Jan 142024
 


Pablo Picasso Blue nude 1902

 

Year of the Dragon: Silk Roads, BRICS Roads, Sino-Roads (Pepe Escobar)
Troubling Questions in Strange Case of Pentagon Chief Missing in Action (SCF)
The Evidence of Genocide Is Chilling, Overwhelming and Incontrovertible (SP)
The Case for Genocide (Chris Hedges)
Israel Dismisses Genocidal Intent as ‘Random Assertions’ (Lauria)
How Israeli Forces Trapped And Killed Ravers At The Nova Festival (Cradle)
Europe’s Big Powers Back Out Of US-Led Bombing Campaign Of Yemen (Cradle)
CIA Providing Intel On Hamas Leaders To Israel – NYT (RT)
Musk Reacts To Death Of Gonzalo Lira (RT)
Friendly Fire (Vivek Ramaswamy)
Judge Berates Lawyers for ‘Inadvertently’ Disclosing Epstein Victim Names |(Sp.)
FBI Stonewalls Over Seth Rich Laptop Production (ZH)
Voter Fraud Convictions Challenge Narrative of Secure Elections (ET)

 

 

 

 

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https://twitter.com/i/status/1746199122409885717

 

 

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3 world wars

 

 

 

 

“..It remains an inextinguishable source of debate to what extent this fabulous economic Great Leap Forward under Deng generated calamitous social consequences..”

Year of the Dragon: Silk Roads, BRICS Roads, Sino-Roads (Pepe Escobar)

On the Russian front, the inimitable Sergey Karaganov has laid down the law: “We should not deny our European roots; we should treat them with care. After all, Europe has given us a lot. But Russia must move forward. And forward does not mean to the West, but to the East and the South. That is where the future of humanity lies.” And that leads us to the Dragon – in the Year of the Dragon.

There were a whopping 3.68 billion Chinese trips by rail in 2023 – an all-time record. China is fast on the way to become an AI global leader by 2030. Tech giant Baidu, for instance, recently released Ernie Bot to rival ChatGPT. AI in China is expanding fast on healthcare, education, and entertainment. Efficiency is the key. Chinese scientists have developed the ACCEL chip – capable of performing 4.6 quadrillion operations per second, in comparison to NVIDIA’s A100, which delivers 0.312 quadrillion operations per second of deep learning performance. China graduates no less than one million more STEM students than the U.S., year after year. This goes way beyond AI. Asian nations always reach the top 20% in science and mathematics competitions.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) may be lousy on geopolitics. But at least they did a public service showing nations that lead the planet in 44 critical technology sectors. China is number one, leading on 37 sectors. The U.S. leads on 7. Everyone else leads zero sectors. These include Defense, space, robotics, energy, the environment, biotechnology, advanced materials, key quantum technology and of course AI. How did China get here? It’s quite enlightening today to revisit a 1996 tome by Maurice Mesner: The Deng Xiaoping Era: An Inquiry into the Fate of Chinese Socialism, 1978-1994. First of all, one needs to know what happened under Mao: “From 1952 to the mid-1970s, net agricultural output in China increased at an average per annum rate of 2.5 percent, whereas the figure for the most intensive period of Japan’s industrialization (from 1868 to 1912) was 1.7 percent.”

Across the industrial sphere, all indicators went up: steel production; coal; cement; timber; electric power; crude oil; chemical fertilizers. “By the mid-1970s, China was also producing substantial numbers of jet airplanes, heavy tractors, railway locomotives, and modern oceangoing vessels. The People’s Republic also became a significant nuclear power, complete with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Its first successful atomic bomb test was held in 1964, the first hydrogen bomb was produced in 1967, and a satellite was launched into orbit in 1970.” Blame it on Mao: he transformed China “from one of the world’s most backward agrarian countries into the sixth-largest industrial power by the mid-1970s.” On most key social and demographic indicators, China compared favorably not only with India and Pakistan in South Asia but also with “’middle-income’ countries whose per capita GNP was five times that of China.”

All these breakthroughs laid down the path for Deng: “The higher yields obtained on individual family farms during the early Deng era would not have been possible had it not been for the vast irrigation and flood-control projects – dams, irrigation works, and river dikes – constructed by collectivized peasants in the 1950s and 1960s.” Of course there were distortions – as the Deng drive produced a de facto capitalist economy presided by a bureaucratic bourgeoisie: “As has been true of the histories of all capitalist economies, the power of the state was very much involved in establishing China’s labor market. Indeed, in China a highly repressive state apparatus played a particularly direct and coercive role in the commodification of labor, a process that has proceeded with a rapidity and on a scale that is historically unprecedented.” It remains an inextinguishable source of debate to what extent this fabulous economic Great Leap Forward under Deng generated calamitous social consequences.

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“..It is not clear if he was always conscious during this period or under sedation..”

Troubling Questions in Strange Case of Pentagon Chief Missing in Action (SCF)

It seems utterly bizarre that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin – the second-highest ranking civilian military commander in the United States – was absent from duty for several weeks without President Joe Biden or Congress knowing about it. A charitable view would be to call the scandal a “comedy of errors”. More appropriately, however, are urgent concerns about the implications for global peace and security. The U.S. resembles a juggernaut out of control careening along a precipice. This inexplicable prolonged gap in U.S. military command and control at the apex of the Pentagon goes from bizarre to deeply worrying considering the rapidly deteriorating security conditions in the Middle East. And especially because the deterioration is largely caused by the United States and its accomplices in their blatant contempt for international law.

This week, the United States and its British ally carried out over 100 cruise missile strikes against Yemen, purportedly in retaliation for Yemen’s blocking of commercial shipping in the Red Sea. The Yemenis claim that their actions to interdict shipping are legally entitled by their support for Palestinians suffering 90 days of genocidal aggression from Israel backed by the U.S. Indeed, the Middle East powder-keg situation is set for an escalation towards an all-out region-wide war given the weeks of tensions caused by the U.S.-backed genocide in Gaza by Israel. American bases in Iraq and Syria have come under fire in retaliation for U.S. and Israeli assassinations of senior Palestinian and other Arab militant leaders. There is growing fear that the violence will spiral into an open armed confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Given this ferment of conflict, it seems incredible that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was effectively missing in action for several weeks without his nominal superior, Joe Biden, knowing of his whereabouts. Biden’s other title is Commander-in-Chief. In the supposed civilian command structure of the United States military, Austin is second to Biden. Among their supposed responsibilities is the command of U.S. nuclear forces. Austin underwent surgery on December 22 for prostate cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. A subsequent urinary tract infection then caused Austin to be hospitalized again on January 1 for several more days. It is not clear if he was always conscious during this period or under sedation.

It then transpired in recent days that during those weeks of absence, the Biden White House did not know about Austin’s surgery or subsequent hospitalization. Even Austin’s designated Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, also did not know the exact reason for her boss’s absence. Enquiries have now been launched by the Armed Services Committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are even bipartisan calls for Austin’s resignation due to accusations of gross dereliction of duty to adequately inform the White House and Congress about his leave of absence.

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“The Hague won’t stop us – Netanyahu..”

The Evidence of Genocide Is Chilling, Overwhelming and Incontrovertible (SP)

Notable quotes from Jan. 11 ICJ hearing

From South African attorney Tembeka Ngcukaitobi:

“There is an extraordinary feature in this case: that Israel’s political leaders, military commanders, and persons holding official positions have systematically and in explicit terms declared their genocidal intent… And these statements are then repeated by soldiers on the ground in Gaza as they engage in the destruction of Palestinians and the physical infrastructure of Gaza.” “What state would admit to a genocidal intent? Yet the distinctive feature of this case has not been the silence as such but the reiteration and repetition of genocidal speech throughout every sphere of state in Israel.” “We remind the court of the identity and authority of the genocidal inciters: the prime minister, the president the minister of defense, the minister of national security, the minister of energy and infrastructure, members of the Knesset, senior army officials, and foot soldiers… The evidence of genocidal intent is not only chilling, it is also overwhelming and incontrovertible.”

From South African attorney Adila Hassim:

“Israel has subjected Gaza to what has been described as one of the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare. Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli weaponry and bombs from air, land and sea. They are also at immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease as a result of the ongoing siege by Israel, the destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population, and the impossibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall. This conduct renders essentials to life unobtainable.“

“…the level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza. … Palestinians in Gaza are subjected to relentless bombing wherever they go. They are killed in their homes, in places where they seek shelter, in hospitals, in schools, in mosques, in churches, and as they try to find food and water for their families. They have been killed if they failed to evacuate. In the places to which they have fled, and even while they attempted to flee along, Israeli declared safe routes.” “Israel has killed an unparalleled and unprecedented number of civilians with the full knowledge of how many civilian lives each bomb will take.“

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“Thousands more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been arrested, blindfolded, numbered, beaten, forced to strip to their underwear, loaded onto trucks and transported to unknown locations…”

The Case for Genocide (Chris Hedges)

The exhaustive 84-page brief submitted by South Africa to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) charging Israel with genocide is hard to refute. Israel’s campaign of indiscriminate killing, wholesale destruction of infrastructure, including housing, hospitals and water treatment plants, along with its use of starvation as a weapon, accompanied by genocidal rhetoric from its political and military leaders who speak of destroying Gaza and ethnically cleansing the 2.3 million Palestinians, makes a strong case against Israel for genocide. Israel’s smearing of South Africa as “the legal arm” of Hamas exemplifies the bankruptcy of its defense, a smear replicated by those who claim that demonstrations held to call for a ceasefire and protect Palestinian human rights are “anti-Semitic.” Israel, its genocide live streamed to the world, has no substantial counter argument.

But that does not mean the judges on the court will rule in South Africa’s favor. The pressure the U.S. will bring – Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called the South African charges “meritless” – on the judges, drawn from the member states of the U.N., will be intense. A ruling of genocide is a stain that Israel – which weaponizes the Holocaust to justify its brutalization of the Palestinians – would find hard to remove. It would undercut Israel’s insistence that Jews are eternal victims. It would shatter the justification for Israel’s indiscriminate killing of unarmed Palestinians and construction of the world’s largest open air prison in Gaza, along with the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It would sweep away the immunity to criticism enjoyed by the Israel lobby and its Zionist supporters in the U.S., who have successfully equated criticisms of the “Jewish State” and support for Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism.

Over 23,700 Palestinians, including over 10,000 children, have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas and other resistance fighters breached the security barriers around Gaza. Some 1,200 people were killed – there is strong evidence that some of the victims were killed by Israeli tank crews and helicopter pilots that intentionally targeted the some 200 hostages along with their captors. Thousands more Palestinians are missing, presumed buried under the rubble. Israeli attacks have left over 60,000 Palestinians wounded and maimed, the majority of them women and children. Thousands more Palestinian civilians, including children, have been arrested, blindfolded, numbered, beaten, forced to strip to their underwear, loaded onto trucks and transported to unknown locations.

A ruling by the court could be years away. But South Africa is asking for provisional measures that would demand Israel cease its military assault – in essence a permanent ceasefire. This decision could come within two or three weeks. It is a decision that is not based on the final ruling by the court, but on the merits of the case brought by South Africa. The court would not, by demanding Israel end its hostilities in Gaza, define the Israeli campaign in Gaza as genocide. It would confirm that there is the possibility of genocide, what the South African lawyers call acts that are “genocidal in character.”

The case will not be determined by the documentation of specific crimes, even those defined as war crimes. It will be determined by genocidal intent – the intent to eradicate in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group – as defined in the Genocide Convention. These acts collectively include the targeting of refugee camps and other densely packed civilian areas with 2,000-pound bombs, the blocking of humanitarian aid, the destruction of the health care system and its effects on children and pregnant women – the U.N. estimates there are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, and that more than 160 babies are delivered every day – as well as repeated genocidal statements by leading Israeli politicians and generals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu equated Gaza with Amalek, a nation hostile to the Israelites in the Bible, and cited the Biblical injunction to kill every Amalek man, woman, child or animal. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called Palestinians “human animals.” Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated, as the South African lawyers told the court, that everybody in Gaza is responsible for what happened on Oct. 7 because they voted for Hamas, although half the population in Gaza are children who are too young to vote. But even if the entire population of Gaza did vote for Hamas this does not make them a legitimate military target. They are still, under the rules of war, civilians, and entitled to protection. They are also entitled under international law to resist their occupation via armed struggle.

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‘We will eliminate everything. We will reach all places. Eliminate everything there, reach all places without any restraints.’

Israel Dismisses Genocidal Intent as ‘Random Assertions’ (Lauria)

In its defense against allegations by South Africa that it is committing genocide in Gaza, a British barrister arguing at the World Court on Friday for Israel downplayed numerous statements by senior Israeli officials of genocidal intent against Palestinians as mere “random assertions” that prove nothing. Instead, the barrister turned the tables, accusing South Africa itself of complicity in genocide. Kings Counselor Malcolm Shaw, for Israel, told the Court on the second day of a two-day hearing: “As far as acts are concerned in this case, there is little beyond random assertions to demonstrate that Israel has or has had the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part the Palestinian people as such.”

Without proving intent, Shaw argued, a genocide case is impossible. “It is like Hamlet without the prince, a car without an engine,” he said. As Shaw himself pointed out, lawyers for South Africa on Thursday thus “placed considerable emphasis upon intent.” They laid out in great detail the “genocidal rhetoric” of Israeli officials and how it has influenced Israeli soldiers and airmen attacking Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice referred to an Old Testament genocide implying the same was needed for Gaza, argued attorney Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. “The genocidal invocation to Amalek was anything but idle,” Ngcukaitobi said. He then showed a video of Israeli soldiers singing in celebration of a victory in Gaza, in which they mention Amalek.

On Oct. 9, Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, Ngcukaitobi, went on:] “gave a situation update to the Army where he said that as Israel was imposing a complete siege on Gaza, there would be ‘no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel,’ everything would be closed because Israel is fighting human animals. Speaking to troops on the Gaza border, he instructed them that he has released all the restraints and that Gaza won’t return to what it was before. ‘We will eliminate everything. We will reach all places. Eliminate everything there, reach all places without any restraints.’ Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said that Israel must find ways for Gazans that are more painful than death. It is no answer to say that neither are in command of the army. They are ministers in the Israeli government. They vote in the Knesset and are in a position to shape state policy. The intent to destroy Gaza has been nurtured at the highest levels of state. …

Senior political and military officials encouraged without censure, the 95 year old Israeli army reservist Ezra Yachin, a veteran of the Deir Yassin massacre against the Palestinians in 1948, to speak to the soldiers ahead of the ground invasion in Gaza. In his talk, he echoed the same sentiment while being driven around in an official Israeli army vehicle dressed in Israeli army fatigue. ‘I quote the triumphant and finish them off and don’t leave anyone behind. Erase the memory of them. Erase them, their families, mothers and children. These animals can no longer live. If you have an Arab neighbor, don’t wait. Go to his home and shoot him. We want to invade. Not like before. We want to enter and destroy what’s in front of us and destroy houses.’”

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Hannibal.

How Israeli Forces Trapped And Killed Ravers At The Nova Festival (Cradle)

Israeli forces had not only the fire power, but also an official order to kill Israelis at Nova. A major reason Hamas launched the Al-Aqsa Flood operation was to take Israeli captives that could be exchanged for the thousands of Palestinians held captive in Israeli prisons. But Israeli forces were determined to prevent Hamas from taking captives back to Gaza, even if this meant killing the captured civilians. An investigation of Israel’s long-controversial Hannibal Directive concludes that “from the point of view of the army, a dead soldier is better than a captive soldier who himself suffers and forces the state to release thousands of captives in order to obtain his release.” But, on 7 October, according to a Yedioth Ahronoth investigation, the Hannibal Directive – which has previously only applied to army captives – was issued against Israeli civilians as well. The Hebrew-language daily writes that “at noon on October 7, the IDF [Israeli army] ordered all of its combat units in practice to use the ‘Hannibal Procedure’ although without clearly mentioning this explicitly by name.”

The order was to stop “at all costs any attempt by Hamas terrorists to return to Gaza, that is, despite the fear that some of them have abductees,” the investigation concludes. In the days and weeks after the incident, Israeli authorities made a great show of distributing images of vehicles destroyed at the festival site, fully implying that the cars – and the dead victims inside – had been burned to a crisp by Palestinian fighters. The Yediot report completely upends that claim: “In the week after the attack, soldiers of elite units checked about 70 vehicles that were left in the area between the settlements and the Gaza Strip. These are vehicles that did not reach Gaza, because on the way they were shot by a combat helicopter, an anti-tank missile or a tank, and at least in some cases everyone in the vehicle was killed,” including Israeli captives.

Nof Erez, the Israeli Air Force colonel noted above, similarly concluded, in regard to Israel’s indiscriminate use of helicopter firepower that day, that “The Hannibal directive was probably deployed because once you detect a hostage situation, this is Hannibal.” An apparent instance of this at the Nova festival was inadvertently documented by the BBC, which reported that video footage showed a woman who was taken hostage, but who: “Suddenly reappears two minutes later. She jumps and waves her arms in the air. She must think help is at hand – by this time, the Israeli Defence Forces had began their efforts to repel the incursion. But seconds later she slumps to the floor as bullets bounce around her. We don’t know if she survived.”

The rationale for the Hannibal Directive was further explained by Brigadier General Barak Hiram, who ordered a tank to open fire on a home to resolve a hostage situation in Kibbutz Be’eri, “even at the cost of civilian casualties.” The strike killed 12 Israelis, including 12-year-old Liel Hetzroni, and dozens of Hamas fighters. “I am very afraid that if we return to Sorana [Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv] and try to hold all kinds of negotiations [to free hostages], we may fall into a trap that will tie our hands and not allow us to do what is required, which is to go in, manipulate, and kill them [Hamas]…”

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“.. a European Union operation in the Red Sea, which is expected to be announced in the coming days..”

Europe’s Big Powers Back Out Of US-Led Bombing Campaign Of Yemen (Cradle)

Europe is divided over the US-UK bombing of Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, as Italy, Spain, and France have refused to take part in the operation. Washington and London carried out late-night strikes on Yemen Thursday evening, which targeted several areas of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The US and UK are seeking to target Yemen’s Ansarallah-led forces for their efforts to target Israeli-linked ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel’s brutal bombing campaign in Gaza, which many view as genocide. The US-UK strikes were supported by Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, and Bahrain, who all signed a joint statement backing the bombing. However, Europe’s major powers, France, Italy, and Spain, refused to take part in the strikes and declined to sign the statement in support of them.

The Italian government, led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, said it was not asked to participate in the US-UK attacks on Yemen. It stated further that even if a request had been made, it could not have participated without a debate and vote in parliament to authorize military action. The Italian deputy prime minister said Italy could not have participated at such short notice “because the constitution does not allow us to commit acts of war without a debate in parliament.” However, a government source told Reuters that Rome had been asked to participate but refused because it preferred a “calming policy.” The French government, led by Emmanuel Macron, also ruled out joint action with the US and UK, unlike in Libya in 2011 and against ISIS in Syria in 2015. French Rear Admiral Emmanuel Slaars said on Thursday that although the French Navy is active in protecting French ships in the Red Sea, Paris’s current mandate did not include striking Ansarallah directly.

The Telegraph reported that an anonymous French official said Paris feared that by joining the US-led assault on Yemen’s Ansarallah-led forces, it would lose any leverage it had in mediating between Hezbollah and Israel. France says it is focusing its diplomatic efforts on avoiding an escalation in Lebanon, where Hezbollah has been fighting Israel on the border since 7 October, also in support of Gaza. In Spain, Minister of Defense Margarita Robles reiterated Friday that Spain will not participate in any military operation against Yemen. She said this included a rejection of participating in a European Union operation in the Red Sea, which is expected to be announced in the coming days. “Spain is a country firmly committed to peace in the world, precisely for that reason we have 17 missions and more than 3,000 people in many places,” Robles acknowledged. “From the beginning we have said that in the Red Sea we understand that Spain is not going to participate at this time.”

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“..government had possessed the details of the group’s plans to strike Israel, code-named Jericho Wall, for over a year without sharing the information widely within Israel or with the US.”

CIA Providing Intel On Hamas Leaders To Israel – NYT (RT)

The CIA is helping Israel gather intelligence on top Hamas officials, for targeting purposes, unnamed US officials have told the New York Times. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan ordered the creation of a task force focused on Hamas in the days following the militant group’s October 7 attack on Israel, the sources claimed. The unit is focused exclusively on high-level officials. The CIA also raised its priority level for Hamas from level four to two, officials said, freeing up additional funding for the collection of intelligence. However, with Gaza’s borders even more tightly locked down than they were before the war and communications networks being deliberately disrupted by Israel, the Times acknowledged that “it will take time to develop new [human] sources.” Washington had previously relied on West Jerusalem for information about Hamas but was alarmed to learn that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had possessed the details of the group’s plans to strike Israel, code-named Jericho Wall, for over a year without sharing the information widely within Israel or with the US.

The US reportedly hopes that focusing on high-level Palestinian militants will reverse some of the negative fallout from West Jerusalem’s devastation of Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure. Officials told the Times they were concerned that Israel’s focus on low-level Hamas operatives was “misguided,” explaining these could be easily replaced. Additionally, they said, the attendant risk to the civilian population was excessive and could even galvanize non-combatants to join the militant resistance. The head of US Central Command, General Michael Erik Kurilla, and several other high-level military officials have traveled to Israel on more than one occasion to urge them to focus on Hamas leaders instead of mid- or low-level fighters, according to the report. Israel claimed at the end of 2023 that it had killed about a third of the 20,000 to 25,000 Hamas fighters believed to reside in Gaza.

Killing or capturing the central Hamas figures believed to be responsible for the October 7 raid that killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped another 240 back to Gaza would be a major public relations victory for the beleaguered Netanyahu government. US officials believe at least one of them – the group’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar – is holed up in a tunnel system deep under the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. The other, military commander Mohammed Deif, has avoided capture by Israel’s security services for decades. Israel has killed upwards of 23,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7 and seriously injured tens of thousands more, according to the enclave’s Health Ministry. The resulting international outcry recently culminated in charges of genocide filed against Israel by South Africa in the International Court of Justice.

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“The Biden administration could have gotten Gonzalo Lira back with a phone call but didn’t lift a finger. Therefore, the Ukrainian government knew it could act with impunity,” Sacks wrote..”

Musk Reacts To Death Of Gonzalo Lira (RT)

Elon Musk has condemned a lack of action on the part of US officials in the case of an American journalist, Gonzalo Lira, who had been jailed by Kiev and who ultimately died in Ukrainian custody. Authorities there allegedly ignored Lira’s serious health problems for a long time, while he remained behind bars on accusations of justifying Moscow’s military operation against Kiev. Lira moved to Ukraine and married a local woman in 2010. When long-simmering tensions between Moscow and Kiev turned to military engagement in February 2022, the journalist started actively covering the fighting on social media. He also blamed the development on Kiev and its Western backers, asserting that Ukraine had no chance of winning against Russia.

Lira, who was 55 when he died, had also been criticizing efforts by Western media to portray Ukraine as a “democracy,” pointing to rampant corruption and publishing a list of Zelensky’s opponents who, he claimed, had been “disappeared” by various authorities. The US State Department confirmed Lira’s death to Russia’s TASS news agency on Friday. He had been in pre-trial detention in Ukraine’s city of Kharkov since May 2023. News website The Grayzone has reported that, since last October, he had severe health problems from pneumonia and a collapsed lung. The Ukrainian authorities only acknowledged the issue on December 22, according to Lira’s own note, cited by the news outlet.

“This is super messed up!” Musk wrote on X (formerly, Twitter) on Saturday, commenting on another post by an entrepreneur and investor, David Sacks, who also slammed US President Joe Biden’s inaction in Lira’s case. “The Biden administration could have gotten Gonzalo Lira back with a phone call but didn’t lift a finger. Therefore, the Ukrainian government knew it could act with impunity,” Sacks wrote. He also described Lira’s case as evidence that Ukraine is controlled by a “thuggish and unmoored regime.” Last month Musk questioned the US approach to Kiev, wondering how it was possible that “an American citizen is in prison in Ukraine after we sent over a $100 billion” to support Kiev amid its conflict with Russia.

He also said that it was a “serious problem” if a person in Ukraine got jailed for “simply criticizing” President Vladimir Zelensky. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO then called on the Ukrainian president to clarify the situation. On Saturday, the issue was also addressed by Donald Trump Jr, son of former US President Donald Trump. He decried Lira’s death as a “murder” and questioned the US policy of sending aid to a country where American citizens are killed. Kiev has insisted that it has rightfully targeted Lira over his activities, with the Security Service of Ukraine repeatedly stating the journalist has been accused of “producing and distributing materials justifying the armed aggression,” as well as disseminating “fakes” about the country’s armed forces.

Lira Nuland

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X thread. The comments show that not everyone’s a fan..

Friendly Fire (Vivek Ramaswamy)

Yes, I saw President Trump’s Truth Social post. It’s an unfortunate move by his campaign advisors, I don’t think friendly fire is helpful. Donald Trump was the greatest President of the 21st century, and I’m not going to criticize him in response to this late attack. I’ve met tens of thousands of Iowans across 390+ events here, and they are deeply worried – and so am I – that this “system” won’t allow Donald J. Trump anywhere near the White House again. It seems they will stop at *nothing* to keep him away from power. I’m worried for Trump. I’m worried for our country. I’ve stood up against the persecutions against Trump, and I’ve defended him at every step.

Vivek Obama

I showed up at the Miami courthouse in solidarity following his first federal indictment. I filed a FOIA demand to the Biden DOJ. I submitted an amicus brief this week with the U.S. Supreme Court calling on them to overturn Colorado’s ruling. I pledged to remove myself from Maine’s & Colorado’s primary ballots if they remove Trump, calling on DeSantis and Haley to do the same. But we have to open our eyes. Last time it was a man-made pandemic & Big Tech election interference. Now, the same billionaires funding the lawsuits against Trump are the ones trying to prop up Nikki Haley. The same MSM blasting Trump is lavishing praise on Nikki.

They want to narrow this to a two-horse race between Trump & Haley, eliminate Trump (one way or other), & trot their puppet into the White House. We can’t fall for that trap. 1 year from now, we won’t look back and say we were shocked that it happened. We’ll kick ourselves for not stopping it. Our movement must live on. America-First didn’t start in 2016. It started in 1776. We owe it to our Founding Fathers to do the right thing for our country. I want to save Trump & to save this country. Let’s do it together. You won’t hear any friendly fire from me.

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Honest mistakes?

Judge Berates Lawyers for ‘Inadvertently’ Disclosing Epstein Victim Names |(Sp.)

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York earlier unsealed scores of documents connected to Jeffrey Epstein, identifying multiple individuals, some of whom include prominent politicians and notable public figures. Lawyers failed to properly redact some of the files tied to the Jeffrey Epstein case, harming the late convicted pedophile’s victims, District Judge Loretta Preska has admitted. According to the judge, the lawyers’ failure to remove classified information resulted in the disclosure of photos, phone numbers, and email addresses of people tied to the case, including Epstein’s victims, referred to as ‘Jane Does.’ “Counsel is thus reminded of the human cost of inadvertently disclosing the names and identifying information of Does, who should have remained under seal,” Preska pointed out.

The victims and others “have reported fearing for their safety and the safety of loved ones,” the judge said, adding that their reputations and personal relationships have been affected. In early January, Preska ordered the release of nearly 200 names tied to the Epstein case, although two people requested their identification remain sealed for the time being, due to the possibility of physical harm. The names include accusers and witnesses in the case. The filings include excerpts of depositions with former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and Virgina Giuffre, who previously accused Maxwell of facilitating her sexual abuse after being introduced to Epstein.

Maxwell was sentenced in 2022 to 20 years in prison on a variety of charges, including sex trafficking for her involvement with Epstein’s criminal doing. Epstein faced 45 years in prison before he was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10, 2019. It happened more than a decade after his first conviction for soliciting prostitution from a minor, for which he was registered as a sex offender. In the latter case, he was accused of running a “vast network” of underage girls for sex. He had pleaded not guilty. His death sparked controversies and wild conspiracy theories that alleged he was silenced in order to protect his more powerful associates.

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They want 66 more years.

FBI Stonewalls Over Seth Rich Laptop Production (ZH)

The FBI has asked a federal court for a second delay after being ordered to produce information from Seth Rich’s computer to a Texas resident, Brian Huddleston who has sued the bureau. Huddleston says that the court should force the agency to produce the information before the 2024 presidential election, as it may show that Rich, not Russians, was Wikileaks’ source of leaked emails which were damaging to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US election. On Thursday, the FBI asked Obama-appointed US District Judge Amos Mazzant to reconsider their request not to produce the documents, and should be withheld under exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The filing was a response to Mazzant’s Nov. 2023 order to hand over images of Mr. Rich’s personal computer, as well as an index of his work computer.

It gets better; the FBI initially claimed that they didn’t have said records – only to later admit to being in possession of Rich’s personal and work computers, along with other items. As if it wasn’t suspicious enough that the FBI is stonewalling on information related to a ‘mugging gone wrong.’ According to Ty Clevenger, Huddleston’s attorney, the judge should deny the FBI’s latest bid for a production delay. “A presidential election is fast approaching, and voters have the right to know (1) whether the FBI knowingly framed one of the frontrunners, i.e., former President Trump; and (2) whether the FBI is still trying to cover up its partisan political activities,” he wrote.

“It is bad enough that FBI personnel took opposition research from the Hillary Clinton campaign and used it to open a bad-faith investigation of Mr. Trump, thereby sabotaging him for more than two years,” Clevenger added. “It would be considerably worse and considerably more scandalous, however, if FBI personnel knew all along that Seth Rich—not Russian hackers—was responsible for leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks.” Many believe that Rich was indeed the source of the leaked DNC emails provided to WikiLeaks – a rumor which was fueled by the odd circumstances surrounding his death, the sudden retirement of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier five weeks after the murder, and an email John Podesta sent to Hillary’s inner circle about ‘making an example’ of a suspected leaker, written more than a year before Rich’s death.

Troves of emails were published by Wikileaks giving insight into the corrupt inner machination of the Democratic National Committee. While Rich was never officially revealed as the source of the leaked emails, it has been heavily suggested. Julian Assange was one key figure who made that suggestion when he highlighted Rich’s murder during a 2016 interview in which he was asked about the risks that come with operating WikiLeaks. Megavideo founder and entrepeneur Kim Dotcom said in May of 2017 that he worked with Rich to connect him with Assange. At one point, Assange heavily implied Rich was his source for the DNC emails. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks offered a $130,000 reward for information leading to the murderer of Rich.

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In the most secure elections in US history, a man who didn’t campaign got the most votes in US history..

Voter Fraud Convictions Challenge Narrative of Secure Elections (ET)

Superior Court Judge William Clark nullified the results of a Democrat mayoral primary in November 2023 and ordered a new election. The ruling was based on hours of video evidence showing hundreds of illegally harvested absentee ballots being stuffed into drop boxes in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “The videos are shocking to the court and should be shocking to all the parties,” Judge Clark wrote in his ruling. A California judge overturned the result in a 2021 Compton City Council run-off race that was initially decided by one vote. The judge tossed four fraudulent ballots cast by people not legally registered in the jurisdiction. Five people pleaded either guilty or no contest to conspiring to commit election fraud. After discovering that 66 of the 84 absentee ballots cast in a 2021 Democrat primary for alderman in Aberdeen, Mississippi, were invalid and shouldn’t have been counted, a judge ordered a new runoff election.

Police arrested a notary for notarizing ballots without watching voters sign them or checking their identification. The court also found evidence of intimidation at the polls involving candidate Nicholas Holliday, Mayor Maurice Howard, and Henry Randal, the town’s police chief. The above examples of election fraud have occurred since the contentious 2020 presidential election that President Donald Trump alleged was marred with fraud. Democrats, meanwhile, have cast the former president’s assertions about the 2020 election as the “big lie” and generally contend that election fraud is extremely rare and inconsequential. In a June 2023 Congressional hearing, Rep. Joe Morelli (D-N.Y.) called Republican members’ attitudes about widespread voter fraud “cynical” and the series of election integrity hearings they were conducting in the House “tedious” and “redundant. Mr. Morelli said Republicans are fixated on an “unproven lack of integrity” that they claim exists.

However, an ongoing study by the Heritage Foundation details widespread instances of election fraud across the United States and shows that the illicit activity has resulted in election results being overturned in at least a dozen races. In a number of cases, the abuse of the system is well-calculated and organized, but in most instances violations appear to have been committed by individuals acting independently. Case studies show that some perpetrators exploit the aged, mentally infirm, and homeless in order to garner a few more votes for their preferred candidate. Heritage’s findings were bolstered by a Rasmussen Reports and Heartland Institute poll of 1,085 likely voters published in December 2023.

The poll found that 21 percent of those who voted by absentee or mail-in ballot in 2020 admitted to filling out a ballot “in part or in full” for someone else, which is illegal. Of the 30 percent who said they voted by mail or absentee ballot in 2020, 19 percent said a friend or family member filled out their ballot, in part or in full, on their behalf. One-fifth said they signed a ballot or ballot envelope “on behalf of a friend or family member, with or without their permission,” the poll results state. Seventeen percent of those who voted by mail in 2020 said they cast a ballot in a state where they’re no longer a permanent resident, which is illegal. Among the 1,085 voters questioned, 8 percent said that a friend, family member, political party, or organization offered “to pay or reward them for voting in the 2020 election,” according to the poll.

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Czech cartoon

 

 

Tasmanian tiger

 

 

Loved

 

 

 

 

Trust jump

 

 


Tobias Messerli, Utzingen, Switzerland.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 302023
 


Paul Cézanne Curtains 1885

 

Israel’s Gaza Offensive Ends in Political, Military Defeat – Scott Ritter (Sp.)
Erdogan Dubs Netanyahu ‘Butcher of Gaza’ (RT)
Hamas Informs Mediators of Willingness To Extend Gaza Truce (Cradle)
Pentagon Struggling To Pay For Middle East Buildup – Politico (RT)
CIA Director Increasingly Supplanting ‘Neocon’ Blinken in Gaza Diplomacy (Sp.)
No Ukraine Ceasefire In 2024 – Moscow (RT)
Deep State Wants to Dump Zelensky After He Outlives Usefulness (Sp.)
Has The Ukraine Conflict Entered Its Endgame? (RT)
West Watching Zelensky-Zaluzhny Fight, Thumbs Up to Most Malleable (Sp.)
Hunter to Face a Moment of Truth Before the House Oversight Committee (Turley)
Russian Oligarchs Contemplate The Devil And The Deep Sea (Helmer)
The French Are Desperate For A New Napoleon. Will They Get One? (Marsden)
DOJ Ordered Twitter Data for Everyone Who Liked, Followed, Retweeted Trump (PB)
Elon Musk to Companies Pulling Ads From X: ‘Go F*** Yourself’ (Sp.)
‘Make Them Pay’: Trump Attacks MSNBC in Social Media Salvo (Sp.)
Judge Rules Contents of Seth Rich Laptop Must Be Released…(CTH)

 

 

 

 

Trump Tucker

 

 

 

 

Jeffrey Sachs

 

 

Ritter

 

 

 

 

Bill Gates

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The world has flipped against Israel. Israel has been exposed as a war criminal state,” Ritter said. “Even America, who has shown the ability to chug blood by the gallon, is saying ‘enough is enough’.”

Israel’s Gaza Offensive Ends in Political, Military Defeat – Scott Ritter (Sp.)

Israel has lost both the political and military battle in the Gaza Strip, says a leading geopolitical commentator. Israel and the Hamas Islamic resistance movement that governs the besieged Palestinian enclave reportedly agreed on Tuesday to extend the four-day ceasefire, brokered by Persian Gulf Arab state Qatar, for another two to three days. Exchanges of captives will continue during that extension, with Hamas releasing 20 Israelis taken prisoner during its October 7 raids into southern Israel. The number of Palestinians to be freed was not reported, but Israel had previously released 180 women and children from its jails in return for 61 Israeli civilians and roughly 20 foreigners held by Hamas. Former US Marine Scott Ritter told Sputnik that the bombing and ground invasion had been unsuccessful when measured “by Israel’s own standards.” He pointed out that Israel had dismissed any talk of a ceasefire from the start of the latest escalation on October 7, while Hamas had offered a truce and prisoner exchange.

“That was Hamas’ goal all along,” Ritter said. “One of the stated objectives of Hamas was to get Israel to release the thousands of Palestinians that it’s holding.” The commentator noted that Hamas had made three political demands after launching its al-Aqsa Flood operation: statehood for Palestine, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and an end to Israeli settler and police incursions into the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem — Islam’s third holiest site and under Jordanian jurisdiction. “Those are the three big things. Hamas is on the path of accomplishing every single one of those,” Ritter stressed. “War is an extension of politics by other means. Hamas is winning politically.” By contrast, the conflict had been a political disaster for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

More than 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in nearly two months of Israeli bombing and ground incursions, with 35,000 wounded and 6,000 still missing under the rubble of destroyed homes. “The world has flipped against Israel. Israel has been exposed as a war criminal state,” Ritter said. “Even America, who has shown the ability to chug blood by the gallon, is saying ‘enough is enough’.” But ultimately, the former UN weapons inspector argued, Netanyahu was forced to accept the ceasefire “because Israel had been fought to a standstill in Gaza.” “You can look at the map and look at all the blue there. That’s empty space. That’s uncontested, destroyed urban areas,” Ritter said. “But the bulk of Gaza, northern Gaza ain’t under Israeli control.”

He asserted that in the days leading up to the truce, Israeli troops had refused to go into battle “because they were getting slaughtered, because they were going in to Hamas’ trap.” “Hamas was springing up here, there and everywhere and taking them out,” Ritter said. “They only killed a thousand lightly-armed Hamas people. All that bombing, and they only got 1,000. Are you kidding me? What does that tell you? That Hamas knows what they’re doing, that Hamas is deep underground, that Hamas was prepared for this fight and this fight had only just begun.”

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“Netanyahu, who committed one of the greatest atrocities of the last century in Gaza, has already inscribed his name in history as the ‘Butcher of Gaza’..”

Erdogan Dubs Netanyahu ‘Butcher of Gaza’ (RT)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has committed in Gaza one of the worst atrocities of the century, making his mark in history a bloody one, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a parliamentary group meeting on Wednesday. In his televised speech, he spoke out against the Israeli military operation in the Palestinian enclave. Erdogan blasted “human rights violations and acts of war in Gaza” and the “apathy of most Western nations,” stating that Türkiye “will exhaust all efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable under international law and moral responsibility.” The speech echoed a conversation Erdogan had with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday, when the Turkish president called for Israel to be held to account for continuing to “blatantly trample on international law, the law of war and humanitarian law.”

Israel has waged war on the militant group Hamas since October 7, after the latter’s surprise attack on Israeli soil claimed more than 1,200 lives, mostly civilians, while another 200 were taken hostage. West Jerusalem retaliated with, as Erdogan put it “a kind of genocide by cutting off the food, fuel, medicine, bread, electricity, water, and communication of 2.3 million people, squeezing them into a 360-square-kilometer open-air prison.” “Netanyahu, who committed one of the greatest atrocities of the last century in Gaza, has already inscribed his name in history as the ‘Butcher of Gaza,’” the Turkish president proclaimed. The subsequent Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombing campaign and ground operation have resulted in more than 16,000 Palestinian deaths, including women and children, according to local officials.

Netanyahu fired back at earlier comments by Erdogan that Israel was a “terrorist state” by stating that the Turkish president “supports the terrorist state of Hamas.” Erdogan expressed his view that Netanyahu’s actions in Gaza and the press they have elicited are “fueling anti-Semitism and endangering the safety of all Jews along with the Israeli people.” Following significant international pressure, a four-day humanitarian pause in the Gaza hostilities was arranged last week and subsequently extended. An exchange of prisoners followed, with Hamas trading their hostages for Palestinians kept as prisoners in Israel.

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“We are working to strengthen the Qatari mediation role in reaching a truce and then a permanent cease-fire.”

Hamas Informs Mediators of Willingness To Extend Gaza Truce (Cradle)

Citing alleged Hamas sources, AFP reported on 29 November that the Palestinian resistance group is looking to extend the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for at least four more days. “Hamas has informed the mediators that it is willing to extend the truce for four days and that the movement would be able to release Israeli prisoners that it, other resistance movements, and other parties hold during this period, according to the terms of the existing truce,” the sources revealed to AFP. The temporary truce between the Palestinian resistance and Israel, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, is set to expire early on Thursday after a two-day extension. If what the AFP sources say is confirmed, it would more than double the length of the initial ceasefire between the warring parties, a deal that has Israeli government members red with rage.

Egyptian media has reported that efforts to extend the truce for a few additional days are “a possibility” and that “the conditions for the release of Israeli military will be completely different.” On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Qatari and Egyptian mediators are working to extend the current ceasefire in Gaza. “A long-term cease-fire would likely require Israel and Hamas to make hard-to-swallow concessions, such as trading Israeli soldiers for potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” Egyptian and Qatari officials told WSJ. On Tuesday, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari said, “We are working to strengthen the Qatari mediation role in reaching a truce and then a permanent cease-fire.”

So far, as part of the extended six-day temporary ceasefire, 60 Israeli captives and 180 Palestinian prisoners have already been released, and more are set to walk free on 29 November. Teenagers were among the Palestinian prisoners released by Israel as part of the temporary ceasefire. Mohammad Nazzal was among those released who mentioned that the Israelis beat the teenager and other prisoners “without any reason.”

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“..the military “had to pull money from existing operations and maintenance accounts.”

Pentagon Struggling To Pay For Middle East Buildup – Politico (RT)

The Pentagon is scrambling to find money to pay for a military buildup in the Middle East amid the Hamas-Israel conflict due to gridlock in the US Congress, which has so far been unable to approve full defense funding, Politico reported on Tuesday. The US Department of Defense, along with many other federal agencies, is now operating under a stopgap funding bill which was signed by US President Joe Biden earlier this month to avert a potential government shutdown. The measure, which did not satisfy Biden’s request for additional money for Israel and Ukraine, also freezes other types of defense spending at the previous year’s levels.

Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood told Politico that since no one planned for a massive redeployment of US forces to the Middle East after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the military “had to pull money from existing operations and maintenance accounts.” This means less funding for exercises and deployments that had already been planned. “We’re taking it out of hide,” the spokesman said. Since the start of the Middle East crisis, the US has deployed two aircraft carriers with escorts, additional missile and air defense systems, more than 1,000 troops, and an Ohio-class nuclear-powered missile submarine to the region. The military buildup came as the US declared unequivocal support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinian armed group Hamas, as well as fears that hostilities could lead to a major regional escalation involving Iran and Islamist organizations with ties to Tehran.

US defense officials had previously sounded the alarm about the congressional stalemate, warning that a lack of funding could harm not only shipbuilding and procurement programs, but the industrial base itself. Speaking to Defense News, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Radha Plumb did not rule out the possibility of an “additive domino effect of delays,” noting that suppliers could be especially hard-hit by this. Meanwhile, Under Secretary of Defense Bill LaPlante warned of potential layoffs in contractor companies due to the lack of Pentagon funding. According to Politico, if US lawmakers are unable to pass a full spending bill by spring, the Pentagon and other federal departments will have to cut their overall expenses by 1%.

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“..Biden is going out of his way to make sure that none of the above will be an impediment to them getting weapons,” said Kovalik. “He’s already going to be remembered for dead children in Gaza.”

CIA Director Increasingly Supplanting ‘Neocon’ Blinken in Gaza Diplomacy (Sp.)

Labor attorney and human rights activist Dan Kovalik joined Sputnik’s Political Misfits crew Tuesday to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. As a fragile ceasefire of hostilities continues, Washington has reportedly been working behind the scenes to secure the release of captives and facilitate negotiations in Qatar. Increasingly, one Biden administration figure has been playing a key role in US statecraft. “The irony of ironies is that [William] Burns, who’s the head of the CIA, actually has much more of a diplomatic temperament than [Antony] Blinken does,” said Kovalik, claiming that Biden’s Secretary of State has taken a backseat in secret negotiations regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict. “Blinken’s a neocon. And in terms of what’s happening in Ukraine and in what’s happening in Gaza, he’s extreme, and has really tended to do things to increase the chance for conflict rather than the opposite.” Secretary of State Blinken has a relationship with Biden going back decades, making him one of the closest members of the White House cabinet to the current president.

But host John Kiriakou suspects the career diplomat is “in over his head” on matters relating to Israel. “Burns is a man of action,” Kiriakou claimed, to which Kovalik agreed before adding: “Burns has been a much more calm and considered diplomat.” “He’s been a voice of reason,” continued Kovalik, noting Burns’ past recognition that Ukraine joining NATO “would be a red line for Russia that we don’t want to cross.” President Biden elevated the Central Intelligence Agency director to a cabinet-level position earlier this year, representing the increasing importance of the controversial agency. The CIA’s often underhanded practices were once highly controversial in the United States, famously culminating in the Senate Church Committee hearings in 1975. The inquiry uncovered a plethora of abuses committed by the agency, including the MKULTRA human experimentation program, support for the Chilean coup against Salvador Allende, and domestic spying and infiltration of civil rights groups.

Since then the CIA’s tactics have increasingly been adopted by other government agencies such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. When former President Donald Trump made ex-CIA director Mike Pompeo his secretary of state, it seemed to imply a complete merger between the secretive government body and America’s public-facing foreign policy establishment. Biden’s reliance on Burns may provide him with an expanded toolset in the United States’ increasingly unpopular support for Israel’s military incursion, but it could also risk damaging Biden’s long-term reputation, which Kovalik noted is already at risk after the announcement of support for sending unlimited supplies of US weapons to Israel. “At a time that israel is being credibly accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing and war crimes, Biden is going out of his way to make sure that none of the above will be an impediment to them getting weapons,” said Kovalik. “He’s already going to be remembered for dead children in Gaza.”

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“..Moscow’s relationship with the US-led military bloc is unlikely to recover anytime soon “for reasons of principle and practical nature..”

No Ukraine Ceasefire In 2024 – Moscow (RT)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov sees no chance for a ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict next year, considering that Kiev and its Western backers have taken a position that is totally unacceptable to Moscow. The senior diplomat offered his analysis of Russia’s relations with NATO and Ukraine in an interview with the newspaper Izvestia published on Wednesday. He expects no breakthroughs, despite suggestions in the Western press that the US may be nudging Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky towards a negotiated settlement. “Unfortunately, the US leads the Western group, which recites the ‘Zelensky peace formula’ as mantra, claiming it to be the only possible basis for an agreement,” he said, adding that a dialogue is “impossible on this basis.”

Asked whether he expected a ceasefire next year, Ryabkov responded negatively. He said: “I expect the goals of the special military operation to be unconditionally achieved.” The ‘peace formula’ proposed by Zelensky last year entails Kiev reassuming control over its pre-2014 borders and receiving war reparations from Moscow and subjecting Russian officials to a war tribunal amid extensive international support for Ukraine. Moscow has dismissed the proposal as being detached from reality. The German tabloid Bild claimed last week that Washington and Berlin were rationing arms deliveries to Ukraine to pressure Zelensky into concessions. The White House has said that its policy remained the same and it was up to Kiev to decide how to conduct the war.

However, David Arakhamia, a key Zelensky ally who leads the ruling party’s faction in parliament and headed up the Ukrainian delegation at last year’s peace talks in Istanbul, recently provided further grounds for doubt about how independent Kiev’s policy has been. He confirmed in an interview last Friday that then-UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had derailed a possible truce with Russia, telling the Ukrainian leadership to “just make war.” Moscow’s primary goal was Ukraine’s neutrality, Arakhamia said.

Ryabkov reiterated that NATO’s expansion in Europe was the key cause of the Ukraine conflict. Moscow’s relationship with the US-led military bloc is unlikely to recover anytime soon “for reasons of principle and practical nature,” he told Izvestia. “If someone in the West thinks we need that relationship and will at some point come and ask for it to be restored, that is a great error in judgment,” he said. NATO members are “gambling” by encroaching on fundamental Russian interests and apparently believe that there can be no limit to upping the ante, but “they may end up among the losers,” Ryabkov warned.

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Does he have time left to save his hide?

Deep State Wants to Dump Zelensky After He Outlives Usefulness (Sp.)

Talk in Western media about the possibility of a peace deal with Russia and increasing political and media criticism of Volodymyr Zelensky at home signals that he’s lost his value as a puppet for Western elites and that they’re preparing to dump him, French politician Florian Philippot believes. “Now that Zelensky is no longer useful and annoys NATO with his stubbornness as the theater of conflict has moved on to the Middle East, the Deep State wants to get rid of him,” Philippot wrote in a social media post. As evidence, the Gaullist politician pointed to a recent report in Germany’s Bild newspaper on the existence of a “secret peace plan” scenario and plans by Washington and Berlin to pressure Zelensky into negotiations with Russia, as well as “growing political and media criticism against Zelensky” in Ukraine itself, causing the leader, in fear of his safety, to begin firing people left and right.

“France must not allow itself to be duped by being the last country ‘at war’ against Russia,” Philippot urged, referring to Paris’ not insubstantial support for Kiev in NATO’s ongoing proxy war with Moscow. Philippot is the former vice president of Marine Le Pen’s National Front (now called the National Rally), a conservative populist, Eurosceptic party, and served as strategic director Le Pen’s presidential campaign in 2011. He split off and created his own party, The Patriots, in 2017. The politician’s remarks come amid growing wariness among Kiev’s Western backers over the thought of endlessly continuing the proxy war with Russia in Ukraine after Washington’s goals of “weakening Russia” militarily and economically or instituting regime change in the Kremlin failed to pan out. The situation made worse after Kiev’s disastrous counteroffensive this past summer, which cost Ukraine tens of thousands of its best troops and hundreds of pieces of Western-provided military equipment, including artillery and main battle tanks.

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“In order to liberate [Gorlovka], it is necessary to conduct a strategic offensive operation and involve at least 150,000-200,000 troops along with thousands of units of equipment..”

Has The Ukraine Conflict Entered Its Endgame? (RT)

Why did the Ukrainians decide to disperse their forces and advance in three operational directions during the summer campaign? Several Russian experts stated that Kiev’s strategy was to win the battle of reserves –and to this end, its army attempted to create several hotbeds of tension that were supposed to swallow up Russian manpower. In case of success, the AFU would have been able to overcome the deadlock of positional warfare and deliver a crushing blow in one of the directions. In reality, however, the Ukrainians were not able to beat the Russian army, which was strong enough to carry out both a localized offensive on the border between the Lugansk People’s Republic and Kharkov region this summer, and the offensive on Avdeevka in October.

On top of that, Russian troops continued to hold their defensive lines in Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, as well as near Artemovsk. So why did the Ukrainians refuse to concentrate their forces in one area, as Western experts advised them to do? One possible explanation for this was the reputational and media significance of the “Bakhmut Fortress,” which the Ukrainian political and military leadership fell victim to. The ‘heroic’ defense of one position, which gradually lost its strategic and operational importance, endowed Artemovsk with ideological and reputational significance. In an attempt to recapture this city, Ukrainians pulled their reserves and most motivated units into battle. Or perhaps, the situation was even worse. After the summer defeat, they needed to distract the public from negative news. The best way to do so would have been to break through the front line separating Ukraine and the Donbass republics which had existed from 2015 to February 24, 2022. In case of success, Zelensky would have had the chance to proclaim the return of “Ukrainian” land lost by his predecessors.

One of the areas where this plan was theoretically possible to carry out was Gorlovka – a large industrial city located south of Artemovsk, where about 300,000 people lived before the war. Gorlovka has been under the control of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) since the latter declared independence in 2014. Some of the fiercest battles in Donbass were fought there. After Time magazine published an article about the conflict between Kiev’s political and military leadership around plans to storm the city (the military command refused the idea), Ukrainian expert Bogdan Miroshnikov commented on November 16: “In order to liberate it, it is necessary to conduct a strategic offensive operation and involve at least 150,000-200,000 troops along with thousands of units of equipment. Some may say that we are [positioned] near Gorlovka. Yes, we are. But that direction is surrounded by numerous spoil tips. This means a frontal assault is necessary. But no one would do that.”

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“..The Economist suggested the commander-in-chief’s recent “media engagement could be seen as an insurance policy.”

West Watching Zelensky-Zaluzhny Fight, Thumbs Up to Most Malleable (Sp.)

Relations between President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny are “understood to be terrible,” The Economist summed up on Tuesday. How serious is the Ukrainian internal political strife, and what could it result in? The differences in opinion between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny were first reported in summer last year, per the UK magazine. It appears that tensions have substantially grown since then. What could have led to the current conflict between military and political leadership? “We can hypothesize at least three reasons,” Tiberio Graziani, chairman at Vision & Global Trends – International Institute for Global Analyses, told Sputnik, “the duration of the conflict has worn out the military cadres; the loss of credibility of the current political conduct of the conflict managed by Zelensky and, indirectly by NATO, the EU and the US; the growing awareness among military leaders that negotiations need to be reached.”

The British magazine writes that there is a blame game underway in Ukraine about who is responsible for the counteroffensive’s failure. In late October, Ukrainian politician Volodymyr Oleynyk told Sputnik that Zaluzhny didn’t want to be scapegoated for the failed Ukrainian advance, which claimed the lives of over 90,000 Ukrainian troops. After Zelensky pledged to proceed with the offensive through the winter, Zaluzhny insisted it’s time to go on the defensive and prepare for a spring advance. In early November, Zaluzhny gave an extensive interview to The Economist, admitting that what had been expected to become a triumphalist march of the Ukrainian military had ended in a stalemate. “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough,” the top Ukrainian general said.

Immediately after giving the interview, Zaluzhny came under heavy criticism from the Ukrainian presidential office, with Zelensky later issuing a vague warning to “generals” against doing “politics.” The British outlet said that relations between Zelensky and Zaluzhny are now “terrible.” A series of events appeared to add fuel to the fire. Gennady Chastyakov, assistant to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, died in a “tragic accident” while celebrating his 39th birthday on November 6. Earlier, on November 3, Zelensky unilaterally dismissed Viktor Khorenko, who was known to be close to Zaluzhny, from his post as commander of special operations forces. Likewise, the commander of the medical forces, Tatyana Ostashchenko, was replaced with Anatoly Kazmirchuk by the Kiev regime without consulting Ukraine’s top general.

Then, The Washington Post alleged on November 11 that Ukrainian Colonel Roman Chervinsky was the coordinator of the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, citing Ukrainian and European officials, as well as other individuals purportedly familiar with the operation. The newspaper claimed the Ukrainian officer took orders from his seniors, who ultimately reported to Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny. Moreover, the Kiev regime is carrying out an investigation into the Ukrainian Army’s failure to withstand Russia’s advance in February-March 2022. For now, Zaluzhny has reportedly been named as a witness to the inquiry. Still, the nickname for the inquiry in the Ukrainian press is “Zaluzhny case,” suggesting he could become one of the main suspects. Citing a general staff source, The Economist suggested the commander-in-chief’s recent “media engagement could be seen as an insurance policy.”

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“..During periods where he claims to have been a hopeless junkie, he was a key player in a global influence-peddling scheme netting millions through a complex labyrinth of accounts..”

Hunter to Face a Moment of Truth Before the House Oversight Committee (Turley)

Hunter will now have to answer for exactly what the “man sitting next” to him was prepared to do if money did not continue to flow to the Biden family. There are other specific communications that will likely be raised with Hunter. For example, Devon Archer reportedly recounted how, in 2015, Mykola Zlochevsky and Vadym Pozharski, two executives of the corrupt Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, pressed Hunter to “get help from D.C.” to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Burisma for corruption. Archer said that Hunter, Zlochevsky and Pozharski stepped away to make the call. Hunter can also address communications with government officials on behalf of foreign clients. His access to top officials was clearly due to his family name and influence.

The irony is that the long delay in bringing Hunter to this moment could prove his undoing. The committee has waited until it collected a massive amount of data and records on these financial records. It has interviewed witnesses on the influence-peddling operation. Hunter must now address highly specific questions and evidence under oath. If he is found to have lied, he can be charged with a criminal felony. The threat of prosecution is real. Hunter has benefited from the Justice Department limiting its investigation and inexplicably allowing the statute of limitations to run on key charges. False statements on any of these questions could result in new charges and pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to prosecute. After all, Trump officials were prosecuted for contempt of Congress under Garland.

Hunter is likely to cite his past drug use and the passage of time for failing to remember details. He continues to vacillate on whether the laptop itself is really his or, as he has suggested in the past, possible Russian disinformation. The use of his drug addiction as a defense was successful with the media, but is likely to be less so with Congress. During periods where he claims to have been a hopeless junkie, he was a key player in a global influence-peddling scheme netting millions through a complex labyrinth of accounts. Hunter will have to testify at his own peril for the first time under oath and leave the niceties behind.

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John Helmer on the long and complex relationship between Putin and the oligarchs.

Russian Oligarchs Contemplate The Devil And The Deep Sea (Helmer)

Until the US and the NATO states escalated their threats to seize Russian oligarch assets in what had been their safe havens abroad, every attempt at repatriation of the oligarchs’ capital to Russia had failed. Now, however, between the twin threats of foreign confiscation and domestic renationalisation, the oligarchs are pressing the president to protect their special position in the domestic economy. Putin has now repeated his September reassurances. “ ‘We had a thorough conversation,’ Putin spokesman Peskov told Tass. ‘A number of issues were formulated through the RSPP. There were various speeches – both business spoke, and representatives of the economic bloc of the government spoke,’ Peskov added. Peskov said that Putin at a meeting with representatives of large Russian businesses discussed the transfer of some companies to Russian jurisdiction.

‘The speech was about possible steps to improve the investment attractiveness of our economy, to create more than competitive conditions for completing the process of transferring companies here,’ the Kremlin spokesman said… According to the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, the meeting was held precisely so that this process would be well-established, so that business would not face problems and transfer its companies to Russia, opening new enterprises in it and creating new jobs. ‘That’s what, in fact, it was about, Peskov explained.” Redomiciliation without nationalisation and no new taxation – these are the oligarchs’ codewords for continuing the 25-year old system of domestic economic control despite wartime mobilisation and the removal of Chubais and Kudrin from their former Kremlin influence. According to Peskov, “the process of redomicilation should be absolutely perfect, so that business does not face problems, and so that business transfers its companies here, creates new jobs, opens new enterprises, invests and earns money here, at home.”

Shokhin has also revealed that the oligarchs want to grandfather their old tax evasion and offshore holding company schemes in the form of Putin’s personal guarantee that their net domestic tax rate will not be raised. The Kremlin’s silence on this oligarch agenda is one thing. The silence of the domestic political opposition is quite another. Sergei Glazyev, a former Yeltsin-era minister, Kremlin economic policy advisor, and current state job-holder, refuses point-blank to comment. Glazyev’s record for opposition policymaking in theory but political failure in practice can be followed in this archive. For the Russian Communist Party, spokesman Alexander Yuschenko said by telephone that the party “wasn’t going to comment on [the oligarchs’] meeting at the moment and [readers] can always watch for official articles on the party website.”

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“Imagine if Napoleon had done that — sold out France’s ambitions to the whims of his allies and their own agendas.”

The French Are Desperate For A New Napoleon. Will They Get One? (Marsden)

While Napoleon put France in a prominent spot on the world stage, it was arguably former French President and World War II General Charles de Gaulle that gave it any hope of persisting there. Beyond leading the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation, De Gaulle subsequently ensured France’s post-war independence by kicking the Americans out of the country, refusing their demand for permanent bases, and then keeping France out of NATO to avoid the ultimate fate of ending up under de facto US military command. Always with French independence in mind, De Gaulle then went to Moscow in 1944 to sign mutual assistance agreements, and envisioned the Soviet Union as an important partner for French independence within a vision of Europe that stretched from the Atlantic to the Urals.

De Gaulle also spearheaded state-backed nuclear energy projects that were so successful that they’ve saved France amid the current EU energy crunch (and to think that current President Emmanuel Macron was on the verge of killing the whole industry in favor of trendy green energy fantasies — the same ones that flopped when Germany realized that it couldn’t power its economic engine with the wind and sunshine after its Nord Stream pipeline network of Russian gas was mysteriously blown up.) Jeanne d’Arc was a teenage peasant girl who led the French to victory against the English, then was unrepentant about who she was and what she did when she was burned at the stake in Rouen — for literally having wild visions of French victory, then making them happen.

French-naturalized Pole Marie Curie was yet another French woman who fell outside the conventional role for females in society, winning the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 1911, for her groundbreaking research, alongside husband Pierre Curie, on radioactivity, including the discovery of radium and polonium. Her achievements put France on the intellectual global map. Over a century later though, in 2019, French officials yanked mandatory mathematics from the last two years of the high school curriculum. It was such an unmitigated disaster for numeric literacy and such a looming disaster for French competitiveness on the global playing field that they had to reinstate the courses in September 2023. Therein lies the difference between those still admired by the French — despite having long shuffled off the face of the Earth — and those who have since come and gone from power or prominence with little fanfare. A lack of unwavering leadership — foresight, clarity, and determination.

Macron doesn’t have it — although he’s an avowed admirer of De Gaulle. It seems that every French politician fancies himself the second coming of De Gaulle, but very few have the strength to stick to a course of action that serves the French people and nation first and foremost. Instead, they double-deal and play both sides of the court from the middle, trying to serve their EU masters — currying favor with unelected European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen — or aligning their interests with Washington’s, placing Western solidarity above sovereign national interests. Imagine if Napoleon had done that — sold out France’s ambitions to the whims of his allies and their own agendas. Unsurprisingly, the latest Ifop-Feducial poll found that the two current political figures considered to most closely resemble Napoleon are right-wing opposition leader Marine Le Pen and former center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy.

It’s hardly a coincidence that both have been criticized recently for speaking out against the French and Western establishment status quo of blindly following anti-Russian US foreign policy on Ukraine — with both favoring immediate peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and an end to hostilities over prolonged spending on “aid” to keep a conflict going that’s to the net detriment of France and the EU as whole. Napoleon came to power with the backing of the people after they had literally beheaded the entire corrupt establishment. Today’s establishment has given itself more than enough rope to ultimately hang itself. One can’t help but notice the parallels. The question is, at what point will the French people have the courage to once again choose the kind of anti-establishment visionary leader on whom they could one day look back and realize they absolutely needed. Until then, they’ll be stuck longing for, and romanticizing, times and figures of greatness.

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Jack Smith knows no limits or boundaries.

“The DOJ’s warrant sought a slew of other data as well—including information on Trump’s geolocation, his private messages, search history and contact info. More absurdly, prosecutors apparently wanted to know his pronouns..”

DOJ Ordered Twitter Data for Everyone Who Liked, Followed, Retweeted Trump (PB)

Attorneys for the Justice Department have revealed documents connected to their search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, indicating that prosecutors collected a massive collection of data about the former President’s social media activity—including information on every account that liked, followed, or retweeted him. The extensively redacted search warrant was revealed as a result of a judge’s ruling on November 17, which came after a consortium of media organizations filed an application in August for the warrant and other data to be made public. Twitter appears to have provided the DOJ with vast volumes of material under compulsion. Indeed, Special Counsel Jack Smith sought, and appears to have gotten, information on all users Trump followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked, as well as all users who followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked Trump.

Smith also requested that Twitter provide information on “all lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted by [Trump], as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e., ‘mentions’ or ‘replies’).” The DOJ’s request also wanted information on Trump’s geolocation, private messages, search history, and contact information. More outrageously, prosecutors allegedly wanted to know his pronouns, as reported by Headline USA in August, when court transcripts relating to the Twitter-DOJ battle became available. The warrant’s release comes after Twitter objected to the search warrant as well as an accompanying gag order, claiming that the gag order violated the company’s First Amendment right to communicate with Trump and that Trump may have legal standing to use executive privilege to block the warrant.

Twitter’s challenge to the DOJ was eventually unsuccessful, with Obama-appointed District Judge Beryl Howell fining the firm $350,000 in February for failing to fulfill a deadline for complying with the order. All of Howell’s rulings were upheld by an appeals court. Justice Department attorneys have since released records related to their search warrant for Donald Trump’s Twitter account, revealing that prosecutors obtained a vast trove of data about the former President’s social media activity—including info on every account to like, follow or retweet him. The heavily redacted search warrant was released Monday pursuant to a Nov. 17 judge’s order, which was made after a coalition of media groups filed an application in August for the warrant and other records to be made public.

From the looks of it, Twitter forked over massive amounts of information to the DOJ. Indeed, Special Counsel Jack Smith sought, and apparently ultimately received, all users Trump followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked, or unblocked—as well as all users who have followed, unfollowed, muted, unmuted, blocked or unblocked Trump. Additionally, Smith demanded Twitter data on “all lists of Twitter users who have favorited or retweeted tweets posted by [Trump], as well as all tweets that include the username associated with the account (i.e., ‘mentions’ or ‘replies’).” The DOJ’s warrant sought a slew of other data as well—including information on Trump’s geolocation, his private messages, search history and contact info. More absurdly, prosecutors apparently wanted to know his pronouns—as Headline USA reported in August, when court transcripts related to the Twitter-DOJ dispute were made public.

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“If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money – go f*** yourself..”

Things you can say when you’re the richest man in the world.

Elon Musk to Companies Pulling Ads From X: ‘Go F*** Yourself’ (Sp.)

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said during an interview that he does not care if key US corporations stop advertising on his social media platform X in light of his endorsement of an antisemitic statement recently. “If somebody’s gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money – go f*** yourself,” Musk said during a discussion at The New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday. Leaving audiences momentarily stunned, Musk reiterated his point, saying, “Go f*** yourself. Is that clear?” The matter was raised after host Andrew Ross Sorkin touched on Disney CEO Bob Iger’s earlier remarks at the event regarding the company’s decision to halt spending on X. Iger had stated that Disney’s association with X was “not necessarily a positive one for us” in light of Musk’s social media comments.

Musk

Earlier in November, the US entrepreneur came under fire for endorsing a social media post that claimed Jewish communities were pushing hatred against white people, saying it was “the actual truth.” Film companies Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount, and Lionsgate suspended advertising on Musk’s social network X due to his “antisemitic” comments. A similar decision was made by technology giants IBM and Apple. Musk said the general public will determine whether X will succeed in the long-run or if an advertisement boycott will lead to the downfall of the social media platform. On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Musk visited the southern Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza to see firsthand the aftermath of attacks carried out by Palestinian movement Hamas last month.

Musk during the Wednesday discussion said he does apologize if his endorsement of the antisemitic statement encouraged antisemites. He admitted that in hindsight he should not have replied to that particular post, but he mentioned that his recent trip to Israel was “not an apology tour.” Last week, Musk said that the network would donate all its proceeds from the content related to the conflict in the Gaza Strip to Israeli hospitals and an international humanitarian organization providing medical assistance to Palestinians. Responding to an Hamas invitation, Musk in a post on Tuesday said it is a bit too dangerous to visit Gaza, but believes a long-term prosperous Gaza is good for all sides.

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“About six large conglomerates reportedly control 90% of media in the United States [..] The number has fallen from about 50 companies that controlled 90% of US media in 1983..”

‘Make Them Pay’: Trump Attacks MSNBC in Social Media Salvo (Sp.)

Former US President Donald Trump railed against cable news channel MSNBC in a post on his Truth Social platform Tuesday, accusing the liberal media outlet of forming part of an “election interference” effort against the former commander-in-chief. “MSNBC (MSDNC) uses FREE government approved airwaves, and yet it is nothing but a 24 hour hit job on Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” wrote Trump in the late night post. “It is the world’s biggest political contribution to the Radical Left Democrats who, by the way, are destroying our Country. Our so-called ‘government’ should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity.” MSNBC is actually a cable news outlet, unlike broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, or MSNBC’s sister network NBC.

The US Federal Communications Commission has limited power to regulate political speech on broadcast outlets available over-the-air but generally lacks authority over content on “cable or satellite TV systems,” meaning the US government may lack power to “come down hard” on the channel. The comments may suggest another area in which the former president would attempt to seek retribution against his enemies; Trump recently said he may seek to prosecute political opponents if reelected next year. As president, Trump reportedly pressured the media conglomerate Time Warner to sell cable network CNN in order to win approval from his Justice Department for their planned merger with AT&T. Trump has frequently condemned the channel, which in turn was often sharply critical of the former president during his time in the White House.

Although Trump’s attacks on various news outlets have sometimes proven controversial, they may fall on fertile ground amidst a broader crisis of institutional legitimacy in the United States. Recent polling has shown only about a third of Americans have trust in US mass media. That number has fallen from a high of 72% of Americans who said they had a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in US media outlets in 1976. US mass media has trended toward increasing corporate consolidation in recent decades, especially after the signing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which broadly deregulated the industry. About six large conglomerates reportedly control 90% of media in the United States: Comcast, Disney, AT&T/Time Warner, Paramount, Sony, and Fox. The number has fallen from about 50 companies that controlled 90% of US media in 1983 according to some studies.

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Excellent fom “sundance” connecting Seth Rich, Julian Assange, Robert Mueller, John Durham and much more. Don’t miss.

Judge Rules Contents of Seth Rich Laptop Must Be Released…(CTH)

If you know the background context, the latest developments in the Seth Rich laptop legal battle could be extremely interesting. However, despite a very favorable court ruling, I caution against too much optimism – the stakes in this ancillary story to the targeting of President Donald Trump are extremely high. The bottom line of the latest development is that a judge has given the DOJ 14 days to turn over the contents of the laptop belonging to former DNC staffer Seth Rich. There are multiple points of information that point toward Seth Rich having downloaded the DNC email files and shared them with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Seth Rich was killed shortly thereafter in what DC claims was a “botched robbery.” The reason this story is important will be highlighted below in granular detail. However, within the Time Magazine article about the judge’s ruling the closing statement summarizes the position of the DEEPEST elements of the DC Deep State.

NOTE:…”After his death, Rich was proven to not be the source of any email leaks, with the Mueller Report—also known as the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election—finding Russian hackers responsible.” This point, emphasized at the end of the Newsweek article outlining the recent ruling, is the epicenter of the DC narrative. You see, just like the James Wolfe leak of the FISA application to journalist Ali Watkins (hidden by the DOJ/FBI/IC and aligned interests), if the truth of the Trump targeting by the DOJ/FBI and Obama Intelligence community were to surface in the ancillary stories around the Seth Rich issue, it would be the most explosive revelation as to the scale of DC corruption and cover-up. The Weissmann/Mueller report contains claims that Russia hacked the DNC servers as the central element to the Russia interference narrative in the U.S. election.

This DNC hack claim is the fulcrum issue structurally underpinning the Russian election interference narrative pushed by the Weissmann and Muller Special Counsel. However, this essential “hacking” claim was/is directly disputed by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as outlined during a previous Dana Rohrabacher interview and by Julian Assange’s own on-the-record statements. When you overlay the timeline of activity that touches the story of Seth Rich, a DNC staff member who was outraged at the DNC effort to block Bernie Sanders, the potential motive for Seth Rich’s death takes on an entirely different dimension. That said, even people very high up in the Trump administration would be part of the cover up to protect DC from sunlight. No one in Washington DC wants this story to be investigated or told. Julian Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London immediately after the Weissmann/Muller report was released to Bill Barr in 2019.

Additionally, despite investigating the background of the Trump-Russia nonsense, John Durham never touched the DNC hacking claim – the core of the Mueller report. Why? The Occam’s razor reason is that Durham knew the U.S. Government threw a bag over Assange to protect the fraudulent Trump-Russia and Russian interference claims. Again, this reality speaks to the corruption within the John Durham investigation. By claiming he was not authorized to review anything from the Mueller probe, John Durham was protecting Weissmann, Mueller and the core of their justification for a 2-year investigation. I believe John Durham knew why Assange was eventually arrested. Durham stayed away from it, intentionally. The Russians HAD TO have made efforts to interfere in the election, or else the factual basis for the surveillance operation against candidate Donald Trump is naked to the world.

That’s why so much DOJ, FBI and Mueller special counsel energy was exhausted framing the predicate. “Seventeen intelligence agencies,” the December 29th Joint Analysis Report, the expulsion of the Russian diplomats which was an outcropping of the JAR, the rushed January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, shoving microphones in everyone’s faces and demanding they answer if they believed Russia interfered – all of it, and I do mean every bit of it, is predicated on an absolute DC need to establish that Russia Attempted to Interfere in the 2016 election.

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Max Keiser

 

 

 

 

Gotcha
https://twitter.com/i/status/1729921917862154304

 

 

Gravity
https://twitter.com/i/status/1729935054728532092

 

 


The famous Italian diver Enzo Maiorca dove into the sea of Syracuse and was talking to his daughter Rossana who was aboard the boat. Ready to go in, he felt something slightly hit his back. He turned and saw a dolphin. Then he realized that the dolphin did not want to play but to express something. The animal dove and Enzo followed. At a depth of about 12 meters, trapped in an abandoned net, there was another dolphin. Enzo quickly asked his daughter to grab the diving knives.

Soon, the two of them managed to free the dolphin, which, at the end of the ordeal, emerged, issued an “almost human cry” (describes Enzo). (A dolphin can stay under water for up to 10 minutes, then it drowns.) The released dolphin was helped to the surface by Enzo, Rosana and the other dolphin. That’s when the surprise came: she was pregnant! The male circled them, and then stopped in front of Enzo, touched his cheek (like a kiss), in a gesture of gratitude and then they both swam off. Enzo Maiorca ended his speech by saying: Until man learns to respect and speak to the animal world, he can never know his true role on Earth.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Dec 122022
 


Paul Gauguin Landscape with black pigs and a crouching Tahitian 1891

 

Musk Says Fauci Lied, People Died (RT)
Zelensky Was Ready For Neutrality In March – Col. Macgregor (RT)
How the Mainstream Media Misses the Money Quote (Antiwar)
Twitter Files: Corporate Media Ignores The Biggest Story Of The Decade (ZH)
Dupe or Designated Defendant? The Criminal Case Against Jack Dorsey (Turley)
Jack Dorsey Defiantly States He Has Never Heard Of Twitter (BBee)
4 Minutes of Undiluted Truth on Mainstream TV (Mike Whitney)
Merkel’s Ukraine Remarks Show Breach Of Trust – Serbia (RT)
China Wants To Drop Dollar In Oil Trade – Reuters (RT)
Western Price Cap Disrupting Global Oil Markets – Economist (RT)
Sanctions On Russia Are Backfiring – Former Austrian Vice-chancellor (RT)
FBI Reveals It Has More Information on Deceased DNC Staffer Seth Rich (ET)
Are We Finally Reaching Peak Climate Hysteria? (Spiked)
Dutch Gov’t Attempts To Forcibly Close 3,000 Farms For ‘Green’ Agenda (ZH)
Viagra Lowers the Risk of Alzheimer’s By Almost 70% (GR)

 

 

 

 

Back to the future?!

 

 

Douglas Macgregor: Zelensky Has Made A Terrible Mistake By Trying To Pin Missile Strikes On Russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter files on censorship of doctors, and promoting Fauci, should be explosive. If they still exist. Musk has promised them.

Musk Says Fauci Lied, People Died (RT)

The billionaire Tesla and Twitter boss, Elon Musk, has triggered a social media firestorm on Sunday after suggesting that US Covid-19 czar, Dr. Anthony Fauci, should be investigated and prosecuted for allegedly lying under oath about the funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab in China. In what initially appeared to be an ironic dig, poised to trigger an avalanche of criticism from the left, Musk also posted a meme showing the retiring White House chief medical adviser whispering “Just one more lockdown my king” in President Biden’s ear. But after Fauci’s name was propelled to the top of Twitter trends with over 600,000 mentions, Musk apparently felt forced to elaborate why he thought the controversial face of America’s response to the pandemic should be investigated.

“As for Fauci, he lied to Congress and funded gain-of-function research that killed millions of people,” Musk said in response to one critic, adding “not awesome imo.” The 81-year-old Fauci, who plans to retire by the of the month, led a disjointed US Covid-19 response marked by his flip-flopping on issues such as the efficacy of masks and herd immunity targets. Shortly after Fauci announced that he would step down as Biden’s chief medical adviser and as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – Senator Rand Paul demanded that the US administration preserve documents and messages that could become evidence in the potential probe.

“Fauci’s resignation should not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic. He must be required to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the Wuhan lab leak. His policies destroyed lives,” tweeted Paul. The senator previously accused Fauci of directing public funding to gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab and lying about it under oath in congressional testimony, as the two sparred repeatedly in Senate hearings. Gain-of-function is the modification of pathogens to enhance them in various potential ways, including transmissibility. The rationale is that scientists can study new strains and find ways to stop them before similar adaptations emerge naturally.

The ‘lab leak’ theory – that the coronavirus leaked from a Chinese lab – was popularized by former US President Donald Trump, who made the allegation amid a trade war with China. Major US media organizations and tech platforms initially labeled it as ‘disinformation’ and tried to suppress the theory from public discourse. However, after Musk took over Twitter, the company stopped enforcing its Covid-19 “misleading information policy.”

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“Fiona Hill [..] wrote in September that an “interim settlement” had been agreed in Istanbul. In May, Ukrainian media linked the collapse of these talks to pressure imposed on Kiev by Johnson.”

Zelensky Was Ready For Neutrality In March – Col. Macgregor (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky was ready in March to meet some of Moscow’s conditions for peace, retired US Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor has claimed in a recent interview. He blamed former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for preventing a settlement. As Ukrainian and Russian delegations sat down in Istanbul in March, news surfaced of a potential deal that would have seen Kiev renounce its ambition to join NATO and agree to neutrality, in exchange for Russia’s withdrawal to pre-February battle lines. Days later, Zelensky said he had discovered evidence of war crimes in territory evacuated by Russian forces, and negotiations were called off. In an interview with military historian Michael Vlahos, published on Saturday, MacGregor claimed that the UK was responsible for the abrupt end of the peace talks.

“We have evidence that towards the end of March, Mr. Zelensky said ‘well, we could live with neutrality,’ and when that word reached Washington and London, people became incensed,” he said. “Boris Johnson represented Washington’s interests and said ‘absolutely not, we will support you to the bitter end. You must stand your ground and fight for every inch of Ukraine’.” MacGregor is not the first US official to suggest that Zelensky was ready for peace in March. Fiona Hill, a veteran US diplomat who served as the US National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia in the Trump administration, wrote in September that an “interim settlement” had been agreed in Istanbul. In May, Ukrainian media linked the collapse of these talks to pressure imposed on Kiev by Johnson.

The prime minister visited Kiev on April 9, reportedly without warning, and according to the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper, told officials that “even if Ukraine is ready to sign some agreements on guarantees with Putin, they [the West] are not.” Now, almost ten months into the conflict, Zelensky has forbidden negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has promised to retake all of the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporozhye – which voted to join the Russian Federation in September. The Ukrainian leader has also vowed to capture Crimea, which has been a part of Russia since a 2014 referendum. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said Russia remains open to talks, but cautioned in October that Western powers must be involved, as an agreement with Ukraine alone could be “instantly canceled upon orders” from the West.

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“..there was a canyon between the leader of the US and the leader of the loyal European opposition. The canyon was so wide that it included disagreement over the causes and solutions of the war.”

How the Mainstream Media Misses the Money Quote (Antiwar)

On December 1, French President Emmanuel Macron went to Washington for the first state visit of the Biden administration. After the pageantry, presents, hand holding and flattering words of fraternity and solidarity, Macron faced the gathered press. “We will never urge Ukrainians to make a compromise that will not be acceptable for them.” “That,” said Helene Cooper of The New York Times, “is the money quote.” But it wasn’t the money quote by several euros. The money quote came days later when Macron was not standing shoulder to shoulder with Biden in front of an American audience, but standing on his own addressing a French audience.

Macron told the French television network TF1, in an interview filmed during his visit to Washington but aired as he left, that “We need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table.” Then Macron made his full meaning clear: “One of the essential points we must address – as President Putin has always said – is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia.” The money quote was that, despite the display of solidarity, there was a canyon between the leader of the US and the leader of the loyal European opposition. The canyon was so wide that it included disagreement over the causes and solutions of the war.

Biden and Macron both “strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.” But for Biden, in the beginning, that war was wholly unprovoked, and, in the end, the settlement must reflect that and protect core US values. For Macron, though the war was illegal, Russia had legitimate security concerns that NATO had been pushing, and the settlement must reflect that too. Macron hinted at that crucial separation at the press conference with Biden. Even then, Macron said “We want to build peace and a sustainable peace means full respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” But then, hinting at Russia’s demand to be included in a new European security structure that takes its concerns seriously, he added, “but at the same time [it means] a new architecture to make sure we have a sustainable peace in the long run.” But that didn’t make it into the money quote.

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“Twitter was participating in a form of treason, along with the agencies that they cooperated with. It’s a huge story, and one that should lead to punishment for those involved.”

Twitter Files: Corporate Media Ignores The Biggest Story Of The Decade (ZH)

Twitter has long denied that they “shadow ban” users, but this was a lie. The data shows that small groups within Twitter called “strategic response teams” suppressed up to 200 accounts per day. Usually these were accounts of larger and more influential conservative politicians and celebrities. And, these teams operated in coordination with Democrat officials and agencies like the FBI. In some cases the goal was to mute a particular individual. In other cases the goal was to steer national elections. Internal Twitter communications show that SRT groups spent most of their time fabricating reasons why certain information was subject to TOS. In other words, if Twitter’s rules were not being violated, they made up new rules.

The exposure of Twitter is the biggest story of the decade because it provides proof of a hidden cabal. It shows the ugly mechanics behind the scenes and exposes a network of elites and their errand boys who were involved in direct operations to destroy the 1st Amendment for the sake of ideological supremacy. It’s the classic definition of fascism, a definition that Benito Mussolini reiterated when he argued: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” And, if this brand of Fascism was happening within the halls of Twitter, then there is little doubt it is also happening at companies like Google/YouTube, Apple, Facebook, etc. Before we had evidence, now we have confirmation.

The corporate media argues over relevance instead of morality because they benefited from the censorship. It’s important to remember that one of the first measures Big Tech companies applied after suppressing the alternative media during the pandemic was to then amplify the corporate media. These companies are floundering with dismal audience numbers and dwindling profits. No one listens to them anymore. Yet, as long as they promote the establishment narrative their opinions and disinformation are given priority on nearly every search engine and social media platform. Of course they aren’t interested in the Twitter Files, liars are often “bored” by honest commentary and factual information.

Also, their continued existence relies on the censorship of their competition in the alternative media. The bottom line is this: According to the Bill of Rights, it is illegal for agents of the US government to obstruct the free speech of law abiding American citizens. It does not matter if the action is done by using “private businesses” as middlemen. And, if a private business is colluding with government to implement political policy then it is no longer a private business. Twitter was participating in a form of treason, along with the agencies that they cooperated with. It’s a huge story, and one that should lead to punishment for those involved.

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“..lying in public is generally not a crime. However, when you repeat a lie to federal investigators or Congress or the courts, it becomes a federal offense.”

Dupe or Designated Defendant? The Criminal Case Against Jack Dorsey (Turley)

The latest Twitter disclosures have raised potential legal liability for Twitter and its executives. No one appears more at risk than Twitter’s former CEO Jack Dorsey It is an ironic turn of events since Dorsey supported the takeover by Elon Musk and has called for all files to be released without filtering. Dorsey has the feel of a “designated defendant,” someone who was pushed forward by others to take any legal hit. On its face, Dorsey has vulnerability after the latest release. He was repeatedly asked by members of Congress about censoring and shadow-banning, which has now been confirmed in these files. In September 2018, Dorsey testified under oath and denied what these files appear to now confirm. Rep. Mike Doyle, D., Pa., asked, “Social media is being rigged to censor conservatives. Is that true of Twitter?”

Dorsey responded, “No.” Doyle then asked “Are you censoring people?” “No,” Dorsey said. “Twitter’s shadow-banning prominent Republicans… is that true?” Doyle asked. Dorsey again said no. Dorsey was also asked about my prior testimony on private censorship in circumventing the First Amendment as a type of censorship by surrogate. Dorsey and the other CEOs were asked about my warning of a “‘little brother’ problem, a problem which private entities do for the government that which it cannot legally do for itself.” In response, Dorsey insisted that “we don’t have a censoring department.” It now appears that the entire company was operating as a censoring department. However, there were in fact super-censors.

Dorsey did not mention the Strategic Response Team-Global Escalation Team (SRT-GET), which operated above what journalist Bari Weiss described as “a level beyond official ticketing, beyond the rank-and-file moderators following the company’s policy on paper.” That group reportedly included Vijaya Gadde, head of Legal, Policy and Trust; Yoel Roth, the global head of Trust and Safety; CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others. Notably, others at the company made similar denials as Dorsey but may not have done so under oath. In 2018, Gadde and head of product Kayvon Beykpour expressly declared, “We do not shadow-ban. And we certainly don’t shadow-ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”

Even if untrue, lying in public is generally not a crime. However, when you repeat a lie to federal investigators or Congress or the courts, it becomes a federal offense. The question is whether Dorsey was left in the dark on these decisions. He was reportedly a member of SRT-GET. However, some of the files indicate that these decisions may have been made without his knowledge. That includes the decision on the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, which Dorsey called a “total mistake.”

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“I’m not here talking to you right now. My name is not Jack Dorsey. I vehemently deny my own existence at this time.”

Jack Dorsey Defiantly States He Has Never Heard Of Twitter (BBee)

In the aftermath of the second wave of what have come to be known as the “Twitter Files” — in which documented evidence is presented that Twitter engaged in systematic practices to suppress and “shadowban” conservative or otherwise dissenting accounts, despite previous claims to not do so — co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has issued a defiant statement that he has, in fact, never heard of Twitter. “I have no comment on, and indeed, no knowledge regarding anything known as a ‘Twitter,'” Dorsey said. “Any claims to the contrary are untrue and a wholesale misrepresentation. The previous statements attributed to me regarding ‘shadowbanning,’ while made by me, were simply not made by me.”


Furor continues to grow in the wake of new Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk authorizing the release of large amounts of internal communications and descriptions of practices under the company’s previous regime. “Twitter and its former brain trust have very serious questions to answer,” said Senator Ted Cruz in comments to the media. “Mr. Dorsey testified before Congress and denied that Twitter had engaged in such practices. The American people demand the truth.” “I never appeared before Congress,” Dorsey said in response. “I’m not here talking to you right now. My name is not Jack Dorsey. I vehemently deny my own existence at this time.” At publishing time, investigations into Dorsey’s knowledge of secret Twitter practices were ongoing, as further questions sent to Dorsey remained unanswered as he denied ever providing his previous answers to the first questions.

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“..the best ‘easy-to-understand’ summary of the Ukraine War you’ll hear anywhere..”

4 Minutes of Undiluted Truth on Mainstream TV (Mike Whitney)

The last thing you’d ever expect to hear on a mainstream news channel, is the truth. But—strange as it might seem—that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night on the Tucker Carlson Show. Carlson interviewed veteran journalist Glenn Greenwald in a 4-minute segment that provided the best ‘easy-to-understand’ summary of the Ukraine War you’ll hear anywhere. And what was so shocking about the interview, was how casually both men veered onto topics that are essential to grasping “How we got to where we are today” but which are entirely banned on all the other cable news channels. You are not allowed to know, for example, that Russia was “lured into the conflict in Ukraine”.


That does not fit the script that has been passed-along from the Biden State Department to their lapdogs at the cable news stations. You’re also not allowed to know that the US does not fight wars “to spread democracy” or that “the US has no vital interests in Ukraine” or that “Russia is not really our enemy”. All of those topics are verboten. You’re not even allowed to think about these things, which is why– for the most part– they have been completely scrubbed from any-and-all discussion of foreign policy in the corporate media.

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The EU also faces another problem with Serbia, which wants troops in Kosovo. Germany says no way. But there is a UN resolution.

Merkel’s Ukraine Remarks Show Breach Of Trust – Serbia (RT)

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent comments on the 2014-15 Minsk agreements have cast the Ukraine conflict in a new light, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday. Merkel stated that Kiev used the ceasefire to rearm its troops. The peace deals brokered by Germany and France eight years ago laid out a path for the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics’ (DPR and LPR) peaceful reintegration into Ukraine. However, they were never implemented because the government of Ukraine argued over the interpretation of the agreements. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko eventually admitted that Kiev mainly intended to use the ceasefire to rebuild its military and the economy. Merkel seemed to confirm this in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit on Wednesday, saying that by signing the agreements, Ukraine won “valuable time” to muster a stronger army.

“We have witnessed a historically important statement by Angela Merkel. I am surprised and still checking whether it is possible that she has said such a thing,” Vucic told local media. “She is a woman whom I appreciate greatly, but for me this statement is almost unbelievable.” The former chancellor’s words “shed a completely new light” on the history of the conflict, Vucic said. “It cannot change the fact of who attacked whom, but changes a lot in terms of facts and relations inside what has been going on since 2014 … it is a clear sign for me that [they] cannot be trusted.” “It’s a lesson for us,” Vucic added, as his country now faces heightened tensions in Kosovo, Serbia’s breakaway region that the majority of EU and NATO members recognize as an independent state.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that he was disappointed by Merkel’s remarks that “nobody intended to fulfill any part of the Minsk agreements.”Earlier, Putin cited Kiev’s inability to stick to the Minsk agreements as one of the reasons Moscow recognized the independence of the two Donbass republics on February 21, three days before launching its military operation in Ukraine. The DPR and LPR, along with two other former Ukrainian territories, became parts of Russia after referendums in late September.

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Oil markets are global. The yuan is not a global currency. And China won’t make it one.

China Wants To Drop Dollar In Oil Trade – Reuters (RT)

Beijing will work to make energy purchases in yuan instead of US dollar signalling another step towards shifting further away from the greenback, China’s President Xi Jinping told Gulf Arab leaders as cited by Reuters. China’s leader highlighted the necessity of the move while speaking at a Chinese-Arab summit that was hosted by Saudi Arabia earlier this week. Xi had held separate talks with the heads of the Persian Gulf states at the summit that reportedly brought together 30 leaders from across the region. The world’s biggest crude importer, China in November ramped up purchases of oil by 12% year-on-year, marking the 10-month high despite the severe pandemic-related restrictions. Chinese state refiners stepped up purchases of US crude oil, while maintaining high imports of Russian oil prior to the December 5 European embargo and imposition of an oil price cap.


China’s independent refiners also moved a record amount of deeply discounted Iranian crude passed off as oil sourced from Malaysia, which is commonly used as a transfer point for oil originating from the sanction-hit Venezuela and Iran. Saudi Arabia was China’s number one oil supplier in the first ten months of 2022, making up 18% of China’s total crude oil purchases, with imports totaling 73.54 million tons, or 1.77 million barrels per day, Chinese customs data showed. Keen interest in the yuan and other currencies from major oil importers have arisen in the wake of unprecedented sanctions introduced by Washington and the allies against Russia, one of the world’s biggest oil producers and exporters over Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

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“43% of EU inflation is related to energy prices, while only 17% of US inflation is due to energy prices..”

Western Price Cap Disrupting Global Oil Markets – Economist (RT)

The latest EU sanctions on Russian oil exports will fail to strip the country of its revenues, but are already causing global oil supply disruptions, a senior energy economist at CER-Centro Europa Ricerche told Sputnik news agency on Wednesday. The EU embargo took effect on Monday and was accompanied by a $60 price cap on Russian crude, supported by G7 countries and Australia. Any transactions over this limit are now barred from receiving brokerage, shipping, or insurance services. Demostenes Floros said that although the price cap has not sparked an immediate surge in oil prices, severe consequences lie ahead. The economist predicts rising demand in China, which will inevitably affect the cost of crude. He added that higher energy prices will deal a blow to the EU at a time of spiraling inflation and an unfolding recession.

Floros explained that “43% of EU inflation is related to energy prices, while only 17% of US inflation is due to energy prices and this is a very big difference between the European Union and the United States,” adding that the price cap will deepen the split within the bloc. The sanctions may also result in serious problems with contracting necessary volumes of diesel in the EU once the ban on Russian refined oil products comes into force on February 5, he warned. “I think that prices will increase, especially if other OPEC+ producers will not compensate Russian output,” the economist said, cautioning that the “politicization” of energy supplies could further destabilize a market which has not yet recovered from the Covid crisis.

EU oil sanctions on Russia are already causing setbacks. Dozens of tankers carrying 23 million barrels of crude are currently stuck in the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, unable to pass, as Turkish authorities demand proper insurance guarantees. Most of the Black Sea crude stuck in the straits was from Kazakhstan, which is not targeted by sanctions, according to EU officials. At the same time, Russian insurance companies have already provided letters of confirmation to Turkish authorities in order to secure passage.

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“If it goes on like this, next year in March and April we will face mass insolvencies and bankruptcies..”

Sanctions On Russia Are Backfiring – Former Austrian Vice-Chancellor (RT)

Western sanctions imposed on Moscow have failed to make a dent in Russia’s economy and ultimately only hurt Europeans, former Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said on Saturday. He also accused European policymakers of turning a blind eye to the deadly fighting in Donbass, which he said served as a prelude to the current conflict for many years. Speaking at a pro-neutrality rally in Vienna, which was also a protest against sanctions on Russia, Strache claimed that Austria’s decision to join the restrictions had turned out to be a self-inflicted wound. “Austria has shown Europe how the sanctions are damaging itself,” he said, telling his audience that the measures have caused soaring electricity and gas prices, with more and more people feeling the impact.

“If it goes on like this, next year in March and April we will face mass insolvencies and bankruptcies,” he warned, calling the possibility “damn dangerous.” If the crisis is exacerbated and more people get desperate, “this could bring a dangerous development in the form of social tensions that we all do not want,” the former vice-chancellor added. At the same time, Strache continued, the restrictions have failed to undermine the Russian economy. According to him, “this year, the Russians have doubled [their] business,” raking in $220 billion in revenue. Strache also stated that Europe had found itself in the current situation because it had been “looking the other way” for many years when it comes to hostilities in Donbass, which started in 2014 after violent riots in Kiev overthrew the democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanukovich.

After Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February, Western nations imposed new severe sanctions on Moscow, freezing half its gold and foreign currency reserves and targeting its energy exports. The restrictions, however, caused energy prices and living costs to surge, prompting numerous protest rallies across Europe. Earlier this month, hundreds of Italian activists gathered in the center of Milan to protest sending weapons to Ukraine and expanding the sanctions. In late November, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova insisted that EU policymakers have only themselves to blame for their ongoing energy crunch.

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”The agent claimed that disclosure of the records would harm an FBI investigation into the allegations that Russians had hacked into U.S. systems.”

FBI Reveals It Has More Information on Deceased DNC Staffer Seth Rich (ET)

The FBI not only has possession of a laptop computer owned by slain Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich, but a report detailing forensic imaging of what’s being described as Rich’s work computer, the bureau revealed in a new filing. The FBI’s records office located the report while searching for the work computer, Michael Seidel, chief of the office, said in a sworn declaration filed with a federal court in Texas on Dec. 9. He described the document as “a three (3) page forensic report detailing the actions performed by an outside entity to image the work laptop.” The report was among four documents that had never been disclosed by the FBI in relation to Rich’s case.

Journalist Sy Hersh said in or around 2017 that he was told by a source about an FBI report on Seth Rich. He said, according to the source, that Seth Rich’s computer showed the DNC staffer had relayed DNC documents to WikiLeaks, a pro-transparency group. Hersh talked about the source’s claims during a phone call with Ed Butowsky, an investor who later retracted claims about Rich being a WikiLeaks source, and discussed the call during a deposition. Rich was gunned down in the early morning hours on July 16, 2016, near his home in Washington. The killing of Rich, the DNC’s voter expansion data director, remains unsolved. Authorities have claimed that the killing was a robbery gone wrong. Julian Assange, the head of WikiLeaks, has suggested that Rich passed DNC files to the group, which released the DNC files in 2016. U.S. authorities have alleged that Russians hacked into the DNC systems, but those allegations were made before the FBI received images from the DNC’s server to determine their validity.

The Metropolitan Police Department has said it is the lead investigating agency into the death. It has declined to say whether the FBI was helping with the probe into Rich’s death. The new records were found after the records office contacted an unnamed FBI special agent during its search for Rich’s work computer, according to FBI Records Chief Seidel. The other records are a letter from a third-party that accompanied the work computer and two FBI chain of custody forms. None of the records were indexed to Rich inside of the bureau’s central records system and neither the forensic report nor the custody forms mention Rich’s name, according to the FBI. They were also not included in an electronic file created for Rich’s case. The agent claimed that disclosure of the records would harm an FBI investigation into the allegations that Russians had hacked into U.S. systems.

The FBI now wants the court to agree to keep the new records shielded from Brian Huddleston, a Texas resident who filed a lawsuit against the bureau over its ignoring a Freedom of Information request for records on Rich. Bureau officials initially claimed in sworn statements that the FBI had searched for records on Rich but did not locate any. In 2020, for the first time, the FBI admitted it had files from a computer belonging to Rich. Some of those files were then released to Huddleston and made public, including documents that appear to suggest that someone could have paid for his death. The FBI has said it has images from a second computer owned by Rich, which the bureau described as Rich’s personal laptop. A federal judge in September ordered the bureau to hand the images over to Huddleston, finding that the bureau improperly withheld them.

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No way.

Are We Finally Reaching Peak Climate Hysteria? (Spiked)

The madness of the greens is peaking. This week a leading eco-politician in the UK, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, referred to the building of a new coalmine as a ‘crime against humanity’. Take that in. Once upon a time it was mass murder, extermination, enslavement and the forced deportation of a people that were considered crimes against humanity. Now the building of a mine in Cumbria in north-west England that will create 500 new jobs and produce 2.8million tonnes of coal a year is referred to in such terms. Perhaps the coalmine bosses should be packed off to The Hague. Maybe the men who’ll dig the coal should be forced alongside the likes of ISIS to account for their genocidal behaviour.

We cannot let Ms Lucas’s crazed comments just slide by. We need to reflect on how we arrived at a situation where a mainstream politician, one feted by the media establishment, can liken digging for coal to crimes of extermination. It was in the Guardian – where else? – that Ms Lucas made her feverish claims. On Wednesday, when the government gave the go-ahead to the Cumbria mine, the first new coalmine in Britain for 30 years, Lucas wrote that the whole thing is ‘truly terrible’. This ‘climate-busting, backward-looking coalmine’ is nothing short of a ‘climate crime against humanity’, she said.

It isn’t though, is it? Sorry to be pedantic but it is not a crime to extract coal from the earth. If it were, the leaders of China – where they produce 13million tonnes of coal a day , rather putting into perspective the Cumbria mine’s 2.8million tonnes a year – would be languishing in the clink. I look forward to Ms Lucas performing a citizen’s arrest on Xi Jinping. It certainly is not a crime against humanity. That term entered popular usage during the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis. It refers to an act of evil of such enormity that it can be seen as an assault on all of humankind. Earth to Ms Lucas: extracting coal to make steel – what the Cumbria coal will mostly be used for – is not an affront to humankind. I’ll tell you what is an affront, though: speaking about the burning of coal in the same language that is used to refer to the burning of human beings. That, Caroline, is despicable.

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I still don’t know where the focus on nitrogen came from. Wasn’t it always CO2?

Dutch Gov’t Attempts To Forcibly Close 3,000 Farms For ‘Green’ Agenda (ZH)

Dutch farmers protesting for months over the government’s radical ‘green’ plan to slash nitrogen emissions by 50% – 95% could soon face forced buyouts of their land. “For agricultural entrepreneurs, there will be a stopping scheme that will be as attractive as possible,” Christianne van der Wal, nitrogen minister, recently said in the Dutch parliament. The Dutch government plans to purchase 3,000 “peak polluter” farms via a €24.3 billion ($25.6 billion) fund. Van der Wal said farmers would be offered 100% value for their land, but if voluntary efforts fail, farmers will face forced buyouts. The country is attempting to reduce nitrogen pollution and will make farm purchases if not enough landowners accept buyouts. She added: “There is no better offer coming.”

So, how did this happen? As we explained over the summer, farmers were livid with the Dutch government for following through with their green agenda to reduce nitrogen emissions on farms. Many of these folks took to the streets with their tractors and pitchforks and demanded the government reverse course on crushing the country’s agriculture industry. The Dutch government began implementing new rules on nitrogen activity on farmers and farm buildings as early as 2019. That halted the expansion of dairy, pig, and poultry operations for the last several years, which are significant sources of nitrogen pollution. One Dutch farmer spoke with ‘Fox & Friends Weekend’ to discuss the pressure from the government and their move to close down thousands of farms.

“I don’t know what we can expect. For my own family, I hope that one of my sons can continue farming if he wants,” Dutch Farmer Geertjan Kloosterboer said. The Netherlands is trying to reduce emissions and follow through with a green agenda, but it could jeopardize the nation’s food supply and put the world’s supply at risk. Recent data shows the country, which is the size of Maryland, is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products by value behind the US. Their centrality in the global food supply is indisputable, and so-called green politicians want to destroy the industry in the name of climate change. It seems like the protests aren’t going away anytime soon.

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Brain health.

Viagra Lowers the Risk of Alzheimer’s By Almost 70% (GR)

New research published recently suggests that Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 69%. The research, which was published in Nature, found that the medication has a direct effect on brain health and significantly reduces the toxic proteins that can cause dementia. The study’s findings are so promising that the drug may someday be used to counter dementia. A new team of experts is preparing to conduct another study that builds on this data but tests the generic version of Viagra — sildenafil — in patients suffering from early Alzheimer’s.

The team of researchers arrived at Viagra’s viability as a treatment for dementia after analyzing 1,600 approved drugs hoping to find one that could be repurposed to fight the root causes of dementia. “Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, presented as the best drug candidate. Sildenafil may have neuroprotective effects and reduce levels of toxic tau proteins,” said Dr. Feixiong Cheng, the lead researcher on the study, which was conducted by the Cleveland Clinic. Despite the excitement surrounding the study’s promising results, some experts are advising people to not get their hopes up quite yet, as clinical trials are still necessary.

Another recent study uncovered another unlikely weapon in the fight against dementia: coffee. Research suggests that coffee consumption may significantly decrease your chances of developing the disease. The study sheds light on the mysterious disease, for which there is no cure as of now. While coffee does not mitigate or fight Alzheimer’s like some medications do, the study found that people with no memory loss who also drank larger than average amounts of coffee were at less of a risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is considered a pre-stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Bout

 

 

 

 

Weaver

 

 

Blue-footed booby

 

 


Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 012022
 


Henri Matisse Antibes 1908

 

Ukraine – Four Oblasts Join Russia (MoA)
Putin Speaks To Massive Crowd Celebrating New Territories (RT)
Turning Point (Schryver)
Slouching Toward Endgame (Jim Kunstler)
Long Way Home: How Former Ukrainian Regions Joined Russia (RT)
Czech MEP Wants Russian Region Split Between Two EU States (RT)
Putin Slams Western Money Printing (RT)
This Winter Will Be Hard But Next One Will Be Even Worse – EU (RT)
Washington’s Pointless War On Behalf Of A Fake Nation (Stockman)
India, China, Brazil Abstain From UN Vote Condemning Russian Annexation (ZH)
66 Nations at UN Say ‘End War in Ukraine’ (CN)
Ukraine Insists It Can Strike Russia Despite US Ban (RT)
Zelensky Sets Conditions For Talks With Russia (RT)
West and Russia Already Fighting WW3 – Fiona Hill (RT)
Court Orders Production Of Seth Rich Laptop (Techno Fog)
Pfizer CEO Pulls Out Of Testifying To EU Parliament COVID Panel (Pol.eu)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The UN owns the science

 

 

 

 

Netherlands inflation 17.1% in September.

 

 

Oliver Stone

 

 

 

 

“The Minsk I and II agreements that followed required Ukraine to give those Donbas oblasts significant autonomy. The United Nations Security Council acknowledged and supported the agreements.”

Ukraine – Four Oblasts Join Russia (MoA)

In 1922 Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, head of the revolutionary Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, decided that several regions which for centuries had been Russian and under Russian rule were to be put, for reasons unknown, under the administration of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. In 1954 a similar decision was taken with regards to autonomous republic of Crimea. The sudden disintegration of the Union in 1991 led to unruly phases in the newly created republics. Ethnic Russian people suddenly found themselves in territory that was no longer ruled by Moscow. In several of the new countries ethnic non-Russian majorities started to suppress the Russian minorities. Today’s Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are to various degrees prime examples for this.

Before 1991 the Ukraine had never existed as a state or independent entity. The early Cossack tribes in the yellow part and green parts of the map had asked for Russian protection against attacks from Poland, Lithuania and other neighbors. In the new Ukraine ethnic Russians were nearly half of the population and the parties they supported managed to win several countrywide elections. Big voting differences were visible along regional/ethnic lines. The country had strong economic relations with Russia. Its industry depended on Russian gas while nearly all its machine and steel exports went to Russia. The U.S. did not like that. It wanted to control rule the Ukraine to be able to put pressure on Russia.

It twice, in 2004 and in 2014, organized ‘color revolutions’ to overthrow elected Ukrainian governments which, for mostly economic reasons, tended to favor relations with Russia. The 2014 color revolution was exceptionally brutal. The U.S. had organized extreme right wing groups to take the lead in violent protests. (The same groups were in the early 1940s allied with German Nazis and, between 1948 and 1952, were waging a CIA led guerrilla war against the Soviet Union.) The street fighting ended with an unconstitutional change of the government of Ukraine. The first law that the new coup government implemented was a rejection of Russian as one of Ukraine’s state languages. For some 50% of Ukrainians Russian is their daily language. Ukrainian itself is a Russian dialect. Nearly 100% of Ukrainians understand Russian.

The ethnic Russian people in Ukraine feared being canceled. Crimea, which in 1991 had voted for and declared its independence before the Ukraine did so, voted, under Russian protection, to join Russia. Moscow accepted the move. People in other former Russian parts of Ukraine protested and a some in the east took up arms. They twice defeated the Ukrainian army and volunteer formations sent against them. The Minsk I and II agreements that followed required Ukraine to give those Donbas oblasts significant autonomy. The United Nations Security Council acknowledged and supported the agreements. But any attempts to implement them were sabotaged by the U.S. via the armed right wing movements that had control over the government in Kiev.

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Done deal. Fait accompli.

Putin Speaks To Massive Crowd Celebrating New Territories (RT)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday evening addressed thousands of people gathered on Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate the beginning of the process to incorporate four former Ukrainian regions that voted overwhelmingly to join Russia. Putin’s emotional speech came just hours after he signed treaties on the inclusion of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, into the Russian Federation. The signing ceremony marked the start of the formal process of accession, which will entail the treaties being reviewed by the Constitutional Court and by both chambers of the parliament. Claiming it was Russia that originally “created modern Ukraine” by transferring Moscow’s “historical territories” to it, Putin said modern Russia had now given people in those regions “the right to choose.”

“People came to the referendum and made their choice: to be with their historical motherland, with Russia,” he said to applause from the crowd. For decades, Putin claimed, the Ukrainian authorities had unsuccessfully tried to eradicate people’s “historical identity,” to destroy their traditions and forbid them from speaking their native language. “These people carried love for their historical homeland in their hearts and passed it on to their children,” the president said, adding that Russia was not only opening its doors, but was “opening its heart” to them. “Welcome home,” he said, prompting chants of ‘Russia’ from the crowd. Putin also used the address to make several pledges: to improve security in the new territories, to revive their economies and to build schools and hospitals.

“We became stronger because we are together. The truth is behind us, and truth means strength, and thus victory. Victory will be ours,” Putin said in conclusion, before shaking hands with the heads of the regions, who joined him on the stage. Meanwhile, on Thursday, on the eve of what Putin described as a “historic day,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Kremlin “to step back from the brink” and to stop the “annexation” of the four Ukrainian regions. Guterres also warned Russia that neither the inclusion of new territories into Russia, nor the results of their referendums would be recognized as legal. Moscow, in turn, accused the secretary-general of abusing his power by making political statements on behalf of the UN.

Putin speech

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“..the Russian high command intentionally weakened their line in this particular area in order to entice the NATO commanders of this newly created army to attack precisely where they did..”

Turning Point (Schryver)

It is also indisputably established that the Russians had, in the weeks preceding the Ukrainian attack, significantly reduced the density of men and equipment in the geographic triangle formed by the Seversky Donets River running northwest to southeast, and the Oskol River running north to south. The confluence of these two rivers is immediately southeast of Izyum, with the transportation hub of Kupyansk straddling the Oskol to the north, and Andreevka on the left bank of the Seversky Donets to the northwest. The Russians had left small but satisfactorily supplied formations of Donbass militia and Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard), covered by relatively potent long-distance artillery fire, modest close air support, and occasional precision missile strikes against concentrations of Ukrainian forces.

[..] I remain persuaded the Russian high command intentionally weakened their line in this particular area in order to entice the NATO commanders of this newly created army to attack precisely where they did, and then to deliberately lead them into the triangular pocket defined by the two rivers, as described above. My argumentation supporting this view is as follows: First of all, it must be kept in mind that, from the very beginning of this now three-week-long battle, the Russian forces defending the area in question have been outnumbered at least 5:1 at almost every juncture. It is absurd to believe this disparity in force numbers was not anticipated by Russian commanders, and a battle plan conceived to exploit the geography and the inherent firepower superiority of the defending force so as to conduct a punishing tactical retreat.

And, in retrospect, it is now plainly evident that is precisely what they have done. Contrary to the ridiculously exaggerated tales of a disorderly Russian retreat – with a thousand destroyed/abandoned tanks and armored vehicles, thousands of casualties, and ten thousand captured (yes, numbers such as these were breathlessly reported by western “expert analysts” in the first week of the battle!) – the Russian forces conducted a remarkably disciplined fighting retreat, progressed through multiple prepared lines of defense, and exacted severe losses on Ukrainian men and equipment every step of the way, while suffering relatively modest losses themselves.

Yes, several towns and villages were briefly defended and then abandoned along the way. In each case, the Ukrainian propagandists and their western media allies trumpeted the glorious victories, but none of these stories of supposed martial brilliance bothered to mention the exorbitant price being paid for the modest pieces of real estate they claim to have “liberated”. Nor have the subsequent “filtration” purges of “Russian collaborators” in each of these towns and villages been reported in the completely one-sided western media accounts. Instead, western audiences were once again treated to evidence-free atrocity tales of barbaric Russian troops engaging in wanton rapes, murders, plunder, torture, indiscriminate massacres, and mass graves of innocent civilians.

Macgregor

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“..to maintain the flimsy pretense that NATO had any actual stake in whatever happens in Ukraine — as the result of the dumpster fire set there by America.”

Slouching Toward Endgame (Jim Kunstler)

Not many weeks ago German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock told the world that Germany would support Ukraine (and US-driven NATO policy) “no matter what German voters think.” That was all for show, you understand, to maintain the flimsy pretense that NATO had any actual stake in whatever happens in Ukraine — as the result of the dumpster fire set there by America. At the same time, that very same German foreign ministry was sneaking through back channels to feel out the Russian foreign ministry on ways Germany might get Russian natgas on the down-low, through third parties, say, Turkey, buying time until the glorious day those Nord Stream pipelines might re-open and the former normality of German economic life would resume?

“Joe Biden” slammed the door on that pretty conclusively Monday, blowing up the two pipelines, a premier act of insanity by a US government fueled at every level and in every direction by psychotic strategic thinking. For starters, consider that the Nord Stream sabotage amounts to the leading member of NATO committing an act-of-war against the rest of NATO. What else do you call depriving most of Europe the means to make a living — or merely to stay alive? As it happens, Germany is in no position to answer this casus belli by going to war against the USA. Germany has a Potemkin military — America has made sure of that since 1945, the last time these Teutons of northern forests went batshit crazy against Western Civ.

Seems to me that either Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledges this deadly affront to Germany and negates further participation in the NATO Ukraine idiocy, OR, within a few months he will face violent political uprising from his own people and his government will fall — and not necessarily within the framework of any orderly parliamentary procedure. More like mobs in the streets… chaos… government buildings torched… officials strung-up — real insurrection, not the fake kind we hear about endlessly from the American Party of Chaos. How, exactly, do any of the major NATO countries continue to regard the USA as any kind of ally? They won’t and they can’t.

Anyway, and despite the recent panicked expansion of NATO, member countries of the adjoining scaffold known as the European Union are peeling off one-by-one. Georgia Meloni, soon to be Prime Minister of Italy, couldn’t have put it more plainly when her coalition won last week’s election: she and they oppose in the strongest terms all the Woke nonsense that the World Economic Forum has programmed into the EU. She and they are against the cancellation of individual liberties and tyrannical affronts to due process of law; are against the degenerate campaign to undermine family, church, and national sovereignty; and are unwilling to act as a dumping ground for anymore Third World hordes the EU stupidly induces to come to Europe’s shores.

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“..Kiev refused to meet its responsibilities, particularly on the question of federalization, unless its troops were given control of the Donbass regions’ borders with Russia. This ran contrary to the terms of the Minsk agreements.”

Long Way Home: How Former Ukrainian Regions Joined Russia (RT)

Maidan In late 2013, a wave of street protest began in Kiev, ostensibly sparked by the government of Viktor Yanukovich shunning an economic agreement with the EU – a deal sold to Ukrainians as a harbinger of immediate social and economic benefits. As weeks of determined protest stretched into months, the so-called Maidan demonstrations were hijacked by radical nationalists, resulting in violent clashes with security forces in which dozens died. International politicians lent their support to the protests, with senior US diplomats famously handing out cookies in central Kiev. The emboldened movement gathered momentum and, despite a power-sharing deal mediated in February 2014 by Russia, Germany, France and Poland, escalating violence forced then-President Viktor Yanukovich to flee. The US-backed coup in the capital rallied the radical forces, who resorted to openly threatening the pro-Russian population in Ukraine with violence if they dared oppose the newly-installed authorities in Kiev.


Minsk agreements The Crimean Peninsula had strong historic ties with Russia, having been transferred to Kiev’s control only in 1954 under Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev. The region is essential for Russia’s national security as its deep harbours host the Black Sea naval Fleet. In a daring operation that was thought to have eventually prevented significant bloodshed, Moscow deployed special forces across the peninsula, and local authorities held a referendum on breaking with Ukraine and joining Russia. Moscow formally accepted Crimea’s bid in March 2014. The situation with two Donbass regions developed differently. In mid-April 2014, Kiev sent the military to quash protests in Donetsk and Lugansk. Protesters responded by forming militias and fighting back, militarising an already inflamed conflict.

The following month, the two regions held referendums on declaring their independence. The conflict in eastern Ukraine sank into a stalemate after the Ukrainian military suffered serious losses to what Kiev claimed were Russian troops secretly fighting in Donbass. The warring parties agreed to a ceasefire and a reconciliation roadmap, formalized in two agreements signed in Minsk in 2014 and 2015 respectively, was agreed to. The peace plan never fully worked. While hostilities in Donbass dwindled, Kiev refused to meet its responsibilities, particularly on the question of federalization, unless its troops were given control of the Donbass regions’ borders with Russia. This ran contrary to the terms of the Minsk agreements. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko acknowledged in June that he agreed to the ceasefire only to win time to rebuild the Ukrainian military.


NATO encroachment The tension over Ukraine escalated in 2021, after Russia accused NATO of expanding into the country without formally admitting Kiev into the alliance. Moscow had for decades made clear that Ukraine’s would-be membership in the US-led bloc would be crossing Russia’s security red line. Moscow sought guarantees from Washington that would have addressed its concerns. However, US officials declared that NATO’s “open door” policy meant that Ukraine was free to defend itself as it wished. Kiev enshrined the goal of becoming a member of the military bloc in its constitution in 2019. Since then NATO members have intensively trained Ukrainian troops, providing Kiev with weapons and otherwise helping to field a more capable army. Over the same period, Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups became embedded into military structures, gaining political power well beyond their levels public support, given the results of elections held in 2019 and 2020.

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This Czech sees a cheap opportunity. One problem: “The distance between Prague and the city of Kaliningrad is around 660km.”

Czech MEP Wants Russian Region Split Between Two EU States (RT)

A long-time European Parliament member from the Czech Republic, Tomas Zdechovsky, has supported an idea posted by a blogger of separating the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad from Moscow and splitting it between Prague and Warsaw. On Thursday, Zdechovsky shared a tweet from a Polish blogger showing a map of Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad Region being split between Poland and the Czech Republic. The caption to the image read: “It’s time to divide Kaliningrad, so that our Czech brothers finally have access to the sea.” The Czech politician, who has been an MEP since 2014, even suggested a plan for how to have the region removed from Russia. “We will hold a referendum to make Kaliningrad Czech-Polish,” he wrote, adding that “instructions” on organizing a vote could be taken from Crimea.


The peninsula decided to become part of Russia in the wake of a 2014 referendum following the US-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev. On Tuesday, referendums on whether to join Russia concluded in Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, which declared independence from Ukraine, and the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics in Donbass. The residents in all of the territories overwhelmingly supported joining Russia. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign treaties on incorporating the four new constituent members into the Russian state. The treaties have yet to be approved by the parliament. Kaliningrad is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania and the Baltic Sea and doesn’t share a border with the Czech Republic. The distance between Prague and the city of Kaliningrad is around 660km.

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“..you can’t feed anyone with paper, you need food.”

Putin Slams Western Money Printing (RT)

Paper money printed up by Western nations will not heat homes or feed anyone in the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday. “People cannot be fed with printed dollars and euros, they cannot be fed with these pieces of paper,” Putin said during the ceremony for the accession of the two Donbass republics and the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions into Russia. “All this is important, what I’m talking about, but what was just said is no less important – you can’t feed anyone with paper, you need food.” The president noted that EU politicians have been trying to convince people to eat less, wash up less, and dress warmer in their homes to conserve energy.


“And those who start asking fair questions on why this is so are immediately declared enemies, extremists, and radicals,” he said. Putin also reiterated his criticism of the Ukrainian grain deal mediated by the UN and Türkiye, which allows Kiev to export food via the Black Sea, saying it is not working as intended, as the shipments do little to alleviate food shortages in needy nations. “They are now exporting bread from Ukraine… under the pretext of ensuring food security for the poorest countries in the world. Where does it go? … everything goes to the same European countries, with only 5% sent to the poorest countries in the world. Again, another swindle and outright deception

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The EU won’t exist in its present form by next winter.

This Winter Will Be Hard But Next One Will Be Even Worse – EU (RT)

EU energy officials are concerned about the effects the ongoing energy crisis in Europe will have on the continent once cold weather sets in, Commissioner Kadri Simson told journalists on Friday. “Ministers were concerned, as am I, that this will not be an easy winter for us, and the next winter will be even more difficult,” said Simson during a press conference after an extraordinary meeting of EU energy ministers. The meeting was meant to address the skyrocketing gas prices in Europe and to develop a package of emergency measures aimed at assisting European households and businesses amid the crisis.

The agreed-upon steps include placing a cap on energy company revenues and distributing excess profits back to consumers. The plan also prescribes mandatory energy savings, requiring EU members to cut energy demand during peak hours by 5% and suggesting a 10% reduction in overall electricity use. The ministers failed, however, to agree on a price cap on wholesale natural gas, which was one of the key demands issued to the European Commission by a group of 15 EU member states ahead of the meeting. In a joint letter, the group argued that a price cap was the one measure that could help the bloc “mitigate the inflationary pressure, manage expectations and provide a framework in case of potential supply disruptions.”

While the European Commission has not completely ruled out the possibility of a price cap on natural gas, it has warned that such a move would weaken the bloc’s ability to secure gas supplies in the global market. The issue will reportedly be discussed at a later date, according to Lithuanian Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys. As Russian gas deliveries to the EU have declined by as much as 48% this year, according to Gazprom, inflation in the Eurozone has since hit double digits for the first time in recent history. It’s feared the situation will further deteriorate after the Russian Nord Stream pipelines suffered damage in a suspected act of sabotage earlier this week, which will severely limit potential gas deliveries to the bloc in the near future.

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“..all trapped in a newly declared country in which they didn’t especially wish to reside.”

Washington’s Pointless War On Behalf Of A Fake Nation (Stockman)

During the next 250 years the expansionist Czars annexed more and more of the adjacent territory, designating the eastern and southern regions as “Novorussiya” (New Russia), which territories included Catherine the Great’s purchase of Crimea from the Ottomans in 1783. That is to say, at the time of America’s own independence the heart of today’s Ukraine was ruled by the long arm of Czarist autocracy. After the Bolshevik revolution, of course, the map changed radically. In 1919 Lenin created the socialist state of Ukraine on part of the territory of the former Russian Empire. Ukraine officially became the Ukrainian People’s Republic with the capital of Kharkov in 1922 (moved to Kiev in 1934).

Accordingly, the new communist state swallowed up Novorussiya per the eastern and southern portions of the green area in the map below, including Donetsk, and Lugansk regions, as well as the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions bordering the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea that are the sites of today’s Russia-sponsored succession referendums. Then in 1939, as a result of the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact, Stalin annexed the eastern territories of Poland, as designated by the yellow areas of the map. Thus, the historic territory of Galicia and the Polish city of Lvov were incorporated into Ukraine by the joint decree of Stalin and Hitler. In June of 1940, Stalin next annexed Northern Bukovina (brown area) from Romania. And then at the Yalta conference in 1945, upon Stalin’s insistence to Churchill and Roosevelt, the Hungarian Carpathian Ruthenia was incorporated into the Soviet Union and added to Ukraine.

Taken together, these Stalinist seizures are now known as Western Ukraine, the peoples of which understandably do not cotton to things Russian. At the same time, the 85% Russian-speaking population inhabiting the purple area (Crimea) was gifted to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954 for the very reason of extending his own accession to the communist dictatorship. Nevertheless, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Ukraine inherited these communist-confected borders within which there were upwards of 40 millions Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Tartars and countless lesser nationalities—all trapped in a newly declared country in which they didn’t especially wish to reside.

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“..you are intentionally pushing us to use the right of the veto in order to then wax lyrical about the fact that Russia abuses this right..”

India, China, Brazil Abstain From UN Vote Condemning Russian Annexation (ZH)

Russia on Friday vetoed a Western bid to condemn its annexations of four occupied Ukrainian regions following controversial referendums – and while this move was expected from the Kremlin, China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstained.Russia’s veto came after the United States and Ukraine co-sponsored the resolution hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would take over areas of Ukraine seized during the invasion following referendums organized by the Kremlin.


“This is exactly what the Security Council was made to do. Defend sovereignty, protect territorial integrity, promote peace and security,” said US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, adding “The United Nations was built on an idea that never again would one country be allowed to take another’s territory by force.” Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that it was unprecedented to try and condemn a permanent member of the Security Council. “Do you seriously expect Russia to consider and support such a draft? And if not, then it turns out that you are intentionally pushing us to use the right of the veto in order to then wax lyrical about the fact that Russia abuses this right,” he said.

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They don’t care about condemning an annexation. This is what UN nations really want.

66 Nations at UN Say ‘End War in Ukraine’ (CN)

We have spent the past week reading and listening to speeches by world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Most of them condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the U.N. Charter and a serious setback for the peaceful world order that is the U.N.’s founding and defining principle. But what has not been reported in the United States is that leaders from 66 countries, mainly from the Global South, also used their General Assembly speeches to call urgently for diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine through peaceful negotiations, as the U.N. Charter requires. We have compiled excerpts from the speeches of all 66 countries to show the breadth and depth of their appeals, and we highlight a few of them here.

African leaders echoed one of the first speakers, Macky Sall, the president of Senegal, who also spoke in his capacity as the current chairman of the African Union when he said, “We call for de-escalation and a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, as well as for a negotiated solution, to avoid the catastrophic risk of a potentially global conflict.” The 66 nations that called for peace in Ukraine make up more than a third of the countries in the world, and they represent most of the Earth’s population, including India,China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico. While NATO and E.U. countries have rejected peace negotiations, and U.S. and U.K. leaders have actively undermined them, five European countries — Hungary, Malta, Portugal, San Marino and the Vatican — joined the calls for peace at the General Assembly.

The peace caucus also includes many of the small countries that have the most to lose from the failure of the U.N. system revealed by recent wars in Ukraine and the Greater Middle East, and who have the most to gain by strengthening the U.N. and enforcing the U.N. Charter to protect the weak and restrain the powerful. Philip Pierre, the prime minister of Saint Lucia, a small island state in the Caribbean, told the General Assembly, “Articles 2 and 33 of the U.N. Charter are unambiguous in binding Member States to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and to negotiate and settle all international disputes by peaceful means. …We therefore call upon all parties involved to immediately end the conflict in Ukraine, by undertaking immediate negotiations to permanently settle all disputes in accordance with the principles of the United Nations.”

Global South leaders lamented the breakdown of the U.N. system, not just in the war in Ukraine but throughout decades of war and economic coercion by the United States and its allies. President Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste directly challenged the West’s double standards, telling Western countries, “They should pause for a moment to reflect on the glaring contrast in their response to the wars elsewhere where women and children have died by the thousands from wars and starvation. The response to our beloved secretary-general’s cries for help in these situations have not met with equal compassion. As countries in the Global South, we see double standards. Our public opinion does not see the Ukraine war the same way it is seen in the North.”

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“Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Friday that Moscow would from now on treat any attack on those territories as an attack against Russia itself.”

Ukraine Insists It Can Strike Russia Despite US Ban (RT)

The US only forbids Kiev’s forces from attacking Russian territory with HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems), not all American weapons, Ukrainian ambassador to Washington Oksana Markarova has said on Thursday. The US has been Kiev’s main backer during the conflict with Moscow, providing Ukrainian forces with billions of dollars worth of military aid, including sophisticated hardware such as HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, M777 howitzers, and combat drones. Last month, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov said that Kiev had “agreements with the US that we will not use weapons provided to us by the US and partners on the territory of Russia”due to Washington’s concern that it could escalate the fighting even further.

During her interview with Ukrainska Pravda, Markarova was asked if the US ban covered all weapons sent by Washington to Kiev. The ambassador responded by clarifying that “this applies specifically to HIMARS,” but not other American hardware. She also insisted that HIMARS could still be used by Kiev against Crimea as “it was, is and will be Ukraine.” The peninsula overwhelmingly voted to become part of Russia in a referendum in 2014, with Ukrainian leadership vowing to reclaim control on numerous occasions. Crimea has been targeted with drone attacks during the ongoing conflict and several explosions at military facilities on the peninsula have been attributed to Ukrainian saboteurs. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties on accepting the two Donbass republics, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, which declared independence from Ukraine, into the Russian state.

Residents of those territories voted in referendums, which concluded on Monday, to join Russia. The treaties now await their ratification by the parliament. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said earlier this week that Washington “will never recognize the annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia” and therefore would have no objections to Ukraine using American weapons in Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions though Kiev’s attacks on the regions have regularly resulted in civilian deaths. Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov reiterated on Friday that Moscow would from now on treat any attack on those territories as an attack against Russia itself. Moscow has long criticized the deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by the US and its allies, arguing that it only escalates the fighting and increases the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.

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Zelensky ignored the Minsk agreements. That’s all.

Zelensky Sets Conditions For Talks With Russia (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has refused to negotiate a peace settlement as long as Vladimir Putin remains president of Russia, issuing a regime change demand via his official Telegram channel on Friday. Claiming he had “always offered Russia coexistence on equal, honest, dignified and fair terms,” Zelensky blamed Russia for the failure of negotiations, insisting that it was “obvious this is impossible with this Russian president.” “We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but … with another president of Russia,” he wrote. Unlike the majority of his Telegram posts, this one was written only in Ukrainian, without an accompanying English translation. Zelensky has repeatedly rejected overtures of peace from Moscow, most recently turning down Putin’s offer on Friday to resume negotiations.

What made the offer a non-starter for Kiev is that Putin refused to relinquish the regions that voted this week to join Russia. “Only the path of strengthening Ukraine and expelling the occupiers from our entire territory will restore peace,”Zelensky declared in his address. Zelensky also confirmed that Ukraine had submitted an accelerated application to join NATO on Friday, something he previously admitted was probably never going to happen. While the Western media described the move as “more symbolic than practical,” the Ukrainian president seemed quite serious, arguing that Sweden and Finland were able to apply on an accelerated basis even without a Membership Action Plan and it was thus only “fair” that Ukraine do the same.

“De facto, we have already completed our path to NATO,” he said in another Telegram post. “De facto, we have already proven interoperability with the Alliance’s standards … We trust each other, we help each other and we protect each other.” Zelensky has previously acknowledged Ukraine might struggle to secure the consent of all 30 NATO member nations, pushing instead for the so-called Kiev Security Compact, which would oblige NATO’s core members to defend Ukraine “in case of aggression” while codifying the provision of bottomless military and financial aid as a stopgap measure.

Admitting Ukraine would draw NATO into immediate confrontation with Russia, under the Article 5 mutual defense provision. While the US is committed to the ‘open door’ policy when it comes to NATO, now is the wrong time to consider Ukraine’s membership application, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Friday. The move would also make peace with Moscow impossible, as Putin has made it clear since before the military operation began in February that Ukraine must remain a neutral country under all circumstances.

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“If the goal is to avoid a conflict in which we are already fighting, then does the rest of Washington’s approach to Russian aggression need to be reconsidered?”

West and Russia Already Fighting WW3 – Fiona Hill (RT)

The West has been fighting World War III against Russia “for a long time” without being aware of it, former White House advisor Fiona Hill told the New Yorker magazine on Thursday. Moscow, however, is aware, with President Vladimir Putin accusing the collective West of waging “hybrid war” on Russia. “We’ve been in this for a long time, and we’ve failed to recognize it,” said Hill, who served in Donald Trump’s national security council before testifying against him during the 2019 impeachment inquiry. With the US backing a coup in Kiev in 2014 and supplying military aid to Ukraine while it waged war against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the eight years since, Hill suggested that Washington could reevaluate its stated policy of supporting Ukraine without becoming a direct party to the conflict.

“If the goal is to avoid a conflict in which we are already fighting, then does the rest of Washington’s approach to Russian aggression need to be reconsidered?” the New Yorker paraphrased her argument. While Hill did not directly call for the US to enter open war with Russia, other US lawmakers and former officials have. Shortly after Russian troops rolled into Ukraine in February, a group of these national security experts called on President Joe Biden to enforce a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. Such a measure would see the US and any willing NATO allies commit to shooting down Russian aircraft, something Moscow has explicitly said it would perceive as an act of war.

Russia already considers itself at war with NATO in Ukraine, and Putin has vowed to use “all available means” to defend its own territory, including four former Ukrainian regions set to join the Russian Federation in the coming days. In a speech on Friday after signing accession treaties for these four regions, Putin accused the West of waging a “hybrid war” against Russia to prevent the development of a “multipolar world.”

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“In the first lawsuit, the FBI produced no responsive documents. The parties knew the FBI had something, and so this sparked a second lawsuit – where the FBI somehow found 20,000 pages of potentially responsive documents.”

Court Orders Production Of Seth Rich Laptop (Techno Fog)

Today, a federal judge ordered the FBI to “produce the information it possesses related to Seth Rich’s laptop.” This case involves a multi-year fight by attorney Ty Clevenger to obtain records relating to the FBI/DOJ investigation of Seth Rich, particularly whether Rich was involved in the hack of the DNC or had communicated with Wikileaks. This fight dates back to 2017 and includes two FOIA lawsuit. In the first lawsuit, the FBI produced no responsive documents. The parties knew the FBI had something, and so this sparked a second lawsuit – where the FBI somehow found 20,000 pages of potentially responsive documents. The court explains:

Of those 20,000 pages, the government found 1,596 pages of responsive documents, of which the government withheld 1,469 pages under various FOIA exemptions (privacy, law enforcement exemption, etc.). The FBI also withheld the contents of Seth Rich’s personal laptop, which it possesses, in its entirety, alleging the privacy of Rich’s family in “preventing the public release of this information” outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The court rejected that argument, stating “the FBI has not satisfied its burden of showing more than a de minimis privacy interest that would justify withholding information from Seth Rich’s laptop.” What will the laptop reveal? Time will tell. (Time is especially relevant becausethe DOJ will appeal and drag this out.)


What might be more interesting is the FBI’s complete records on Seth Rich. The FBI has fought production of those records – first by failing to “find” its own documents, and now by alleging documents must be withheld due to “national security grounds” and the “basis that disclosure of the information would threaten intelligence-gathering efforts.” The information in the FBI’s possession includes that which was “provided by foreign government agency authorities under an implied assurance of confidentiality.” It also may – or may not – include whether the FBI used a “code name” associated with Seth Rich. And, if FBI representations are to be believed, it also includes “details of intelligence activities, sources, and methods related to national security.”

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1/ Tell him if he doesn’t show up, the deal is off.
2/ Tell Von der Leyen the same thing.

Pfizer CEO Pulls Out Of Testifying To EU Parliament COVID Panel (Pol.eu)

Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla has pulled out of an appointment to testify before the European Parliament’s special committee on COVID-19, at which he was expected to face tough questions on how secretive vaccine deals were struck. The decision follows an audit report into the EU’s vaccine procurement strategy published earlier in the month that raised new questions about contact between Bourla and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that preceded a multibillion-euro vaccine contract. The head of the U.S. pharmaceutical giant, the largest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines to the EU, was scheduled to appear before the panel on October 10. The committee is meeting with key officials involved in the EU’s vaccine procurement process to draw lessons on how to respond to future pandemics.

Other pharmaceutical executives have addressed the committee, including the CEO of Moderna and senior officials from AstraZeneca and Sanofi. The committee’s chair, Belgian MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, told POLITICO she “deeply regrets” the decision taken by Pfizer. After a visit to BioNTech’s headquarters last week, Van Brempt had said in a written statement that she looked forward to discussions “with other CEOs” including “Mr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer” on October 10. The report, by the European Court of Auditors, found that von der Leyen had been directly involved in preliminary negotiations for the EU’s biggest vaccine contract, for up to 1.8 billion doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which was concluded in May 2021. This was a departure from the negotiating procedure followed with other contracts, where a joint negotiating team made up of officials from the Commission and member countries conducted exploratory talks.

The EU watchdog also noted that the Commission refused to provide records of the discussions with Pfizer, either in the form of minutes, names of experts consulted, agreed terms, or other evidence. Already in 2021, the New York Times reported on the seemingly-cozy relationship between Bourla and von der Leyen, with the two exchanging text messages in the run-up to the deal. Contacted by POLITICO, a spokesperson for Pfizer said the company’s president of international development markets, Janine Small, would attend the committee hearing. “She has been identified as best placed to support the committee in meeting their objectives,” the spokesperson said.

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there’s some debate about what time signature it’s actually in. Musicologists say that riff is in 13/8 time, effectively switching from 3/4 to 4/4 for every fourth bar. Depending on who you talk to, the rest of the song is in 3/4 or 12/8, with that 13/8 weaving in and out.
https://twitter.com/i/status/1575560807278313472

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Aug 072020
 


W.H. Bartlett and J. Appleton The port of Beirut 1838

 

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)
UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)
US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)
Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)
Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)
TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)
Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)
NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James
Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)
Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)
Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

 

 

Johns Hopkins reports over 2,000 US deaths in 24 hrs for the first time in 3 months. Worldometer says 1,203.

The US passed 5 million cases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nomiki DNC funds

 

 

New England Complex Systems Institute means Yaneer Bar-Yam.

Making trying to save your economy more important than fighting COVID is set to backfire. Don’t flatten the curve, crush it. That so many countries have failed in that regard doesn’t just mean they will get second and third waves, more importantly it means their economies will be hurt more than they already are.

Minimizing Economic Costs For COVID19 (NECSI)

It is often claimed that there is a trade-off between containing COVID-19 and minimizing disruption to the economy, and that eliminating COVID-19 (by which we mean getting to no community transmission—i.e. no cases from unknown sources) is too costly to be worthwhile. Here, we examine the validity of these claims.


We consider a space of policy action in which a country (or state) decreases its number of cases per day by reducing the reproductive number R below 1 for a duration of its choosing and then maintains thereafter a constant number of cases per day. The question is what is the right level at which to maintain this constant number of cases per day. The essential idea is that there are two strategies: 1) an elimination strategy in which R<1 is maintained until there is no more community transmission and after which the country reopens (save for targeted responses in specific locations to combat cases that are imported), and 2) a steady-state strategy, in which R<1 is maintained for some period of time but not long enough to eliminate community transmission and after which R=1 is maintained nationwide.

The elimination strategy requires a greater upfront cost, since R<1 is maintained for a longer duration, but requires lower costs thereafter since economic activity in the country can largely return to normal, with the exception of targeted measures in specific locations in the event of a second outbreak caused by an imported case. The steady-state strategy, on the other hand, requires the costly maintenance of R=1 nationwide in order for cases not to rise; if community transmission is not eliminated and R=1 is not maintained, a second wave will occur sooner or later, as has already occurred in many countries that have not yet chosen the elimination strategy. Because of the long time during which a country must maintain R=1 under the steady-state strategy, it is worthwhile even from a purely economic perspective for a country in almost all cases to instead choose the elimination strategy, despite its greater short-term costs.

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As reported numerous times, it’s not the lockdowns that hurt economies most, it’s people being afraid to get infected. Look at the Swedish GDP graph: no lockdown, but a huge fall.

UK Shoppers Steer Clear Of High Streets Despite Lockdown Lifting (G.)

Shoppers continued to stay away from UK high streets last month despite the reopening of non-essential shops, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of lockdown measures. The number of visitors to UK retail destinations dropped by 39.4% in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to figures from Springboard, a data company that tracks footfall at consumer hotspots. Despite an improvement of almost a fifth from June, in the best month for visitor numbers since February, the figures suggest intense pressure remains for the high street as people continued to stay away from town and city centres amid the ongoing health risks from Covid-19.

Non-essential shops began reopening in England and Northern Ireland in mid-June, and in Wales and Scotland later that month. Hotels, pub and restaurants in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed suit in July, though customers were only allowed back inside Welsh pubs and cafes this week. With social distancing measures in place, consumers are now gradually returning to towns and city centres. However, Springboard said that during the first full month without tough lockdown measures, bricks and mortar destinations only managed to attract six out of every 10 people who visited last year.

The latest snapshot comes after growing numbers of big high street names announce a raft of shop closures and job losses, as retailers, pubs, hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions face a sharp decline in income caused by the pandemic. Consumers are increasingly spending online, while a lack of tourists from overseas and office workers venturing into town and city centres has had an impact on visitor numbers. The figures precede the launch of the government’s eat out to help out restaurant discount scheme, which has led to a sharp rise in visitor numbers since the start of August. However, coronavirus infections are starting to increase in some parts of Britain, leading to local lockdowns and fuelling concern among consumers.

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Of course they do. And they’re stupid and ugly too, all 150 million of them.

But look on the bright side: at least they give both sides of America, who are ready to start shooting each other, that one elusive thing they can agree on.

US State Dept: Russia Pushing Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Online (JTN)

U.S. officials contend that Russia is employing an online operation – including the disseminating of conspiracy theories and disinformation – to create confusion about the coronavirus, according to a new State Department report. The report described a Russian-based misinformation cycle that peddles sensationalist information via U.S. social media conversations and proxy websites. The department found that the Kremlin has focused its most recent efforts on conspiracy theories about the pandemic. The sites appear as standard-seeming news outlets, but in reality are tied to the Kremlin and Russian state-funded media. State-funded media outlets in Russia often publish similar stories to the ones seen on these deceptive sites.


Furthermore, officials in China and Iran, in addition to Russia, often share the claims found on these sites on their social media feeds, the report found. The head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, Lea Gabrielle, told AP that what makes the Russian disinformation strategy effective is that “it’s difficult for the average person online to look at these sites and know the Russian affiliation.” Most of the sites examined by the State Department were directly connected to the Kremlin in one way or another. One site, Canadian-based Global Research, frequently publishes articles written by fabricated authors created by the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence service. A different site, NewsFront, is registered to the Russian government.

Read more …

Remember that Facebook, Google et al are banned in China.

Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat (F.)

President Trump signed a pair of executive orders on Thursday prohibiting Americans from doing business with Beijing-based ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, as well as transactions related to the app WeChat with its owner, the Chinese tech giant Tencent, beginning September 20, in an effort to bar the social media platforms from the U.S. due to national security concerns. Both orders are set to take effect in 45 days, though they will likely be challenged in court. Microsoft is in talks to purchase the operations of TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a deal that Trump says he would support after initially expressing disapproval, and the two sides are hoping to complete a deal by September 15, which is before the 45-day deadline (at least three other companies are also vying to purchase TikTok).


The Trump administration had been threatening such a move for weeks over national security concerns, and on Friday the president told reporters on Air Force One he would “ban” the video-sharing platform from the U.S. In the orders, the president accused the companies of providing the Chinese government with access to Americans’ data and personal information, “allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.” The White House also alleged that the Chinese government is monitoring WeChat messages to keep tabs on Chinese nationals in the U.S. WeChat, a messaging and payments app that has over a billion users, is one of the crown jewels for Tencent, which also has investments in American companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and Reddit.

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Tencent is huge, it passed the $500 billion valuation back in 2018. WeChat has a billion users, all outside of China.

Tencent Stock Plummets After Trump Announces Plan To Ban WeChat (CNN)

Tencent stock plunged on Friday after US President Donald Trump moved to ban WeChat, a social media app owned by the Chinese tech giant. Shares in Tencent plummeted as much as 10% in Hong Kong, before paring back some of those losses — though the stock was still down nearly 6% in afternoon trade. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 1.8%. The fall came after Trump issued executive orders that would ban WeChat and TikTok, the short-form video app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, from operating in the United States in 45 days if they are not sold by their parent companies.

Trump had already said that he would ban TikTok if a deal for the app is not reached with an American company, but the inclusion of WeChat indicates that Washington is broadening its efforts to restrict some Chinese apps from operating in the United States. The moves to ban the apps represent an “unprecedented intervention by the US government in the consumer technology sector,” according to Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.It also marks the first time the government “has attempted to ban a software application running on millions of mobile phones” in the United States, Triolo wrote in a note on Friday.

A WeChat ban would be a blow to the Chinese diaspora, students and others in the United States who rely on the app to communicate with family, friends and business partners in China. WeChat is the overseas version of Tencent’s widely popular Chinese messaging app Weixin. The app provides a range of services, including instant messaging and the ability to send money to other users. According to the order, a ban would apply to “any transaction that is related to WeChat” made by any person or “any property” subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

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View from Japan.

TikTok Sparks National Security Concerns (Japan Times)

Maybe it is a generational thing, but I don’t get TikTok. The social media app allows users to share brief (15-second) videos — as if I need more opportunities to shorten my attention span. I must be an outlier, though: It is one of the most popular apps of the last two years, with a reported 2 billion downloads, and has 10 million users in Japan, 110 million in the United States and 200 million in India (before it was banned in that country). That extraordinary growth has turned its parent, ByteDance, which acquired the app in 2017, into one of the world’s most valuable startup companies, with a value approximating $150 billion.

Its popularity reflects the creativity it nurtures — and a user’s ability to monetize his or her audience. Followers can send money to video creators they like: Tens of millions of dollars have been “gifted” in the U.S. alone in the last two years. [..] In theory, TikTok poses three distinct risks. The first is that the app is a Trojan horse that can surveil users. That theoretical concern became real a few months ago when researchers discovered that the app accessed users’ clipboards, which could expose sensitive data, including passwords. The company blamed anti-spam features in the software and quickly disabled them. Strike 1.

The second concern is one now raised with every piece of Chinese information technology, whether it’s hardware or software: Because the company is subject to Chinese law, Beijing can and will gain access to all user information it has. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that people should download the app only if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Again, researchers examined the app and concluded that TikTok’s data collection is consistent with that of similar applications. Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher, was cited in Wired magazine saying that “in context, TikTok appears to be pretty tame compared to other apps.”

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Ai Weiwei is a unique voice on China. “In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.“

Think ‘Sanctions’ Will Trouble China? You’re Stuck In The Past (Ai Weiwei)

The Trump administration has floated the idea of sanctioning Chinese officials and members of the Communist party of China. Before we ask whether this is a good idea, let’s ask how Sino-US relations got to this stage. The US cold war with the Soviet Union was over ideology, but today’s standoff with China is different. The Chinese state has no ideology, no religion, no moral agenda. It continues wearing socialist garb but only as a face-saving pretence. It has, in fact, become a state-capitalist dictatorship. What the world sees today is a contest between the US system of free-market capitalism and Chinese state capitalism. How should we read this chessboard?

The post-Mao dictatorship in China has lived by the principle of “repress at home and be open to the world”. It has imported knowhow from abroad. There are an estimated 360,000 Chinese students currently enrolled who have come through America’s open door. Over 40 years, at least a million have returned to China and fed their new technical knowledge into the existing authoritarian structures that have built the dictatorship. It might be the most momentous personnel transfer in history. [..] But did capitalist competition, that ravenous machine that can chew up anything, change China? The regime’s politics did not change a whit. What did change was the US, whose business leaders now approached the Chinese dictatorship with obsequious smiles.

Here, after all, was an exciting new business partner: master of a realm in which there were virtually no labour rights or health and safety regulations, no frustrating delays because of squabbles between political parties, no criticism from free media, and no danger of judgment by independent courts. For European and US companies doing manufacture for export, it was a dream come true. Money rained down on parts of China, it is true. But the price was to mortgage the country’s future. Society fell into a moral swamp, devoid of humanity and difficult to escape. Meanwhile, the west made their adjustments. They stopped talking about liberal values and gave a pass to the dictatorship, in which Deng Xiaoping’s advice of “don’t confront” and Jiang Zemin’s of “lie low and make big bucks” made fast economic growth possible.

[..] Are sanctions the way to go? A foreign ministry spokesperson in Beijing recently remarked words to the effect that the US and China are so economically interlocked that they would amount to self-sanctions. The US, moreover, would be no match for China in its ability to endure suffering. And there he was correct: in dictatorships, sacrifices are not borne by the rulers. In the 1960s Mao said: “Cut us off? Go ahead – eight years, 10 years, China has everything.” A few years later Mao had nuclear weapons and was not afraid of anyone.

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No love lost for the NRA here, but c’mon, less than three months before the elction, the Democrat DA for New York squeezes Deutsche to fork over Trump’s tax records and the Democrat AG of New York all of a sudden goes after the NRA?! Both cases couldn’t have waited a few months? And nobody mentions election tampering?

NRA Files Countersuit Against New York AG Letitia James

The National Rifle Association sued New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday — the same day she brought a case to break up the pro-gun group — claiming she has misused her office to go after the organization for political reasons. “There can be no doubt that the James’s actions against the NRA are motivated and substantially caused by her hostility toward the NRA’s political advocacy,” the Albany Federal court lawsuit alleges. James made a campaign promise to investigate the NRA’s legitimacy as a non-profit organization and carried that torch after she was elected for the AG post because she disagrees with its politics, the suit charges. James “maligned” the group “without a single shred of evidence, nor any sincere belief, that the NRA was violating the New York Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, or any other law,” the court documents allege.

Once in office, James began “to deliver on her campaign promises to retaliate against the NRA for constitutionally protected speech on issues that James opposes,” the court documents allege. The NRA alleges it was forewarned by former AG Eric Schneiderman about a possible investigation into the group, prompting the organization to undertake “a top-to-bottom compliance review of its operations and governance.” And now its “finances are more robust than ever, and it operates to a high standard of compliance” with the law, the court papers claim. This ruffled feathers with some connected to the NRA, who were “discontented with the principled path it had chosen” and it even prompted litigation against the NRA’s former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, the court papers charge.

And when James then launched her investigation of the NRA in April 2019, three months after taking office, the NRA says it cooperated, providing documents and testimony from employees. “Despite hopes that playing by the rules would procure a just outcome, the NRA has not been treated fairly by James’ office,” the suit says. “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech,” the lawsuit alleges. “This wrongful conduct threatens to destabilize the NRA and chill the speech of the NRA, its members, and other constituents.”

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What’s in it for #julianAssange?

Judge Calls For Assange Testimony In Fox News Civil Suit Over Seth Rich (JTN)

A U.S. federal judge has asked the U.K. to assist in facilitating the testimony of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a civil suit against Fox News brought by the parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn said in a filing on Wednesday that Assange’s evidence “cannot be secured except by the intervention of the English courts,” and that such intervention “would serve to further the international interests of justice and judicial cooperation.” At issue is a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of Rich, who worked in the DNC’s voter expansion division. Rich was shot and killed in July 2016 in Washington, D.C., in what police suspect was a botched robbery.

Conspiracy theories following Rich’s murder alleged that he had been involved in the hacking and subsequent leaking of DNC emails prior to death. The emails were published in part by WikiLeaks. After Rich’s death, Fox News reported that he had had contact with Assange prior to his death. The cable news network subsequently retracted the article, claiming it had not been properly vetteed prior to publication. The following year, Rich’s parents brought suit against Fox over the article, claiming the network had perpetrated intentional infliction of emotional distress against them. Fox in turn has argued that, retraction notwithstanding, the article was not a “sham” as alleged by the plaintiffs.

In her request Wednesday, Netburn said that “evidence regarding the source of the leaked DNC emails and the communications (if any) between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks will be highly material to Fox’s contentions.” “Mr. Assange, as founder of WikiLeaks, is exceptionally suited to provide testimony that will be highly relevant to these issues,” Netburn wrote.

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The only charisties that will be left are the ones run like global corporations. With a CEO who makes $1 million a year and volunteers who do all the work. That’s bad news for the people who rely on them.

Almost Half Of UK Charities For World’s Poorest Set To Close In A Year (G.)

Nearly half of the UK’s small charities working with the world’s poorest people expect to close within the next 12 months due to lack of financial support, a survey has found. Despite most of them seeing a spike in demand for their services during Covid-19, 15% of the charities will be forced to shut their doors within the next six months, and 45% within a year, according to data from the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN). The pandemic – predicted to force one in 10 UK charities into bankruptcy by the end of 2020 – has delivered a triple whammy to smaller overseas charities, according to SIDCN. British charities working abroad have not been eligible to apply for the UK government coronavirus community support fund, and many British funders have amended their giving criteria to donate to projects based solely in the UK.

The Department for International Development (DfID)’s merger with the Foreign Office and the subsequent £2.9bn cut to the 2020 overseas aid programme have left little room for small charities to function, said CEO Rita Chadha of the Small Charities Coalition, which supports more than 100 small NGOs. “There are over 10,000 small international charities with an income of under £1m in the UK,” said Chadha. “Their work rarely gets noticed beyond those that they directly work with, but their impact is huge. Helping young girls get an education, providing micro grants for businesses, and investing in clean drinking water is what makes us collectively safer and better. Covid-19 has proven we can no longer afford to think just local.”

[..] SIDCN, which surveyed 53 small charities/nonprofits working overseas with a maximum annual income of £1m, found that 72% had seen an increased demand for their services during the pandemic, with 57% having had to postpone programmes or projects. “The lack of any support for international charities has been debilitating,” one charity head told researchers. “We have had to close the office and cut staff and staff hours but the demands on our now-reduced team have only increased. The amount of funding for immediate partner Covid needs is paltry,”

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While you weren’t looking.

Canada’s Last Fully Intact Arctic Ice Shelf Collapses (R.)

The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July, researchers said on Thursday. The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut. “Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” the Canadian Ice Service said on Twitter when it announced the loss on Sunday. “Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.

The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 square kilometers. By comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 square kilometers. “This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” Copland said. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the last 30 years, due to a process known as Arctic amplification. But this year, temperatures in the polar region have been intense. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years. Record heat and wildfires have scorched Siberian Russia.

Summer in the Canadian Arctic this year in particular has been 5 degrees Celsius above the 30-year average, Copland said. That has threatened smaller ice caps, which can melt quickly because they do not have the bulk that larger glaciers have to stay cold. As a glacier disappears, more bedrock is exposed, which then heats up and accelerates the melting process. “The very small ones, we’re losing them dramatically,” he said, citing researchers’ reviews of satellite imagery. “You feel like you’re on a sinking island chasing these features, and these are large features. It’s not as if it’s a little tiny patch of ice you find in your garden.”

Read more …

 

 

We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, your support is now an integral part of the process.

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Beirut August 2020.

 

 

Carl Sagan 1995

 

 

Let all souls here rest in peace; for we shall not repeat the evil.

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 112020
 


Andre Derain Boats at Collioure 1905

 

Wuhan Reports 5 New Coronavirus Cases, Its Highest Surge In 2 Months (RT)
New Zealand To Reopen Malls, Cafes From Thursday As Virus Curbs Eased (R.)
How New Zealand Put Coronavirus On The Brink Of Elimination (Wired)
Men Have High Levels Of ACE2 Enzyme Key To COVID-19 Infection (R.)
Inside House Democrats’ $1.2 Trillion+ Coronavirus Relief Proposal (Axios)
43 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Amid Pandemic (G.)
Unemployment Numbers ‘Will Get Worse Before They Get Better’ – Mnuchin (NPR)
A 6.4 Million Discrepancy In The Employment Report (Mish)
Schumer Calls On VA Dep. To Explain Use Of HCQ (AP)
Number Of Hydroxychloroquine Prescriptions Explodes In France (F.)
Zinc Hope In Coronavirus Fight (Telegraph India)
Guaidó’s Mercenary Hit Contract On Maduro Mirrors Official US Bounty (MacLeod)
AG Barr’s Office Shreds Chuck Todd For ‘Deceptive Editing’ (DW)
DNI Has Communications Between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks For 4 Years (GP)

 

 

• For the first time since March 10 (!!!), Italy reported less than 1,000 new cases of coronavirus.

• The US had +20,329 new confirmed coronavirus cases today, the lowest number since late March, bringing the total to 1,367,638, of which 1,030,515 are still active.
 


Click to enlarge in new tab

 

 

 

Cases 4,200,957 (+ 79,179 from yesterday’s 4,121,778)

Deaths 284,150 (+ 3,282 from yesterday’s 280,868)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Open up!

Wuhan Reports 5 New Coronavirus Cases, Its Highest Surge In 2 Months (RT)

Original hotspot of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese city of Wuhan, has reported five new indigenous cases as the number of infections across mainland China has slightly grown as well. China reported seventeen new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday – three more than the day before. Of the newly-detected cases, seven are linked to overseas travel, and 10 are believed to be the result of local transmission. In addition to five indigenous cases in Wuhan, three other came from Jilin province, one from Liaoning, northeastern Chinese province bordering North Korea, and another one from Heilongjiang province, bordering Russia.

While the figure might not sound that alarming, considering that China was adding thousands of cases mid-February, when it was going through the peak of the pandemic, it still marks the nation’s biggest jump in confirmed infections since April, 28. The latest data from Wuhan, which just late last month celebrated the recovery of the last patient with severe Covid-19, can be seen as a worrying sign as well since it the most significant increase in cases for the pandemic ground zero in two months. Last time Wuhan reported more than five new cases in a single day (8) was on March 11. However, it was not before the beginning of April when the last remaining travel restrictions imposed on the city, as it was fighting the outbreak, were lifted after 76 days of lockdown.


Around the same time, Wuhan for the first time reported zero daily deaths from the disease. Considering the steady drop in the number of new coronavirus patients, Beijing has gradually relaxed coronavirus measures across the country, on Thursday declaring the whole territory of China as ‘low risk” in terms of coronavirus. Apart from Hubei, there has been a surge in infections in Shulan, in the northeastern Jilin province, where all of the new cases are believed to be traced to a single woman. Concerned about the possible second wave of the desease, local authorities raised the risk level from low to medium last week.

Read more …

Lockdowns work. In principle. That says little about their execution, but I already covered that. If people want to be skeptical of something, at least make sure you know what you’re skeptical about.

New Zealand To Reopen Malls, Cafes From Thursday As Virus Curbs Eased (R.)

New Zealand businesses including malls, cinemas, cafes and gyms will reopen on Thursday after some of the tightest restrictions in the world to stop the spread of the coronavirus were further loosened on Monday. The Pacific nation was locked down for more than month under “level 4” restrictions that were eased by a notch in late April. It has continued to enforce strict social measures on many of its citizens and businesses, helping prevent widespread community spread of the virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the staggered move to “level 2” restrictions will mean retail, restaurants and other public spaces including playgrounds can reopen from Thursday.

Schools can open from next Monday while bars can only reopen from May 21, Ardern said. Gatherings would be limited to 10 people. “The upshot is that in 10 days’ time we will have reopened most businesses in New Zealand, and sooner than many other countries around the world,” Ardern told a news conference. “But that fits with our plan – go hard, go early – so we can get our economy moving again sooner, and so we get the economic benefit of getting our health response right.” Businesses will be required to have physical distancing and strict hygiene measures in place. Air New Zealand announced it would resume seven more domestic routes when the country enters alert level 2.


International travel, however, would not be possible as borders will remain closed except for returning New Zealanders. The measures would be reviewed again in two weeks, Ardern said. The government plans to introduce a new law that would allow authorities to enforce physical distancing and control gatherings of people after questions were raised about the legality of lockdown rules. Three new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Monday, the health ministry said in a statement. The cases – two hospital nurses and one related to overseas travel – bring New Zealand’s total confirmed COVID-19 infections to 1,147, the ministry said, adding that 93% of all confirmed and probable cases have recovered.

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New Zealand is 2,500 miles, 4,000 km, from Australia, its nearest neighbor. Amid all the hosanna, that must not be forgotten. European countries, for instance, have no such advantages.

New Zealand can simply close its doors. But yeah, they did it along with a strict lockdown.

How New Zealand Put Coronavirus On The Brink Of Elimination (Wired)

On February 28, the news emerged of New Zealand’s first case of Covid-19. For Michael Baker, a government advisor and epidemiologist at the University of Otago in Wellington, the following weeks would be a time of extreme anxiety. While New Zealand is now regarded as a global success story in containing the coronavirus – as of May 7 it has reported just 1,489 cases and 21 deaths amongst a population of five million – this did not always appear such a likely outcome. Indeed, scientists believe that without the right strategies being swiftly implemented at crucial times, the country could have experienced more than 1,000 cases a day, overwhelming its fragile healthcare network.

When the news arrived that Covid-19 had reached New Zealand’s shores, Baker had already been monitoring the seemingly inexorable global progression of the pandemic since early January. He was well aware of the devastation wreaked by the virus in Wuhan, and grim reports were already filtering through of the worsening outbreak in Italy. While New Zealand’s relative geographical isolation had provided some protection thus far, he knew how swiftly the tide could turn. “It was the most intense period of my working life,” he says. “The distant drumbeat was getting louder and I felt we were on a knife edge in terms of what would happen.”

A member of the Ministry of Health’s technical advisory group, Baker had read the report of the World Health Organisation’s joint mission to China at the end of February. “It showed that the Chinese had done the almost impossible, they’d stopped a pandemic in full flight which was remarkable,” he says. “This showed that it was containable.” Inspired by this, and reports from fellow island nations such as Taiwan who had also managed to contain the outbreak, he realised that if New Zealand acted swiftly and strongly, it could prevent a disaster before it had even begun. He started calling for an approach to eliminate, rather than merely suppress the virus.

At that point – like most other countries – New Zealand was applying the same action plans for Covid-19 as with a bout of pandemic influenza, steadily ramping up their response as the pandemic progressed to try and mitigate it and flatten the curve. But while the rate at which influenza is transmitted means it is nigh impossible to stop, the data showed that Covid-19 was different. “The fundamental difference is that the virus incubation period is longer for Covid-19,” said Baker. “For influenza, it’s one to three days depending on what strain, and with Covid-19 it’s about five days on average. This means that contact tracing and quarantining contacts really does work if you do it quickly enough.”

Epidemiologists began advising the government to change strategy and implement a preventative full lockdown. This involved completely shutting the borders, and enforcing a maximum containment policy where the entire population bar essential workers were required to stay at home unless for medical reasons or food supplies. “We recommended going early and hard,” Baker says. “There are two advantages to that. First you prevent a lot of cases and deaths, and also if you control it early, there’s fewer chains of transmission that have to be stamped out and so your lockdown is likely to be for a shorter period of time.”

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Not new, and this take reads a bit too much like a Big Pharma ad. And what does this mean: Inhibitors don’t lead to higher concentrations? Would be bad if they did, no?

“..widely-prescribed drugs called ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) did not lead to higher ACE2 concentrations ..”

Men Have High Levels Of ACE2 Enzyme Key To COVID-19 Infection (R.)

Men’s blood has higher levels than women’s of a key enzyme used by the new coronavirus to infect cells, the results of a big European study showed on Monday — a finding which may help explain why men are more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is found in the heart, kidneys and other organs. In COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, it is thought to play a role in how the infection progresses into the lungs. The study, published in the European Heart Journal, also found that widely-prescribed drugs called ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) did not lead to higher ACE2 concentrations and should therefore not increase the COVID-19 risk for people taking them.

ACE inhibitors and ARBs are widely prescribed to patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease. The drugs account for billions of dollars in prescription sales worldwide. “Our findings do not support the discontinuation of these drugs in COVID-19 patients,” said Adriaan Voors, a professor of cardiology at the University Medical Center (UMC) Groningen in The Netherlands, who co-led the study. [..] Death and infection tolls point to men being more likely than women to contract the disease and to suffer severe or critical complications if they do. Analysing thousands of men and women, Voors’ team measured ACE2 concentrations in blood samples taken from more than 3,500 heart failure patients from 11 European countries.


The study had started before the coronavirus pandemic, the researchers said, and so did not include patients with COVID-19. But when other research began to point to ACE2 as key to the way the new coronavirus gets into cells, Voors and his team saw important overlaps with their study. “When we found that one of the strongest biomarkers, ACE2, was much higher in men than in women, I realised that this had the potential to explain why men were more likely to die from COVID-19 than women,” said Iziah Sama, a doctor at UMC Groningen who co-led the study.

Read more …

Inside House Democrats’ $1.2 Trillion+ Coronavirus Relief Proposal (Axios)

House Democrats could bring their phase 4 coronavirus relief package (CARES 2) to the floor for a vote as early as this week — but, for now at least, it’s going nowhere. The state of play: Democrats have crafted a $1.2 trillion+ package without input from the White House or Hill Republicans, congressional aides familiar with their plans tell Axios. • GOP leadership says it’s still waiting for billions of aid allocated in the first $2.2 trillion CARES Act to go out the door. • The White House says it wants to evaluate the economic impact of reopening before passing another large stimulus package. But House Democrats see the proposal as a way to lay down a marker of their priorities and prod congressional Republicans and the White House toward more economic relief for individuals, state and local governments, and the U.S. Postal Service.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her caucus also want to show voters that they’re still working, despite members remaining in their districts. Those optics could be important politically given the Senate’s decision to return to Washington last week. (House Republicans have been chiding Democrats for staying home in their districts when, they say, they should be at work.)

Details: The legislation, which is still being drafted and is subject to change, is expected to include:
• Roughly $1 trillion for state and local governments. They want to split this money into separate revenue streams to ensure each community can access it.
• More money for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.
• Roughly $25 billion to keep the U.S. Postal Service afloat.
• Expanded nutritional benefits, Medicaid funding and unemployment insurance (which they call “paycheck guarantee”).
• Another round of direct payments to Americans.

House leadership is also working on narrowing down the guidelines for how these funds are allocated to ensure that people aren’t “double dipping” into the different pots of money, a senior Democratic aide told Axios. For example, they do not want someone who is receiving more unemployment money to also receive money through the Paycheck Protection Program. However, it’s still unclear whether the PPP fund will be replenished. “We’re trying to limit the amount of overlap so people aren’t abusing the system,” the aide said. The package will not include liability protection for businesses, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said is a top priority for Republicans.

It also will not include a payroll tax cut, something President Trump has insisted on. House Democrats have said both of these proposals are nonstarters. The backdrop: This comes as the pandemic continues to choke the U.S. economy — which shed 20.5 million jobs in April as unemployment hit 14.7%.

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Want to keep a pandemic going? Make sure people fear seeking treatment.

43 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Amid Pandemic (G.)

As many as 43 million Americans could lose their health insurance in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute. Prior to the pandemic, 160 million Americans, or roughly half the population, received their medical insurance through their job. The tidal wave of layoffs triggered by quarantine measures now threatens that coverage for millions. Up to 7 million of those people are unlikely to find new insurance as poor economic conditions drag on, researchers at the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation thinktanks predict. Such enormous insurance losses could dramatically alter America’s healthcare landscape, and will probably result in more deaths as people avoid unaffordable healthcare.

“The status quo is incredibly inefficient, it’s incredibly unfair, it’s tied to employment for no real reason,” said Katherine Hempstead, a senior policy adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This problem exposes a lot of the inadequacies in our system.” If the pandemic results in a 20% unemployment rate, as some analysts expect, researchers at the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) predict anywhere from 25 to 43 million people could lose health insurance. Many will use social safety nets to obtain insurance, including Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income people. However, eligibility criteria varies from state to state, with more restrictions in Republican-led states.“It’s incredibly segmented and every state has a different story,” said Hempstead. “There’s 50 different experiences.”


[..] Of those who lose employer-based insurance, an estimated 7 million Americans will remain uninsured, and will lack access to healthcare during the worst pandemic in a century, RWJF predicted. Another 30 million people lacked insurance even before the pandemic, according to the Urban Institute. “You have people who think they have an infectious disease, but they don’t want to come forward to get tested or get treatment because they’re so worried about what kind of financial liabilities they will have,” said Hempstead. “This problem exposes, really, a lot of the inadequacies in our system.”

Read more …

Steven has no idea how much worse.

Unemployment Numbers ‘Will Get Worse Before They Get Better’ – Mnuchin (NPR)

The worst of the nation’s historic job losses are yet to come, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who told Fox News Sunday that “the reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better.” Mnuchin’s comments followed Friday’s report from the Labor Department showing the U.S. lost a staggering 20.5 million jobs in April, bringing the jobless rate to its highest level since the Great Depression — 14.7%. But even that figure fails to account for the millions of workers who have stopped searching for jobs or those considered “underemployed.” Asked by host Chris Wallace whether the nation’s true unemployment rate was close to 25%, Mnuchin responded, “we could be.”


“This is no fault of American business, this is no fault of American workers, this is a result of a virus,” he said before warning, “You’re going to have a very, very bad second quarter.” Two weeks ago, Mnuchin’s outlook was more optimistic — he told Wallace that the economy would reopen through June and “bounce back” over the summer. On Sunday, he said the economy would “have a better third quarter,” followed by “a better fourth quarter, and next year is going to be a great year.” The Trump Administration is considering additional stimulus measures, including a payroll tax cut, according to Mnuchin, who also said on Sunday, “We’re not gonna do things just to bail out states that were poorly managed.” But he said the White House would wait a “few weeks” before considering another relief bill.

Read more …

The BLS doesn’t have the data, so they release a report they know is false.

A 6.4 Million Discrepancy In The Employment Report (Mish)

There is a 6.4 million discrepancy between the change in employment level and the change in unemployment level. Such is a new all time record discrepancy between employment and unemployment in the Household Survey that measures the unemployment rate. I created the lead chart as follows: Discrepancy = Change in Employment Level – (-1 * Change in Unemployment Level)

Confirmation
• The number of employed fell by 22.369 million.
• Those unemployed only rose by 15.938 million.
• Employment discrepancy is 22.369 – 15.938 = 6.431 million

Negligible Labor Force Discrepancy
• Change in Labor Force: -6.431 Million
• Change in Not in Labor Force: +6.570 Million
• The labor force discrepancy is 6.570 – 6.431 = 0.139 million

Discrepancy Comparison
• Employment Discrepancy Percentage: 28.8%
• Labor Force Discrepancy Percentage: 2.1%

Unemployment Rate Formula
• Unemployment Rate = (Unemployed / Labor Force) * 100 Therefore, the unemployment Rate = (23.078 / 156.481) * 100 = 14.7% That is how the BLS calculated the unemployment rate.

Factoring in the Employment Discrepancy
• Unemployment Rate = ((23.078 + 6.431) / 156.481) * 100 = 18.6%

Read more …

They’re not going to rest until there’s an anti-hydroxychloroquine law.

Schumer Calls On VA Dep. To Explain Use Of HCQ (AP)

The Senate’s top Democrat on Sunday called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to explain why it allowed the use of an unproven drug on veterans for the coronavirus, saying patients may have been put at unnecessary risk. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said the VA needs to provide Congress more information about a recent bulk order for $208,000 worth of hydroxychloroquine. President Donald Trump has heavily promoted the malaria drug, without evidence, as a treatment for COVID-19. Schumer’s request comes after a whistleblower complaint filed this past week by former Health and Human Services official Rick Bright alleged that the Trump administration, eager for a quick fix to the onslaught of the coronavirus, wanted to “flood” hot spots in New York and New Jersey with the drug.

Major veterans organizations have urged VA to explain under what circumstances VA doctors initiate discussion of hydroxychloroquine with veterans as a treatment option. “There are concerns that they are using this drug when the medical evidence says it doesn’t help and could hurt,” Schumer said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said given the fact the malaria drug, despite being untested, had been repeatedly pushed publicly by Trump, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie must address whether anyone at the department was pressured by the White House or the administration to use hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

Schumer said Wilkie also should answer questions about a recent analysis of VA hospital data that showed there were more deaths among patients given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, including how much patients knew about the drug’s risks before taking it. Wilkie in recent weeks has denied that veterans were used as test subjects for the drug and that it was instead administered at government-run VA hospitals only when medically appropriate, with mutual consent between doctor and patient. Still, Wilkie has repeatedly declined to say how widely the drug was being used for COVID-19 and whether the department had issued broad guidance to doctors and patients on the use of the drug.

In a weekly call with veterans’ groups this past week, Wilkie continued to defend VA’s use of hydroxychloroquine. He dismissed the recent analysis of VA hospital data showing no benefits to patients, suggesting the poor outcomes were because the cases involved older, very sick veterans. He has not said whether the department will continue to use the drug. “Use of this medication for treatment of COVID-19 is considered ‘off label’ — perfectly legal and not rare,” he wrote in an April 29 letter to veterans’ groups.

Read more …

Meanwhile in the real world…

Maybe this should read “French Doctors Attempt Mass Cull Of Their Patients”.

Number Of Hydroxychloroquine Prescriptions Explodes In France (F.)

Despite the warnings around taking hydroxychloroquine to combat the symptoms of COVID-19, prescriptions in France have increased by as much as 7,000% in certain parts of the country since the pandemic began. As reported by La Provence, a study looking at the 466 million French prescriptions written since the pandemic began in France, show a huge spike in doctors prescribing the drug. In the last week of March, for instance, over 10,000 people were prescribed hydroxychloroquine in Marseille alone. In France and the U.S., the use of hydroxychloroquine has been fraught between those who think the risks are small enough to warrant widespread use and those who think that more research is required before widespread prescription.

Following research conducted in China, a French doctor, Didier Raoult–head of the IHU, the Institute of Infectious Diseases in Marseille–claimed at the beginning of March that he had successfully treated patients suffering from coronavirus with the drug. Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug also used to treat people suffering from lupus. It is sold under its trader name of Plaquénil in France. Shortly afterwards, President Trump, tweeted the same news, that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could work with patients. The latter is an anti-bacterial drug, given in tandem, to eliminate the risks of bacterial infection.

Health professionals were quick to point out that no one should be using the drug without further research showing clear evidence that the drugs do work under a peer-reviewed clinical trial. Dr Anthony Fauci, Trump’s advisor downplayed the drug’s impacts as purely “anecdotal” and others issued warnings that the drug can cause severe health impacts if taken in an unsupervised capacity, such as heart problems. Before the pandemic, an average of 50 prescriptions were written each day in Marseille for hydroxychloroquine. The day after Didier Raoult announced his findings in Marseille, this had jumped to 450 per day. On March 18th, that figure had spiked again and there were 5,000 prescriptions in just one day across the whole of France.

The research authors believe that 41,000 people were given the drug between March 16 and April 19. Prescriptions have been higher in Paris and Marseille (where Didier Raoult heads the IHU, the Institute of Infectious Diseases). The study also noted that most people who were granted access to the drug across France were from higher socio-economic groups.

Read more …

Indian doctors in New York. “In the absence of options such as remdesivir being available..” Well, we’ll take care of that..

Zinc Hope In Coronavirus Fight (Telegraph India)

Doctors have reported that adding zinc sulfate, a dietary supplement, to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin may benefit patients with coronavirus disease, adding a twist to the controversy over the rationale for prescribing hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19. Doctors at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine have found that adding zinc sulfate to hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin already given to Covid-19 patients decreased the need for ventilation or admission to intensive care units, and lowered mortality. Their study provides the first evidence through patients that zinc sulfate in combination with the other two drugs may have a role in the treatment of Covid-19, the doctors said.

Their study was posted on Friday in a database for medical research but has not been peer-reviewed yet. “The latest evidence suggests against much benefit from hydroxychloroquine, but this study raises the question of possible benefit of zinc and hydroxychloroquine together,” Joseph Rahimian, the doctor who led the research, told The Telegraph via email. The findings could be relevant to India where experts with the Indian Council of Medical Research and other institutions have introduced the hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin combination for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Rahimian and his colleagues introduced zinc sulfate to Covid-19 patients as New York entered the ranks of cities hit the hardest by the pandemic.


They tracked the outcomes of the infections in 521 patients who received hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin and 411 who received zinc sulfate in addition to the two drugs. They observed that adding zinc sulfate was associated with a “most striking” decrease in mortality among patients who did not require intensive care. The association was not significant among patients who were treated in intensive care, implying that the addition of zinc should be considered early during treatment. “The benefit is likely to be more pronounced with its earlier use,” Rahimian said. “In the absence of options such as remdesivir being available, zinc with hydroxychloroquine may be a consideration. A randomised trial of the two versus placebo would help clarify whether there is a clear benefit and (the) extent of any potential benefit,” he added.

Read more …

https://twitter.com/AlanRMacLeod/status/1258888363593150466

Guaidó’s Mercenary Hit Contract On Maduro Mirrors Official US Bounty (MacLeod)

Juan Guaidó was expecting to be in Venezuela’s Presidential Palace by now. But the comically bungling May 3 invasion attempt by US mercenaries and opposition members was the latest indication of the desperate measures he and his cronies have resorted to. The fighters hired under his name were immediately overpowered in the sleepy coastal village of Chuao by disgruntled members of the House of Socialist Fishermen, and some of the highly trained mercenaries appeared to literally wet themselves in terror when apprehended. Now, a 41-page contract outlining the details and conditions of the coup attempt has been leaked. It sheds new light on the arrangement between Guaidó and Silvercorp, the American private security firm he hired,.

The self-declared President of Venezuela promised to pay Jordan Goudreau, founder of the Florida-based firm, $212.9 million to capture, detain or “remove” President Nicolas Maduro and install him in his place. The contract goes into detail about who the mercenaries were allowed to engage in “kinetic strikes” (i.e. assassinate and kill). It first names a number of paramilitary organizations like the Colombian FARC, and bizarrely, Hezbollah, but also on the list are a number of “illegitimate Venezuelan forces,” that include any armed supporters of Maduro and Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello. Maduro and Cabello happen to be the same figures placed at the top of a US Drug Enforcement Agency hit list.

The US offered $15 million and $10 million respectively for their capture, effectively putting a bounty on the heads of the elected president and the head of his country’s main legislative body. The contract signed by Guaidó and Silvercorp also enables the killing of anyone they deem to be “armed and violent colectivos.” For a sector of Venezuela’s upper-class opposition, the term “colectivo” is a dehumanizing, oft-used catch-all term applied to any working-class person. Trade unionists, pro-government protestors, even anyone riding a motorcycle is presumed to be part of an armed and dangerous gang in the lurid fantasies of the light-skinned elitists of Eastern Caracas. Therefore, the contract essentially permits Silvercorp to kill any member of the government’s popular support base with impunity.

Perhaps more worrying, however, is what Silvercorp envisaged its role to be after a successful coup. The contract stipulates that the mercenary organization would “convert to a National Asset Unit that will act under the direction of the Administration [Guaidó] to counter threats to government stability, terror threats and work closely” with other security forces. Their missions would include, but not be limited to, surveillance, covert operations and target programming. In other words, Silvercorp would transform into a private paramilitary squad answerable only to Guaidó, crushing any opposition to his dictatorship, in much the same way death squads in Colombia and other Latin American countries have operated for decades.

Read more …

Chuck Todd is a far-left TV host? Boy, you Americans really have no idea what left and right is anymore.

This is insane al the same. He should be fired.

AG Barr’s Office Shreds Chuck Todd For ‘Deceptive Editing’ (DW)

Attorney General William Barr’s office slammed far-left NBC News host Chuck Todd on Sunday for “deceptive editing” after Todd took remarks that Barr made out of context and used the distorted remarks to smear the Department of Justice (DOJ). On “Meet The Press,” Todd used a deceptively edited portion of Barr’s interview last week with CBS News investigative reporter Catherine Herridge. Todd focused in on the following exchange between Barr and Herridge:

HERRIDGE: In closing, this was a big decision in the Flynn case, to say the least. When history looks back on this decision, how do you think it will be written? What will it say about your decision making?
BARR: Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history. But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.

Todd only played the first two sentences of Barr’s comments where Barr said, “Well, history is written by the winner. So it largely depends on who’s writing the history.” Todd then launched into an attack on Barr, saying, “I was struck … by the cynicism of the answer. It’s a correct answer. But he’s the attorney general. He didn’t make the case that he was upholding the rule of law. He was almost admitting that, yeah, this is a political job.” Todd’s comments were false because the very next thing that Barr said, which Todd did not show his viewers, was: “But I think a fair history would say that it was a good decision because it upheld the rule of law. It helped, it upheld the standards of the Department of Justice, and it undid what was an injustice.”

Barr spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded to the segment by posting screenshots on Twitter of the transcript from what Todd said and what Barr said in his CBS News interview last week, writing: “Very disappointed by the deceptive editing/commentary by @ChuckTodd on @MeetThePress on AG Barr’s CBS interview. Compare the two transcripts below. Not only did the AG make the case in the VERY answer Chuck says he didn’t, he also did so multiple times throughout the interview.”

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NSA, FBI, DNI have all been lying about Seth Rich for 4 years; hard to believe Mueller wasn’t in on it.

Why? They all knew the correspondence would kill off the Russian hacking story, and exonerate Assange. Couldn’t let that happen.

DNI Has Communications Between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks For 4 Years (GP)

Recently, transcripts of a conversation between George Papadopoulos and a confidential informant believed to be Stefan Halper were released by the DOJ. This transcript confirms that Papadopoulos was spied on and recorded, two things Papadopoulos was not told at the time of the case made against him by the Mueller gang. We know from our previous reporting that a Deep State Anti-Trump former Assistant US Attorney claimed under oath that the FBI did examine Seth Rich’s computer and that she met with an FBI Agent and prosecutor from the Mueller gang. This indicates the meeting should have been recorded in a form 302 but the FBI continues to claim no records related to Seth Rich are available!

We reported in mid-February how Attorney Ty Clevenger, who represents a client who is being sued for his comments about Seth Rich, reported to the courts that despite numerous assurances from the FBI that they had no information related to Seth Rich, emails related to Seth Rich were identified and provided to Judicial Watch. It looked like the FBI was lying to Clevenger all this time. Attorney Clevenger sent a letter to ADNI Rick Grenell that he should receive by this Monday. According to Ty, the NSA, knows exactly who sent the records to Wikileaks. So does the FBI. Seth Rich is the last shoe to drop, and the Trump Admin needs to hurry up and drop it. Clevenger goes on to state the most shocking statement related to the Russia collusion sham to date:


“I am reliably informed that the NSA or its partners intercepted at least some of the communications between Mr. Rich and Wikileaks. Before elaborating on that, however, I should first note the extent to which the “deep state” has already tried to cover up information about Mr. Rich. In an October 9, 2018 affidavit submitted in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, FBI section chief David M. Hardy testified that (1) the FBI did not investigate any matters pertaining to Mr. Rich, and (2) the FBI was unable to locate any records about Mr. Rich. Both claims were unequivocally false.” We now know there is no evidence Russia hacked the DNC and sent the hacked emails to WikiLeaks. Crowdstrike admitted this under oath and the Mueller Report backs this up. Attorney Ty Clevenger asserts the DNI has been covering up for 4 years the fact that they have communications between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks.

Read more …

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Feb 012020
 


Russell Lee Street scene. Spencer, Iowa 1936

 

Coronavirus “HIV Insertions”: Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon (ZH)
Chinese Furious At Officials Who Lied About Human Transmission (ZH)
China Voices Anger At US Travel Ban (G.)
Australia Bars Entry To Foreign Nationals Traveling From Mainland China (R.)
What Trump Acquittal Would Mean For 2020 Election (BBC)
Is Bernie’s Hour of Power at Hand? (Buchanan)
Hillary Clinton Blames Bernie Sanders For Disunity In Democratic Party (WE)
DNC Members Discuss Rules Change To Stop Sanders At Convention (Pol.)
Democrats Announce New Debate Rules Likely To Allow Bloomberg To Join (R.)
The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich (Craig Murray)
Flynn Prosecution Exposed As Massive FBI and DOJ Abuse Of Power (NYP)
Soros: Facebook, Zuckerberg In Cahoots With Trump To Win 2020 Election (USAT)
Zuckerberg: Facebook’s New Approach ‘Is Going To Piss Off A Lot Of People’ (CNN)
Tales From the Crypt (Jim Kunstler)

 

Apparently because of an article it wrote Wednesday about Chinese virologist Peng Zhou, which was noted by someone at BuzzFeed, a site without an identity, read exclusively be people who have none either, Twitter banned the Zero Hedge site that @Jack follows:

Long live the thought police. Tyler suspects this has something to do with publishing Peng Zhou’s phone# and email, but also points out these are freely available on his employer’s website.

 

Today’s 2019nCoV numbers may show a little leveling off, but there’s no way we can be sure.

• Confirmed cases: 11,821 in China, 124 abroad. Total 11,945 (yesterday: 9.821)

• Deaths: 259 (up 46 from yesterday)

• Discharged from hospitals on the Chinese mainland: 243

• Hubei province: 1347 new cases and 45 deaths on Jan 31 compared with 2102 new cases and 46 deaths nationwide.

What I found interesting to see is this: “Xinyu, a city in Jiangxi province – adjacent to Hubei – said 17 new cases had been confirmed in the city, and that 15 of the afflicted patients were infected by a single person.” That may say something else -again- about the R-naught (R0) infection rate. About which -just like the mortality rate- there are a lot of different ideas still.

 

 

From a new study by Gabriel Leung et al, published by the Lancet, comes this graphic:

 

 

Make from it what you want. Looks scary. Majority of Wuhan infections are now without a link to the fish/meat market.

Coronavirus “HIV Insertions”: Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon (ZH)

Over the past few days, the mainstream press has vigorously pushed back against a theory about the origins of the coronavirus that has now infected as many as 70,000+ people in Wuhan alone (depending on whom you believe). The theory is that China obtained the coronavirus via a Canadian research program, and started molding it into a bioweapon at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. Politifact pointed the finger at Zero Hedge, in particular, though the story was widely shared across independent-leaning media. The theory is that the virus, which was developed by infectious disease experts may have originated in the Wuhan-based lab of Dr. Peng Zhou, China’s preeminent researcher of bat immune systems, specifically in how their immune systems adapt to the presence of viruses like coronavirus and other destructive viruses.


Somehow, the virus escaped from the lab, and the Hunan fish market where the virus supposedly originated is merely a ruse. Now, a respected epidemiologist who recently caught flack for claiming in a twitter thread that the virus appeared to be much more contagious than initially believed is pointing out irregularities in the virus’s genome that suggests it might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon, and not just any weapon but the deadliest one of all. In “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag”, Indian researchers are baffled by segments of the virus’s RNA that have no relation to other coronaviruses like SARS, and instead appear to be closer to HIV. The virus even responds to treatment by HIV medications.

“3D modelling of the protein structure displayed that these insertions are present at the binding site of 2019-nCoV. Due to the presence of gp120 motifs in 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein at its binding domain, we propose that these motif insertions could have provided an enhanced affinity towards host cell receptors. Further, this structural change might have also increased the range of host cells that 2019-nCoV can infect. To the best of our knowledge, the function of these motifs is still not clear in HIV and need to be explored. The exchange of genetic material among the viruses is well known and such critical exchange highlights the risk and the need to investigate the relations between seemingly unrelated virus families.”

Read more …

Xi is being praised now, but Beijing sat on his hands for a full month in December.

Chinese Furious At Officials Who Lied About Human Transmission (ZH)

For reasons that haven’t been shared with the public, the WHO has chosen to lavish praise on Beijing, insisting that travel to China isn’t dangerous even as more governments impose restrictions, and claiming that Beijing has been completely transparent and a ‘model’ for how countries should handle outbreaks like this. When pressed by a reporter, Dr. Tedros, the director general of the WHO, replied that local authorities in Wuhan had been “very transparent” with the Chinese people by publishing up-to-date notices about new cases and deaths. First of all, many suspect that Beijing hasn’t been entirely truthful as far as these tallies are concerned.

Second, it’s not so much about what Beijing told the Chinese people. Everybody knows the government censors anything that might reflect badly upon the Communist Party. So to claim that the government has been completely transparent with the people is almost disingenuous. Of course that’s not true. But the real issue is what they did and didn’t tell the international news media, and their international partners. Now, a new study has exposed the Communist Party’s lies. The research has once again moved back the timeline of when senior Chinese leaders knew about the outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting that they waited longer to act, and longer to inform the international community, than they had led the world to believe. The claim appeared in a top American medical journal. From Nikkei Asian Review:

“The deadly new coronavirus from Wuhan was spreading from person to person as early as mid-December, weeks before China officially confirmed such transmission, government-funded Chinese researchers report in a top American medical journal. The paper in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzes data on the first 425 confirmed cases in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated. “On the basis of this information, there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019,” it reads. The paper notes that seven health care workers contracted the virus between Jan. 1 and Jan. 11 – significant evidence of human-to-human transmission. The findings sharply contrast with the accounts of Wuhan health authorities who had maintained until mid-January that there was “no clear evidence” that the virus could be passed among humans. Officials also claimed Jan. 11 that no health care workers had been infected.”

But…but…but…the local authorities in Wuhan said they didn’t have evidence of person to person transmission until mid-January! That’s increasingly difficult to believe, seeing as the signs were clearly there after the first wave of patients was diagnosed and examined and interrogated. Research suggests fewer than 60% of the early virus-carriers had been directly linked to the seafood market. The rest were associates, friends and relatives of the people who had. That, right there, is evidence of human-to-human transmission – and this was known as early as mid-December.

Some frustrated Chinese have chosen to defy censors and lash out on Chinese social media networks like Weibo. “Many of the paper’s authors work for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and local counterparts. Many were among the first batch of medical experts to have entered Wuhan for on-the-ground inspections, developing “a tailored surveillance protocol to identify potential cases” on Jan. 3. “They all knew,” a user on the Weibo microblogging platform said. “They just didn’t say, but lied to us.” “If only they could have told people earlier, we could have taken better preventive measures, and the virus would not have spread this fast,” another wrote.”

Read more …

China know very well there is no other solution than isloation.

China Voices Anger At US Travel Ban (G.)

China has reacted angrily to a US entry ban on foreign nationals who have visited the country in the past two weeks, as countries around the world raced to contain the coronavirus outbreak amid a rising death toll. The US administration on Friday declared the virus a public health emergency, although it insisted the risk to Americans remained low. Foreign nationals who have recently been to China, where the death toll from the virus rose by 46 overnight to 259, will be barred from entering the US from Sunday. American citizens who have travelled within the past two weeks to Hubei province – where the outbreak is thought to have begun – will be placed in quarantine for 14 days, the longest incubation period for the virus. Those who visited other parts of mainland China will undergo health checks and 14 days of “monitored self-quarantine”.


The Chinese government criticised the measures, saying it contradicted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) appeal to avoid travel bans and implied that Beijing was not doing enough to contain the virus’s spread beyond China’s borders. “Just as the WHO recommended against travel restrictions, the US rushed in the opposite direction,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “[It is] certainly not a gesture of goodwill.” The row came as another airline, Qantas, suspend direct flights to China and the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were forced to respond to unfounded online rumours that the Games had been cancelled due to the outbreak. They insisted they were “not considering” cancelling the Olympics and Paralympics. “We will work closely with the IOC and other concerned bodies to draw any countermeasures whenever necessary,” they said.

Read more …

Et tu, Qantas?

Australia Bars Entry To Foreign Nationals Traveling From Mainland China (R.)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia will deny entry to all foreign nationals traveling from mainland China from Saturday due to the increasing threat from the coronavirus epidemic. Morrison also announced that Australia was raising its travel guidance for China to the highest level, advising people against visiting the country at all. “We’re in fact operating with an abundance of caution in these circumstances,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney. “So Australians can go about their daily lives with confidence.” The new incoming travel ban includes anybody who has been in China from Feb. 1, whether they have traveled directly from the country or through another port.


It extends an existing ban on travel from the province of Hubei, the center of the epidemic, to the entire country. Australian citizens and permanent residents returning home are exempt from the ban but are required to isolate themselves for 14 days after their arrival. Australian authorities have identified 10 coronavirus cases in Australia, but no deaths. The Australian travel restrictions came just hours after the United States announced border curbs on foreign nationals who have been in China amid fears that the virus could spread further overseas. Around two dozen countries have reported confirmed cases of the virus, but the vast majority of those infected remain in China, where the number of deaths stood at 259 on Saturday.

Read more …

Hunter Biden was kicked out of the Navy on Feb 14 2014. Burisma hired him, with his lack of skills in oil and Ukraine and all, at $85k a month in April 2014. Not suspect at all.

Still would like to know who debunked the theory though.

And some proof that Trump is “scared to death” Biden will be the nominee. I still see no reason he would be.

What Trump Acquittal Would Mean For 2020 Election (BBC)

Barring an unforeseen and unexpected blockbuster development, a largely party-line vote will acquit him of the two charges brought by the House of Representatives, which itself approved those articles of impeachment on a nearly party-line vote. Both sides will soon be left to sift through the political rubble just nine months before a national election that has the entire House, more than a third of the Senate and the presidency itself on the ballot. According to polls, the nation’s political disposition is much as it was before the impeachment process began. The US is sharply divided along partisan lines. The president’s approval ratings hover in the low to mid-40s, roughly where they’ve been the entirety of his term in office. His re-election chances are dicey but far from slim.

The decision not to seek witnesses – which polls show Americans overwhelming wanted – may be forgotten before long. After all, Democrats and Republicans had very different views about what “witnesses” means. The former wanted to hear from Trump administration officials like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who they think could corroborate the charges against the president. The latter sought to call Joe Biden’s son Hunter, head impeachment manager Adam Schiff and the whistleblower – and will be just as happy to see the whole matter put to rest. Impeachment didn’t change the existing political disposition in the US; instead, it was subsumed by it.

[..] There is no evidence indicating that Biden engaged in any kind of misconduct in Ukraine, but in politics such technicalities don’t always matter. True or not, if hurts, it hurts. And during the opening arguments for the president’s defence team, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi did her best to make it hurt. In her remarks, she sounded more like a prosecutor – laying out what she saw as the case against Hunter Biden and, by connection, his father, former Vice-President Joe Biden. She said the Ukrainian energy company Burisma gave a board position to the Biden son in to attempt to influence US policy.

She questioned whether Joe Biden did anything as point-man for the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy that may have helped protect his son from investigation. That suspicion alone, she continued, should justify the president’s decision to ask the Ukrainian government to look into the Bidens. “All we are saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue, and that is enough,” she said. [..] Biden has tried to turn Republican interest in damaging his political prospects into a strength, tweeting last week that [Iowa Republican Senator Jodi]Ernst and Trump are “scared to death I’ll be the nominee”. An October poll, however, showed that 40% of Democrats and majorities of Republicans and independents think Hunter Biden’s Ukraine dealings are a valid campaign issue.

Read more …

Bernie gets attacked from the right, not just his own party. Pat Buchanan legitimizes his candidacy.

Is Bernie’s Hour of Power at Hand? (Buchanan)

Can a septuagenarian socialist who just survived a heart attack and would be 80 years old in his first year in office be elected president of the United States? It’s hard to believe but not impossible. As of today, Bernie Sanders looks like one of the better, if not best, bets for the nomination. Polls have him running first or second in the first three contests: Iowa on Monday, and then New Hampshire and Nevada. If Bernie can best main rival Joe Biden in Iowa, he will likely thump Joe in New Hampshire. Biden’s campaign, built around “electability,” could suffer a credibility collapse before he reaches South Carolina, where Joe is banking on his African American base to rescue him if necessary and give him a send-off victory straight into Super Tuesday.

If Sanders can beat Biden two or three times in the first four primaries in February, the last remaining roadblock on Sanders’ path to the nomination could be Mike Bloomberg’s billions. Hillary Clinton may sneer, “Nobody likes him,” but Bernie has a large, dedicated, loyal following, especially among millennials, and tens of thousands more small-dollar donors than any other Democratic candidate. He is flush with cash. He has a radical agenda that appeals to the ideological left and the idealistic young. The rising star of the party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is campaigning alongside him. And, say what you will, Sanders is no trimmer or time-server. He has consistently voted his values and views. He voted no to Bush 41’s Gulf War, no to Bush 43’s Iraq War, no to NAFTA, no to GATT.

In the ’80s, when President Reagan battled the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Sanders was on the other side. But what makes Sanders an appealing candidate for the Democratic nomination may prove poisonous to him as a party nominee in the fall.

Read more …

The Democratic Patry’s wrecking ball strikes again. Hillary won’t share that title with Schiff.

Hillary Clinton Blames Bernie Sanders For Disunity In Democratic Party (WE)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Sen. Bernie Sanders and his support network of being responsible for disunity within the Democratic Party. In a Friday podcast, Clinton called the behavior of Sanders supporters “distressing,” assigning blame to them for the outcome of the 2016 election. Clinton beat Sanders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, but not after a bitter primary contest in which the Vermont independent ran a surprisingly competitive campaign. “All the way up until the end, a lot of people highly identified with his campaign were urging people to vote third-party, urging people not to vote,” Clinton, 72, told Emily Tisch Sussman on her podcast Your Primary Playlist. “It had an impact.”


Clinton lauded former President Barack Obama’s behavior during the 2008 election, when he defeated her for the party’s nomination, claiming he helped unify the Democratic Party in a way Sanders did not eight years later. “That cannot happen again,” she said, alluding to the 2020 election. “I don’t care who the nominee is. I don’t care. As long as it’s somebody who can win, and as long as it’s somebody who understands politics is the art of addition, not subtraction.”

Read more …

The DNC aims to make sure the Dems have no chance in the election. For their track record, see 2016.

DNC Members Discuss Rules Change To Stop Sanders At Convention (Pol.)

A small group of Democratic National Committee members has privately begun gauging support for a plan to potentially weaken Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and head off a brokered convention. In conversations on the sidelines of a DNC executive committee meeting and in telephone calls and texts in recent days, about a half-dozen members have discussed the possibility of a policy reversal to ensure that so-called superdelegates can vote on the first ballot at the party’s national convention. Such a move would increase the influence of DNC members, members of Congress and other top party officials, who now must wait until the second ballot to have their say if the convention is contested.

“I do believe we should re-open the rules. I hear it from others as well,” one DNC member said in a text message last week to William Owen, a DNC member from Tennessee who does not support re-opening the rules. Owen, who declined to identify the member, said the member added in a text that “It would be hard though. We could force a meeting or on the floor.” Even proponents of the change acknowledge it is all but certain not to gain enough support to move past these initial conversations. But the talks reveal the extent of angst that many establishment Democrats are feeling on the eve of the Iowa caucuses.

Sanders is surging and Joe Biden has maintained his lead nationally, but at least three other candidates are widely seen as viable. The cluster raises the specter of a convention requiring a second ballot. If Sanders wins the Iowa caucuses on Monday and continues to gain momentum, it is possible he could arrive at the convention with the most delegates — but without enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. It is also possible that he and Elizabeth Warren, a fellow progressive, could arrive at the convention in second and third place, but with more delegates combined than the frontrunner.

https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1223356793805398018

Read more …

Little Mike to save the nation. Not tainted by failed impeachment: ideal.

Democrats Announce New Debate Rules Likely To Allow Bloomberg To Join (R.)

The Democratic Party on Friday announced new rules around how presidential hopefuls can qualify to take part in debates, changes likely to allow billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg to join the stage in February. Starting with the debate on Feb. 19 in Nevada, candidates who want to participate will no longer have to demonstrate grassroots support by collecting donations from thousands of donors, according to a press release from the party. Bloomberg is funding his campaign entirely with his own money, estimated at $60 billion, meaning that while he has climbed in the polls, he could not qualify for debates under the old rules.


“We are thrilled that voters could soon have the chance to see Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage, hear his vision for the country, and see why he is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country together,” Bloomberg campaign Manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement. A late entry to the competition to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November, Bloomberg contributed more than $200 million from his own fortune to his bid as of the end of 2019, according to disclosures his campaign filed on Friday with the Federal Election Commission. [..] “To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong. That’s the definition of a rigged system,” Jeff Weaver, a senior advisor for Sanders’ campaign, said in an emailed statement.

Read more …

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Sound familiar?

The FBI Has Been Lying About Seth Rich (Craig Murray)

A persistent American lawyer has uncovered the undeniable fact that the FBI has been continuously lying, including giving false testimony in court, in response to Freedom of Information requests for its records on Seth Rich. The FBI has previously given affidavits that it has no records regarding Seth Rich. A Freedom of Information request to the FBI which did not mention Seth Rich, but asked for all email correspondence between FBI Head of Counterterrorism Peter Strzok, who headed the investigation into the DNC leaks and Wikileaks, and FBI attorney Lisa Page, has revealed two pages of emails which do not merely mention Seth Rich but have “Seth Rich” as their heading. The emails were provided in, to say the least, heavily redacted form.

The major point is that the FBI claimed it had no records mentioning Seth Rich, and these have come to light in response to a different FOIA request that was not about him. What other falsely denied documents does the FBI hold about Rich, that were not fortuitously picked up by a search for correspondence between two named individuals? To look at the documents themselves, they have to be read from the bottom up, and they consist of a series of emails between members of the Washington Field Office of the FBI (WF in the telegrams) into which Strzok was copied in, and which he ultimately forwarded on to the lawyer Lisa Page.


The opening email, at the bottom, dated 10 August 2016 at 10.32am, precisely just one month after the murder of Seth Rich, is from the media handling department of the Washington Field Office. It references Wikileaks’ offer of a reward for information on the murder of Seth Rich, and that Assange seemed to imply Rich was the source of the DNC leaks. The media handlers are asking the operations side of the FBI field office for any information on the case. The unredacted part of the reply fits with the official narrative. The redacted individual officer is “not aware of any specific involvement” by the FBI in the Seth Rich case. But his next sentence is completely redacted. Why?

Read more …

Wait, what did I just say: “Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Sound familiar?”

Flynn Prosecution Exposed As Massive FBI and DOJ Abuse Of Power (NYP)

Here’s another black eye for the Justice Department’s Obama-era leadership: The case against Gen. Michael Flynn is in full collapse. Federal prosecutors just backed down from their demand that Flynn — President Trump’s first, short-lived national security adviser — serve jail time for lying to FBI investigators, telling a court Wednesday that probation would be a “reasonable” sentence. In fact, Justice had long wanted leniency, since Flynn cooperated fully with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations. But last month it started seeking up to six months of confinement — mainly because he’s no longer taking responsibility for his crime.

“I am innocent,” he writes in a new filing, explaining that he pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to the FBI because he felt helpless to fight the charges: He’d already had to sell his home to pay legal costs and was told his son could be indicted, too. The “crime” came days after the inauguration, when FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka questioned Flynn at the White House about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Yet the FBI had already reviewed transcripts of the calls and found nothing illicit. The visit was a fishing expedition: The agents even skipped the customary heads-up to the president’s Office of Legal Counsel — aiming to avoid having a lawyer present for the talk.

Even so, Strzok and Pientka wound up finding “no indication” that Flynn had lied to them. But then FBI lawyer Lisa Page (Strzok’s mistress at the time) instructed them to alter their official writeup of the conversation to say otherwise. And that’s the entire basis of the charges against him.

Read more …

George is 89 and afraid global dominance will escape him.

Soros: Facebook, Zuckerberg In Cahoots With Trump To Win 2020 Election (USAT)

George Soros blasted Facebook at Davos, accusing the company of conspiring to help President Trump win re-election. “I think there is a kind of informal mutual assistance operation or agreement developing between Trump and Facebook,” Soros said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “Facebook will work together to reelect Trump, and Trump will work to protect Facebook so that this situation cannot be changed and it makes me very concerned for 2020.” The liberal billionaire did not offer any proof, and Facebook denied it, but Soros doubled down on his anti-Facebook talk Friday in an opinion piece published in The New York Times.

“I believe that Mr. Trump and Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, realize that their interests are aligned – the president’s in winning elections, Mr. Zuckerberg’s in making money,” Soros wrote. Soros also said neither Zuckerberg nor Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, should be left in charge of Facebook. “They follow only one guiding principle: maximize profits irrespective of the consequences,” Soros wrote. Facebook pushed back in a statement. “While we respect Mr. Soros’ right to voice his opinion, he’s wrong. The notion that we are aligned with any one political figure or party runs counter to our values and the facts.” Last week in Davos Trump was asked about Zuckerberg. “I heard he’s gonna run for president,” Trump told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “That wouldn’t be too frightening I don’t think.”

There’s no evidence that Zuckerberg and Trump have any kind of pact. But it’s true that Facebook gave Trump a big boost in 2016. Just ask Facebook. In January, a leaked internal post from longtime Facebook executive Andrew “Boz” Bosworth credited Trump’s 2016 win to the president’s digital advertising campaign. In 2020, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is focused again on Facebook. “Was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected?” Bosworth wrote in the Dec. 30 post. “I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser.”

Read more …

Posing as controversial. Most people will buy it too.

Zuckerberg: Facebook’s New Approach ‘Is Going To Piss Off A Lot Of People’ (CNN)

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will stand up for principles like free expression and encryption, even if it means facing a backlash. “This is the new approach, and I think it’s going to piss off a lot of people. But frankly, the old approach was pissing off a lot of people too, so let’s try something different,” Zuckerberg said at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Utah on Friday. The Facebook (FB) cofounder and CEO said his company’s aim for a long time was to not do anything that would be deemed as “too offensive,” but he is now changing that approach in the face of what he deems as excessive censorship.

“Increasingly we’re getting called to censor a lot of different kinds of content that makes me really uncomfortable,” Zuckerberg said, while acknowledging Facebook’s responsibility to purge its platforms of content related to terrorism, child exploitation and incitement to violence. “We’re going to take down the content that’s really harmful, but the line needs to be held at some point,” he added. Zuckerberg also said Facebook would continue to fight for encryption, another stance that has sparked controversy in recent months. The company has come under fire for allowing politicians to lie in ads, at a time when Twitter has decided to ban political advertising altogether.

Zuckerberg has been increasingly vocal about Facebook’s determination to stick to its positions even when they prove unpopular. His comments in Utah came days after he said on the company’s latest earnings call that his goal for the next decade “isn’t to be liked, but to be understood.” The 35-year-old tech billionaire reiterated that sentiment on Friday. “If you’re not out there standing for things that people care about then it’s not possible for people to feel that strongly about what you’re doing,” he said.

Read more …

“It’s hard to think of a more loathsome figure in US political history than Adam Schiff.”

Tales From the Crypt (Jim Kunstler)

What a fatal mistake, allowing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to make himself the face of the Democratic Party. They would have been better off with another scion of Hollywood: the Phantom of the Opera. This grubby seditionist has marched the party into a wilderness of deceit and knavery that taints them all, and when this grotesque impeachment episode is over, a new chapter of consequences will open that should leave the party for dead. It’s hard to think of a more loathsome figure in US political history than Adam Schiff.

[..] The impeachment he led was crippled from the start with violations of process and errors of logic of exactly the kind that drives his party’s Woke hysteria with its assaults on free speech, its vicious “cancel” culture, its reckless race-hatred, its depraved Transsexual Reading Hours, and its neurotic obsession with Russian phantoms — a matrix of beliefs that would embarrass a conclave of medieval necromancers. Of course, the impeachment was just the latest sortie in a three-year campaign to confound and conceal the arrant misdeeds of a network of government employees in the Departments of State and Justice, the FBI, the CIA, and the remnants of Barack Obama’s White House, who are all connected and all liable for prosecution, not to mention characters in congress such as the co-seditionist Mark Warner (D-VA), who trafficked the Steele dossier around official Washington.

The “Whistleblower” in the current impeachment fiasco was a CIA agent and John Brennan protégé who had worked for Joe Biden both in the US and on trips to Ukraine when he was detailed to the Obama White House. Hunter Biden was known to be a dangerous abscess of grift years before Mr. Trump ever rode down that fabled golden escalator, and the “WB” was present for White House meetings with Ukrainian officials when embarrassing questions about Burisma and the Bidens came up. His supposed right to anonymity is fairytale and the time is not far off when he’ll have to answer for his deeds, whether it’s in a Senate committee or a grand jury.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Sep 082018
 


Charles Burchfield Bluebird and Cottonwoods (The Birches) 1917

 

 

My Australian friend Wayne Hall, who‘s lived in Athens for many many years, is doing a video project on fellow Aussie Julian Assange. This is an interview with me, recorded 3 weeks or so ago, that’s part of the project. I would have done 1000 things differently, but it’s not my baby, it’s Wayne’s world. At least some snippets of information come through.

Note: it was 100º, and it shows. Very sweaty, very uncomfortable. Still, while I’m not wild about doing videos -we had Nicole for that, right?!- maybe I should be doing more of this. Not that I watched this one, mind you. But you can.

 

 

 

 

Wayne Hall: Good afternoon Raúl Ilargi Meijer. You have a blog called “Automatic Earth” and you are very active with it. Can you say something about “Automatic Earth”? When was it founded? What is its aim?

Ilargi: It was founded almost eleven years ago. Nicole Foss and I founded it because we wanted to write about finance whereas the people we were writing for before that, “The Oil Drum”, didn’t want us to do that and we thought it was too important not to.

WH: And what are you doing here in Athens?

Ilargi: I’m supporting a group of people who feed the homeless and refugees. I’ve written a bunch of articles at “Automatic Earth” about that.

WH: Now even though you have written articles that show clearly how important you think it is to try to defend Julian Assange (I read one that you published today [17/8/2018] that was very much on that subject and it was a powerful article), you really don’t agree with Julian Assange on the importance of defending the European integration project or citizens’ Europe.

Ilargi: I have no idea what either of these things are.

(Note Ilargi: here Wayne leaves several lines untranslated. I said again that I don’t know what the European integration project or citizens’ Europe are. And of course I can’t disagree with Assange, or anyone else, on things I don’t even know exist.)

WH: Well, let’s move on. In an article entitled “I am Julian Assange” on 16th May 2018, you wrote: “Julian Assange appears to be painfully close to being unceremoniously thrown out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. If that happens, the consequences for journalism, for freedom of speech and for press freedom, will resound around the world for a very long time”. Would you like to say more about that?

Ilargi: I think there are not nearly enough people who realize what the consequences are going to be of Assange being thrown to the wolves.

WH: What will they be?

Ilargi: He stands for every journalist but he also stands for every citizen. He is the man who offered his freedom to give everybody else freedom..

WH: You say that he has the credibility he has because he has never published anything that is not 100% verifiable and true.

Ilargi: That is the basis of Wikileaks: it’s truth, honesty. Nobody would ever give him another document if they were in doubt that he would preserve secrecy, he would protect their identity or he would treat the documents in the best way possible.

WH: You also wrote: “People like Chelsea Manning, Kim Dotcom, Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are among the smartest people our world has to offer. We should be cherishing the combination of intelligence, courage and integrity they display at their own risk and peril, but instead we allow them to be harassed by our governments because they unveil inconvenient truths about them. And pretty soon there will be nobody left to tell these truths, or any truth at all.” That’s a very pessimistic assessment. Would you like to believe that it is too pessimistic?

Ilargi: Isn’t it more like realistic? How many people like Assange and Snowden or Chelsea Manning are there? We don’t have a never-ending supply of them.

WH: In your article “Julian Assange and the Dying of the Light” you wrote: “The ideal situation would be if Australia would offer Julian Assange safe passage back home. Assange has never been charged with anything, other than the UK’s bail-skipping change.” He has been charged with other things, but the charges have been withdrawn.

Ilargi: He has been charged with what?

WH: Wasn’t he charged with rape or something, in Sweden?

Ilargi: No, no..

WH: What was it? What happened there then if it was not a charge?

Ilargi: They said they wanted to talk to him. That was very strange. From what I know of the story the prosecutor let him go. Told him he was free to go to Britain and then – I don’t know if it was the same prosecutor, Marianne Ny, but anyway the Swedish justice system did a 180 and as soon as he got to London they said that he had to go back because they wanted to talk to him again.

WH: Merry-go-round.

Ilargi: But neither of the two women involved ever filed any charges against him, or any complaint. They even went out of their way, albeit far too late, to say “He didn’t rape me. It never happened.” It seems .. That was a smear thing. And it’s been very successful..

WH: It seems so. Talking about Australia again, and safe passage back home, it’s true that years ago the Australian government acknowledged that it had responsibilities to help and protect Australian citizen Julian Assange. For example in 2001 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said:


“We are supporting Julian Assange the same way that we would support any Australian citizen who got into a legal difficulty overseas.”

But for years after that, these responsibilities seem to have been forgotten. Even supporters of Julian Assange seem to assume that it is OK for the Australian government to allow Ecuador, a weaker, poorer and more vulnerable country than Australia to take responsibilities that the Australian government had said that it was taking but it seems simply was not. .

Ilargi: Who wrote that?

WH: Do you mean this comment about Australia and Ecuador? I wrote it.

Ilargi: OK. OK.

WH: Don’t you agree with it?

Ilargi: The Australian government has a very strange role in this. There is an older speech by the later PM Malcolm Turnbull that is being tossed around on Twitter in which he is very supportive of Assange.

WH: Is this a recent speech?

Ilargi: I think that was also from 2011 too. Apparently he no longer is.

WH: Next subject. Would you like to comment on the controversy Seth Rich versus the hacker Guccifer 2.0.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding and disagreement about this. I think a lot of people wouldn’t even know who Seth Rich was. Would you like to enlighten the people who don’t know?

Ilargi: From what I know Seth Rich worked for the Democratic National Committee. He was found murdered in Washington, not far from the White House. He is rumoured to be the guy who gave the DNC e-mails to Assange, to Wikileaks.

WH: This is something that Kim Dotcom apparently also says.

Ilargi: Yes. I don’t know enough about that but it seems obvious that the whole Guccifer 2.0 story is a fabrication. The US really really wants to make a link between Assange and Russia because it smears both. If they can make a connection between the two they will both look a lot worse.

WH: They’re trying hard.

Ilargi: And since neither can really defend themselves this narrative can be built and built. .

WH: Yes, that’s right. If you are dead or you re prevented from speaking, you can’t defend yourself.

Ilargi: No..

 

WH: At the moment I and a few other people are discussing two ideas in relation to Julian Assange. One of them is purely symbolic and it’s aimed at counteracting the media bias against Assange. That is the declaration of a Julian Assange Day. The day we propose is 26th January. We heard a few words from the mayor about the significance of January 26th in Greece in the context of Greece’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire.

But January 26th is also an important day in Australia. It is the national day. But many people are saying today that Australia s national day should be moved to another date, more inclusive of the many Australians who don’t feel that 26th January is suitable for the country’s national day. Let’s see what Amanda Stone has to say. In 2017 she was the mayor of the City of Yarra in Melbourne.

Amanda Stone: We ve been talking to the aboriginal community in Yarra for some time about the meaning of January 26th for them and we’ve heard from them that it is not a day of celebration. It is a day of sadness and loss for them. We ve been considering how we might address that to reflect those views. In February this year (2017) the Council resolved to ask the officers to consult with the aboriginal community about the future of January 26th, and that was also in the context of a growing momentum more broadly around the Change the Date campaign.

So we felt that it was an action whose time has come, that there would be broader support for it. And when the officers presented the results of the consultation with aboriginal people on Tuesday, that’s how we voted. But we’re not telling anyone what to do. We’re not changing the date of Australia Day as it is at the moment. We are not instructing people on how to spend January 26th. It will continue to be a public holiday, 26th January. People will still enjoy their barbecues and picnics and get-togethers in parks and gardens.

Lamourette Folly: Why is it important from your perspective as a mayor to change the date?

Amanda Stone: For me as mayor of the City of Yarra it is important that we are inclusive in what we do as a council. By holding celebratory events on January 26th we are actively excluding an important part of our community, the aboriginal community, who do not find it an occasion for celebration, who have told us so for many years, and are thoroughly supportive of the action we have taken. We want to be inclusive. We don’t want to exclude anybody.We want everyone to be able to celebrate our national identity and we need to find a date that we can do that on.

Lamourette Folly: That’s great. Do you have any date in mind?

Amanda Stone: No. I think it is something that needs to come out of a conversation. And I think lots of people have lots of ideas. And if we are going to be really inclusive we need to discuss it with everybody, not impose another date that might be contentious for another part of the people.

WH: If Julian Assange is freed it could very well be changed subsequently to Media Integrity Day, or something along those lines.

 

The second proposal is more concrete. It was initiated by the following posting by someone who calls himself “Realist” in the discussion that was started by Ray McGovern. What he said was this:

“If the American government thinks better of it and decides not to prosecute Mr. Assange (or perhaps offers him a plea bargain counting his time cloistered in the embassy against a short sentence), I wonder where he will choose and/or be allowed to live. Australia has abandoned him, and now Ecuador has betrayed him. He can’t trust any American vassal state in the EU, NATO or the “Five Eyes” (basically the Anglosphere). Would Putin allow him to run Wikileaks out of Russia? I suspect not. No free press throughout the Middle East, most of Africa and the “–stans” of Central Asia.

China is not looking to harbor a gadfly of the West. Latin America is spotty, though Glenn Greenwald makes his home base in Brazil despite the de facto coup against the Left there. How well are human rights protected in places like India or Malaysia? Singapore, Burma and Thailand are too authoritarian. Arthur C. Clarke decamped in Sri Lanka. Are there any truly sovereign nations in the Indian or Pacific oceans? Too bad New Gingrich didn’t get to establish his proposed Moon base. Julian might have managed Wikileaks from there, beyond the jurisdiction of any nation state on Earth.”

I said in response: “Realist’s” comments on Julian finding asylum on the Moon is frivolous, and if frivolous comments are permitted, why not outrageous comments? Are there Jewish people who would be outrageous enough to begin to lobby for Julian Assange to be given political asylum in Israel? Would he accept such an idea? Just the discussion of such an idea might be helpful in clearing some mental blocks.” ”

“Realist” replied: “Assange finding asylum on the Moon might be a frivolous comment but it underscores the paucity of venues that could pay the price to shield him against American wrath. In response to your invitation to discuss Israel as a plausible safe harbor for Assange, I should think his morals would preclude that possibility, even as a last resort. It would be repudiating everything he has stood for. As they say “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”

 

Ilargi: That’s a very long way of saying “there are no options”. You don’t have to go through all the options to arrive at the conclusion that there are no options.

WH: So in other words…

Ilargi: A new country that is brought to the front in the past few days is Mexico. .

WH: Mexico.

Ilargi: Yes. People think that Lopez Obrador might be the guy to turn to. I suggested Iceland.

WH: I remember that. . .

Ilargi: They are independent enough to pull off something like that. Though I have no idea what the Icelandic government feels or thinks about Assange. But they’re independent. They’re the only country that locked up a bunch of bankers and told the creditors to go take a hike.

WH: I think what “Realist” would say is that these countries are not strong enough to protect Assange and that the CIA, or whoever is after him, would get at him.

Ilargi: Iceland has got a big moat. That is natural protection. .

WH: A big moat!

Ilargi: Yes. Of course there is no country that could give 100% protection to someone like Assange.

WH: There was a similar discussion in response to an article by Caitlin Johnstone.” “As long as Assange is silenced, claims against him are illegitimate”.

In any case, a campaign is under way. The ideas we are discussing here are not part of the campaign and I don’t want to impose them. The campaign is following its own logic.

Ilargi: There are no ideas. There is just a long list of “no options”.

WH: Yes, as you said. Right. This is continuing the discussion we had with the mayor.

Ilargi: I would like to add what we were saying before we started. The news about Assange’s health is not good. He has severe toothaches. His legs are swelling and his bone density is falling fast because of the lack of exposure to sunlight. So in the end, what it comes down to: Ecuador doesn’t even have to kick him out. They’re counting on the fact that he’ll have to walk out. .

WH: Yes, if he can. .

Ilargi: Or be carried out, on a stretcher. Or in a coffin. .

 

 

Julian Assange: (Trafalgar Square, London – 8th October 2011)

When we understand that wars come about as a result of lies peddled to the British public and the American public and the publics all over Europe and other countries, then who are the war criminals? It is not just leaders. It is not just soldiers. It is journalists. Journalists are war criminals. … If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.

 

 

Aug 032018
 
 August 3, 2018  Posted by at 7:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


Ivan Aivazovsky The Galata tower by moonlight 1845

 

The Trump Administration Is Headed For A Gigantic Debt Headache (CNBC)
The First Company To Reach $1 Trillion In Market Value Was In China (CNBC)
Apple Becomes World’s First Trillion-Dollar Company (G.)
Ban Share Buybacks (Week)
Where Are the 17,000 Model 3 Cars Tesla “Produced” But Didn’t “Deliver”? (WS)
Middle-Class Americans Still Haven’t Recovered From Housing Bust (MW)
China Loses Spot As World’s No. 2 Stock Market to Japan (AFP)
Judge Rejects Suit Against Fox News Brought By Parents Of Seth Rich (NBC)
Saudi Arabia Planned To Invade Qatar Last Summer. Tillerson Intervened (IC)
Food Banks Appeal For Donations To Feed Children During School Holidays (G.)
Britain Heading Back To Pre-Victorian Days (G.)

 

 

Nobody seems to care much.

The Trump Administration Is Headed For A Gigantic Debt Headache (CNBC)

Swelling government debt levels are shaping up to be the biggest economic challenge for President Donald Trump, a problem that could spill into the stock market. This week’s Treasury Department announcement that it would have to increase the amount of bond auctions over the next three months was a low-key reminder that the government IOU is only getting bigger and will start influencing interest rates sooner rather than later. As more product comes to market, investors could be expected to demand higher yields to snap up all the supply. And those higher yields mean higher costs at a time when taxpayers already have shelled out nearly half a trillion dollars this year in debt service.

Put it all together and it raises questions about how long the spurt in economic growth will continue, what will happen the next time the economy falls into recession and what impact it all will have on financial markets. “We’re applauding strong growth — yet have no choice but to borrow the largest amount of money since the financial crisis a decade ago,” Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group, said in a note. “And that’s just the start, the US will [be] running trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.” The total U.S. debt just passed the $21.3 trillion mark, of which $15.6 trillion is owed by the public.

The Treasury announced Wednesday that it will be adding $1 billion each to auctions of 2-, 3- and 5-year debt over the next three months, and $1 billion each for 7- and 10-year note and 30-year bond auctions in August. In addition, the department is issuing a new two-month note to help assure liquidity in the fixed income market. The changes will add $30 billion to the debt issuance for the quarter. On the overall, the Treasury said it expects to borrow $769 billion in the second half of the year, a projected 63% increase from 2017.

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So much for Apple then.

The First Company To Reach $1 Trillion In Market Value Was In China (CNBC)

Before Apple hit $1 trillion in market value Thursday, there was Chinese oil giant PetroChina, which reached the milestone more than a decade ago. It did not fare too well after that. PetroChina’s market cap hit $1 trillion in 2007 following a successful debut on the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Nov. 5 of that year. The company’s Shanghai-listed shares nearly tripled at the open that day, with its Hong Kong-listed shares following them higher. (It had debuted on the Hong Kong exchange years earlier.) The rise gave the company a market cap of $1.1 trillion on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.

According to Reuters, PetroChina’s opening price in Shanghai valued the company at 60 times analysts’ forecasts for its 2007 earnings per share, above the global average of 18 times for oil companys at the time. It was all downhill from there, however. PetroChina’s market value plummeted to less than $260 billion by the end of 2008, representing the largest destruction of shareholder wealth in world history, according to Bloomberg. Blame the financial crisis and a collapse in oil prices. When PetroChina made its debut in 2007 brent crude prices were at one point, above $140 a barrel. Today they are about half that.

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This piece cites PetroChina, but says not enough shares were outstanding. But Apple’s outstanding shares shrank a lot as well, because of buybacks.

Apple Becomes World’s First Trillion-Dollar Company (G.)

Apple became the world’s first trillion-dollar public company on Thursday, as a rise in its share price pushed it past the landmark valuation. The iMac to iPhone company, co-founded to sell personal computers by the late Steve Jobs in 1976, reached the historic milestone as its shares hit $207.05, the day after it posted strong financial results. Apple’s share price has grown 2,000% since Tim Cook replaced Jobs as chief executive in 2011. The company hit a $1tn market capitalisation 42 years after Apple was founded and 117 years after US Steel became the first company to be valued at $1bn in 1901. It means Apple’s stock market value is more than a third the size of the UK economy and larger than the economies of Turkey and Switzerland.

While energy company PetroChina was cited as the world’s first trillion-dollar company after its 2007 flotation, the valuation is considered unreliable because only 2% of the company was released for public trading. Saudi Arabia’s national oil company Saudi Aramco could be worth up to $2tn upon its planned stock market float but the value is yet to be tested. This week’s rise in Apple’s share price was powered by quarterly financial results released on Tuesday that were better than Wall Street had expected. The tech giant racked up profits of $11.5bn in three months on the back of record sales that hit $53.3bn, pushing shares of the iPhone giant higher and easing the value of the company up from $935bn towards $1tn (£770bn).

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Ryan Cooper focuses on lower wages as a result of buybacks. I would go for the death of price discovery. Apple may be ‘worth’ one trillion, but it has a $100 billion buybacks war chest. That’s 10%. So what is it really worth.

Ban Share Buybacks (Week)

American corporations are simply raking in profits. Some are so bloated and cash-rich they literally can’t figure out what to do with it all. Apple, for instance, is sitting on nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars — and that’s down a bit from earlier this year. Microsoft and Google, meanwhile, were sitting on “only” $132 billion and $63 billion respectively (as of March this year). However, American corporations in general are taking those profits and kicking them out to shareholders, mainly in the form of share buybacks. These are when a corporation uses profits, cash, or borrowed money to buy its own stock, thus increasing its price and the wealth of its shareholders. (Big Tech is doing this as well, just not fast enough to draw down their dragon hoards.)

As a new joint report from the Roosevelt Institute and the National Employment Law Project by Katy Milani and Irene Tung shows, from 2015 to 2017 corporations spent nearly 60% of their net profits on buybacks. This practice should be banned immediately, as it was before the Reagan administration. The most immediately objectionable consequence of share buybacks is they come at the expense of wages. Milani and Tung calculate that if buybacks spending had been funneled into wage increases, McDonald’s employees could get a raise of $4,000; those at Starbucks could get $8,000; and those at Lowes, Home Depot, and CVS could get an eye-popping $18,000.

Some economists are skeptical of this reasoning, arguing that wages are set according to labor market conditions. But if you set aside free market dogmatism, it is beyond obvious that this sort of behavior is coming at workers’ expense. Wall Street bloodsuckers are not at all subtle about it, screaming bloody murder and tanking stocks every time a public company proposes paying workers instead of shareholders. Indeed, it provides a highly convincing explanation for something that has been puzzling analysts for months: the situation of wages continuing to stagnate or decline while unemployment is at 4%. The answer is that wages are low in large part because the American corporate structure has been rigged in favor of shareholders and executives.

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And Tesla was up 16% yesterday?!

Where Are the 17,000 Model 3 Cars Tesla “Produced” But Didn’t “Deliver”? (WS)

Tesla never ceases to astound with its hype and promises and with its results that are just mindboggling, including today when it reported its Q2 “earnings” – meaning a net loss of $718 million, its largest net loss ever in its loss-drenched history spanning over a decade. It was more than double its record loss a year ago: The small solitary green bump in Q3 2016 wasn’t actually some kind of operational genius that suddenly set in for a brief period. No, Tesla sold $139 million in taxpayer-funded pollution credits to other companies, which allowed it to show a profit of $22 million. Tesla adheres strictly to a business model that is much appreciated by the stock market: The more it sells, the more money it loses.

Total revenues – automotive and energy combined – rose 43% year-over-year to $4.0 billion in Q2. This increase in revenues was bought with a 113% surge in net losses. When losses surge over twice as fast as revenues, it’s not the light at the end of the tunnel you’re seeing. In between the lines of its earnings report, Tesla also confirmed the veracity of the many videos and pictures circulating on the internet that show huge parking lots filled with thousands of brand-new, Model 3 vehicles, unsold, undelivered, perhaps unfinished, waiting for some sort of miracle, perhaps needing more work, more parts, or additional testing before they can be sold, if they can be sold.

But these thousands of vehicles were nevertheless “factory gated,” as Tesla said, to hit the 5,000 a week production goal. And so they’re unfinished and cannot be delivered but are outside the factory gate, and Tesla didn’t totally lie about its “production” numbers. Now it put a number on these “produced” but undelivered vehicles: 12,571 in Q2 on top of the 4,497 in Q1, for a total of 17,000 vehicles sitting in parking lots.

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Wealth transfer.

Middle-Class Americans Still Haven’t Recovered From Housing Bust (MW)

A new study by the Opportunity and Growth Institute at the Minneapolis Fed found that the housing boom and bust made middle-class Americans poorer but boosted wealth for the richest 10%, widening the income and wealth gap substantially. Authors of the paper examined the relationship between incomes and asset prices over the past 70 years, concluding that rising and falling housing and stock markets have been the main drivers of wealth inequality. In the simplest model, the authors wrote, how fast wealth accumulates should be a function of how fast incomes rise. But incomes played only a minor role in wealth distributions in postwar America. Instead, wealth accumulation for most Americans was driven by booming home prices over the past several decade until 2007.

[..] ..real incomes of middle-class Americans rose by a third between 1970 and 2007, or less than 1% a year, while incomes of the bottom half have been largely stagnant since about 1970. Incomes for the top 10%, meanwhile, have doubled over the same period. Incomes for the bottom 90% have stagnant over the past 10 years. On the wealth distribution side, however, the poor became poorer, while the rich became richer after the financial crisis. Up until 2007, middle class Americans saw their wealth increase at the same rate as their wealthy counterparts, rising 140% over 40 years. Incomes for households in the bottom half doubled from 1971 until 2007—all thanks to booming house prices.

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Perspective: “Chinese stocks were worth $6.09 trillion, compared with $6.17 trillion in Japan. The US market is worth $31 trillion.”

China Loses Spot As World’s No. 2 Stock Market to Japan (AFP)

China’s stock market has been overtaken as the world’s second-biggest by Japan’s, having been swiped this year by the threat of a trade war with the United States and slowing economic growth. Data from Bloomberg News in intra-day trade on Friday showed the value of equities on the mainland had slipped behind those in their neighbouring country for the first time since taking the number-two spot in 2014. The figures showed Chinese stocks were worth $6.09 trillion, compared with $6.17 trillion in Japan. The US market is worth $31 trillion. While global markets have been broadly hit by fears of a trade war between the world’s top two economies, Chinese equities are among the worst performers this year, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slumping more than 16% since the start of January.

The pressure was ratcheted up this week when the White House said it was considering more than doubling threatened tariffs on a range of Chinese imports worth $200 billion. Washington has already imposed tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods and is considering hitting another $16 billion in the coming weeks. “Losing the ranking to Japan is the damage caused by the trade war,” Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News. “The Japan equity gauge is relatively more stable around the current level but China’s market cap has slumped from its peak this year.”

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But what really happened? Julian Assange knows. Kim Dotcom knows.

Judge Rejects Suit Against Fox News Brought By Parents Of Seth Rich (NBC)

A New York judge has rejected a lawsuit brought against Fox News by the parents of a Democratic National Committee employee killed in 2016. In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge George Daniels said he understood Joel and Mary Rich might feel that the tragic death of their son was exploited for political purposes, but that the lawsuit lacked specific instances of wrongdoing necessary to proceed to trial. In the March lawsuit, the parents said that Fox News turned the death of their son, Seth Rich, into a “political football” by claiming he had leaked DNC emails to Wikileaks during the presidential campaign. The 27-year-old Rich was killed in what Washington police believe was a random robbery attempt. The judge also dismissed a related suit by a private investigator.

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Nice twist.

Saudi Arabia Planned To Invade Qatar Last Summer. Tillerson Intervened (IC)

Thirteen hours before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned from the presidential Twitter feed that he was being fired, he did something that President Donald Trump had been unwilling to do. Following a phone call with his British counterpart, Tillerson condemned a deadly nerve agent attack in the U.K., saying that he had “full confidence in the U.K.’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had called the attack “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible,” but stopped short of blaming Russia, leading numerous media outlets to speculate that Tillerson was fired for criticizing Russia.

But in the months that followed his departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for Tillerson’s removal were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar. One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March. The Intercept has learned of a previously unreported episode that stoked the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s anger at Tillerson and that may have played a key role in his removal. In the summer of 2017, several months before the Gulf allies started pushing for his ouster, Tillerson intervened to stop a secret Saudi-led, UAE-backed plan to invade and essentially conquer Qatar, according to one current member of the U.S. intelligence community and two former State Department officials, all of whom declined to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

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A nation that refuses to feed its children.

Food Banks Appeal For Donations To Feed Children During School Holidays (G.)

Calls have been made for the public to donate to their local food bank during the summer holidays owing to increasing demand from families who rely on free school meals during term time. The Trussell Trust, an anti-poverty charity, said an increase in food bank use over the summer was driven by a rise in demand by children, as it released figures from its network of more than 420 food banks across the country. While the number of adults seeking supplies from food banks during the summer months decreased in 2017, the number of children needing support shot up. During July and August 2017, food banks provided more than 204,525 three-day emergency supplies, 74,011 of which went to children. In the preceding two months, 70,510 supplies went to children. The number of adults seeking help from food banks fell from 131,521 in May and June to 130,514 in July and August.

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“..a billionaire’s flat in Knightsbridge costs just £1,421 a year, while a shop on the floor below can pay £244,000 in business rates.”

Britain Heading Back To Pre-Victorian Days (G.)

Is Northamptonshire Britain’s first banana republic? This once lovely county, much of it now a waste of wind turbines and warehouses, is close to bankruptcy. It must sack staff, freeze pay, close two-thirds of its libraries and stop all bus subsidies. It faces default on its statutory duty to public health, children in care and the elderly. While much of this is due to mismanagement, the National Audit Office says that 15 other counties, believed to include Somerset and Surrey, are in similar straits. Years of austerity are coming home to roost – and where least expected, among the rich shires. What is going on? Local councils cannot do what central government can do, which is tax and borrow to meet need.

Each year Whitehall spends more. It can tip money into the NHS and triple-lock pensions – good causes both – as well as vanity projects such as aircraft carriers, high-speed trains and nuclear power stations. Councils have no such discretion. Since 2010 their spending has shrunk by over a third, with central government grants slashed by as much as NHS spending has risen. 95% of British taxation is controlled by the centre, against 60% in France and 50% in the US. Yet local spending must pick up the casualties of the welfare state – vulnerable children, elderly and infirm people. It must fund the day centres, youth clubs, care homes and visits to problem families. To do so, services that most modern communities expect from government must now be butchered, such as parks, libraries and museums.

Local, not national, austerity is sending Britain back to pre-Victorian days. The solution is swift and easy. The government should uncap local taxes, free local spending, and allow local people to pay for what they want. It was how local government ran, perfectly well, up to the early 1980s. In most other countries it is still regarded as a normal feature of democracy. At present Britain’s meagre local revenue derives from a regressive household tax fixed on 1991 property valuations, which no government (except in Wales) has had the guts to revalue. Thus a billionaire’s flat in Knightsbridge costs just £1,421 a year, while a shop on the floor below can pay £244,000 in business rates. It is no surprise that the former goes to the council, and much of the latter is paid to central government.

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