RT)

The Kremlin has accused Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky of trying to spark a third world war, after he demanded that NATO carry out preventive strikes on Russia to deter the use of nuclear weapons. Speaking to the Australian Lowy Institute on Thursday, Zelensky stated that NATO must ensure Moscow does not use nukes against Kiev’s forces. To do this, he called on the US-led military bloc and the international community to carry out preventive strikes against Russia so that it “knows what to expect” if it decides to use them. “What should NATO do? Eliminate the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons,” Zelensky said during the online conference. “I once again appeal to the international community, as it was before February 24: preemptive strikes so that they [Russia] know what will happen to them if they use it, and not the other way around.”

Moscow has slammed Zelensky’s suggestion, with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stating that the Ukrainian leader’s comments are nothing short of an attempt to spark a world war, which would lead to “unforeseeable disastrous consequences.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also accused Zelensky of trying to provoke a nuclear war, with spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stating that “every person on the planet” should recognize that the“unbalanced” puppet leader of Ukraine, who has been pumped full of weapons, has turned into “a monster, whose hands can destroy the planet.”


The Kremlin has called on the international community to pay special attention to Zelensky’s statements, especially the US and the UK, who Peskov says are “de facto in control of Kiev’s actions” and therefore bear responsibility for the Ukrainian president’s words. Russia has repeatedly stated that it is not considering a nuclear strike on Ukraine but has warned that it will use any means necessary in order to protect its borders, people and sovereignty. Meanwhile, both Washington and London have also admitted that it is unlikely that Moscow will deploy tactical nukes in the Ukraine conflict and have seen no indications of Moscow preparing such an attack. Nevertheless, Western leaders have warned Russia against ever crossing that line, vowing “catastrophic consequences.”

Ze

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“We are saying it again – we are in favor of negotiations, of dialogue, of a peaceful political solution to this crisis. Let’s start talking. Let’s get behind the negotiating table..”

“Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” – Sun Tzu

Top Russian Senator Urges Ukraine To Start Peace Talks ‘Today’ (RT)

The head of Russia’s Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, has called on the Ukrainian parliament to immediately engage in peace talks with a view to settling the conflict between the two countries. The proposal was made during the G20 parliamentary speakers’ summit in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Thursday. The Ukrainian delegation, headed by Verkhovna Rada chair Elena Kondratyuk, has also been invited to the event, despite the country not being part of the group of the world’s top economies. “Let us, the parliament of Russia and the parliament of Ukraine, sit behind the negotiating table today, at the G20 parliamentary platform. Let’s try to understand each other and find solutions,” Matvienko said.

The senator noted that Moscow and Kiev had almost reached a peace deal during talks in Istanbul in late March, but “Ukraine was obviously under external management at that time and gave up on those agreements.” Russia has made numerous offers to Kiev to engage in peace talks since the outbreak of the conflict in late February, she pointed out. “We are saying it again – we are in favor of negotiations, of dialogue, of a peaceful political solution to this crisis. Let’s start talking. Let’s get behind the negotiating table,” Matvienko suggested. The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament later clarified to journalists that Moscow was “ready to cease hostilities on the conditions that are being put forward by Russia.” This meant that the status of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, which officially became part of the Russian state on Wednesday, won’t be up for discussion during the negotiations with Ukraine, she said.

Matvienko said she wasn’t surprised by the lack of response to her proposal to start dialogue from the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation. “It’s understandable because Ukraine isn’t free in its decisions. It can’t make any decisions on its own, without the involvement of its masters,” she said, likely referring to Kiev’s backers in the US, UK, and the EU. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed a decree that forbade any negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Zelensky claimed that Ukraine would only talk to Russia if it had a different president. The Kremlin responded to the move by saying it was ready to wait for the Ukrainian president to change his stance or for Ukraine to find a new president with a different stance.

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“..what Putin has done is setting international rivalry in deep historical and cultural terms.”

Vladimir Putin’s Battle Cry Against the Deep State (Silva-Valladares)

The recent ceremony of accession of four Ukrainian regions to Russia brought a speech from President Putin that outlined the reasons behind Russia’s current struggles, the character and identify of its foes and, more importantly, laid the groundwork for Russia’s next level of confrontation with the West beyond the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. In his speech, Putin clearly defined the present fight as a worldwide battle in which Russia plays a leading role against the Deep State that ultimately runs the West and which uses all available tools – including military, economic, cultural, and social – in its attempt to preserve unipolar world domination.

Putin’s words were directed to three distinctive audiences: the collective West, the Global South and Russia. He went back to Middle Ages history to remind the origins and impact of Western resource exploitation and colonialism in the Americas, Asia and Africa through imperialistic wars, racism, and slavery. He touched upon the military exploits of the 20th century led primarily by the US and its allies and its impact in Germany and Japan at the end of the Second World War, Korea in the 1950s, Vietnam in the 1960-70s and its latest failed adventures in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. He also highlighted the dire days of Russia during the 1990s and the Western powers’ attempts to turn it into a dismembered and passive cheap natural resources outlet.

Putin’s message to Russians had nationalistic and religious tones, touching on the defence of traditional family values as a call to arms against the threat caused by dwindling population growth. He also named US monetary printing as one of the key tools used by the Western establishment to achieve its self-preservation and supremacy goals, reminding that paper doesn’t feed nor warms human beings. It would be tempting to see this speech narrowly as just another manifestation of Russia’s position in the big geopolitical battles, but what Putin has done is setting international rivalry in deep historical and cultural terms which have an undoubted appeal across the globe.


Putin turns 70 today

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“..the US is currently not ready for a complete severance of diplomatic ties with Russia, and plans to send a new ambassador to Moscow..”

Russian Ambassador Assesses Relations With US (RT)

Russia and the US have not yet reached an all-time low in their relations, as “dribs and drabs” of contacts still remain between the sides, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington said on Wednesday. “I think we haven’t yet reached the peak of tensions that existed 60 years ago,” Anatoly Antonov told Channel One. The envoy was referring to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which unfolded between the US and the Soviet Union in October and November 1962. The standoff is considered to be the closest the world has come to all-out nuclear war. Tensions flared after Moscow deployed ballistic missiles to Cuba in response to Washington putting similar weapons in Italy and Turkey. However, the sides were able to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

Russia’s stance that a nuclear conflict can’t be unleashed and can’t be won remains unchanged, the ambassador stressed. “In Washington, they’ve already forgotten the basics of strategic stability, which boils down to a very simple formula: whoever shoots first, dies second,” he said. “On the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, I’d like to believe that there are those in the US who have learned this main lesson. In any case, our countries are obliged to prevent the world from sliding into a catastrophe,” Antonov insisted.Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed “some senior officials in NATO states” for suggesting that deploying nuclear weapons against Russia was justified. He warned that Moscow was ready to “use all means” to defend itself if attacked. However, those words were interpreted by some in the West as a threat by the Kremlin to use atomic weapons against Ukraine.

While most bilateral contacts have been frozen by the US side, Moscow and Washington still cooperate on deconfliction in Syria, space, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the ambassador pointed out. According to Antonov, the US is currently not ready for a complete severance of diplomatic ties with Russia, and plans to send a new ambassador to Moscow is proof of that. Lynne Tracy, who now heads the American mission in Armenia, has been nominated as a replacement for US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, who left Moscow in early September due to family reasons. However, this does not mean Washington will give up on its plans to weaken Russia, by supporting Kiev and other means, the ambassador said.

Antonov went on to argue that the conflict in Ukraine has become a “trigger” that revealed “deep-rooted problems” in the world, and that Russia “isn’t satisfied with the rules of the game that the Americans are trying to impose,” which only benefit the US.

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Long and comprehensive from Jorge.

“..in a matter of a few weeks Europeans will engage in an HUGE internal brand NEW civilian war amongst themselves scrambling for ´whatever´(food, fuel, heat, etc.)..”

The NS1 and NS2 Sabotage Impact Potential (Jorge Vilches)

It’s valid to assume that the provoked NATO-Anglo-WEF-Ukraine war objectives were (1) to trigger regime change in Russia aided by military defeat while also (2) cutting Europe off Russia´s cheap and excellent resources thus also (3) choking Russia´s exports and funding. Sanctions, asset seizures and the NS1 & NS2 sabotage are smoking guns. Future consequent plundering of parts of Europe and Russia can also be assumed to be goal #4. The European leadership at large has, so far, aligned well with this plan.

[..] LNG cannot and will not save the day either. Nobody was ready for this, LNG today is scarce worldwide, no terminals available at either end, no tankers… etc., etc So Europeans are very calm even after both NS1 & NS2 have been blown up. As if they´d all do just fine, you just wait… Michael Hudson agrees when saying… ” Despite being an act of violence, sabotaging the pipelines has restored calm to US/NATO diplomatic relations.”But even if I were only 50% correct — the problem in producing onto surface the supposedly “stored” underground nat-gas is not known in Europe with 0 (zero) awareness about it. Europeans have all been convinced by politicians that they have their backs 90% covered and that with just a small savings of 15% approx. things will be okay this winter (NOT)

Europeans do know bloody well a rough winter is coming for them, but no one has warned them — such as I am doing — that it will be MUCH ROUGHER than what anybody is telling them because not even half of the supposed 90% “reserves” that would sorta get them through this winter okay will be anywhere near available. So it´d be everyone for himself/herself and country vs. country and NATO vs. NATO… on steroids and in a matter of a few weeks Europeans will engage in an HUGE internal brand NEW civilian war amongst themselves scrambling for ´whatever´(food, fuel, heat, etc.) that nobody has yet even thought about… let alone developed continengcy plans.

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This muppet is just as responsible as all the rest.

Europe Faces Deindustrialization And Social Unrest – Belgian PM (RT)

Europe could soon face a significant reduction in industrial activity and social unrest unless something is done to lower energy prices before winter sets in, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has warned. In an interview with the Financial Times published on Thursday, he said that unless there was an intervention in the gas markets, “we are risking massive deindustrialization of the European continent and the long-term consequences that might actually be very deep.” De Croo insisted on a multi-layered approach to the gas crisis, which he says should include a hard price cap on Russian natural gas, negotiations with suppliers such as Norway and Algeria, and a “dynamic” limit on the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), which he suggests could be set slightly above prices in the US or Asia to ensure continued flows to Europe.

The Belgian leader also warned that governments must be “prudent” not only to counter soaring inflation, which stems from high energy prices, but also tackle the risk of social unrest that comes with it. “Our populations are getting invoices which are completely insane. At some point, it will snap. I understand that people are angry . . . people don’t have the means to pay it,” De Croo told the FT. His comments come after thousands of demonstrators rallied in Brussels in late September to demand higher wages and lower energy prices after it was revealed that some 64% of the country’s citizens were afraid of not being able to pay their energy bills which had reached a staggering average of €700 ($690) a month.

The Belgian PM had previously warned that “the next five to ten winters will be difficult” in Europe due to record gas prices, but stated that Belgium would endure the crisis “if we support each other in these difficult times.” sGas prices in Europe surged earlier this year after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February. After the EU and other Western countries imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow and began a campaign of cutting themselves off from Russian energy supplies, gas prices hit record levels, leading to a rise in overall inflation on the continent.

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Darya Dugina.

Moscow Wonders If Washington Knows About Kiev’s Terrorism Plans (RT)

Moscow hopes the US government did not leak its suspicions that Kiev masterminded a high-profile assassination in Russia with a view to disclaiming responsibility for future terrorist attacks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. He was commenting on a report in the New York Times, which contained details of an assessment by the US intelligence community regarding a bomb attack near Moscow in August, in which journalist and political activist Darya Dugina was killed. “The involvement of the Ukrainian state in this terrorist act, the murder of a young woman, was argued and demonstrated by our special services in a reasonably swift manner,” Peskov told journalists. The Kremlin spokesman noted the NYT article may be a positive development, provided that its reporting accurately reflects the stance of the US intelligence community.

“We really want to hope that this is not some attempt by the American colleagues, who may possess certain information, to disclaim responsibility for future terrorist acts that the Ukrainian state may be preparing,” he added. According to the NYT, American spies believe that “parts of the Ukrainian government authorized” the assassination of Dugina. Its sources claimed that the US had nothing to do with the crime and had no advance knowledge of it. Washington reportedly admonished Kiev for the killing, despite Ukraine’s insistence that it had nothing to do with it either. The story described Washington’s concerns about possible Russian retaliation for targeting Dugina and a number of Ukrainian officials who cooperated with Moscow in governing lands captured from Kiev.

A senior Ukrainian military official confirmed to the NYT that Kiev had carried out “attacks on accused Ukrainian collaborators,” some of which were fatal. “Some American officials believe it is crucial to curb what they see as dangerous adventurism [on Kiev’s part], particularly political assassinations,” the newspaper added. Dugina was the daughter of Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, a controversial public figure known for his advocacy of Russian exceptionalism. Some observers claimed that his ideas had influenced Russian foreign policy, including Moscow’s decision to send troops into Ukraine in late February. Darya shared her father’s political convictions. Russia’s security service, the FSB, identified two Ukrainian nationals, a man and a woman, as members of a hit squad responsible for Dugina’s assassination. Both had left the country before they could be arrested.

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“..resolved diplomatically or in a violent manner..”

EU Must Decide Where It Stands On Ukraine – Kremlin (RT)

The European Union must decide whether it wants the Ukraine conflict to be resolved diplomatically or in a violent manner, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday
Asked to comment on Austria’s reported proposal to host de-escalation talks, Zakharova said Moscow could only contemplate such initiatives after the EU figures out what it stands for regarding Ukraine. “First of all, the EU should make up its mind about itself,” Zakharova said, urging the EU to decide whether it is pursuing a unified foreign policy or if decisions are handled by individual member states. Russia, she said, has repeatedly heard “contradicting statements” coming from the EU. Zakharova noted that many supposed initiatives had been put forward by member states and were later retracted or never followed-up on because they were not approved by Brussels.

“Secondly, the EU also needs to make up its mind whether they support the talks [on Ukraine], or the battlefield solution, as [EU foreign policy chief Josep] Borrell had put it,” she said. Zakharova’s comment comes after Borrell signaled on Wednesday that the EU was ready to seek a “diplomatic solution” to the conflict in Ukraine, but vowing that the bloc would continue to provide Kiev with military and financial support while ramping up pressure on Russia through sanctions. However, in April Borrell issued a much different statement, claiming then that the conflict in Ukraine “will be won on the battlefield.” Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state.

The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.” During referendums that took place in late September, the two Donbass republics, along with Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, overwhelmingly voted to join Russia. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law unification treaties with former Ukrainian territories, officially making them part of Russia. Prior to this, the Russian leader vowed to use “all means” necessary to defend the country’s territorial integrity in the face of external threats.

Clare Daly

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“As Steve Keen puts it: “Capital without energy is a statue; labour without energy is a corpse!”

Beyond Confidence (CoS)

There were real world reasons for the run on the pound which followed (Kami)Kwasi Kwarteng’s ill-conceived mini-budget last Friday. The closest of these was the illiquidity of supposed “assets” held in the pensions industry and related concerns that the previous Monday’s Gilt (the equivalent of US Treasury Bonds) sale went badly, with investors demanding a much higher than expected interest rate for lending to the UK government. The Bank of England’s return to quantitative easing appears to have taken the immediate steam out of the crisis, and Kwarteng’s U-turn on cutting the highest tax rate has helped calm political nerves, allowing the pound to return to its level immediately before the mini-budget. The underlying problems, however, remain unaddressed.

The problem lay not so much with tax cuts – which have previously, in some circumstances, boosted growth – but with the UK government’s inability to finance them… and, indeed, the hundreds of billions already spent on energy bailouts and lockdown support. The Truss claim that tax cuts will be self-funding because of the additional growth they will generate is though, economic illiteracy. Over the last decade, the UK economy has been borrowing £5 for every £1 of economic growth – and this gap is projected to get far worse over the coming decade because of the emerging crises in the underlying “real” economy. Indeed, even during the heyday of North Sea oil and gas revenues, governments struggled to engineer growth rates anywhere close to what would be required to meet the Truss proposals.

With Russian gas no longer deliverable – even if the EU and Russia wanted to reach a deal – because of the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, European gas shortages are inevitable. The only question to be answered is how bad the shortages will be. And while Britain is not a direct importer of much gas from Russia, our energy supply companies still buy and sell gas on the European market. So that, if, say, German companies are prepared to pay more, they can bid the price up far higher than the UK government anticipates. In which case its borrowing to fund the energy price cap could easily spiral up into the hundreds of billions and, given market reluctance to buy Gilts, send interest rates well into double figures.

Even this though, only scratches the surface of the crisis, because politicians and economists fail to understand the true role of energy in the economy. Indeed, most economic models do not even regard energy as a separate category, seeing it instead as just another, relatively cheap, input barely worth mentioning. The reality – as you and I would quickly discover if we went without food – calories – for any length of time, is that energy is the starting point for everything within the economy. No food equals no workers. No fuel and no electricity equals no capital. As Steve Keen puts it: “Capital without energy is a statue; labour without energy is a corpse!”

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Via Ugo Bardi’s site.

“..she does what she does because she cannot and will not do anything else..”

Is Giorgia Meloni Bringing Fascism Back To Italy? (Cardini)

They will say, as usual, that I have a weakness for Giorgia Meloni, but she does what she does because she cannot and will not do anything else. It’s her time: she is in the business of politics, she knows that her bus is passing, and it is unlikely for her to have such an opportunity again. It was a beautiful victory: not only, and not so much, for the response of the ballot box, however negatively conditioned by the very high number of non-voters that no politician worthy of the name can ignore or underestimate, but for having played all his opponents with a masterful move. She was the ugly duckling of the Italian parliament, perpetually threatened with the sword of Damocles of the renewed accusations of fascism that could strike her at any moment. But she managed to score a masterful blow, built little by little and day by day.

She, the leader of the Sovranisti, is also the leader of the Atlantists and Westernists. She knows well that this constitutes, conceptually, a paradox bordering on the tragic (or the ridiculous): under the flags of Italian sovereignty, she will have to lead his country on the path of subordination to NATO and the USA who hold us in their hands and who literally occupy our territory, our country. A verse of the anthem that gives the name to the party reads “Go outside of Italy, go away, foreigners”. Easy to recite it in the face of the rafts of the poor migrants of the Mediterranean sea. Impossible to sing it where it should be sung, in front of the gates of Ghedi, Dal Molin, and Camp Darby (translator’s note: American bases in Italy.), armed with the nuclear missiles banned by the Italian constitution and imposed by our guardian-master.

The same ones who also impose on us the burden of sanctions imposed on Russia but in reality intended to bring Europe to its knees with its consent that must be even enthusiastic. Giorgia Meloni managed to achieve all this: if she passes – and we will see – also the test of the winter of sanctions, during which we will see the iron rule according to which the prime minister in office is seen to blame not himself/herself but his predecessors, she really deserves to continue to lead the Italians despite the gloomy prophecies of Cassandra Calenda. (translator’s note: Carlo Calenda is an Italian politician.)

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What good is this for shareholders?

Twitter Refuses Elon Musk’s Renewed $44B Bid (Crider)

Twitter is refusing to accept Elon Musk’s renewed bid of $44 billion for the social media company, according to a report from The Associated Press citing Elon Musk’s attorneys. This news comes after reports of Elon Musk’s asking the Delaware court to halt the upcoming trial. He renewed his offer to purchase the social media network this week and shared a few details about his goals. “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app,” Elon Musk tweeted on Tuesday. He added that Twitter probably accelerates the new app by three to five years. AP noted that earlier this week, Twitter said it intended to close the deal at the agreed-upon price but both sides were still booked for the October 17th trial in Delaware. Elon Musk’s attorneys said the trial should be adjourned to give the Tesla CEO more time to secure financing.


In a court filing, Elon Musk’s attorneys said, “Twitter will not take yes for an answer.” “Astonishingly, they have insisted on proceeding with this litigation, recklessly putting the deal at risk and gambling with their stockholders’ interests.” The attorneys noted that by Twitter not setting aside its litigation, the upcoming trial would “impede the deal moving forward.” “Instead of allowing the parties to turn their focus to securing the debt financing necessary to consummate the transaction and preparing for a transition of the business, the parties will instead remain distracted by completing discovery and an unnecessary trial,” the attorneys said. According to Elon Musk’s attorneys, the financial backers, “have indicated that they are prepared to honor their commitments” and are working to close the deal by October 28.

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And then we have this too…

This Could Be How Turkey Attacks Greece in 2023 (Rubin)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no fool. He understands the deep trouble in which he finds himself. His interest rate gamble failed; Turkey is nearly bankrupt. Inflation approaches 100 percent and Turkey’s currency is in freefall. Turks are unhappy. Meanwhile, elections loom. For years, such elections did not matter. Turkey’s opposition leaders are lazy, uncharismatic, or in prison. Erdogan controlled the media and mechanisms enough that he could push things his way without too many questions, at least from inside Turkey. That changed in 2019. The opposition Republican People’s Party narrowly won municipal elections in Istanbul and Ankara. The results shocked Erdogan who ordered a do-over in Istanbul.

Three months later, opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu increased his margin of victory to almost 10%, a result too great for even Erdogan’s machine to paper over. Pushed down and abused, Turks had had enough. As Turkey approaches both its symbolically important centenary next year and heads to parliamentary and presidential elections, Erdogan is worried. He knows under normal circumstances, he cannot win. Erdogan is no democrat. He cynically once liked democracy to a streetcar: he would ride it as far as he could and then step off. There are limits to his power, however. He needs an excuse either to postpone elections or to distract Turks with nationalism. A conflict with Greece checks both boxes. Erdogan is not stupid, though. After Vladimir Putin bogged down in Ukraine, he must question Turkey’s readiness.

After all, after the 2016 “Reichstag Fire” coup, Erdogan purged the military. Turkish special forces might fight Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh or attack Kurds and Yezidis in Syria and Iraq with drones and F-16 fighters but combat against a near-peer NATO member is a different issue entirely. Greece’s military might be only one-quarter the size of Turkey’s, but moral is higher, and the Greeks not spread as thin. So how might Turkey precipitate the crisis? Erdogan will likely take a page from China’s playbook. The People’s Liberation Army has seized many rocks, reefs, and “features” in the South China Sea. It has not only transformed them into military bases, but has also used their possession to fortify Beijing’s illicit claims to extend its exclusive economic zone over 90% of the South China Sea’s waters.

China has acted both slowly and deliberated with a so-called salami-slicing strategy, digesting pieces but never biting off so much in one go that it provoked neighbors or the United States to the point of war. Erdogan and his defense minister, Hulusi Akar, increasingly dispute Greek sovereignty over islands in the Aegean Sea, in effect seeking to rewrite and reinterpret the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and subsequent conventions and agreements. It is in the Aegean that Erdogan will likely make his move, arguing that they are Turkish and do not belong to Greece.

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“Agents “determined months ago” that they had a viable criminal case against the younger Biden, but the decision is up to the US attorney for Delaware David C. Weiss..”

Enough Evidence To Indict Hunter Biden – WaPo (RT)

Federal agents who have been investigating US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter have enough evidence to charge him with crimes related to taxes and a gun purchase, but the decision is up to a career prosecutor in Delaware, the Washington Post reported on Thursday citing sources. While the IRS has been looking into whether Hunter Biden did not declare income related to his overseas business ventures – from Ukraine to China – the FBI has been investigating a 2018 incident in which he answered “no” to the question about being a drug user or addict. In his 2021 memoir ‘Beautiful Things,’ the president’s son revealed that he had in fact been using crack cocaine and other drugs at the time.

Agents “determined months ago” that they had a viable criminal case against the younger Biden, but the decision is up to the US attorney for Delaware David C. Weiss to decide whether to pursue charges, the Post reported citing “people familiar with the case.” Weiss is a career prosecutor, but was appointed by President Donald Trump in late 2017. Trump had pointed to Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and the sex-and-drugs revelations from his laptop during the 2020 presidential campaign, charges which Biden and the Democrats denounced as “smears” and even “Russian disinformation.” Stories about the laptop were suppressed on social networks in the name of “fortifying” the presidential election, but the laptop’s contents was later confirmed to be entirely authentic.

Hunter’s false statements on the gun-purchase form would normally present a problem for his father, who is pursuing aggressive gun control legislation. According to the Post, prosecutions for the offense are “relatively rare,” with 60% of the referrals resulting in charges in 2018. However, it is “not uncommon for Justice Department investigations to take years to finish,” the paper said. The Post’s anonymous sources insisted Attorney General Merrick Garland had vowed there would be “no political or otherwise improper interference” in the Hunter Biden case. Republicans have accused Garland of politicizing the DOJ over prosecutions for the January 6 Capitol riot and the September raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Hunter’s attorney Chris Clark told the paper that leaking about the case itself is a federal felony and that he “had no contact whatsoever with any federal investigative agent.”

Hunter

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I swear I can see into the future…

Waiting Lines At French Gas Stations Due To Fuel Shortage (AA)

More than one in 10 gas stations in France was affected by a fuel shortage on Wednesday, local media reported. About 12% of stations have “difficulties with at least one type of fuel” at the pump, with the situation varying by region, government spokesman Olivier Veran told reporters after Wednesday’s Council of Ministers meeting. In the Hauts-de-France region, about 30% of stations are affected. French market leader TotalEnergies explained the supply shortages with “falling prices” at its stations. A discount of 20 cents per liter was added to the government discount of 30 cents per liter at all its TotalEnergies stations. This discount at the pumps led to a large rush, according to the company.


Added to this is a strike at six of the eight French refineries. The strike for higher wages, which began on Sept. 27, entered its second week. This again significantly aggravates the situation at the gas stations. Veran nevertheless rejected the term “fuel shortage.” He said it was only “tensions” in the supply of some gas stations, and urged motorists to avoid “panic.” In order to “restore a normal situation as soon as possible, so-called strategic stocks were released in the north today to replenish the gas stations,” the prefect of the Hauts-de-France region announced in a press release on Wednesday evening.

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So there.

Want To Save The Oceans? Stop Recycling Plastic (Chivers)

Recycling plastic is a bad idea and, until we can be sure of where it’s going, we should stop doing it. We should put plastic in the landfill, instead. This sounds like a really spicy hot take, but it’s not. I think it is pretty much accepted among people who study these things. The oceans are full of plastic, and that’s bad – but none of the plastic in the oceans comes from a British landfill. It almost all comes from developing-world countries, and by recycling we make the problem worse. About 0.05 per cent of plastic waste in the UK is “mismanaged” – that is, dropped as litter or dumped into the environment, or left in open landfill. By contrast, in India, that figure is over 20 per cent – 400 times higher. China is comparable, at about 19 per cent.

In the Philippines, that figure is about 6.5 per cent, still more than 100 times the UK level but not quite as dramatic. But the Philippines is a collection of small islands, so plastic litter easily reaches small rivers there and ends up in the sea. Malaysia, similarly, has less of a problem with mismanaged waste, but large percentages of what is mismanaged ends up in the sea. So the average bit of plastic in one of those countries is pretty likely to end up in the sea. Until 2018 a large fraction of the Western world’s “recycled” plastic was shipped to China, until China decided to stop taking it. Then rich countries started sending it to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. But more than 80 per cent of plastic waste in those countries is mismanaged. It seems unlikely, to say the least, that so much of their own waste ends up in the rivers, but they nonetheless carefully recycle the waste sent to them by the West.

Now, several of those countries have severely limited the amount of plastic they import. So other countries – often countries with limited ability to recycle their own plastics – have stepped in. The Guardian reported in 2019 that much of the US’s waste now goes to Bangladesh, Laos, Ethiopia and Senegal. One paper this year estimated that of the 37,000 tons of plastic food packaging exported annually by the Netherlands, 6,000 tons end up in the sea. Not all recycling is like this. Some plastic is recycled in the countries that dispose of it – there are advanced plastic recycling facilities in the UK. But much of it ends up going overseas.

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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

~Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

Stella

 

 

Assange

 

 

 

 


A baby green heron bridging the gap between birds and dinosaurs. Photo: JJJFrank

 

 

 


A macro photo of an ant’s face up close. Photo: Andrea Hallgass

 

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Jan 132019
 


Vincent van Gogh Field with Flowers near Arles 1888

 

Venture Capital Spending Hit All-Time High In 2018 In Tech Bubble 2.0 (Colombo)
Trump Vents Fury Over Russia Stories (G.)
House Democrats Eye Reported FBI Probe Of Trump (R.)
Schumer To Force Vote On US Decision To Lift Sanctions On Russia Firms (R.)
The Manafort Revelation Is Not a Smoking Gun (Maté)
What Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal Really Reveals (Stephen Cohen)
Republican Baby Boomers More Likely To Share Fake News On Facebook (MW)
May Warns Of Catastrophe If Lawmakers Don’t Back Brexit Deal (R.)
Labour Set To Call Vote To Topple Theresa May’s Government (G.)
Police Use Water Cannon And Teargas On Paris Protesters (G.)
The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End (538)

 

 

All politics today, with one finance story (and one on recycling). Expect venture capital to plunge in 2019.

Venture Capital Spending Hit All-Time High In 2018 In Tech Bubble 2.0 (Colombo)

Though most people look at record VC spending as a sign of a strong, healthy economy, my research has found that the current VC boom is the result of another tech bubble that inflated due to the Federal Reserves ultra-stimulative monetary policies of the past decade. Unfortunately, this tech bubble is going to end just like the late-1990s dotcom bubble did – in another disastrous bust. The chart below shows the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007. According to this chart, a new “unicorn” startup was born every four days in 2018.

The chart below shows the Nasdaq Composite Index and the two bubbles that formed in it in the past two decades. Lofty tech stock prices and valuations encourage the tech startup bubble because publicly traded tech companies have more buying power with which to acquire tech startups and because they allow startups to IPO at very high valuations.

In the chart below, I compared the monthly global VC deals chart to the Nasdaq Composite Index and they line up perfectly. Surges in the Nasdaq lead to surges in VC deals, while lulls or declines in the Nasdaq lead to lulls or declines in VC deals.

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The FBI has to be investigated over this (why was the probe launched?). But no-one has the power to do so.

Trump Vents Fury Over Russia Stories (G.)

Donald Trump has strongly denied the stunning claim that he was secretly working on behalf of Russia and again threatened to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall. In 20-minute live phone interview with Fox News on Saturday night, he described as an “insult” the New York Times story that alleged the FBI launched an investigation into whether the he was acting as a Russian asset, against his own country’s interests. Trump said the story, which claimed the investigation opened after Trump fired the FBI director James Comey in May 2017, was “the most insulting article ever written”. “If you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing,” he said during the Fox News interview. “I think [the story] was a great insult and the New York Times is a disaster of a paper. It’s a very horrible thing they said.”

Citing anonymous sources, the Times said the investigation was part counterintelligence, to determine whether Trump was knowingly or unknowingly working for Moscow and posed a threat to national security. It was also part criminal, to ascertain whether Trump’s dismissal of Comey constituted obstruction of justice. The FBI effort was soon absorbed into the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, the Times reported, adding that it was unclear if the counterintelligence aspect is still being pursued. The president again called Comey a “liar” and claimed the entire Russia investigation was a “terrible hoax”. “Everybody knows it. It’s really a shame because it takes time; it takes effort. Everybody knows there’s no collusion,” he said.

[..] Trump’s warm relationship with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has long set alarm bells ringing. The day after firing Comey, he hosted Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in the Oval Office – and disclosed intelligence from an Israeli counterterrorism operation. At a summit in Helsinki last summer, Trump appeared to side with Putin over his own intelligence agencies on the question of election interference. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Trump took the notes from of a 2017 meeting with Putin in Hamburg from his own interpreter. Citing current and former US officials, the paper also said Trump instructed the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials. Asked why he would not release the conversations, Trump said: “I would. I don’t care … I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”

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Sometimes you think they actually believe their Putin as bogeymen tales. But that can’t be true. They know as well as we do that there’s never been any proof, and you can’t base policy on innuendo alone. That would be dangerous.

House Democrats Eye Reported FBI Probe Of Trump (R.)

A U.S. House of Representatives committee will look into a newspaper report that the FBI investigated whether President Donald Trump has been working on behalf of Russia, against U.S. interests, the panel’s Democratic chairman said on Saturday. The New York Times reported that the probe began in the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May 2017 and said the agency’s counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether Trump’s actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Trump rejected the Times piece in a late Saturday night interview on Fox News as “the most insulting article I’ve ever had written” and lashed out at Comey and the FBI in half a dozen tweets.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel “will take steps to better understand both the president’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behavior” in coming weeks. He also said lawmakers would seek to protect investigators from the president’s “increasingly unhinged attacks.” “There is no reason to doubt the seriousness or professionalism of the FBI, as the president did in reaction to this story,” Nadler, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. “We have learned from this reporting that, even in the earliest days of the Trump administration, the president’s behavior was so erratic and so concerning that the FBI felt compelled to do the unprecedented – open a counterintelligence investigation into a sitting president,” Nadler said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he could not comment on the specifics of the report, but said his committee would press ahead with its probe of Trump’s contacts with Russia. “Counterintelligence concerns about those associated with the Trump campaign, including the president himself, have been at the heart of our investigation since the beginning,” said Schiff, a California Democrat. Schiff said meetings, contacts and communications between Trump associates and Russians, as well as “the web of lies about those interactions, and the president’s own statements and actions,” have heightened the need to follow the evidence where it leads.

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Schumer here moves on the basis of a collusion-themed link between Manafort and Deripaska.

But the article after this one says: “The Virginia judge who presided over Manafort’s first trial said the charges against him “manifestly don’t have anything to do with the [2016] campaign or with Russian collusion.” The collusion probe, the DC judge in Manafort’s second trial concurred, was “wholly irrelevant” to these charges.”

Schumer To Force Vote On US Decision To Lift Sanctions On Russia Firms (R.)

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Saturday he will force a vote soon on a resolution to disapprove the Trump administration’s decision to relax sanctions on three Russian companies connected to oligarch Oleg Deripaska. “I have concluded that the Treasury Department’s proposal is flawed and fails to sufficiently limit Oleg Deripaska’s control and influence of these companies and the Senate should move to block this misguided effort by the Trump Administration and keep these sanctions in place,” Schumer said in a news release.

The U.S. Treasury announced on Dec. 20 that it would lift sanctions imposed in April on the core businesses of Deripaska, including aluminum giant Rusal its parent En+ and power firm EuroSibEnergo, watering down the toughest penalties imposed since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. After lobbying by European governments that followed the imposition of sanctions, Washington postponed enforcement of the sanctions and started talks with Deripaska’s team on removing Rusal and En+ from the blacklist if he ceded control of Rusal. The businessman, who has close ties to the Kremlin, also had ties with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, documents have showed.

An FBI agent said in an affidavit attached to a 2017 search warrant unsealed earlier this year that he had reviewed tax returns for a company controlled by Manafort and his wife that showed a $10 million loan from a Russian lender identified as Deripaska. On Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted that the Trump administration would keep tight control on companies linked to Deripaska, despite the decision to ease restrictions. Mnuchin said the firms would face consequences including the reimposition of sanctions if they failed to comply with the terms. Schumer said given Deripaska’s potential involvement with Manafort, and since special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia has not yet concluded, “It’s all the more reason these sanctions must remain in place.”

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It’s a shame I don’t have more speace for Aaron Maté’s piece. Click the link and read.

@yashalevine on Twitter about Kilimnik: “Yep, the supposed Russian intelligence asset linking Trump through Manafort to the Kremlin spent a decade on the payroll of a CIA cutout meddling in Russian politics. “

The Manafort Revelation Is Not a Smoking Gun (Maté)

Partisans of the theory that Donald Trump conspired with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election believe that they have found their smoking gun. On Tuesday, defense attorneys inadvertently revealed that special counsel Robert Mueller has claimed that former Trump-campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about sharing polling data with a Russian associate. Now we’re being told that the revelation “is the closest thing we have seen to collusion,” (former FBI agent Clint Watts), “makes the no-collusion scenario even more remote,” (New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait), and, “effectively end[s] the debate about whether there was ‘collusion.’” (Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall). But like prior developments in the Mueller probe that sparked similar declarations, the latest information about Manafort is hardly proof of collusion.

According to an accidentally unredacted passage, Mueller believes that Manafort “lied about sharing polling data…related to the 2016 presidential campaign,” with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who worked as Manafort’s fixer and translator in Ukraine. Manafort’s employment of Kilimnik has fueled speculation because Mueller has stated that Kilimnik has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”Yet Mueller’s only references that Kilmnik has Kremlin “ties” came in two court filings in 2017 and 2018, and it’s not clear what Mueller meant in either case. In April 2018, Manafort’s attorneys told a Virginia judge that they have made “multiple discovery requests” seeking any contacts between Manafort and “Russian intelligence officials,” but that the special counsel informed them that “there are no materials responsive to [those] requests.”

Kilimnik insists that he has “no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service.” According to a lengthy profile in The Atlantic, “insinuations” that Kilimnik has worked for Russian intelligence during his years in Ukraine “were never backed by more than a smattering of circumstantial evidence.” All of this has been lost on US media outlets, who routinely portray Kilimnik as a “Russian operative” or an “alleged Russian spy.” [..] Rather than imagining it as part of some grand Trump-Russia conspiracy, there’s a more plausible explanation for why Manafort wanted public polling data to be forwarded to Ukrainian oligarchs. Manafort was heavily in debt when he joined Trump’s team. Being able to show former Ukrainian clients “that he was managing a winning candidate,” the Times noted, “would help [Manafort] collect money he claimed to be owed for his work on behalf of the Ukrainian parties.”

All of this highlights another inconvenient fact about Mueller’s case against Manafort: It is not about Russia, but about tax, bank, and lobbying violations stemming from his time in Ukraine. The Virginia judge who presided over Manafort’s first trial said the charges against him “manifestly don’t have anything to do with the [2016] campaign or with Russian collusion.” The collusion probe, the DC judge in Manafort’s second trial concurred, was “wholly irrelevant” to these charges.

Read more …

And what goes for Aaron Maté’s piece is also valid for Stephen Cohen. Worth reading the whole thing.

What Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal Really Reveals (Stephen Cohen)

First, no foreign-policy initiative undertaken by President Trump, however wise it may be in regard to US national interests, will be accepted by that establishment. Any prominent political figure who does so will promptly and falsely be branded, in the malign spirit of Russiagate, as “pro-Putin,” or, as was Senator Rand Paul, arguably the only foreign-policy statesman in the senate today, “an isolationist.” This is unprecedented in modern American history. Not even Richard Nixon was subject to such establishment constraints on his ability to conduct national-security policy during the Watergate scandals.

Second, not surprisingly, the condemnations of Trump’s decision are infused with escalating, but still unproven, Russiagate allegations of the president’s “collusion” with the Kremlin. Thus, equally predictably, the Times finds a Moscow source to say, of the withdrawals, “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving” to Putin. (In fact, it is not clear that the Kremlin is eager to see the United States withdraw from either Syria or Afghanistan, as this would leave Russia alone with what it regards as common terrorist enemies.)

Closer to home, there is the newly reelected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who, when asked about Trump’s policies and Russian President Putin, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “I think that the president’s relationship with thugs all over the world is appalling. Vladimir Putin, really? Really? I think it’s dangerous.” By this “leadership” reasoning, Trump should be the first US president since FDR to have no “relationship” whatsoever with a Kremlin leader. And to the extent that Pelosi speaks for the Democratic Party, it can no longer be considered a party of American national security.

But, third, something larger than even anti-Trumpism plays a major role in condemnations of the president’s withdrawal decisions: imperial thinking about America’s rightful role in the world. Euphemisms abound, but, if not an entreaty to American empire, what else could the New York Times’ David Sanger mean when he writes of a “world order that the United States has led for the 73 years since World War II,” and complains that Trump is reducing “the global footprint needed to keep that order together”? Or when President Obama’s national-security adviser Susan Rice bemoans Trump’s failures in “preserving American global leadership,” which a Times lead editorial insists is an “imperative”?

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The news about fake news has itself become fake news.

Republican Baby Boomers More Likely To Share Fake News On Facebook (MW)

Social media doesn’t help people differentiate what is real from what is fake, but the phrase “fake news” has been used by social scientists to describe fictional articles online and perhaps more famously by President Donald Trump, who uses it as a cudgel against mainstream media outlets. Facebook, meanwhile, struggles to stem the flow of fake news and erroneous memes, though Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has said the world’s biggest social-media site is making progress in dealing with the problem. Trump’s relationship with the media has been acrimonious from the moment he embarked on his campaign for president.

Since then he has not only labeled as “fake” news outlets that have reported critically on his administration but described CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and the New York Times as “the enemy of the American people.” The good news: Most Facebook users did not share any fake news articles during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, according to a study released Wednesday, but the small number who did were mostly Republican Americans over the age of 65. The findings suggest the need for “renewed attention” to educate “particular vulnerable individuals,” such as aging baby boomers, about fake news or misleading information that appears to resemble a fact-checked news article published by a legitimate and fact-based media outlet, researchers said.

[..] To shed light on the issue in the latest study of which users were more likely to share misleading facts on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election, Andrew Guess, an associate professor at Princeton University, and his colleagues disseminated an online survey to 3,500 people in three waves throughout the 2016 campaign. Of the respondents, 1,331 in the initial wave agreed to share their Facebook profile data, which allowed researchers to analyze the age and political affiliations of those people who were more likely to spread fake news.

The results showed that 90% of these users actually did not share misleading or fake articles and only 8.5% shared one or more fake news articles. A plurality, 18%, of the Facebook users who shared the fake stories were both self-identified Republicans and over the age of 65, the authors concluded, and these individuals shared nearly seven times as many fake news articles as respondents in the youngest age group, ranging in age from 18 to 29.

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Catastrophe is inevitable for May.

May Warns Of Catastrophe If Lawmakers Don’t Back Brexit Deal (R.)

British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned lawmakers that failure to back her plan to leave the European Union would be catastrophic for Britain, in a plea for support two days ahead of a vote in parliament that she is expected to lose. Lawmakers are set to vote on May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, after she shelved plans for a vote in December when it became clear that not enough lawmakers from her own party or others would back the deal she agreed with Brussels. May looks little closer to securing the support she needs, but writing in the Sunday Express she said lawmakers must not let down the people who voted for Brexit.

“Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” May said. “So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: it is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.” On Friday, her foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said Brexit might not happen at all if May’s deal was defeated. Britain, the world’s fifth largest economy, is scheduled to quit the European Union on March 29. The Sunday Times reported that rebel lawmakers were planning to wrest control of the legislative agenda away from May next week with a view to suspending or delaying Brexit, citing a senior government source.

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Way too late.

Labour Set To Call Vote To Topple Theresa May’s Government (G.)

Labour MPs have been told to prepare for Jeremy Corbyn to table a dramatic and immediate vote of no confidence in Theresa May’s government as early as Tuesday evening in an attempt to force a general election if – as expected – she suffers a heavy defeat this week on her Brexit deal. Messages have been sent to Labour MPs, even those who are unwell, to ensure their presence both for the “meaningful vote” on the prime minister’s Brexit blueprint on Tuesday and the following day. Labour whips have told MPs the no-confidence vote is likely to be tabled within hours of a government loss, with the actual vote taking place on Wednesday.

The news comes before what promises to be one of the most tumultuous 24 hours in recent parliamentary history in which, barring another delay, May will put her Brexit deal to parliament despite deep and widespread opposition across the Commons, including from many MPs inside her own party. A senior shadow cabinet member said: “There is now recognition that we cannot wait any longer. If May goes down to defeat and she does not resign and call an election, this is the moment we have to act.” Senior Tories said on Saturday that they could not see how the prime minister could win the meaningful vote “in any circumstances” and that a defeat by less than 100 would now be regarded as the best she could hope for.

But even if she suffered a loss of closer to 200, which many Tories fear could be the case, Conservative MPs and ministers still expect her to stagger on and seek to bring an improved offer back to the Commons for a further vote within weeks.

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The number of protesters is increasing rapidly again.

Police Use Water Cannon And Teargas On Paris Protesters (G.)

Gilets jaunes protesters engaged in a ninth weekend of protests all over France on Saturday as the president, Emmanuel Macron, prepared to stake his political future on an open letter to the French people and a national debate. Officials said that at least 84,000 demonstrators turned out across France, thousands more than last weekend, with about 8,000 of those in Paris where protests passed “without serious incident”. Gilets jaunes – named after the hi-vis yellow vests French motorists must carry in their vehicles – said the number was higher but did not give a figure. After the violence of previous weeks, the government put on a show of strength, deploying 80,000 police officers nationwide and about 7,000 in Paris.

[..] Macron has attempted to take the sting out of the protests by announcing a “great national debate” to sound out the public on four themes: taxation, state institutions, democracy and citizenship, but just days before the consultation is due to begin on Tuesday, there is still confusion over how it will be carried out. The president will publish an open letter to the French people on Monday to “explain what I intend to do”. He said the debate was “a vital and very useful moment for our country”. “It’s a great opportunity and everyone must take it … I want a real debate,” he said.

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When are we going to stop producing the stuff that needs recycling?

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End (538)

On average, about 25 percent of the stuff we try to recycle is too contaminated to go anywhere but the landfill, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association, a trade group. Just a decade ago, the contamination rate was closer to 7 percent, according to the association. And that problem has only compounded in the last year, as China stopped importing “dirty” recyclable material that, in many cases, has found no other buyer. Americans love convenient recycling, but convenient recycling increasingly does not love us. Waste experts call the system of dumping all the recyclables into one bin “single-stream recycling.” It’s popular.

But the cost-benefit math of it has changed. The benefit — more participation and thus more material put forward for recycling — may have been overtaken by the cost — unrecyclable recyclables. On average, about 25 percent of the stuff we try to recycle is too contaminated to go anywhere but the landfill, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association, a trade group. Just a decade ago, the contamination rate was closer to 7 percent, according to the association. And that problem has only compounded in the last year, as China stopped importing “dirty” recyclable material that, in many cases, has found no other buyer.

Most recycling programs in the United States are now single stream. Between 2005 and 2014, these programs went from covering 29 percent of American communities to 80 percent, according to a survey conducted by the American Forest and Paper Association. The popularity makes sense given that single-stream is convenient and a full 66 percent of people surveyed by Harris Poll last October said that they wouldn’t recycle at all if it wasn’t easy to do. Some experts have credited single stream with large increases in the amount of material recycled. Studies have shown that people choose to put more stuff out on the curb for recycling when they have a single-sort system. And the growth of single-stream recycling tracks with the growth of recycling overall in this country. But it also pretty closely tracks with skyrocketing contamination rates.

Read more …

Jul 122018
 


Blu Mural in Rome, Italy 2015 Click to enlarge See also here

 

Trade War Risk On (Hedgeye)
Corporate Bonds Are Getting Junkier (DDMB)
It’s Not Wage Rises That Are A Problem – It’s The Lack Of Them (Frank)
Britain Facing ‘State Of Emergency’ If No Deal Reached – Grieve (Ind.)
Trump Tells NATO Allies To Spend 4% of GDP On Defence (G.)
Germans Want Trump To Pull US Troops Out Of Germany (Ind.)
China’s Silky Charming of Arabia (Escobar)
The Supreme Court Is Much Too Powerful (Mises.org)
New Zealand Hospitals In Chaos As 30,000 Nurses Strike (G.)
EU Approves ‘Enhanced Surveillance’ for Post-Bailout Greece (GR)
Trash Piles Up In US As China Closes Door To Recycling (AFP)

 

 

Great cartoon.

Trade War Risk On (Hedgeye)

– Global equities are retreating materially today on fears of a commensurate escalation in the burgeoning trade war between the U.S. and China. Specifically, the Trump administration released a list of goods that it may target w/ sanctions totaling some $200 billion, while China’s Commerce Ministry described the move as “totally unacceptable bullying”, and promised to lodge complaints at the WTO without detailing what its retaliatory steps would be. Are trade wars bad for growth? Of course they are. Does anyone really possess a reliable framework for quantifying the ultimate impact ex ante? Probably not.

This we do know, however: prior to the last Friday’s tit-for-tat escalation targeting $34 billion in Chinese goods and a list of [mostly] U.S. agricultural products, Export growth was trending lower in 70% of the near-50 economies we maintain detailed predictive tracking algorithms for, while 77% of Manufacturing PMI series were trending lower. This figures reflect data through MAY and JUN, respectively, and are supportive of our view that trade tensions aren’t the driving force behind Global #Divergences; they are merely adding fuel to the fire. Global equities peaked in late-JAN for a reason.

Read more …

Anyone remember AAA?

Corporate Bonds Are Getting Junkier (DDMB)

Life insurers invest heavily in high-grade corporate bonds to fund annuities, life insurance policies and other products. Here’s a look at the possibility that the issues might be affected by credit rating grade inflation… Much has been made of the degradation of the $7.5 trillion U.S. corporate debt market. High yield offers too little, well, yield. And “high grade” now requires air quotes to account for the growing dominance of bonds rated BBB, which is the lowest rung on the investment-grade ladder before dropping into “junk” status. And then there’s the massive market for leveraged loans, where covenants protecting investors have all but disappeared.

How does that break down? Corporate bonds rated BBB now total $2.56 trillion, having surpassed in size the sum of higher-rated debentures, which total $2.55 trillion, according to Morgan Stanley. Put another way, BBB bonds outstanding exceed by 50% the size of the entire investment grade market at the peak of the last credit boom, in 2007. But aren’t they still investment grade? At little to no risk of default? In 2000, when BBB bonds were a mere third of the market, net leverage (total debt minus cash and short term investments divided by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was 1.7 times. By the end of last year, the ratio had ballooned to 2.9 times.

Given the marked deterioration in fundamentals, bond powerhouse PIMCO worries that “This suggests a greater tolerance from the credit rating agencies for higher leverage, which in turn warrants extra caution when investing in lower-rated IG names, especially in sectors where earnings are more closely tied to the business cycle.” [..] why not treat the BBB portion of the bond market for what it is: a high-risk slice of the corporate debt pie. Keeping count of “fallen angels,” or those investment-grade bonds that are downgraded into junk territory, will become a spectator sport.

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“Except in the very tightest labour markets, workers simply don’t have the power to demand their fair share.”

It’s Not Wage Rises That Are A Problem – It’s The Lack Of Them (Frank)

If you study the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers on wages for nonsupervisory workers over the past few decades, you will notice that wage growth has been strangely slow to pick up. Hot economies usually drive wages up pretty promptly; this recovery has been running since 2009 and it has barely moved the needle. It’s even more perverse on the other side of the Atlantic. According to a 2017 story in the Financial Times, Britain was “the only big, advanced economy in which wages contracted while the economy expanded” – an amazing achievement if you think about it. And UK thinktank the Resolution Foundation has said this decade is “set to be the worst for pay growth since the Napoleonic wars”.

How could such a thing happen in this modern and enlightened age? Well, for starters, think of all that whining we’re hearing from the US’s management, who will apparently blame anyone and do anything to avoid paying workers more. Every labour-management innovation seems to have been designed with this amazing goal in mind. Every great bipartisan political initiative, from free trade to welfare reform, points the same way. When Republicans are in charge, it’s open season on working-class organisations. And you can forget about increases in the minimum wage, regardless of who’s in the White House.

Of course it’s happening the same way in the UK; be it Thatcher’s war on unions or New Labour’s “third way”, Britain has followed the US model closely. Political decisions within both countries have had highly predictable results, and we are now fated to live with them. Good times aren’t really all that good for ordinary people any more, only for the people on top – the owners of companies, of real estate, of stocks. Except in the very tightest labour markets, workers simply don’t have the power to demand their fair share. If you ask me, this is the thing to panic about: not the possibility that workers might prosper, but that they’re not prospering yet.

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“..ordinary life will grind to a halt. That is the extent to which our lives are intermeshed with the lives of our European partners..”

Britain Facing ‘State Of Emergency’ If No Deal Reached – Grieve (Ind.)

Britain will face a “state of emergency” if no Brexit deal is reached by February, Dominic Grieve has warned at an exclusive event for Independent subscribers. Appearing on a stage with other key Brexit figures, including Jacob Rees-Mogg and Gina Miller, the leading Tory rebel said “ordinary life will grind to a halt” if the talks are still deadlocked as D-Day nears. The warning came as Mr Rees-Mogg launched his most outspoken attack yet on big businesses opposing a hard Brexit, claiming they have “got everything wrong in the whole of their history”. Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, suggested she would not accept any further “compromises” beyond the deal struck at Chequers by Theresa May – preferring a no-deal outcome. [..]

Last month, Mr Grieve, a former attorney general, led an aborted revolt to guarantee MPs a “meaningful vote” to prevent Britain crashing out of the EU without an agreement. In his most dramatic language yet, to underline the high stakes, Mr Grieve told the audience: “If by the end of February or early March it is clear that there is no deal on anything, there will be a declaration of a state of emergency in this country. “Actually, ordinary life will grind to a halt. That is the extent to which our lives are intermeshed with the lives of our European partners, and that is what will happen if there is no deal on anything.” Mr Grieve said hardline anti-Brexit MPs had “abdicated” their responsibilities to the public by boasting that they will do “absolutely nothing while we skated off the edge of the cliff into this major national crisis”. “That is the madness that has crept into some of the discourse in parliament,” he added.

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They won’t.

Trump Tells NATO Allies To Spend 4% of GDP On Defence (G.)

Donald Trump left the opening day of the Nato summit in Brussels in disarray on Wednesday after making a surprise demand for members to raise their defence spending to 4% of GDP, and clashing with German chancellor Angela Merkel over a proposed pipeline deal with Russia. Trump left the assembled presidents and prime ministers floundering, unsure whether he was serious about the 4% target, double the existing Nato target of 2%, which many do not meet, or whether it was just a ploy. After making the announcement, Trump walked out.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, confirmed the 4% figure. “During the president’s remarks today at the Nato summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4%,” she said. Sanders added: “President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and, at a very minimum, meet their already stated obligations.”

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So there. WHy on earth would you need so many US bases?

Germans Want Trump To Pull US Troops Out Of Germany (Ind.)

Germans would actually welcome the withdrawal of American troops stationed in their country, a new poll has found – as Donald Trump threatens to pull the plug on military support. The finding comes on the first day of a Nato summit in which the US president is urging Europe to spend more on defence if it wants to continue to receive American military protection. But far from being seen as a threat, a YouGov poll for the dpa news agency found that more Germans would welcome the departure of the 35,000-strong American force than would oppose it.

42% said they supported withdrawal while just 37% wanted the soldiers to stay, with 21% undecided. Last month the US media reported that the US government was in the process of assessing the cost of keeping troops in Germany ahead of a possible withdrawal, citing Pentagon sources. But the policy of actually pulling out of the country has not actually reached the negotiating table in his week’s Brussels summit and is not expected to be discussed as a possibility – for now.

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At some point the Chinese will run into Americans there.

China’s Silky Charming of Arabia (Escobar)

Under the radar, away from World Cup frenzy and the merger and acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo Inc. and Fiat, the eighth ministerial meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), established in 2004, sailed on in Beijing, hosted by President Xi Jinping. Amid the torrential pledge of loans and aid, China committed to invest right across the Arab world in transportation infrastructure, oil and gas, finance, digital economy and artificial intelligence (AI). Significantly, Beijing will offer $15 million in aid for Palestinian economic development, as well as $91 million distributed among Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

A China-Arab bank consortium will be set up, with a dedicated fund of $3 billion tied up with the financial aid and loan package. Beijing also foresees importing a whopping $8 trillion from Arab states up to 2025. Predictably, once again Xi fully connected the whole Arab world with the expansion of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And careful to navigate the geopolitical minefield, he urged “relevant sides” to respect the international consensus in the Israel-Palestine confrontation, calling for justice. That may indicate a gradual, but sure departure from trademark Chinese passive or reactive policy across the Arab world, focused exclusively on energy and political non-interference.

Xi is now openly tying up Chinese financial aid and deals with nations across the Global South to an overall economic development drive; the only roadmap to solve intractable political and religious conflict. And that includes full respect of international deals. As much as the Arab world, Iran is in Southwest Asia. A day before the China-Arab forum, Premier Li Keqiang, in Berlin, was warning of “unforeseeable consequences” if the Iran nuclear deal, known as JCPOA, were to be discarded, as the Trump administration wants.

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Stating the obvious.

The Supreme Court Is Much Too Powerful (Mises.org)

The current frenzy over the vacancy on the Supreme Court in the wake of Justice Kennedy’s retirement highlights just how much power has been centralized in the hands of a small number of people in Washington, DC. The left has grown positively hysterical over the thought of yet another Trump-appointed judge being installed, who could potentially serve on the court for decades. Right-wingers who claim the left is overreacting, however, are unconvincing. One can only imagine the right’s reaction were Hillary Clinton president. She would have already had the opportunity to appoint Scalia’s replacement, and we might now be talking about her nominee to replace Justice Ginsberg.

The right-wing media would be filled with article after article about how the new court would be a disaster for health-care freedom, private gun ownership, and, of course, the unborn. But, as it is, we live in a country where five people on a court decide what the law is for 320 million people. And for some reason, many people think this is entirely normal. It’s our own American version of the Soviet politburo, but few are even bothering to ask whether it’s a good idea. After all, if it makes sense for a small handful of people to decide law for the entire country, why even bother with a House of Representatives? Even the Senate — composed primarily of multimillionaires living full-time in Washington, DC, is [by comparison] extravagantly “democratic.”

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“be fair to those who care”

New Zealand Hospitals In Chaos As 30,000 Nurses Strike (G.)

Hospitals in New Zealand have cancelled elective surgeries and discharged patients early after 30,000 nurses walked off the job in the first such nationwide strike in 30 years. The 24-hour strike began on Thursday, and comes after months of negotiations between the government and nurses broke down on Wednesday, leaving hospitals to battle winter illnesses without crucial staff. Long delays at hospital emergency departments are expected around the country. Striking nurses held rallies in major cities, chanting “be fair to those who care” in the largest public demonstrations by the health sector ever seen on the country’s streets. Nurses said they were overworked and underpaid, with unsafe working conditions leading to burnout and exhaustion.

Patient care and staff wellbeing were routinely compromised, they said. Acting prime minister Winston Peters said the government was “very, very disappointed” that its latest offer of a 12.5% increase had been rejected, and that it would take time to address nine years of neglect under the previous National government. Although the May budget delivered a surplus, Peters said the extra funds were needed to handle unforeseen spending, such as managing the spread of mycoplasma bovis, a cow disease. “We are saying give us some time … it’s not that we’re not willing to, we haven’t got the money,” said Peters. “We’ve gone as far as we can go as a government. We got hold of a negotiated arrangement which we inherited – the nurses have had a raw nine years.”

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Straight jacket.

EU Approves ‘Enhanced Surveillance’ for Post-Bailout Greece (GR)

The European Commission on Wednesday said Greece will remain under an “enhanced surveillance framework” to ensure that it meets ambitious budget targets through 2022. The country will still be subject to quarterly inspections from creditors after the bailout program ends in late August. “Greece is now able to stand on its own two feet but that doesn’t mean it has to stand alone … The reform era has not ended,” EU Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said. “Enhanced surveillance is not a fourth program: it involves no new commitments or conditions. It is a framework to support the completion and delivery of ongoing reforms,” he added.

Despite returning to growth after a massive recession, Greece leaves the program still facing major difficulties. Banks are struggling to deal with a high rate of bad loans. At over 20%, Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the euro currency union. Government bonds remain below investment grade even though their yields have fallen to manageable rates. And to help reduce its debt, Greece has committed to punishingly high primary budget surpluses — that is, the budget excluding the cost of debt servicing — of above 3.5% through 2022. “Enhanced surveillance is there to help Greece build confidence with markets, investors and companies,” Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said. “They all want stability and predictability.”

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They’ll find a new dump.

Trash Piles Up In US As China Closes Door To Recycling (AFP)

For months, a major recycling facility for the greater Baltimore-Washington area has been facing a big problem: it has to pay to get rid of huge amounts of paper and plastic it would normally sell to China. Beijing is no longer buying, claiming the recycled materials are “contaminated.” For sure, the 900 tons of trash dumped at all hours of the day and night, five days a week, on the conveyor belts at the plant in Elkridge, Maryland – an hour’s drive from the US capital – are not clean. Amid the nerve-shattering din and clouds of brown dust, dozens of workers in gloves and masks – most of them women – nimbly pluck a diverse array of objects from the piles that could count as “contaminants.”

That could be anything from clothes to cables to tree branches to the bane of all recyclers: plastic bags, which are not supposed to go in recycling bins because they snarl up the machinery. “We’ve had to slow our machinery, and hire more people” to clean up the waste, says Michael Taylor, the head of recycling operations for Waste Management, the company that runs the plant. At the end of the sorting line is the end product — huge bales of compacted waste containing paper, cardboard or plastics. These have been bought up for decades by businesses, most of them based in China, which clean them up, crush them and transform them into raw materials for industrial plants.

Last year, China bought up more than half of the scrap materials exported by the United States. Globally, since 1992, 72% of plastic waste has ended up in China and Hong Kong, according to a study in the journal Science Advances. But since January, China has closed its borders to most paper and plastic waste in line with a new environmental policy pushed by Beijing, which no longer wants to be the world’s trash can, or even its recycle bin. For other waste products such as cardboard and metal, China has set a contamination level of 0.5% — a threshold too low for most current US technology to handle. US waste handlers say they expect China will close its doors to all recycled materials by 2020 — an impossibly short deadline.

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