Apr 152024
 


Charles Sprague Pearce Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt 1877

 

Trump Set For Monday ‘Fake Biden Trial’ With ‘Highly Conflicted’ Judge (ZH)
19 Retired Generals, Admirals File SCOTUS Brief Against Trump Immunity Bid (ET)
Judge Upholds Georgia’s Voter Citizenship Verification Requirements (ET)
Low IQ (Michael Tracey)
Will the American Oligarchy Accept Limits or Choose World War Three? (NC)
America Has a Problem With Love and Fear (Suchkov)
A Tempering of American-Israeli Aggression? (Paul Craig Roberts)
Scott Ritter: Iran’s Retaliatory Attack ‘Reestablished Deterrence’ (Sp.)
Netanyahu Called Off Retaliation Strikes After Speaking To Biden – NYT (RT)
Russia Slams UNSC for Ignoring Attack on Iranian Consulate (Sp.)
Zelensky Takes Advantage of Iran-Israel Crisis to Plead for More Money (Miles)
Ukrainian FM Publicly Blackmails West Over Oil Prices (RT)
Germany Escalates Donbass Conflict, Kiev Says Frontline is Deteriorating (Sp.)
Germany Joins Israel In Dock For Genocide (SCF)
Royal Marines To Lead ‘Dunkirk-style’ Evacuation Of Britons In Middle East (DM)

 

 

 

 

Scholz
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779509472391495791

 

 

Coastguy

 

 

 

 

Constanza

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought we established that Michael Cohen had an affair with Stormy Daniels, paid for with Trump’s money. Anyhoo, it should be a spectacle.

Trump Set For Monday ‘Fake Biden Trial’ With ‘Highly Conflicted’ Judge (ZH)

Former President Trump will take his 2024 campaign to New York on Monday, where he’ll be sitting in a Manhattan courtroom for what he decried as a “Fake Biden Trial” to face 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with the Stormy Daniels ‘hush money’ embroglio. The trial comes after an unsuccessful bid to adjourn the case due to overwhelming pretrial publicity, which Judge Juan Merchan denied, calling adjournment “not tenable.” Trump has taken to Truth Social in recent days, suggesting on Sunday that Merchan is “perhaps the most highly conflicted Judge in New York State history,” who gave Trump’s legal team insufficient time to analyze “hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that D.A. Alvin Bragg illegally hid, disguised, and held back from us.” As the WSJ notes, “The 34 felony counts in the indictment are all tied to records that prosecutors said Trump falsified as he reimbursed Cohen for the Daniels deal. They include 11 invoices, 12 general ledger entries and 11 checks.”

As Mike Shedlock of Mishtalk notes, expect a media circus. “A Recording Crime. District Attorney Alvin Bragg took each receipt, invoice, and ledger receipt and made a separate felony charge out of each of them. Then Bragg twisted those charges into an intent to commit other crimes. Yet Trump is not charged with other crimes, only falsifying records. And it’s plausible that Trump had no direct knowledge of the mess. This story goes back to Michael Cohen, a former attorney of Donald Trump, who landed in prison for by paying adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about an alleged sexual encounter she had with Trump a decade earlier. The Journal notes that Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor under New York state law, but it can be elevated to a felony if records were falsified to conceal or commit another crime. What other crime? Trump is charged with none.”

Meanwhile as Politico reports, in addition to taking a “wrecking ball to Michael Cohen,” with nearly half of the respondents in a recent Politico/Ipsos poll saying that Cohen is not honest… Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s “Star Witness, Trump could try “asking the judge to give the jury the option of convicting him on lesser, misdemeanor offenses instead of the felony counts that have actually been brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his team of prosecutors.” Journalist Laura Loomer, a Trump supporter, has posted several receipts over the past several weeks showing Merchan’s various conflicts – including the fact that his daughter professionally brags about “doing ground-breaking, historical work for clients” including “Kamala Harris, Adam Schiff, and others.” Loomer also noted that Andrew Laufer, the lawyer for Michael Cohen (DA Alan Bragg’s “Star witness”), is tight with NY Attorney General Letitia James – who Merchan’s wife worked for in what Loomer describes as a “major conflict of interest.”

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“The threat of future prosecution and imprisonment would become a political cudgel to influence the most sensitive and controversial presidential decisions..”

19 Retired Generals, Admirals File SCOTUS Brief Against Trump Immunity Bid (ET)

More than a dozen former Defense Department officials, generals, and admirals filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing against former President Donald Trump’s presidential immunity arguments. It comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the former president’s assertions that he should enjoy immunity from prosecution for activity that he carried out while he was president. The former president invoked that argument after he was accused by federal prosecutors of attempting to illegally overturn the 2020 election results. The amicus brief’s signatories include former CIA Director Michael Hayden, retired Admiral Thad Allen, retired Gen. George Casey, retired Gen. Charles Krulak, and more. They claimed that granting President Trump immunity against criminal claims could lead to activity that put U.S. national security at risk.

“The notion of such immunity, both as a general matter, and also specifically in the context of the potential negation of election results, threatens to jeopardize our nation’s security and international leadership,” their brief stated. “Particularly in times like the present, when anti-democratic, authoritarian regimes are on the rise worldwide, such a threat is intolerable and dangerous.” The arguments submitted by President Trump will “risk jeopardizing America’s standing as a guardian of democracy in the world and further feeding the spread of authoritarianism, thereby threatening the national security of the United States and democracies around the world,” the group added. The former secretary of Defense under President Trump, Mark Esper, was critical of their submission to the Supreme Court, arguing during a CNN interview that he “would prefer to see retired admirals and generals not get involved.”

But President Trump’s lawyers have contended that the president’s office cannot function without immunity from the threat of prosecution because it could “incapacitate every future president with de facto blackmail and extortion while in office and condemn him to years of post-office trauma at the hands of political opponents,” arguing that such a phenomenon is playing out right now after the former president was indicted multiple times last year. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier issued a ruling against President Trump’s arguments that he should be declared immune from prosecution. The appeals process, meanwhile, has put on hold the former president’s trial in Washington. “A denial of criminal immunity would incapacitate every future president with de facto blackmail and extortion while in office, and condemn him to years of post-office trauma at the hands of political opponents. The threat of future prosecution and imprisonment would become a political cudgel to influence the most sensitive and controversial presidential decisions, taking away the strength, authority and decisiveness of the presidency,” according to President Trump’s filing issued last month.

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They want every Democrat to be able to cast 1,000 votes.

Judge Upholds Georgia’s Voter Citizenship Verification Requirements (ET)

A federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge to Georgia’s voter citizenship verification requirements, keeping in place the state’s process of cross-checking citizenship status to determine voter eligibility and handing a win to election integrity advocates. Judge Eleanor Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued a ruling on April 11 that dismisses a lawsuit brought by a coalition of advocacy groups nearly six years ago that claimed Georgia’s voter citizenship verification requirements unfairly discriminated against naturalized citizens, who are more likely to be people of color. Following a three-day trial, the judge ruled that all four of the plaintiffs’ claims—including that the protocols violated multiple federal laws, the U.S. Constitution, and unfairly burdened the right to vote—are dismissed.

In so doing, the judge sided with a motion for summary judgment made in 2021 by the defendant, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who argued that the state’s protocols for matching naturalized citizens’ voter registrations with the state’s citizenship records were “entirely reasonable” and placed a “minimum burden” on applicants. Mr. Raffensperger argued that, in almost every case, the requirement was fulfilled by matching driver’s licence or state identification numbers submitted for voter registration with corresponding records at the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) to confirm citizenship status. When a naturalized citizen registers to vote in Georgia, their county registrar verifies proof of citizenship using DDS data. If that voter’s citizenship cannot be verified through that database, the onus is on the voter to submit proof of citizenship within 26 months or their voter registration application will be canceled.

The plaintiffs have alleged that DDS data is often outdated, leading many naturalized citizens’ voter registrations to be flagged and canceled unfairly. Mr. Raffensperger disputed the claim that this issue affected many people, arguing in his motion that “any arguable burden on this small group of people to demonstrate they are now citizens is minimal and does not go beyond the ‘usual burdens of voting’ because it can be resolved as simply as showing the same photo identification that every Georgia voter is required to show in order to vote in person in Georgia.” He also argued that the citizenship process serves a “compelling interest” in ensuring that only eligible voters are allowed to cast a vote, an argument raised by election integrity advocates across the country amid various disputes over voting rules.

The plaintiffs sued Mr. Raffensperger in 2018, arguing that the state’s protocols for matching naturalized citizens’ voter registrations with the state’s citizenship records violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They also claimed that these protocols put an unfair burden on the right to vote, in violation of 1st and 14th Amendment protections, while also claiming that the requirements ran counter to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) by delaying or denying qualified voters from registering to cast ballots.

The coalition of groups asked the court to rule that the citizenship matching protocols were illegal, and to permanently block their enforcement. The case eventually went to trial on April 8, 2024, leading to a favorable ruling for Mr. Raffensperger and delivering a win to election integrity advocates more generally. “Ensuring that only U.S. citizens vote in our elections is critically important to secure and accurate elections,” Mr. Raffensperger said in a statement praising the ruling. “Georgia’s citizenship verification process is common sense and it works. With this ruling, we are able to continue ensuring that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections,” he added.

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X thread.

Low IQ (Michael Tracey)

The self-serving Low IQ history of how Trump’s assassination of Iranian general Soleimani supposedly unleashed an era of peace and tranquility across the Middle East is so painfully idiotic. In one of the most brutishly stupid acts of Trump’s entire presidency, he and his rabidly interventionist Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, manufactured a fake pretext to launch the brazen, region-destabilizing attack. Trump fabricated what his administration claimed was a “self-defense” rationale for the assassination — arguably the most severe instance of direct state-on-state warfare between the US and Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Trump and the hardcore interventionists and regime change fanatics with which he filled his administration actually tried to invoke the 2002 AUMF in Iraq — yes, the Iraq War resolution that Joe Biden infamously voted for — as justification for the Soleimani strike.

They lied and claimed there was an “imminent threat” to the US, parroting the Bush Administration’s language used to sell the Iraq invasion. They even absurdly claimed that part of the rationale for the assassination was that Iran had provided material support to the 9/11 hijackers. No argument was too preposterous. The drone-bombing of one of the most prominent figures in Iranian society effectively destroyed any prospect of future diplomatic engagement between the US and Iran. Millions flooded the streets in protest, including in Iraq, where the drone strike took place. US embassies and other installations were hit with rockets and ransacked.

The Iraqi parliament demanded the immediate expulsion of all US troops from the country, but rather than take this opportunity to finally extricate US forces, Trump refused and kept them there. Reprisal attacks were launched against US troops and continued for months, with 62 soldiers receiving Purple Hearts for the traumatic brain injuries they endured from Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes. Trump loaded up his administration with anti-Iran regime change obsessives like Pompeo, Mike Pence, John Bolton, Nikki Haley, among others, deferred to the fanatically “pro-Israel” prerogatives of his chief financial patron Sheldon Adelson, and was heralded by Bibi Netanyahu for carrying out the most hardcore pro-Israel and “anti-Iran” policy agenda of any President in US history.

This was all part of the so-called “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran favored by Netanyahu and the fanatically pro-Israel “GOP establishment” to whom Trump essentially handed over control of his administration. As with many issues, there’s been more continuity between the Trump and Biden administrations than either like to let on, with the cratering of US-Iran relations continuing to this day. Trump still brags about how much pointless suffering his “crippling sanctions” (a term borrowed from Obama) inflicted on ordinary Iranian citizens. On the one hand, MAGA will brag about how un-warlike Trump allegedly was, but on the other, they’ll brag about how awesome it was that he drone-assassinated Iran’s top military official and hurtled the region into chaos — the consequences of which still reverberate today. This pro-Trump argument is idiotically schizophrenic, but that’s nothing new for Low IQ partisans.

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“The entire post-WWII elite American mindset is built on the foundation of worldwide profit expansion via silicon and fire..”

Will the American Oligarchy Accept Limits or Choose World War Three? (NC)

The US is a market state that is dominated by and run for transnational capital. Its foreign policy and the military are a tool of the American oligarchy. Therefore, any serious policy discussion needs to deal with the fact that national interests as they’re expressed today are not in any real sense national but representative of the interests of a small cohort of the super wealthy. When US officials go on about spreading “freedom,” they’re not lying. It’s just their idea of freedom is a state devoted to high profits – free from the political whims of local populations that could degrade an investment’s expected return. Let’s remember there likely wouldn’t be any problem with Russia had Putin not put an end to the 1990s shock therapy administered by the Western finance capitalists who were making a killing by pillaging Russian resources. Like Bert Hoover, they’re haunted by that opportunity snatched away from them, and they’ve been trying to get it back for a quarter century now.

The question is will American capital ever voluntarily give up? Will it ever say “okay, we’re satisfied with what we’ve got here, you do your thing in your sphere of influence”? It’s not like Moscow and Beijing haven’t tried. Russia for example floated the idea of joining NATO or working out some other security arrangement. For decades after the end of the USSR, Russia tried to be accepted into the West’s club to no avail. China, too, constantly repeats the refrain that the world is big enough for both Beijing and Washington. It invited the US to join it in its Belt and Road Initiative. The US could have helped steer projects that would have benefited both countries. While such cooperation between the two big powers wouldn’t be a panacea for all the world’s problems, it would likely mean a lot better spot than current one. Instead the US wanted the whole pie and instead we got the TPP, sanctions, export bans, a new Cold War, a spy balloon scandal, the disastrous effort to weaken Russia before taking on China, the successful effort to sever Europe from Eurasia to disastrous effect for Europe, and the desire to see a Ukraine sequel in Taiwan and/or the South China Sea.

There is a lot of confusion over why the West keeps escalating in a losing effort. Why, for example, are Western governments going around begging for shells to send Ukraine rather than accepting the L? The desperation seems to stem from the creeping realization that their system is coming undone. The entire post-WWII elite American mindset is built on the foundation of worldwide profit expansion via silicon and fire, and if they throw everything at Russia and lose, well a whole new domino theory could come into play – one where parasitic Western finance capital is driven back. (Granted it might in most cases be replaced by a more local form, but it’s nonetheless frightening for the Western honchos.) Just look at what’s happening to France in Françafrique! And the US in the Middle East!

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Machiavelli: “..a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred.”

America Has a Problem With Love and Fear (Suchkov)

In the early 1990s, when Washington was celebrating victory over the USSR, proclaiming “the end of history” and believing that the whole world would now rise up under the banner of liberal democracy and the market economy, Gates became head of the CIA. The main task at the time was to make the most of the “unipolar moment” – to widen the gap between the US and its competitors, to turn yesterday’s enemies into friends, friends into allies, and them make them all vassals. Another fashionable concept of the time – which still occupies the minds of many internationalists – was “soft power”. This justified America’s global dominance by virtue of the appeal of its culture (music, cinema, education). No one wanted to argue with this, especially when videotapes of action films like Rambo and Terminator, and later the queues at the first Moscow McDonald’s, clearly proved the validity of such an ideology. American pop culture made the world extremely permeable to American ideas and interests. The task of various structures, including the one headed by Gates, was to make as many ordinary people (and politicians, of course) around the world fall in love with America, believe in the myth of the “American Dream” and adopt it as their way of life.

As the “unipolar moment” faded and the international environment became more difficult for the US, it became more and more difficult to get others to feel the love. Especially after the bombing of Yugoslavia. A brief period of global sympathy for the Americans after the attacks of 11 September 2001 was replaced by outrage over the invasion of Iraq. Even some of the closest NATO allies did not approve of the illegal intervention. In the post-Soviet space, attempts at “colour revolutions” – to replace rulers who did not love America fervently enough – were somewhat effective in the short-term, but exacerbated disagreements with Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s manifesto speech at the Munich Conference in 2007 signalled the end of the romance with the US, not only for Russia but for many other countries as well. Most states were still open to American cultural and educational products, but Washington’s policies were increasingly perceived critically. In acute situations, dissatisfaction with America as a power was projected onto cultural images associated with it – images of windows broken at McDonald’s, Stars and Stripes set on fire, etc.

Gradually, American soft power collided with its use of hard power. Washington used NGOs to invest billions in public diplomacy and educational exchange programmes, in the manipulation of “civil society” and the media. However, Washington’s coercive actions undermined efforts to win the sympathy of the world’s peoples. Meanwhile, Gates returned to Washington as head of the Pentagon to rescue the Bush Jr. administration from the fiasco in Afghanistan and Iraq. Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the team was less concerned with winning the love of the rest of the world than with Theodore Roosevelt’s principle: ‘If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” The term “neoconservatives” is associated more with Republicans. In fact, it is a large and influential bipartisan, ideologically charged, group in the establishment for whom the primacy of “make them afraid of us” over “encourage them to love us” is unquestioned.

Barack Obama’s 2008 election victory swung the ideological pendulum in the opposite direction, favouring love over fear. Administrators from the Clinton presidency returned to the White House, and Obama himself spoke of ‘inclusion’, a new globalisation and hopes for a democratic revival. Gates was the only secretary of state to retain his post under the new Democratic president. Even during the election campaign, Obama had promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, a pragmatic, cross-party Secretary of Defence seemed the best solution. The aforementioned Roosevelt had an apt saying for this case: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick”. Obama was responsible for the former, Gates for the latter. “However, the “big stick” did not help much: by the end of the 2010s, pro-Iranian forces were ruling a fragmented Iraq, and in Afghanistan, attempts to put an end to the Taliban (an organisation banned in the Russian Federation) by increasing the US contingent and allocating astronomical sums of money to the authorities in Kabul did not yield results.

[..] Interestingly, the US has stopped loving itself and is actively reaching for nostalgia in own identity and the recent past – especially in culture and politics. The resulting yearning for a time when America was “great” calls for efforts to regain that greatness by any means necessary. Whether leadership should be based on fear or love is one of the key questions in the theory and practice of leadership. In his sixteenth-century treatise The Prince, the Florentine thinker and politician Niccolo Machiavelli argued: “The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” This maxim has been adopted by many rulers in different historical periods. But problems began for those who forgot that Machiavelli went on to warn:“a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred.”

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“It is the absence of countervailing power in the Middle East that has made the region a tinderbox..”

A Tempering of American-Israeli Aggression? (Paul Craig Roberts)

It has taken a long time for Zionist Israel to discredit itself. It did so with Israel’s declared policy of genocide of the Palestinians. As it was our bombs, missiles, and money that Israel used, America was also discredited. The self-inflicted diminution of American prestige and its isolation as the supporter of Israel’s attempted genocide of Palestine has altered the balance of power and influence in the world. With the impoverished Houthis standing up to mighty America and Israel, and with Iran finally standing up to Israel, it is possible that the American-Israeli aggression leading to nuclear war has been tempered. The recent firing of Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland is another possible indication.

Haaretz, the only objective Israeli newspaper, says Netanyahu should accept that the Iranian response was a limited attack provoked by Israel’s attack that murdered Iranian officials in Damascus and refrain from further military action. US bases throughout the Middle East and Israel’s Dimona nuclear arsenal are easy targets for a heavy Iranian attack. If Israel pushes further, a major war will erupt. Perhaps it will dawn on Putin and Xi to stabilize the Middle East with announcement of a Russian-Chinese-Iranian mutual defense treaty. It is the absence of countervailing power in the Middle East that has made the region a tinderbox.

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Scott Ritter @RealScottRitter: “I spent one decade protecting Israel from Iraqi missiles. I spent another decade trying to protect Israel from Iranian missiles. All Israel had to do was try to live in peace and harmony with its neighbors. Israel proved not to be up to the task. Israel deserves everything it has coming to it.”

Scott Ritter: Iran’s Retaliatory Attack ‘Reestablished Deterrence’ (Sp.)

Iran’s mission to the United Nations stated earlier that Tehran’s retaliatory drone and missile attack against Israel had “concluded.” The “military action” was a response to Israel’s “aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus,” it said, adding that the strike “hit designated targets.” By launching its retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel, Iran “reestablished deterrence,” former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter told Sputnik. “Israel believed that it could launch a strike against Iran and suffer no consequence. That is no longer the case,” Ritter noted. As Israeli military officials survey the damage done to their bases, “they understand the following: that Iran deliberately chose not to inflict extremely lethal action against Israel,” the analyst remarked. bIran launched a massive drone and missile attack against Israel overnight, assisted by Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthis.

Over 300 projectiles were fired at Israeli territory from Iran, with Iran’s mission to the United Nations stating that its retaliatory attack on Israel had “concluded,” and that the strike “hit designated targets.” Israel’s military has claimed that 99% of the projectiles were intercepted.nbIran’s strike was designed to send a signal to Israel and the United States, “that it could do what it did in Nevatim, at Ramona, anywhere in Israel, anywhere in the Middle East, and there was nothing the United States or Israel could do in response.” “This is deterrence. This means that in the future, if either Israel or the United States plan on carrying out an action against Iran, they have to weigh in the consequences of their actions knowing that Iran has the capacity to reach out and touch any place, any spot, any target in the region in Israel or out of Israel, and there’s nothing anybody could do to stop that,” the retired US Marine Corps intelligence officer said.

US President Joe Biden issued a statement on Iran’s attack against Israel after he spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The POTUS condemned the strike “in the strongest possible terms.” He also reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to help support Israel, and added that there were no attacks on US forces or facilities on Saturday, but that the US “will remain vigilant to all threats.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US does “not seek escalation,” but will “continue to support” Israel’s defense. “I will be consulting with allies and partners in the region and around the world in the hours and days ahead,” he added. Weighing in on the flurry of talks between US and Israeli leaders, Scott Ritter said: “This is why President Biden has been on the phone with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, telling him, ‘Do not retaliate.’ The United States will not be a partner in any offensive action against Iran. Not because the United States is friendly to Iran, but the United States understands the consequences that will accrue, should such an attack take place. The United States has been deterred against further action against Iran.”

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It cost Israel $1 billion to defend against Iran’s $100 million worth of -mostly old- projectiles.

Netanyahu Called Off Retaliation Strikes After Speaking To Biden – NYT (RT)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a plan to launch immediate retaliatory strikes against Iran after speaking to US President Joe Biden by phone on Saturday night, Israeli officials have told the New York Times. According to two anonymous officials, Netanyahu’s war cabinet presented him with a list of responses to a massive drone and missile attack by Iran on Saturday evening. While some members of the cabinet reportedly pushed for an immediate military response, Netanyahu ultimately chose not to follow their advice at Biden’s request, the sources said. The full details of Biden’s conversation with Netanyahu were not revealed by the White House. According to a report on Sunday by Axios, however, Biden told Netanyahu that Israel had essentially prevailed in this clash with Iran and advised him to “take the win.”

It was also made clear during the call that any retaliatory action by Israel would not be supported by Washington, the American outlet reported. Netanyahu’s war cabinet met on Sunday afternoon to discuss Israel’s response to the Iranian attack, while Iran’s top military commander declared that the “Zionist regime” had been adequately “punished,” and that Tehran would not pursue further military action unless Israel struck again. Iran launched multiple waves of missiles and kamikaze drones at Israel on Saturday, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stating that at least 300 projectiles were fired. While the IDF claimed to have shot down 99% of the incoming drones and missiles, video footage showed numerous impacts on Israeli soil.

Iranian officials insisted that they had “more success than expected” with the barrage, and claimed that two Israeli bases had been destroyed. The IDF acknowledged only minor damage to one military facility. The attack came two weeks after an alleged Israeli airstrike hit an Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus. The strike killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, including two high-ranking generals. Tehran telegraphed its response, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning for over a week that Israel could expect a “slap in the face.”

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“Iran’s attack on Israel did not happen in a vacuum – it was a response to the shameful inaction of the UN Security Council..”

Russia Slams UNSC for Ignoring Attack on Iranian Consulate (Sp.)

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzia criticized the UN Security Council for failing to act on the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria as he urged an end to bloodshed in the Middle East during an emergency UNSC meeting on Sunday. “It is regrettable that unlike the meeting today, you did not propose to bring it to brief the Council on the 2nd of April,” he said, adding that Russia called an emergency briefing to discuss the Israeli strike against the consular premises in Damascus. Nebenzia criticized Israel for not complying with the UN Security Council resolutions, which he said was “an obvious disrespect shown to the Council, to all of you who are here in the members seats, and a complete disregard to the decisions made by the Security Council.” “This high level confrontation and bloodshed must be stopped. We think it’s urgent for the entire international community to undertake all the efforts necessary to de-escalate the situation,” Nebenzia said.

Iran’s attack on Israel did not happen in a vacuum – it was a response to the shameful inaction of the UN Security Council, the Russian ambassador stressed. “What happened on the night of April 14 did not happen ‘in a vacuum.’ Iran’s steps were a response to the shameful inaction of the United Nations Security Council [and] a response to Israel’s blatant attack on Damascus… by no means the first. Syria is constantly being bombed by Israel,” Nebenzia said. On April 3, the US and UK refused to discuss Russia’s proposed draft UN Security Council statement on the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. London and Washington then cited the fact that there was no unity in the meeting’s assessment of what happened. On Sunday, an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council is taking place in connection with the retaliatory strike that Iran carried out on the territory of Israel.

Meanwhile, shortly before that, Iran’s mission to the UN said that if the Security Council had condemned the Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate and brought the perpetrators to justice, the need for Iran to punish the Israeli side “could have been eliminated.” Russia calls for restraint on all sides involved in the incident with Iran’s attack on Israel, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN highlighted. Russia calls on Israel to follow the example of Iran, which has said it does not want further escalation, Nebenzia said. “We note Tehran’s signal of unwillingness to further escalate hostilities with Israel. We urge West Jerusalem to follow its example and abandon the practice of provocative forceful actions in the Middle East, fraught with extremely dangerous risks and consequences on the scale of the entire region, already destabilized as a result of the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation,” Nebenzia emphasized.

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“..suggesting Ukraine would drive up global oil prices with attacks on Russian refineries if US aid were not forthcoming..”

Zelensky Takes Advantage of Iran-Israel Crisis to Plead for More Money (Miles)

President Volodymyr Zelensky took to the X (formerly Twitter) social media platform Sunday to remind Western lawmakers not to forget about Ukraine as the world responds to Iran’s retaliatory strike against Israel. “Ukraine condemns Iran’s attack on Israel using ‘Shahed’ drones and missiles,” the leader wrote, claiming Moscow and Tehran utilize the same kinds of armaments. “The world cannot wait for discussions to go on,” he added. “Words do not stop drones and do not intercept missiles. Only tangible assistance does. The assistance we are anticipating… It is critical that the United States Congress make the necessary decisions to strengthen America’s allies at this critical time.” Former Ukrainian minister Volodymyr Omelyan was even more forceful, slamming former US President Donald Trump whose “America First” brand of conservatism has questioned US military spending.

“I hope that Iran’s attack on Israel will send a powerful message to Republicans, namely to Mr. Trump – you cannot wait aside any more and think that those are small separate regional conflicts happening somewhere in Europe, Middle East, [or] Asia,” Omelyan said in an interview with a US-based tabloid media outlet. “China, Russia, Iran and North Korea persistently attack the West,” he said, without clarifying when they have done so. China, Iran and North Korea have historically been subject to deadly US-backed economic sanctions. The United States invaded Russia in 1918 in an attempt to thwart the country’s unfolding revolution, and invaded China to help put down the Boxer Rebellion. Zelensky has occasionally compared Ukraine’s plight to that of Israel. In 2022 the Ukrainian leader claimed he saw the country as a model for Ukraine’s future, saying Ukraine should become a “big Israel.”

The president said he was referring to Israel’s model of hardened internal security, but critics may instead draw comparisons between the two countries’ strident nationalism and treatment of minorities. The Kiev regime has launched attacks on its Russian-speaking eastern regions for more than a decade, often killing civilians. A 2014 massacre of trade unionists in Odessa drew particular condemnation. Paramilitary groups attacked a peaceful rally in the coastal city, forcing people to take refuge in the Odessa Trade Union House. The neo-Nazi gangs then set fire to the building, killing some 50 people and bludgeoning to death those who attempted to escape. Anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalists have continued to constitute an important faction of the country’s armed forces, with Kiev officially integrating the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion into its military later that year.

Israel has also received criticism for its increasingly extremist trajectory in recent years. Neo-Nazi activist Richard Spencer publicly praised the country’s so-called “Jewish Nation State” law in 2018, viewing it as a model for his desired white ethnostate. Israeli human rights group B’tselem has called Israel an “apartheid” and ethnic supremacist regime. Ukraine has become more coercive in recent months as US aid has been stalled amidst political infighting. “Give us the damn Patriots,” demanded the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba last month, referring to the US-developed surface-to-air missile system Ukraine sees as crucial to its fight against Russia. Kuleba appeared to economically blackmail Western countries in recent comments, suggesting Ukraine would drive up global oil prices with attacks on Russian refineries if US aid were not forthcoming.

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“Everyone survives as best they can..”

Ukrainian FM Publicly Blackmails West Over Oil Prices (RT)

Kiev would be more receptive to appeals from the US and other Western allies to quit attacking Russian oil infrastructure if those benefactors would boost their military aid, Ukraine’s top diplomat has revealed. Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba offered his suggestion for how the West can earn Ukraine’s cooperation in a local broadcast interview on Sunday. His comments came after US defense chief Lloyd Austin expressed concern earlier this month that Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian refineries and oil storage facilities could trigger a jump in international energy prices. “You need to think in your own interests,” Kuleba told Rada TV. “If your partners are saying: ‘We are giving you seven Patriot batteries, but we have a request for you, please don’t do this and that’ – then there is something to talk about.”

On the other hand, if “no batteries, no aid package” are being offered in connection with the entreaty – then there is nothing to talk about. “Everyone survives as best they can,” he added. Weapons shipments from Washington, the biggest sponsor of Kiev’s war effort against Russia, have slowed in recent months amid struggles by US President Joe Biden to secure congressional approval for more Ukraine aid. Republican lawmakers have balked at Biden’s request for more than $60 billion in additional spending after his administration burned through $113 billion in previously approved funding. Kiev’s donors had previously expressed worries that Ukrainian strikes deep into Russian territory with weapons that NATO members provided could trigger a wider conflict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month that Washington does not support Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil.

Austin later suggested that Kiev could focus on military targets because hitting petroleum infrastructure could roil international markets. Kuleba said he listened to Austin, but he sees no “cause-and-effect relationship in this matter.” When a refinery in Russia “explodes,” the resulting problems are confined to the Russian energy market, he claimed, and in any case, Ukraine has to prioritize its own interests. Ukrainian drone attacks have targeted several Russian refineries since early March. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu suggested that Kiev has resorted to terrorism and long-range strikes against Russia’s civilian population in an attempt to “convince its Western sponsors of its ability to resist the Russian Army.” That’s despite the fact that Kiev has not had any actual success on the battlefield, the minister added.

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“The country faces a particular shortage of young men and women..”

Germany Escalates Donbass Conflict, Kiev Says Frontline is Deteriorating (Sp.)

Germany offered to provide Kiev with another US Patriot air defense system Saturday as Ukraine’s military chief admitted the country’s position on its eastern front is rapidly deteriorating. “The situation on the eastern front has significantly worsened in recent days,” said Ukraine armed forces commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrsky, confirming recent media reports. Syrsky made the assessment in a post on Telegram after a visit to a part of territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic under Ukrainian control, which is now a Russian territory. “The enemy is actively attacking our positions in the Lyman [and] Bakhmut [Artemovsk] directions with assault groups and the support of armored vehicles,” he added. “In the Pokrovsk direction, it is trying to break through our defenses using dozens of tanks.”

Syrsky attributed Ukraine’s struggles to Russia’s greater supply of weapons and military technology. Russia’s defense industry has risen to the occasion during the conflict by churning out significant supplies of ammunition. Observers have praised the quality of Russian armaments, particularly its well-respected tank building tradition. Material support for the Kiev regime has meanwhile stalled as Europe’s defense industry fails to meet demand and US backing is stymied by domestic politics. Syrsky also acknowledged a lack of effective manpower. Ukraine’s population, less than a third of Russia’s, has declined by some 30% amidst a demographic crisis after the country’s independence. The country faces a particular shortage of young men and women; the age of the average Ukrainian soldier is estimated to be 43 years old.

“The second serious problem is to improve the quality of training of military personnel, primarily infantry units, so that they can make maximum use of all the capabilities of military equipment and western weapons,” said the military chief. Reports have emerged of Ukrainian troops being provided with only a few weeks of instruction after often being forcibly conscripted. Dry weather has granted Russian tanks easy passage over Ukraine’s terrain according to Syrsky. From the air, Moscow has made extensive use of retrofitted glide bombs and drone strikes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with Western partners to help augment the country’s air defense capacity.

Germany obliged Saturday, promising to provide Kiev with a third US Patriot surface-to-air missile system after previously having rejected the request. The pledge follows a familiar pattern of Western countries eventually conceding to Ukrainian requests for armaments after publicly agonizing over the threat of escalation. “We are supporting Ukraine as much as our own operational readiness will allow,” said German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius Saturday. Observers have questioned the consequences of Western countries depleting their weapons stocks after more than two years of arming Kiev.

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“Western imperialism and fascism have come full circle in a staggeringly short span of history..”

Germany Joins Israel In Dock For Genocide (SCF)

Eight decades ago, Nazi Germany deployed Ukrainian fascists to exterminate Jews and Slavs with a death toll of up to 30 million Soviet citizens. The contemporary Ukrainian regime glorifies these Nazi collaborators. The United States deployed the same Ukrainian fascists after the Second World War to wage covert war against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Thus, Germany and the United States along with other Western powers are continuing deep-seated historical crimes by way of their proxy war against Russia. The same imperialist rogue states are enabling Israeli aggression against Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Israel’s deadly bombing of the Iranian embassy in Damascus earlier this month was a particularly brazen violation of international law. The barbarity of the Israeli fascist regime is fully enabled and incentivized by its Western patrons.

The bitter irony is Washington and Berlin remonstrating with Iran to exercise “maximum restraint” while Israel openly attacks its sovereignty and assassinates its citizens. Meanwhile, the United States, Australia and Britain are cajoling Japan to join their military alliance to provoke China. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was feted in Washington this week where he signed bellicose new military measures aimed at China and Russia. Kishida linked Ukraine with Asia, claiming that if Russia were to win the war in Ukraine, then China would take over East Asia. The Japanese minion gets its half right. The regions are indeed linked, not by alleged Russian and Chinese misconduct, but by the U.S.-led imperialism that Japan is cravenly serving.

Western imperialism and fascism have come full circle in a staggeringly short span of history. Nearly 80 years after Japan was defeated in the Pacific War in which it was responsible for up to 20 million deaths in China, Tokyo is at the forefront of new plans to wage a potential nuclear war on China. The perversion of Japan joining with the United States in this venture after the latter dropped two atomic bombs on its people in 1945 is yet another sickening twist in history. The monstrous crimes of Nazi Germany and fascist Japan are today rehabilitated because the same forces serve the imperialist geopolitical interests of today. The twists and contradictions of history are, however, crystallized in one historical force. All the crimes, barbarity, bloodshed and danger of catastrophic world war are the cause of imperialist powers – chief among them the United States and its insatiable quest for hegemonic domination.

Historic failure and systemic collapse of Western capitalism is the motive engine driving the world to war again, as it was in previous periods of the modern age. Colonialist genocide, World War One, World War Two, and now the abyss of World War Three. Germany in the dock for genocide with Israel is not as incongruous as it might seem. Because imperialism and fascism are on the rampage again across the world. Both Germany and Israel are gang members in the crime syndicate, each with their specific justifying myths and alibis. Russia and China are arguably the two nations that suffered the most in history from fascism. It is entirely consistent – if not lamentable – that Russia and China today are once again confronted by the same forces. Germany is once again on the wrong side of history. And so too are the United States and all its Western vassals. Eternal shame on them.

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“The evacuation plans, codenamed Operation Meteoric..”

Royal Marines To Lead ‘Dunkirk-style’ Evacuation Of Britons In Middle East (DM)

Royal Marines are poised to lead a ‘Dunkirk-style’ evacuation of thousands of UK nationals from the Middle East after Iran launched a huge drone and missile attack against Israel last night. Commandos have already conducted reconnaissance along the Lebanese coastline ahead of a potential maritime rescue mission. The daring mission – reminiscent of the huge effort to evacuate 338,000 British troops stranded in France by the Germans during the opening salvo of the Second World War in 1940 – was exclusively revealed by the Mail on Friday. It came a day before Tehran launched a huge aerial bombardment on Saturday evening, which was in retaliation of a deadly consul blast an an Iranian embassy in Syria that killed 13 people Speaking exclusively to the Mail earlier this week, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed he ‘stands ready’ to assist any Britons trapped in the region. The Foreign Office has already advised all UK citizens to leave Lebanon.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said there remained a ‘serious threat’ of attack while it was reported that Iran had sent a message to Washington warning them against the involvement of US troops in the region. The evacuation plans, codenamed Operation Meteoric, will be spearheaded by the UK’s ‘Green Berets’ and supported by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The Mail has been told a party of Marines from 30 Commando arrived in the region in recent days. Operation Meteoric has been likened to Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940 when they were surrounded by German forces. Israel and its allies remain braced for a huge Iranian response to the attack on its Syrian consulate earlier this month, which left 13 dead, including a senior Iranian commander.

While Israel has not claimed responsibility for the blast it is widely considered to have been behind it. Iran’s response may also involve the heavily armed military group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon. Tonight, intelligence reports suggested the retaliation could include more than 100 drones, dozens of cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. Such a scenario would likely lead to civilian ‘air bridges’ shutting down – hence the need for a maritime solution. The Mail has been told how the preparatory work behind Operation Meteoric was conducted by the Royal Marines’ Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron (SRS). They studied stretches of the Lebanese coastline and selected potential locations for such a rescue mission.

Stranded civilians would be ferried from beaches in raiding craft to Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ships in the eastern Mediterranean. While it is understood Iran is eager to avoid direct engagement with UK forces, RAF Typhoon jets based in Cyprus could provide ‘top cover’. Earlier this week, Mr Shapps told the Mail: ‘UK nationals in the region will be concerned by what Iran is threatening to do. So we stand ready to assist them. ‘There are plans, but they cannot be discussed for security reasons.’

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McCullough childhood vaccines

 

 

Elephant mom

 

 

Baby elephant

 

 

Elephant transport

 

 

Movement Act

 

 

Kittens

 

 

 

 

Shark
https://twitter.com/i/status/1779423124829667343

 

 

10,000 ducks

 

 

Horse friend

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 292024
 


Rembrandt van Rijn Christ and St Mary Magdalene at the Tomb 1638

 

Washington Crossed a Fatal Red Line with the Crocus Attack (Paul Craig Roberts)
Statements By Alexander Bortnikov, Director of FSB (Doctorow)
FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison (ZH)
Avenatti: Michael Cohen Was Having Affair With Stormy Daniels Since 2006 (GP)
Putin Friendship Could Help End Ukraine Conflict – Ex-German Chancellor (RT)
Ukraine Needs Air Defense To Boost Birth Rate – Zelensky (RT)
‘Russia for Russians’ Slogans Alarming – Putin (RT)
China Opposes US Practice of Creating Enemies Out of Thin Air (Sp.)
Who’s Running the EU? Big Global Corporations Which Aren’t Even European! (Jay)
UN Court Orders Israel To Let Food Into Gaza (RT)
UK Won’t Extradite Assange While Risk of Death Penalty Remains – Tory (Sp.)
The Crucifixion of Julian Assange (Chris Hedges)
Biden To Host Star-studded NYC Fundraiser With Obama And Clinton (BBC)
Maori King Calls For Recognizing Whales As People (RT)

 

 

 

 

Trump stocks

 

 

Trump Bragg
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773034485077921940

 

 

Watters Diddy

 

 


Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. – John W. Gardner

 

 

Macgregor
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773336445173829641

 

 

Scott Ritter

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Television talk is suddenly very violent with talk of flattening Kharkiv and Kiev and bringing a quick end to the conflict..”

Washington Crossed a Fatal Red Line with the Crocus Attack (Paul Craig Roberts)

Gilbert Doctorow Now Confirms with his own analysis my prediction that Putin’s toleration of provocations is spinning the Ukraine conflict out of control. Doctorow is a careful analyst never overstating a situation. In this interview he says that the FSB statement implicating the US and UK governments in the Crocus attack had to have been approved by Putin and that implicating the US and UK in the Crocus attack has brought us to the level of danger of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Doctorow reports that Russian television has undergone a massive change following the Crocus attack. Commentators are unwilling to accept any longer Putin’s nonresponse to attacks on Russians. Television talk is suddenly very violent with talk of flattening Kharkiv and Kiev and bringing a quick end to the conflict that has been permitted to endure for far too long. It seems that a fatal red line has been crossed.

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“..Russian state security on 8 March was too tight for the terrorist mission to succeed and the United States decided to pull the plug on that operation..”

Statements By Alexander Bortnikov, Director of FSB (Doctorow)

To the uninitiated, I explain first that the FSB is the successor organization to the Soviet Union’s well-known and much feared KGB. However, the FSB today might be better compared with the FBI in the United States. It deals with domestic criminality of all kinds and with threats to Russian civilians such as terrorism. The agency and its head are rarely in the news. In this respect, the FSB is less visible both at home and abroad than the Foreign Intelligence Service headed by Sergei Naryshkin, a state figure who spent five years of this millennium as chairman of the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of the legislature, and also three years as head of the Presidential Administration. In both positions Naryshkin was very often seen on television performing his duties.

By contrast, Bortnikov spent the past 15 years in his FSB offices out of sight. However, the spectacular attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue has propelled him to center stage and yesterday he met with the Russian state television journalist Pavel Zarubin for an interview and then allowed himself to be questioned further by a gaggle of other journalists on his way out along a corridor. This spontaneous Q&A was later broadcast on the television news. What Bortnikov had to say was extraordinary and bears directly on whether you and I should now be looking for bomb shelters. Regrettably you will not find any of it in the lead stories of today’s mainstream media. The Financial Times, for example, features an account of Xi’s meeting with CEOs of American businesses to mend ties: interesting, but not very relevant if we are at the cusp of WWIII.

*****
Bortnikov is by definition a member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle of advisors. He, Putin and Naryshkin are all roughly the same age. At 72, Bortnikov is just several years older. I was struck in particular by his poise and prudent, carefully weighed choice of words while setting out where the investigation is heading with transparency and a ‘let the chips fall where they may’ unaffected demeanor. The journalists were all probing the question of who stood behind the terror attack. Bortnikov told them…and us: standing behind the terror act committed by Islamist extremists are the United States, Great Britain and Ukraine.

Bortnikov said that the preliminary findings indicate that the four perpetrators of the slaughter were headed by car to the border with Ukraine where they were awaited on the other side. He very calmly explained that the involvement of foreign powers is being clarified and that he will say nothing out of pure emotion now but will wait for the facts to be solidly collected before being presented. Nonetheless, it was entirely newsworthy that he named the United States, Great Britain and Ukraine as the likely puppet masters of the terror act. Let us remember that following the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines, the most significant attack on critical civilian infrastructure globally in the last 50 years, Russian officials did not point the finger directly at any country. There was innuendo but no direct accusations such as we heard from Bortnikov yesterday.

*****
Meanwhile, quite apart from Mr. Bortnikov’s chat with journalists, a lot of new elements to the terror attack at Crocus City Hall were posted yesterday on the Russian state television news and analysis program Sixty Minutes. In particular, we learned that in the last days of February and first couple of days of March two of the four attackers were in Istanbul. The departure and arrival of one at a Moscow airport was recorded on video. We were told which hotels they stayed in, and the selfies and other photos taken by one in Istanbul were put up on the screen. It is still not clear with whom they met in Turkey. However, the timing itself is very important, because the point was made that they returned to Moscow to carry out a terror attack on 8 March, International Women’s Day, a sacred date on the Russian calendar. Had they done so on that day, the effect would have been catastrophic for the presidential elections in Russia one week later.

However, per Sixty Minutes, it was determined that Russian state security on 8 March was too tight for the terrorist mission to succeed and the United States decided to pull the plug on that operation. Note that this is approximately the time when Victoria Nuland tendered her resignation at the State Department (5 March). The possible causal link here surely deserves attention by my peers in the U.S. ‘dissident’ community. In any case, the scenario which was explored later in the day on the Evening with Vladimir Solovyov talk show is that the Ukrainians decided to proceed with the terror attack a week after the Russian presidential elections, when it lost most of its rationale. They did so over the objections of Washington.

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SBF donated many millions to the Democrats. His victims would like that money back, please.

FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison (ZH)

And there it is – Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison – more than Elizabeth Holmes, less than Bernie Madoff, same as Bernie Ebbers. SBF will also have to forfeit more than $11 billion. Judge Kaplan did not hold back during his sentencing: “When not lying, he was evasive, hair splitting, trying to get the prosecutors to rephrase questions for him. I’ve been doing this job for close for 30 years. I’ve never seen a performance like that.”

Update (1105ET): Just before the federal judge was about to sentence Bankman-Fried in his fraud case, the former FTX founder said that he was “sorry.” “I know a lot of people feel really let down,” he said at his sentencing hearing Thursday morning in lower Manhattan. “I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry about what happened at every stage.” “All of the company followed me across the earth, across continents, burning the midnight oil working until 2 a.m., 4 a.m., dedicated to FTX,” he said in a plea for leniency. “I remember so many of them.” He said the staff “all built something really beautiful. They threw themselves into it and then I threw that all away. It haunts me every day. I made a series of bad decisions. They weren’t selfish decisions, they were bad decisions.” Bad decisions indeed Sam.

[..] in November 2023, as Michael Washburn reports via The Epoch Times, jurors decided to convict Mr. Bankman-Fried on all seven of counts of conspiracy and fraud with which government lawyers charged him. Mr. Bankman-Fried and his attorneys have repeatedly argued that he didn’t intentionally do anything wrong and that he deserves no more than 6 1/2 years in jail. In his trial testimony in October 2023, Mr. Bankman-Fried insisted he used sophisticated analytics to try to keep track of the state of FTX’s finances and suggested that subordinates acting without his knowledge or imprimatur made costly mistakes. But prosecutors, citing testimony from Alameda Research head Caroline Ellison, who was at times romantically involved with Mr. Bankman-Fried, vehemently disagreed with the more charitable view and are pressing for a sentence of half a century or longer.

The government’s tough stance has found support from the current CEO of FTX, John Ray III, the former chair of the recovery corporation in another high-profile insolvency: that of Enron, which imploded in December 2001. In a letter to Judge Kaplan, Mr. Ray denounced the “categorically, callously, and demonstrably false” claims that Mr. Bankman-Fried and his lawyers have put forth in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. [..]

[..]The verdict in November 2023 came exactly one year after a Nov. 2, 2022, report in the cryptocurrency publication Coindesk began to stoke wide concern about the state of FTX’s finances. The report cited a leaked balance sheet of FTX’s hedge fund trading affiliate, Alameda Research. According to Coindesk’s analysis, a bulk of Alameda’s $14.6 billion of assets was in the form of FTX’s own crypto token, FTT, rather than a fiat currency. This not only suggested that Alameda’s wealth was potentially less fungible than many had assumed but also pointed to extensive commingling of FTX customer deposits with the hedge fund affiliate. Whether or not Coindesk was correct to impute instability and weakness to FTX on the basis of its position in FTT, the reaction in the market was swift. On Nov. 6, 2022, Changpeng Zhao, then-CEO of Binance, one of the other leading cryptocurrency exchanges, sent out a sharply worded post on Twitter.

Mr. Zhao alluded to the fact that Binance had been distancing itself from FTX over the past year and had received the equivalent of about $2.1 billion in U.S. dollars in the form of both cash and the FTT token. “Due to recent revelations that have come to light, we have decided to liquidate any remaining FTT on our books. We will try to do so in a way that minimizes market impact,” Mr. Zhao wrote.Despite that assurance, Binance’s move, and forthright public announcement, immediately helped fuel a run on the bank during which customers pulled $6 billion from FTX in three days. The exchange would never recover; some $9 billion of customer funds are still lost through the commingling of funds and Bankman-Fried’s lavish spending.

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Avenatti and Michael Cohen. What a pair.

Avenatti: Michael Cohen Was Having Affair With Stormy Daniels Since 2006 (GP)

Tony Seruga is a very popular commentator on Twitter. In his profile, the conservative commentator with over 77K followers, Mr. Seruga, states that he’s an Intel Ops CIA/NSA Contractor/Whistleblower. This afternoon, Mr. Seruga dropped a bombshell, and if true, it could blow up the whole Stormy Daniels affair with Trump lie that the mainstream media and Democrats have been clinging to since 2015. Tony Seruga claims he used to share office space with the convicted felon and former attorney, Michael Avenatti, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her case alleging that then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump paid her hush money to keep their alleged “affair” out of the public. [..] Here’s where Seruga’s story gets to be very interesting as it relates to Stormy Daniels and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, “In any case, Avenatti shared details of his client Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, case and the fact that her and Michael Cohen were actually having an affair since 2006.”

And then, Seruga drops a bombshell: “The whole hush money scheme was cooked up by Michael Cohen to extort the Trump Organization before the 2016 election. Avenatti seemed pleased at how deviant Michael Cohen was.” Seruga followed up his first tweet by explaining how the shady lawyer Michael Avenatti bragged about the scheme more than once and even bragged about it to former NBA star Dennis Rodman on the patio in Corona Del Mar, CA. In addition to being one of the all-time best defensive players in the NBA, Dennis Rodman is known for his relationship with Madonna and his unusual friendship with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un. So, it’s pretty easy to believe Rodman could be friends with the flamboyant CA lawyer Michael Avenatti.

“Understand, Michael Avenatti is a serial liar, but he did speak about his client (that he would later steal from) and Michael Cohen’s affair touching on their scheme to bilk the Trump Organization out of money. He spoke about it on more than one occasion. He was very passionate that Trump had not signed the NDA making it null and void. One time, in fact, he was bragging about it to Dennis Rodman at the Port Restaurant out on the patio, in Corona Del Mar, CA. I was only half listening as I had heard it all before, but Dennis Rodman seemed engaged in the conversation.” Another popular Twitter personality from California, who goes by “SL,” had this to say about the Dennis Rodman and Michael Avenatti conversation that allegedly occurred at the Port Restaurant in California.

“Interesting. I know Dennis Rodman visits Port Restaurant on occasion since I had a conversion [conversation] [with] him there around 2015/2016. Likely to be a true story.” On Monday, when asked by reporters, President Trump said that he would testify in the alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels’ trial in NYC that was brought against him by the rabidly anti-Trump,] but soft-on-actual criminals DA Alvin Bragg. “I would have no problem testifying,” Trump said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Trump also suggested that he’s planning to appeal the trial date set for April 15 and said he’s unsure if there will even be a trial following his appeals.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1773436810229694731

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Schroeder persists.

Putin Friendship Could Help End Ukraine Conflict – Ex-German Chancellor (RT)

Talking to Moscow is the only way to end the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder told the press agency dpa in an interview published on Thursday. His personal friendship with President Vladimir Putin could play a role in stopping the bloodshed, Schroeder said. The former chancellor and Russian leader are known to have close ties that stretch back to when Schroeder headed the German government in the late 1990s. In 2014, Putin attended Schroeder’s birthday party in St. Petersburg. Later, Schroeder joined the boards of directors of the Russian operator of the Nord Stream gas pipeline and energy giant Rosneft. He faced a backlash over his ties to Moscow after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine erupted in February 2022 – and resigned from the Rosneft board in May of that year. Asked about maintaining his friendship with Putin amid the Ukraine conflict, the former chancellor insisted the two matters were entirely distinct.

“I think it would be completely wrong to forget all the positive things that have happened between us in politics in the past,” he told the German news agency, adding that breaking relationships with friends was “not his style.” Contacts with the Russian leadership could still prove crucial in the future peace talks, Schroeder believes. “We have worked together sensibly for many years. Perhaps that can still help to find a negotiated solution,” he said, telling dpa that he saw “no other way” to end the conflict. “It is obvious that the war cannot end with the total defeat of one side or the other,” Schroeder said. The former chancellor has repeatedly called for a negotiated solution to the conflict and accused the US of forcing Kiev to reject a peace deal with Moscow. In October 2023, he also said that Western Europe had “failed” to seize the opportunity to push for peace in March 2022.

Schroeder himself traveled to Istanbul and Moscow on a “peace mission” in the spring of 2022 and also met Putin in July of the same year. His efforts yielded no results at that time. In Germany, Schroeder was ostracized by his own party, which deprived him of his parliamentary privileges, but failed in an effort to expel him over his ties to Russia. In 2023, he relinquished his honorary citizenship of Hannover before the city could strip him of it. Moscow has repeatedly said it is ready for peace talks as long as the situation on the ground is taken into account. Ukraine has insisted on Russian troops withdrawing from all the territories it claims as its own, including Crimea and the four former Ukrainian territories that joined Russian following a series of referendums in autumn 2022. Russia has dismissed such demands as “absurd.”

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No. It needs peace.

Ukraine Needs Air Defense To Boost Birth Rate – Zelensky (RT)

Kiev needs more air defense systems to help Ukrainians have more children, President Vladimir Zelensky said on Thursday. Ukraine currently has the lowest fertility rate in the world. The issue of demographics came up during Zelensky’s meeting with students in Sumy, a city near the border with Russia, when someone asked him if there were plans to financially support new parents. “We need not only financial incentives, because in my opinion, finances help, but they do not stimulate birth itself during war,” Zelensky said. “Help, yes. But as for births, it seems to me that it’s mainly a matter of security.” The government should put air-raid shelters in schools and kindergartens, he added, as well as getting “the latest technologies when it comes to air defense” from foreign partners, manufacture them domestically, and “inform the society about this.”

Zelensky further argued that there would be a “baby boom” after the conflict is over and millions of Ukrainians who left the country return from abroad “confident in a better tomorrow and the future of Ukraine.” Ukraine’s total fertility rate – the average number of babies per woman of child-bearing age – is currently 0.7, the lowest in the world. The country’s demographics have been further affected by a mass exodus to the West and significant casualties on the battlefield, to the point where the very survival of the nation is in question, a government-funded think tank told The Times earlier this year.

“Male life expectancy has decreased from 66-67 before the war to 57-58,” said Ella Libanova, head of the Institute for Demography and Social Studies at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Only four African countries – Chad, Nigeria, Lesotho and the Central African Republic – have lower life expectancies. Last June, the Ukrainian Institute for the Future (UIF) estimated that only 29 million people remained in the country – down from 52 million in 1991, when Ukraine declared independence. These estimates also included residents of the regions that joined Russia. The number of Ukrainian refugees abroad has been estimated by the government at over six million. While Kiev has been hopeful that most of them would come back eventually, the UIF estimated that the majority had no interest in returning.

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“And they treat both their small Motherland and our common big Motherland in a way that, I think, no one in other parts of the world treats their homeland..”

‘Russia for Russians’ Slogans Alarming – Putin (RT)

Nationalist ideas are concerning for a multicultural country like Russia, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday during a visit to Tver Region. He was referring to the slogan, “Russia for Russians,” which promotes the idea that the ethnic majority deserves more rights than other nationalities in the country. Russia is a multinational and a multi-confessional state, and the violation of rights of any citizens will only lead to a collapse of the country, the president warned, adding that all religions are treated with respect in teh country. He noted that 190 ethnic groups currently live in Russia, with some nationalities comprising millions of people. “When I listen to hurrah-patriots – and there are such people everywhere, in any society, including those who say that ‘Russia is only for Russians,’ you know, I get a feeling of anxiety,” Putin said.

He emphasized the importance of persevering with the multinational Russian state and warned that “destructive thoughts such as everyone else is a foreigner here” would ruin the country. Representatives of all religious denominations, all peoples of Russia, are “showing their best side on the battlefield today,” Putin said. “And they treat both their small Motherland and our common big Motherland in a way that, I think, no one in other parts of the world treats their homeland,” he concluded. Putin made the comments during a visit to Torzhok air force base in Tver Region, home of the 344th Training Center for Russian combat pilots, where personnel are being trained to take part in the Ukraine military operation.

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“The US practice of artificially creating enemies out of thin air for the sake of boosting its military budget..”

China Opposes US Practice of Creating Enemies Out of Thin Air (Sp.)

The US practice of artificially creating enemies out of thin air for the sake of boosting its military budget is strategically extremely dangerous, and China firmly opposes it, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday. The United States had repeatedly used China as a pretext for increasing its military budget, inflating a non-existent “Chinese military threat,” Wu said at a briefing. “This practice of artificially creating enemies out of thin air is extremely dangerous from a strategic point of view, and China is firmly opposed to it,” the spokesman added. He also said that China did not wish to threaten anyone, but it was also not afraid of anyone’s threats, and no amount of force can stop the development of the Chinese army.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden signed into law an appropriations package that includes the $825 billion defense spending bill for fiscal year 2024. The act doubles security cooperation funding for Taiwan. The United States would counter China by maximizing its production of critical munitions and by spending more than $66 billion for the US Indo-Pacific Command capabilities, including $42 million to bolster its military capabilities in the region, the House Appropriations Committee said in a summary of the package.

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“..the elitist payroll which you might be fooled into thinking was the EU itself. Oh you thought he was talking about the West in general and its population? Is it April 1st yet?”

Who’s Running the EU? Big Global Corporations Which Aren’t Even European! (Jay)

If you can get your head around the Moscow attacks or the British foreign minister’s recent video monologue where he explains how the UK is sanctioning a number of Chinese officials, have a thought about the European Union, a Rubik’s Cube which has all its faces painted one colour as its real identity is so opaque. With just weeks away from its own elections – yes, the most undemocratic organisation in the world even organises elections for its own fake parliament – the EU itself is about to redefine itself. Already there are signs that even EU leaders are growing tired of its foibles and delusional dreams about its identity on the international circuit as a geopolitical contender, but people, humble voters, will soon deliver a message to the elites which run the EU soon: reform or crumble. Just recently, EU nerds in Brussels noticed that when all of the EU’s leaders descend on the grey, depressing Belgian capital – a city many associate with industrial scale paedophilia, graft, chocolate and a pissing urchin – that they show anyone who’s paying attention who ultimately runs the EU: member states.

Or at least that’s the theory. In the last few days EU leaders attended a meeting at the European Council of Ministers building and voted to “condemn” illegal West Bank settlers in Israel. Most editors of UK newspapers didn’t even understand what was happening. It was reported as “EU slams Israel’s West bank settlers” or “EU mulls sanctions against violent settlers” in a number of exclusive, European high-brow journals but completely unreported in the UK or US. Perhaps the British press didn’t understand the significance of EU leaders – rather than the European Commission or the parliament – taking this initiative? EU leaders themselves, in theory, have the power. They hold the aces. And when they decide on a line or a certain policy, the European Commission has no choice but to go along with it – affirming the old hacks’ dinner party circuit rambling that “the EU Council of Ministers is the most powerful institution in Brussels”. Perhaps it is. Or was. But what were EU leaders really trying to say with the stunt?

Simply that they object to Ursula von der Leyen’s repulsive, uncompromising support for the genocide in Gaza and send a signal that Jewish settlers’ violence when they steal Palestinians’ land is unacceptable. Just keep on stealing and looting as much as you can, but please do it peacefully, seems to be the message. This in itself is a clear message who really runs the so-called EU “foreign policy” rather than the Spanish gimp in Brussels otherwise known as Josep Borrell. EU member states own this domain and every now and again need to remind the elite in Brussels that they, member states, humour the EU hierarchy with this fantasy of being a geopolitical dick swinger with its own hegemony. But even being the guardian of such a dossier, where does it get the EU or its “members” when both are so impotent, hesitant and ultimately cowardly on the international stage? Ultimately, all the EU can do is make statements. That’s it. It has proven over and over again that it is powerless against anything that Israel does, regardless of that old chestnut often known as “international law”.

And the call from EU leaders for violence in the West Bank to stop is also an indicator to who are the super elites around the world who really control David Cameron or pay for Boris Johnson to fly out to Kiev recently and bang on the “let’s never give peace a chance” drum: Jewish money and power. And that Jewish money – American Jewish money – which controls the UN banking system, the federal exchange, World Bank, IMF, Hollywood, both houses in U.S. politics and most of big business in America is worried about anti-Semitism growing in the West. And so they inform their servants to go to the garden and find the lost jewels of the lady in the house while the rest of the world burns. Priorities. EU leaders didn’t meet in Brussels to thrash out a peace plan as they don’t have the instructions to do so. Hatred towards Jews in the West is the most important issue as it could be the thin end of the wedge which removes power from the elites who own Sunak, Scholz, Macron et al not to mention the European Union project which serves their global interests most admirably.

And you can always tell when these powerful hidden elites are fretting over their power base being slightly shaken. Their surfs start whining. Just listen to Josep Borrell recently talk about the Ukraine war and Russia. “We cannot afford for Russia to win this war. Otherwise the U.S. and European interests will be very damaged” he gushed. “It is not a matter of generosity alone … of supporting Ukraine because we love Ukrainian people. It is in our own interest”. Of course, when he spoke of “our own interest” he literally meant his own interest and a few of his cronies on the elitist payroll which you might be fooled into thinking was the EU itself. Oh you thought he was talking about the West in general and its population? Is it April 1st yet?

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Binding.

UN Court Orders Israel To Let Food Into Gaza (RT)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to allow uninterrupted shipments of food into Gaza. Before issuing the legally-binding order, the Hague-based court warned that “famine is setting in” in the besieged enclave. Issued on Thursday, the order commands Israel to take “all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay, in full cooperation with the United Nations, the unhindered provision…of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance,” including food, water, and medicine. The ruling comes two months after the court ruled that “the state of Israel shall take all measures to prevent the commission of genocide in Gaza,” including by blocking humanitarian aid shipments.

“The court observes that Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine … but that famine is setting in,” the judges wrote in Thursday’s ruling. Israel can help alleviate this looming famine “by increasing the capacity and number of land crossing points and maintaining them open for as long as necessary,” they noted. The Israeli military controls all entry and exit points to Gaza except the Rafah crossing between the enclave and Egypt. However, Cairo allows Israel to determine when the crossing can be opened, and Israeli troops inspect every truck that passes. Every other crossing has been shut since Israel imposed a siege on Gaza immediately after Hamas militants attacked the Jewish state on October 7, and aid groups say that the trickle of supplies passing the Rafah crossing is insufficient to feed Gaza’s starving population.

A UN-backed report warned last week that more than 70% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are facing “catastrophic hunger,” and that famine conditions now exist in the northern part of the enclave. At least 27 children have already starved to death, the ICJ judges noted on Thursday. Thursday’s order was requested by South Africa, which filed a legal action last year accusing Israel of committing “systematic” war crimes and genocide in Gaza. Israel denies that it is committing genocide and insists that its military campaign against Hamas – which has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children – is legitimate self defense.

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“..their judgment is about the law as it stands not as some might like it to be..”

UK Won’t Extradite Assange While Risk of Death Penalty Remains – Tory (Sp.)

The government of the United Kingdom will not want to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States as long as he could still face the death penalty there, Lord Richard Balfe, a Conservative member of the UK Parliament’s House of Lords, told Sputnik. On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice in London ruled that Assange has a real prospect of success on three of the nine grounds of appeal. The court asked the US government to provide assurances that the WikiLeaks founder would be able to claim the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedoms related to religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. The court also asked to ensure that Assange would not be prejudiced at his trial due to his nationality, and that he would not face the death penalty. The next hearing is scheduled for May 20 if the parties submit the necessary documents.

“I am sure that the lawyers of Julian Assange will pursue appeals for as long as they can. It is my belief that the UK Government will be unwilling to extradite without a clear undertaking that the death penalty will not be imposed,” Balfe said. When asked about the High Court’s decision, Balfe stated that the UK-US extradition treaty signed by the Blair government has a reputation of being flawed and placing uneven responsibilities on the UK as opposed to the US. “The job of the High Court is to interpret the existing law, not to invent new laws. As such their judgment is about the law as it stands not as some might like it to be,” Balfe said.

The lawmaker stated that he in no way supports the past actions of Assange, stressing the importance of passage of confidential information between governments for conducting international diplomacy and that “sometimes difficult decisions need to be taken and examples need to be made.” Assange, an Australian citizen, was transferred to London’s high-security Belmarsh prison in April 2019 on bail breach charges. In the US, he faces prosecution under the Espionage Act for obtaining and disclosing classified information that shed light on war crimes and human rights violations committed by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If convicted, the WikiLeaks founder could face up to 175 years in prison. One of the last means of preventing his transfer to the US may be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Assange lost his previous appeal at the UK High Court last June.

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“..the British court could order Julian’s immediate extradition prior to a Rule 39 instruction, or decide to ignore a request from the ECtHR to allow Julian to have his case heard there.”

The Crucifixion of Julian Assange (Chris Hedges)

Prosecutors representing the United States, whether by design or incompetence, refused — in the two-day hearing I attended in London in February — to provide guarantees that Julian Assange would be afforded First Amendment rights and would be spared the death penalty if extradited to the U.S. The inability to give these assurances all but guaranteed that the High Court — as it did on Tuesday — would allow Julian’s lawyers to appeal. Was this done to stall for time so that Julian would not be extradited until after the U.S. presidential election? Was it a delaying tactic to work out a plea deal? Julian’s lawyers and U.S. prosecutors are discussing this possibility. Was it careless legal work? Or was it to keep Julian locked in a high security prison until he collapses mentally and physically? If Julian is extradited, he will stand trial for allegedly violating 17 counts of the 1917 Espionage Act, with a potential sentence of 170 years, along with another charge for “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” carrying an additional five years.

The court will permit Julian to appeal minor technical points — his basic free speech rights must be honored, he cannot be discriminated against on the basis of his nationality and he cannot be under threat of the death penalty. No new hearing will allow his lawyers to focus on the war crimes and corruption that WikiLeaks exposed. No new hearing will permit Julian to mount a public-interest defense. No new hearing will discuss the political persecution of a publisher who has not committed a crime. The court, by asking the U.S. for assurances that Julian would be granted First Amendment rights in the U.S. courts and not be subject to the death penalty, offered the U.S. an easy out — give the guarantees and the appeal is rejected.

It is hard to see how the U.S. can refuse the two-judge panel, composed of Dame Victoria Sharp and Justice Jeremy Johnson, which issued on Tuesday a 66-page judgment accompanied by a three-page court order and a four-page media briefing. The hearing in February was Julian’s last chance to request an appeal of the extradition decision made in 2022 by the then British home secretary, Priti Patel, and many of the rulings of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in 2021. If Julian is denied an appeal, he can request an emergency stay of execution from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) under Rule 39, which is given in “exceptional circumstances” and “only where there is an imminent risk of irreparable harm.” But it is possible the British court could order Julian’s immediate extradition prior to a Rule 39 instruction, or decide to ignore a request from the ECtHR to allow Julian to have his case heard there.

[..] Julian did not, unlike Daniel Ellsberg, leak the documents. He published documents leaked by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Three of the nine legal grounds were accepted by the judges as potential points for appeal. The other six were denied. The two-judge panel also rejected the request by Julian’s lawyers to present new evidence. Julian’s legal team asked the court to introduce into the case the Yahoo! News report that revealed, after the release of the documents known as Vault 7, that the then-director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, considered assassinating Julian. Julian’s lawyers also hoped to introduce a statement from Joshua Dratel, a U.S. attorney, who said that Pompeo’s use of the terms “non-state hostile intelligence service” and “enemy combatant” were phrases designed to give legal cover for an assassination.

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“Hundreds of deranged Hollywood liberals will be in attendance, and they will open their wallets to fund the destruction of country!”

“Mr Trump is also in the New York area on Thursday, attending the wake of a police officer, Jonathan Diller, who was shot and killed in the line of duty..”

While there, Trump offered to pay off the mortgage for his widow.

Biden To Host Star-studded NYC Fundraiser With Obama And Clinton (BBC)

US President Joe Biden is set to host a record-breaking fundraiser in New York City, alongside his predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. The event is projected to raise over $25m (£20m) for the Democrat’s re-election campaign – the most ever for a single political event, says his team. The event looks set to extend a growing cash gap between Mr Biden and his Republican challenger Donald Trump. The Biden campaign recently declared it had $155m cash to hand. Mr Trump is also in the New York area on Thursday, attending the wake of a police officer, Jonathan Diller, who was shot and killed in the line of duty. Despite the Republican’s lower cash pile and legal troubles, a number of national polls indicate he could still beat Mr Biden in their November rematch. Over 5,000 people are expected to attend the star-studded Democratic fundraiser on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, with many more watching online.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1773401980355944563

Late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert will moderate a conversation with the three presidents. The event will be hosted by actress Mindy Kaling and feature musical performances from Lizzo, Queen Latifah and Lea Michele. First Lady Jill Biden will host an after-party for 500 guests. The president’s son, Hunter Biden, and his family are also attending. The tickets are priced between $225 and half-a-million dollars. For $100,000, guests can get a picture with all three presidents, with star photographer Annie Leibovitz taking the snaps. President Biden was joined on the Air Force One flight to New York by Mr Obama, whom he served as vice-president from 2009-2017. Mr Obama, wearing a casual dress shirt, briefly came back for an off-the-record chat with reporters on the presidential jet. New York ground to a halt for their arrival as the two men’s huge motorcade cut across Manhattan in the pouring rain. Hundreds of onlookers jostled to take pictures.

Mr Biden’s previous best single-day fundraising effort was the $10m he raised in 24 hours after his State of the Union address this month. His fundraising has also been boosted by the advantage of incumbency. “Biden raising a lot of money is probably a function of him not having any real primary challengers,” Joseph Campbell, a communications professor at American University, told the BBC. “There’s no competition for Democratic donor money.” The $155m million in cash his campaign has is the most of any Democratic candidate in history at this point in an election cycle, according to his campaign. Mr Trump and his political action committees reported having $74m.

The Republican candidate raised $20m in the whole of February, less than what President Biden expects to receive just from Thursday’s event.In addition to Mr Trump’s fundraising challenges, his campaign and committees have spent millions of dollars in legal fees fighting four criminal cases against him. Mr Trump, 77, blasted the Democratic fundraising event in a fundraising email of his own, sent out by his campaign on Thursday morning. “Hundreds of deranged Hollywood liberals will be in attendance, and they will open their wallets to fund the destruction of country!” the message said.

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“The sound of our ancestor’s song has grown weaker..”

Maori King Calls For Recognizing Whales As People (RT)

The king of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people has signed a ‘Declaration for the Ocean’ that calls for whales to be granted legal personhood as part of a plan to protect them, AFP reported on Thursday. The declaration reportedly recognizes the mammals as legal persons with the inherent right to freedom of movement, natural behavior, and expression of their unique cultures. The declaration has been made with the intent of helping whales recover their depleted population. “The sound of our ancestor’s song has grown weaker, and her habitat is under threat, which is why we must act now,” King Tuheitia Potatau te Wherowhero VII was quoted as saying. He was echoed by high chief Travel Tou Ariki, who said: “We can no longer turn a blind eye. Whales play a vital role in the health of our entire ocean ecosystem … We must act with urgency to protect these magnificent creatures before it’s too late.”

Whales have traditionally had cultural significance for the Maori as supernatural beings and as harbingers of spiritual growth. Some tribes see the mammals as the descendants of Tangaroa, the god of the ocean. Whales are some of the largest mammals on earth, with blue whales reaching up to 30.5 meters (100 feet) in length and weighing up to 200 tons. Many of the species are endangered. The move to grant whales personhood would not be without precedent. In 2017, New Zealand passed a groundbreaking law granting personhood status to the Whanganui River and Mount Taranaki volcano, both of which are important to the Maori people. The Maori are the second-largest ethnic group in New Zealand and currently make up about 17% of the country’s total population, or about 900,000 people.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Cancer: A Food-Borne Illness

 

 

Camelemon

 

 

Cats

 

 

Swan
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773217153363181623

 

 

 

 

Shoal

 

 

Puppy
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773473225487389036

 

 

Moose
https://twitter.com/i/status/1773228532237214034

 

 

Boji

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 252024
 


Pablo Picasso Don Quixote 1955

 

Trump Falsified Business Records Case May Be Delayed On Monday (Sp.)
Trump In Final Countdown To Post $464 Million Bond By Monday (ZH)
Fani Willis Goes Head to Head with Her Prior Self in Trump Case (Turley)
TIME To Panic: Joe Biden’s Campaign “In Trouble” Despite Obama Warning (ZH)
Ukraine Likely Had Prior Knowledge of Moscow Terrorist Threat (Sp.)
US Bails Ukraine Out, Covering Zelensky With ISIS – Zakharova (TASS)
Militaristic Revolution in the EU Paves Legal Way for Warmongering (Babich)
Western Banks Warn Against EU Plans to Give Russian Funds to Ukraine (Antiwar)
Mob Rule Versus Survival of the West (Susan D. Harris)
Macron Obsessing Over Personal Security Amid Ukrainian Conflict (RT)
Guterres, the UN, Might, Wise Guys’ ‘Wisdom’, and Right (Graça)
‘U-Turn Over Atlantic’ (Sp.)

 

 

 

 

Far right
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771934645380100570

 

 

Mike Rowe

 

 

RFK

 

 

Tucker Roseanne
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771622982630211703

 

 

 

 

Stormy Daniels. Star witness: Michael Cohen.

Trump Falsified Business Records Case May Be Delayed On Monday (Sp.)

Former US President Donald Trump is facing four separate criminal cases, two at the federal level and two brought by the States of New York and Georgia. Trump also leads US President Joe Biden in national polls and most swing states. Judge Juan Merchan will hold a pre-trial hearing in New York on Monday to determine if there should be further delays in former US President Donald Trump’s falsified business documents case, one of four criminal cases he is facing. The case was initially scheduled to begin on Monday but was delayed to at least April 25 after prosecutors released more than 100,000 pages of documents to Trump’s defense team. Prosecutor Alvin Bragg did not oppose the 30-day delay but argued that no further delays should be placed on the trial.

Of the criminal cases Trump is facing, this case was the most likely to conclude before the Presidential election in November, but a significant delay could push it past election day. Trump’s legal team is arguing that the prosecution intentionally held the documents back and included exculpatory evidence favorable to the defense. If Merchan agrees, he could throw the case out and possibly sanction Bragg for potential Brady violations, but he could also issue a delay in the case or keep the trial date, scheduled for March 25, as-is.

“The People have engaged in widespread misconduct as part of a desperate effort to improve their position at the potential trial on the false and unsupported charges in the Indictment,” Trump’s legal team argued in court filings. “[R]eports relating to statements by Cohen that are exculpatory and favorable to the defense.” Most legal experts quoted in US media predicted that a delay could happen but they doubt that the judge will throw out the case. The documents relate to federal investigations into Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who is expected to be the prosecution’s star witness. The documents were not in Bragg’s office and were instead in different offices around the country. Bragg argues that the Trump team intentionally waited until January to ask for the documents to cause a delay in the trial.

“[T]he belated nature of the recent USAO productions is entirely the result of the defendant’s own inexplicable and strategic delay in identifying perceived deficiencies,” the prosecution argued. Prosecutors also claim that less than 300 of the documents are both new to the defense and related to Trump’s trial. Trump has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents related to repayments he made to Cohen for hush money payments Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels who claimed she had an affair with then-candidate Trump in 2016. Trump pleaded not guilty but admits to making the payments. He also denies that the affair took place. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after being convicted of campaign finance violations related to those payments and for lying to Congress about how long discussions about a potential Trump Tower in Moscow continued.

Read more …

Trump OAN

“What he’s talking about is the money reported on his campaign disclosure forms that he’s built up through years of owning and managing successful businesses,..

Trump In Final Countdown To Post $464 Million Bond By Monday (ZH)

Donald Trump has until Monday to come up with more than $450 million to stop his properties from being seized by authorities following the results of his New York civil fraud trial. According to the ruling by Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump and executives at the Trump Organization inflated his assets. Initially, NY Attorney General Letitia James sought $250 million in damages – but later increased it to $370 million plus interest. Trump has been seeking a bond of $464 million ($454 million plus $10 million to cover his sons’ fines) in order to post bond and appeal the case. Last week, Trump said he had “almost $500 million” in cash, however his attorney Chris Kise told CNN that Trump wasn’t referring to cash he has on hand. “What he’s talking about is the money reported on his campaign disclosure forms that he’s built up through years of owning and managing successful businesses,” he said, which the outlet noted is “the very cash that Letitia James and the Democrats are targeting.”

Assets including buildings, houses, cars, helicopters and even Trump’s plane are on the chopping block if Trump can’t come up with the money. The former president has asked a state appeals court to allow him to post a smaller bond, or none at all, claiming that irreparable harm would be done if he was forced to sell properties in a ‘fire sale’ that can’t be undone if he wins his appeal against the amount due. The court has not come back yet with a ruling. If Trump can’t secure the bond, New York state officials can begin the arduous process of taking his assets. According to experts cited by a very giddy CNN, the first action should be seizing Trump’s bank accounts. “The banks are the easiest part, they’ll receive the judgment from the Attorney General – the court order – then the banks will enforce,” said former federal prosecutor Peter Katz, who has handled fraud cases. “They take the funds from the account and put it in the attorney general’s accounts. The other stuff is a little more challenging.”

According to debt collection expert Alden B. Smith, New York officials are “trying to get their ducks in a row,” adding “They want to find the most liquid of the assets they can restrain immediately. A bank account is the most effective way to do it.” Seizing Trump’s buildings and businesses is far more complicated. Once state prosecutors figure out which properties they want to take from Joe Biden’s chief political rival, they will give the sheriff an execution order, a $350 fee, and then the sheriff will post notice for the property in three places. The AG’s office must then advertise it four times, after which the property will be sold at public auction 63 days after the sheriff is given the execution order. According to Newsweek, the following Trump-owned properties had “fraudulent” and “misleading” values, and could be on the list (with New York properties taking priority, and those in other states being more complicated to seize).
Trump Park Avenue, New York, N.Y.
Trump Tower, New York City.
40 Wall Street, New York City.
Trump Seven Springs, Westchester County, N.Y.
Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas.
Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump National Golf Club Westchester, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Trump National Golf Club Charlotte, Mooresville, North Carolina.
Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck, Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Trump National Golf Club, Washington D.C., Sterling, Virginia.
Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley, Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, Jupiter, Florida.
Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia, Pine Hill, New Jersey.
Trump International Golf Links Scotland, Aberdeen.
Trump International Golf Links Scotland, Turnberry.
Trump has roughly $200 million in cumulative loans on his properties.

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“I will certainly not be choosing to date people that work under me.”

Fani Willis Goes Head to Head with Her Prior Self in Trump Case (Turley)

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has finally broken her silence with CNN. Willis insisted that she has done nothing wrong while declaring that “the train is coming” for Donald Trump. On this occasion, CNN can be excused for not having an opposing view. Willis circa 2020 denounced Willis circa 2024. Willis told a CNN reporter “I don’t feel like my reputation needs to be reclaimed. I guess my greatest crime is I had a relationship with a man, that’s not something I find embarrassing in any way. And I know that I have not done anything that’s illegal.” The most obvious person to interview in rebuttal of that statement is Willis’s 2020 self. After all, she repeatedly declared that she would not have any romantic relationship with those in her office. Willis ran against her former boss Paul Howard, who was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal involving his relationship with women in his office.

Willis offered both experience and ethical leadership, including pledging repeatedly that “I will certainly not be choosing to date people that work under me.” When confronted with this repeated campaign promise on the stand, Willis came up with a perfectly bizarre spin about Nathan Wade being literally “special” as a special prosecutor. While she hired him, supervised him, and controlled his continued employment with the office, she tried to suggest that he was not really part of the office in the same sense. Willis notably stressed that she did nothing “illegal.” She did not address whether she acted unethically. The court itself denounced her for unprofessional conduct in this controversy, including her speech at a church suggesting that racism was behind these allegations.

Moreover, it may be too early to tell if she is entirely free of criminal allegations. Many believe that both she and Wade gave knowingly false or misleading testimony. That is a problem not just for them as individuals but for the office in this case. Willis and Wade were both prosecuting people for the very same conduct of filing false statements with courts and making false statements. The two lawyers testified in tandem but only one was disqualified. While the Court casts doubt on Wade’s testimony on the relationship, it ignored that Willis effectively ratified those claims in her own testimony. Putting aside the pledge of a train coming for Trump, there is the problem that there are usually two tracks and another train may be coming for Willis as the state (and potentially the bar) looks into these allegations.

Bosi

Read more …

“In 2020, Biden carried 87% of the black vote. Now, he’s polling at just 63%, a sharp decline. Meanwhile four years ago he won hispanic votes by a ratio of 2 to 1. He now trails Trump in that bloc..”

TIME To Panic: Joe Biden’s Campaign “In Trouble” Despite Obama Warning (ZH)

“Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” -Barack Obama.

With less than eight months before the 2024 election, the Biden re-election campaign is in big trouble. Not only is Biden lagging in the polls vs. Donald Trump, the border crisis he created by shredding all of Trump’s Executive Orders on immigration has resulted in 10 million illegals flooding into the United States – which has left even Democrats livid. What’s more, Biden is quickly losing the support of young Americans, and the latino vote. Things are so bad that TIME magazine has just devoted 3,700 words to let us know that Barack Obama ‘warned’ the Biden campaign last June that defeating Trump would be harder in 2024 (because no pandemic or hoax dossier to set him up?). Six months later, Obama ‘saw few signs of improvement.’

Obama returned to the White House in December, with a ‘more urgent’ message: the re-election campaign was behind schedule in building out field operations, and that an ‘insular group of advisers’ in the West Wing was hamstringing the effort. Now, it’s really bad… “Three months later, the 2024 general election is under way, and Biden is indeed in trouble. His stubbornly low approval ratings have sunk into the high 30s, worse than those of any other recent President seeking re-election. He’s trailed or tied Trump in most head-to-head matchups for months. Voters express concerns about his policies, his leadership, his age, and his competency. The coalition that carried Biden to victory in 2020 has splintered; the Democrats’ historic advantage with Black, Latino, and Asian American voters has dwindled to lows not seen since the civil rights movement. -TIME

Meanwhile, Biden’s inner circle is “defiantly sanguine” as a “fog of dread” descends on Democrats. The rest of the TIME article is full of anecdotes of dissatisfied Democrats, particularly young voters such as 20-year-old Aidan Kohn-Murphy. It has nothing to do, as many assume, with the President’s age. With palpable frustration, Kohn-Murphy enumerates the list of perceived policy “betrayals” as though they were “tattooed on the back of my hand.” According to the report, GenZ voters “don’t understand why they should be compelled to cast their ballot for a candidate who has done so many things that are against their values,” said Kohn-Murphy.

In 2020, Biden carried 87% of the black vote. Now, he’s polling at just 63%, a sharp decline. Meanwhile four years ago he won hispanic votes by a ratio of 2 to 1. He now trails Trump in that bloc. Biden’s support of Israel amid the Gaza war has “tanked his standing with Muslim and Arab voters,” particularly in “must-win Michigan.” Overall, Biden’s advantage over Trump among nonwhite Americans has shrunk from almost 50 points in 2020 to 12, according to the latest Times/Siena poll. “It boils down to voters of color, and those voters are pissed,” said one former Biden campaign and White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I think it’s very likely he’ll lose.”

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“..they have all these specific details, but they were unable to give anything specific to the Russians. This all makes one think that something is very wrong.”

Ukraine Likely Had Prior Knowledge of Moscow Terrorist Threat (Sp.)

A group of gunmen opened fire at a concert venue in Moscow on the evening of March 22, killing over 100 people and setting fire to the building. Eleven suspects have been detained by Russian security services in relation to the terrorist attack, including the four suspected perpetrators who were apprehended as they were trying to flee the country across the border with Ukraine. During an interview with Sputnik, political and military analyst Sergey Poletaev pointed out that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officially announced that the suspected terrorists had contacts in Ukraine. According to Poletaev, even if the reports about the perpetrators being Tajikistani citizens are true, the attack in Moscow could have been masterminded either by some kind of Islamist terrorist organization that has ties with Ukraine, or even by Ukraine directly. In any case, he noted, it appears that the Ukrainian leadership had prior knowledge of this act of terror, “which makes them accomplices, at the very least.”

Poletaev also argued that while the attack was likely planned by professionals, it does not necessarily mean that the perpetrators were equally skilled, with the analyst observing how high school students sometimes kill dozens of people during shooting sprees. Commenting on the attempts by both Washington and Kiev to hastily deny Ukraine’s trace in this terrorist attack, Poletaev suggested that the West is going to insist that ISIS* alone was responsible. Thus, he postulated, there will be two narratives – the Russian and the Western – and it all comes down to whose side the “global majority” is going to take. “It is in our best interests to collate a convincing body of evidence for our case. It would greatly help us with diplomacy,” Poletaev remarked. “We’re talking about the ‘third countries,’ of course, as the West will most likely dismiss any talk of Ukraine’s involvement.”

Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a political analyst and professor at Tehran University, also found it curious that, even when “no real details” about the attack were known, the United States started insisting that Ukraine was not involved. “It is also very strange that the United States was able to give such a detailed travel advisory or warning about a terror attack naming concerts and giving specifics about an attack in Moscow and large gatherings and all that [previous to the attack],” he added. “So, they have all these specific details, but they were unable to give anything specific to the Russians. This all makes one think that something is very wrong.” Referring to claims about ISIS being responsible for the attack, Marandi argued that this theory does not necessarily rule out “cooperation between Ukraine and ISIS or the potential role of the United States.”

“The very fact that the United States, from the start, said that Ukraine wasn’t involved and the very fact that they gave such a detailed warning to their citizens is raising serious questions. But ISIS and the Ukrainian regime both have very strong connections with the West,” he elaborated. “ISIS has cooperated with NATO countries, it has cooperated with Israel, and it has cooperated with other American allies in Syria for years. And Ukraine is also deeply dependent on NATO countries. Marandi also pointed out that ISIS “has always been focused on the enemies of the United States” whereas the terrorist organization’s attacks on NATO countries or the Middle Eastern powers aligned with the West have been “very rare.”

Cactus City hall
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771960366140178439
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771954788789305698

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“Attention, a question for the White House: are you sure it was ISIS, won’t you change your mind later?”

US Bails Ukraine Out, Covering Zelensky With ISIS – Zakharova (TASS)

After the Crocus City Hall attack, the US tries to bail Ukraine out by mentioning the Islamic State (IS, ISIS) terror group, outlawed in Russia, and to cover itself and the Zelensky regime it created, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an article for kp.ru. “The American political engineers cornered themselves with their tales that the Crocus City Hall attack was carried out by the ISIS terror group,” the diplomat noted. “Hence Washington’s daily bailing out of its wards in Kiev, and the attempt to cover itself and the Zelensky regime they created with the scarecrow of the outlawed ISIS.” Zakharova noted that a number of factors directly and indirectly indicate the US authorities’ involvement in sponsoring the Ukrainian terrorism.

“Billions of dollar and an unprecedented amount of weapons, invested without accountability and with use of corruption schemes into the Kiev regime, the aggressive rhetoric regarding Russia, the rabid nationalism, the ban for peace talks on Ukraine, the endless calls for a force resolution of the conflict, the refusal to condemn the years-long terror attacks, carried out by the Kiev regime, and the massive informational and political support of any, even the most atrocious actions of Zelensky,” she listed. The spokeswoman also noted that previously, the US intervention in Middle Eastern affairs has led to the emergence, strengthening and institutionalization of a number of radical and terrorist groups that remain active in the region even today. “What is the logic, you may ask? Money and power. And, considering the international legal ban on direct interventions, it is also about sowing a ‘controlled chaos’ and reshaping the world order by the hands of terrorists,” she continued. “Attention, a question for the White House: are you sure it was ISIS, won’t you change your mind later?”

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“..the European Union, which was conceived as an entirely peaceful organization, becomes one of the world’s most implacable warring empires..”

“Later, these weapons will be used against “undemocratic” countries, whose leaders happen to be at odds with the EU and the US.”

An EU army is idiotic. Who will be in command? France or Germany? How about Hungary?

Militaristic Revolution in the EU Paves Legal Way for Warmongering (Babich)

During the last few days, the European Union went through a real militaristic revolution. A special “legal task force” is working on allowing the use of EU funds for war. The so-called European Peace Facility (EPF), officially stewarded by Josep Borrell, will get its money from the EU funds (and not individual states) after reporting the transfer of thousands of weapons systems to Kiev. EPF also reported having trained more than 40,000 Ukrainian military to use them. The Financial Times chose a somewhat routinely sounding lead for its story on the EU’s decision to legally stop being an “oasis of peace”: “Brussels proposes ‘legal task force’ to explore ways to use the common budget for defense. The headline, however, was more disturbing: “EU looks to bypass treaty ban on buying arms to support Ukraine.”

The reality described in the FT’s story, however, is more dramatic than the headline and the lead taken together: the European Union, which was conceived as an entirely peaceful organization, becomes one of the world’s most implacable warring empires – by law. Very soon the EU’s Union Treaty will no longer have a provision prohibiting “any expenditure arising from operations having military or defense implications.” (Article 41, point 2 of the Treaty on European Union.) Or, at best, this provision will be made devoid of legal force by some new additions to the EU’s legislation. FT reports, confirming its story by eyewitness accounts, that the European Commission is creating a “legal task force,” that would allow the EU to finance wars and military production by European money. In all likelihood, the first “beneficiary” of this financing will be NATO’s proxies in Ukraine, waging a war against Russia and Russians since 2014. At a recent conference of the EU’s 27 members in mid-March, 2024, it was decided to create within the framework of the so-called European Peace Facility (EPF) a special fund for financing Ukrainian armed forces (Ukraine Assistance Fund).

What the relation is between the word “peace” and the system of buying and transporting weapons to the zone of conflict, remains unclear. Ukraine Assistance Fund (UAF) will be financed by donations from EU member states to the tune of €5 billion a year. At least €500 million from that sum will be spent on training Ukrainian servicemen to use the EPF-provided weapons. The weapons will mostly be European-made (such was the requirement of France), but not only. Weapons from “third countries” can be bought and sold, creating opportunities for the spread of dangerous weapons around the world. Judging by the recent EU summit on Thursday, which discussed the ways of stealing “immobilized” Russia’s foreign assets and pouring its money into the UAF “for military support to Ukraine,” no law is an obstacle for the EU’s “legal task forces.” Was such an evolution of the EU unexpected? Not entirely.

The EU’s quasi-pacifist image started to crumble not now, but back in the 1990s. It transpired back then that the real European Union went a long way from the lofty ideas of the EU’s founders. Only naïve people can trust the EU’s claims, that it is a purely “soft power-based institution.” In 1995-1999 the EU’s member countries participated in military interventions against the former Yugoslav republics, later almost all EU members made their “military contributions” to the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. However, as more and more “crusades” by individual Western countries or American-British alliances ended in defeats (one can cite Afghanistan in 2001-2021 or the French intervention in West Africa after the coup in Libya in 2011), the dreams about a “collective war chest” of the EU started to take shape In 2020 the so-called European Defense Fund (EDF) and later, in March 2021, the European Peace Facility (EPF) started operating at the EU level. Their aim was clear from the start: to collect money from member countries and to buy arms for this money.

Later, these weapons will be used against “undemocratic” countries, whose leaders happen to be at odds with the EU and the US. Real European pacifists immediately smelt the rat and protested both against EDF and especially against EPF, which after the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict became one of the main sponsors of Zelensky’s military machine. Back in 2021, 40 pro-peace NGOs, headed by the German group Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) came out with a statement denouncing the EPF as an instrument “which brings arms into wrong hands” and “allows to use the EU money to train the military cadres for dictatorial regimes.” Now, however, Brussels uses widespread anti-Russian prejudice in the EU, as well as constant reminders about the “threat from Putin” to justify the final destruction of the dream of “peaceful Europe,” which once inspired the pioneers of European integration. In comparison to 2021 critics are fewer and quieter. In this way, Russophobia was spiritually destructive for Europe, stealing its dream of “world peace.”

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“..once sanctions on Russia are eased or lifted, they could face decades of legal action.”

Western Banks Warn Against EU Plans to Give Russian Funds to Ukraine (Antiwar)

Some Western banks are lobbying against an EU plan to use profits made by Russian central bank funds that are frozen in Europe to arm Ukraine, Reuters reported on Thursday. The European Commission has proposed sending up to 3 billion euros to Ukraine per year using the revenue. About 90% would go to a fund called the “European Peace Facility” that can be used to buy weapons for Ukraine, and the remaining funds would go to the EU’s central budget for other types of aid. Russia has slammed the plan and has vowed to respond. “This is outright banditry and theft. These actions are a gross and unprecedented violation of basic international norms. We said that we would respond, and so we shall,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday. Sources told Reuters that banks fear they could be held liable by Russia in the future for being involved in the transaction. The report said once sanctions on Russia are eased or lifted, they could face decades of legal action.

The banks also worry the move would erode trust in the Western banking system. One source said it would set a bad precedent and that stealing the funds would amount to the “weaponization of foreign-held reserves and assets.” The US is looking to take an even more extreme measure by giving all of the Russian funds to Ukraine, not just the profit and interest. Last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen came out strongly in favor of the idea. “It is necessary and urgent for our coalition to find a way to unlock the value of these immobilized assets to support Ukraine’s continued resistance and long-term reconstruction,” Yellen said. Legislation to give the Russian money to Ukraine has been introduced in Congress and has received bipartisan support, but the bills have yet to be voted on. About $67 billion in Russian central bank funds are held in the US, while over $200 billion is held in Europe.

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“..it is taking you to the point where I truly believe they will only stop when they find that you will swing from a tree.”

Mob Rule Versus Survival of the West (Susan D. Harris)

It’s been hard to watch the effects of forced diversity, multiculturalism, and mass immigration on the tiny island of Great Britain—the most densely populated nation in Europe. At least in America we still have so much land area that most people are not yet feeling the effects of large-scale population displacement stemming from all forms of immigration. In the UK, however, every day feels like an episode of “Survivor” as people who are being crammed in like sardines are increasingly made to fear that they’ll be voted off the island. Recently, protests surrounding the Israel–Hamas war have exposed the fragility of a British culture—and nation—on the verge of capsizing from the weight of immigration and cultural divides. Well-known British YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson has been covering events there, addressing the British prime minister’s remarks that his country is descending into “mob rule” and that the situation is urgent. The prime minister was referring to pro-Palestinian protesters currently flooding the streets of Britain.

Mr. Watson shared a genius chart from a user on social media platform X supposedly detailing the rise of mob rule in London. The user commented, “HOW DID WE GET HERE? After importing millions of people from countries with a culture of mob rule into London, mob rule has taken over London. Experts are crunching the numbers to figure out if systematically undermining basic law and order could have affected basic law and order.” Meanwhile, Pro-Palestinian protesters across Britain vowed more marches, ostensibly to protest Israeli attacks in Gaza. Mr. Watson has also been covering reactions to another member of parliament recently claiming there were “no-go zones” in Birmingham. To support the existence of “no-go zones,” Mr. Watson cited the Birmingham Mail newspaper, which reported that “due to soaring crime being committed by ‘urban youths,’ parts of the city center are no-go zones and the areas immediately surrounding Birmingham are no-go areas for the same reason,” according to Mr. Watson.

All of this comes after a huge blow-up about a comment made by a Conservative member of parliament on conservative-leaning GB News. Lee Anderson told the news outlet (where he also hosts his own show) that “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of [Mayor of London Sadiq] Khan and they’ve got control of London. … He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”
Mayor Khan then responded with three strikes against Mr. Anderson, saying his remarks were “Islamophobic, anti-Muslim and racist” and poured “fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred.” It was all downhill from there. Mr. Anderson was suspended from the Conservative Party after refusing to apologize and later defected to the Reform UK party. After that, a GB News guest said Mayor Khan was “not British. He doesn’t support Britain.” Which led to calls for GB News to be investigated by Ofcom, Britain’s communications regulator, similar to our FCC. And it won’t be the first time; Ofcom seems to be targeting GB News for investigations quite a lot lately.

Another British YouTuber who’s been weighing in on the ongoing cancel culture wars in her country is Katie Hopkins. In a video titled, “How cancel culture (evisceration) REALLY works,” Ms. Hopkins outlines what she believes is “currently being done to GB News by those that want to see it done away with.” She also claims that “Ofcom is the weapon wielded in a war of attrition against GB News.” And she should know. The controversial celebrity, journalist, and comedian has done her share of shocking the public and angering many over these last many years, but she’s also become quite the conservative hero. She’s been re-tweeted by President Donald Trump multiple times, banned from Twitter, reinstated on Twitter (now X), and thrown out of Australia for mocking quarantine lockdowns. She’s called Islam the “single biggest threat” to Europe and was named as a target in a planned terror attack by ISIS supporters. Most recently, she’s done a hilarious must-see YouTube short dedicated to all the people who “pushed the jab.” It currently has over 1 million views.

In 2020, Ms. Hopkins told conservative host Candace Owens that her situation in Britain was so much more than the cancel culture that was overtaking America. She explained that in the UK it had become “acceptable” to think that a targeted physical attack against her would be “welcomed and applauded.” She continued to explain to Ms. Owens that she lost her jobs, her home (which she said had to be sold due to litigation), and even experienced having her children reported to social services with the intent to have them taken away. She concluded by saying that, in the UK, “[T]he darkness is that when they come, it’s not something flippant that is cancel culture, it is taking you to the point where I truly believe they will only stop when they find that you will swing from a tree.” Her fundamental commitment, she added, was to not allow that to happen.

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“As soon as we arrived at the Elysee, the staff responsible for the president’s security were immediately doubled..”

Macron Obsessing Over Personal Security Amid Ukrainian Conflict (RT)

French president Emmanuel Macron’s concerns for his own personal safety are being amplified by his public statements and tough stance on the Ukraine conflict, Marianne magazine reported on Sunday. The magazine spoke to multiple sources within Macron’s security detail, the country’s Interior Ministry, and to his notorious ex-bodyguard Alexandre Benalla. During his time with Macron’s security team, Benalla became embroiled in multiple scandals, including beating up demonstrators alongside riot police during the Yellow Vest protests. Macron has always been concerned with his personal security, Benalla claimed, revealing the president had bolstered the ranks of his guard right after assuming office. “As soon as we arrived at the Elysee, the staff responsible for the president’s security were immediately doubled compared to those responsible for that of [predecessor] Francois Hollande,” the disgraced bodyguard explained.

The Yellow Vests protests, which have plagued Macron’s presidency throughout his first term and beyond, have left a dent. Macron’s spouse Brigitte has been particularly concerned that her husband would ultimately end up assassinated, Benalla claims. “She was always very worried about him. At home, there is the fear of ‘Kennedy syndrome,’ that he will end up assassinated,” the insider reportedly claimed. The situation has deteriorated further as a result of Macron’s determination to present himself as a hawk on the conflict between Moscow and Kiev. The president’s security team has been working in “red” mode since at least last summer, an unnamed source “at the heart” of Macron’s guard system told the magazine.

“Recently, he is provoking so much that he is afraid,” a source at the heart of the Macron security system confided. “Since last summer, he has taken on some big guys to accompany him. They are more visible and also more effective in intervening in the event of a crowd movement.” The French president is apparently not afraid of facing off angry citizens as is, but rather fears the alleged Russian “hybrid threat,” the report suggested. He has repeatedly voiced concerns over “state-level” threats emanating from abroad, while in private blaming the alleged threat exclusively on Moscow, and creating a special taskforce to tackle it. “Macron is totally freaked out by the Russians. One morning, he arrived at the intelligence services and requested the creation of a special task force on Russian interference overnight. Colleagues have to hold a meeting daily, it doesn’t excite them much,” a senior official with the Interior Ministry told Marianne.

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25 years ago NATO bombed Yugoslavia. Guterres was Portugal PM.

Guterres, the UN, Might, Wise Guys’ ‘Wisdom’, and Right (Graça)

António Guterres, according to what I have read somewhere, has formally and publicly protested the fact that the people of the newly incorporated regions of Russia participate in the latter’s presidential elections. The reason, he claimed, was that it had been an illegal incorporation, based on an also illegal invasion. Russia would thus have in this case the might, Guterres argued, but she would not have on her side the right. Does this sit well with a UN Secretary-General? It certainly does, the unaware reader will likely say. That’s precisely what the UN exists for: to show everyone that, beyond might, irreducible to it, there is always (and there will be) the right. The problem with this – formally impeccable – argument resides, however, elsewhere. Do you remember Kosovo? It was occupied by NATO in 1999, after this alliance bombed the then Yugoslavia, on various pretexts that later were revealed to be false, forcing it (without a UN mandate, by sheer military might) to withdraw from that territory.

Yugoslavia held out for almost three months of relentless bombardment, but eventually withdrew, albeit grudgingly and only against written assurances that Kosovo would remain Yugoslav territory, only provisionally occupied: “we didn’t give away Kosovo, we don’t give away Kosovo”, Slobodan Milosevic then declared publicly. Kosovo was part of a Yugoslav republic, Serbia, and remained so even when this and the other remaining Yugoslav republic, Montenegro, later legally ‘divorced’, thus ending the very existence of the ‘once upon a time’ Country of the South Slavs. Serbia does not recognize the right to secession of her provinces, and so she did not recognize the secession of Kosovo when this territory subsequently (in 2008, still under NATO occupation and without holding a referendum with that purpose) proclaimed its independence.

She complained about this to the International Court of Justice, but the ICJ did not grant the Serbian complaint, arguing that, while it was true that on the latter’s side was the UN’s principle of protection of the integrity of states’ borders, on the side of Kosovar independence was the also UN’s principle of the defense of peoples right to self-determination. That being the case, and although admittedly in a situation of mon coeur balance, the august Court decided by a majority to give the right to Kosovo’s independence, and the wrong to Serbia. The rejection of a region’s independence could be valid internally, but not internationally. Was the secession of Kosovo illegal from the point of view of Serbian law? Perhaps. But not, the ICJ declared, from the point of view of international law.

Now, with things admittedly at this point, the obvious question is: have Crimea, the Donbass, plus the other two provinces of Novorossiya, legally seceded from Ukraine? From Kiev’s point of view, of course not. But from the point of view of international law? When faced with the problem of the secession of countries de facto in a colonial situation, but formally only provinces of another (as was the case with the then Portuguese overseas provinces in Africa), the UN had already decided, in 1970, that the decisive criterion was the existence or not of negative discrimination against certain groups. If the Portuguese state practiced negative discrimination against African ‘indigenous’ people, this would be an irrefutable indication of colonialism, even if the Portuguese Constitution of the time did not openly proclaim it. Therefore, Angola and Mozambique would have the right to secede.

If, on the other hand, it was a question of territories where the populations enjoyed the same rights as the ‘normal’ nationals of their respective countries, such as the Corsicans vis-à-vis the other French, or the Sardinians in relation to the other Italians, there would be no right of secession. Corsica and Sardinia would therefore not have the right to secede from France and Italy, respectively. The point is that, precisely, Kosovo was not the target of any derogatory treatment by Serbia. On the contrary, there was positive discrimination, with the right to use Albanian as a regional co-official language, just as it is today in Spain with Basque, Galician and Catalan in the Basque Country, Galicia and Catalonia, respectively. And yet, the ICJ ruled against Serbia’s claim! That is, giving an additional right to the centrifugal political tendencies, when compared to the position of the UN General Assembly back in 1970…

Given this, the question inevitably arises: have the inhabitants of the Donbass, who revolted and organized secessionist referendums as early as 2014, and since then saw the Russian language banned, and were the target of indiscriminate bombardment by Kiev’s troops and paramilitary, and suffered all kinds of other atrocities, not much more right to secession than the Kosovars – to whom, for example, the use of Albanian had never been forbidden by Belgrade? On the contrary, the entire Albanian cultural legacy was always carefully protected by Yugoslavia’s emphatically multi-ethnic Constitution, and the ethnic Albanian population benefited from various forms of positive discrimination. And yet, the ICJ rejected Serbia’s complaint!

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What led to Putin. “If I had accepted Gore’s terms, I would have been a real traitor..”

‘U-Turn Over Atlantic’ (Sp.)

Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of then-Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov’s famous “U-turn” over the Atlantic, an event that grabbed global headlines at the time. On March 24, 1999, Primakov was on a flight to the United States to negotiate a $5 billion IMF loan for Russia. But after then-US Vice President Al Gore informed Primakov that NATO had launched a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, Primakov decided to turn his plane around and return to Moscow. Witnessing the Primakov-Gore conversation was the now-deputy head of Russia’s upper chamber of parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, who served as an assistant for international affairs to the prime minister in the late 1990s. Kosachev was among the members of a Russian government delegation on board Primakov’s plane when the incident took place. The Federal Council deputy head later recalled that Gore told Primakov about the beginning of NATO’s military operation and the alliance’s decision to start bombing Yugoslavia “in these very minutes.”

According to Kosachev, Primakov reacted by telling Gore that such a development means that the Russian delegation’s visit to the US “becomes impossible.” The lawmaker added that the plane turned around after Primakov received the go-ahead from then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin. When asked by reporters why Primakov’s move was so significant for history, Kosachev stressed that “it was the first sign of Russia’s disagreement as a state with the policies that the US and its NATO allies were pursuing in a world which seemed to have changed since the end of the Cold War, but in fact which had not changed at all.” “As I see it, the decision proved to be a turning point both literally and figuratively in relations between Russia and the West, something that reflected our country’s utter disagreement with the West’s line on building a unipolar world,” Kosachev underscored.

It predetermined the entire course of subsequent events, the lawmaker went on, noting that Russia and the West “could have come out of all this by preserving partnership in those issues that unite both sides.” “The two, however, continued to move in opposite directions because the West refused to reconsider its policy line with regard to the outside world and Russia. What’s more, the West in many situations further aggravated the situation,” Kosachev pointed out. As for Primakov, needless to say he was shocked after hearing the news about a European country being bombed for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Despite Gore’s desperate attempts to persuade Primakov to backtrack on his decision and come to Washington, the Russian prime minister was undeterred. “If I had accepted Gore’s terms, I would have been a real traitor,” Primakov later said.

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Bhakdi
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771608859221619053

 

 

Parakeet

 

 

Tiger

 

 

China 2019-24
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771858094030565756

 

 

Bird dog
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771934010643451957

 

 

Giraffe
https://twitter.com/i/status/1771923520995340738

 

 

 

 

Whales
https://twitter.com/i/status/1772141576900214974

 

 

Love

 

 

Gravity

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 162024
 


J.J. Grandville ‘A Comet’s Journey’, Illustration from ‘Un Autre Monde’ 1844

 

Prosecutors Reportedly Met with Biden Admin Before 3 Trump Indictments (BB)
Judge Denies Trump Motion To Dismiss Stormy Daniels ‘Hush Money’ Case (ZH)
Obama CIA Colluded with Foreign Powers in Massive Spy Op Against Trump (Miles)
US Intel Asked Foreign Countries to Surveil Trump Associates (Turley)
US Intel Fabricated Claim Putin Preferred Trump Over Clinton in 2016 (Sp.)
Will Bobulinski’s Testimony End Joe Biden’s 2024 Presidential Bid? (Sp.)
A Kamala Harris Presidency Would Be The Death Of The Democrats (Bridge)
Trump Could Force Ukraine To Make Peace – Bloomberg (RT)
Texas Should Be Renamed ‘Ukraine’ – Rep. Chip Roy (RT)
Kremlin Responds To Rumors Of Russian Space Nukes (RT)
Epstein Victims Sue FBI (RT)
Over a Million Palestinians to be Forced Into Egypt at Gunpoint (Mike Whitney)
Soros Could Take Control Of Hundreds Of US Radio Stations (RT)
Europe ‘In For Very Rocky Times’ After Failed Sanctions on Russia (Miles)
Defusing the Derivatives Time Bomb (Ellen Brown)

 

 

 

 

Fani
https://twitter.com/i/status/1758242279196672503

Yeartie
https://twitter.com/i/status/1758162535197376793

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tucker radicalized


https://twitter.com/i/status/1758104468971769856

 

 

Mastery

 

 

 

 

The levels of collusion are out of this world. And still, “Stormy Daniels” is the only case left that still seems alive.

Prosecutors Reportedly Met with Biden Admin Before 3 Trump Indictments (BB)

Three separate prosecutors reportedly met with White House aides before indicting former President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s political opponent. The reported meetings suggest a coordinated attack against Biden’s 2024 rival. If coordination occurred, it lends credence to Trump’s belief that the indictments are election interference. The timing of the indictments are peculiar. After Trump announced a reelection bid against Biden, four indictments hit Trump in four separate jurisdictions, each following revelations about the Biden family business. In three cases, prosecutors reportedly met with the Biden administration before indicting Trump:
Alvin Bragg: New York – “Stormy Daniels” Case (state)
Jack Smith: Miami – “Documents” Case (federal)
Fani Willis: Fulton County, Georgia (state)

First Case: “Stormy Daniels”
The first indictment occurred on April 4, 2023, the same day that former Biden aide Kathy Chung testified about Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, contradicting Biden’s version of events. On March 17, 2023, Bragg asked for a meeting with federal law enforcement ahead of the Trump indictment Trump, a court source told Fox News. A year earlier, Bragg’s office hired a former senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official Matthew Colangelo, who spent years targeting Trump at the Justice Department. He also attacked Trump in his role in the New York Attorney General’s office. “Bragg has been very discredited by the indictment because the people that read it, even Democrats—they’re saying this is not an indictment,” Trump exclusively told Breitbart News after the indictment: Some are saying this is unconstitutional because there’s no crime. He’s been absolutely discredited. It’s a shame. They’re willing to destroy our country. This is all run by the White House, by the way, just in case you have any questions. In fact, they put a man from the White House into one of the top White House/DOJ officials is right there—Matthew Colangelo. He’s the one that’s leading it. He was sitting in the front row in the court during the whole thing. He was in the front row. This is all done by the White House because they don’t want to run against us.

Second Case: “Documents”
Smith filed the second indictment on June 8, 2023, the same day an FBI 10-23 form surfaced alleging Joe Biden was bribed $5 million. Later in June, Smith filed a superseding indictment in the case the day after Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal in Delaware fell apart. Months prior, in March, a member of Biden’s counsel’s office met with a top member of Smith’s team, just nine weeks before he indicted Trump in the classified document case, Breitbart News reported. The meeting “raises obvious concerns about visits to the White House after [Bratt] began his work with the special counsel,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told the Post. “There is no reason why the Justice Department should not be able to confirm whether this meeting was related to the ongoing investigation or concerns some other matter.” Trump slammed the indictment as election interference. Biden does not want to “run” against him, Trump exclusively told Breitbart News in July. “They didn’t want to run against me. That’s why they did it,” he said. “They did this so I wouldn’t get the nomination… They don’t want to run against me, that’s why they did it.”

Third Case: Georgia Case
Willis filed the third indictment against Trump on August 14, 2023. The official court website of Fulton County, Georgia, published what appeared to be an indictment against Trump before deleting it. Months before the indictment, Willis’ top county prosecutor met twice with Biden’s White House counsel on May 23 and November 18, 2022, a year before Trump’s August indictment, Breitbart News reported. Willis’ prosecutor reportedly charged Fulton County taxpayers $2,000 for each meeting, billing $250 an hour for eight hours. Neither Willis nor the prosecutor dispute the allegations, but a spokesperson for Willis’s office told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she would later respond in court filings. “[T]he district attorney was totally compromised. The case has to be dropped,” Trump told reporters in Washington, DC. “They say she’s in far more criminal liability than any of the people she’s looking at.” Once again, the timing of the indictment was suspect. Willis indicted Trump on the same day former FBI supervisory special agent confirmed Biden’s 2020 transition team was tipped off about its plan to interview Hunter Biden.

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“He has since been indicted in Florida, Georgia, and Washington D.C. – which has only propelled him to new heights in the polls.”

Judge Denies Trump Motion To Dismiss Stormy Daniels ‘Hush Money’ Case (ZH)

The judge in former President Donald Trump’s New York hush-money trial says the case will go forward as scheduled, with jury selection beginning on March 25. The decision by Judge Juan Manuel Merchan was made after consulting with the judge in Trump’s now-delayed federal election interference case in Washington DC. Trump was in attendance on Thursday for the hearing to determine whether Trump is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in an alleged scheme to conceal stories about alleged extramarital affairs which former porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal sprung on the billionaire during the 2016 election. Thursday marked Trump’s first return to the court in the New York criminal case since he became the first ex-president indicted in US history. He has since been indicted in Florida, Georgia, and Washington D.C. – which has only propelled him to new heights in the polls.

Sparks flew in the coutroom, as Trump’s attorneys blasted the decision to keep the March date – arguing that Trump will have to stand trial in New York while simultaneously attempting to seal the Republican nomination. “It is completely election interference to say ‘you are going to sit in this courtroom in Manhattan,” said defense attorney Todd Blanche. Merchan at one point told Blanche “Stop interrupting me.” In recent weeks, Merchan has taken steps to prepare for the trial – which would be the first for Trump of his several cases, AP reports. Over the past year, Trump has lashed out at Merchan as a “Trump-hating judge,” asked him to step down from the case and sought to move the case from state court to federal court, all to no avail. Merchan has acknowledged making several small donations to Democrats, including $15 to Trump’s rival Joe Biden, but said he’s certain of his “ability to be fair and impartial.”

Thursday’s proceeding is part of a busy, overlapping stretch of legal activity for the Republican presidential front-runner, who has increasingly made his court involvement part of his political campaign. The recent postponement of a March 4 trial date in Trump’s Washington, D.C. election interference case removed a major hurdle to starting the New York case on time. -AP. Trump has denied any of the alleged sexual encounters. At the time, Trump’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000, and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 in a practiced coined “catch-and-kill.” Trump’s company then paid Cohen $420,000 and marked the payments as legal expenses vs. reimbursements, according to prosecutors.

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Why the Five Eyes? “..the US was not able to spy on Trump legally [through] the intelligence community,” McAdams said. “So they asked their allies, ‘Hey, spy on someone and tell us what’s going on.’”

Obama CIA Colluded with Foreign Powers in Massive Spy Op Against Trump (Miles)

New reporting suggests the lengths the US deep state went to to undermine former US President Donald Trump. Since 2016, Democratic Party officials have accused former US President Donald Trump of illegally colluding with the Russian government as part of the discredited “Russiagate” narrative. Now, it appears such claims may represent a case of projection on the part of Trump’s critics. That’s the takeaway from a bombshell report by “Twitter Files” journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger this week that suggests that CIA officials under former US President Barack Obama worked through English-speaking intelligence partners to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. The report alleges that the CIA under intelligence chief John Brennan worked with Five Eyes intelligence partners to circumvent legal restrictions against domestic spying by the agency. Five Eyes is an alliance of intelligence agencies in the United States, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Brennan’s CIA allegedly colluded with these foreign intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign. The spy agency also reportedly targeted prominent people associated with the campaign, operating from a list of 26 figures that intelligence assets could attempt to extract information from. Attorney Steve Gill and analyst Daniel McAdams joined Sputnik’s Fault Lines program on Thursday to discuss the shocking revelations. “It’s now becoming clear that despite all the claims that Trump didn’t know what he was talking about when he said that his campaign operatives were being spied on by the federal government – they were,” noted Gill. “It is deplorable that we have a federal government that is spying on our citizens, not because of a legitimate national security interest, but because the deep state is trying to protect their interests rather than the interests of fair and free elections,” he added.

“You know, they’re targeting their political opponent. This is the stuff that you see in third-world countries and allegedly in Russia, and it is despicable that it’s not getting the backlash from the public and the media that it deserves.” Host Jamarl Thomas then cut to a clip of a 2020 appearance by Trump on the 60 Minutes television program. “The biggest scandal was when they spied on my campaign,” said Trump to reporter Leslie Stahl. “They spied on my campaign.” An argument then ensued between Trump and Stahl over whether the alleged spying actually took place. “He was right,” Thomas observed after playing the clip. “Leslie Stahl should be fired by 60 Minutes today,” said Gill.

“All these people that have collected their Emmys and their awards for their journalistic integrity and their successes, including those that denied that the Russia hoax was being pushed by Hillary Clinton… at the very least they should be turning in their awards as they exit their positions of power in the media.” Daniel McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, also commented on the bombshell report during the final hour of the program Thursday. “The revelations about the spying on the Trump campaign now that have come out thanks to Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger… [are] astonishing because it tells you that the US was not able to spy on Trump legally [through] the intelligence community,” McAdams said. “So they asked their allies, ‘Hey, spy on someone and tell us what’s going on.’”

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“Congress should be interested in whether the origins for the Russian investigation began with nudges from American intelligence in 2016 to the “Five Eyes.”

US Intel Asked Foreign Countries to Surveil Trump Associates (Turley)

There is a disturbing report published on Michael Shellenberger’s Public Substack detailing how the U.S. intelligence community called upon foreign governments to target associates of Donald Trump before the 2016 election. The request to the “Five Eyes” agencies (the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) appears to have come from Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan. According to Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi and Alex Gutentag, foreign intelligence agencies were asked to conduct the surveillance, including “bumping” the associates — a term for making contact with or casually engaging a target to generate intelligence. These encounters may also have been used to generate intelligence reports used to support further intelligence efforts by the United States in the Russian investigation. The journalists reported that Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters intelligence apparatus, or GCHQ, went ahead in contacting the Trump’s associates as early as March 2016.

Keep in mind that this was the same month that George Papadopoulos joined the Trump campaign as an adviser. It was also when Papadopoulos met a London-based professor, Josef Mifsud, who Papadopoulos was led to believe had “substantial connections to Russian government officials.” On March 21, 2016, Trump identified Papadopoulos and Carter Page as members of his foreign policy team. If true, the question is the basis for such surveillance of U.S. citizens associated with the opposing political party and a presidential campaign. The role of Brennan is intriguing. Brennan was the one who briefed President Barack Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged “plan” to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”

It was also Brennan who later declared during the Trump Administration that a press conference with Vladimir Putin was “nothing short of treason.” He later said that he did not mean real treason when he said it was nothing short of treason. Brennan also signed the infamous letter warning that the Hunter Biden laptop had all of the markings of Russian intelligence, a letter that he later admitted was “political.” Now these sources are claiming that agents from the Five Eyes “were making contacts and bumping Trump people going back to March 2016.” Former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was sentenced to probation in 2021 after admitting that he falsified evidence to renew a wiretap against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Shellenberger and Taibbi have a record of investigating in areas long avoided by other journalists, particularly in exposing the massive censorship system funded and coordinated by the government. There is much to learn about these allegations and their underlying support. If proven, it would appear that neither the Inspector General nor John Durham were given the full picture of the origins of the Russian investigation. Moreover, there are intriguing questions over a referenced binder that sources said contained much of this intelligence and analysis. That binder or binders allegedly disappeared from the CIA. Once again, this is still the early reporting and we need to have more confirmation on these facts. However, Congress should be interested in whether the origins for the Russian investigation began with nudges from American intelligence in 2016 to the “Five Eyes.”

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“..intelligence indicates that Russians viewed Clinton as manageable and likely to continue existing US policies, the report said..”

US Intel Fabricated Claim Putin Preferred Trump Over Clinton in 2016 (Sp.)

The US intelligence community fabricated claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, journalists Michael Shellenberger, Matt Taibbi and Alex Gutentag reported on Thursday. An Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) published by the US Director of National Intelligence in January 2017 purported that Putin wanted Trump to win the election. However, the assessment’s authors fabricated the intelligence on the claim, the report said, citing sources close to a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia scandal. The findings of the HPSCI investigation are being blocked from release, according to the report. Evidence indicates that Putin actually preferred Clinton, the report said.

The House investigators found that US intelligence analysts had information about Russians calling Trump unreliable and unsteady, the report said. In contrast, intelligence indicates that Russians viewed Clinton as manageable and likely to continue existing US policies, the report said. Former CIA Director John Brennan led the attempt to frame Trump as Putin’s preferred candidate in the ICA, the report said. The HPSCI investigation determined that the intelligence community conducted the assessment for political purposes, the report said. On Wednesday, Putin said in an interview with Russian media that it would be better for Russia for current US President Joe Biden to remain in office because he is more predictable. Trump called Putin’s remarks a “great compliment” and said that Biden would give up everything to Russia.

Russia will work with any president elected by US citizens, Putin added. In the wake of the 2016 election campaign, former President Trump was investigated by federal agencies for possible ties between his aides and Russia. Both Trump and Russia denied allegations of collusion. A four-year investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the allegations found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy. A subsequent investigation by US Special Counsel John Durham concluded that the FBI should have never launched the probe into the collusion allegations.

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“..why are authorities finally giving Bobulinski an audience only now?”

Will Bobulinski’s Testimony End Joe Biden’s 2024 Presidential Bid? (Sp.)

Former head of the Sinohawk company Tony Bobulinski testified behind closed doors before US lawmakers in the House impeachment inquiry on February 13. Commenting on the testimony, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer told Just the News on Wednesday that Bobulinski had revealed that “Joe Biden knew [Tony] was going in business with Hunter and with [Joe’s brother] Jim Biden, and he knew that the business was selling the Biden brand.” In an explosive opening statement, Bobulinski alleged that Joe Biden could be probed in relation to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity statutes, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). “From publicly available information alone, it seems clear that the Biden family monetized Joe’s public offices for decades, just as the Clinton family seems to have done, albeit on a much smaller scale than the Clintons,” Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel told Sputnik.

“We also know from [Joe Biden’s] tax returns that he declared very low incomes for decades. Miraculously after he left the vice presidential mansion on January 20, 2017, his declared income soared. But the murky ventures that may have paid him millions of dollars have never accurately been explained. Like other corrupt, dynastic families in both political parties, the Bidens, until now, have never been forced to explain how they obtained their mansions and other assets, and whether they have paid all required income and other taxes on these cash flows.” Ortel drew attention to the fact that Bobulinski has been trying to make his case against the Biden family “business” for years; and yet over the same period, the FBI, Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service have refused to prosecute many Biden family members and associates for corruption, influence peddling, money-laundering and income tax evasion.

“The really damning questions here include why did government officials protect so many potential, high-level defendants and who has been involved in this decision-making process?” the Wall Street analyst asked. “As in my case in December 2018, when I tried to persuade the FBI to investigate Clinton Foundation crimes unsuccessfully, I think the real timing question is why are authorities finally giving Bobulinski an audience only now?” There are crucial questions concerning Bobulinski’s interaction with the Biden family and Chinese business tycoons which require answers, according to Jason Goodman, a US investigative journalist and founder of CrowdSource the Truth. “Bobulinski was in business with an individual who was addicted [Hunter Biden] to crack which is obviously illegal and dangerous,” Goodman told Sputnik. “Either he didn’t notice this, or he knew and didn’t think it was a concern. Either reflects poorly on his judgment.

Even without the crack, a reasonable person might have questions about getting into business with a bunch of Chinese nationals and the vice president’s moron son who clearly was doing exactly nothing for the business. It really is a very strange circumstance and hard to understand how a legitimate businessperson could find themselves in such a situation.” Charles Ortel also wonders “why [Bobulinski] agreed, initially, to get anywhere near the Biden family in these ‘ventures’. “Having stepped forward with his explosive allegations, Bobulinski runs the risk of being hunted by the Biden administration’s “justice machine”, according to Sputnik interlocutors. “One hopes Bobulinski is safe, but I believe another Biden accuser who deserves a fair hearing – Tara Reade – fled to Russia in fear of being attacked,” Ortel remarked. “Bobulinski will be repeatedly audited and harassed by the IRS. Also, given personal experience, his computer will be hacked by government operatives,” suggested retired certified public accountant Robert Bishop in an interview with Sputnik.

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“..Harris was polling at 1% when she dropped out of the presidential nominee race in 2019..”

A Kamala Harris Presidency Would Be The Death Of The Democrats (Bridge)

With President Joe Biden’s advanced age and cognitive decline taking central stage just months before the presidential election, Democrats need to discuss ‘the Kamala problem.’ As the US speeds towards the 2024 presidential election, the Democrats find themselves in a rather untenable position. Not only is the incumbent US President Joe Biden suffering visibly on the mental front – reminiscing aloud over meetings he’s never had with long-dead world leaders – but his second in command lacks the essential support of the Democratic base. While Biden’s approval rating sits in the basement at 39%, Vice President Kamala Harris has managed to outdo him with 37.5%. This should come as no surprise considering that Harris was polling at 1% when she dropped out of the presidential nominee race in 2019. How did she manage to alienate so many people within her own party?

Earlier in her career as California’s district attorney, Harris, the child of immigrants from Jamaica and India, had a reputation as a ‘top cop’ who worked against the interests of victims. She frequently failed, for example, to exercise her authority to investigate charges of misconduct and abuse by police and prosecutors. At the same time, she often kept people – many of them poor black people – behind bars even when there was ample evidence of wrongful convictions, while opposing legislation that would have demanded her office to investigate fatal police shootings. During the 2019 Democratic presidential debate, Representative Tulsi Gabbard called out Harris over her record. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations, and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said. “She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep cash bail systems in place that impacts poor people in the worst possible way.”

Harris never denied the charges, only saying that she was responsible for “reforming California’s justice system.” More recently, Harris’ popularity has taken a hit because she has failed to show any real accomplishments in the past four years on the VP job. On the most important issue that Biden tasked Harris with, which was to investigate what was driving waves of illegal immigrants to America, she dropped the ball, neglecting to even visit the US-Mexico border. A former Biden administration senior official told Axios: “She’s been at best ineffective, and at worst sporadically engaged and not seeing [the border] was her responsibility. It’s an opportunity for her, and she didn’t fill the breach.” This is what happens when you elect a candidate based on their identity, not their competence – it’s nearly impossible to relieve them of their duties.

Should the Democratic Party take the decision to replace Harris, 59, at this particular juncture, the fallout would be fierce and swift. Anyone who dares criticize Harris, the first woman and first Black American to hold the office of vice president, will be accused of holding her to a higher standard than past (male, white) politicians. As far as Harris is concerned, she firmly believes that she can lead the nation should something untoward happen to Joe Biden. “I am ready to serve. There’s no question about that,” Harris told the Wall Street Journal in an interview last week, just days before the release of a damning report emphasizing her boss’ failing memory. The report, penned by Special Counsel Robert Hur after an investigation into Biden’s mishandling of classified documents, said Biden displayed “diminished faculties” in interviews and derided him as an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

The public relations fallout has become so critical for the White House that there are rumors of invoking the 25th Amendment, which outlines presidential succession. This empowers the vice president and cabinet to remove the president from office through a majority vote in the event it’s determined he or she is no longer fit to hold office. The amendment has never been invoked in US history, and it probably won’t be invoked now since the specter of a Harris presidency is even less attractive than sitting through a Biden speech. Whatever the case may be, Donald Trump will not miss an opportunity to throw a spotlight on Harris and her inglorious stint as vice president, nor should he, considering that chances are high that Biden won’t serve out his term through age 86. In other words, Trump would be reminding Americans that a vote for Joe Biden is essentially a vote for Kamala Harris. Such a strategy will likely attract many swing voters into the Trump camp.

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And peace is of course bad.

Trump Could Force Ukraine To Make Peace – Bloomberg (RT)

Republican presidential frontrunner and ex-US leader Donald Trump is planning to pressure Ukraine to negotiate peace with Russia if he wins an expected rematch against incumbent Joe Biden for the White House, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing sources. Should Trump become president, he may also retract a number of defense commitments to some NATO allies, according to reports. People familiar with the matter said Trump advisers had talked about ways of bringing Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and his Russian counterpart to the negotiating table shortly after the potential inauguration. One adviser, according to Bloomberg, suggested that Washington could push Kiev to engage with Moscow by threatening to cut massive military assistance, adding that Russia could be swayed by the threat of increasing that aid instead.

Bloomberg sources also stressed that Trump aides had not discussed the matter with Russian officials, as it would be illegal for private US entities to negotiate with foreign governments on behalf of the administration. Russian officials have repeatedly said they are open to talks with Ukraine, but noted that any dialogue would take place only after Zelensky cancels his decree banning negotiations with the current leadership in Moscow. The Ukrainian leader introduced the ban last autumn after four of Kiev’s former regions overwhelmingly voted to join Russia. Another facet of Trump’s presumed foreign policy appears to be a concept of “a two-tiered NATO alliance” in which a common defense clause would be applied only to those nations that had reached a certain defense-spending threshold, Bloomberg reported, adding that no final decision had been made on the matter.

Still, the agency noted that such an approach could “upend decades of US policy” while risking “fracturing” the defense alliance. During his term as president, Trump repeatedly pushed NATO countries to increase military spending to 2% of GDP, a threshold many have struggled to reach. As of July, only 11 NATO members had met or exceeded that level. Bloomberg’s report came after Trump claimed last week that, while in office, he had threatened not to defend those ‘delinquent’ NATO members that did not pay their fair share of defense spending if they were attacked by Russia. His remarks triggered condemnation both from the White House and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Moscow has repeatedly said it has no plans or interest in attacking the US-led military bloc.

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“I’ve never seen the nursing home known as the United States Senate work harder than when it comes to spending the American people’s money for foreign wars..”

Texas Should Be Renamed ‘Ukraine’ – Rep. Chip Roy (RT)

Republican congressman Chip Roy from Texas has slammed the US Senate for passing a $95 billion bill for Ukraine and Israel without including provisions for securing the southern border, calling the bill an “abomination.” The Democratic-led upper house passed the international security assistance package on Tuesday with a 70-29 vote after a group of Republican lawmakers broke ranks to back the measure – but it has yet to be approved by the House of Representatives. Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Roy proposed submitting a bill to rename the state of Texas as Ukraine, quipping that “then, maybe this administration and senators will work on securing the border of the United States.” “I’ve never seen the nursing home known as the United States Senate work harder than when it comes to spending the American people’s money for foreign wars,” the Republican lawmaker said.

Roy went on to call out GOP senators who supported the Senate bill, and who argued that much of the $60 billion for Ukraine would in fact support the US defense-industrial base and help American business. “Since when do we have economic development that is being driven by funding war overseas?” the congressman asked, insisting that “anybody that’s sane and sees what’s happening at our southern border would know that you cannot fund foreign wars, while our border is wide open and exposed to criminals and lawlessness and terrorists.” Roy stated that border security remains a priority for the American people as well as for Republicans in Congress, and vowed to block the Senate-approved bill when it gets to the House.

House speaker Mike Johnson has strongly opposed further funding for Ukraine unless it is tied to border security and tougher immigration laws. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has been urging Congress to speed up approval of the aid for Ukraine, arguing that stalling the funds plays into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin and increases the likelihood of a direct confrontation with Moscow in the future. Biden has claimed the Russia could attack a NATO state if it manages to defeat Ukraine, which would require Washington to intervene, in line with the bloc’s mutual defense guarantee. Moscow, in turn, has repeatedly denied having any intention to attack NATO – with Putin stressing that Russia has “no interest… geopolitically, economically or militarily” in doing so, and would only engage in hostilities if attacked first.

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“It’s clear that the White House is trying, by hook or by crook, to push Congress to vote on a bill to approve funding [for Ukraine]. We’ll see what tricks the White House will use..”

Kremlin Responds To Rumors Of Russian Space Nukes (RT)

Western media reports claiming that Russia could place nuclear weapons in space are nothing more than a ploy by the White House to convince US lawmakers to approve further military aid to Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. Citing sources, several US media outlets reported this week that American intelligence had obtained information on purported Russian plans to deploy a nuclear anti-satellite system in orbit, although the idea supposedly remains at the developmental stage. ABC News claimed that while the system would not be used to attack targets on Earth, US officials still consider it “very concerning and very sensitive.” Responding on Thursday, Peskov suggested that the administration of US President Joe Biden is using the issue to force a vote to approve Ukraine aid. Moscow, however, will wait and see what comes from an upcoming White House briefing on the topic, Peskov added.

“It’s clear that the White House is trying, by hook or by crook, to push Congress to vote on a bill to approve funding [for Ukraine]. We’ll see what tricks the White House will use,” he said. Nuclear weapons in space are banned under the Outer Space Treaty, which was opened for signature by the US, Soviet Union, and the UK in 1967, as Moscow and Washington sought to ease tensions during the Cold War. More than 100 countries have since joined the treaty. On Wednesday, Republican congressman Mike Turner, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, claimed to have shared information “concerning a serious national security threat” with US lawmakers, while urging Biden to declassify the relevant materials. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is scheduled to brief congressional leaders on security issues on Thursday.

When pressed on whether he would address Turner’s concerns, he declined to respond, noting he was “surprised” by the statement, given the upcoming meeting on the matter. His comments came after the New York Times suggested, citing sources, that Turner – whom it described as the administration’s ally on Ukraine aid – had pushed the nuclear issue into the spotlight, to “perhaps to create pressure” on lawmakers to approve $60 billion in supplemental funding for Kiev. The Biden administration has been urging Congress to approve more aid for Ukraine since the autumn. Its efforts have been met with opposition from Republicans, who have demanded that the White House do more to improve security on the southern US border in return.

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“..Wray promised to conduct an internal investigation to “figure out if there is more information we can provide.”

Epstein Victims Sue FBI (RT)

A dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein have sued the FBI, alleging that the agency failed to properly investigate the notorious sex offender. They claim that the FBI sat on reports about Epstein’s activities for two decades, allowing the victims to be “trafficked, abused, raped, tortured and threatened.” The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in New York on Wednesday by 12 women, all of whom are referred to in the document as anonymous Jane Does. “For over two decades, the Federal Bureau of Investigation permitted Jeffrey Epstein to sex traffic and sexually abuse scores of children and young women by failing to do the job the American people expected of it,” the complaint alleges. “As a result of the continued failures of the FBI, Jane Does 1-12 bring this lawsuit to get to the bottom – once and for all – of the FBI’s role in Epstein’s criminal sex trafficking ring.”

According to the lawsuit, the FBI began receiving tips, reports, and complaints about Epstein’s alleged trafficking and abuse of minors in 1996, but failed to open a case or share this information with other law enforcement agencies. The FBI eventually opened a case in 2006, two years before Epstein pleaded guilty to a child prostitution charge in Florida. A controversial plea deal saw Epstein register as a sex offender and serve 13 months on supervised release in lieu of a possible life sentence. Despite the fact that he had been convicted for one offense and dodged a litany of other sex-trafficking charges, the FBI continued to ignore tips that flowed in over the next decade, the lawsuit claims. “As a direct and proximate cause of the FBI’s negligence, plaintiffs would not have been continued to be sex trafficked, abused, raped, tortured and threatened,” the complaint said. Epstein was eventually arrested in 2019 and charged with the trafficking of dozens of minors. He died awaiting trial in a Manhattan jail cell a month later, with his death officially ruled a suicide.

Epstein’s girlfriend and “madam,” Ghislaine Maxwell, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for child sex trafficking in 2022. According to testimony from victims, Epstein and Maxwell recruited girls to perform sexual acts on themselves and their rich and powerful associates, and instructed these girls to recruit additional victims. Among the powerful men accused of abusing the girls was Britain’s Prince Andrew, who settled out of court with an accuser in 2022. The plaintiffs behind the latest lawsuit are seeking an unspecified amount in compensation and damages from the US government. The FBI has already been accused of negligence in its handling of the Epstein case. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, agency Director Christopher Wray was asked why the FBI didn’t do more to stop the notorious pedophile. Wray promised to conduct an internal investigation to “figure out if there is more information we can provide.”

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Egypt has started building refugee camps.

Over a Million Palestinians to be Forced Into Egypt at Gunpoint (Mike Whitney)

Here’s a blurb from Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion who said: “You are no doubt aware of the [Jewish National Fund’s] activity in this respect. Now a transfer of a completely different scope will have to be carried out. In many parts of the country new settlement will not be possible without transferring the Arab fellahin.” He concluded: “Jewish power [in Palestine], which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out this transfer on a large scale.” (1948) This same line of reasoning has persisted through the decades although today’s Zionists tend to express themselves more brashly and with less restraint. Take, for example, popular conservative pundit Ben Shapiro who presented his views in an article titled “Transfer is Not a Dirty Word”. Here’s what he said:

“If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It’s an ugly solution, but it is the only solution. And it is far less ugly than the prospect of bloody conflict ad infinitum…. The Jews don’t realize that expelling a hostile population is a commonly used and generally effective way of preventing violent entanglements. There are no gas chambers here. It’s not genocide; it’s transfer…. It’s time to stop being squeamish. Jews are not Nazis. Transfer is not genocide. And anything else isn’t a solution”. Transfer is Not a Dirty Word, Narkive “Squeamish”? Shapiro thinks that anyone who recognizes the appalling moral horror of driving people off their land and forcing them into refugee camps is squeamish?

This is the essence of political Zionism and it dates back to the very beginning of the Jewish state. So, when critics claim that Netanyahu has assembled the “most right-wing government in Israel’s history”, don’t believe them. Netanyahu is no better or worse than his predecessors. The only Prime Minister who veered even slightly from this ‘iron law’ of Zionism, was Yitzhak Rabin who was (predictably) assassinated by an opponent of Oslo. What does that tell you?It tells you there was never going to be a “two-state” solution; it was a charade from the get-go. And (as Netanyahu intimated recently) Israeli leaders merely played along with the hoax in order to buy-time to prepare for the solution that is being imposed today. Have you ever wondered why so many Israelis support Netanyahu’s murderous rampage in Gaza?

(Hint) It’s not because Israeli Jews are homicidal maniacs. No. It’s because they know what he is doing. They’re not taken-in by the “Hamas” diversion, that is merely propaganda pablum for the West. They know that Netanyahu is implementing a plan to seize all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And, in doing so, he is achieving the territorial ambitions of his Zionist ancestors. So, even though the majority of Israelis despise Netanyahu and think he should be prosecuted for corruption, they are willing to look the other way while he does their bidding. What onlookers need to realize is that the current strategy is not new at all, in fact, it has a 75 year-long pedigree that aligns with the demographic objectives of the Zionist leadership. None of this of course has anything to do with Hamas which is merely the pretext for the eradication of the indigenous people. What we are seeing is the actualization of the Zionist dream, the modern version of Plan Dalet, the original roadmap for ethnic cleaning that was drawn up in 1948.

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“He was the largest donor of the 2022 US midterm election season, funneling $128 million to Democratic candidates and organizations..”

Soros Could Take Control Of Hundreds Of US Radio Stations (RT)

Liberal financier George Soros has bought a major stake in the US’ second-largest radio company and could gain “effective control” of more than 220 stations across the country, the New York Post reported on Wednesday. Soros Fund Management purchased around $400 million of debt owed by the Audacy media group during its bankruptcy process, the newspaper reported, citing court filings. The billionaire bought the debt at roughly 50 cents on the dollar from hedge fund HG Vora, the report continued, noting that once the deal is approved by a bankruptcy court, Soros will own about 40% of Audacy’s overall debt. While 40% is not a majority stake, a source told the New York Post that Soros could nevertheless gain “effective control of the media giant when it emerges from bankruptcy.”

Audacy owns 227 music, sports, and talk radio stations in 45 US states. The company also owns CBS Radio, which operates 11 news stations including San Francisco’s KCBS and New York’s WCBS. After years of declining revenue, Audacy filed for bankruptcy early last month with $1.9 billion in debt. Should the deal go ahead as reported, Audacy will be the latest addition to Soros’ growing media empire. Soros Fund Management joined a consortium of creditors to purchase Vice Media last summer, paying $350 million to acquire a former media juggernaut once valued at $5.7 billion. An “insider source” cited by the New York Post described the Audacy deal as “scary,” saying he believed that Soros intended to use his stake to influence public opinion ahead of this year’s presidential election.

A hedge fund manager who shot to infamy for crashing the British pound in 1992, Soros is among the wealthiest men on earth, with an estimated net worth of around $7 billion. That’s on top of the $32 billion he’s donated to a web of NGOs, charities and political campaigns through his Open Society Foundations. Soros is an advocate for mass immigration to Western countries, European federalism, and economic and political liberalism. He was the largest donor of the 2022 US midterm election season, funneling $128 million to Democratic candidates and organizations. As well as direct donations to candidates and activist groups, Soros reportedly gave $300,000 to a group of TikTok influencers who collaborated with the White House to promote President Joe Biden’s policies. The Open Society Foundations announced last year that Soros, who is 93 years old, would step down from the helm of the organization and hand control to his 38-year-old son, Alex.

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“..“no one is buying European or German products,” he claimed, contributing to “a really critically-wounded Europe.” “We are in for very rocky times..”

Europe ‘In For Very Rocky Times’ After Failed Sanctions on Russia (Miles)

Beijing reacted angrily Wednesday to reports that the European Union plans to target three Chinese companies as part of the bloc’s 13th round of sanctions against Russia. The move by the EU follows claims that Chinese and Indian businesses have helped Russia “circumvent” European sanctions by providing them with electronic components used in the manufacturing of drones and other military equipment. The EU has imposed sanctions on Russia since the intensification of the Donbass conflict in early 2022. Beijing blasted the EU restrictions as “illegal” and criticized the “long-arm jurisdiction” against Chinese companies. China has benefited in recent months as Western sanctions against Russian energy have hampered European competitiveness, forcing companies in Germany and other EU nations to raise prices as they rely on more expensive American liquified natural gas.

Seen in this light, the EU’s attempts to punish Chinese businesses may be viewed as a desperate attempt to hobble the competition as Europe increasingly faces economic crisis and deindustrialization. Economist Richard Wolff joined Sputnik’s The Critical Hour program on Wednesday to discuss the grim economic outlook for the continent. “Europe, which has been kind of a dominant player in the whole world for a couple of thousand of years, is in what I believe to be – and I’m far from the only one – a crisis so profound it may be what we look back on and call the terminal crisis, the last one, because it literally cannot survive,” Wolff speculated. “On the one hand, it is being outcompeted by the United States, which has dominated it for the last 75 years anyway,” he noted. “But now the new player in the world economy, the People’s Republic of China and its allies, known generally as the BRICS, competing and challenging Europe, from the other side of the planet, if you like, means that Europe is caught between them.”

Wolff claimed the cultural, historical, and linguistic differences between EU countries have undermined the continent’s attempts to unify in recent decades. Now, Europe is a “junior partner” Wolff claimed, caught between the US-led G7 economic bloc and the China-led BRICS countries. While Europe previously benefited from its relationship with Russia in the form of cheap natural gas, Russia has now turned towards China and the other nations of the BRICS bloc after being “betrayed by the rest of Europe.” If the solidifying of new alliances has economically harmed Europe, it has benefitted Russia, Wolff claimed, which has been able to sell its oil and gas to India and China. “The Russian ruble is in fine shape. The Russian economy is growing faster than last year, [faster] than the United States is and is in no way falling apart,” the economist insisted. Meanwhile “no one is buying European or German products,” he claimed, contributing to “a really critically-wounded Europe.” “We are in for very rocky times,” Wolff warned ominously.

Read more …

“.. in the event of the bankruptcy of a major financial institution, derivative claimants are put first in line to grab the assets — not just the deposits of customers but their stocks and bonds..”

Defusing the Derivatives Time Bomb (Ellen Brown)

This is a sequel to a Jan. 15 article titled “Casino Capitalism and the Derivatives Market: Time for Another ‘Lehman Moment’?”, discussing the threat of a 2024 “black swan” event that could pop the derivatives bubble. That bubble is now over ten times the GDP of the world and is so interconnected and fragile that an unanticipated crisis could trigger the collapse not just of the bubble but of the economy. To avoid that result, in the event of the bankruptcy of a major financial institution, derivative claimants are put first in line to grab the assets — not just the deposits of customers but their stocks and bonds. This is made possible by the Uniform Commercial Code, under which all assets held by brokers, banks and “central clearing parties” have been “dematerialized” into fungible pools and are held in “street name.”

This article will consider several proposed alternatives for diffusing what Warren Buffett called a time bomb waiting to go off. That sort of bomb just detonated in the Chinese stock market, contributing to its fall; and the result could be much worse in the U.S., where the stock market plays a much larger role in the economy. A Jan.30 article on Bloomberg News notes that “Chinese stocks’ brutal start to the year is being at least partly blamed on the impact of a relatively new financial derivative known as a snowball. The products are tied to indexes, and a key feature is that when the gauges fall below built-in levels, brokerages will sell their related futures positions.” Further details are in a Jan. 23rd article titled “’Snowball’ Derivatives Feed China’s Stock Market Avalanche.” It states, “China’s plunging stock market is leading to losses on billions of dollars worth of derivatives linked to the country’s equity indexes, fuelling further selling as retail investors offload their positions…. Snowball products are similar to the index-linked products sold in the 2008 financial crisis, with investors betting that U.S. equities would not fall more than 25% or 30%,” which they did.

The Chinese stock market is much younger and smaller than that in the U.S., with a much smaller role in the economy. Thus China’s economy remains relatively protected from disruptive ups and downs in the stock market. Not so in the U.S., where speculating in the derivatives casino brought down international insurer AIG and investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008, triggering the global financial crisis of 2008-09. AIG had to be bailed out by the taxpayers to prevent collapse of the too-big-to-fail derivative banks, and Lehman Brothers went through a messy bankruptcy that took years to resolve. In a December 2010 article on Seeking Alpha titled “Derivatives: The Big Banks’ Quadrillion-Dollar Financial Casino,” attorney Michael Snyder wrote, “derivatives were at the heart of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, and whenever the next financial crisis happens, derivatives will undoubtedly play a huge role once again…. Today, the world financial system has been turned into a giant casino where bets are made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks make a ton of money from it. The system … is totally dominated by the big international banks.”

Read more …

 

 

 

 

Ron Paul Assange

 

 

 

 

Baby rhino

 

 

Bear and Moose

 

 

 

 

Lion turtle
https://twitter.com/i/status/1758108922764804147

 

 

Dinosaur
https://twitter.com/i/status/1758103418093064324

 

 

India and Pakistan
https://twitter.com/i/status/1758122937905820057

 

 

Bach

 

 

Legend

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 282019
 


Leonardo da Vinci Ginevra de’ Benci 1474-78

 

Perhaps against better judgment, I just can’t keep silent about the Michael Cohen’s in da House show performed on February 27. I was watching it and increasingly fearing for the future of America. We had all been able to read his prepared statement before he opened the party with it, and therefore we all knew there was nothing there. So why did this thing take place, and why were all the cameras and reporters there? Do we live in split realities these days?

Both before and after the gruelling -for the viewer- session, words like ‘explosive’ and bombshell’ were all over, so I thought I’d watch, since I might have missed something, but no, there was nothing, there wasn’t even a there there. Apparently, US House members are by now immune to being revealed as nutcases frantically phishing for evidence of accusations they formerly made but could never prove.

A phishing expedition with a willing whale in the center who sort of volunteered to be harpooned, and still came up with absolutely nothing but blubber. And then like 4 hours of that. There’s never been a more convincing picture of what US politics and media have become. But they’re all entirely impervious to it. They’re discussing nothing for hours on end with millions watching, and they see it as normal.

Now, I’ve been following the decay of the American press ever since Trump entered politics stage right, and I’ve written a hundred thousand words about it, but it really hit home during the Cohen session. Tellingly, the Republican House members were exclusively focusing on Cohen credibility, since he had been caught lying to Congress before, and the Supreme Court just days ago disbarred him.

But this was not about the man’s credibility, and sure, I felt sorry for him too, it was about the fact that he had nothing at all to say, but Republicans had nothing on that. They instead joined the Dems in questioning him about nothing, pretending it was big and explosive and stuff. If anything has ever resembled the Emperor’s new clothes, it was that charade there yesterday.

 

If you insist, we can walk through a few of the topics. A nice example that was not in the prepared statement was that Cohen claimed he had never wanted a White House job, but even the CNN pundits were saying he had wanted one for a long time, and was very insulted when he didn’t get it. Poof! went the last shred of his credibility. Well, not for the House members, they have shorter memories even than CNN talking heads.

Second, the issue of a Trump Tower in Moscow, about which Cohen allegedly lied earlier on, in that the plans were shelved later than he had claimed. But the only thing that really interests the House, because even they understand that wanting to build a hotel in the city is not some criminal thing, is Russiagate, invented out of thin air but still popular stateside.

The one thing related to this that collusion ‘experts’ emphasize time and again, and it came up again in the Cohen thing, is that Trump supposedly planned to gift a penthouse apartment in a potential Trump hotel on Red Square to Vladimir Putin. Conveniently, not a single American appears to have wondered whether Putin would be interested in such a gift.

And I can assure you he wouldn’t. Putin can get -just about- any piece of real estate he wants on Red Square, besides he already has the Kremlin, and he can get anything built there which he might desire. Accepting a free dwelling from a US builder makes no sense. Why should he? Still, this is one of the main items Russiagaters keep coming up with. It makes no sense, and that’s fitting, because neither do they.

Second, pornstar pay-offs. Male politicians worldwide and through the ages have had affairs, and in modern times (re: JFK) there’s been an understanding that the media leave these things alone. On the one hand, it’s proof of virility, something voters like in their candidates, and on the other it shows infidelity, something they don’t. A battle no-one can win, hence the understanding.

In France, this all plays out a bit more openly, though never in the open, but in the US you can break the pact if you want. And since the initial story was that campaign funds had been used to pay Stormy Daniels, there was a potential criminal angle. But we now know that that angle was fake, so no there there either. Trump paid so it (true or not) didn’t become a big campaign story, and that he did so just before an election is irrelevant, because the whole topic is irrelevant. Unless you want to exhume JFK.

 

Third and what pisses me off more than anything, is that Cohen both volunteered, and was coaxed into, talking about Roger Stone’s alleged contacts with Julian Assange. Cohen talked about a conversation between Stone and Trump on July 18-19 2016, in which Stone allegedly said he had talked to Assange who told him WikiLeaks was going to release a big batch of Hillary-related mails.

The DNC convention was July 25-28, the WikiLeaks release July 22. Looks like a slam-dunk collusion story, right? Except that Assange had said 5 weeks earlier, on June 12 2016, that such a batch would be released. So even if Stone had talked to him, there was no news there. Moreover, both Assange and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied the conversation ever took place. And of course Assange can’t defend himself against anything anyone says anymore.

And we can keep going: the assertion that the DNC mails were hacked has been refuted many times, and if they were stolen it was by someone inside the DNC. No story, no collusion, no there there. Only hour after tedious hour of Michael Cohen House testimony about nothing at all.

It felt a lot like a new low point in US political history, but you need to be careful with such classifications these days, since competition’s stiff and still picking up. I liked the following lines from an article in the Guardian this morning to appropriately describe the goings-on:

Trump’s former fixer cautioned that he could not prove the “collusion” with Moscow that the president vehemently denies. Still there was, Cohen said, “something odd” about the affectionate back-and-forth Trump had with Vladimir Putin in public remarks over the years.

Here’s the best thing Cohen could do in the entire time wasted on the topic:

“There are just so many dots that seem to lead in the same direction,” he said.”

How does that not make you want to scream? No collusion, only “something odd”, and “so many dots”. A thorough analysis out of the mouth of an at least questionable character who worked closely with Trump for a decade. That’s all the US House of Representatives had to show for the show it put on. And that’s a really big problem, but there’s no-one in sight to address, let alone rectify, it.

There are a thousand things wrong with Donald Trump, but even though that would not necessarily disqualify him for the presidency, the Democrats and the mainstream press have opted to go all-in on the Russia collusion theme, which even two years and change of Mueller hasn’t been able to prove.

Whether this will be the winning ticket for the Democrats in a next election is very doubtful, and what the press hope to get other than a few more readers and viewers addicted to scandals is anyone’s guess. But more importantly: why do they do it? Why focus on all the made-up stories instead of going out and finding the real ones?

Even if the Cohen show not constitute a new low, it was certainly scraping the gutter of American political reality, and someone better do something, or entirely new and thus far unimaginable lows will be attained. Not a single national political system can survive on entirely trumped-up accusations for long, let alone that of the globe’s most powerful nation. Does anyone ever wonder what the Dems will do if Trump wins again in 2020? Where can they flee to?

I’ll leave you with a few Twitter voices who also see no there there. Note: the first one is dated July 7 2016, some two weeks before Stone -unverifiably- said he talked to Assange (who always denied it, but it wouldn’t matter even if he had) :

 

 

 

 

Oct 012018
 
 October 1, 2018  Posted by at 1:16 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »


John French Sloan Election night 1907 1907

 

Remember Stormy Daniels? Bet you do. And lucky you, you’ll be hearing and seeing a lot more about her -again- as her already classic tome “Full Disclosure” is due out tomorrow -wouldn’t Full Frontal have been a better title?-.

Poor Stormy though has to compete with 2 other anti-Trump books coming out om the same day, “The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis, which could actually be good, and “The Apprentice” by Greg Miller, who’s a journo at the WaPo, so that will definitely not be any good. Hope for Miller that he’s got some sex in his book.

That all these books come out now is no coincidence; it’s because Trump sells better than sex in America these days, and the combination of the two is a can’t miss. AFP writes about the books about Trump, of which “Fire and Fury,” “A Higher Loyalty” “and “Fear” have already sold over a million copies each.

The article quotes a certain David Corn, co-author of “Russian Roulette,” a book about Russian interference in the American presidential campaign (YAWN, not enough sex!), as saying: “There is deep desire on the part of many Americans for an understanding of what happened in this country” during the 2016 presidential campaign”, and also of “what’s going on now within the Trump White House.”

C’mon, no, Americans simply have grown addicted to reading stories bashing Trump every single day, and as behooves addicts, they want more every day. The coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings has only enhanced their lust for dirt, sex and sensationalism. And the media stand ready to give them more.

Corn again: “One potential problem is that people get too accustomed to the outrages of the Trump administration, and therefore become less interested in books like these. “But I don’t see that happening any time soon.” He’s right on that last bit. But forgets to mention -or simply doesn’t understand- that the ‘outrages’ are largely made up by the media who ‘report’ on them.

 

Why do they do this? Because it sells. No mystery there. Anything Trump sells. The Donald is the Golden Eggs Goose. That is the no. 1 business model for not just the US media, but for its entire society. Everything Trump touches turns into gold for someone. The media are making a killing, and they’re going to keep doing the same 24/7 scandal stories.

Yes, Brett Kavanaugh is undoubtedly a prick. So first thought: he’ll fit right in. But his accusers so far have not been very convincing. Nice performance from Blasey Ford, but the memory loss is weak. Still, it doesn’t matter, the story sells. It has Trump, it has sex, it has drama, abuse, the promise of more to come. Ideal set-up for the media.

Still, somewhere along the line one issue emerges: for many people in the anti-Trump crowd, this whole campaign is supposed to be based on working towards the impeachment of Donald Trump. The ultimate prize. But does anyone think that the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC really would want to see him impeached right now?

Think again. Where and how would they make money? Why would they kill the Goose That Lays the Golden Eggs? It makes no sense at all from a business point of view. The ideal world for the MSM is to let things continue just the way they have: bash Trump and anyone associated with him, but never run the risk that anyone would actually think of getting rid of him.

What would they do, the journalists, the TV presenters, the book writers, if Trump would leave, and Mike Pence were to live in the White House? They would all be back to grave financial problems. In a heartbeat, because digital media are inexorably taking over from them, even if Trump temporarily saved them. They need Trump much more than he needs them.

All this puts the old media in an interesting -potential?- conflict with the party they’re so enthusiastically supporting, the Democrats. And it’s good to ponder, too, that the MSM didn’t see this coming, at all. They were just going after Trump with all they got and then some because their owners and sponsors wanted Hillary and certainly not him.

 

When Trump raised their reader and viewer numbers through the roof because of all the Russia and corruption and, yes, sex, stories, they were taken by surprise, but they adapted fast, egged on forcefully by their financial departments: Look at the numbers, keep this up no matter what you do!

It works for them for now, and they don’t look much further; they can’t afford to. But the next problem is already on their horizons. That is, their editorial policies have alienated them from half the entire American population: Trump voters. And they will have a hard time ever getting any of those back, if ever.

There’ll be a time when the Donald is no longer the president and the attention magnet he is today. That will make much less people want to read and view the MSM. It’s all about entertainment, after all, and they can’t make up the kind of entertainment Trump provides. They can distort and exaggerate what he gives him, but they can’t invent him.

Like it or not, like him or not, Trump is a unique phenomenon not only in America, but globally. Perhaps most interesting is that he was never all that special, just a business guy surrounded by -too- many questions, and a reality TV person, who got some attention but in a limited way.

Once he entered politics that all changed. And it did through a very particular kind of cross-breeding. The media all lined up against him, and he fed off that, and then they fed off of that. It’s quite the symbiosis. The one big difference is that he never needed them as much as they did him, he built his victory, found his voters, on new -social?- media.

 

The MSM tried to destroy him and instead they built him up. And perhaps that’s not so surprising if your worldview and business model is based on polarization and antagonism, on excluding entire segments of a population and fulminate against them 24/7. But then again, if you’re a business and you’re making big profits, it’s easy to lose sight of longer term issues.

From my point of view, I’d say America needs to come together a lot more than it is right now; the present chasm is extremely volatile and can lead to really bad outcomes. But how can you do this if your media depend on keeping that chasm alive, and widening it, to make money?

Kavanaugh is an ordinary prick who’d fit right in in DC and so shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it. . Blasey Ford is a sympathetic person who forgot more than she should have if she wants to accuse anyone of anything 35 years later. In a normal world many people would agree with both statements. But today it’s “I believe her no matter what” or “confirm him tomorrow”.

Today the media realize if they don’t antagonize and set people up against each other, they’re done. Maybe it was inevitable that Trump would bring that out, that he would reveal what was waiting under the surface all along. No matter how you see this, it’s obvious that it’s poison for the nation. It’s toxic and dangerous.

However, isn’t all of America by now based on profit first and nothing second? And isn’t some form of civil war then the only possible outcome?

 

 

Sep 252018
 


René Magritte Memory of a journey 1955

 

Axios Issues Critical “Clarification” To Rosenstein Resignation Report (ZH)
Kavanaugh: “I’m Not Going Anywhere”… And I Was A Virgin In High School (ZH)
Going Full Porn (Kunstler)
China Says US Putting ‘Knife To Its Neck’, Hard To Proceed On Trade (R.)
US Judge Suggests He May Dismiss Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Against Trump (R.)
UK-EU Flights To Be Grounded In Case Of No-Deal Brexit (Ind.)
Labour Confirms Remain Can Be Party’s Choice In New Brexit Referendum (Ind.)
US Judge Orders Federal Protection Restored To Yellowstone Grizzlies (R.)
Aquarius Cannot Disembark Migrants In Marseille – French Minister (G.)
Monsanto’s Glyphosate Weedkiller Harms Honeybees, Research Finds (G.)
Glyphosate Industry Fails to Stop US Funding for Global Cancer Agency (SP)

 

 

Axios reported yesterday that Rod Rosenstein was on his way to the White House to resign. Zero Hedge ran with the story. It turned out to be false. Now Zero Hedge has no less than 5 updates to the story. It keeps changing. But are you now going to go to Axios for your news?

Axios Issues Critical “Clarification” To Rosenstein Resignation Report (ZH)

Update 5: Jonathan Swan, the Axios reporter who initially broke the news this morning that Rod Rosenstein had “verbally resigned” and subsequently triggered a drop in the Dow that erased billions of dollars in value, has issued an important “clarification” that – as fate would have it – changes the story from a major news-cycle-dominating revelation to a barely noteworthy tidbit. After sparring with Vanity Fair reporter Gabriel Sherman, who suggested that Swan “got played” by a White House insider looking to distract from the second Kavanaugh revelation, Swan has admitted that the phrasing of his initial report was a little off.

Instead of reporting that Rosenstein had “verbally resigned”, Swan said he meant to say that Rosenstein had verbally offered his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly. “Note for readers: I regret the way I wrote this morning’s version of the story. By saying Rosenstein had “verbally resigned” to Kelly rather than “offered his resignation,” I conveyed a certainty that this fluid situation didn’t deserve. It’s an important nuance, and I regret the wording.”

We’re sure all of those algos that sold on the headline also “regret” their error, too.

Update 4: Speaking to reporters at the United Nations, President Trump finally commented on the political event du jour, saying he’s looking forward to meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday to discuss his future and “determining what’s going on”, after Axios reported earlier that Rosenstein told Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly that he was resigning. “We’ll be determining what’s going on,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations on Monday. “We want to have transparency, we want to have openness and I’m looking forward to meeting with Rod at that time.” Trump didn’t answer a question about what may happen to Rosenstein. “I spoke with Rod today and we’re going to have a meeting on Thursday when I get back to the White House,” he said.

Read more …

Another gone out of hand tale. Kavanaugh’s claim is bold. If he did have sex while in school, that should be easy to prove.

Kavanaugh: “I’m Not Going Anywhere”… And I Was A Virgin In High School (ZH)

Breaking his public silence for first time since the hearings last month, Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, appeared alongside his wife, on Fox News Channel’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum” tonight to address the sexual misconduct allegations that have put his confirmation at risk of unraveling. As we detailed earlier, Brett Kavanaugh defied his accusers on Monday when he said, in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that he will “not be intimidated into withdrawing” his Supreme Court nomination and staunchly denied the accusations, calling them a “grotesque and obvious character assassination” and “a coordinated effort” to drive him out on the nomination.

Ahead of tonight’s interview, President Trump tweeted about the interview and reiterated that “this is an outstanding family who must be treated fairly!” And in tonight’s first interview since the allegation, Kavanaugh began assertively, saying: “I’m not going anywhere… “I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity, and I know I’m telling the truth,” the judge said. “I know my lifelong record and I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process… I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.” In the interview, Kavanaugh emphatically denied Ford’s claim against him, telling McCallum that he was a virgin through high school and for “many years after.” “I did not have sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. The girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.”

[..] Kavanaugh added that he was “not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.” Additionally, Judge Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, spoke publicly for the first time about the allegations that her husband is facing, and how their two daughters are dealing with the accusations against their father. “It’s very difficult to have these conversations with your children, which we’ve had to have.” “They know Brett and they know the truth and we told them at the very beginning of this process that this will be not fun sometimes, just remember, you know your dad.”

Read more …

“I would take the Ramirez accusation as tantamount to a declaration of war by the Resistance. And as the old saying goes, all’s fair in love and war.”

Going Full Porn (Kunstler)

The part that I find interesting in the New Deborah Ramirez accusation is this: “After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.” Six days of meditation, prayer, memory-wracking, attorney-prompting, and — no doubt — earnest and heartfelt coaching by Resistance memory-recovery shamans, overcame the effects of 35 years and, say, seven Jello-shots to retrieve the details of that long-ago encounter.

(No one mentioned bong-hits, at least not yet, but how could there not have been, on top of the drinking games?) But the real gold in the story comes in this revelation: “Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married.” Really? Maybe she should have gone to the weekly meeting of the Yale Freshman Women’s Math and Physics Circle instead of an apparently mostly male dorm party convened for the purpose of getting shitfaced drunk with the greatest possible efficiency. Did she not know what was going on there? Was she forced to stick around? Did the boys make her down those shots?

Now that all American womanhood has been faced, shall we say, with the image of the looming universal horrifying penis, all bets on the Kavanaugh nomination are off. But the gambit does raise the possibility that it will be answered by some rough justice from the conservative side of the field. It will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead how many Democratic house and senate members will be revealed as would-be rapists and sluts. I can’t imagine that none of them have secrets to hide. In fact, I would take the Ramirez accusation as tantamount to a declaration of war by the Resistance. And as the old saying goes, all’s fair in love and war.

Read more …

With all the domestic squabbles, we’d almost forget China.

China Says US Putting ‘Knife To Its Neck’, Hard To Proceed On Trade (R.)

A senior Chinese official said on Tuesday it is difficult to proceed with trade talks with the United States while Washington is putting “a knife to China’s neck”, a day after both sides heaped fresh tariffs on each other’s goods. When the talks can restart would depend on the “will” of the United States, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a news conference in Beijing.U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory taxes by Beijing on $60 billion worth of U.S. products including liquefied natural gas (LNG) kicked in on Monday, unnerving global financial markets.

“Now that the United States has adopted such a huge trade restriction measure … how can the negotiations proceed? It’s not an equal negotiation,” Wang said, stressing the United States has abandoned its mutual understanding with China. China’s top diplomat also told business people at a meeting in New York that talks could not take place against the backdrop of “threats and pressure”, the Foreign Ministry said. Certain forces in the United States have been making groundless criticisms against China about trade and security issues, which has poisoned the atmosphere for Sino-U.S. ties and is highly irresponsible, State Councillor Wang Yi was quoted as saying, without naming anyone.

Read more …

Only the defamation lawsuit. There’s much more to come.

US Judge Suggests He May Dismiss Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Against Trump (R.)

President Donald Trump likely had a free-speech right to make a Twitter comment disputing allegations by adult film actress Stormy Daniels, a federal judge said on Monday, indicating he was inclined to dismiss her defamation lawsuit against Trump. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, sued the president for defamation in April in federal court over the tweet. The lawsuit centers on Daniels’ assertion that a man approached her in 2011 in a Las Vegas parking lot and made a veiled threat after she agreed to talk about her alleged encounter with Trump to In Touch magazine.

Soon after Daniels released a sketch of the man she said threatened her, Trump, who has denied having an affair with Daniels, disputed her account on Twitter, saying: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Daniels’ attorneys said the tweet portrayed her as a liar, but attorneys for Trump asked a federal judge in Los Angeles to dismiss the defamation lawsuit. “The question is whether the tweet by the president is protected communication or political hyperbole and non-defamatory on its face,” U.S. District Judge James Otero said at a hearing on Monday.

Otero cited certain protections from defamation Trump would have under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of free-speech rights. “He’s a public official, he’s president of the United States, so it doesn’t get much higher than that,” Otero said. “It’s free speech by a public official on a matter of public concern.” Otero stopped short of issuing a formal ruling on the request to dismiss the lawsuit.

Read more …

For better or for worse, tthe single market is a complex thing.

UK-EU Flights To Be Grounded In Case Of No-Deal Brexit (Ind.)

Flights will be grounded if Britain crashes out of the EU next March unless an emergency aviation deal can be struck, the government has admitted. The latest batch of advice papers also warned food producers that pre-packaged products “would no longer be valid for the EU market”, without a separate EU business address. Ministers also told motorists that they would need to apply for a green card as proof of third party motor insurance cover when driving in the EU. And pet owners who want to take their dogs and cats abroad would face the significant inconvenience of having to register three months in advance.

Meanwhile, UK hauliers were warned they could be banned from the continent, because they could “no longer rely on automatic recognition by the EU of UK-issued community licences”. The Food and Drink Federation reacted with horror to the technical notices, warning they “lay bare the grisly prospect of a no-deal Brexit”. It urged Theresa May to stop “lecturing the EU” and seek to delay Brexit, by extending the Article 50 deadline, if it could not secure a withdrawal deal “imminently”. Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat supporter of the anti-Brexit Best for Britain, said the threat to flights was “a bureaucratic nightmare and a farce”.

Read more …

They’ve had two years to have unity on this. They’re as bad as the other side.

Labour Confirms Remain Can Be Party’s Choice In New Brexit Referendum (Ind.)

Labour is embroiled in a row over the party’s approach to a Final Say Brexit referendum, following a split between two of the shadow cabinet’s most senior figures. Sir Keir Starmer, the party’s Brexit spokesman, was forced to confirm that remaining in the EU will be a potential option in a future referendum backed by Labour after John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, ruled the idea out. Amid a backlash Mr McDonnell rowed back on his comments, and later conceded at a meeting at the party’s conference in Liverpool that Labour could still back a new vote that would see the party stay in the EU.

It comes as Sir Keir will tell Labour conference on Tuesday that the party is set to oppose the deal Theresa May brings back from Brussels, having determined that it cannot meet his “six tests”. Another shadow cabinet minister, Barry Gardiner, also broke ranks to say that the idea the party will be able to secure a general election if Ms May’s plans fall apart was “looney tunes territory”. If the prime minister’s Brexit plans are rejected by parliament, and no election is forthcoming, then Labour’s new policy – arduously negotiated by Mr Starmer this week and to be approved on Tuesday – would see the party committed to a new Brexit referendum.

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If you want to Make America Great Again, start with its natural world. It would be a lot less great without grizzlies and eagles and all the other riches.

US Judge Orders Federal Protection Restored To Yellowstone Grizzlies (R.)

A federal judge on Monday ordered Endangered Species Act protections restored to grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park, halting plans for the first licensed trophy hunts of the bears in the region in more than 40 years. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula, Montana, sided with environmentalists and native American groups by overruling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to strip the grizzlies of their status as a threatened species. The outcome caps one of the most high-profile legal battles over the Endangered Species Act in many years, rivaling previous disputes surrounding the gray wolf and northern spotted owl. The ruling came as the Trump administration is seeking to rewrite Endangered Species Act regulations that scientists say would erode wildlife protection for the benefit of commercial interests.

The Trump administration’s decision in June of last year to “de-list” the grizzly, formally proposed in 2016 during the Obama era, was based on agency findings that the bears’ numbers had rebounded enough in recent decades that federal safeguards were no longer necessary. The de-listing, welcomed by big-game hunters and cattlemen, had applied to about 700 Yellowstone-area grizzlies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Environmentalists countered that treating those bears separately from other grizzly populations in Montana and elsewhere in the Lower 48 states was biologically unsound and illegal under the Endangered Species Act, and the judge agreed.

Grizzlies, which are slow to reproduce, number fewer than 2,000 bears across the Lower 48. That is far below an historic high of 100,000 before widespread shooting, poisoning and trapping reduced the bears’ population to just several hundred by 1975, when they were placed under federal protection.


REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

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We’re waiting for the first hundreds of people to drown because no ships are left to save them and no ports open.

Aquarius Cannot Disembark Migrants In Marseille – French Minister (G.)

France is not ready to allow the Mediterranean rescue ship Aquarius to dock and disembark dozens of migrants at the port of Marseille, France’s finance minister has said. “For the moment it’s ‘no’,” Bruno Le Maire said when asked during an interview on BFM news TV channel if Paris was ready to respond positively to a request from charities for permission to dock with 58 people onboard in the southern French port. Under European rules, ships were supposed to get docking access at the nearest port, said Le Maire, adding that Marseille was not the nearest port.

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Just ban the stuff alright.

Monsanto’s Glyphosate Weedkiller Harms Honeybees, Research Finds (G.)

The world’s most used weedkiller damages the beneficial bacteria in the guts of honeybees and makes them more prone to deadly infections, new research has found. Previous studies have shown that pesticides such as neonicotinoids cause harm to bees, whose pollination is vital to about three-quarters of all food crops. Glyphosate, manufactured by Monsanto, targets an enzyme only found in plants and bacteria. However, the new study shows that glyphosate damages the microbiota that honeybees need to grow and to fight off pathogens. The findings show glyphosate, the most used agricultural chemical ever, may be contributing to the global decline in bees, along with the loss of habitat.

“We demonstrated that the abundances of dominant gut microbiota species are decreased in bees exposed to glyphosate at concentrations documented in the environment,” said Erick Motta and colleagues from University of Texas at Austin in their new paper. They found that young worker bees exposed to glyphosate exposure died more often when later exposed to a common bacterium. Other research, from China and published in July, showed that honeybee larvae grew more slowly and died more often when exposed to glyphosate. An earlier study, in 2015, showed the exposure of adult bees to the herbicide at levels found in fields “impairs the cognitive capacities needed for a successful return to the hive”.

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A small win.

Glyphosate Industry Fails to Stop US Funding for Global Cancer Agency (SP)

In a massive victory for independent science, it was announced Sunday that the U.S. Senate and Congress appropriations committees have deleted text from a controversial Bill, which would have cut all the U.S. funding to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), after they challenged the chemical industry by classifying the world’s most used herbicide, glyphosate, as a probable human carcinogen in 2015. The ‘IARC rider’ text on page 110 (sec.229) of the draft Labor Health and Human Services FY19 Appropriations Bill was removed after negotiations. Currently, 25 Nations contribute to IARC’s total budget of about USD $50 million (about EUR 44 million), with 7.5% (USD $3.8 million) coming from the U.S..

Following IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015, Monsanto and the American Chemistry Council launched a full-throttle attack on the international scientific body. IARC is an arm of the World Health Organization and funded by 24 governments, and predominantly by the NIH National Cancer Institute. [..] Enter glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling weedkiller, Roundup, and is used on the majority of commodity crops in the United States because it is effective at controlling a variety of weed types. Any change in the safety determination of this chemical would shake up the messaging that the company has used for years.

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Sep 082018
 


Vincent van Gogh Rispal Restaurant at Asnieres 1887

 

Obama Claims Ownership Of US Economic Recovery (MW)
Trump Has Set Economic Growth On Fire. Here Is How He Did It (CNBC)
May Urged To Ignore ‘Three Stooges’ In Brexit Negotiations (G.)
Cohen Seeks To Vacate Hush-Money Deal With Stormy Daniels (Hill)
Papadopoulos Sentenced To 14 Days In Prison For Lying To FBI (ES)
Secret Grand Jury Proceedings Underway Against Andrew McCabe (ZH)
Apple Bans Alex Jones App For ‘Objectionable Content’ (R.)
Erdogan Legacy Construction Projects Stall In Turkish Financial Crisis (Ind.)
Slouching Toward Okeefenoke (Kunstler)
Russia Asks Britain For Help In Identifying Novichok Suspects (G.)
Nike Online Sales Jump 31% After Company Unveiled Kaepernick Campaign (MW)

 

 

I’d say be careful what you claim ownership of. Because you break it, you own it

Obama Claims Ownership Of US Economic Recovery (MW)

Former President Barack Obama on Friday used a speech at the University of Illinois to sharply criticize his successor as well as claim ownership of the U.S. economic recovery. Speaking in Urbana, Ill., where he received an award for ethics in government, Obama recalled that the U.S. economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month when he entered office. “We worked hard to end that crisis but also break some of these longer-term trends,” said Obama, who is planning a series of campaign trips ahead of the midterm elections in November. “By the time I left office, household income was near its all-time high, and the uninsured rate had hit an all-time low and wages were rising,” he said. “I mention all this so when you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started.

“I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that’s been going on … I have to kind of remind them, actually those job numbers are kind of the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.” On that, Obama is correct. U.S. job growth averaged 226,000 per month in 2015, 195,000 in 2016, 182,000 in 2017 and, so far this year, 207,000. Data also show a pickup in business and consumer confidence after Trump’s election. The U.S. is on track to grow more than 3% in 2018, a rate of economic expansion not recorded over the course of a full calendar year since the second term of the George W. Bush administration. At a North Dakota event, Trump responded. “Obama was trying to take credit for this incredible thing that’s happening,” Trump said.

“I have to say this to President Obama – if the Dems got in with their agenda in November of almost 2 years ago, instead of having 4.2 up, I believe honestly we’d have 4.2 down,” he said, referring to GDP growth of 4.2% in the second quarter. Obama meanwhile had a broader attack on Trump than just the economy. Mentioning Trump by name, Obama said political division is more manufactured than real. “Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep up cynical because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege,” he said. “And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said to applause.

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And these ownership claims are easy to argue.

Trump Has Set Economic Growth On Fire. Here Is How He Did It (CNBC)

President Donald Trump is more than 19 months into an administration engulfed in so much controversy that it may overshadow a tremendous achievement, namely an economic boom uniquely his. During his time in office, the economy has achieved feats most experts thought impossible. GDP is growing at a 3 percent-plus rate. The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low. Meanwhile, the stock market has jumped 27 percent amid a surge in corporate profits. Friday brought another round of good news: Nonfarm payrolls rose by a better-than-expected 201,000 and wages, the last missing piece of the economic recovery, increased by 2.9 percent year over year to the highest level since April 2009.

That made it the best gain since the recession ended in June 2009. His critics, a group that includes a legion of Wall Street economists, most Democrats and even some in his own Republican Party, don’t believe it will last. They figure the current boom will begin petering out as soon as mid-2019 and possibly end in recession in 2020. But even they acknowledge that the current numbers are a uniquely Trumpian achievement and not owed to policies already set in motion when he took office. “I still believe the big story this year is an economic boom that most folks thought impossible,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council and a chief advisor to Trump, said in a recent interview with CNBC.com. “I understand that he’s been in for a year and a half, but when you look at those numbers, this is not going away.”

Indeed, the economy does seem to be on fire, and it’s fairly easy to draw a straight line from Trump’s policies to the current trends. Business confidence is soaring, in part thanks to a softer regulatory environment. Consumer sentiment by one measure is at its highest level in 18 years. Corporate profits, owed in good part to last year’s tax cuts, are coming close to setting records.

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May will have to bend a lot.

May Urged To Ignore ‘Three Stooges’ In Brexit Negotiations (G.)

An EU commissioner has likened Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage to the “Three Stooges” and issued a stern warning to Theresa May that there would be no Brexit deal next March if she insisted on sticking to her Chequers proposal. In a speech in Ireland on Friday, Phil Hogan said the EU would fight to the end to preserve the union of nations that has stood for the past 60 years. He said Brussels would not allow the bloc to be damaged just to save the UK “from its own silliness” and reiterated the EU position that the four freedoms forming the bedrock of the union were not negotiable. He said the only room for a special deal on deviating from the four freedoms would be in relation to Northern Ireland.

“The EU’s first offer, reflexively rejected, was a significant departure from our internal market policy. And it was meant for Northern Ireland only. It was that Northern Ireland could remain in the single market with the EU27,” he said. Instead of accepting that offer, the UK’s reply, he said, was “‘Let’s restrict the single market to goods and generalise it for the whole UK.’ The EU’s answer has already been given: no. “If the UK attitude is Chequers and only Chequers, there will be no agreement before March next year on the future trade relationship,” he said. He said that if May could not progress the UK’s position then the EU’s offer on a future trade deal would be the one it put forward months ago, “essentially a Canada-type trade arrangement”. He added: “There is nothing new in this. Each time she is asked about her red lines, the prime minister repeats them, making a Canada-type trade deal more likely.

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Curious development. Trying to make it look like it never happened?

Cohen Seeks To Vacate Hush-Money Deal With Stormy Daniels (Hill)

Michael Cohen’s shell company has reportedly moved to vacate a 2016 nondisclosure agreement with adult-film star Stormy Daniels, requesting that she return the $130,000 she received as part of the deal. Cohen’s lawyer Brent Blakely said Friday that California law requires Daniels to return the money that Cohen paid her in 2016 to stay quiet about her alleged affair with President Trump in 2006, CNN reports. “Today, Essential Consultants LLC and Michael Cohen have effectively put an end to the lawsuits filed against them by Stephanie Clifford aka Stormy Daniels,” Blakely told CNN.

“The rescission of the Confidential Settlement Agreement will result in Ms. Clifford returning to Essential Consultants the $130,000 she received in consideration, as required by California law,” he added. A source familiar with Cohen’s thinking told the network that Cohen no longer benefits from Daniels’s promise to keep quiet about the affair. The existence of the deal, and Daniels’s alleged affair, were reported by The Wall Street Journal originally in January, while Daniels has been outspoken about her allegations since then. Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Daniels in her defamation case against Cohen and Trump over their denials of the alleged affair, told CNN that the move was likely made in an attempt to protect Trump from being deposed.

“I haven’t had a chance to digest it, I just saw it on my email literally right before I came on,” Avenatti told CNN. “What they’re trying to do is they don’t want me to get a chance to depose Michael Cohen and Donald Trump,” he added. “This is a hail mary to try and avoid that, that’s my first guess.” Avenatti added in a tweet Friday night that Cohen “is back to playing games and trying to protect Donald Trump.” “He is now pulling a legal stunt to try and ‘fix it’ so that we can’t depose Trump and present evidence to the American people about what happened. He is not a hero nor a patriot. He deserves what he gets,” the attorney added.

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If Mueller et al had a sense of decency, they’d have let him go on “Time Served”. All they’ve proven is that Papadopoulos is indeed a nobody. BTW, rumor has it that Joseph Mifsud is dead.

Papadopoulos Sentenced To 14 Days In Prison For Lying To FBI (ES)

President Trump’s former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has been sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI. He is the first former campaign aide to be sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation. In October 2017, he pled guilty to one count of lying to FBI agents about the nature of his interactions with “foreign nationals” who he thought had close connections to senior government officials. Mr Papadopoulos was a member of the campaign’s foreign policy team, but Trump aides have said he played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to the candidate.

Court papers revealed that Mr Papadopoulos was told about the Russians possessing “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails” on April 26 2016, well before it became public that the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails had been hacked. The interactions at the centre of the case included speaking with Russian intermediaries who were attempting to line up a meeting between Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and offering “dirt” on Mrs Clinton. During the trial, Mr Papadopoulos apologised for his actions, telling a judge that he had made a “dreadful mistake” and was eager for redemption.

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See, Papadopoulos gets jailed for lying to the FBI (about nothing). Now, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lied 4x, twide under oath, about leaking FBI info to the press. Which is worse? And if this concerns the FBI so much, how come Mueller, ex-FBI head, conducts the investigation?

Secret Grand Jury Proceedings Underway Against Andrew McCabe (ZH)

Federal prosecutors have been using a grand jury over the last several months to investigate former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, reports the Washington Post, citing two people familiar with the matter. What’s more, the grand jury has summoned at least two witnesses, and the case is ongoing according to WaPo’s sources. “The presence of the grand jury shows prosecutors are treating the matter seriously, locking in the accounts of witnesses who might later have to testify at a trial. But such panels are sometimes used only as investigative tools, and it remains unclear if McCabe will ultimately be charged.” -Washington Post

McCabe was fired on March 16 after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a criminal referral following a months-long probe, which found that McCabe lied four times, including twice under oath, about authorizing a self-serving leak to the press. Horowitz found that McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor – including under oath – on multiple occasions.” Specifically, McCabe was fired for lying about authorizing an F.B.I. spokesman and attorney to tell Devlin Barrett of the Wall St. Journal – just days before the 2016 election, that the FBI had not put the brakes on a separate investigation into the Clinton Foundation, at a time in which McCabe was coming under fire for his wife taking a $467,500 campaign contribution from Clinton proxy pal, Terry McAuliffe.

In order to deal with his legal woes, McCabe set up a GoFundMe “legal defense fund” which stopped accepting donations, after support for the fired bureaucrat took in over half a million dollars – roughly $100,000 more than his wife’s campaign took from McAuliffe as McCabe’s office was investigating Clinton and her infamous charities.

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Let’s go through all the apps. And through all Twitter accounts. I understand Hamas and Ahmadinejad still operate.

Apple Bans Alex Jones App For ‘Objectionable Content’ (R.)

Apple said on Friday that it had banned from its App Store the Infowars app belonging to popular U.S. conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after finding that it had violated the company’s rules against “objectionable content”. The move makes Apple the latest tech company or social media platform to take action against Jones, a deeply controversial right-wing radio talk-show host who has suggested that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, among other sensational claims. Apple said the guidelines Jones violated bar “defamatory, discriminatory, or mean-spirited content, including references or commentary about religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, national/ethnic origin, or other targeted groups, particularly if the app is likely to humiliate, intimidate, or place a targeted individual or group in harm’s way.”

Representatives for Jones could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters on Friday evening. On Thursday, Twitter Inc permanently banned Jones and his website from its platform and Periscope, saying in a tweet that the accounts had violated its behavior policies. In a video posted on the Infowars website on Thursday, Jones said in response: “I was taken down not because we lied but because we tell the truth and because we were popular.” Last month, Twitter banned Jones and Infowars for seven days, citing tweets that it said violated the company’s rules against abusive behavior, which state that a user may not engage in targeted harassment of someone or incite other people to do so.

Apple said at the time that the Infowars app remained in its store because it had not been found to be in violation of any content policies, although it had removed access to some podcasts by Jones. The podcasts differ from the Infowars app by allowing access to an extensive list of previous episodes, subjecting all of those past episodes to Apple’s content rules.

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Oh well, just blame America.

Erdogan Legacy Construction Projects Stall In Turkish Financial Crisis (Ind.)

Turkey’s financial meltdown has brought the country’s years-long construction boom screeching to a halt, with even some of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s favourite projects being suspended or scaled back amid a cash crunch and debt woes. In recent weeks, worried murmurs about stalled projects among developers and ordinary Turks about dormant construction sites and half-finished buildings left untouched for months have reached a crescendo. This week local news outlets reported that a key transport project in Istanbul, the Kabatas ferry terminal connecting the city’s European and Asian sides of Turkey’s commercial capital, would be scaled back.

Across the country, experts say construction sites have gone dormant, projects suspended or delayed. The construction cranes remain in place, but the work has stopped. “The huge companies that do fancy infrastructure projects – they don’t have any money,” said one developer who is well-connected to official circles. “The government has a spending freeze. They’re going to reconsider all the projects and reprioritise.” Mr Erdogan, a former mayor of Istanbul, built his reputation and electoral popularity on undertaking gigantic public works projects like mosques, airports, and bridges, as well as facilitating big private sector projects that included showy housing complexes, glittery office towers, and shopping malls packed with Turkish and international retail brands.

But the miracle was built on cheap credit from abroad, which has now dried up in a climate of rising US interest rates and doubts about Turkey’s economic health. And financial experts, developers, and bankers say many of Turkey’s projects – including the 45km Istanbul canal connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara that even Mr Erdogan himself called “crazy” – are now in doubt. “The Istanbul Canal is almost impossible,” said Atilla Yesilada, an economist and consultant. “Because no one wants to lend to Turkey now.”

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A caravan of grand jury’s.

Slouching Toward Okeefenoke (Kunstler)

There is now a clear evidence trail about eight-lanes wide detailing Russian collusion of the Democratic Party, the Hillary Campaign, the FBI / DOJ, plus a caravan of Robert Mueller aides, adjuncts, colleagues and former trainees. They are all mixed up with a cavalcade of events weaving through more than one Clinton investigation (and its damage control operations), and they need to appear before grand juries too. Many, I suspect are criminally culpable and will end up in the slammer. Perhaps even ole Horse-face himself, grave and aseptic as he may seem.

I’ve caught two of Trump’s rallies the past week or so. His freestyling babble at the podium makes me wish I could wave a magic wand and just make him vanish in a cloud of orange vapor, or perhaps turn him into Richard Nixon. (Doesn’t all this make you nostalgic for ole Nixie?) He can’t shut up about the economic miracles that he has wrought with his mighty “stable genius” brain. Perhaps he has not noticed that the money system is crumbling all around the world at the margins. If he does not understand that this rot eventually must reach the center, then he has washed down too many cheeseburgers with his own Kool Aid.

Having taken ownership of all this lock, stock, and barrel, then he is perfectly situated to be blamed when the honey-wagon of algo trading robots turns south and whatever remains of the world’s hot money, including the US dollar, goes up in smoke. If it coincides even bluntly with the mid-term election, then we will find ourselves living through Civil War Two.

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2 Russian secret agents who make sure they get photographed by 5-6 different camera’s. Yeah.

Russia Asks Britain For Help In Identifying Novichok Suspects (G.)

Moscow has claimed it wants to ascertain as soon as possible the identities of the two men named by Britain as suspects in the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury, and has asked London to help. “We need to establish who these people are, if these are [Russian] citizens or not,” said Maria Zakharova, the foreign ministry spokeswoman on Friday. “We want to do this with maximum haste and effectiveness, and so we are again appealing to Britain for help in ascertaining the identities of these people.” Britain announced charges in absentia on Wednesday against two men believed to be officers with Russia’s military intelligence service, known as the GRU.

Theresa May said the men flew into Britain in March to try to murder Sergei Skripal, a former GRU officer who sold secrets to MI6, and accused the Russian government of orchestrating the operation. Scotland Yard said the alleged secret agents travelled to Britain under the names of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, which were probably aliases. The Kremlin has described the allegations as unacceptable and denies that any Russian officials were involved. Zakharova also accused May of a “frank lie” over her claims that Russia had not offered Britain information after the nerve agent attack, and suggested that May had “selective access” to Russian media reports. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, said on Thursday that Russia would not investigate the two suspects because it had not received a formal request for legal assistance from Britain.

Zakharova’s comments came as a purported ex-GRU officer claimed the attempted murder was too amateurish to have been the work of professional secret service agents. If GRU agents had wanted to target Skripal, they would have done it “quietly, without fuss, and brought him [to Russia] in a mail bag, and no one would have known where he had gone,” Ivan Tarasov told Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Tarasov also claimed the Skripals could have been targeted by a Russian crime gang, possibly over unpaid debts, and mocked reports that the suspects stayed in the same room in a cheap hotel near Salisbury. “That’s how bandits act, not professional secret service officers. GRU officers don’t stay in London hotels,” he said.

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I don’t care about Nike. But I do care about Kaepernick. See, if there’s one thing wrong here that proves him right, it’s that only black people come out in support of him. Where are his white colleagues, white athletes in general? Why only Tiger, Serena and LeBron?

The world he’s protesting is the one that is killing black kids. His protest started under the first black US president. So did Black Lives matter. So where is Obama on the issue? Why doesn’t he stand with Kaepernick?

Nike Online Sales Jump 31% After Company Unveiled Kaepernick Campaign (MW)

Talk of Nike Inc. sales taking a hit from the company’s decision to put ex–NFL player Colin Kaepernick at the center of its latest “Just Do It” campaign is looking overblown, based on data from a Silicon Valley digital commerce research company. After an initial dip immediately after the news broke, Nike’s online sales actually grew 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17% gain recorded for the same period of 2017, according to San Francisco–based Edison Trends. “There was speculation that the Nike/Kaepernick campaign would lead to a drop in sales, but our data over the last week does not support that theory,” said Hetal Pandya, co-founder of Edison Trends.

Nike’s stock has also held up after its initial slump. The stock was up 1% on Friday and remains in the black for the month. It has gained 29% in 2018, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, which since 2013 has counted Nike as a member, has gained 5%, as the S&P 500 index has risen about 8%. The news generated plenty of online buzz, with social engagement around Nike and Kaepernick rising sharply this week, according to 4C Insights, a marketing technology company. Mentions of and comments about Nike on social-media platforms rose 1,678% on Sunday and Monday, according to 4C data. Mentions of Kaepernick spiked 362,280%, the data showed.

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