Jul 292022
 


Odilon Redon Sunset n.d.

 

Ukraine Shells Prison Holding POWs – Donbass Official (RT)
US Should Not Fund Ukrainian ‘Blacklist’ (Scott Ritter)
Provoking Beijing (MoA)
UK Official Says Nuclear War Threat Higher Than During the Cold War (Antiwar)
US GDP Drops 0.9 Percent In Second Quarter (PM)
‘Horror Chart’ Suggests Germany On Brink Of Huge Energy Crisis (RT)
Hanover Becomes First German City To Ban Hot Water In Public Buildings (DM)
EU Ban On Russian Gas ‘Impossible’ – Austria (RT)
EU Gas Solidarity Complicated By Lack Of Fuel Sharing Deals (R.)
Worst Is Yet To Come From Trudeau Liberals (Jordan Peterson)
Bill Barr To Merrick Garland: Appoint A Special Counsel Already (Fed.)
Joe Biden Met With 14 Of His Son’s Business Associates (RT)
They Can’t Let Him Back In (Michael Anton)

 

 

 

 

Never forget

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss O’Looney


https://twitter.com/i/status/1552438998009790465

 

 

Hesitancy

 

 

 

 

Breaking, not confirmed.

Ukraine Shells Prison Holding POWs – Donbass Official (RT)

Dozens were killed after Ukrainian forces struck a jail with POWs in Donbass, local official says Ukrainian troops shelled a prison housing POWs in Yelenovka early Friday morning, Donetsk People’s Republic Deputy Information Minister Daniil Bezsonov wrote on his Telegram channel. “There was a direct hit at a building with prisoners,” Bezsonov wrote. “The results as of now: 40 killed, 130 wounded.” The minister added that he believes Kiev used US-supplied HIMARS multiple rocket launchers for the attack. The facility reportedly housed Ukrainian fighters captured by Russian and allied forces during the siege of the Azovstal steel mill in the city of Mariupol.

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“Many on this list are citizens of the United States, some of whom, like me, have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

US Should Not Fund Ukrainian ‘Blacklist’ (Scott Ritter)

Dear Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Congressman Tonko, My name is Scott Ritter. I am a New York State resident, currently residing in the Town of Bethlehem, in Albany County. My family and I have lived at our current address since July 2000. I am writing to you in your collective role as my elected representatives in the United States Congress, specifically regarding H.R. 7691, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, which became Public Law 117-128 on May 21, 2022, which each of you voted in favor of. I draw your attention to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, specifically the following language: “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

By enacting Public Law 117-128, you appear to have abrogated your Constitutional responsibilities in so far as you may have, in fact, made a law which both abridges the freedom of speech and a free press by enabling the Government of Ukraine, through the use of US taxpayer dollars appropriated under Public Law 117-128, to publish a “blacklist” singling out US citizens as “Russian propagandists” for exercising their Constitutional rights pertaining to free speech and a free press. The “blacklist” in question was published on July 14, 2022, by the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation, and consists of a list of politicians, academics, and activists who the Center claims promote “Russian propaganda.” Many on this list are citizens of the United States, some of whom, like me, have taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

While the specific criterion used by the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation for selecting persons for inclusion on this “blacklist” is not known, in my case the Ukrainian government appears to have taken umbrage against my articulation of Ukraine as a NATO base of operations, my analysis of the Bucha Massacre in early March which assigns responsibility to Ukrainian security services, and my description of the current Ukraine-Russian conflict as a “proxy conflict” being waged on behalf of the United States. Whether one agrees with my positions on these and other matters pertaining to Ukraine is not the point; by articulating my views, I am exercising my rights under the Constitution of the United States. While the Government of Ukraine is free to express its opinions regarding my viewpoints as it sees fit, the Government of the United States, by using funds appropriated by the United States Congress, should not facilitate the actions of the Government of Ukraine in this regard.

[..] As a constituent whose name has appeared on a so-called “blacklist” published by the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation, my personal and professional life has been, and continues to be, detrimentally impacted by the chilling effect of being labeled a “Russian propagandist” for simply exercising the right to free speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution. Moreover, Ukraine has a history of converting “blacklists” of this nature into “kill lists”, where those who speak out against the policies of the Ukrainian government are being murdered or threatened with violence.

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Nancy missed the past 30 years.

Provoking Beijing (MoA)

Yves Smith is aghast about the U.S. eyepoking of China: “The neocons above all seem unable to process that the days of US hegemony are over. It boggles the mind that they are not just eyepoking but escalating greatly with China via the still-planned Pelosi visit to Taiwan in August. As we’ll explain, China is fully cognizant of the fact that Pelosi is number two in line after Harris should something happen to the increasingly addle-brained Biden. And they don’t buy for a second that Pelosi is operating without the explicit approval of the Administration. Note that it’s entirely possible that Pelosi revived her Taiwan trip plan (recall she put it off after coming down with Covid) all on her own. The Pentagon gave her a face-saving out by saying they didn’t recommend it. China, which is routinely screechy when it is upset about what it perceives to be foreign transgressions, has managed to find new registers in its objections the proposed Pelosi visit.”

Pelosi is not only number two in line but has been hostile to the Chinese government for more than 30 years. In 1991 she and two other members of Congress made a stunt on the Tiananmen square where two years before protests had taken place. The multiday protest in the square had ended peacefully. But outside of the square bloody riots took place over several days and nights during which hundreds of soldiers and rioters got killed. The protest and riots had been a U.S. instigated color revolution attempt with the father of the color revolution concept, Gene Sharp, being personally in the Beijing and consulting the protest leaders. After the attempt had failed the CIA organized the exit of hundreds of protest leaders and agents to Hong Kong where they formed the base for the 2020 color revolution attempt there. Lots of those ‘activists’ have now moved to Taiwan.

In 1991 Pelosi and two congressmen unfolded a banner on Tianamen in front of the international media that said: “To those who died for democracy in China.” Police immediately intervened and ended the stunt. The stunt had a positive echo in U.S. media (Note: The video title says it is 1989 but the announcer says it is two years later). Pelosi may think she can recreate another positive media echo by traveling to Taiwan. But the China of 2022 is no longer the China of 1991. It is now the world’s biggest economy and its military force rivals the one the U.S. has. It no longer condones eyepoking and ‘human rights’ stunts. It knows a U.S. provocation when it sees one. In the 1950s and 60s the U.S. financed terrorism in Tibet. In 1989 it coached and financed a bloody color revolution attempt in Beijing. In the 1990s it brought Islamist terrorism to Xinjiang. In this century the U.S. instigated several periods of riots in Hong Kong.

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“..during the Cold War, there was an “understanding of the Soviet doctrine and capabilities — and vice versa” because they kept more negotiation channels open.”

UK Official Says Nuclear War Threat Higher Than During the Cold War (Antiwar)

British National Security Advisor Stephen Lovegrove warned on Thursday that there is a greater risk of nuclear war today than there was during the Cold War due to a lack of communication channels. “The Cold War’s two monolithic blocks of the USSR (Soviet Union) and NATO — though not without alarming bumps — were able to reach a shared understanding of doctrine that is today absent,” Lovegrove said. He said during the Cold War, there was an “understanding of the Soviet doctrine and capabilities — and vice versa” because they kept more negotiation channels open. “This gave us both a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war,” Lovegrove said.

“Today we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us in future — particularly with China,” he said. Today, there is only one remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the US and Russia, the New START, which limits the deployment of nuclear warheads, bombers, submarines, and missiles. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the US has abandoned diplomacy with Moscow, and US officials have said they can’t imagine negotiating a replacement of New START before it expires in 2026. The US has no nuclear arms control treaties with China, which has a vastly smaller arsenal than the US or Russia. Current estimates put Beijing’s arsenal at around 350 warheads, while the US has 5,550 and Russia has about 6,200.

During the Trump administration, the US tried to get Beijing to take part in trilateral arms control talks with Moscow and Washington. But China has little interest in such talks while its arsenal is so much smaller. If the US were serious about getting China involved, it would need to work with Russia to significantly reduce its stockpiles. Besides the lack of communication, the risk of nuclear war is significantly higher today because the US is funding a war on Russia’s border and helping Ukraine with intelligence to carry out attacks on Russian forces. The US is also stoking tensions with China by deploying more military forces in the South China Sea and increasing support for Taiwan.

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What Is A Woman? – Part 2

US GDP Drops 0.9 Percent In Second Quarter (PM)

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released their report on the second quarter GDP. “Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2022, according to the ‘advance’ estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 1.6 percent.” By standard definitions, two consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth indicates that a nation is in an economic recession. President Joe Biden said on Monday that the US is not facing a recession. “We’re not going to be in a recession, in my view,” Biden said. “The unemployment rate is still one of the lowest we’ve had in history. It’s in the 3.6 percent area. We still find ourselves with people investing.”

“The decrease in real GDP reflected decreases in private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, federal government spending, state and local government spending, and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by increases in exports and personal consumption expenditures (PCE). Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased,” the BEA reports. The White House last week adjusted the definition of recession to distinctly not mean that two consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth is a recession. “While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle,” the White House wrote.


“Instead, both official determinations of recessions and economists’ assessment of economic activity are based on a holistic look at the data—including the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes. Based on these data, it is unlikely that the decline in GDP in the first quarter of this year—even if followed by another GDP decline in the second quarter—indicates a recession,” the White House said.

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Zschaepitz : “This horror chart suggests that #Germany is heading for a huge energy crisis. Not only are gas prices near record highs, but electricity prices in particular are signaling stress.”

‘Horror Chart’ Suggests Germany On Brink Of Huge Energy Crisis (RT)

Germany is heading for a “huge energy crisis,” a senior editor at one of the country’s most influential newspapers, Die Welt, warned on Wednesday. “Not only [are] gas prices near record highs, but electricity prices in particular are signaling stress,” Holger Zschaepitz, a senior editor on the daily’s economic and financial desk, wrote on Twitter. In what he called a “horror chart” that he posted with his tweet, Zschaepitz showed that the price of electricity had reached almost €400 per megawatt hour on the energy exchange, or €0.40 per kilowatt-hour. If consumer prices reflected such market rates, Germans would be paying around €0.80 per kilowatt-hour rather than the current €0.30, including taxes and fees. However, such a sharp increase would be socially explosive, Zschaepitz suggests.

Meanwhile, in such a case energy companies would no longer be able to produce competitively, he adds. Electricity prices in Germany are influenced by the price of natural gas, which is the source of 15% of the country’s electricity, according to official statistics. Gas prices have nearly quadrupled this year, primarily due to shrinking flow from Russia, the continent’s major supplier. The price crunch has already led to a partial nationalization of one of Germany’s largest energy supply companies. The German government announced last week it would acquire a 30% stake in Uniper after the company asked for a bailout, citing “extreme financial pressure” caused by the reduced Russian natural gas deliveries.

The curtailment of gas flows meant that rather than being able to fully rely on its long-term contracts at a fixed price, Uniper has recently been forced to buy gas on the spot market at a much higher price to make up for shortages. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, European energy firms are racking up debt to cover the soaring costs, with their liabilities having reportedly reached over $1.7 trillion.

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Shoot. Foot.

Hanover Becomes First German City To Ban Hot Water In Public Buildings (DM)

The Germany city of Hanover has become the first big city in Europe to ban hot water and central heating in public buildings in response to Vladimir Putin’s weaponizing of gas supplies. The drastic step comes as Germans have been told to expect sky high electricity bills and sweeping gas rationing measures that will affect their day-to-day lives. In a sign of things to come, Hanover, the capital of Lower Saxony in the north west of the country, will cut off the hot water in public buildings, swimming pools, sports halls and gyms. Other desperate gas-saving measures include switching off public fountains and blacking out night-time lights on major buildings such as the town hall and museums. The city’s mayor, Belit Onay, spoke of an ‘imminent gas shortage’ that meant they had to reduce the city’s energy consumption by 15 per cent.


The plans call for shutting off heating within public buildings between April and September each year, and thermostats set at just 20C (68F) for the rest of the year, although there will be some exemptions. There will also be a ban on portable air conditioners, heaters and radiators among the general populace as the average German begins to pay a price for standing up to the Russian dictator. The panic among European states – especially Germany – will likely come as music to Putin’s ears, as he is seen to be cutting energy supplies in retaliation for countries that have supported Ukraine after he invaded the country. Germany, like most of Europe, has been enjoying a hot summer which should soften the blow of the cold showers, but public officials are introducing the measures now in fear of what awaits them when the season turns.

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“..the German industry also depends on it, and if it collapses, the Austrian industry will also collapse, and we will face mass unemployment..”

EU Ban On Russian Gas ‘Impossible’ – Austria (RT)

The European Union cannot ban Russian natural gas, as the step would harm EU members more than Russia, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer warned on Thursday, as cited by Austrian media outlets. Chancellor Nehammer made the comments during a visit to Vienna by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “Sanctions must hit those against whom they are directed more, but not harm those who decide them,” Nehammer told the Austria Press Agency. A ban on gas supplies from Russia – an idea that has been circulating within the EU since Moscow started its military operation in Ukraine – would lead to a domino effect in Europe, the Austrian chancellor suggested.

“Austria’s position is that an embargo on gas is impossible. Not only because Austria depends on Russian gas, the German industry also depends on it, and if it collapses, the Austrian industry will also collapse, and we will face mass unemployment,” Nehammer said, as cited by Lenta.ru. Viktor Orban criticized the gas rationing plan approved by the EU – which aims to reduce gas consumption within the bloc by 15% from August to March next year – earlier this week. According to the Hungarian PM, the mandatory rationing of natural gas is “the first sign of a war economy,” and warned of a possible recession and unemployment in Europe.

Europe has seen reduced gas flow from Russia – a major supplier – due to technical issues at a major pipeline. Nord Stream 1 is currently operating at 20% capacity. The reduction comes as the continent is trying to top up its gas reserves ahead of the heating season. The EU pledged earlier this year to end the bloc’s reliance on Russian energy. A partial embargo on oil was agreed upon, but several rounds of sanctions have not included similar restrictions on Russian natural gas.

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The EU is made up of bureaucrats, so of course pratical things do not get done.

EU Gas Solidarity Complicated By Lack Of Fuel Sharing Deals (R.)

The European Union clinched a deal this week to cope with a gas supply crisis, but to make it work member states need to establish bilateral pacts to share gas and, right now, most have no such agreement in place. Only six such deals have been secured, leaving most of the EU’s 27 countries without firm terms on how and when they would share gas in a supply crunch, or the financial compensation they would give or get for doing so. “[Bilateral deals] are really … the only thing that will hold at the end of the day if there is a real supply crisis,” Christian Egenhofer, associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies, said. “They organise the legal stuff, the compensation, the financial but also the infrastructure constraints,” he said.

Fearing Russia may completely halt gas flows, EU countries agreed on Tuesday to curb their gas use by 15% over winter, to fill storage and free up fuel to share around in a supply crisis. But it is up to individual countries to sort out how that sharing of fuel will happen in practice. EU laws oblige member states to send gas to a neighboring state whose households or essential services like hospitals face a severe shortage. To make that happen, governments arrange bilateral deals. However, just eight countries are covered by the six agreements so far – including between Germany and Austria, Estonia and Latvia, and Italy and Slovenia. “This is not sufficient,” EU energy policy chief Kadri Simson said last month, urging countries to arrange more.

A handful of countries are negotiating new two-way agreements, government officials said. A German-Czech deal is due to be signed by winter, and Germany is working on further agreements with Poland and Italy, its economy ministry said. But some countries heavily reliant on Russian gas – such as landlocked Hungary, which opposed this week’s deal – have none. Italy and France are the EU’s biggest gas users after economic powerhouse Germany. Italy has just one bilateral deal on emergency gas sharing and France has none. A senior Italian official said the country was negotiating a deal with Greece on gas storage.

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“I simply cannot believe that this absolute failure of economic policy is now being trumpeted as a positive accomplishment.

Worst Is Yet To Come From Trudeau Liberals (Jordan Peterson)

I have had the great privilege of travelling to 40 American cities in just about as many states and to 15 European countries in the last four months, in the waning days of the great COVID panic, and I have learned many things about our great and self-conscious nation. First: I have not travelled anywhere else where the citizens and the government are more neurotically “concerned” about the pandemic. It may have escaped Canadians’ notice, but virtually nowhere else in the developed world is it now required to wear a mask, as is still mandatory in many of Canada’s airports and on flights out of our benighted country. There is absolutely no excuse for this, except the punitive self-righteousness of the Trudeau Liberals.

What else might you expect, however, from a government that also includes Chrystia Freeland, a deputy prime minister who has bragged about her colleagues’ appalling economic performance, claiming that it is actually good for Canadians to empty their wallets at the gas pumps, because of its implications in fighting the “climate emergency.” I simply cannot believe that this absolute failure of economic policy is now being trumpeted as a positive accomplishment. Here’s a hint for you saintly progressives: if you cared about the poor (the real poor, not the hypothetical poor you are hypothetically saving in the future), you would seek to drive down the cost of energy — energy that is precisely equivalent to work and, therefore, to the wealth that ameliorates poverty.

Second: it is almost impossible to overstate the degree to which Canada’s international reputation has been damaged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Americans I have talked to (including people very well-placed politically on the Democratic and Republican fronts alike) listen in disbelief when I recount the claim brought forth by the Trudeau Liberals: that the trucker Freedom Convoy was financed by Americans hell-bent on bringing about a Jan. 6-style insurrection in Ottawa. Who would benefit from that, even in principle? Even if the Americans (Republican MAGA-types, say) cared about us — which they don’t — why in the world would they want to destabilize Canadian democracy? What’s the motive, to justify the crime? There is none. Even the American Democrats think that idea is insane.

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Barr 180º.

Bill Barr To Merrick Garland: Appoint A Special Counsel Already (Fed.)

Recent developments warrant the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, former Attorney General William Barr says. “[I]ntervening events, especially recent reports about FBI whistleblowers and the possible reach of the investigation, warrant adding the protections of special counsel status to assure that key decisions are made independently without political ‘favor,’” Barr told The Federalist. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been under federal investigation since 2018 for issues related to his foreign business practices, including obtaining investments and board positions from politically compromised figures in communist China and other trouble spots. Multiple U.S. attorney’s offices were tasked with components of the investigation, with the Delaware office being the lead.

Hunter Biden’s problems became much more public with the news that he had left a laptop full of incriminating information at a computer repair store in Delaware. That news was then suppressed by Democrat-allied intelligence officials falsely claiming it was Russian disinformation. This week, multiple FBI whistleblowers, including those in senior positions, accused FBI headquarters of “improperly discredit[ing] and falsely claim[ing] that derogatory information about Biden’s activities was disinformation, causing investigative activity and sourcing to be shut down,” according to a Monday letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. That fact, as well as concern over the investigation’s complexity and scope, convinced the former attorney general of the need for a special counsel.

By highlighting the apparent breadth of the still-pending investigation into Hunter Biden’s affairs, Barr’s comments confirm concerns of three insiders, reported by The Federalist on Wednesday, that “the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office investigating Hunter Biden lacks the wherewithal and resources to adequately probe the dubious financial dealings of the Biden family and their business partners.” Barr’s view that a special counsel is now warranted to continue the investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings represents a change from the position he took in December 2020.

During a December 21, 2020 press conference, when asked whether he agreed with Republicans that a special counsel was needed to handle the Biden investigation, Barr negated the idea. “I think it’s being handled responsibly and professionally currently within the department, and to this point I have seen no reason to appoint a special counsel, and I have no plan to do so before I leave,” the outgoing attorney general told reporters.

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Get that counsel.

Joe Biden Met With 14 Of His Son’s Business Associates (RT)

Despite repeated denials that he ever spoke to his son Hunter about the latter’s overseas business dealings, Fox News reported on Thursday that President Joe Biden met with at least 14 of Hunter’s business associates from the US, Mexico, Ukraine, China and Kazakhstan. Abandoned in a Delaware computer repair shop some time before the 2020 election and unearthed by the New York Post, Hunter’s laptop contained presumed evidence of numerous foreign deals in which businessmen offered tens of millions of dollars for introductions to Joe Biden, as well as graphic proof of Hunter’s drug use and dalliances with prostitutes.

“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden insisted in 2019. When last month Britain’s Daily Mail published a 2018 voicemail featuring Biden speaking to Hunter about a deal with Chinese oil firm CEFC, the official line remained the same, with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying that “what the president said still stands.” Fox News’ latest report casts serious doubt on Biden’s denial. According to the news site, Joe Biden met with Mexican businessmen Miguel Aleman Velasco and Miguel Aleman Magnani in 2014, giving the pair a tour of the White House. A year later, Biden reportedly spoke by video with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and all three Mexicans – whom Hunter was doing business with or in negotiations with at the time – visited them at the vice presidential residence in Washington DC.

In a text message found on the laptop, Hunter told his business partner, Jeff Cooper, that he had spoken to his father about the deal involving Slim. Joe Biden also reportedly met with former Colombian President Andres Pastrana Arango and Eric Schwerin, another of Hunter’s business partners, in 2012, before dining with Arango and Juan Esteban Orduz, a Colombian businessman, later that same day. Files from the laptop show that during a single dinner in 2015, Joe Biden met with Hunter’s business associates from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia, including an executive from Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company that paid Hunter a reported $50,000 per month from 2014 to 2018 to sit on its board. The following day, the Burisma executive emailed Hunter, thanking him for “giving an opportunity to meet your father.”

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Anton is a former Trump WH adviser.

They Can’t Let Him Back In (Michael Anton)

Why? They say Jan. 6. But their determination began much earlier. And just what is so terrible about Trump anyway? I get many of his critics’ points, I really do. I hear them all the time from my mother. But even if we were to stipulate them all, do Trump’s faults really warrant tearing the country apart by shutting out half of it from the political process? Love him or hate him, during Trump’s presidency, the economy was strong, markets were up, inflation was under control, gas prices were low, illegal border crossings were down, crime was lower, trade deals were renegotiated, ISIS was defeated, NATO allies were stepping up, and China was stepping back (a little). Deny all that if you want to. The point here is that something like 100 million Americans believe it, strongly, and are bewildered and angered by elite hatred for the man they think delivered it.

Nor was Trump’s record all that radical—much less so than that of Joe Biden, who is using school-lunch funding to push gender ideology on poor kids, to cite but one example. Trump’s core agenda—border protection, trade balance, foreign restraint—was quite moderate, both intrinsically and in comparison to past Republican and Democratic precedent. And that’s before we even get to the fact that Trump neglected much of his own agenda in favor of the old Chamber of Commerce, fusionist, Reaganite, Conservatism, Inc., agenda. Corporate tax cuts, deregulation, and bombing Syria: These are all things Trump’s base doesn’t want, but the oligarchs desperately do, which Trump gave them. And still they try to destroy him.

Again, why? I think it’s because, while Trump’s core MAGA agenda is decidedly not outside the historic bipartisan mainstream, it is well outside the present regime’s core interests. Our rulers’ wealth and power rise with open borders, trade giveaways, and endless war. Trump, at least in principle, and often in practice, threatens all three. The old America—the one in which Republicans cared about the heartland and weren’t solely valets to corporate power, Democrats were pro-worker and anti-war, and Bill Clinton and The New York Times could advocate border security—is in the process of being replaced, if it hasn’t already been, by one in which there is only one acceptable opinion on not just these, but all other issues.

Anti-Trump hysteria is in the final analysis not about Trump. The regime can’t allow Trump to be president not because of who he is (although that grates), but because of who his followers are. That class—Angelo Codevilla’s “country class”—must not be allowed representation by candidates who might implement their preferences, which also, and above all, must not be allowed. The rubes have no legitimate standing to affect the outcome of any political process, because of who they are, but mostly because of what they want. Complaints about the nature of Trump are just proxies for objections to the nature of his base. It doesn’t help stabilize our already twitchy situation that those who bleat the loudest about democracy are also audibly and visibly determined to deny a real choice to half the country. “No matter how you vote, you will not get X”—whether X is a candidate or a policy—is guaranteed to increase discontent with the present regime.

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Bear

 

 

 

 

Gerry Ritz

 

 

 

 

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May 302022
 


Gustave Courbet The man made mad by fear 1844

 

Zelensky Hopes for Regime Change in Moscow, Plans To Reclaim Crimea (Antiwar)
Zelensky Signals Donbas Could Soon Fall (ZH)
Whose Lies Can You Trust? (Rothenberg)
EU Struggles To Break Deadlock On Russian Oil Ban Before Summit (ST)
EU To Block Seaborne Russian Oil Deliveries, Not Pipeline (ZH)
Erdogan Says Won’t Let ‘Terrorism-supporting’ Countries Enter NATO (R.)
Erdogan’s Revisionism (Rozakis)
Negative Views Of Russia Mainly Limited To Western Liberal Democracies (G.)
Everyone on Special Counsel Team Wiped Their Cell Phones (CTH)
Biden Falsely Claims Jan. 6 Rioters ‘Killed Two Police Officers’ (DW)
The Biggest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme in History (Root)
Amnesty Should Be Granted To The Unvaccinated (NP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..Zelensky indicated he was open to talks but wanted regime change in Moscow first..”

“When Ukraine says it will be fighting to regain its territories it lost, it means Ukraine will be fighting until it gets all its territory back. It doesn’t mean anything else.”

Zelensky Hopes for Regime Change in Moscow, Plans To Reclaim Crimea (Antiwar)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wanted talks with a Russian president; however, he hoped that person was someone other than Vladimir Putin. He also called for his country to reestablish its pre-civil war borders. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria hosted Zelensky for an interview at the World Economic Forum. The event was sponsored by the foundation of Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk. In his introduction, Zakaria framed the war in Ukraine as “Russia versus the world.” During the interview, Zelensky indicated he was open to talks but wanted regime change in Moscow first. “This war will be over sooner or later. I’m sure there would be some sort of peaceful process, some sort of talks, and we would be discussing the issues of who Ukraine will negotiate, with what president of the Russia Federation.”

He added, “I hope that will be a different president in the Russian Federation.” The Ukrainian leader said his counterpart was “living in a bubble of alternative reality,” and Putin was “not keenly aware” of the situation on the ground in Ukraine. Zakaria asked Zelensky, “will Ukraine fight until it takes all the territories it lost in 2014?” Zakaria is referring to the breakaway Donbas republics – Donetsk and Luhansk – and the Crimean Peninsula that was annexed by Russia. Zelensky responded affirmatively to the CNN host’s question. “When Ukraine says it will be fighting to regain its territories it lost, it means Ukraine will be fighting until it gets all its territory back. It doesn’t mean anything else.”

During an event last week at the WEF, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called on Kiev to cede territory to help resolve the conflict. Zelensky responded with harsh criticism of the former American official. “Mr. Kissinger has emerged from the deep past and said that part of Ukraine should be given to Russia to avoid the alienation of Russia from Europe.” Zelensky added, “it seems that Mr. Kissinger has 1938 on the calendar instead of 2022.” The actor turned president also used the platform to plead for more weapons. Since Russia invaded, the US has approved or transferred over $50 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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“..a notably pessimistic shift and negative tone..”

Zelensky Signals Donbas Could Soon Fall (ZH)

In a Saturday night speech Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave his most dire assessment to date of the status of Ukraine forces in the eastern Donbas region, where for over at least the last two months Russia has concentrated its forces, following the Feb.24 invasion of the country. Saturday marked the 95th day of the conflict. He described conditions there as “indescribably difficult” in what marks a notably pessimistic shift and negative tone for the Ukrainian leader, strongly suggesting the fall of Donbas – or at least whole regions such as Luhansk – could be imminent. He identified several intense ongoing battles in places with a large Russian force presence, including Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Bakhmut and Popasna. Sievierodonets in particular is scene of fierce up-close street battles.

“But our defense holds on,” Zelensky sought to assure the public. “It’s indescribably difficult there. And I am grateful to all those who withstand this onslaught of the occupiers.” As the AP describes of some instances of “close-quarter combat”:Ukrainian regional officials reported that Russian forces were “storming” Sievierodonetsk after trying unsuccessfully to encircle the city. The fighting knocked out power and cellphone service, and a humanitarian relief center could not operate because of the danger, the mayor said. Zelensky in the address also denounced what he called “absolutely senseless, openly barbaric strikes at the Sumy region,” which left at least one person dead and seven wounded and two in critical condition, saying further mortars struck close to a kindergarten.

“These are the enemies chosen by the Russian Federation,” he added. With this, he again called on the West and world leaders to official label Russia as a “terrorist state” – something US has thus far resisted doing, even after Biden previously described Russia’s actions as “genocide”. “This is fair and reflects the daily reality that the occupiers have created in Ukraine and are eager to bring further to Europe. And this must be legally enshrined,” he said. The Biden administration has meanwhile signaled the US is getting ready to ship long-range rocket systems to Ukrainian forces, a major first marking a significant escalation. But given what appears to be Russia’s steady progress over Donbas, it’s likely too-little too-late to turn the tide for the Ukrainians in the East.

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“People will instinctively choose peace over war. We are naturally possessed of that much empathy for others. You have to be marshaled into killing..”

Whose Lies Can You Trust? (Rothenberg)

Imagine if the public had had a say over the question, in 2003, of whether or not we should invade Iraq. No, forget that. That’s not a good example. The public was in favor of it. But why? For months we were the target of an intense propaganda campaign to sway our support for a decision to attack that had already been made. If you convince people that we’re fighting them “over there” so that we don’t have to fight them “over here”, well, that figures to be enough to win them over. Now go back to 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Much talk about a “peace dividend”. Nice ring to it. The United States has had the lion’s share of the world’s wealth since WW2, and now it had the wealth and no viable rivals anywhere in sight.

However, it was considered to be in the “national interest” to expand NATO, an alliance solely formed to counter the communist menace of the Soviet Union, which no longer existed. There was to be no peace dividend. It’s a made-up thing anyway. Since then, 13 countries have joined NATO pushing east toward Russia’s borders. Russia’s leadership regards it as a provocation. You can argue against this but only if you wouldn’t consider it a provocation if Russia had formed a military alliance with Cuba, Mexico, and Canada, or any of the three. I suspect patriotic Americans will reject this dialectic. Imagine if the public had had a say over the question, in 1991, of whether or not we should expand our military alliance with its attendant costs, or whether we should reap the dividend by seeking a more cooperative relationship with the whole of Eurasia including the Middle East.

Missing was the propaganda campaign to win our support for a peace dividend so that we could spend “over here” instead of “over there”. People will instinctively choose peace over war. We are naturally possessed of that much empathy for others. You have to be marshaled into killing. That we identify with peoples’ suffering is evident in all the Ukrainian flag flying. That’s people, not states. States deal in straight power concepts. It is in the anarchist spirit to resist this. To declare that Ukraine is a pawn in a great-power game greatly overstates the country’s role. A pawn can force a win by checkmate or through progression. A better metaphor is Ukraine is the board the game is being played on. The main players are the United States and Russia.

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Slow suicide.

EU Struggles To Break Deadlock On Russian Oil Ban Before Summit (ST)

Ambassadors from the 27 European Union member states on Sunday (May 29) examined a compromise mooted to enable them to break the deadlock on a Russian oil embargo ahead of an emergency summit in Brussels. The bloc’s officials fear the absence of an agreement would cast a shadow over the two-day meeting starting Monday between European leaders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the gathering by video link to press the bloc to “kill Russian exports” three months after the invasion of Ukraine. The latest round of proposed sanctions by the EU has been blocked by landlocked Hungary, which has no access to seafaring oil cargo ships. Hungary is dependent for 65 per cent of its oil needs on Russian crude supplied via the Druzhba pipeline, which runs from Russia to various points in eastern and central Europe.


Budapest has rejected as inadequate a proposal to allow it two years longer than other EU states to wean itself off Russian oil. It wants at least four years and at least 800 million euros (S$1.1 billion) in EU funds to adapt its refineries to process non-Russian crude and boost pipeline capacity to neighbouring Croatia. Slovakia and the Czech Republic, also supplied by the Druzhba pipeline, accepted exemptions of two and half years, diplomatic sources said. The compromise solution put to national negotiators on Sunday consists in excluding the Druzhba pipeline from a future oil embargo and only imposing sanctions on oil shipped to the EU by tanker vessel, European sources said. The Druzhba pipeline accounts for a third of all EU oil supplies from Russia. Maritime cargos account for the remaining two thirds.

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“..a mere month ago when its head Ursula von der Leyen said, “This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”

EU To Block Seaborne Russian Oil Deliveries, Not Pipeline (ZH)

Last week EU leaders held what was deemed an “awkward” summit, as one diplomat attendee put it, given the don’t mention the Russian oil ban elephant in the room. Given Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Hungarian government recently likened a Russian oil ban to dropping a nuclear bomb on its economy (and with some smaller EU countries quietly agreeing with that assessment), there seems a growing consensus – at least behind the scenes – that a total embargo is completely unrealistic and untenable, especially amid steadily ratcheting energy prices. But the European Commission seems to have quickly changed its tune while facing certain ‘hard realities’, as many predicted, coming off a mere month ago when its head Ursula von der Leyen said, “This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.”

Now just weeks later, on Saturday the European Commission hinted it will move toward a ban only on seaborne deliveries, but not pipeline supplies as part of its “phased approach”. Bloomberg on Saturday cited EU officials privy to the ongoing discussions who pinpointed that this allows a broader ban without significantly impacting Hungary’s primary supply, which is transferred through the massive Druzhba pipeline, which is also the world’s world’s longest oil pipeline. Industry publications point out that in the month prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, some 750,000 b/d of Russian crude flowed through the Druzhba to various refineries in Europe.

Bloomberg writes of the impending modified oil ban that “The proposal would give extra time to Hungary, which has antagonistic the deal, to discover a technical resolution that satisfies its power wishes. It might additionally cope with the worries of different landlocked nations, together with Slovakia and the Czech Republic.” And further, “Bulgaria would get a transition duration till June or December 2024 and Croatia may get an exemption for imports of vacuum fuel oil. The fee additionally proposed proscribing re-exports of Russian oil provided by way of pipeline to different member states or 3rd nations.”

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Negotiating.

Erdogan Says Won’t Let ‘Terrorism-supporting’ Countries Enter NATO (R.)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said talks with Finland and Sweden about their joining NATO were not at the “expected level” and Ankara cannot say yes to “terrorism-supporting” countries, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday. Turkey has objected to Sweden and Finland joining the Western defence alliance, holding up a deal that would allow for a historic enlargement following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Erdogan’s latest comments indicated his opposition continued. “For as long as Tayyip Erdogan is the head of the Republic of Turkey, we definitely cannot say ‘yes’ to countries which support terrorism entering NATO,” he was cited as telling reporters on his return from a trip to Azerbaijan on Saturday.


Two sources previously told Reuters that Wednesday’s talks with Finnish and Swedish delegations made little headway and it was unclear when further discussions would take place. All 30 NATO members must approve plans to enlarge NATO. Turkey challenged the bids from Sweden and Finland on the grounds that the countries harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and others it deems terrorists, and because they halted arms exports to Ankara in 2019. “They are not honest or sincere. We cannot repeat the mistake made in the past regarding countries that embrace and feed such terrorists in NATO, which is a security organisation,” he said.

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Tensions between Greece and Turkey are rising fast.

Erdogan’s Revisionism (Rozakis)

There is no doubt that Turkey has exceeded all precedent with its recent actions and statements – from official lips too. The recent violation by Turkish fighter jets of the airspace over Evros in northeastern Greece is a severe infringement that Turkey has never attempted before. This is not to dismiss other similar behavior – like the overflights above the eastern Aegean islands – but it is an unprovoked intervention into continental territory, which cannot be brushed off with the excuse of the jets’ excessive speed (though this is a thin excuse for the island overflights too, given the frequency of violations). It is an act that can be regarded as an invasion of sovereign territory and one that could justify the activation of Greece’s defenses.

That the Greek side chose not to treat it this way is evidence of the government’s good will and of a deliberate effort to deny Turkey the opportunity to use this incident as a precursor to something bigger. On the scale of seriousness, though, this brief incident appears more severe than those at sea in 2020; there, at least, Turkey seemed to be challenging Greece’s sovereign rights rather than its actual sovereignty, and that in non-delineated areas whose delineation is a condition for any legal claims for exclusive rights of exploitation. The overflight into continental territory has not been Turkey’s only infringement in recent weeks, of course. It comes on top of the overflights above our easternmost islands – which have become almost routine – as well as what appears to be a fresh attempt to instrumentalize the refugee crisis by allowing new waves of migrants to attempt the crossing into the country.

This is not to mention recent comments by the Turkish president shutting down any future discussion with the Greek prime minister. There is no reason to expand on this further, however, because the Turkish president is renowned for his inconsistency and has often made such statements in the past he then reneged on. Be that as it may, things are not looking good. Erdogan’s overall behavior indicates that he does not rule out the possibility of conflict with Greece; in fact, he may be courting it. And this is why efforts to modernize our armed forces are absolutely justified, as is the cultivation of stable alliances with countries that can guarantee our territorial integrity.

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Now do the same poll about the US.

Negative Views Of Russia Mainly Limited To Western Liberal Democracies (G.)

The sharp polarisation between mainly western liberal democracies and the rest of the world in perceptions of Russia has been laid bare in an annual global poll of attitudes towards democracy. Within Europe, 55% of those surveyed for the Alliance for Democracies said they were in favour of cutting economic ties with Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, whereas in Asia there was a majority against, and in Latin America opinion was evenly split. Negative views of Russia are largely confined to Europe and other liberal democracies. Positive views of Russia have been retained in China, Indonesia, Egypt, Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The annual Democracy Perception Index, carried out after the invasion of Ukraine, covers 52 highly populated countries in Asia, Latin America, the US and Europe. Majorities in a total of 20 countries thought economic ties with Russia should not be cut due to the war in Ukraine. They included Greece, Kenya, Turkey, China, Israel, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, South Africa, Vietnam, Algeria, the Philippines, Hungary, Mexico, Thailand, Morocco, Malaysia, Peru, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. Colombians were evenly split. By contrast, among the 31 countries that favoured cutting ties, 20 were in Europe. Although Russian diplomats will point to the findings as evidence that global public opinion does not share western interpretations of events in Ukraine, the level of distrust of Russia in some countries was high.

The countries with a widely held most negative view of Russia included Poland (net negative 87%), Ukraine (80%), Portugal (79%), Italy (65%), UK (65%), Sweden (77%), US (62%) and Germany (62%). Even in Hungary – whose leader Viktor Orbán is an ally of Putin – a net 32% have a negative view of Russia. In Venezuela, often seen as propped up by Russia, the local population has a net negative view of Russia of 36%. Countries with a net positive view of Russia included India (36%) Indonesia (14%), Saudi Arabia (11 %), Algeria (29%), Morocco (4%), and Egypt (7%).

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It’s hard to do. The chances of it happening accidentally on 15 phones at once are zero.

Everyone on Special Counsel Team Wiped Their Cell Phones (CTH)

In the aftermath of the late summer 2017 Page/Strzok cell phone text messages, which started to identify the DOJ and FBI targeting operation against Donald Trump, the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) decided he better look at the communications inside the rest of the Mueller-Weissmann team. Early in 2018 IG Horowitz asked for all of the special counsel cell phones. Andrew Weissmann knew there would be trouble, the special counsel operation was at a critical juncture so he instructed the team to wipe them clean, quickly. Eventually records were released in 2020 showing how the Weissmann/Mueller special counsel team “accidentally” wiped 15 iPhones of all data early in 2018 after the phones were requested by the OIG office for review.

Mueller’s lead investigator Andrew Weissmann said he “accidentally” wiped two phones himself; through a lengthy process of entering the wrong passcode several times over a period of three hours; removing data to show his activity during the special counsel. Weissmann claimed to have entered the wrong password (takes ten attempts) and that erased all the data. Greg Andre, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division, made the same claim. Wiping your phone to hide damaging information only works if the other phone you are communicating with wipes the same data. Guess what happened? Yup, exactly that, all of the cell phones connected to the key participants in the Muller operation deleted their phone content rendering a review impossible.

James Quarles III, who worked with Mueller in private practice at the Washington office of Wilmer-Hale, claimed his iPhone magically erased itself. Before joining the special counsel team, Mr. Rush Atkinson worked under Andrew Weissmann in the DOJ’s criminal fraud section where he specialized in financial fraud. Atkinson claims he too entered the wrong password ten times and accidentally erased all the data. At least twelve other people assigned to the special counsel investigation had similar “phone wiped/erased” issues which blocked the inspector general from his review.

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“Well, that’s what the rest of the world saw. It’s not who we are. And now, we’re proving, under pressure, that we are not that country. We’re united.”

Biden Falsely Claims Jan. 6 Rioters ‘Killed Two Police Officers’ (DW)

President Joe Biden falsely claimed that January 6 rioters at the U.S. Capitol “killed two police officers” while giving the commencement address at his alma mater Saturday. Biden and several top Democrats have repeated the debunked claim previously, but the president’s latest assertion of it came at the University of Delaware, where Biden graduated in 1965. No police officers died during the riots, and one who died the following day was found to have died of natural causes. “A mob of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, the very citadel of democracy,” Biden told the newly minted graduates. “Imagine what you’d be thinking today if you had heard this morning before you got here that a group of a thousand people broke down the doors of the parliament of Great Britain, killed two police officers, smashed and ransacked the office of members of the British Parliament or any other, what would you think? What would you think?”

Immediately after U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died on January 7, the department claimed he had been “injured while physically engaging with protesters” and “was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.” The New York Times reported that Sicknick had been beaten with a fire extinguisher, another claim that has since been debunked. The Washington, DC, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the Washington Examiner in April that Sicknick’s death was “natural” and caused by two strokes. Two other police officers, Metropolitan Police Officer Jeffrey Smith and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, killed themselves following the attacks.

The only people involved in the riots who died on January 6 were Air Force veteran and Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot in the neck by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who was cleared of wrongdoing; two protesters who suffered fatal heart attacks, and another who died of a suspected drug overdose. Biden claimed in a speech in Wisconsin in March that rioters killed five police officers. “Look, how would you feel if you saw crowds storm and break down the doors of the British Parliament, kill five cops, injure 145 — or the German Bundestag, or the Italian Parliament?” he said. “I think you’d wonder. “Well, that’s what the rest of the world saw. It’s not who we are. And now, we’re proving, under pressure, that we are not that country. We’re united.”

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“This turns Americans into paranoid hypochondriacs and hospital junkies.”

The Biggest Get-Rich-Quick Scheme in History (Root)

One of my close friends thought he was having a heart attack. He asked me to drive him to the hospital. Of course, I dropped everything and rushed him to an ER in Las Vegas. He was kept at the hospital for 22 hours. He was given a battery of tests. He passed them all with flying colors. The doctors could find nothing wrong. Thank God — there was no heart attack. He was given a clean bill of health. About two weeks later the bill came. Twenty-two hours in the hospital. Not even one full day. Nothing wrong, so no treatments of any kind were given. The bill was $115,000. What a great job former President Barack Obama did to “fix” the health care system. Now 22 hours in a hospital costs $115,000. The frauds in the media don’t dare talk about that story.

This also explains everything about the pandemic. This is why the reaction by the media, Democratic politicians and medical “experts” has been so hysterical. It’s all about the money. Here’s a simple explanation of the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme. First, Biden, Fauci, the CDC, FDA, Democratic politicians and the media scare people to death — over a flu with mostly mild to moderate symptoms with a 99.9 percent recovery rate. They whip Americans into a frenzy. “If it bleeds, it leads.” The more deaths on the front page, or at the top of the news, the more papers they sell, the higher the ratings — and of course, the billions more spent by Big Pharma on drug and vaccine ads as a “thank you” to the media. This turns Americans into paranoid hypochondriacs and hospital junkies.

It’s one big vicious cycle that makes everyone at the top filthy rich. Think of that $115,000 bill for 22 hours in the hospital. That’s for a person who wasn’t sick. What if you actually have the flu? They’ll admit you for a day, or two, or three, and you’ll go home with a $250,000 bill. What if you actually get seriously ill? That’s a trip to the ICU. Whether you live or die, someone gets a $5,000,000 bill. Multiply these bills by millions of scared-to-death Americans who rush to the ER at the first sign of a cold, cough, fever or sneeze. Most of them are poor and on Obamacare or Medicaid. And it’s all paid by OPM — other people’s money. The government pays, and pays, and pays some more. With your money.

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The choice of terminology alone shows how deep Canada has fallen.

Amnesty Should Be Granted To The Unvaccinated (NP)

With vaccine mandates lifted across the country — only the stubborn, ignore-the-science federal government is holding out — it’s time to stop punishing people with minority opinions on public health policy. Let them go back to work, let them visit their relatives, let them live as freely as people in Auckland and Amsterdam do. Public health measures must be prophylactic and not punitive, aimed at preventing the spread of disease, not administering a penalty to those who do not comply with all the dictates. I wrote that some seven months ago, in light of the federal government’s unreasonable vaccine mandate imposed on federal employees, which included dismissal for unvaccinated employees who work at home.

Seven months on, the unreasonable has become the absurd, with an unvaccinated federal employee able to happily attend a hockey game in a packed arena full of screaming fans, but fired for working alone at home. s each day passes, it becomes more clear that federal pandemic measures are punitive. Canada is one of the most vaccinated countries on earth. Thus it may be politically popular to administer harsh measures to the small minority of the unvaccinated, even if a year on from initial doses and post-Omicron, the effectiveness of vaccines to prevent infection and transmission is greatly diminished. Yet denying millions of Canadians the ability to travel in their own country, or to serve in the military, or to drive a truck across the border, is not something that mere political popularity makes legitimate.

Recent attention has focused on the only-in-Canada travel policies that are snarling our airports. The European Union dropped its mask mandate for flights almost two weeks ago; even New Zealand no longer has vaccine mandates for air travel, at home or abroad.

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Apr 102022
 


Inge Morath Window washers 1958

 

The Military Situation In Ukraine (Jacques Baud)
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Ousted By Parliament (PD)
The Total War to Cancel Russia (Escobar)
“Europe Has Chosen Its Fate” (Escobar)
BRICS Ministers of Finance Hold a Meeting
Russia Urges BRICS Nations To Create Own ‘SWIFT’ System (ZH)
Support Grows Among Republicans For Hunter Biden Special Counsel (JTN)
$54M in Chinese Gifts Donated To UPenn, Home of Biden Center (NYP)
Hunter Biden Sought Oligarchs’ Cash In 1st Russian War On Ukraine (JTN)
Durham Evidence: Relentless Democrat Effort To Sell Russia Collusion Hoax (JTN)
Bill Maher Cheers On Elon Musk Joining Twitter (Fox)

 

 

Probably nothing…

 

 

You were told to
https://twitter.com/i/status/1512323263011119105

 

 

It’s not about health, it’s about a treaty we signed…

 

 

Michael Burry was censored over this Tweet.

 

 

Google Translate. Not to be missed.
Jacques Baud is a Former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries.

The Military Situation In Ukraine (Jacques Baud)

We have to go back to March 24, 2021. On that day, Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree for the reconquest of Crimea and began to deploy his forces towards the south of the country. Simultaneously, several NATO exercises were conductedbetween the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, accompanied by a significant increase in reconnaissance flights along the Russian border. Russia then conducts a few exercises to test the operational readiness of its troops and show that it is following the evolution of the situation. Things calm down until October-November with the end of the ZAPAD 21 exercises, whose troop movements are interpreted as a reinforcement for an offensive against Ukraine. However, even the Ukrainian authorities refute the idea of Russian preparations for a war and Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukrainian Minister of Defense declares that there has been no change on its border since the spring.

In violation of the Minsk Accords, Ukraine is conducting aerial operations in Donbass using drones, including at least one strike against a fuel depot in Donetsk in October 2021 . The American press points this out, but not the Europeans and no one condemns these violations. In February 2022, events rush. On February 7, during his visit to Moscow, Emmanuel Macron reaffirms to Vladimir Putin his attachment to the Minsk Accords , a commitment he will repeat after his interview with Volodymyr Zelensky the next day. But on February 11, in Berlin, after 9 hours of work, the meeting of the political advisers of the leaders of the ” Normandy format ” ends, without concrete result: the Ukrainians still and always refuse to apply the Accordsof Minsk, apparently under pressure from the United States. Vladimir Putin then notes that Macron has made empty promises to him and that the West is not ready to enforce the Accords, as they have been doing for eight years.

Ukrainian preparations in the contact zone continue. The Russian Parliament is alarmed and on February 15 asks Vladimir Putin to recognize the independence of the Republics, which he refuses. On February 17, President Joe Biden announces that Russia will attack Ukraine in the coming days. How does he know? Mystery& But since the 16th, the artillery shelling of the populations of Donbass has increased dramatically, as shown by the daily reports of OSCE observers. Naturally, neither the media, nor the European Union, nor NATO, nor any Western government reacts and intervenes. We will say later that this is Russian disinformation. In fact, it seems that the European Union and some countries purposely glossed over the massacre of the people of Donbass, knowing that it would provoke Russian intervention.

At the same time, there are reports of acts of sabotage in the Donbass. On January 18, Donbass fighters intercept saboteurs equipped with Western equipment and speaking Polish seeking to create chemical incidents in Gorlivka . They could be CIA mercenaries , led or “advised” by Americans and made up of Ukrainian or European fighters, to carry out sabotage actions in the Donbass Republics.

[..] The Russian offensive proceeds in a very “classic” manner. At first – as the Israelis had done in 1967 – with the destruction on the ground of the air forces in the very first hours. Then, we witness a simultaneous progression on several axes according to the principle of “flowing water”: we advance wherever resistance is weak and we leave the cities (very voracious in troops) for later. To the north, the Chernobyl plant is occupied immediately to prevent acts of sabotage. The images of Ukrainian and Russian soldiers jointly guarding the plant are naturally not shown… The idea that Russia is trying to take over Kiev, the capital, to eliminate Zelensky, typically comes from the West: this is what they did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and what they wanted to do in Syria with the help of the Islamic State .

But Vladimir Putin never intended to take down or overthrow Zelensky. On the contrary, Russia seeks to keep him in power by pushing him to negotiate by encircling kyiv. He had refused to do so far to apply the Minsk Accords, but now the Russians want to obtain Ukraine’s neutrality. Many Western commentators marveled that the Russians continued to seek a negotiated solution while conducting military operations. The explanation is in the Russian strategic conception, since Soviet times. For Westerners, war begins when politics ceases. However, the Russian approach follows a Clausewitzian inspiration: war is the continuity of politics and one can pass fluidly from one to the other, even during combat. This creates pressure on the opponent and pushes him to negotiate.

From an operational point of view, the Russian offensive was an example of its kind: in six days, the Russians seized a territory as vast as the United Kingdom, with a speed of advance greater than what the Wehrmacht made in 1940. The bulk of the Ukrainian army was deployed in the south of the country for a major operation against Donbass. This is why the Russian forces were able to encircle it from the beginning of March in the “cauldron” between Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk, by a thrust coming from the east via Kharkov and another coming from the south from the Crimea. The troops of the Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (RPL) complete the action of the Russian forces with a push from the East.

At this stage, the Russian forces are slowly tightening the noose, but are no longer under time pressure. Their objective of demilitarization is practically achieved and the residual Ukrainian forces no longer have an operational and strategic command structure. The “slowdown” that our “experts” attribute to poor logistics is only the consequence of having achieved the objectives set. Russia does not seem to want to engage in an occupation of the whole Ukrainian territory. In fact, it seems rather that Russia is trying to limit its advance to the country’s linguistic border.

Jacques Baud is a former Colonel of the General Staff, former member of Swiss strategic intelligence, specialist in Eastern European countries. He was trained in the American and British intelligence services. He was the head of doctrine for United Nations peace operations. A United Nations expert for the rule of law and security institutions, he designed and led the first multidimensional United Nations intelligence service in Sudan. He worked for the African Union and was responsible for the fight against the proliferation of small arms at NATO for 5 years. He was engaged in talks with top Russian military and intelligence officials right after the fall of the USSR. Within NATO, he followed the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, then participated in programs of assistance to Ukraine. He is the author of several books on intelligence, war and terrorism, and in particular Le Détournement published by SIGEST, Govern by fake news, The Navalny affair, and Poutine, master of the game? published by Max Milo.

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Pushing regime change in a country of 220 million people. Which is a nuclear power.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Ousted By Parliament (PD)

Pakistan’s parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the early hours of Sunday April 10. Sunday’s vote took place one week after Khan had dissolved parliament in order to avoid the no-confidence motion, citing foreign interference. The Supreme on Thursday April 7 ruled that the move was illegal and that the parliament must be restored. The vote against Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on April 10 was promoted by legislators from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and received 174 votes in favor, two more than the necessary 172 to be passed. The session was chaired by Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N after the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser resigned from his post.

Qaiser stated that he could not take part in a foreign conspiracy to oust the prime minister, “In line with our laws and the need to stand for our country, I have decided that I can’t remain on the position of speaker and thereby resign.” When the no-confidence measure was first raised Khan had warned that it was product of an international conspiracy and alleged US involvement. While US officials denied any involvement, many have raised suspicion that the move gained strength just as Pakistan began to distance itself from Washington’s diktats. Since the Taliban take over the government of Afghanistan in August and the complete isolation of the country by the US and its allies, Pakistan has been one of the only countries engaging in economic and political relations with the government as the country faces a humanitarian crisis.

Further, it has not fallen into line with the US regarding Russia and has continued to conduct lifesaving trade and has refused to economically and politically marginalize the superpower. Khan denounced a joint letter issued by 22 European countries urging Pakistan to support a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. He declared at a public rally: “Are we slaves and do whatever you tell us… We are neutral in this conflict and will support those who want to end the war in Ukraine.” With the success of the no-confidence measure, Khan will be forced to step down. No democratically elected government has completed a full term since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Khan’s removal comes amid a growing economic crisis due to global inflation. Prices of essential items such as cooking oil, grains, wheat, and sugar have all increased. Khan’s government turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for support and had entered a stalemate with the institution which was demanding strict conditions and austerity policies.

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Two parts from one article by Pepe Escobar.

The Total War to Cancel Russia (Escobar)

By now it’s abundantly clear that the neo-Orwellian “Two Minute Hate” Russophobic campaign launched by the Empire of Lies after the start of Operation Z is actually “24/7 Hate”. Vast swathes of NATOstan have been corralled into behaving like a Russophobic lynch mob. No dissent is tolerated. The full psyops has de facto upgraded the Empire of Lies to the status of Empire of Hate in a Total War – hybrid and otherwise – to cancel Russia. Hate, after all, packs way more punch than mere lies, which are now veering into abject ridiculousness, as in U.S. “intelligence” resorting to – what else – lies to fight the info war against Russia. If the propaganda overdrive has been lethally effective amidst the zombified Western masses – call it a “win” in the P.R. war – in the front where it really matters, inside Russia, it’s a major fail.

Public opinion support for both Operation Z and President Putin is unprecedented. After videos of torture of Russian POWs that caused widespread revulsion, Russian civil society is even bracing for a “Long War” lasting months, not weeks, as long as the targets of the Russian High Command – actually a military secret – are met. The stated aims are “demilitarization” and “denazification” of a future neutral Ukraine – but geopolitically reach way beyond: the aim is to turn the post-1945 European collective security arrangement upside down, forcing NATO to understand and come to terms with the concept of “indivisible security”. This is an extremely complex process that will reach the next decade.

The NATOstan sphere simply cannot admit in public a series of facts that a military analyst of the caliber of Andrei Martyanov has been explaining for years. And that adds to their collective pain. Russia can take on NATO and smash it to bits in 48 hours. It may employ advanced strategic deterrence systems unmatched across the West. Its southern axis – from the Caucasus and West Asia to Central Asia – is fully stabilized. And if the going gets really tough, Mr. Zircon can deliver his hypersonic nuclear business card with the other side not even knowing what hit it. It may be enlightening to see how these complex processes are interpreted by Russians – whose points of view are now completely blocked across NATOstan.

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“What you are seeing now is the death of Europe. Even if it does not come to nuclear strikes on industrial centers, Europe is doomed..”

“Europe Has Chosen Its Fate” (Escobar)

It may be enlightening to see how these complex processes are interpreted by Russians – whose points of view are now completely blocked across NATOstan. Let’s take two examples. The first is Lieutenant General L.P. Reshetnikov, in an analytical note examining facts of the ground war. Some key takeaways: – “Over Romania and Poland there are airborne early warning aircraft of NATO with experienced crews, there are U.S. intelligence satellites in the sky all the time. I remind you that just in terms of budgets for our Roscosmos we allocated $2.5 billion a year, the civil budget of NASA is $25 billion, the civil budget of SpaceX alone is equal to Roscosmos – and that is not counting the tens of billions of dollars annually for the entire U.S. feverishly unfolding the control system of the entire planet.” – The war is unfolding according to “NATO’s eyes and brains. The Ukronazis are nothing but free controlled zombies. And the Ukrainian army is a remotely controlled zombie organism.”

– “The tactics and strategy of this war will be the subject of textbooks for military academies around the world. Once again: the Russian army is smashing a Nazi zombie organism, fully integrated with the eyes and brain of NATO.” Now let’s switch to Oleg Makarenko, who focuses on the Big Picture. – “The West considers itself ‘the whole world’ only because it has not yet received a sufficiently sensitive punch on the nose. It just so happened that Russia is now giving him this click: with the rear support of Asia, Africa and Latin America. And the West can do absolutely nothing with us, since it also lags behind us in terms of the number of nuclear warheads.” – “Europe has chosen its fate. And chose fate for Russia. What you are seeing now is the death of Europe. Even if it does not come to nuclear strikes on industrial centers, Europe is doomed.

In a situation where European industry is left without cheap Russian energy sources and raw materials – and China will begin to receive these same energy carriers and raw materials at a discount, there can be no talk of any real competition with China from Europe. As a result, literally everything will collapse there – after industry, agriculture will collapse, welfare and social security will collapse, hunger, banditry and chaos will begin.” It’s fair to consider Reshetnikov and Makarenko as faithfully representing the overall Russian sentiment, which interprets the crude Bucha false flag as a cover to obscure the Ukrainian army torture of Russian POWs.

And, deeper still, Bucha allowed the disappearance of Pentagon bioweapon labs from the Western mediasphere, complete with its ramifications: evidence of a concerted American drive to ultimately deploy real weapons of mass destruction against Russia. The multi-level Bucha hoax had to include the Brit presidency of the UN Security Council actually blocking a serious discussion, a day before the Russian Ministry of Defense struggled to present to the UN – predictably minus the U.S. and the UK – all the bioweapon facts they have unearthed in Ukraine. The Chinese were horrified by the findings.

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That’s most of the world. And its resources.

BRICS Ministers of Finance Hold a Meeting (CTH)

This is not some grand conspiracy, ‘out there‘ deep geopolitical possibility, or foreboding likelihood as an outcome of short-sighted western emotion. No, this is just a predictable outcome from western created events that pushed specific countries to a natural conclusion based on their best interests. You can debate the motives of the western leaders who structured the sanctions against Russia, and whether they knew the outcome would happen as a consequence of their effort, but the outcome was never really in doubt. Personally, I believe this outcome is what the west intended. The people inside the World Economic Forum are not stupid – ideological, yes, but not stupid. They knew this would happen.

The finance ministers of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have decided to create their own financial mechanisms to continue trade between nations of similar disposition. Once the internal issues inside the BRICS alliance are resolved, and once the mechanisms are created, then other nations will be able to decide to join or not. The great global cleaving will commence. [..] The bottom line is – the 2022 punitive economic and financial sanctions by the western nations’ alliance against Russia was exactly the reason why BRICS assembled in the first place. The multinational corporate control of government is exactly what the BRICS assembly foresaw when they first assembled during the Obama administration. When multinational corporations run the policy of western government, there is going to be a problem.

In the bigger picture, the BRICS assembly are essentially leaders who do not want corporations and multinational banks running their government. BRICS leaders want their government running their government; and yes, that means whatever form of government that exists in their nation, even if it is communist. BRICS leaders are aligned as anti-corporatist. That doesn’t necessarily make those government leaders better stewards, it simply means they want to make the decisions, and they do not want corporations to become more powerful than they are. As a result, if you really boil it down to the common denominator, what you find is the BRICS group are the opposing element to the World Economic Forum assembly. The countries run by multinational corporations are in Yellow, the countries who have not yet chosen a side are in GREY:

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“It will be clear to everyone that the supposed effectiveness of sanctions is an absolute lie.”

Russia Urges BRICS Nations To Create Own ‘SWIFT’ System (ZH)

The dollar reserve system is facing its greatest threat yet. Russian Finance Minister Anatoly Siluanov said on Saturday that the five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – could mitigate the backlash of Western sanctions against Russia on their economies by pooling their efforts and using a range of financial instruments at their disposal. “The current crisis is man-made and BRICS countries have all the instruments necessary to mitigate its consequences for the national and global economies,” Siluanov was cited as saying by the Russian Finance Ministry. The minister blamed economic sanctions on Russia for “destroying the foundation of the existing international monetary and financial system based on the US dollar” and urged BRICS to rely more on their national currencies in foreign trade, integrate payment systems and create an alternative to the SWIFT payment messaging platform.

Siluanov on Friday told a ministerial meeting with BRICS that the global economic situation had worsened substantially due to the sanctions, a statement from his ministry said on Friday. “This pushes us to the need to speed up work in the following areas: the use of national currencies for export-import operations, the integration of payment systems and cards, our own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency,” Siluanov said. As The Statesman reports, central banks of the BRICS countries have already agreed to conduct the fifth test of a banking mechanism that will allow them to jointly pool “alternative currency” reserves to shield their economies from outside shocks, the ministry said.

Siluanov’s comments echoed Dmitry Medvedev’s comments on Telegram. The Deputy Head of Russia’s Security Council warned of the geopolitical consequences of Western sanctions and the weaponization of the US dollar reserve system: “Their result will be a destroyed international order and extremely difficult consequences for the world economy and the life of individual countries,” adding that: “It will be clear to everyone that the supposed effectiveness of sanctions is an absolute lie.”

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“I won’t have any faith in him,” [Ron] Johnson said of a special counsel.”

Support Grows Among Republicans For Hunter Biden Special Counsel (JTN)

Nearly 100 House Republicans are urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals, saying they had the hallmarks of an influence peddling scandal. The letter led by Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the chair of the House GOP Study Committee, comes as the U.S. attorney in Delaware enters his third year investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes, foreign lobbying and money movements. In all, 95 House GOP members signed the letter. “It is increasingly clear that Hunter Biden took advantage of his father’s position as Vice President to develop business relationships with clients in Ukraine, China, and Kazakhstan,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Hunter Biden likely facilitated lobbying for foreign entities through third-party channels without registering for the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “It appears that Hunter Biden used his position as son of then-Vice President Biden to gain wealth and influence in foreign countries, using questionably sourced money to pay tax liabilities, and lobbying on behalf of foreign entities without proceeding through the proper channels.” The House Republicans said they were concerned DOJ “has an actual conflict of interest and certainly has the appearance of a conflict of interest that could prevent a fair and impartial investigation of his activities.” “We believe that in the case of Hunter Biden a special counsel must be appointed to preserve the integrity of this investigation and any subsequent prosecution.

A special counsel would also ensure there is no bias in the investigation or undue influence from the White House,” the lawmakers added. [..] While support for a special counsel has been growing, some Republicans like Sen. Ron Johnson argue it isn’t necessary and would only further delay an already slow moving investigation. “I won’t have any faith in him,” Johnson said of a special counsel.

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No investigation of Hunter can be complete without investigating Joe.

$54M in Chinese Gifts Donated To UPenn, Home of Biden Center (NYP)

A government watchdog is demanding the US Attorney probing Hunter Biden in Delaware investigate tens of millions in anonymous donations from China to the University of Pennsylvania, where an academic center is named for his father, President Biden. The Ivy League college raked in a total of $54.6 million from 2014 through June 2019 in donations from China, including $23.1 million in anonymous gifts starting in 2016, according to public records. Most of the anonymous donations came after the university announced in February 2017 that it would create the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Joe Biden, whose term as vice president had just ended, was to lead the center and was also named a professor at the university. The center, which is located in Washington, DC., opened its doors in February 2018.

Antony Blinken, whom Biden named as Secretary of State, briefly served as its managing director. The Ivy League university received $15.8 million in anonymous Chinese gifts that year, including one eye-popping $14.5 million donation in May 2018, records show. The flurry of donations may be related to Hunter Biden’s business interests in China, the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based watchdog, alleged in complaints sent in May and October 2020 to the Departments of Education and Justice. Last week, the group asked US Attorney David Weiss to step in and investigate the Chinese largesse to the school as part of his federal tax probe of Hunter Biden. “We’ve asked … Weiss to pursue the larger network of individuals and institutions who benefited from millions doled out by foreign interests connected to Hunter Biden’s work in China and Ukraine,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project.

In its 12-page complaint, the watchdog cited a 2017 text found on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop that CEFC China Energy Co, one of the firms that Hunter Biden had a financial stake in, wanted to lobby politicians in the US but did not want to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), required for all foreign lobbyists. “We don’t want to have to register as foreign agents under the FCPA [sic] which … is much more expansive than people who should know choose not to know,” reads the May 1, 2017, text sent from Hunter Biden to his former business partner Tony Bobulinski.

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“..Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region in 2014 was a wild card that could scuttle the success of their business pursuits..”

Oh, and definition counts: There was a 1st war on Ukraine? Was that when Ukraine invaded the Donbass?

Hunter Biden Sought Oligarchs’ Cash In 1st Russian War On Ukraine (JTN)

In the shadows of Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Hunter Biden and his business partners embarked on an aggressive campaign to score millions of dollars in “life changing” business with oligarchs in both countries who had an interest in his father’s policymaking business, according to emails and court records obtained by Just the News. President Joe Biden’s son and his associates targeted Russian oligarch Yelena Baturina — who eventually was sanctioned by the U.S. a few years later in 2018 — for as much as $200 million after helping her get a bank account set up in America, the emails show. Hunter Biden and his associates even arranged for Baturina and her husband, an ex-Moscow mayor, to meet with then-Vice President Joe Biden at an intimate dinner in Washington in 2015.

At the same time he and his team courted Baturina, Hunter Biden was securing lucrative board positions and consulting deals with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, a man whose company, Burisma Holdings, the United States and Great Britain wanted investigated for corruption. The delicate balancing act of cashing in on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides of the conflict left the younger Biden and his partners acutely aware that Moscow’s military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region in 2014 was a wild card that could scuttle the success of their business pursuits, the memos show.

“Just spent two hours on the phone with Kiev. I am confident at this point that this is a good if not life changing deal if the Uk [Ukraine] doesn’t collapse in the meantime,” now-convicted Biden business partner Devon Archer wrote Hunter Biden in one particularly candid assessment of their strategy in mid-April 2014. Eventually, another of Hunter Biden’s convicted business associates, John Galanis, would declare in a sworn affidavit to a federal court that he and his son Jason became aware of a strategy by Hunter Biden-related companies of promising oligarchs “quid pro quo” access to Washington in return for their dollars. “Jason Galanis gave his interest in Burnham/Wealth Assurance to Archer on the prospect that Archer and Hunter Biden would continue to attract foreign oligarchs on the promise of high level political contacts,” John Galanis swore in a January 2020 affidavit that unequivocally referred to the scheme as “political influence peddling.”

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Sussmann will be fun.

Durham Evidence: Relentless Democrat Effort To Sell Russia Collusion Hoax (JTN)

As the trial for former Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann draws closer, Special Counsel John Durham is painting a picture of a relentless effort by Democrat operatives to sell the Russia collusion narrative across the U.S. government from the FBI to the State Department. Essentially, Hillary Clinton operatives flooded the zone in the summer and fall of 2016, hoping multiple Trump collusion allegations circulating inside the government agencies might prompt an investigation and media interest. For the first time this week, Durham called it a “joint venture” and a conspiracy to shop unproven Trump dirt.

In the case of Sussmann, Durham alleges that effort involved deceit by lying to the FBI that he did not have a client when he presented (since-discredited) evidence to the FBI that Donald Trump had a secret computer back channel at the Alfa Bank in Moscow to talk with the Kremlin. In fact, Sussmann was working on behalf of the Clinton campaign and a tech executive named Rodney Jaffe who was aligned with the campaign when he approached the FBI in September 2016 and made the anti-Trump allegations, Durham’s team alleges. A few months later, prosecutors say, Sussmann was still representing the tech executive when he approached the CIA in February 2017 to get the spy agency involved and again claimed he wasn’t representing a client’s interest.

On Monday, Durham showed the strength of his evidence of Sussmann’s alleged lie: He offered the handwritten notes of two senior FBI officials who recorded that the Clinton lawyer had said he was not acting on behalf of a client when he reported the Trump dirt. “Said not doing this for any client,” then-Assistant FBI Director for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap wrote in his notes, recording what Sussmann had told him. A deputy general counsel wrote a similar notation.

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“..it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”

Bill Maher Cheers On Elon Musk Joining Twitter (Fox)

“Real Time” host Bill Maher offered enthusiastic support for Tesla CEO Elon Musk as he joins Twitter. Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he purchased 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the largest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced that he was joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could have influence over Twitter’s policies in favor of free speech principles. During Friday’s “Overtime” segment on YouTube, a viewer submitted a question asking, “What’s the panel’s thoughts on Elon Musk becoming Twitter’s single-largest shareholder. “I’m for it!” Maher exclaimed while pounding the table. New York Times writer David Leonhardt said his reaction to the Elon Musk news was, “Are we gonna have to read Donald Trump’s tweets again soon.”


“Which is a tough one,” Maher reacted. “Because once they took Trump off Twitter, things did get better but it’s… bad for free speech. And then they’re gonna go somewhere. And then the resentment and then the idea, ‘Well, you know, the people who are ganging up against us- the media and Big Tech and Big Government. I mean, that’s the convoy. You know, those convoys in Canada and all over the world.” Liberal author Nancy MacLean pushed back against Maher, arguing that Twitter’s censorship of Trump is not in violation of the Constitution since the First Amendment only applies to the government suppressing free speech, not private companies. “We live in a different age where Twitter is the public square now. If you deny someone’s right to speak on Twitter, you’re basically saying you don’t have free speech rights,” Maher said. “We’re not living in 1980 anymore. This is a different world we live in where social media controls this. So social media is sort of a… it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”

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Zelenko

 

 

 

 

Makary

 

 

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

 

 

 

Dec 282020
 
 December 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Juan Gris Grapes 1913

 

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)
Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)
Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)
Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG
Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)
Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)
How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)
Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)
China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)
Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

 

 

The attempts to shut down the discussion about vaccines will backfire spectacularly. We need to have that discussion, badly. “Believe in the science” has been turned into “Believe in the vaccine”. But those are not the same thing.

 

 

You think you are following the science when, in fact, you are following the media’s and politicos’ presentation of the science. Follow the science is a rallying cry by all but the scientists.
– Dave Collum

 

 

Dr. Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test, on the fraud who is called Dr. Fauci

 

 

What are the odds of $2,000 by now?

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)

President Trump on Sunday night signed a $2.3 trillion federal spending and COVID relief bill, averting a government shutdown and ensuring millions of Americans continue to get unemployment benefits. Despite his misgivings about wasteful spending and low stimulus payments in the bill, Trump said he signed the legislation because “I have an obligation to protect the people of our country“ from further economic devastation. He said, however, “more money is coming” as Congress votes this week on larger checks. The president on Sunday also invoked the 1974 Impoundment Control Act to demand “rescissions” be made to the spending measures. Under the Act, a president can seek congressional approval to rescind funds by sending a special message to Congress identifying the amount he proposes to cut, the reasons for it, and the economic impact.


“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said. The signing came after Trump tweeted, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!” The signing brought hope to millions of Americans who lost jobless benefits over the weekend as a federal shutdown loomed. The standoff occurred after Trump refused before Christmas to sign the $2.3 trillion spending and COVID relief bill, demanding more money for everyday Americans. Congress failed to address the president’s demands to increase the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 per person.

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What substance does the review have?

Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)

President Trump signed on Sunday the Covid-19 stimulus package, saying that the bill will “restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.” Trump also announced that the House of Representatives will vote on Monday to increase “payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000 and that a family of four would receive $5,200.” Another unexpected announcement was that Congress has promised to review Section 230, “which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people.” Trump said that he expect them to either terminate it or substantially reform it.

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“What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs..”

Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)

One of the reasons that folks on the right have been so upset over the Nov. 3 election is not just that many believe it was stolen from President Donald Trump, but also the concern that if you don’t fully answer/resolve the questions that have been raised about the election, then you can’t be assured that it won’t happen again. A recent USA Today poll found that fully 78% of Republicans don’t believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected. While the media wants to blame that on President Donald Trump, as indeed they blame everything, it has far more to do with the media failure to actually address the questions raised, dismissing sworn affidavits and the failure to comply with state laws. That’s a big issue when you fail to address the concerns of that many people.

Now, as we approach the Georgia run-offs, Fox is reporting that we may not know the winners in the run-offs for “weeks.” From the NY Post: “Election officials in Georgia are gearing up for the possibility that next month’s Senate runoff elections may spend weeks in litigation before a final winner is determined. The state has become closely divided in recent years and both Democrats and Republicans expect the results to be razor-thin.” Until just enough ballots come in to declare Democrats the winners? Check this hot take: “Given what happened after the presidential election, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see attempts to challenge the results, especially if Democrats win,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We’re already seeing questions about signature verification, challenges of new voter registration. This could all just be a glimpse of the future.” Yes, how dare people be concerned about signature verification?! Or be concerned about people falsely registering to vote in the state to influence the election? Shouldn’t everyone be concerned about those questions? From Fox5 Atlanta: “This is no run-of-the-mill runoff. The fate of the nation’s balance of power Is on the table here,” political strategist Brian Robinson said. [….] “What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs,” he said. “They want to make sure Democrats don’t control every level of power in Washington. That’s a very powerful motivator. Democrats are fat and happy because they got what they want in Washington.”

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“If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period.”

Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG

In recent days, President-elect Joe Biden has stated that his attorney general will not be “the president’s lawyer,” adding that he promises his “justice department will be totally on its own making its judgments about how to proceed.” And who could disagree? The attorney general is the top cop in the land, and no person, not even the president, as Richard Nixon once claimed in a famous interview with British journalist David Frost, is above the law. But Biden’s AG shortlist says quite the opposite of his declaration of AG independence. Take Sally Yates, the former federal prosecutor who has become a media darling in recent years for the same reason almost everyone else has: Her resistance efforts against President Trump while using the kind of soaring rhetoric one would expect in your average Aaron Sorkin production.

“Put simply, [Trump] treats our country like it’s his family business. This time, bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad,” Yates said during her endorsement speech of Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention. “But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us. Joe Biden embraces that. He has spent his entire life putting our country first.” “He has never backed down from a challenge or a bully,” she continued. “He summons the best in us, and lives by the values that define us as Americans, service, integrity, courage, compassion.” Yup. Yates is just the person to lead the Justice Department given that perspective and rhetoric. And we can be totally sure that if Biden asked her not to pursue any investigation of his son Hunter Biden any further than the current FBI investigation that has been ongoing for more than a year, she’ll completely resist doing so in the name of service and integrity, right?

Rhetorical question. How about Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)? The 2020 Emmy winner is reportedly on Biden’s shortlist as well. “If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period,” Cuomo told Howard Stern last month in response to a question regarding Trump calling his brother Chris “Fredo,” a reference to the hapless Godfather character. “I mean he was attacking me, he was attacking my family, he was anti-Italian.” This is the same Cuomo who said this of Trump even considering returning to his home state of New York. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo told reporters in September in a not-so-veiled threat to a sitting president “Forget bodyguards. He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo has resisted at every turn calls for an independent investigation into his order to send COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Fortunately for those looking for the truth, the Justice Department has expanded an investigation into the matter, which Cuomo calls “a political charade.” As for the whole-work-independent-of-Biden thing, Cuomo, who never met a camera he didn’t like, also spoke at the DNC in August in endorsing Biden. Yup. This is just the guy to serve as the top cop in the land.

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[In Bulgaria] “..only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future..”

Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)

All is not going according to plan in the biggest global rollout of what is arguably the most important vaccine in a century, and it is not just growing US mistrust in the covid injection effort that was rolled out in record time: an unexpected spike in allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (and now, Moderna too) may prove catastrophic to widespread acceptance unless scientists can figure out what is causing it after the FDA’s rushed approval, and is also why as we reported yesterday, scientists are scrambling to identify the potential culprit causing the allergic reactions. Making matters worse, Europe rolled out a huge COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday to try to rein in the coronavirus pandemic but even more Europeans than American are sceptical about the speed at which the vaccines have been tested and approved and reluctant to have the shot.

While the European Union has secured contracts drugmakers including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, for a total of more than two billion doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated next year, this is looking increasingly like a pipe dream: according to recent surveys, the local population has expressed “high levels of hesitancy” towards inoculation in countries from France to Poland, with many used to vaccines taking decades to develop, not just months. “I don’t think there’s a vaccine in history that has been tested so quickly,” Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, said as he stepped out of a church in central Warsaw with his two children. “I am not saying vaccination shouldn’t be taking place. But I am not going to test an unverified vaccine on my children, or on myself.”

Smart: why take the risk of getting vaccinated when others will do it, resulting in the same outcome. Surveys in Poland, where distrust in public institutions runs deep, show that fewer than 40% of people planning to get vaccinated. Worse, according to Reuters on Sunday, only half the medical staff in a Warsaw hospital where the country’s first shot was administered had signed up. And if the doctors don’t trust the vaccine, one can be certain that the broader population will refuse to take it. The situation is similar in Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, where 28-year-old singer and music composer German summarizes the skepticism of a broad range of the population, and plans to wait for now. “No one close to me has had it (COVID-19). I’m obviously not saying it doesn’t exist because lots of people have died of it, but for now I wouldn’t have it (the vaccine).”

A Christian Orthodox bishop in Bulgaria, where 45% of people have said they would not get a shot and 40% plan to wait to see if any negative side effects appear – meaning only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future – is in the tiny minority when it comes to taking the vaccine.

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“..maybe as early as this week..”? But doesn’t it take two jobs, a month apart? How can this be true?

Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)

Nursing homes likely should begin to see COVID-19 infection rates drop in coming days, the former Former Food and Drug Administration chief said Sunday. “We will begin to see some indication that the vaccines are probably having an effect maybe as early as this week, because we know that immunity does begin to kick in about a week after vaccination,” Scott Gottlieb said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Vaccines normally offer immunity about a week after being administered, Gottlieb said. According to that standard, he said, death rates in American nursing homes should soon go down. “That will start to have an impact on the mortality trends with COVID, but it’s coming late in the season,” he said. “Vaccinations will take about three weeks to get through all of the nursing homes,”Gottlieb said.

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We badly need the discussion.

How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)

“Thank you so much for speaking out to open schools. I can’t do it myself, for obvious reasons.” “I completely agree with you about opening schools in September, but I’m afraid I’ll be targeted at my job.” These were just a few of the supportive reader comments I received over the summer and fall, as I wrote column after column urging that schools be reopened. They opened a revealing window onto the mechanics of social control in the age of COVID-19. My correspondents’ fear was obvious: Say the wrong thing online, and have your life destroyed. Cancel culture has permeated everything, including debates over how to deal with the pandemic. Schools had been open in other countries for months, and they were all reporting lower positivity rates than their surrounding communities.


My arguments were measured and evidence-based: The data were making the case for reopening schools all by themselves. Yet most of the rest of the media seemed determined to tell the story from only one perspective: that of lockdown hard-liners, not least teacher-union bosses. This paper aside, very few outlets pushed for school openings. On the left, the conversation is heavily policed, with clear red lines drawn around “unacceptable” opinion. Reopening schools was treated as “irresponsible,” even though the numbers said otherwise. It wasn’t until Oct. 9 when things began to shift. That’s when a piece headlined “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders” appeared in The Atlantic. The piece didn’t exactly break new ground. What mattered is that it appeared in a liberal publication. That made it OK to believe and say what even many liberal parents knew but didn’t dare voice.

Read more …

Chinese banks are a murky lot. Question is does Xi want to allow them to fail?

Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)

Chinese banks are expected to face headwinds raising funds next year as profit-conscious investors cling to the sidelines, expecting a wave of bad loans to hammer the sector and erode already slimming margins. The sector is ending its worst annual performance in years after putting aside record provisions due to COVID-19 while Beijing urged banks to sacrifice profits to help the economy. Next year as lenders end pandemic-related loan forbearance – which let borrowers suspend repayments or pay less in interest – banks must bolster their capital against loans previously not classified as nonperforming. Big and medium-sized lenders also need to improve their capital adequacy as demanded by global and domestic watchdogs.


China’s banks raised 1.2 trillion yuan ($18 billion) in the first 11 months of the year, off the pace of 1.5 trillion yuan for all of 2019, data from Fitch Ratings shows. The 26 listed banks may need to replenish at least 1.25 trillion yuan of capital in 2021, Shenzhen-based brokerage Guosheng Securities estimates. “The pressure of capital-raising for the whole banking industry is still pretty big,” said Vivian Xue, Fitch’s director of Asia-Pacific financial institutions. “China’s largest banks will need to raise substantial capital or loss-absorbing debt over the next few years.” The four largest – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China – face a shortfall in this loss-absorbing debt of 4.7 trillion yuan by the end of 2024 to meet requirements set by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board, according to Fitch.

Read more …

China’s biggest loanshark?

China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)

China’s central bank disclosed on Sunday it had asked the country’s payments giant Ant Group Co Ltd to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations, the latest blow to its billionaire founder and controlling shareholder Jack Ma. The announcement came more than a month after Chinese regulators abruptly suspended Ant’s blockbuster $37 billion initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and only days after the country’s antitrust authorities said they had launched a probe into Ma’s e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chinese regulators and Communist Party officials have set about reining in Ma’s sprawling financial empire after he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory system in October for stifling innovation.


Regulators have urged Ant to rectify financial regulatory violations, including in its credit, insurance and wealth management businesses, and overhaul its credit rating business to protect personal information, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said on Sunday. Pan’s comments stopped short of calling for a breakup of Ant, yet pointed to a significant operational restructuring. Ant should set up a separate holding company to ensure capital adequacy and regulatory compliance, Pan said. Ant should also be fully licensed to operate its personal credit business, and be more transparent about its third-party payment transactions and not engage in unfair competition, Pan added. Ant said in a statement it would establish a “rectification” working group and fully implement regulatory requirements.

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It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.

Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

Britons travelling to the European Union have been warned they face disruption and potential charges after the Brexit transition period ends on Thursday. Travellers from the UK have previously been able to rely on free healthcare with their European Health Insurance Card, and to escape roaming charges thanks to a ban on the fees throughout the bloc. But the trade deal brokered between the European Union and the UK does not allow for Britons to keep either of these advantages. The deal only says both sides must encourage mobile providers to have “transparent and reasonable rates”, while government guidance tells British travellers to check with their mobile provider to see what charges they will face.

Any British visitor to the EU will also have to make sure their passport has enough validity when they begin their journey. Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged there will be “some disruption” as the nation adjusts, so he said “it is vital” to be as ready as possible. Mr Gove also warned businesses that the time left to make final preparations before the new deal comes into force “is very short”. Businesses must understand the new rules on importing and exporting goods between Great Britain and the EU, as well as rules when trading with Northern Ireland. EU officials are set to meet on Monday to discuss the Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK on Christmas Eve. If the Brexit agreement, covering £660bn of trade, can be provisionally approved by EU ambassadors, it will then move on to formal ratification by the European Parliament.

It will almost certainly be passed by the UK parliament this week, with Labour backing what it describes as a “thin” treaty, as the alternative would be a chaotic no-deal situation on 1 January. And Boris Johnson has said that, although he accepts that “the devil is in the detail” of the deal, he believes that it will stand up to inspection from sceptics such as the European Research Group of Brexiteers.

Read more …

 

 

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“Insisting on absolute safety is for people who don’t have the balls to live in the real world.”
– Mary Shafer (NASA)

 

 

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Dec 162020
 
 December 16, 2020  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937

 

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)
Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)
The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)
COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)
Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)
Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)
Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)
DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)
Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)
McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)
Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign
Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Very long, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Still, when it’s about saving lives, including your own… might as well read it..

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)

In this article I am not going to simply transform the treatment with HCQ (an acronym for hydroxychloroquine) from “not promising”, as the New York Times qualifies it, to “promising”. I will explain that it is scientifically proven, and in every possible scientific way. In addition, I will explain how and why the biggest journalistic blackout in human history is taking place right now. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you here that the New York Times and almost all the other mainstream media are doing dirty, lousy quality journalism. As a result of this amateurism, a seismic tremor of gigantic proportions is being created at the moment, and without precedent, in the credibility of the mainstream world press, with unpredictable consequences for humanity in the coming decades.

And I warn you right now. I have no concern in producing a short article. There are many analyses to be done, nuances to be approached and many details that cannot be left out. The farce is so big and with so many actors, that it’ s almost unbelievable that it can be dismantled with day-to-day facts and simple logic There are scientific articles, facts and figures that no one wants to report or discuss. These studies have not become news in the major media nor have been cited by science journalists, but they have impacts like Muhammad Ali’s punches in the logic of those who claim that the drug does not work. Here they will come to the public. My main point of view in this article is the evolution of the arguments of people who insist that the drug is ineffective against COVID-19.

This is my third article on the subject. In the first one (in French, English, Portuguese), three months ago, I explained my personal view. I had the goal of making a choice between taking or not these drugs, in case of catching the virus. In it I have spoken about the political scenario and the incredible logical flaws of those who claim that the treatment does not work. I discussed how the “official story” is an incredible conspiracy theory and explained how the false narrative about this medication was formed, all in a timeline. In my second article, I lamented the shameful censorship, pretending to be of service to society, that has been present in today’s world. In addition, I explained the inversion of ideological values, in the West, between right and left, when dealing with this topic. (Originally published on France-Soir in French. Also with versions in Portuguese and English).

Now I write this third article, where I bring all the main news from the scientific world in the last three months. It is to disassemble the last arguments of those who say it doesn’t work. The world is standing still. There is panic and fear in the global population. More than one million three hundred thousand people have died. For the vast majority of these victims, a cure with a high percentage of success has been neglected. Another millions are depressed, with no prospect of life and happiness. All due to a perfect storm and gross errors. All conveniently taken advantage of by petty interests.

Read more …

All too common refrain: “I did not fail, all the others did.”

Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)

Sweden’s health experts misjudged the resurgence of the coronavirus by recommending a light-touch approach, the prime minister said. The country, which has pursued a form of herd immunity strategy under Anders Tegnell, its chief epidemiologist, has been hit so hard by the second wave of infections that hospitals in Stockholm are struggling to cope. Stefan Lofven, the prime minister, told the Aftenposten newspaper that his medical advisers had not seen such a wave coming. “They talked about different clusters,” he said. Sweden’s neighbours, Finland and Norway, which adopted stricter social controls and have suffered fewer fatalities per capita, have offered medical help after Stockholm reported that 99 per cent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds were full and called for more staff.

Mr Lofven, who leads a Social Democrat-Green Party coalition, spoke hours before a commission examining Sweden’s handling of the pandemic concluded that it had failed to protect elderly people during the first wave. A high level of community spread was the biggest factor in the virus getting into care homes, the commission said. Sweden’s pandemic strategy, shunning lockdowns and masks, has been much debated as an alternative approach to tougher curbs. Schools, restaurants and businesses were largely left open while people were advised to maintain social distance and hygiene. The strategy was coupled with a goal to “ring-fence” the most vulnerable. As deaths mounted, especially at nursing homes, the commission said that it had failed to do so effectively.

The approach has been called reckless and cruel but it also won praise from people seeing it as more sustainable and business-friendly. About half of Sweden’s almost 7700 deaths have been nursing home residents. The country now faces a significant rise in cases and fatalities. Its statistical agency recorded a total of 8088 deaths from all causes last month, the highest mortality in any November in Sweden since the first year of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, when 16,600 people died. Since Friday 153 people have died from COVID-19 related causes, bringing the total to 7,667. There have been 320,000 confirmed cases.

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Word.

The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)

Not a year has passed since peace was declared in 1945 that Britain has not sent military forces to fight the wars of empire. Not a year has passed when countries, mostly poor and riven by conflict, have not bought or have been “soft loaned” British arms to further the wars, or “interests”, of empire. Empire? What empire? The investigative journalist Phil Miller recently revealed in Declassified that Boris Johnson’s Britain maintained 145 military sites – call them bases — in 42 countries. Johnson has boasted that Britain is to be “the foremost naval power in Europe”. In the midst of the greatest health emergency in modern times, with more than 4 million surgical procedures delayed by the National Health Service, Johnson has announced a record increase of £16.5 billion in so-called defence spending – a figure that would restore the under-resourced NHS many times over.

But these billions are not for defence. Britain has no enemies other than those within who betray the trust of its ordinary people, its nurses and doctors, its carers, elderly, homeless and youth, as successive neo-liberal governments have done, Conservative and Labour. Exploring the serenity of the National War Memorial, I soon realised there was not a single monument, or plinth, or plaque, or rosebush honouring the memory of Britain’s victims — the civilians in the “peacetime” operations commemorated here. There is no remembrance of the Libyans killed when their country was wilfully destroyed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his collaborators in Paris and Washington.

There is no word of regret for the Serbian women and children killed by British bombs, dropped from a safe height on schools, factories, bridges, towns, on the orders of Tony Blair; or for the impoverished Yemeni children extinguished by Saudi pilots with their logistics and targets supplied by Britons in the air-conditioned safety of Riyadh; or for the Syrians starved by “sanctions”. There is no monument to the Palestinian children murdered with the British elite’s enduring connivance, such as the recent campaign that destroyed a modest reform movement within the Labour Party with specious accusations of anti-Semitism.

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Capitol Hill is simply incapable of getting these, the most basic of things, right.

COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)

A draft of coronavirus relief legislation, circulated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, eschews direct payments to average Americans but contains an unusually generous handout to the very wealthy. The draft legislation, the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, was released this week as part of a package of two major bills to confront the ongoing crisis. The draft of the first bill circulating on Capitol Hill contains a number of adjustments to the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program that has served as the centerpiece of the government’s efforts to curb job loss stemming from the pandemic.

Many of the changes provide extended eligibility for expenses that can be reimbursed by the PPP program, including damage from looting and costs associated with cloud computing, as well as the construction of sneeze guards and other safety measures implemented by businesses. But one of the revisions in the legislation is a subtle yet radical change that would result in a major windfall for the highest-income Americans and large corporations. The bill provides that businesses claiming expenses reimbursed by PPP forgivable loans, which are already tax-free, can be further used as deductions when calculating taxable income. In other words, the change would allow a corporation that claimed $1 million in PPP reimbursements to apply that money as a deduction on its tax return, reducing taxable income by $1 million.

Critics of this idea, first circulated by a bipartisan set of legislators last summer, note that it provides an unprecedented tax advantage that overwhelmingly benefits investors and high-net-worth professionals. IRS rules have long prohibited tax-free government grants and reimbursements from being used as deductions. Steven Rosenthal, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, writing in his blog TaxVox, has noted that the proposal represents a “double dip” that abandons longstanding tax norms to provide “overly generous relief” that rewards “savvy, well-connected business and crowds out relief for others, undercutting the effectiveness of Congress’ aid.”

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Baseless, blah blah.

Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)

President Donald Trump is considering pushing to have a special counsel appointed to advance a federal tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden, setting up a potential showdown with incoming acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.Trump — angry that out-going Attorney General William Barr didn’t publicly announce the ongoing, two-year investigation into Hunter Biden — has consulted on the matter with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside allies. That’s according to several Trump administration officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.

Beyond appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the younger Biden, the sources said Trump is interested in having another special counsel appointed to look into his own baseless claims of election fraud. But if he’s expecting his newly named acting attorney general to go further than Barr on either matter, he could end up quickly disappointed.Barr on Monday evening announced he will resign effective next week, revealing his plans about a week after Hunter Biden publicly disclosed that he was under investigation related to his finances. It is generally Justice Department policy not to disclose investigations that are in progress, though the subjects of those investigations can. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, will step into the Justice Department’s top job in an acting role.

A longtime litigator, he has served as Barr’s top deputy since May 2019 but largely shies away from the spotlight. He said in a statement Tuesday he was “honored” to serve and “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.” Trump is still weighing his options, considering whether to pressure Rosen to make the special counsel appointment or, if needed, to replace the acting attorney general with someone more likely to carry out his wishes. He has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself. A key question will be whether Rosen can stand up to presidential pressure — and potentially withering attacks — in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. If not, Rosen could be cast aside in favor of others more willing to do Trump’s bidding.

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Watching the dice roll…

Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)

A group of Republicans in Pennsylvania on Tuesday has again urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their lawsuit that challenges the 2020 election results in the state. The nation’s top court had previously rejected the group’s request for immediate injunctive relief to block Pennsylvania from taking further steps to certify the 2020 election results. At the time, the group’s lawyer, Greg Teufel, said the case was not over because his clients were planning to file a formal petition to ask the court to review the lawsuit, which they hadn’t filed the first time. The lawyer filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Dec. 11, docketed by the court on Dec. 15, which argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was wrong when it dismissed their case because the justices thought the plaintiffs filed their case with unreasonable delay.

“This Court should not turn a blind eye to unconstitutional election laws that permit massive vote dilution and have a significant impact on election outcomes, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did,” the petition (pdf) states. The case at hand—cited as Kelly v. Pennsylvania—argues that Act 77, a law that made voting by mail without an excuse legal in Pennsylvania, was enacted in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitution. The state constitution, the plaintiffs argue, prohibits absentee voting in Pennsylvania except for four limited circumstances. The lawsuit alleges that the state law is “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

The lawsuit was filed by a Republican lawmaker Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and several GOP congressional candidates. In late November a Pennsylvania commonwealth judge, Patricia McCullough, issued a temporary injunction that would have prevented the state from taking further steps to complete the certification of the presidential race. She argued that “petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment.” She also opined that the “petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene” the plain language of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which deals with absentee voting.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long before the county of boards of election were required to certify the election results to bring the case, which could “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters” who voted by mail.

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“Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)

Concerned about possible election evidence being destroyed, members of a joint session of the Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate oversight committees on Tuesday voted to issue subpoenas to Detroit and the nearby suburb of Livonia demanding they surrender hard drives, emails, absentee voter counting board laptops and other election-related materials. One Senate Democrat reportedly joined his Republican colleagues in supporting the subpoenas. A Nov. 28 order memo from the State Bureau of Elections had followed the same protocol as prior elections and ordered the deletion by November 30 of “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives … unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”

Tracy Wimmer, director of Media Relations for Michigian Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told Just the News in a statement Thursday that she rejected Republicans’ concerns about the deletion memo. “The Bureau of Elections memo sent to clerks is the same memo that has been sent to clerks for years, including under the administration of now state senator Ruth Johnson,” Wimmer said. “Republican House and Senate legal counsel were provided this information days ago. The fact that members of their party is choosing to ignore these truths in a press release demonstrates they have no interest in preserving the integrity of our elections or democracy.”

Michigan State Senator Ruth Johnson, the Republican who supported the subpoena effort, told Just the News she had previously signed the same deletion order while she was secretary of state but the unusual nature of the 2020 election meant circumstances had changed. “Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved while there are ongoing lawsuits, audits, and Oversight committee review of the November election,” Johnson said. “Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Read more …

Declassify all of it.

DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)

Top U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned heading into the 2016 election that the Russians were aware of and potentially manipulating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to smear Donald Trump as a Russian agent that they personally briefed President Barack Obama on the matter, newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents show. CIA officials also requested that the FBI investigate Russian knowledge of the Clinton campaign’s collusion smear operation. Newly declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan show that the U.S. intelligence community knew in 2016 that Russian intelligence was actively monitoring, and potentially injecting disinformation into, Clinton’s anti-Trump collusion narrative.

The intelligence concerning Russia’s knowledge of Clinton’s campaign plans was so concerning to Brennan and other national security officials that they personally informed Obama of the matter in the Oval Office in the summer of 2016. The handwritten notes from Brennan were declassified by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and provided to Congress on Tuesday afternoon. According to the declassified notes, Brennan and the U.S. intelligence community knew months prior to the 2016 election that the collusion smear was the result of a campaign operation hatched by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activites from [REDACTED],” Brennan’s handwritten notes state. “Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.” The notes appear to have been prepared by Brennan to memorialize a meeting held at the White House with the president and his top national security advisers. Included in Brennan’s notes are the responses of other participants in the briefing — including those of former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and former DNI James Clapper, but those responses are redacted.

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Why they should be treated as, and broken up like, AT&T.

Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)

Facebook and Twitter executives poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, all while blocking the New York Post’s exposé about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. The revelation comes amid accusations from President Trump and other Republicans that Silicon Valley is censoring conservative voices, sparking a push for the companies to lose their liability protections. A review of Federal Election Commission records show Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, donated $99,440.01 to Democrats and Biden in the final weeks of the race.

Egan donated the maximum contribution of $2,800 to the former veep’s White House bid on Sept. 8 and Oct. 1 before ponying up a whopping $55,000 for the Biden Victory Fund and $35,500 for the Democratic National Committee. According to Biden’s website, the Biden Victory Fund is a joint fundraising effort among his campaign, the DNC, and the 47 state parties to help defeat Trump. As first reported by Fox News, she made no contributions to the president’s campaign. Likewise, Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, donated $2,800 apiece to Biden’s campaign and Democrat Amy McGrath’s failed bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, donated $2,800 to Biden’s bid during the Democratic primary, according to FEC records, and another $750 during the general election. But Fischer also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic challengers in other key races, including Jamie Harrison’s unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper’s successful Senate races in Arizona and Colorado. A number of Facebook vice presidents and Instagram’s chief financial officer also donated the maximum $2,800 to Biden’s White House bid.

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Just ban the damn things. If elections can be manipulated, they will.

McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)

In 2016, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states and, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, breached systems in Illinois and two counties in Florida, gaining access to information on millions of registered voters. In his report, Mueller described the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections as “sweeping and systematic.” Three years later, security experts warn that not enough has been done to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently told Congress that “the threats just keep escalating,” adding that he viewed the 2018 midterms as a “dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

In fourteen states, some 2018 midterm voters submitted their votes on touchscreens that did not produce paper trails necessary to verify their votes or audit election outcomes. If votes had been inaccurately processed in these precincts—whether through equipment errors or foreign hacking operations—election officials wouldn’t have been able to find or correct the problems. Several Democratic and Republican members of Congress have submitted legislation to shore up election security. Proposals from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) include replacing paperless electronic voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners, subjecting voting equipment vendors to rigorous cybersecurity standards, and requiring vendors to report cybersecurity incidents.

But all the bills have hit a roadblock. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.

Read more …

A whole article on SolarWinds without mentioing Dominion even once. Well done!

Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign

On an earnings call two months ago, SolarWinds Chief Executive Kevin Thompson touted how far the company had gone during his 11 years at the helm. There was not a database or an IT deployment model out there to which his Austin, Texas-based company did not provide some level of monitoring or management, he told analysts on the Oct. 27 call. “We don’t think anyone else in the market is really even close in terms of the breadth of coverage we have,” he said. “We manage everyone’s network gear.” Now that dominance has become a liability – an example of how the workhorse software that helps glue organizations together can turn toxic when it is subverted by sophisticated hackers.

On Monday, SolarWinds confirmed that Orion – its flagship network management software – had served as the unwitting conduit for a sprawling international cyberespionage operation. The hackers inserted malicious code into Orion software updates pushed out to nearly 18,000 customers. And while the number of affected organizations is thought to be much more modest, the hackers have already parlayed their access into consequential breaches at the U.S. Treasury and Department of Commerce. Three people familiar with the investigation have told Reuters that Russia is a top suspect, although others familiar with the inquiry have said it is still too early to tell. [..] In a statement issued Sunday, the company said “we strive to implement and maintain appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, security processes, procedures, and standards designed to protect our customers.”

Cybersecurity experts are still struggling to understand the scope of the damage. The malicious updates – sent between March and June, when America was hunkering down to weather the first wave of coronavirus infections – was “perfect timing for a perfect storm,” said Kim Peretti, who co-chairs Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird’s cybersecurity preparedness and response team. Assessing the damage would be difficult, she said. “We may not know the true impact for many months, if not more – if not ever,” she said. The impact on SolarWinds was more immediate. U.S. officials ordered anyone running Orion to immediately disconnect it.

Read more …

Oh please, make it stop. What clown will takeover from Pompeo?

Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a verbal salvo charging that Russia continues to destabilize the Mediterranean, and that it sows “chaos, conflict, and division” in the region. Pompeo directed his comments Tuesday at his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently accused the U.S. of playing political games in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “It’s unfortunate and unhelpful that Mr. Lavrov again gets the facts wrong and attempts to rewrite history,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States is working actively with allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote greater stability, security, and prosperity.”

The comments come during a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow, and in the wake of reports that Russian hackers have breached U.S. government computer systems. Although he did not directly mention hacking operations, Pompeo charged Russia with spreading disinformation and undermining national sovereignty specifically in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. “In Syria, Russia supports the Assad regime whose war against its own people has added to regional instability, led to a protracted humanitarian crisis, and displaced half the population,” Pompeo said. The secretary of state listed a number of Russian actions in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and elsewhere.

“In Libya, Russia/ supported an assault on the/ Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing civilians and undermining the UN s efforts to bring peace to the country,” Pompeo said. Citing a litany of actions in Libya, Pompeo noted Russia had printed counterfeit Libyan dinars and has used its proxy mercenary army known as Wagner to fuel conflict.

Read more …

 

 

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G.K. Chesterton

 

 

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Apr 112019
 


William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754

 

 

While we’re republishing articles about the newly arrested Julian Assange, in his honor, here’s one on the role the press has played in his ordeal. And will undoubtedly continue to play. What does it say about a society that you have to hold not only the government, but also the press to account?

We originally published this essay on August 17 2018.

 

 

Two thirds of Americans want the Mueller investigation (inquisition, someone called it) over by the midterm elections. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that if Mueller wants to interview Trump, he’ll have to do so before September 1, because the Trump camp doesn’t want to be the one to unduly influence the elections. Mueller himself appears to lean towards prolonging the case, and that may well be with an eye on doing exactly that.

And there’s something else as well: as soon as the investigation wraps up, Trump will demand a second special counsel, this time to scrutinize the role the ‘other side’ has played in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. He’s determined to get it, and he’ll fire both Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein if they try to stand in his way.

There have of course been tons of signs that it’s going to happen, but we got two significant ones just the past few days. The first is the termination of John Brennan’s security clearance. It looks impossible that no additional clearances will be revoked. There are more people who have them but would also be part of a second special counsel’s investigation. That doesn’t rhyme.

The second sign is Senator Rand Paul’s call for immunity for Julian Assange to come talk to the US senate about what he knows about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Obviously, we know that he denies its very existence, and has offered to provide evidence to that end. But before he could do that, a potential deal with the DOJ to do so was torpedoed by then FBI chief James Comey and Senator Mark Warner.

Both will also be part of the second investigation. Rand Paul’s motivation is simple: Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened. And that should be what everybody in Washington wants. Question is if they all really do. That’s -ostensibly- why there is the first, the Mueller Russian collusion, investigation. Truth finding.

But Mueller doesn’t appear to have found much of anything. At least, that we know of. He’s locked up Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, put him in isolation and dragged him before a jury. But don’t be surprised if Manafort is acquitted by that jury one of these days. The case against him seemed a lot more solid before than it does now. A jury that asks the judge to re-define ‘reasonable doubt’ already is in doubt, reasonable or not. And that is what reasonable doubt means.

 

But it wasn’t just Brennan and Comey and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and all the rest of them in the intelligence community who played questionable roles around the election and the accusations of Russian meddling in it. The American media were also there, and very prominently. Which is why when 300 papers publish editorials pushing against Trump ‘attacking’ the media, you can’t help but -wryly- smile.

Why does Trump attack the press? Because they’ve been attacking him for two years, and they’re not letting go. So the press can attack the president, but he cannot fight back. That’s the rationale, but with the Mueller investigation not going anywhere it’s a hard one to keep alive.

There are three reasons for the behavior of the New York Times, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al. The first is political, they’re Democrat hornblowers. The second is their owners have a personal thing against Donald Trump. But these get trumped by the third reason: Trump is their golden goose. Their opposition makes them a fortune. All they need to do is publish articles 24/7 denouncing him. And they have for two years.

That puts the 300 papers’ editorials in a strange light. Many of them would have been fighting for their very lives if not for anti-Trump rhetoric. All 300 fit neatly and easily in one echo chamber. And, to put it mildly, inside that chamber, not everyone is always asking for evidence of everything that’s being said.

It’s not difficult to whoop up a storm there without crossing all your t’s. And after doing just that for 2 years and change, it seems perhaps a tad hypocritical to claim that you are honest journalists just trying to provide people with the news as it happened.

Because when you’ve published hundreds, thousands of articles about Russian meddling, and the special counsel that was named to a large degree because of those articles, fails to come up with any evidence of it, it will become obvious that you’ve not just, and honestly, been reporting the news ‘as it happened’. You have instead been making things up because you knew that would sell better.

And when the second special counsel starts, where will American media be? Sure, it may not happen before the midterms, and you may have hopes that the Democrats win those bigly, but even if that comes to pass (slim chance), Trump will still be president, and the hearings and interviews won’t be soft and mild. Also, there will be serious questions, under oath, about leaks to the press.

 

Still, whichever side of this particular fence you’re on, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on. That is, when we get to count how many of the 300 editorials have actually mentioned, let alone defended, Julian Assange, and I’ll bet you that number is painfully close to zero, that is where we find out how honest this defense of the free press is.

If for you the free press means that you should be able to write and broadcast whatever you want, even if it’s lacking in evidence, as much of the Russiagate stuff obviously is, and you ‘forget’ to mention a man who has really been attacked and persecuted for years, for publishing files that are all about evidence, you are not honest, and therefore probably not worth saving.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-. So when their editors publish calls to protect free press, but they leave out the one person who really represents free press, and the one person who’s been tortured for exactly that, you have zero credibility.

Sure, you may appear to have credibility in your echo chamber, but that’s not where real life takes place, where evidence is available and where people can make up their own minds based on objective facts provided by real journalists.

You guys just blew this big time. You don’t care about free press, you care about your own asses. And the second special counsel is coming. Good luck. Oh, and we won’t forget your silencing of Assange, or your attacks on him. If you refuse to do it, WE will free the press.

 

 

Feb 182019
 
 February 18, 2019  Posted by at 8:20 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Johannes Vermeer The art of painting 1666-8

 

Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director from February 2016 to January 2018 and former Acting Director of the FBI from May 9, 2017, to August 2, 2017, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Sessions on March 16, 2018, 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. On April 18 2018 it was reported that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, sent a referral to the US attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal charges against McCabe for lying to internal investigators.

When Sessions announced McCabe’s firing a month before the report came out, he said he based his decision on reports from the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office saying that McCabe had made unauthorized releases of information to the media (concerning disclosure of information to a Wall Street Journal reporter about an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation), and had “lacked candor” in talking about it (“had “lacked candor” in talking” means “lied”)

For a reason I don’t really understand -is it really just because he has a book coming out?- McCabe did an interview with 60 minutes that aired Sunday, but from which details leaked earlier in the week. In it McCabe suggests he was fired because he opened two investigations into US President Donald Trump 10 months before Sessions ousted him.

That seems peculiar for two reasons: one, why would he have been permitted to investigate Trump for 10 months, if the investigations were the reason to fire him? And two, is McCabe suggesting that at least some colleagues inside the FBI itself did not accuse him of lying? I haven’t seen that denied before. It would mean both the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office were dead wrong.

In the 60 Minutes piece, McCabe appears to throw Rod Rosenstein, US Deputy Attorney General since April 26, 2017, under the bus by claiming that -among other things- Rosenstein offered to wear a wire when meeting with Trump, something Rosenstein has always claimed he had said in jest. McCabe now insists he was serious.

Best friends? Maybe not anymore. Then again, the ‘official’ picture is still that of two of a group of ‘real patriots’ out to save the country. Somehow that makes me think of the Three Musketeers, a dashing and swashbuckling anything goes for the fatherland. McCabe actually appears to think he had to protect America from its newly elected president, and so, ostensibly, does Rosenstein. D’Artagnan had a whole different class of foes, I recall.

Also ostensibly, two Trump cabinet members were “ready to support” a Rosenstein/DOJ scheme to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump, according to testimony last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees by James Baker, former FBI top lawyer. Who also mentioned for example Lisa Page was involved, love interest of Peter Strzok, both fired FBI officials well-known for their hate of Trump.

There’s a zillion more things to say about this, but it shouldn’t be me saying it, or any other writer or journalist. The reason I write this is to ask a very simple and obvious question: where is the Special Counsel who’s going to investigate this putrid quagmire? And when will (s)he finally be appointed? We know, we know, it’d be investigating the investigators, and who’s left for that job? Or are the investigators by now so corrupted that we might as well surrender?

Sure, Lindsey Graham wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to do an investigation, but is that the appropriate venue? Why a Special Counsel filled to the brim with FBI connected folk for Russiagate and ‘only’ a House Committee for FBI-gate? Or is that perhaps the wrong term? Does it matter?

And yes, a million voices will claim that a call for a Special Counsel investigation into the FBI and DOJ can only come from Trump supporters, but they really haven’t been paying attention.

William Barr is the new Attorney General, right, and Christopher Wray heads the FBI. Both organizations have to be very concerned about their credibility, because from the outside they look like cesspools. Rosenstein and McCabe’s swashbuckling should be enough reason, but we know much more went on and many more people were involved.

So let’s have it.

 

 

Aug 172018
 


William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754

 

Two thirds of Americans want the Mueller investigation (inquisition, someone called it) over by the midterm elections. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that if Mueller wants to interview Trump, he’ll have to do so before September 1, because the Trump camp doesn’t want to be the one to unduly influence the elections. Mueller himself appears to lean towards prolonging the case, and that may well be with an eye on doing exactly that.

And there’s something else as well: as soon as the investigation wraps up, Trump will demand a second special counsel, this time to scrutinize the role the ‘other side’ has played in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. He’s determined to get it, and he’ll fire both Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein if they try to stand in his way.

There have of course been tons of signs that it’s going to happen, but we got two significant ones just the past few days. The first is the termination of John Brennan’s security clearance. It looks impossible that no additional clearances will be revoked. There are more people who have them but would also be part of a second special counsel’s investigation. That doesn’t rhyme.

The second sign is Senator Rand Paul’s call for immunity for Julian Assange to come talk to the US senate about what he knows about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Obviously, we know that he denies its very existence, and has offered to provide evidence to that end. But before he could do that, a potential deal with the DOJ to do so was torpedoed by then FBI chief James Comey and Senator Mark Warner.

Both will also be part of the second investigation. Rand Paul’s motivation is simple: Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened. And that should be what everybody in Washington wants. Question is if they all really do. That’s -ostensibly- why there is the first, the Mueller Russian collusion, investigation. Truth finding.

But Mueller doesn’t appear to have found much of anything. At least, that we know of. He’s locked up Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, put him in isolation and dragged him before a jury. But don’t be surprised if Manafort is acquitted by that jury one of these days. The case against him seemed a lot more solid before than it does now. A jury that asks the judge to re-define ‘reasonable doubt’ already is in doubt, reasonable or not. And that is what reasonable doubt means.

 

But it wasn’t just Brennan and Comey and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and all the rest of them in the intelligence community who played questionable roles around the election and the accusations of Russian meddling in it. The American media were also there, and very prominently. Which is why when 300 papers publish editorials pushing against Trump ‘attacking’ the media, you can’t help but -wryly- smile.

Why does Trump attack the press? Because they’ve been attacking him for two years, and they’re not letting go. So the press can attack the president, but he cannot fight back. That’s the rationale, but with the Mueller investigation not going anywhere it’s a hard one to keep alive.

There are three reasons for the behavior of the New York Times, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al. The first is political, they’re Democrat hornblowers. The second is their owners have a personal thing against Donald Trump. But these get trumped by the third reason: Trump is their golden goose. Their opposition makes them a fortune. All they need to do is publish articles 24/7 denouncing him. And they have for two years.

That puts the 300 papers’ editorials in a strange light. Many of them would have been fighting for their very lives if not for anti-Trump rhetoric. All 300 fit neatly and easily in one echo chamber. And, to put it mildly, inside that chamber, not everyone is always asking for evidence of everything that’s being said.

It’s not difficult to whoop up a storm there without crossing all your t’s. And after doing just that for 2 years and change, it seems perhaps a tad hypocritical to claim that you are honest journalists just trying to provide people with the news as it happened.

Because when you’ve published hundreds, thousands of articles about Russian meddling, and the special counsel that was named to a large degree because of those articles, fails to come up with any evidence of it, it will become obvious that you’ve not just, and honestly, been reporting the news ‘as it happened’. You have instead been making things up because you knew that would sell better.

And when the second special counsel starts, where will American media be? Sure, it may not happen before the midterms, and you may have hopes that the Democrats win those bigly, but even if that comes to pass (slim chance), Trump will still be president, and the hearings and interviews won’t be soft and mild. Also, there will be serious questions, under oath, about leaks to the press.

 

Still, whichever side of this particular fence you’re on, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on. That is, when we get to count how many of the 300 editorials have actually mentioned, let alone defended, Julian Assange, and I’ll bet you that number is painfully close to zero, that is where we find out how honest this defense of the free press is.

If for you the free press means that you should be able to write and broadcast whatever you want, even if it’s lacking in evidence, as much of the Russiagate stuff obviously is, and you ‘forget’ to mention a man who has really been attacked and persecuted for years, for publishing files that are all about evidence, you are not honest, and therefore probably not worth saving.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-. So when their editors publish calls to protect free press, but they leave out the one person who really represents free press, and the one person who’s been tortured for exactly that, you have zero credibility.

Sure, you may appear to have credibility in your echo chamber, but that’s not where real life takes place, where evidence is available and where people can make up their own minds based on objective facts provided by real journalists.

You guys just blew this big time. You don’t care about free press, you care about your own asses. And the second special counsel is coming. Good luck. Oh, and we won’t forget your silencing of Assange, or your attacks on him. If you refuse to do it, WE will free the press.