Mar 302024
 


Ciseri Ecce homo (Behold the man) 1670

 

New Yorkers Silently Worrying Over Ramifications of Trump Ruling (ET)
Jack Smith’s Case Against Trump Appears to Be Falling Apart (Margolis)
House Formally Invites Biden to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry (Turley)
Elon Musk Accuses Democrats Of ‘Importing Voters’ (RT)
NYC No Longer Differentiates Between Illegal Aliens and US Citizens (PCR)
NYC Begs Supreme Court to Allow Over 800,000 Illegal Immigrants Vote (TH)
The British Government Trips On A New Lie About The Skripals (Helmer)
The West Has Created A Frankenstein Monster On Its Own Doorstep (Bhadrakumar)
Imperium: Decline on the Way to Fall (Patrick Lawrence)
Europe Is In ‘Pre-War Era’ – Polish PM Tusk (RT)
Ukraine Being Destroyed from Within by Zelensky Government Corruption (Miles)
Zelensky Changes Stance On Talks With Russia (RT)
US Political Support for ‘Terrorist’ Ukraine Regime Evaporating (Miles)
Oh Say Can You See? (Kunstler)
It Could Take HOW LONG to Rebuild Francis Scott Key Bridge??? (Green)
Why I Don’t Spend A Lot Of Time On The Republicans (Matt Taibbi)

 

 


Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images

 

 

Trump NYPD

 

 

Benz

 

 

 

 

Diddy

 

 

RFK
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773456314011689350

 

 

 

 

These people have no idea of the damage they’re doing. Completely blind hatred. Should not be allowed anywhere near a justice system.

“I have never heard of a victimless civil case that even won $500..”

New Yorkers Silently Worrying Over Ramifications of Trump Ruling (ET)

Monday’s dramatic bond reduction for former President Donald Trump did nothing to dissipate the dark cloud that his civil-fraud case has cast over New York business deals. Although investors won’t publicly admit it, the case is having a chilling effect, said Charles Trzcinka, professor of finance at Indiana University-Bloomington. “If you talk to people in this market, they are very, very upset … and these are people who are neutral or even opposed to Trump,” Mr. Trzcinka told The Epoch Times. “They’re just angry about it.” In his role at the university, Mr. Trzcinka said he places students in the corporate lending market in New York, making him aware of trends in that sphere. An appeals court’s decision to slash the bond by about 60 percent, reducing it to $175 million, still left a massive penalty intact while President Trump continues a legal challenge of Justice Arthur Engoron’s ruling.

Judge Engoron ruled that President Trump and his associates fraudulently overvalued their assets. But Mr. Trzcinka said anyone who thinks President Trump’s activities in that case were irregular or fraudulent may lack an understanding of typical New York business transactions. A source familiar with the case explained to The Epoch Times that, normally, business-related cases are handled in the New York courts’ commercial division. There, cases are decided by judges who have specific, “sophisticated” knowledge of commercial law and business practices. But the case didn’t go that route because New York Attorney General Letitia James found a novel way to use New York’s anti-fraud law. Researchers examined other alleged fraud cases in New York over a 70-year period and found the Trump case stands alone. The Trump Organization was the only company that confronted the possibility of being forced out of business despite no victim suffering major financial harm.

Because of Ms. James’ unusual application of the law, the case was channeled to a court that would rarely, if ever, handle business-related matters. Thus, the source said, “This case proceeded in just a highly irregular fashion from the start.” Legal scholar Jonathan Turley agreed the case is atypical and its repercussions far-reaching. “This has really done great damage to the New York legal system … Businesses are looking at this with a degree of horror—that a judge could come up with a figure so large you have to sell parts of your business just to get an appeal,” Mr. Turley told Fox News. However, people who dislike President Trump are cheering on Ms. James. She ran for election on a promise to prosecute the former president if she won the post of attorney general. Before the court-ordered bond reduction, the original $464 million bond amount included a $363 million judgment that Judge Engoron levied against President Trump and his associates, plus 9 percent interest.

Speaking to reporters after the March 25 appellate court’s decision, President Trump called Judge Engoron’s original decision a “disservice” to New York. “Businesses are fleeing,” he said. The case promises to continue discouraging investors from doing business in the Empire State, Mr. Trzcinka and two other knowledgeable sources told The Epoch Times. That’s not only because of the crippling dollar amounts involved, the sources said, but also because President Trump and his associates were behaving within the bounds of normal business practice and victimized no one. “All the parties under this civil case were satisfied,” Mr. Trzcinka said. Yet Ms. James “brought a case without a victim” and secured a judgment approaching $500 million. “I have never heard of a victimless civil case that even won $500,” he said.

Businesspeople are afraid to express concerns about the ramifications aloud. Doing so would paint targets on their backs—an underlying reason why President Trump was unable to persuade bonding companies or banks to cover the original $464 million bond, Mr. Trzcinka and the sources said. “I don’t think a bonding company [or a bank] is willing to be associated with Donald Trump … because the attorney general could turn around and sue them, go after them,” Mr. Trzcinka said. Judge Engoron ruled that President Trump and his associates committed fraud by overvaluing his properties. Parties involved in real estate transactions tend to exaggerate values in one way or the other, and they “hit each other over the head” with dueling appraisals, Mr. Trzcinka said. And, in a case such as this one, “everyone had the same information and just came to different conclusions” as to the valuations, he said. Then the parties negotiated figures and agreed to them. Even before interest was added, Judge Engoron slapped President Trump with “the largest penalty in history” for a case of its kind, said Mr. Trzcinka.

He had never heard of such a high penalty imposed for a “syndicated loan,” which involves civil contracts between a corporate borrower and corporate lenders. About $355 million of the total order specifically applied to President Trump. In addition, the judge ordered $4 million to be recovered from each of his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and $1 million from former Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg. Even the ultra-wealthy would rarely, if ever, have rapid access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in liquid assets, Mr. Trzcinka and other financial experts say. Marshaling that much cash to post the bond in just 30 days proved to be a daunting task for President Trump; the appellate court’s ruling granted him 10 more days to post a reduced $175 million bond. That decision moved the amount from “the realm of the impossible” into a different category; “it’s expensive but it’s feasible,” a source said.

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“Special Counsel Jack Smith could be blocked from using evidence against Donald Trump contained in grand jury investigation files, which were transferred to the former president’s Florida classified documents case,,”

Jack Smith’s Case Against Trump Appears to Be Falling Apart (Margolis)

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s efforts to imprison Donald Trump for mishandling classified documents have hit a few snags recently, and the latest snag is, indeed, a big one. “Special Counsel Jack Smith could be blocked from using evidence against Donald Trump contained in grand jury investigation files, which were transferred to the former president’s Florida classified documents case this week, a former prosecutor has suggested,” reports Newsweek. “In 2023, a grand jury in Washington, D.C., heard evidence from witnesses—including Trump’s attorney, Evan Corcoran—while considering whether charges should be brought against the former president and others for hoarding classified documents. However, Trump and his co-accused were later indicted in Florida and, under federal rules, the grand jury files were transferred on Monday to Trump-appointed judge, Aileen Cannon’s court.” According to former prosecutor Bill Shipley, the transfer of the case from D.C. to Florida gives Judge Cannon control over what evidence can be included—especially testimony that may have violated attorney-client privilege. More from Newsweek:

“On March 24, 2023, Corcoran was forced to testify before the classified documents grand jury in Washington D.C. It was his second time giving evidence. Corcoran was called to give evidence because he wrote a letter that was sent to the Department of Justice in June 2022 that stated that there had been a “diligent search” for classified documents. Along with the letter, he sent the Department more than 30 documents with classified markings that were found on Trump property. […] Department of Justice Special Counsel Smith announced on Monday that the Washington, D.C., court had transferred the grand jury files to Cannon. Trump is facing 40 federal charges over his handling of sensitive materials retrieved from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, after leaving the White House in January 2021. He is accused of obstructing efforts by federal authorities to return them. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all charges.”

Leftists have been routinely triggered by Judge Cannon’s rulings—probably because she’s not a rabid leftist like Judge Engoron, who literally ruled that Trump should pay a civil fine of nearly half a billion dollars for a non-crime with no victim. Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump has been widely criticized as selective prosecution, especially in light of the release of the Hur report last month, which found that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen,” and that his actions “present[ed] serious risks to national security.” Despite Biden’s actions, former special counsel Robert Hur declined to prosecute Biden because he would present himself as an “elderly man with a poor memory” and it would be difficult to convince a jury he was guilty of a serious felony because to commit such a crime “requires a mental state of willfulness.” The report elaborated by pointing out that Biden couldn’t even remember when he was vice president and or when his son Beau died.

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“Yet, the White House responded, again, with mockery — a sense of impunity that only exists due to an enabling media.”

House Formally Invites Biden to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry (Turley)

House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer has sent a seven-page letter to invite President Joe Biden to testify in the Republican impeachment inquiry. The letter is the latest, and best, reduction of the glaring contradictions in the President’s past statements on his family’s well-documented influence peddling operation. President Biden is not expected to testify. However, the media should be interested in his answering the questions presented by the Committee. It is now clear that the President lied during his campaign and during his presidency on his lack of knowledge of his son’s business activities as well as his denial of any money gained from China. Yet, the White House responded, again, with mockery — a sense of impunity that only exists due to an enabling media.

Chairman Comer reduces the past testimony and evidence acquired by the Committee in the corruption scandal. In the last hearing, Democratic members simply refused to acknowledge that evidence. There was a bizarre disconnect as members mocked the witnesses for not supplying evidence of the President’s knowledge or involvement. They then did so and the members declared that there was no evidence.

Various members also misrepresented my earlier testimony during the hearing on the basis for the impeachment inquiry. Members like Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) stated that I joined other witnesses in stating there was nothing that could remotely be impeachable in these allegations. That is demonstrably untrue. My testimony stated the opposite. I refused to pre-judge the evidence, but stated that there was ample basis for the inquiry and laid out various impeachable offenses that could be brought if ultimately supported by evidence. I also discussed those potential offenses in columns. The purpose of the hearing was not to declare an impeachment on the first day of the inquiry. Unlike the two prior impeachments by many of these same Democratic members, this impeachment inquiry sought to create a record of evidence and testimony to support any action that the House might take.

Now, the Committee has laid out the considerable evidence showing that the President had lied, knowingly and repeatedly. Interspersed with specific evidentiary findings, the Committee presents ten questions that the President should be able to answer directly and unequivocally:

1) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Jonathan Li of Bohai Industrial Fund and/or Bohai Harvest Rosemont?
2) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Ye Jianming of CEFC?
3) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Henry Zhao of the Harvest Fund?
4) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Vadym Pozharskyi of Burisma Holdings?
5) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Mykola Zlochevsky of Burisma Holdings?
6) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Kenes Rakishev of Novatus Holding?
7) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Yelena Baturina?
8) Have you met, spoken to, or otherwise interacted with Yuriy Luzhkov?
9) Did you ever ask your brother James Biden about the source of the funds he used to pay or repay you?
10) Did Eric Schwerin have insight into all your bank accounts until December 2017?

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“1. Get as many illegals in the country as possible. 2. Legalize them to create a permanent majority – a one-party state..”

Elon Musk Accuses Democrats Of ‘Importing Voters’ (RT)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has accused the US Democratic Party of opening up the country’s borders in order to “import voters.” Earlier this week, Politico reported that President Joe Biden was considering offering permanent residency to millions of illegal immigrants. Commenting on the report, Musk declared on his X platform that “The Dem Party goal is to import voters.” According to Politico’s sources, Biden is considering expanding access to the US’ so-called ‘Cancelation of Removal Program’ for illegal immigrants who have lived in the US for more than ten years and whose removal would negatively impact their citizen or resident friends and relatives. The program is currently available to lawful residents who have been ordered to leave the US for various reasons, and for some illegal immigrants. A successful cancellation can take years to make its way through the legal system, and around 4,000 cancellations of removal are issued every year, according to the US Justice Department.

There are thought to be around 10.5 million illegal immigrants living in the US, according to data compiled by Pew Research in 2021. However, at least 6.3 million more have entered the US in the years since, according to figures from the Department of Homeland Security, potentially bringing the total to almost 18 million. An earlier Pew study found that approximately two thirds of illegal immigrants in the US had been there more than a decade. Counting only those immigrants present in the country in 2021, the removal program reportedly mulled by Biden could result in around six million of them being made permanent residents. Only US citizens can vote in federal elections. However, permanent residents can apply for citizenship after five years, or three years if married to a US citizen. Biden’s first actions as US president included signing a raft of executive orders repealing almost all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions.

He has since unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to pass a bill offering a path to citizenship for more than 10 million illegal immigrants, and sued the state of Texas for attempting to enforce federal immigration law. “Biden’s strategy is very simple,” Musk tweeted in February. “1. Get as many illegals in the country as possible. 2. Legalize them to create a permanent majority – a one-party state. That is why they are encouraging so much illegal immigration. Simple, yet effective.” In the US, racial minorities typically vote Democrat. Aside from potentially creating future voters, illegal immigration can give certain states greater representation in Congress, as the number of seats assigned to a state in the House of Representatives is determined by its overall population, which includes those present illegally.

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“..before long the illegal population in America will exceed in size the actual citizens of the country..”

NYC No Longer Differentiates Between Illegal Aliens and US Citizens (PCR)

The New York City Council is begging the New York state Supreme Court to permit the council to ignore the New York state constitution that only permits citizens to vote. The city council says that allowing illegal immigrants to vote can only strengthen democracy “by increasing civic engagement.” Think about this for a moment. For the NY City Council, the only difference between an American citizen and an illegal alien is that the alien is discriminated against by not being allowed to vote. It was obvious from the beginning that this is what happens when a country allows immigrant-invaders to settle among the legal population. The illegals become part of the population and, thus, denying them the vote is discrimination. It was totally obvious from the beginning that accepting illegal entry would create an untenable situation: a population partly illegal and party legal.

As it has proved impossible to prevent entry of multi-millions of immigrant-invaders and impossible to remove them, before long the illegal population in America will exceed in size the actual citizens of the country. It is curious that the US, whose government is so anxious to go to war over the borders of foreign countries has no concern for its own borders. So what is the purpose of US national defense? Is it only to protect Ukraine’s border and Israel’s border, but never America’s border? That seems to be the case. It is extraordinary that if you ask this sensible question you are branded a racist. In the United States it is now racist to defend the US border. And of course, the Democrats do not defend the border which is so porous that it doesn’t exist.

The federal government, the government of America, is using the judicial system to prevent Texas from defending its and America’s border. The obvious question is: why does the federal government represent immigrant invaders instead of American citizens, and why do federal courts come down on the side of eliminating any difference between an American citizen and an illegal invader? Why are long-established websites such as vDare.com being suppressed by government authorities simply for pointing out what is at stake? Something is seriously wrong with the mentality of the American people who clearly are incapable of recognizing that their country is being stolen from them to the point that many offer to sponsor immigrant-invaders.

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“There is nothing more important than preserving the integrity of our election system, and in today’s age, the government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less..”

NYC Begs Supreme Court to Allow Over 800,000 Illegal Immigrants Vote (TH)

The New York City council is asking the state’s Supreme Court to allow illegal immigrants to vote in the city’s municipal elections. In 2021, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law that would have allowed 800,000 non-citizens with green cards, visas, and work permits to vote as long as they have resided in the city for at least 30 consecutive days. However, the controversial law was struck down last month by an appellate court. New York City Council spokesperson Rendy Desamour arrived in court on Tuesday to beg the Supreme Court of the State of New York to override the rulings and allow the council to start authorizing illegal immigrants to vote.

“Today’s filing to appeal the Second Department’s recent decision seeks a determination from the state’s highest court that the law is consistent with the State Constitution, Election Law, and the Municipal Home Rule Law,” Desamour said. “Empowering New Yorkers to participate in our local democratic process can only strengthen New York City by increasing civic engagement.” The council argued that illegal immigrants living in the city should be able to vote because they pay taxes and make contributions to the community. Breitbart News noted that: The ordinance was set to massively influence local elections while diluting the votes of American citizens living in the city.

In 2021, for instance, Mayor Eric Adams (D) won the Democrat mayoral primary by less than 7,200 votes. Former councilman Rev. Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) said that the ordinance would dilute the votes of citizens while shifting electoral power to foreign nationals with ties to the United Nations, Wall Street, and the global financial system which has long been based in New York City. Staten Island President Vito Fossella is challenging the case, stating that, according to the New York State Constitution, only U.S. citizens have the right to vote in elections. “There is nothing more important than preserving the integrity of our election system, and in today’s age, the government should be working to create more trust in our elections, not less,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) said.

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The Skripals are back! Or are they?

The British Government Trips On A New Lie About The Skripals (Helmer)

For the first time in six years, the British Government has officially told Moscow that Russian citizen Yulia Skripal, one of the victims of a nerve spray attack in Salisbury on March 4, 2018, has “rejected the offer of consular assistance” from the Russian Embassy in London. A British diplomatic note, delivered to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow this week and made public by the Ministry spokesman, also claimed “the Russian woman has the contact details of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in London in case of need.” Omitted from the document is that the British have not allowed Yulia Skripal to sign a document, send an email, or make a telephone call since 2020. The new Foreign Office paper failed to identify the whereabouts or wishes of Yulia’s father, Sergei Skripal, a dual Russian and British citizen who was also the target of the 2018 attack.

The calculated omissions, and the record of subterfuge and faking which British officials, coroners, and judges have been making since 2018, indicate that, in fact, Yulia Skripal is imprisoned and incommunicado, and that Sergei Skripal is dead. “The British authorities,” said Maria Zakharova at her ministry briefing on March 27, “do not say a word about the fate of Sergei Skripal. It is completely unclear why. I would like to ask the British if he is alive? Can you at least tell me that?” After years of stonewalling in London, the new lie appears to indicate that Sergei Skripal has died in British captivity. Since the Skripals slumped unconscious on a Salisbury town bench and were kept in hospital under police guard, three British prime ministers — Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak — have continued the story that three Russian military officers attacked the Skripals with a Novichok nerve agent they had brought by plane into England, and sprayed on to the door handle of Sergei Skripal’s home; that was several hours before he and his daughter showed sudden symptoms and collapsed.

The British have presented no evidence of Novichok on the Skripal door handle; in the blood, skin, and urine testing of the Skripals in hospital; or in subsequent court proceedings. The alleged Russian attack weapon – a perfume bottle atomiser – did not materialize for months until July 2018, when police claim to have found it on a kitchen bench in the home of another alleged victim, Dawn Sturgess, ten days after exhaustive police searches of the premises had failed to find it. Sergei Skripal has not been seen in public since the day of the alleged Novichok attack, March 4, 2018. He has not been heard on the telephone by family members since June 26, 2019. Yulia Skripal was last seen in a government-directed interview at a US bomber base in England in May 2018; her last telephone call was heard on November 20, 2020.

The full story of what happened and didn’t happen, and of the High Court and coroners’ court hearings which have followed since 2018, has been documented in the book published in 2020; then in reports of the ongoing cover-up by a retired Appeal Court judge, Lord Anthony Hughes. In March 2022 Hughes announced he had appointed a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent the Skripals; but the judge, his spokesman, and the lawyer have repeatedly refused to confirm how the Skripals communicated to them, if at all. The lawyer refuses to answer press questions; in court he has said nothing on the Skripals’ behalf. Timed earlier this month on the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of the Skripals, the Russian Embassy in London sent the Foreign Office a new request for what the Embassy had described last June as a “demand that the British authorities allow us to ascertain they are safe and sound. London carries full responsibility for their well-being.”

Zakharova revealed the reply on Wednesday. “It’s hard to believe,” she said, “but the Russian Foreign Ministry has received a response from Britain to the request on the Skripals. The Russian side continues to make efforts to clarify the circumstances of the incident that occurred in Salisbury in March 2018, with the participation of citizens of our country: S.V. Skripal and his daughter Y.S. Skripal. It’s been almost six years. All this time, the Russian Foreign Ministry has been sending dozens of diplomatic notes. In response, we received nothing but ‘non-subscriber notices.’ For the first time since mid-2018, a response note was finally received from the British Foreign Ministry in response to another note from the Russian Embassy in London. With some reservations, it can be considered a kind of belated official reaction. They say they have been waiting for the promised three years. It took twice as long here.”

“In this note, it is reported that Y.S. Skripal allegedly took note of the offer of consular assistance, but rejected it…According to the assurances of the British Foreign Ministry, the Russian woman has the contact details of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in London in case of need. In addition, responding to the demand to provide information on the official results of the investigation into the incident in Salisbury, British diplomats said they would not comment on this topic, since ‘the relevant legal procedures are still ongoing.’”

“The British authorities do not say a word about the fate of Sergei Skripal. It is completely unclear why. I would like to ask the British if he is alive? Can you at least tell me that? We consider the forced reaction of the British side as an unsuccessful attempt to justify itself for the inexplicable and unlawful long-term concealment of information about Russian citizens. This is another information manipulation. We will continue to methodically seek comprehensive information about the fate of Russian citizens who disappeared without a trace in Britain six years ago, clarify all the components of the Salisbury incident and, in general, insist on justice in this case.”

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“Simply put, the storyline that this was an ISIS attack won’t fly..”

The West Has Created A Frankenstein Monster On Its Own Doorstep (Bhadrakumar)

With hindsight, it was not a coincidence that the retirement of US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was announced on March 5 so soon after her return to Washington from Kiev, where after consultations with top Ukrainian security officials she announced dramatically: “I leave Kyiv… more confident that, as Ukraine strengthens its defenses, Mr. [Vladimir] Putin is going to get some nice surprises on the battlefield and that Ukraine will make some very strong success.” Nuland did not divulge what those “nice surprises” might be, but her superiors in DC were certain to have been curious to know since they know her ingenuity is limitless. At any rate, we now know that within hours of the superhawk’s premature retirement on March 5, instructions went out from Washington to the American embassy in Moscow to issue an advisory that “extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts” and warning US citizens to “avoid large gatherings.”

The wording of the March 7 advisory suggests that Washington was in possession of some information credible enough in terms of its source. Meanwhile, the UK embassy in Moscow also issued a similar advisory cautioning British citizens against visiting shopping centers. However, the State Department scrambled to issue a statement within two hours of the horrific attack on the mall in Moscow’s Crocus City Hall on March 22, declaring that Ukraine was not responsible. Yet, the very next day, President Putin stated in his address to the nation that what happened was “a premeditated and organized mass murder of peaceful, defenseless people,” harking back to the Nazis – “to stage a demonstrative execution, a bloody act of intimidation.” Importantly, Putin disclosed that the perpetrators “attempted to escape and were heading towards Ukraine, where, according to preliminary information, a window was prepared for them on the Ukrainian side to cross the state border.”

Plainly put, the perpetrators’ Ukrainian mentors or handlers gave them instructions to exit Russian territory after their mission through a particular route. What remains in the realm of the ‘known unknown’ pertains to the chain of command. Precisely, does the trail end with Kirill Budanov, the chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (GUR) since August 2020, who had previously served as deputy director of the country’s Foreign Intelligence Service and specialized in covert operations inside Russia? Or – the big question is – does it go all the way to President Vladimir Zelensky, considering the far-reaching, explosive nature of the operation? This is the first thing. Secondly, the perpetrators did not behave like vintage ISIS killers on suicide missions nor were they answering the call of ‘jihad’. They were ethnic Tajiks who admitted that they were lured by money.

Expert opinion based on the published videos is also that their movements inside the mall during the operation did not show battle skills characteristic of well-trained fighters, and they had ‘poor muzzle discipline’, which means they had only minimal rifle training. Simply put, the storyline that this was an ISIS attack won’t fly. It is intended as a red herring to confuse dumb-witted folks abroad.

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“Moscow, perfectly aware of these connections, now concludes that the CIA, along with Britain’s MI6, were behind the Crocus Town Hall attack..”

Imperium: Decline on the Way to Fall (Patrick Lawrence)

However long the Biden regime goes on saying the war in Ukraine is “at a stalemate,” and however faithfully our corporate media repeat this nonsense like ventriloquists’ dummies, if the Kyiv regime is losing ground daily and there is no realistic hope of regaining it, the word we are looking for is “lost.” The question it is time to ask: What will the U.S. and its European vassals do when the make-believe wears out and defeat, while never admitted on paper, is too obvious to deny? Nothing good. As a negotiated peace on any terms acceptable to Moscow is out of the question, and as subverting “Putin’s Russia” remains the objective, the U.S. is likely to intensify the sorts of covert ops and “hybrid warfare” that have been on Washington’s menu for decades. This stands to get very dangerous very fast. Did we have a preview of messes to come with the shocking attack on the concert auditorium and shopping arcade near Moscow on Mar. 22? This is my read.

The U.S. “intelligence community” was quick to make public an “assessment”—a flimsy term that commits no one to anything—that the attack was the work of a group of militant Islamists and there was no evidence Ukraine had anything to do with it. Soon enough an offshoot of the Islamic State, ISIS–Khorasan, claimed responsibility. President Putin, who had been cautious from the start about assigning blame, eventually declared that Islamic terrorists were indeed culpable for the deaths of 137 innocent Russians and for setting the Crocus City Hall ablaze. Identifying ISIS–K as responsible is a complicated business, we must bear in mind. After the collapse of Washington’s client regime in Kabul three years ago, many members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, finding themselves suddenly homeless, joined ISIS–K as shelter from the storm. These were CIA–trained intelligence and counterinsurgency operatives, and they reportedly went over in considerable numbers. There were subsequent reports, never verified, suggesting that the CIA was using unmarked helicopters to supply ISIS–K with weapons and matériel.

A year ago last week, Foreign Policy described it as “arguably the most brutal terrorist group in Afghanistan.” Moscow, perfectly aware of these connections, now concludes that the CIA, along with Britain’s MI6, were behind the Crocus Town Hall attack, with the Kyiv intelligence agency, the SBU, playing a supporting role on the ground. The chief of Russian intelligence unpacked all this last week as he outlined Moscow’s findings. “We think the act was prepared by the radical Islamists, but, of course, the Western special services have aided,” Alexander Bortnikov, the FSB’s chief, asserted. “And the special services of Ukraine have a direct hand in this.” There is too much circumstantial evidence supporting this case to dismiss it. The CIA’s “assessment” assigning responsibility to ISIS can be taken as perfectly true but only half the story. The same day Bortnikov spoke, Russia sent a hypersonic missile—the kind that eludes standard air defense systems—to destroy the SBU’s headquarters building in Kyiv. This is what I mean by things getting very dangerous very fast.

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Graceful loser.

Europe Is In ‘Pre-War Era’ – Polish PM Tusk (RT)

Europe has entered a “pre-war era” in which any scenario is possible and the threat of war is no longer a thing of the past, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in an interview with European media outlets on Friday. Tusk was asked whether war is inevitable in light of recent remarks from a number of Western politicians about Russia potentially attacking NATO. He replied that “literally any scenario is possible.” “I don’t want to scare anyone, but war is no longer a thing of the past. It is real and in fact it started over two years ago,” Tusk said. “I understand that it will sound devastating, especially to the younger generation, but we have to mentally prepare for the arrival of a new era. We are in a pre-war era. I am not exaggerating.” The Polish prime minister went on to say that the West needs to do everything it can to provide Kiev with equipment and ammunition, because the world is now in the most critical moment since the end of World War II.

“The next two years will decide everything,” Tusk said, adding that if the bloc does not provide enough arms for Ukraine and it is defeated, “no one in Europe will be able to feel safe.” While urging the cultivation of “transatlantic ties” regardless of who the next US president is, Tusk argued that the EU should be more independent from NATO and self-sufficient in terms of defense. “We will be a more attractive partner for the United States if we are more self-sufficient in defense,” he said. Claims by Western officials that Russia may attack NATO are “nonsense,” President Vladimir Putin stated on Wednesday. He noted that Kiev’s backers have tried to drum up support for additional aid by claiming that Russia will not stop if Ukraine is defeated on the battlefield.

US “satellites” in Eastern Europe have no reason to be afraid, Putin said. Talk of a potential Russian attack on Poland, the Czech Republic, or the Baltic states is just propaganda by governments that seek to scare their citizens “to extract additional expenses from people, to make them bear this burden on their shoulders,” he added.

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“..people have no other choices than to flee the country – not from the war, but to save themselves because they have nothing to feed themselves on.”

Ukraine Being Destroyed from Within by Zelensky Government Corruption (Miles)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made comments recently acknowledging Ukraine’s declining birthrate, which is now the lowest in the world. “We need not only financial incentives, because in my opinion, finances help, but they do not stimulate birth itself during war,” said the embattled leader. “Help, yes. But as for births, it seems to me that it’s mainly a matter of security.” Zelensky called for more foreign assistance to rectify the problem, claiming Ukraine needs “the latest technologies when it comes to air defense.” The comments provoked discussion on Sputnik’s Fault Lines program Friday, where host Jamarl Thomas noted Ukraine’s population has been in steady decline since its independence in 1991. Former Ukrainian diplomat Andrii Telizhenko joined Thomas to discuss the issue. “Ukraine’s population, first of all, dropped not only since 2014, it dropped dramatically since 1991 when Ukraine got its independence,” noted Telizhenko. “We had 52 million people living in Ukraine, and then within almost the 25-year range it dropped to… 45 million people. 7 million people died or left Ukraine within 25 years of its independence.”

The same trend emerged in other post-Soviet nations as governments implemented so-called “shock therapy” economic policy under advisement of the West. Populist leaders maintained significant support, but US-backed political interference broadly ensured neoliberal policy was implemented. Populations sharply declined as a result as Western capital bought up assets at fire sale prices. “Now, of course, there’s much, much less people,” Telizhenko continued. “Eight million left to Europe, 1.5 [million] went to Russia… and Belarus. So this is a huge, staggering number of people leaving because, first of all, they don’t see prosperity, they don’t have security – not only because of the war, but, first of all, from the government itself.” “Pensions are not being paid,” the former diplomat explained. “They’re asking that money to be paid from abroad. Zelensky – when he was going into this war agreeing not to support the Minsk agreements, the Istanbul accords, the peace deal – he should have understood that the country doesn’t have the money, the capacity, the economic capacity to sustain itself.”

“Now he’s asking for US taxpayers’ money to [finance] Ukrainian pensioners, Ukrainian government officials, and more than 25%, 30% of pensioners in Ukraine are basically not getting their pensions,” Telizhenko emphasized. US aid to Ukraine has become highly controversial in the United States as Americans are asked to fund the basic government services of a country halfway across the world. But even with American largesse Ukraine’s government has found itself in a state of near-constant collapse. Critics warn that millions of dollars in foreign aid is likely being pocketed by corrupt officials; Ukraine has long been identified as the most corrupt country in Europe in international rankings. “They can’t even feed themselves anymore,” said Telizhenko. “So they have no other choice [but] to leave or to just die in Ukraine. This is what Ukraine has become. It was getting worse and worse throughout the last 30 years and over the last two and a half years it’s being destroyed totally,” the ex-diplomat stressed.

“The salary of a teacher is $100 and they’re cutting it to $50 right now,” he added. “Can you imagine? This is what is happening in Ukraine today. The teachers aren’t getting paid, the pensioners aren’t getting paid. And this is just destroying the country from within and people have no other choices than to flee the country – not from the war, but to save themselves because they have nothing to feed themselves on.”

Read more …

Sort of.

Zelensky Changes Stance On Talks With Russia (RT)

President Vladimir Zelensky has indicated that a return to Ukraine’s 1991 borders is no longer a precondition for holding peace talks with Moscow, even as he continues to push forward with his so-called peace formula, which has been dismissed by the Kremlin as absurd. Zelensky banned all negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow back in 2022, after four former Ukrainian regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia. Since then, he has been rallying Western support for his 10-point ultimatum, which includes the full withdrawal of Russian troops and a return to Ukraine’s 1991 borders, including Crimea, holding Moscow accountable and forced to pay reparations, among other conditions. However, in an interview with CBS this week, Zelensky suggested there was no need to recapture the territory “exclusively by military means,” claiming that the Ukrainian forces should at least restore the 2022 status quo.

“We will not have to de-occupy all of our territories exclusively by military means… I am sure when he [President Vladimir Putin] loses what he has occupied since 2022, he will fully lose the confidence even of those countries which are still in doubt whether they should support Ukraine or not,” Zelensky said. The Kremlin has repeatedly stressed that it remains open to meaningful discussions and has blamed the lack of a diplomatic breakthrough on the Ukrainian authorities, who refuse to accept “reality on the ground.” Despite the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive last year and recent gains made by Russian forces along the frontline, Zelensky claimed that once Russia suffers battlefield setbacks, Putin will “lose the power within his country” and will be forced to seek dialogue. “And when he will be ready for the dialogue, undoubtedly the international conditions should be the liberation of our territories, the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Zelensky added.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba suggested on Friday that Kiev could engage in diplomacy with Moscow following the Swiss-hosted peace summit, a date for which is still to be announced. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Kiev is contradicting itself, and that Moscow will not accept a set of rules “developed by someone else.” The last meaningful negotiations between Moscow and Kiev were held in Istanbul in the spring of 2022 but broke down, with each side accusing the other of making unrealistic demands. President Putin said the Ukrainian delegation had initially agreed with some of Moscow’s terms, but then abruptly reneged on the deal – allegedly after then-UK PM Boris Johnson advised Kiev to reject a truce and “continue fighting,” promising full Western support. Ukraine’s Western backers insist that a peace settlement can only be achieved on Kiev’s terms and have vowed to continue weapons deliveries for “as long as it takes.” Russia, meanwhile, has stressed that no amount of foreign aid will change the course of the conflict.

Read more …

“..the US will not be in a position to say no to Russia and will have a very hard time continuing its political support of Kiev..”

US Political Support for ‘Terrorist’ Ukraine Regime Evaporating (Miles)

Russian media has revealed new links between the Ukraine regime and last week’s horrific terrorist attack at a concert venue outside Moscow. “Investigators have verified information that large amounts of money and cryptocurrency that the perpetrators of the terrorist attack received trace back to Ukraine,” reported the Tass news agency Thursday. “The funds were used in preparing the crime.” As the increasingly desperate Kiev regime launches attacks on Russian civilians in Belgorod and other regions, speculation has intensified that elements within Ukraine’s military and intelligence service may have played a role in last Friday’s incident. Independent journalist Dan Lazare joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program Friday to weigh in on the claim.

“I look forward to the Russian government laying this evidence out – I hope they do,” said Lazare. “To me, the fact that four of the accused were apprehended while making a dash for the Ukrainian border and were caught just a short distance away – I mean, to me that speaks volumes. It’s not absolute proof, but it certainly strongly suspects that there were collaborators on the Ukrainian side, and that Ukrainian bodies were helping them with this crime.” “We can’t help but harken back to the assassination of Darya Dugina in 2022. That was the daughter of the Russian political philosopher Aleksandr Dugin,” the author added. “She was killed in a car bomb in Russia. At first the Ukrainian government denied any involvement whatsoever, and the US backed it up. And then a few weeks later the US admitted that the act was done by the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence service.”

The incident prompted little attention in the West, where Dugin is a highly vilified figure. But a terrorist attack killing almost 150 people is significantly harder to ignore. “I strongly suspect we’ll learn the same thing here,” said Lazare, suggesting Ukrainian officials may have played a role in the “act of brutal terrorism.” “And, if that is true, if my suspicions prove correct, this will be a real game changer.” “Russia will feel justified in responding… and the US will not be in a position to say no to Russia and will have a very hard time continuing its political support of Kiev,” he claimed.

Read more …

“The fluttering wings of this black swan already throw a chill on spring’s incoming zephyrs..”

Oh Say Can You See? (Kunstler)

While the awesome spectacle of the bridge collapse traumatized the country, it also brought to mind the fantastic flow of ten-thousand illegal border crossings a day, stage-managed by the “Joe Biden” Homeland Security team. Did you kind of wonder how many in that 10K-a-day flow might be the same species of Central Asian mutts who volunteered to slaughter over 150 (so far) Russian concert-goers? Nobody is checking who they are, you realize. They just step on US soil, get issued smartphones, loaded debit cards, walking-around cash money, airplane and bus tickets and, voila, there they are in your home town tomorrow, looking for something to occupy themselves. Thanks a bunch, Alejandro Mayorkas! Are you wondering what sort of mayhem they might be capable of unleashing any place from Bangor to Burbank in the weeks and months ahead? (And, while you’re at it, think about all the food processing plant fires, train wrecks, and other mysterious tribulations around the country the past couple of years.)

Consider that this very week alone, following the SSK Bridge disaster, absolutely nothing has been done by our government to stem that flow of countless potential saboteurs into the country. The news media isn’t even talking about it (of course). The prospects might look a bit unnerving, wouldn’t you agree? Things catching fire, blowing up, and falling down here, there, and everywhere. . . more of those thousand cuts adding up. Just maybe, the dazed-and-confused (possibly hypnotized) American public, a.k.a., the “voters,” might put together that “Joe Biden” and the Party of Chaos that owns him, are actually responsible for the on-going take-down of our country. After a certain point — now apparently passed — sheer incompetence is no longer a plausible explanation for what you are seeing.

Oh, one other thing, look out for on-the-ground economic reverberations from the FSK Bridge disaster. For instance, Baltimore is the USA’s top port for importing and exporting automobiles. Also, earth-moving and large farm equipment, fertilizer, lumber, coal, and steel. Other arrangements must be made, for years ahead, considering the trucking links. It’s especially an interruption for trucking between the mid-Atlantic / New England states and much of Dixieland. It will affect the transport of fruits and vegetables to the Washington-Boston corridoer. Things are going to cost more and we are already in an inflationary trouble-zone. How will this thunder elsewhere through an economy which, despite the japes of “Joe Biden’s” statisticians, is actively disintegrating? The fluttering wings of this black swan already throw a chill on spring’s incoming zephyrs.

Read more …

“Welcome to 21st Century America, where everything is needlessly time-consuming, expensive, stupid, or (most likely) all three..”

It Could Take HOW LONG to Rebuild Francis Scott Key Bridge??? (Green)

Could it really take twice as long and four times as much money to replace the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge than it did to build it in the first place? The Key Bridge was built at a cost (adjusted for inflation) of about $200 million. Replacing it could take a decade and cost $400 million to $800 million dollars, according to experts in what has become a dismal field. “To actually recreate that whole transportation network” could take a decade or more, structural engineer Ben Schafer told USA Today on Wednesday. Huge projects, Schafer said, now take “rarely less than 10 years.” Well, they didn’t use to. By comparison, the Apollo program that put a man on the moon required seven years, eight months, and 23 days. And — this is the really exciting part — everything about Apollo, from the massive Saturn V rocket to the “tiny” flight computer, had to be created from scratch. Those seven-and-a-half years included a monthslong delay following the tragic loss of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee during an Apollo 1 dress rehearsal that ended in a deadly crew capsule fire.

Construction began on the Hoover Dam on July 7, 1930, and five years later, it was complete. It started generating electrical power on Sept. 11, 1936 — exactly six years, two months, and four days after the first shovelful of dirt was moved. The Empire State Building was fully erect (heh) after just one year and 45 days of construction. But those were all 20th Century projects, back when we used to get things done. Welcome to 21st Century America, where everything is needlessly time-consuming, expensive, stupid, or (most likely) all three. The timing “all depends on factors that are still mostly unknown,” the AP explained. “They range from the design of the new bridge to how swiftly government officials can navigate the bureaucracy of approving permits and awarding contracts.”

Let me help you out on this one, fellas. You have the original plans stashed somewhere, I’m sure. Those plans have already been run through the bureaucratic torture test — and the bridge stood without any problems for almost 50 years until a massive container ship struck one of its vitals. So just get started ASAP building the same bridge, but with concrete “dolphins” or fenders around the new supporting piers to avoid future disasters like the one that collapsed the original.

Read more …

X thread.

Why I Don’t Spend A Lot Of Time On The Republicans (Matt Taibbi)

1) There is a enormous army of MSM reporters already going after them from every angle, with most major news organizations little more than proxies for the DNC, to the point where stations hire Biden spokespeople as anchors;

2) The Republicans have very little institutional power nationally. It’s not their point of view prevailing in schools, on campuses, in newsrooms (where over 90% of working reporters vote blue), and especially in the intelligence and military apparatus, which has openly aligned itself with Democrats. Even if Donald Trump were a “threat to Democracy” he lacks the institutional pull to do much damage, which can’t be said of Democrats;

3) The Democrats’ ambitions are significantly more dangerous than those of the Republicans. From digital surveillance to censorship to making Intel and enforcement agencies central players in domestic governance — all plans being executed globally as well as in our one country — they are thinking on a much bigger and more dangerous scale than Republicans. I lived in third world countries and the endless criminal indictments of people like Trump and ongoing lawfare efforts to prevent even third party challenges are classic authoritarian symptoms. The Republicans aren’t near this kind of capability;

4) Last and most important, the Democrats are being organized around a more potent but also much dumber, more cultlike ideology. People like Yuval Harari and his Transhumanist “divinity” concept scare me a lot more than the Rs, and I was once undercover in an apocalyptic church in Texas. Ask your average Russian or Cuban what overempowered pseudo-intellectuals are capable of.

I have a pretty good record of picking dangerous phenomena ahead of time. I feel confident on this one, and that’s before we get to the demographic/class shifts in the parties.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Guyana

 

 

Deer
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773819922860388366

 

 

Elephant

 

 

Welcome
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773524476275405285

 

 

Girl dog
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773472621767573579

 

 

Best friend
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773609345449664745

 

 

Smol
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773404943745184144

 

 

 

 

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Mar 192021
 
 March 19, 2021  Posted by at 7:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Brian Griffin Memorial to the Conquerors of Space, Moscow, Russia 1974

 

 

In the space of just 24 hours, Joe Biden and Antony Blinken managed to make Donald Trump look like a perfect diplomat. And we must wonder why that is. Why did Biden call Putin a soulless killer, and Blinken invoke a 20 minute tirade from Chinese top diplomat Yang Jiechi in Alaska? Is it just stupidity, which is quite possible, or is it orchestrated, which you might suspect given it took so little time to insult America’s alleged two biggest adversaries? Reuters:

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and State Councilor Wang Yi in Anchorage that the U.S. side would discuss its “deep concerns” about Chinese actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as cyber attacks on the United States and economic coercion of allies. “Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability,” he said. …Yang hit back, accusing the United States of using its military might and financial supremacy to pressure countries and of abusing national security to threaten the future of international trade.


He said Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all inseparable parts of Chinese territory and China firmly opposed US interference in its internal affairs. Yang said human rights in the United States were at a low point with Black Americans being “slaughtered” and added that the United States should handle its own affairs and China its own. Yang said it was necessary to abandon a “Cold War mentality,” and confrontation and added: “The way we see the relationship with the United States is as President Xi Jinping has said, that is we hope to see no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with the United States.”

It’s time that people understand Joe Biden is an entirely scripted actor. Not well-scripted, and not a good actor, but still. His comments about Putin being a “killer with no soul” are insane, they scrape the bottom of the bottom of the barrel of diplomacy, they insult not just Putin, and thereby all of Russia, and threaten world peace, but they’re not his. They were written for him. Biden keeps reminding me of Max Headroom, an early MTV thing. Cartoon character. Scripted.

The CIA, Pentagon, NATO, Boeing, Raytheon, you name them, all badly need to conserve the image of Putin as Satan, because he’s their “raison d’être”. Putin is the figurehead for why the US spends 10 times more than Russia on “defense”, and still ends up with inferior weaponry. The CIA thought they had it all won when they put Yeltsin in the Kremlin, and started to take over all resources of the country with the most natural resources on the planet.

And then Putin came, and prevented that take-over. It’s hilarious to see how that same CIA now tries to push Alexey Navalny, a virtual nobody in Russia, as “opposition leader”, just as even Amnesty take their hands off of him, and reverse their nutty “prisoner of conscience” moniker, because all of a sudden they realize he called Muslims “flies and cockroaches”. Navalny, like Yeltsin, is a CIA asset, plain and simple.

The narrative of him being poisoned with novichok, the deadliest poison in the world, which never seems to kill anyone when Russians use it on their enemies, of course goes back to the “poisoning” of father and daughter Skripal in the UK 3 years ago, who didn’t die either, but haven’t been heard from since. It’s a narrative: evil Putin poisons people. But if you look at the background, none of the people he supposedly targets are ever a threat to him. They just serve the narrative. Just like Joe Biden does. That’s his role.

Driving all this blubber are people like neocon man and wife team Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland and their ilk, the latter a driving force behind the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine, who were outsmarted by Putin’s peaceful and democratic take-over take-back of Crimea, and are still mightily pissed off about that. And guess what, Nuland is now back in Joe Biden’s US government.

Skripal was a Russia military intelligence officer who turned double agent and spied for Britain. That would have been enough for any country to either lock him up for a very long time or simply eliminate him, certainly in the US. It happens all the time. But Putin let him leave to live in Britain. Ergo: he can’t have been that much of a threat. And then years later they want to kill him anyway, and send two clowns who screw up the operation with the deadliest poison in the world? That theory only works if you think Russians, and Russian intelligence, are the stupidest on the planet. While ex-KGB agent Putin is in charge. Then he must be stupid too.

Who buys that? Well, Americans do. Because their media do nothing but repeat Putin is Satan messages. And corrupt too. Navalny recently had a story about some multi-billion “castle” Putin allegedly owns, western media ate it up, and then it turns out to be some empty shell, like those cardboard store fronts you see in western movies. But this is not about truth anymore. It‘s about how endless repetition makes lies “believable” to gullible people – of which America has a seemingly endless supply. They can only sell you the story about how stupid Russians supposedly are if they assume you are really stupid.

Putin won’t starve when he retires, but we have no indications that he stole billions either. That’s a narrative that’s been repeated for all twenty odd years he’s led Russia. America’s war industry needs an enemy, so they create one. It all just serves to show ever more that “US intelligence” is an oxymoron. And that Biden is a moron, period.

 

ZeroHedge is (re?)running a series of articles by US hedge fund manager Alex Krainer, who noticed how, especially in 2014 post-Maidan, the Putin stories ran in the MSM, and started looking into it. And then wrote a book about it. In 2018, he wrote 3 articles on the topic. Here are some excerpts, but do read all of it:

 

 

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 1

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis Putin declared publicly that he bore responsibility to ensure that the 1998 crisis would not repeat itself on his watch. His government also took proactive steps to limit the fallout from the crisis. In July 2008, Putin personally went to the town of Pikalyevo in Leningrad Oblast to confront the directors and owners of a large metallurgical factory. This was not long after the owners had shut the facility down, suspending without pay thousands of their workers.

Addressing the gathering, Putin excoriated them, saying that because of their unprofessional conduct and greed, thousands of families would find themselves destitute. This was unacceptable to his government and he ordered the owners to restart the facility, else the government would do it without them. He further ordered the management to immediately (“deadline today”) pay all workers’ salary arrears, amounting to more than 41 million rubles. [..]
Putin publicly chastised Oleg Deripaska, once Russia’s richest man, and other Russian businessmen at a meeting in Pikalyovo.

Putin took similar action protecting the ordinary people in another crisis situation. During his first winter as president, entire towns and villages across the far east of the country counting as many as 400,000 inhabitants, lost heating for the lack of coal. A serious crisis emerged with mines shutting down, workers out in the streets and even hospitals ceasing to function because of the cold. But the coal for heating was available in Russia, only most of it was already allotted for export. Vladimir Putin didn’t think that Russian people should suffer freezing conditions all winter in order for that coal to be exchanged for American dollars. He decreed that export of coal be stopped immediately and that all available quantities be sent back to Siberia to fuel the boiler stations.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 2

According to his chief of security, Alexander Korzhakov, Boris Yeltsin worked about two hours per day. The rest he spent eating, drinking, playing tennis, hunting or enjoying some other pastime. Vladimir Putin reportedly works exceptionally long hours and several of his advisers and ministers have testified to working with him until very late into the night and then receiving a call from him early in the morning the next day. Exiled banker and former oligarch Sergei Pugachev described his experience: “we hardly parted company, we met on a daily basis from early morning to late evening until 3, until 4 AM, every day, every day. We naturally discussed matters of state business development, the state of the economy and so on. Putin needed someone who understood and knew those matters well. (Harding, Smith and Maynard 2015)

Some of his advisors and ministers reported meeting with him to discuss some matter within their own domain of specialty only to be startled in realizing that Putin commanded a more detailed understanding of that very matter than they themselves had. Being that immersed in and devoted to his occupation enables Vladimir Putin to hold his famous marathon press conferences when he speaks for three or four hours answering journalists questions with accurate and detailed information and without teleprompters. His 14th annual call-in marathon in 2016 lasted 3 and a half hours during which he took and answered 80 questions!

[..] I wondered if the Russians wouldn’t in the end get Edward Snowden and trade him for some big concession from their “American partners” who were clearly extremely keen on getting the renegade whistle-blower. I remember thinking that the outcome of that incident would give us an important indication of what Vladimir Putin was made of: would he do the right thing and offer Snowden asylum and protection, or would he end up trading him off? My gut feeling was that Putin would indeed do the right thing, but at the same time I cringed at the thought that I might end up disappointed. After several weeks of legal procedures, on July 31st 2013, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

Is Vladimir Putin Evil? – 3

In a speech to the Federal Assembly in 2005, Putin drew on the philosophy of Ivan Ilyin to outline the limitations of state power: “State power cannot oversee and dictate the creative states of the soul and mind, the inner states of love, freedom and goodwill. The state cannot demand from its citizens faith, prayer, love, goodness and conviction. It cannot regulate scientific, religious and artistic creation… It should not intervene in moral, family and daily private life, and only when extremely necessary should it impinge on people’s economic initiative and creativity.”


It is unusual for a politician to speak of such things as states of the soul and mind or the “inner states of love” to a gathering of other politicians but these ideas do appear to run as a theme in Putin’s conception of political leadership. At the 15th Congress of the Russian Geographical Society, he ventured the following statement: “In general, love is the whole meaning of life, of being. Love of family, of children, and of the motherland. It is such a multifaceted phenomenon that is the basis of all our actions.” To a Westerner, exposed to a relentless defamation of Vladimir Putin, this may be difficult to believe. After all, we know that he was a KGB agent, that he routinely ordered assassinations of his critics and political opponents, that he has made himself the wealthiest man in the world, and many other similarly negative “facts” about him.

And Scott Ritter has it right:

Biden’s Tough-Guy Flexing At ‘Soulless Killer’ Putin Would Be Funny If The Consequences Weren’t So Serious

[..] the likelihood of the Biden-Putin meeting occurring as described by Joe Biden is slim to none. When Biden made his trip to the Kremlin in 2011, he was fronting for the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia. There was no opportunity, or need, for Biden’s faux machismo. The two men did meet, but as part of delegations discussing the possibility for improving relations. Not only would Biden’s insulting verbal flexing have been wildly inappropriate and inconsistent with the larger policy objectives of his visit, but it ran counter to his own feelings, expressed at the time, about Russia.

“Russia has the best engineers in the world,” Biden said in a press conference after his meeting with Putin (who was serving as Russia’s prime minister, not president, at the time.) “Russia has intellectual capital. Russia is a great nation.” These are not words one utters after telling a Russian leader in private that he has “no soul.”

Biden’s struggle with the truth is well known, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he possibly made up a meeting with Putin. Biden has been caught plagiarizing a speech delivered by former British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock, lied about his academic record and accomplishments, and manufactured from whole cloth a narrative that has him participating in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Biden’s lies all have one goal in common: to make him out to be that which he is not. So, too, his apparent lie about calling Putin soulless.

Biden is desperate to be a ‘tough guy’. But for that reputation to stick vis-à-vis Putin, there had to be a ‘showdown’ moment, where the good guy faced off against the bad guy and called him out. Since no such event exists, Biden had to make one up. And, like most of his lies, Biden repeats them long enough and often enough that they take on a life of their own, embraced as fact by unquestioning journalists.

 

Joe Biden only has a veneer, a semblance, of credibility, and that’s only because US media never ask him any serious questions. Not just because he never did any press-ops after becoming president, but also because even if he did, they still wouldn’t.

Putin, on the other hand, saved his country from America, globalism, and the worst outgrowths of capitalism and neocons. The US no longer has any meaningful dialogue with Russia anymore, which is of course utterly insane (but yeah, the narrative), but the Alaska meeting does give us an insight into where this train is about to be headed next.

Biden is no match for Putin in any way shape or form, but that doesn’t matter much “back home” as long as the press reports on just one side of the situation. We could have a great relationship with Russia, mutually beneficial, but that is too much of a threat to certain forces in the country. And those forces just came back into power.

Putin’s weak point is he would like to retire, but can’t find anyone he trusts to take over. And the CIA is ready to pounce as soon as he leaves. Biden is no problem for him, but finding a successor as smart as himself, is.

And you know, do you see Joe Biden take on the entire Russian intelligence apparatus, on his own? Just saying. And asking for a friend.

 

 

 

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Sep 022020
 
 September 2, 2020  Posted by at 7:09 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  16 Responses »


Caspar David Friedrich The Monk by the Sea c1809

 

 

“The Kremlin” poisoned their “fierce rival” Navalny with the infamous deadly agent novichok. That is the headline. Only, the German accusation in that direction doesn’t say novichok, its says a “cholinesterase inhibitor”, of which novichok is just one example, was used. The news outlets must be thinking that at least after the Skripal case, enough people will recognize the term, and let’s not confuse them.

The Germans claim they have “unequivocal proof” (eindeutiger Beweis) for this. While the Russian doctors who initially treated Navalny after he fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Omsk (or was that the other way around?!) said he showed zero signs of poisoning. But yeah, they’re Russians, so they can’t be trusted, right? They all squander their Hippocratic oaths at the feet of the great malevolent dictator Trump Putin. You’re familiar with the parable about “all Cretans lie”?

“Merkel spokesman Seibert said the German government will inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the test results..” NATO? What do they have to do with anything? How does the alleged poisoning of a two-bit (2% in the polls) Russian “politician” link to NATO? Is Navalny himself linked to NATO? Where does NATO come in to the conversation? How much does the CIA pay Navalny anyway?

 

The thing, the problem, is that it makes no difference anymore even if this particular instance has a kernel of truth in it. Because there have been so many of them, and they’re all “based” on non-evidence, circumstantial “evidence”, stuff that you wouldn’t get a conviction on in any western court. For good reason.

In the Skripal case, a pair of vague Russians were presented in the UK media who supposedly had been in the area where the alleged poisoning took place, where the head of all UK nurses “just happened” to deliver first aid, but the story still never made sense. Now I read in a Dutch news outlet that the two Skripals were moved to New Zealand to start a new life, but the fact remains that no-one has heard from them since that alleged incident. Almost as if someone doesn’t want to provide any proof, just the narrative.

In the MH17 case, another RussiaRussia story, they threw all credibility out from the start by appointing main victim the Netherlands (2/3 of deaths) the main prosecutor, but even more by allowing one of the main potential perpetrators, Ukraine, not just a role in the investigation, but handing them a veto right over whatever info could be shared with the outside world. I think we call that lock stock and barrel.

 

It is of vital importance for two parties -which might as well be one- in the west to keep accusing Russia of all manner of issues, while knowing full well they will never answer (though, remember Concord Asset Management, Robert Mueller III?), which means you can say whatever you want. It’s a free for all. The two parties are intelligence and NATO.

Western nations, and that means all of them, all the self-congratulating “democracies”, are being blackmailed by their own -secret- intelligence services, which most often pose as “national security services”, and they find they have no way out. In most countries, the best before date of a politician, even the political system itself, is way shorter than that of an intelligence agency’s agenda. The only thing a newly elected politician can do is accept a secret service’s word at face value, and define policy accordingly.

Be it domestic, bi-lateral vs particular countries, or global. The policies have already been defined years ago, and they have been defined by unelected “spooks”, not elected representatives of the people. This is incredibly (and I don’t use that word lightly) damaging to all of our societies, and we need to call a halt to it. But how do you do that? When they are the ones making policy, and not the people we vote into office to do that for us? It’s certainly not an easy task, but we can’t let them continue either. That would only mean assured destruction, economic depression and, ultimately, war.

 

That’s how and why we get the Navalny and Skripal stories. This goes back to at least WWII. US intelligence and the Wolfowitz/Brzezinski/Leo Strauss/Kissinger neocon cabal have severely compromised US national security for decades, only to funnel trillions towards US arms manufacturers, who today produce second rate weapons to boot. It is high time to stop this. Security is much better served by dialogue. Or should I say ”arguably?”

What the Navalny story, lacking evidence as much as so many other narratives, should tell us is that we are sort of hostages to a Ghost of Christmas past. We are being blackmailed as we speak by secret agents in cohort with the very military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, because they all need to keep a long lost dream alive in order to still appear relevant and chuck trillions out of our pockets.

It’s a scam, it’s blackmail. Russia is not about to attack you. They may have much better weaponry by now than we do (they do, check hypersonic), but they still won’t attack you, because A) they don’t want to, and B) they don’t have the numbers. They don’t have the manpower, they don’t have the money, they just want to be left alone, and we won’t leave them alone.

Our spooks invent Skripal and MH17 and Navalny and Russia collusion and prostitutes peeing on beds in Moscow. Because that’s how they justify -literally- endless streams of money towards their operations, and those of their Siamese twin NATO. All that money goes towards the 1950’s though, we’re paying through the nose for a long discredited notion and a long passed… past.

But as soon as anyone mentions Russia, you know there’s never going to be any checks and balances, as long as there are still enough people who buy into the Putin=”Bogeyman who eats little children” thing, in the same way that they believe Putin controls Donald Trump’s mind and policies. It’s a numbers thing: as long as enough people buy it, the narrative will continue to be sold.

You’re essentially stuck in your grandparents’ mindframe. No kidding. As we go through our 2020 crisis, which seems real enough, we spend extraordinary amounts of money on long outdates ideas maintained only to maintain the CIA and the army. Say what you will, but there’s nothing smart about that. It’s only very stupid.

Because, for one thing, suppose there are real threats lurking today, how can we face those while we’re still focusing on things that ceased being threats decades ago? Shouldn’t we perhaps replace our “intelligence” with something more intelligent? And fit not for the 1950’s but for the 2020’s?

Our “security services”, and NATO very much as well, make us less secure, safe, not more, because that’s the only way they know to justify their continued existence. Yes, there’s a paradox hidden in there somewhere. They don’t serve us, they only serve themselves.

 

 

 

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Jul 162020
 
 July 16, 2020  Posted by at 7:46 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Utagawa Yoshitoshi Ariko weeps as her boat drifts in the moonlight 1886

 

 

Sometimes I think I can only do this work properly if I’m angry all the time 24/7. But I don’t want to be angry all the time; what kind of life is that? Still, there are days when I just can’t help it. The British intelligence services (please let find another word for that, so as to not insult actually smart people) came out with a couple anti-Putin press releases today, and there we go again.

We can only guess at what they want this time, whether it to keep the UK’s own “RussiaRussia Putin is Hitler” flame alive, or are they seeking to help their US counterparts to rise from the ashes of their fully discredited years-long Orange Man Bad narratives, but boy, is this nauseating. What’s even worse is that people eat it up like candy.

Guys, this is your own highly paid snoops lying to you -along with your government(s)- like there’s no tomorrow, and you’re just sitting there worrying about wearing a face mask next time you go to a store. Know what that makes you? Sheep. I know y’all still know what those look like, and how they behave. So what’s the attraction?

Here’s BIGLY revelation no. 1 per the BBC. Do note the “almost certain” in both pieces, they need an easy way out if the story doesn’t stick. It also means that obviously they’re not at all certain, they’re just making it up.

Russian Hackers Target COVID19 Vaccine Research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine, a group of national security services has warned. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development. NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester said it was “despicable”. The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

Some people will remember the name Cozy Bear from Robert Mueller’s failed $40 million “investigation”. Is that why the NCSC put it in? But to the point: Why would Russia hack the UK for vaccine info if and when the UK has no vaccine? Put it another way: what are the odds that UK “intelligence” is not at the same time trying to hack Russia for its own info? Think British scientists are smarter than Russian ones? How much money would you want to put on that?

Everyone is spying on everyone, always have, and today that may require some hacking skills. Big surprise. You leave your backdoor open, someone may try to have a look inside. Same for everyone. Not even the beginning of a newsworthy story; it happens all the time and everywhere. Next.

Next one is even flimsier. This one implies that since Jeremy Corbyn had some papers on the NHS in the last election, RussiaRussia gave them to him. And he’s an anti-semite too. So there. Can anyone explain why Russia would want to interfere in a UK election?

This seems to allege that Putin wanted to help Corbyn win. But is that for the same reason that he wanted to help Corbyn’s ideological twin Donald Trump win? Which we now know he didn’t? Or is it just that Putin the evil mastermind wants to confuse all parties? Given what I see and hear, he needn’t bother; they’re all already confused as can be.

 

UK Says Russia Sought To Interfere In 2019 Election

Dominic Raab’s statement is the first time ministers have admitted that the Kremlin has tried to distort the workings of British democracy – a practice the foreign secretary said was “completely unacceptable”. “On the basis of extensive analysis, the government has concluded that it is almost certain that Russian actors sought to interfere in the 2019 general election through the online amplification of illicitly acquired and leaked government documents,” Raab said in a written statement.

Next. Only days ago, there was this from Britain about a court case concerning the infamous novichok “attack” in Salisbury, in which first former Russian GRU agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, and months later two other Brits, ostensibly came in contact with what was called the deadliest nerve agent in the world.

Neither Sergei Skripal nor his daughter Yulia have ever been seen again. There was a vague message from a niece, but that was it. But the story is alive and kicking. And can thus continue to be used. By the media-intelligence cartel.

 

Russian Agents May Have Deliberately Left Bottle Of Novichok In Salisbury

Russian agents may have deliberately discarded a bottle of the deadly nerve agent novichok, used in the assassination attempt of former spy Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury in a bid to undermine UK security, the High Court today heard. The claim was made during a legal challenge by the family of Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died in 2018 after coming into contact with novichok in a fake perfume bottle which her partner had found in a park. The family are embroiled in a High Court action in a bid to get ‘key questions’ asked at Ms Sturgess’ inquest.

[..] According to the Guardian, he also referenced then UK prime minister, Theresa May, in September 2018 in which she said: ‘This chemical weapons attack on our soil was part of a wider pattern of Russian behaviour that persistently seeks to undermine our security and that of our allies around the world.’

[..] ‘The use of novichok in Salisbury was the first aggressive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,’ said Mr Mansfield in a written case summary. ‘It put hundreds of members of the British public at risk and killed Ms Sturgess. ‘The issue of who was responsible for it is a matter of almost unparalleled public concern. ‘There is no realistic prospect that the two suspects will face a criminal trial in the UK or that the Russian state will carry out a comprehensive investigation, and no public inquiry into these events has been established.

This is the pattern: it’s nothing to do with UK security. The pattern is that both the US and UK use their lack of control over Russia as an excuse and reason to blame Russia for anything they feel like. As five-year old kids would. Robert Mueller, the liar and coward, having failed to produce one shred of evidence against Trump, left two things alive in his final report: empty accusations against Assange, who was muzzled, and against “13 Russians”, who he knew would never contest whatever he said.

And when he was challenged because Concord Management decided to show up with a lawyer, he lost that too. The official line was: “It is no longer in the best interests of justice or the country’s national security” to continue. What a bunch of losers.

And we’re not done. Assange smearer no. 1 and hidden intelligence agent Luke Harding, who invented more smear stories about Julian than anyone on the planet, had this three weeks ago. I kid you not, his point was that Russian intelligence is really really stupid. To prove it, he paints a shining portrait of … US/UK intelligence operation Bellingcat.

This is mainly about the Skripal case again, but of course we also remember their role in the never ever existing chemical attack in Syria by Assad on his own people. Yes, the one where they, the OPCW was involved too, planted the canisters and shot some grueling staged photographs.

 

A Chain Of Stupidity’: The Skripal Case And The Decline Of Russia’s Spy Agencies

Bellingcat revealed the identity of poisoner No 1 in a message on its website. Having unmasked one assassin, it seemed likely that Bellingcat would succeed in identifying Petrov, too. Sure enough, in late September I received an invitation to a press conference. It was to be held in an illustrious location: the Houses of Parliament, in an upstairs committee room, number nine. Its subject was Petrov’s real identity. By the time I arrived, the room was full. I spotted a reporter from the New York Times, Ellen Barry, together with leading representatives from the British and US media. It was hard to escape the conclusion that power in journalism was shifting.


It was moving away from established print titles and towards open-source innovators. The new hero of journalism was no longer a grizzled investigator burning shoe leather, à la All the President’s Men, but a pasty-looking kid in front of a MacBook Air. Higgins and Grozev were there, as well as a Conservative MP, Bob Seely. I found a spot on a bench and sat down. The mood was expectant. Seely set the scene. He described Bellingcat as a “truly remarkable group of digital detectives”. Their success was due to an explosion of digital technology and a rise in digital activism, he said.

Here’s Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett about Bellingcat:

Bellingcat & Atlantic Council Join To Award Exploited Syrian Child & American Mass Murderer

Is the Atlantic Council some benevolent organization handing out awards to do-gooding people? No. It’s a Washington DC-based think tank, which promulgates lies and propaganda to further imperialist wars and weapons sales, among other things. One of its Syria “experts” is none other than Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins, who recently took to social media to tell people to suck his “big balls,” making him more of a laughing stock than this backgrounder on the man with no qualifications to his title.


Some of the Atlantic Council’s funders include: the US State Department, oil and weapons manufacturing companies, banks, NATO, various nations’ ministries of defence, and the US Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy. Even just based on funding alone, and ignoring their pro-NATO policy papers, the Atlantic Council clearly exists to further the interests of those involved in weapons manufacturing, wars, and oil.

Of course the entire lying fanfare is a direct result of the west failing to capture Crimea from Russia. They lost that one too; they sure lose a lot when engaging with Russia, don’t they? All they end up with is stories. John McCain and Victoria Nuland thought they had it all in their hands, and then it slipped right through.

And from Maidan and Crimea it’s just a skip and a hop to MH17, plus more -and heavy- Bellingcat involvement. This made the news again a week ago.

 

MH17 Disaster: Dutch Take Russia To European Rights Court

Citizens of 10 different countries died on board the Boeing 777 airliner that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. More than two-thirds of the victims were Dutch nationals. In March, a trial opened in the Netherlands of three Russian and one Ukrainian citizens – still at large – for the murder of 298 people on board the plane. They are all linked to the pro-Moscow separatists. The trial, in a court near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, is expected to last for months.


In a statement, the Dutch foreign ministry said the government “decided to bring Russia before the European Court of Human Rights for its role in the downing of Flight MH17”. It said that “by taking this course of action the government is offering maximum support” to individual cases already brought against Russia by victims’ families. “Achieving justice for 298 victims of the downing of Flight MH17 is and will remain the government’s highest priority,” said Mr Blok. “By taking this step today… we are moving closer to this goal,” he added.

Now, I have some interest in this, because I was born in Holland and still have the passport. But from what I can see, this is just yet another western intelligence story. I don’t know what happened with MH17, but I’m pretty sure the Dutch government doesn’t know either, or if they do they’re not telling. And my skepticism isn’t even based on pieces like this from Eric Zuesse two weeks ago (but do read it!).

 

Netherlands ‘Justice’ Is Totally Corrupt: MH17 Case as Example

[..] when Ukraine’s Government authorized Holland’s Government to investigate and rule on what caused the MH17 to be shot down, Holland’s Government signed onto a secret agreement with Ukraine’s Government that included a provision allowing Ukraine’s Government to block and prevent any finding from being issued that would implicate Ukraine’s Government in having shot it down. Holland’s Government violates its own Freedom of Information law by refusing to make public what that secret agreement says.


However, at the time when the existence of the agreement slipped through into mention by a Ukrainian news-site on 8 August 2014, that news-report said “As part of the four-party agreement signed on August 8 between Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia [all of which nations are allies of the United States and are cooperating with its new Cold War against Russia], information on the investigation into the disaster Malaysian ‘Boeing-777’ will not be disclosed.”

My skepticism is kind of linked to this, but it’s much older. When the plane was brought down, I noted that then-US VP Joe Biden, as well as the Ukrainian government of newly (US-)installed president Poroshenko, and also Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, who got a plush job in Brussels out of it, all three declared within hours that Russia “was what did it”.

None could know at the time they made the statement. But it was a few months after the west lost Crimea, and thereby the chance to rid Russia of its only warm water port. And some people didn’t like that one bit. Some people were very unhappy about being outsmarted by Putin. Nuland must have been livid. And Hillary Clinton, and McCain.

Then when the investigation started, something odd happened. 2/3 of all victims -298 in total- were from the Netherlands. Yet the Dutch got to lead the inquest. As I wrote at the time: have you ever seen a crime series, or a murder one, or a movie, where the main victim (afflicted party) gets to lead the investigation into what happened? No, what we always see is someone taking the aggrieved detective aside saying: sorry, you’re too close to this.

And then on top of that, Ukraine, certainly one of the main suspects, since it happened in their territory, got to be part of the investigation. And not just part, as you can see in Zuesse’s piece, they could veto both what would be investigated and what could be communicated about the results. While they could well be the perpetrator!

If you go back to the murder series metaphor, a producer or writer would say: no can do, it lacks all credibility. But they did it. And it was then that I knew no matter what the report would say, it would be literally incredible. It’s 6 years later, and it’s going to take many more years, of posturing, name-calling, threats, accusations, you name it. And nothing will be proven, there will be only claims of proof. Just like in all the other cases I mentioned above. It’s how these things are done.

MH17 has become just another tool in the hands of “intelligence”.

 

 

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Jun 242020
 
 June 24, 2020  Posted by at 12:09 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  34 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Arkansas flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas 1937

 

80% of COVID19 Cases In The US Went Undetected In March (CNN)
What the US Stock Market Looks Like Minus APPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, FB (WS)
Putin Reviews Military Parade On Eve Of Vote That Could Extend His Rule (R.)
‘The Skripal Case And The Decline Of Russia’s Spy Agencies (G.)
Johnson And May Ignored Claims Russia Had ‘Likely Hold’ Over Trump (G.)
Siberia Is On Fire And Off The Charts (Canary)
Bayer Pays $10 Billion To Settle Thousands Of Monsanto Glyphosate Lawsuits (ZH)

 

 

It’s still a bit of a battle to get started again, as you can see, but we’ll get there. All day yesterday for instance my head was much more occupied with the banning of Mark Twain and Harper Lee than with corona. But I already wrote about To KIll A Mockingbird.

 

 

Worldometer reports new cases for June 23 (midnight to midnight GMT+0) at + 162,994 .

 

 

As Texas, where our resident GP is located, continues to surge:

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

But how about now?

80% of COVID19 Cases In The US Went Undetected In March (CNN)

A new study suggests that as many as 8.7 million Americans came down with coronavirus in March, but more than 80% of them were never diagnosed. A team of researchers looked at the number of people who went to doctors or clinics with influenza-like illnesses that were never diagnosed as coronavirus, influenza or any of the other viruses that usually circulate in winter. There was a giant spike in these cases in March, the researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. “The findings support a scenario where more than 8.7 million new SARS-CoV-2 infections appeared in the U.S. during March and estimate that more than 80% of these cases remained unidentified as the outbreak rapidly spread,” Justin Silverman of Penn State University, Alex Washburne of Montana State University and colleagues at Cornell University and elsewhere, wrote.

Only 100,000 cases were officially reported during that time period, and the US still reports only 2.3 million cases as of Monday. But there was a shortage of coronavirus testing kits at the time. The team used data collected from each state by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for influenza-like illness. The CDC uses this data to track the annual seasonal flu epidemic. It asks doctors to report all cases of people coming in for treatment for fever, cough and other symptoms caused by influenza. “We found a clear, anomalous surge in influenza-like illness (ILI) outpatients during the COVID-19 epidemic that correlated with the progression of the epidemic in multiple states across the US,” Silverman and colleagues wrote.

“The surge of non-influenza ILI outpatients was much larger than the number of confirmed cases in each state, providing evidence of large numbers of probable symptomatic COVID-19 cases that remained undetected.”

Read more …

Makes me think of playing Monopoly.

What the US Stock Market Looks Like Minus APPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, FB (WS)

The market capitalization of the five largest stocks combined – the “Giant 5:” Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook – rose to a new record today of $6.18 trillion. Since their combined low point on March 16, their market capitalization has soared by 51%. That’s an increase of $2.1 trillion in a little over three months. Since January 2017, my Giant 5 index has soared by 164% (market cap data via YCharts):

So how big did they get? The overall stock market capitalization, as measured by the Wilshire 5000 Market Cap Index tracking 3,451 US-listed companies, ticked up to $31.8 trillion, up by 41.6% from its low on March 23. Today, the “Giant 5” accounted for 19.4% of the total US stock market capitalization, as measured by the Wilshire 5000, a new record. On January 3, 2017, the Giant 5 had accounted for 10% of the Wilshire 5000. In the three months since the crash in March, the share of the Giant 5 has soared from abound 16% to 19.4% today (Wilshire 5000 data via YCharts):

Let’s take the five largest stocks out of the largest stock market in the world, with 3,451 companies, and see what’s left over. What’s left over is now valued at $25.7 trillion. It’s up by 28.4% from the March 23 low, and while that’s till strong for a three-month rally, it’s a far cry from the 51% for the Giant 5. And here is the thing: All these companies combined, minus the “Giant 5,” are way below their peak in February 2020, and below a whole bunch of other dates before then, and below where they’d first been in at the end of January 2018. For the entire rest of the stock market – all its winners and losers combined – minus the “Giant 5” the period since January 2018 was a very rough and unpleasant ride to nowhere. It declined 1%. You would have been better off putting your money in one of those despicable freaking savings accounts:

Seen the other way around: If you had shorted on January 26, 2018, the entire stock market minus the “Giant 5,” you would have had a wild unpleasant ride and made 1%. But if you had shorted the “Giant 5” over the same period, you would have lost 70%. This is how dependent the stock market, and broad portfolios reflecting it, have become on the Giant 5. It’s not that there aren’t a bunch of other companies that have gained as much or more than the Big 5 in percentage terms – there are – but in dollar terms, and in weight in the market, they just don’t measure up to these five giants. Apple and Microsoft both are now worth over $1.5 trillion. Amazon is at nearly $1.4 trillion, Alphabet at $1.0 trillion. These are gigantic valuations. They also speak of an immense concentration of power in a single company.

Read more …

Russia holds its parade to honor the victims of WWII. The western press needs to make that look sinister. As Putin simply calls for cooperation. He must have sinister reasons for doing so.

Putin Reviews Military Parade On Eve Of Vote That Could Extend His Rule (R.)

President Vladimir Putin reviewed a spectacular Red Square military parade on Wednesday, a patriotic display critics said was designed to lift his lower-than-usual ratings on the eve of a nationwide vote that could extend his rule until 2036. Putin watched as intercontinental ballistic missile launchers trundled past, nuclear-capable bombers flew overhead, and columns of tanks and over 14,000 troops, including some from allies like China, marched past under hot sunshine. The parade, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War Two victory over the Nazis, was postponed from May 9 because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, but critics said it was still irresponsible to go ahead with it.

The Kremlin dismissed that assertion, saying new daily infections, though still in the thousands, were on the wane, especially in the Russian capital, the original epicentre of the outbreak, and that all safety precautions were taken. Volunteers gave masks and gloves to those watching on Red Square and ordered them to sit two seats apart. Putin, flanked by veterans, did not wear a mask, but people around him had been tested for the coronavirus, including veterans quarantined at a resort outside Moscow beforehand. Thousands of people thronged Moscow’s streets to watch tanks roll through the city on what was a public holiday. Putin struck a conciliatory tone towards the West, despite complaining beforehand about what he called attempts by some European countries to rewrite history.

He said Moscow would never forget the contribution made by the Soviet Union’s wartime allies, including their opening of a second front in 1944. Putin also made an indirect reference to his desire for the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to hold a summit to try to tackle the world’s problems. “We are open to dialogue and cooperation on the most current international questions,” said Putin. “Among them is the creation of a reliable and general system of security, which the complex fast-changing modern world needs. Only together can we defend it from new dangerous threats,” he said.

Read more …

“A Chain Of Stupidity” is what Assange smearer Luke Harding sees in Russia’s intelligence. But the smart folks at Atlantic Council-sponsored Bellingcat will save us from their stupidity. By claiming that Assad conducted chemical attacks on his people. By claiming that Russia downed MH17.

‘The Skripal Case And The Decline Of Russia’s Spy Agencies (G.)

A man named Eliot Higgins was following events in Libya, too – not from the front line, but from his home in the east Midlands. Specifically, from his sofa. It was a safer place to be – and, as it turned out, as good a perch as any from which to analyse the conflict, and to consider questions that, in the heat of battle, were interesting, but seemingly unanswerable. Questions such as: where did the rebels get their arms? Higgins recalls growing up as a shy “nerd”. According to his brother Ross, Higgins was an obsessive gamer and early computer enthusiast. He liked Lego, played Pong on an antediluvian 1980s Atari and was a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. He spent hours immersed in the online roleplay game World of Warcraft, where participants pooled skills and collaborated across virtual borders. His instincts were completist: he wanted to finish and win the game. This would prove useful later on.

Higgins tried for a career in journalism and enrolled on a media studies course in Southampton. It didn’t work out, and he left without a degree. Next, he earned a living via a series of unlikely administrative jobs. One day Higgins logged on to the Guardian’s Middle East live blog. Libya was the centre of international attention. Higgins made his own contributions to the comment section of the Guardian blog, using the name Brown Moses – taken from a Frank Zappa song. The blog often featured videos uploaded by anti-regime fighters. There was fierce debate as to whether these images were authentic or bogus.

One such video showed a newly captured town. The rebels claimed it was Tiji, a sleepy settlement with a barracks that had been recently bombed by Nato jets, close to the border with Tunisia, and on the strategic main road leading to Tripoli. There was a mosque, a white road and a few little buildings with trees around them. The video showed a rebel-driven tank rolling noisily down a two-lane highway. There were utility poles. Higgins used satellite images to see if he could identify the settlement and thereby win the discussion. The features were sufficiently distinctive for him to be able to prove he was correct: the town was Tiji. “I’m very argumentative,” he says. It was the first time he had used geolocation tools. He realised he could collect user-generated videos and later work out exactly where they had been filmed.

Read more …

Ah, Harding has a new book out and that needs to be promoted. So let’s use the Steele Dossier for that. Its credibility hasn’t survived Mueller, but who in Britain knows that? Just throw in that Russia especially hates Britain, that’ll do it.

Johnson And May Ignored Claims Russia Had ‘Likely Hold’ Over Trump (G.)

Boris Johnson and Theresa May ignored claims the Kremlin had a “likely hold” over Donald Trump and may have covertly funded Brexit, the former spy Christopher Steele alleges in secret evidence given to MPs who drew up the Russia report. In testimony to MPs, the MI6 veteran accused the government led by May and in which Johnson was foreign secretary for two years of turning a blind eye to allegations about Trump because they were afraid of offending the US president. Steele first presented a dossier about Trump to senior UK intelligence figures in late 2016, who he says took it seriously at first. But, he writes, “on reaching top political decision-makers, a blanket appeared to be thrown over it”.

“No inquiries were made or actions taken thereafter on the substance of the intelligence in the dossier by HMG [Her Majesty’s government],” Steele says in the critical document. The allegation is contained in a short summary of a larger file of information presented in August 2018 by Steele to parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), inquiring into Kremlin infiltration into British politics and public life. Steele accuses May’s government of selling British interests short by not taking matters further: “In this case, political considerations seemed to outweigh national security interests. If so, in my view, HMG made a serious mistake in balancing matters of strategic importance to our country.”

The Russia expert concluded: “A prospective trade deal should never be allowed to eclipse considerations of national security.” Steele’s confidential testimony is revealed for the first time in a book by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding, Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem and Russia’s Remaking of the West, to be published next week.

Read more …

Siberia has an extreme climate. But it’s now even more extreme.

Siberia Is On Fire And Off The Charts (Canary)

Scientists have expressed concerns about the implications for the rest of the world after a heatwave in Russia’s Siberia region. On Saturday, the thermometer hit a likely record of 38C – or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit – in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk in Russia’s Sakha Republic. The World Meteorological Organisation said it is looking to verify the temperature reading, which would be a record for the region north of the Arctic Circle. The increasing temperatures in Siberia have been linked to wildfires that grow bigger and more severe every year, as well as the thawing of the permafrost.

University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, said: “The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire – it’s warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires. “The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions.” Much of Siberia had high temperatures this year that were beyond unseasonably warm. From January through to May, the average temperature in north-central Siberia has been about 8C above average, according to the climate science non-profit organisation Berkeley Earth.

Siberia is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its extreme temperatures. It is a place where the thermometer has swung by 106C (190 degrees Fahrenheit), from a low of minus 68C to 38C.

Read more …

Very scary people, the lot of them.

Bayer Pays $10 Billion To Settle Thousands Of Monsanto Glyphosate Lawsuits (ZH)

After decades of widespread use as company scientists played down research showing a definitive link between the product and growing rates of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Monsanto parent company Bayer has agreed to pay up to $10 billion to settle claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer. Citing people familiar with the matter, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the company has agreed to settle tens of thousands of glyphosate-related lawsuits in the US for between $8 billion to $10 billion. Of that number, $2 billion is considered a “reserve” which can be used to settle future claims. The rest will be used to settle all of the lawsuits pending in the United States from users of the controversial weed killer, the number of active lawsuits against the Roundup purveyor recently numbered more than 50k.


Talks for an out of court settlement have been ongoing since last summer. Last year, scientists evaluated a batch of existing studies and determined that Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed-killer Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate increased cancer risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) by 41%, according to a research published in February 2019. Back in 2018, a San Francisco Jury awarded $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, who said Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller gave him terminal cancer. That award consisted of $40 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.

Read more …

 

 

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Dec 012019
 


Arthur Rothstein Family leaving South Dakota drought for Oregon Jul 1936

 

Fastest-Growing Debt Category In US Not Student Loans Or Credit Cards (CNBC)
Automakers Offer Record Incentives As Trillion Dollar Auto Bubble Bursts (ZH)
The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation (EP)
Germany Closes All Nuclear Plants, Must Bury Waste For 1 Million Years (CNN)
Spanish Judge To Question Assange Over Ecuador Embassy Spying Claims (El Pais)
‘We’re Working For The Dark Side’: Firm Accused Of Spying On Assange (RT)
Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars (AC)
OPCW Manipulation Of Douma Report Requires Fresh Look At Skripal Case (MoA)
Prince Andrew Meeting With US Authorities Would Be A ‘Catch-22’ (G.)
Will The Epstein Story Ever be Fully Told? (Rice)
Scott Adams Has Some Ideas for a Calmer Internet (Wired)

 

 

Here, have some money.

Fastest-Growing Debt Category In US Not Student Loans Or Credit Cards (CNBC)

It’s the fastest-growing debt category in the country, but if you are thinking student loans or credit cards, you’re wrong. Personal loan balances now exceed $300 billion, as of the second quarter of this year, according to Experian, a whopping 11% yearly increase. For good reason, too, as personal loans can help to consolidate credit card debt, or make funds available for major projects, such as a home remodeling effort. For many of us, the allure is hard to ignore, but personal loans do differ in some key ways from other types of credit you might use, such as credit cards. It’s important to understand the key differences before signing on the dotted line.


As compared to credit cards, personal loan interest rates can vary much more dramatically, according to research by ValuePenguin. In fact, some borrowers with excellent credit may qualify for loans with interest rates as low as 5% or 6% with some lenders. On the other hand, borrowers with poor credit may encounter rates higher than the average credit card, sometimes exceeding 30%. This wide range of interest rates make personal loans more affordable for those with better credit, and may make the most sense for borrowers with excellent credit who can pay off the loan in a timely manner. On the other hand, borrowers with poor or fair credit may face interest rates higher than what they’d otherwise qualify for with a credit card.

Read more …

Can we recognize an industry that is dying? Or do we simply refuse?

Automakers Offer Record Incentives As Trillion Dollar Auto Bubble Bursts (ZH)

Early last month, we outlined how automobile sales deteriorated in late summer and prophesized how “this would set the stage for increased incentive spending by carmakers, who will be desperate to clear inventory heading into the end of the year.” It seems that we were right. Automakers are now offering the most discounts on record to entice deadbeat consumers in November, according to a new report from JD Power. The average incentive spending per vehicle is $4,538, an increase of 12% YoY. The previous high for the industry was $4,378 in 4Q17. Inventories for older model-year vehicles have soared in 2H19, forcing automakers to boost incentive spending to clear excess inventory. With the average APR to finance a vehicle around 5.3% for the month, the average transaction price remained above $34,000, down from $179 from last month but up $622 over the year.

As a result of low rates and record-high incentives, consumers spent $40.3 billion on new vehicles in November. This figure is up $2.7 billion from 2018. Thomas King, Senior Vice President of the Data and Analytics Division at JD Power, said, manufacturers will offer even greater incentives through December, and the trend could continue into early 2020. “Incentive spending typically rises by 3-4% in December, which would continue to drive overall spending to unprecedented territory,” King said. King warned: “This [incentive trend] is concerning for the health of the industry when combined with rising sub-prime sales, which are growing at the highest rate since August 2018.”

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“..the bull market in stocks is not a function of a booming economy. Rather, it’s a function of Fed madness. And its existence becomes ever more perilous with each passing day.”

The Fed’s Answer to the Ghastly Monster of its Creation (EP)

The launch angle of the U.S. stock market over the past decade has been steep and relentless. The S&P 500, after bottoming out at 666 on March 6, 2009, has rocketed up over 370 percent. New highs continue to be reached practically every day. Over this stretch, many investors have been conditioned to believe the stock market only goes up. That blindly pumping money into an S&P 500 ETF is the key to investment riches. In good time, this conditioning will be recalibrated with a rude awakening. You can count on it. In the interim, the bull market may continue a bit longer…or it may not. But, to be clear, after a 370 percent run-up, buying the S&P 500 represents a speculation on price. A gamble that the launch angle furthers its steep trajectory. Here’s why…

Over the past decade, the U.S. economy, as measured by nominal GDP, has increased about 50%. This plots a GDP launch angle that is underwhelming when compared to the S&P 500. Corporate earnings have fallen far short of share prices. Hence, the bull market in stocks is not a function of a booming economy. Rather, it’s a function of Fed madness. And its existence becomes ever more perilous with each passing day. Central planners at the Fed – like other major central banks – have taken monetary policy to a state of madness. Zero interest rate policy, negative interest rate policy, quantitative easing, operation twist, quantitative tightening, reserve management, repo market intervention, not-QE, mass-asset purchases, and more.

These schemes have fostered massive growth in public and private debt with nothing but lackluster economic growth to show. What’s more, these schemes have produced massive asset bubbles that have skyrocketed wealth inequality and inflamed countless variants of new populism. Yet the clever fellows at the Fed are blind to the fact that they’re most responsible for fabricating this monster. And now they want to rectify the ghastly deformities of their creation… Earlier this week, for example, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari remarked that: “Monetary policy can play the kind of redistributing role once thought to be the preserve of elected officials.”

How exactly Mickey Mousing with credit markets could attain this objective is unclear. But, like yield curve control (YCC), Kashkari wants to give it a go. These sorts of amorphous meddling operations is how he answers his higher calling. You see, Kashkari’s a man with crazy eyes. But he’s also a man with even crazier ideas. He’s an extreme economic interventionist – and a crackpot. Though he wears his burdens on his sleeve. If you recall, as federal bailout chief, Kashkari functioned as the highly visible hand of the market. When the sky was falling in early-2009, he awoke each morning, put on his pants one leg at a time, drank his coffee, and rapidly funneled Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s $700 billion of TARP funds to the government’s preferred financial institutions.

Read more …

No human being can guarantee anything for a million years. It’s a mad mad claim.

Germany Closes All Nuclear Plants, Must Bury Waste For 1 Million Years (CNN)

When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world’s scientists, they don’t get much larger than this. Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters – roughly six Big Ben clock towers – of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years? This is the “wicked problem” facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site. Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage. The technological challenges – of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans – are huge.


Germany decided to phase out all its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, amid increasing safety concerns. The seven power stations still in operation today are due to close by 2022. With their closure comes a new challenge — finding a permanent nuclear graveyard by the government’s 2031 deadline. Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy says it aims to find a final repository for highly radioactive waste “which offers the best possible safety and security for a period of a million years.” The country was a “blank map” of potential sites, it added.

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Took 3 months. Normally, a matter of days.

Spanish Judge To Question Assange Over Ecuador Embassy Spying Claims (El Pais)

The British justice system has finally agreed to let a Spanish judge question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a witness in a case involving allegations that a Spanish security firm spied on him while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, will interview the cyber-activist via video link on December 20, said judicial sources. Assange will be transferred from Belmarsh prison in southeast London to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions from De la Mata, who is investigating alleged violations of client-attorney privilege between the cyber-activist and his lawyers, and allegations that these conversations were passed on to the CIA.


British civil servants visited Assange in prison last week, asked him whether he agreed to be questioned by De la Mata, and delivered a document listing the events under investigation by the judge, who had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September requesting assistance from British authorities. It has not been easy to secure the UK’s permission to question the Australian cyber-activist. The Spanish judge sent London the EIO on September 25, requesting authorization to interview Assange as part of an investigation into Morales and his company for breach of privacy, violation of client-attorney privilege and illegal arms possession.

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Has the guy been arrested yet?

‘We’re Working For The Dark Side’: Firm Accused Of Spying On Assange (RT)

A private security firm that allegedly spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London bragged about its nefarious activities and ties to US intelligence, according to German public broadcaster NDR. The troubling revelations are part of a criminal complaint filed by NDR against Undercover Global, a Spanish security company contracted by the Ecuadorian government to film and review guests at their embassy in London. The firm is accused of using the commission to carry out a vast spying operation targeting the WikiLeaks co-founder, who sought political asylum in the embassy for seven years before his hosts handed him over to British authorities. The German broadcaster claims to have a huge cache of documents detailing the illegal surveillance operation – which also targeted NDR journalists who visited Assange.


Former employees of Undercover Global said that the company’s CEO, David Morales, didn’t try to hide his ties to the US government. Upon returning from a trip to the United States, Morales allegedly told one of his employees: “From now on, we play in the first league… We are now working for the dark side.” He is said to have traveled up to twice a month to the States to deliver materials taken from the Ecuadorian Embassy. When asked by colleagues who his “American friends” were, Morales reportedly replied: “the US Secret Service.” Incredibly, a lawyer from Undercover Global acknowledged to NDR that the company works with US intelligence agencies – but denied any wrongdoing at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

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“..our wars have killed 801,000 directly and resulted in a multiple of that number dead indirectly..”

Tulsi Gabbard: Wake Up And Smell Our $6.4 Trillion Wars (AC)

The Democratic establishment is increasingly irritated. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, long-shot candidate for president, is attacking her own party for promoting the “deeply destructive” policy of “regime change wars.” Gabbard has even called Hillary Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.” [..] Gabbard recognizes that George W. Bush is not the only simpleton warmonger who’s plunged the nation into conflict, causing enormous harm. In the last Democratic presidential debate, she explained that the issue was “personal to me” since she’d “served in a medical unit where every single day, I saw the terribly high, human costs of war.”

Compare her perspective to that of the ivory tower warriors of Right and Left, ever ready to send others off to fight not so grand crusades. The best estimate of the costs of the post-9/11 wars comes from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. The Institute says that $6.4 trillion will be spent through 2020. They estimate that our wars have killed 801,000 directly and resulted in a multiple of that number dead indirectly. More than 335,000 civilians have died—and that’s an extremely conservative guess. Some 21 million people have been forced from their homes. Yet the terrorism risk has only grown, with the U.S. military involved in counter-terrorism in 80 nations. Obviously, without American involvement there would still be conflicts.

Some counter-terrorism activities would be necessary even if the U.S. was not constantly swatting geopolitical wasps’ nests. Nevertheless, it was Washington that started or joined these unnecessary wars (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen) and expanded necessary wars well beyond their legitimate purposes (Afghanistan). As a result, American policymakers bear responsibility for much of the carnage. The Department of Defense is responsible for close to half of the estimated expenditures. About $1.4 trillion goes to care for veterans. Homeland security and interest on security expenditures take roughly $1 trillion each. And $131 million goes to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which have overspent on projects that have delivered little.

More than 7,000 American military personnel and nearly 8,000 American contractors have died. About 1,500 Western allied troops and 11,000 Syrians fighting ISIS have been killed. The Watson Institute figures that as many as 336,000 civilians have died, but that uses the very conservative numbers provided by the Iraq Body Count. The IBC counts 207,000 documented civilian deaths but admits that doubling the estimate would probably yield a more accurate figure. Two other respected surveys put the number of deaths in Iraq alone at nearly 700,000 and more than a million, though those figures have been contested. More than a thousand aid workers and journalists have died, as well as up to 260,000 opposition fighters. Iraq is the costliest conflict overall, with as many as 308,000 dead (or 515,000 from doubling the IBC count). Syria cost 180,000 lives, Afghanistan 157,000, Yemen 90,000, and Pakistan 66,000.

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“..a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD..”

OPCW Manipulation Of Douma Report Requires Fresh Look At Skripal Case (MoA)

The OPCW had send blood samples from the Skripals to the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland which found BZ, a psycho agent 25 times stronger than LSD. The OPCW hid this fact in its reports. An attack with BZ on the Skripals would be consistent with the observed symptoms that bystanders had described. The Skripals were indeed hallucinating and behaved very strangly with Sergei Skipal lifting his arms up to the sky while sitting on a bench. Exposure to BZ would also explain the Skripals’ survival. The OPCW explained the BZ find by claiming that it had mixed BZ into the probe to test the laboratory. Something which it said it regularly does. At that time I still believed in the OPCW and found that explanation reasonable:

“The OPCW responded to Russian question about the BZ and high rate of A-234 in the Spiez Laboratory probe and report. OPCW said today that it was a control probe to test the laboratory. Such probes are regularly slipped under the real probes to make sure that the laboratories the OPCW uses are able to do their job and do not manipulate their results. That explanation is reasonable. I guess we can close the BZ theories and go back to food poisoning as the most likely cause of the Skripals’ illness.” In light of the OPCW management manipulation or suppression of the reports of its own specialists for the purpose of attributing the Douma incident to the Syrian government I have to change my opinion. I hereby retract my earlier acceptance of the OPCW’s explanation in the Skripal case.

As we now know that the OPCW management manipulates reports at will we can no longer accept the ‘control probe’ excuse without further explanations or evidence. Here is what seems to have happened. The OPCW did not send a control sample to Spiez to test the laboratory. It sent the original samples from the Skripals. Spiez found BZ and reported that back to the OPCW. The OPCW suppressed the Spiez results in its own reports. Somehow Russia got wind of the Spiez results and exposed the manipulation. Acceptance that the Skripals had been ‘buzzed’, not ‘novi-shocked’ is central to the Skripal case. It makes the whole Skripal case as a British operation to prevent the repatriation of Sergei Skripal to Russia much more plausible.

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They can’t even serve him with a subpoena because his staff would shield him. Time for the Queen to do the right thing. Or abdicate.

Prince Andrew Meeting With US Authorities Would Be A ‘Catch-22’ (G.)

Prince Andrew is not charged with wrongdoing but with the BBC airing an interview with Giuffre on 2 December the controversy is only likely to ramp up. [..] If Prince Andrew were lawfully served with a subpoena – be it for a grand jury, or a trial or deposition – generally speaking, he will need to comply. However, it is far more difficult to serve him outside the US. “Due to the heightened measures of security that surround the royal family, it certainly is far more difficult to walk up to a member of the royal family and serve them a subpoena as you would a private citizen,” Weinstein said. While there are rules about how to serve subpoenas on a foreign national on US soil, such as surprising them at points of entry, diplomatic immunity and his being a high-profile royal could further complicate the issue.

Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor and former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, said there could be legal risks in Prince Andrew cooperating depending on his potential involvement with Epstein’s activities. “If he was peripherally involved in that, if he has information about others, I would say absolutely any attorney would take him in to cooperate,” Roiphe said. “The problem is, if he faces serious exposure and he’s a target of that information, most attorneys would not have him explain everything he knows – it really depends.” Mary Ellen O’Toole, who was formerly an FBI profiler deeply involved in finding the Unabomber killer, said that if Prince Andrew could provide information that would further the investigation and clear him at the same time, it “probably would be very helpful to him” to come forward.

O’Toole said the utility in cooperating with authorities largely depends on how he would handle the situation and that the pitfalls of such an interview were real as being untruthful with authorities can flout laws against making false statements, leading to further legal problems stemming from the interviews themselves. “I think it would be considered an adversarial situation – I don’t know how prepared he would be,” said O’Toole, who now directs the forensic science department at George Mason University in Virginia. “Sometimes people come in and say things that get them jammed up. “It is a catch-22 situation for him,” O’Toole said.

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Hell no.

Will The Epstein Story Ever be Fully Told? (Rice)

Every person named in court documents or press reports as allegedly or possibly having sex with an underaged girl or young woman at Epstein’s bequest has denied the allegations. Which begs the question: Who’s telling the truth and who’s lying? To form an opinion on this central question, authorities would presumably need to interview anyone with possible knowledge of alleged sexual or criminal acts. Investigators could then seek information that either corroborates or impeaches each person’s account. However, evidence is growing that the protocol in a typical “he-said, she-said” investigation is not being followed in the Epstein case. Instead, authorities may have simply accepted as truth the statements of denial issued by powerful public figures.

True or not, many Americans believe the Department of “Justice” will not prosecute (perhaps even question) scores of individuals who may have broken U.S. laws and who may have been victims of a disturbing blackmail operation. Perhaps authorities have concluded it’s better to not know. Perhaps they realize if they interview one suspected “John,” they’ll have to interview every potential “John.” if this number ends up being massive, and includes a Who’s Who of our society, important illusions about society’s leaders and our system of justice could be shattered. At its core, the Epstein case will reveal whether government prosecutors and investigators possess the courage and integrity to expose sordid truths about some of the wealthiest, most-connected, powerful people in the world, and perhaps reveal embarrassing truths about our government.

Americans might soon learn what objective is more important to Justice Department officials: Protecting the rich and powerful from the consequences of their behavior, or confirming that a system of justice grounded in trust can still be trusted. Sadly, many Americans are convinced authorities will not do the right thing. However, in proving skeptics wrong, authorities would accomplish at least four objectives, all noble. They would punish the guilty. They would provide justice to victims too long ignored. They would deter future Epsteins and future “Johns,” especially those unaccustomed to being held accountable for their actions. And, perhaps most importantly, they would allow a ray of sunshine to pierce the shadow of cynicism that’s spread across our country.

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“..the “48-hour rule,” states that everyone should be given a grace period of a couple of days to retract any controversial statement they’ve made..”

“..the “20-year rule,” which states that everyone should be automatically forgiven for any mistakes they made more than two decades ago—with the exception of certain serious crimes..”

Scott Adams Has Some Ideas for a Calmer Internet (Wired)

After expressing support for Donald Trump in 2016, Dilbert creator Scott Adams estimates that he lost about 30 percent of his income and 75 percent of his friends. He says that that level of political polarization has created a climate of genuine fear. “People will come up, and they’ll usually whisper—or they’ll lower their voice, because they don’t want to be heard—and they’ll say, ‘I really like what you’re doing on your Periscope, and the stuff you’re saying about Trump,’” Adams says in Episode 389 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “They’re actually afraid to say it out loud. They literally whisper it to me in public places.” Adams blames the current climate on social media and a clickbait business model that rewards sensationalism over fact-based reporting.

Since the technology is here to stay, he says we’re going to need new societal norms to help foster a calmer, more constructive political discourse. “When society changes, every now and then you need a new rule of manners,” he says. “So for example, when cell phones were invented, you needed a new set of rules about where can you use them and can you do it in a restaurant, etc. And social media has gotten so hot, I thought maybe we need a few new rules.” He lays out two such rules in his new book, Loserthink. His first proposal, which he calls the “48-hour rule,” states that everyone should be given a grace period of a couple of days to retract any controversial statement they’ve made, no questions asked. “We live in a better world if we accept people’s clarifications and we accept their apologies, no matter whether we think—internally—it’s insincere,” he says.

His other idea is the “20-year rule,” which states that everyone should be automatically forgiven for any mistakes they made more than two decades ago—with the exception of certain serious crimes. It used to be the case that people’s thoughtless remarks and embarrassing gaffes would naturally fade into obscurity, but social media has created a situation where it’s easy to endlessly dredge up a person’s worst moments. “We’re not the same people that we were 20 years ago,” Adams says. “We’ve learned a bunch, our context has changed. If you’re doing all the right stuff, you’re getting smarter and kinder and wiser as you’re getting older. So being blamed for something you did 20 years ago is effectively being blamed for something a stranger did, because you’re just not that person anymore.”

Read more …

 

 

 

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Oct 062019
 
 October 6, 2019  Posted by at 10:14 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Cow on the seashore 1886

 

Powell: Fed’s Job To Keep Economy In A ‘Good Place As Long As Possible’ (CNBC)
Auto Imports From Mexico Surge As US Sales Decline (WS)
The Ukraine Affair Is Damning, All Right – Just Not In The Way You Think (RT)
Trump Told Theresa May He Doubted Russia Was Behind Skripal Poisoning (G.)
US Media Now Filled With Former Intelligence Agents (Rania Khalek)
Hong Kong Democrats To Challenge Mask Ban In Court (HKFP)
Hong Kong Mask Ban Spurs New Mass Protest On Sunday (BBC)
Epstein Victim Says Leslie Wexner “Responsible For What Happened To Me” (Hill)
24 State Attorneys General Launch Legal Challenge Against Purdue Pharma (Hill)

 

 

This is so incredibly stupid and nobody calls him out over it.

Powell: Fed’s Job To Keep Economy In A ‘Good Place As Long As Possible’ (CNBC)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell described the U.S. economy on Friday as being solid, noting the central bank must do what it can to keep it there. “While not everyone fully shares economic opportunities and the economy faces some risks, overall it is— as I like to say— in a good place,” Powell said in prepared remarks delivered at a “Fed Listens” event in Washington. The event is part of a monetary policy communication review by the Fed. “Our job is to keep it there as long as possible.” Powell’s comments came after a raft of disappointing data releases this week. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management said U.S. manufacturing contracted to its weakest level in a decade.


The ISM also said Thursday that the U.S. services sector grew at its slowest pace since August 2016. The Labor Department, meanwhile, reported weaker-than-expected jobs growth for September. This batch of weaker-than-forecast economic numbers led traders to ratchet up their bets on easier monetary policy from the Fed. Market expectations for a rate cut later this month are around 80%, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. “While we believe our strategy and tools have been and remain effective, the U.S. economy, like other advanced economies around the world, is facing some longer-term challenges—from low growth, low inflation, and low interest rates,” Powell said, adding the Fed is “examining strategies” that will help it achieve its inflation goal of 2%.

Read more …

Something ain’t happening.

Auto Imports From Mexico Surge As US Sales Decline (WS)

Automakers continue to shift their production base from the U.S. to Mexico, where labor costs pale in comparison with those in the U.S., despite growing opposition from U.S. auto workers and their unions. U.S. imports of new vehicles from Mexico surged by 8% in the first three quarters of 2019, according to the auto manufacturers association AIMA, released by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). This surge has occurred even as total deliveries of vehicles to end-users in the US fell by 1.6%. Between January and September 2019, 2.03 million new vehicles were dispatched from assembly plants in Mexico to the U.S. market, 158,000 more than during the first three quarters of 2018.


In the last eight years, auto imports from Mexico have almost doubled, from 1.3 million in 2011 to 2.57 million last year, at annual growth rates of between 6.3% and 13.9%. Barring any major supply chain hiccups, the U.S. is on track to import over 2.7 million new vehicles from Mexico this year. The latest figures cement Mexico’s position as number one exporter of automobiles to the US, ahead of Canada in second place. According to AIMA, 16% of the 12.7 million cars and other light vehicles delivered in the U.S. in the first three quarters of 2019 were assembled in Mexico.

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Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT: “It’s curious how the same treatment was not given a few months ago to the anti-Trump text messages of FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page..”

The Ukraine Affair Is Damning, All Right – Just Not In The Way You Think (RT)

Democrats say texts and transcripts involving US officials dealing with Ukraine prove President Donald Trump should be impeached. What they actually confirm, however, is the extent to which the US treats Ukraine as a vassal. At the heart of the latest media firestorm are the text messages between US diplomats and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. House Democrats seeking to impeach Trump have already sent a subpoena to the White House seeking more documents, and their allies in the media have proclaimed the texts to be “damning.” Much of the brouhaha centers on messages from Bill Taylor, charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev, who is the only one to suggest the military aid to Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s meeting with Trump are being “conditioned” on investigations of Hunter Biden and Ukraine’s role in 2016 meddling in the US election.

In one of the exchanges with US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, dated September 9, Taylor spells out what would become the Democrats’ argument for impeachment: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Sondland’s admonishment of Taylor – “I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.” – is somehow being held up as an admission of wrongdoing, along with his request for a phone call instead of continued texts. Just like that, all of a sudden, the controversy about the so-called “whistleblower” who may have colluded with House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) before filing his complaint – based on hearsay – is declared “irrelevant” and the texts are held up as the Holy Grail of impeachment proceedings.

It’s curious how the same treatment was not given a few months ago to the anti-Trump text messages of FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, when the entire media establishment twisted itself into pretzels to explain that when Strzok said “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president what he really meant, you see, was something totally innocuous and not sinister at all. House Republicans have blasted the diplomatic texts as “cherry-picked” by the other party, and argued that the closed-doors testimony of Kurt Volker, former US special envoy to Ukraine who participated in the exchanges, painted a completely different picture. Reading the transcript of Volker’s opening statement, obtained and published Friday by investigative reporter John Solomon and the Federalist, seems to back that claim.

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Sacrilege. BTW, where is Skripal? Hiding out with Wexner and Maxwell?

Trump Told Theresa May He Doubted Russia Was Behind Skripal Poisoning (G.)

Donald Trump disputed that Russia was behind the attempted murder of a former Russian spy in a tense call with Theresa May, it has emerged. Despite the widespread conclusion that Vladimir Putin’s regime was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia last year, the US president is said to have spent 10 minutes expressing his doubts about Russian involvement. According to the Washington Post, Trump “harangued” May about Britain’s contribution to Nato in a phone call with Britain’s then prime minister in the summer of last year, before disputing Russian involvement in the Skripal case.


“Trump totally bought into the idea there was credible doubt about the poisoning,” said a figure briefed on the call. “A solid 10 minutes of the conversation is spent with May saying it’s highly likely and him saying he’s not sure.” The Skripals were left fighting for their lives after the novichok attack in Salisbury, while a policeman was also left seriously ill. A second policeman was recently discovered to have been injured in the attack. Two Russian agents, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were identified as the likely culprits. However, they later appeared on Russia’s state-funded TV station RT, claiming they visited the “wonderful” English city as tourists to see its cathedral.

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Any day now, CNN can start a spook soccer team.

US Media Now Filled With Former Intelligence Agents (Rania Khalek)

After years in the shadows overseeing espionage, kill programs, warrantless wiretapping, entrapment, psyops and other covert operations, national security establishment retirees are are turning to a new line of work where they can carry out their imperial duties. That is, propagandizing the public on cable news. Reborn as cable news pundits, these people are cashing in. So many years working in the dark, only to emerge in the studio lights of the same networks that rail all day everyday against state TV from countries that America hates. I’m talking about people like… Below is but a partial list of prominent former spooks turned mainstream media pundits and analysts, to say nothing of the even greater numbers of retired generals the network continuously rely on.

• Former CIA Director John Brennan who is now an NBC News senior national security and intelligence analyst.
• Fran Townsend, former homeland security advisor to George W. Bush. She’s now a CBS News senior national security analyst.

But CNN takes the cake — it’s the biggest spook show of all.
• Jim Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, now a CNN national security analyst.
• Retired General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the NSA, now a CNN national security analyst.
• Asha Rangappa, former FBI special agent, now CNN legal analyst.
• James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent, now a CNN law enforcement analyst.
• Tony Bliken, former deputy secretary of state and former deputy national security advisor, and now CNN global affairs analyst.
• Mike Rogers, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, now CNN national security commentator.
• Samantha Vinograd senior advisor to the national security advisor under President Obama, now CNN national security analyst.
• Steven Hall, retired CIA chief of Russia operations, now a CNN national security analyst.
• Philip Mudd, former CIA counter-terrorism official, now CNN counter-terrorism analyst.

…Welcome to the spook show!

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Kyle Bass on Twitter: “Bank runs all over Hong Kong now. ATM machines running out of cash but there is something more important…failed leader carrie lam(b) can now officially confiscate bank accounts and assets without recourse. The HK legal system is essentially gone.”

Challenge was already thrown out by the High Court in the meantime.

Hong Kong Democrats To Challenge Mask Ban In Court (HKFP)

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers will challenge the newly imposed mask ban in court, arguing that Chief Executive Carrie Lam broke the law when she bypassed the legislature. Filed jointly by all 24 democrats, the lawsuit targeted the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) – the colonial-era law that grants the city’s leader and her council of advisors wide-ranging powers to “make regulations on occasions of emergency or public danger.” Democrats called for the mask ban to be suspended, before a proper judicial review hearing can be held. The court will hear their first round of arguments at Sunday 10am.


The lawmakers said that Lam “circumvented” the constitutional framework of One Country, Two Systems when she invoked the ERO to ban facial coverings at legal and unauthorised protests from Saturday. “Since the Handover, there has never been an occasion when the chief executive enacted legislation without going through LegCo,” said Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok. On Friday, the High Court dismissed a bid by activists Lester Shum and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung to suspend the law, saying that their case was not strong enough to outweigh the government’s rationale. Kwok said that the democrats’ lawsuit was different, as they had special standing as lawmakers to make constitutional arguments.

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Lam: “We cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong.”

That is HER treasured HK, not THEIRS?

Hong Kong Mask Ban Spurs New Mass Protest On Sunday (BBC)

Thousands of anti-government protesters have turned out for marches in Hong Kong despite pouring rain, spurred into action by a government ban on masks. Many defiantly covered their faces as they set off from several points in a co-ordinated response to the ban, which the High Court upheld on Sunday. Metro services, which were attacked by rioters on Friday, have resumed in some parts of the Chinese city. The masks have become the latest focus in months of pro-democracy protests. Police use of live bullets against protesters this week, leaving two people injured, has also fuelled the unrest. Chief executive Carrie Lam introduced the ban by invoking powers dating back to colonial rule by the British.

Demonstrators fear that democratic rights are being eroded in the semi-autonomous territory under Chinese rule. Many more people have turned out than on Saturday, when a small march was held in the aftermath of Friday’s rioting. Two groups set off at the same time from the Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui districts, the South China Morning Post reports. Shops could be seen closing early while luxury and chain stores were closed in Causeway Bay. On Friday, both businesses and railway stations were attacked by rioters. Hosun Lee, a protester in Causeway Bay, told AFP news agency he feared more emergency laws were on the way. “The anti-face mask law is the first step,” he said.

Ms Lam vowed on Saturday to prevent further violence, saying: “We cannot allow rioters any more to destroy our treasured Hong Kong.” She justified the law against masks as a response to the demonstrators’ “extreme violence” which was, she said, endangering Hong Kong’s public safety. A second legal challenge to the mask ban, which was brought by opposition legislators, was rejected by the High Court. The legislators had argued that the prohibition was unconstitutional because it denied the rights of free expression and free assembly.

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Wexner is walking around free, as is Ghislaine. Not sure about Skripal.

Epstein Victim Says Leslie Wexner “Responsible For What Happened To Me” (Hill)

A woman allegedly attacked by Jeffrey Epstein said she holds Victoria’s Secret billionaire Leslie Wexner “responsible for what happened to me” because she was staying on a property monitored by Wexner and his wife and guarded by his security team, the Washington Post reported. Maria Farmer stayed in a home that was a half-mile away from Wexner’s home in New Albany, Ohio during the summer of 1996 while she was creating two paintings for the film “As Good as it Gets.” Farmer was employed by Jeffrey Epstein at the time, and while she was staying in the house in Ohio, she alleges that Epstein and his associate Ghislaine Maxwell sexually assaulted her.


When she tried to leave the home after the alleged assault, Farmer said a security guard employed by Wexner told her “You aren’t leaving,” and “You’re not going anywhere.” She said another security guard later took her by the arm, and as she fought against him, he grabbed her so hard she bruised. Farmer said she also tried to call local police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s office. But Wexner had contracted with the office, and a person told her “we work for Wexner,” when she tried to report the crime, Farmer told the Washington Post. She also alleged that she was discouraged from leaving the house without the permission of Abigail Wexler, Leslie Wexler’s wife. She was later picked up by her father at the Washington home.

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“..Purdue gave up to $13 billion in company profits to the Sackler family.”

24 State Attorneys General Launch Legal Challenge Against Purdue Pharma (Hill)

US Attorneys General from 24 states and Washington, D.C. launched a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma this week in an attempt to block the OxyContin maker from avoiding thousands of lawsuits after filing for bankruptcy, Reuters reported. The state officials objected to Purdue Pharma’s request that a U.S. bankruptcy judge block the more than 2,600 lawsuits seeking billions in damages, according to court filings, Reuters reported. The lawsuits argue that the company, along with the Sackler family, were a catalyst in the opioid crisis across the country by not disclosing the addictive risks of opioids. “The Sacklers are billionaires, they are not bankrupt,” the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, told Reuters.


“They should not be allowed to use the filing to shield their assets.” Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, after reaching a settlement between $10 billion and $12 billion for the thousands of plaintiffs involved in the lawsuits. The committee of attorneys who negotiated the settlement said the filing will not stop the company from finalizing the settlement. But Purdue sought the injunction to stop the lawsuits against the company because the Sackler family did not file for bankruptcy, Reuters reported. The Sacklers have offered to give control of Purdue to the plaintiffs and give at least $3 billion towards the settlement. The case filed this week by the state attorneys general also said Purdue gave up to $13 billion in company profits to the Sackler family.

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Aug 072019
 
 August 7, 2019  Posted by at 9:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Portrait of Dora with bun 1937

 

The Future Of Britain Is In The Hands Of Unelected Svengali Cummings (Oborne)
No-Deal Brexiteers Are Winning Because They Want It More (Sky)
UK Too Desperate To Secure US Trade Deal – Larry Summers (G.)
Brexit: Michael Gove Accuses ‘Wrong And Sad’ EU Of Intransigence (G.)
Met Police Examine Vladimir Putin’s Role In Salisbury Attack (G.)
China State Banks Seen Supporting Yuan In Forwards Market (R.)
Forget China, The Fed Has A Much Bigger Problem On Its Hands (ZH)
Papua New Guinea Asks China To Refinance Its National Debt (G.)
Chinese Port Plans Put Pacific Back In Play (R.)
Pentagon Set to Prevent “Unacceptable” Turkish Invasion Of Northern Syria (ZH)
The Mainstream Media Wants the Mifsud Story to Just Go Away (ET)
Epstein’s Mysterious Manhattan Apartment Building On East 66th Street (BI)

 

 

Conservative journalist/editor Peter Oborne says the exact same thing I said a few days ago in A Tale of Two Cummings. Boris Johnson is just a figurehead.

Nigel Farage is complaining that the Tories want him and his Brexit party to step aside, but that’s Cummings and his polls that show Farage is too unpopular.

The Future Of Britain Is In The Hands Of Unelected Svengali Cummings (Oborne)

Cummings is no longer in the shadows, operating behind the scenes — this Svengali is out in the open. Indeed, he seems to relish being seen in public, striding ostentatiously into Downing Street every morning. Now, we are all familiar with his shaven head, scruffy T-shirts, crumpled appearance and contemptuous and appraising eyes, his newspapers and bundles of documents carried in a Vote Leave bag. According to some papers, and many ministers and civil servants I have spoken to recently, this is the man who is truly running Britain. It’s Cummings who oversees the No 10 grid which controls the timing of announcements and public events. It’s in this capacity that he dispatches the PM up and down Britain, photographed in hospitals, sharing selfies with nurses, and on construction sites wearing a hard hat.


It is also Cummings, not Johnson, who determines political strategy — hence the huge public spending announcements on health, extra police and other issues. Indeed, it looks very much as if Johnson has become the public face of Cummings. And this, I am afraid, is profoundly disturbing. No one ever voted for Cummings, he has little experience of life outside politicking yet he has been given unprecedented power at a moment of immense crisis in the national fortunes. Within hours of Johnson becoming Tory leader two weeks ago, newly anointed special adviser Cummings called ‘his’ staff together in the magnificent Downing Street first-floor state room. He told them that he plans to deliver Brexit ‘by any means necessary’.

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Quoting Michael Jordan: “Some people want it to happen. Some wish it to happen. Others make it happen.”

No-Deal Brexiteers Are Winning Because They Want It More (Sky)

Consider this: we now have a prime minister and a government, buttressed by a not inconsiderable rump of the Conservative party, who have made it clear that there is not a convention they are not willing to break, an institution they are not willing to smash, a precedent they are not willing to burn, in the pursuit of their goal. The PM and his coterie have said that they would prorogue parliament because it might stand in their way; that they are willing to schedule an election far in excess of the usual time limits because it would ensure our exit on the 31 October. In so doing they would therefore go against yet more precedent in pursuing a highly tendentious policy during an election period (where normally a caretaker administration would do little of controversy).


And now, we have news that the prime minister would squat in Number 10 after he loses a confidence vote in the House of Commons. He is even willing to do so, apparently, if the Commons coalesces around an alternative prime minister, despite the fact the Cabinet Manual (the closest we have to a constitution) makes it clear that this is quite unacceptable and that it would risk the neutrality of the Queen. All of this would be constitutional vandalism. Brexit then, “whatever the cost”, as Dominic Cummings has said. It is a nihilistic vision of politics and indeed, a most unusual one for self-described “Conservatives” but it is, relentless and clear-sighted. Indeed, its recklessness has imbued this administration with a strange purpose and energy.

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Larry craves attention.

UK Too Desperate To Secure US Trade Deal – Larry Summers (G.)

The former US treasury secretary Larry Summers has said he does not believe that a “desperate” UK would manage to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington, as Dominic Raab, the new foreign secretary, heads to the US to scope out the potential for such an agreement. Summers, who was a senior official under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said the UK was in a weak position when it came to negotiating with trade partners. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: “Britain has no leverage, Britain is desperate … it needs an agreement very soon. When you have a desperate partner, that’s when you strike the hardest bargain.”


Despite warm words from Donald Trump about a trade deal, Summers said: “We have economic conflict with China and, even on top of that, the deterioration of the pound is going to further complicate the negotiating picture. “We will see it as giving Britain an artificial comparative advantage and make us think about the need to retaliate against Britain, not to welcome Britain with new trade agreements.” Even if the two countries could come to an agreement, Summers said, the UK was in a weak negotiating position. “Britain has much less to give than Europe as a whole did, therefore less reason for the United States to make concessions,” he said. “You make more concessions dealing with a wealthy man than you do dealing with a poor man.”

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The UK says the EU doesn’t want to talk, and vice versa. The demand to take the backstop out is a perfect dealbreaker. It can only lead to a no-deal Brexit. Re: Cummings.

Brexit: Michael Gove Accuses ‘Wrong And Sad’ EU Of Intransigence (G.)

Michael Gove has accused the European Union of intransigence over Brexit talks, calling it “wrong and sad”, as divisions between the UK and Brussels became further entrenched with the government seemingly intent on a no-deal departure. Gove, who is in charge of no-deal preparations, reiterated Boris Johnson’s position that the only route to progress would be the EU starting again with withdrawal negotiations, something Brussels has repeatedly and consistently ruled out. Adding to the impression of Johnson’s hardening position, newly released government read-outs of the prime minister’s phone calls with a series of EU leaders over recent days showed he delivered the same uncompromising message to them.

While the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, insisted on Tuesday that a no-deal departure was not inevitable, both he and the country’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, warned of a significant and long-term change to relations between the countries if it did happen. Downing Street has increasingly pushed the message that Brexit will happen on 31 October under any circumstances – even intimating that No 10 believes the mandate of the 2016 Brexit referendum would overrule even a blocking vote in parliament.

There is increasing worry among some MPs that Johnson could try to force through a no-deal Brexit against the will of the Commons, with his de facto chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, reportedly threatening No 10 staff with the sack if they dissent. The government’s official position is still that it is seeking a formalised departure, albeit only if Brussels ditches the Irish backstop border insurance policy and reopens the withdrawal agreement.

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And of course Britain is anxious to keep the Skripal narrative going. In reality, all it would take is to present the man.

Met Police Examine Vladimir Putin’s Role In Salisbury Attack (G.)

Scotland Yard has examined the role of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in the novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury, it has been revealed. Putin is assessed by UK intelligence agencies as having been “likely” to have approved of the attack in March 2018 on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer, and his daughter, both of whom were left seriously ill but survived. Dawn Sturgess later died after coming across a discarded perfume bottle used by two Russian intelligence agents to carry the military grade nerve agent. Two Russian agents have been charged over the attack, and Britain wants them extradited and has issued a European arrest warrant (EAW) and Interpol red notice for their detention.


The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said the investigation into the attack was continuing. Basu said the issues involved in bringing charges over the attack were complex. “You’d have to prove he [Putin] was directly involved,” he said. “In order to get an EAW, you have to have a case capable of being charged in this country. We haven’t got a case capable of being charged. “We’re police officers, so we have to go for evidence. There has been a huge amount of speculation about who is responsible, who gave the orders, all based on people’s expert knowledge of Russia. I have to go with evidence.”

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“The movement in forward points may reflect a tightening in USD (dollar) liquidity..”

China State Banks Seen Supporting Yuan In Forwards Market (R.)

China’s state banks have been active in the onshore yuan forwards market this week, using swaps to tighten dollar supply and support the Chinese currency, four sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The spot value of the yuan has fallen sharply this week against the dollar as tensions between China and the United States escalated and prompted fears that their trade war could shift into a currency war. The sources said banks had conducted significant amounts of buy-sell swaps in the onshore market on Tuesday. Buy-sell swaps help to reduce the supply of dollars that the market can access to short-sell the yuan. “Yesterday big banks were all selling one-year onshore forward swaps, then in the afternoon the spot dollar-yuan fell,” said a trader at a foreign bank in Shanghai.


One state bank also was seen active in offshore forward swaps, two traders at foreign banks with knowledge of the matter said. On Wednesday, one-year onshore dollar-yuan forwards were at 175 points, down from 321 points on Monday, according to Refinitiv data. One-year offshore dollar-yuan forwards were at 459 points, down from 640 points on Monday. “The movement in forward points may reflect a tightening in USD (dollar) liquidity when some market participants need to buy spot dollars and sell them back in forwards. Meanwhile, the spot and outright moves were also partly due to a stabilization in RMB (yuan) sentiment on Tuesday,” said Frances Cheung, head of macro strategy for Asia at Westpac in Singapore.

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Liquidity.

Forget China, The Fed Has A Much Bigger Problem On Its Hands (ZH)

The Fed may have launched its first easing cycle since 2007 and liquidity-sapping quantitative tightening may finally be over, but Powell may have a much bigger problem on his hands – one which has nothing to do with China, and everything to do with a dramatic drain of liquidity in the market over the next two months.

We first hinted at this last week when we noted that as part of the recently completed debt ceiling deal, instead of taking its time in replenishing the cash balance (green line in the chart below), the US Treasury will scramble to rebuild its cash balance up to $350 billion, from today’s level of $133 billion (gray line), a process which as we said last Wednesday will “significantly tighten up liquidity in the banking system and potentially result in turmoil in funding and money markets as the world is flooded with an issuance of T-Bills” as the Treasury seeks to fill the $217 billion cash hole, which will lead to a substantial liquidity withdrawal from the broader financial system as shown in the following Nordea chart.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that traditionally such a rapid liquidity withdrawal leads to weaker risk appetite, a far stronger USD and lower treasury yields, while widening the LIBOR/OIS spread and further depressing the already negative EURUSD cross-currency basis. While we cautioned about all this last week (even before the FOMC announcement), it appears that our appreciation of just how severe this problem may be for the Fed and capital markets was overly optimistic, because according to a new analysis by Bank of America’s Mark Cabana, the Fed may have no choice but to resume Quantitative Easing and start expanding its balance sheet again – potentially as early as 4Q – in order to ease funding pressures expected during the coming wave of Treasury supply.

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Debt denominated in dollars by any chance?

Papua New Guinea Asks China To Refinance Its National Debt (G.)

Papua New Guinea has asked China to refinance its entire government debt in a blow to Australia’s attempts to counter China’s influence in the region. The request marks a “significant shift” in regional politics and PNG’s allegiances, according to Pacific experts. Australia has traditionally been the largest aid donor and most important ally of PNG, but in recent years ties between China and PNG have strengthened. PNG’s prime minister, James Marape, visited Australia two weeks ago at the invitation of his counterpart, Scott Morrison, in his first international visit since becoming the Pacific nation’s leader at the end of May.

In a speech during his visit, Marape said he wanted PNG to move away from an “aid-donor” relationship with Australia within 10 years, and step up alongside its neighbour as a leader in the Pacific region. However, on Tuesday, after a meeting with Xue Bing, the Chinese ambassador in Port Moresby, Marape requested that China refinance its debts of A$11.8bn (27bn kina, or US$7.95bn). PNG’s debt sits at around 32.8% of its GDP. “[The prime minister] requested the ambassador to inform Beijing on a bid to assist the government of PNG refinance its existing country’s K27bn debt,” said Marape’s office in a statement seen by the Guardian.

“He suggested that both the Bank of PNG and [China’s] People’s Bank will take the lead with the department of treasury in ensuring that consultations are under way,” the statement continued. “It suggest a significant shift in the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea and Papua New Guinea and China,” says Matthew Clarke, professor of international development at Deakin University. “In the past Australia would have been the natural country to turn to for this sort of refinancing, but now we see China’s place in the region shift and it becomes potentially a much more dominant player in the donor relationship.”

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“The United States, and allies including Japan, Australia and New Zealand, are actively expanding their diplomatic postings in the Pacific to counter China’s influence..”

Chinese Port Plans Put Pacific Back In Play (R.)

Early in the morning, before sunrise, low tide on the Samoan island of Savai’i reveals the remnants of an old American airstrip, washed away by decades of erosion, cyclones and tsunamis. The World War II site in Asau, which also hosts a 1960s-era concrete wharf in its well-protected natural harbor, is being considered for a new port to be developed by China, according to the Samoan government and the area’s highest ranking chief, Masoe Serota Tufaga. The proposed construction of a facility that could be turned into a military asset in hostile times has worried the United States and its regional allies, which have dominated international influence in the vast waters of the South Pacific since 1945.

Sitting at his coconut and cocoa plantation on the hills above the port site, Tufaga told Reuters he would abide by any government deal for a Chinese-developed port even though he was concerned about Beijing’s growing influence. “The government and China came here to look at it – they offered it,” said 71-year-old Tufaga, who has the final say over land-use agreements affecting Asau. “If China wants to operate this, it’s too hard for us to say to the government, no, we can not allow China here. The people are looking for some jobs. “That’s right – it’s money. It’s money.”

The United States, and allies including Japan, Australia and New Zealand, are actively expanding their diplomatic postings in the Pacific to counter China’s influence, and warning island nations that Beijing-funded projects needed to make financial sense. China is using “predatory economics” to destabilize the Indo-Pacific and the United States is working with its partners to address the region’s pressing security needs, U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper said in Sydney on Sunday.

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Erdogan bluff. I hope.

Pentagon Set to Prevent “Unacceptable” Turkish Invasion Of Northern Syria (ZH)

Turkey has for days been poised to unilaterally invade northern Syria over US objections, which Ankara officials say is to establish a 32 kilometer (20 mile) zone inside the war torn country, giving Turkey complete control of a region where the Syrian Kurdish YPG operates (People’s Protection Units). Turkey has long considered the US-backed group, which forms the core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to be a terrorist extension of the outlawed PKK. The Pentagon has condemned the impending Turkish unilateral move, with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper telling reporters early Tuesday that it would be unacceptable and thwarted by Washington, though it’s unclear how far the Pentagon would be willing to go.

“What we’re going to do is prevent unilateral incursions that would upset, again, these mutual interests that the United States, Turkey and the SDF share with regard to northern Syria,” Esper said. Crucially, according to ABC News, US officials “have made clear that an invasion is an extremely risky venture that could threaten the safety of U.S. forces working with the SDF…”. On Sunday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his forces would launch an operation in Syria east of the Euphrates River at an unspecified start date, and noted that the US and Russia had been notified. In ongoing negotiations this summer the US and Turkey have clashed over just such a “safe zone,” given Turkey wants the area completely clear of Kurdish armed groups, which the Pentagon simultaneously backs.

Turkish defense officials have lately threatened their “patience is limited” as the army builds up its forces along the border. The Foreign Ministry on Friday warned, “We won’t let this process be dragged out. If our expectations aren’t met, we are fully capable of taking whatever measures [are needed] to ensure our national security.”

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If Mifsud is an FBI asset, there are zero Russians left in the story.

The Mainstream Media Wants the Mifsud Story to Just Go Away (ET)

John Solomon of The Hill is reporting that an audiotape containing professor Joseph Mifsud’s deposition has been given to both U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigators and to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I can report absolutely that the Durham investigators have now obtained an audiotape deposition of Joseph Mifsud, where he describes his work, why he targeted George Papadopoulos, who directed him to do that, what directions he was given, and why he set that entire process of introducing Papadopoulos to Russia in motion in March of 2016, which is really the flashpoint the starting point of this whole Russia collusion narrative,” Solomon told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“I can also confirm that the Senate Judiciary Committee has also obtained the same deposition,” he said. Mifsud, who I have written about extensively in previous columns, is the key that turns the lock to the lid of this Pandora’s box that we refer to as “Spygate.” So I’m wondering why Solomon appears to be the only mainstream reporter pursuing this Mifsud story. I suspect it’s because many DNC Media outlets, after having fallen deeply and passionately in love with the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, are reluctant to call attention to something that would be the final nail in its coffin. The last thing the mainstream media wants right now would be for Mifsud to go on the record with both Durham’s investigative team and with Congress to say he was working for the FBI and was only pretending to be a Russian agent.

If Mifsud was an FBI asset sent to entrap Papadopoulos, then there are no real Russian agents anywhere in this entire Trump-Russia collusion story. Ponder what that means for a minute. You can’t save the Russian collusion narrative, if you can’t find any real Russians anywhere in the story. The FBI under James Comey will then be seen as having engaged in an operation to entrap people, and “Russian agents” turn out to be fakes working for the FBI and who were making fake offers of Russian help to the Trump campaign.

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But nobody knew a thing.

Epstein’s Mysterious Manhattan Apartment Building On East 66th Street (BI)

Before his extended stay in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center began in July, disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein dwelled in some of the city’s most exclusive real estate, laying his head in a palatial Upper East Side townhouse and conducting his mysterious business out of a landmarked mansion on Madison Avenue. But it hasn’t been all private islands and 7,000-acre ranches for the half-billionaire. For decades Epstein has run some of his operations quietly out of a squat Second Avenue residential building owned by his brother, Mark Epstein, and frequently visited by the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. According to property records and court filings, Jeffrey Epstein has long housed girlfriends, associates, employees, and businesses in a handful of units at 301 East 66th St.

There are 200 units at the address, and the majority of them are owned on paper by his brother’s development firm, Ossa Properties. While Ossa nominally owns the units connected to Jeffrey Epstein, the aforementioned records and filings show that Epstein effectively controls them. The postwar white-brick high-rise sits atop a nail salon, a coffee shop, and an Italian restaurant along a traffic-choked stretch of Second Avenue. Topped by a green canopy, the front door opens to a doorman guarding a hallway that leads to a light-filled lobby decorated with two couches and an armchair. Though the building shares a ZIP code with Epstein’s townhouse, its share of the neighborhood east of Park Avenue is less upscale, catering more to families and young professionals than foreign heads of state.

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Mar 302019
 


René Magritte The muscles of the sky 1927

 

May Hopes To Hold Fourth Vote On Brexit Deal (Ind.)
May Ready To Trigger Election Within 10 Days (Ind.)
EU Gives Britain 11 Days To Come Up With New Brexit Plan (G.)
The Democrats Are Self-Destructing (PCR)
Wokester’s Nightmare (Kunstler)
Barr Says Mueller Report Will Be Released In Mid-April ‘If Not Sooner’ (AP)
On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won (Taibbi)
US Readying Sanctions On Russia Over Nerve-Agent Attack In Britain (R.)
Southwest To Keep Boeing 737 MAX Off Schedules Through May (R.)
TUI Sticks With Boeing, Sees 737 Maxs Flying By Mid-July (R.)
Human Population Explosion Squeezes Out Wildlife On African Savannah (Ind.)
The Places in America that Use the Most (and Least) Pesticides (PO)

 

 

Get me Bill Murray on the phone.

May Hopes To Hold Fourth Vote On Brexit Deal (Ind.)

Theresa May hopes to bring her Brexit deal back to parliament again next week after it was rejected for a third time by MPs – and appears poised to trigger a general election if parliament fails to agree a way forward. Despite the embattled prime minister’s dramatic promise on Wednesday that she would hand over the keys to 10 Downing Street if her Tory colleagues backed the withdrawal agreement, parliament voted against it on Friday, by 344 to 286. The Commons vote was held on the day when Britain was meant to be leaving the European Union, as Parliament Square outside overflowed with raucous pro-Brexit protesters.

A string of leave-supporting Conservative backbenchers who had twice rejected the deal, including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab, switched sides to support the agreement. But with Labour unwilling to shift its position, and the Democratic Unionist party’s 10 MPs implacably opposed, it was not enough to secure a majority for May. The result was a sense of stunned disbelief in Westminster. Asked what could happen next, one government source said: “Last one out, turn off the lights.” Immediately after the defeat was announced, May told MPs: “The implications of the house’s decision are grave. The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April. In just 14 days’ time.”

Under the deal agreed by EU leaders in Brussels last week, if May had passed her withdrawal agreement this week, Brexit would have been delayed until 22 May. Now, she will have to return to Brussels for an emergency European council summit on 10 April. The EU27 expect her to ask for a longer delay – requiring Britain to participate in the European elections in May – or accept a no-deal Brexit two days later. However, her aides hope the 22 May date could still be in play if her deal is accepted next week.

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So what’s she waiting for?

May Ready To Trigger Election Within 10 Days (Ind.)

Britain is veering towards a new general election after MPs voted down Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time on Friday. She strongly hinted after the defeat that she will take the country to the polls if parliament does not pass a deal respecting the 2016 referendum result in the next 10 days. Ministers told The Independent a new election was a clear possibility featuring in the prime minister’s thinking, with her likely to have one final attempt to push her deal through next week. As thousands of pro-Brexit protesters shouted outside parliament, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scottish nationalists, who form the third biggest group in the House of Commons, also called for an election.


It comes as MPs will once again take control of the chamber’s schedule on Monday to hold indicative votes to see if a soft-Brexit compromise can achieve a majority. [..] Asked whether an election was now becoming a clear possibility, one cabinet source told The Independent without hesitation: “Yes. Absolutely. No question.” There had been speculation that the vote itself was set up for 29 March to make a show of Mr Corbyn’s party voting against Brexit ahead of a pending election campaign. One cabinet minister later said: “We would throw at them the question of ‘what did your MP do on exit day?’ “This is going to be difficult for a lot of individual Labour MPs in Leave areas.”

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10 days, 11 days, they’re intent on entertaining us every single day.

EU Gives Britain 11 Days To Come Up With New Brexit Plan (G.)

The EU has given the British government 11 days to come up with a fresh Brexit plan to avoid crashing out of the bloc at 11pm on 12 April. In the immediate aftermath of the crushing rejection of the prime minister’s deal, the European council president, Donald Tusk, called an emergency leaders’ summit. Should the UK seek a lengthy extension, leaders will debate any request at an extraordinary meeting on 10 April. EU capitals would require a clear justification at least two days earlier from Downing Street on the reason for a lengthy delay to allow officials to prepare. “We expect the UK to indicate a way forward before then, well in time for the European council to consider,” an official said.


EU heads of state and government expressed their alarm at the continued impasse in Westminster following the third defeat of May’s deal. The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “It is up to the UK to indicate how it plans to proceed in order to avoid a no-deal scenario. The European council has agreed unanimously that the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.” However, he added: “I believe we must be open to a long extension should the UK decide to fundamentally reconsider its approach … I believe that will result in a generous and understanding response from the 27.”

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Haven’t heard from Paul Craig Roberts in a while. Is that just me?

The Democrats Are Self-Destructing (PCR)

I know Democrats are disappointed not to have Trump’s head presented to them by Mueller on a silver platter. But surely not even Democrats are stupid enough to believe the Russiagate conspiracy tale. It was all cooked up by the military/security complex to prevent Trump from normalizing relations with Russia, thereby removing the enemy that justifies the $1,000 billion annual budget. Before writing such nonsense as Hartmann has written, he should have read Barr’s summary of the report. Barr quotes Mueller directly from the report: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Again from Mueller’s report: “The evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”


Other Democrats who cannot cope with their disappointment claim that although cleared of election theft collusion Trump was not cleared of obstruction of justice. This is nonsensical even for Democrats. As Trump committed no crime, what evidence did he obstruct? The evidence of his innocence? Just as murder requires a body, obstruction requires a crime to obstruct. But facts are boring to Democrats. They were certain that all the lies that they and the media whores told would find their way into Mueller’s report. Mueller’s staff was Democrat to the core, and Mueller used every dirty trick in the book in his effort to get something on Trump. It simply couldn’t be done. Democrats will never get over it, just as they never have got over Iran-Contra. Hartmann couldn’t write about the “Russiagate coverup” without dragging in Ronald Reagan and the “Iran-Contra coverup.”

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“It’s also very likely that Robert Mueller learned that the Steele Dossier was a fraud in the summer of 2017, if not shortly after his appointment in May of that year..”

Wokester’s Nightmare (Kunstler)

All of a sudden, a whole lot of people who have been punking the public-at-large will have to answer for their behavior. Despite the fog of misdirection blowing out of The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, and MSNBC, it’s become obvious that the RussiaGate hoax was kicked off by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a cabal of Obama appointees in several executive agencies. The evidence is public, fully documented, and overwhelming that the so-called Steele Dossier was the sole animating instrument in both the 2016 pre-election effort to incriminate the Golden Golem of Greatness, and the Mueller Investigation launched post-election to cover-up those same political misdeeds of the Clinton campaign, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA, NSA, and State Department.


It’s also very likely that Robert Mueller learned that the Steele Dossier was a fraud in the summer of 2017, if not shortly after his appointment in May of that year, and yet he dragged out his investigation for almost two years in order to defame and antagonize Mr. Trump — and deflect attention from the ugly truth of the matter. It is certain Mr. Mueller knew that the Steele Dossier was purchased by Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS political “research” company, which was simultaneously in the paid employ of Mrs. Clinton and the Russian political lobbying agency Prevezon (as reported by Sean Davis in The Federalist). If the FBI brass did not bring that to Mr. Mueller’s attention right away, then either their incompetence is epic or they are criminally liable for concealing the hoax.

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Mueller’s doing the redacting with Barr.

Barr Says Mueller Report Will Be Released In Mid-April ‘If Not Sooner’ (AP)

Congress should expect to receive a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation by mid-April, Attorney General William Barr said Friday. In a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, Barr said he shares a desire for Congress and the public to be able to read Mueller’s findings, which are included in the nearly 400-page report Mueller submitted last week. Barr said he does not plan to share the report with the White House before making it public. He said that while President Donald Trump would have the right to assert executive privilege over certain parts of the report, “he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review.”

Mueller officially concluded his investigation when he submitted the report last Friday. Two days later, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress that detailed Mueller’s “principal conclusions.” Mueller’s report did not find that the Trump campaign coordinated or conspired with Russia, Barr wrote, and did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided on their own that Mueller’s evidence was insufficient to establish that the president committed obstruction.

Barr said he is preparing to redact multiple categories of information from the report. Those include grand jury material; information that would compromise sensitive sources and methods; information that could affect ongoing investigations, including those referred by Mueller’s office to other Justice Department offices; and information that could infringe on the personal privacy and reputation of “peripheral third parties.” “Our progress is such that I anticipate we will be in a position to release the report by mid-April, if not sooner,” he said.

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Getting a bit tired of all the regurgitating and gloating, but this look back is nice.

On Russiagate and Our Refusal to Face Why Trump Won (Taibbi)

Nate Silver, the ex-baseball stats guru and renowned “National Oracle™” (as Gizmodo cheekily called him), laughed at Trump’s chances[1]. His site, FiveThirtyEight, ran a story called “Why Donald Trump Isn’t a Real Candidate, In One Chart.” The piece said Trump was more likely to “play in the NBA finals” or cameo in another Home Alone movie than win the nomination. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: “I’m so certain Trump won’t win the nomination that I’ll eat my words if he does. Literally.” Milbank ended up actually doing this, for which he deserves a lot of credit. “Donald Trump is going to lose because he is crazy,” was the take of Jonathan Chait, who would soon be writing Trump might have been recruited by the KGB in 1987.

It isn’t just that wizards of prognostication were wrong. The bigger issue was why they were so confident. A common take was the political establishment just wouldn’t allow it. Former “The Note” writer Mark Halperin used to talk about having his finger on the pulse of the “Gang of 500,” which he described as “campaign consultants, strategists, pollsters, pundits and journalists who make up the modern-day political establishment.” The subtext of Halperin’s pieces was that the Gang of 500 decided elections. It’s hard to understand how it never occurred to Halperin or anyone else that people might be grossed out by the concept of 500 self-appointed guardians of democracy deciding the presidency for 300 million people.

In this case, just by saying out loud the idea that the people who mattered would never let Trump win, probably helped Trump win. It validated his talk about “elites.” Nate Cohn of The New York Times wrote Trump had “just about no shot of winning the nomination no matter how well he is doing in the early polls.” He prefaced this by saying it is “the party elites who traditionally decide nomination contests.” When Trump defied these predictions and sealed up the Republican nomination, he immediately became subject to a new legend, about how he was destined to be the biggest landslide loser in history of general elections: bigger than Alf Landon or even George McGovern, whose very name in America is synonymous with “loser.”

Here are some takes on Trump’s campaign after he sealed up the nomination: David Brooks: Trump will be the “biggest loser” in American politics. The Week: “Trump is poised to lose the biggest landslide in modern American history.” George Will: “Donald Trump may find a place in history – by losing just that badly.” I belong on this infamous list myself. In one of the worst mistakes of my career, I ended up changing my mind about “free-falling” Trump’s chances, spending the stretch run predicting doom for Republicans. I read too many polls and ignored what I was seeing, i.e. that even the post-Access Hollywood Trump was still packing stadiums.

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I swear I thought it was an April Fools prank.

US Readying Sanctions On Russia Over Nerve-Agent Attack In Britain (R.)

The White House has received a package of new sanctions to be imposed on Russia in retaliation for the 2018 nerve-agent attack on a Russian double agent in Britain, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Officials at the U.S. Treasury and State Departments have vetted the sanctions and are awaiting approval from the White House to issue them, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter. Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury in March 2018 after a liquid form of the Novichok type of nerve agent was applied to the front door of Skripal’s home.


Both Skripal and his daughter survived. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack. Asked about Friday’s report, a Trump administration official noted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a phone call in February that the United States was determined to hold Russia accountable for the attack through sanctions.

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Don’t think they’ll make it.

Southwest To Keep Boeing 737 MAX Off Schedules Through May (R.)

Southwest Airlines Co said on Friday it was pulling its Boeing Co 737 MAX jets from flight schedules through May, extending its earlier timeline from April 20, according to a company memorandum seen by Reuters. “This will impact the lines in May, but, now that the decision has been made, we can construct our schedule without those flights well in advance in hopes to minimize the daily disruptions,” the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association and the company said in the joint memorandum. Boeing’s top-selling 737 MAX jetliner has been grounded in the wake of two deadly crashes involving that model in five months, one in Indonesia last October and another on March 10 in Ethiopia.

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Europe’s no 1 tour operator. Note how nice Boeing and them are to each other:“..he was “very certain” of receiving some compensation from Boeing, probably next year.|”

TUI Sticks With Boeing, Sees 737 Maxs Flying By Mid-July (R.)

TUI remains committed to its Boeing 737 MAX orders despite two fatal crashes that have led to the grounding of the plane worldwide and caused the Anglo-German tour operator to issue a profit warning on Friday. TUI said its profit would fall by at least 200 million euros ($225 million) this year due to the cost of substituting planes, loss of business and lower fuel efficiency – further evidence of the financial impact of the two deadly accidents after warnings from North American airlines. The holiday firm’s shares fell to an all-time low.

Global airlines and travel groups have had to make contingency plans after 737 MAX planes were taken out of service following an Ethiopian Airlines disaster on March 10 that killed 157 people, five months after a Lion Air crash in Indonesia that killed 189. Boeing is planning a software fix to address an issue that can arise when the MAX’s anti-stall system, MCAS, repeatedly pushes the plane’s nose down. The MCAS system is at the center of safety investigations into the two crashes. Based on feedback from Boeing and EU regulator EASA, the planes should be flying again in July, TUI’s Chief Executive Friedrich Joussen told analysts on a call.

CEO Joussen said: “We are saving $1 million per year per aircraft in fuel, but – and here comes the but – safety first.” TUI has little scope to cancel flights, as some airlines are doing, because the flights feed its hotel and cruise business. It is leasing planes complete with crews to replace those due to have been flown by 737 MAXs at the cost of $1 million each per month, executives said, adding they had seen some tightening of the so-called wet-leasing market. Bookings were down by 10 percent in major markets since the Ethiopian crash, Joussen said, adding he was “very certain” of receiving some compensation from Boeing, probably next year.

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“.. a 400 per cent increase in human population over the last decade, while more than three quarters of the populations of some of the larger species of migrating animals like wildebeest, zebra and gazelle have been wiped out..”

Human Population Explosion Squeezes Out Wildlife On African Savannah (Ind.)

Encroachment by people into one of Africa’s most celebrated ecosystems is “squeezing the wildlife in its core”, by damaging habitation and disrupting the migration routes of animals, a major international study has concluded. Boundary areas of the Serengeti-Mara region in East Africa have seen a 400 per cent increase in human population over the last decade, while more than three quarters of the populations of some of the larger species of migrating animals like wildebeest, zebra and gazelle have been wiped out, scientists revealed after examining 40 years of data. Despite being one of the most protected ecosystems on Earth, the influx of people and livestock around both the Serengeti and Masai Mara has had a detrimental impact on plants, wild animals and soils.


This has occurred in two main ways, the study found. Firstly, the protected areas’ or “buffer zones” where more livestock including cattle are being reared, are leaving less and lower quality grasses for wildebeest, zebra and gazelle to graze. Secondly, the presence of people and farm animals has also reduced the frequency of natural fires, which in turn impacts the variety of vegetation, altering grazing opportunities for wildlife in the core protected areas. Publishing their findings in the journal Science, the authors said the impacts were cascading down the food chain. Animals were forced to eat less palatable herbs and therefore the beneficial interactions between plants and microorganisms that enable the ecosystem to flourish were being altered.


Zebra, gazelle and wildebeest populations have fallen as human populations have risen on the edges of protected areas (Getty)

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h/t Tyler

The Places in America that Use the Most (and Least) Pesticides (PO)

We decided to analyze data to uncover which states in the United States had the most and least exposure to pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural chemicals, with a particular focus on glyphosate, the active ingredient that is in the news right now. We looked at data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to see which compounds were most popular and which locations had the highest usage levels of these chemicals. By a significant margin, the most popular herbicide in the United States is glyphosate, which is four times more popular than the second most popular chemical. Not surprisingly, large agricultural states like California, Washington, and Illinois use the most pesticides.

However, some states that use a lot of these chemicals see very little glyphosate usage, while others nearly exclusively use the compound. In California for example, only 6 percent of pesticide usage is glyphosate, while in Montana, 52 percent of such usage is from glyphosate. [..] By a significant margin, glyphosate is the most popular pesticide used in American agriculture. Over 130 million kilograms were used in 2016, which was approximately four times more than the second-place pesticide, Atrazine. In total, just over 544 million kilograms of pesticides were used in the U.S. in 2016, and 24 percent of that was glyphosate. It’s hard to overestimate just how pervasive Roundup and glyphosate are this country.

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Nov 272018
 
 November 27, 2018  Posted by at 4:33 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  22 Responses »


Berthe Morisot The old track to Auvers 1863

 

Our politicians and media are not going to allow us to see Russia, and any incidents the country can be linked to, in any other way than black and white, in which we are the good party and they are the black, evil and guilty ones. So we’ll have to do that ourselves.

More than enough has been said about why NATO should have been dismantled when the reason for its existence, the Soviet Union, was dissolved, but nobody listened and NATO has kept expanding eastward and demanding more money, more members, more weapons.

NATO demands an enemy, and their chosen enemy is Russia. This has nothing to do with anything Russia has done or is doing at the moment. We can only hope that people are willing to accept that simple fact. And not passively go along with the flow of badmouthing and smear that decides what our picture of the country is.

Russia ‘invaded’ Crimea? Russia ‘downed’ MH17? Russia sent two hapless and inept blokes to kill the Skripals? Russia launched an unprovoked attack on three Ukrainian vessels in the Sea of Azov? Russia colluded with the Trump campaign against Hillary Clinton? And collaborated with Julian Assange to make that happen?

What all these allegations have in common is that there is no evidence any of them are true. Oh, and that nobody’s really trying to prove them anymore. Because you’ve already accepted them as gospel.

 

90% or so of Crimeans voted to be part of Russia, after the west had tried their hand at regime change in Kiev, with John McCain and Victoria Nuland opening the gates for various neo-nazi groups to enter government.

The MH17 investigation is led by the Netherlands, the main victim. As I told Jim Kunstler in our recent podcast, you try and find a detective story where the main victim leads the investigation. Aided by Ukraine, one of the suspects, but not Russia, the designated suspect from the get-go. We’re over 4.5 years later and there is no proof -not that that keeps anyone from assigning blame.

The Skripals were allegedly attacked with the most deadly nerve gas ever, and allegedly survived. They simply haven’t been heard from anymore. There are images of two alleged Russian spies who went out of their way to be filmed and photographed in Salisbury, but their ineptitude doesn’t rhyme with Russian secret service in any way, shape or form. The west tries to make it sound like Comedy Capers, and that just gives the west away.

As for the ‘attacks’ the other day, the Guardian of all outlets explains: “Since the completion of the bridge over the Kerch strait, Moscow has demanded that Ukrainian ships not only give notice of their intention to transit the strait but request permission, a change that Kiev has rejected. According to western diplomats, the dispatch of the three ships was intended to assert freedom of navigation..”

Sure, you can claim that Russia has no right to ask Ukraine to ask for permission to the Sea of Azov, but then Kiev should have protested that demand, not send three armed vessels to ignore the demand and sail through anyway. That is called provocation.

And Ukraine provoking Russia is a bad idea. Unless you’re NATO, and you want Ukraine as a member. And unless you’re the chocolate billionaire who took over the government and now has an approval rating in the single digits with elections coming up in March. Question: how much chocolate do Ukrainians eat?

For Ukraine to enter NATO would be the most flagrant violation against the deal the west made with Gorbachev just prior to the dissolution of the Soviet union to date. And there have been plenty such violations in the past almost 30 years; little wonder that Moscow draws a line.

It’s just that nobody in the west is aware there is such a line. The media have helped politicians, NATO and arms manufacturers in painting a picture of Russia as the evil bogeymen in the east, and there is no counterweight to that picture anywhere in what people read and watch. It doesn’t matter whether the ‘news’ is accurate, because journalists don’t do their jobs to go out and check the facts.

 

As for the Muller’s unending investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, we know for a fact that there’s no evidence of any such thing, since Mueller would have been forced to go public with it because it’s such a serious issue; you can’t let treason lie for months or years. And sure, Mueller today fingered Manafort for lying, but that has nothing to do with collusion.

As for Mueller’s Julian Assange allegations, he should be ashamed of himself for accusing someone he knows is barred from defending himself. Mueller can say anything he likes about Assange, and does, and it has no value, Julian has been silenced to an extent that shames us all, but Mueller first.

The problem with Robert Mueller when he uses such tactics is that he loses his credibility, or rather, what he had left after solemnly testifying that Iraq possessed WMD when he was FBI head. The man is incessantly portrayed as America’s straightest arrow, but that just makes you lament the state the country is in. The odds that Trump is the straightest arrow are much higher, and even the Donald himself wouldn’t buy into that one.

As we’re worried about fake news and Facebook and election meddling and what have you, we need to be clear on what that really is. Which is, the worst and most fake news you see every single day comes from those sources that you trust most. This is not just deliberate, it’s highly profitable too. As long as you are gullible enough to keep buying into it. So far, you are.

Whenever you read anything at all about Trump, Russia/Putin and Assange in the major news outlets, chances that it is not objective or properly due diligence researched are far higher than that it is. You have to start out with the idea that what you’re about to read or watch is not true, for the simple reason that the vast majority of it is not; it only exists to serve an agenda and a narrative.

And because reporting what is not accurate makes ‘news sources’ much more money than reporting the truth. In the meantime, though, NATO, US/UK/EU intelligence and the military-industrial complex may be happy, but you should not be. Because you’ve landed somewhere in the middle between Orwell, Huxley and the Matrix. And that’s not going to end up doing you any good. Let alone your kids.

Shake it off, guys. You’re sinking. Information dissemination has become like walking into quicksand. Walking into a pre-processed narrative that deprives you of your ability to think. Not something we should wish upon anyone. But take this from me: you’re already in it, and you need to get out. It’s no longer about trying not to get in, those days are long gone. You’re already there.