Aug 062022
 
 August 6, 2022  Posted by at 12:28 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  31 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh Beach at Scheveningen in Stormy Weather 1882

 

 

It is very simple: if you’d ask most citizens of whichever EU country if they are willing to risk being unable to feed and heat their children in order to support Ukraine and Zelensky, they would say NO. Hell no! But that is what they’re all being pushed towards. Food prices look to at least double from here, after they’ve doubled once already, while energy prices are set to triple or worse. And there’s no logical reason for it.

This is not due to some inevitable market mechanism, it’s because the west decided to halt all Russian imports after the latter’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine. All western leaders found that reason enough to cut all, or nearly all, imports from Russia. Gas, oil, fertilizer, food. Essentials. They could have been sitting around a negotiating table, but chose not to. Which only works as long as things remain sort of affordable. And then, it does not.

Problem is, they had and have no alternative to the Russian supplies of these goods (and there’s many more). See, this is how we know they don’t make their own decisions. Those are made in Brussels and Davos, and then the “leaders” have to carry out the preconceived programs, and they will.

No elected official on his/her own would risk to destroy their own country’s energy or food safety, with elections coming up every few years. But their WEF/Davos connections have changed that “logic”. The WEF makes sure no western leader gets elected who is not a member of their club. There’s only one path to power these days.

 

But these people grossly underestimate the effect that hunger and cold -will- have on their citizens. The first signs of that are visible in the protests of truckers and farmers, but that’s just a start. You just wait till the cold sets in, and the running blackouts, and the hunger. Wait till people have to feed their kids scraps from a bare table in a cold dark home.

That’s when you will see who people really are. People in the west are overfed, and lazy, and not too sharp, but wait till their kids, and their families, are truly suffering. They’ve seen the example of the farmers and truckers. Wait for people to see the link between their own lives, and the farmers; then you will see who they really are.

“Leaders” like Trudeau and Rutte think they have this under control, that they can make the farmers do what their governments say they must, if need be with assistance from police or even the army. But you cannot send cops and soldiers against your farmers, because 1) they make your food, 2) the people support them, 3) they have a centuries-old democratic right to be farmers, and 4) they don’t take no sh*t for an answer.

This goes back 100s of years, much longer than the right of any politician to tell them what to do. The Dutch farmers on Friday told Rutte to prepare for the hardest actions yet, and they’re still not joking. My guess would be this time they will paralyze the country. Not because they are crazy; 10,000 of them would need to close shop if Rutte gets what he wants, and they won’t let that happen. Farmers will not idly stand by while their neighbor is forced out of business.

No, they are not crazy. They refuse to talk to Rutte, in a sign a of how much they trust him. He assigned a mediator, from his own political club, and all farmer org’s but one refused to talk to him too. The one that did, found the talk useless. Rutte wants the 10,000 scalps no matter what, but it’s just not going to happen. He is shown the limits of his power. Having been PM for 12 years, that’s a bit of a shock.

 

Obviously, this is all strongly connected to the past 2,5 years of measures and mandates and all. The political class got a taste of power that they did not have before, and got carried away. Well, they went too far this time. One telling number was that of US parents letting their youngest kids be vaxxed: what was it, 0.45%?! And 220 million adult Americans have either never been vaxxed or never boosted. No connection to the farmers? You wait and see.

The game is over. People’s patience with their politicians is ending. But the politicians themselves don’t see that; how could they when they censor all discontent and reports from doctors and scientists who don’t follow the “official” line? They’ve lost touch with the very world they’re supposed to represent. All they get to see is the info that is left after their own “norms” have censored the rest. They see only what they like to see.

 

In Europe, the Germans and Dutch will manage to be sort of OK, but only at the expense of poorer EU countries. And that won’t even be their main problem; that problem will be at home; their own farmers will come for them. And their poorest. Countries will leave the EU (and the euro). Hungary first to go?! In Greece, there’s already talk of rolling blackouts this winter, and they get most of their electricity from hydro. Italy is a shambles. How many present “leaders” will still be in place January 1 2023? How about June? After a winter of great discontent?

And they’re all telling you that “we” have to win in Ukraine first, and everything will be alright. But “we” have already lost in Ukraine, we did on February 24, and “we” should be talking to, and making peace with, Russia. Why are we not? Because we don’t want food and energy? The folks in Brussels and Davos will not be hungry and cold. But in other EU places they will be. And they will come to balance this thing out.

As for the US, I’m scared there too. Energy prices may not get as bad as in Europe, but food will be real bad (and how about housing?!). And there’s this fight between two factions going on, that starts to feel like what went on before the Civil War. I hope I’m wrong, but I feel it everywhere: Overreach.

 

 

 

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Jul 302022
 
 July 30, 2022  Posted by at 8:27 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  54 Responses »


Claude Monet Impression, sunrise 1872

 

Europe Hypnotized Into War Economy (Vilches)
Russia Claims Ukraine Had A Reason To Kill Its Own POWs (RT)
Russia and Ukraine Trade Blame Over Prison Blast (BBC)
Ukraine and Russia Trade Blame For Attack Killing Mariupol Prisoners (WaPo)
Ukraine Is ‘Shooting Blind’ – Top Official (RT)
A Panicking Biden Administration Seeks Talks With Russia (MoA)
West Prepares To Plunder Post-war Ukraine (MP)
Gazprom Explains Gas Flow Reduction To EU (RT)
American Diplomacy as a Tragic Drama (Michael Hudson)
Playing Chicken with the Fates (Kunstler)
David Lynch Tells ‘Zelensky’ To Have A Beer With Putin (RT)
Trump Warns Something Worse Than Recession Is Coming (ET)
Health Care Workers Settle COVID Shot Mandate for $10.3 Million (Bridle)
Triathlete, 27, Becomes 5th Toronto Area Doctor To Die In July (TSun)
Meta from 5th Most Valuable Stock to 11th In 10 Months. $647 Billion Lost (WS)

 

 

Read at least twice.

 

 

Winter is coming
https://twitter.com/i/status/1552787710187917312

 

 

Share of countries with 6%+ CPI

 

 

Bro Bridle
https://twitter.com/i/status/1552918465312342017

 

 

CannoneerMarine thread

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jorge Vilches has it exactly right. Europe is shedding infrastructure and deals for which they have zero replacement: “without which Europe as we know it will cease to exist.”

Europe Hypnotized Into War Economy (Vilches)

Thirty two years ago Germans enthusiastically took down the Berlin wall. Now, captured by cunning Anglo-Saxon global elites, Germans are helping other European “useful idiots” to erect a much higher and thicker wall to cut themselves off from Russia leading them into a war economy. But as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned… “the approach has clearly failed — sanctions have backfired — and our car now has 4 four flat tires” … Question: vehicles don´t carry more than 2 spare tires on them, do they? So, one quick and innocent way to explain such unfathomable European miscalculation is to assume the EU leadership is immersed in a deep hypnotic trance and just blindly following US-UK instructions under Stoltenberg-Johnson war-mongering policies.

The supply lines that up to 2022 successfully linked Europe and Russia took decades of very hard work to develop. This now means that almost all of such over-abundant contracts necessarily have no effective substitute because (a) no other vendors have such high quality at low price plus decades of vetting and proven experience + (b) the un-replaceable short freight distance and shipping time from nearby Russia. So, by definition, both (a) + (b) mean that today no equivalent supply lines could ever be found no matter how much Europe tried simply because it would be either too soon or too far …and always too hard and too pricey. So short cuts will be taken and corners rounded-off…. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

The impact of the above cannot be overstated though as the now-broken Euro-Russian supply lines were essential for the Just-In-Time strategy that Europe and world markets still require and cannot wait years to develop and iron out. Logistics 101: proven experience and performance with excellent price plus quick delivery from nearby sources cannot be substituted fast enough, or possibly ever. On purpose, Europe´s worst enemies couldn´t have inflicted worse harm than what a US-UK mesmerized Europe (what else ?) is doing to itself. So EU sanctions are now cutting off dozens of key and highly varied Russian produce without which Europe as we know it will cease to exist. This involves foodstuffs, minerals of every sort, energy re oil & gas & coal & refined products thereof, etc., etc., plus key technologies and products from space rocket engines to nuclear fuels.

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It’s quite simple. If the attack was done with HIMARS, it’s the Ukraine. WaPo fantasizes that Russians transported HIMARS pieces from elsewhere to the crime scene, but Ukraine was shelling this site for months. Only now, they have the HIMARS to do it with.

• Elena Evdokimova @elenaevdokimov7· May 17!!
Ukrainian artillery has been shelling the DPR village of Elenovka with BM-21 Grad. It is the settlement, where the prisoners have been transported from Azovstal. Looks like the deliberate attempt to destroy their own surrendered units.

• Azov POWs are extremely high value assets to Kremlin propagandists. Capturing Azov neo-Nazis & putting them on trial to justify Russia’s invasion has been a top propaganda priority from start. It’d be bizarre for RU to bomb & eliminate their prized pr assets before show trials.

• So they’re really going with the theory that Russia shelled a prison on DPR territory to kill Azov militants whom they could have just as easily publicly hanged to the thunderous applause of virtually everyone in Russia & half of Ukraine?!

Russia Claims Ukraine Had A Reason To Kill Its Own POWs (RT)

Kiev’s forces shelled a detention center holding Ukrainian POWs early Friday morning to “threaten” their own troops who may want to surrender, the Russian Defense Ministry has claimed. “A large number of Ukrainian servicemen are voluntarily laying down their arms, and know about the humane treatment of prisoners by the Russian side,” the ministry said, calling the attack “outrageous.” Authorities in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said that the death toll in the missile strike has grown to 53, while 75 were wounded. DPR Deputy Information Minister Daniil Bezsonov posted a graphic video on his Telegram channel, which shows multiple mutilated and charred bodies inside the destroyed building. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry and local authorities, Ukrainian troops used US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers to strike the detention center near the village of Yelenovka.


The ministry said the facility held members of Ukraine’s Azov Battalion, whose fighters surrendered to Russian and Donbass forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol. The battalion is notorious because it includes fighters with nationalist and neo-Nazi views. Speaking to Russia’s TV Channel One, DPR head Denis Pushilin claimed that the Ukrainians “deliberately” targeted the detention center in order to kill Azov members who had been providing testimonies about possible war crimes by their commanders. The Ukrainian military released a statement on Friday, accusing Russian troops of shelling Yelenovka. Moscow destroyed the prison in order to pin the blame on Kiev, as well as to “hide the torture of prisoners and executions,”the statement alleged.

HIMARS
https://twitter.com/i/status/1552948606214225920

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“Russia accuses Ukraine of being willing to massacre its own prisoners of war, saying Kyiv insisted that prisoners from the Azov Battalion be housed in this particular warehouse.

Russia and Ukraine Trade Blame Over Prison Blast (BBC)

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for a rocket attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war in the occupied part of Donetsk region. Ukraine says the prison was targeted by Russia in an effort to destroy evidence of torture and killing. For its part, Russia said the prison camp in Olenivka was hit by Ukrainian precision rockets. Unverified Russian video footage of the aftermath shows a tangle of wrecked bunk beds and badly charred bodies. An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky said the scene looked like arson, and that a missile strike would have scattered the bodies. Those detained are said to have included members of the Azov battalion, who were the last defenders of Mariupol and whom Russia has sought to depict as neo-Nazis and war criminals.


Ukraine’s new Prosecutor-General Andriy Kostin said he had opened a war crimes investigation into the blast. His office added that it believed about 40 people were killed in the strike and 130 were injured. Daniil Bezsonov, a spokesperson for the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, said the strike had been a “direct hit on a barracks holding prisoners” and the number killed might increase. Russia’s defence ministry said the strike had been carried out with US-made Himars artillery and it accused Ukraine of a “deliberately perpetrated” provocation. The ministry produced fragments of what it said were rockets fired by the Himars system.

HIMARS
https://twitter.com/i/status/1552992046402658311

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I include the BBC and WaPo takes mostly to illustrate how they have manipulated the perceived views.

The neo-nazis are now “the famed Azov Regiment”“whom Russia has sought to depict as neo-Nazis and war criminals.” , and the HIMARS systems “are helping shift the tide of the war in Ukraine’s favor”.

Ukraine and Russia Trade Blame For Attack Killing Mariupol Prisoners (WaPo)

Dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war from the famed Azov Regiment were killed Friday in a strike against their detention center in the Russian-occupied eastern region of Donbas, but it was unclear how the attack happened or who carried it out. At least 53 POWs were killed and 75 injured in the strike, according to Darya Morozova, an official for the Donetsk People’s Republic, the pro-Russian breakaway region where the prison is located. Ukraine and Russia traded blame for the strike, with each saying the other had carried it out to silence the prisoners. All or most of the POWs were members of the Azov Regiment who had surrendered when Russian troops captured the city of Mariupol in May after a two-month siege. Their fate had been the focus of fraught prisoner-exchange negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack using U.S.-supplied HIMARS — High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — launchers, which are helping shift the tide of the war in Ukraine’s favor. The ministry framed the incident as “a bloody provocation” intended to discourage Ukrainian soldiers from surrendering. Russian media commentators suggested that Ukraine hit the detention center to stop the prisoners from providing testimony to interrogators about war crimes committed by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine denied any involvement and accused Russian forces of carrying out the attack, which it called a war crime. Ukraine did not conduct any shelling or artillery strikes Friday in the vicinity of Olenivka, the town where the detention center is located, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in a post on its Facebook page.

Rather, the General Staff said, it was Russia that staged the attack and used it “to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes as well as to cover up the torture and execution of prisoners.” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in a posting on his Twitter account, called on the world to condemn what he called a “petrifying war crime” and a “brutal violation of international humanitarian law.” Ukrainian officials also questioned whether the incident had been caused by an artillery strike at all. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted that explosives specialists who had examined images of the burned-out detention center believe that the destruction may have been caused by an explosion or fire “inside the building itself, rather than the result of shelling.”

Videos of the aftermath of the blast broadcast by Russian media outlets show a tangle of twisted, burned metal bunks inside a blackened warehouse-like structure with a large hole in its roof. Charred bodies and body parts are strewn around the wreckage Russian media outlets also posted photos showing what they claimed were fragments of HIMARS rockets found at the scene. It wasn’t immediately possible to verify that the shards had been fired by HIMARS launchers, but a senior Defense Department official in Washington pointed out that Russia could have gathered them from attacks elsewhere. “The Russians have a lot of pieces of HIMARS. The Ukrainians have been sending a lot of HIMARS their way,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to brief the media. He cautioned against reaching any conclusions on the limited information available.

Yelenovka

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“..Kiev needed about 50 HIMARS for effective defense, and a least 100 for “an effective counteroffensive.”

Ukraine Is ‘Shooting Blind’ – Top Official (RT)

US-made HIMARS are “a good first step,” but Kiev needs the means to take accurate shots, a senior Ukrainian official has said The deliveries of US-made HIMARS rocket systems are “a good first step”, but the West did not provide Kiev with the necessary technologies to accurately hit targets, a high-ranking Ukrainian official complained in an interview published on Thursday. “HIMARS and heavy artillery are a good first step, but if we do not have the technology to find and correct targets for artillery strikes, then we’re just shooting blind,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser at the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, told Newsweek magazine.

Earlier this month, Vadim Skibitskiy, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defense, claimed that Kiev views the Crimean Peninsula as a legitimate target for long-range weaponry, including US-made M142 HIMARS and M270 MLRS, supplied by Western powers. His words were echoed by Alexey Arestovich, a top aide to President Vladimir Zelensky, who said that the Ukrainian military would target the Crimean Bridge as soon as Kiev obtains the capability to carry out such a strike. Russia pushed back on these threats, with Mikhail Sheremet, an MP who represents the region in the Russian parliament, warning Kiev that retaliation will be so harsh that Ukraine will never be able to recover from it. In his telling, the would-be strike will be followed by “a crushing blow to decision-making centers in Kiev, military infrastructure and arms-supply logistics channels.”

[..] On Friday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense and DPR authorities accused Kiev of having used HIMARS to target a prison holding POWs, killing 53 and wounding scores more. Ukraine rejected the claim and pinned the blame on Russian troops. According to the Pentagon, as of July 22, the US has provided Ukraine with 16 M142 HIMARS systems, while the UK has provided another three launchers capable of firing the same munitions. Earlier this month, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov said that Kiev needed about 50 HIMARS for effective defense, and a least 100 for “an effective counteroffensive.”

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“..Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov was too busy to talk with Mr. Blinken now.”

They did talk yesterday. But Blinken is not very important.

A Panicking Biden Administration Seeks Talks With Russia (MoA)

The New York Times reports of a potential prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia: “[T]he Biden administration has proposed trading the merchant of death for the imprisoned basketball player as well as a former marine held in Russia on what are considered trumped-up espionage charges. In the harsh and cynical world of international diplomacy, prisoner exchanges are rarely pretty, but unpalatable choices are often the only choices on the table. Whether the swap would go through remained unclear. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made the offer public in part to reassure the families of Brittney Griner, the basketball player, and Paul N. Whelan, the former marine, that the administration is doing all it can to free them. Russian officials, who have long sought the release of the arms trafficker Viktor Bout, confirmed the discussion on Thursday but said Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov was too busy to talk with Mr. Blinken now.”

Typically prisoner swaps are not talked about publicly before they happen: “Some veteran hostage negotiators were perplexed that Mr. Blinken made the offer public. “It is baffling why the U.S. would announce this proposal in the midst of the negotiations,” said Rob Saale, the former head of the F.B.I.-led Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell. “If you’re in sensitive negotiations why would you want to air this out publicly? It makes me wonder if the Russians haven’t already declined the deal.” Mr. Saale suspicion was justified as the Washington Post now reports:

“The Biden administration disclosed publicly that the United States had made “a substantial offer” to Russia to secure the release of two American prisoners because closed-door negotiations had stalled, an administration official said Thursday. The administration hopes public pressure will lead Moscow to engage in negotiations resulting in basketball star Brittney Griner and security consultant Paul Whelan being released from Russian prison, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations. U.S. officials say they have tried for weeks to broker the releases of Griner and Whelan. But the lack of progress, and the prospect of Griner soon facing conviction and sentencing on drug charges, prompted the administration this week to make the negotiations public.”

I do not understand why the administration had started such negotiations even before the Griner court case has been closed. In general such prisoners will only be pardoned and released to the other side after they have been sentenced. Anything else would raise accusations of executive interference in the judicial process. The Brittney Griner case, over admitted smuggling of cannabis oil, is still in court. The Russian government will obviously refrain from doing anything about her before the judicial process has ended. One suspects that the prisoner exchange is much more about Paul Whelan, who likely is a CIA asset.

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They’ll have to settle for what Russia leaves them. And that’s not what they counted on.

West Prepares To Plunder Post-war Ukraine (MP)

While the United States and Europe flood Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars of weapons, using it as an anti-Russian proxy and pouring fuel on the fire of a brutal war that is devastating the country, they are also making plans to essentially plunder its post-war economy. Representatives of Western governments and corporations met in Switzerland this July to plan a series of harsh neoliberal policies to impose on post-war Ukraine, calling to cut labor laws, “open markets,” drop tariffs, deregulate industries, and “sell state-owned enterprises to private investors.” Ukraine has been destabilized by violence since 2014, when a US-sponsored coup d’etat overthrew its democratically elected government, setting off a civil war. That conflict dragged on until February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded the country, escalating into a new, even deadlier phase of the war.

The United States and European Union have sought to erase the history of foreign-sponsored civil war in Ukraine from 2014 to early 2022, acting as though the conflict began on February 24. But Washington had sent large sums of weapons to Ukraine and provided extensive military training and support over several years before Russia invaded. Meanwhile, starting in 2017, representatives of Western governments and corporations quietly held annual conferences in which they discussed ways to profit from the civil war they were fueling in Ukraine. In these meetings, Western political and business leaders outlined a series of aggressive right-wing reforms they hoped to impose on Ukraine, including widespread privatization of state-owned industries and deregulation of the economy.

On July 4 and 5, 2022, top officials from the US, EU, Britain, Japan, and South Korea met in Switzerland for a so-called “Ukraine Recovery Conference.” There, they planned Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction and performatively announced aid commitments – while salivating over a bonanza of potential contracts. New NATO candidates Finland and Sweden committed to assure reconstruction in Lugansk, roughly 48 hours after Russia and separatist forces announced the region had fallen fully under their control. But the Ukraine Recovery Conference was not new. It had been renamed to save the expense of a new acronym. In the previous five years, the group and its annual meetings were instead referred to as the “Ukraine Reform Conference” (URC).

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Siemens has eliminated no more than a quarter of the identified malfunctions at the Nord Stream turbines. Correspondence regarding the repair of engines will be made public via media.
– Deputy Chairman of Gazprom Markelov

Gazprom Explains Gas Flow Reduction To EU (RT)

Gazprom has published some of its correspondence with Siemens as it blames the German company for a reduction in gas flow Russia had to reduce its gas flow to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to turbine malfunctions, Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov said on Friday. The issues are due to Germany’s Siemens company – which produces the turbines – failing to fulfill its commitments, he told the Rossiya 24 TV Channel.
Siemens has so far eliminated only one-fourth of the total number of discovered malfunctions affecting its turbines, Markelov said. On Wednesday, the Nord Stream 1 operator Gascade reported that gas flow through the pipeline had been reduced to one-fifth of its maximum capacity. A day before that, Gazprom warned that it would have to stop the operation of its second Siemens turbine for an overhaul.

After the switch-off, gas flow through Nord Stream 1 was not expected to exceed 33 million cubic meters per day. The move came as the energy giant was still waiting for another turbine for the pipeline that was due to arrive from Germany after undergoing maintenance in Canada. “Our European partners accuse us of reducing gas supply to Europe without sufficient reasons. Yet, nothing can be further from the truth,”Markelov said, adding that it was the company’s Western partners who “fail to fulfill their obligations – contractual obligations – for the compressor station maintenance.” According to an earlier report by business daily Kommersant, several turbines at the Portovaya compressor station located on Russia’s Baltic coast are in need of servicing.

The current licensing agreement allows Siemens Energy to accept five more turbines for maintenance work before the end of 2024. “We call on our partners to resolve their own issues as soon as possible,” the deputy CEO said, adding that the gas supply to Europe would then “go back to normal in no time.”Markelov added that his company planned to release part of its correspondence with its Western partners to the public. Some documents were published hours later. The reduction of supply from Russia has led to a spike in gas prices in Europe, which rose by more than 20% to over $2,500 per thousand cubic meters on Wednesday. European leaders then blamed Russia for the gas price hikes.

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“What is euphemized as U.S.-style democracy is a financial oligarchy privatizing basic infrastructure, health and education.”

American Diplomacy as a Tragic Drama (Michael Hudson)

As in a Greek tragedy whose protagonist brings about precisely the fate that he has sought to avoid, the US/NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of U.S. control over their trade and investment policy. Naming China as America’s main long-term adversary, the Biden Administration’s plan was to split Russia away from China and then cripple China’s own military and economic viability. But the effect of American diplomacy has been to drive Russia and China together, joining with Iran, India and other allies. For the first time since the Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in 1955, a critical mass is able to be mutually self-sufficient to start the process of achieving independence from Dollar Diplomacy.

Confronted with China’s industrial prosperity based on self-financed public investment in socialized markets, U.S. officials acknowledge that resolving this fight will take a number of decades to play out. Arming a proxy Ukrainian regime is merely an opening move in turning Cold War 2 (and potentially/or indeed World War III) into a fight to divide the world into allies and enemies with regard to whether governments or the financial sector will plan the world economy and society. What is euphemized as U.S.-style democracy is a financial oligarchy privatizing basic infrastructure, health and education. The alternative is what President Biden calls autocracy, a hostile label for governments strong enough to block a global rent-seeking oligarchy from taking control. China is deemed autocratic for providing basic needs at subsidized prices instead of charging whatever the market can bear.

Making its mixed economy lower-cost is called “market manipulation,” as if that is a bad thing that was not done by the United States, Germany and every other industrial nation during their economic takeoff in the 19th and early 20th century. Clausewitz popularized the axiom that war is an extension of national interests – mainly economic. The United States views its economic interest to lie in seeking to spread its neoliberal ideology globally. The evangelistic aim is to financialize and privatize economies by shifting planning away from national governments to a cosmopolitan financial sector. There would be little need for politics in such a world. Economic planning would shift from political capitals to financial centers, from Washington to Wall Street, with satellites in the City of London, the Paris Bourse, Frankfurt and Tokyo.

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“Turns out that Agent Brian Auten was also involved in favorably vetting the Steele Dossier when it was used to justify FISA court warrant..”

Playing Chicken with the Fates (Kunstler)

How is it that the Hunter Biden laptop, stuffed with incriminating memoranda of bribery, treason, and diverse felonies, and in the FBI’s possession for two-and-a-half years now, just sat gathering dust in some sub-sub-basement cubby-hole — while “Joe Biden,” the putative president (or, more likely, the enigmatic claque behind him) was allowed to carry out a demolition of America’s economy and culture? The answer is one Brian Auten, FBI Senior Analyst, who engineered a scheme to label Hunter’s laptop “Russian disinformation,” which allowed FBI Director Christopher Wray to throw a switch that turned off any further inquiry in the matter beginning in August before the 2020 presidential election.


In turn, other senior FBI officials had all the documents pertaining to the decision process on that matter locked up in a special file that would never see the light of day. Auten’s action led to the release of a letter signed by “fifty former intelligence officials” labeling the laptop as a Russian disinfo op — which became the basis for social media to conspire to censor any discussion of the laptop and its contents. And so it was that a political puppet deeply in the pay of foreign interests got shoehorned into the White House. Well, that and widespread election fraud. Turns out that Agent Brian Auten was also involved in favorably vetting the Steele Dossier when it was used to justify FISA court warrants against figures in Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, part of the RussiaGate operation that disordered and disabled President Trump’s entire four-year term. Well now you know. Perhaps Special Counsel John Durham knows this, too. (If he didn’t before, he must now.)

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Lynch is not as crazy as Stephen King.

David Lynch Tells ‘Zelensky’ To Have A Beer With Putin (RT)

Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky should have a beer with his Russian counterpart Putin and talk peace, American filmmaker David Lynch insisted in an “interview” with Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus. The first fragment of the interview was published on the Russian video hosting website RuTube on Thursday, while the full-length version is expected to be released in the coming days.= Speaking to whom he thought was the Ukrainian leader, the Twin Peaks director insisted that the only way to end the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine was through peace. Lynch said it was his “job”to inform Zelensky about “technologies” that exist for achieving a lasting peace and that these methods were far more effective than “war and murder,” referring to letters he had previously sent to the Ukrainian president.

“Now is the time for peace, and the technology to achieve true peace exists. You need to use them and form such groups of experts on a peaceful settlement in the interests of Ukraine,”he noted. Vovan and Lexus, posing as Zelensky, asked the filmmaker whether he thought there should be direct talks with Putin in the interest of reaching peace, to which Lynch emphatically replied “Yes!”, stressing that there were a number of ways to do so, such as an ordinary telephone call or a virtual dinner with a couple of beers. Lynch insisted that during the conversation over beer and dinner the two presidents could come to a mutual realization that they are both human beings and would be able to discuss the problems between their countries.

“Think peace, think friendship” urged the filmmaker, calling on Zelensky to “stop” the current crisis, talk to Putin, and think about how to get along and help each other. The conversation with Lynch comes a week after the duo’s prank with American horror writer Stephen King, whom they also tricked into believing he was talking with Zelensky. During the call, King praised WWII-era Nazi collaborator and war criminal Stepan Bandera as a “great man” and compared him to US founding fathers Washington and Jefferson. The writer later admitted that he was pranked and claimed that he didn’t actually know who Bandera was or what he had done.

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Depression.

Trump Warns Something Worse Than Recession Is Coming (ET)

Former President Donald Trump has warned that America’s economy is on track for a bigger disaster than a recession, with his remarks coming shortly before government statistics showed GDP printing negative for the second consecutive quarter, which is a rule-of-thumb definition for a recession. “Where we’re going now could be a very bad place,” Trump said at a rally in Arizona last week. “We got to get this act in order, we have to get this country going, or we’re going to have a serious problem.” The former president singled out the collapse in Americans’ real wages, a historically depressed labor force participation rate, and the Democrat push for the Green New Deal that he said would crush economic growth.

“Not recession. Recession’s a nice word. We’re going to have a much bigger problem than recession. We’ll have a depression,” the former president said. Trump’s remarks came several days before the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released data showing that real U.S. GDP fell by an annualized 0.9 percent in the second quarter after contracting 1.6 percent in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth are a common rule-of-thumb definition for a recession, although recessions in the United States are officially declared by a committee of economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) using a broader definition than the two-quarter rule.

[..] In his remarks, Trump also took aim at President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy, blaming him for soaring inflation. “Biden created the worst inflation in 47 years. We’re at 9.1 percent, but the actual number is much, much higher than that,” Trump said. While the former president didn’t provide his own estimate for the true rate of inflation, an alternative CPI inflation gauge developed by economist John Williams, calculated according to the same methodology used by the U.S. government in the 1980s, puts the figure at 17.3 percent, a 75-year high. Trump also said that persistently high inflation combined with an economic slowdown has put the country “on the verge of a devastating” spell of stagflation, which is a combination of accelerating prices and slowing economic growth.

Inflation is “going higher and higher all the time,” Trump said, adding that it’s “costing families nearly $6,000 a year, bigger than any tax increase ever proposed other than the tax increase that they want to propose right now.” In Trump’s first full month in office in February 2017, the headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation gauge came in at 2.8 percent in annual terms. While the CPI measure fluctuated during his tenure, the highest it ever reached was 2.9 percent in July 2018, while in his final month in office, January 2021, inflation clocked in at 1.4 percent. Under Biden, inflation has climbed steadily, soaring 9.1 percent year-over-year in June 2022, a figure not seen in more than 40 years.

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$25,000 each. Hmm. Still, this may spread like wildfirre.

Health Care Workers Settle COVID Shot Mandate for $10.3 Million (Bridle)

Today, Liberty Counsel settled the nation’s first classwide lawsuit for health care workers over a COVID shot mandate, for more than $10.3 million. The class action settlement against NorthShore University HealthSystem is on behalf of more than 500 current and former health care workers who were unlawfully discriminated against and denied religious exemptions from the COVID shot mandate. The agreed upon settlement was filed today in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois. As a result of the settlement, NorthShore will pay $10,337,500 to compensate these health care employees who were victims of religious discrimination, and who were punished for their religious beliefs against taking an injection associated with aborted fetal cells.

This is a historic, first-of-its-kind class action settlement against a private employer who unlawfully denied hundreds of religious exemption requests to COVID-19 shots. The settlement must be approved by the federal District Court. Employees of NorthShore who were denied religious exemptions will receive notice of the settlement, and will have an opportunity to comment, object, request to opt out, or submit a claim form for payment out of the settlement fund, all in accordance with deadlines that will be set by the court. As part of the settlement agreement, NorthShore will also change its unlawful “no religious accommodations” policy to make it consistent with the law, and to provide religious accommodations in every position across its numerous facilities. No position in any NorthShore facility will be considered off limits to unvaccinated employees with approved religious exemptions.

In addition, employees who were terminated because of their religious refusal of the COVID shots will be eligible for rehire if they apply within 90 days of final settlement approval by the court, and they will retain their previous seniority level. The amount of individual payments from the settlement fund will depend on how many valid and timely claim forms are submitted during the claims process. If the settlement is approved by the court and all or nearly all of the affected employees file valid and timely claims, it is estimated that employees who were terminated or resigned because of their religious refusal of a COVID shot will receive approximately $25,000 each, and employees to were forced to accept a COVID shot against their religious beliefs to keep their jobs will receive approximately $3,000 each.

The 13 health care workers who are lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit will receive an additional approximate payment of $20,000 each for their important role in bringing this lawsuit and representing the class of NorthShore health care workers. Liberty Counsel will receive 20 percent of the settlement sum, which equals $2,061,500, as payment for the significant attorney’s fees and costs it has required to undertake to sue NorthShore and hold it accountable for its actions. This amount is far less than the typical 33 percent usually requested by attorneys in class action litigation.

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Not sure if No. 6 is also from Toronto.

“In all four cases, their hospitals made it clear their deaths “were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine.” Made it clear how? Where are the autopsies?

Triathlete, 27, Becomes 5th Toronto Area Doctor To Die In July (TSun)

The fifth GTA doctor to die in July “radiated positivity” and “lived a vibrant and active life.” But what the world lost in the sudden and tragic death of Dr. Candace Nayman was a woman who had dedicated her life to the health of children. The 27-year-old, who was a resident doctor at McMaster Children Hospital in Hamilton, collapsed while swimming as she competed in a triathlon on Sunday. She subsequently died on Thursday. Friends kept an around-the-clock prayer vigil for the much-loved Nayman who lost her fight and, at her request, had her organs donated to help others.She was “the loving daughter of Nicole and Gary, and the sister of Lauren, her twin, and Maurice, as well as partner to Seth Kadish,” reads an obituary on the Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel.

A triathlete, Dr. Nayman routinely commented on social media about her love of training and racing. “Candace Brooke Nayman passed away Thursday, July 28, 2022 competing and doing what she loved,” her obituary states. Family, friends and peers gathered Thursday for her funeral, which has not only shaken her family but rocked the already shaken medicine fraternity. “Everyone in the pediatrics department here at McMaster University and McMaster Children’s Hospital is devastated by the loss of Dr. Candace Nayman.” said Dr. Angelo Mikrogianakis, the chief of pediatrics at Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “Candace was an aspiring pediatrician who exemplified hard work, radiated positivity, lived a vibrant and active life, and had a positive impact on her fellow residents, colleagues, faculty and patients.”


[..] Four other local doctors have died this summer. Trillium Partners staff physicians Dr. Jakub Sawicki, Dr. Stephen McKenzie and Dr. Lorne Segall died last week, just days after the tragic death of North York General Hospital’s Dr. Paul Hannam, an Olympian who died during a run at 50 years old. In all four cases, their hospitals made it clear their deaths “were not related to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

6 Canadian doctors

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Zuckerbucks.

Meta from 5th Most Valuable Stock to 11th In 10 Months. $647 Billion Lost (WS)

Despite the rally on Friday, the shares of Meta Platforms lost more ground, falling 1.0% to $159.10 at the close, and more after-hours, same price where the shares had first been on July 13, 2017. Five years of nothing, with an exciting roller-coaster-ride in between. Four years and two months up, 10 months down. Since the peak in September 2021, the shares have plunged 59%. Meta still doesn’t qualify for my growing list of Imploded Stocks, for which the minimum requirement is a 70% plunge from the peak, but it’s working hard to get there (data via YCharts):

The market value plunged from $1.077 trillion in September to $431 billion today. So, $647 billion have vanished in 10 months. This is no biggie obviously because people who bought the shares at the IPO for $38, and thereby participated in the biggest tech IPO in US history at the time, still made 318% at today’s price, and the shares could fall another 50%, and they’d still make a ton of money. Those who bought in 2021, OK, win some, lose some. And this dump in market cap caused something else to happen over the past two days: While other stocks surged, Meta fell out of the top 10 most valuable companies in the US, into 11th place, behind Visa (data via YCharts):

Back in September 2021, Meta, with a market cap of $1.077 trillion, was the fifth most valuable stock by market cap in the US. Easy come, easy go (data via YCharts):

Despite the summer rally, the Nasdaq composite is still down 23.6% from the peak in November, and lots of stocks slid, skidded, and plunged, and this re-arranged the deck a little among the top 11, but left the top four in the same position. There are a host of reasons for Meta’s plunge, including that the shares should have never shot up in this crazy manner in the first place. But hey, this was the pandemic, the Fed was printing money hand over fist, the Fed’s interest rates were near 0% even as inflation had begun to rage, and nothing mattered, everything shot higher. To the moon!

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Tamara Lich

 

 

Dutch farmer

 

 

Holland

 

 

It would be good if the farmers, or someone else, can keep the WEF forum out of Holland.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Jul 112022
 
 July 11, 2022  Posted by at 9:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  44 Responses »


Salvador Dali Remorse, or Sphinx Embedded In Sand 1931

 

Destroying the “Mother of All Proxy Armies” in Ukraine (Will Schryver)
The ‘Rape Russia’ Plan Backfires (VIlches)
Ukraine Military Used Nursing Home Residents as Human Shields (CTH)
Uber Broke Laws, Duped Police And Secretly Lobbied Governments (G.)
Macron At Centre Of Uber Files Investigation (EurActiv)
Former EU Digital Chief Secretly Helped Uber Lobby Rutte (G.)
J6 Committee Member Says Cipollone “Did Not Contradict” Hutchinson (Turley)
EU Climate Change Goals Will Reduce Farm Production (CTH)
WaPo, NYT Go For Biden Blood In Scathing Moment Of Honesty (ZH)
Biden’s Mental Decay (Techno Fog)
4chan Users Claim Hack of Hunter Biden’s iCloud Account (JTN)
Towards a Theory of Corona Evolution (Eugyp)
Turkey Eyes Half Of The Aegean Sea, The Islands And Crete (KTG)

 

 

 

 

Uninformed Consent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lincoln, Putin, von Clausewitz.

Destroying the “Mother of All Proxy Armies” in Ukraine (Will Schryver)

Much as the vast majority of current western military “experts” have been fixated on conquering “territory” as a measure of progress, or the lack thereof, Lincoln’s early generals were illogically focused on the objective of “taking Richmond” – the capital of the Confederacy. This obsession dominated the strategic focus of the Union high command for most of the war. Lincoln, on the other hand – notwithstanding there is no evidence he ever read von Clausewitz – intuitively and correctly understood that it was not a city, nor any piece of territory, per se, that was the objective upon which his West Point-trained generals should focus. Rather, he repeatedly (and vainly) urged his generals to come to understand it was the destruction of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, that constituted the only valid objective of their actions.

Lincoln’s frustration with this lack of understanding on the part of his generals reached its zenith after the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg when, despite having Lee’s defeated and demoralized army trapped on the north side of the Potomac River, Union General George Meade permitted it to escape. Lincoln was beside himself when he learned Lee had effected a crossing of the river with all his troops, and was able to regroup once again. Fortunately, in March 1864 Lincoln finally found the general he had been looking for: Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was given supreme command of the Union armies, and from that point until the end of the war he made his sole objective the engagement and destruction of Lee’s army. The subsequent series of battles became known as the Overland Campaign, with both armies maneuvering southward from one bloody engagement to the next.

Grant made several tactical errors and suffered inordinate casualties on multiple occasions. He could have even finally “taken Richmond”, and thereby secured a strategically meaningless “victory”, but he ignored the opportunity to do so. Grant’s focus never varied from its singular objective: to destroy the enemy army. He sought every chance to engage it. If he lost a particular battle, he simply disengaged momentarily, and then moved to flank the Confederates yet again, forcing another engagement of forces. This relentless series of battles and maneuvers finally culminated in Lee’s army seeking refuge in a massive complex of field fortifications and earthworks outside Petersburg, Virginia. From that point, highly accurate Union rifled artillery systematically ripped them to pieces for months, ultimately forcing Lee’s surrender, and the end of the war.

This has been precisely the Russian mentality in Ukraine. Their foremost objective, from the very beginning, as explicitly articulated by President Vladimir Putin in his historic speech of February 24, 2022, was to “demilitarize” Ukraine – to destroy its army. When the war began, the most capable, experienced, well-armed, and well-positioned Ukrainian forces were NOT in Kiev, but in the Donbass and Mariupol. They had been positioning there for months, with the ultimate objective of retaking the Donbass and Crimea – a goal never far from the minds of Ukraine’s ideological and political leaders. Indeed, they spoke of it openly and without qualification.

They strongly believed the strength of their armed forces, after eight years of preparation, had reached a point where it was capable of actually achieving that objective. Their benefactors in NATO encouraged them to believe this – for it was also NATO’s fondest dream to raise its banners over the naval base at Sevastopol, and thereby wield dominance over the entire Black Sea and the Bosporus. Pursuant to this and many other geostrategic objectives – arresting Russian resurgence foremost among them – NATO had been providing arms to Ukraine for years, and those arms shipments were expanded and accelerated dramatically in late 2021.

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“The war in the Ukraine will be short, not long.”

The ‘Rape Russia’ Plan Backfires (Vilches)

The war in the Ukraine will be short, not long. Contrary to what today´s Western casino politicians and MSM talking heads tell us to expect, come 2023 — or even before – Europeans will no longer withstand the tremendous burden that their ´Russian sanctions´ bear upon themselves, not Russia. European public opinion has become ever louder and impatient in this respect and EU politicians are getting cold feet without any solution at hand, just babble. No plan, none, no foresight… only incongruent foolish G-7 ideas such as establishing a buyer´s price cap cartel for oil & gas in a seller´s market which will never get to see the light of day. And despite some minor losses, these sanctions will continue to leave the Russian Federation basically unscathed and just collecting ever-larger revenues – due to higher induced prices — for smaller volumes of exports delivered.

This benefits Russia in two ways (a) getting paid more by producing less while saving the difference for future sales (b) it allows to finance Russia´s attrition-war strategy forever while Europeans will very soon crawl and beg for a solution to their own unbearable “Russian sanctions”. NATO knows this. So another possibility is that the necessarily short Ukraine war goes nuclear, be it because there is no other way for NATO to possibly win or because Russia is once again forced to attack due to constantly-repeated large-caliber direct NATO-orchestrated threats. More on both possibilities later, and even a third regarding Europe´s further vassalization and possible rape. Either way, any way – it´s worth repeating – the Ukraine war will be short. And even the Davos crowd – after dragging its feet for way too long — has finally accepted that the West is now losing and that Russia is winning in all fronts.


Be it militarily, geo-politically, strategically, financially, economics or logistics… despite all forecasts and plans made, Russia was better at it and today is obviously defeating NATO all around. True enough, today Russia does not fully control world food supplies nor all of the world´s energy, but in that respect, Russia does hold a “unique, essential and indispensable” role – sounds familiar, doesn´t it? – better than anyone around, surely regarding Europe today, correct? And concerning the control of the very last factor of this essential trifecta, namely money, well it’s definitely a Russian + Chinese + BRICS “work-in-progress” project with a complete 180 degrees re-definition of what “real money” shall be while de-throning today´s be-all and end-all petro-dollar. This would plain do away with SWIFT + Bretton Nothing + the all-American softie jazz such as the Federal Reserve which is as “Federal” as Federal Express and has zero “reserves” of anything, just legions of un-funded liabilities and un-payable debts plus piles of worthless electronic bits and bytes.

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“The Ukrainians placed those people in a situation which was a killing zone. And you can’t do that.”

Ukraine Military Used Nursing Home Residents as Human Shields (CTH)

A quietly released study from the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner [See Here pdf] looking into allegations of war crimes conducted during the Ukraine -vs- Russia conflict, specifically looked into allegations of Russian military targeting a nursing home facility in the eastern region of Luhansk. What the UN investigation revealed was that Ukraine military soldiers had intentionally used the nursing home as an active base to launch military strikes against Russian forces. The Associated Press was forced to reveal, “Ukraine’s armed forces bear a large, and perhaps equal, share of the blame for what happened in Stara Krasnyanka, which is about 580 kilometers (360 miles) southeast of Kyiv. A few days before the attack, Ukrainian soldiers took up positions inside the nursing home, effectively making the building a target.”

The issue of the Ukraine military, intentionally and with purposeful forethought, using civilian locations to embed their military units, highlights the inherent dangers associated with western propaganda during the conflict. In fact, the effort to create civilian casualties seems more purposeful as a strategy to gain western media support and create stories that can be used to advance sympathy toward Ukraine, even if it means putting their own civilians in harm’s way. (Via AP) […] ” The report by the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights doesn’t conclude the Ukrainian soldiers or the Russian troops committed a war crime. But it said the battle at the Stara Krasnyanka nursing home is emblematic of the human rights office’s concerns over the potential use of “human shields” to prevent military operations in certain areas.


The aftermath of the attack on the Stara Krasnyanka home also provides a window into how both Russia and Ukraine move quickly to set the narrative for how events are unfolding on the ground — even when those events may still be shrouded by the fog of war. For Ukraine, maintaining the upper hand in the fight for hearts and minds helps to ensure the continued flow of billions of dollars in Western military and humanitarian aid. […] David Crane, a former Defense Department official and a veteran of numerous international war crime investigations, said the Ukrainian forces may have violated the laws of armed conflict by not evacuating the nursing home’s residents and staff. “The bottom-line rule is that civilians cannot intentionally be targeted. Period. For whatever reason,” Crane said. “The Ukrainians placed those people in a situation which was a killing zone. And you can’t do that.”

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It’s a crying shame that these leaked files come through the Guardian, since this is what Julian Assange does best. But even then. This should be the end of the careers of Macron, Rutte and lots of others. Thing is, it won’t be. Because the system has rotted along with these people.

Uber Broke Laws, Duped Police And Secretly Lobbied Governments (G.)

A leaked trove of confidential files has revealed the inside story of how the tech giant Uber flouted laws, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments during its aggressive global expansion. The unprecedented leak to the Guardian of more than 124,000 documents – known as the Uber files – lays bare the ethically questionable practices that fuelled the company’s transformation into one of Silicon Valley’s most famous exports. The leak spans a five-year period when Uber was run by its co-founder Travis Kalanick, who tried to force the cab-hailing service into cities around the world, even if that meant breaching laws and taxi regulations. During the fierce global backlash, the data shows how Uber tried to shore up support by discreetly courting prime ministers, presidents, billionaires, oligarchs and media barons.

Leaked messages suggest Uber executives were at the same time under no illusions about the company’s law-breaking, with one executive joking they had become “pirates” and another conceding: “We’re just fucking illegal.” The cache of files, which span 2013 to 2017, includes more than 83,000 emails, iMessages and WhatsApp messages, including often frank and unvarnished communications between Kalanick and his top team of executives. In one exchange, Kalanick dismissed concerns from other executives that sending Uber drivers to a protest in France put them at risk of violence from angry opponents in the taxi industry. “I think it’s worth it,” he shot back. “Violence guarantee[s] success.” In a statement, Kalanick’s spokesperson said he “never suggested that Uber should take advantage of violence at the expense of driver safety” and any suggestion he was involved in such activity would be completely false.

The leak also contains texts between Kalanick and Emmanuel Macron, who secretly helped the company in France when he was economy minister, allowing Uber frequent and direct access to him and his staff. Macron, the French president, appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to help Uber, even telling the company he had brokered a secret “deal” with its opponents in the French cabinet. Privately, Uber executives expressed barely disguised disdain for other elected officials who were who were less receptive to the company’s business model. After the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who was mayor of Hamburg at the time, pushed back against Uber lobbyists and insisted on paying drivers a minimum wage, an executive told colleagues he was “a real comedian”.

When the then US vice-president, Joe Biden, a supporter of Uber at the time, was late to a meeting with the company at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Kalanick texted a colleague: “I’ve had my people let him know that every minute late he is, is one less minute he will have with me.”

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It smells of WEF here.

Macron At Centre Of Uber Files Investigation (EurActiv)

French President Emmanuel Macron backed the economic development of US company Uber in France and signed a secret “deal” when he was economy minister between 2014 to 2016, an international media investigation known as the “Uber Files” published on Sunday reveals. The investigation is based on 124,000 confidential internal Uber documents leaked to the UK newspaper The Guardian. Forty other international newspapers, including French newspaper Le Monde and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), also took part in the analysis of documents. According to the investigation, Macron signed a secret “deal” with Uber to “make France work for Uber so that Uber can work in and for France,” which Le Monde called a “simple exchange”.


He did so when tensions between taxi and ride-sharing companies were at an all-time high in the country. Macron promised “a drastic simplification of the legal requirements” to obtain a ride-sharing licence following French courts’ decision to deem UberPop, one of the car-hailing company’s European brands, illegal in 2015 after lawmakers adopted the so-called Taxi Law, Le Monde reported. Macron went so far as to “almost apologise” to Uber after lawmakers adopted the bill, according to an internal Uber memo seen by Le Monde. According to the international investigation, Macron intervened on behalf of Uber while the French anti-fraud authority investigated Uber’s business practices and model. Macron is also said to have suggested to Uber “to prepare bill amendments ahead of time” that he would then transfer to MP allies.

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The EU should sue her. It won’t.

Former EU Digital Chief Secretly Helped Uber Lobby Rutte (G.)

The European Commission is facing calls to launch an inquiry into its former vice-president Neelie Kroes, after leaked files suggested she secretly helped Uber lobby the Netherlands prime minister, Mark Rutte, and a string of other national Dutch politicians. Uber considered its relationship with Kroes so sensitive that the company’s top European lobbyist repeatedly instructed colleagues to keep it hidden, warning in 2015 that it was “highly confidential and should not be discussed outside this group”. Kroes says she did nothing wrong, adding that her role as a special envoy for tech companies meant it was her job to speak to politicians about nascent firms in the sector. But transparency experts said the covert help Kroes seemingly provided the cab-hailing app – which was under criminal investigation in the Netherlands at that time – may have breached EU ethics rules.

“This case should be urgently investigated so that lessons can be learned,” said Vicky Cann, at the Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels NGO that monitors lobbying. The details of Kroes secretly assisting the California tech group are contained within the Uber files, a hoard of 124,000 records leaked to the Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and media partners in 30 countries. The data appears to show Kroes, who had been the EU’s top official on internet policy, offering to arrange a series of meetings for Uber during her 18-month “cooling-off period” after leaving the commission. The cooling-off period aims to reduce conflicts of interest by restricting the jobs commissioners can take once they have stepped down. In Kroes’s case it ran from November 2014 until May 2016, when it was announced she was joining Uber’s public policy advisory board.


For this, she was paid $200,000 a year, the documents suggest. Despite a commission ban on taking that role before May 2016, Kroes spoke to Dutch government ministers about Uber and offered to set up talks with senior EU officials, according to the leaked files. And when Uber’s Amsterdam headquarters were raided by police in the spring of 2015, Kroes called Dutch government ministers to get regulators to “back off” as she “harassed” a top civil servant, internal Uber emails claim. Uber’s desire to have Kroes onboard was understandable. She was one of the EU’s most powerful policymakers, and a fan of the cab-hailing service. As a serving commissioner in April 2014, Kroes put her name to a strident blogpost attacking a decision by a Brussels court to ban the app, describing the move as “crazy” and designed to protect “a taxi cartel”.

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But the head of the Oath Keepers is even more interesting. He “has offered to testify, an extraordinary move since he is facing criminal charges.”

J6 Committee Member Says Cipollone “Did Not Contradict” Hutchinson (Turley)

There is a new controversy over the alleged bias of the J6 Committee and the extreme measures used to avoid alternative or conflicting accounts. On Friday, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the House select committee, declared that former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone “did not contradict” the testimony of previous witnesses like Cassidy Hutchinson. However, the New York Times is reporting that he was not asked about statements that the Committee knew he would contradict. The controversy comes at a time when the head of the Oath Keepers has offered to testify, an extraordinary move since he is facing criminal charges.

However, he has one big demand: it must be live and in public. In other words, it cannot be edited or tailored by the Committee. Lofgren told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer “Mr. Cipollone did appear voluntarily and answer a whole variety of questions. He did not contradict the testimony of other witnesses. And I think we did learn a few things, which we will be rolling out in the hearings to come.” The contradictions with Hutchinson are important after other witnesses contesting her account on the most sensational points. This brings us back to the offer of Stewart Rhodes to testify live. That is an extraordinary offer for a criminal defendant. No(w) defense lawyer (including this one) would support such an appearance before a criminal trial.


If the Committee is truly interested in getting to the truth, why wouldn’t it hold an open hearing. It has suggested that Trump was in collusion or a conspiracy with this group. It also alleged that the Oath Keepers came to Washington to commit an armed insurrection. We could now, for the first time, hear from one of the leaders of the two groups on that very subject. It would ideally allow him to make an opening statement and offer a full account on whether he coordinated with anyone in the White House on January 6th. If Rhodes is willing to take this risk, the Committee should be willing to give up control over what the public can see and hear in the J6 investigation.

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“Supposed massive protest action in the Netherlands today turned out to be a hoax, to pull police officers out all across the country and further demoralize them. Meanwhile, farmers were able to stay home and maintain their farms so that they can continue through the week.”

EU Climate Change Goals Will Reduce Farm Production (CTH)

It’s not just Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte pushing the agenda, in 2020 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave an identical outline, with an identical timeline, for the exact same process [SEE HERE]. The collective WEF political leaders are all singing from the same hymnal. In this discussion and interview segment, the spokesperson for Netherlands, Agricultural and Horticultural Organization Wytse Sonnema, outlines why there is such a broad sense of “frustration, anger, even despair” amongst farmers amid proposals for nitrogen reduction target plans. This will be coming to North America soon.

[..] It is a simple matter of math that if North American and European farmers are forced by climate policy to reduce their food production, there will be a shortage of food. There will be a significant gap between the food needed and the new climate driven limits on commercial food production. This intentional curtailing of food production, that creates the purposeful shortage of food, is where Bill Gates, the WEF and the synthetic meat and bugs for food advocates enter the picture. It appears the plan is to replace the missing global calories by changing the food supply. Changing what and how people eat. Lab grown (synthetic) meat, nut/soy milk to replace dairy and bugs being used as replacements for protein sources are three approaches advocated by the climate change advocates that you are likely familiar with.

However, as we saw in the pandemic response to food consumption, there is going to be a massive problem as the WEF attempts to shift food delivery within their Great Reset. Think of the United States like a massive global farm and in this context the parallels between the U.S. and the Netherlands are quite remarkable. Specifically, because of advancements in farming over the past two decades the United States food production has increased massively. The same is true for North America as a whole with Mexico and Canada included. Industrial farming advancements have made it possible to export billions of tons of food every year from our farms in North America to the rest of the world.

The Dutch farmers are like the U.S. farmers in their high productivity. In fact, the Netherlands is the second biggest agriculture and food exporter in the world. Even with a small population of 17 million people, the Netherlands has consistently been among the top contenders in the food export market {LINK}. The reason is simple, they are good at it. Dutch farmers, like American farmers, are excellent at producing food. The Netherlands is one of the largest countries in the world when it comes to the export of agricultural goods such as meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. Unfortunately, this is why the climate change activists in the World Economic Forum have targeted them.

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“The New York Times and Washington Post suddenly discover that Biden is old and frail on the exact same day.”

WaPo, NYT Go For Biden Blood In Scathing Moment Of Honesty (ZH)

Over the past month or so, mainstream media has overtly abandoned President Biden – the man they relentlessly shilled for during the 2020 election as the establishment went to extreme measures to unseat Donald Trump. After months of gentile distancing, the media’s come-to-Jesus finally happened after the White House ‘botched’ the response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. CNN published an article last Wednesday titled: “After string of Supreme Court setbacks, Democrats wonder whether Biden White House is capable of urgency moment demands.” Ouch! “Rudderless, aimless and hopeless” is how one member of Congress described the White House. Two dozen leading Democratic politicians and operatives, as well as several within the West Wing, tell CNN they feel this goes deeper than questions of ideology and posture. Instead, they say, it gets to questions of basic management.” -CNN

Fast forward to Saturday, and both the New York Times and the Washington Post have taken serious shots at Biden. The Post built on CNN’s article – slamming the White House’s “struggle to respond” to the abortion ruling, writing that “Many Democrats were dismayed by his slow-footed response.” ” For many Democrats, however, it was too little and too late — just one more example over the two weeks in which Biden and his team struggled to come up with a muscular plan of action on abortion rights, even though the Supreme Court ruling had been presaged two months earlier with the leak of a draft opinion.” -WaPo The New York Times straight-up suggested Biden is too old to govern – writing that his team ‘delayed his Middle East trip so the 79-year-old president would have more time to rest’ following last month’s Europe/NATO meetings.


Some excerpts: “managing the schedule of the oldest president in American history presents distinct challenges.” “Polls show many Americans consider Mr. Biden too old, and some Democratic strategists do not think he should run again.” “They acknowledged Mr. Biden looks older than just a few years ago…” “His energy level, while impressive for a man of his age, is not what it was, and some aides quietly watch out for him. He often shuffles when he walks, and aides worry he will trip on a wire. He stumbles over words during public events, and they hold their breath to see if he makes it to the end without a gaffe.” “His speeches can be flat and listless. He sometimes loses his train of thought, has trouble summoning names or appears momentarily confused. More than once, he has promoted Vice President Kamala Harris, calling her “President Harris.””

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“The New York Times has found experts that “put Mr. Biden in a category of ‘super-agers’ who remain unusually fit as they advance in years.”

Biden’s Mental Decay (Techno Fog)

One can imagine the emergency meeting of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, et al. They’re already dealing with record inflation, a tanking stock market, and the economy on a verge of a recession. What do they say to that? They claim the US is “stronger economically than we have been in history,” And now they’re left with this mess to clean up. They’re probably thankful, in a way. Another Biden public screw-up is a welcome relief compared to addressing formula shortages. They’ve handled his gaffes before. To the rescue was Assistant White House Press Secretary Emilie Simons to cover for her boss. She falsified Biden’s statement, begging the public to ignore the words from Biden’s mouth. @EmilieSimons46: “No. He said, “let me repeat that line.”

The official White House website has doubled-down on the denial of reality, making up words that were never said to protect a President who may not be able to remember what he had for breakfast. This isn’t Biden’s first public embarrassment, and it certainly won’t be his last. Those who have been paying close attention know they’re a regular occurrence. There will be another one in a few days. His public appearances are, for the most part, heavily scripted and before a friendly audience. Say a few words and talk to some folks before making an exit. And President Biden isn’t up to the challenge, vanquished by the easiest parts of his presidency.

[..] The troubling thing is that most of the presidency is off-script. How do you address inflation and families being priced-out of groceries when you struggle through a press conference? How do you formulate a strategy about China or Russia when you rely on a cheat sheet for a 5-minute meeting? Make no mistake, Biden’s senility is one of the biggest stories in the world. The media’s silence on this matter is telling. Never before has the press tried to so hard to ignore so big a story (I venture this is bigger than Hunter’s laptop), as they’re afraid of what a correct assessment of Biden’s facilities might reveal. Ask whether Dementia-in-Chief is a threat to national security or economic recovery.

Also revealing is the media’s attempts to explain-away or otherwise repackage Biden’s mental and physical deficiencies. Peter Baker, writing for The New York Times, says Biden’s “age has increasingly become an uncomfortable issue for him, his team and his party.” Of course, Biden’s age isn’t the issue per se – it’s Biden’s mind. “Age” is just The New York Times’ way of being polite, of serving the Biden Administration. [..] But – if you have any concerns about Biden’s health or acuity – don’t worry. The New York Times has found experts that “put Mr. Biden in a category of ‘super-agers’ who remain unusually fit as they advance in years.”

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How much longer does Joe have?

4chan Users Claim Hack of Hunter Biden’s iCloud Account (JTN)

A trove of alleged messages and photos from Hunter Biden’s phone was posted by users of the website 4chan on Saturday night after they claimed to have hacked the first son’s iCloud account. Moderators on 4chan quickly removed the content, The Washington Examiner reported, but users keep reposting the materials on the anonymous image board. The content could not be verified by Just the News, but 4chan users posted alleged images of text messages involving drug use, money transfers, guns and even a screenshot of what appears to be President Joe Biden’s personal phone number, under the contact “Pedo Peter.” One user even posted Hunter Biden’s allegedly inappropriate search history. “4chan has already created torrents for the Hunter Biden iPhone and iCloud backups and are now seeding them.

That means even if 4chan gets shut down the copies will still be out there,” Human Events Senior Editor Jack Posobiec wrote on Twitter shortly after the reported leak. “The Anarchist Handbook” author Michael Malice wrote: “The #4chan Hunter Biden dox sure reminds me, a dinosaur, of how @DRUDGE became a household name reporting on Monica Lewinsky while the corporate press was trying to look the other way (and then twisted themselves in pretzels wondering whether and how to acknowledge him). “I dont know how the corporate press, which reduces Pride month to mimosas, kissing and walking around shirtless, is going to report on Hunter having his Dad stored in his contacts as Pedo Peter. There’s too much there for them to integrate it into their narrative,” he said.


“Can we talk about how Biden is polling as the least popular president of all time and also that his son refers to him as Pedo Peter?” The Post Millennial’s Ian Miles Cheong said on Twitter. The alleged nickname “Pedo Peter” comes after Joe Biden asked his son to call him using the pseudonym “Peter Henderson,” a fictional KGB spy in Tom Clancy novels, The New York Post reported. The leak comes shortly after a leaked video from Hunter Biden’s laptop allegedly shows him smoking and drinking naked at a detox program after asking his father for money to help him pay for rehab.

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“As soon as we imposed lockdowns and started testing everybody, though, mortality spiked.”

Towards a Theory of Corona Evolution (Eugyp)

Remember that SARS-2 arrived in Europe no later than November 2019, and in America no later than December 2019. The West saw multiple months of community Corona transmission, in other words, without anybody noticing that anything was amiss. Hospitals remained as empty or as full as ever. As soon as we imposed lockdowns and started testing everybody, though, mortality spiked. These containment procedures involved nothing so much as identifying Corona patients and putting as many of them as possible in environments favouring attendant-borne transmission – from Corona testing centres to hospitals. And as the mass containment regime continued through 2021, SARS-2 began evolving towards greater virulence, as nosocomial and nursing home infections came to dominate the case statistics almost everywhere.


Omicron, whatever its origins, broke this dynamic. Unlike prior SARS-2 lineages, this is a classic direct-contact respiratory pathogen. With the advent of Omicron, Corona no longer spreads preferentially in healthcare institutions, and behaves much more like a mild flu or the common cold, with an emphasis on keeping its hosts healthy and mobile. The worst thing we could do, from an evolutionary perspective, is continue the mass containment regime. We want to keep SARS-2 circulating via direct contact in the community. All such respiratory viruses, despite their stark differences, have been subject to the same convergent evolution, with remarkably similar effects on their human hosts. We must stop intervening in matters we don’t understand, or we’ll just continue our recent history, of always making everything worse.

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Time for NATO to act.

Turkey Eyes Half Of The Aegean Sea, The Islands And Crete (KTG)

Talking about state extremism: Turkey wants half of the Aegean Sea including all islands in the East, the whole Dodecanese as well as the island of Crete. Erdogan’s government partner, far-right nationalist Devlet Bahceli (MHP) presented on Saturday a map of Turkey’s revisionist plan called “Blue Motherland” extended to a new extreme. The presentation took place at the headquarters of terrorist, neo-fascist organization “Grey Wolves“, the militant wing of Behceli’s “Nationalist Movemnt Party” (MHP). The map was presented to the party leader by the Grey Wolves president Ahmet Yigit Yildirim as a …gift.. Islands of the North, Eastern and South Aegean such as Lesvos, Chios all of the Dodecanese including Rhodes as well as the whole island of Crete are marked ‘red’ as the whole of Turkey.


The President of the fascist Grey Wolves org Yildirim presents to his leader ultranationalist Bahceli partner of Erdogan’s Govt, a new map expanding further the claims of Turkey on Greece’ s land & seas It presents eastern Aegean islands, sea & Crete as Turkish!

It should be noted that Bahceli has often threatened to go to the extreme regarding Greece. It should also recall that president Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented Turkey’s plan called “Blue Motherland” in September 2019. [..] Commenting on the map, Greece’s diplomatic sources said that “the public presentation of a map by top officials of the party that is a government ally in Turkey and which depicts Greek territory as Turkish, is a particularly aggressive and provocative action and is absolutely condemnable.” “Unfortunately, it is part of the escalation of extreme rhetoric from Turkey that we witness on a daily basis. We expect the immediate categorical and public disapproval of this unacceptable act of questioning the territorial sovereignty of our country,”. the diplomatic sources stressed.


A few hours earlier, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had fired new threats against Greece saying that “Ankara has a plan to defend its rights and interests in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, which it will implement in different phases and stages.” “We will not allow our rights to be trampled upon, nor will we allow them to be done away with. We repeat this. This is what our president said. We’re not kidding. Do not attempt any adventure like spoiled brats, relying on others. Come like people let’s sit down and talk,” Akar said.

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George Webb “We told you Ukraine, #Kolomoisky, and puppet #Zelensky were going to go Bank of International Settlements on the west for the shakedown for “reconstruction” funds. Now the proof. $750B!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 252019
 
 January 25, 2019  Posted by at 10:59 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Giuseppe Arcimboldo Four elements – Fire 1566

 

Trump, Pence, Pompeo Star In The Pirates Of The Caribbean (Galloway)
US Pulls Out Venezuela Staff, Urges Americans to Leave (G.)
Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó Offers Nicolás Maduro Amnesty If He Goes Quietly (G.)
US Seeks To Divert Crucial Oil Revenue From Maduro (Ind.)
Don’t Criticize Trump — We Need Him, Dutch Prime Minister Says (CNBC)
UK Firms Ramp Up Stockpiling Due To Brexit Disruption Fears (Ind.)
UK MPs Drop Plan To Table Cross-Party ‘People’s Vote’ Amendment (G.)
The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution (Ellen Brown)
Davos Elites Fear They’re On A Toboggan Ride To Hell (Pol.eu)
CO2 Levels Expected To Rise Rapidly In 2019 (Ind.)

 

 

Yes, Jimmy Carter once called Venezuela’s election process “the best in the world” when he was there as an observer. But in March 2018, the opposition called on the UN not to send any observers as that would only legitimize the process. So now the US picks an unelected puppet.

Trump, Pence, Pompeo Star In The Pirates Of The Caribbean (Galloway)

Even though Chavez was one of the most electorally successful politicians on the planet in a democratic process described by former US president Jimmy Carter as “the best in the world,” US presidents Bush, Obama and Trump routinely called him a dictator. Before they drop the bombs, they drop the narrative, of course. And the disinformation bombardment in Venezuela has been one of the longest bombing runs in history. Massive sums of US money have been spent on media distortion, subversion, sabotage, military coups, and threats of invasion throughout the Chavez-Maduro era. The gold-toothed Venezuelan emigres who fled to Miami with their ill-gotten gains have long been effectively a coup in the making.

The recruitment of neighboring Colombia into “associate membership” of NATO, the propeling of Brazil’s Bolsonaro (another NATO applicant) to power, and plans for US military bases there have all been in preparation for this day. Although many such crimes have been committed across all continents for centuries by the US, none have constituted such comic-opera gangsterism as this latest – more ‘Bugsy Malone’ than ‘The Godfather.’ An almost random figure whose name was largely unknown until this week has disdained to put himself up for election as president of the republic, instead pronouncing himself to actually be the president, and has even sworn himself in! All the “experts” on Syria, Ukraine and Russia are scrambling to studios, practicing in the taxi how to say his name.

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Most Americans would be working in the oil industry. Sure, let them leave. And then watch prices at the pump.

US Pulls Out Venezuela Staff, Urges Americans to Leave (G.)

The US state department has urged its citizens to “strongly consider” leaving Venezuela and ordered out non-emergency government staff as the head of the country’s armed forces warned of a civil war sparked by a US-backed “criminal plan” to unseat Nicolás Maduro. In a live address to the nation on Thursday, the defence minister, Vladimir Padrino, accused the Venezuelan opposition led by Juan Guaidó, the United States and regional allies such as Brazil of launching an attempted coup against Maduro that risked bringing “chaos and anarchy” to the country. “We are here to avoid, at all costs … a conflict between Venezuelans. It is not civil war, a war between brothers that will solve the problems of Venezuela. It is dialogue,” said Padrino.

In a significant blow to Venezuela’s newly energized opposition, the defence minister declared unwavering support for “our commander-in-chief, the citizen Nicolás Maduro”. “We members of the armed forces know well the consequences [of war], just from looking at the history of humanity, of the last century, when millions and millions of human beings lost their lives,” Padrino added, flanked by the top brass of Venezuela’s armed forces. Further bolstering Maduro’s position, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, spoke to the Venezuelan leader by telephone and issued his first comments on the crisis, which he insisted was “provoked from abroad”, according to a Kremlin statement.

On Thursday night, Guaidó used his first TV interview since the crisis to offer Maduro and his inner circle amnesty if they agreed to a peaceful transition. The 35-year-old said he was determined to bring Maduro’s “dictatorship” to an end, stabilise his economically devastated nation and organise free elections “as soon as possible”.

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He went into hiding before making his offer. C’mon, let’s get serious. A mini-coup failed miserably, the army stands pat, time for a fresh story to fill the papers.

Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó Offers Nicolás Maduro Amnesty If He Goes Quietly (G.)

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro, and his inner circle could be granted an amnesty if he agrees to relinquish power and submit to a peaceful political transition, his opposition challenger Juan Guaidó has said. In a high-stakes political gamble, Guaidó on Wednesday declared himself Venezuela’s legitimate interim president and was quickly recognised as such by powers including the United States, Brazil, Canada and Colombia. On Thursday British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said his government believed Guaidó was “the right person to take Venezuela forward” but China, Russia and Turkey all backed Maduro, who claims he is the victim of a coup attempt masterminded by the US. The US state department has now urged US citizens to “strongly consider” leaving Venezuela and ordered out non-emergency government staff.

[Guaidó] indicated Maduro – who was sworn in for his second six-year term on 10 January despite a storm of international condemnation – could himself be offered an amnesty if he agreed to step aside. “This amnesty, these guarantees are on the table for everyone who is prepared to put themselves on the side of the constitution in order to recover the democratic order,” he said. “In periods of transition similar things have happened [before],” Guaidó told the broadcaster Univisión, pointing to previous pardons in Chile and Venezuela in the 1970s and 1950s. “We cannot discount any element,” he added, insisting that such a move would not represent either impunity or forgetting.

Maduro – who has vowed to resist what he calls a “gringo” plot to unseat him – has given little public hint he will accept such an offer although addressing the supreme court in Caracas on Thursday he insisted: “I’m ready for dialogue, for understanding, for negotation, for agreement.” However, in the same speech Maduro also attacked Guaidó, accusing him of being a pawn in a US-backed plot to destroy the leftist Bolivarian revolution he inherited after Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013. “Will we legitimise a puppet government imposed from abroad? We will allow our constitution to be violated … ? No!” said Maduro, blaming what he branded an attempted coup on Donald Trump’s “madness”.

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See what I said on CITGO yesterday.

US Seeks To Divert Crucial Oil Revenue From Maduro (Ind.)

Mr Trump’s national security adviser, the hawkish John Bolton, revealed the US was seeking to ensure Venezuelan oil revenue goes to Mr Guaido, and not Mr Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term just two weeks ago following an election most of the opposition boycotted. If the US were able to enact such a move it would add further pressure to the embattled Venezuelan leader, whose country’s already ailing economy heavily depends on its oil revenues. “What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the sources of his revenues,” Mr Bolton told reporters at the White House, according to Reuters. “We think [it is] consistent with our recognition of Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela that those revenues should go to the legitimate government.”

Of potentially vital importance, earlier on Thursday, the nation’s military leadership declared its support for Mr Maduro and told the US not to interfere. In a televised speech on Thursday, defence minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said Mr Maduro was the country’s “legitimate president” and that the opposition was seeking to carry out a “coup”. “I warn the people that there is a coup underway against our democracy and our president Nicolas Maduro,” Mr Padrino said, according to Telesur. “As soldiers, we work for peace and not for war.” He added: “Those of us who lived through the coup of 2002 have it etched into our minds, we never thought we’d see that again, but we saw it yesterday.

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Rutte’s been in office for so long he gets to have an own view.

Don’t Criticize Trump — We Need Him, Dutch Prime Minister Says (CNBC)

President Donald Trump has found support from an unlikely source in Europe — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte — who told CNBC that the president could be a catalyst for much-needed reforms. “The U.S. has voted and Trump is the president and maybe he will be re-elected … So we have to work with him, and I think he is an opportunity,” Rutte told CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “He is an opportunity to make changes to some of those multilateral institutions that we hold dearly, like the World Trade Organization (WTO) which is not functioning very well. Or take the United Nations or European Union — there are many issues to solve,” he added.

“So my point would be instead of thinking ‘oh we would have liked Hillary Clinton to win,’ or ‘I wish (former President Barack) Obama was still there,’ but guys Trump is president, make use of his presidency and his critique of those international institutions is sometimes very valid.” Trump has made himself unpopular in most European circles for his criticism of hallowed, well-established institutions such as the NATO and the WTO (Trump threatened to pull the U.S. out of both) and the European Union (which Trump said was formed in order to take advantage of the U.S. in terms of trade). He has also threatened to impose tariffs on European goods and cars; hardly the policies that would make most liberal politicians, like Mark Rutte, warm to Trump. “In this world, international structures are absolutely necessary, but sometimes it vexes me when I hear the white wine-sipping elite in Amsterdam saying ‘Trump is very wrong,'” Rutte said

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Sounds very late. 9 weeks left?!

UK Firms Ramp Up Stockpiling Due To Brexit Disruption Fears (Ind.)

UK companies have ramped up stockpiling ahead of Brexit as export opportunities for manufacturers weakens, according to new research from Lloyds Bank. The lender’s international trade index shows that export growth fell to its weakest level in almost three years in the fourth quarter of 2018. Exports of consumer goods held up well, Lloyds said, but the transport sector was hit by changing emissions regulations and new rules about diesel vehicles. Exports in the service sector fell in the last three months of 2018, bringing to an end three four years of growth.

Political uncertainty at home and abroad, along with weakening economic growth in key markets, were cited as the drivers for the export downturn. Meanwhile, the data showed that UK manufacturers had increased stockpiling efforts over recent months due to the threat of shortages and disruption posed by Brexit. The UK Manufacturing PMI Index for purchases of stocks jumped up to 53.7 for the month of December, from 51.1 in the previous month. Gwynne Master, managing director and global head of trade for Lloyds Bank Global Transaction Banking, said: “We should be mindful of the impact of fluctuating trading conditions and global and domestic political uncertainty on the UK’s exporters.

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The only thing that really made sense. Because it breaks party lines. Gone.

UK MPs Drop Plan To Table Cross-Party ‘People’s Vote’ Amendment (G.)

A cross-party amendment to push for a second EU referendum will not be tabled in the Commons as it would have little chance of being passed without formal support from Labour, the MPs organising it have announced. Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who has led efforts on a so-called “people’s vote” amendment, said that without the backing of Jeremy Corbyn, “at the moment we would not have the numbers”. However, the Liberal Democrats have tabled a similar amendment and have called for Labour to back the idea. Speaking outside parliament alongside the Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna, Wollaston urged Corbyn to think again. “We would like to appeal again to him to give his unequivocal backing to a people’s vote, in which case we could make progress,” she said.

Labour has not ruled out supporting a second referendum and the party is keeping its options open. There is disquiet among some of its MPs and shadow ministers that backing such an option could anger leave-backing Labour voters. Wollaston argued that a second referendum was still the best option to end the Brexit deadlock. “People have a right to change their minds, and the mandate from the first referendum – over two years ago and based on entirely unrealistic promises and outright lies – has expired.” But without Labour backing, she said, “that amendment could not pass, and so with great regret we will not be laying that amendment”.

Berger said that with 30 scheduled Commons sittings left before the current Brexit date, there was “an urgent need for leadership”. “Regrettably, the Labour leadership won’t commit to an achievable policy,” she said. “And yet we know that the majority of Labour voters, supporters and members want a final say on any Brexit deal. At a time when Labour should be championing a people’s vote, the leadership avoids answering that call.”

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That revolution is overhyped, but the US and German public bank story is good.

The Financial Secret Behind Germany’s Green Energy Revolution (Ellen Brown)

KfW’s role in implementing government policy parallels that of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) in funding the New Deal in the 1930s. At that time, U.S. banks were bankrupt and incapable of financing the country’s recovery. President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to set up a system of 12 public “industrial banks” through the Federal Reserve, but the measure failed. Roosevelt then made an end run around his opponents by using the RFC that had been set up earlier by President Herbert Hoover, expanding it to address the nation’s financing needs.

The RFC Act of 1932 provided the RFC with capital stock of $500 million and the authority to extend credit up to $1.5 billion (subsequently increased several times). With those resources, from 1932 to 1957 the RFC loaned or invested more than $40 billion. As with KfW’s loans, its funding source was the sale of bonds, mostly to the Treasury itself. Proceeds from the loans repaid the bonds, leaving the RFC with a net profit. The RFC financed roads, bridges, dams, post offices, universities, electrical power, mortgages, farms and much more; it funded all of this while generating income for the government.

The RFC was so successful that it became America’s largest corporation and the world’s largest banking organization. Its success, however, may have been its nemesis. Without the emergencies of depression and war, it was a too-powerful competitor of the private banking establishment; and in 1957, it was disbanded under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. That’s how the United States was left without a development bank at the same time Germany and other countries were hitting the ground running with theirs.

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Just ignore these people. They have nothing. They’re the past.

Davos Elites Fear They’re On A Toboggan Ride To Hell (Pol.eu)

Populists movements around the world, left and right, disagree in detail but are united around one big idea: The political and economic elites running modern societies are very powerful people who know what they are doing. What they are doing is often bad — greedy, exploitative, short-sighted — but they are doing it with purpose and confident control. A different possibility, however, hung in the alpine air this week at the annual convening of elites here at the World Economic Forum: These alleged masters of the universe came off nearly as perplexed and anxious about the future as the populist forces inveighing against them.

They have money. They have entourages. They have commanding views, both literal (from mountain chalets here) and metaphorical (from government offices and CEO suites back home). That doesn’t mean they have a clue. Foreboding about the future was a prevailing theme at this year’s Davos, sometimes even with dash of dystopian prophecy. This brooding was accompanied often, in speeches and interviews, by a rueful acknowledgment that government leaders are desperately improvising — often with bleak results — to meet the political crises of the moment, much less the long-term technological and climatological challenges of the age. In key Western capitals, governance is failing. China is exploiting. Global temperatures are rising.

Tech titans are groveling. Prospects for economic downturn are rumbling. Little wonder that, instead of triumphant optimism about the forces of globalization sometimes associated with Davos, some voices here made it sound like modern life is on a toboggan ride to hell. “Everybody agrees that there are dark clouds on the horizon, and there are risks,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in an address here Thursday.

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Due to the 1,500 private jets in Davos.

CO2 Levels Expected To Rise Rapidly In 2019 (Ind.)

This year will see one of the biggest CO2 surges in more than six decades of measurements, according to the Met Office. Rising emissions due to the world’s continued appetite for fossil fuels will combine with reduced absorption of greenhouse gas by withering grasslands and forests. Describing the prediction as “worrying and compelling”, scientists said it was an urgent reminder that the time to cut out carbon is now. CO2 levels will be at a record high once again after emissions reached unprecedented levels last year, dashing hopes the world had finally hit “peak carbon”. Besides fossil fuels pumping out the harmful gas, natural weather fluctuations will exacerbate the problem as they hamper the ability of carbon sinks to store it. In 2019 an upward swing in tropical Pacific Ocean temperature will make many regions warmer and drier.

As drought sets in and plants dry out, they will be less capable of sucking CO2 from the atmosphere, and massive deforestation in places like the Amazon is making this problem even worse. The new predictions were based on monitoring at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, which has registered a 30 per cent increase in the concentration of CO2 since 1958. “Carbon sinks have saved us from what has already happened – the future rise would have been about double if it wasn’t for the sinks. So we are lucky they exist, to be honest,” Professor Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre told The Independent. “But the sinks themselves are affected by the climate, and that’s an important thing because it shows that as climate change continues in the future it may affect their strength.”


Forecast CO2 concentrations at the Mauna Loa station for 2019 (orange), along with previous forecast concentrations and the real observed data (Met Office)

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Feb 132018
 
 February 13, 2018  Posted by at 3:46 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Frank Larson Chrysler reflection, 42nd Street near 5th Ave, New York 1950s

 

Update: Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra resigned at 5pm local time, before the parliamentary debate could take place. But that still leaves Rutte in place with his own version of “when it gets serious, you have to lie”.

 

 

There will be a parliamentary debate in Holland (the Netherlands) today about abject lies about Russia and Vladimir Putin that its Foreign Minister, Halbe Zijlstra, has been telling the country for a few years now. Zijlstra is supposed to fly to Russia tomorrow to meet with his Russian peer, Sergey Lavrov. One would suppose Zijlstra will be fired later today, if only to prevent such a meeting from taking place, but that is by no means a given.

Here’s what happened: in 2006, there was a ‘conference’ in Putin’s dacha outside of Moscow. Zijlstra worked for Shell at the time at a lower level. Later, he has pretended he way present at a meeting with Putin in which the latter supposedly talked about his dreams for a ‘Greater Russia’.

Now, Zijlstra has revealed he was not at that meeting. He claimed ‘a source’ was there and told him about it, and he had wanted to protect the source and therefore pretended he himself was present. That source, then-Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer, not only never asked for any such protection, he also sent an email to paper De Volkskrant saying that Zijlstra had ‘misinterpreted’ the story Van der Veer had told him (a diplomatic word for he lied).

Putin never talked about ambitions for a Greater Russia, and never said Kazachstan was ‘nice to have’. Zijlstra made that all up. There had been mention of Greater Russia, but in a nostalgic, historical manner. And now Van der Veer, undoubtedly much to his chagrin, gets dragged into this entire false tale.

Because the entire Dutch government, longtime Prime Minister Mark Rutte first and most of all, has said Zijlstra’s lies were somehow acceptable because the ‘inhoud’ (tenor, content, narrative) of his story was true. That is to say, Rutte claims that Putin does indeed dream of land-grabbing, of invading Ukraine, the Baltic States etc.

 

It doesn’t matter if you have no proof of something (see the painfully botched MH17 investigation), and neither does it matter if you just make the whole thing up. The only thing that matters in Holland is that you stick to the narrative. Which, there is no other way to look at it, is fully unproven and entirely made up.

This makes the government of Holland (a NATO member), and certainly Rutte, a danger to world peace. Therefore, Rutte has to go along with Zijlstra. Because he not only condones the latter’s lies and fantasies, maintained in his days as Foreign Minister, Rutte himself also makes claim after claim based on no proof at all. Or at least nothing he has ever revealed.

Holland should never have chaired the MH17 investigation, because it was its main victim (2/3 of the near 300 who died in the plane crash had Dutch passports). In the 3,5 years since the tragedy, not an ounce of evidence has ever been published by the investigators that proves Russia was the culprit. But claims to that end have been freely made over the entire period.

Fro his Putin-bashing, then-Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans got himself a cushy job as second to EU head Jean-Claude Juncker (and yes, Juncker’s “when it gets serious, you have to lie” comes to mind in the Zijlstra thing). Timmermans, like then-US Secretary of State Joe Biden, wasted no time in fingering Russia as the perpetrator. They both made this claim within minutes. Again, without any proof.

 

None of this is a specific Dutch issue. The western world, led by the US, has created an atmosphere and a narrative in which it’s deemed acceptable to lie about Russia, about Vladimir Putin, about Russian hackers, and about connections Americans and western Europeans who don’t abide by the narrative, have to Russia and everything connected with it.

And well, they are right in one sense: there is a pattern here. The Russiagate investigations in the US into ties of Trump associates with Russians, like the Dutch investigation into MH17, continue ad infinitum without producing a sliver of proof.

Various and multiple claims pertaining to alleged Russian actions in Crimea, Ukraine, Syria etc. have come up hollow. Indeed, what actions Russia has undertaken are largely in response to American and EU ‘provocation’.

And yes, all this plays out against the backdrop of the military-industrial complex that hides behind the identity of NATO, an organization without a reason to exist even since the Berlin wall came down (the wall has now been gone longer than it ever existed). NATO is a convenient entity for the entirety of the western arms industry, and the neocons that still hold sway in various of its member-nations, to publicize its fear-mongering anti-Russia messages from.

Those messages keep being duly publicized by mainstream media. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement today in which it said “bilateral relations with Holland are being overshadowed by an unparalleled anti-Russia campaign in Dutch media.”

“Holland accuses Russia of spreading disinformation (fake news). People in the Dutch government keep on making such unfunded claims.” Dutch media readily and uncritically disperse the idea that Russian authorities are obsessed with the creation of a Great Russia. How is that not an example of fake news?”

 

Holland would be crazy to let Zijlstra go to Moscow tomorrow to talk to Lavrov. But, given what has already been said, one can only conclude that the country is indeed crazy. Or at the very least its government is. Still, even if parliament today decides that Zijlstra must leave his post, chances that they’ll send Rutte packing as well are zero.

Even though as prime minster he’s publicly stated that his Foreign Minister telling outright lies about another country is no problem as long as he stays with the narrative that said country is a threat, a narrative for which apparently no evidence must ever be presented.

At the next EU meeting Rutte is more likely to be hailed for his stance, because the narrative is that of the entire EU, of Brussels, Berlin and Paris. And NATO.

Will this episode wake up the Dutch people? Fat chance. They will focus on Zijlstra, and probably clamor for him to leave, and then go about their daily job of feeding their readers and watchers their, as Moscow puts it, “unparralleled anti-Russia campaign.”

People like Rutte and Merkel do a very good job of showing us that Europeans have more to fear from their own governments than they do of Putin. But nobody is listening. Because their media have become as much of an echo chamber as the US MSM.

Still, make no mistake: what Rutte tells his people is that he cannot be trusted. That there are things more important than the truth: the narrative. This means they will never again be able to trust him to tell them the truth. He just said so himself.

 

 

Mar 162017
 
 March 16, 2017  Posted by at 2:53 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  9 Responses »


Marc Riboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953

 

The Dutch elections on Wednesday have provided a whole bunch of Orwellian narratives. PM Mark Rutte’s right wing VVD party, actually the ‘business’ -or should we say ‘rent-seekers’ in 2017- party, who lost some 20% of the seats they had obtained in the previous parliamentary election in November 2012, down from 41 to 33 seats, is declared the big winner. While Geert Wilders’ very right wing party, PVV, won 25% more seats -it went from 16 to 20- and is the big loser.

Moreover, Rutte’s coalition partner, labor PvdA, gave up 29 out of 38 seats to end up with just 9. That’s a loss of over 75%. Together, the coalition partners went from 79 seats in the 2012 election to 42 in 2017. That’s an almost 50% less. Not that it could prevent Rutte from proudly declaring: “We want to stick to the course we have – safe and stable and prosperous..” Makes you wonder who the ‘we’ are that he’s talking about.

That course he wants to stick to had a finance minister named Dijsselbloem, and his party just lost by over 75%. So he won’t be back. But perhaps the EU can pull another ‘Tusk’, and leave him in place in Brussels as chairman of the Eurogroup no matter what voters in his own country think of him. Still, declaring your intention to ‘stick to the course’ when your coalition has just been sawed in half, it’s quite something.

 

The only reasons Rutte’s VVD ended up being the biggest party all have to do with Wilders. The anxiety over the election all had to do with polls. Wilders is a one man party and a a one trick pony. If he would leave, his party would dissolve. And his sole ‘message’ is that Islam is bad and should vanish from first Holland and then Europe. He doesn’t really have any other political program points. Ok, there’s Brussels. Doesn’t like that either.

Perhaps that’s why he largely shunned the pre-election debates. Problem with that is, these things attract a lot of TV viewers, crucial free air-time. All in all, since he’s his own worst enemy in many respects, it’s not that much of a surprise that Wilders’ support collapsed, and that’s just if we were to take Dutch pollsters more serious than their counterparts in the US and UK.

Talking of which, according to Rutte, those are the countries where ‘the wrong kind of populism’ has won and delivered Trump and Brexit. And of course there are lots of people who agree with that. What either they, or Rutte himself, would label ‘the right kind of populism’ is unclear. Maybe Rutte himself is the right kind of populist?

 

The row with Turkey over the weekend must have helped Rutte quite a bit. Not only were his actions in the row met with approval by a large majority of the Dutch population, including just about all other party leaders, the Dutch also got to think about what WIlders would do in such a situation. And there can be no doubt that Rutte is seen as much more of a statesman than Wilders.

Not that the row is over. After Turkey announced yesterday it would return 40 Dutch cows (?!) , today Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Europe’s politicians are “taking Europe toward an abyss”, and: “Soon religious wars will break out in Europe. That’s the way it’s going.” There can be no doubt that a shouting war like this with Wilders as one of the participants would take on a whole different shape, and a different choice of words.

What Rutte’s going to do next is form a new coalition, this time not with the left but with the center-right, and no-one will be able to tell the difference. If Dutch, and European, and global, politics have one main problem, it’s that. Left is right and right is left and winners are losers. If a guy like Dijsselbloem can squeeze Greek society dry in his capacity as Eurogroup head, while he runs as a leftist candidate in his own country, and loses hugely, anything goes.

 

All those who think they can see in the Dutch experience, a sign that Marine Le Pen’s chances in France’s presidential elections in April and May have dropped a lot, would appear to be delusional. Judging from reactions in the financial markets, many seem to be. But Le Pen is much less of a fringe figure than Wilders is, and she certainly wouldn’t shun a debate. It’s true that her Front National is a one-woman operation, bit she has a much clearer political program than Wilders does.

And she doesn’t have an opponent like Rutte, who’s become a formidable presence domestically, as anyone would be who can be PM for many years and not be put out by the curb. The man who should be Le Pen’s main adversary is not; Hollande is out by that curb and doesn’t even dare run again. His Socialist party has become a joke. The next strongest opponent should be François Fillon, but he’s all but gone now he’s been placed under formal investigation.

That leaves only Emmanual Macron, an independent without a party and without a program. In France, you can be elected president in such a situation, but your hand are tied in all sorts of ways, because you need parliament to vote for things.

..the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority. Although the constitution of the French Fifth Republic, created by Charles De Gaulle in 1958, extended presidential powers, it did not enable the president to run the country.

There are only a few presidential powers that do not need the prime minister’s authorisation. The president can appoint a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly, authorise a referendum and become a “temporary dictator” in exceptional circumstances imperilling the nation. They can also appoint three judges to the Constitutional Council and refer any law to this body. While all important tasks, this does not, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to running a country. The president can’t suggest laws, pass them through parliament and then implement them without the prime minister.

The role of a president is best defined as a “referee”. Presidential powers give the ability to oversee operations and act when the smooth running of institutions is impeded. So a president is able to step in if a grave situation arises or to unlock a standoff between the prime minister and parliament, such as by announcing a referendum on a disputed issue or by dismissing the National Assembly.

So, why does everyone see the president as the key figure? In a nutshell, it’s because the constitution has never been truly applied. There lies the devilish beauty of French politics. A country known since the 1789 revolution for its inability to foster strong majorities in parliament has succeeded, from 1962, in providing solid majorities.

Perhaps those who believe that what happened in Holland is also likely to happen in France are swayed by the notion that both are part of the EU. But they are very different countries and cultures, and different political systems. And Le Pen is no Wilders. She doesn’t say crazy things anymore, she’s cleansed the public image of her party by getting rid of her father, and she keeps any remaining extremists out of view.

There is still plenty suspicion in France about her, and about her party, but there are also a lot of people who agree with a lot of what she says. The perhaps most noteworthy statement she’s made recently is that she would step down if she loses the referendum about membership of the EU she intends to launch if elected president. That should keep Brussels on their toes. Marine means what she says. And a lot of French people may get to like her for that. In a political landscape in which the competition keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Another thing about Le Pen is that her political program contains quite a few bits and bolts that could be labeled leftist; a 35-hour work week, retirement at 60, lower energy prices. It’s just that she wants to reserve these things for the French. Foreigners, especially, Muslims, are not invited. And she is very much opposed to neo-liberalism and globalization:

They’ve made an ideology out of it. An economic globalism which rejects all limits, all regulation of globalization, and which consequently weakens the immune defences of the nation state, dispossessing it of its constituent elements: borders, national currency, the authority of its laws and management of the economy, thus enabling another globalism to be born and to grow: Islamist fundamentalism..

Le Pen’s popularity does not come from an overwhelming innate racism in France -though such a thing certainly exists-. It comes instead from the formidable failure that the country’s immigration policy has been for many decades. At the outskirts of major cities ghetto’s have been allowed to form in which those that come from former French colonies, especially in Africa, feel trapped with no way out. The French tend to feel superior to all other people, and the political system has let the situation slip completely out of hand.

Now France, and Europe is general, will have to deal with this mess. So far, the main European reaction is to turn Greece into a prison camp for a new wave of refugees and migrants. That can of course only make things worse. And it doesn’t solve any of the existing problems. Which makes the rise of Marine Le Pen inevitable.

And Wilders too; he’s the no. 2 party in Holland, because his party won 33% more seats than in 2012 to go from 15 to 20. That 33% gain, versus Rutte’s 20% loss, makes Wilders a loser in the eyes of many ‘relieved’ observers.

Winners are losers, and as is evident in Le Pen’s social policies for the French, in European coalition governments that contain Labor and right wing parties, and in the course of the Democratic party in the US, left is definitely the same as right.

Orwell always wins. Next problem: the actual left are not represented by anyone anymore.


MarcRiboud Sur les Quais de Paris 1953

 

The Dutch elections on Wednesday have provided a whole bunch of Orwellian narratives. PM Mark Rutte’s right wing VVD party, actually the ‘business’ -or should we say ‘rent-seekers’ in 2017- party, who lost some 20% of the seats they had obtained in the previous parliamentary election in November 2012, down from 41 to 33 seats, is declared the big winner. While Geert Wilders’ very right wing party, PVV, won 25% more seats -it went from 16 to 20- and is the big loser.

Moreover, Rutte’s coalition partner, labor PvdA, gave up 29 out of 38 seats to end up with just 9. That’s a loss of over 75%. Together, the coalition partners went from 79 seats in the 2012 election to 42 in 2017. That’s an almost 50% less. Not that it could prevent Rutte from proudly declaring: “We want to stick to the course we have – safe and stable and prosperous..” Makes you wonder who the ‘we’ are that he’s talking about.

That course he wants to stick to had a finance minister named Dijsselbloem, and his party just lost by over 75%. So he won’t be back. But perhaps the EU can pull another ‘Tusk’, and leave him in place in Brussels as chairman of the Eurogroup no matter what voters in his own country think of him. Still, declaring your intention to ‘stick to the course’ when your coalition has just been sawed in half, it’s quite something.

 

The only reasons Rutte’s VVD ended up being the biggest party all have to do with Wilders. The anxiety over the election all had to do with polls. Wilders is a one man party and a a one trick pony. If he would leave, his party would dissolve. And his sole ‘message’ is that Islam is bad and should vanish from first Holland and then Europe. He doesn’t really have any other political program points. Ok, there’s Brussels. Doesn’t like that either.

Perhaps that’s why he largely shunned the pre-election debates. Problem with that is, these things attract a lot of TV viewers, crucial free air-time. All in all, since he’s his own worst enemy in many respects, it’s not that much of a surprise that Wilders’ support collapsed, and that’s just if we were to take Dutch pollsters more serious than their counterparts in the US and UK.

Talking of which, according to Rutte, those are the countries where ‘the wrong kind of populism’ has won and delivered Trump and Brexit. And of course there are lots of people who agree with that. What either they, or Rutte himself, would label ‘the right kind of populism’ is unclear. Maybe Rutte himself is the right kind of populist?

 

The row with Turkey over the weekend must have helped Rutte quite a bit. Not only were his actions in the row met with approval by a large majority of the Dutch population, including just about all other party leaders, the Dutch also got to think about what WIlders would do in such a situation. And there can be no doubt that Rutte is seen as much more of a statesman than Wilders.

Not that the row is over. After Turkey announced yesterday it would return 40 Dutch cows (?!) , today Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said Europe’s politicians are “taking Europe toward an abyss”, and: “Soon religious wars will break out in Europe. That’s the way it’s going.” There can be no doubt that a shouting war like this with Wilders as one of the participants would take on a whole different shape, and a different choice of words.

What Rutte’s going to do next is form a new coalition, this time not with the left but with the center-right, and no-one will be able to tell the difference. If Dutch, and European, and global, politics have one main problem, it’s that. Left is right and right is left and winners are losers. If a guy like Dijsselbloem can squeeze Greek society dry in his capacity as Eurogroup head, while he runs as a leftist candidate in his own country, and loses hugely, anything goes.

 

All those who think they can see in the Dutch experience, a sign that Marine Le Pen’s chances in France’s presidential elections in April and May have dropped a lot, would appear to be delusional. Judging from reactions in the financial markets, many seem to be. But Le Pen is much less of a fringe figure than Wilders is, and she certainly wouldn’t shun a debate. It’s true that her Front National is a one-woman operation, bit she has a much clearer political program than Wilders does.

And she doesn’t have an opponent like Rutte, who’s become a formidable presence domestically, as anyone would be who can be PM for many years and not be put out by the curb. The man who should be Le Pen’s main adversary is not; Hollande is out by that curb and doesn’t even dare run again. His Socialist party has become a joke. The next strongest opponent should be François Fillon, but he’s all but gone now he’s been placed under formal investigation.

That leaves only Emmanual Macron, an independent without a party and without a program. In France, you can be elected president in such a situation, but your hand are tied in all sorts of ways, because you need parliament to vote for things.

..the nuances of the French political system put Macron in a spot of bother. The president derives their power from the support of a majority in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly. Macron was a minister for the Socialist Party government but quit in 2016 to form his own political movement. Now he doesn’t even have a party, let alone a majority. Although the constitution of the French Fifth Republic, created by Charles De Gaulle in 1958, extended presidential powers, it did not enable the president to run the country.

There are only a few presidential powers that do not need the prime minister’s authorisation. The president can appoint a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly, authorise a referendum and become a “temporary dictator” in exceptional circumstances imperilling the nation. They can also appoint three judges to the Constitutional Council and refer any law to this body. While all important tasks, this does not, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to running a country. The president can’t suggest laws, pass them through parliament and then implement them without the prime minister.

The role of a president is best defined as a “referee”. Presidential powers give the ability to oversee operations and act when the smooth running of institutions is impeded. So a president is able to step in if a grave situation arises or to unlock a standoff between the prime minister and parliament, such as by announcing a referendum on a disputed issue or by dismissing the National Assembly.

So, why does everyone see the president as the key figure? In a nutshell, it’s because the constitution has never been truly applied. There lies the devilish beauty of French politics. A country known since the 1789 revolution for its inability to foster strong majorities in parliament has succeeded, from 1962, in providing solid majorities.

Perhaps those who believe that what happened in Holland is also likely to happen in France are swayed by the notion that both are part of the EU. But they are very different countries and cultures, and different political systems. And Le Pen is no Wilders. She doesn’t say crazy things anymore, she’s cleansed the public image of her party by getting rid of her father, and she keeps any remaining extremists out of view.

There is still plenty suspicion in France about her, and about her party, but there are also a lot of people who agree with a lot of what she says. The perhaps most noteworthy statement she’s made recently is that she would step down if she loses the referendum about membership of the EU she intends to launch if elected president. That should keep Brussels on their toes. Marine means what she says. And a lot of French people may get to like her for that. In a political landscape in which the competition keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Another thing about Le Pen is that her political program contains quite a few bits and bolts that could be labeled leftist; a 35-hour work week, retirement at 60, lower energy prices. It’s just that she wants to reserve these things for the French. Foreigners, especially, Muslims, are not invited. And she is very much opposed to neo-liberalism and globalization:

They’ve made an ideology out of it. An economic globalism which rejects all limits, all regulation of globalization, and which consequently weakens the immune defences of the nation state, dispossessing it of its constituent elements: borders, national currency, the authority of its laws and management of the economy, thus enabling another globalism to be born and to grow: Islamist fundamentalism..

Le Pen’s popularity does not come from an overwhelming innate racism in France -though such a thing certainly exists-. It comes instead from the formidable failure that the country’s immigration policy has been for many decades. At the outskirts of major cities ghetto’s have been allowed to form in which those that come from former French colonies, especially in Africa, feel trapped with no way out. The French tend to feel superior to all other people, and the political system has let the situation slip completely out of hand.

Now France, and Europe is general, will have to deal with this mess. So far, the main European reaction is to turn Greece into a prison camp for a new wave of refugees and migrants. That can of course only make things worse. And it doesn’t solve any of the existing problems. Which makes the rise of Marine Le Pen inevitable.

And Wilders too; he’s the no. 2 party in Holland, because his party won 33% more seats than in 2012 to go from 15 to 20. That 33% gain, versus Rutte’s 20% loss, makes Wilders a loser in the eyes of many ‘relieved’ observers.

Winners are losers, and as is evident in Le Pen’s social policies for the French, in European coalition governments that contain Labor and right wing parties, and in the course of the Democratic party in the US, left is definitely the same as right.

Orwell always wins. Next problem: the actual left are not represented by anyone anymore.

 

 

Mar 132017
 
 March 13, 2017  Posted by at 5:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Vincenzo Camuccini La Morte Di Cesare 1804

 

I don’t think Holland realized they planned their election on the Ides of March, don’t remember the date or event ever being mentioned when I lived there as a child. That Washington knew what it was doing when back in 2013 it set the end of the latest debt ceiling compromise to March 15 is not likely either. Nor is Janet Yellen deliberately setting the Fed’s ‘next’ rate hike on the date. They may all, in hindsight, wish they had possessed a little more historical knowledge.

When Shakespeare (and Plutarch before him) wrote ‘Beware the Ides of March’, he was talking about the murder of Julius Ceasar in 44 BC, by a group of senators, which included Brutus. But the incident can also be more broadly seen as the separation line between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. And now we’re getting somewhere interesting when looking at present day events. Democracy under threat of absolutism.

Leafing through the Dutch press, opinions differ on which politicians will profit most from the sudden row with Turkey that flared up over the weekend. Is it far right Wilders, who can now claim that he always foresaw things like this? Or is it “just a little less right” PM Rutte, who gets to look like a statesman and a decision maker? None of the other parties, there are 31 in total, look positioned to reap any gains from the bewildering developments.

The Netherlands is the ‘capital of fascism’, said Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu on Sunday in France, where he ended up after being refused landing rights on Saturday. I know I’m biased, but no matter how you twist and turn it, that’s quite a statement about the country of Anne Frank, which lost most of its extensive Jewish population, and it was only a follow-up to Turkish president Erdogan earlier calling the Dutch ‘nazi’s and ‘remnants of fascists’.

Erdogan later managed ‘banana republic’. And declared that no-one can treat ‘his citizens’ the way a photograph taken Saturday night seemed to depict, in which a Turkish protester was attacked by a police dog. Apart from the question whether dogs should ever be used in quelling protests, this raises another issue crucial to the whole story. That is, Turkey insists that people who’ve lived in other countries for decades are nevertheless ‘its citizens’ (and not of their adopted countries).

As an aside, that story and photo of the dog – a German shepherd- reminds me of ‘When We Were Kings’, the movie about the Rumble in the Jungle fight in Kinshasa between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, in which the latter emerges, upon arrival, from his plane with a huge German shepherd and thereby loses the sympthy of the local people, and some say the whole fight, people had very bad memories about such dogs.

 

So what happened in Holland? About 10 days ago, someone announced there would be a meeting (a rally) on Saturday March 11 in a ‘party hall’ in Rotterdam, that would be attended by Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu. This set off an alert inside the Dutch government, because in Germany similar meetings had been cancelled in the preceding days. The reason for the cancellations is that these are political rallies to gain support from Turks living abroad for an April 16 referendum designed to give Erdogan very far-reaching powers.

Turkey claims the right to freedom of speech and political gathering. And they would perhaps have been granted this, if not for the July 15 2016 coup in the country, and especially its aftermath. Both Germany and Holland have been aware of Erdogan and his people putting pressure on their ‘citizens’ living abroad to for instance report ‘hidden’ Gülen supporters to embassies and consulates and mosques. In other words, to create divisions between one group of (Dutch or German) Turks and another.

Needless to say, neither Berlin not The Hague wants anything to do with that. But they want to reach some sort of compromise. No matter how they may feel about the country post-coup, Turkey is a NATO partner and the EU has an all-important deal with Ankara to keep refugees away from Europe. Even though it was obvious from the start that this was the dumbest deal with the devil anyone since Faust has ever signed, elections trump common sense and principles.

Over the next days, the Dutch tell Ankara they consider foreign minister Cavusoglu’s planned rally ‘undesirable’. Rotterdam mayor Aboutaleb, a Dutch-Morrocan muslim, bans the planned meeting. But the Turks respond that Cavusoglu will come no matter what, and for Holland to arrange an alternative venue. The Dutch don’t like this at all, but try to compromise with a meeting with a small group of invitees. On Friday, Turkey suggests the Rotterdam residence of the Turkish consul. Aboutaleb is not amused: the location of the home ‘invites’ the gathering of a large number of people outside.

Saturday morning comes with a lot of discussion. The consulate is suggested as a venue. Then, Turkey sends a message to a large group of Dutch Turks to come to the consulate. And while talks are ongoing, Cavusoglu tells CNNTürk TV that if Holland revokes his plane’s landing rights, something that has been mentioned in negotiations only as a last resort, there will be ‘economic and political sanctions’.

 

Rutte and his crew see no other choice than to do just that: revoke the landing rights. To which the response is to drive the -female- Turkish Minister of Family Affairs, Kaya, who’s in Germany, to Rotterdam. There were allegedly even multiple convoys, with decoys and all, so Holland wouldn’t know what car she was in. Meanwhile, the allegations of nazism and fascism had started to be unloaded on The Hague.

As someone remarked: all Erdogan wanted was a photo-op, a picture with 10,000 Turks waving their flags in the streets of Holland. Things turned out different. Minister Kaya made it to Rotterdam, but was refused entry into the consulate, declared an undesirable alien and told she must return to Germany. It took many hours, but finally she was put into a different car than the one she came in and driven back across the border.

From where she took a private plane to Istanbul. Turkey apparently was not clear on the difference between someone having a diplomatic passport and having diplomatic immunity. These things are regulated in the Vienna Convention, and Turkey wants Holland to be found in violation of it. But it doesn’t look like they are. And there are a few other things as well:

 

 

What I don’t get: where in the world does it say that you are free to hold political campaign events in any country you choose? Can you see Guatemalan rallies in the streets of LA? With the risk of clashes between rival groups? And what would Turkey say if an anti-Erdogan protest were held in Berlin tomorrow? You think political rallies by foreigners are allowed in Turkey?

And then the rioting started late Saturday night in Rotterdam. What struck me in the pictures of the riots, and in other footage, is how many times they contain men making hand-signs of either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Grey Wolves, an ultra right wing Turkish group. I don’t get how that fits in the streets of countries like Germany and Holland, and I don’t get how it fits in with the man who’s seen as a demi-god in Turkey, founder in 1923 of the secular country of Turhey, Kemal Atatürk.

It looks like Erdogan is trying to idolize Atatürk, as any Turkish leader would have to do to get votes, and at the same time make the country an islamic state, something Atatürk definitely did not want, but which could Erdogan hand a majority for the referendum next month. Why else does he accuse western Europe of being Islamophobic?

Oh, and how does Michael Flynn fit into this picture? Trump’s former security adviser worked for Erdogan -indirectly- while sitting in on security meetings, and pushed the US to extradite Erdogan’s no. 1 enemy, Fethullah Gülen. If Washington had had proof that Gülen was behind the coup last year, one would think he’d already have been extradited. Flynn’s role gets curiouser by the day. Is this why he was cast out of the Trump team? For being a foreign agent?

 

Also curious is the fact that Erdogan on Friday, the day before the Holland situation played out, was visiting Russia to meet with Putin. He arrived back home to say something about an anti-missile defense system they could build together, and suggested that Putin agreed with him on the danger of the Kurdish fighters in Syria and beyond. Only, Putin never acknowledged such a thing, and Putin has never forgiven Erdogan for downing a Russian jet in November 2015. He just waits for the right payback time. But Turkey is a NATO country.

The EU should never have kept the Union membership carrot dangling in front of Erdogan’s face, knowing full well Turkey would never be accepted as a member, zero chance. It should not have signed the refugee deal either; that could only ever have blown up into its face. The first and major victim of that will once again be Greece. Another country that Erdogan has been trying to bully.

Turkish jets violating Greek airspace are so common people tend to ignore them. Recently, army ships have been sailing into Greek waters too. The idea seems to be some sort of preparation for contesting the 1923 Lausanne Treaty , which settled ownership disputes post-Ottoman Empire. There are so many islands and islets and rocks, anyone who wants to can always find something to fight over. And then of course there’s still Cyprus; negotiations are ongoing, but so are efforts to frustrate them.

And it’s not that the Turkish economy is doing so well, the lira lost 30% in 2016 and another 10% so far this year. But unlike Greece, Turkey still has its own currency, and therefore the ability to devaluate it and absorb financial shocks. Still, 40% in 15 months is a lot. Imports are getting very expensive. Maybe that’s what Erdogan is trying to drown out with his fighting words.

 

This afternoon, Turkey’s Parliament Speaker compared Dutch PM Rutte to Hitler, Franco AND Mussolini. Pol Pot must have slipped his mind for a moment. Denmark, France, Angela Merkel and Brussels have all told Turkey to tone down. But at the same time, German TV network ZDF reports there are 30 more Erdogan rallies and meetings planned in the country in the next month.

Erdogan is trying to let his people see him as a strongman, not afraid of anyone. He only has to paint this picture for another month, through his state owned TV channels, and he’ll get his near absolute powers. Meanwhile, the US and all of the EU are too busy trying to manage their own election issues. But that may not be such a wise choice. On April 17, they may be faced with a near dictator as member of NATO, and with a pro-Islam and anti-EU agenda.

Erdogan is done winning in Europe, and it was even only ever for his home audience to begin with. His biggest gains in votes -and he looks to be 48%-52% behind right now- will have to come from the war theater, where he pretends to fight ISIS only to send his army to kill the Kurds. It would be a good thing if besides Putin there were a few other powers to tell him that’s a no-go. Donald?! Turkey will never beat the Kurds, it’s just an endless bloody battle. Time to make Kurdistan a nation, one way or the other.

It all sort of fits in with the whole political picture these days, doesn’t it? And with Ceasar and the Ides of March.

 

 

Feb 042016
 
 February 4, 2016  Posted by at 8:10 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Alexander Gardner Ruins of Gallego Mills after Great Fire, Richmond, VA 1865

The best way it was put came from a German newspaper, the Leipziger Volkszeitung, on Tuesday, in an article that describes 5 separate incidents in two days in which buildings occupied by asylum seekers are targeted with rocks and home-made explosives. The headline quotes Leipzig’s head of police as saying: A pogrom mood prevails (Es herrscht Pogromstimmung). The full line further down in the article says: “Across the whole country, a pogrom mood prevails that is gathering an explosive intensity.”

It is early February in Europe. 62,000 more refugees reached Greece in January. Over 360 drowned trying, or 12 every single day. At least a quarter of them were children. About 90% of these people came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and are therefore considered ‘real’ refugees, no matter how often you read the word ‘migrants’ instead. It’s funny that someone wrote on our Facebook page that the word ‘refugee’ is often abused, because so many are really ‘migrants’.

Funny, because it’s the other way around: the word migrant is the one that is used wrongly, and often for political purposes. Dutch uber assclown Frans Timmermans, right hand man to EC President Juncker, claimed in Dutch media recently that 60% of ‘arrivals’ were people from countries “where you can assume they have no reason to apply for refugee status”.

The UNHCR, and even Frontex, say the correct number is 10% are ‘migrants’. 39% Syrian, 24-25% each Iraqi and Afghani. And just like not all migrants are refugees, the group ‘migrants’ does not have a subset called ‘refugees’. Confusing the terms is derogatory. Timmermans is just plain lying.

Staying in that vein, EU border cops Frontex stated the other day that there were “more than 880,000 illegal border crossings detected” in Greece in 2015. That at once raises the question whether refugees are illegals. An interesting question, because according to the Geneva convention they are not: they have the right to seek asylum, and executing one’s rights cannot per definition be illegal. Frontex, like Timmermans, uses insinuations to create an atmosphere, a mood.

And before you know it that turns into a pogrom mood. But Europe’s politicians, overwhelmed as they are with the combination of the refugee influx and their own incompetence, have apparently decided that it may play into their hands to steer their people’s moods against refugees. At that point, the entire issue becomes a cattle trade, something we’ll see more of.

Back to Timmermans and his lie about 60% being ‘migrants’: that’s more than a little mistake. That’s false insinuation. Timmermans became very popular in Holland because of his handling of the MH-17 aftermath (he was -the Dutch equivalent of- secretary of state at the time). Which is also funny, because what he did was accuse Russia of shooting down the plane mere minutes after is was shot, and way before any evidence could possibly have been gathered.

And he never stopped. He held a tearjerker of a speech at the UN and kept on hammering on the guilt of the Russians, carried on the waves of the ‘objective’ western media.

Of course, the US did the same, and never substantiated a single word either. It has taken the Dutch a year and a half to question their government’s account of the event, but the anti-Russia sentiment is now firmly in place. Since most victims were Dutch, Holland leads the investigation into the disaster. It has not brought one shed of proof to light, only innuendo.

Lately, Dutch people and media have started asking (it’s a miracle!) how it’s possible that all of Ukraine’s groundradar systems happened to be switched off when the plane came down, and why it has taken so long to find this out. Switching off groundradar must be reported internationally -to Eurocontrol, in this case- for obvious (safety) reasons. This was not done. When will they begin to wonder if maybe it was Ukraine all along? That would mean letting go of the Putin as bogeyman meme, so it may take a while.

Meanwhile the Dutch government -minus Timmermans, whose Putin bashing gave him almost as good a Brussels job as Donald Tusk got for his as PM of Poland- is chairing the EU until July 1. With youthful fervor, they started out by suggesting a sort of ferry service that would take refugees straight back from Greece to Turkey.

At the same time, the Times in Britain wrote about an EU plan to make it illegal to help refugees at sea. See, now they’re flaunting Geneva, and they’re flaunting international maritime law too. The latter says it’s illegal to NOT help people in distress at sea, and the EU is a signatory -or at least its member states. The former says specifically that ‘push-back’ of refugees is not allowed. The European Commission itself warned Greece about this in 2013.

Back to the drawing board. Or perhaps not quite: at the same time the government in The Hague came with their nonsensical ferry plan, the Dutch parliament -a few doors down- voted to let Holland start bombing Syria. You know, to support one’s partners. So you bomb the crap out of them, and then send them back when they seek to flee your bombs. Holland’s been bombing Iraq for a long time.

And that kind of tomfoolery is why there are international agreements in place, meticulously articulated after earlier disasters and vowing to never make the same mistakes again. But you don’t have to know law to be a politician, or be smart, or have a conscience. The job’s basically open to anyone who can successfully sell a second-hand car.

Being an outright sociopath ticks off a few boxes too, but people will say I shouldn’t say that. Dutch PM Mark Rutte looks like such a decent guy, after all. But the shrewd observer’s already seen that he’s merely another body-double dummy sprouted from the same egg as Cameron and Osborne, Harper in Canada, Renzi, you name them, know the type, early 40’s ideal sons in law but with a bit too much ambition.

Works well in times of plenty, but has no idea what to do in case of a headwind. And then goes berserk without knowing what that is.

The two things that stood out for me when I was making notes were that German police chief talking about a pogrom, and our dear friend Wolfgang Schäuble, German FinMin, who of all people was the only one who made sense about 10 days ago when he said that what Syria would take was a Marshall Plan, and it would cost the world a whole lot more than anyone realized.

For once, he was right. Apparently, the people he was with when he said it, and Rutte was one, didn’t even react to what he said. “Cost? Is that going to cost me votes back home?” It was hilarious to see, today, that Gordon Brown -yeah, they let him out- was talking about a Marshall Plan for Syria -they let him read papers again, too- in connection with a high-level meeting on the issue that takes place in London -oh, wait, that’s how Gordon managed to sneak in-.

World leaders are going to promise away billions of dollars to ‘help’ the Syrian people. The problem here is obvious. These are the same leaders who have been responsible for bombing the region to smithereens. And now take the lead in doling out other people’s money -yours- to ‘help’ the people who survived, and have often fled thousands of miles from home.

That’s who I would like help from if I had lost half my family, seen a bunch of my kids drown, and get my few remaining possessions taken away from me by the ‘authorities’ of a country that tells me I should be really awfully grateful they’ll accomodate me. Grateful? You guys bombed my home to the ground! Grateful for what, exactly?

Oh, but the accomodation is only temporary. Says ‘poor’ Angela Merkel, she of short-lived Mother Teresa fame. When the war is over, they have to return. Right. Return to what? How about this?:

And when do you think the war will be over, Angela? What? It’s all Assad’s fault? Oh, Putin again. Yeah. Pray tell, what’s the combined take of the US, UK, France and Germany arms industries every day after day that this wholly psychopathic use of a formerly beautiful nation for target practice goes on? Yeah, right, you’re fighting that evil ISIS. Well, so is Assad. While some of ‘our’ friends, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, to name a few, are helping them out. And ‘we’ at least sort of gave birth to them.

It’s not that hard, is it? Syria=Libya=Iraq. 2003 is not the beginning, but it very much IS when this utter destruction really took off. 12 and a half years of target practice and rising defense expenditures, and ‘we’ are nowhere near done yet. But we’ll throw the poor dogs some scraps. We’ll promise $10 billion with wide sociopath smiles at the camera and aim for $3 or $4 max. While knowing it’ll cost a $trillion just to rebuild a few cities in Syria. But then we can pretend we have no such money.

So when will the war stop? Not a soul will address that issue in the London conference this weekend (“Supporting Syria – And The Region”, they have less than zero shame). They all profit from that war, while blaming its existence on others. What they will do is shove a few scraps off their rich tables to the subhumans whose drowned children they have never expressed nor felt any sympathy for.

Well, here come the refugees, Europe. 62,000 in January points to well over a million in 2016. And that’s lowballing it. An estimate in late 2015 said 3 million. A Bulgarian Red Cross leader went for 3 million just this spring.

Get ready. For the pogrom.

PS: Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Erdogan, who makes money off of ISIS oil, and off EU refugee cattle trade money, and off ‘people smugglers’ taking off from Turkey for Greece. A $4 billion industry last year. Think he doesn’t demand his cut? Ideal son in law. Well, next time, then.

PS 2: Who wrote this?: “Nightsticks and Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Padlocks, Molotov Cocktails And Rocks, Behind Every Curtain.”

PS 3: I wrote a year ago that the only way to approach a crisis like this is to put the people first. How many children have been sacrificed on the Brussels altar since then? Grow a pair, Europe.

PS 4: There’ll be a huge amount of violence against refugees in Europe this year, It will get very ugly, and many people will die. And your ‘leaders’ are the ones who have instigated this. Again, grow a pair. Be someone. Someone real.