Odilon Redon The boat 1900
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with the US, as tensions mount between the arch-foes after Washington blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi oil installations. “The policy of ‘maximum pressure’ against the Iranian nation is worthless and all Islamic Republic of Iran officials unanimously believe there will be no negotiations with the US at any level,” he said, quoted on his official website. The White House said on Sunday that US President Donald Trump could meet Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
What happens is the Supreme Court, too, says it’s a matter for Parliament to decide, not the courts?
Boris Johnson has said he will “wait and see what the judges say” before deciding whether to recall Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear two appeals that will determine whether the prime minister acted lawfully in suspending Parliament for five weeks. Edinburgh’s Court of Session said the shutdown was unlawful and London’s High Court said it was not a court matter. On Monday the PM visited Luxembourg for Brexit talks, but the EU said it was yet to see concrete proposals.
Mr Johnson pulled out of a joint press conference with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, blaming noisy protesters, but Mr Bettel went on to criticise Mr Johnson’s approach to Brexit. The suspension of Parliament, a process known as proroguing, began a week ago. MPs are not scheduled to return until 14 October, when there will be a Queen’s Speech outlining Mr Johnson’s legislative plans. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October. Opposition parties have called for Parliament to be recalled.
Will they go to jail? And if so, how many of them? What about Blythe Masters?
Who would have thought that JPMorgan’s precious metals trading desk is the functional equivalent of the mafia, and that its one-time leader, Blythe Masters, was the mafia’s don? Well, almost everyone who didn’t mind being designated a conspiracy theorist for years. And now comes vindication, because this has just been confirmed by the DOJ, which accused the PM trading desks at JPMorgan of being deeply involved in what prosecutors described as a “massive, multiyear scheme to manipulate the market for precious metals futures contracts and defraud market participants.” In an indictment unsealed on Monday morning, the DoJ charged Michael Nowak, a JPMorgan veteran and former head of its precious metals trading desk and Gregg Smith, another trader on JPM’s metals desk, in the probe. (Blythe Masters was somehow omitted).
“Based on the fact that it was conduct that was widespread on the desk, it was engaged in in thousands of episodes over an eight-year period — that it is precisely the kind of conduct that the RICO statute is meant to punish,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski told reporters. Here’s where it gets extra interesting: according to Bloomberg, the unusually aggressive language language embraced by prosecutors reminds legal experts of indictments utilizing the RICO Act – a law allowing prosecutors to take down ‘criminal enterprises’ like the mafia by charging all members of the organization for any crimes committed by an individual on behalf of the organization.
Prosecutors charged the head of JP Morgan’s global metals trading operation and two other traders with “conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise involved in interstate or foreign commerce through a pattern of racketeering activity” – language that is typically used to describe a RICO charge. This hints at the possibility of a deeper prosecution for JP Morgan. Already, 12 people have been charged in the precious metals market-rigging conspiracy. “We’re going to follow the facts wherever they lead, whether it’s across desks here or at any other bank or upwards into the financial institution,” Benczkowski said.
Blunder? It got everyone talking about impeachment again. Maybe that was the whole idea.
The New York Times was reeling on Monday after its Opinion section fumbled a high-profile story about an allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, drawing widespread criticism and condemnation of the newspaper. It was the latest in a series of high-profile blunders that has caused embarrassment to James Bennet since he was appointed in 2016 as the editor overseeing The Times’ Opinion section. Bennet’s tenure has been marked with several mishaps that have generated controversy, drawn criticism, and spurred at least one lawsuit.
[..] The Times’ Sunday Review, which falls under Opinion, published an essay based on a forthcoming book written by two Times reporters, detailing a previously unreported allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, which he denied. The allegation in the book hinged on the recollection of a Yale classmate who The Times reported contacted the FBI and lawmakers during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. The Yale classmate, who is now a prominent lawyer, has declined to comment publicly, according to The Times But the book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” included a key detail that the essay published by the Times was lacking: The woman at the center of it, who’d been a student at the time of the incident, declined to be interviewed.
Moreover, her friends said she did not recall the incident. In addition to that omission of vital information, The Times’ Opinion desk also came under fire over a tweet it had published promoting the story. The tweet said that “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun.” By Sunday night, The Times had not only apologized for the “offensive” tweet, but also appended to the essay an editor’s note addressing the glaring omission in its original story. “The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident,” the editor’s note read, in part. “That information has been added to the article.”
Did they find the trick?
Donald Trump faces a new battle over the release of his tax returns after New York prosecutors issued a subpoena for them. Trump is the first US president in nearly 40 years not to release his tax information, despite having promised to do so during his 2016 election campaign. He has resisted pressure from Democrats and watchdogs demanding greater transparency. But on Monday, the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, investigating hush money payments to the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election, subpoenaed eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, according to media reports. Mazars USA, which prepares Trump’s tax returns, said in a statement that it would “fully comply with its legal obligations”.
Democrats welcomed the move. The Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a candidate for president, tweeted in response: “One way or another, we will get Donald Trump’s tax returns.” Another 2020 candidate, Julián Castro, the former housing secretary under Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter: “The president is not above the law. The American people deserve to know if he deceived them in hopes of winning an election. He must comply with this subpoena.” A federal investigation into the hush money payments led to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, pleading guilty to campaign finance violations which, along with tax fraud and making false statements to Congress, resulted in three-year prison sentence.
“..rejected the women’s bid to void the non-prosecution agreement..” Does this mean Ghislaine Maxwell is fully off the hook?
A group of women who said Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused them are not entitled to money damages from the United States even though federal prosecutors kept them in the dark about the financier’s lenient non-prosecution agreement more than a decade ago, a Florida judge ruled on Monday. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra in West Palm Beach also rejected the women’s bid to void the non-prosecution agreement, which had barred prosecutions of Epstein and some alleged accomplices, saying Epstein’s death last month made the issue moot. Marra also denied a request for attorneys’ fees. Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the accusers, said they may appeal.
Marra ruled seven months after finding that prosecutors had violated the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act by not telling Epstein’s accusers they had agreed not to pursue serious charges against the financier, in exchange for Epstein’s 2008 guilty plea to Florida state prostitution charges. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in jail, but allowed to leave regularly to go to his office. The non-prosecution agreement was negotiated by the office of then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, who resigned in July as U.S. labor secretary as Epstein’s agreement drew fresh scrutiny.
Magnitsky is a fairy tale promoted by Bill Browder. He fooled a lot of people.
The conscientious judges of the European Court of Human Rights published a judgement a fortnight ago which utterly exploded the version of events promulgated by Western governments and media in the case of the late Mr Magnitskiy. Yet I can find no truthful report of the judgement in the mainstream media at all. The myth is that Magnitskiy was an honest rights campaigner and accountant who discovered corruption by Russian officials and threatened to expose it, and was consequently imprisoned on false charges and then tortured and killed. A campaign over his death was led by his former business partner, hedge fund manager Bill Browder, who wanted massive compensation for Russian assets allegedly swindled from their venture.
The campaign led to the passing of the Magnitskiy Act in the United States, providing powers for sanctioning individuals responsible for human rights abuses, and also led to matching sanctions being developed by the EU. However the European Court of Human Rights has found, in judging a case brought against Russia by the Magnitskiy family, that the very essence of this story is untrue. They find that there was credible evidence that Magnitskiy was indeed engaged in tax fraud, in conspiracy with Browder, and he was rightfully charged. The ECHR also found there was credible evidence that Magnitskiy was indeed a flight risk so he was rightfully detained. And most crucially of all, they find that there was credible evidence of tax fraud by Magnitskiy and action by the authorities “years” before he started to make counter-accusations of corruption against officials investigating his case.
“..Margrethe Vestager pointed to a 0.005% tax rate paid by Apple’s main Irish unit in 2014..”
Apple will launch a legal challenge on Tuesday to a European Commission order to pay 13 billion euros ($14.4 billion) in Irish back taxes in a landmark case in the EU’s crackdown on tax avoidance by multinational companies. The iPhone maker is expected to send a six-man delegation headed by Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri to the two-day court hearing at the Luxembourg-based General Court, the EU’s second highest court. In August 2016, the Commission said tax rulings by Ireland in 1991 and in 2007 had artificially reduced Apple’s tax burden for over two decades, effectively making it illegal state aid.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager pointed to a 0.005% tax rate paid by Apple’s main Irish unit in 2014 as an example of the unusually low payments by the company. Apple is expected to argue that it did nothing wrong as it had followed Irish and U.S. tax laws. It made similar arguments in a blog following an EU tax ruling a couple of years ago. It will tell the court that the bulk of its taxes are owed to the United States because the majority of the value in its products including design, engineering and development, is created there. Ireland, which has accused the Commission of exceeding its powers and interfering with the EU member’s national sovereignty over tax affairs, is also challenging the EU ruling.
“..this makes necessary a high volume of oil swapping around the world…”
President Trump is trumpeting America’s “energy independence,” meaning whatever happens over there won’t affect us. Well, none of that is true. We still import millions of barrels of oil a day, though much less from Saudi Arabia than before 2008. The shale oil “miracle” is hitting the skids these days. Shale oil production has gone flat, the rig-count is down, companies are going bankrupt, and financing for the debt-dependent operations is dwindling since the producers have demonstrated that they can’t make a profit at it. They’re trapped in the quandary of diminishing returns, frontloading production, while failing to overcome steep decline curves in wells that only produce for a couple of years.
It’s also the case that shale oil is ultra-light crude, containing little heavier distillates such as diesel and aviation fuel (basically kerosene). Alas, American refineries were all built before shale oil came along. They were designed to crack heavier oil and can’t handle the lighter shale. The “majors” don’t want to invest their remaining capital in new refineries, and the many smaller companies don’t have the ability. So, this makes necessary a high volume of oil swapping around the world. Without diesel and aviation fuel, US trucking and commercial aviation has a big problem, meaning the US economy has a big problem.
“They want the jury strictly to consider whether these actions were lawful or unlawful, not whether they were right or wrong.”
US whistleblower Edward Snowden has called on French President and former Rothschild banker Emmanuel Macron to grant him political asylum from the United States. Speaking with France’s Inter radio on Monday as part of a press junket to promote his new memoir, the former NSA contractor said “Protecting whistleblowers is not a hostile act,” adding “Welcoming someone like me is not an attack on the United States.” “I would like to return to the United States. That is the ultimate goal. But if I’m gonna spend the rest of my life in prison, the one bottom line demand that we have to agree to is that at least I get a fair trial. And that is the one thing the government has refused to guarantee because they won’t provide access to what’s called a public interest defense,” Snowden told CBS This Morning.
“Again, I’m not asking for a parade. I’m not asking for a pardon. I’m not asking for a pass. What I’m asking for is a fair trial. And this is the bottom line that any American should require. We don’t want people thrown in prison without the jury being able to decide that what they did was right or wrong. The government wants to have a different kind of trial. They want to use special procedures they want to be able to close the courtroom, they want the public not to be able to go, know what’s going on. And, essentially, the most important fact to the government and this is the thing we have a point of contention on, is that they do not want the jury to be able to consider the motivations. Why I did what I did. Was it better for the United States? Did it benefit us or did it cause harm? They don’t want the jury to consider that at all. They want the jury strictly to consider whether these actions were lawful or unlawful, not whether they were right or wrong. And I’m sorry, but that defeats the purpose of a jury trial,” Snowden told CBS.
Children being bitten by scorpions, rats and snakes; hundreds being forced to use a single shower; the stench of human excrement never far away; and food shortages becoming the norm. One by one, Sophie McCann lists the degradations of life for refugees detained on Lesbos, the Greek island on the frontline of a new surge of asylum seekers desperate to reach Europe. McCann, a British advocacy manager with Médecins Sans Frontières, like other aid workers, is now raising the alarm: at least 24,000 men, women and children trapped in vastly overcrowded Aegean island camps are being subjected to conditions so harrowing they bear all the hallmarks of humanitarian catastrophe. Four years after the greatest migration crisis in modern times, there are fears history is repeating itself.
“The level of human suffering is just indescribable,” says McCann, adding that incidents of self-harm, even among toddlers, have risen sharply. “I struggle to find the right words because none can convey the sheer misery and inhumanity of a situation that in Europe is frankly unbelievable.” The drama unfolding on Europe’s south-eastern periphery follows the abrupt rise in numbers making the dangerous sea crossing from Turkey. With a brazenness unseen since the EU struck a controversial accord with Ankara to stem flows in 2016, smugglers are again landing boatloads of would-be asylum seekers on the beaches of Lesbos, Samos, Kos, Leros and Chios. In July and August more than 13,000 people landed on Greek shores, more than half of all sea arrivals to the country in 2019.
Who else did you think was doinng it?
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Rainforest Mafias concludes that Brazil’s failure to police these gangs threatens its abilities to meet its commitments under the Paris climate deal – such as eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030. It was published a week before the UN Climate Action Summit. Ricardo Salles, Brazil’s environment minister in the government of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, has argued that poverty drives degradation, and that development of the Amazon will help stop deforestation.
But the report’s author, Cesar Muñoz Acebes, argues that Amazon needs to be better policed. “As long as you have this level of violence, lawlessness and impunity for the crimes committed by these criminal groups it will be impossible for Brazil to rein in deforestation,” he said. “These criminal networks will attack anyone who stands in their way.” The report documents 28 killings in which it found evidence that “those responsible were engaged in illegal deforestation and saw their victims as obstacles”.
Nothing is pristine anymore.
Nature documentaries could be “actively misleading audiences” by showing nature as something pristine that is not being damaged by humans, researchers warn. Scientists looked at the scripts from the four most recent David Attenborough-narrated BBC and Netflix nature series and said they did not show the extent to which nature is being threatened by human activity. “Nature is still mostly shown as pristine, and the presence or impacts of people on the natural world very seldom appear,” researchers wrote in the paper published in People and Nature. Scientists from the universities of Oxford, Newcastle, Kent and Bangor found the Netflix series Our Planet dedicated 15 per cent of the script to environmental threats and conservation. This far exceeded the BBC series Planet Earth II and Dynasties.
However, they said it still failed to visually show how threatened the natural world is. “One could argue that by using camera angles to avoid showing any sign of people, nature filmmakers are being disingenuous, and even actively misleading audiences,” said lead researcher Professor Julia Jones from Bangor University. “The viewer may be led to believe that things cannot be that bad for biodiversity as what they are seeing on the screen shows nature, for the most part, doing fine. “The inextricable link between threats to the natural world and the high consumption of western lifestyles would be more difficult to ignore if the presence, or even dominance, of commercial agriculture, mining and transport infrastructure were more visible in the landscapes, reducing the space for the awe-inspiring wild spectacles shown.”
In 1935, Congressman Thomas O’Malley introduced a bill mandating that in case of war the Army draft the wealthiest men in the country and put them near the greatest posts of danger by order of income.