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


Salvador Dali Bather 1924

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Hurricane vaccine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosa Koire

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter is coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Valdai Club Programme Director Timofey Bordachev.

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

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

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

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

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A decade of financial disaster.

White House Mulling Potential Yellen Departure After Midterms (Axios)

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

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

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

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

You made your bed, Jerry. Lie in it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Meloni Contra Mundum (Gonzalez)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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They don’t want to believe themselves.

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

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

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

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

Read more …

The CDC is politics disguised as science.

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

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

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

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

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach front

 

 

 

 

 

 


Staircase

 

 

 

 

Bird

 

 

 

 

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Aug 192020
 


Joel Meyerowitz New York City 1963

 

 

No, no matter how much I read and watch, I can’t shake the idea (less so as I go along, actually) that the Democrats don’t really, honestly, want to win the 2020 presidential election. Obviously, there are many in the party who do, and voters too, but not the ones pushing the levers and pulling the strings. Those, whoever they may be, that are picking candidates, setting policy, maintaining media contacts, doctoring spins.

Because is there anyone among you who has ever seen a worse candidate than Joe Biden? I’m not just talking about his dementia and gaffes, but you’d be very hard-pressed to find anyone who can use Biden and enthusiasm -let alone inspiration, or even better: exhilaration- in one sentence that doesn’t include the word “no”. And isn’t that the #1 requirement for a candidate?

They ostensibly went with Kamala Harris to provide some of that, if we may believe the press. She’ll whip up the voters into wild bouts of inspiring enthusiasm! Only, Kamala bowed out of the primaries even before 2020 started, after spending $40 million -part of which is still not paid off- because she was stuck at 2% support and couldn’t generate … any enthusiasm.

What you got is a really old man who couldn’t get a toddler excited about ice cream, and a token black woman who nobody even in her own party likes. Mix those ingredients into a convention that attracts just half the viewers of the 2016 one and generates the excitement level of an infomercial for kitchen appliances, and is it any wonder I doubt that the “behind the curtain party” is in this to win?

As for the political program, the agenda, there is really only one item on it: Donald Trump. And no matter how many millions of times it may be repeated in speeches and news articles, NOT being something is in the end NOT a positive message. You’re supposed to win on your own merit, not someone else’s perceived lack of merit. Newsflash: “MOST BIDEN SUPPORTERS SAY THEIR VOTE IS AGAINST TRUMP RATHER THAN FOR BIDEN – WSJ/NBC News poll”.

This bit from the Guardian on Monday sums it up nicely, and it veers into late night comedy territory while doing it (what more can one ask for?):

Virtual Democratic Convention Kicks Off With Emphasis On Unity

The Democratic national convention begins on Monday with a star-studded lineup and heavy emphasis on unity aimed at presenting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the US’s best hope for healing a deeply divided nation[..]

The Dems have a hard enough time uniting their own party, let alone the nation. And there’s not a Trump supporter who would move into their camp – other than the odd washed up GOP politician.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on the eve of the convention found Biden with a nine-point lead over Trump nationally [..] According to the survey, Biden holds a wide advantage over Trump on nearly every issue except the economy, which voters say is a priority this election.


[..] Biden’s selection of Harris has exhilarated supporters, who showered the campaign with a stunning $48m in the 48 hours after she was announced as his running mate.[..]

What, so now they’re only $50 million or so behind?

Democrats anticipate the excitement around Harris’s historic candidacy as the first Black woman nominated for national office by a major party, will build momentum around the convention [..] Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPac, a super Pac focused on Black Democrats: “I think there is also real relief that there is a ticket people can believe in, and get behind and push over the finish line.”

Excitement, exhilaration are words that don’t seem to mean anymore what they used to.

[..] the people who were in the Bernie campaign, the people in the Biden campaign, and people outside of both of those campaigns – have really worked hard to create an effective and genuine popular front against Donald Trump,” Weaver said, adding: “Trump is a very unifying factor.”


[..] Howard Dean, a former chair of the DNC who has attended every party convention since 1980, said the new format could work in Biden’s favor. Unlike Trump, who feeds off the energy of crowds at rallies but can look wooden and uncomfortable when reading from a teleprompter, Biden, Dean said, “does better on television than he does at a podium”. “This helps him because he will be on TV projecting calmness, reasonableness and thoughtfulness,” he said. “And that’s what people are desperate for right now.”

Isn’t it great that not feeling comfortable reading from a teleprompter 24/7 in your basement has now become a negative quality? I know, it’s hard to keep up.

But then there was the reality check from CNN on Sunday. Double digit leads vanished (coincidence?) just as Kamala caused all that exhilarating excitement:

Biden and Trump Matchup Tightens As Enthusiasm Hits New High

[..] on the eve of the party conventions, a majority of voters (53%) are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election [..] 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence, right at the poll’s margin of error [..]

Among the 72% of voters who say they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this fall, Biden’s advantage over Trump widens to 53% to 46%.

It is narrower, however, among those voters who live in the states that will have the most impact on the electoral college this fall. Across 15 battleground states, the survey finds Biden has the backing of 49% of registered voters, while Trump lands at 48%.

The movement in the poll among voters nationwide since June is concentrated among men (they split about evenly in June, but now 56% back Trump, 40% Biden), those between the ages of 35 and 64 (they tilt toward Trump now, but were Biden-leaning in June) and independents (in June, Biden held a 52% to 41% lead, but now it’s a near even 46% Biden to 45% Trump divide).

 

The picture painted, especially amongst the most dedicated anti-Trumpers, is of course that Biden can’t lose; that’s what they all want, right? Well, think about it: CNN lives off of Trump, and so does a large part of the MSM. But then again, they made their beds and they’ll have to lie in them. The Democratic Party, however, does not. They are free to sabotage their own campaign.

And as I said above, there are many signs that MAY indicate that they are doing just that. The selection of Joe Biden, the basement strategy, the subsequent “appointment” of Kamala Harris, the near-dead convention. Do appreciate, please, that we have no idea how Biden and Kamala were “selected”. How did Biden all of a sudden rise to the top of the crop from seemingly nowhere? Where did Kamala come from post-primary mayhem? Did Joe personally pick her? Do you believe that?

But okay, if you don’t think that they would sabotage their own campaign, flip things around: if they WOULD have wanted to make sure they’d lose the election, what would they have done, you know, the donors behind the veil, plus maybe the Obamas and Clintons? Wouldn’t they perhaps have picked Biden and Kamala, whom very few people appeared to actually like, find sympathetic, prior to them being selected for their respective roles? Why not select people that DO resonate with voters without you having to forcefully shove them down their throats?

Why would a bunch of power-hungry folk (as all politicians and their sponsors are) want to screw up their own chance at obtaining power? Well, the lack of good candidates may well be a factor, but there’s something much bigger: the US economy, like most if not all western economies, is wobbling precariously on a precipice, and about to fall off. As I labeled it recently: The Bottom Is Falling Out.

Our entire present reality is still somewhat new, the COVID pandemic, its fallout, the bailouts, the government checks, the sick and the dead, but at some point it will all start to become a “normal” part of life. That doesn’t mean, however, that the economy will return to “normal” (whatever anybody ever thought that meant).

An enormous number of businesses will never reopen, entire fields will be obliterated, re: tourism, airlines, a large swath of retail stores. The unemployment that generates will be with us for many years. The Great Depression will become a mere footnote in most history books.

And the parties in charge in various countries, including the GOP in America, will be the ones blamed for most of the ensuing problems. If you’re a Democrat behind-the-curtain wizard, wouldn’t you at least consider saying: I think I’ll pass for this round, and let Trump take the heat?

Just so, you know, you can continue your cooperation with CNN, NYT, WaPo, FBI, and blame Trump every single day and 1000 times on Sunday for everything that falls apart, while continuing to generate clickbait profits ? If all you got to show for your grand ambitions is Joe Biden, it must seem a really appealing course of action.

Besides, you don’t appear to have any better candidates than Biden -at least not centrist ones-, but don’t forget that neither do the Republicans once Trump is gone. Da Donald is set to leave a huge hole behind where he once pontificated. And just about any Democrat except for Joe Biden could step right into that hole (pun intended).

 

 

 

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Sep 092019
 
 September 9, 2019  Posted by at 9:48 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Maya 1939

 

 

To everyone used to receiving Automatic Earth posts in their email, I’m sorry but since Saturday they’re suddenly bouncing again en masse. This makes me very tired by now, but I’ll look for a solution. I suspect there may be a connection between this and Google accusing me of violating their rules, without telling me what rules I’m supposed to have violated.

 

 

 

Brexit Heading For Dramatic Supreme Court Showdown (Ind.)
Boris Johnson ‘Sabotage’ Letter To EU ‘Would Break Law’ (G>)
Johnson Has Reneged On Good Friday Agreement Vows, Says EU (G.)
EU’s Ex-Legal Chief Says Johnson’s Plan To ‘Shut Down EU’ Will Fail (Ind.)
China’s Exports To US Fell 16% In August As Trump Escalates Trade War (CNBC)
Air China Denies Plans To Take Over Cathay Pacific (R.)
Nearly All British Airways Flights Canceled As Pilots Go On Strike (CNN)
States Expected To Target Google In New Antitrust Probe (AP)
Yanis Varoufakis’ Close-Up (K.)
Australia Launches Emergency Relocation Of Fish (G.)

 

 

Really, what is not to like about the Brexit comedy? it’s the British doing what they do best. Parliament will vote for a law that forces Boris to send a letter to Brussels asking for an extension to Article 50, and he plans to send a second letter saying he doesn’t want that extension.

Anyway, Supreme Court it always would be. But can that court tell parliamentarians or a prime minster what to do, or are they above the court in legal standing, as a lower court suggested last week? Too late to get a constitution now. But not too late to make this much more chaotic still.

There is even a plan for the UK to shut down the EU.

Brexit Heading For Dramatic Supreme Court Showdown (Ind.)

The battle for Brexit is heading for a nailbiting showdown in the Supreme Court in late October – when the deadline for crashing out of the EU will be just days away – after Boris Johnson’s new strategy was revealed. Ministers plan to manufacture a legal fight to avoid directly breaking the law when compelled to ask for a further Article 50 extension, while also sidestepping the requirement to comply with it. The “plan B” paves the way for an unprecedented constitutional crisis after parliament’s deadline for seeking a Brexit delay passes on 19 October – with the threat of the prime minister being jailed for contempt of court. With the deadline for crashing out on 31 October, it will be a race against time to force Mr Johnson to Brussels before Halloween, or to bring him down in a vote of no confidence and send a replacement.

Labour condemned the strategy as behaving like “every tinpot dictator on the planet throughout history” – demanding that Mr Johnson obey the “duty” imposed by parliament. No10 is also reported to be considering sending a letter to the EU requesting a Brexit extension, in order to meet the conditions passed by MPs last week, but then immediately sending another saying the government does not actually want a delay. Legal experts, including former attorney general Lord Falconer, warned that this would still breach the law. If Mr Johnson disregards some or all of the bill’s requirements – which is set to receive royal assent on Monday – this could lead to an emergency judicial review in the courts by MPs.

The unprecedented case would start in the High Court and the expectation is that it would very quickly move to the Supreme Court, almost certainly before 31 October. And it triggered an extraordinary warning from the justice secretary, Robert Buckland, to obey “the rule of law”, as he denied he was poised to follow Amber Rudd by resigning.

Read more …

“..he risked the resignation of the justice secretary, the attorney general, and other members of his cabinet…”

Boris Johnson ‘Sabotage’ Letter To EU ‘Would Break Law’ (G>)

A former supreme court justice has said Boris Johnson would be in contempt of court if he applied for article 50 extension while simultaneously trying to get the EU to reject it. Reports in the Daily Telegraph suggested that the prime minister has drawn up plans to “sabotage” parliament’s efforts to force through a Brexit extension to prevent the UK leaving the bloc without a deal. He is said to be considering sending an accompanying letter to the EU alongside the request to extend article 50, which would say the government does not want any delay to Brexit. Lord Sumption, a former supreme court justice, said it would not be legal for the prime minister to ask for an extension while rubbishing the request at the same time.


He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The bill or the act as its about to become says that he’s got to apply for an extension. Not only has he got to send the letter, he’s got to apply for an extension. And to send the letter and then try and neutralise it seems to me to be plainly a breach of the act.” A Downing Street source said: “We intend to sabotage any extension. The ‘surrender bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans, there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too.” Sumption said he had read the bill and there was not “the slightest obscurity” about what the government was obliged to do. [..] Sumption said Johnson would not only be in contempt of court if he failed to do what the bill states, he risked the resignation of the justice secretary, the attorney general, and other members of his cabinet.

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“This avoidance of the hard border, it is not just a desire, it is not just about preferences, it is legal obligation.”

Johnson Has Reneged On Good Friday Agreement Vows, Says EU (G.)

European officials have accused Boris Johnson of reneging on pledges to uphold the Good Friday agreement, ahead of the prime minister’s first meeting with his Irish counterpart. Johnson will meet the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin on Monday at a tumultuous moment in the Brexit process, with only 52 days until the UK’s departure. Talks are set to be tense as fears grow in Dublin and Brussels that the British prime minister is backsliding on promises to protect the tightly knit economic and social links on the island of Ireland. “The commitment to all aspects and all the provisions of the letter and spirit of the Good Friday agreement recently seems to be taken more lightly than before,” a senior diplomat from a continental member state told the Guardian.

“This avoidance of the hard border, it is not just a desire, it is not just about preferences, it is legal obligation.” A senior official working for the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told diplomats this week that the UK had reneged on commitments to protect north-south co-operation on the island of Ireland, a key pillar of the Good Friday agreement. Alarm bells were set off by Johnson’s recent letter to the European council president, Donald Tusk, which declared his government could not endorse a commitment made by Theresa May in a December 2017 EU-UK joint report. The Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, fuelled concerns that the government was seeking to back out of past commitments, when he tweeted that the government was “committed to no infrastructure on the NI border”.

Such comments were seen in Brussels as “meaningless” words that marked a significant dilution of the promise to uphold an open border. The May government pledged to protect “north-south cooperation” on the island of Ireland in the 2017 joint report, widely seen in Brussels as a landmark in Brexit talks.

Read more …

Something tells me Dominic Cummings will have more before this is over.

EU’s Ex-Legal Chief Says Johnson’s Plan To ‘Shut Down EU’ Will Fail (Ind.)

Brussels’ former top law officer has rubbished Boris Johnson’s extraordinary plan to sabotage the EU and make it ‘no longer legal’, arguing it makes no sense. Downing Street has threatened to render the bloc no longer “legally constituted”, paralysing its decision making, to force EU leaders to cave in to the UK’s demands. But Jean-Claude Piris, formerly the director-general of the EU Council’s legal service, said the idea – refusing to appoint a new commissioner – would fail to shut down the EU, as No 10 hoped. “The Commission can continue to work and decide legally,” Mr Piris wrote on Twitter, citing a precedent dating back to 1999. Instead, he said: “The UK will be brought to the EUCJ [the European Court of Justice] for violation of its obligation.”


Richard Corbett, the leader of Labour’s bloc of Euro-MPs, echoed the criticism, tweeting: “Nonsense idea that Johnson could paralyse EU to force it to expel UK. “If he refuses to nominate a Commissioner, the UK would be in breach of the treaty – that being so, EU Commission not at fault and can operate legally.” In a dramatic escalation of its battle with Brussels, No 10 believes it can put the EU in breach of its own legal duty for all 28 member states to be represented on its executive branch. The UK would be “disrupting” Brussels life to such a degree that member states will then make it clear they will refuse to grant an Article 50 extension – even if asked for – it hopes. A source told The Independent: “We will turn the pressure onto the EU to show how difficult it will be for them if the UK is still hanging around.”

Read more …

That’s a lot.

China’s Exports To US Fell 16% In August As Trump Escalates Trade War (CNBC)

China’s exports unexpectedly fell in August as shipments to the United States slowed sharply, pointing to further weakness in the world’s second-largest economy and underlining a pressing need for more stimulus as the Sino-U.S. trade war escalates. Beijing is widely expected to announce more support measures in coming weeks to avert the risk of a sharper economic slowdown as the United States ratchets up trade pressure, including the first cuts in some key lending rates in four years. On Friday, the central bank cut banks’ reserve requirements for a seventh time since early 2018 to free up more funds for lending, days after a cabinet meeting signalled that more policy loosening may be imminent.


August exports fell 1% from a year earlier, the biggest fall since June, when it fell 1.3%, customs data showed on Sunday. Analysts had expected a 2.0% rise in a Reuters poll after July’s 3.3% gain. That’s despite analyst expectations that a falling yuan would offset some cost pressure and looming tariffs may have prompted some Chinese exporters to bring forward or “front-load” U.S.-bound shipments into August, a trend seen earlier in the trade dispute. China let its currency slide past the key 7 per dollar level in August for the first time since the global financial crisis, and Washington labelled it a currency manipulator.

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“..the biggest corporate casualty of anti-government protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, demonstrations..”

Air China Denies Plans To Take Over Cathay Pacific (R.)

Air China has no plans to take over Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways, an independent director of the state-owned Chinese carrier told the South China Morning Post newspaper. “Based on what I know, I wouldn’t think that is anywhere on the agenda, no way,” Air China non-executive director Stanley Hui told the newspaper when asked if the carrier, a 30% shareholder, might seek to buy Cathay outright. The Hong Kong airline has become the biggest corporate casualty of anti-government protests after China demanded it suspend staff involved in, or who support, demonstrations that have plunged the former British colony into a political crisis.


Cathay Chairman John Slosar last week announced plans to step down in November, less than three weeks after CEO Rupert Hogg left amid mounting regulatory scrutiny. Air China is Cathay’s second-largest shareholder, behind manager Swire Pacific with a 45% stake. Long-time Swire executive Patrick Healy was last week appointed as Slosar’s replacement.

Read more …

No flights tomorrow either. Big airline.

Nearly All British Airways Flights Canceled As Pilots Go On Strike (CNN)

British Airways says it was forced to cancel “nearly 100 per cent” of flights for Monday and Tuesday after the British pilots union went ahead with a strike. The strike was called for by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) amid a heated dispute over pay with the airline. BALPA said Sunday on Twitter that it put forward a proposal to the carrier’s management Wednesday, but had yet to receive a reply. British Airways said in a statement posted Monday it remains “ready and willing to return to talks with BALPA.”


The airline said it was forced to cancel so many flights because “with no detail from BALPA on which pilots would strike, we had no way of predicting how many would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.” Customers who had flights booked for Monday and Tuesday will likely “not be able to travel as planned,” British Airways said. The airline also advised customers not to go to the airport. Members of the pilots union voted 93% in favor of a strike in July. BALPA said last week that it would be willing to call it off if British Airways returned to the negotiating table. According to its website, BALPA represents more than 10,000 pilots in the United Kingdom — more than 85% of all commercial pilots who fly there.

Read more …

And Facebook in a different probe. But Google is CIA.

States Expected To Target Google In New Antitrust Probe (AP)

A group of states led by Texas is expected to announce an investigation into Google on Monday to examine whether the Silicon Valley tech giant has gotten too big and effective at stomping or acquiring rivals. The probe is the latest blow against big tech companies as antitrust investigations ramp up in the U.S. and around the world. A separate group of states announced an investigation into Facebook’s dominance on Friday. The Department of Justice , the Federal Trade Commission and Congress are also conducting probes.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has said only that the investigation will look at “whether large tech companies have engaged in anticompetitive behavior that stifled competition, restricted access, and harmed consumers.” Reports in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal say Google will be the primary target. Google expects state attorneys general will ask it about past similar investigations in the U.S. and internationally, senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post Friday . Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a market value of more than $820 billion and controls so many aspects of the internet that it’s hard to imagine surfing the web for long without running into at least one of its services. Experts believe the antitrust probe could focus on at least one of three aspects of Google’s business that have caught regulators’ eyes.

Read more …

Background: renowned Greek film director Costa-Gravas has made a movie based on Varoufakis’ book “Adults in the Room,” which recounts Yanis’ dealings with the EU. It was presented at the Venice film festival this week. Well, the Greek press still doesn’t like him (but they dare not ignore Costa-Gavras either). And because of the structure of the press, neither do many Greeks. But they make it about how Yanis presents himself, and sure, maybe it’s too much about him at times. But really, it should be about his ideas, about substance. Unfortunately, those ideas go above their paygrade and understanding. So appearance it is then…

Yanis Varoufakis’ Close-Up (K.)

The term “narcissist,” which has become almost a permanent fixture in any description of Yanis Varoufakis – in tones ranging from the deliberate and angry to the lighthearted and playful, sometimes to the point of absolving him of his sins – is inadequate. A man who writes a book while simultaneously envisioning himself as a big-screen hero does not simply fall into the category of garden-variety delusions of stardom because his actions are rife with intent. Viewing reality through the realm of fiction neither clears nor burdens an official of complicity with regard to how he managed the country’s economic affairs and the stance he adopted more generally, and especially when this concerns an exceptionally crucial period.


Walking down the red carpet does not instantly transform Varoufakis from a former finance minister (who is co-credited with a memorandum and capital controls) into a movie star. The Venice International Film Festival – the glamour, the camera flashes, the gowns – and the reviews of critics neither erase nor transfer political responsibility. The publicity shone on Greece as a result of Costa-Gavras’ film “Adults in the Room,” based on Varoufakis’ book of the same title, shifts the focus of the conversation from the intentions and rules according to which officials with institutional responsibilities ought to abide, to the rule-free realm of art. It takes it away from the need for political figures to answer for their actions and omissions, to the extremely capacious realm of film production and artistic creativity.

Read more …

Noah.

Australia Launches Emergency Relocation Of Fish (G.)

Faced with a looming ferocious summer with little rain forecast, the New South Wales government has embarked on a Noah’s Ark type operation to move native fish from the Lower Darling – part of Australia’s most significant river system – to safe havens before high temperatures return to the already stressed river basin. Researchers have warned of other alarming ecological signs that the Lower Darling River – part of the giant Murray-Darling Basin – is in a dire state, following last summer’s mass fish kills. Professor Fran Sheldon, from Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute, said only one surviving colony of river mussels had been found along the river and there were signs that river red gums were under severe stress.


“If the river red gums die, and some are hundreds of years old, there will be a domino effect. Banks will collapse, there will be massive erosion and it will send sediments down the river.” “These sort of ecological collapses are much harder and expensive to reverse,” she warned. The New South Wales government announced a $10m rescue package last week to mitigate the effects of the river crisis on native fish this summer. The NSW agriculture minister, Adam Marshall, said the unprecedented action would provide “a lifeline for key native species ahead of an expected summer of horror fish kills”. “We’re staring down the barrel of a potential fish Armageddon, which is why we’re wasting little time rolling out this unprecedented action,” Marshall said.

Read more …