Sep 252023
 
 September 25, 2023  Posted by at 8:55 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  43 Responses »


Vincenzo Camuccini La Morte Di Cesare 1804

 

Russia Will Ask Canada to Explain Decision to Honor Nazi Veteran (Sp.)
“They’re All Afraid” (WeltWoche.ch)
US Government Stopped Me From Interviewing Putin – Tucker Carlson (RT)
Dossier To Accuse Russia Of Deliberately Causing Starvation In Ukraine (G.)
Zelensky’s Vow to Continue Offensive Through Winter is Wishful Thinking (Sp.)
Western Officials Pressuring Zelensky To Hold Elections – WaPo (RT)
Brussels Should Buy Ukrainian Grain For Africa – Lavrov (RT)
Russell Brand, Another Truth Warrior ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ (Bridge)
Is Censorship a Partisan Issue? (RCP)
Trump Leading Biden By Double Digits – Poll (RT)
Biden Scapegoats ‘Extreme’ Republicans For Looming Government Shutdown (Sp.)
My Addiction: A Playlist in Three Acts (Scott Ritter)

 

 

1997

 

 

Freak show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Russians, this is the same as supporting the Azov batallion.

“..it is impossible to do business with the current Trudeau cabinet, which is the personification of neoliberal fascism..”

“I believe that this is not a mistake. This is simply a consequence of the impunity of former Nazi criminals, the impunity of the activities of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress..”

Russia Will Ask Canada to Explain Decision to Honor Nazi Veteran (Sp.)

Russian Ambassador to Canada Oleg Stepanov told Sputnik that on Monday he would request explanations from the Canadian Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office in connection with the invitation and honoring in the country’s parliament of Ukrainian Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka. On Friday, Hunka, a 98 years-old Ukrainian Nazi veteran who fought in the ranks of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the Nazi SS during the Second World War, was given a standing ovation by the entire Canadian legislature. Hunka’s recognition happened as the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, was giving introductory remarks prior to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Canadian parliament.

“The embassy will take appropriate official steps. We will, of course, demand clarification from the Canadian government,” Stepanov said, adding that the notes would be sent on Monday to the Foreign Ministry and the office of the Prime Minister. At the same time, Stepanov noted that he has no illusions about the response of the Canadian government as it has become “a nest for Nazi criminals.” “We, of course, will make the necessary demarches, but I have no illusions because it is impossible to do business with the current Trudeau cabinet, which is the personification of neoliberal fascism,” Stepanov added. But Stepanov does not believe the invitation was the merely the result of negligence, but rather stems from Canada’s policy towards former Nazi party members.

“I believe that this is not a mistake. This is simply a consequence of the impunity of former Nazi criminals, the impunity of the activities of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, which consists of children and grandchildren, who are mainly descendants of these Nazi henchmen, punishers, SS men,” Stepanov said. He also recalled the process of the extradition of Helmut Oberlander, which was dragged out until the death of this Nazi collaborator “in the comfort and care of Western medicine,” about the monuments to the punishers of the 14th SS-Volunteer Division “Galicia” and the Nachtigall Battalion in Canadian cemeteries, etc.

“The fact that in our time this is possible in a country that was a member of the anti-Hitler coalition, which is considered civilized, tolerant, and a supporter of respect for all human rights, the fact that neo-Nazism lives and flourishes here is simply unacceptable, but apparently Canada, under the auspices of the United States, is getting away with everything,” Stepanov added. On Sunday, Rota apologized for his decision to invite Hunka. Trudeau’s office said, in turn, that neither the Canadian prime minister nor Zelensky’s delegation were notified in advance of the invitation of Hunka.

Read more …

“They’re trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden … That’s what this election’s about.”

“They’re All Afraid” (WeltWoche.ch)

Tucker Carlson is unstoppable. Since his sudden departure from Fox News he scores record viewer ratings. In an exclusive interview with Weltwoche, the political media star demolishes the mainstream media’s manipulation machine, reveals his concerns about a potential Donald Trump Restoration, he speaks about the disturbing state of the Biden family and discusses what’s next for him in a Post-Fox News Order. When Tucker Carlson departed the Fox News Channel in April, his enemies cheered. But if they thought the happy warrior had finally been defeated, their judgment was as dismal as their approval ratings. With an assist from Elon Musk, Carlson is reaching an even larger, global audience with his new show, “Tucker Carlson on Twitter (now known as ‘X’).”

The veteran newscaster has expanded his mission: to defeat the mainstream media’s suffocating bias and incuriosity not just about critical events at home but in capitals around the world. When we reach him, Carlson has just returned from the United Arab Emirates where he met with its president, Mohamed bin Zayed. Carlson pronounces the sheikh “the most interesting, wisest leader I’ve ever spoken to” — a provocative assessment given that the talk show host sat across from Donald J. Trump last month. Of the Arab leader, Carlson enthuses, “I’ve never met a more humble leader, ever — and I believe humility is a prerequisite for wisdom.” Carlson is far less kind about his colleagues in the press. “They’re all fearful people,” the 54-year-old scoffs. Instead of holding the powerful to account, “they do exactly the opposite.” Indeed, “they do their bidding.”

Looking ahead to the Presidential elections in 2024, he says: “They’re trying to put Trump in prison for the crime of running against Joe Biden … That’s what this election’s about. Are we going to allow that, or aren’t we? And I just don’t think we can.”

Weltwoche: Since leaving Fox and going solo with your new show, “Tucker Carlson On Twitter (now known as ‘X’),” your posts have logged tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of views. You’re taking off like Buzz Lightyear. Are you feeling the freedom? To explore more topics and ideas? To express your views?” Tucker Carlson: “Well, definitely. If anything, I’ve expressed my views less. I haven’t done many straight-to-camera scripts where I write the script and give my opinion. I’ve done what I’ve wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t, which is get on an airplane and go see the rest of the world. I couldn’t because I had a daily show I had to do.

I’ve become convinced over the past several years — particularly since the war in Ukraine began — that the world is changing much more quickly than most Americans understand. And because there’s virtually no coverage of the rest of the world in American media, Americans don’t have a good sense of it. What we, in this country, refer to as the “Post-War Order” — the institutions set up in the wake of World War II to keep the world peaceful and prosperous and the United States at the top of the pyramid, and that would include the dominance of the dollar, the SWIFT system, NATO — all of that appears to me to be crumbling. That’s my view of it. I’ve wanted to travel and see if that is, in fact, happening — and it is.

Read more …

“I’m a much more loyal American than, say, Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, who didn’t even grow up in this country; she grew up in Canada. And they’re telling me what it is to be a loyal American?”

US Government Stopped Me From Interviewing Putin – Tucker Carlson (RT)

Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has alleged in a recent interview that unnamed figures in Washington obstructed his attempts to interview Russian president Vladimir Putin. “I tried to interview Vladimir Putin, and the US government stopped me,” Carlson claimed in an interview with Swiss publication Die Weltwoche published on Thursday. He also explained that he felt let down by the lack of support for his situation that he says he received from US news media. He said: “I don’t think there was anybody who said ‘wait a second. I may not like this guy but he has a right to interview anyone he wants, and we have a right to hear what Putin says’.” The 54-year-old added: “You’re not allowed to hear Putin’s voice. Because why? There was no vote on it. No one asked me.”

The often-controversial media personality didn’t elaborate on the circumstances under which he says there was government intrusion into his plans to interview Putin but it appeared to suggest that it was the current Biden administration which was behind the meddling. Carlson also didn’t mention when the interview with the Russian leader was supposed to take place. “I’m an American citizen,” Carlson told Die Weltwoche. “I’m a much more loyal American than, say, Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, who didn’t even grow up in this country; she grew up in Canada. And they’re telling me what it is to be a loyal American?” Carlson –previously Fox News’ biggest star– parted ways with the broadcaster in April shortly after the news network settled for $787.5 million a lawsuit with voting-machine company Dominion Voting Systems. Fox News had regularly discussed claims on some of its shows that Dominion’s machines were involved in ‘rigging’ the 2020 US presidential election.

Carlson’s show Tucker Carlson Tonight, during which he frequently discussed issues like gender, race, sexuality and ‘woke’ ideology, was specifically referenced in the Dominion lawsuit. Since leaving Fox News, Carlson has broadcast abridged versions of his news show on X (formerly Twitter) which regularly draw tens of millions of views. Meanwhile, Russia TV news channel Rossiya 24 has aired a teaser trailer for a weekend show it says is to be hosted by Carlson. The promo was first broadcast earlier this month and again on September 22 along with the words “at the weekend.” It adds that the “high-profile American presenter is moving to another level. Here.” Rossiya 24 didn’t state when the show will debut or if it will be original content or translated versions of Carlson’s X broadcasts.

Read more …

Shut up, Guardian.

Dossier To Accuse Russia Of Deliberately Causing Starvation In Ukraine (G.)

Human rights lawyers working with Ukraine’s public prosecutor are preparing a war crimes dossier to submit to the international criminal court (ICC) accusing Russia of deliberately causing starvation during the 18-month-long conflict. The aim is to document instances where the Russian invaders used hunger as a weapon of war, providing evidence for the ICC to launch the first prosecution of its kind that could indict the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Yousuf Khan, a senior lawyer with law firm Global Rights Compliance, said “the weaponisation of food has taken place in three phases,” starting with the initial invasion where Ukrainian cities were besieged and food supplies cut.

Among the incidents documented was when 20 civilians were killed in Chernihiv in the early morning of 16 March 2022, when Russian fragmentation bombs exploded outside a supermarket in the city where Ukrainians were queueing for bread and food. Investigators are also focusing on the siege of Mariupol, Khan added. Food supplies were cut to the city and humanitarian relief corridors blocked or bombed, making it very difficult or impossible for desperate, starving civilians to escape. The second phase includes the destruction of food and water supplies as well as energy sources across Ukraine during the fighting, which the lawyer described as “objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”.

Such attacks, Khan argued, were “not crimes of result but crimes of intent” because “if you are taking out objects that civilians need, like energy infrastructure in the dead of winter, there is a foreseeability to your actions”. Cities such as Mykolaiv in the south were left without drinking water from early in the conflict after Russian forces captured the pumping station that supplied it. The remaining residents were forced to rely on water being driven in daily to ensure they could drink and wash safely. The third element is Russian attempts to prevent or restrict exports of Ukrainian food. “Then we’ve seen Russia attack grain facilities on the Danube and engage in muscle flexing on the Black Sea,” Khan said, citing reports from Ukrainian officials that 270,000 tonnes of the foodstuff were destroyed in late July and early August.

Fresh accusations that Russia sought to starve Ukrainians are particularly emotive in the light of the two countries’ history: in 1932-33, millions died of hunger in the Holodomor, an enforced famine engineered by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet government. But they have been given a renewed emphasis after the passage of a UN security council resolution in 2018 which condemned the use of starvation as a weapon of war, and revisions to the ICC’s governing Rome statute in 2019, to expand the type of cases that can be brought.

Read more …

“Who will they send to the frontline? In reality, they can assemble a new army by spring, train it at the training grounds, teach it to shoot, teach it to use equipment..”

Zelensky’s Vow to Continue Offensive Through Winter is Wishful Thinking (Sp.)

The Kiev regime is reportedly going to continue its “counteroffensive” in autumn and through winter, as per President Volodymyr Zelensky. But does Ukraine have enough resources for that? Ukraine’s president has argued that the country made a mistake by taking a pause last year after gaining some of the territory previously liberated by Russia. Speaking to the US press, after a day of meetings on Capitol Hill and the White House, Zelensky pledged to keep fighting through the autumn and winter this year. He also vowed to take Artemovsk (also known as Bakhmut) and a couple “more cities”. He said that US assistance should keep flowing to Ukraine, despite growing calls in the US Congress to reduce or halt the financial assistance altogether.

Zelensky’s vows appear to be nothing but wishful thinking: it’s unclear where he would get more troops and munitions for the protracted fighting according to Aleksey Borzenko, a military journalist and deputy chief editor of the “Literary Russia” newspaper. “Who will attack? Over the past two or three months, the Russian Army has crushed a large number of [Ukrainian] personnel, armored vehicles and howitzers. So who will attack? This question is very important. Who will they send to the frontline? In reality, they can assemble a new army by spring, train it at the training grounds, teach it to shoot, teach it to use equipment,” Borzenko told Sputnik. It’s unlikely that they would come with some sort of a sophisticated offensive strategy, according to the expert.

They have already used both Western and old Soviet tactics to attack Russia’s positions; they tried to push through Russia’s defenses in large groups and in small groups. However, they got bogged down, sustained heavy losses, and eventually failed to move through Russia’s multi-layered defenses, Borzenko noted. Likewise, they are unlikely to use NATO-grade heavy tanks during autumn and winter, since these heavy armored vehicles are not meant for dire weather conditions, the expert continued. He suggested that the Ukrainian military will use what it has left of its Soviet-era T-72 stash. “What other weapon [could be used]? They are waiting for aviation, but the F-16 will not change much,” he said. “[Russian forces] will hunt for them and shoot them down.

But they also need F-16s not so that they can organize air battles on the line of contact with [Russian] fighters, but in order to launch tactical missiles. These are all the latest missiles that they received in a few months, and they are waiting for ATACMS. Still, Zelensky specified during his recent interviews with US media that those long-range missiles would be used to “strike targets deeper” in Russia’s territory. This fits into Kiev’s terrorist tactics of launching strikes against civilian areas, nuclear power plants and infrastructure facilities in Russia. Yet this does not have anything to do with the balance of power on the battlefield. When it comes to the battleground, artillery duels and counter-battery combat, Ukrainians don’t have enough munitions, per the analyst. They are expecting to get more 155 mm shells from NATO but it will take time. Their 152 mm ammo stockpiles have been depleted too, he noted. “How many 152 mm shells do they have left? They receive them from the countries of the former Warsaw Pact. These are still old stock from the 1980s,” Borzenko said.

Read more …

To show how popular he is? There’s nobody left to run against.

Western Officials Pressuring Zelensky To Hold Elections – WaPo (RT)

Ukrainian officials are resisting calls from Kiev’s Western backers to hold parliamentary and presidential elections, even as martial law prohibits such processes, the Washington Post reported on Sunday. Several Western politicians, including Tiny Kox, head of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, and Democratic US Senators Richard Blumenthal and Elizabeth Warren, have urged Kiev to hold elections, the report says. Their efforts were also supported by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who described a ballot in Ukraine not only as “an act of defiance against the Russian invasion, but an embrace of democracy and freedom.” However, according to officials in Ukraine and experts interviewed by the Post, holding elections in a country embroiled in a major conflict “is virtually impossible and also ill-advised.”

The conundrum stems from the Russian military presence in regions that Ukraine claims as its own, as well as from the fact that millions have fled the country and tens of thousands of soldiers are deployed. Officials in Kiev reportedly believe that a major vote would require local authorities to overcome enormous financial, logistical, and legal hurdles. Some are said to be wary that Russia could exploit the elections by fomenting division, infiltrating its assets and weakening Ukraine from within. “The Russians are pushing for this through their secret channels,” an anonymous Ukrainian security official told the outlet. “There is no situation in which it is possible to have a democratic election during the war.” However, according to the Washington Post article, Kiev cannot dismiss out of hand the calls for elections without risking alienating its Western backers, who have emerged as crucial sources of financial and military support.

However, the Biden administration is said to be sympathetic to the obstacles facing Kiev and is not pushing for elections. Martial law, first imposed shortly after the start of Russia’s military campaign in February 2022 and repeatedly extended since then, prohibits the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. In June, President Vladimir Zelenksy said that the vote could take place only after the end of hostilities. In August, however, he conceded that an election could take place but on condition that the parliament quickly change national legislation and the West provide an additional $135 million in funding. The latter statement was denounced by US Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy as a “ballot-box shakedown.”

Read more …

Good idea.

Brussels Should Buy Ukrainian Grain For Africa – Lavrov (RT)

The European Commission should buy the Ukrainian agricultural produce that the bloc says it doesn’t need and ship it to African countries, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has said at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of trapping millions of tons of grain in Ukrainian Black Sea ports and of exacerbating a global food crisis, particularly across the African continent. “Since the European Commission is wasting tens of billions of dollars on Ukraine… it can buy the grain that Ukraine wants to sell and EU countries don’t want [to buy] for reasons of competitiveness, and send it to Africa,” Lavrov told the UNGA.

According to Russia’s top diplomat, Ukrainian agricultural produce is “being supplied to European countries in abundance” but many of them don’t want to buy it, because “they have their own farmers and don’t want them to go bust due to competition.” He also questioned the integrity of last year’s grain deal, pointing out during his speech at the UN that only 3% of the grain that was moved under this deal had reached the poorest countries in Africa. In addition, Lavrov said that some 260,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizers have been impounded in EU ports since 2022 and that Moscow was ready to ship these fertilizers to African nations for free. Russian fertilisers became the crucial point in talks over resuming the Black Sea Grain Deal that was clinched last year between Russia and Ukraine and brokered by the UN and Türkiye.

The deal was aimed at allowing Ukraine to export grain from its ports to countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, in exchange for lifting Western sanctions that prevented Russian agricultural exports. However, Moscow withdrew from the agreement in July, saying that the West was still making it impossible for Russia to ship food and fertilizer. Lavrov said that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Vershinin, is currently discussing the key issues related to the deal with UN representatives. He stressed also that Western states would be misleading UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by saying that the grain deal was about to resume. According to the minister, the deal can resume once Russia’s demands regarding its agricultural exports are fulfilled.

Read more …

“It’s a sick reality, but that’s the depraved sort of ‘journalism’ Western audiences can expect to receive – until they demand better.”

Russell Brand, Another Truth Warrior ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ (Bridge)

Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if journalists dug into stories like ‘Russian election collusion’ and ‘Hunter Biden’s laptop’ with the same amount of gusto as they do with stories involving the sordid sex lives of celebrities. And not just any celebrities, but specifically those who have touched the third rail, so to speak, exposing the establishment for their egregious crimes against humanity. Russell Brand is/was that sort of spirited and fearless individual. While initially part of the Hollywood circuit, appearing in films and performing stand-up comedy, the loquacious Brit eventually found himself ostracized from tinsel town after pointing out during the 2013 GQ Awards that the sponsor of the event, Hugo Boss, manufactured uniforms for the Nazi Party during World War II.

Having successfully torched his Hollywood career, Brand began to focus attention on his YouTube channel, where his fierce wit, intelligence and machine-gun-style delivery saw his number of subscribers climb to almost 7 million in 10 years. These are the sort of figures that land social media personalities on the ‘truth radar,’ a system backed by an army of left-wing fanatics and civil rights nut jobs devoted to enforcing ‘community standards’ with pure fascist fervor. Brand fell so far afoul of the mainstream media narrative that he was playing in an entirely differently stadium. It’s hard to say exactly when the powers-that-be decided to take down the YouTube sensation, but his March 2023 appearance on the Bill Maher show would be a safe bet. Appearing alongside John Heilemann, a national affairs analyst with MSNBC, and Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, Brand went on a tangent about the Covid-19 pandemic and the pharmaceutical industry.

“The pandemic created at least 40 new Big Pharma billionaires; pharmaceutical corporations like Moderna and Pfizer made $1,000 in profit every second from the Covid-19 vaccines; more than two-thirds of Congress received campaign funding from pharmaceutical companies in the 2020 election; Pfizer Chairman Albert Bourla told Time magazine in July 202 that his company was developing a Covid vaccine for the good of humanity, not for money, and of course Pfizer made a $100 billion dollars in profit in 2022.” Maher, desperately trying to get a word in edgewise on his own show, reminded Brand that “a lot of people would be dead without the vaccine.” To which Brand snapped back: “If you have an economic system in which pharmaceutical companies benefit hugely from medical emergencies, where the military industrial complex benefits from war, where energy companies benefit from energy crisis, you are going to generate states of permanent crisis where the interests of ordinary people separate from the interests of the elite.”

Ever since the emergence of the #MeToo movement, the legacy media and social media have developed a mob justice mentality, refusing to allow for the possibility that the accused (male) may actually be innocent. In fact, that’s the agenda from the start. And it goes without saying that the media are in the extremely powerful position to mold public opinion to their will. This was evident in a Channel 4 video of the anonymous victims, some of them portrayed by actual actors, discussing their experiences. The production is complete with ominous background music and close-up silhouettes of the emotional women. This is cinematic manipulation that would certainly help to sway the public, not to mention some future jury, and not in a way favorable to Russell Brand’s defense team. Why is the media, which is supposed to take an unbiased approach to its reporting, resorting to manipulating the emotions of their audience? The answer is obvious.

Much like was the case with Julian Assange, who faced similar age-old charges after releasing information damning to the U.S. establishment, Brand is a very articulate individual who is not afraid of speaking truth to power. Much like Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and hundreds of other dissident voices, his anti-establishment opinions could not be tolerated, and once again the mainstream media was activated to do the dirty work of character assassination. It’s a sick reality, but that’s the depraved sort of ‘journalism’ Western audiences can expect to receive – until they demand better.

Read more …

Fear of freedom.

Is Censorship a Partisan Issue? (RCP)

[..] the most glaring gap is between conservatives and liberals, i.e., between Republicans and Democrats. On the issue of free expression, at least, Republicans are not the authoritarian party. That distinction belongs to the Democrats, the party launched by Thomas Jefferson — the Founding Father who famously said that if he were forced to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” This is a relatively new development.

Traditionally, opposing censorship — whether imposed by government or corporations — was a bedrock principle of liberalism in this country. The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 to promote and defend free expression. And this ideal was at the heart of liberal thought, liberal lawmaking, and liberal jurisprudence during most of the 20th century. But times change. And notwithstanding the controversial current push by social conservatives to denude public school libraries of content they dislike, the new RealClear Opinion Research poll is the latest to document the gradual change that has taken place on the left when it comes to this free expression. Here are some of its findings:

• Republican voters (74%) and independents (61%) believe speech should be legal “under any circumstances, while Democrats are almost evenly divided. A bare majority of Democrats (53%) say speech should be legal under any circumstances, while 47% say it should be legal “only under certain circumstances.”

• Nearly one-third of Democratic voters (34%) say Americans have “too much freedom.” This compared to 14.6% of Republicans. Republicans were most likely to say Americans have too little freedom (46%), while only 22% of Democrats feel that way. Independents were in the middle in both categories.

• Although majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree the news media should be able to report stories they believe are in the national interest, this consensus shifts when it comes to social media censorship. A majority of Democrats (52%) approve of the government censoring social media content under the rubric of protecting national security. Among Republicans and independents, this percentage is only one-third.

• Poll respondents were read this statement: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Only 31% of Democratic voters “strongly agreed” with that sentiment, compared to 51% of Republicans.

• Fully three-fourths of Democrats believe government has a responsibility to limit “hateful” social media posts, while Republicans are more split, with 50% believing the government has a responsibility to restrict hateful posts. (Independents, once again, are in the middle.)

• Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to favor stifling the free speech rights of political extremists. Also, Republicans don’t vary by the group: Only about half of GOP voters favor censorship — whether asked about the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis, or the Communist Party.

Read more …

WaPo doesn’t like its own poll.

Trump Leading Biden By Double Digits – Poll (RT)

If an election were held today, former US President Donald Trump would defeat President Joe Biden by a 10% margin of the popular vote, a Washington Post/ABC News poll has found. The result shows the strongest lead for Trump since both men declared their candidacy for the 2024 election. Published on Saturday, the poll found that 52% of respondents would choose Trump and 42% would side with Biden, while the remainder are either undecided or would not vote. When the Post/ABC pollsters asked the same question in February, Trump led Biden by four points, at 48% to 44%. The result is at odds with a slew of recent polls, all of which placed Trump and Biden in or near a statistical dead heat.

An NBC News poll, also published on Saturday, showed Trump and Biden tied at 46%, while a Fox News survey last week placed Trump ahead of Biden at 48%-46%, and a Quinnipiac University poll put Biden in the lead by 47%-46%. Before facing off against Biden for a second time, Trump will have to defeat an ever-expanding group of Republican challengers hoping to clinch the party’s nomination. However, every major poll shows the former president with a commanding lead over the pack, and Biden told donors on Wednesday that he thinks Trump “is destined to be the nominee again.” According to the Post/ABC survey, Trump has an almost 40-point lead over his nearest Republican rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, at 54% to 15 %. No other GOP challenger managed to break double digits in the survey.

Biden and Trump both face significant obstacles in their respective bids for the White House. Trump will enter election season next year fighting more than 90 felony charges in four separate cases, stemming from his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, mishandling of classified documents, and improper reporting of ‘hush-money’ payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump maintains that the indictments against him are politically-motivated, and that Biden’s Justice Department is engaged in a “Stalinist” attempt to take him out of the 2024 race.

For Biden, a key concern will be convincing voters that he is fit for office. According to the latest poll, three quarters of respondents, regardless of political persuasion, said that Biden is too old to serve a second term. Biden has long been attacked by Republicans for his apparent cognitive decline, but concerns over the president’s mental fitness have surfaced in most recent polls. According to a a CBS News poll published last Sunday, 34% of US voters believe that the 80-year-old president would finish a second term in office, while the same number believe that Biden lacks the mental and cognitive health necessary for the job.

Read more …

Just separate Ukraine from the main budget. Problem solved.

Biden Scapegoats ‘Extreme’ Republicans For Looming Government Shutdown (Sp.)

US President Joe Biden said that all citizens of the country would “pay the price” if “extreme” members of the Republican Party do not vote on the new budget and allow the federal government to shut down. “Just a few months ago, after long negotiations between myself and the new [House of Representatives] speaker [Kevin McCarthy], we agreed the spending level of government will fund essential domestic and national security priorities while still cutting the deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade. Now, a small group of extreme Republicans don’t want to live up to the deal, so now everyone in America could be forced to pay the price,” Biden said addressing the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

He warned that the government shutdown will affect “everything from food security to cancer research.” “It’s time for the Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do,” he added. The inclusion of funds intended for Ukraine in the US defense budget faced strong opposition from a number of members of the House of Representatives and became a stumbling block to its adoption. Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said earlier this week that she would vote against Pentagon bill as long as it includes Ukraine aid funds. The US Congress needs to adopt a full or short-term budget before October 1, the end of the current fiscal year, in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Read more …

Sort of Ritter’s diary. Good read.

My Addiction: A Playlist in Three Acts (Scott Ritter)

On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt, less than a year removed from serving as the President of the United States, delivered a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Entitled “Citizenship in a Republic,” the speech has gone down in history as “The Man in the Arena speech,” largely on the weight of the words contained in the following passage: “It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I have often drawn upon this passage when reflecting upon my own life, especially when trying to come to grips with my failure to prevent the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. I still struggle with the fact that, despite being empowered with the experienced-based knowledge that there were no viable weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. (I had served as a weapons inspector with the United Nation in Iraq from 1991 until 1998, where I participated in more than 45 inspections—14 as Chief Inspector—involved in accounting for Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range ballistic missile weapons—collectively referred to as “weapons of mass destruction”, or WMD.) Roosevelt’s words helped bring me some solace—at least I had stood in the arena in pursuit of a worthy cause.

In 2008, I was asked to participate in a panel of military veterans who would provide commentary and take questions from the audience in response to a theatrical adaptation of Tim O’Brien’s classic war novel, The Things They Carried. As I watched the play, I became increasingly agitated. This was a story about war, and the cost of war. Looking around me, I saw a theater full of people who knew nothing about war, and the cost it took on those who waged it. I resented the fact that I had agreed to allow myself to be put on display as some sort of zoo exhibit—“Here is a veteran; let’s ask him about the emotional trauma of war.” When the play ended, I took my place on stage, flanked by several other veterans of America’s many wars. I was well known at the time, and so I was picked to answer the first question, “Did the play trigger any memories for you of war?”

My response stunned even me. “As I look out among the audience, I see people who lack any military experience. People who know nothing of war. This play talks about the most intimate aspects of a soldier’s life—the things he carried at the time of his death. This is a conversation I can have with the men sitting here with me on stage. But it’s not a conversation I’m going to have with you. You haven’t earned that right.” I got up and left. I justified my actions by reflecting on Roosevelt’s speech. I had spent my time in the arena of conflict. They had not. They did not have a right to peer into my soul about issues of this emotional magnitude.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Octopus

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 232023
 


Leonardo da Vinci Head of a Woman 1470s

 

Roadblocks: Zelensky Fails to Achieve Goals on US Visit (Sp.)
Zelensky’s US Trip Revealed Deepening Fractures in NATO Support (Sp.)
West Preparing To ‘Dump’ Zelensky – Lukashenko (RT)
McCarthy Vows To Strip Ukraine Money From Pentagon Bill (Hill)
White House Issues Ukraine Aid Warning (RT)
Pentagon Exempts Ukraine Operations From Potential Government Shutdown (Pol.)
China and Syria Forge ‘Strategic Partnership’ (RT)
Blobitis (Jim Kunstler)
Expert: NATO Helped Ukraine Strike Black Sea Fleet HQ in Sevastopol (Sp.)
Borrell Warns Migration Might ‘Dissolve’ EU (RT)
The Defunct Disinformation Governance Board Exposed (Turley)

 

 

 

 

Panahi

 

 

 

 

Pelosi Jan 6
https://twitter.com/i/status/1704806237630501284

 

 

 

 

Maui

 

 

 

 

Russell

 

 

 

 

“There’s no money in the House right now for Ukraine.”

Roadblocks: Zelensky Fails to Achieve Goals on US Visit (Sp.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the US, which wrapped up this week, proved to be a failure rather than a success.[..] The visit had a rocky start after [the NYT] published the results of its own investigation into the September 6 missile strike on Konstantinovka in eastern Ukraine, which killed 15 civilians. Kiev had blamed the attack on Moscow, however, the newspaper reported that the Ukrainian side was to blame. “Evidence, […] including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system,” the news outlet pointed out.Another US media outlet reported about “Zelensky’s frosty welcome to D.C.”, referencing six Republican senators and 22 House members’ letter to the White House, which opposed President Joe Biden’s request for $24 billion in additional funding for Ukraine.

As a result, POTUS finally announced the $325 million military assistance package for Kiev during a White House meeting with Zelensky. Notably, the Biden administration opted not to provide Ukraine with the long-range ATACMS missiles that would allow Kiev to launch strikes well behind Russian lines. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, for his part, denied Zelensky’s request to address a joint meeting of Congress, telling reporters that Congressmen “just didn’t have time.” McCarthy was echoed by Republican Byron Donalds, who said that “There’s no money in the House right now for Ukraine.” According to Donalds, “It’s not a good time for [Zelensky] to be here, quite frankly.”The US media outlet noted in this vein that “the effectiveness of Zelensky’s personal appeals has […] been challenged, as dozens of Republicans used his visit as an occasion to snub Ukraine’s requests and mock its wartime leader.”

On September 19, the Ukrainian president addressed a UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York. US television channels at the time showed many empty seats in the premises where Zelensky delivered the speech. Ukrainian broadcasters, therefore, had to edit the footage so as to create an illusion of a full audience, where one could see Zelensky himself among the viewers. His visit came amid the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF)’s futile attempts to break through Russian defensive lines, a counteroffensive that President Vladimir Putin called a “failure rather than a standstill”. According to him, the UAF has lost more 71,000 soldiers and over 500 tanks since the beginning of the counteroffensive on June 4.

Read more …

“Clearly, the Patriots have failed in their mission. And it’s not like the United States has a better air defense system than the Patriot batteries – that’s the best we have to offer..”

Zelensky’s US Trip Revealed Deepening Fractures in NATO Support (Sp.)

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrapped up his trip to the United States on Friday, where he spoke at the United Nations and visited the White House, he is preparing to return to Ukraine with far less than he expected. An expert noted the US and Ukraine are struggling to make a bad situation look better than it is. Retired CIA intelligence officer and former US State Department official Larry Johnson told Sputnik that “nothing of substance” had come from Zelensky’s trip to Washington, DC, but that careful study of the demeanor of Zelensky and several American officials revealed “they’ve had some very uncomfortable conversations behind the scenes.”
“He’s not going to get the ATACMS that he claimed he wanted,” Johnson said, referring to the ground strike missile that is launched from a HIMARS rocket system.

He noted “they are sending some M1 Abrams tanks next week – that was already on the table.” “What was clear is that you’ve got a disconnect between the rhetorical position, what the Biden administration is saying publicly to support Zelensky, and what it’s actually doing,” he pointed out. “On the one hand, they are stridently insisting that they’re going to support Ukraine to the end, that Zelensky is on their team, etc. But when it comes to the actual assistance, they didn’t increase – they’re going to continue to provide aid, but they’re not providing any kind of advanced weapons system. I don’t think they do have a weapon system that would make a difference. But, you know, for example, they talked about: ‘Oh, we have to provide Ukraine with their defense.’ I thought that was what the Patriot batteries were for.

Clearly, the Patriots have failed in their mission. And it’s not like the United States has a better air defense system than the Patriot batteries – that’s the best we have to offer. That didn’t work. But they’re talking about providing some more air defense capabilities. I think it’s a meaningless gesture,” he said. “The problem is, it doesn’t matter what equipment or money the United States supplies. The problem Ukraine faces is the lack of manpower, that they’ve suffered such enormous casualties during this failed counteroffensive that their ability to replace those is a challenge.” Johnson noted that during Zelensky’s visit, there were “subtle gestures” but nothing like the hero’s welcome he was given before.

“During his previous trip, he was celebrated with a joint session of Congress and got to kiss [then-House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and yet this time he didn’t get that. He did meet with some members of Congress and he heard some challenges to his position. I think there’s still a majority in the Congress, in both the House and Senate, that are saying that they really strongly support Ukraine, but there’s a growing number of voices that are saying: ‘no, we need to spend that money that’s been going to Kiev here in the United States, in Maui, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco.’ There’s growing pressure to spend those funds in the states as opposed to selling it overseas.”

“He didn’t get a joint press conference. They did put out some sort of controlled video of both Biden and Zelensky reading prepared remarks and setting it in a controlled environment, where the press were spectators but not able to ask questions. But they didn’t have a side-by-side press-conference. So, it was a much more tepid response this time compared to previous ones. And he didn’t go back with a greater economic package than he anticipated prior to arriving. Plus, on top of it, he did have Poland and the relationship to Poland and Ukraine was sort of a backdrop to all of this,” he said.

Read more …

“Do you think that Poland is putting pressure on poor Ukraine today for no reason? No, they have been given the go-ahead from overseas: We need to dump this Zelensky, we’re tired of him..”

West Preparing To ‘Dump’ Zelensky – Lukashenko (RT)

Washington has given the go-ahead to its partners to “dump” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky as he has become a nuisance, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed during a government meeting on Friday. Lukashenko pointed to the ongoing grain dispute between Poland and Ukraine as an example of this new policy, noting that Warsaw had been one of Zelensky’s staunchest supporters but is now sharply critical of its partner. This shift occurred after Poland, along with Hungary and Slovakia, unilaterally banned the import of Ukrainian grain despite the EU having chosen to lift its bloc-wide embargo. In turn, Kiev filed disputes against the three countries with the World Trade Organization.

“Do you think that Poland is putting pressure on poor Ukraine today for no reason? No, they have been given the go-ahead from overseas: We need to dump this Zelensky, we’re tired of him,” Lukashenko said. He noted that the US has an upcoming presidential election and suggested that no one will care about Zelensky at that point. At the same time, US President Joe Biden stressed on Friday that Washington will stick with Zelensky throughout the Russia-Ukraine conflict and announced that US-made Abrams tanks will start arriving in Ukraine next week. Meanwhile, Zelensky, who is on his second wartime visit to Washington, insisted that Kiev’s continued fight against Russia relied on sustained US military assistance and reportedly said that if it doesn’t get the aid, it “will lose the war.”

So far, the Biden administration has spent $115 billion on military and financial aid to Kiev, recently requesting an additional $24 billion to be approved by the end of the month. However, a growing number of lawmakers, predominantly from the Republican Party, have started to oppose the financing of the Zelensky government with US taxpayer money. Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri stressed on Wednesday that the US should stop endlessly pouring money into Ukraine, especially since Kiev has “nothing to show for it.” The Senator was apparently referring to Kiev’s much-touted summer counteroffensive, which has failed to yield any significant territorial gains. Hawley insisted that the US should not spend “a dime more on Ukraine” and instead conduct an audit of the billions that have already been paid. The senator also suggested that Germany and other European allies should “step up to the plate” to aid Kiev.

Read more …

Cornered by Marjorie Taylor Greene.

McCarthy Vows To Strip Ukraine Money From Pentagon Bill (Hill)

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Friday that he will strip funding for Ukraine out of a Pentagon spending bill after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) joined conservatives in blocking the legislation from advancing earlier this week. McCarthy said he would remove the $300 million for Ukraine currently in the Pentagon appropriations bill and hold a separate vote on the funding. “It would be out and voted on by itself,” McCarthy said when asked about the Ukraine aid in the Pentagon appropriations bill. The Speaker’s announcement comes one day after a band of five conservatives opposed a procedural vote for the Pentagon appropriations bill, sinking the effort and preventing the legislation from moving forward.

It was the second time this week that hard-liners blocked the funding bill from advancing. Votes on rules — which govern debate for legislation — are normally partisan and predictable matters, with the majority supporting voting “yes” and the minority party voting “no.” It is very rare for rules to fail on the floor. Greene, who has emerged as a close ally of McCarthy, was one of the Republicans who voted against the rule Thursday “because it funds the war in Ukraine.” It was a shift from her vote Tuesday, when the congresswoman supported the procedural vote to advance the Defense measure. The rule failed for a second time on the same day that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with lawmakers in the Capitol.

The Pentagon funding bill includes $300 million “to provide assistance, including training; equipment; lethal assistance; logistics support, supplies and services; salaries and stipends; sustainment; and intelligence support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and to other forces or groups recognized by and under the authority of the Government of Ukraine, including governmental entities within Ukraine, engaged in resisting Russian aggression against Ukraine, for replacement of any weapons or articles provided to the Government of Ukraine from the inventory of the United States.” Greene has come out against sending additional money to Ukraine. On Friday morning, she went live on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and said she would support the measure if the Ukraine aid is taken out.

Read more …

Lindsey Graham returns: “..pulling the plug on Ukraine while they’re winning on the battlefield and letting Putin get away with this is far worse than Afghanistan.”

White House Issues Ukraine Aid Warning (RT)

The White House has urged American lawmakers to approve President Joe Biden’s request for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine by the end of the month in order to ensure an uninterrupted flow of aid to the country. The US government has appropriated funds for the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told the media on Thursday. He said additional resources were now required from Congress by October 1 to avoid disruption to the supply of aid to Ukraine. Continued assistance to Kiev in its fight against Russia is facing a growing pushback from Republican lawmakers, particularly in the House of Representatives, where the party has a majority. Critics argue that Washington has more important priorities and should have stronger safeguards against the misappropriation of the aid it sends to Kiev.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky met members of Congress on Thursday to make his case in person. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said one phrase summed up the visiting leader’s message. “Mr. Zelensky said: ‘If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war,’” he remarked after hosting the Ukrainian president. White House officials held a classified briefing for lawmakers on Wednesday evening. Senator Josh Hawley indicated he had been cemented in the conviction that the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy was failing. “If there’s some path to victory in Ukraine, I didn’t hear it today. And I also heard that there’s going to be no end to the funding requests,”the Republican said. Senator Lindsey Graham, a fellow GOP member with an opposing view on the conflict, argued that “pulling the plug on Ukraine while they’re winning on the battlefield and letting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin get away with this is far worse than Afghanistan.”

He was referring to Biden’s 2021 decision to withdraw the US military from the Middle Eastern country, after two decades of costly counterinsurgency action and state-building experiments. Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat, promised an unorthodox concession to Republicans in the other chamber to secure money for Kiev. “If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” he pledged on social media on Wednesday. Fetterman famously has an aversion to formal dress. Last Sunday, Schumer ditched the Senate dress code for elected officials – but not staff members – much to the chagrin of US conservatives.

Read more …

If the government shuts down US citizens won’t get paid but Ukrainians will.

Pentagon Exempts Ukraine Operations From Potential Government Shutdown (Pol.)

The Pentagon will exempt its Ukraine operations from a potential shutdown if lawmakers can’t agree on a deal to fund the government by the end of the month, allowing key training and other activities in support of Kyiv’s forces to move ahead uninterrupted, according to a Defense Department spokesperson. Washington is more resigned to the looming government shutdown every day. As the Sept. 30 deadline approaches, congressional leaders showed little progress this week in moving a stopgap funding bill to avert that scenario. The House was in chaos on Thursday as a group of GOP hardliners tanked a vote that could have offered a path to fund the government.

But if lawmakers fail to reach an agreement and government appropriations lapse, DOD has decided to continue activities supporting Ukraine, DOD spokesperson Chris Sherwood told POLITICO Thursday — just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley and other senior leaders at the Pentagon. “Operation Atlantic Resolve is an excepted activity under a government lapse in appropriations,” Sherwood said, referring to the named operation for DOD’s activities in response to the Russian invasion. The move means that the U.S. military’s activities related to the war, such as training of Ukrainian soldiers on American tactics and equipment, as well as shipments of weapons to Kyiv, will continue despite any potential shutdown. As recently as Tuesday, Sherwood had said the shutdown could halt those activities, as POLITICO first reported.

It’s good news for Zelenskyy, as U.S. and European officials worry that international support for continuing to aid Ukraine could be waning. Zelenskyy also pleaded his case with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning before heading to the White House to meet with President Joe Biden. The Biden administration is also expected to announce a new package of military aid for Ukraine later on Thursday, including additional air defenses and artillery. During the White House meeting, Biden announced a new $325 million package of aid for Ukraine, including more air defenses, artillery and additional cluster munitions. He also said that the first of the U.S. Army’s M1 Abrams tanks pledged to Kyiv are expected to arrive on the battlefield next week.

Read more …

Mere days after the US said it wants to split Syria in two. That just got a lot harder.

China and Syria Forge ‘Strategic Partnership’ (RT)

Beijing and Damascus announced a new “strategic partnership” during Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ongoing visit to China. President Xi Jinping met him in the city of Hangzhou before this week’s launch of the Asian Games, a high-profile international sports event. Assad is visiting China for the first time since 2004, when he met then-President Hu Jintao. Xi announced the new agreement as he welcomed his guest in the capital of Zhejiang Province on Friday. The Chinese leader stated that the relationship between the two nations has “withstood the test of international changes” and pledged to maintain them in the face of international “instability and uncertainty.” The US and its allies have been seeking to oust Assad for over a decade, accusing him of various transgressions during an armed conflict in the country.

The bloodshed started in 2011 as mass protests surged against the Syrian government but were soon hijacked by international jihadist organizations. These elements sidelined other anti-government forces, which Western nations touted as “moderate rebels,” as the main threat to Damascus. Russian intervention in 2015 turned the tide and helped the Syrian Army oust Islamist militants from most of the country. Some portions, where Turkish and American troops or their local allies are present, remain outside Damascus’ control. The US has imposed crippling unilateral sanctions on Syria, which hamper its ability to reconstruct after this brutal conflict. Xi expressed support for Assad’s efforts to rebuild the nation, keep terrorists in check, and seek a political settlement for the Syrian people.

The Arab League readmitted Syria in May as Damascus seeks to normalize relations with its neighbors. Beijing had facilitated the restoration of diplomatic relations between regional rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia, in June. Both nations played significant roles in the Syrian crisis, the former supporting Assad’s government and the latter initially vying for his ouster. The Syrian president and First Lady Asma Assad arrived in Hangzhou on Thursday. On Saturday, the visiting dignitaries are set to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games alongside a dozen other foreign guests.

Read more …

Jim posted this piece without a title. Update: Jim sent me an email. Something about an iPad and a 3-day getaway. The article now has a title.

Boblitis (Jim Kunstler)

Did you catch Attorney General Merrick Garland’s performance Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee? The absurdity ran pretty rank in the chamber as the AG artfully evaded explaining how it is he doesn’t know a darn thing about the consequential cases in process at his DOJ — and if he did happen to know, he wouldn’t be able to say because… reasons. For instance, the strange inability of one US attorney David Weiss to generate charges after five whole years of investigation in the sundry matters involving the president’s son, Hunter Biden, until the statute of limitations on tax evasion dribbled away. And then, after concocting a booby trapped plea deal on a Mickey Mouse gun rap that blew up under a judge’s scrutiny, the selfsame Mr. Weiss is appointed Special Counsel (i.e. prosecutor) over those very cases. Say, whu…? Not to mention that it’s against the regulations to appoint anyone special counsel from within the DOJ.

Well, you see, Mr. Weiss is a splendid fellow, Mr. Garland explained. When asked if he could give a working definition of professional incompetence, the AG affected to be stumped. In the course of all this play-acting, Mr. Garland maybe perjured himself several times, and he seemed painfully aware of his own possible looming legal difficulties. One suspects through all this mummery and confabulation that Merrick Garland is not actually in charge of the US DOJ. Then who is? My guess would be the ultra low profile Deputy AG Lisa Monaco, a mitochondria of the DC blob, one of its energy cells. Ms. Monaco was up to her eyeballs in the Obama regime’s prep work for the Russia Collusion Hoax of 2016, and since her appointment as DAG in April, 2021, is a behind the scenes architect of the new American police state.

The Washington Post pretends that she doesn’t exist. One also wonders when a House committee will become interested in deposing her, especially on the subject of her involvement with J-6 prosecutions. So far, the blob has gotten away with its many depredations because the DC federal district court is one of its pseudopods, able to reach out, engulf, and dissolve anyone who poses a threat. But a turning point in America’s struggle against blobbery may have been crossed far away from there. Down in Texas, which is lately afflicted with blobitis, the state Attorney General Ken Paxton escaped an impeachment trap laid by Party of Chaos state legislators and blob allies revolving around Karl Rove and the next-gen Bush family, losing its legacy as owners of the Texas GOP.

Mr. Paxton must be royally pissed off by these shenanigans and maybe ready to rumble with blob agent Homeland Security Sec’y Alejandro Mayorkas and his putative boss, “Joe Biden.” As it happens, with Autumn here and temperatures along the border moderating, crossings of illegal aliens are at 10,000 a day. A few days after Mr. Paxton’s acquittal in the Texas Senate, Governor Greg Abbott officially declared “an invasion.” Under the US Constitution, federal failure to defend the border allows the states to repel the invaders with force. It also pretty explicitly spells out an impeachable offense against “Joe Biden” — failure to defend our country. The blob quivers and throbs.

Read more …

It was a major hit. CNN reports dozens of dead and wounded. Waiting for confirmation.

Expert: NATO Helped Ukraine Strike Black Sea Fleet HQ in Sevastopol (Sp.)

The headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol came under a Ukrainian missile strike on Friday, as per the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Ukrainian military attacked a historic building of the Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol this September 22, with one Russian military serviceman going missing, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense (Mod). The MoD specified that during the Kiev regime’s attack on Sevastopol, five enemy missiles had been shot down by Russia’s air defenses. “[The Ukrainians] mostly attack with Storm Shadows, they are British-made, it is quite likely that they are also French, they are basically identical and almost identical among the French SCALPs,” Vasily Dandykin, a captain 1st rank reserve and military expert, told Sputnik.

“The Americans have not yet delivered their ballistic missiles with a firing range of 300 kilometers. These missiles [Storm Shadow – Sputnik] are quite insidious, they hit the Chongarsky Bridge with them twice; they hit our plant in Sevastopol. Seven were shot down, three penetrated.” “All this is orchestrated with the help of curators and patrons [from the West]. Even though they criticize Ukrainians for such behavior and that it’s not what they are taught. They provide [Kiev] with intelligence data – US strategic surface drones are constantly hovering there – they provide data from strategic aviation, which is in the neutral waters of the Black Sea, they also provide, accordingly, space reconnaissance, especially from satellites that hang in low orbits.”

A missile warning sound was heard in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, in the morning of September 22. According to Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev, the fleet’s headquarters were subjected to a rocket strike by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Heavy smoke was seen emerging from the city center. “The enemy launched a missile attack on the fleet headquarters. A fragment fell near the Lunacharsky Theater… All operational services went to the incident scene. Information about the victims is being clarified. Please remain calm. And do not post photos and videos,” Razvozhaev said on Telegram. He warned of a possible new attack on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters. The news came after the Russian MoD earlier announced that the peninsular air defenses destroyed a Ukrainian guided missile and two aircraft-type drones off the west coast of Crimea.

[..] Dandykin noted that the Russian military is due to analyze where the strikes came from and take a closer look at the remaining Ukrainian military forces in Odessa. “They attack, as I understand it, mainly from the south of Ukraine, from Odessa,” the expert suggested. “We must take into account that this is probably the only thing they are now capable of in the situation when their counteroffensive failed. This means hitting our territories, shelling the Bryansk region, Belgorod, Kursk. This means to hit the Kherson region, the Zaporozhye region, including the nuclear power plant, and, accordingly, to attack long-suffering Donetsk and Gorlovka. Here they don’t spare shells, although they always complain that they don’t have enough. “[US President Joe] Biden also gave them cluster munitions. It’s pure slaughtering, as [Ukrainians] are shooting at civilians. We need to be even more vigilant and more effective,” Dandykin concluded.

Read more …

10,000 young men land on Lampedusa, and Borrell says: “If we want to survive from a labor point of view, we need migrants..”

Borrell Warns Migration Might ‘Dissolve’ EU (RT)

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned that immigration could become a “dissolving force” for the international bloc, arguing that some member states simply “don’t want to accept people from outside.” Speaking to the Guardian for an interview published on Friday, Borrell pointed to rising nationalist sentiment across Europe, noting that “we have not been able until now to agree on a common migration policy.” “Migration is a bigger divide for the European Union. And it could be a dissolving force for the European Union,” he said, adding “There are some members of the European Union that are Japanese-style – we don’t want to mix. We don’t want migrants. We don’t want to accept people from outside. We want our purity.”

However, Borrell argued that Europe’s current “low demographic growth” meant that some states required an influx of immigration, calling the situation a “paradox.” “If we want to survive from a labor point of view, we need migrants,” the official continued. Borrell’s comments come just days after German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared that his country could no longer take in migrants and refugees, telling an Italian newspaper that “Germany, like Italy, is at the limit of its capacity.” The president cited “strong immigration from the eastern borders, from Syria, Afghanistan,” as well as the arrival of “over a million refugees from Ukraine” in the last year, and called for a “permanent solidarity mechanism” to ensure a “fair distribution” of migrants in Europe

According to newspaper Die Welt, Rome is also re-evaluating its border policies amid a spike in migration, with officials reportedly notifying other EU members that Italy would be halting migrant transfers “for a limited period of time” last December. They said the move was linked to “suddenly arising” technical issues related to the country’s intake capacity, though the suspension has continued into 2023, the German outlet reported. While Borrell warned that dissent over immigration could eventually threaten the integrity of the EU, he suggested that, for now, the bloc would remain intact. Britain’s decision to leave the EU had served as a “vaccine” for other members, he argued, stating that “No one wants to follow the British leaving the European Union.”

Migration has remained a highly contentious issue within the bloc since 2015, when the EU was hit by an influx of refugees, as well as economic migrants, driven by poverty and wars in Africa and the Middle East. sSome countries, including Hungary and Poland, strongly opposed attempts by Brussels to force them to accept and settle migrants, which initially arrived in other member states. The Italian government, meanwhile, has closed its ports to ships transporting migrants from North Africa, insisting that other member states should share the burden of accepting them. The demand for tighter border controls was also one of the drivers behind the ‘Leave’ campaign during the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK.

Read more …

Censorship as a religion, high priests and all.

The Defunct Disinformation Governance Board Exposed (Turley)

We previously discussed the defunct Disinformation Governance Board and its controversial head Nina Jankowicz. After the outcry over the program, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas finally relented and disbanded the board while insisting that it was never about censoring opposing views. Jankowicz has sued over the portrayal of her views. Now, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) has exposed just how broad the scope of the censorship efforts were under the board in combatting “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM). This range of authority in what the agency called the “MDM space,” included targeting views on racial justice and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.

New documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests show that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) argued that the agency could regulate speech related to “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine” as well as “irregular immigration.” Those subjects stretch across much of the “space” used for political speech in the last few years. Notably, within DHS, Jen Easterly, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, extended her agency’s mandate over critical infrastructure to include “our cognitive infrastructure.” The resulting censorship efforts included combating “malinformation” – described as information “based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.” I testified earlier on this effort.

So DHS asserted the authority to target viewpoints on racial justice, Ukraine, and other political subjects, including views based on fact but viewed as misleading in context. What is also troubling is the continued effort to conceal these censorship activities. Homeland redacted much of this information on a now defunct board under FOIA Exemption 7(E), which protects “techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations.” That claim is itself chilling. After the demise of the board, National Public Radio ran an interview entitled “How DHS’s disinformation board fell victim to misinformation.”

As the title suggests, NPR just repeated the view of Jankowicz despite the objections of many of us in the free speech community. Jankowicz insisted “we weren’t going to be doing anything related to policing speech. It was an internal coordinating mechanism to make sure that we were doing that work efficiently.” Yet, what were the criminal investigations, prosecutions, and enforcement efforts now being claimed as connected to this work? Recently, a court found that the Biden Administration’s censorship efforts constituted “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” Those words by Chief U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty are part of a 155-page opinion granting a temporary injunction, requested by Louisiana and Missouri, to prevent White House officials from meeting with tech companies about social media censorship.

Yet, Democrats have gone all in on censorship, blacklisting, and even red-baiting efforts. The July 4 decision came six months after I testified before Congress that the Biden administration used social media companies for “censorship by surrogate.” Despite furious attacks by congressional Democrats in that and later hearings, a court found that the evidence overwhelmingly shows systematic violation of the First Amendment by the Biden administration. Now we have a glimpse into the chilling scope of the Homeland Security’s efforts to target opposing viewpoints. From racial justice to Covid to Ukraine, these subjects involve core political speech. Yet, the Biden Administration felt that it had the right to monitor and combat opposing views in these areas.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Octoberfest

 

 

Protect

 

 

Cassowary

 

 

Son of the earth

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 202023
 
 September 20, 2023  Posted by at 8:52 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  45 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Femme 1930

 

We Can No Longer Hide the Truth About the Russia-Ukraine War (Newsweek)
NYT Exposes Zelensky Lie About Donbass Missile Strike (RT)
NYT Spreading ‘Conspiracy Theories’ On Ukrainian Missile Strike – Podoliak (RT)
Zelensky’s US Visit a ‘Dog & Pony Show’ to Plug Cracks in Ukraine Support (Sp.)
EU Seeking Something Russian To Sanction – Bloomberg (RT)
Russia, North Korea Stage ‘Strategic Coup’ Against Western Hegemony (Pepe Escobar)
Biden Repeats ‘Unforgivable’ Remark About Putin (RT)
Putin Behind EU Migrant Crisis – Polish Diplomat (RT)
Kremlin Calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to Adhere to Trilateral Agreements (Sp.)
The West Destroyed Africa, Eurasia Will Revive It (Ehret)
California Lawmakers Push for Ruling on Booting Trump From State Primary Ballot (Sp.)
House Republicans Set Date for 1st Biden Impeachment Hearing (ET)
McCarthy Delays Vote on 30-Day Funding Resolution as Gov’t Shutdown Nears (Sp.)
COVID-19 Vaccines Revealed as ‘Neither Safe, Nor Effective’: Watchdog (ET)

 

 

 

 

RFK The Wages of War

 

 

ComicDaveSmith

 

 

 

 

Brand voting machines

Russell

 

 

 

 

Aaron Siri

 

 

 

 

In the same day, two US MSM publications, Newsweek and NYT, go against what has so far been the official view on Ukraine. As Zelensky is in Washington/NYC. That can’t be a coincidence.

First, a Newsweek piece authored by “Daniel L. Davis , Senior Fellow, Defense Priorities”. Apart from admitting that Ukraine is screwed, he has some numbers that made me think:

“Ukraine was reported to have lost 17,500 troops in the first year of the war..”

That appears to be a official US number. Col. Macgregor estimated some 20x more for the first year. Then came the “spring offensive”:

“.. it is presently assessed to have lost a breathtakingly high 50,000 additional deaths, for a total of 70,000 dead and 120,000 wounded..”

So in 3 months, they had 3 times more deaths than in the entire first year, which included the Bakhmut meat grinder. And you think: maybe he just doesn’t know, this “senior fellow”. But then he comes with:

“Rather than repeating over the next year and a half what has already not worked—potentially costing Ukraine yet additional hundreds of thousands of losses..”

And I thought: he does know. He goes from “breathtakingly high 50,000 additional deaths” to “additional hundreds of thousands of losses”. It’s in the way he phrases it.

We Can No Longer Hide the Truth About the Russia-Ukraine War (Newsweek)

As leading American politicians, generals, and pundits continue advocating for open-ended support to Kyiv in their war against Russia, a sober, accurate analysis of Ukraine’s nearly completed summer offensive reveals that the heroic sacrifice Ukraine continues to make is producing little to no meaningful progress toward the objective of evicting Russia from Ukraine’s territory. Washington should instead employ a necessary course correction and form a new policy, based on the harsh, ground-truth combat realities in Ukraine. Revising the objectives would give Washington and Kyiv a chance to preserve Ukrainian lives and American interests. Washington’s current policies do neither. Despite great hopes for a rapid success, Ukraine’s months-in-the-making offensive has sputtered from the outset.

That shouldn’t have surprised anyone in the White House. On April 5, two months before the start of the offensive, I wrote that “Zelensky’s troops—with little to no air power and a dearth in artillery ammunition—could suffer egregious casualties while gaining little.” Five days later, The Washington Post revealed the contents of a leaked Top Secret U.S. intelligence assessment which likewise predicted the Ukrainian offensive would probably fall “well short” of expectations, and that “enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive.” Total Ukrainian deaths in the war at that point were estimated to be as low as 17,500. About a month before the start of the offensive, I again warned that the odds were stacked heavily against Kyiv.

To succeed, I explained, Ukraine would “have to conduct the most difficult task in modern land warfare: a combined arms operation into the teeth of a dug-in enemy force that is prepared for an attack,” complicated by the shortage of artillery ammunition along with “limited airpower and minimal air defense.” Nevertheless, on the eve of battle, some Western analysts remained optimistic. Once the offensive began on June 5, however, that optimism quickly evaporated. In the first two weeks of the fighting, Ukraine’s spearhead brigades suffered massive losses in armor and personnel while capturing virtually no territory. By the end of the third week, they had lost an estimated fifth of their strike force, requiring Ukraine to dramatically change tactics. Instead of leading with tanks and other armored vehicles (which were predictably getting chewed up in minefields and by Russian anti-tank missiles and artillery shells), Ukraine moved to an infantry-centric attack system.

While this change did result in producing incremental gains, the cost was exorbitant. On Aug. 29, the BBC reported that new leaked reports suggested Ukrainian battle deaths exploded since the offensive started. Whereas Ukraine was reported to have lost 17,500 troops in the first year of the war, it is presently assessed to have lost a breathtakingly high 50,000 additional deaths, for a total of 70,000 dead and 120,000 wounded. If it wasn’t clear to Washington before the offensive started that the fundamentals of combat operations and principles of war indicated Ukraine would likely fail, it should now be crystal clear. Although Ukraine appears to have finally penetrated the first line of Russia’s main defense, the most difficult part of Russia’s defensive system has yet to be overcome: the hundreds of kilometers of dragon’s teeth, tank ditches, and yet more vast minefields.

It is unclear at this point whether Ukraine has enough striking power remaining in its offensive forces to reach, much less penetrate, Russia’s second main line—beyond which is a third main line followed by a fortress-defense at Tokmak, which is still 75 road kilometers from the Azov coast. Given these realities, the best Ukraine can likely do for the rest of the year is to hold what they have and prevent the possibility of losing more territory to a potential Russian counteroffensive this fall. [..] Rather than repeating over the next year and a half what has already not worked—potentially costing Ukraine yet additional hundreds of thousands of losses—it’s time to try something that has a chance to succeed. In other words, it’s time to acknowledge objective reality and employ policies that can work.

Read more …

Here’s the New York Times welcoming gift to Zelensky. While he’s at the United Nations, the paper calls him a liar, to his face.

I’ve seen quite a few comments on this, and not one ponders that perhaps this was a deliberate Ukraine attack. Would that be so far-fetched?

NYT Exposes Zelensky Lie About Donbass Missile Strike (RT)

A New York Times investigation revealed on Monday that Ukrainian forces were mostly likely responsible for a deadly missile strike at a market, which happened the same day US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the country. The incident on September 6 in the Kiev-controlled Donbass city of Konstantinovka killed at least 15 civilians and injured scores of others. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky immediately accused Russia of launching the strike and claimed that any “attempts to deal with anything Russian” meant turning a blind eye to “the audacity of evil.” Many Western media outlets and some governments endorsed his statement.

The NYT said evidence pointed to a “tragic mishap” involving a Ukrainian anti-air Buk missile that apparently veered off course. The newspaper analyzed missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts, and social media posts to come to the conclusion. It noted that Ukrainian authorities tried to prevent journalists from accessing the impact site. Some people unsympathetic to the Russian cause, including Bild journalist Julian Ropcke and the open-source intelligence analysis group CIT suggested Kiev’s responsibility shortly after the incident. The Ukrainian government indicated that it considered Russian guilt to be beyond any doubt.

“What would an investigation be needed for, if all is obvious for us?” Zelensky’s senior aide Mikhail Podoliak told the media at the time. He called any other scenario, including a Ukrainian error, “ridiculous.” The missile was apparently one of the two fired by Ukrainian forces from the outskirts of the town of Druzhkovka some 15 km to the northwest of Konstantinovka, NYT reported. The projectile was likely a 9M38 model used by the Buk system, the newspaper concluded based on forensic evidence. Considering the short distance from the presumed launch point, it probably crashed with much of its fuel unspent, and the subsequent explosion left scorch marks at the scene.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia mentioned the incident in a speech last week, suggesting that Kiev may have orchestrated it deliberately to coincide with Blinken’s visit. He added that as the evidence clearly contradicts Zelensky’s accusation, “the Kiev regime and its sponsors are trying to hush up this story and keep it off radar.” At least one Kiev official has been forced to resign after attributing a strike to Ukrainian forces that his government had pinned on Russia. Aleksey Arestovich quit his post as an advisor to the president in January, amid pressure over an interview in which he suggested that an apartment block in the city of Dnepr was hit by a Ukrainian interceptor rather than a Russian cruise missile. The Russian military has maintained since the start of the conflict that it only targets military objectives in its operations.

Read more …

“What would an investigation be needed for, if all is obvious for us?”

NYT Spreading ‘Conspiracy Theories’ On Ukrainian Missile Strike – Podoliak (RT)

Claims that Ukraine was responsible for killing at least 15 civilians in a missile strike on a Donbass market are “conspiracy theories,” Mikhail Podoliak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, has declared. The New York Times has suggested that the missile involved was Ukrainian, not Russian. “No doubt, the appearance of articles in foreign media with doubts about Russia’s involvement in the attack on Konstantinovka entail the growth of conspiracy theories,” Podoliak wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday. Promising that the incident would be investigated by Ukrainian authorities, Podoliak added that “society will surely receive an answer to the question of what exactly happened in Kostiantynivka, as in the thousands of other instances of Russian strikes on our country as part of an unprovoked war.”

The strike took place on September 6, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting Kiev. A missile struck a market in the Kiev-controlled Donbass city of Konstantinovka, killing 15 civilians and injuring scores of others. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky immediately accused Russia of launching the strike and claimed that any “attempts to deal with anything Russian” meant turning a blind eye to “the audacity of evil.” Although many Western media outlets and some governments endorsed his statement, doubt soon crept in. The New York Times reported on Monday that evidence from the scene pointed to a “tragic mishap”involving a Ukrainian anti-air Buk missile.

The newspaper analyzed missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts, and social media posts to come to the conclusion, and noted that Ukrainian authorities tried to prevent journalists from accessing the impact site. At the time, Podoliak ridiculed the notion of investigating the strike.“What would an investigation be needed for, if all is obvious for us?” he said. In his post on Monday, the official insisted that Ukraine “exclusively conducts defensive actions, defending itself and its territories.”

However, Ukrainian forces have fired missiles at civilian targets before. In addition to its regular shelling of the Donetsk People’s Republic since 2014, Ukrainian forces have used Western-provided missiles to strike the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, and repeatedly struck Donetsk with cluster munitions and aerially-dispersed landmines. Last March, a Ukrainian Tochka-Umissile was allegedly fired at a residential area of Donetsk, killing at least 20 people after it was downed by Russian air defense systems. Despite evidence from the ground showing the missile was Ukrainian in origin, Zelensky nevertheless blamed Russia for attacking its own people, insisting it was “unmistakably a Russian rocket” and that “there’s no point talking about it.”

Read more …

“..you have this guy Zelensky, who’s billed as Mother Theresa… or reincarnation of Winston Churchill…And we’re learning more and more that this guy is a corrupt autocrat… He basically brought his own country to ruin, and he’s continuously begging for more and more weapons..”

Zelensky’s US Visit a ‘Dog & Pony Show’ to Plug Cracks in Ukraine Support (Sp.)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is foraying to the United States for the second time since Russia’s special operation began, having last been there in December 2022. Zelensky was offered a hero’s welcome at the time, as he addressed Congress touting Kiev’s battlefield “successes” while angling for continued Western aid. But roll the clock forward, and “take two” of the Zelensky “show” now comes against a much-changed backdrop: the overly heralded Ukraine counteroffensive “debacle,” huge losses in manpower and destroyed NATO-gifted weaponry, and an ever-stronger chorus of voices among Republican lawmakers against sending more money down the Ukraine sinkhole. What kind of change in tone and rhetoric can we expect from the leader of the Kiev regime as he attends the UN General Assembly in New York, and meets with congressional leaders and President Joe Biden in Washington?

“It’s going to be an extremely difficult visit for Zelensky,” Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, told Sputnik. “He [Zelensky] was hailed as the conquering hero… He was lionized in Congress… He gave a speech… He handed a flag to the vice president and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” recalled Daniel McAdams, adding that the Ukrainian president had vowed “Bakhmut [Artemovsk] would be a turning point in the war.” “He was right about that, but not in the way he expected. No, it’s a very, very different world now,” said the pundit. “Antony Blinken was just out there [and] he gave him a heads up as to what to expect. And I think you can tell by his [Ukrainian president’s] subsequent interview in The Economist, where Zelensky was very glum and very dark, and he said something like, ‘Well, all of these leaders say that they support us, but when I look in their eyes, I can tell they’re not telling the truth…’ So it’s going to be an extremely difficult visit from Zelensky to New York in Washington,” Daniel McAdams said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a two-day surprise visit to Ukraine in early September, to announce more than $1 billion in aid for Kiev. However, the visit came as the third month of Ukraine’s botched counteroffensive ended with the Kiev regime unable to boast of any military gains. “Well, I think this dog and pony show is going to air. So, you know, you have this guy Zelensky, who’s billed as Mother Theresa… or reincarnation of Winston Churchill…And we’re learning more and more that this guy is a corrupt autocrat… He basically brought his own country to ruin, and he’s continuously begging for more and more weapons. You know, our societies are fraying, state legislatures are constantly saying they have no money for social programs, and yet they pull billions of dollars out of the hat for Ukraine,” Jeremy Kuzmarov, managing editor of the Covert Action magazine and the author of several books on US foreign policy, told Sputnik.

Read more …

“..the EU has implemented 11 sets of sanctions against Russia..” And not learned a single thing.

EU Seeking Something Russian To Sanction – Bloomberg (RT)

The European Union is in the final stages of crafting its 12th set of Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia, as reported by Bloomberg on Monday, citing sources familiar with the ongoing discussions. According to the news outlet, this forthcoming package of sanctions is expected to concentrate on further measures to hinder Russia’s capacity to circumvent previously imposed restrictions, particularly its efforts to import sanctioned goods through intermediary countries, such as Türkiye and the UAE. Sources claim that the EU’s sanctions list may be expanded to align with the upcoming G7 ban on purchasing Russian diamonds, anticipated to be announced in the coming weeks. It envisions direct and indirect prohibitions on acquiring Russian diamonds starting from January 1.

Additionally, the new EU package is said to include a proposal regarding the potential utilization of profits generated by frozen assets belonging to the Central Bank of Russia. Discussions concerning the legality of seizing these assets to support Ukraine have been ongoing for months, with sources indicating that they may be nearing a resolution. Furthermore, the European Commission is expected to propose implementing a windfall tax on the earnings generated by Russian central bank assets within EU clearing houses. Certain member states, including Poland and the Baltic nations, have reportedly proposed additional restrictions on Russia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and IT services. Specific details regarding these proposals remain undisclosed.

This group of states has also advocated for sanctions targeting Russia’s nuclear industry. However, past efforts to sanction this sector have been waived, primarily because many countries, including many within the EU, depend on Russian atomic fuels. The announcement of this new sanctions package is anticipated in either the first half of October or during an EU-US summit slated for the next month. Since the commencement of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine in February of the previous year, the EU has implemented 11 sets of sanctions against Russia, targeting various sectors of the Russian economy and its financial institutions. Some member states have reportedly expressed concerns that there is not much left to sanction while urging Brussels to enforce existing restrictions effectively.

Read more …

“..The categorical imperative was simple: as long as Pyongyang did not start any trouble, Moscow and Beijing would be by its side..”

Russia, North Korea Stage ‘Strategic Coup’ Against Western Hegemony (Pepe Escobar)

The genesis of Kim Jong Un’s train journey to the Russian Far East – coinciding with the Forum, no less – is a masterful strategic coup that was in the works since 2014, at the time of the Maidan. Xi Jinping was still in the beginning of his first mandate; he had announced the New Silk Road exactly ten years ago, first in Astana and then in Jakarta. The DPRK was not supposed to be integrated into this vast pan-Eurasian project that would soon become China’s overarching foreign policy concept. The DPRK then was on a roll against the Hegemon, under Obama, and Beijing was no more than a worried spectator. Moscow, of course, was always focused on peace in the Korean Peninsula, especially because its geopolitical priorities in 2014 were Donbass and Syria/Iran. The last thing Moscow could afford was a war in Asia-Pacific.

Putin’s strategy was to send Defense Minister Shoigu to Beijing and Islamabad to calm it all down. Pakistan at the time was helping Pyongyang to weaponize their nuclear arsenal. Simultaneously, Putin himself approached Kim, offering serious guarantees: we’ve got your back if ever there is an attack by the Hegemon supported by Seoul. Even better: Putin got Xi himself to double down on the guarantees. The categorical imperative was simple: as long as Pyongyang did not start any trouble, Moscow and Beijing would be by its side. A sort of calm before any possible storm then set in – even if Pyongyang continued to test their missiles. So over the years, Kim’s mindset changed; he became convinced that Russia and China were his allies. The DPRK’s geoeconomic integration into Eurasia was seriously discussed in previous, pre-Covid editions of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

That included the tantalizing possibility of a Trans-Korean Railway linking both North and South to the Far East, Siberia and the wider Eurasia. So Kim started to see the Big Eurasia Picture, and how Pyongyang could finally start to benefit geoeconomically from a closer association with the EAEU, SCO and BRI. This is how strategic diplomacy works: you invest during a decade, and then all the pieces fall into place when an armored train keeps-a-rollin’ across Primorsky Krai. From the perspective of a Russia-China-DPRK triangle, it’s no wonder the collective West has been reduced to the status of crying toddlers in a sandbox. The Hegemon’s puny US-Japan-South Korea axis to counter, simultaneously, China and the DPRK, is a joke compared to the DPRK’s brand-new role as a sort of Asia-Pacific Military District, adjacent to their immediate neighbor, the Russian Far East.

There will be military integration, of course, in missile defense, radars, ports, airfields. But the key vector, along the way, will be geoeconomic integration. Sanctions from now on are meaningless. No one in 2014 was seeing this all play out, except for a very sharp analyst who coined the precious Double Helix concept to define the still evolving, at the time, Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership. The Double Helix perfectly explains the full-spectrum geostrategic symbiosis between two civilization-states which happen to be former empires but since the middle of the previous decade willfully decided to accelerate their mutual drive to lead the Global Majority in the path towards multipolarity.

Read more …

Criminal, dictator,…

Biden Repeats ‘Unforgivable’ Remark About Putin (RT)

US President Joe Biden has described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “dictator,” claiming that his main political opponent, former President Donald Trump, would “bow down to” him if elected in 2024. The Democrat also touted himself as a defender of US democracy. Speaking to supporters during a fundraiser at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York City on Monday, Biden said, “I will not side with dictators like Putin. Maybe Trump and his MAGA friends can bow down, but I won’t.” The incumbent president claimed that “Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy,” whereas he would always “protect and fight” for it. This recent comment made by the US head of state about President Putin is not the first instance of him referring to another foreign leader as a dictator.

Last March, Biden told attendees of the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon that the US and its allies were standing together against a “murderous dictator, a pure thug who is waging an immoral war against the people of Ukraine.” A day prior, the US president said he considered Putin a “war criminal.” Commenting on Biden’s remarks at the time, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told TASS news agency that Moscow deemed “unacceptable and unforgivable such rhetoric from a head of state whose bombs have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world.” He noted that the US leader had resorted to “personal insults,” a level that President Putin, a “thoughtful and wise leader,” would never stoop to. sLast month, several US media outlets also quoted President Biden as alleging that China is run by “bad folks.” In June, he described Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator,” which Beijing characterized as a “political provocation.”

Read more …

The EU needs no help creating crises.

Putin Behind EU Migrant Crisis – Polish Diplomat (RT)

A senior Polish diplomat has suggested that the recent surge in illegal immigrants arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa might be a component of a Russian hybrid operation designed to erode the European Union’s support for Ukraine. This concern comes in light of a recent report from the Italian Interior Ministry, which indicates that over 89,000 people have entered Italy illegally this year. Lampedusa, an overcrowded Mediterranean island, remains a prominent destination for these arrivals. “Someone is helping these people walk hundreds if not thousands of kilometers from Nigeria and Central African countries to the Mediterranean Sea,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk speculated in an interview with Polish Radio on Tuesday. “Someone who has an interest in it. And Russia undoubtedly has an interest in it,” he added.

He asserted that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objective is to “destabilize the situation in Western Europe.” Mularczyk suggested that the current state of confusion and unrest brought on by illegal immigration serves as a means to divert attention away from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. According to him, Putin is believed to be exerting influence “behind the scenes” in smuggling individuals into the EU, often facilitated by criminal groups. “And it was successful because today, the war in Ukraine is fading into the background, and the entire EU is talking about what is happening in Lampedusa,” the diplomat stated. Claims of Russia’s alleged involvement in facilitating illegal immigration into Europe have circulated for years. In November 2021, this issue gained prominence when certain EU member states, including Poland, accused Russia’s ally, Belarus – and, by extension, Russia – of exploiting migrants seeking asylum in the EU for political purposes.

At that time, President Putin addressed this ongoing challenge, stating that the “key link” of migrant smuggling networks was located within the EU. He argued that European officials were attempting to blame Russia for their own policy shortcomings. According to him, the root causes of the influx of migrants are Western military interventions abroad and the attractive welfare benefits EU nations offer asylum seekers. “Deal with your internal problems and don’t lay on other people [your domestic] issues,” the Russian leader suggested. The ruling conservative Polish government has been openly criticizing Brussels and Western European countries, particularly Germany, for their perceived inadequacies in addressing illegal migration issues and for imposing the burden of hosting migrants on other EU member states.

Read more …

US/NATO poking the bear some more.

Zakharova: Russia hopes Armenia will realize full danger of adventure started by Westerners.

Erdogan, in his address at the UN General Assembly: “Karabakh is Azerbaijan”.

Kremlin Calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to Adhere to Trilateral Agreements (Sp.)

Russia calls on Armenia and Azerbaijan to adhere to trilateral agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday after Baku launched a military operation in the breakaway region. “The only substantive basis is the trilateral documents of two and three years ago, which were signed between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, so we urge everyone to follow the provisions of these documents and, naturally, taking into account those new realities, this means the fact of recognition by the Armenian side of the territory of Azerbaijan as of 1991,” Peskov told reporters. The spokesman added that the opportunity to reach a political and diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict still “exists.” “The main thing is to convince both Yerevan and Baku to abandon use of force and sit down at the negotiating table,” Peskov said.

Earlier in September, Putin said that he received a letter from Pashinyan, and that Russia has no problems with Armenia.Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan did not have any contacts after Pashinyan’s letter, Peskov stated.”Indeed, there was a detailed letter stating the point of view of the Armenian side to what is happening. At that time, there was actually… work on resuming the delivery of humanitarian aid to Karabakh. And to our satisfaction, as of yesterday, this work was successful. The first batch went in two directions through the Aghdam and Lachin roads, but unfortunately this did not prevent the resumption of hostilities. There have been no other contacts since then,” the spokesman said in response to a question about whether there were any other contacts between Putin and Pashinyan besides the letter sent earlier by the Armenian politician.

The Russian military is in contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, and contacts at the highest level are also possible, Peskov stressed. “First of all, contacts are now being carried out through our military, through other departments. Communication at a higher level is also consistent. As soon as final agreements are reached, we will inform you immediately, including about possible contacts at the highest level,” the spokesman told reporters, commenting on whether contacts with Baku and Yerevan are planned in the coming hours. The Russian military is trying to return the process in Nagorno-Karabakh to a political and diplomatic track, Peskov emphasized.

Read more …

“..a much healthier security paradigm has emerged in recent years from Eurasia..”

The West Destroyed Africa, Eurasia Will Revive It (Ehret)

In Africa, injustice looms large, marked by poverty, warfare, and famine. Despite post-WWII political gains, economic independence, a vital component of true freedom as envisioned by Pan African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, and Haile Selassie, remains elusive. After decades of restrictive IMF and World Bank loans, poverty, hunger, and conflict persist throughout the continent. While many attribute this to Africa’s governance challenges, in reality, a deliberate imperial agenda has hindered the continent’s development in all political, economic, and security sectors. But much has changed in the past few years. The growing clout of Eurasian institutions that fully embrace Global South countries as valuable, integral, and equal members – the BRICS+ and Greater Eurasian Partnership are examples – offer hope that old neo-colonial shackles will be broken and that Africa can enjoy an unfettered renaissance.

The rise of a new global pole to challenge the old unipolar order has had a notable impact across sub-Saharan West Africa which, in recent years, has seen a surge in military coups shifting power away from regimes that had long prioritized the interests of western corporations. These coups occurred in Chad (April 2021), Mali (May 2021), Guinea (September 2021), Sudan (October 2021), Burkina Faso (January 2022), Niger (July 2023), and Gabon (August 2023) – all resource-rich countries with abnormally poor living conditions. In Gabon, over 30 percent of its people live on less than $1 per day, while 60 percent of its regions have no healthcare or clean drinking water despite the abundance of gold, diamonds, manganese, uranium, iron ore, natural gas, and oil – mostly monopolized by French corporations like Eramat, Total and Ariva.

Despite its abundance of rare earths, copper, uranium, and Gold, 70 percent of Malians still live in abject poverty. SImilarly, Sudan, with its riches in oil, fertile soil, and water, has 77 percent of the population living below the poverty line. In uranium-rich Niger, which provides over 35 percent of the fuel for France’s nuclear industry (accounting for 70 percent of France’s energy basket), mainly under the control of France’s Orano, only 3 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity. In the “former” French colony of Chad, that number is only a little higher at 9 percent, and a still-unacceptable 20 percent in Burkina Faso. While Altanticists desperately seek ways to keep their talons embedded into the African continent and its abundant riches, a much healthier security paradigm has emerged in recent years from Eurasia.

Read more …

“..to again steal an Election that their candidate, the WORST, MOST INCOMPETENT, & MOST CORRUPT President in U.S. history, is incapable of winning in a Free and Fair Election.”

California Lawmakers Push for Ruling on Booting Trump From State Primary Ballot (Sp.)

The movement to block former President Donald Trump’s 2024 election bid gained steam on Monday as California Democrats urged his removal from the state’s primary ballot. Nine lawmakers penned a letter to the state’s Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta advocating for Trump’s disqualification from the March 5 primary, arguing his ineligibility on grounds of inciting an uprising during the riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The effort is one of several state-level initiatives arguing against Trump’s candidacy on constitutional grounds, citing the Fourteenth Amendment’s barring of candidates “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the United States from holding office. The California effort is notable in its attempt to resolve the question via the state’s attorney general, an approach which may lead to a faster resolution of the question.

“We all watched in horror Mr. Trump’s insurrection against the United States when he ordered a mob of his supporters to the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 to intimidate [then] Vice President [Mike] Pence and the United States Congress,” reads the letter, spearheaded by Silicon Valley assemblymember Evan Low. “There is no denying that Donald Trump has engaged in behavior that is unacceptable and unbecoming of any leader,” stated a spokesperson for Bonta, appearing to sympathize with some of the lawmakers’ claims. sHowever, whether Bonta intends to fully weigh in on the matter in his position as the state’s attorney general remains an open question. Various other state-level officials throughout the country have determined the matter would clearly violate precedent, if not their own jurisdiction. Others claim the issue would ultimately need to be resolved by the Supreme Court regardless.

“We have a constitutional republic of laws,” argued Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling after a similar petition was lodged in Minnesota. “Anybody using an electoral scheme or a constitutional interpretation to remove anybody from the ballot is going to be a dangerous precedent.” Trump weighed in on the issue in a post on Truth Social, writing, “Almost all legal scholars have voiced opinions that the 14th Amendment has no legal basis or standing relative to the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election.” “Like Election Interference, it is just another ‘trick’ being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, to again steal an Election that their candidate, the WORST, MOST INCOMPETENT, & MOST CORRUPT President in U.S. history, is incapable of winning in a Free and Fair Election.”

Read more …

Mr. Biden here is Hunter.

House Republicans Set Date for 1st Biden Impeachment Hearing (ET)

The U.S. House of Representatives will hold its first impeachment inquiry hearing this month, the House Oversight Committee confirmed on Sept. 19. The first hearing will take place on Sept. 28, a spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee told The Epoch Times. “The hearing will focus on constitutional and legal questions surrounding the president’s involvement in corruption and abuse of public office,” the spokesperson said. “The Committee also intends to subpoena Hunter and James Biden’s personal and business bank records as early as this week. The Oversight Committee will continue to follow the evidence and money trail to provide the transparency and accountability that Americans demand from their government.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently announced that the lower chamber would be investigating President Joe Biden, with a focus on his involvement in the business dealings of his son Hunter Biden and brother James Biden. “House Republicans have uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct. Taken together, these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption,” Mr. McCarthy said. He said that the inquiry would help lawmakers obtain more evidence, including bank records. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is helping lead the probe. Ian Sams, a White House spokesman, said that Republicans have already been investigating the president and have “turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.”

President Biden recently told reporters, “The best I can tell, they want to impeach me because they want to shut down the government.” Mr. Comer and other Republicans have found that the president spoke repeatedly to business partners of Mr. Biden, including at dinners at Washington’s Cafe Milano. They also confirmed that President Biden sent emails under pseudonyms while vice president, including accounts that corresponded with Mr. Biden. Mr. Biden, other Biden family members, and associates received more than $21 million, primarily from foreigners, while President Biden was vice president. Mr. Biden was charged with tax violations, but those charges were withdrawn after a plea deal fell apart. He was also charged with several felony gun crimes this month. Mr. Biden sued the IRS on Sept. 18 for allegedly breaching his right to privacy by speaking publicly about the agency’s probe into him.

Read more …

“Speaker McCarthy needs to find a way to do his job, which is to pass a continuing resolution,” Yellen added.”

McCarthy Delays Vote on 30-Day Funding Resolution as Gov’t Shutdown Nears (Sp.)

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has postponed a vote on a stopgap spending bill amid his attempts to appease a small but powerful right-wing faction of the Republican Party as a government shutdown looms. The procedural vote originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon would have approved a 30-day government funding bill, moving it to the Senate and opening the door for wider talks. Some sort of funding bill must be passed by September 26 to avert a shutdown on September 30, but in lieu of agreement on larger appropriations bills, lawmakers have focused on passing a short-term funding bill to give them more time to negotiate. Reports in US media did not indicate when the vote would be held.

But even that has so far evaded federal lawmakers as a small faction of one dozen Republican Representatives aligned with former US President Donald Trump have used the GOP’s extremely narrow majority to position themselves as legislative kingmakers in the lower chamber since the new Congress was sworn in in January. Without their approval, McCarthy’s leadership over Republicans and the House of Representatives as a whole is effectively impossible. The most recent legislation, proposed by Republicans over the weekend, would fund the government until October 31 and includes a 1% cut in current spending levels across the entire federal government for that time, with some departments suffering worse than others. However, the dissident Republicans want to press for even deeper cuts, and are demanding more precise numbers on top-line budget items.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen took aim at McCarthy on Monday, telling US media the speaker “needs to find a way to do his job.” “There’s absolutely no reason why we should have a government shutdown,” she said. “Democrats in both the House and the Senate and Republicans in the Senate are ready to pass appropriations bills or a continuing resolution to keep the government open and operating for the American people.” “Speaker McCarthy needs to find a way to do his job, which is to pass a continuing resolution,” Yellen added.

Read more …

From Canada, land of vaccines. The mandates will just continue everywhere.

COVID-19 Vaccines Revealed as ‘Neither Safe, Nor Effective’: Watchdog (ET)

COVID-19 vaccines were authorized in Canada during 2020 and 2021 without being subjected to the country’s safety tests as required under established drug regulations, an accountability watchdog revealed. An investigation into COVID-19 vaccines found that they were “neither safe nor effective,” according to the nonprofit organization National Citizens Inquiry (NCI). The organization published a report on Sept. 14 detailing the flawed mechanism through which the vaccines were granted “approval” in Canada. “It is important to understand that the COVID-19 vaccines were never approved under the traditional approval process for drugs in Canada,” the report states. Instead, Health Canada, the federal agency responsible for national health policy, approved the vaccines through an alternative authorization process—an interim order.

“Under the alternative authorization process, the necessity to establish the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines through an objective manner appears to have been set aside,” the report states. Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations require that a drug can only be approved in the country after its safety and effectiveness are demonstrated to the minister of health. Then, the minister considers whether the benefits outweigh the risks, following which, approval is granted. Instead of following regulations, the minister of health sanctioned an interim order on Sept. 16, 2021, which exempted all COVID-19 vaccines from normal review and approval. This provision usually allows the minister to override normal regulations in situations of “significant risk” to health, safety, or the environment.

Desmet

In Canada, four COVID-19 vaccines were authorized by the health agency under an interim order—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen, and AstraZeneca. The report notes that under the order, vaccines were authorized under a “subjective test.” In this situation, authorization is granted by simply proving that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. “This cannot be an appropriate standard for approving a drug that the Government intends to administer to the entire population. It is difficult to conceive of a less-scientific test for drug authorization than that found in the Interim Order,” the report states. Moreover, the order made sure that the vaccine authorizations couldn’t be revoked even under evidence that they were unsafe and ineffective.

Once an interim order is issued, the typical Food and Drug Regulations don’t apply. The order thus exempted manufacturers from having to effectively demonstrate “objective evidence of safety and effectiveness” of their COVID-19 vaccines. “The result was that while chief medical officers across the country repeatedly assured Canadians that the COVID-19 vaccines were ‘safe and effective’—the general Canadian population had no understanding that their authorization process had not required objective proof of safety nor efficacy,” the report states. The NCI report was supported by cardiologist Dr. Peter A. McCullough. “Excellent work @Inquiry_Canada with exhaustive testimony and evidence review.

Conclusion: all COVID-19 vaccines unsafe for human use and must be removed from the Canadian market immediately to protect the public,” he wrote in a Sept. 16 post on X. Dr. McCullough recently asked European lawmakers to take COVID-19 vaccines off the market due to concerns about illnesses such as heart inflammation, blood clots, and neurological diseases. s“COVID-19 vaccines and all of their progeny and future boosters are not safe for human use. I implore you, as a governing body, European Medicines Agency, to apply all pressure and due urgency to remove the COVID-19 vaccines from market,” Dr. McCullough said in Sept. 13 testimony to the European Parliament.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Peppers

 

 

 

 

Zeihan

 

 

Monastery

 

 


Guttation is the exudation of drops of xylem sap on the tips or edges of leaves of some vascular plants, such as grasses. It’s not dew ..

 

 

Baby bara
https://twitter.com/i/status/1704255369302716642

 

 

Fun with dogs
https://twitter.com/i/status/1704369705232842913

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 052023
 
 September 5, 2023  Posted by at 8:57 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  28 Responses »


Claude Monet Japanese Footbridge 2 1899(?)

 

Party! Party! (Jim Kunstler)
‘Biden Has Work to Do’: US Outlets ‘Shocked’ as Trump Poll Numbers Soar (Sp.)
Rep. Adam Schiff Supports 14th Amendment Argument Over Trump’s Eligibility (Sp.)
Elon Musk Threatens To Sue Anti-Defamation League (RT)
Looming Government Shutdown Worries Among US Business Leaders (Sp.)
How Putin Rules Russia (John Helmer)
Putin: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive is Failure, Not Stalemate (Sp.)
UK Firm Offers New Theory On Kiev’s Battlefield Failures (RT)
End Of The War, End Of US Exceptionalism (Helmer)
Millions of Ukrainians Dodging Draft to ‘Avoid Certain Death’ (Sp.)
West ‘Deceived’ Russia On Grain Deal – Putin (RT)
What’s Behind Talk of a Possible Plea Deal for Assange? (Lauria)

 

 

 

 

Newt

 

 

 

 

Trump debunk

 

 

Niger exports of Uranium for 220 Millions dollars per year to France.
If it was at market price of 200 Euro per kilo instead of 0.8 Euro paid price of it would be valued at 55 Billion dollars.

 

 

 

 

Macgregor

 

 

Cause of death

 

 

 

 

Weak men

 

 

 

 

“..This fall season will be a dreadful time of testing whether the country can endure any more of this..”

Party! Party! (Jim Kunstler)

In the natural order of the American system, a Republican Party would have stepped up to check the wretched excesses of a Democratic Party bent on breaking everything that has allowed people to thrive in this land: property law, economic liberty, free speech, now even your physical health. This Labor Day Monday is the last moment in this epic political psychodrama that the Republican Party has an excuse to kick back and do nothing about the parade of insults flung in the nation’s face by persons who believe in nothing, and who will stop at nothing. These insults lately include especially the perversion of law to harass and hinder political opponents, the prosecution of a foreign war by proxy in a corner of the world where America has no explicable national interest, the deliberate failure to defend the country’s borders against hordes of invaders, the rigging of elections with ballot fraud and hackable machines, the censorship of information of all kinds, and the weaponization of public health authority against the people. These are all campaigns carried out by the Democratic Party.

This fall season will be a dreadful time of testing whether the country can endure any more of this. Congress is back in session this week. Congress is the only place in the federal government where an opposition party has the authority to direct events. Mr. Comer who chairs the House Oversight Committee has assembled enough evidence of bribery and treason for Speaker Kevin McCarthy to commence an impeachment inquiry right away into the conduct of President “Joe Biden.” I’ve used quotation marks around Mr. Biden’s name since he ascended magically to this office in 2021 because it is obvious that he is only pretending to run the executive branch, and has been since day one on January 20, 2021.

His March 5, 2020, Super Tuesday victories, after a drubbing in the Iowa Caucuses (4th place) and New Hampshire primary (5th place), had an odor of supernatural contrivance. His campaign from “the basement” was a joke, and it’s still entirely possible, despite three years of massive gaslighting, that his victory in the 2020 election was a fraud. I believe the reason “Joe Biden” was installed in the White House was to allow Barack Obama to run the executive branch and all its agencies in secret from his headquarters across town in the DC Kalorama district, and the reason he is allowed to do this is because the Democratic Party has committed so many crimes against the country that a tremendous effort had to be made to cover them up, or else scores of figures in high places could have been subject to investigation and prosecution, including Mr. Obama.

It’s also possible that an impeachment inquiry in the House will lead to evidence of Mr. Obama’s role in the Biden family’s bribery adventures abroad, including the participation in one way or another of high diplomatic officials under Mr. Obama such as US Ambassadors to Ukraine Jeffrey Pyatt and Marie Yovanovitch — as well as their nefarious roles in the first impeachment of Donald Trump. Expect former Secretary of State John Kerry to surface in that mix, too. His stepson, Christopher Heinz was in business for a time with Hunter Biden and Devon Archer during the Burisma caper.

Read more …

“After the mugshot and four criminal indictments, you would think that President Biden would have [a] significant advantage, but apparently not..”

‘Biden Has Work to Do’: US Outlets ‘Shocked’ as Trump Poll Numbers Soar (Sp.)

The fact that Donald Trump’s legal troubles are only serving to boost the former president’s poll ratings impressively has left hosts and guests of many mainstream media outlets taken aback. “It is kind of shocking in a way, that despite all of the baggage that Donald Trump carries, he’s tied with Joe Biden right now,” host Of ‘This Week’, George Stephanopoulos, told his audience, as he cited revelations of a recent survey. Released on Saturday, the poll showed that around 46 percent of voters would vote for US President Joe Biden, with the same amount of voters willing to support former US President Donald Trump if the presidential election were held today. “With every passing month, with every new indictment, Donald Trump seems to be consolidating his control over the Republican Party,” the media personality said in wonder.

As many as 8 percent of respondents stated in the survey that they were undecided as to who they would vote for. However, if a third-party candidates were added to the mix, Trump would potentially lead Biden by 1 percentage point, 40 percent against 39 percent, with the share of undecided voters growing, to stand at 17. When questioned about the indictments against Trump, more than 60 percent of Republican primary voters insisted that the criminal charges lacked merit and were politically motivated. Other media hosts appeared to be just as stunned by the survey, marveling at how Trump’s four indictments still left him tied with Biden. “After the mugshot and four criminal indictments, you would think that President Biden would have [a] significant advantage, but apparently not,” bemoaned White House correspondent Peter Baker.

The poll’s findings alarmed Former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile. Biden is facing an uphill battle and needs to redouble efforts on the 2024 campaign trail, warned Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Biden has work to do,” Sabato succinctly told a US media show. Recent polling also showed that as far as GOP primary voters were concerned, Trump faces no challenge from any of the other 2024 Republican hopefuls. POTUS 45 remains the top choice for the White House for 59 percent of GOP primary voters. This is up by 11 percentage points since April. Trump’s lead over top rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who can only boast 13 percent support, has nearly doubled since April. It now stands at 46 percentage points. Other hopefuls have yet to break out of single-digit numbers of support.

Read more …

No need to convict. Accusing is enough. What kind of theory is that?

Has anyone done more harm to the US than Schiff? How many times has he lied about having evidence? And no-one sues him? He’ll do it again then.

Rep. Adam Schiff Supports 14th Amendment Argument Over Trump’s Eligibility (Sp.)

Legal experts and lawmakers are engaged in a heated debate over whether former President Donald Trump is barred from seeking elected office again. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has thrown his weight behind this argument. In a recent interview, Schiff spoke about the ongoing debate surrounding former President Trump’s eligibility to run for elected office again. He argued that the 14th Amendment’s Section 3 disqualifies those involved in acts of insurrection or rebellion against the government and he says it doesn’t hinge on a criminal conviction. “The 14th Amendment, Section 3 is pretty clear. If you engage in acts of insurrection or rebellion… or you give aid and comfort to those who do, you are disqualified from running… It doesn’t require that you be convicted of insurrection. It just requires that you have engaged in these acts… It’s a disqualification from holding office again, and it fits Donald Trump to a T,” Schiff stated.

Schiff’s stance is grounded in his experience serving on the House select committee that investigated the January 6th events. He believes that this legal theory could soon be put to the test, potentially by a secretary of state refusing to put Trump on the ballot or by a litigant challenging Trump’s eligibility. Schiff anticipates that such a case could ultimately reach the Supreme Court, leaving the final decision in the hands of the highest judicial authority. The California representative also highlighted the support for this argument within legal circles, stating, “There are prominent constitutional scholars, as well as prominent progressive scholars who believe that he should be disqualified.” The debate over whether Trump should be barred from holding public office in the future continues amid his continued high ratings among Republican voters despite all the ongoing court cases against the former president.

Read more …

“..if he wins his lawsuit, he will insist that the ADL drop the “anti” portion of its name..”

Elon Musk Threatens To Sue Anti-Defamation League (RT)

Billionaire Elon Musk has upped the ante in his feud with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), suggesting that he may have to sue the Jewish civil rights group for trying to destroy his X (formerly Twitter) social media platform through fraudulent claims of anti-Semitism. “To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism, it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League,” Musk said on Monday in an X post. “Oh, the irony,” he added. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO, who bought Twitter last year for $44 billion and later renamed it X, blamed the ADL for a 60% drop in advertising revenue. He said the ADL had pressured advertisers not to use the platform by falsely associating X and its new owner with anti-Semitism. “They almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter,” he wrote.

Musk’s latest comments come two days after he suggested that he might poll X users on whether to ban the ADL from his platform. He posted the idea in response to a message from conservative Dutch activist Eva Vlaardingerbroek, who declared that people are fed up with “labeling everything we don’t like as hateful/racist/dangerous/far-right.” She added that people are no longer afraid of the ADL’s intimidation tactics. “Your labels have lost their power.” The social media campaign to ban the ADL started after the group’s leader, Jonathan Greenblatt, met last week with X CEO Linda Yaccarino to discuss “rampant hate speech” on the platform. The ADL has accused X of failing to enforce its content moderation policies since Musk took over. Musk, who has vowed to make X a bastion of free speech amid heavy censorship of conservative voices on other platforms, said he was “against anti-Semitism of any kind.”

He quipped that if he wins his lawsuit, he will insist that the ADL drop the “anti” portion of its name, meaning it would be called the Defamation League. The ADL has been sued for defaming people with false allegations in the past. In fact, a Colorado couple won a $10.5 million verdict against the group in May 2000. A year earlier, the ADL settled a suit in which it was accused of illegal spying. Cartoonist Ben Garrison sued the ADL in 2020, saying the activist group defamed him by falsely portraying him as anti-Semitic and racist. Founded more than a century ago largely to stop attacks on the Jews, the ADL now describes itself as the “leading anti-hate organization in the world.” However, the group has been criticized for promoting critical race theory and other far-left ideologies in recent years.

Read more …

Broken record.

Looming Government Shutdown Worries Among US Business Leaders (Sp.)

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expressed her observations in an interview, highlighting the frustration among business leaders over the functioning of the government in such critical situations. Raimondo has raised concerns about US business leaders’ increasing anxiety regarding the possibility of a partial federal government shutdown if Congress fails to pass a short-term funding measure before the impending October 1st deadline. “They are, I think, in some cases, frustrated that this is how government operates,” said Raimondo. The White House has urged Congress to swiftly approve a short-term spending bill to avert a partial shutdown, with Raimondo emphasizing the need for a speedy resolution. She noted that such an event could pose a significant challenge to the economy and potentially hinder its progress.

This concern comes after earlier this summer when Republican Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana could not rule out the possibility of a government shutdown due to ongoing struggles in reaching an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, which brought the nation perilously close to a default. The standoff played a role in Fitch Ratings recently downgrading the US credit rating, citing a loss of confidence in fiscal management caused by repeated debt-limit political standoffs. Despite the recent release of the August jobs report, which showed 187,000 jobs added to the workforce, there are growing concerns about underemployment. Raimondo acknowledged the presence of inflation and its impact but emphasized that the economy is performing remarkably well compared to predictions made three years ago.

Read more …

John Helmer has been reading books in his month off.

How Putin Rules Russia (John Helmer)

What’s the truth of how Putin rules Russia? The longest-serving foreign correspondent in Russia has followed Putin since their first meeting in St Petersburg in November 1991. This is the Putin story which has taken more than thirty years to prepare. It’s the story which the western and Russian media have missed. Based on thousands of pages of court testimony in London and Moscow; 76 days of cross-examination of witnesses, including the only Russian minister of state ever to go into the High Court witness box; and the findings of fact and law by thirteen British judges up to the UK Supreme Court, this is the only book to investigate the truth. And to reveal how it bears no resemblance to US and NATO war propaganda.

Sovcomplot is the story of Russia’s dominant shipping company, with the largest oil and gas tanker fleet in the world. It is a lifeline for Russia’s most important exports, and also of the world’s energy consumers. In the war to destroy Russia’s economy, Sovcomflot is a strategic line which must be defended at all costs. State owned since its creation in the Soviet Union, Sovcomflot has also been the target of privatisation and privateering schemes for twenty years. US banks, oligarchs, Russian government officials, oilers, traders, and mariners have all played their part in what they hoped would be a four billion-dollar payoff. The London court case was brought by Sovcomflot and chief executive Sergei Frank against two former executives and a leading Russian ship charterer who were accused of multi-million dollar fraud.

The verdicts of the courts took sixteen years, 2005-2021, and cost more than $200 million in fees and penalties. The accused were vindicated; the Sovcomflot men were condemned for dishonesty, perjury, abuse of power, vindictiveness. The plot itself is reported for shipping industry experts who have never before had the opportunity to open Russian state secrets like these. The book is also for rival oil and gas trade and tanker company executives. It’s for readers who want to watch Putin up close and personal as he’s not been seen before.

Read more …

+ grain deal.

Putin: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive is Failure, Not Stalemate (Sp.)

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference after bilateral talks that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was a failure, not a stalemate. He added that he hoped Ukraine’s future counteroffensive would also be a failure. Putin said that Russia is ready to revive the Black Sea grain deal and will do so immediately when all agreements are implemented. “I want to reiterate our principled position that we will be willing to consider the possibility of reviving the grain deal. I told the President about it again today. And we will do it as soon as all the agreements stipulated in it are fully implemented,” Putin said. He added that Russia would continue to export food and fertilizers.

“While Russia clearly provided security guarantees for shipping under this [grain] deal, the other side used humanitarian corridors for terrorist attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities,” Putin told a press conference. Western countries have lied to Russia about the implementation of the grain deal obligation, Putin stressed. Russia is ready to fully meet Turkiye’s grain needs, Vladimir Putin added. “Turkiye is our great partner. Turkiye has a large flour-milling processing industry, we know this and we will fully meet the needs of the Turkish Republic,” the Russian leader said. “I would like to emphasize that Russia has always been and will continue to be a reliable, responsible supplier of gas. We intend to continue to provide the Turkish economy with this cheap, but highly efficient and environmentally friendly type of fuel.

“Moreover, we are ready to export gas in transit through Turkey to consumers in third countries, where partners are interested in this,” Putin said. He added that relations between Russia and Turkiye are developing successfully in all areas and that the meeting was successful. “The cooperation between Russia and Turkiye, which is based on the principles of good neighborliness, partnership and mutual benefit, is successfully developing in all areas. Today’s talks, as always, were held in a constructive and businesslike atmosphere,” Putin said. According to Putin, there is a tendency to use national currencies in settlements between Russia and Turkiye, and the share of euros and dollars is decreasing.

Read more …

Don’t model them after NATO. Bad example.

UK Firm Offers New Theory On Kiev’s Battlefield Failures (RT)

The Western nations training and equipping Ukrainian troops should quit trying to create NATO-style army officers and instead provide instruction more tailored to the current battlefield situation in Kiev’s foundering counteroffensive against Russian forces, a leading UK think tank has suggested. The counteroffensive has been hampered by a lack of staff officers to coordinate large-scale attacks against Russian defenses, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said in a report released on Monday. However, the firm added, Western training of additional officers will only be helpful if the instruction is built around the “tools and structure that Ukraine employs, rather than teaching NATO methods that are designed for differently configured forces.”

RUSI, which touts itself as the world’s oldest security think tank, warned that training Ukrainian officers based on NATO norms would be futile because those tactics are not widely grasped by Kiev’s troops. “We could get that horribly wrong,” the institute’s senior research fellow Jack Watling told the Telegraph. “We could do it whereby we’re like, ‘We’re going to teach you how to be a NATO staff officer. We have courses and we have a book that tells us what that means.’ But the problem is that if you take that person who has learned all these NATO procedures and you put them back in Ukraine, where they have different tools and where none of their colleagues understand any of the NATO terminology, then they will revert to what their colleagues understand.”

The report comes amid rising frustration among Western leaders over Ukraine’s counteroffensive struggles. Media reports in recent weeks have suggested that US officials are annoyed over Kiev’s reluctance to accept their advice on how to carry out attacks against Russian positions. Washington has found fault with Ukraine’s wide dispersing of troops across the front lines, rather than concentrating its forces on high-priority targets in the south, the New York Times reported, citing six unnamed US officials. Similarly, a leaked German intelligence report in July argued that Ukraine’s troops were failing to make progress in their counteroffensive because they were not fully implementing the Western tactics on which they were trained. The Bundeswehr also complained that Ukraine’s military was promoting soldiers with combat experience, rather than those with NATO-standard training, leading to “wrong and dangerous decisions.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry responded to the critiques with a social media post on Thursday quipping that “everyone is now an expert on how we should fight – a gentle reminder that no one understands this war better than we do.” A video attached to the post noted that if Kiev had listened to what non-Ukrainians said in February 2022, when the Russian offensive began, “we would no longer exist.” Ukraine lost over 43,000 troops and dozens of Western-supplied tanks and infantry vehicles in just the first two months of the counteroffensive, according to an estimate by the Russian Defense Ministry. The Ukrainian operation is “not stalled; it is a failure,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

Attempts to make rapid gains against Russian defenses have resulted in an “unsustainable rate of equipment loss,” RUSI said. More deliberately planned operations have made only slow progress, taking as little as 140 meters a day and giving Russian forces time to reset, the think tank added. Training time in the West is limited because Ukraine constantly needs new troops to replenish its forces, RUSI said. Kiev’s offensive operations, launched in early June, have been hampered by thick Russian minefields and heavily fortified defensive positions, as well as the lack of sufficient artillery and air support.

Read more …

“There is no question in Matthews’s diagnosis of who is in the madhouse, and who is superior. “By the time I met [Vladimir] Zelensky in Kyiv in July [2022] he cut a profoundly impressive figure – hard-eyed, emphatic in his speech.”

End Of The War, End Of US Exceptionalism (Helmer)

Doctors in hospitals for the criminally insane have reported that the sharpest pain patients with superiority complexes suffer is the belief there are others who are more superior than they are. Unless they are stopped, they kill to cure. US exceptionalism is a disease of this type. The American exceptionalists believe that if the US isn’t conquering and victorious — great again as in MAGA — it is defeating itself because, they think, the US can never be beaten by a foreign adversary on the field — not on the battlefield, nor in the marketplace, nor in the mind and on the page. So this is where the whitecoats arrive today: the Russian General Staff and the Stavka are defeating the Americans on every front, weapon system, intelligence summary, and mind. This has never happened before. Failing to see and understand this is delusional; those who kill to cure this aren’t all hospitalised.

A book repeating the US, NATO and Ukrainian version of how and why Russia’s Ukrainian battlefield campaign began on February 23, 2022, is symptomatic, nothing new. “We have no idea of exactly how the conflict will end”, concludes Owen Matthews (aka Bibikov) in a fresh publication from the state-subsidised printing press of Rupert Murdoch. But “we already know how it will not end. There will be no complete victory for either Russia or Ukraine. NATO is too invested to allow Kyiv to fall to the Russian army… this war will eventually end — with a negotiated peace.”* Incomprehensible to Matthews is that the terms of the negotiated peace will be those of the Russian non-aggression treaties for the US and for NATO of December 17, 2021, and they will be dictated at the end of the war by the force which prevails. They will be as definitive as the German terms signed by the French in the Compiègne Wagon on June 22, 1940; and the American terms signed by the Japanese on the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

Instead, Matthews dismisses the treaties in two paragraphs, based on what Matthews says an anonymous British Foreign Office official told him in March 2022 was “fantastical…[they] simply did make any sense…there was nothing in it that NATO could possibly agree to.” What preceded, and also what followed those treaties, was the doing, in Matthews’s psychopathological terminology, of “fantasies about anti-Russian fascists coming to power in Kyiv”; “paranoia over Western attempts to subvert and undermine Russia”; and other “lies and eschatological fantasies”.

At the centre of this madness, according to Matthews, is the single figure of Vladimir Putin, advised by “Soviet-era fantasists and paranoiacs”; “on the point of paranoia about the [corona] virus”; “secluded and inaccessible in his Covid bunker”; obsessed by pseudo-historical revenge and “a kind of death cult”; surrounded by “the most deluded and most ideologically driven members of Putin’s entourage”; and speechifying “a set of unbelievably illiterate conspiracy clichés…especially when the former Marxists in the Kremlin sincerely believed that inexorable historical forces were on their side.” There is no question in Matthews’s diagnosis of who is in the madhouse, and who is superior. “By the time I met [Vladimir] Zelensky in Kyiv in July [2022] he cut a profoundly impressive figure – hard-eyed, emphatic in his speech.” With unintended irony — the reader won’t take long to detect it — the book is titled “Overreach”.

Read more …

He’s now asking EU countries to expel Ukrainians who fled the war.

Millions of Ukrainians Dodging Draft to ‘Avoid Certain Death’ (Sp.)

Ukraine’s “permanent mobilization” campaign is suffering setbacks amid the catastrophic outflow of fighting-age men from the country, with the Ukrainian Institute of the Future calculating recently that the country’s population had dropped to just 29 million people as of 2023, down from 41.1 million in 2021, and just a shadow of its 52 million peak in 1991. Amid the crisis, alternative media and even some legacy outlets have reported on the growing difficulties facing Ukrainian authorities in recruiting more conscripts for the NATO-backed proxy war against Russia, with widespread reports of draft officers grabbing men off the street, draconian restrictions on travel abroad, and demands for large-scale bribes from anyone seeking to avoid being sent to fight.

Last month, President Volodymyr Zelensky dramatically fired officials in charge of conscription in every region across the country as conscription-related corruption charges gained international attention. “The situation in Ukraine with conscription is very bad,” Viktor Litovkin, a retired Russian Army colonel and veteran military analyst, told Sputnik. “There really just aren’t enough people, because almost half of the population of Ukraine is abroad in Europe and in Russia.” At the same time, he said, hundreds of thousands of “young, healthy males ages 17-50 who could be having children, building houses, growing bread, and so on and so forth” have instead been sent to fight Russia in a conflict which even some mainstream US experts have now admitted Ukraine can’t win.

“To take just one simple example: in the two months of the counteroffensive, they lost 43,000 people killed and 3,000 armored vehicles destroyed…For comparison, just so that it’s clear what these numbers mean, during the 10 year conflict in Afghanistan [in the 1980s, ed.], the USSR lost 15,000 people killed. 15,000 in 10 years, and here 43,000 in two months. Therefore, in Ukraine, people understand that they are being called up into a meat grinder,” Litovkin said. “They are not really taught to fight, not given [the right] weapons, etc. Therefore, they understand that they are not fighting for Ukraine, for their motherland. They’re fighting for Zelensky, they’re fighting for the interests of the United States, for NATO, and so on,” the observer added, suggesting Ukrainian conscripts are eager to surrender, and would do so more often if not for the fascist militias working as blocking detachments to keep them in line.

Ultimately, Litovkin doesn’t believe that a further tightening of conscription rules will “save” Zelensky. “They’re now trying to force European countries to deport Ukrainian men from their countries…But this is unlikely to do any good, because if the Europeans begin deporting the ‘escapees’, they will run elsewhere, to the Middle East, Africa, anywhere just so they don’t have to fight.”

Read more …

“..if the US and EU fulfill their obligations and remove these restrictions, Moscow will consider reinstating the treaty..”

West ‘Deceived’ Russia On Grain Deal – Putin (RT)

The West lied to Russia when it stated that the humanitarian goal of the Black Sea initiative was to deliver Ukrainian grain to the poorest countries in the world, President Vladimir Putin claimed on Monday. Speaking at a press conference following a meeting with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Putin stated that over 70% of the grain shipped out of Ukrainian ports as part of the agreement had ended up in the EU and other wealthy nations. “The share received by the countries most in need of food accounted for only 3%. That is less than 1 million tons,” Putin said. The president alleged that while Russia had provided security guarantees for grain shipments, “the other side” had used the humanitarian corridors to conduct terrorist attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities.

The UN- and Türkiye-brokered grain deal initially came into effect in July 2022, and Ukraine has since repeatedly conducted drone raids on various targets in the Black Sea. That includes attacks on cargo ships, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the port city of Sevastopol, and the Crimean Bridge which connects the Crimean peninsula with mainland Russia. “This cannot be tolerated any longer,” Putin said on Monday. The Russian leader insisted that Moscow had effectively been “forced” to terminate its participation in the grain deal in mid-July this year, accusing the West of refusing to uphold its end of the bargain and lift sanctions on the export of Russian fertilizer and other agricultural products.

However, if the US and EU fulfill their obligations and remove these restrictions, Moscow will consider reinstating the treaty, Putin said. He added that Russia will meanwhile continue to export food and fertilizer products to improve the situation with the global agricultural industry.

Read more …

“..a plea could be taken internationally. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not barred by any laws. If all parties consent to it, then the court has jurisdiction.”

What’s Behind Talk of a Possible Plea Deal for Assange? (Lauria)

The fierce Australian reaction to both Blinken and [Caroline] Kennedy’s remarks appears to have taken Washington by surprise, given how accustomed to Canberra’s supine behavior the U.S. has become. Just two weeks after Blinken’s remarks, Kennedy tried to soften the blow by muddying Blinken’s clear waters. She told The Sydney Morning Herald in a front-page interview published on Aug. 14 that the United States was now, despite Blinken’s unequivocal words, suddenly open to a plea agreement that could free Assange, allowing him to serve a shortened sentence for a lesser crime in his home country. The newspaper said there could be a “David Hicks-style plea bargain,” a so-called Alford Plea, in which Assange would continue to state his innocence while accepting a lesser charge that would allow him to serve additional time in Australia.

The four years Assange has already served on remand at London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison could perhaps be taken into account. Kennedy said a decision on such a plea deal was up to the U.S. Justice Department. “So it’s not really a diplomatic issue, but I think that there absolutely could be a resolution,” she told the newspaper. Kennedy acknowledged Blinken’s harsh comments. “But there is a way to resolve it,” she said. “You can read the [newspapers] just like I can.” It is not quite clear what in the newspapers she was reading. Blinken is Kennedy’s boss. There is little chance she had spoken out of turn. Blinken allowed her to put out the story that the U.S. is interested in a plea bargain with Assange. But why?

First, the harsh reaction in Australia to Blinken’s words probably had something to do with it. If it was up to the U.S. Justice Department alone to handle the prosecution of Assange, as Kennedy says, why was the Secretary of State saying anything about it at all? Blinken appears to have spoken out of turn himself and sent Kennedy out to reel it back in. Given the growing opposition to the AUKUS alliance in Australia, including within the ruling Labor Party, perhaps Blinken and the rest of the U.S. security establishment is not taking Australia’s support for granted anymore. Blinken stepped in it and had Kennedy try to clean up the mess. Second, as suspected by many Assange supporters on social media, Kennedy’s words may have been intended as a kind of ploy, perhaps to lure Assange to the United States to give up his fight against extradition in exchange for leniency.

In its article based on Kennedy’s interview, The Sydney Morning Herald spoke to only one international law expert, a Don Rothwell, of Australian National University in Canberra, who said Assange would have to go to the United States to negotiate a plea. In a second interview on Australian television, Rothwell said Assange would also have to drop his extradition fight. Of course, neither is true. “Usually American courts don’t act unless a defendant is inside that district and shows up to the court,” U.S. constitutional lawyer Bruce Afran told Consortium News. “However, there’s nothing strictly prohibiting it either. And in a given instance, a plea could be taken internationally. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not barred by any laws. If all parties consent to it, then the court has jurisdiction.” But would the U.S. consent to it?

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Engineering

 

 

Croc underwater

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 122019
 
 February 12, 2019  Posted by at 11:20 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh On the outskirts of Paris 1887

 

Global Insect Decline May See ‘Plague Of Pests’ (BBC)
Complex, Dynamic Environmental Destabilisation (BBC)
Politicians Are Complicit In The Killing Of Our Insects (G.)
Should We Really Not Worry About The Fed’s Balance Sheet? (Roberts)
Party Leaders Reach Deal To Avoid Fresh US Government Shutdown (AP)
Warren’s Foreign Policy Shows She’s Missing Why Trump Was Elected (G.)
Mistaken Futures (Kunstler)
May To Ask MPs For Further Fortnight’s Grace In Brexit Talks (G.)
Europeans Must Get Rid Of The Failing EU One Way Or Another (MW)
“Insane” Deutsche Bank Drowning Under Soaring Funding Costs (ZH)
Nearly A Fifth Of The EU’s Budget Goes On Livestock Farming (G.)
China Has No Use For Democracy. It Needs A Strong Leader Like Xi (SCMP)
History’s 10 Most Culturally Significant Dick Pic Scandals (Taibbi)

 

 

Roaches in a nuclear winter.

Global Insect Decline May See ‘Plague Of Pests’ (BBC)

A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing “dramatic rates of decline” around the world. The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom. The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change. Insects make up the majority of creatures that live on land, and provide key benefits to many other species, including humans. They provide food for birds, bats and small mammals; they pollinate around 75% of the crops in the world; they replenish soils and keep pest numbers in check.

Many other studies in recent years have shown that individual species of insects, such as bees, have suffered huge declines, particularly in developed economies. But this new paper takes a broader look. Published in the journal Biological Conservation, it reviews 73 existing studies from around the world published over the past 13 years. The researchers found that declines in almost all regions may lead to the extinction of 40% of insects over the next few decades. One-third of insect species are classed as Endangered. “The main factor is the loss of habitat, due to agricultural practices, urbanisation and deforestation,” lead author Dr Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, from the University of Sydney, told BBC News.

“Second is the increasing use of fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture worldwide and contamination with chemical pollutants of all kinds. Thirdly, we have biological factors, such as invasive species and pathogens; and fourthly, we have climate change, particularly in tropical areas where it is known to have a big impact.” [..] “Fast-breeding pest insects will probably thrive because of the warmer conditions, because many of their natural enemies, which breed more slowly, will disappear,” said Prof Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex who was not involved in the review. “It’s quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want, like bees and hoverflies and butterflies and dung beetles that do a great job of disposing of animal waste.” Prof Goulson said that some tough, adaptable, generalist species – like houseflies and cockroaches – seem to be able to live comfortably in a human-made environment and have evolved resistance to pesticides.

Read more …

Nobody listened so far; why would they now?

Complex, Dynamic Environmental Destabilisation (BBC)

• Topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than it is being replenished by natural processes • Since the mid-20th Century, 30% of the world’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion • 95% of the Earth’s land areas could become degraded by 2050 • Since 2005, the number of floods has increased by a factor of 15, extreme temperature events by a factor of 20, and wildfires sevenfold • Vertebrate populations have fallen by an average of 60% since the 1970s, and insect numbers – vital for pollination – have declined even faster in some countries.

Scientists warn of a potentially deadly combination of factors. These include climate change, mass loss of species, topsoil erosion, forest felling and acidifying oceans. The report from the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research says these factors are “driving a complex, dynamic process of environmental destabilisation that has reached critical levels. “This destabilisation is occurring at speeds unprecedented in human history and, in some cases, over billions of years.” The UK is described as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Some 2.2 million tonnes of UK topsoil is eroded annually, and over 17% of arable land shows signs of erosion. Nearly 85% of fertile peat topsoil in East Anglia has been lost since 1850, with the remainder at risk of being lost over next 30–60 years. The IIPR says many scientists believe we have entered a new era of rapid environmental change.

The report warns: “We define this as the ‘age of environmental breakdown’ to better highlight the severity of the scale, pace and implications of environmental destabilisation resulting from aggregate human activity.” Simon Lewis, Professor of Global Change Science at University College London, told BBC News: “IPPR are right to say that environmental change is happening ever-faster and threatens to destabilise society. “Future problems with food supplies could cause price spikes that drive civil unrest, while increases in levels of migration can strain societies. “Both together could overload political institutions and global networks of trade. “This century will be marked by rapid social and environmental change – that is certain. What is less clear is if societies can make wise political choices to avoid disaster in the future.”

Read more …

Written of course by a politician. Who thinks politicians can turn this around. Because they can do anything.

Politicians Are Complicit In The Killing Of Our Insects (G.)

Most of us spend more time swatting away or avoiding wasps and moths than we do contemplating their importance to the web of life. But it is no exaggeration to say that the horrifying decline in the number of these creatures – the most widespread on Earth – is a barometer for the whole planet. The new global scientific review into the perilous condition of our insects reports that more than 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction while the mass of insects is declining by 2.5% a year. This catastrophic decline is a direct cause of the existential threat to other animals, insects being at the bottom of the chain and the primary food source. Since 1970, 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been wiped out.

The review identifies a key driver towards this mass extinction: habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture with its associated use of pesticides. Given this is a manmade disaster, surely we are capable of tackling and reversing it? As a member of the European parliament’s agriculture committee, I regularly debate the use of pesticides in farming with my colleagues. I have lost count of the number of times I have begun meetings with what feels like a sermon on the Armageddon taking place in our countryside. I am always greeted with patient, patronising smiles from many of my fellow MEPs, before they go on to ignore the warnings and refuse to limit the use of pesticides in our fields.

Some of the members of this committee are themselves farmers who have grown increasingly dependent on powerful and toxic pesticides. But others have taken the agribusiness shilling and believe that their role in policymaking is simply to support the corporations that sell these poisons. And this is the nub of the issue. What might accurately be dubbed insectageddon is being driven by the agrichemicals industry. This situation is compounded by compliant politicians and policymakers who fall prey to lobbying pressure and then refuse to implement science-driven policy to protect wildlife.

Read more …

What we should do is end the Fed. And replace it with markets.

Should We Really Not Worry About The Fed’s Balance Sheet? (Roberts)

Bill Dudley, who is now a senior research scholar at Princeton University’s Center for Economic Policy Studies and previously served as president of the New York Fed and was vice-chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, recently penned an interesting piece from Bloomberg stating: “Financial types have long had a preoccupation: What will the Federal Reserve do with all the fixed income securities it purchased to help the U.S. economy recover from the last recession? The Fed’s efforts to shrink its holdings have been blamed for various ills, including December’s stock-market swoon. And any new nuance of policy — such as last week’s statement on “balance sheet normalization” — is seen as a really big deal. I’m amazed and baffled by this. It gets much more attention than it deserves.”

[..] In his opening paragraph, Bill attempts to dismiss the linkage between the balance sheet and the financial markets. “Yes, it’s true that stock prices declined at a time when the Fed was allowing its holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities to run off at a rate of up to $50 billion a month. But the balance sheet contraction had been underway for more than a year, without any modifications or mid-course corrections. Thus, this should have been fully discounted.” While this is a true statement, what Bill forgot to mention was that Global Central banks had stepped in to flood the system with liquidity. As you can see in the chart below, while the Fed had stopped expanding their balance sheet, everyone else went into over-drive.

The chart below shows the ECB’s balance sheet and trajectory. Yes, they are slowing “QE” but it is still growing currently.

Read more …

Far from over.

Party Leaders Reach Deal To Avoid Fresh US Government Shutdown (AP)

Democratic and Republican leaders announced late Monday that they had reached a deal to avoid a government shutdown when funding under a stopgap agreement expires at midnight on Friday. The proposal would require the signature of Donald Trump to avert a new shutdown. The agreement would allocate far less money for Trump’s border wall than the White House’s $5.7bn wish list, settling for a figure of nearly $1.4bn, according to congressional aides. The funding measure is through the fiscal year, which ends 30 September. The agreement means 55 miles of new fencing — constructed through existing designs such as metal slats instead of a concrete wall — but far less than the 215 miles the White House demanded in December. The fencing would be built in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

At a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday Trump said he had been informed about the committee’s progress. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway”, he added. Negotiators have been trying to reach a deal to fund nine government departments that partially closed for 35 days in December and January. Trump and congressional Democrats agreed on 25 January to temporarily fund the departments and negotiate a funding solution by 8 February. Talks most recently broke down on Sunday, reportedly over a disagreement about the maximum number of undocumented immigrants who might be detained at any one time.

Read more …

Warren is irrelevant.

Warren’s Foreign Policy Shows She’s Missing Why Trump Was Elected (G.)

The United States, Warren says, has embarked on “a series of seemingly endless wars, engaging in conflicts with mistaken or uncertain objectives and no obvious path to completion”. It’s fine rhetoric but the obvious path to completion is merely to end the wars. And yet the Bush White House couldn’t or didn’t want to. And Obama vacillated and expanded to the point where bombing and killing was being pursued in almost a dozen countries when he left office. And as for Trump? He’s done little and he’s been publicly admonished by his own secretary of defense when he decided he wanted to end just one of those conflicts.

But “the United States”? Really? Other than Afghanistan after 9/11 – and that’s all – “the United States” didn’t embark on these wars. The national security community did. The government. Overtly, covertly, with high hopes or unwarranted self-confidence, they got their way. Who is the real culprit then? It isn’t Warren’s “elites”, the corporation, or Trump. It is Washington and its ability, indeed even its self-appointed duty, to stand in the way of anything that it sees as not in its interest.

She may not think it, but Warren is merely genuflecting before this deep state, declaring her allegiance to a “muscular military” and calling for “strong yet pragmatic security policies”. She of course offers a laundry list of things that must be preserved or strengthened that’s non-military – from technological superiority to diplomacy to strong alliances. And she decries the military and civilian policymakers who “seem [in]capable of defining success”. But in her innocence as to why we are stuck in seemingly endless wars she also seems oblivious to the fact that she is already capitulating to the very forces that ensure that we can’t change anything.

Read more …

Will the Green New Deal Make America Great Again?

Mistaken Futures (Kunstler)

The self-proclaimed socialists are actually seeing the world through a rear-view mirror. What they are really talking about is divvying up the previously-accumulated wealth, soon to be bygone. Entropy is having its wicked way with that wealth, first by transmogrifying it into ever more abstract forms, and then by dissipating it as waste all over the planet. In short, the next time socialism is enlisted as a tool for redistributing wealth, we will make the unhappy discovery that most of that wealth is gone. The process will be uncomfortably sharp and disorientating. The West especially will not know what hit it as it emergently self-reorganizes back into something that resembles the old-time feudalism.

We have a new kind of mass squalor in America: a great many people who have nothing to do, no means of support, and the flimsiest notions of purpose in life. The socialists have no answers for them. They will not be “retrained” in some imagined federal crusade to turn meth freaks into code-writers for Google. Something the analysts are calling “recession” is ploughing across the landscape like one of those darkly majestic dust-storms of the 1930s, only this time we won’t be able to re-fight anything like World War Two to get all the machines running again in the aftermath. Nor, of course, will the Make America Great Again fantasy work out for those waiting in the squalid ruins of the post-industrial rust-belt or the strip-mall wastelands of the Sunbelt.

Most of the beliefs and attitudes of the present day will be overturned with the demise of the industrial orgy, like the idea that humanity follows an unerring arc of progress, that men and women are interchangeable and can do exactly the same work, that society should not be hierarchical, that technology will rescue us, and that we can organize some political work-arounds to avoid the pain of universal contraction. There are no coherent ideas in the political arena just now. Our prospects are really too alarming. So, jump on-board the socialism ship and see if it makes you feel better to sail to the end of the earth. But mind the gap at the very edge. It’s a doozie.

Read more …

And 2 more weeks after that etc. till the clock runs out.

May To Ask MPs For Further Fortnight’s Grace In Brexit Talks (G.)

Theresa May hopes to convince the House of Commons on Tuesday to give her another fortnight’s grace to keep pushing for changes to the Irish backstop – despite the insistence of Michel Barnier that it is Britain that must compromise. With 45 days to go until Britain is due by law to leave the EU, with or without a deal, the prime minister will address MPs about progress in the Brexit talks, No 10 announced on Monday. She is unlikely to signal any shift towards a closer future relationship with the EU, after writing to Jeremy Corbyn to underline her continued objections to a customs union, and instead she will focus on the backstop.

“We are absolutely clear on this: we’re not considering Jeremy Corbyn’s customs proposals, we’re not considering any proposals to remain in the customs union. We must have our own, independent trade policy,” May’s spokesman said on Monday. May will stress her continued focus on the backstop, but the EU’s chief negotiator insisted on Monday there was no question of Brussels giving in to Downing Street’s demands. “We’re waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom,” Barnier told reporters after talks in Luxembourg with the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.

Read more …

The EU has the exact same flaws as its member states, but in the latter the losers can get voted out.

Europeans Must Get Rid Of The Failing EU One Way Or Another (MW)

Populism is sweeping Europe, because the European Union and its constituent governments have become as unresponsive as the 18th century aristocracies those replaced.The EU antecedent, the European Economic Community (1957) was created to prevent another World War by integrating the continent’s iron and steel industries and then its broader continental markets for goods, services, capital and labor. The process created a politically unaccountable bureaucracy, whose broad policy directions are set by consensus among the national heads of government and cabinet ministers. However, Brussels enjoys wide administrative discretion in supervising the customs union, agricultural and fisheries management, and national subsidies, anticompetitive practices, and other behavior that could undermine the “single market.”

Through a succession of treaties and agreements, national leaders “pooled sovereignty” to empower the European Commission to issue edicts that member states must directly obey or conform national laws and regulations in areas such as social policy and human rights, consumer protection and product standards, transportation, and immigration. European Court rulings have direct application in national courts, and 19 of the 28 states have ceded monetary policy to the European Central Bank by adopting the euro. To win votes, mainstream national politicians have endemically statist impulses, and hue to globalist views regarding the virtues of freer trade and more open immigration, regulatory responses to environmental challenges like climate change rather than mitigation, and impelling cultural diversity as opposed to preserving local cultures.

In Europe, national leaders have empowered the commission to impose the pain and constraints on private freedoms that such globalist policies require. Then they can point to Brussels to alibi they are just advancing a stronger European Union.

Read more …

Deutsche is a wager gone horribly wrong.

“Insane” Deutsche Bank Drowning Under Soaring Funding Costs (ZH)

Following years of dismal performance, uncovered attempts at market manipulation and fraudulent activities, and painful corporate reorganizations which its latest earnings report showed have “cut deeply into the muscle”, Deutsche Bank is a shadow of its former self, with its stock price trading just shy of all time lows. But an even bigger problem for Germany’s biggest lender is that it is now forced to pay the highest financing rates on the euro debt market for a leading international bank this year according to the FT, and also the highest rates among large banks to raise debt this year according to Bloomberg, in a further sign of the German lender’s uphill struggle to turn its operations around and reduce its funding costs.

As the FT first reported, followed promptly by Bloomberg, the bank raised eyebrows last week when it sold a total of €3.6BN in euro-denominated debt, paying 180 bps over the benchmarks for a two-year bond, a steep rate for short-term funding. Deutsche Bank also paid 230 bps over benchmarks for a senior seven-year bond that can absorb losses in a crisis. By comparison, French banking giant BNP Paribas SA last month offered 50 bps less for equally-ranked notes that mature one year later. More embarrassing, Deutsche Bank paid a higher rate than Spanish lender CaixaBank, which recently raised five-year bonds at 225bp.

In a latest note to clients, Corinna Dröse, a Frankfurt-based bond analyst at DZ Bank, said: “The high spreads reflect [Deutsche’s] high idiosyncratic risk, which is rooted in the lender’s chronic weakness in earnings.” “Deutsche has to pay significantly higher risk premiums than almost all other large European banks . . . [the] high spreads express severe doubts, mainly triggered by its poor revenue,” said Michael Hünseler, head of credit portfolio management at Assenagon. Intimately linked with the bank’s deteriorating fortunes – and stock price – investors are increasingly demanding that Deutsche Bank pay higher rates of return than even some of Europe’s “most troubled banks” as the firm grapples with a prolonged decline in revenue.

Finance chief James von Moltke said last year that the bank was caught in a “vicious circle” of declining revenue, sticky expenses, a lowered credit rating and rising funding costs. While the firm cut expenses, revenue and the price of funding remain a concern. “A key priority for us now is lowering our funding costs and improving our credit ratings,” von Moltke said during a call with fixed-income investors last week. “We must not compromise on the strength of our capital, funding, or liquidity, but we have to prove that we can generate long-term, sustainable profitability.”

Read more …

It’s not about eating meat, it’s about industrial farming. All these scientists telling people what to eat are useless.

Nearly A Fifth Of The EU’s Budget Goes On Livestock Farming (G.)

Nearly a fifth of the EU’s total budget – more than £24bn of taxpayer money – goes to support livestock farming across Europe, according to new research by Greenpeace. At a time when scientists are calling for significant reductions in meat consumption, the report’s authors say taxpayers’ money should be redirected away from grain-fed, industrial animal farming. Last month, the Eat-Lancet Commission of scientists called for a new plant-focused diet to help avoid dangerous levels of climate change and the destruction of wildlife. Such a diet would require cutting red meat consumption in Europe by 77%.

Public Health England’s dietary guidelines recommend that meat and dairy, including non-animal-based protein alternatives such as beans and pulses, should make up no more than our 20% of dietary intake. Yet, Europeans eat more than twice as much meat as national dietary authorities recommend, as well as twice the global average. “Adopting diets lower in meat and dairy would not only tackle health problems but would also reduce the pressure on land, freeing up more space for nature,” said the Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero. [..] Researchers calculated that 125 million hectares (308 million acres) of land in Europe is used to graze livestock or produce feed – this includes more than 60% of arable land that could otherwise be used to grow food directly for human consumption.

Read more …

China has no idea what democracy is. But it has a ruling class just like our countries.

China Has No Use For Democracy. It Needs A Strong Leader Like Xi (SCMP)

Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to meet nearly every Chinese leader since the 1930s (with the exception of Mao Zedong), including Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Jingwei and more contemporary figures such as Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin and Xi. As individuals, they frequently came off as kind, caring and intelligent. From afar, as I watched them govern, I would view them in a different light, as dictators. This is the reality of leadership in China. Previously, emperors in China were said to rule because of their “Mandate of Heaven”. When Mao seized power, it was clear that he had won his position through revolution. Yet the selection of Xi, like the selection of his predecessors since Mao’s death in 1976, is cloaked in secrecy.

Even those in the US who question whether, and to what degree, Russian interference influenced the 2016 election will concede that, based on US law, Trump is a legally elected president. These results are publicly available, and have been analysed repeatedly by the media, politicians and the American public. But China lacks such luxuries. Its citizens have no official records to turn to for an explanation of why and how Xi was chosen. [..] Under Xi’s leadership, China has adopted a more aggressive stance internationally, imprisoned thousands of party members on corruption charges and removed constitutional limitations on presidential term limits. Amid these developments, the question of how Xi was chosen again comes to mind. The short answer is, we can only guess.

Read more …

Why, why and why?

History’s 10 Most Culturally Significant Dick Pic Scandals (Taibbi)

The AMI-Jeff Bezos scandal is set up to dominate headlines for a while. Who knows where it will lead? In the third world, an oligarch-president proxy war playing out in public like this usually presages a coup. If this were Thailand or Uruguay, bookies would already have odds on a Bezos-Mark-Zuckerberg-Sundar-Pichai junta being in power by May. This scandal will at least drag us through unprecedented legal and ethical conundrums. Can the president use the surveillance powers of the state to go after political enemies? Can a billionaire intelligence contractor and administrator of one of earth’s largest private data collections — including the so-called “Secret Region” cloud — fight back using his own surveillance trove through a newspaper he owns?

This story could blur the lines between public and private power to the point of meaninglessness. America could very well find its fate decided by a series of pre-dawn phone calls, after which we’d wake up to find Trump flying to Switzerland, Amazon lieutenants in the Joint Chiefs office and the presidency replaced by an executive board. At the center of all of this: a dick pic. Nothing could be more American than the fate of our democracy now hanging (!) on what Enquirer editor Dylan Howard euphemistically describes as a “below-the-belt selfie.”

Read more …

Jan 262019
 


Giuseppe Arcimboldo Four elements – Water 1566

 

Roger Stone’s Indictment Proves No Contacts With Assange – WikiLeaks (RT)
Roger Stone Indictment Packed With Details That May Make Trump Sweat (G.)
Congress Clears Stopgap Bill To End Shutdown, Trump Sends Warning (ZH)
Elliott Abrams, Prominent DC Neocon, Named Special Envoy For Venezuela (Pol.)
In the Deep Mid-Winter (Kunstler)
EU Elections In May Could Oust Those ‘Who Really Believe In Europe’ (CNBC)
Protests in France and Venezuela – Spot the Difference (Clark)
China Can No Longer Rely On Real Estate For Growth, Infrastructure Next (CNBC)
China’s Slowing Economy Makes It Harder For Companies To Pay Debts (CNBC)
UK Justice System In ‘Crisis’ As Only 8% Of Crimes Prosecuted (Ind.)

 

 

Glenn Greenwald says the FBI didn’t tell CNN about the raid, they figured it out due to intense grand jury activity. Be that as it may, Stone was never a flight risk that warranted a very early morning raid by dozens of heavily armed agents. Certainly not if he was going to walk free within hours regardless.

What strikes me is that it’s all still based on Mueller’s indictment of anonymous Russians, and of Assange, none of whom can defend themselves; he can say what he wants and will never be taken to task. Key person in this is Guccifer 2, portrayed as a Russian asset, something that’s been discredited as much as the Russians and Assange indictment was by Aaron Maté and Adam Carter.

And there is zero proof of Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks, that is all just wishful thinking. Also on his part, true, but how many times does WikiLeaks have to deny unproven accusations?

Roger Stone’s Indictment Proves No Contacts With Assange – WikiLeaks (RT)

The indictment of Roger Stone, former adviser to Donald Trump, who was arrested by the FBI, has revealed more evidence that Trump’s campaign had no “back channel” with WikiLeaks, the whistleblower organization said. Stone was arrested early on Friday at his home during a massive FBI raid in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While the arrest came as a part of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion between Donald Trump and Russia, Stone stands accused of a bunch of process crimes. He faces one count of obstruction of proceedings, one count of witness tampering, and five counts of false statements. Stone has pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bail later on Friday.

The indictment has shed more light on the lack of any link between WikiLeaks and Trump’s associates, the whistleblower website said in a tweet, dismissing the earlier claims as “braggadocio.” WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange himself, have repeatedly denied having any connection to Stone. During Trump’s elections campaign, Stone repeatedly boasted about having links to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, yet later backtracked on such statements. He claimed instead that it was actually a sort of “back channel,” facilitated by New York radio host and comedian Randy Credico (named “Person 2” in the indictment). Credico has firmly denied the claim.

The indictment shows a text message from Credico, dating back to December 2017, where he urges Stone to be “honest” with the FBI, stating that “there was no back channel.” Stone, in his turn, replied “I’m not talking to the FBI and if your smart you won’t either.” Stone apparently lived by his own advice and refused to testify about WikiLeaks and the whole ‘Russiagate’ affair, invoking the Fifth Amendment constitutional protection against self-incrimination last December.

Read more …

A view from the other side.

Roger Stone Indictment Packed With Details That May Make Trump Sweat (G.)

The criminal indictment of Roger Stone is packed with the kind of colourful details one might expect from the flamboyant rogue, who has been dealing in dirty tricks for more than 40 years. Between threatening an associate’s therapy dog and quoting his political hero Richard Nixon, the indictment also described Stone urging a witness to “do a Frank Pentangeli” – the mobster who lied to Congress in The Godfather Part II. But it is the dry prose of Robert Mueller’s 12th paragraph that is most likely to have Donald Trump sweating on Friday, after his government’s FBI agents arrested his longtime friend and adviser in a dramatic pre-dawn raid in Florida with guns drawn.

It states that after WikiLeaks had begun releasing hacked Democratic emails, “a senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton campaign”. This direction was given to the senior Trump campaign official after 22 July 2016 – more than a month after it was reported that it was Russian government hackers who had broken into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems. Several questions naturally follow: who was the senior campaign official? Who gave the order? And could it have been candidate Trump himself?

Mueller’s primary task as special counsel was to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” on the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election campaign. Since then, Trump has repeatedly said there was “no collusion”. His loyalists have worked to raise the bar in the public’s mind, so that anything short of Mueller finding a secret deal with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will clear Trump of wrongdoing. But running through Mueller’s indictment of Stone and his charges against Russian hackers last July is the makings of a case that there was, in fact, coordination.

In short, Mueller said on Friday, Trump, or his most senior aides, ordered a trusted associate to bring them into the loop on the fruits of what they knew to be a Russian government hack of American victims – and on the schedule for its publication. Trump’s team could then shape their campaign tactics around this calendar. And last July, Mueller hinted at evidence of coordination in the other direction. His indictment of the Russian hackers said they attempted “for the first time” to break into email accounts used by Clinton’s personal office “after hours” on 27 July 2016. That day, at an event in Florida, Trump urged Russia to search for the approximately 30,000 emails that Clinton was found to have deleted from her private server on the grounds that they were not related to government work.

Read more …

Everyone on CNN drools.

Congress Clears Stopgap Bill To End Shutdown, Trump Sends Warning (ZH)

Update 7 (1942ET): As expected Congress easily advanced the three-week funding bill, and is is now headed to Trump’s desk where he is expected to sign it later Friday. However, President Trump had the last word before he signs the bill, lashing out at those who claim he folded:

Read more …

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Iran-Contra, 2002 Venezuela coup, hands dripping with blood, this guys is worse than Bolton. Founding member of the Project for a New American Century.

Elliott Abrams, Prominent DC Neocon, Named Special Envoy For Venezuela (Pol.)

Elliott Abrams, a controversial neoconservative figure who was entangled in the Iran-Contra affair, has been named as a Trump administration special envoy overseeing policy toward Venezuela, which has been rocked by a leadership crisis. Abrams’ appointment, announced Friday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is something of a surprise — President Donald Trump nixed his 2017 bid to be deputy secretary of State after learning that Abrams had criticized him. [..] Abrams, who served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, is a well-known and somewhat controversial figure in U.S. foreign policy circles.

He has often expressed hawkish views and is fiercely pro-Israel, but he also has written and spoken eloquently about the need to support human rights around the world. Abrams was deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration and was instrumental in Middle East policy at the time, including supporting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. There were also allegations that he supported a military coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, damaging the U.S. relationship with the government there after the plot ultimately failed. Abrams held multiple positions at the State Department under President Ronald Reagan, including assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

He was one of the Reagan administration’s fiercest advocates of armed support for Nicaraguan rebels and thus becae caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1991, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress about secret efforts to aid the rebels. President George H.W. Bush pardoned him the next year. Abrams is one of very few people who were critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign and yet have been allowed to join the Republican administration. Another, James Jeffrey, is a special envoy dealing with Syria policy. Pompeo on Friday spoke warmly of Abrams, saying he “will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.”

Read more …

“The fight over the new order struggling to be born will be even harsher and deadlier. But we may not be as confused about what’s at stake.”

In the Deep Mid-Winter (Kunstler)

The Democratic Party should have been tossed into the rubber room two years ago, but it’s still out there shrieking in its straight-jacket of bad faith. Kamala, Liz, and Kirsten will mud-wrestle for dominance, but so far, the only cards they can show are the race-and-gender jokers in the deck. Meanwhile, the government shutdown standoff may not be the “winner” move that Nancy Pelosi thought it would be. Why do you suppose she thought that the voters would only blame the Golden Golem of Greatness? She could be gone as Speaker when we’re back in shirtsleeve weather.

Also in the background: the likely shocking reversal of the long, dreary, RussiaGate affair as about twenty-odd former officials of the FBI, Department of Justice, CIA, State Department, and other dark corners of the Deep State answer charges of sedition in federal court. Many of them are connected, one way or another, to Hillary Clinton, who may be targeted herself. Robert Mueller is also liable to be smacked with a malicious prosecution charge in the matter of General Michael Flynn when he withdraws his guilty plea in March. A significant moment will be when Dean Baquet is fired as editor of The New York Times, after years of running the “newspaper of record” as an exercise in nonstop PMS.

Financial crack-up and RussiaGate reversal will leave both major parties gasping in the mud as the tide goes out. And just in time for the Yellow Vest movement to cross the ocean and bring out the street mobs to slug it out on the National Mall in lovely weather. Finally, a protest you can believe in! By June, it will be clear that the old order is being swept away. The fight over the new order struggling to be born will be even harsher and deadlier. But we may not be as confused about what’s at stake.

Read more …

As I said two weeks ago in Europe is Burning.

EU Elections In May Could Oust Those ‘Who Really Believe In Europe’ (CNBC)

There are concerns at the heart of Brussels that upcoming elections could radically change the make-up of the EU. Amid a wave of anti-EU sentiment across many of the 28 member states, it’s expected that the upcoming elections in May — which elects representatives to the European Parliament — will see support for parties that have railed against the institution. “We might be the last (European) Commission that really is made up of people, who really believe in Europe,” Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for trade, said at a panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Thursday. “Yes, I am very worried,” Malmstrom added. The European Parliament, once formed, has a say on who will be the next president of the Commission and what their team will look like. Thus, the next Commission will be a reflection of what happens in the election.

[..] Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also the leader of the anti-immigration party Lega, has been looking for support to form a Euroskeptic alliance. Salvini traveled to Poland earlier this month to speak with the Polish prime minister about joining forces ahead of the vote. In October, Salvini met French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, saying the EU elections would signal “a common sense of revolution” across the member states. “For the very first time we are going to see real political elections … For the first time it is not just a repeat of the political balances in Europe,” Enzo Milanesi, Italy’s foreign affairs minister, said at the same panel in Davos. Milanesi, who declares himself as an independent, added that the election “could change the face of things.”

Read more …

As Varoufakis said, Macron is a spent force.

Protests in France and Venezuela – Spot the Difference (Clark)

The ‘Yellow Vest’ anti-government protests in France have received limited coverage in Western media and what coverage there has been has been quite hostile to the protestors. In Venezuela though it’s a very different story. Here the street demonstrations are a major news event, despite the country being thousands of miles away. Furthermore, the coverage is very sympathetic to the protestors and extremely hostile to the government. Why are angry street protestors in France bad, but in Venezuela very good? The answer has to do with the stances and international alliances of the respective governments. It’s inaccurate to call President Emmanuel Macron of France the President of the rich. He is, as his predecessor Francois Hollande admitted on French television, the President of the very rich.

Macron is an unashamed globalist, committed to carrying out neoliberal reforms at home, and following a ‘liberal interventionist’ ie imperalist foreign policy abroad, which means keeping French forces —illegally- in Syria. No wonder the elites are mad about the boy. The toppling of Macron, in a French Revolution 2.0, would be a huge blow to the most powerful people in the world. It cannot be allowed to happen. The French authorities have responded to the street protests with force; one activist was even sentenced to prison for six months — but this has largely been ignored by Western ‘liberals’ who would be so quick to denounce similar actions in other countries, whose government they don’t approve of. Instead, the message is ‘law and order must be maintained’.

[..] It’s a crowded field, but the prize for the biggest hypocrite of all goes to Emmanuel Macron. The man who has been clamping down on legitimate street protests at home, and whose approval rating slumped to just 21% earlier this month, published a tweet in which he praised ‘ the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who are marching for their liberty”. For the Yellow Vests protestors, and indeed for anyone else who genuinely supports liberty, that really is one sick joke.

Read more …

Does Beijing have the space for a new Deal?

China Can No Longer Rely On Real Estate For Growth, Infrastructure Next (CNBC)

Chinese authorities face an ever-growing list of challenges — be it an ongoing trade fight with the U.S. or headwinds in domestic demand — and it appears they don’t have many tools left to spur the economy amid a slowdown. The real estate market in China has traditionally played a major role in it’s economic development, household wealth and public sentiment and was used by Beijing to stimulate growth during previous downturns, including one just three years ago. But along with a Chinese penchant for investing in houses, persistent expectations of government support sent prices and the household debt burden soaring. That’s created a delicate situation, one which analysts expect Beijing will not touch this time around, except to keep prices steady.


Moody’s

Junheng Li, founder of China-focused equity research firm JL Warren Capital, estimates 61 percent of Chinese urban households live in homes less than 10 years old. She also notes there are many older units that are still in good condition. “(Some) simple math shows that continuously building new homes to stimulate investments and meanwhile create the false impression of wealth effect coming with home price appreciation is about to hit the wall,” she said in a January report. “Chinese policy makers are fully aware and highly alert not to send the wrong signal to the home buyers that home prices will continue to hike.” As Beijing tries to shift its economy to one that’s driven by consumption, the worry is that consumers will not have the means, or the enthusiasm, to spend. Already, retail sales growth has slowed significantly amid uncertainty about U.S.-China trade tensions and the impact on economic growth.

Economists at Moody’s Analytics pointed out in December that Chinese disposable income has grown at an average annual rate of 10 percent for the last six years, while household debt — of which the majority is tied to housing — has grown at an average rate of 20 percent a year. In the past year, the average rate of household debt growth climbed to 26 percent, the report said.

Read more …

Don’t forget local governments and their debts to shadow banks.

China’s Slowing Economy Makes It Harder For Companies To Pay Debts (CNBC)

Even as Beijing pushes out new measures to stimulate its economy, China’s growth slowdown will make it harder for the country’s companies to pay their debts this year, ratings agencies say. The Chinese government on Monday announced official GDP figures for last year that showed the world’s second-largest economy expanded at its slowest pace in nearly three decades. And while an annual growth rate of 6.6 percent is a figure most countries could only dream of, it marked a continued slide for Asia’s largest economy. Slower growth can mean weaker profitability for indebted companies and increased risk for those holding their bonds.

“The economic chill in China is spreading, threatening to weaken profitability across nearly all sectors in corporate China,” S&P Global Ratings said in a report Monday. S&P added that it “believes debt-servicing capabilities will decline as demand cools and profit margins contract,” while Beijing’s ongoing efforts to reduce debt levels in the country may pause — or even reverse. “While policymakers have intentionally steered the country toward a lower and more sustainable growth path, the broadness of the decline in recent months is raising concerns,” the report said, adding that S&P expects corporate default rates to “rise modestly” this year.

Read more …

Austerity Theresa May style. Who do you think rules that country if crime is not prosecuted?

UK Justice System In ‘Crisis’ As Only 8% Of Crimes Prosecuted (Ind.)

Tens of thousands more crimes are not being prosecuted amid warnings of a worsening “crisis” in Britain’s criminal justice system. Almost 92 per cent of offences do not result in perpetrators being charged or summonsed in England and Wales, with the number of offences taken to court dropping by almost 30,000 in a year. Lawyers, police officers and victim support workers interviewed by The Independent blamed a perfect storm of police cuts, rising crime, rows over disclosure, falling confidence and the backlash to a series of collapsed rape cases. Figures published by the Home Office show in the year ending September 2018 only 8.2 per cent of 5 million recorded crimes were prosecuted, down from 9.5 per cent the previous year.

The proportion of offences charged fell across all categories – from violence to drugs, robbery, weapons possession and theft. The lowest figures were for sexual offences (4 per cent), with only 1.9 per cent of recorded rapes prosecuted – down from 2.4 per cent the previous year. Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow solicitor general, said the statistics made “very worrying reading”. “This is, sadly, no surprise given the swingeing government cuts to both police and Crown Prosecution Service budgets,” he added. “The government has to step up to the plate and provide the resources needed to properly support victims and ensure that no stone is left unturned in bringing people to justice.”

Read more …

Jan 232019
 


Pablo Picasso The classical head 1922

 

 

David Attenborough And Prince William Urge World Leaders On Environment (G.)
The Super Rich At Davos Are Scared Of Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal (CNBC)
EU Fossil Fuel Subsidies Still At The Same Level As 2008 (G.)
Shutdown Reveals Most Americans Are Unprepared For The Next Recession (MW)
Unusually Large Drop In US Home Sales Has Real Estate Agents Baffled (CNBC)
Moonwalking with Theresa May: Unboxing Brexit ‘Plan C’ (George Galloway)
Companies Press Brexit Panic Button In Further Blow To Theresa May (G.)
Britain ‘Could Triple State Aid For Industry Under EU Rules’ (G.)
France And Germany Take Major Step Toward EU Army (ZH)
Trump Won’t Soften Hardline On China To Make Trade Deal (R.)
Chinese App ‘Live-Shames’ Debtors Within 500-Meter Radius (ZH)
‘Never Good News Having Particles in Your Brain’ (Spiegel)

 

 

This curious spectacle of the rich and famous pretending to tackle a crisis. As I was filing this article, Bloomberg ran a headline for a live event that went: “Bono and Christine Lagarde Discuss How to Address Income Inequality”

David Attenborough And Prince William Warn World Leaders On Environment (G.)

Sir David Attenborough has warned that humankind has the power to exterminate whole ecosystems “without even noticing”, and urged world leaders to treat the natural world with respect, during an interview with Prince William in Davos. Prince William also took world leaders to task at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, asking Attenborough why those in key positions have “taken so long” to address climate change. Attenborough said the connection between the natural world and urban societies had been “remote and widening” since the industrial revolution, meaning humans do not realise the effect their actions have on the global ecosystem. The 92-year-old broadcaster added that it was “difficult to overstate” the urgency of the environmental crisis.

“We’re now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, the mechanisms we have for destruction are so wholesale and so frightening, that we can actually exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing it. We have to now be really aware of the dangers of what we’re doing, and we already know that of course the plastic problem in the seas is wreaking appalling damage upon marine life, the extent of which we don’t yet fully know.” He stressed that the natural world “is not just a matter of beauty, interest and wonder” but a coherent ecosystem on which we depend for “every breath we take, every mouthful of food we take.” A healthy planet, Attenborough added, is an essential part of human life. “If we don’t recognise the kind of connections I’ve been describing, then the whole planet comes in hazard, and we are destroying the natural world and with it ourselves.”

Read more …

Catchy headline, but… She’ll be whistled back any time now. Can’t steal Kamala’s, or Warren’s, or Bernie’s headlights.

“I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong..”

The Super Rich At Davos Are Scared Of Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal (CNBC)

The elite financiers attending the World Economic Forum are worried about the 70 percent tax rate on earnings above $10 million proposed by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. “It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer for $265 billion Guggenheim Partners, said in an interview. “By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum,” said Minerd, who added that he would probably be personally impacted by it. “And I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.”

The billionaires and millionaires attending Davos had misgivings about Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal, which she made during a recent interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” A poll found that 59 percent of voters were in favor of the idea, and even 45 percent of Republicans liked it. The lawmaker has turned heads in Washington and on Wall Street with her left-wing economic rhetoric, despite only being sworn into office earlier this month. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, identifies as a Democratic-Socialist. In Davos, Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone and Republican megadonor, said sarcastically that he is “wildly enthusiastic” about the lawmaker’s proposed tax hike. He added that “the U.S. is the second most progressive tax regime in the world,” meaning that tax rates climb along with higher incomes.

The remarks at Davos came a day after Ocasio-Cortez had even more harsh words about how the U.S. economy works. “I do think a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong,” she said at a New York event on Martin Luther King Day. Ocasio-Cortez addressed this article in a tweet Tuesday. “It’s wild that some people are more scared of a marginal tax rate than the fact that 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need, like food or rent,” she wrote.

Read more …

They all talk green in Davos. But this is what they actually do. Your politicians won’t save the planet.

EU Fossil Fuel Subsidies Still At The Same Level As 2008 (G.)

The UK leads the European Union in giving subsidies to fossil fuels, according to a report from the European commission. It found €12bn (£10.5bn) a year in support for fossil fuels in the UK, significantly more than the €8.3bn spent on renewable energy. The commission report warned that the total subsidies for coal, oil and gas across the EU remained at the same level as 2008. This is despite both the EU and G20 having long pledged to phase out the subsidies, which hamper the rapid transition to clean energy needed to fight climate change. Germany provided the biggest energy subsidies, with €27bn for renewable energy, almost three times the €9.5bn given to fossil fuels.

Spain and Italy also gave more subsidies to renewable energy than fossil fuels. But along with the UK, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland all gave more to fossil fuels. The report is based on 2016 Eurostat data, the latest available, and found that across the EU renewable energy received 45% of subsidies and fossil fuels 33%. The commission report said policies were being pursued to cut carbon emissions and meet the Paris climate agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels. “However, despite this and the international commitments made in the context of G20 and G7, fossil fuel subsidies in the EU have not decreased,” it said. “EU and national policies might need to be reinforced to phase out such subsidies.”

Read more …

We already knew that. It’s just one more sign.

Shutdown Reveals Most Americans Are Unprepared For The Next Recession (MW)

The government shutdown, the longest in history, comes with a hidden revelation: Millions of Americans are financially unprepared for the next economic downturn. Worse, they are highly vulnerable, with few protections available to them. Ten years after the financial crisis, the economic recovery has left millions behind with little to no savings, and the government shutdown serves as a preview for what will happen once unemployment rises from 50-year lows. Within just a few weeks into the government shutdown, people are struggling to cope. [..] Why do a few weeks without pay turn into a crisis for many families? Simple: Nearly 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. That’s a problem when you have little to no savings. In fact, it’s akin to playing financial Russian roulette.

And the problem is terrifyingly pervasive. According to a recent GoBankingRates survey, only 21% of Americans have more than $10,000 in savings, with nearly 60% having less than $1,000 in savings. This savings-free game of complacency works as long as people have a steady paycheck coming in and as long as interest rates stay low. But they are not staying low, even though the Federal Reserve may be patient again this year, as it has proclaimed in recent days. As a matter of fact, the cost of carrying debt, especially the revolving credit-card type, have exploded higher since the Fed tempered rate increases. Think I’m exaggerating? How about this: Interest rates on credit cards by commercial banks are now as high as they were in 2000:

Read more …

Baffled by the obvious.

Unusually Large Drop In US Home Sales Has Real Estate Agents Baffled (CNBC)

Real estate brokers are trying to figure out why sales of existing homes plunged in December. The 6.4 percent monthly move was unusually large, regardless of direction. The tally from the National Association of Realtors generally moves in the very low single digits month to month. In fact, the shift was one of the largest that didn’t involve some sort of change in government policy, like the homebuyer tax credit. “The latest decline is harder to explain. Perhaps it is the decline in consumer confidence that’s been occurring in the latter half of 2018,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. “The latest numbers do not reflect the lower, current mortgage rates compared to the November figures, so it’s really harder to explain.”

The supply of homes for sale also rose just more than 3 percent compared with a year ago. Low supply had been holding sales back last spring, despite strong demand, so it would make sense that more supply would boost sales, unless this is a sign that demand is weakening. “This weakness is certainly due to the sharp home price gains along with the rise in mortgage rates,” said Peter Boockvar, CIO at Bleakley. Affordability has been blamed for slower sales over the past six months, but sales in December matched the same pace as in 2000, and Yun argues that affordability is better now. “Today it is actually more affordable compared to year 2000, yet we have about 20 million more jobs, so for home sales to be roughly equivalent means that in 2018 there is an underperformance of the overall housing sector.”

Read more …

A very useful set of numbers from Galloway. As I said yesterday: the first to jump party lines wins. 200 Tories and 100 Labours want no Hard Brexit and no general election. Throw in fringe parties and you have a solid majority. Call it a national government.

Moonwalking with Theresa May: Unboxing Brexit ‘Plan C’ (George Galloway)

There are 317 Conservative MPs. At least 100 of them are Brexiteers who would never go quietly into the good night of the current political dispensation. But 200 of them conceivably could if it meant: a) avoiding a “Hard-Brexit” and b) avoiding a General Election. There are 256 Labour MPs. Most of them hate the idea of Brexit and many of them equally hate the idea of a General Election, which would bring their own leader to power. Mindful though that MacDonald became a historic by-word for treachery in the labor movement and that “all over the country Labour people turned his portrait to face the wall” in the wake of his betrayal, let’s imagine 100 of the current crop of Labour MPs “doing a MacDonald” and betraying their banner. That gives us a hypothetical 300 MPs in a House of 650.

That makes them the “biggest party” in the house by far and with a claim to the Speaker and the Queen for recognition as the “Government” of the UK. When you factor in the support (assured) of the 11 Liberal Democrats the 35 Scottish Nationalists (if their deal was right) the 8 independents, (assured) the 4 Welsh Nationalists (assured) the one Green MP (assured) and the assured abstention from the House of the 7 Sinn Fein MPs (Irish Republicans who cannot swear allegiance to the Queen and thus cannot take their seats) this would give the “National Government” bloc 359 MPs in a House of effectively 640 (650 less 7 SF and 3 Speakers and Deputy Speakers) A much more “strong and stable” government than Theresa May could even dream off. Their purpose – canceling Brexit.

Read more …

What took them so long?

Companies Press Brexit Panic Button In Further Blow To Theresa May (G.)

The scale of no-deal panic gripping major companies has been thrown into sharp focus by a series of damage-limitation announcements, as corporate Britain signalled it is running out of patience with Westminster gridlock. Sir James Dyson, the Brexit-backing billionaire, dealt a further blow to the government by revealing he is shifting his company headquarters to Singapore in a move that drew sharp criticism. Dyson’s decision to move his HQ out of the UK came on a day in which a series of high-profile names revealed measures to mitigate the impact of a disorderly departure from the EU:

• P&O announced that its entire fleet of cross-Channel ferries will be re-registered under the Cypriot flag, as the 182-year-old British maritime operator activated its Brexit plans. • Sony confirmed it is moving its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam. • The chief executive of luxury carmaker Bentley said the company was stockpiling parts and described Brexit as a “killer” threatening his firm’s profitability. • Retailers Dixons Carphone and Pets at Home announced plans to shore up supplies in the event of chaos at British ports.

P&O, which began life as the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation company in 1837, said all six of its cross-Channel ferries will be re-registered from the UK registry in Cyprus to keep EU tax benefits. The ferries include, the Spirit of Britain, the Pride of Kent and the Pride of Canterbury. Sony confirmed it was merging its London-based European unit with a new entity based in Amsterdam that would become the new continental HQ. Sony said: “In this way we can continue our business as usual without disruption once the UK leaves the EU.”

Read more …

Corbyn can nationalize the rialways and hospitals, and remain.

Britain ‘Could Triple State Aid For Industry Under EU Rules’ (G.)

Britain could triple state aid spending to industry without breaching EU rules, according to a study that compares government subsidies to promote economic growth across Europe. EU state aid rules “do not prevent an active industrial policy”, the report found, giving the green light to the UK government for an increase in its £7bn of state aid to nearer £21bn. The report by the left-leaning IPPR thinktank found that the EU’s state aid rules would apply to the UK once it had left the union because officials in Brussels would enforce the measures through a trade deal. The IPPR director, Tom Kibasi, said: “If the UK government decided to match Denmark, it could invest £250bn over a decade in a more active industrial policy.

“That would give it huge scope to support key areas of the economy, whether we remain in the EU or leave it.” The IPPR has not taken a view on Brexit, but its intervention in the debate over state aid will be keenly examined by Labour party supporters who voted to leave the EU. Like the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, many of them believed that rules imposed by Brussels would constrain a leftwing government from nationalising parts of the economy and from supporting cooperatives or providing funds through state-backed local banks.

State aid can range from a government tax relief scheme for investors to a local authority giving a subsidy to a property developer. It is normally prohibited to prevent trade and competition between firms from being distorted, discouraging investment and increasing costs to consumers. However, the EU has allowed hundreds of public investment programmes to go ahead that support businesses under a regime that the IPPR said was more flexible than it might appear.

Read more …

Doubling down on the very things that turns their people -and others- against them.

France And Germany Take Major Step Toward EU Army (ZH)

French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for what he previously called “a real European army” got a big boost on Tuesday amid France and Germany signing an updated historic treaty reaffirming their close ties and commitment to support each other during a ceremony in the city of Aachen, a border town connected to Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. But the timing for the renewal of the two countries’ 1963 post-war reconciliation accord is what’s most interesting, given both the rise of eurosceptic nationalism, the uncertainty of Brexit, and just as massive ‘Yellow Vests’ protests rage across France for a tenth week.

Macron addressed this trend specifically at the signing ceremony with the words, “At a time when Europe is threatened by nationalism, which is growing from within… Germany and France must assume their responsibility and show the way forward. Germany’s Angela Merkel agreed, adding in her own remarks: “We are doing this because we live in special times and because in these times we need resolute, distinct, clear, forward-looking answers.” The agreement, which is being described as sparse on specifics or detail, focuses on foreign policy and defense ties between Berlin and Paris. “Populism and nationalism are strengthening in all of our countries,” Merkel told EU officials at the ceremony. “74 years – a single human lifetime – after the end of the second world war, what seems self-evident is being called into question once more.”

Macron said those “who forget the value of Franco-German reconciliation are making themselves accomplices of the crimes of the past. Those who… spread lies are hurting the same people they are pretending to defend, by seeking to repeat history.” And in remarks that formed another affirmation that the two leaders are seeking to form an “EU army” Merkel said just before signing the treaty: “The fourth article of the treaty says we, Germany and France, are obliged to support and help each other, including through military force, in case of an attack on our sovereignty.” The text of the updated treaty includes the aim of a “German-French economic area with common rules” and a “common military culture” that Merkel asserted could “contribute to the creation of a European army”.

Read more …

US position gets stronger as China struggles.

Trump Won’t Soften Hardline On China To Make Trade Deal (R.)

As much as U.S. President Donald Trump wants to boost markets through a trade pact with China, he will not soften his position that Beijing must make real structural reforms, including how it handles intellectual property, to reach a deal, advisers say. Offering to buy more American goods is unlikely by itself to overcome an issue that has bedeviled talks between the two countries. Those talks are set to continue when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He visits Washington at the end of January. The United States accuses China of stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to share technology when they do business in China. Beijing denies the accusations.

With a March 1 deadline approaching to reach an agreement or risk an escalation of tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, the two sides are still far apart on key, structural elements critical for a deal, according to sources familiar with the talks. “We’re not yet in a position where our concerns have been addressed sufficiently,” one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said the Trump team, led by hardline U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was focused on such structural issues as well as trade imbalances. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Reuters that forced technology transfers, IP theft and ownership restrictions remained a top priority for Trump. “The president’s said many times how crucial that is, and he’s not going to back down,” Kudlow said.

Read more …

Is Orwell available in China? How much longer for? Then again, it’s about what tech can do. And what it can do in China, it can and will do where you live.

Chinese App ‘Live-Shames’ Debtors Within 500-Meter Radius (ZH)

Authorities in the northern Chinese province of Hebei have rolled out an app over WeChat which can tell people if they’re walking near someone in debt, according to China Daily. The program, aptly named “map of deadbeat debtors,” flashes a warning if someone in debt is within a 500-meter radius – showing their exact location according to a screenshot of the app. Whether the app reveals the debtors’ names or photos is unknown, nor does China Daily mention how much money is owed or to whom – but according to paper the app allows people to “whistle-blow on debtors capable of paying their debts.” “It’s a part of our measures to enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment,” said a spokesman for the Higher People’s Court of Hebei – which is behind the app.

The “map of deadbeat debtors” is yet the latest in China’s push towards a shame-based “social credit score” system which has already been deployed in several parts of the country. According to a November report, Beijing has an ambitious plan to control China’s citizens through a system of social scoring that punishes behavior it does not approve. [..] Hangzhou, the capital city of China’s Zhejiang province, rolled out its social credit system earlier this year, rewarding “pro-social behaviors” such as blood donations, healthy lifestyles, and volunteer work while punishing those who violate traffic laws, smoke and drink, and speak poorly about government.

Read more …

Plastics. “A standard 5-kilogram (11-pound) wash of polyester fabrics has been estimated to release up to 6,000,000 microfibers.” ” European shellfish consumers could potentially ingest 11,000 microplastic particles per year.”

‘Never Good News Having Particles in Your Brain’ (Spiegel)

Microplastics come from many sources, for example from the breakdown of larger items, abrasion from tires, microbeads from cosmetics or synthetic clothing fibers. A standard 5-kilogram (11-pound) wash of polyester fabrics has been estimated to release up to 6,000,000 microfibers. Through surface runoff, manufacturing processes, agriculture or waste water treatment facilities, most of this ends up in the environment, for example in rivers, and is eventually lost to the seas. Extrapolations suggest that up to 250 million tons of plastic will be present in the oceans by 2025.

Filter feeders like mussels seem to readily internalize microplastics, because they are of the same size as their preferred diet. It has been estimated that European shellfish consumers could potentially ingest 11,000 microplastic particles per year. A lot of the plastic particles in the environment are present in the atmosphere and transported by the wind. When you breathe in air, microscopic plastic particles are inhaled as well. Salt and sugar, for example, have also been reported to be contaminated with plastic, as well as honey and German beer. The analysis of tap water and bottled water found that a high proportion of drinking water contains plastic fragments.

Bigger particles are not readily absorbed. Most of these just seem to pass through the body without doing much harm. It is currently believed that these bigger particles do not penetrate deeply into organs and, if at all, can only cause some limited local inflammation or tissue abrasion. Smaller particles however, referred to as nanoplastics, are a different thing altogether. The smaller the size of the plastic particles, the more likely they are to cross biological barriers such as cell membranes. What we know is that nanoparticles in general can interact with proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in the body. Nanoparticles can even cross the blood-brain barrier and it seems probable that they can affect the central nervous system. Reports of behavioral changes in shrimp and fish exposed to nanoplastics support this hypothesis.

Plastic particles made fish eat slower and explore their surroundings less. There is no concrete evidence right now that nanoplastics penetrate brain tissue in humans, let alone affect behavior. But it has been reported that plastic particles cause oxidative stress in human cell lines. This could potentially cause a number of problems including tissue degradation or inflammation, and it flags up the possibility that an individual with a high concentration of plastic contamination in the central nervous system might have an adverse reaction. Depression for instance has been linked to nanoparticle toxicity in the central nervous system. The plastic fragments might even initiate plaque formation and make Alzheimer’s more likely. It is never good news having particles in your brain.

Read more …

Jan 202019
 


Pablo Picasso Woman in an armchair (Olga) 1922

 

Pelosi Rejects Trump Shutdown Deal Before President Announces It (O.)
Battle Royale (Jim Kunstler)
No President Since Lincoln Treated Worse Than Me – Trump (RT)
Theresa May Wants Irish Treaty To Break Brexit Impasse (R.)
One Thing To Be Grateful To Brexit For: Britons Are Buying Less On Credit (G.)
‘The Gilets Jaunes Are Unstoppable’ (Guilluy)
Yellow Vests Defy Macron ‘National Debate’ In 10th Saturday Of Protests (F24)
Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Regulator Has Plan To End Conservatorship (MW)
‘The Goal Is To Automate Us’: The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism (O.)

 

 

Pelosi and her ilk act as if they won the elections. They must be smart enough to know Trump does what he says he will?!

Pelosi Rejects Trump Shutdown Deal Before President Announces It (O.)

Donald Trump forged ahead on Saturday and proposed a deal to end the US government shutdown, despite Democrats having rejected it before he began to speak. If its timing was striking, the rejection was no surprise. In exchange for temporary concessions on the status of threatened migrant groups, the president doubled down on his demand for a border wall. A senior House Democratic aide told the Guardian the party, which has vowed not to give Trump funding for any wall, was not consulted. Speaking from the White House, the president outlined a plan that would extend protections for young undocumented migrants brought to the US as children, known as Dreamers, and individuals from some Central American and African nations, in exchange for $5.7bn for a wall on the US-Mexico border.

“A wall is not immoral,” he said, adding: “The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let that happen.” “As a candidate for president,” he said, “I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or the other.” Trump spoke as the partial shutdown of the federal government, the longest in US history, rolled through its 29th day. Prompted on 22 December over Trump’s demand for a wall, the partial closure of departments and services has left around 800,000 federal workers without pay. Hundreds of thousands of contractors are also going without a check.

Before the president took the podium, House speaker Nancy Pelosi panned his proposal. “Democrats were hopeful that the president was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-need discussion to protect the border,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately … his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total do not represent a good faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives. It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter.”

Read more …

“..a little dust-up in the meadows and cornfields known as the Civil War..”

Battle Royale (Jim Kunstler)

The effrontery of Ms. Pelosi, Speaker of the House, in cancelling Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address in the chamber she controls is perhaps the worst insult to institutional protocol since the spring day in 1856 when Congressman Preston Brooks (D-SC) skulked into the senate chamber and smashed Senator Charles Sumner (R-Mass) about the head within an inch of his life with a gold-headed walking stick. Brooks’s attack was launched after Sen. Sumner gave his “Bleeding Kansas” speech, arguing that the territory be let into the union as a “free” state, and denouncing “the harlot slavery,” whom he imputed was Rep. Brooks’s dearest consort.

Many of us — except perhaps students immersed in intersectional gender studies — know how that worked out: a little dust-up in the meadows and cornfields known as the Civil War. We’re about at that level of animosity today in the two federal houses of legislature, though it is very hard to imagine how Civil War Two might play out on the ground. Perhaps opposing mobs (not even armies) meet in the Walmart parking lots of Pennsylvania and go at it demolition derby style, with monster trucks bashing their enemies’ Teslas and Beemers. Throw in clown suits instead of blue and gray uniforms and we’ll really capture the spirit of the age.

Not to be outdone, days after the SOTU cancellation, the Golden Golem of Greatness cancelled a Democratic Party grandstanding junket to the Middle East, led by Ms. Pelosi. A US Air Force bus has just departed for Andrews Air Force Base, where an Air Force jet waited for the junketeers. But then, with impeccable timing, Mr. Trump cancelled the junket — denying the use of military aircraft as Commander-in-Chief — and forcing the bus back to town with its load of elected dignitaries and their luggage — making the reasonable suggestion that they fly a commercial airline instead.

Read more …

Trump trolling America.

No President Since Lincoln Treated Worse Than Me – Trump (RT)

Not since Abraham Lincoln has a US president been treated so badly by the media, Donald Trump lamented in a series of Twitter rants before going to Delaware to honor the four Americans killed in Syria. “Will be leaving for Dover to be with the families of four very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday. Two US troops, a civilian and a contractor were killed in a suicide bombing in the Kurdish-controlled northern Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday. But the president had no intention to focus on his surprise visit to Dower Airforce Base in Delaware for too long.

His next Twitter post was dedicated to a completely different subject, as Trump cited former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, who – according to him – said: “There has been no president since Abraham Lincoln who has been treated worse or more unfairly by the media than your favorite President, me!” At the same time, he insisted that “there has been no president who has accomplished more in his first two years in office!” Trump’s invocation of Lincoln prompted reactions from his supporters and opponents.

Read more …

May cannot have a bilateral treaty with Irleand that would essentially be designed to bypass the EU, as long as Ireland is part of the EU.

Theresa May Wants Irish Treaty To Break Brexit Impasse (R.)

British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to seek a bilateral treaty with the Irish government as a way to remove the contentious backstop arrangement from Britain’s divorce deal with the European Union, a newspaper reported. The Sunday Times said aides to May thought a deal with Ireland would remove the opposition to her Brexit plan from the Democratic Unionist Party that supports May’s minority government and from pro-Brexit rebels in her Conservative Party. However the Irish edition of the same newspaper quoted a senior Irish government source as saying the bilateral treaty proposal was “not something we would entertain” and a second senior political source as saying it would not work with the European Commission.

May suffered a heavy defeat in parliament on Tuesday when Conservative lawmakers and members of other parties rejected her Brexit plan by an overwhelming majority. That left Britain facing the prospect of no deal to smooth its exit from the EU in little more than two months’ time. May is due to announce on Monday how she plans to proceed. Many Conservatives and the DUP oppose the backstop that the EU insists on as a guarantee to avoid a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Earlier on Saturday, Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said Dublin’s commitment to the Brexit divorce deal struck with the British government was “absolute,” including the border backstop arrangement. The Sunday Times also said a group of lawmakers in Britain’s parliament would meet on Sunday to consider ways they could suspend the Brexit process, wresting control away from May’s government.

Read more …

There’s that question again: a sign of confidence or despair?

One Thing To Be Grateful To Brexit For: Britons Are Buying Less On Credit (G.)

A sharp decline in household spending on the never-never, and especially spending on credit cards, is a trend that must surely be welcomed. The Bank of England said last week in its quarterly credit health check that high street banks were about to witness the biggest decline in such borrowing since records began 12 years ago. Threadneedle Street said its index of demand for credit card lending over the three months to the end of March had dropped to -20.7 from -7.2. That is a far cry from the summer of 2017, when consumer borrowing soared above £200bn and MPs across the political spectrum became alarmed at the return of binge buying on plastic.

At that time, with wages flat or at least not rising by more than inflation, policymakers feared that households were supplementing their incomes with borrowing to the degree that they had in the run-up to the 2008 financial crash. Regulators reacted to the rise by telling banks to tighten up their lending criteria. Most institutions obeyed, as anyone tracking the trend for borrowing across 2018 can see. So far, so good. That, after all, was supposed to be how the regulators looked after the interests of the country and its economy, and kept individual households from borrowing more than they could afford to repay.

However, it also seems clear that another force was at play – the Brexit effect, which began to have an impact once it became clear that Theresa May’s government was struggling to find a formula that could win over a majority in the House of Commons. The fall in sentiment since last summer has proved to be dramatic – far sharper than the banks would ever have expected from a few little tweaks to their lending rules. And the lack of consumer borrowing has been felt in few places more than it has in the car industry. Since 2010, cars have increasingly been sold through complex lease deals that fall under the credit figures. By 2017, nine out of 10 cars were being sold this way. Then came the diesel emissions scandal and a confused government reaction, which discouraged sales.

Brexit made the situation worse. Consumers were already reluctant to make major purchases such as a new home, or big-ticket household items like furniture. Next on the list of things not to buy was a car. Figures from the industry show that car sales in the UK declined by almost 7% in 2018. With a major slice of credit no longer in demand, the borrowing figures were bound to tumble. The shocking element of the story is how much harm a fall in personal lending can cause to the British economy, which has already suffered a lopsided expansion since the financial crash.

Read more …

Excellent essay on what the Yellow Vests actually are.

‘The Gilets Jaunes Are Unstoppable’ (Guilluy)

‘Paris creates enough wealth for the whole of France, and London does the same in Britain. But you cannot build a society around this. The gilets jaunes is a revolt of the working classes who live in these places. ‘They tend to be people in work, but who don’t earn very much, between 1000€ and 2000€ per month. Some of them are very poor if they are unemployed. Others were once middle-class. What they all have in common is that they live in areas where there is hardly any work left. They know that even if they have a job today, they could lose it tomorrow and they won’t find anything else. ‘Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. …

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later. ‘The Brexit vote had a lot to do with culture, too, I think. It was more than just the question of leaving the EU. Many voters wanted to remind the political class that they exist. That’s what French people are using the gilets jaunes for – to say we exist. We are seeing the same phenomenon in populist revolts across the world. [ … ]

‘The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people. [ … ] Think of the ‘deplorables’ evoked by Hillary Clinton. There is a similar view of the working class in France and Britain. They are looked upon as if they are some kind of Amazonian tribe. The problem for the elites is that it is a very big tribe.

Read more …

Really, you think Macron can have his national debate? “..98 cases of serious injuries, including 15 cases of people losing an eye..”

Yellow Vests Defy Macron ‘National Debate’ In 10th Saturday Of Protests (F24)

Around 84,000 “Yellow Vest” demonstrators marched all around France on Saturday, marking a 10th straight weekend of anti-government protests, defying attempts by President Emmanuel Macron to channel their anger into a series of town hall debates. In Paris, Protesters assembled by the Invalides plaza near the National Assembly and marched through the city’s Left Bank in freezing temperatures. These demonstrations were largely peaceful but, according to reporters, clashes broke out late in the afternoon between police and demonstrators, some wearing masks, in Paris’ central Invalides district. Protesters threw firecrackers, bottles and stones at the police who responded with water cannon and tear gas to push them back.

Authorities said there were around 7,000 protesters in Paris, some of whom gathered near the world-famous Champs Elysees, while there were similar demonstrations in major cities across France. Rallies took place in Toulouse, Lyon, Rouen and other cities. According to the French Interior Ministry, some 84,000 people marched across France on Saturday, as many as last week. In the French capital though, there were fewer protestors on this 10th consecutive weekend than on the previous Saturday, when there were 8,000.

[..] the protesters behind the biggest crisis in Macron’s presidency remain fully mobilised. The centrist leader is hoping that the launch this week of a “grand national debate” on policy will mark a turning point. [..] many yellow vests have announced plans to boycott the discussions scheduled in dozens of towns and villages, seeing them as an attempt to drain support from a movement that erupted in mid-November over fuel taxes and quickly broadened into a campaign of weekly protests that have regularly ended in clashes with police and destruction of property. The growing number of demonstrators to suffer serious injuries at the hands of the police has compounded their anger towards the state. The “Disarm” collective, a local group that campaigns against police violence, has counted 98 cases of serious injuries, including 15 cases of people losing an eye, mostly after being hit by rubber bullets.

Read more …

Probably means they see a huge plunge come in housing.

Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Regulator Has Plan To End Conservatorship (MW)

The acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency has told the agency’s employees that the regulator will announce a plan within weeks to take the government-sponsored enterprises out of conservatorship. Joseph Otting, who is leading the FHFA as Mark Calabria awaits Senate confirmation, said at an all-hands meeting on Thursday that a plan to lift Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of the conservatorship that has permeated the institutions since the financial crisis will soon be announced, according to an attendee of that gathering. A spokesperson for the agency confirmed there was discussion about ending Fannie and Freddie conservatorship but denied there was any talk of timing or details.

“Acting Director Otting held the internal meeting to meet FHFA staff and establish open lines of communication,” the FHFA said. “He mentioned, as he previously has, that Treasury and the White House are expected to release a plan for housing that will include details about reform and will likely include a recommendation for ending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conservatorships. [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin has said that the goal of the [Trump] administration is to take the GSEs out of conservatorship. Acting Director Otting said that he and FHFA will work to advance that plan.” Fannie and Freddie were rushed into government control at the height of the financial crisis. Then, in 2012, the terms of the 2008 bailout were amended to steer the quarterly profits of both enterprises to Treasury. That wiped out holders of the companies’ stock, and they’ve fought the federal government in court ever since.

Read more …

Shoshana Zuboff’s new book The Age of Surveillance Capital sounds like a treat.

‘The Goal Is To Automate Us’: The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism (O.)

Surveillance capitalism is a human creation. It lives in history, not in technological inevitability. It was pioneered and elaborated through trial and error at Google in much the same way that the Ford Motor Company discovered the new economics of mass production or General Motors discovered the logic of managerial capitalism. Surveillance capitalism was invented around 2001 as the solution to financial emergency in the teeth of the dotcom bust when the fledgling company faced the loss of investor confidence. As investor pressure mounted, Google’s leaders abandoned their declared antipathy toward advertising. Instead they decided to boost ad revenue by using their exclusive access to user data logs (once known as “data exhaust”) in combination with their already substantial analytical capabilities and computational power, to generate predictions of user click-through rates, taken as a signal of an ad’s relevance.

Operationally this meant that Google would both repurpose its growing cache of behavioural data, now put to work as a behavioural data surplus, and develop methods to aggressively seek new sources of this surplus. The company developed new methods of secret surplus capture that could uncover data that users intentionally opted to keep private, as well as to infer extensive personal information that users did not or would not provide. And this surplus would then be analysed for hidden meanings that could predict click-through behaviour. The surplus data became the basis for new predictions markets called targeted advertising.

Here was the origin of surveillance capitalism in an unprecedented and lucrative brew: behavioural surplus, data science, material infrastructure, computational power, algorithmic systems, and automated platforms. As click-through rates skyrocketed, advertising quickly became as important as search. Eventually it became the cornerstone of a new kind of commerce that depended upon online surveillance at scale. The success of these new mechanisms only became visible when Google went public in 2004. That’s when it finally revealed that between 2001 and its 2004 IPO, revenues increased by 3,590%.

[..] Google began by unilaterally declaring that the world wide web was its to take for its search engine. Surveillance capitalism originated in a second declaration that claimed our private experience for its revenues that flow from telling and selling our fortunes to other businesses. In both cases, it took without asking. Page [Larry, Google co-founder] foresaw that surplus operations would move beyond the online milieu to the real world, where data on human experience would be free for the taking. As it turns out his vision perfectly reflected the history of capitalism, marked by taking things that live outside the market sphere and declaring their new life as market commodities.

We were caught off guard by surveillance capitalism because there was no way that we could have imagined its action, any more than the early peoples of the Caribbean could have foreseen the rivers of blood that would flow from their hospitality toward the sailors who appeared out of thin air waving the banner of the Spanish monarchs. Like the Caribbean people, we faced something truly unprecedented. Once we searched Google, but now Google searches us. Once we thought of digital services as free, but now surveillance capitalists think of us as free.

Bowie in 1999. He was a long way ahead.

Read more …

Jan 112019
 
 January 11, 2019  Posted by at 10:16 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Hieronymous Bosch The Haywain Triptych c.1516 (click to enlarge)

 

The Stock Market Just Got Off To Its Best Start In 13 Years (MW)
78% of US Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck (CNBC)
Fed’s Powell Says He Is ‘Very Worried’ About Growing Amount Of US Debt (CNBC)
Trump Digs In As Shutdown Continues (BBC)
Michael Cohen To Testify Publicly Before Congress In February (G.)
China Set To Lower GDP Growth Target In 2019 (R.)
Can The Chinese Consumer Be Resurrected? (Jim O’Neill)
Why I Asked May If She Is On The Side Of Putin Or The People (Moran)
May’s Brexit Deal ‘Threat To National Security’ – Former MI6 Chief (Ind.)
May Begs Unions To Help Salvage Her Brexit Deal (Ind.)
US Defenses No Match For Russian Hypersonic Missiles – Retired US General (RT)
Bases, Bases, Everywhere… Except in the Pentagon’s Report (Turse)
Oceans Warming Faster Than Expected, Set Heat Record In 2018 (R.)
Julian Assange’s Living Conditions Deteriorate (Cassandra Fairbanks)

 

 

And there’s still people who claim the stock market reflects the economy.

The Stock Market Just Got Off To Its Best Start In 13 Years (MW)

Things are coming up roses in the stock market, lately. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite Index are off to their best starts to a year since 2006 after a powerful series of gains. The Dow closed up 0.5% on Thursday, pushing its year-to-date gain to 2.89%, which would mark the best first seven days to a year since 2006, when stocks burst 3.04% higher over the same period. The S&P 500 rose 0.5% on the day and has returned 3.58% thus far this year, its best start since a 3.68% gain 13 years ago, while the Nasdaq Composite booked a 0.4% gain, enough for a 5.3% year-to-date advance, representing its best seven-session to kick off a year since its 5.72% rise also in 2006.

A late-session rally helped to solidify Thursday’s gains, coming after investors digested comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who pronounced at the Economic Club in Washington on Thursday afternoon that the economy is in good health, while adding that the central bank would be cognizant of stresses to financial markets amid rate hikes. The comments were a reiteration of Powell’s remarks last week during a broad panel discussion of current and former Fed bosses that helped to placate anxious investors and reverse what was shaping up to be another dismal year.

Read more …

Why is everybody quoting a 2017 report?

78% of US Workers Live Paycheck To Paycheck (CNBC)

The partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has now stretched well into the new year. President Donald Trump said Friday that it would continue for “months or even years” until he receives the requested $5 billion in funding for a border wall. The shutdown has left approximately 800,000 federal workers in financial limbo. Around 420,000 “essential” employees are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home, according to calculations provided to CNBC by Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University. In some cases, the furloughs have forced government employees to tap into their savings, rely on credit cards or crowdsource funds to make ends meet.

Government workers are far from alone in feeling stressed about not getting paid. Nearly 80% of American workers (78%) say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder. Women are particularly vulnerable: 81% of them report living paycheck to paycheck, compared with 75% of men. Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, tells CNBC that the group has heard from hundreds of frantic federal employees. “They’re scared,” he says. “They don’t know how they’re going to put food on the table.” Various #ShutdownStories making that point have gone viral on Twitter.

It’s not merely those earning low wages who are struggling. CareerBuilder reports that nearly 10% of Americans with salaries of $100,000 or more live paycheck to paycheck as well. That means that many workers aren’t able to put anything significant into savings. More than 50% of respondents say that they save less than $100 per month. And a comparable 2017 survey from GOBankingRates found that 61% of Americans don’t have enough money in an emergency fund to cover six months’ worth of expenses. [..] more than 70% of all respondents say that they’re in debt, and a quarter of workers say they weren’t able to make ends meet at the end of every month of the past year.

Read more …

Which his own Fed has encouraged like nobody else could.

Fed’s Powell Says He Is ‘Very Worried’ About Growing Amount Of US Debt (CNBC)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is concerned about the ballooning amount of United States debt. “I’m very worried about it,” Powell said at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. “From the Fed’s standpoint, we’re really looking at a business cycle length: that’s our frame of reference. The long-run fiscal, nonsustainability of the U.S. federal government isn’t really something that plays into the medium term that is relevant for our policy decisions.” However, “it’s a long-run issue that we definitely need to face, and ultimately, will have no choice but to face,” he added. The Fed chief’s comments came as the annual U.S. deficit reaches new sustained highs above $1 trillion, a fact many economists worry could spell trouble for future generations.

Annual deficits have topped $1 trillion before, but never during a time of sustained economic growth like now, raising concern about what would happen if a recession hits. Total U.S. debt is about $21.9 trillion, of which $16 trillion is owed by the public. In part because of continued rate increases under Powell, the interest cost on that debt could start to become a bigger and bigger burden. Wall Street’s “bond king” and respected financial prognosticator Jeffrey Gundlach said in December that the Fed seems to be on a “suicide mission,” raising rates while the government deficit increases as a share of GDP. Normally when the deficit is expanding, the Fed would be lowering interest rates.

Read more …

View from the MSM: Trump digs in, not the Dems.

Trump Digs In As Shutdown Continues (BBC)

US President Donald Trump has threatened again to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall without Congress’s approval. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” he told reporters. The White House has denied reports it is looking at diverting funds set aside for reconstruction projects. A political row over funding the wall has left the US government partially shutdown for 20 days, leaving about 800,000 federal employees without pay. President Trump has refused to sign legislation to fund and reopen the government if it does not include $5.7bn for a physical barrier along the US-Mexico border.

But budget talks have come to a standstill as Democrats – who control the House of Representatives – refuse to give him the money. Republican leaders insist the party stands behind the president, although some Republican lawmakers have spoken out in favour of ending the shutdown. On Thursday, Mr Trump visited a border patrol station in McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. He said that if Congress did not approve funding for the wall, he would “probably… I would almost say definitely” declare a national emergency to bypass lawmakers. But such a move is likely to face legal challenges. The money would also have to come from funds allocated by Congress for other purposes – which some Republicans would also oppose.

Read more …

Planning a huge media spectacle. Imagine all the readers and viewers… Trump keeps on giving. Bread and circuses it is.

Michael Cohen To Testify Publicly Before Congress In February (G.)

Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and aide Michael Cohen says he has accepted an invitation from a top House Democrat to testify publicly before Congress next month. His testimony before the House oversight and reform committee on 7 February will be the first major public oversight hearing for Democrats, who have promised greater scrutiny of Trump after winning control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections. Cohen said in a statement: “I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”

The New Yorker, who is to begin a three-year prison sentence in March, is a pivotal figure in investigations by the special counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, and by federal prosecutors in New York into campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments to two women who say they had sex with Trump. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s chair, said the panel would avoid interfering with Mueller’s investigation. “We have no interest in inappropriately interfering with any ongoing criminal investigations, and to that end, we are in the process of consulting with Special Counsel Mueller’s office,” Cummings said in a statement.

Read more …

But not to the 1.67% predicted by professor Xiang Songzuo, I’m sure.

China Set To Lower GDP Growth Target In 2019 (R.)

China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6% to 6.5% in 2019 compared with last year’s target of “around” 6.5%, policy sources told Reuters, as Beijing gears up to cope with higher U.S. tariffs and weakening domestic demand. The proposed target, to be unveiled at the annual parliamentary session in March, was endorsed by top leaders at the annual closed-door Central Economic Work Conference in mid-December, according to four sources with knowledge of the meeting’s outcome. Data later this month is expected to show the Chinese economy grew around 6.6% in 2018 — the weakest since 1990. Analysts are forecasting a further loss of momentum this year before policy support steps begin to kick in.

“It’s very difficult for growth to exceed 6.5% (this year), and there could be trouble if growth dips below 6%,” said one source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter. As the world’s second-largest economy loses steam, China’s top leaders are closely watching employment levels as factories could be forced to shed workers amid a trade war with the United States, despite a more resilient services sector, policy insiders said. Growth of about 6.2% is needed in the next two years to meet the ruling Communist Party’s longstanding goal of doubling gross domestic product and incomes in the decade to 2020, and to turn China into a “modestly prosperous” nation. [..] Local governments could be allowed to issue up to 2 trillion yuan worth of special bonds in 2019, up from 1.35 trillion yuan last year, they said.

Read more …

Goldman Sachs to the -image- rescue.

Can The Chinese Consumer Be Resurrected? (Jim O’Neill)

Last week, Apple published a letter to shareholders revising down its expected revenues for the first quarter of 2019, citing an economic slowdown in China, which has become an increasingly important market for iPhone, Mac, and iPad sales. Though tech industry analysts are debating whether internal dynamics at Apple might also explain the change, the company’s new guidance nonetheless adds to the evidence that Chinese consumption is slowing. A sustained decline in Chinese consumption would be even more worrying than the current US-China trade dispute.

Given that US trade policies and other external influences should not have much effect on domestic Chinese spending, the problem may be more deeply rooted in China’s economic model. To understand what is at stake, consider all that has changed just within the past decade. At the end of 2010, domestic consumption accounted for around 35.6% of Chinese GDP, according to official Chinese data. That was remarkably low compared to most other economies, not least the US, where consumption accounted for almost 70% of GDP. In nominal dollar terms, China’s domestic consumption thus was around $2.2tn, or almost five times lower than that of the US ($10.5tn).

Yet China’s high overall growth rate meant that Chinese consumers could potentially play a much larger role, with far-reaching benefits for global brands such as Apple, BMW, Burberry, Ford, and many others. As of 2017, Chinese consumption as a share of GDP had risen to 39.1%, representing just over $5tn in nominal dollar terms. That is an increase of almost $3tn in just seven years. And though Chinese consumer spending still lagged far behind that of the US ($13.5tn in 2017), the gap has narrowed. If China were to continue on the same trajectory in terms of nominal GDP growth and domestic consumption, its consumer spending could increase by another $2tn by 2020, putting it at around half that of the US. Chinese consumers would be more relevant to the global economy than anyone except Americans.

Read more …

From time to time you wonder what’s more hysterical, the Brexit mayhem or the UK’s fabricated Russophobia. This is pretty unbelievable, but it’s become normal.

Layla Moran is a Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.

Why I Asked May If She Is On The Side Of Putin Or The People (Moran)

For all the farcical invoking of Blitz spirit, Brexit isn’t merely an absurdist experiment in English nationalist nostalgia – it is the most audacious example yet of a futuristic Russian nationalism that seeks to divide and rule Europe. If we can be judged by our friends then Brexit has no stauncher ally than Vladimir Putin. After all, Donald Trump has proved unreliable. But Putin? It is hard to think of anyone who has done more for the cause (and that is not to take anything away from the years of Brexit monologues by Tory MP Bill Cash). Russian bot farms have been exposed as having supported the Leave campaign. This comes on top of allegations of iffy Russian money funding Brexit campaigns, and Arron Banks’ almost comical inability to explain his donations to Leave.

Comical, that is, if his scarcely thought through Brexit wasn’t driving Britain to what Hilary Clinton has called the single biggest act of deliberate self-harm a nation has ever committed. As if Russian interference in the original referendum was not shocking enough, it is still going on. The Channel 4 drama Brexit: The Uncivil War might have relegated Russian involvement to the briefest postscript, but in reality Putin is still in the trenches fighting for a hard Brexit. At a recent press conference Putin attacked the idea of a referendum on the deal, claiming the original result should be respected. Oh, the irony! Putin, the arch kleptocrat, giving advice on democracy. “Don’t steal Brexit,” he seemed to demand, while probably stealing (sorry, being gifted) another superyacht.

It should have been sufficiently chilling to make even Boris Johnson pause for thought. And all while using the Brexiteer message script of delivering the will of the people. As any student of Russian history could tell you, “the people” are often invoked by the Kremlin, including when justifying the mass murder of innocent people. But rarely does the Kremlin actually ask “the people” for anything so radical as an opinion. For Putin, “the people” are to be manipulated and even killed for his own ends. And Putin’s ends are clear. He wants a weak and divided EU. Ultimately, he seeks to break it up, with the Eastern bloc – brought into the European fold by Margaret Thatcher’s single market – dragged back into the lair of the Russian bear.

Read more …

And why not? If all else fails, scare them.

May’s Brexit Deal ‘Threat To National Security’ – Former MI6 Chief (Ind.)

The former head of MI6 has warned Theresa May’s Brexit deal will “threaten the national security of the country”, in a call for Tory MPs to reject it. The agreement would “place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands”, claims Sir Richard Dearlove, in an extraordinary letter to Conservative associations. It has also been signed by Lord Guthrie, a former chief of the defence staff, in a bid to stiffen grassroots resistance, ahead of next Tuesday’s vote.= Sir Richard and Lord Guthrie, who are both prominent Leave supporters, write: “Please ensure that your MP votes against this bad agreement.” The prime minister, a former home secretary, has insisted her agreement would protect national security by retaining existing cooperation arrangements during the 21-month transition.

However, she was forced to acknowledge the UK was likely to lose direct access to vital EU security databases after 2012, under the proposed long-term arrangements. In their letter, the ex-security chiefs argue the deal is dangerous because it would weaken membership of Nato and existing “close” defence and intelligence ties with the US. “This withdrawal agreement, if not defeated, will threaten the national security of the country in fundamental ways,” it says. Downing Street hit back immediately, insisting the letter was “completely wrong” and that the Brexit deal offered the broadest security agreement the EU has with any of its partners. But both sides of the Brexit divide seized on the intervention, arch-Brexiteer Owen Paterson calling it a “devastating warning”.

Read more …

After Tuesday all bets are off.

May Begs Unions To Help Salvage Her Brexit Deal (Ind.)

Theresa May has called the leaders of Britain’s biggest unions for the first time since becoming prime minister in a desperate bid to find backing for her Brexit deal. The calls to Unite leader Len McCluskey and the GMB’s Tim Roache – whose unions are Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest financial backers – mark just how far she is being forced to go in the hope of finding support for the deal expected to be rejected by MPs next week. She was scorned by second referendum-backing Mr Roache, who joked after his call that he was “glad the prime minister finally picked up the phone”. The unprecedented move came as she also sought to convince Labour MPs to back her by promising new commitments to maintain workers’ rights in line with EU standards after Brexit.

But expectations that she is heading for a heavy defeat on Tuesday simply grew further, with some estimates suggesting that opposition has actually grown since she delayed the vote on her deal in December. Capitalising on the deep Tory divisions, Mr Corbyn instead invited Conservative MPs to back a motion of no confidence in the government which he is promising to table if Ms May’s plans are defeated. Downing Street confirmed the calls to Mr Roache, whose union has 620,000 members, and Mr McCluskey, representing more than 1.4 million, and admitted it was the first time she had spoken to either of them since her arrival at No 10. The Independent understands the prime minister also attempted to call Dave Prentis, leader of Unison which also has some 1.4 million members, but could not get through because Mr Prentis was travelling.

Read more …

Click here for the original Hill article.

US Defenses No Match For Russian Hypersonic Missiles – Retired US General (RT)

A retired general and chief of staff has warned that the US’ missile defense systems are “simply incapable” of stopping the latest generation of Russian hypersonic missiles – some of which fly at 27 times the speed of sound. Now retired, Maj. Gen. Howard ‘Dallas’ Thompson was once Chief of Staff at US Northern Command in Ohio. In a column published by The Hill on Thursday, Thompson argues that military leaders have neglected to develop proper defenses against the hypersonic threat. There have been some calls for the US to pursue hypersonic weapons in defense policy circles, but America has lagged behind China – which conducted more tests in the last year than the US has is a decade – and Russia, which successfully tested such a missile in December. The ‘Avangard’ missile flew at Mach 27, and will be deployed in 2019.

At present, the US Missile Defense Agency’s sensors and radars are designed for one purpose: to counter an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fired by an adversary like Iran or North Korea. ICBMs have a predictable flight path, and the US’ Patriot and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries stand a reasonable chance of intercepting and destroying any incoming missiles. Not so with hypersonics. Missiles like ‘Avangard’ fly low and fast, evading radar detection. They can also engage in evasive maneuvers to dodge surface-to-air rockets or missiles, further lowering the chances of a successful interception.

“The stark reality is that our current missile defense systems, as well as our operational mindset, are simply incapable versus this threat,” Thompson wrote. The retired General’s words are backed up by a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, which concluded that there are “no existing countermeasures” against the threat. Thompson claims that a massive collaborative program between the Department of Defense and arms companies is needed to counter Russian and Chinese advances. “Countering this threat will require U.S. investment in an extensive defensive architecture,” he wrote. “…a highly robust ‘family of systems’ that nonetheless must be envisioned, designed, developed and deployed in a completely holistic manner.”

Read more …

800 bases, of which 300 are unreported?!

Bases, Bases, Everywhere… Except in the Pentagon’s Report (Turse)

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf was never actually on the Pentagon’s books. Opened in 2015 and, until recently, home to hundreds of U.S. troops, it was one of the many military bases that exist somewhere between light and shadow, an acknowledged foreign outpost that somehow never actually made it onto the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases. Officially, the Department of Defense (DoD) maintains 4,775 “sites,” spread across all 50 states, eight U.S. territories, and 45 foreign countries.

A total of 514 of these outposts are located overseas, according to the Pentagon’s worldwide property portfolio. Just to start down a long list, these include bases on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, as well as in Peru and Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. But the most recent version of that portfolio, issued in early 2018 and known as the Base Structure Report (BSR), doesn’t include any mention of al-Tanf. Or, for that matter, any other base in Syria. Or Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Niger. Or Tunisia. Or Cameroon. Or Somalia. Or any number of locales where such military outposts are known to exist and even, unlike in Syria, to be expanding.

[..] According to David Vine, author of Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, there could be hundreds of similar off-the-books bases around the world. “The missing sites are a reflection of the lack of transparency involved in the system of what I still estimate to be around 800 U.S. bases outside the 50 states and Washington, D.C., that have been encircling the globe since World War II,” says Vine

Read more …

The reporting on the issue seems broken.

Oceans Warming Faster Than Expected, Set Heat Record In 2018 (R.)

The oceans are warming faster than previously estimated, setting a new temperature record in 2018 in a trend that is damaging marine life, scientists said on Thursday. New measurements, aided by an international network of 3,900 floats deployed in the oceans since 2000, showed more warming since 1971 than calculated by the latest U.N. assessment of climate change in 2013, they said. And “observational records of ocean heat content show that ocean warming is accelerating,” the authors in China and the United States wrote in the journal Science of ocean waters down to 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the atmosphere, according to the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, and a large part of the heat gets absorbed by the oceans.

That in turn is forcing fish to flee to cooler waters. “Global warming is here, and has major consequences already. There is no doubt, none!” the authors wrote in a statement. Almost 200 nations plan to phase out fossil fuels this century under the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming. [..] Data due for publication next week will show “2018 was the warmest year on record for the global ocean, surpassing 2017,” said lead author Lijing Cheng, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He told Reuters that records for ocean warming had been broken almost yearly since 2000. Overall, temperatures in the ocean down to 2,000 metres rose about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18F) from 1971-2010, he said.

Read more …

Another issue on which reporting seems broken. We’re not getting anywhere.

Julian Assange’s Living Conditions Deteriorate (Cassandra Fairbanks)

I last visited Assange in March, days before the Ecuadorians placed the award-winning journalist in isolation for allegedly violating a draconian ban on all public political comments. [..] In order to visit the publisher last year, I simply organized it with him and his lawyer and went. This time I was required to provide details about my social media, my employer, and my reason for visiting in advance of my arrival and hope to be approved. If I wanted to bring my cell phone, I would have had to provide the brand, model, serial number, IMEI number and telephone number. Providing these details to a foreign nation with extreme surveillance seemed unwise, so I left it behind.

[..] Currently, Assange cannot even have a simple visit with a friend without it being monitored by some shadowy state actor. It’s like a scene from the Stasi spy drama The Lives of Others. While Ecuador presents this surveillance operation as a mission to “protect and support” Assange, this is contradicted by the fact that he isn’t even allowed to confidentially speak with a reporter and friend without being recorded. In May, the Guardian reported that there are “extraordinary reports” from these spies that include daily logs of Assange’s activities inside the embassy, even noting his “general mood.”

As John Pilger pointed out after his visit with Assange on New Year’s Eve, it could be any newspaper publisher or editor stuck in that embassy. For the crime of publishing journalism, Assange has not only had to give up his freedom, but also any semblance of privacy. It’s impossible to overstate how unsettling it feels to have multiple lenses pointed at you wherever you stand. Unable to speak privately, even with a noise machine attempting to muffle the microphones from picking up conversations, we resorted to passing notes. Assange is not only barred from sharing his views online under the new regulations — thanks to the constant surveillance, he can’t even do so among his friends in the embassy where he is arbitrarily detained.

If we value the principle of the freedom of speech — we must do something to stop this madness. While we do not know what Assange has been charged with by the U.S. as it remains under seal, we do know that it is related to his work as a publisher, the only publisher with a record of 100% accuracy. His dedication to truth is so profound that he has never once had to issue a correction or retraction.

Read more …

Dec 222018
 
 December 22, 2018  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Mattia Preti The Adoration of the Shepherds 1660-99

 

More Than Half A Million Americans Will Be Homeless This Christmas (F.)
Dow Dives 400 Points To End Its Worst Week In 10 Years (CNBC)
NY Fed President John Williams: Central Bank Is Listening To The Market (CNBC)
Shutdown Begins As Trump, Democrats Wrestle Over Border Wall (ZH)
A Fretful Holiday (Kunstler)
Chinese Leaders Promise Tax Cuts To Boost Flagging Economic Growth (CNBC)
Goldman Sachs Facing Class Action Lawsuits Over 1MDB Scandal (G.)
Corbyn: Brexit Would Go Ahead Even If Labour Won Snap Election (G.)
Der Spiegel To Run 23-Page Special On Reporter Who Faked Stories (AFP)
WikiLeaks Exposes US Embassies Stockpiling Spy Gear (RT)
UN Tells UK: Allow Assange To Leave Ecuador Embassy Freely (R.)
UN Experts Call For Assange’s Release As He Loses Last Appeal Over Rules (RT)
Risks Of ‘Domino Effect’ Of Tipping Points Greater Than Thought (G.)

 

 

That’s all? Hard to believe. But whatever the real number, isn’t this what Christmas is about, and what should dominate the news?

More Than Half A Million Americans Will Be Homeless This Christmas (F.)

More than half a million Americans are going to be homeless this coming holiday season. Despite seven years of steady progress and decline, the homeless population has now increased slightly for the second year running. A report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has found that just under 553,000 people are homeless, with approximately 65% staying in sheltered accommodation. Out of every 10,000 people in the United States, 17 experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018.

Half of all people experiencing homelessness are in one of five states – California (129,972 people), New York (91,897), Florida (31,030), Texas (25,310) and Washington (22,304). Unsurprisingly, the problem is far more visible in urban areas and over half of all homeless people live in one of the country’s 50 largest cities. In fact, nearly a quarter of all people sleeping rough did so in either New York or Los Angeles. The Big Apple has one of the lowest levels of unsheltered homeless at 5% while in Los Angeles, 75% of people were found in unsheltered locations.

Read more …

Some serious money was lost. But no-one will admit it.

Dow Dives 400 Points To End Its Worst Week In 10 Years (CNBC)

Stocks plunged again on Friday, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its worst week since the financial crisis in 2008, down nearly 7 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed in a bear market and the S&P 500 was on the brink of one itself, down nearly 18 percent from its record earlier this year. The Federal Reserve’s rate hike on Wednesday drove the losses this week and fears of an extended government shutdown only added to the pain on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 414.23 points to finish at 22,445.37 in turbulent trading that sent the blue-chip index up as much as 300 points earlier in the day, only to trade back in negative territory less than one hour later.

The initial rally upward on Friday came as Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams told CNBC that the central bank could reassess its interest rate policy and balance sheet reduction in the new year if the economy slows. But those gains slowly disappeared as investors used that short-term pop as a chance to sell more. The broader S&P 500 fell 2.1 percent on Friday to close at 2,416.58, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 2.99 percent to 6,332.99 with big losses in technology stocks including Facebook, Amazon and Apple. Stocks accelerated to their lows after President Donald Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro, told Nikkei that it would be “difficult” for the U.S. and China to arrive at a permanent economic agreement after a 90-day ceasefire in the trade tensions.

Read more …

Yeah, first you kill the markets and then you listen to them. Makes a lot of sense.

NY Fed President John Williams: Central Bank Is Listening To The Market (CNBC)

New York Federal Reserve President John Williams told CNBC on Friday that the central bank is listening “very carefully” to the market’s concerns on growth, but believes the U.S. economy is in good shape. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other central bank leaders are moving to more data dependency, Williams said, which includes listening to people in financial markets as well as local businesses. “We are listening very carefully to what’s happening in markets for two reasons. One is financial conditions have [an] important influence on [the] economic outlook,” Williams said on “Squawk on the Street” in an interview with CNBC’s Steve Liesman.

“Second, I think we are hearing something important from markets, and that is a concern risk to the economy and potential further slowdown than we currently expect in our base case.”It’s not just looking at the “hard GDP data” or “CPI data,” he added. “We’re listening to the message of the market.” Williams appeared on CNBC after the Fed on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate for a fourth time this year and lowered its rate hike projection for 2019 from three to two. He said Friday that this week’s rate increase was “fully justified and makes sense,” but he added the Fed is open to reconsidering its views on rate hikes next year. Stocks rose sharply during Friday’s interview, but then faded.

Read more …

Nothing better to do for Christmas.

Shutdown Begins As Trump, Democrats Wrestle Over Border Wall (ZH)

The US government has been partially shut down for the third time this year after Congress failed to agree on a comrpomise path forward as lawmakers continued to negotiate over funding for President Trump’s border wall. Senate negotiators from both parties agreed to keep talking in search of a spending deal as the House and Senate adjourned Friday night without an agreement to avoid at least a partial shutdown starting at midnight Earlier in the day, Trump scuttled an agreement that would have kept the government open until February after coming under heavy criticism from conservative talk show hosts and allies in the House because the measure didn’t include the $5 billion he wanted for the wall. According to Bloomberg, negotiations between the White House and Democrats went on late into Friday night.

Trump’s emissaries were Vice President Mike Pence, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who shuttled between private meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. And while negotiations to resolve the impasse are underway, it was unclear if parts of the government will remain shuttered for days or weeks as many expect a protracted fight with both side having dug in. Ending the shutdown which affects nine of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies, requires Democratic leaders and Trump to reach a compromise, which so far has been elusive as both sides hardened their positions. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene at noon on Saturday, but lawmakers were told they’ll be given 24 hours notice of any planned votes.

The failure of elected officials to keep the government fully operating caps a chaotic week in Washington, during which Trump announced a withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, a draw-down of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Republicans made an offer on a funding measure and were waiting for a response from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York. “I am hopeful,” he said of the negotiations. “We’ve made some overtures.” Talks revolved around providing less money for border barriers and more restrictions than Trump initially demanded, however the president was said to balk at anything less than the $5 billion he demanded.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1076239448461987841/photo/1

Read more …

“The USA is worse than broke. It’s down to liquidating its rehypothecated hypotheticals.”

A Fretful Holiday (Kunstler)

The stopgap spending bill before congress — to avert a government shut-down — is based on the comical idea that the money is actually there to spend. Everyone with half a brain knows that it’s not money but “money,” a hypothetical abstraction composed of hopes and wishes. The USA is worse than broke. It’s down to liquidating its rehypothecated hypotheticals. After all, financialization added up to money with its value removed. The global credit markets seem to be sensing this as the tide of borrowings retreats, exposing all the wretched, slimy creatures wheezing in the exposed mudflats who have no idea how to service their old loans or generate credible new ones. But, no matter. We’ll continue pretending until the US$ flies up its own cloacal aperture and vanishes.

Contingent on that exercise is “money” for Mr. Trump’s promised-and-requested border wall. The wall is really a symbol for the nation’s unwillingness to set a firm policy on immigration. Half of the political spectrum refuses to even make a basic distinction between people who came here legally and those who snuck in and broke the law. They’ve super-glued themselves to that position not on any plausible principle, but because they’re desperate to corral Hispanic votes — and notice how eager they are to get non-citizens on the voting rolls. Their mouthpiece, The New York Times, even ran an op-ed today, None of Us Deserve Citizenship, (is that even grammatical?) arguing that we should let everybody and anybody into the country because of our longstanding wickedness.

Read more …

This scares me: “substantially increase the size of local government special bonds..”

Chinese Leaders Promise Tax Cuts To Boost Flagging Economic Growth (CNBC)

China’s top leaders have ended a vital economic meeting with a fiscal pledge to support economic growth next year. According to state media, Beijing policymakers will keep liquidity “ample” and cut taxes on a bigger scale in a bid to keep 2019 growth within a “reasonable range.” The world’s second-largest economy grew at 6.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018, marking the weakest pace since the global financial crisis in 2008. “The pro-active fiscal policy should enhance efficiency, implement larger-scale tax cuts and fee reductions, and substantially increase the size of local government special bonds,” Xinhua said in a translation provided by Reuters. The media outlet added that a “prudent monetary policy should be neither too loose nor too tight, keeping liquidity reasonable ample.”

Read more …

Goldman blames a bunch of Malaysian government-related guys.

Goldman Sachs Facing Class Action Lawsuits Over 1MDB Scandal (G.)

Goldman Sachs has been hit with two class action lawsuits on behalf of investors who claim they were misled over the bank’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal. Two separate cases have been filed at district court in New York over the past 48 hours by Pomerantz LLP and Rosen Law Firm. They allege that Goldman Sachs failed to disclose its dealings in a fraud and money laundering scheme around the Malaysian state development fund to investors, who bought shares between 2014 and 2018. The bank’s share price has fallen 29% since early November, when reports started to link it with closer involvement in the scandal.

News reports claimed Lloyd Blankfein, who was the CEO and is now chairman of Goldman Sachs, held initial meetings with Malaysian financier Jho Low, who has been accused of masterminding the fraud. Pomerantz and Rosen Law Firm have not disclosed how much they are seeking in damages through their respective class action suits. Goldman Sachs said in a statement: “The 1MDB bond offerings were meant to raise money to benefit Malaysia; instead, a huge portion of those funds were stolen for the benefit of members of the Malaysian government and their associates. The lawsuits are without merit and we intend to vigorously contest them.”

Read more …

What Corbyn would do an interview with Guardian I don’t know. They happily smeared him as an anti-Semite not long ago. And report he said Stupid Woman.

Corbyn: Brexit Would Go Ahead Even If Labour Won Snap Election (G.)

Jeremy Corbyn has defiantly restated Labour’s policy of leading Britain out of the European Union with a refashioned Brexit deal, shrugging off intense pressure from Labour MPs and activists for the party to throw its weight behind a second referendum. The Labour leader insisted that even if his party won a snap general election in the new year, he would seek to go to Brussels and try to secure a better deal – if possible, in time to allow Brexit to go ahead on 29 March. “You’d have to go back and negotiate, and see what the timetable would be,” he said. [..]

Twenty-four hours after the furore in the House of Commons in which he was accused of insulting the prime minister, the Labour leader appeared much more relaxed on a visit to the Hope Centre, a homelessness charity in Northampton whose campaign against eviction he is supporting. He admitted he had lost his temper when confronted with a wall of jeering Conservative MPs at prime minister’s questions after May had accused him of lacking a clear Brexit policy. “I was extremely angry: the last point I’d made was, they’d suddenly found £4bn to prepare for no deal. £4bn. At the same time, police officers have lost their jobs; 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, a housing crisis; a homeless man dies on the steps of Westminster; and she and the Conservative party turned the whole thing into some pantomime joke,” he said.

Conservative MPs challenged Corbyn’s claim that he muttered “stupid people” and not “stupid woman”, as many viewers of video footage believed. But he was unrepentant. “It’s interesting their sudden concern about these matters. Where is their concern about the homeless people of this country?” he said, repeatedly jabbing a finger on the table to emphasise his point. “Where is their concern about universal credit? Where is their concern about 200,000 children living in poverty in this country?” [..] As to what stance Labour would take if a referendum were held, Corbyn said, “it would be a matter for the party to decide what the policy would be; but my proposal at this moment is that we go forward, trying to get a customs union with the EU, in which we would be able to be proper trading partners.”

And he struck a distinctly Eurosceptic note by again highlighting Labour’s concerns about the state aid rules that form part of the architecture of the single market. “I think the state aid rules do need to be looked at again, because quite clearly, if you want to regenerate an economy, as we would want to do in government, then I don’t want to be told by somebody else that we can’t use state aid in order to be able to develop industry in this country,” he said.

Read more …

The Guardian ignores all evidence it makes up entire reports, the Spiegel tries to make it look like it was just one bad apple (and no-one had a clue for 7 years).

But they both play the same game. And its name is not Truth.

Der Spiegel To Run 23-Page Special On Reporter Who Faked Stories (AFP)

The German news weekly Der Spiegel is to publish a 23-page special report on how one of its award-winning reporters faked stories for years and dealt a blow to media credibility. Claas Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting making up stories and inventing protagonists in more than a dozen articles in the magazine’s print and online editions. Since the scandal was revealed by the magazine on Wednesday, other mainstream German outlets including Die Welt and Die Zeit, which once used Relotius as a freelancer, have also begun poring through articles that he wrote for them.

“Tell it like it is,” wrote Der Spiegel on its latest magazine cover page, in an allusion to the publication’s motto coined by its founder, Rudolf Augstein, that also hangs at the entrance of its headquarters in Hamburg. In its editorial, the magazine said the scam, involving subjects including Syrian orphans and a Holocaust survivor, was the “worst thing that can happen to an editorial team”. It also apologised for the mistake and promised to “do everything to boost our credibility again”.

[..] Der Spiegel said it was “lucky that one of our employees managed to uncover this case”. But for others, the damage was already done, particularly at a time when disinformation campaigns are posing a constant challenge to the credibility of the mainstream media. “The losers are all the journalists in the country who carry out their research in difficult or dangerous circumstances, as well as members of the editorial teams, who check through texts for quality and accuracy,” said Süddeutsche Zeitung in an editorial. It noted that politicians in the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) had seized on the case as “evidence of the dysfunctionality of the quality media”.

The AfD, whose supporters often attack the mainstream media as the “lying press”, has been openly gloating over the scandal. One of its MPs, Götz Frömming tweeted: “Ironically, the Spiegel – the self-claimed leading media outlet that likes to slag off Trump, AfD and Co., has been for years delivering the best FakeNews via Relotius.” The public broadcaster Deutsche Welle appealed to people not to condemn all mainstream media because of the “dangerous, isolated case”. It said: “Before him there have also been other fraudsters who have fuelled the accusation of a lying press. But THE lying press doesn’t exist. Most of us are honestly, sincerely doing our work to give children like Alin and Ahmed from Aleppo a voice.”

Read more …

shoppinglist.wikileaks.org

WikiLeaks Exposes US Embassies Stockpiling Spy Gear (RT)

US embassies abroad have been buying spying tools, papers released by WikiLeaks show. The documents revealed that one embassy has ordered almost 100 spy cams masked as ties, caps, pens, buttons and watches. The US Embassy Shopping List, a collection of over 16,000 procurement requests filed by US embassies around the globe, was published by WikiLeaks on Friday, a day after a targeted DDoS attack briefly disabled all of its Twitter accounts. Although the trove of quotation requests are more of an open secret, since they are considered public information, WikiLeaks created a searchable database listing even those procurement documents that are no longer linked on the embassies’ websites.

While the bulk of the documents appear to be routine requests for janitor or carpenter services, or, in the case with the US embassy in Moscow, to plant summer flowers at the ambassador’s residence, some hint at the existence of secretive surveillance operations. For instance, in August, the US embassy in El Salvador requested a curious list of items to be procured by a responsible vendor, tellingly described as “tactical spy equipment.” The list includes 94 spying devices, masquerading as everyday objects, including nine pens, 11 lighters, 11 shirt buttons, 12 watches and 12 pairs of glasses, as well as more conventional tools such as hidden cameras and binoculars.

Read more …

Reuters is pretty much useless on the topic.

UN Tells UK: Allow Assange To Leave Ecuador Embassy Freely (R.)

U.N. rights experts called on British authorities on Friday to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuador embassy in London without fear of arrest or extradition. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reiterated its finding published in February 2016 that Assange had been de facto unlawfully held without charge in the embassy, where he has now been holed up for more than six years. He initially took asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where authorities wanted to question him as part of a sexual assault investigation. That investigation was dropped.

Assange, whose website published thousands of classified U.S. government documents, denied the Sweden allegations, saying the charge was a ploy that would eventually take him to the United States where a prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against him. Britain says Assange will be arrested for skipping bail if he leaves the embassy, but that any sentence would not exceed six months, if convicted. It had no immediate comment on the experts’ call, but in June, foreign office minister Alan Duncan said Assange would be treated humanely and properly.

“… the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offence that cannot post facto justify the more than six years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador,” the U.N. experts said in a statement. “It is time that Mr. Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” they said.

Read more …

RT does this much better than Reuters.

UN Experts Call For Assange’s Release As He Loses Last Appeal Over Rules (RT)

A UN-endorsed team of experts has urged London to “immediately” allow WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy, as the court of last resort denied his appeal over a newly imposed set of ‘censure’ rules. Seong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and Michel Forst, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, reiterated calls for the UK to abide by international law and allow Assange to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy without any precondition.

“It is time that Mr Assange, who has already paid a high price for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information, and to promote the right to truth in the public interest, recovers his freedom,” the UN experts demanded in a statement on Friday. The experts argued that “pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances,” adding that the charges Assange faces in the UK for skipping his bail while applying for asylum cannot justify his six years within the embassy’s walls. Assange became holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after being granted asylum by then-Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. Assange, who was in the UK at the time, was unable to go to the airport for fear of being arrested and handed over to the US, where he is wanted for exposing diplomatic and military secrets, and has had to stay in the embassy since.

[..] Despite the UN experts’ support, Assange suffered a setback with the Ecuadorian justice system. On Friday, Pichincha Provincial Court reaffirmed a decision by a lower court to throw out his appeal against a new set of house rules. The rules laid out in a special protocol in October restricted Assange’s visitation rights, made him refrain from political statements, pay his own medical bills, and take better care of his cat. Shortly after the regulation was imposed, Assange gave the cat away, with reports circulating that he has become virtually isolated in the embassy after all the staff he had personally known left.

Speaking before the court via a video-link last week, Assange warned that the new rules would “inevitably lead to a health crisis for me, resulting in my death or hospitalization or a political excuse to illegally hand me over to the British, and therefore to the United States, where I face a potential life sentence.” In late October, a judge rejected his request to change the protocol, arguing that the government has the right to impose any rules it wants inside the premises. Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda admitted that the whistleblower is stuck with the rules since all legal options to revise them have been “exhausted.”

Read more …

“The risks are greater than assumed..” is starting to sound old. Preaching to the long converted.

Risks Of ‘Domino Effect’ Of Tipping Points Greater Than Thought (G.)

Policymakers have severely underestimated the risks of ecological tipping points, according to a study that shows 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another. The authors said their paper, published in the journal Science, highlights how overstressed and overlapping natural systems are combining to throw up a growing number of unwelcome surprises. “The risks are greater than assumed because the interactions are more dynamic,” said Juan Rocha of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “The important message is to recognise the wickedness of the problem that humanity faces.”

The study collated existing research on ecosystem transitions that can irreversibly tip to another state, such as coral reefs bleaching and being overrun by algae, forests becoming savannahs and ice sheets melting into oceans. It then cross-referenced the 30 types of shift to examine the impacts they might have on one another and human society. Only 19% were entirely isolated. Another 36% shared a common cause, but were not likely to interact. The remaining 45% had the potential to create either a one-way domino effect or mutually reinforcing feedbacks.

[..] Until recently, the study of tipping points was controversial, but it is increasingly accepted as an explanation for climate changes that are happening with more speed and ferocity than earlier computer models predicted. The loss of coral reefs and Arctic sea ice may already be past the point of no return. There are signs the Antarctic is heading the same way faster than thought. Co-author Garry Peterson said the tipping of the west Antarctic ice shelf was not on the radar of many scientists 10 years ago, but now there was overwhelming evidence of the risks – including losses of chunks of ice the size of New York – and some studies now suggest the tipping point may have already been passed by the southern ice sheet, which may now be releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

Read more …