Jan 172023
 


Hasui Kawase Mimhae Pavilion, Kyongju, Korea 1940

 

How The Davos Elite Took Back Control (Fazi)
Global Political Elite Skipping Davos (RT)
All Quiet (Panic) on the Western Front (Escobar)
Kiev Coaching EU On Path To Ruin – Exiled Ukrainian Politician (RT)
West Sees Ukraine As Spoils Of Cold War – Medvedchuk (RT)
Croatian President Weighs In On ‘Proxy War’ Against Russia (RT)
Biden Uses His Lawyers To Shield His Classified Docs From The FBI (Turley)
More Documents Marked As Classified Found At Biden’s Home – White House (CBS)
Adam Schiff Admits Biden May Have Endangered National Security (CB)
Did The Deep State Turn on Biden? (Roach)
Turns Out Hillary Clinton, Not Russian Bots, Lost the 2016 Election (Jacobin)
‘Twitter Files’ Expose Big Pharma Bullying (ZH)
China Records First Population Decline In 60 Years (RT)
The Black Album (Trish Wood)
There Is Nothing Green About Green Energy (Pettimore)
The Age of Exterminations: How to Kill a Few Billion People (Ugo Bardi)

 

 

 

 

The Woke Mind Virus

 

 

Dowd sudden death epidemic

 

 

Forget about the housing market. It’s done.

 

 

BBC stickers

 

 

Pregnant women are not getting vaxxed.

 

 

Carpe

 

 

 

 

 

 

The business elite.

How The Davos Elite Took Back Control (Fazi)

Founded in 1971 by Schwab himself, the WEF is “committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation”, also known as multistakeholder governance. The idea is that global decision-making should not be left to governments and nation-states — as in the post-war multilateralist framework enshrined in the United Nations — but should involve a whole range of non-government stakeholders: civil society bodies, academic experts, media personalities and, most important, multinational corporations. In its own words, the WEF’s project is “to redefine the international system as constituting a wider, multifaceted system of global cooperation in which intergovernmental legal frameworks and institutions are embedded as a core, but not the sole and sometimes not the most crucial, component”.

While this may sound fairly benign, it neatly encapsulates the basic philosophy of globalism: insulating policy from democracy by transferring the decision-making process from the national and international level, where citizens theoretically are able to exercise some degree of influence over policy, to the supranational level, by placing a self-selected group of unelected, unaccountable “stakeholders” — mainly corporations — in charge of global decisions concerning everything from energy and food production to the media and public health. The underlying undemocratic philosophy is the same one underpinning the philanthrocapitalist approach of people such Bill Gates, himself a long-time partner of the WEF: that non-governmental social and business organisations are best suited to solve the world’s problems than governments and multilateral institutions.

Even though the WEF has increasingly focused its agenda on fashionable topics such as environmental protection and social entrepreneurship, there is little doubt as to which interests Schwab’s brainchild is actually promoting and empowering: the WEF is itself mostly funded by around 1,000 member companies — typically global enterprises with multi-billion dollar turnovers, which include some of the world’s biggest corporations in oil (Saudi Aramco, Shell, Chevron, BP), food (Unilever, The Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé), technology (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple) and pharmaceuticals (AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna). The composition of the WEF’s board is also very revealing, including Laurence D. Fink, CEO of Blackrock, David M. Rubenstein, co-chairman of the Carlyle Group, and Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé. There’s no need to resort to conspiracy theories to posit that the WEF’s agenda is much more likely to be tailored to suit the interests of its funders and board members — the world’s ultra-wealthy and corporate elites — rather than to “improving the state of the world”, as the organisation claims.

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CEOs take over.

Global Political Elite Skipping Davos (RT)

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland has kicked off on Monday with a number of top-tier leaders absent. US President Joe Biden is skipping this year’s gathering, along with French President Emmanuel Macron, and new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also passing on the event, along with the entire Russian business elite, which has been forced off the guest list by Ukraine-related sanctions. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Chinese businessmen will also miss the forum following the aftershocks of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases and troubles on the domestic stock market, which saw some $224 billion erased last year from the fortunes of China’s wealthiest people.


Of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders, only German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is set to attend Davos this year, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Despite the shrinking number of political leaders, this year’s attendance list is rich in top managers. Among 2,700 participants in the official WEF sessions, “we’re likely to surpass the old record from 2020 with 600 global CEOs – including 1,500 C-suite level overall,” according to WEF head of digital and marketing, George Schmitt. According to Bloomberg, a total of 116 billionaires are attending the WEF this year, a 40% rise from ten years ago. Representatives from the US will form the largest group with 33 delegates. Some 18 more billionaires are coming from Europe, and 13 from India, including industrialist Gautam Adani, the world’s fourth-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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“Analyst Peter Koenig has developed a convincing thesis that the WEF, the WHO and NATO may be running some sort of sophisticated death cult.”

All Quiet (Panic) on the Western Front (Escobar)

Cynics of all persuasions may be excused for lamenting Mr. Zircon – currently on oceanic patrol encompassing the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and of course “Mare Nostrum” Mediterranean – won’t be presenting his business card at Davos. Analyst Peter Koenig has developed a convincing thesis that the WEF, the WHO and NATO may be running some sort of sophisticated death cult. The Great Reset does mingle merrily with NATO’s agenda as agent provocateur, financer and weaponizer of the proxy Empire vs. Russia war in black hole Ukraine. NAKO – an acronym for North Atlantic Killing Organization – would be more appropriate in this case. As Koenig summarizes it, “NATO enters any territory where the ‘conventional’ media lie-machine, and social engineering are failing or not completing their people-ordaining goals fast enough.”

In parallel, very few people are aware that on June 13, 2019 in New York, a secret deal was clinched between the UN, the WEF, an array of oligarch-weaponized NGOs – with the WHO in the front line – and last but not least, the world’s top corporations, which are all owned by an interlinked maze with Vanguard and BlackRock at the center. The practical result of the deal is the UN Agenda 2030. Virtually every government in the NATOstan area and the “Western Hemisphere” (US establishment definition) has been hijacked by Agenda 2030 – which translates, essentially, as hoarding, privatizing and financializing all the earth’s assets, under the pretext of “protecting” them. Translation: the marketization and monetization of the entire natural world.

Davos superstar shills such as insufferable bore Niall Ferguson are just well rewarded vassals: western intellectuals of the Harvard, Yale and Princeton mould that would never dare bite the hand that feeds them. Ferguson just wrote a column on Bloomberg titled “All is Not Quiet on the Eastern Front” – basically to peddle the risk of WWIII, on behalf of his masters, blaming of course “China as the arsenal of autocracy”. Among serial high-handed inanities, this one stands out. Ferguson writes, “There are two obvious problems with US strategy (…) The first is that if algorithmic weapons systems are the equivalent of tactical nuclear weapons, Putin may eventually be driven to using the latter, as he clearly lacks the former.” Cluelessness here is a euphemism. Ferguson clearly has no idea “algorithmic weapons” mean; if he’s referring to electronic warfare, the US may have been able to maintain superiority for a while in Ukraine, but that’s over.

[..] Nobody with an IQ over room temperature will expect Davos next week to discuss any aspect of the NATO vs. Eurasia existential war seriously – not to mention propose diplomacy. So I’ll leave you with yet another typical tawdry story about how the Empire – who rules over Davos – deals in practice with its vassals. While in Sicily earlier this year I learned that an ultra high-value Pentagon asset had landed in Rome, in haste, as part of an unscheduled visit. A few days later the reason for the visit was printed in La Repubblica, one of the papers of the toxic Agnelli clan. That was a Mafia scam: a face-to-face “suggestion” for the Meloni government to imperatively provide Kiev, as soon as possible, with the costly anti-Samp-T missile system, developed by an European consortium, Eurosam, uniting MBDA Italy, MBDA France and Thales.

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Medvedchuk is the voice of reason in Ukraine politics. So of course he’s in exile.

Kiev Coaching EU On Path To Ruin – Exiled Ukrainian Politician (RT)

Kiev’s adopted policy of hatred and intransigence towards Russia is inevitably driving it into poverty, a former Ukrainian opposition-party leader, who was forced from his home nation, has concluded. Now Kiev is teaching Europe the same approach, leading to the same outcome and to possible nuclear war, he added. Viktor Medvedchuk’s political party had the biggest opposition faction in the current Ukrainian parliament. The government of President Vladimir Zelensky launched a crackdown on the group and on its leader personally. A proponent of reconciliation with Russia, he has written a keynote article published on Monday in Russian newspaper Izvestia, explaining the roots of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Both Zelensky and his predecessor Pyotr Poroshenko had been elected after the 2014 coup in Kiev on a platform of peace, and each made a U-turn after getting into office, Medvedchuk pointed out.

He argued that this shows a pattern of betrayal of the Ukrainian people by its leadership and by what he termed a “party of war.” Being enemies with Russia is against Ukraine’s economic interest, Medvedchuk asserted. Not only is Russia a major market and source of raw materials from which Ukraine can benefit, the country’s industrial sector was mostly in the east and people there, who for historic reasons have emotional ties to Russia, were antagonized by Kiev. Economic ruination is an inevitable consequence of the conflict, the politician wrote. “It is no longer Europe that teaches Ukraine politics, but Ukraine that teaches Europe how to achieve economic decline and poverty with the help of a policy of hatred and intransigence. And if Europe continues to support this policy, it will be dragged into a war, possibly a nuclear one,” he warned.

He accused Western nations of giving the incumbent Ukrainian government “triumph after triumph, while no military breakthrough is observed,” referring to the parades that generals in Ancient Rome were given after major victories. Meanwhile, the “party of peace” gets no voice either at home or in Western nations, Medvedchuk lamented. “Those who stood for peace were slandered, intimidated and repressed on incitement from the West. The Ukrainian party of peace simply did not fit into Western democracy.” “This eloquently suggests that most US and European politicians do not want any peace for Ukraine. But this does not mean at all that Ukrainians do not want peace, and Zelensky’s military triumph is more important to them than their lives and destroyed homes.” he reasoned. Only when pro-peace politicians are allowed to make their case freely can there be hope to resolve the situation, Medvedchuk believes.

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“Western nations must recognize that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine. Otherwise, it will “grow further, spilling over to Europe and other countries..”

West Sees Ukraine As Spoils Of Cold War – Medvedchuk (RT)

The West’s insistence that it won the Cold War and was entitled to the spoils at the expense of Russian interests is at the root of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the country’s exiled opposition leader has said. Viktor Medvedchuk was forced to leave his home nation under the threat of prosecution for alleged treason. His Opposition Bloc – For Life party had the biggest faction in the Ukrainian parliament and advocated reconciliation with Russia. However, the government of President Vladimir Zelensky cracked down on it and ultimately forced many of its members into exile or silence. In an article published by Russian newspaper Izvestia on Monday, Medvedchuk analyzed the causes of the current crisis, arguing that the origin of the conflict lies in the way that the end of the Cold War is perceived by Washington and Moscow.

“The West definitely considers itself as a winner and Russia as a defeated party,” he said. Consequently, it considers ex-Soviet territories as “legitimate prey for the US and NATO” under the “woe to the conquered” principle. From Moscow’s standpoint, it simply relinquished confrontation when it decided against pursuing communism. Since the 1990s, it had sought friendly relations with Western nations, as well as economic and political integration into the EU, Medvedchuk wrote. The US plan, as evidenced by the expansion of NATO in Europe despite the objections of Moscow, was at odds with opening the door to its Cold War opponent. Ultimately, it derailed EU-Russian engagement, he argued. Conflicts like the Balkan wars are further evidence that the West had moved to gobble up the former Eastern Bloc, he continued, since they helped to “make it easier for the winner to take it over.”

The West targeted Ukraine for absorption and saw the country as part of its rightful prize, but a lot of resistance had to be overcome in order to split it from Russia, considering Kiev’s historical ties with Moscow, and the economic interest in maintaining good relations, Medvedchuk explained. Kiev antagonized the eastern part of the country, which was both economically stronger and more pro-Russian than the nationalist lands in the east, he suggested. And even then, both Zelensky and his predecessor, Pyotr Poroshenko, had been elected on a peace platform only to become “war party” politicians after taking office. The current conflict can be resolved only if pro-peace politicians are allowed to make their case, and Western nations must recognize that Russia has legitimate interests in Ukraine. Otherwise, it will “grow further, spilling over to Europe and other countries,” and has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war, he warned.

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“They go from war to war. And what should I be? An American slave?”

The president and PM have very different views.

Croatian President Weighs In On ‘Proxy War’ Against Russia (RT)

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic has claimed NATO, a military bloc of which Zagreb is a member, is waging a “proxy war” against Moscow in Ukraine. He also dismissed sanctions against Moscow as “nonsense,” adding that he does not want to be an “American slave.” Speaking to Croatian reporters in the city of Vukovar on Sunday, Milanovic said, among other things: “Washington and NATO are waging a proxy war against Russia through Ukraine,” as quoted by media outlet Istra24. He went on to argue that “The plan cannot be to remove Putin. The plan cannot be sanctions,” adding that such punitive measures are “nonsense and we will not achieve anything with them.” “They go from war to war. And what should I be? An American slave?” Croatia’s president asked rhetorically.

Milanovic voiced his frustration with the US-led military bloc’s policies in the same interview in which he tore into Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenkovic, over his latest Ukraine-related remark. Speaking to news channel France 24 on Saturday, Plenkovic said the Balkan nation’s lawmakers, who in mid-December didn’t support the EU’s program to train Ukrainian military personnel in member states, have “failed to be on the right side of history.” Commenting on the remark, Milanovic, in turn, slammed the premier for bringing “disgrace” to his country “and to its democratic representatives in front of others.” The Croatian president argued that this kind of behavior reaches a low that is “the bottom of the bottom.”

As for the EU’s mission, the Croatian president warned that it effectively means that “for the first time in its history, the EU is participating in a war.” This, according to Milanovic, is “against the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.” In December 2022, Milanovic argued that having Ukrainian service members train on Croatian soil would “bring war” to the Balkan nation. He also insisted at the time that “Ukraine is not an ally,” criticizing Brussels’ decision last June to grant Kiev candidate status as “cynical.”

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“Using private counsel allows Biden to raise attorney-client privilege. [..] While that attorney-client privilege can be overcome under a “crime/fraud exception,” it adds a level of initial protection.”

Biden Uses His Lawyers To Shield His Classified Docs From The FBI (Turley)

The discovery of a fourth set of classified documents, at the Biden residence in Delaware, has further undermined the White House’s virtual mantra that the president “takes classified documents very seriously.” Putting aside the repeated movement of highly classified documents over six years, one curious element has emerged in this scandal: the use of private counsel. Not only did President Joe Biden enlist lawyers to clear out his private Washington office; he then used them — rather than security officers or the FBI — to search for additional classified documents. The initial use of lawyers is notable. While it seems a fairly pricey moving crew, Biden could argue a trove of documents might require a judgment on where they should be sent and whether they belong to Biden, the Penn Biden Center or the government.

But why was a legal team sent in six years after Biden took the documents on leaving as vice president? Were the lawyers specifically selected because they had clearances, an acknowledgment there might be classified material unlawfully housed in the office? After the fourth batch of documents was discovered this week (the third found in Delaware), Richard Sauber, referred to as the “special counsel to the president,” stressed that he has a clearance. Sauber admits the lawyers who found the first batch at the residence didn’t have clearances but says he found the later documents. It remains unclear which lawyers were involved in which discoveries, whether they had clearances and (if so) at what level. In fact, it seems to suggest Biden continued to use uncleared lawyers after his team found highly classified documents Nov. 2 in the Penn Biden office closet in Washington. That itself could be viewed as gross mishandling of classified information.

It’s strange Biden did not use security officers or the FBI to conduct further searches. The president has a host of people who regularly handle classified material. So why use the lawyers? The answer appears the same as in the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails: control. Using private counsel allows Biden to raise attorney-client privilege. Trump also used counsel, but eventually the FBI raided his home to search and remove not just classified material but documents found in boxes with that material. While that attorney-client privilege can be overcome under a “crime/fraud exception,” it adds a level of initial protection. It also allowed Biden to control the discovery and initial record of the discovery of classified information. The key to any investigation will be the chain of custody extending back to the documents’ removal in 2017 when Biden left office.

How these documents appeared in their discovered locations is known only to his lawyers. It’s a link in the chain of custody that Biden effectively controls. With Mar-a-Lago, the FBI was criticized for staging documents to be shown in the storage room. The photos were then leaked to an eager media. There will be no staged photos of documents alongside Time magazine covers for Biden. Nor were documents he housed with classified documents removed. Indeed, it’s not clear if the FBI will know what documents were stored in the same boxes. What was potentially lost is significant. Classified documents are generally supposed to be in folders with a thick, colored border and large printed classification warnings. Were some of those folders observable before they were moved? If so, anyone could tell a pile contained classified material, including the president and passersby.

Likewise, the initial discovery could show the context of surrounding material. The FBI at Mar-a-Lago carefully photographed that context and its search. Here, we’re relying on counsel to have kept such a record when most lawyers would be reluctant to do so given the risk to their client. The key is that unlike FBI agents, these lawyers are not acting on behalf of the public interest but for the president’s personal interests. If there are criminal charges, the key witnesses will be lawyers representing the president as an individual. They are more likely to minimize incriminating or embarrassing elements.

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Turley’s comment on this: “Biden counsel continues to make statements seemingly against their client’s interests. Sauber said that the lawyers who discovered the documents on Wednesday night did not have clearances…”

More Documents Marked As Classified Found At Biden’s Home – White House (CBS)

Lawyers for President Biden found more documents marked as classified at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, than previously known, the White House acknowledged in a statement Saturday. White House lawyer Richard Sauber said in a statement that a total of six pages of documents marked as classified were found during a search of Mr. Biden’s private library. The White House had said previously that only a single page was found there. The latest disclosure is in addition to the discovery of documents found in December in Mr. Biden’s garage and in November at his former offices at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, from his time as vice president. The apparent mishandling of classified documents and official records from the Obama administration are under investigation by a former U.S. attorney, Robert Hur, who was appointed as a special counsel on Thursday by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Sauber said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers, who did not have security clearances, stopped their search after finding the first page on Wednesday evening. Sauber found the remaining material Thursday, as he was facilitating their retrieval by the Department of Justice. “While I was transferring it to the DOJ officials who accompanied me, five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages,” Sauber said. “The DOJ officials with me immediately took possession of them.” The Justice Department declined to comment to CBS News on the newly discovered documents. Sauber has previously said that the White House was “confident that a thorough review will show that these documents were inadvertently misplaced, and the president and his lawyers acted promptly upon discovery of this mistake.”

Sauber’s statement did not explain why the White House waited two days to provide an updated accounting of the number of records with classified markings. The White House is already facing scrutiny for waiting more than two months to acknowledge the discovery of the initial group of documents at the Biden office. On Thursday, asked whether Mr. Biden could guarantee that additional classified documents would not turn up in a further search, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “You should assume that it’s been completed, yes.” Sauber reiterated Saturday that the White House would cooperate with Hur’s investigation. Bob Bauer, the president’s personal lawyer, said his legal team has “attempted to balance the importance of public transparency where appropriate with the established norms and limitations necessary to protect the investigation’s integrity.”

Marco Polo

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Shifty turns.

Adam Schiff Admits Biden May Have Endangered National Security (CB)

In what is a stunning admission, California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff has admitted that President Joe Biden may have endangered national security by mishandling classified documents. He spoke to ABC “This Week” host Jonathan Karl on Sunday when the topic of the classified document scandal and Attorney General Merrick Garland appointing a special counsel was talked about. “Congressman Schiff, you were on this show just after Attorney General Garland appointed a special counsel in the case of the Trump documents. You said it was the right move. Do you feel the same way about this special counsel?” the host said. “I do think it’s the right move. The attorney general has to make sure that not only is justice evenly applied, but the appearances of justice are also satisfactory to the public.

And here, I don’t think he had any choice but to appoint a special counsel. And I think that special counsel will do the proper assessment,” the Congressman said. “I still would like to see Congress do its own assessment of — and receive an assessment from the intelligence community of whether there was an exposure to others of these documents, whether there was harm to national security, on the case of either set of documents with either president. But, yes, I think the special counsel was appropriately appointed,” he said. “Jonathan, if I could also, though, because my state is still trying to dig out from these terrible storms, I want to thank the president for making an emergency declaration and let Californians know that in the three most affected counties they can now apply for help in terms of rebuilding their homes and their businesses and that other counties need to report their damage as soon as possible so they can qualify for relief as well,” he said as the host brought the conversation back to the documents.

“You raise the possibility of those national security assessment. Is it possible that national security was jeopardized here as – as many, including you, raised that possibility with the Mar-a-Lago documents?” the host said. “I don’t think we can exclude the possibility without knowing more of the facts. We have asked for an assessment in the intelligence community of the Mar-a-Lago documents. I think we ought to get that same assessment of the documents found in the – in the think tank, as well as the home of President Biden. I’d like to know what these documents were. I’d like to know what the IC’s assessment is, whether there was any risk of exposure and what the harm would be and whether any mitigation needs to be done. I think that would be appropriate and consistent with what we requested in the case of Mar-a-Lago,” the Congressman said.

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Well, someone did.

Did The Deep State Turn on Biden? (Roach)

In spite of his manifest unpopularity and refusal even to campaign, Biden was installed as president in 2020. Having rarely met an actual Biden supporter, Trump voters were skeptical and angry. The extended recounts, unceremonious dismissal of legal challenges, and videos of disappearing ballots, along with strident denunciations of “election deniers,” did not reassure anyone. Later revelations showed the coordinated way government officials, the media, NGOs, billionaires, and others conspired to “fortify” the 2020 election. Biden governed as he ran: mostly hidden from the public, beholden to donors and party elders, doing as little as possible. This seemed acceptable for a while, since it allowed the various constituent parts of the government to do what they wanted with little interference.

Everyone knows Biden’s never been that sharp and seems more decrepit than ever, that his vice president is even dumber than he is, and that he’s not really running anything. But this is all a feature, not a bug, for the cabal that brought him to office. For them, the more independence they have from oversight, the better. Lately, it seems there’s a disturbance in force. Biden and his allies have continued their vendetta against Trump, exposing his tax returns and raiding his home for possessing documents he supposedly owed the National Archives. This did not go over as well as Attorney General (and all-around hack) Merrick Garland anticipated, and it seems Garland and the January 6 Committee have each decided to scale back their demands. This is why the recent exposure of top secret documents in Biden’s old office, his garage, and a mysterious third location suggests something is afoot.

We went from a Monday disclosure to a special counsel being appointed on Thursday. Nothing like this happens this quickly unless it is by design. There are, of course, ways to deal with this situation that do not involve public exposure. Couldn’t Biden or his staff order some FBI agents or White House people to pick them up and take them to wherever they’re supposed to be stored? It’s in the news because somehow his lawyers found the documents and reported them before the story could go through White House channels. And, lawyers being lawyers, they followed the street-lawyer rule that if someone has to go to jail, make sure it’s your client and not you. Concerned about individual culpability for obstruction or mishandling documents, they made this hot potato someone else’s problem as fast as possible.

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The Jacobin is one of the Dems’ staunchest supporters. Until now.

Turns Out Hillary Clinton, Not Russian Bots, Lost the 2016 Election (Jacobin)

Amid the generalized media crack-up that surrounded the 2016 presidential election, the bogeyman of “Russian bots” quickly became a load-bearing concept. A Russia-based social media campaign, or so it was said, had saturated sites like Twitter with fake accounts and, in doing so, helped to swing the election for Donald Trump. Becoming axiomatic in liberal circles, this story soon took on a life of its own. It’s since played a prominent role in mainstream media narratives of the 2016 election, been the subject of highly publicized congressional hearings, and also loomed large in the wider global discourse about “fake news.” That the Russian government preferred Trump to Hillary Clinton and that Russia-connected actors engaged in digital skulduggery related to the election are not really in dispute.

Much of the mainstream discussion around Russian bots, however, has been premised on unexamined assumptions about the scale and effectiveness of these efforts. Powerful states including the United States, after all, regularly engage in the likes of online propaganda and sock-puppeting campaigns. Whether they have a more than negligible impact on real world events, electoral and otherwise, is another question. It’s notable, then, that a new analysis published by the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University finds no evidence whatsoever that Russia-based Twitter disinformation had any meaningful impact on voter behavior in 2016. In place of the terrifying bot army menace that’s periodically been invoked, the researchers instead detail an enterprise with minimal reach or influence, and one overwhelmingly concentrated among partisan Republicans already inclined to vote for Trump.

They estimate that as many as thirty-two million US Twitter users may have been “exposed” to tweets from Russia-aligned accounts over the eight-month period preceding the 2016 election.” In numerical terms that may sound like a lot, but it actually isn’t when you factor in the sheer volume of posts and information encountered by social media users on a daily basis. As the report puts it: While, on average, respondents were exposed to roughly 4 posts from Russian foreign influence accounts per day in the last month of the election campaign, they were exposed to an average of 106 posts on average per day from national news media and 35 posts per day from US politicians. In other words, respondents were exposed to 25 times more posts from national news media and 9 times as many posts from politicians than those from Russian foreign influence accounts.

Sheer exposure, of course, doesn’t even necessarily amount to influence. Like advertising, politically motivated content can functionally be background noise if it fails to reach particular audiences or in turn doesn’t have an impact on those that it does. In both respects, the study is quite unequivocal: not only were Russian Twitter efforts dwarfed by posts from media and politicians, but actual exposure to them was highly concentrated within a subset of partisan conservatives: Results . . . show that the amount of exposure depends substantially on users’ self-identified partisanship: those who identify as “Strong Republicans” were exposed to roughly nine times as many posts from Russian foreign influence accounts than were those who identify as Democrats or Independents.

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Musk Says ZeroHedge Did “Nothing Warranting Suspension”

‘Twitter Files’ Expose Big Pharma Bullying (ZH)

Today’s Twitter Files drop contains several notable pieces of evidence. First, that lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry launched a ‘massive lobbying blitz to crush any effort to share patents/IP for new covid-related medicine,” according to The Intercept’s Lee Fang. As part of this effort, lobbying group BIO “wrote to the newly elected Biden admin, demanding the U.S. gov sanction any country attempting to violate patent rights and create generic low cost covid medicine or vaccines.” Of note, Pfizer and BioNTech raked in $37 billion in revenue in 2021 alone from the COVID-19 vaccine, while Moderna made $17.7 billion the same year (and has recently announced a plan to hike the price of the Covid-19 vaccine by approximately 400%). BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer vaccine, “reached out to Twitter to request that Twitter directly censor users tweeting at them to ask for generic low cost vaccines.”

According to Fang, “Twitter’s reps responded quickly to the pharma request,” while “A lobbyist in Europe asked the content moderation team to monitor the accounts of Pfizer, AstraZeneca & of activist hashtags like #peoplesvaccine.” Meanwhile, the “fake accounts” flagged by the pharmaceutical companies for action were real people – one of whom Fang spoke with on the phone. “For more than two years, a global movement has been speaking out against pharmaceutical greed and demanding that everyone, everywhere has the tools to combat pandemics,” said Maaza Seyoum, a campaigner for the People’s Vaccine Alliance. “Whatever nasty tricks companies and governments pull,” she continued, “we cannot and will not be silenced.” Second, ‘Pfizer & Moderna’s lobbying group, BIO, fully funded a special content moderation campaign designed by a contractor called Public Good Projects (PGP), which worked w/Twitter to set content moderation rules around covid “misinformation.”‘ according to Fang.

BIO funded the PGP campaign, “Stronger,” to the tune of $1.275 million. Its focus? Helping Twitter ‘create content moderation bots,’ selecting which public health accounts would be verified, and helping to crowdsource content takedowns. Of note, the Moderna/Pfizer-funded campaign included regular emails to Twitter officals with takedown and verification requests. “Here’s an example of those types of emails that went straight to Twitter’s lobbyists and content moderators. Many focused on @zerohedge, which was suspended.” Fang includes a screencap of an email with two excel spreadsheets containing said requests.

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One child policy fallout. Like trying to turn an oil tanker around. Population to almost halve by 2100.

China Records First Population Decline In 60 Years (RT)

The population declined in 2022 to 1.411 billion, down some 850,000 people from the previous year, China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced during a Tuesday briefing on annual data. Analysts said the decline was the first since 1961 during the great famine triggered by former leader Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward. “The population will likely trend down from here in coming years. This is very important, with implications for potential growth and domestic demand,” said Zhiwei Zhang, president and chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. The birth rate also fell to a record low of 6.77 births per 1,000, down from 7.52 a year earlier and the lowest level since the founding of Communist China in 1949. Some 9.56 million babies were born, compared with 10.62 million in 2021 – despite a push from the government to encourage more married couples to have children.


The new data came alongside the announcement of one of China’s worst annual economic performances in nearly half a century, with the economy expanding by just 3% for the year, far below the government’s target, underscoring the steep economic challenges the country faces as its labor force shrinks and its retired demographic grows. The demographic crisis, which is expected to have an increasing impact on Chinese growth in the years to come, has been a key concern for policymakers. Beijing scrapped its decades-long and highly controversial “one child” policy in 2015, after realizing the restrictive policy had contributed to a rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce that could severely distress the country’s economic and social stability. To arrest the falling birth rate, the Chinese government announced in 2015 that it would allow married couples to have two children. But after a brief uptick in 2016, the national birth rate has continued to fall.

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“At least the Manson Murders were covered by corporate media. We all shared a similar experience.”

The Black Album (Trish Wood)

Later I bought the book, Helter Skelter, written by the man who prosecuted Charlie. But as an adult and a true crime reporter it was a story I steered clear of, never once accepting a production role in any of the many retellings. Like Didion, I remained skittish about it. I couldn’t make sense of Sharon Tate’s astonishing beauty being annihilated and the peace and love ethos of rich Hollywood hippies reduced to feral human remains – for nothing. The True Detective-type photos from Cielo Drive are images that still haunt. So, why am I so gripped by the revelations that Big Tech, legacy media and for sure the government actually silenced the voices of experts honestly trying to stop the unfolding disaster of lockdowns? Why does this feel like a moment as significant as those era-ending murders in the pretty house on a quiet SoCal Drive?

A team of independent journos is uncovering irrefutable proof that our well being was not paramount in the minds of those who peddled a fake consensus to invoke lockdowns — in my view — the most ruinous public health mistake in modern history. Government, its public health officials, legacy media, and even the medical journals were more into narrative stitching than truth and actually saving lives. The stories of governmental and scientific fraud and perfidy are all over Substack and Twitter and Elon is being hailed as a hero — as he should be, despite what my friend CJ Hopkins said on the podcast last week. But corporate media are running their usual smear-games — abdicating their responsibility to their audience — in order to hide their own complicity in a policy scandal that dwarfs all others.

In the meantime, we are on our own, facing an ugly truth about the people who govern us and the agencies they exploit to stay in power. Everything we thought was true about this power dynamic is a lie. At least the Manson Murders were covered by corporate media. We all shared a similar experience.

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Trojan Horse.

Twitter thread.

There Is Nothing Green About Green Energy (Pettimore)

As a miner for 40 years I have worked in various mines around the world. Gold, platinum, copper, coal, lead, zinc, oil and salt. I’m going to tell you something, and here it is. We will destroy the earth in the name of “Green Energy” Follow along and I will explain. MiningWatch Canada is estimating that “[Three] billion tons of mined metals and minerals will be needed to power the energy transition” – a “massive” increase especially for six critical minerals: lithium, graphite, copper, cobalt, nickel and rare earth minerals Over the next 30 years 7.5 billion of us, we will consume more minerals than the last 70,000 years or the past 500 generations, which is more than all of the 108 billion humans who have ever walked the Earth.

Mining requires the extraction of solid ores, often after removing vast amounts of overlying rock. Then the ore must be processed, creating an enormous quantity of waste – about 100 billion tonnes a year, more than any other human-made waste stream. Purifying a single tonne of rare earths requires using at least 200 cubic meters of water, which then becomes polluted with acids and heavy metals. On top of that, imagine the destruction and energy required to obtain these essential metals:
18,740 pounds of purified rock to produce 2.2 pounds of vanadium
35,275 pounds of ore for 2.2 pounds of cerium
110,230 pounds of rock for 2.2 pounds of gallium
2,645,550 pounds of ore to get 2.2 pounds of lutecium

Also staggering amounts of ore are needed for other metals. By 2035, demand is expected to double for germanium; quadruple for tantalum; and quintuple for palladium. The scandium market could increase nine-fold, and the cobalt market by a factor of 24. (Marscheider-Wiedemann 2016 ‘raw materials for emerging technologies’. The potential demand for rare metals is exponential. We are already consuming over two billion tonnes of metals every year — the equivalent of more than 500 Eiffel Towers a day. There is nothing refined about mining. It involves crushing rock, and then using a concoction of chemical reagents such as sulphuric and nitric acid, a long and highly repetitive process using many different procedures to obtain a rare-earth concentrate close to 100% purity.

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“The problem is that we don’t have a discussion on population: we have a clash of absolutes.”

The Age of Exterminations: How to Kill a Few Billion People (Ugo Bardi)

With 8 billion people alive on Earth, it may be reasonable to believe that the planet is becoming a little crowded. Nevertheless, we should not neglect the opposite opinion: that we have resources and technologies sufficient to keep 8 billion people alive and reasonably happy, and perhaps even more. Neither position can be proven, nor disproven. The future will tell us who was right but, in the meantime, it is perfectly legitimate to propose that population growth should be slowed down by birth planning. The problem is that we don’t have a discussion on population: we have a clash of absolutes. The position that sees overpopulation as a problem has been thoroughly demonized over the past decades and, still today, you cannot even mention the subject without being immediately branded as a would-be exterminator.

It happened to Bill Gates, to the Club of Rome, and to many others who dared suggest that the world would be a better place if the human population were to stabilize at levels lower than the present one. The demonization trend is, of course, a knee-jerk reaction: the people who propose population planning would be simply horrified at being accused of supporting mass exterminations. But note also that demonization starts from a real problem. Exterminations DID happen in the recent past, and they were carried out largely on the basis of a wrong evaluation of the overpopulation problem. During the Nazi era in Germany, the idea that Europe was overpopulated was common and it was widely believed that the “Lebensraum, “living space” available was insufficient for the German people. The result was a series of exterminations correctly considered the most heinous crimes in human history.

How was that possible? The Germans of that time were the grandfathers of the Germans of today, who are horrified at thinking of what their grandparents did or at least did not oppose. But, for the Germans of those times, killing the Untermenschen, the inferior races, seemed to be the right thing to do, given the vision of the world that was proposed to them and that they had accepted. The Germans fell into a trap called “utilitarianism.” It is one of those principles that are so embedded in our way of thinking that we don’t even realize that it exists. But it does, and it causes enormous damage. In principle, utilitarianism wouldn’t seem to be such a bad idea. It is a rational calculation of the consequences of taking or not taking a certain action based on the principle of generating the maximum good for the maximum number of people. So defined, it looks both sensible and harmless. But that’s the theory. What we have is a good illustration of the age-old principle that “in theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice, they are not.”

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Relativity

 

 

Huxley

 

 

This should make a few doctors think.

 

 

Hairdresser

 

 

 

 

Cleaner shrimps

 

 

Blue whale

 

 


A hummingbird lays back and “relaxes” after drinking flower nectar. Source: Rahul Singh

 

 

Skippy

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 132023
 


Steve Schapiro Muhammad Ali, Monopoly, Louisville, KY 1963

 

Report Links Hunter Biden To Classified Files Found in Joe Biden’s Garage (KB)
‘This Is Election Interference’: House Oversight Veteran on Biden Files (ET)
Key ‘Russian Bots’ Claim Was False – Twitter Documents (RT)
Ukraine Suffered A Humiliating Defeat In Soledar (Ugolny)
Where Might Russia Commit Forces On An Offensive? (Big Serge)
Russia Reacts To Turkish Support Of Zelensky’s ‘Peace Plan’ (RT)
Nord Stream Attack: The Case Nobody Wants Solved (Celente)
7 Facts Fauci Knew But Hid From the Public (CHD)
Senator Questions CDC on Why It Expected 100s of Vaccine Adverse Events (ET)
Former Employees Sue ESPN After Being Fired for COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal (ET)
A Tale of Two Cultures -America and Russia (Moglia)
Everything Upside Down (Dionísio)
Britain and EU Enter Talks To Settle Brexit Disputes (RT)
Nixon Threatened to Reveal CIA Involvement in Kennedy Assassination (Stone)

 

 

 

 

Russiagate
https://twitter.com/i/status/1613730901946425346

 

 

Clown KJP
https://twitter.com/i/status/1613389755374501889

 

 

Carpe
https://twitter.com/i/status/1613700648218005506

 

 

 

 

Hunter’s garage?! What are the odds Joe is being set up?

Report Links Hunter Biden To Classified Files Found in Joe Biden’s Garage (KB)

President Joe Biden has finally found himself on the wrong side of a special counsel investigation. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that is appointing a special counsel to investigate the classified documents found in President Joe Biden’s private office and home. “Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to take over the investigation into President Joe Biden’s potential mishandling of classified documents,” CNN reported. “The special counsel is Robert Hur.” “Two special prosecutors have been appointed,” CNN also reported. In contrast to Donald Trump storing the documents he declassified as president and storing them at a safe storage facility at Mar-a-Lago, Joe Biden took the documents while vice president and they remain classified to this day.

And to make matters worse, it came out that a second batch of classified documents were found at his Wilmington home garage. These are in addition to those found in a think tank closet at the Penn Biden Center office in Washington, D.C. There are even reports of a third batch of classified documents that have been discovered. Biden went off-script talking to Fox News’ Peter Doocy about the security of his garage by claiming that is where he keeps his “Corvette.” “Classified material next to your Corvette! What were you thinking?” Doocy said to the President in response. Biden defended himself by saying, “My Corvette is in a locked garage, OK? So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street.” Biden was so brazen about his illegal activity that he actually filmed a campaign video with his corvette in 2021. One can see stacks of boxes in the back of the garage where the classified documents were reportedly found.

Legal analyst Jonathan Turley reacted to the development on the documents being found in Biden’s garage. “The President just said that the documents found in his garage are in a ‘locked garage’ like his corvette,” Turley said. “The corvette standard is actually not in classified protocols…” “The corvette statement was remarkably ill-considered,” he added. “It was a cringe-worthy moment. After being given a carefully worded statement by his lawyers and staff, the President ad-libbed and suggested that his locked garage was a secure space for classified material.” Miranda Devine, author of the “Laptop from Hell,” has added a new twist to the story: Hunter Biden claimed he owned the house where Biden kept the classified documents. Devine provides the document showing Hunter Biden claiming to own the house. The address also appears on a copy of Hunter Biden’s driver’s license.

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People suggesting a third batch was found.

‘This Is Election Interference’: House Oversight Veteran on Biden Files (ET)

A House Oversight Committee veteran said the delay in publicizing President Joe Biden’s retention of classified documents from his time as vice president amounts to election interference. “The documents were allegedly discovered on Nov. 2. The midterms are on Nov. 8. To me, this is election interference by omission,” Mike Howell said in a Jan. 11 interview with The Epoch Times.“Does anyone think if this had been President Trump or any other Republican, the news wouldn’t have been leaked immediately for political gain? We needn’t wonder—just look at all the affirmative updates, releases, and leaks in the Trump case,” he said in a Jan. 10 statement.

Howell was an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security under President Donald Trump. He previously worked as a lawyer on the House Oversight Committee as well as the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He now leads the Oversight Project at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Heritage Oversight is, in Howell’s words, “suing the Biden administration aggressively” over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. “We’re gathering as much as we can and hoping that Congress makes use of it,” he said, noting that FOIA lawsuits are just one of the organization’s tactics. Notably, Heritage Oversight obtained an email to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas that shows that he knew Haitian migrants weren’t whipped by Border Patrol agents at Del Rio, Texas, by Sept. 24, 2021.

Yet during a press conference that same day, Mayorkas offered no clarification on the whipping allegations, instead saying that the images “painfully conjured up the worst elements of our nation’s ongoing battle against systemic racism.” “He [Mayorkas] chose to ignore the information to preserve the far-left narrative on this whole incident,” Howell said in a 2022 Heritage Foundation interview. Heritage Oversight filed FOIA requests with the Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) regarding the classified materials found at the Penn Biden Center. “Why was this information not made public prior [to] the election? It likely would have had substantial electoral salience,” Howell wrote in his FOIA request to the Department of Justice.

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“..one of the greatest outbreaks of mass delusion in US history..”

Key ‘Russian Bots’ Claim Was False – Twitter Documents (RT)

Twitter executives knew that several hashtags denounced by leading congressional Democrats and corporate media as “Russian disinformation” were a product of authentic Americans, but chose not to say so in public, journalist Matt Taibbi revealed on Thursday. Taibbi has been publishing the “Twitter Files,” internal company documents provided by the company’s new owner, Elon Musk, since early December. Evidence published so far shed light on the censorship of key stories ahead of the 2020 presidential election, FBI pressure, direct White House interference on Covid-19 matters, and the banning of Donald Trump – the sitting US president at the time.

Thursday’s revelations concern the events of January and February 2018 and the memo by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California detailing how the FBI used the “Steele Dossier” to spy on Trump’s campaign and presidency. Democrats and major media outlets denounced Nunes in what Taibbi described as “oddly identical language,” while attributing the calls to #ReleaseTheMemo to “Russian bots” and “trolls.” Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff – ranking Democrats in the Senate and House intelligence committees – wrote to Twitter on January 23, 2018, claiming that #ReleaseTheMemo “gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.”

Another Democrat, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, followed up with a letter denouncing as “reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated innocent Americans.” Twitter, however, “found no evidence, as in zero, that Russians were anywhere near this story,” Taibbi wrote on Substack. Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth personally reviewed the accounts that started the hashtag and found “none of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.” The engagement was “overwhelmingly organic” and driven by prominent real people, Roth found. He also noted that Schiff, Feinstein and Blumenthal all pointed to the same source – the “Hamilton68 dashboard,” run by an outfit calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD). “All the swirl is based on Hamilton,” he wrote.

Documents show that Twitter executives eventually realized that Democrats weren’t looking for solutions, but were just using the Russia accusation to push them further. One executive even compared it to the children’s book ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’. Yet for some reason, the company chose not to say so publicly, allowing Democrats and the media to continue blaming “Russian bots” for any problems in US society – government shutdowns, school shootings, gun control, etc. “By spreading the Russia collusion hoax, they instigated one of the greatest outbreaks of mass delusion in US history,” Nunes told Taibbi when reached for comment, referring to the Democrats. The memo itself was published on February 2, 2018. Justice Department Inspector-General Michael Horowitz confirmed its findings in his report, published in December 2019.

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Detailed history.

Ukraine Suffered A Humiliating Defeat In Soledar (Ugolny)

Soledar is a conglomeration of several settlements established around salt mines and railway stations. In 2001, when Ukraine last conducted a census, around 13,000 people lived here. The town stretches along the right bank of the Bakhmutka River from southeast to northwest. In late 2022, it became an infamous urban warzone. In peaceful times, however, it was known as the largest source of mineral salt in Central and Eastern Europe, covering around 80% of Ukraine’s needs. Deep salt mines have also made Soledar a tourist and leisure destination with tours around the caves. There was, however, a second, military purpose to the city and its industries, as was typical for the Soviet Union. In the case of Soledar, several of its depleted mines were used as spacious and secure military warehouses.

Last year, this previously disregarded aspect of Soledar’s identity became its most prominent feature. Salt production stopped, and the gypsum plant ceased operating; the only visitors around were now Ukrainian soldiers – and developing asthma was the least of their problems. Soledar became the focus of Russian offensive operations last May, after troops seized Popasnaya and breached the first line of Ukrainian defenses. The Ukrainian command turned the town into a major piece of its second defensive line, a stretch of fortifications along the Dzerzhinsk – Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) – Soledar – Seversk line. Up until early August, fighting continued around Soledar: Russian forces were busy cutting off the pocket of Ukrainian forces near Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, and gradually advancing toward Soledar and Artyomovsk, seizing fortifications at Pilipchatino and Pokrovskoye along the way.

Wagner units and the 6th Cossack Regiment of Lugansk gradually moved into the combat area. Russian troops enjoyed uncontested superiority in terms of artillery, but there were some early signs of ‘ammunition hunger’ looming on the horizon. The Russians were unable to penetrate Ukrainian defenses in one burst. The troops, exhausted after a major operation to liberate the entirety of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), simply could not break through the numerically superior Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian defenses in the area consisted of the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, supported by numerous units of the Territorial Defense Forces. The second line was formed by the 24th Mechanized Brigade, which had suffered losses during the earlier fighting in Popasnaya.

Combined, these forces were sufficient to hold off the attacks along most of the Artyomovsk-Soledar-Lisichansk line, a stretch of fortifications that would not be breached until December – a development that would ultimately spell defeat for the Ukrainians.

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Twitter thread – with maps.

Where Might Russia Commit Forces On An Offensive? (Big Serge)

Let’s do a quick parsing of the situation and examine the possibilities. Where might Russia commit forces on an offensive? Let’s do a quick parsing of the situation and examine the possibilities. Right now, the contact line is some 700 kilometers stretching from the Dnieper estuary in the south to northern Lugansk oblast. Troop concentrations and active combat are broadly present on four major axes. (Maps by me). The Svatove axis is where Ukraine’s Kharkov counteroffensive was stonewalled after crossing the Oskil river and struggling to break Lyman in a timely manner. Ukrainian efforts to continue the advance have been repeatedly defeated. The Bakhmut axis has been the subject of most attention lately, but there is a paucity of Russian regular forces in this direction.


Most of the work here is being achieved by the Wagner PMC and LNR forces, assisted by VDV. Most of the Russian army forces currently committed in Ukraine are currently on the Svatove and Zaporozhia axes in a defensive stance. Contrary to the impression given by western sources, the regular Russian Army has not been engaged in widespread attacking activity lately. Much of Russia’s combat power is currently uncommitted, and will be used to renew offensive operations in the coming weeks and months. The question is when and where. There remains a distinct possibility that there will be no “Big Arrow” offensive, and instead we will see lots of “small arrow” attacks with Russia going over to the offensive on all the existing Axes. This would mean forward progress, but no major new fronts being opened. )

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Erdogan playing both sides.

Russia Reacts To Turkish Support Of Zelensky’s ‘Peace Plan’ (RT)

Türkiye’s stated support of the “so-called peace plan” formulated by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky does not change the fact that Russia considers it unacceptable, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. Zakharova was asked about remarks made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who stated that his country backed the ten-point proposal for peace in Ukraine promoted by Kiev. “It is unlikely that Ankara’s support of this project would promote the search for an optimal way towards peace in Ukraine,” she said, citing Russia’s previous rejection of the Ukrainian formula. “I don’t see any sense in any additional comments on it.”

The ‘peace plan’ was presented by Zelensky at the summit of G20 leaders in Bali, Indonesia, in November. It involves a full Russian withdrawal from territories that Kiev considers to be its own and long-term support of Ukraine by international donors. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who represented Russia at the gathering, called Zelensky’s virtual address “militant, Russophobic and aggressive” and dismissed his ten-point agenda as “unrealistic and inadequate.” The Kremlin called such proposals a non-starter, insisting that if Ukraine wants peace it should take into account “the new realities,” referring to the four former Ukrainian regions that voted to join Russia last fall, after Crimea did the same in 2014 following a coup in Kiev.

Cavusoglu expressed Türkiye’s positive stance towards Zelensky’s proposition on Tuesday during a press conference in South Africa. He touted Ankara’s role as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev and said his government wanted to see a resolution to the conflict “the sooner the better.” Zelensky floated the idea of a UN-sponsored ‘Global Peace Summit’ to discuss his ideas, suggesting that it could take place in February 2023. His foreign minister, Dmitry Kuleba, stated that Russia would have to be tried by an “international court” before being allowed at the table.

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“I, for the life of me, don’t understand why the EU doesn’t want to know who did it..” [..] “Is it because we know the answer? Or is it because it’s the wrong answer?”

Nord Stream Attack: The Case Nobody Wants Solved (Celente)

The attack on the Nord Stream pipelines that run deep under the Baltic Sea in late September has all but disappeared from the Western media’s radar, but now Russia is demanding answers and formally accused Sweden of withholding damning evidence on the identity of the perpetrators. Maria Zakharova, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said Thursday that Stockholm’s decision not to release the investigation’s findings a a puzzling move and is evidence that they are hiding something from the public. “Russian experts in the course of an objective investigation may come to uncomfortable conclusions and, finally, reveal to the public the ugly truth about who committed these acts of sabotage and terrorist attacks,” she said, according to Russian outlet TASS.

“Sweden’s refusal to set up a joint group to investigate the sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines is perplexing. There are no doubts regarding the nature of the incident – this was an act of sabotage. Thus Swedish authorities clearly have something to hide,” she said. Russia has blamed UK special forces of carrying out the attack. Polish war hawk Radek Sikorski actually thanked the U.S. for the attack in a Twitter post. Mick Wallace, member of the European Parliament, posted a video on his Twitter account where he expressed dismay over the investigation. He said the attack resulted in one of the world’s worst releases of methane gas ever and called the incident “environmental terrorism.”

“I, for the life of me, don’t understand why the EU doesn’t want to know who did it,” he said in the video posted on 5 January. He continued, “Is it because we know the answer? Or is it because it’s the wrong answer?” Wallace also expressed confusion as to how quickly the news story disappeared from the news cycle. “Initially, of course, the Russians were blamed,” he said. “But common sense kind of prevailed and we kind of thought, ‘If the Russians don’t want any gas, they can kind of turn the tap off at their end.” DW, the German news outlet, also raised questions about the blast. The outlet tweeted on Tuesday, “Russia has made an initial estimate of the cost needed to repair the #NordStream pipeline. That raises the question: Why would Russia undergo the expensive process of repairing their own pipeline if they bombed it themselves?”

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“This does not bode well for Fauci and those involved in the cover-up.”

7 Facts Fauci Knew But Hid From the Public (CHD)

House Republicans on Monday commissioned a special investigative panel focused on the coronavirus pandemic during which they hope to press scientists and federal officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, about the origin of the public health crisis and the government’s response to it. The following is a paraphrase of the opening round — the warning shot — by U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) Tuesday in which he used his time to outline seven facts that Dr. Anthony Fauci knew, and, more importantly, what Fauci did, and did not do, when he was made aware of these facts. This does not bode well for Fauci and those involved in the cover-up.


1/ Fauci understood that American tax dollars went to EcoHealth Alliance and that money was then funneled to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) lab in China.
2/ Fauci knew EcoHealth Alliance was given an exemption from the pause on gain-of-function research.
3/ Fauci knew that the security standards at the WIV lab in China were deficient.
4/ Fauci knew that EcoHealth Alliance was not in compliance with its grant reporting requirements and wasn’t adhering to the contract.
5/ Fauci knew that gain-of-function research was in fact being conducted in the WIV lab in China.
6/ Fauci knew that the standard P3CO interagency review process wasn’t followed in approving the grant to EcoHealth Alliance.
7/ Fauci knew that the virus likely came from the lab where U.S. taxpayer dollars were sent … the very city where that lab is at, a deadly virus breaks out that would ultimately kill six million people around the world.

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”Without immediately providing complete and reliable information about COVID-19 vaccine adverse events, you are obstructing Congressional oversight..”

Senator Questions CDC on Why It Expected 100s of Vaccine Adverse Events (ET)

A U.S. senator is questioning why a top agency was expecting hundreds of safety signals for the COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claimed in 2022 that safety monitoring revealed no “unexpected safety signals” for the vaccines. But the results to which she was referring showed hundreds of safety signals, or adverse events potentially linked to the shots. The Epoch Times obtained the results through a Freedom of Information Act after the CDC refused to release them. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is now wondering why the CDC expected so many signals after vaccination. In a Jan. 10 letter citing The Epoch Times article on the results, Johnson demanded the CDC explain how it determined what is and is not an “unexpected safety signal.”

“The American people have a right to know the extent to which your agency was aware of and tracked COVID-19 vaccine adverse events. Your lack of transparency is unacceptable. Without immediately providing complete and reliable information about COVID-19 vaccine adverse events, you are obstructing Congressional oversight and leaving the public in the dark,” added Johnson, who was stonewalled when he requested the monitoring results. A CDC spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email that it received the senator’s letter. “A reply is forthcoming,” the spokesperson said, declining to comment further. The CDC has made multiple false statements on the outcomes found from a type of analysis called Proportional Reporting Ratio (PRR).

The analysis involves comparing the number of adverse events reported to a system co-managed by the CDC after COVID-19 vaccination to the number of adverse events reported after vaccination with other vaccines. The CDC initially said that performing PRRs was outside of its purview, contradicting a government document that stated the agency “will perform” the technique. Dr. John Su, a top CDC official, then claimed it started performing the analysis in February 2021 and continued to do so as of July 18, 2022. Both statements turned out to be wrong. After being pressed by Johnson, the CDC later said that it did not start the PRRs until March 25, 2022, and stopped performing them on July 31, 2022.

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How many of these lawsuits will we see? Probably depends on the success of the first few.

Former Employees Sue ESPN After Being Fired for COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal (ET)

Two former employees are suing ESPN for being fired over COVID-19 vaccine refusal, alleging the company violated their rights and state and federal law in the process. Beth Faber, a former producer with the network, and Allison Williams, a college football reporter, brought the suit on Jan. 11 in federal court in Connecticut, where Disney-owned ESPN is based. Faber was fired on Sept. 9, 2021, after ESPN denied her request for a religious accommodation to the company’s mandate. Williams was fired on Oct. 19, 2021, after ESPN rejected requests for exemptions based on disability and religious beliefs. ESPN officials claimed that no accommodation was possible because venues at which the employees would work would not accept unvaccinated people, according to the suit.


But plaintiffs allege the defendants made no effort to confirm that and pointed to how most NFL and college football teams had unvaccinated personnel, as ESPN itself reported. “Defendants impermissibly took adverse employment against Plaintiffs, including wrongfully terminating them, denying them of financial compensation, and in the case of Williams, pursuant to a contract, and intentionally harming their relationship in their industry, because they complained about the discrimination they suffered based on their religious beliefs, a protective activity,” the suit states. ESPN declined to comment or say how many workers were fired over vaccine refusal. The lawsuit came after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission issued “right to sue” letters to Faber and Williams.

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“..what with Clinton was a matter of lying to save his bottom, with Biden lying seems actually a matter of pride.“

A Tale of Two Cultures -America and Russia (Moglia)

As for the USA, the inaudible and noiseless foot of time, along with forgetfulness and dark oblivion, have erased from the collective memory the purportedly original reason that triggered the Vietnam war – and the consequent millions killed, the many maimed and the countless wounded on both sides. Namely the ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ incident. When, allegedly, North Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on a US destroyer that was in international water according to the US, and in domestic waters according to the Vietnamese. Nevertheless those involved on the US side still found it then necessary to invent a plausible cause. But not now. What changed or what happened then between 1965 and the present? And what identifiable original or ideological cause can be found for the Western so-called ‘rulers’ to disregard the Minks agreements and the agreement about the non-expansion of NATO?

Even the often quoted notion of so-called ‘plausible deniability’ has seemingly gone the way of all flesh. One socio-political interpretation may be perhaps found well over 20 years ago. That is, a related pattern-setting event can be traced back to the Clinton-Lewinsky business. When the president of the Unites States had the gall to tell the nation, in prime time, that ‘I did not have sex with that woman’ notwithstanding ample, legal and irrefutable evidence. That the president of the ‘exceptional nation’ would allow himself to be entrapped into an obvious and decidedly bawdy situation, while simultaneously showing himself as the lyingest knave in Christendom, should at least have raised some doubts about his qualifications for the position.

But it didn’t, and at the time various qualified voices expressed concern about the implications of the resolution. For when a preposterous lie to the public and parliament (by the highest representative of the state) is essentially endorsed by allowing the perjurer (for he was under oath) to remain in office, a pattern and precedent is established for others to follow suit in times to come. One obvious, recent and worthy fellow and follower is Giuseppe Biden along with his remarkable family. And we can see clearly an evolution. For what with Clinton was a matter of lying to save his bottom, with Biden lying seems actually a matter of pride. (E.G. “18 FBI agents have verified that Hunter Biden’s laptop is Russian disinformation!”)

Yet already after the Lewinsky business, the list of patent, unrestrained and preposterous lies excreted by subsequent US state department administrations would fill a long row of portable toilets and stink to high heaven. Beginning with Yugoslavia, followed by the very murky 9/11 affair, Saddam’s weapons of mass distraction, Gadhafi’s breach of human rights, Hassad’s ‘chemical poisons’ in Syria, bringing democracy to Afghanistan, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Middle Eastern terrorist groups that are enemies one day and freedom fighters the next, financed and supplied in either case by the exceptional nation.

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“..how is it that a country that spends $800 billion of its military budget [..] has practically the same firepower as a country that spends $65 billion?..

Everything Upside Down (Dionísio)

8 years of fortified constructions, tunnels, bunkers and endless armament depots, two months of repositioning of reserves and military human losses, the structure finally begins to collapse. The human losses are in the tens of thousands of young people, not so young, national and foreign, and after all the inevitable happens. The comedian who is president, in his daily videos from some bunker or mansion, has always resisted in doing what the opponent does when he considers that the effort is too much for the gain: retreat to a more solid line of defense, saving men and equipment. The official narrative, shared endlessly over and over again, about “the most important victories since the second great war” for the domestic side, will not be despising, for the decision to fight to the last man.

After all, any decision, to call this major defensive fortification line as lost, implies a total reversal in the narrative propagated by the North Atlantic corporate press. It´s a must to first prepare the public who are the relentless followers of such narratives. Telling them the truth is not an option, as this would mean effectively saying the opposite of what has been said, namely regarding the inevitable outcome of the conflict. In yet another war used as a cycle of capitalist accumulation, a fact that can be clearly stated in the reversal of the trend in the world arms market until 2014, which placed the two indirect contenders (US and Russian Federation) in direct competition and with very close numbers, this situation has, as it were, reversed, with the USA today being the undisputed leader in world arms sales, with around 2/3 more in sales value than its largest direct competitor (Russian Federation).

It doesn’t mean that they sell more quantity…. They mainly sell more expensive. The data at hand brings light about the use of war and the military industrial complex as an instrument of the capitalist accumulation cycle, or, on the contrary, as an instrument whose fundamental objective is national defense. The “Global Fire Power 2023” which establishes the “Fire Power Index”, places the US in first with 0.0712, Russian Federation with 0.0714 and the RPC with 0.0722. In other words, the top two appear tied and the third is very close. The 4th place, India, is much further away, with 0.1025. What does this tell us about the role of each army?

The first question that comes to mind is, how is it that a country that spends $800 billion of its military budget (and we do not include here the “dark money” of the secret services, nor all the research paid for through federal programs that also goes to military ends), has practically the same firepower as a country that spends $65 billion, and little more than another that spends $290 billion? The answer lies in several aspects: 1) the North American military-industrial complex is private, therefore, it aims to pursue profit, the enrichment of an elite and the concentration of wealth, with the state being an instrument of this accumulation; 2) the other two have a military-industrial complex that is essentially public – not exclusively – mainly in the most sensitive areas, and is not intended to do more than fulfill its public role, i.e., to guarantee an effective national defense capable of defending the country’s sovereignty.

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Tempted to check what decade it is.

Britain and EU Enter Talks To Settle Brexit Disputes (RT)

The EU and UK are gradually moving towards settling a longstanding post-Brexit trade dispute and are preparing to launch intense negotiations next week, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. On Monday, London struck an agreement with Brussels to share live data on trade with Northern Ireland, which was described as “a critical prerequisite to building trust and providing assurance” and laid “a new basis for EU-UK discussions.” British Foreign Minister James Cleverly and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said the deal was an important step towards further talks on the trading rules known as the Northern Ireland Protocol.


The dispute stems from the Brexit deal in which Britain agreed to leave Northern Ireland within the EU’s single market for goods in order to preserve a 1998 peace deal between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and EU member Ireland, thus avoiding instituting a land border between the two. However, the UK has so far failed to implement parts of those agreements and in response the EU has opened several infringement procedures. The aim of next week’s talks between Cleverly and Sefcovic is to prepare the ground for a negotiating “tunnel,” the outlet said, citing people who spoke on condition of anonymity. The CEO of Northern Ireland’s Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, who has been outspoken on a number of Brexit-related issues, expressed hope that the UK and EU would announce “a deep scoping exercise, deep conversation – what’s traditionally known as a tunnel” after the meeting of the UK foreign minister and chief EU negotiator on January 16.

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Roger Stone.

Nixon Threatened to Reveal CIA Involvement in Kennedy Assassination (Stone)

A stunning, long-overlooked Nixon Watergate-era tape shows Richard Nixon warning CIA Director Richard Helms that he knows of CIA involvement in the murder of John F. Kennedy- “I know who shot John.” This shocking new tape depicts Nixon increasingly besieged by Watergate but unaware that at least four of the Watergate burglars were still on the CIA payroll at the time of the break-in, and that the CIA had thus infiltrated the burglary team. Recently declassified documents reveal that Watergate Special Prosecutor Nick Akerman was aware of both the CIA’s advance knowledge and involvement in the break-in — but said and did nothing.

Senator Howard Baker, the Republican Leader on the Senate Watergate Committee and his counsel Fred Thompson himself, a future U.S. Senator from Tennessee, like Baker, stumbled on the CIA’s deep advanced knowledge and direct involvement in the Watergate break-in. Baker and Thompson both knew that at least four of the Watergate burglars were on the CIA payroll at the time of the break-in and that through CREEP Security Director James McCord, had infiltrated the burglary team. Senate Watergate Committee Chairman Sam Ervin stoutly refused to allow Baker and the Committee Republicans including Edward J. Gurney of Florida the right to publish a Minority Report which noted this stunning information regarding the CIA.

Nixon deeply distrusted the CIA because he knew that President Eisenhower had ordered the agency to give top secret briefings to both Nixon and Kennedy after both were the certain nominees of their parties. Nixon was sore that Kennedy utilized the information in their debates, attacking Nixon for being “soft” on communist Cuba, knowing full well that Nixon had chaired a working group as Vice President overseeing preparations for the “Bay of Pigs” invasion. Nixon, of course, could not reveal this upcoming attempt to topple Castro in the details. White House Domestic Policy Chief John Ehrlichman wrote that when he served as the White House Legal Counsel, Nixon ordered him to request that the CIA hand over all documents pertaining to John Kennedy’s murder. Nixon was furious when Richard Helms, the CIA Director, refused his presidential order to hand them over.

This stunning new Watergate-era tape captures an increasingly besieged Nixon desperately seeking to mobilize the CIA in his defense by threatening to expose their greatest secrets. Nixon also knew that Congressman Gerald Ford, as a member of the Warren Commission, had, at the explicit direction of J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI Director, altered the official autopsy diagram for President John F. Kennedy; moving the marking from a bullet in his upper back to his neck in order to accommodate the single-bullet theory and to conceal the fact that Kennedy had been hit with more than the reported three shots.

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Bridgen
https://twitter.com/i/status/1613555822705143814

 

 

Alice Cooper Jeff Beck

 

 


The last picture taken of David Bowie. By his wife, Iman, on his birthday, 8th January 2016 – 2 days before his death.

 

 

Employee

 

 


The rainbow lorikeet has a very bright plumage: the head is deep blue with a greenish-yellow nuchal collar, and the rest of the upper parts are deep green. The chest is red with blue-black barring. The belly is deep green & the thighs and rump are yellow

 

 

 

 

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Dec 302018
 


Giovanni Bellini St. Francis in ecstasy 1480

 

Deflation Risk Rises as China’s Economy Keeps Faltering (ET)
Juncker: The EU Isn’t Trying To Keep Britain In The Union (R.)
UK Trade Minister Says ’50-50′ Chance Brexit May Be Stopped (R.)
Cross-Party Move Aims To Delay Hard Brexit (G.)
Brexit Is Full Of Hysterical Self-Pity – Fintan O’Toole (G.)
Italian Parliament Passes Budget After EU Standoff (BBC)
Yellow Vests Target French Media Companies And Set Cars Alight (Ind.)
Cyber Attack Disrupts Printing Of Major US Newspapers (R.)
Trump Scores, Breaks Generals’ 50-Year War Record (Porter)
Firm That Warned US Of Russian Bots Ran An Army Of Fake Russian Bots (RT)
EU’s Palm Oil Policy Triggers Condemnation From Producing Countries (CNBC)
People-Smugglers Use Social Media To Lure Migrants To Their Deaths – UN (Ind.)

 

 

“China is an aging, leveraged country, with excess industrial capacity.”

Will China be 2019’s big story? Is the PBOC even more powerless than the Fed?

Deflation Risk Rises as China’s Economy Keeps Faltering (ET)

Just about every economic measure is trending down in China, and not surprisingly, deflation fears are mounting. The China Beige Book (CBB) fourth-quarter preview, released Dec. 27, reported that sales volumes, output, domestic and export orders, investment, and hiring all fell on a year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter basis. A much-weaker 2019 appears to be in the offing for China, but it’s not solely due to trade tensions with the United States. The domestic economy was already on weak footing and the CBB argues that government support is unlikely. The CBB is a research service that speaks to thousands of companies and bankers on the ground in China every quarter. It contends that deflation is the bigger threat compared to inflation.

“Because of China’s structural problems, deflation has very clearly emerged as the bigger threat in a slowing economy than inflation. Consumer demand has weakened, and you see that reflected in retail and services prices,” said Shehzad Qazi, CBB managing director, in an interview. While lower prices look good for consumers, policy-makers don’t like deflation for a number of reasons. With prices falling, companies produce less, often lay off workers, and reduce investment, leading to a vicious circle of sorts. While the trade war hurts export-sensitive regions, local orders have now weakened for two straight quarters. Hiring fell for the first time since early 2016. Worse still, the fall was concentrated in services and retail, two sectors being counted upon to pick up the slack left by manufacturing’s woes.

Also, debt—of which China has plenty—becomes more problematic under deflation, as its value adjusted for inflation rises. And it’s an issue for central bankers, who typically target 2 percent inflation for price stability. Rate cuts to spur the economy and inflation are less effective, since the real interest rates are higher when accounting for deflation. “China is an aging, leveraged country, with excess industrial capacity. Appearances by inflation should be cheered,” according to the CBB Q4 preview. “They are also rare.”

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No effort needed.

Juncker: The EU Isn’t Trying To Keep Britain In The Union (R.)

The European Union is not trying to keep Britain in and wants to start discussing future ties the moment the U.K. parliament approves Brexit, partly to focus on its own unity ahead of May elections, the head of the bloc’s executive said. “It is being insinuated that our aim is to keep the United Kingdom in the EU by all possible means. That is not our intention. All we want is clarity about our future relations. And we respect the result of the referendum.” Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag in an interview. Juncker said the EU was ready to start negotiating a new deal with Britain right after the British parliament approves the divorce deal. A vote is now due in the week starting Jan. 14.

He also said Britain should get its act together. “And then tell us what it is you want,” he said. “I am working on the assumption that it will leave, because that is what the people of the United Kingdom have decided,” he added, refusing to be drawn into whether Britain would hold a second Brexit vote. “That is for the British to decide.” [..] He said he felt EU citizens were increasingly growing apart, another problem to tackle ahead of Europe-wide parliamentary elections in May. “We have to ensure that these rifts do not become too deep,” Juncker said. “We must not imply that the populists are right … they are just loud and do not have any specific proposals to offer on solving the challenges of our time.”

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They want more delays.

UK Trade Minister Says ’50-50′ Chance Brexit May Be Stopped (R.)

Britain’s trade minister Liam Fox said there is a “50-50” chance that Brexit may be stopped if parliament rejects the government’s divorce deal with the European Union next month. “If we were not to vote for that, I’m not sure I would give it (Brexit) much more than 50-50,” Fox, a leading supporter of leaving the EU, told the Sunday Times newspaper. With three months left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, May’s Brexit deal is floundering, opening up a range of possibilities from a Brexit without a trade deal to calling Brexit off. Earlier this month, May pulled a planned vote on her deal after admitting parliament would reject it. Lawmakers are set to vote on the deal in the week starting Jan. 14.

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But a delay of a few months?! What good will that do?

Cross-Party Move Aims To Delay Hard Brexit (G.)

Senior Tory and Labour MPs are planning to force the government to delay Brexit by several months to avoid a no-deal outcome if Theresa May fails to get her deal through parliament in January, the Observer has been told. Cross-party talks have been under way for several weeks to ensure the 29 March date is put back – probably until July at the latest – if the government does not push for a delay itself. It is also understood that cabinet ministers have discussed the option of a delay with senior backbench MPs in both the main parties and that Downing Street is considering scenarios in which a delay might have to be requested from Brussels.

One senior Tory backbencher said: “I have had these discussions with ministers. They will not say so in public but of course the option of a delay has to be looked at in detail now. If we are determined to avoid a no deal, and the prime minister’s deal fails, we will have to ask to stop the clock, and that will give time for us to decide to go whatever way we decide thereafter.” The Conservative MP and former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he believed that even if May got her deal through, there would probably be insufficient time to push all the necessary legislation through parliament to allow Brexit to happen smoothly and that a delay might well be necessary. But if her deal were voted down, the need to take up the option of a delay would become a “certainty”.

He said: “I think that if she does not get her deal passed, a delay would be inevitable to give more time to avoid a no deal, and also there is the possibility that there would be a referendum, so this would allow for that.” Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said that parliament would need to discuss all options, including a possible delay, if and when May failed to get her blueprint through the Commons. “If the prime minister’s deal is voted down in early January, then we will be just nine weeks away from the date we are due to leave the EU,” Starmer said. “If the deal is rejected, parliament will need to have a very serious debate about how to protect the economy from a no-deal scenario and at this stage nothing should be ruled out.”


Brexit options. Click to enlarge

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“..if you think about the poems that English schoolkids will know, they’re all about defeats or retreats or disasters…”

Brexit Is Full Of Hysterical Self-Pity – Fintan O’Toole (G.)

In your book, you criticise the way parallels have been made between Brexit and the 100 years war. What is the main problem? A single word: vassalage. What on earth is this word doing in political discourse in the 21st century? I was struck by its re-emergence. It comes originally from Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, this mad idea that somehow the 100 years war shows the English capacity to throw off feudal vassalage. It’s a ludicrous misunderstanding of history. The war was more like Charles Taylor in Sierre Leone – a hideous crime against humanity. To go back to that as the only thing you have to express what English freedom might mean in the 21st century shows how demented it is.

You also write about the long English tradition of clinging romantically to heroic defeat. What do you ascribe this to? George Orwell wrote about this in the early 1940s. He said that it was extraordinary that if you think about the poems that English schoolkids will know, they’re all about defeats or retreats or disasters. It’s Scott of the Antarctic, it’s the Charge of the Light Brigade, it’s Gordon of Khartoum. That tradition of heroic failure was great when you were ruling the world as it was a way of saying we’re not really a nasty imperial power. But in a post-imperial age you get a farcical version. Because originally the thing that characterised heroic failure in the English imagination was not self-pity, but Brexit is full of hysterical self-pity.

You describe a false caricature of Germany, put about by Brexiters, of an expansionist nation. You also say that the EU, and especially Germany, had a need to severely punish debtor countries. Is Germany the glue that holds the EU together or a controlling villain? There’s no doubt that Germany is the major power in Europe, and that’s one of the things going on with Brexit. It’s this idea that this country we defeated twice in the 20th century is now seen as the dominant power. That leads to fantasies that Britain really lost the war and we’re being taken over insidiously by the Germans. The real problem with the Germans isn’t that they’re trying to take over Europe. It’s that they’ve promulgated a very heavy austerity that is deeply ingrained in the German mentality. The irony is, it’s exactly the policy that the Tory Brexiters themselves were pursuing.

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Not quite UBI.

Italian Parliament Passes Budget After EU Standoff (BBC)

Italy’s parliament has approved a revised budget for 2019, amid opposition complaints that it was dictated by the EU. The country’s populist government had originally vowed to push through costly campaign promises including a universal basic income. But in October, the European Commission raised concerns about the impact of such spending on Italy’s debt levels. Rome was told to revise its budget, or face fines and disciplinary action. Under a deal struck with the Commission last week, Italy lowered its planned budget deficit from 2.4% of GDP to 2.04% – less of a reduction than European officials had hoped for. The value of its concessions is understood to be a little more than €10bn. The deadline for passing the budget was 31 December, after which the government would have been forced to continue with the 2018 budget on a monthly basis.

[..] Italy’s coalition government, made up of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and right-wing League, has pledged the following:
• A new income support scheme known as the “citizens’ wage” will pay €780 a month to 1.7 million of Italy’s poorest families. The measure is forecast to cost €7.1bn.
• The retirement age will be cut from the current 67 to 62, for workers who have paid into the pension system for 38 years.
• More than a million self-employed workers earning under €65,000 a year will see their taxes cut to 15%.

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Watch for New Year’s Eve.

Yellow Vests Target French Media Companies And Set Cars Alight (Ind.)

Protesters in France have marched on the headquarters of various French media organisations, with groups taking to the streets in small groups in Paris and across the country. Now in its seventh week, the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests have shrunk somewhat but hundreds of demonstrators, some chanting “fake news” and “journalists – collaborationists”, and others hurling stones, descended on the offices of TV network BFM and the state-run France Televisions. Police in riot gear intervened, leading to skirmishes, with officers eventually using tear gas to disperse those on the streets and making a number of arrests. Despite a lower turnout than at previous protests demonstrators still caused havoc, with some setting fire to a number of cars in central Paris leaving streets choked by fumes.

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Damn foreigners!

Cyber Attack Disrupts Printing Of Major US Newspapers (R.)

A cyber-attack has caused printing and delivery disruptions to major US newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun. The attack on Saturday appeared to originate outside the United States, the Los Angeles Times reported. It led to distribution delays in the Saturday edition of the Times, the Tribune, the Sun and other newspapers that share a production platform in Los Angeles. Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Sun, as well as the New York Daily News and Orlando Sentinel, said it first detected the malware on Friday.

The west coast editions of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times were also hit, as they are printed on the shared production platform, the Los Angeles Times said. A Tribune Publishing spokeswoman, Marisa Kollias, said the virus affected back-office systems used to publish and produce “newspapers across our properties”. “There is no evidence that customer credit card information or personally identifiable information has been compromised,” Kollias said. Most San Diego Union-Tribune subscribers were without a newspaper on Saturday as the virus infected the company’s business systems and hobbled its ability to publish, the paper’s editor and publisher, Jeff Light, wrote on its website.

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“..when Mattis and Dunford sang the praises of the “rules-based, international democratic order” that has “kept the peace for 70 years,” Trump simply shook his head in disbelief.”

Trump Scores, Breaks Generals’ 50-Year War Record (Porter)

The relationship between Trump and his national security team has been tense since the beginning of his administration. By mid-summer 2017, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford had become so alarmed at Trump’s negative responses to their briefings justifying global U.S. military deployments that they decided to do a formal briefing in “the tank,” used by the Joint Chiefs for meetings at the Pentagon. But when Mattis and Dunford sang the praises of the “rules-based, international democratic order” that has “kept the peace for 70 years,” Trump simply shook his head in disbelief.

By the end of that year, however, Mattis, Dunford, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believed they’d succeeded in getting Trump to use U.S. troops not only to defeat Islamic State but to “stabilize” the entire northeast sector of Syria and balance Russian and Iranian-sponsored forces. Yet they ignored warning signs of Trump’s continuing displeasure with their vision of a more or less permanent American military presence in Syria. In a March rally in Ohio ostensibly about health care reform, Trump suddenly blurted out, “We’re coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon—very soon we’re coming out.”

Then in early April 2018, Trump’s impatience with his advisors on Syria boiled over into a major confrontation at a National Security Council meeting, where he ordered them unequivocally to accept a fundamentally different Syria deployment policy. Trump opened the meeting with his public stance that the United States must end its intervention in Syria and the Middle East more broadly. He argued repeatedly that the U.S. had gotten “nothing” for its efforts, according to an account published by the Associated Press based on interviews with administration officials who had been briefed on the meeting. When Dunford asked him to state exactly what he wanted, Trump answered that he favored an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and an end to the “stabilization” program in Syria.

Mattis responded that an immediate withdrawal from Syria was impossible to carry out responsibly, would risk the return of Islamic State, and would play into the hands of Russia, Iran, and Turkey, whose interests ran counter to those of the United States. Trump reportedly then relented and said they have could five or six months to destroy the Islamic State. But he also made it clear that he did not want them to come back to him in October and say that they had been unable to defeat ISIS and had to remain in Syria. When his advisors reiterated that they didn’t think America could withdraw responsibly, Trump told them to “just get it done.”

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New Knowledge. Defenders of freedom. Geez…

Firm That Warned US Of Russian Bots Ran An Army Of Fake Russian Bots (RT)

The co-founders of cybersecurity firm New Knowledge warned Americans in November to “remain vigilant” in the face of “Russian efforts” to meddle in US elections. This month, they have been exposed for doing just that themselves. Ryan Fox and Jonathan Morgan, who run the New Knowledge cybersecurity company which claims to “monitor disinformation” online, penned a foreboding op-ed in the New York Times on November 6, about “the Russians” and their nefarious efforts to influence American elections. At the time, it struck me that Fox and Morgan’s reasoning seemed a little far-fetched. For example, one of the pieces of evidence presented to prove that Russia had targeted American elections was that lots of people had posted links to RT’s content online.

Hardly a smoking gun worthy of a Times oped. Morgan and Fox, intrepid cyber sleuths that they are, claimed in the article they had detected more “overall activity” from ongoing Russian influence campaigns than social media companies like Facebook and Twitter had yet revealed — or that other researchers had been able to identify. The New Knowledge guys even authored a Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russia’s alleged efforts to mess with American democracy. They called it a “propaganda war against American citizens.” Impressive stuff. They must be really good at their job, right? This week, however, we learned that New Knowledge was running its own disinformation campaign (or “propaganda war against Americans,” you could say), complete with fake Russian bots designed to discredit Republican candidate Roy Moore as a Russia-preferred candidate when he was running for the US senate in Alabama in 2017.

The scheme was exposed by the New York Times — the paper that just over a month earlier published that aforementioned oped, in which Fox and Morgan pontificated about Russian interference online. New Knowledge created a mini-army of fake Russian bots and fake Facebook groups. The accounts, which had Russian names, were made to follow Moore. An internal company memo boasted that New Knowledge had “orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.”

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How popular do you think it would be if we pay people to not kill off orangutans? Lions, hippos?

EU’s Palm Oil Policy Triggers Condemnation From Producing Countries (CNBC)

The European Union is phasing out the use of palm oil in transport fuel, triggering criticism of trade protectionism and threats of retaliation from major producersIndonesia and Malaysia. The European move comes after years of activist campaigns about the vegetable oil associated with rampant deforestation and labor abuses, highlighting how consumer concerns about sustainability are increasingly influencing businesses. According to Eyes on the Forest, a coalition of environmental non-governmental organizations co-founded by the World Wildlife Fund, the large Indonesian island of Sumatra lost 56 percent of its 25 million hectares (250,000 square kilometers, or bigger than the size of the U.K.) of natural forests over 31 years.

The palm oil industry, with its national epicenter on that island, is thought to be one of the biggest drivers of that loss, the coalition said. France and Norway have become the first few countries to start curbing use of palm oil in the last month, driving fears in major Southeast Asian producing countries, where the cash crop has powered economic growth. Indonesia and Malaysia together produce over 80 percent of the world’s palm oil. More broadly, the EU agreed in June to phase out the use of palm oil in transport fuel from 2030 as part of a broader plan to increase the share of renewables in the bloc’s energy production. The EU is one of the world’s top consumers of palm oil, which is used in a wide range of products from baked goods to detergents.

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All of a sudden the UK creates a frenzy over refugees in the Channel.

People-Smugglers Use Social Media To Lure Migrants To Their Deaths – UN (Ind.)

Tech companies are failing to crack down on people-smugglers using their platforms to lure migrants “to their deaths” with promise of safe passage to Europe, the UN has warned. Companies such as Facebook and WhatsApp are “enabling criminal activity” by traffickers who entrap victims who are unaware of the dangers they face, according to the UN’s migration agency. The warning comes amid a surge in migrants attempting to reach the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats, with almost 100 people intercepted by both British and French authorities while attempting to reach the UK from France since Christmas Day. [..]

Leonard Doyle, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said migrants were being “lured to Calais” over the internet as smugglers operate via social networks “without any real oversight” from the companies controlling them. He said that while tech firms had taken measures to curb other exploitative activities such as child pornography, efforts to prevent people-smuggling has been “microscopic” compared with the damage it causes. [..] Charities on the ground in northern France meanwhile cautioned that irregular migration was not the result of social media but of the persecution faced by migrants in their home countries. But they said failure by European governments to inform refugees of their right to seek asylum and how to do so had enabled criminal gangs to “fill the void”, often through online social networks.

Mr Doyle told The Independent: “People like to point fingers over the migration crisis, but a big part of it must be that the guy or the girl in the village with nothing but a cracked smartphone can actually meet a smuggler in a heartbeat. “This person will often have no prior knowledge, no sense that this is a trap, no sense that this is going to end up in their prostitution, their slavery, their murder, their drowning. “But the tech companies that have done so much to bring technology to its current place are not investing in civic communication to help counter-balance the nonsense people get from social media.

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