Sep 252022
 
 September 25, 2022  Posted by at 8:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  69 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Night fishing at Antibes 1939

 

Ukraine, EU’s Dictatorship And Change Of Global Order – Lavrov (RT)
Russia Calls Out Western Elites At UN (RT)
Hungarian FM Warns Of Apocalyptic Conflict (RT)
As Democracy Dies in the EU, Von der Leyen Reveals its Sins (Luongo)
Azov Delegation Visits the US (MR)
Strike Kills Hundreds Of Foreign Fighters In Ukraine – Russia (RT)
Germany Needs Russian Gas – Saxony PM Kretschmer (RT)
Truss’s Extreme Right-Wing Putsch (Pettifor)
The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire (Doug Casey)
Ukraine: The CIA’s 75-year-old Proxy (Sussman)
Ford Forced To Park Thousands Of Unfinished Vehicles (RT)
Republicans Push For Special Counsel In Hunter Biden Probe (CB)
WaPo Columnist Calls for the End of Impartiality and Balance (Turley)
Covid Update: What Is The Truth? (NIH)

 

 

 

 

Ritter

 

 

 

 

Amish warp speed

 

 

 

 

 

 

“[Zelensky] advised everyone who feels Russian to ‘go to Russia’ for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. That’s what the residents of said regions are doing now, taking their lands, on which their ancestors lived for centuries, with them”.

Ukraine, EU’s Dictatorship And Change Of Global Order – Lavrov (RT)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke at the 77th UN General Assembly on Saturday, explaining Russian stance on the key international issues, relationship with the collective West and the ongoing conflict with Ukraine. After delivering his speech at the UNGA, Lavrov gave a big press conference on the sidelines of the event. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is largely a result of the inability of the collective West to negotiate with Russia and address its security concerns, Lavrov told the UNGA. All the repeated attempts to establish the rules of co-existence made by Moscow have been ignored, he said. “We have repeatedly proposed over the years to agree on the rules for coexistence in Europe based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, approved at the highest level of OSCE documents. We made our last proposal to make this principle legally binding in December 2021, to which we received an arrogant refusal,” Lavrov stated.

Ukraine has become a mere tool for Washington to maintain its global dominance and target Russia, the top diplomat believes. “It is evident to any unbiased observer: for the Anglo-Saxons, who have completely subjugated Europe, Ukraine is simply expendable material in the fight against Russia. NATO declared our country a direct threat on the path to total US dominance, and named China as a long-term strategic challenge,” Lavrov told the UNGA. The minister further elaborated on the matter at the press conference after his speech, stating that Moscow already views the US and its NATO bloc as parties of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Recently, Ukrainian military has admitted that the Pentagon chooses targets for them, he explained. “What is this if not a direct participation in aiming of deadly weapons and participation in the war?” Lavrov said.

Russia’s top diplomat also touched upon the ongoing referendums in the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics, as well as in the Russian-controlled parts of Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. While the vote has already triggered a “tantrum” in Ukraine and in the West, with the G7 vowing even more anti-Russian sanctions, the referendums are actually fully in line with Kiev’s wishes, Lavrov suggested. “The people living there are essentially only reacting to what President Zelensky recommended for them to do in one of his interviews in August 2021. Back then, he advised everyone who feels Russian to ‘go to Russia’ for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. That’s what the residents of said regions are doing now, taking their lands, on which their ancestors lived for centuries, with them”.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington’s strive for global domination and exceptionalism has reached an unprecedented height, resulting in multiple aggressive wars and claiming lives of “many hundreds of thousands” of people worldwide, Lavrov stated. “Having proclaimed victory in the Cold War, Washington elevated itself almost to the rank of the messenger of God on earth, with no obligations, but only “sacred” rights to act with impunity, as it pleases and anywhere,” Lavrov said. Any nation can fall victim to Washington’s ambitions should it somehow anger the “self-styled masters of the world,” Lavrov warned. That fate has befallen people of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and other countries, he added.

The EU, while being “subjugated” by the US, is showing same symptoms of exceptionalism and arrogance, Lavrov believes. The minister recalled fresh remarks by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who threatened Italy with consequences should the upcoming polls actually show the projected right-wing tilt. “This is arrogance, sense of impunity, exceptionalism. Only they have the right to make judgments. What Mrs. von der Leyen said about the Italian elections was astounding,” Lavrov told the press conference, adding that he did not recall such threats made by an EU leader before. “The European Union, in principle, is becoming an authoritarian, rigid, dictatorial entity,” the top diplomat said.

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A bit more Lavrov.

Russia Calls Out Western Elites At UN (RT)

Years of NATO encroachment on Russia and the West’s refusal to negotiate over Ukraine left Russia “no choice” but to launch its special military operation, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the UN on Saturday. However, Lavrov added that Russia is now shaping “the future of the world order.” “The US and its allies want to stop the march of history,” Lavrov declared from the podium in New York, describing how in the aftermath of the Cold War, Washington appointed itself “almost an envoy of God on earth,” launching foreign conflicts at will and expanding the NATO alliance deeper into Eastern Europe. The shifting of NATO’s borders to the east and its official declaration of interest in the Indo-Pacific region mean that the US-led bloc “now has the goal of subjugating the Asian area,” Lavrov stated.

However, it was the West’s refusal to negotiate over Ukraine that led Russia to fight back, he continued. “The West watched in silence as the coup plotters started bombing the east of Ukraine,” he said, referring to Kiev’s attacks on the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics even after the Minsk agreements had been signed in 2014 and 2015. “Were we supposed to put up with Kiev’s attempt to ban the Russian language, education, Russian media and culture? The demands of chasing Russians out of Crimea? The declaration of war against the Donbass, the population of which was declared not human beings, but ‘creatures’ by both the former and the current Kiev’s authorities?”

Once the US and NATO rejected a Russian-proposed security deal for Ukraine, Moscow had “no choice but to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and start a special military operation,” Lavrov said, adding that “any sovereign self-respecting state would do the same, a state that understands its responsibility to its own people.” Seven months into that operation, and with Russia recently announcing the mobilization of some 300,000 additional troops, Lavrov told the assembly that “the future of the world order is being decided,” with the US-led “unipolar” model “receding into the past.”

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“It’s a definite red line for us. We don’t want to force the Hungarian people, who are in no way responsible for the war, to pay for it..”

Hungarian FM Warns Of Apocalyptic Conflict (RT)

The international community should now focus on ensuring that the current escalation between Moscow and NATO does not spiral into a direct military conflict, the Hungarian foreign minister has said. Speaking to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti while in New York for the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, Peter Szijjarto said: “If you ask me, the most important task now is to prevent tensions in relations between Russia and NATO from growing into an open military confrontation.” The diplomat warned that the consequences would be catastrophic. Szijjarto went on to say that, like others from his generation, he had always hoped that he would never experience a war as devastating as WWII.


“We don’t want to put the existence of the planet on the line, because a direct conflict between NATO and Russia has no end, and everyone knows what it means,” he warned. According to Szijjarto, Hungary, which is a member of the military alliance itself, is doing its best to prevent this doomsday scenario. On Friday, he indicated that Budapest will not rush to impose new sanctions on Moscow, especially those affecting energy supplies. “It’s a definite red line for us. We don’t want to force the Hungarian people, who are in no way responsible for the war, to pay for it,” Szijjarto said. He also warned that the European economy is sliding into recession due to the punitive measures against Russia already in place.

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“..Von der Leyen and her merry tribe of vandals in Brussels cast themselves as the protectors of the sacred right of a ‘democracy’ they deny to anyone who disagrees with her.”

As Democracy Dies in the EU, Von der Leyen Reveals its Sins (Luongo)

It’s no secret at this point that the EU is an anti-democratic organization. The leadership isn’t elected, but selected from a pre-determined pool of candidates from within the Party structure. Everyone with the power to make a decision was placed there not by popular vote but by backroom collusion. As we approach this weekend’s Italian elections there is real despair in the air that there is any light out of this dark time. That no matter what decisions we try to make, they are only in service of those that seek total dominion. And yet all you hear from these Eurocrats is that we are in a “war of Democracy versus Autocracy,” as EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen put it in her hellish EU state of the union address to the European Parliament recently.

Cloaking herself in the inverse of the EU flag’s colors to show solidarity with another anti-democratic regime, Ukraine, Von der Leyen and her merry tribe of vandals in Brussels cast themselves as the protectors of the sacred right of a ‘democracy’ they deny to anyone who disagrees with her. The same can be said for nearly every major government in Europe. Every time an ‘election’ rolls around the local system is gamed to ensure a particular outcome. The political establishment always coalesces around maintaining the status quo, freezing out any possibility of an ‘unworkable’ or ‘representative’ coalition. Any outcome they can’t overcome that lies outside the scope of the EU’s values is either laden with poison pills, immediately put under pressure by the EU’s Byzantine rules, and eventually forced out of office.


There is no better example of this anti-democratic structure made flesh than Italy. For more than a decade Italians have been saddled with mostly-unelected technocratic governments who, at best, stymie any populist/sovereigntist impulses within Italy’s electorate or, at worst, advance the EU’s centralization agenda under the false rubrics of Climate Change and “European Values.” European Values is a phrase that is synonymous with the phrase “rules-based order.” We make the rules, they say, and you abide by them. We’re allowed to break those rules because 1) we can and 2) we are the goodies. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that as the Italians go to the polls this weekend with the center-right coalition led by the Brothers of Italy (FdI) likely to win a major, uncontestable victory, the unelected, openly totalitarian President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, openly threaten Italians to ‘vote right’ or face her wrath.

Meloni

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Italy bad, Azov good.

Azov Delegation Visits the US (MR)

Half a dozen representatives of the neo-Nazi-led Azov movement in Ukraine are currently visiting the United States, taking meetings in Washington and reaching out to Ukrainian Americans. Three are veterans of the far-right Azov Regiment who held out for numerous weeks in the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Among them is Giorgi Kuparashvili, a co-founder of the Azov Regiment and a leader of its Yevhen Konovalets Military School, named for the founder of the fascistic Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. According to journalist Leonid Ragozin, “The school functioned outside Ukraine’s system of military education — one of many reasons to suspect that Azov was highly autonomous and never truly integrated in [the] armed forces.”

The Azov veterans were accompanied by two wives and a mother of POWs from Azovstal, including Kateryna Prokopenko, who is married to the just-freed, far-right Azov Regiment commander Denys Prokopenko. (According to the US-funded Radio Svoboda, the Georgian-born Kuparashvili mentored Prokopenko.) The three women represented the Azovstal Defenders’ Family Association, led by Kateryna Prokopenko. The group first made an impromptu appearance at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey (UACCNJ) in Whippany on Saturday, September 17. The last minute event, thrown together the day before, promised to “dispel the Russian agitprop that the Azov regiment is nazi.” The UACCNJ warned Facebook followers, “WE ARE NOT RECOMMENDING THAT YOU BRING YOUNG CHILDREN,” but the audience appears to have mostly consisted of children from its Saturday school.

According to Michael Hrycak, the New Jersey Department Commander of the Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV), his organization invited Azov “to visit the United States to spread their story about holding out in Mariupol.” He claimed the delegation would be giving testimony to Congress and the United Nations. The Defense Ministry of Ukraine tweeted that they should. Walter Kovbasniuk, the past commander of UAV Post 17 in Passaic, New Jersey, exchanged “Azov’s signature salute” with a former POW, “their fists held tight across their chests.” Leonid Ragozin has described this “making ‘from heart to the sun’ gesture” as “a crypto-fascist substitute for Sieg Heil.” In Washington DC, the Azov delegation met with a North American leader of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and at least a few members of Congress: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).

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“Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu revealed that Russian forces and the militias of the Donbass republics had eliminated more than 2,000 foreign mercenaries.”

Strike Kills Hundreds Of Foreign Fighters In Ukraine – Russia (RT)

Up to 300 foreigners fighting for Kiev against Moscow have been killed in Nikolayev Region in southern Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday. “Up to 300 militants were eliminated by a missile attack on the point of temporary deployment of foreign mercenaries in the area of the village of Kalinovka, Nikolayev Region,” the ministry’s spokesman, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, announced during his daily briefing. This adds to a growing list of foreign combatants who have lost their lives fighting for Ukraine. Earlier this week, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu revealed that Russian forces and the militias of the Donbass republics had eliminated more than 2,000 foreign mercenaries.

As of September 21, 1,000 foreigners remained in the ranks of the Ukrainian military, according to the minister, whereas in April the number was estimated at 3,000. Russian forces also eliminated more than 200 Ukrainian troops in Nikolayev Region, and almost as many more in Kharkov Region and in the Donetsk People’s Republic, Konashenkov said. The military spokesman also revealed during the briefing that in the vicinity of the village of Sergeyevka, in southeastern Dnepropetrovsk Region, a Russian fighter shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29 that had been “converted to use American HARM anti-radar missiles.” Since the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine in late February, Moscow has been warning Western countries to stop“pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, arguing that it would only prolong the conflict.

However, in the wake of Russia’s recent announcement of a partial mobilization of reservists, Kiev’s supporters, including the US and UK, have pledged to sustain or increase their military assistance to Ukraine. On Friday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky admitted that his country’s forces have been suffering at least 50 casualties a day. He claimed, however, that the Russian side was losing several times more. Zelensky’s comments came soon after Shoigu’s announcement that Russia’s forces have lost 5,937 troops since the beginning of the military offensive. According to the minister, the losses on the Ukrainian side were ten times higher, at an estimated 61,000 soldiers dead.

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Kretschmer keeps calling for détente.

Germany Needs Russian Gas – Saxony PM Kretschmer (RT)

Russian gas supplies are critical for Germany, and will remain so in the foreseeable future despite Berlin’s attempts to diversify its energy sources, Saxony’s minister-president Michael Kretschmer warned. In an interview with the newspapers belonging to Germany’s Funke Mediengruppe on Saturday, Kretschmer said: “We are already witnessing that we can’t do without Russian gas.” The official added that the sanctions imposed by Berlin over Russia’s offensive against Ukraine have “contributed to this shortage situation.” According to Kretschmer, Berlin should try to make sure that it keeps receiving Russian gas after the armed conflict in Ukraine is over. He added that the current exorbitant prices for the fuel are ruining Germany’s industry.


As a stopgap measure to alleviate the situation Saxony’s governor suggested prolonging the operational lives of Germany’s three nuclear power plants, as well as reactivating some of the existing facilities that had previously been shut down. According to the German government’s current plans, two of the three remaining nuclear power plants should be kept on stand-by until mid-April 2023. However, barring any changes, all nuclear facilities will be disconnected from the German grid by the end of this year. Saxony’s minister-president went on to say that Germany should not give up its ambitious plans to become climate neutral, but noted that a “new path” is needed. The governor explained that previous plans to use “gas as a bridge technology” are apparently not going to materialize. Apart from prolonging the use of nuclear power plants, Kretschmer also suggested turning more to Qatar as a gas supplier and also tapping domestic gas supplies.

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“An unelected government that has chosen this moment to use the power of the state to capture public wealth and divert it to the top ranks of the private sector..”

Markets don’t like this at all. Sterling and gilts are off a cliff.

Truss’s Extreme Right-Wing Putsch (Pettifor)

Budgets often reflect nothing more than the dreams and aspirations of a finance minister. Today Britain’s finance minister presented a budget which revealed something more sinister. The overthrow of the Johnson government was indeed a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to dislodge the electoral mandate (for “levelling up”) of a government and replace it with an undemocratic mandate to serve the interests of the very rich, while bearing (or “levelling”) down on the poor. This IS the right wing Revolt of the Rich. Johnson’s elected government’s 2019 manifesto promised: “Millions more invested every week in science, schools, apprenticeships and infrastructure while controlling debt.”


UK 10 Year Bond Chart

Today, the Debt Management Office reported effectively that debt was no longer being controlled – but would expand by £72 billion by the end of this year -£45bn of which is attributed to the debt-financed tax-cutting package “that sparked a historic increase in borrowing costs.” Britain now has an extreme right-wing government with no electoral mandate, and one supported by a minority of Tory MPs in a deeply divided governing party. An unelected government that has chosen this moment to use the power of the state to capture public wealth and divert it to the top ranks of the private sector – bankers, investors, developers and speculators. At the same time the poor are threatened with the loss of livelihoods if they do not single-handedly increase their own meagre earnings.


They are expected to do this as the economy is deliberately plunged into recession by a combination of inflationary rises in globalised energy and food prices; by a corresponding fall in real (inflation-adjusted) wages; and by the ratcheting up of interest rates by the Bank of England. Speaking of the Bank of England: that institution is now engaged in open conflict with the Liz Truss regime and Kwasi Kwarteng, the new finance minister – a conflict that can only end in economic upheaval. Yesterday the Bank published a statement on the decision of the members of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to raise the Bank rate of interest to 2.25% and admitted that consumer price inflation is not worsening, but is already falling – “from 10.1% in July to 9.9% in August. It also asserted dishonestly that “nominal wages have continued to rise.” Nominal wages are not real wages and economists at the Bank of England know that. Real Wages are falling. Bank of England economists know that too.

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“U.S. founders modeled the country on Rome, all the way down to the architecture of government buildings, the use of the eagle as the national bird, the use of Latin mottos, and the unfortunate use of the fasces—the axe surrounded by rods—as a symbol of state power.”

The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire (Doug Casey)

Rome reached its peak of military power around the year 107, when Trajan completed the conquest of Dacia (the territory of modern Romania). With Dacia, the empire peaked in size, but I’d argue it was already past its peak by almost every other measure. The U.S. reached its peak relative to the world, and in some ways its absolute peak, as early as the 1950s. In 1950 this country produced 50% of the world’s GNP and 80% of its vehicles. Now it’s about 21% of world GNP and 5% of its vehicles. It owned two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves; now it holds one-fourth. It was, by a huge margin, the world’s biggest creditor, whereas now it’s the biggest debtor by a huge margin. The income of the average American was by far the highest in the world; today it ranks about eighth, and it’s slipping.

But it’s not just the U.S.—it’s Western civilization that’s in decline. In 1910 Europe controlled almost the whole world—politically, financially, and militarily. Now it’s becoming a Disneyland with real buildings and a petting zoo for the Chinese. It’s even further down the slippery slope than the U.S. Like America, Rome was founded by refugees—from Troy, at least in myth. Like America, it was ruled by kings in its early history. Later, Romans became self-governing, with several Assemblies and a Senate. Later still, power devolved to the executive, which was likely not an accident. U.S. founders modeled the country on Rome, all the way down to the architecture of government buildings, the use of the eagle as the national bird, the use of Latin mottos, and the unfortunate use of the fasces—the axe surrounded by rods—as a symbol of state power.

Publius, the pseudonymous author of The Federalist Papers, took his name from one of Rome’s first consuls. As it was in Rome, military prowess is at the center of the national identity of the U.S. When you adopt a model in earnest, you grow to resemble it. A considerable cottage industry has developed comparing ancient and modern times since Edward Gibbon published The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1776—the same year as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and the U.S. Declaration of Independence were written. I’m a big fan of all three, but D&F is not only a great history, it’s very elegant and readable literature. And it’s actually a laugh riot; Gibbon had a subtle wit.

There have been huge advances in our understanding of Rome since Gibbon’s time, driven by archeological discoveries. There were many things he just didn’t know, because he was as much a philologist as an historian, and he based his writing on what the ancients said about themselves. There was no real science of archeology when Gibbon wrote; little had been done even to correlate the surviving ancient texts with what was on the surviving monuments—even the well-known monuments—and on the coins. Not to mention scientists digging around in the provinces for what was left of Roman villas, battle sites, and that sort of thing. So Gibbon, like most historians, was to a degree a collector of hearsay.

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“Do not throw away your weapons now. Take them in your hands. Destroy the enemy.…People! Know! Moscow, Poland, the Hungarians, the Jews are your enemies. Destroy them!”

Ukraine: The CIA’s 75-year-old Proxy (Sussman)

The MSM have constructed an undiluted narrative about “Putin’s War” that disguises America’s imperialist expansion into eastern Europe. It is utterly Orwellian in its effort to project onto Russia what the U.S. and its main imperial ally, the UK (which a British journalist deemed “America’s tugboat”), have been doing non-stop since 1945—and indeed for centuries. Looking back, the U.S. under Truman began the policy of turning enemies (Germany, Japan) into friends and friends (the important war-time alliance with the USSR) into enemies. The CIA, established in 1947, was the main clandestine instrument of this policy, working closely with the neo-Nazi Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) to carry out acts to sabotage, divide and destabilize the Soviet state.

The OUN, in particular the faction led by the German ally Stepan Bandera and his second in command, Yaroslav Stetsko, OUN-B, was a violently anti-semitic, anti-communist, and anti-Russian organization, which collaborated with the Nazi occupation and actively participated in the slaughter of millions of Poles, Ukrainian Jews, and ethnically Russian and Ukrainian communists in the region. Nonetheless, The Washington Post treated Stetsko as a national hero, a “lonely patriot.” The OUN-German alliance in 1941 was backed by the leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches. The latter’s archbishop, Andrey Sheptytsky, penned a pastoral letter that declared: “We greet the victorious German Army as deliverer from the enemy. We render our obedient homage to the government which has been erected. We recognize Mr. Yaroslav Stetsko as Head of State … of the Ukraine.”

On the occasion of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the OUN put up posters in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov that read: “Do not throw away your weapons now. Take them in your hands. Destroy the enemy.…People! Know! Moscow, Poland, the Hungarians, the Jews are your enemies. Destroy them!…Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes! Glory to the Leader! [Bandera]” Notably, this call for ethnic cleansing does not cite the Germans then occupying Ukraine, yet the fascist and neo-Nazi propagandists who are waging a war in the Donbas region today portray their forebearers as heroes for having defended Ukrainian nationalism from the Soviets and Germany. The Pentagon successfully pressed Congress to lift restrictions on training and providing military assistance to groups, such as the Azov Battalion, that are based on fascist or neo-Nazi ideology.

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What is to come. Sign of the times.

Ford Forced To Park Thousands Of Unfinished Vehicles (RT)

Ford Motor Co. continues to be plagued by parts shortages, so much so that America’s largest automaker has reportedly resorted to parking thousands of unfinished pickups at an idle former NASCAR track in Kentucky. Footage posted online purports to show massive parking lots at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky, jammed with row after row of new Ford trucks. Automotive media outlets, such as The Drive, reported this week that the stashed vehicles are partially finished trucks that can’t be completed or shipped to customers because certain parts aren’t available. Ford apparently began hauling trucks to the speedway in late August. The Drive posted satellite photos of the facility from August 24 and September 19, showing formerly empty parking lots filled with vehicles.


Major automakers have struggled since last year with protracted shortages of computer chips. Ford’s parts shortfalls are widespread, ranging from windshield wiper motors to infotainment systems. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the company even has shortages of its iconic “blue oval” badges and the nameplates that identify vehicle models. Ford announced earlier this week that it had as many as 45,000 unfinished vehicles in inventory that wouldn’t be completed by the end of September because of parts shortages. The company added that its third-quarter costs would be about $1 billion higher than planned because of rampant inflation. [..] Customers have had to bide their time on long waiting lists for some Ford models, such as the F-150 Lightning electric pickup. Last month, Ford announced price increases of as much as $8,500 for the Lightning.

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There’s been a probe since Obama. Crickets.

Republicans Push For Special Counsel In Hunter Biden Probe (CB)

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and 32 other Senate Republicans are demanding special counsel powers for the prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden. The lawmakers say they fear Attorney General Merrick Garland or others at the Justice Department may attempt to meddle in the probe to protect President Joe Biden and his son. “It is clear that Hunter Biden thrived off of a ‘pay to play’ culture of access to his father, then Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for financial compensation,” Cornyn and his colleagues wrote in the letter. “Given that the investigation involves the President’s son,” the letter from Cornyn says, “we believe it is important to provide U.S. Attorney Weiss with special counsel authorities and protections to allow him to investigate an appropriate scope of potentially criminal conduct, avoid the appearance of impropriety, and provide additional assurances to the American people that the Hunter Biden investigation is free from political influence.”

“There is no way of knowing the entire scope of the investigation, but evidence seems to be mounting that Hunter Biden committed numerous federal crimes, including, but not limited to, tax fraud, money laundering, and foreign-lobbying violations,” the senators wrote in a letter. “Given the politicization of the DOJ under your watch and the importance of avoiding any appearance of impropriety, the undersigned request that you provide U.S. Attorney Weiss the full protections and authorities of a special counsel,” the letter said. “This is one important action that you can take that will go a long way to restoring faith in our governmental institutions.”

[..] In the letter, the Republicans said that Hunter must be investigated amid concerns that “he is continuing to profit off” his father’s name. “Hunter Biden’s connections throughout the Russian sphere of influence have now become especially relevant in the fast-moving and developing Russian war in Ukraine,” the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee said. “Hunter Biden’s dealings have not gone unnoticed, and a Department of Justice (DOJ) probe begun under the Obama Administration has expanded to include a wide variety of potential violations and crimes.

“According to the New York Times, Hunter Biden is currently under investigation by the DOJ for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and possible criminal tax evasion and money laundering,” it continued. “Given Hunter Biden’s foreign business relationships in Ukraine and Russia and the current international landscape, we are concerned about whether Hunter Biden continues to profit off his status as President Biden’s son as well as whether foreign adversaries may be attempting to exploit questionable business dealings. NARA may possess documents relevant to this investigation from then-Vice President Biden’s tenure,” they said.

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“Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

WaPo Columnist Calls for the End of Impartiality and Balance (Turley)

In an age of rage, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin has long been a standout in her attacks on Republicans and conservatives: “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” However, her recent column shows that she has made a clean break not only from Republicans but from reason. The writer (long cited by the Post as their “Republican columnist” for balance) has called for the media to abandon balance and impartiality. Rubin is demanding that the media just become overt advocates in refusing to report both sides in the myriad of political issues in this election.

In her column, Rubin rejects the “need for false balance” because the coverage can suggest that Republicans are “rational.” “The Kabuki dance in which Trump, his defenders and his supporters are treated as rational (clever even!) is what comes from a media establishment that refuses to discard its need for false balance that it has developed over the course of decades.” That balance was once called “journalism” but Rubin now calls it facilitating “disinformation.” Balanced reporting is now dangerous and makes the media “a megaphone for disinformation, upholding the pretense that there are two political parties with equally valid takes on reality.” Rubin’s attack on disinformation is ironic given her own past controversies in misrepresenting news, cases, and events.

For full disclosure, I clashed with Rubin over her personally attacking me for a theory that I did not agree with in a column that I did not write. I also challenged her on an equally bizarre column where she wrote about my impeachment testimony and later column misrepresenting the holding in an appellate case involving Trump. That false account was never corrected by the Washington Post. It appears that misrepresenting the holding of a major case is not being a “a megaphone for disinformation.” Rubin, however, is not alone in this call to abandon the foundational principle of impartiality in journalism. We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. Writers, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers.

This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll decried how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.” Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

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April 2022.

Covid Update: What Is The Truth? (NIH)

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most manipulated infectious disease events in history, characterized by official lies in an unending stream lead by government bureaucracies, medical associations, medical boards, the media, and international agencies. We have witnessed a long list of unprecedented intrusions into medical practice, including attacks on medical experts, destruction of medical careers among doctors refusing to participate in killing their patients and a massive regimentation of health care, led by non-qualified individuals with enormous wealth, power and influence.

For the first time in American history a president, governors, mayors, hospital administrators and federal bureaucrats are determining medical treatments based not on accurate scientifically based or even experience based information, but rather to force the acceptance of special forms of care and “prevention”—including remdesivir, use of respirators and ultimately a series of essentially untested messenger RNA vaccines. For the first time in history medical treatment, protocols are not being formulated based on the experience of the physicians treating the largest number of patients successfully, but rather individuals and bureaucracies that have never treated a single patient—including Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, EcoHealth Alliance, the CDC, WHO, state public health officers and hospital administrators.

The media (TV, newspapers, magazines, etc), medical societies, state medical boards and the owners of social media have appointed themselves to be the sole source of information concerning this so-called “pandemic”. Websites have been removed, highly credentialed and experienced clinical doctors and scientific experts in the field of infectious diseases have been demonized, careers have been destroyed and all dissenting information has been labeled “misinformation” and “dangerous lies”, even when sourced from top experts in the fields of virology, infectious diseases, pulmonary critical care, and epidemiology. These blackouts of truth occur even when this information is backed by extensive scientific citations from some of the most qualified medical specialists in the world. Incredibly, even individuals, such as Dr. Michael Yeadon, a retired ex-Chief Scientist, and vice-president for the science division of Pfizer Pharmaceutical company in the UK, who charged the company with making an extremely dangerous vaccine, is ignored and demonized. Further, he, along with other highly qualified scientists have stated that no one should take this vaccine.

Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the most cited experts in his field, who has successfully treated over 2000 COVID patients by using a protocol of early treatment (which the so-called experts completely ignored), has been the victim of a particularly vicious assault by those benefiting financially from the vaccines. He has published his results in peer reviewed journals, reporting an 80% reduction in hospitalizations and a 75% reduction in deaths by using early treatment. Despite this, he is under an unrelenting series of attacks by the information controllers, none of which have treated a single patient.

Neither Anthony Fauci, the CDC, WHO nor any medical governmental establishment has ever offered any early treatment other than Tylenol, hydration and call an ambulance once you have difficulty breathing. This is unprecedented in the entire history of medical care as early treatment of infections is critical to saving lives and preventing severe complications. Not only have these medical organizations and federal lapdogs not even suggested early treatment, they attacked anyone who attempted to initiate such treatment with all the weapons at their disposal—loss of license, removal of hospital privileges, shaming, destruction of reputations and even arrest.

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George Webb

 

 

 

 

Guano/Nitrogen/Haber

 

 

Moto dog

 

 


Green vine snake

 

 

 

 

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Aug 272022
 
 August 27, 2022  Posted by at 8:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  76 Responses »


Felix Vallotton Verdun 1917

 

An Ill Wind (Jim Kunstler)
UK Facing ‘National Disaster’ – London Mayor (RT)
Power Costs In Germany Hit Historic Highs (RT)
Ruling German Party Split On Ukraine (RT)
EU Nation Bulgaria Wants To Resume Buying Russian Gas (RT)
It’s Time To Worry About Greece Again (R.)
Zaporizhzhia: World Narrowly Avoided Radiation Accident – Zelensky (BBC)
Only One In Three UN Members Back Ukraine’s New Anti-Russia Resolution (RT)
Americans To Get Medals For Ukraine (RT)
Not Even Pope Francis Is Safe From Kiev’s Wrath (Robert Bridge)
Moderna Sues Pfizer And BioNTech Over Coronavirus Vaccine (G.)
WaPo And WSJ Slam Biden Student Loan Handout (ZH)
Student Loan Cancellation Latest In Long Line Of Biden Legal Overreaches (JTN)
Stakeholder Interests Within FBI Affidavit Justifying Raid on Trump (CTH)
Dramatic Timeline of Political Corruption Within the FBI (CTH)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putin 2014

 

 

Zhirinovsky

 

 

 

 

Vast majority of young Americans remain unvaccinated

 

 

 

 

“The regime that has turned our world inside out in its Satanic pursuit of comfort and power will be stripped naked and judged..”

An Ill Wind (Jim Kunstler)

We’ve heard ad nauseam that the Washington DC insiders, the denizens of that demi-mythic Deep State in the wealthiest metro area of all the land, look down on the rest of America. Why is that? I’ll tell you. Because the DC confederacy of grifters has gotten fat off your suffering as they have systematically wrecked and looted that rest of America, the sinking middle-class. They are living in fabulous comfort off your bamboozlement and ruin. Their contempt for you grows on your tragic breakdown like fungus on a once-mighty fallen tree. They prevailed in this world and you didn’t. You chumps are in Palookaville on your way to the bone orchard, and therefore they are better than you, ha ha ha.

There is another side of this life, in case all that has got you demoralized. That is the side where human beings say things that comport with reality, where people mean what they say and use language as if it evolved to describe things and doings with some exactitude — as in this is this and that is that… and not the inverse or opposite. That is the side of life where pretending is not the highest-and-best use of human intelligence. I know, these days it’s hard to imagine that side of life, but it’s actually still there, waiting to be reanimated. The regime that has turned our world inside out in its Satanic pursuit of comfort and power will be stripped naked and judged, if not by official judges, then by an unstoppable consensus.

The sore-beset public will take an inventory of what has been lost and begin reconstructing a scaffold of shared life that rewards fidelity to the way things actually work. It will be a rough passage out of what amounts to a hostage crisis. There will be friction and heat. You will not be comfortable, but you will be dauntless. You will certainly not have nothing or be happy about that. You will have, at least, a restored memory of what it was like to strive honorably for a life worth living. We’re in the crucible of all that just now, where everything is white hot. Do not bend or melt. Soldier through. Be men and be women (there is truly nothing in-between, and do not fall for faithless inducements to doubt that). You are brothers and sisters in an enterprise worth saving and you have a history worth defending. Believe it.

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“..there is “no actual cap” on the maximum that can be paid, and that the figure is just the cap for “those on average use.”

UK Facing ‘National Disaster’ – London Mayor (RT)

The UK is facing a “national disaster” if the government fails to act immediately to solve the energy crisis, London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned after energy regulator Ofgem announced that the price cap on the average energy bill would increase to £3,549 ($2,323) from October. Khan made the comments on Friday after Ofgem announced the 80% hike in the price cap, as struggling British households face what the mayor said would be a “bleak winter.” The new price cap is almost triple what it was last October when it was raised to £1,277 ($1,505). “With energy prices soaring and more families struggling to make ends meet, this government needs to step up and take urgent action now,”Khan said, arguing that the government has “consistently failed” to intervene and ministers “must act now to prevent this cost of living crisis becoming a national disaster.”


Brits “desperately need to know” what Westminster’s plan of action is, Khan added. Khan called for an immediate bill freeze and the introduction of a ‘Lifeline Tariff’ to ensure the most vulnerable in society receive a certain amount of free energy. The mayor also pointed out on Twitter that there is “no actual cap” on the maximum that can be paid, and that the figure is just the cap for “those on average use.” Consumer champion Martin Lewis echoed that concern, saying nothing is stopping some households from paying £10,000 ($11,821) a year. Lewis also said a movement is growing for Brits to refuse to pay energy bills, telling Good Morning Britain on Friday that if the government does not implement emergency measures, the ‘Don’t Pay’ movement “are going to become a louder voice in this country.”

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Germany is set to drag down the entire EU with it.

Power Costs In Germany Hit Historic Highs (RT)

German benchmark power prices for next year soared above €800 per megawatt hour on Friday, nearly 10 times higher than the same period last year, Bloomberg reports. Prices gained as much as 7.6% on Friday to reach €805.15 per megawatt hour on the European Energy Exchange, up 39% this week. Costs have been smashing records on an almost daily basis as the winter heating period approaches. The rally is being driven by growing concerns over Russian natural gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.


Berlin previously required gas operators to fill underground storage facilities while adhering to a strict schedule, to ensure the country has enough fuel to last the winter. The plan states that storage must be 85% full by October 1, and 95% full by November 1. Experts doubt the goal is achievable. The spike in energy costs is fueling inflation and hurting households and businesses across Europe. European countries have started introducing drastic measures to limit energy use, such as banning outside lighting for buildings and lowering indoor heating temperatures.

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“..a “ceasefire as soon as possible as a basis for comprehensive peace negotiations.”

Ruling German Party Split On Ukraine (RT)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is facing dissent within his own party ranks from those who want Berlin to stop providing Kiev with weapons, Der Spiegel has claimed. The outlet suggests the left wing of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has also called on Scholz to engage in dialogue with Russia. In its article published on Friday, Der Spiegel said the chancellor’s decision to beef up the German military, sever ties with Russia, and ship heavy weaponry to Ukraine earlier this year was hard to swallow for many in a political party that had for decades stood for disarmament and a policy of detente. According to the outlet, a group of SPD members representing the party’s left wing have penned a letter to Scholz, titled “The weapons must fall silent!”

In it, they advocate a diplomatic offensive as a means of ending the Ukraine conflict. Among the signatories are multiple members of the Bundestag and the European Parliament, as well as prominent party figures from several German regions, the article claims. “A continuation of the war will only bring more deaths and destruction,” the appeal seen by Der Spiegel reportedly says. The SPD members are also quoted as calling for a “ceasefire as soon as possible as a basis for comprehensive peace negotiations.” They allegedly want Berlin to engage countries that could act as mediators, with China mentioned as a good candidate for that role.

The letter reportedly goes on to argue that, while a fundamental improvement in relations between Germany and Russia would only be possible in a “post-Putin era,” Berlin has to establish a “modus vivendi” for the time being that would help to prevent “further escalation of the war.” The German government is also urged to acknowledge “realities,” however unpleasant they may be, the article claimed. The ‘peace camp’ within the SPD also warned Scholz of the risk of a nuclear conflict breaking out, and cautioned him against crossing the “red line” that would mean Germany’s direct involvement in the Ukraine conflict, the outlet says. The lawmakers allegedly argued that attempts to establish a no-fly zone over the Eastern European country, as well as the shipment of battle tanks or fighter jets, could trigger such an apocalyptic scenario.

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Not everyone wants to be dragged down.

EU Nation Bulgaria Wants To Resume Buying Russian Gas (RT)

The Bulgarian government is considering holding talks with energy giant Gazprom on resuming Russian natural gas imports, Energy Minister Rosen Hristov told Nova TV on Friday. “There are still no active talks with Gazprom… but we have given an indication that we want to start negotiations, or rather to continue them to clarify some controversial terms of the contract. We simply sent information that we were ready to negotiate and asked them to resume contact,” he said, specifying that Sofia expects a response from the Russian supplier on Friday, or Monday next week at the latest. The minister stressed: “We are only talking about the old contract; we will not re-sign or negotiate a new contract.”


According to Hristov, Sofia is seeking to extend the deadline to supply the remaining volumes of gas under the contract until 2023. In April, Bulgaria rejected the ruble-for-gas payment method introduced by Russia in response to Western sanctions. Under the new regulation, buyers from countries that imposed restrictions on Moscow are obliged to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles. Sofia’s refusal to accept the new terms prompted Gazprom Export to halt fuel supplies to its Bulgarian partner, Bulgargaz.

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Ruling party uses secret service to spy on opponents. Sound familiar?

It’s Time To Worry About Greece Again (R.)

It is only a few years since the Grexit horror movie ended. But sadly Greece’s creditors, investors and allies need to start worrying about the country again. A bugging scandal threatens Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government and prolonged political instability. This is not a re-run of the crisis that threatened to eject Greece from the euro. But the state’s high deficit and debt – which is 189% of GDP – are a cause for concern at a time of soaring energy prices and rising interest rates. Earlier this month the leader of Pasok, one of Greece’s opposition parties, accused the country’s intelligence service of bugging his phone. There had also been an unsuccessful attempt from an unknown source to infect his phone with spyware, called Predator.

Mitsotakis, leader of the centre-right New Democracy party, said he was unaware of the phone tapping and wouldn’t have approved it if he had known read more . He fired the head of the intelligence service. The government’s general secretary, to whom the intelligence service reported and who is Mitsotakis’ nephew, also quit. The government denies purchasing or using Predator. Nevertheless, the Greek parliament has reconvened to debate the issue today. sAlthough Mitsotakis has a solid majority, he has to call an election at the latest by August 2023. This will be fought under proportional representation, with the result that no party will get an overall majority. There will then be a second election, under a new law, which will give the leading party a large number of bonus members of parliament.

Opinion polls previously suggested Mitsotakis would win a majority in this second election – or come close to doing so. But following the eruption of the bugging scandal, this no longer seems likely. What is more, it will be hard for him to form a coalition, as his obvious partner was Pasok, the centre-left party whose leader’s phone was tapped. It will be extremely reluctant to do a deal with Mitsotakis. However, it will also be hard for Greece’s largest opposition party, the left-wing Syriza, to form a coalition. Though it would try to cut a deal with Pasok, the two groups probably wouldn’t have a majority. They might only be able to get one via a fanciful coalition including the communists and the far-right.

There are other possibilities. New Democracy might replace Mitsotakis with a leader more appealing to Pasok. Another is that Greek parties might form a grand coalition, led by a technocrat. But none of the scenarios looks terribly stable. Meanwhile, many questions about the bugging scandal remain unanswered. If there are further damaging revelations, Mitsotakis may struggle to hang on until the election.

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The BBC knows it’s Ukraine shelling the plant.

Zaporizhzhia: World Narrowly Avoided Radiation Accident – Zelensky (BBC)

Europe faced the prospect of a radiation disaster on Thursday when a Russian-occupied nuclear plant was disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid, President Volodomyr Zelensky has said.It was only due to back-up electricity kicking in that the Zaporizhzhia plant was able to operate safely, he added.Fires had earlier damaged overhead power lines, cutting the plant off. There is growing concern over fighting near the complex, which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe.”If the diesel generators hadn’t turned on, if the automation and our staff of the plant had not reacted after the blackout, then we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of the radiation accident,” President Zelensky warned on Thursday night.


The damage was caused by fires which Ukraine’s state nuclear agency said had interfered with power lines connecting the plant on Thursday, temporarily cutting Zaporizhzhia off from the national grid for the first time in its history. “As a result, the station’s two working power units were disconnected from the network,” Kyiv officials said. On Friday afternoon, the state nuclear company said the plant had been reconnected to the electricity grid, with one of its six reactors providing power. Satellite images taken on Wednesday showed an extensive fire burning in the immediate vicinity of the nuclear complex. President Zelensky blamed the damage on Russian shelling, and in his nightly address accused Moscow of putting Ukraine and Europe “one step away” from disaster. But local Russian-appointed governor Yevgeny Balitsky blamed the Ukrainian military for the strikes, accusing them of causing power outages to the region as a result.

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Meanwhile, in the real world …

Only One In Three UN Members Back Ukraine’s New Anti-Russia Resolution (RT)

Ukraine’s latest proposal to condemn Russia has attracted the backing of just 58 out of 193 UN member states, a far cry from the number that symbolically supported Kiev in the General Assembly in March. Kiev’s envoy to the UN Sergey Kislitsa heralded the proposed resolution on Wednesday, following the Security Council meetingconvened on Ukraine’s independence day. The session featured a video address by President Vladimir Zelensky, for which the council had to override protocol requiring in-person appearances, and a series of statements by Western governments denouncing Russia.


Moscow’s envoy Vassily Nebenzia provided the counterpoint by introducing evidence of Ukrainian atrocities into the record and even naming Kiev’s western backers as accomplices in specific instances. Kislitsa’s resolution also fell short of the support Kiev had back in March, right after the start of the Russian military operation. At the March 2 General Assembly session,141 member countries – or 73% of the UN – voted for a nonbinding resolution to condemn Moscow. This week, however, that support stood at 30%, with no African, Persian Gulf or BRICS countries on board – and only two Latin American governments, Colombia and Guatemala, standing with Ukraine.

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It’s no longer a proxy war.

Americans To Get Medals For Ukraine (RT)

The US government intends to officially name its military mission to aid Kiev and appoint a general to command it, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Biden administration officials. This would formalize the operation that predates the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine and allow the Pentagon to award ribbons, medals, and special pay to its participants. Giving the operation a name is “significant bureaucratically,” the Journal explained, as it “typically entails long-term, dedicated funding and the possibility of special pay, ribbons and awards for service members participating in the effort.” The US has previously named its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The original intervention in Afghanistan was dubbed “Enduring Freedom,”replaced by the nation-building “Freedom’s Sentinel” in 2015.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was called “Iraqi Freedom,” while the 2014 redeployment to Iraq and Syria to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists was designated “Inherent Resolve.” A two-star or three-star general will be appointed to command the effort, in what the Journal described as “a shift from the largely ad hoc effort to to provide training and assistance to the Ukrainians for years.” While the US has sent Ukraine almost $11 billion worth of weapons and ammunition since February, Washington and its NATO allies have provided Kiev with military aid since the 2014 coup that put a US-backed government in power and set off the civil war in Donbass. Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko admitted in June that his signature on the Minsk armistice was intended to buy Kiev time to build up a powerful military.

Aleksey Danilov, who currently chairs Ukraine’s National Security Council, revealed on Tuesday that Kiev had been “preparing for the war since December 2019.” In April, the White House appointed retired US Army General Terry Wolff as coordinator for military assistance to Ukraine. Wolff, a veteran Pentagon policy planner, had retired in February 2014 as director of strategic plans and policy (J-5) for the Joint Staff. He was previously in charge of US efforts to arm and train militants in Syria.

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“..it was telling how the Pope’s use of the word “innocent” when applied to Darya Dugina triggered such a powerful response from someone who calls himself a diplomat.”

Not Even Pope Francis Is Safe From Kiev’s Wrath (Robert Bridge)

After mentioning the death of Darya Dugina, a young Russian journalist and political activist, Pope Francis has faced the anger of Kiev, which apparently thinks it has the monopoly on “innocence.” For the past six months, Kiev has lashed out at various government leaders and international organizations, like Amnesty International, for example, which reported on Ukraine’s violations of international law on the battlefield. So it was just a matter of time before the Catholic Church got an earful, too. And that’s what happened this week when Pope Francis, addressing a congregation in the Vatican, mentionegd the death of Darya Dugina, whose life was cut tragically short by a car bombing. But before uttering the name of the deceased Russian woman, the Pope acknowledged the innocent victims on both sides of the conflict.

“Whether they are Ukrainians or Russians … I think of so much cruelty, of the many innocents who are paying for the madness, the madness of all sides because war is madness,” Pope Francis told his flock. “I think of the poor girl (Darya Dugina) who was blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for the war.” That seems to be a fair assessment of the horrors of warfare that few could find fault with. While government leaders are ultimately responsible for leading their people into the “madness of war,” it is the “innocent” people – from soldiers on the frontlines to civilians back home – who suffer the brunt of the consequences. Yet, like a true politician, Ukraine’s Vatican ambassador Andrey Yurash politicized the Pope’s words, saying it was impossible to call Dugina “innocent” when she – together with her prominent father, the political philosopher Aleksandr Dugin – advocated on behalf of Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine.

There are several problems with Yurash’s peculiar brand of moralizing, the first one being that he, much like the Western world in general, conveniently fast-forwarded past eight years of bloodshed in Donbass that has caused millions of people – not just “political ideologues” – to support Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine in the first place. I’m not sure what Mr. Yurash was tweeting about in 2014, but somehow I doubt it had anything to do with the unprovoked attacks on Russian speakers in Donbass that have killed thousands. Second, it was telling how the Pope’s use of the word “innocent” when applied to Darya Dugina triggered such a powerful response from someone who calls himself a diplomat. What’s more, in his tweet, Yurash went on to apparently insinuate that it was the Russians themselves that killed her in order to make her a martyr.

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Sales are down?

Moderna Sues Pfizer And BioNTech Over Coronavirus Vaccine (G.)

Moderna is suing its US pharmaceutical rival Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for patent infringement in the development of the first Covid-19 vaccine approved in the United States, alleging they copied technology that Moderna developed years before the pandemic. The lawsuit, which seeks undetermined monetary damages, was being filed in US district court in Massachusetts and the regional court of Düsseldorf in Germany, Moderna said in a news release on Friday. “We are filing these lawsuits to protect the innovative mRNA technology platform that we pioneered, invested billions of dollars in creating, and patented during the decade preceding the Covid-19 pandemic,” Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, said in the statement.

Moderna Inc, on its own, and the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech were two of the first groups to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. Just a decade old as a company, Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, had been an innovator in the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology that enabled the unprecedented speed in developing the Covid-19 vaccine after the coronavirus pandemic began in late 2019 and spread around the world. An approval process that previously took years was completed in months, thanks largely to the breakthrough in mRNA vaccines, which teach human cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response.

[..] Moderna alleges Pfizer/BioNTech, without permission, copied mRNA technology that Moderna had patented between 2010 and 2016, well before deadly Covid-19 emerged in 2019 in China and exploded into global consciousness in early 2020. Early in the pandemic, Moderna said it would not enforce its Covid-19 patents to help others develop their own vaccines, particularly for low- and middle-income countries. But in March 2022 Moderna said it expected companies such as Pfizer and BioNTech to respect its intellectual property rights. It said it would not seek damages for any activity before 8 March 2022.

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“..Student-loan debt won’t appear to swell even as it does. What a fabulous accounting trick.”

WaPo And WSJ Slam Biden Student Loan Handout (ZH)

After the Biden administration announced its ham-fisted scheme to eliminate $10,000 in student loans for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year, and $20,000 for Pell grant recipients, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal editorial boards independently wrote about what a stupid idea it is. “This is easily the worst domestic decision of his Presidency and makes chumps of Congress and every American who repaid loans or didn’t go to college,” writes the Journal editorial board. “Democrats said these plans would reduce defaults. They haven’t. Federal student debt has ballooned because many borrowers don’t make enough to cover interest and principal payments, so their balances expand. Student debt has nearly doubled since 2011 to $1.6 trillion, though the number of borrowers has increased by only 18%.

Now Mr. Biden is cutting undergrad payments to a mere 5% of discretionary income. The government will also cover unpaid monthly interest for borrowers so their balances won’t grow even if they aren’t paying a penny. This will mask the cost to taxpayers of the Administration’s rolling loan write-off. Student-loan debt won’t appear to swell even as it does. What a fabulous accounting trick.” -WSJ The Post, meanwhile, said that Biden “Has generally embraced sensible reforms over flashy gimmicks. But his Wednesday student loan announcement did just the opposite,” adding that the plan to forgive both the $10K and $20K levels are “ill-conceived and misdirected.”

“The unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees and higher is just 2 percent. It’s hard to make the case that college graduates are still facing an unprecedented crisis. The loan-forgiveness decision is even worse. Widely canceling student loan debt is regressive. It takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up of workers who did not go to college, to subsidize the education debt of people with valuable degrees. Mr. Biden’s student loan decision will not do enough to help the most vulnerable Americans. It will, however, provide a windfall for those who don’t need it — with American taxpayers footing the bill.” -WaPo. Ouch!

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“..Biden “is using COVID emergency powers to allow people not to repay their loans,” he asked, “[Does] that make any sense?”

Student Loan Cancellation Latest In Long Line Of Biden Legal Overreaches (JTN)

Since President Biden entered office, federal courts across the country have repeatedly struck down administration policies as unconstitutional. According to critics, there may soon be another addition to this long and growing list: Biden’s announcement Wednesday that he will unilaterally cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 per year and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The Justice Department released a legal opinion stating the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act gives the education secretary the “authority to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt.” The opinion also found the debt could be forgiven on a “class-wide” basis in response to COVID-19.

Advocates of student loan forgiveness have made similar arguments, pointing to language in the Higher Education Act of 1965 that empowers the education secretary to “enforce, pay, compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption” to argue Congress isn’t needed to cancel student loan debt on a large scale. However, critics counter that the language refers just to settling loans on a case-by-case basis and doesn’t give the executive branch the power to implement large-scale student loan cancellation. These critics note all executive branch spending must first be appropriated by Congress and contend canceling student debt for millions of Americans via executive action violates the separation of powers fundamental to the Constitution.

In January 2021, when former President Trump was still in office, the Department of Education issued a legal memo saying the education secretary “does not have the statutory authority to cancel, compromise, discharge, or forgive, on a blanket or mass basis, principal balances of student loans, and/or to materially modify the repayment amounts or terms thereof.” The memo has been taken down from the department’s website since Biden entered the White House. None other than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a Biden ally, told reporters last year that Biden didn’t have the power to cancel student debt. “That has to be an act of Congress … the president can’t do it,” said Pelosi. “That’s not even a discussion.”

Biden himself has previously expressed reluctance about using executive authority to enact widespread student loan forgiveness, saying in December 2020: “I think that’s pretty questionable. I’m unsure of that. I’d be unlikely to do that.” Critics of Biden’s announcement are expected to launch legal challenges to stop it from being implemented. Arguing that “the president does not have the authority to do this,” economist Steve Moore told the “Just the News, Not Noise” TV show, “I think that Supreme Court is going to rule against Biden.” Noting that Biden “is using COVID emergency powers to allow people not to repay their loans,” he asked, “[Does] that make any sense?

Mike Davis

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“..the institutions that illegally targeted President Trump are the same institutions who control the specific evidence of their unlawful targeting.”

Stakeholder Interests Within FBI Affidavit Justifying Raid on Trump (CTH)

Chris Steele, Igor Danchenko and Rodney Joffe were also interviewed by the FBI. Those 302’s were never released. Presumably John Durham has stakeholder equity in that part of the Trump-Russia hoax, but the documentary evidence prior to January 20, 2021, that exists outside the special counsel could also be records at Mar-a-Lago. Then we get to the big stuff…. The records and evidence in unredacted and declassified state, that would drive the DOJ-NSD to claim vital national security interests. The NSA compliance officer notified NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers of unauthorized use of the NSA database by FBI contractors searching U.S. citizens during the 2015/2016 presidential primary. That 2016 notification is a classified record.

The response from Mike Rogers, and the subsequent documentary evidence of what names were being searched is again a classified record. The audit logs showing who was doing the searches (which contractors, which agencies and from what offices), as noted by Director Rogers, was preserved. That is another big-time classified record. In addition, we would have Admiral Rogers writing a mandatory oversight notification to the FISA court detailing what happened. That’s a big and comprehensive classified record, likely contained in the documents in Mar-a-Lago… and then the goldmine, the fully unredacted 99-page FISA court opinion detailing the substance of the NSA compromise by FBI officials and contractors, including the names, frequency and dates of the illegal surveillance. That is a major classified document the Deepest Deep State would want to keep hidden.

These are the types of documents within what former ODNI John Ratcliffe called “thousands of pages that were declassified by President Trump,” and given to both John Durham and Main Justice with an expectation of public release when the Durham special counsel probe concluded. In short, President Trump declassified documents that show how the institutions within the U.S. government targeted him. However, the institutions that illegally targeted President Trump are the same institutions who control the specific evidence of their unlawful targeting. These examples of evidence held by President Donald Trump reveals the background of how the DC surveillance state exists. THAT was/is the national security threat behind the DOJ-NSD search warrant and affidavit.

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Strong video.

Dramatic Timeline of Political Corruption Within the FBI (CTH)

BACKGROUND on FBI – As we discovered in January of this year, the FBI was fully aware of the terrorist who was planning to shoot the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and yet they did nothing. The FBI knowledge of the shooter, Malik Faisal Akram, who was known as Faisal Akram was confirmed by The Daily Mail. Akram ranted, prior to his travel to the U.S, that he wished he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan, and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group set up to ‘purify’ Islam. To say the U.S. intelligence system knew Faisal Akram would be an understatement. The FBI was also fully aware of the Boston Marathon bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers, before they executed their plot. The FBI took no action.

The FBI knew about the San Bernardino terrorists, specifically Tashfeen Malik, and were monitoring her phone calls and communications before her and Syed Farook executed their attack killing 14 people and leaving 22 others seriously injured. The FBI took no action. The FBI knew Colorado grocery store shooter Ahmad Alissa before he executed his attack. The FBI took no action. The FBI knew in advance of the Pulse Nightclub shooter (Omar Mateen) and were tipped off by the local sheriff. The FBI knew in advance of the San Bernardino Terrorists (Tashfeen Malik). The FBI knew in advance of the Boston Marathon Bombers (the Tsarnaev brothers) tipped off by Russians. The FBI knew in advance of the Parkland High School shooter (Nikolas Cruz). The FBI knew in advance of the Fort Hood shooter (Nidal Hasan), and the FBI knew in advance of Colorado grocery store shooter Ahmad al-Aliwi Alissa. The FBI took no action.

The case of the first recorded ISIS attack on U.S. soil was in Garland, Texas in 2015. The FBI not only knew the shooters (Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi) in advance, BUT the FBI ALSO took the shooters to the venue and were standing only a few yards away when Simpson and Soofi opened fire. Yes, you read that correctly – the FBI took the terrorists to the event and then watched it unfold. “An FBI trainer suggested in an interview with “60 Minutes” that, had the attack been bigger, the agency’s numerous ties to the shooter would have led to a congressional investigation.”

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Tucker 4-sigma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steller’s sea eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 212022
 
 August 21, 2022  Posted by at 9:00 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  58 Responses »


Giambologna Colossus of the Apennines 1579-80 (35ft tall)

 

Car Blast Kills Daughter Of Russian Philosopher Dugin (RT)
Modern Empires Keep Taking What They Want From ‘Lesser’ Powers (Kovalik)
Russian Soldiers In Ukraine Hospitalized With Severe Chemical Poisoning (RT)
Two Lives: Victoria and Victorine (Batiushka)
Russia Continues To Stockpile Forex Reserves (RT)
UN Recruited Over 100,000 Digital First Responders to Push COVID Narrative (SN)
Houston, We Have a Problem – Part 1 of 3 (Ethical Skeptic)
Insufficient Vitamin D Linked To Fourfold Increase In Covid-19 Mortality (IT)
China Backs African Union Bid To Join The Group of 20 (SCMP)
Chinese Ambassador Outlines BRICS Vision (RT)
Millions Could Be Left Without Heat And Food In Winter, London Mayor Warns (RT)
Just How Bad Could Things Get This Winter? (RT)
Swiss Revolt Warning Issued (RT)
Amish Farmer Fighting US Government For Right To Sell His All-natural Food (RN)
Dutch Farmers Confront Billionaire ‘Green’ Elite’s Food System Reset Plan (GZ)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biden’s bribe tapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too early to say if the father was the intended target. But Putin can’t let cars be blown up near Moscow. He has to act.

Car Blast Kills Daughter Of Russian Philosopher Dugin (RT)

A powerful explosion ripped apart an SUV near Moscow on Saturday night, instantly killing its driver. According to preliminary reports, the victim was identified as Darya Dugina, the daughter of a veteran Russian political commentator Alexander Dugin, who is often painted in the West as one of the Kremlin’s “ideological masterminds.” The incident took place on a highway some 20 kilometers west of Moscow around 21:35 local time, with witnesses saying that the blast rocked the vehicle right in the middle of the road, scattering debris all around. The crippled car, fully engulfed in flames, then crashed into a fence, according to photos and videos from the scene. Emergency services said one person was inside the car and was instantly killed by the blast and crash – a female whose body was reportedly recovered burned beyond recognition.

Authorities have yet to officially confirm the identity of the victim, but multiple Russian Telegram channels and media sources reported that the victim was 30-year-old Darya Dugina (Platonova). Her father, Alexander Dugin, was spotted at the scene soon after the incident, visibly shocked, according to several videos circulating on social media. Preliminary reports suggested that a home-made explosive device might have been involved, but investigators have yet to confirm the cause of the blast, or any possible motive in case of a foul play. Earlier on Saturday evening, Aleksandr Dugin was giving a lecture on “Tradition and History”at a traditional family festival in the Moscow region, while his daughter attended the event as a guest. Some unconfirmed reports suggested that Dugin initially planned to leave the festival alongside his daughter, but later decided to take a separate car, while Darya took his Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.

Darya Dugina was a political commentator and daughter of Professor Aleksandr Dugin – a veteran Russian philosopher known for his staunch anti-Western and “neo-Eurasian” views. Western media repeatedly painted Dugin as one of the driving forces behind President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy over the past decade. Just in recent months, CBS dubbed him “the far-right theorist behind Putin’s plan,” while the Washington Post called him a “far-right mystical writer who helped shape Putin’s view of Russia.” n Russia, however, the supposed shadowy puppet master is largely considered to be a relatively marginal figure with some of his views deemed controversial even in nationalist circles. While he has served as an adviser to several politicians, Dugin never enjoyed official endorsement from the Kremlin.

Dugina

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“A child asks his parent, “Why are there pyramids in Egypt?” The parent answers, “Because they were too big to take to Britain.“

Modern Empires Keep Taking What They Want From ‘Lesser’ Powers (Kovalik)

There is an old joke which still has resonance. A child asks his parent, “Why are there pyramids in Egypt?” The parent answers, “Because they were too big to take to Britain.” Of course, many a true word is spoken in jest. Indeed, there is an apocryphal story that back in the day when Vladimir Lenin was in exile in London, he would enjoy taking friends to the British Museum and explaining to them how and from what far-flung lands all the antiquities there were stolen. One might have thought that these days of colonial plunder had ended, but one would be very wrong. Current examples abound. A notable one is, of course, the freezing by the US of $7 billion from the Afghanistan treasury – monies the US continues to hold even as it watches Afghans begin to die from starvation.

Apparently, the US believes that, after laying waste to Afghanistan through 20 years of war and, even before that by supporting the mujahideen terrorists, it is entitled to some compensation. This upside-down type of reasoning abounds in the minds of those in the West who simply believe they can take whatever they wish. Similarly, the US is now plundering Syria – another country utterly devastated in no small part by Washington-backed militants in a campaign to overthrow the elected president – of most of its oil, even as Syria suffers from severe energy blackouts. Thus, according to the Syrian Oil Ministry, “US occupation forces and their mercenaries,” referring to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), “steal up to 66,000 barrels every single day from the fields occupied in the eastern region,” amounting to around 83 percent of Syria’s daily oil production.

According to the ministry’s data, the Syrian oil sector has incurred losses of “about $105 billion since the beginning of the war until the middle of this year” as a result of the US oil theft campaign. Additionally, the statement added that alongside the financial losses incurred by the oil sector were “losses of life, including 235 martyrs, 46 injured and 112 kidnapped.” One of the biggest heists the US has carried out is against Russia. After the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the US seized an incredible $300 billion of Russian treasury funds which were deposited abroad. This was done, of course, without any due process, and to the great detriment of the Russian people – and with barely a critical word from Western pundits.

The US treatment of Venezuela abounds with other examples. As I write these words, the US is maneuvering to seize a commercial 747 airliner from Venezuela on the grounds that it once belonged to an Iranian airline which had some connection to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (which Washington has designated as terrorists) – which might sound like a tenuous justification, but the US really needs no reason. And this is simply the tip of the iceberg. The US has already seized Venezuela’s biggest single source of revenue – its US-based oil company CITGO – and is now in the process of selling off this company in pieces, even as Washington lifts restrictions on Venezuelan oil to shore up its own economy. The UK, meanwhile, has decided to keep over $1 billion in gold which Venezuela naively deposited in the Bank of England for safe-keeping. To add insult to injury, the US continues to criticize Venezuela for the hardships its people endure as a direct consequence of this plunder.

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Botulinum toxin.

Russian Soldiers In Ukraine Hospitalized With Severe Chemical Poisoning (RT)

Several Russian soldiers involved in the military operation in Ukraine have been hospitalized with severe chemical poisoning, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday. Traces of Botulinum toxin Type B, which is an “organic poison of artificial origin,” have been discovered in samples taken from the servicemen, the ministry said, accusing Kiev of “chemical terrorism.” The Russian troops were “hospitalized with signs of severe poisoning” after being stationed near the village of Vasilyevka in Zaporozhye Region on July 31, the statement said. “The Zelensky regime has authorized terrorist attacks with the use of toxic substances against Russian personnel and civilians” following a string of military defeats in Donbass and other areas, the ministry insisted.


Moscow plans to send laboratory tests from the soldiers to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Botulinum toxin, often called the “miracle poison,” is one of the most toxic biological substances known to science. Produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, it blocks the release of the acetylcholine neurotransmitter, causing muscle paralysis. Botulinum toxin Type A has been used in medicine in small doses in recent decades, especially to treat disorders characterized by overactive muscle movement. It’s also well known in cosmetology under its shortened name, Botox. However, Botulinum toxin poses a major threat as a bioweapon due its ease of production and distribution, and the high fatality rate resulting from poisoning. Recovery is only possible after a lengthy period of intensive care.

Donbass residents

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“How does she sleep at night?”

Two Lives: Victoria and Victorine (Batiushka)

Victoria Jane Nuland was born in 1961 to Sherwin Nudelman, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, and a British-born mother, Rhona Goulston. Already in his teens Nudelman had changed his name to Nuland in order to carve out a career. With the British-named Victoria, an Anglo-Zionist was clearly in the making. Indeed, she duly studied at an elite private boarding school in Connecticut, whose alumni include many US politicians. Then she went to Brown University, where she studied Russian literature, political science and history. She married Robert Kagan, the future leading Jewish neocon. Her worldview relects exactly the folly of the US since 1990 under the influence of the neo-imperialist neocons and Blairite-Clintonian ‘liberal interventionists’.

This has resulted in mass poverty in the USA, as well as 9/11, and millions of deaths in wars and tensions outside the US with the Islamic world, Iran, Russia, China and anyone else that resists US imperialism. From 2003 to 2005, during the US rape of defenceless Iraq and the theft of its oil and gas, Mrs Kagan was a foreign policy advisor to the notorious Cheney. She must have many deaths on her conscience from that particular mess. The Iraq catastrophe led to terrorism and counterterrorism and disastrous new wars in Libya and Syria. Meanwhile, her husband was demanding an ever more warlike foreign policy against the background of US fears of the coming multipolar world, a world which it would no longer be able to dominate.

So Mrs Kagan, who yearned for permanent NATO expansion and the encirclement of Russia, was deeply involved in the US ‘regime-change’, that is, the plot to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically-elected government by violence in 2014. This led to America’s responsibility for the ensuing civil war that had killed at least 14,000 people, women and children among them, even before 24 February 2022 and had left Ukraine the poorest country in Europe. Her $5 billion coup in 2014 in the wretched Ukraine, a strategic candidate for NATO on Russia’s border, was implemented through Oleh Tyahnybok’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party and the new Right Sector militia. We do not forget that it was Tyanhnybok who had delivered a speech praising Ukrainians for fighting Jews and ‘other scum’ during World War II.

In February 2014 their protests in Kyiv’s Maidan Square turned into running battles led by neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing forces that the US had financed and orchestrated. A mob led by the Right Sector militia marched on Parliament and the President and others fled for their lives. Facing the possible loss of its naval base in Sevastopol in the Crimea, Russia accepted the overwhelming result (a 97% majority) of an internationally-observed referendum in which Crimea voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, of which it had been a part from 1783 to 1954. The Russian provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, part of Russia until the terrorist Communists had given them away to the Ukraine in 1922, similarly declared independence from Neo-Nazi Kiev. This starting a bloody war between US-backed separatists in Kiev and the local Eastern Ukrainian people.

Mrs Kagan wants an ever-more dangerous War with Russia and China to justify her militarist foreign policy and Pentagon budgets. She relies on her mythical version of Russian aggression and US ‘democratic’ intentions. She claims that Russia’s military budget, one-tenth of that of the US, is proof of ‘Russian confrontation and militarisation’. She wants ‘permanent bases along NATO’s eastern border’ and sees Russia’s desire to defend itself after so many successive (and failed) Western invasions as an obstacle to NATO’s expansionism. In short, the deluded Mrs Kagan has with others unleashed intractable violence, chaos and the risk of nuclear war. How does she sleep at night?

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Feb 2022: $643.2 billion. Half of that was frozen. Now it’s back up to $580.6 billion. In assets that can’t be frozen.

Russia Continues To Stockpile Forex Reserves (RT)

Russia’s international holdings have reached $580.6 billion as of August 12, according to data published by the country’s central bank on Thursday. Moscow has been boosting its reserves as a shield against sanctions. The central bank regularly publishes updates on its reserves with a one-week lag. International reserves consist of foreign-currency funds, special drawing rights with the IMF and monetary gold. Total reserves surged by $5.8 billion from the previous week, the regulator said, noting that the 1% rise was due to a positive market revaluation.


The historical maximum of $643.2 billion was recorded in February 2022. Russia lost access to roughly half of its foreign reserves in early March after they were frozen by Western central banks as part of sanctions introduced by the US and its allies in response to the conflict in Ukraine. Despite this, the Russian Finance Ministry said the country would be able to cope with sanctions thanks to its abundant reserves.

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“..we’ve recruited 110,000 information volunteers..”

UN Recruited Over 100,000 Digital First Responders to Push COVID Narrative (SN)

At the height of the pandemic, the United Nations recruited over 100,000 “digital first responders’ to push the establishment narrative on COVID via social media. The revelation actually slipped out in October 2020 during a World Economic Forum podcast called ‘Seeking a cure for the infodemic’, although it is only going viral on Twitter today. In the podcast, Melissa Fleming, head of global communications for the United Nations, explains how the COVID pandemic and lockdowns created a “communications crisis” in addition to a public health emergency. Fleming acknowledged that in order to fight so-called “misinformation” about the pandemic, the UN tapped up 110,000 people to amplify their messaging across social media.

“So far, we’ve recruited 110,000 information volunteers, and we equip these information volunteers with the kind of knowledge about how misinformation spreads and ask them to serve as kind of ‘digital first-responders’ in those spaces where misinformation travels,” Fleming stated. That was nearly 2 years ago. It is not known how many ‘digital first responders’ have been recruited up to this point. Similar efforts to create astroturf campaigns to push a specific message are nothing new, but when entities such as oil companies engage in it, they are lambasted for rigging the discussion. However, when globalist technocrats at the UN or the WEF do it, apparently it’s fine.

Last year, it was revealed that the British government used “propagandistic” fear tactics to scare the public into mass compliance during the first COVID lockdown, according to a behavioral scientist who worked inside Downing Street. Scientists in the UK working as advisors for the government admitted using what they later conceded to be “unethical” and “totalitarian” methods of instilling fear in the population in order to control behavior during the pandemic.

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Epic from The Ethical Skeptic. “The following work is the result of thousands of hours of dynamic data tracking and research..”

Houston, We Have a Problem – Part 1 of 3 (Ethical Skeptic)

Seven of the major eleven International Classification of Diseases codes tracked by the US National Center for Health Statistics exhibit stark increase trends beginning in the first week of April 2021 – featuring exceptional growth more robust than during even the Covid-19 pandemic time frame. This date of inception is no coincidence, in that it also happens to coincide with a key inflection point regarding a specific body-system intervention in most of the US population. These seven pronounced increases in mortality alarmingly persist even now.

The following work is the result of thousands of hours of dynamic data tracking and research on the part of its author. The reader should anticipate herein, a journey which will take them through the methods and metrics which serve to identify this problem, along with a deductive assessment of the candidate causal mechanisms behind it. Alternatives as to cause which include one mechanism in particular, that is embargoed from being allowed as an explanation, nor even mere mention in some forums. At the end of this process, we will be left with one inescapable conclusion. One which threatens the very fabric and future of health policy in the US for decades to come.

On March 21st 2021, a longtime mentor, friend, and business partner of mine, an otherwise healthy 68 year old male, unexpectedly suffered an autoimmune cascade which ended up shutting down his pancreas, liver, kidneys, and finally heart. He had just received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on that Thursday prior. Carl quickly descended into a coma, and then died on March 26th.1

On May 29th 2021, a rather odd signal began to develop in my regular Covid-19 tracking models. The change which alerted me resided inside the magnitude of the ‘Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99)’ ICD death code group. About this time and as a result of this observation, I began to track R00-R99 deaths, along with eleven other ICD-10 death codes, non-natural cause deaths (suicide, overdose, assault, etc.), and finally a statistic called ‘Excess Non-Covid Natural Cause Deaths’. As the reader reviews the calculated trends featured inside each of these death categorizations, they should note that this was indeed both a prescient and sound decision.

On December 1st of 2021, attending a business meeting at client’s medical complex, passing through the facility I took notice that their large oncology department waiting room was slammed full with patients. This queue of persons awaiting their oncology appointments spilled out into the hallway and finally on into the building atrium.2 While tempted at first blush to pass this off as a result of patients and their physicians ‘catching up on deferred screenings’ and/or ‘Covid-limited office days/hours effect’, my prior observational lessons suggested that I hold-off on such a knee-jerk inference, at least until the CDC – National Center for Health Statistics data (three bullet point sources below) proved out over the coming months. This as well, proved to be a wise decision.

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Is there even one country today with a Vit. D program? This article, too, does not define a satisfactory level. Why is it so hard?

Insufficient Vitamin D Linked To Fourfold Increase In Covid-19 Mortality (IT)

Covid-19 patients with low vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer severe disease and death, according to a study by Irish scientists. Unvaccinated Caucasian adults with low vitamin D have higher mortality due to Sars CoV-2 pneumonia, according to the small-scale study by researchers at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown and Technological University Dublin. This is not explained by confounders such as age or obesity and is not closely linked to inflammation, they say. Having an insufficient level of vitamin D was associated with a greater than fourfold increased mortality risk, according to the study, published in the journal Nutrients.

The study looked at the outcomes of 232 unvaccinated patients at Connolly hospital, all of whom had Covid-19 and required supplemental oxygen. Patients on steroid treatment were not recruited for the study in order, the authors say, to eliminate the effect their use might have on measures of both vitamin D and inflammation. The mortality rate among patients aged under 70 and who had “insufficient” vitamin D levels (less than 30 nanomoles per litre) was 11.8 per cent, compared to 2.2 per cent who had higher vitamin levels (greater than 30 nanomoles per litre). Among over-70s, the mortality rate for those with insufficient vitamin D levels was 55 per cent, compared to 25 per cent for those with high vitamin D levels.

“Unvaccinated Caucasian adults with a low vitamin D state have higher mortality due to Sars CoV-2 pneumonia, which is not explained by confounders and is not closely linked with elevated serum CRP (C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation),” the authors state. The authors say their data adds to a growing body of literature that appears to support a causal link between low vitamin D status and Covid-19 disease severity and death. Although the research was conducted only on unvaccinated patients, they say vitamin D supplementation may play a vital role in protecting both unvaccinated patients and patients in whom the effect of vaccination wanes. Vitamin D is available from sunlight and in foods such as fish, eggs and fortified cereals. About half the Irish population is deficient in the vitamin.

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As NATO tries to get Zelensky in.

China Backs African Union Bid To Join The Group of 20 (SCMP)

Beijing will support the African Union in its decades-long quest to join the G20, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, as China vies with other powers for influence on the continent. South Africa is the only representative of the continent in the Group of 20 despite the African Union pushing for inclusion since its creation in 1999. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said last month he would invite the African bloc, representing 55 countries and 1.4 billion people, to the G20 summit in Bali in November to help the continent’s bid. The G20 comprises 19 countries and the European Union. European Council president Charles Michel also voiced his support last month for the AU’s bid for the G20.

Wang’s pledge also came as Widodo told Bloomberg on Thursday that Chinese President Xi Jinping planned to attend the Bali summit in person, along with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Xi could meet US President Joe Biden, who is also expected to attend the gathering. If so, it would be the first in-person meeting for the two leaders since Biden took office last year. Beijing and Washington are at odds on everything from Taiwan, Xinjiang, Hong Kong to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the Biden administration has moved to expand its global alliances to counter China’s rise, Beijing has responded by focusing on shoring up ties with developing countries in Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. A seat for the African Union at G20 is believed to be in Beijing’s interests in rallying support to counterbalance the US-led West.

Speaking at a virtual meeting with his African counterparts, Wang hailed African support for Beijing’s “one-China principle” and described their ties as “a pillar force” in defending the rights and interests of developing countries. “In the face of the various forms of hegemonic and bullying practices, China and Africa have stood with each other shoulder to shoulder,” he said. In a veiled swipe at US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Africa early this month, he also tried to present Beijing as an alternative to Washington and defend his country’s expanding presence there. “What Africa wishes for is a favourable and amicable cooperation environment, not the zero-sum cold war mentality. What Africa would welcome is mutually beneficial cooperation for the greater well-being of the people, not major-country rivalry for geopolitical gains,” he said.

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As the west disintegrates, east and south unite.

Chinese Ambassador Outlines BRICS Vision (RT)

Russia and China remain key pillars of BRICS, an international alliance also comprising India, Brazil and South Africa, the Chinese ambassador to Moscow wrote in a guest opinion piece for Russia’s TASS news agency, published on Saturday. The two nations are the major “drivers” behind the development of the group, which is gradually becoming a leading force in the international arena, Zhang Hanhui, added. The BRICS countries account for 42% of the world’s population and 25% of the global economy, Zhang said, adding that they account for roughly half of global economic growth, meaning that “the value of cooperation within BRICS is constantly rising.”

The group of emerging economies is increasingly attracting the attention of other nations, the envoy said, noting that representatives of 50 countries took part in various BRICS+ events in the first half of this year alone. He also welcomed the development of the BRICS+ format, which allows other countries to join the group’s permanent members in certain discussions. Three such events this year were attended by the leaders of 13 non-BRICS states, Zhang said. International challenges, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine conflict and rising tensions between major world powers, demand that Moscow and Beijing “strengthen their strategic cooperation,” the ambassador said, adding that BRICS should also “support efforts opposing hegemony and contribute to the establishment of real multilateralism” in international relations.

The ambassador pointed out that since the start of 2022, the BRICS nations have agreed on several initiatives in the field of economic digitalization and technology sharing. Beijing, which heads the group this year, has put forward a number of initiatives that would further enhance cooperation between members in the fields of innovation, he added. The Covid-19 pandemic also demonstrated the need for closer cooperation in medical research, the ambassador said, pointing to the need for sharing healthcare products with developing nations to help them overcome the pandemic. Zhang noted that in March, the BRICS countries launched a joint vaccine development center, offering joint research and development platforms to developing nations.

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Hey, Khan! Talk to Putin!

Millions Could Be Left Without Heat And Food In Winter, London Mayor Warns (RT)

Millions of people in the UK could find themselves unable to put food on the table and heat their homes this coming winter if the government doesn’t intervene, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Saturday. “We’ve seen nothing like this before,” Khan wrote on Twitter, referring to soaring energy prices and record inflation of more than 10%. “We’re facing a winter where for millions it won’t be about choosing between heating or eating but tragically being able to afford neither,” he warned. “This can’t happen,” the mayor insisted, adding that the British government “needs to step in so that people can meet their basic needs.”

He accompanied the post with a data from the Auxilione energy consultancy, predicting that energy bills in the UK could increase by 80% in October, exceeding £3,600 ($4,292) per year on average. For comparison, the cap set by energy industry regulator, Ofgem, in October 2021 stood at £1,400 per year. Khan also spoke on the same issue on Friday while visiting a warehouse that distributes supplies to food banks in one of London’s boroughs. He gave assurances that his administration is“committed” to providing support for struggling Londoners, but called on the government to work harder, as there is “no sign of this rise in costs slowing down”.

“Ministers must act now to help prevent this cost of living crisis becoming a national disaster,” the mayor said. Economic difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe have been further exacerbated by Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine and the subsequent decrease in Russian natural gas supplies to the EU.

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“Europe really needs to act as a negotiator between NATO, Russia and Ukraine, and include China in the discussions..”

Just How Bad Could Things Get This Winter? (RT)

Natural gas prices across Europe have quadrupled this year. Looking ahead to winter and imagining the new heights energy values may hit, consumers are starting to opt for an alternative (old) form of heating – wood. Huge demand for combustibles, as well as for wood stoves, has been detected in several Western states. In Germany, where almost a half of homes are heated with gas, people are turning to a more guaranteed energy source. Firewood sellers tell local media that they are barely coping with the demand. The country is also witnessing a rise in cases of wood theft. Next door, in the Netherlands, business owners note that their clients are buying wood earlier than ever. In Belgium, wood producers are struggling with demand, while prices are going up – as they are across the region.

In Denmark, one local stove manufacturer told the media that, while demand for his product was on the rise since the start of the Covid pandemic, this year’s profit is forecast to reach over 16 million kroner (€2 million), compared with 2.4 million in 2019. A huge increase. Even Hungary, a country that didn’t support the EU’s decision to phase out Russian fossil fuels and agreed a new gas purchase with Moscow this summer, is making preparations for a tough winter. The country has announced a ban on the export of firewood and relaxed some restrictions on logging. The World Wildlife Fund Hungary has expressed its concern on the matter, declaring: “There has been no precedent for such a decision in our country for decades.” In fact, the conflict in Ukraine is not the only reason for the energy crisis. The increase in prices had already been observed in 2021.

“It was the effect of supply chain interruptions due to COVID, a very cold winter, very hot summer and China’s energy crisis, that led to [the] buying [of] huge amounts of LNG around the world,” says Professor Phoebe Koundouri, Director of the Research laboratory on Socio-Economic and Environmental Sustainability at Athens University of Economics and Business, and President of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. When the conflict in Ukraine came about, the sanctions against Russia – followed by Moscow’s response to the restrictions – sent prices through roof. “Europe really needs to act as a negotiator between NATO, Russia and Ukraine, and include China in the discussions, in order to find a solution that is meaningful for the millions of people that are being affected by this geopolitical crisis,” Prof. Koundourisays.

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“It is conceivable that the population would rebel or that there would be looting..”

Swiss Revolt Warning Issued (RT)

Swiss people may revolt and resort to looting if the Alpine nation is hit by a severe energy crunch this winter, the police chief of one of its cantons told local media on Saturday. Fredy Fassler, the head of the Security and Justice Department in the canton of St. Gallen, told German-language daily Blick that a blackout would have “far-reaching consequences.” “Imagine, you can no longer withdraw money at the ATM, you can no longer pay with the card in the store or refuel your tank at the gas station. Heating stops working. It’s cold. Streets go dark. It is conceivable that the population would rebel or that there would be looting,” he said, adding that the country’s authorities should take measures to prepare for such extreme scenarios. According to Fassler, while he does not think such a disaster is likely, police have prepared for such an eventuality.


Exercises that were conducted in 2014 to prepare for a blackout scenario revealed major shortcomings, including lack of emergency generators for police, hospitals and other critical infrastructure and services, he said. “These shortcomings have been addressed in recent years, so the security forces are ready,” the police chief added, noting that his agency is even prepared to provide the Swiss with cash if they are unable to use cards in stores, given that relevant agreements with banks have been signed. Fassler’s comments come after Swiss authorities said last week that they may place restrictions on energy consumption this coming winter, signaling that “power shortages [are] among the most serious risks” for the landlocked country. Earlier, Werner Luginbuhl, the head of Switzerland’s electricity regulator ElCom, complained that electricity was being used “completely thoughtlessly,” and urged citizens to stock up on candles and firewood due to possible power outages in the country this winter.

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“..I think going through your regulatory process will actually hurt the quality of my food and that’s what I’m being paid top dollar for, it is this high quality food.”

Amish Farmer Fighting US Government For Right To Sell His All-natural Food (RN)

Miller’s Organic Farm is located in the remote Amish village of Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. The farm supplies everything from grass-fed beef and cheese, to raw milk and organic eggs, to dairy from grass-fed water buffalo and all types of produce, all to roughly 4,000 private food club members who pay top dollar for high quality whole food. The private food club members appreciate their freedom to get food from an independent farmer that isn’t processing his meat and dairy at U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities, which mandates that food be prepared in ways that Miller’s Organic Farm believe make it less nutritious. Amos Miller, the farm’s owner, contends that he’s preparing food the way God intended — but the U.S. government doesn’t see things that way. They recently sent armed federal agents to the farm and demanded he cease operations. The government is also looking to issue more than $300,000 in fines — a request so steep, it would put the farm out of business.

“There’s this farmer named Amos Miller and he’s been farming for 25 years. No electricity, no fertilizer, no gasoline. He has really, really impressive crop yields using only the only the oldest of methods, totally organic. He has milk, he has beef, he has different types of sheep. He has chicken, all types of vegetables. And he has a private buyers club of about 4,000 people all across the country that pay him top dollar for his food. And the government doesn’t like this idea of a private buyers club. They have raided his farm with armed federal agents and they have said he needs to stop selling his meat until he gets regulated by the federal agencies whose job it is to, you know, regulate food.

And he says, “you know, the way you guys regulate it, it kind of hurts the nutrition of the food — you know, you wash it in these things, you’ve given these vaccines and the cows get all types of medicine, I don’t do any of that. So I think going through your regulatory process will actually hurt the quality of my food and that’s what I’m being paid top dollar for, it is this high quality food.” So they are fining him hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’ve actually sent armed federal agents there to take inventory of his meat, of his dairy, and they visit him to make sure that he’s not selling anything and that he’s not ramping up his production in any way. So that’s where he is now. He’s figuring out how to fight the federal government, what he’s going to do. And you know, he’s been put in this really tight spot along with the people who, you know, look to him for this food. They’re not getting their meat and dairy right now because of the government.

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“No farms, no food.”

Dutch Farmers Confront Billionaire ‘Green’ Elite’s Food System Reset Plan (GZ)

Dutch farmers’ protests offer a preview of the resistance to come as transnational “green” billionaires advance a “reset” of the global food system. The elite agenda threatens to deepen an international cost of living crisis and spark unrest well beyond The Netherlands. Ingrid de Sain is a Dutch farmer who lives in the Northern Holland town of Schellinkhout, where she and her family tend to a 62 acre farm with about 100 dairy cows. Like thousands of fellow citizens in her industry, she now finds herself locked in an existential conflict with her government. “Farming is in your heart,” de Sain told The Grayzone. “And you don’t want to do something else. You’re a farmer or you’re not.” She says she will oppose any efforts requiring her to give up a farm that guarantees prosperity for future generations of her family.

The Dutch government announced plans to slash nitrogen oxide and ammonia emissions in June 2022, enforcing an ambitious agenda in the name of protecting the climate. The imposed reductions could spell devastating consequences for the country’s farming industry and add enormous stress to already chaotic global food supply chains. Today, the Netherlands is Europe’s top exporter of meat and the second largest agricultural exporter overall in the world, right behind the US. The tiny nation’s agricultural success is the product of its traditional dependence on generously sized farms that use nitrogen-rich fertilizer to produce heavy yields. Such methods were encouraged by Brussels through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, which prioritized the growth of cattle lots, incentivized the use of chemical fertilizers, and pushed many smaller family farmers out of operation.

In 2019, a Dutch court order declared in 2019 that nitrogen-compound fertilizer was a top threat to the climate and biodiversity, and mandated a 70-80% decrease in its use. If implemented in the country, the proposed reductions could destroy a full third of its farming output and eliminate somewhere between 30 and 50% of Dutch livestock. The stage was set for open conflict. Once the pro-EU coalition government of Dutch PM Mark Rutte took steps to implement the restrictions in June 2022, local farmers responded immediately with ferocious mass protests that have blocked roads, airports, and grocery distribution centers. Since the outbreak of demonstrations, supermarkets shelves have gone empty as the farmers’ cry of “No farms, no food” reverberates nationwide.

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Same bike, same couple – 1955 and 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 292022
 


Edouard Manet Gypsy with a cigarette 1862

 

Servant Of The Corrupt (IM1776)
Russia Solidifies Gains in Eastern Ukraine (CTH)
US To Transfer Long-range Rocket Systems To Ukraine (PressTV)
Putin Urged To Hold ‘Direct, Serious Negotiations’ With Zelensky (BBC)
Russia’s Necessary and Legal Military Response to US/NATO Aggression (Gritsch)
The Eurasian Economic Union Steps Up (Escobar)
Qatar Gas Shipments To Germany Will Actually Come From Texas (MEE)
Civilisation and Anti-Civilisation (Batiushka)
Mexican President Unlikely To Attend Summit Of The Americas (LATimes)
The World Health Organisation Has Lost All Credibility (Clark)
California Poised to Adopt ‘Medical Misinformation Bill’ (ET)
SEC Publishes Letter Asking Elon Musk To Explain Late Twitter Filing (G.)
UN Warns of ‘Total Societal Collapse’, Breach of Planetary Boundaries (BT)

 

 

 

 

Bidenese

 

 

 

 

Maajid
https://twitter.com/i/status/1530516870436200448

 

 

“.. the Pandora Papers showed him to be just as crooked as his predecessors.”

Servant Of The Corrupt (IM1776)

In February 2021, by order of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine shut down three domestic television channels, accusing them of spreading Russian “propaganda.” Three months later, Zelenksky arrested Viktor Medvedchuk, who was at the time leading the second-biggest party in Ukraine’s national parliament, the pro-Russia and Eurosceptic Opposition Platform for Life (OPZZh). Zelensky didn’t have trouble incinerating vaunted democratic norms well-before Russia crossed the Rubicon into Ukraine this year. So it was no surprise when he did it again amid the war in late March, invoking emergency powers under martial law to nationalize TV channels and ban 11 opposition parties, including OPZZh — all supposedly done in the name of combatting Russian misinformation and Russian sympathizers, even though OPZZh’s then-chairman, Yuriy Boyko, denounced the war and called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Zelensky, however, wouldn’t miss another opportunity to clip the wings of political opposition in his country, certainly not now that Western media rationalizes and glorifies his every move.

But the portrait of the Ukraine President as a democratic paragon whitewashes the real Zelensky and conceals a vast web of corruption and international skullduggery of which Ukraine is situated in the centre. Understanding the real Zelensky, requires seeing him as a creation of Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. He is, in truth, a puppet of intrigue. It might be hard to believe now, but revelations from documents in the Pandora Papers — millions of files from offshore service providers leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with partners around the world — sent Zelensky reeling last year, threatening to end his political career. Though the actor-turned-politico campaigned as an anti-corruption reformer, the Pandora Papers showed him to be just as crooked as his predecessors.

Of more than 300 politicians and public officials, including several current and former national leaders, in more than 91 countries and territories to whom the documents were linked, Ukraine was home to more secret offshore holdings than any other, including Russia. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which contributed to the investigation, found that just before Zelensky was elected president, “he gifted his stake in a key offshore company, the British Virgin Islands-registered Maltex Multicapital Corp., to his business partner — soon to be his top presidential aide. And in spite of giving up his shares, the documents show that an arrangement was soon made that would allow the offshore to keep paying dividends to a company that now belongs to his wife.”

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“come back coward, I’ll bite your kneecaps.”

Russia Solidifies Gains in Eastern Ukraine (CTH)

If you were to read the play-by-play of information in the U.K. Telegraph, you could get whiplash from the diametrically opposed narratives coming from both sides in the propaganda war. On one hand the western narrative is that Russia is losing, getting weaker, running out of money and weapons. On the other hand, France and Germany are asking Russian President Vladimir Putin to release all of the captured soldiers he is gathering, while western media claim all the Ukraine retreats are “strategic”. It would appear the Monty Python knight has lost all his appendages and is yelling, “come back coward, I’ll bite your kneecaps.”

(Via Telegraph) – “Russia said its forces were in full control of the Ukrainian town of Lyman, a railway hub in the Donetsk region, on Saturday in a gain that would help set the stage for the next phase of the Kremlin’s offensive in the eastern Donbas. Ukrainian and Russian forces had been fighting for Lyman for several days. The town lies 40 km (30 miles) west of Severodonetsk, the largest Donbas city still held by Ukraine but now under heavy assault from Russian forces. The governor of Luhansk region, which along with Donetsk makes up the Donbas, said on Friday that Russian troops had entered Severodonetsk. The Russian gains indicate a shift in momentum in the war.”


Meanwhile the U.S. State Department, the actual combatant command center for the U.S. proxy war, along with internationally aligned diplomatic corps and the U.S. intelligence apparatus, are continuing to push the propaganda as if we cannot see how clearly staged it is. Indeed, with the Pentagon preferring a ceasefire and peaceful negotiations while the State Dept demands more war, these are very remarkable times on the other side of the looking glass.

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“a serious step towards unacceptable escalation”

US To Transfer Long-range Rocket Systems To Ukraine (PressTV)

The US has decided to further extend military aid to Ukraine, transferring long-range rocket systems to the country while Russia continues to make advancements in its special operations in the Donbas. US officials said on Friday that despite its earlier reservations in regard to sending missile systems to Ukraine, following Kiev’s insistence Washington had agreed to deliver them the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) next week. Western countries led by the United States had already provided Ukraine with long-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers. However, Kiev insisted that it wanted longer-range ground weapons, especially rocket launchers, to help it win artillery battles.


Till now, Washington had held back from providing Kiev with such weapons partly to avoid an escalation should Ukraine strike targets deep inside the Russian territories. American and diplomatic officials told Reuters that Washington had even relayed to Kiev the concerns White House officials had in regard to this issue. “We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” one US official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, was quoted as saying. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already warned the White House against providing long-range missile systems to the country. Lavrov pointed out that providing Kiev forces with weapons that could reach Russian territory would be “a serious step towards unacceptable escalation” of the conflict.

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Macron and Scholz spent 80 minutes demanding Putin do things they know he cannot do.

Putin Urged To Hold ‘Direct, Serious Negotiations’ With Zelensky (BBC)

The leaders of France and Germany have urged Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hold “direct [and] serious negotiations” with Ukraine’s president, the German chancellor’s office said. Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz spoke to Mr Putin by phone for 80 minutes. The pair “insisted on an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of Russian troops”, the chancellor’s office said. Russia’s leader said Moscow was open to resuming dialogue with Kyiv, according to the Kremlin. It did not mention the possibility of direct talks between Mr Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian president earlier said he was not “eager” for talks, but added they would likely be necessary to end the conflict. Russian and Ukrainian delegations have held multiple rounds of talks remotely and in person since Russia invaded on 24 February, but efforts have stalled of late.


France and Germany also urged Mr Putin to release 2,500 Ukrainian fighters taken as prisoners-of-war at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. The sprawling factory became the last holdout in the southern port city, which endured relentless bombardment from Russian forces and now lies in ruins. Earlier this month, Moscow officials said the last fighters defending the plant had surrendered, while President Zelensky said they had been given permission to leave. Russia has previously said more than 900 of the fighters were moved to a reopened prison colony in Olenivka, a village in Russian-occupied Donetsk. A smaller number with serious wounds were taken to a hospital in the town of Novoazovsk, also in Donetsk. Ukraine hopes they will be released as part of a prisoner exchange – but Russia has not confirmed that. Some Russian lawmakers argue the fighters should be tried or even executed.

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“..Russia exhibited enormous restraint as the US and Ukraine violated the Minsk Protocols and rejected requests for diplomacy..”

It doesn’t matter if you agree or not, what matters is that everyone in the west should be exposed to Russians view of this. And then form their opinions.

Russia’s Necessary and Legal Military Response to US/NATO Aggression (Gritsch)

In 2014, the US initiated a proxy war against Russia by engineering the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected president. This ignited a bloody civil war on Russia’s border in which the US-installed and US-armed Kiev regime attacked the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk whose largely ethnically Russian residents opposed the US coup. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documented the Kiev regime’s attacks that killed thousands of civilians and terrorized the populace. In 2015, the US-installed then-president, Petro Poroshenko, publicly articulated Kiev’s anti-Russia stance and its policy for the Donbass:

“We will have jobs—they will not. We will have pensions—they will not. [….] Our children will go to schools and kindergartens—theirs will hide in the basements.” Popular Ukraine pundits openly called for Donbas residents’ extermination. In 2015, Congress lifted its ban on funding Ukraine’s neo Nazi militias and placed US military trainers on the ground inside Ukraine. NATO and the CIA also began training Ukraine regime forces–effectively establishing Ukraine as a de facto US/NATO mercenary state. During the past eight years, Russia exhibited enormous restraint as the US and Ukraine violated the Minsk Protocols and rejected requests for diplomacy. In 2021, US aggression against Russia increased dramatically once Biden took office–in Ukraine and in the Black Sea. US actions and Ukraine President Zelensky’s public statements generated immediate threats to the survival of the Russian nation-state.

The US government and the corporate media falsely characterize Russia’s special operation as entirely ‘unprovoked’ and an ‘illegal invasion’. These allegations ignore four conditions which each independently compelled President Putin and the Duma to initiate Russia’s denazification and demilitarization operation and which establish this intervention as consistent with international legal norms. Chief among the factors necessitating Russia’s immediate military response were indications of an imminent new massacre as 125,000 Ukraine forces amassed along the border of Donbass in December of 2021. This was never reported in the US corporate press. Instead, the US government and corporate media repeatedly stated that Russian troops were gathering on Ukraine’s border (inside Russia) and predicted an impending Russian invasion.

In hindsight, US intelligence could make this accurate claim because it was aware of the menacing buildup of Ukraine forces. Anticipating an imminent massacre, Russia was obligated to intervene militarily because it had a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) the citizens of Donbass. R2P is a political commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; it was endorsed by the United Nations at its 2005 world summit.

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“..the centre of economic development [..] continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.”

The Eurasian Economic Union Steps Up (Escobar)

The first Eurasian Economic Forum, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, took place this week at a very sensitive geopolitical juncture, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov keeps stressing that, “the West has declared total war against us, against the entire Russian world. Nobody even hides this now.” It’s always important to remember that before Maidan in 2014, Ukraine had the option to become a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and even balance it with a loose association with the EU. The EAEU comprises five full members – Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia – yet 14 nations sent delegations to the forum, including China, Vietnam and Latin American nations. There was much rumbling that the proceedings would be jeopardized by the serial sanctions packages imposed on Russia by the collective West.

There’s no question that some EAEU members – such as Kazakhstan – seem to be more worried about the effects of the sanctions than about fine-tuning business with Russia. Yet that’s not the point. The crucial point is that by 2025 they have to harmonize their legislation concerning financial markets. And that’s directly connected to what the executive body of the EAEU, led by Sergey Glazyev, is working on, extensively: designing the lineaments of an alternative financial/economic system to what the West would rather coin as Bretton Woods 3. The Eurasian Economic Forum was established by the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council explicitly to further deepen economic cooperation between EAEU members. No wonder the official theme of the forum was Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, focusing on strategic development in the industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital areas.

President Putin’s speech to the plenary session was quite revealing. To really appreciate the scope of what’s implied, it’s important to remember that the Greater Eurasian Partnership concept was presented by Putin in 2016 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, focused on a “more extensive Eurasian partnership involving the Eurasian Economic Union” and including China, Pakistan, Iran and India. Putin stressed how the drive for developing ties “within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership” (…) “was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.”

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“Qatar produces around 107 billion cbm of gas annually, and 80 percent of that is locked in long-term contracts. Only 10-15 percent can be diverted to Europe – the numbers don’t add up..”

Qatar Gas Shipments To Germany Will Actually Come From Texas (MEE)

Germany and Qatar signed a deal last week to deepen their energy partnership focusing on the supply and processing of liquified natural gas (LNG). LNG is Qatar’s main export and is desperately needed in Germany as it seeks alternatives to its current energy dependency on Russian natural gas. Berlin is under pressure to introduce an energy embargo in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It also faces the prospect that Moscow could cut off gas supplies unilaterally – as it has already to Poland, Bulgaria and Finland – in retaliation for Germany’s diplomatic support and military aid to Ukraine But industry experts tell MEE that the deal is mired with caveats on the German side.

Thomas O’Donnell, an energy and geopolitical analyst based in Berlin, says the German government is losing political ground due to rising energy costs. He suggests the deal with Qatar amounts to a short-term gimmick intended to shore up support. “They failed to fill their gas storage before the winter last year and that led to nearly a 30 percent hike in energy costs for the domestic consumer. If they fail again there might be calls for the government to go,” said O’Donnell. “Around 56 percent of Germany’s gas consumption comes from Russia. That’s billions of cubic metres of gas through dedicated pipelines, NordStream1 and TurkStream. It would take a monumental effort to shift that heavy a dependency to another supplier.” According to O’Donnell, in 2021 Germany used around 71 billion cubic metres (cbm) of gas from Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Replacing such large volumes with Qatari gas is simply not possible. “Qatar produces around 107 billion cbm of gas annually, and 80 percent of that is locked in long-term contracts. Only 10-15 percent can be diverted to Europe – the numbers don’t add up,” he said. O’Donnell said that European countries’ desperation means that they are paying a heavy price for spot gas – that is large deliveries of gas purchased in one-off transactions. These transactions are often made on an emergency basis when the buyer has to pay a much higher rate than when purchased on long-term contracts. The current price of spot gas is up 176 percent from last year. “The US has the most spot gas available in the market and much of it is being bought by Europe at very high rates,” said O’Donnell.

Von der Leyen is a psychopath

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“..just because God ‘told’ George Bush to invade Iraq in 2003, that did not make him or his forces Christian.”

Civilisation and Anti-Civilisation (Batiushka)

Western war has always consisted of highly organised violence, aided by the most aggressive high technology. Advances in military technology have all been initiated by the West. It used to be castles against arrows, the lethal crossbow against pikes, cannon against stone walls, the musket against bows, the Maxim gun, invented by the Anglo-American ‘Sir’ Hiram Maxim (3) against spear-throwing Africans, then it was poison gas (as used by Hitler, that is Churchill (sorry for the Bushism, ‘anyway’) against the Kurds), then Agent Orange, cluster bombs and uranium-tipped shells against rifles. To illustrate this, let us think about how those used to the way that such technology is exploited criticise the special operation (not war) in the Ukraine (4). They claim that the progress of the Russian operation, carried out by relatively small numbers of liberation forces from Donetsk and Lugansk and of Confederate Russian troops, is ‘too slow’.

Here they misunderstand how the Allied/Confederate forces use their military technology. It is quite unlike the US and its Union NATO vassals. The latter carpet bomb, they cause ‘collateral damage’ (the NATO euphemism for the mass murder of innocent victims) and are hugely destructive, as though war was all a special effects show, a spectacle for entertainment as in Hollywood films, most of which portray great destruction. This is why nearly 20 years ago the American Rumsfeld spoke of the US destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iraq as ‘shock and awe’, which is just another euphemism – Hitler would have called it ‘Blitzkrieg’. Yes, of course, Russian civilisation conducts military operations ‘slowly’ (5): it is not a US-style special effects operation, it is meant to avoid civilian and military casualties. You cannot translate ‘collateral damage’ into Russian, you can only paraphrase it.

Western religion has a similar story to tell. As we have said, every civilisation has a set of sacred values. The Western too and though it calls its religion ‘Christianity’, it is not. For instance, it insists on calling the Crusaders and Teutonic Knights ‘Christians’. But just because you are a bloodthirsty barbarian who commits genocide with a cross on your uniform, that does not make you a Christian. Just as Nazis wore a belt with ‘Gott mit uns’ (‘God with us’) stamped on it, that did not make them Christian either. And when the Nazis put crosses on their tanks and dive-bombers, it did not make them Christian either (though the crosses did take in some naïve Western Ukrainians in 1941). And just because God ‘told’ George Bush to invade Iraq in 2003, that did not make him or his forces Christian. Frankly, the Western use of the word Christian is blasphemous to Orthodox Christians and the more accurate use of words like ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’ is insulting to those who are of those religions.

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“What is this supposed to be, the Summit of the Americas, or the Summit of the Friends of America?”

Mexican President Unlikely To Attend Summit Of The Americas (LATimes)

Despite a major U.S. lobbying effort, the president of Mexico hinted strongly on Friday that he will not attend a high-stakes regional summit next month in Los Angeles because the Biden administration refuses to invite a trio of leftist governments. Mexico is arguably the most important Latin American participant in the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which administration officials have said will include a special focus on immigration. It starts June 6. In his daily marathon press conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he was still awaiting a response from President Biden or the U.S. State Department to his demand that all countries in the Western Hemisphere be invited.

Every host nation for the summit, which occurs every three or four years, has discretion in drawing up the guest list, and most if not all countries are routinely included. This is the first time the summit is taking place in the U.S. since its 1994 inaugural session in Miami. Administration officials have made it clear they will not invite Venezuela or Nicaragua, because those countries’ authoritarian leaders do not represent the model of democracy Washington and others in the region seek to promote. U.S. officials also said initially they would not invite Cuba, then suggested they might welcome a “low level” delegation from Havana. A diminished status did not appeal to Cuban officials, however, and President Miguel Díaz-Canel said earlier this week he will not attend.

Cuba was present at the last two Summits of the Americas, in Panama and Peru. In Panama in 2015, then-President Obama famously shook hands with then-President Raul Castro, the first such contact between the Cold War enemies in decades. Months later, Washington and Havana opened diplomatic ties and began a warming of trade and travel relations not seen for half a century. The opening was frozen by President Trump and has only haltingly and in minor ways been renewed by Biden, despite his promises as a presidential candidate.

López Obrador, a consummate showman, deliberately did not commit in his remarks Friday morning but ultimately made clear he would not attend if Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were not invited. Instead, he would send a delegate, most likely his more-U.S.-friendly foreign secretary, Marcelo Ebrard. “We are going to wait to see what they [U.S. officials] decide, but regardless, Mexico will participate,” the president said. “It’s just that I will not attend if all countries are not invited.” He added: “What is this supposed to be, the Summit of the Americas, or the Summit of the Friends of America?”

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“The only European country on the WHO’s board is Slovakia..”

The World Health Organisation Has Lost All Credibility (Clark)

Let’s be honest: is there anyone out there who has faith in the ability of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to tackle a future pandemic? Any lingering hope that the WHO might be an organisation fit to be trusted with global heath concerns has pretty well evaporated with the election, by acclamation, of China as one of the 12 members of its executive board on Friday. It is true, of course, that an international body must have representation from all over the world if it is going to win the near-universal cooperation it needs in order to operate. It can’t be led entirely by western democracies and wealthy South Asian countries even if they might have the best skills available; you need members able to tap into every culture and religion on Earth.

But ought we really be trusting leadership of the WHO to a government which is not merely a malignant dictatorship, accused of human rights abuses against its own citizens – but which has also obstructed an investigation into the high likelihood that it accidentally caused the last pandemic? The story of how Covid-19 began has been investigated very thoroughly in Alina Chan and Matt Ridley’s excellent book, Viral: the Search for the Origin of Covid-19. If no one has quite pegged down where the virus came from – and probably never will – there is at least a very strong case to answer that it originated in Chinese laboratory experiments aimed at researching how to tackle coronaviruses, and that it entered the population through a laboratory leak. It would hardly be unprecedented for a virus to leak from a laboratory in this way – even if it would make it way and above the world’s most expensive laboratory accident.

What has been China’s response to this possibility? To try to snuff out any investigation into the matter. Bizarrely, a WHO team allowed into China in early 2021, and chaperoned at every turn, tried to dismiss a lab leak, announcing that it would not investigate the matter any further. It isn’t just China whose presence on the WHO Executive Board will cause alarm. Also on the list is Brazil, whose own parliament has recommended criminal charges against the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, over his handling of the pandemic. Then there is Yemen, which is in the grip of civil war. The only European country on the WHO’s board is Slovakia, which hardly has the greatest political clout and which happens to have had one of the highest deaths rates from Covid-19 anywhere.

Sagan
https://twitter.com/i/status/1530461678772559872

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All critical thinking banned. Why would anyone still want to become a doctor?

California Poised to Adopt ‘Medical Misinformation Bill’ (ET)

The California Legislature is poised to pass Assembly Bill 2098, described as a “medical misinformation bill.” If passed, the new law would prohibit doctors from freely providing medical advice and treating their patients if those practices run counter to the official state sanctioned position. In April 2020, the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs, the California State Board of Pharmacy, and the Medical Board of California issued a statement regarding the “improper prescribing of medications related to treatment of Novel Coronavirus,” such as hydroxychloroquine, warning that “inappropriately prescribing or dispensing medications constitutes unprofessional conduct in California.”

On June 29, 2021, the Federation of State Medical Boards issued a warning, stating that “Physicians who generate and spread COVID-19 vaccine misinformation or disinformation are risking disciplinary action by state medical boards, including the suspension or revocation of their medical license.” In August 2021, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there was no evidence that ivermectin works, and that it’s more likely to cause harm. In December 2021, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning headlined, “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.” In an updated April 29, 2022, report, the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel said it “recommends against the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19, except in clinical trials.”

Should AB 2098 become law, doctors who prescribe medications not approved by the state or who claim unsanctioned drugs are effective would see their licenses revoked and face strict penalties and disciplinary actions by the Medical Board of California. In short, AB 2098 would designate the dissemination of information not approved by the state related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes “COVID-19,” as misinformation or disinformation, which constitutes unprofessional conduct. One physician, Dr. Syed Haider, has already been reported to four state medical boards by pharmacists he says “don’t like filling ivermectin prescriptions.” He has also been forced to retain a lawyer to protect his medical license.

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And they’ll all sell their Tesla’s.

SEC Publishes Letter Asking Elon Musk To Explain Late Twitter Filing (G.)

The US financial watchdog has contacted Elon Musk about the disclosure of his stake in Twitter, asking the Tesla chief executive why he appeared to file a crucial form late. The Securities and Exchange Commission published a letter sent to the world’s richest man in which it asks a series of questions about how he declared his acquisition of a 9.2% stake on 4 April. The move prompted a flurry of corporate activity that led to Twitter accepting a $44bn (£35bn) takeover bid from Musk on 25 April – although he has since announced that the deal is “on hold” while he seeks more information about the proportion of fake accounts on Twitter.

In the 4 April letter, the SEC asked why a schedule 13G form announcing Musk’s acquisition of a large shareholding “does not appear” to have been filed within the required 10 days of the stake passing the 5% level where it needs to be disclosed publicly. According to Musk’s own filing, he passed the 5% level on 14 March and therefore should have filed the form by 24 March. “Please advise us why the schedule 13G does not appear to have been made within the required 10 days from the date of acquisition as required by rule 13d-1(c), the rule upon which you represented that you relied to make the submission,” said the SEC in the letter, dated 10 days before Musk announced his takeover bid. The SEC said that once it had reviewed Musk’s reply it “may have additional comments”.

In 2018, Musk reached a settlement with the SEC over a tweet in which he said was considering taking Tesla off the stock market and into private ownership and had “funding secured” for the proposal. Investors filed a lawsuit against Musk on Wednesday in which they claimed Musk had saved himself $156m by failing to disclose that he had bought more than 5% of Twitter in a timely manner. The letter also asks Musk to explain why he filed a 13G, which is for passive investors who are not preparing to shake up the business in question. The SEC points out that an investor must file a different form, a 13D, if they have bought the shares with the intention of changing or influencing the control of the company in question. The day after filing his initial form, Musk refiled it as a 13D, for investors who intend to take an active role.

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Problem: the UN has no credibility left either.

UN Warns of ‘Total Societal Collapse’, Breach of Planetary Boundaries (BT)

When the United Nations published its 2022 ‘Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction’ (GAR2022) in May, the world’s attention was on its grim verdict that the world was experiencing an accelerating trend of natural disasters and economic crises. But not a single media outlet picked up the biggest issue: the increasing probability of civilisational collapse. Buried in the report, which was endorsed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, is the finding that escalating synergies between disasters, economic vulnerabilities and ecosystem failures are escalating the risk of a “global collapse” scenario. This stark conclusion appears to be the first time that the UN has issued a flagship global report finding that existing global policies are accelerating toward the collapse of human civilisation.

Yet somehow this urgent warning has remained unreported until now. The report does not suggest that this outcome is inevitable or specify how close to this possibility we are. But it does confirm that, without radical change, that’s where the world is heading. he UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework are a set of social, economic, legal, political and institutional measures to reduce “disaster risk and losses” – both involve targets to 2030 which the world is in danger of failing to meet. That failure, however, is directly linked to the rate at which human activities are interfering with natural systems, in particular, ‘planetary boundaries’.

The planetary boundaries framework was developed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2009 to provide what it calls a “science-based analysis of the risk that human perturbations will destabilise the Earth system at the planetary scale”. This framework identifies a range of nine key ecosystems which, if pushed passed a certain threshold, will dramatically reduce the “safe operating space” for human habitation. The report notes that at least four of the nine planetary boundaries now seem to be operating outside the safe operating space. While land system change and climate change are in a zone of “uncertainty with increasing risk” of overstepping the safe operating space, the report says, biochemical flows and ‘novel entities’ (“new engineered chemicals, materials or organisms and natural elements mobilised by human activity such as heavy metals”) have “far exceeded” that space.

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Bourla neck
https://twitter.com/i/status/1529761915496542208

 

 

 

Life is so, so beautiful
https://twitter.com/i/status/1530264225763020801

 

 

 

 

 

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Nov 202019
 
 November 20, 2019  Posted by at 10:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Miserable poverty. Elm Grove, Oklahoma County, OK 1936

 

Australia’s Westpac Bank Slapped With 23 Million Money Laundering Breaches (R.)
UN Demands ‘Full Investigation’ After Sweden Drops Assange Rape Probe (RT)
Swedish Decision To Drop Rape Probe Comes Too Late To Help Assange (Szamuely)
Statement For Aaron Swartz Day 2019 (Chelsea Manning )
Massive ‘Dark-Money’ Group Boosted Democrats In 2018 (Pol.)
Another Congresswoman Lashes Out At The Hill (Pol.)
FBI CItes Strzok For Misconduct, ‘Exceptionally Poor Judgment’ (Solomon)
Beijing’s Angry Reaction To High Court Mask Ruling Sparks Concern (SCMP)
China Vows To Retaliate If Trump Signs Hong Kong Democracy Act Into Law (SCMP)
Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist (C.J. Hopkins)
Fossil Fuel Production On Track For Double The Safe Climate Limit (G.)

 

 

“The regulator is pursuing fines of up to A$21 million ($14 million) for every transaction Westpac failed to monitor adequately or report on time.”

How much is 23 million times $14 million?

Australia’s Westpac Bank Slapped With 23 Million Money Laundering Breaches (R.)

Regulators accused Australia’s Westpac of 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering laws, saying the banking giant ignored red flags and for years enabled payments from convicted child sex offenders and “high risk” countries. The oversight failure at Australia’s second-largest bank led to deep systemic non-compliance with anti-money laundering laws, financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC said in a civil court filing on Wednesday. The regulator is pursuing fines of up to A$21 million ($14 million) for every transaction Westpac failed to monitor adequately or report on time.


The lawsuit dwarfs a case AUSTRAC brought against larger Commonwealth Bank of Australia which agreed last year here to pay a record A$700 million penalty after admitting to allowing 53,750 payments that violated similar protocols. It also brings fresh scrutiny to an industry still trying to rebuild community trust after a bruising Royal Commission public inquiry. “These contraventions are the result of systemic failures in its control environment, indifference by senior management and inadequate oversight by the Board,” AUSTRAC said in the court filing.

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In case you forgot Melzer represents the UN. When he speaks, the UN speaks. When he is ignored, the UN is ignored.

UN Demands ‘Full Investigation’ After Sweden Drops Assange Rape Probe (RT)

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture has called for a “full investigation” into the role Sweden played in driving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange into asylum and eventual custody, after the rape case against him was dropped. Swedish prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they would drop a dubious rape inquiry against Assange, as oral testimony against the publisher had “weakened,” and corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue a case. A Swedish arrest warrant was issued against assange in 2010, and a British court upheld a decision to extradite him in 2012. Threatened with what many saw as a politically motivated extradition, Assange sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

“Today’s collapse of Sweden’s #Assange investigation was inevitable,” rapporteur Nils Melzer tweeted on Tuesday. “Given its gross arbitrariness, there must now be a full investigation, and accountability & compensation for the harm inflicted on #JulianAssange.” Melzer had previously claimed that Assange was subjected to “psychological torture” and had his due process rights “systematically violated” by the governments of Britain and Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder is still languishing in a maximum security unit at Belmarsh prison, awaiting a hearing on extradition to the US, where he potentially faces 175 years behind bars for publishing leaked military documents. In a document tweeted by Melzer, the envoy accuses Sweden of “actively and knowingly” contributing to Assange’s torture, and accuses prosecutors there of working in tandem with Britain’s Crown Prosecutorial Service to keep the case against Assange alive in the face of exculpatory evidence.

With the rape case against him dropped, some commentators have warned that the path to extradition to the US may now be clearer. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told supporters that their focus should now shift to the most important “threat” that Assange was “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”

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Not the strongest piece by George Szamuely. I like this tweet of his better:

“The Ukrainian people are fighting Russia over there, so we don’t have to fight Russia over here”–thus Tim Morrison. There’s definitely a lunatic asylum in which these sick individuals dwell. I guess it’s the US national security establishment.”

Swedish Decision To Drop Rape Probe Comes Too Late To Help Assange (Szamuely)

The Swedish prosecutors’ decision to end the investigation of Julian Assange—for the third time—confirms that the sexual-misconduct accusations were always a cynical ploy to trap the publisher in a Kafkaesque legal proceeding. Swedish prosecutors today announced they were closing their nearly 10-year-old sexual-misconduct investigation of Julian Assange. The reason? The “evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.” However, the prosecutor tendentiously added, “the complaint was credible” but that corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue the case.

Let’s focus on the verbiage. Note first the use of the word “investigation.” This is very important, because contrary to what innumerable media outlets have reported during the past decade, the Swedes never charged Assange with anything, least of all “rape.” Following Assange’s arrest on April 11 of this year, there was a plethora of media stories informing us that there are outstanding rape charges pending against Assange in Sweden. Human Rights Watch chimed in, saying that Assange was facing a “rape charge” in Sweden. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor Party feminists urged the UK government to extradite Assange to Sweden to face “rape charges.”

The Swedish case was a fraud. The prosecutors’ goal all along was to use their powerful coercive tools in order to trap Assange within a slow-moving legal proceeding from which he would be unable to escape, while the US prepared its criminal charges against him. Sadly, despite today’s announcement, the Swedes’ mission has been accomplished.

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Chelsea rocks.

Statement For Aaron Swartz Day 2019 (Chelsea Manning )

Good Evening Folks, I wish I could be there in person, but I appreciate this opportunity to summarize for you my letter to the court that ordered me to be confined, explaining why grand juries are so dangerous. I am not alone in objecting to the grand jury as a dangerous relic that has evolved in ways that increase its power without increasing its protections. I refuse to participate in a process that has clearly transformed into something that violates the spirit, if not the letter of the law. I am certainly not alone in thinking that the grand jury process, which at one time acted as an independent body of citizens along the lines of a civilian police review board, has slowly transitioned into an unbridled arm of the police and prosecution in ways that run contrary to its originally intended purpose.

Early grand juries acted independently, as investigations by citizens, ostensibly to protect citizens, not only from unjust indictments, but from unjust laws. In 2019, the federal grand jury exists as a mockery of the institution that once stood against the whims of monarchs. It guts the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees of due process. Today’s grand juries do not safeguard such fundamental rights and are easily subject to abuse. The tradition of using grand juries to jail political dissidents and activists is long. The ability of grand juries to be abused or used for political ends is entrenched and perpetuated by the fact that jeopardy doesn’t attach with a grand jury, so prosecutors can repeatedly bring the same charges.

Despite laws that require prosecutors to show new evidence or that it is in the public interest to extend or reconvene a grand jury, this is hardly an obstacle. For instance, Thomas Jefferson had to convene three separate grand juries in order to indict Aaron Burr for sedition – but he was able to continue to convene those grand juries until he obtained his desired indictment. During the McCarthy era, when people were publicly interrogated about their beliefs and associations, the public was eventually outraged, and the McCarthy hearings are widely seen as a disgraceful episode of modern history. However, these kinds of interrogations have now returned, and happen routinely, under the modern grand jury system.

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Business as usual.

Massive ‘Dark-Money’ Group Boosted Democrats In 2018 (Pol.)

The “green wave” of campaign cash that boosted Democrats and liberal causes in 2018 included an unprecedented gusher of secret money, new documents obtained by POLITICO show. The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a little-known nonprofit headquartered in Washington, spent $141 million on more than 100 left-leaning causes during the midterm election year, according to a new tax filing from the group. The money contributed to efforts ranging from fighting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and other Trump judicial nominees to boosting ballot measures raising the minimum wage and changing laws on voting and redistricting in numerous states. The spending was fueled by massive anonymous donations, including one gift totaling $51.7 million.

That single donation was more than the group had ever raised before in an entire year before President Donald Trump was elected. Most of the group’s funders are likely to remain a mystery because federal law does not require “social welfare”-focused nonprofits to reveal their donors. The group’s 2018 fundraising surpassed any amount ever raised by a left-leaning political nonprofit, according to experts, who pointed to the Koch network and the Crossroads network as rare right-leaning groups that posted bigger yearly fundraising totals at the height of their powers. The Sixteen Thirty Fund’s rise last year is a sign that Democrats and allies have embraced the methods of groups they decried as “dark money” earlier this decade, when they were under attack from the money machines built by conservatives including the Kochs.

“In terms of the size of dark money networks, there are only a few that have gone into the $100 million-plus range,” said Robert Maguire, the research director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and an expert in political nonprofits. “These kinds of totals aren’t unheard of,” Maguire added. “I do think they’re unheard of on the liberal side. I think that’s what’s so striking about this.”

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@RepMikeTurner : Did he ever say to you that he was not going to allow aid with the US to go to Ukraine unless there were investigations into Burisma, the Bidens or the 2016 election?

VOLKER: No he did not.

It’s open season on John Solomon. By the way, Marie Yovanovitch has denied the existence of a Don’t Prosecute list, and all kinds of people say Lutsenko denied it too. Solomon says he did not.

Another Congresswoman Lashes Out At The Hill (Pol.)

Florida Congresswoman Val Demings questioned Tuesday whether the The Hill is “fair and unbiased” during an exchange with a reporter from the publication, the second of such incidents in recent days. California Rep. Jackie Speier, who is also a Democrat, told a Hill reporter on Friday that it was “reprehensible” that the paper published columns by John Solomon, a conservative journalist who helped ignite the Ukraine scandal and whose work has been promoted by President Donald Trump and his allies. Demings said Tuesday she had “not heard good things recently” about The Hill in response to tech policy reporter Emily Birnbaum identifying herself before asking a question about a short-term funding bill to avoid a government shutdown, according to audio of the exchange reviewed by POLITICO.

“Recently, I have not heard good things about The Hill being fair and impartial and unbiased… and that concerns me because any story we’re telling needs to be fair and unbiased and impartial,” Demings told Birnbaum during the exchange in the speaker’s lobby, which was witnessed by other reporters. Demings answered Birnbaum’s question and agreed it was fair. Though Demings did not mention Solomon specifically, the former employee’s work has come under increasing scrutiny and has put The Hill under the media spotlight. ProPublica recently explored Solomon’s relationship with associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and CNN looked Monday night at the connection between The Hill’s owner, Jimmy Finkelstein, and Trump, Giuliani and Solomon.

Solomon’s work has come up several times during impeachment testimony. Former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch on Friday denied an allegation from Ukraine’s former top prosecutor that she gave Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor a list of who not to prosecute. “Yovanovitch says John Solomon’s columns were used to push false allegations,” read a headline in The Hill. Solomon, who left The Hill in September and his now a contributor for Fox News, where he was a frequent guest this past year, has repeatedly defended his reporting. “I stand by each and every one of the columns that I wrote and that The Hill (both editors and lawyers) carefully vetted,” Solomon told POLITICO on Friday. “All facts in those stories are substantiated to original source documents and statements.”

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So the best thing Solomon can do is do his job: report.

FBI Cites Strzok Cited For Misconduct, ‘Exceptionally Poor Judgment’ (Solomon)

This summer, ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok filed a lawsuit suggesting his firing was political retribution for having run the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation into the now debunked allegations that Donald Trump and Russia colluded to hijack the 2016 election. The Justice Department has responded to the lawsuit in a big way, releasing to the court presiding over the civil case Strzok’s official misconduct file that concluded the former FBI supervisor exhibited “a gross lack of professionalism and exceptionally poor judgment.” It shows the FBI substantiated that Strzok had engaged in dereliction of duty, had committed misconduct through the expression of anti-Trump bias on his official FBI phone and committed security violations by performing official government work on personal email.

The records show one official recommended termination, and another recommended suspension for 60 days without pay. The bureau leadership chose the more severe of the two penalties, terminating Strzok last year. The dereliction of duty citation involved Strzok’s failure, according to the FBI, to quickly follow up in fall 2016 after the belated discovery of a trove of Hillary Clinton emails on a laptop belonging to former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Strzok was supervising the investigation of whether Clinton’s use of personal email for classified State Department matters created a security risk, and his failure caused an unnecessary delay to evaluate the new evidence just weeks before Election Day, the FBI concluded.

The disciplinary file included testimony from one of Strzok’s colleagues, a fellow agent, about the failure to respond to the discovery of emails. “The crickets I was hearing was making me uncomfortable because something was going to come crashing down,” the agent testified. “….I still to this day don’t understand what the hell went wrong.” The agent testified he feared “somebody was not acting appropriately, somebody was trying to bury this” discovery of new Clinton email evidence, the files show. Strzok offered a bevy of excuses for his inaction, including he was busy working the Trump-Russia case at the time. All were rejected. “The investigation reveals that there is no reasonable excuse for the FBI’s delay in following up on this matter,” the disciplinary file concluded.

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Why does Hong Kong still have courts?

Beijing’s Angry Reaction To High Court Mask Ruling Sparks Concern (SCMP)

There was a swift response from Beijing when the High Court ruled on Monday that the Hong Kong government’s anti-mask law was unconstitutional. Central government officials criticised the court for failing to support the government in its efforts to end more than five months of increasingly violent social unrest. For the first time, they suggested that the city’s courts do not have the power to declare a local law invalid by checking it against the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. China’s top legislative affairs body argued that only the national legislature had the right to decide on issues of constitutionality.


Beijing’s reaction left its critics in Hong Kong fearing for the erosion of the city’s independent judiciary. They also feared that Beijing would decide to hand down its own interpretation of the Basic Law and overturn the court ruling. But members of the pro-establishment camp dismissed those concerns, saying Beijing was only reiterating its position. What are the key issues in the controversy over the court ruling?

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Remember: Hong Kong won’t become Chinese until 2037.

China Vows To Retaliate If Trump Signs Hong Kong Democracy Act Into Law (SCMP)

China summoned a senior United States diplomat on Wednesday as it warned it would retaliate if US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, after the act was passed by the US Senate. In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Foreign Vice-Minister Ma Zhaoxu had summoned William Klein, the US embassy’s Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs. “China will take strong opposing measures, and the US has to bear all the consequences,” the statement said, after Congress’ upper chamber passed the act – which could pave the way for diplomatic action and economic sanctions against Hong Kong’s government.


It was the second time China had summoned a US diplomat since anti-government protests in Hong Kong began five months ago, triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China’s opaque legal system. In June, Robert Forden, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US embassy in Beijing, was summoned by Foreign Vice-Minister Le Yucheng. Klein was summoned after foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that any attempt by the US to interfere in China’s internal affairs would be in vain. “We call on the US side to take a clear look at the situation and take steps to stop the act from becoming a law, and stop meddling in the internal affairs of China and Hong Kong, to avoid setting a fire that would only burn itself,” Geng said in a statement. “If the US sticks to its course, China will surely take forceful measures to resolutely oppose it to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interest.”

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If the treatment of Assange shows you anything, it’s that you live in a fascist world.

Reclaiming Your Inner Fascist (C.J. Hopkins)

OK, we need to talk about fascism. Not just any kind of fascism. A particularly insidious kind of fascism. No, not the fascism of the early 20th Century. Not Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. Not Hitler’s NSDAP. Not Francoist fascism or any other kind of organized fascist movement or party. Not even the dreaded Tiki-torch Nazis. It’s the other kind of fascism we need to talk about. The kind that doesn’t come goose-stepping up the street waving big neo-Nazi flags. The kind we don’t recognize when we’re looking right at it. It’s like that joke about the fish and the water … we don’t recognize it because we’re swimming in it. We’re surrounded by it. We are inseparable from it. From the moment we are born, we breathe it in.

We are taught it by our parents, who were taught it by their parents. We are taught it again by our teachers in school. It is reinforced on a daily basis at work, in conversations with friends, in our families and our romantic relationships. We imbibe it in books, movies, TV shows, advertisements, pop songs, the nightly news, in our cars, at the mall, the stadium, the opera … everywhere, because it is literally everywhere. It doesn’t look like fascism to us. Fascism only looks like fascism when you’re standing outside of it, or looking back at it. When you are in it, fascism just looks like “normality,” like “reality,” like “just the way it is.”

We (i.e., Americans, Brits, Europeans, and other citizens of the global capitalist empire) get up in the morning, go to work, shop, pay the interest on our debts, and otherwise obey the laws and conform to the mores of a system of power that has murdered countless millions of people in pursuit of global-hegemonic dominance. It has perpetrated numerous wars of aggression. Its military occupies most of the planet. Its Intelligence agencies (i.e., secret police) operate a worldwide surveillance apparatus that can identify, target, and eliminate anyone, anywhere, often by remote control. Its propaganda network never sleeps, nor is there any real way to escape its constant emotional and ideological conditioning.

The fact that the global capitalist empire does not call itself an empire, and instead calls itself “democracy,” doesn’t make it any less of an empire. The fact that it uses terms like “regime change” instead of “invasion” or “annexation” makes very little difference to its victims. Terms like “security,” “stability,” “intervention,” “regime change,” and so on are not meant for its victims. They are meant for us … to anesthetize us. The empire is “regime-changing” Bolivia currently. It has “regime-changed” most of Latin America at one time or another since the Second World War. It “regime-changed” Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, Indonesia … the list goes on. It very much wants to “regime-change” Iran, which it “regime-changed” back in the 1950s, before the Iranians “regime-changed” it back. It would love to “regime-change” Russia and China, but their ICBMs make that somewhat impractical.

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Lip service.

Fossil Fuel Production On Track For Double The Safe Climate Limit (G.)

The world’s nations are on track to produce more than twice as much coal, oil and gas as can be burned in 2030 while restricting rise in the global temperature to 1.5C, analysis shows. The report is the first to compare countries’ stated plans for fossil fuel extraction with the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which is to keep global heating well below 2C above pre-industrial levels, and to aim for 1.5C. It exposes a huge gap, with fossil fuel production in 2030 heading for 50% more than is consistent with 2C, and 120% more than that for 1.5C. Scientists have warned that even the difference between 1.5C and 2C of heating will expose hundreds of millions of people to significantly higher risks of extreme heatwaves, drought, floods and poverty.

The report was produced by the UN Environment Programme and a coalition of research organisations. It complements an earlier UN analysis showing the current Paris agreement pledges to cut emissions would still lead to a catastrophic 3-4C rise. “We’re in a deep hole – and we need to stop digging,” said Måns Nilsson, executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), which was part of the analysis. “Despite more than two decades of climate policymaking, fossil fuel production levels are higher than ever.” Most action to tackle the climate crisis involves reducing emissions, but Inger Andersen, head of the UN Environment Programme, said a focus on fossil fuel production was long overdue.

Most of the action pledges made by countries under the Paris deal do not even mention changes to production. The UK is a “striking” example of this mismatch, said Cleo Verkuijl, at the SEI’s centre in Oxford, UK. It was the first major economy to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, she said, but also subsidises fossil fuel production at home and abroad and intends to extract “every drop of oil and gas” from its North Sea fields.

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Jun 012019
 


 

Relentless and Unrestrained Public Mobbing, Intimidation and Defamation (CN)
UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Julian Assange to Be Freed (DN)
Assange ‘Psychologically Tortured To Breaking Point By Democratic States’ (RT)
Are US/UK Trying To Kill Assange? – Ron Paul (DM)
Assange May Have To Die Before Journalists Realize Implications – Galloway (RT)
36 Countries The US Has Bullied This Week (RT)
Prelude to a Fiasco (Jim Kunstler)
US Stock Market Forgoes $5 Trillion In Returns Due To Trade War – Deutsche (MW)
Dow 25,000! Oops…(WS)
Mexico Tariffs May Hurt $600 Billion In Cross-Border Trade, US Economy (MW)
Brazil Snubs Venezuelan Opposition Envoy As Doubts Rise On Guaido (R.)

 

 

NOTE: quite a few video’s today, which don’t always show if you receive this by mail. In that case, please refer to the Automatic Earth site.

 

 

“I’ve seen atrocities in war areas that were physically more horrible but I’ve never seen a single person pursued so relentlessly and with so little foundation.”

Relentless and Unrestrained Public Mobbing, Intimidation and Defamation (CN)

“It was obvious that Mr. Assange’s health has been seriously affected by the extremely hostile and arbitrary environment he has been exposed to for many years. Most importantly, in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.” “My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr. Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” said Melzer.

He said he was “particularly alarmed” by the Espionage Act charges. “This may well result in a life sentence without parole, or possibly even the death penalty, if further charges were to be added in the future,” said Melzer. “[Assange] is really something I’ve never seen in 20 years,” Melzer said. “I’ve seen atrocities in war areas that were physically more horrible but I’ve never seen a single person pursued so relentlessly and with so little foundation. “[When I saw him] I immediately compared him to some of the graver cases in interrogation prisons in terms of his psychological reaction patterns. That’s what alarmed me so much.” He said Assange’s treatment was “very close to the intentional, purposeful infliction of coercive measures to try to break him”.

He appeared “extremely agitated and preoccupied,” Melzer said. “He asked a lot of questions and he would jump around, he was so preoccupied with everything he can’t even compute my answers any more. “There were episodes of this, then he was part of the conversation as normal, then again he would enter into this agitated state. I have seen with other victims of psychological torture that would happen.” Melzer also blasted the government of Assange’s native Australia. He told the newspaper, “Australia is a glaring absence in this case. They’re just not around, as if Assange was not an Australian citizen. That is not the correct way of dealing with that.”

 

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Interesting man for sure. This part of his report stands out:

“I believe we have to take a step back and look at all these proceedings, how they have been conducted, and come to our own conclusions whether these are fair. We also have to take a step back and look at this whole narrative of suspected rapist; narcissist; selfish, ungrateful person; hacker, and scratch the surface a little bit and see what’s below there.


When I was first approached by his defense team seeking protection from my mandate in December last year, I was reluctant to do so, because, me, too, I had been affected by this prejudice that I had absorbed through all these public, you know, narratives spread in the media over the years. And only when I scratched the surface a little bit, I saw how little foundation there was to back this up and how much fabrication and manipulation there is in this case. So I encourage everybody to really look below the surface in this case.”

UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Julian Assange to Be Freed (DN)

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture is warning that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is suffering from the effects of “psychological torture” due to his ongoing detention and threats of possible extradition to the United States. The U.N. expert, Nils Melzer, also warned that Assange would likely face a “politicized show trial” if he were to be extradited to the United States. Melzer writes, “In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution, I have never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time.” Julian Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail in 2012 at London’s Belmarsh Prison, after he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean Embassy by British police last month.


Last week, the U.S. Justice Department announced it was charging Assange with 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in publishing U.S. classified military and diplomatic documents exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange, who had already been charged on one count of hacking a government computer, now faces up to 170 additional years in prison under the new charges—10 years for each count of violating the Espionage Act. Assange was due to appear by video link before a magistrates’ court on Thursday but failed to appear, reportedly due to health problems. We speak with U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer.

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Nils Melzer did a whole range of interviews in one day.

Assange ‘Psychologically Tortured To Breaking Point By Democratic States’ (RT)

Jailed WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange shows clear signs of degrading and inhumane treatment which only adds to his deteriorating health, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer told RT. Assange has “all the symptoms typical for a person who has been exposed to prolonged psychological torture,” Melzer told RT’s Afshin Rattansi. This adds to the toll of his deteriorating physical state caused by a lack of adequate medical care for several years, he said. Melzer said he was judging from two decades of experience in working with POWs and political prisoners, and only after applying “scientific” UN methods to assess Assange’s condition. But the journalist’s case still “shocked” him.


An individual has been isolated and singled out by several democratic states, and persecuted systematically… to the point of breaking him. Earlier this month, a UK court sentenced the WikiLeaks co-founder to nearly a year in jail for skipping bail in 2012. The courts are now deciding whether to extradite Assange to the US where he is wanted for 17 charges under the Espionage Act. He can end up serving up to 175 years in prison if proven guilty.

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Me too, I thought of Warmbier: “..how would we look a lot different to the North Koreans on the surface?’

Are US/UK Trying To Kill Assange? – Ron Paul (DM)

Former Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul says Julian Assange could die in prison and blames the apparent deterioration in the WikiLeaks founder’s heath on how he is being treated by the US and UK governments. Speaking on ‘Ron Paul Liberty Report, the 83-year-old accuses the US government of pursuing Assange and says they would like to either challenge him with a death penalty or a life time in prison ‘for being a journalist.’ The Libertarian calls Assange’s a ‘tragic story’ and describes his health as ‘very very bad,’ commenting that friends of the whistleblower are worried that his health may not hold up. [..] Paul also compares Assange’s plight to the case of Otto Frederick Warmbier, an American college student imprisoned in North Korea in 2016.


In June 2017, Warmbier was released by North Korea in a vegetative state and died soon afterward. Paul goes on to ask what the ramifications would be if Assange is much sicker than is being revealed and dies in prison as the result of how his case has been handled by Washington and London. ‘If he had a terminal disease or something happens to him, good, bad, or whatever and he dies in the prison, how would we look a lot different to the North Koreans on the surface?’ Paul questions. Paul goes on to slam the American media and journalists for their lack of reporting on Assange’s health problems, adding that news of his ill health came out via a Swedish newspaper. Paul adds there is ‘not much good journalism around any more’ and that by not doing more reporting on Assange, journalists ‘don’t want to protect their right to be a journalist.’

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They still wouldn’t realize a thing.

Assange May Have To Die Before Journalists Realize Implications – Galloway (RT)

“Julian Assange may have to die in the hospital wing of Belmarsh prison in order to bring it about” George Galloway believes it’s not long until ‘we could be in George Orwell’s 1984’ as he talks to In Question’s Manila Chan about the Wikileaks founder being too ill to appear at extradition hearing.

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The US will end up all alone.

36 Countries The US Has Bullied This Week (RT)


© Global Look Press / Uwe Skrzypczak

It’s been a busy few days for American diplomacy, with three dozen nations ending up at the receiving end of threats, ultimatums and sanctions this week alone. And it’s only Friday. Mexico is the latest target, slapped with 5 percent tariffs on each and every export, gradually increasing to 25 percent until it stops the flow of Latin American migrants into the US, thus fulfilling one of President Donald Trump’s election promises. Most of those migrants aren’t even from Mexico. On the other side of the world, India is reportedly about to be forced to face a choice: ditch the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems or face sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA, Washington’s go-to cooperation enforcement instrument).

Turkey is facing a similar ultimatum: abandon S-400s (something Ankara has repeatedly refused to do) or lose access to the F-35 fighter jet program. This threat was repeated on Thursday by Kathryn Wheelbarger, US acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Ankara has already invested some $1.25 billion into the super-expensive American fighter, but with a lot of its parts being made in Turkey, it’s still an open question who would be the bigger loser. The entire European Union could be facing punishment if it tries to trade with Iran using its non-dollar humanitarian mechanism to bypass the American embargo. Having worked hard on the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which has repeatedly been confirmed to be working, EU member states are not ready to ditch trade at Trump’s whim – and US Special Representative to Iran Brian Hook on Thursday reaffirmed the threat of CAATSA sanctions.

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”The object is solely to divert the nation’s attention with an impeachment circus, allowing Mr. Mueller to slip away harmlessly into history..”

Prelude to a Fiasco (Jim Kunstler)

You’d think that Robert Mueller might know what any licensed attorney-at-law in the land tells a client in a tight spot with a lame alibi: better keep you mouth shut. Instead, Mr. Mueller crept Sphinx-like out of the Deep State woodwork on little cat’s paws and in a brief nine minutes blabbed out a set of whopperish riddles much more likely to get himself in trouble than the target of his hinky inquisition. The key whopper was that he could not make “a determination” on an obstruction-of-justice charge against Mr. Trump because guidance policy from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel had said some years ago that a sitting president can’t be indicted. That is not what he told his boss, Mr. Barr, the Attorney General (and a roomful of the AG’s staffers who heard it), in person when he delivered his final report a few weeks ago.

Upon receipt of that report, Mr. Barr asked the Special Counsel three times whether his inability to conclude anything on an obstruction charge was due to the OLC guidance, and three times Mr. Mueller answered “no.” Mr. Barr relayed this on-the-record in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and, as averred above, he has plenty of witnesses. It should not be hard to reach a determination on who is telling truth here. In fact, Mr. Mueller could have declared that he found chargeable obstruction crimes were committed based on the evidence, and also demurred to press them at this time — leaving them available to federal prosecutors until after the president was out of office, one way or another.

The reason he didn’t is that Mr. Mueller does not want the case to come to trial, ever, because he would lose badly and his reputation would be destroyed. Consider that in any trial, the defendant gets to call witnesses and make his own case. The evidence for gross prosecutorial misconduct on the part of Mr. Mueller and his associates is mountainous compared to the molehill of Mr. Trump’s temper tantrums over the seditious hoax he was subject to. And that matter is now moving in the direction of adjudication. So instead, Mr. Mueller has set in motion a potential political crisis as momentous as the Civil War, but completely unlike it.

Knowing that congress can impeach the president on just about anything — especially this president, publicly reviled like no other before him — he served congress the platter of material to use in the form of his final report, and pretty much dared them to not go forward with it. Get this: it is a ruse. The object is solely to divert the nation’s attention with an impeachment circus, allowing Mr. Mueller to slip away harmlessly into history without sacrificing his own reputation in a courtroom.

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We like big numbers.

US Stock Market Forgoes $5 Trillion In Returns Due To Trade War – Deutsche (MW)

The U.S. stock market has left $5 trillion on the table as trade tensions over the past 17 months contributed to an effectively sideways trade, Deutsche Bank estimated on Friday. “While other factors also arguably played a role, the trade war has been key in preventing a recovery in global growth and keeping U.S. equities range bound. Foregone U.S. equity returns from price appreciation for 17 months are worth $5 trillion,” wrote Binky Chadha, the bank’s chief strategist, in a Friday note, based on an price appreciation at an annual rate 12.5% (see chart below).

Chadha’s calculation is based on the capitalization of the Russell 3000, a broad measure of equity markets, which had a capitalization of $28.7 trillion at the start of 2018. Foregone returns for the index over 17 months comes out to $5 trillion. The S&P 500 in the first four months of 2019 bounced back sharply from a steep fourth-quarter selloff nudging to an all-time closing high in April. But the index has retreated more than 6% in May, posting its first monthly decline since December and its worst May performance since 2010. The Dow Jones Industrial Average which failed to return to record territory before the May swoon, also fell more than 6% for the month.

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What $20 trillion in stimulus bought you.

Dow 25,000! Oops…(WS)

Stocks were already gunning for the worst May since 2010 when, on the evening before the last trading day, Trump tweeted that he would impose tariffs on imports from Mexico, if Mexico doesn’t crack down on migration flows coming through its southern border. Those tariffs would hit the automakers particularly hard because they imported 2.6 million vehicles from Mexico in 2018, up 10% from the prior year. Not even counting the component makers. But the Presidential tweet was just the icing on the cake. May had been crappy for stocks before the tweet went out.


The S&P 500 index, which earlier this week had fallen through 2,800, dropped another 1.3% today to 2,752, down 6.8% from its peak in early May that had exceeded by a hair the prior peak of September 2018. The index is now back where it had first been on January 9, 2018, having spent nearly 17 months going nowhere, despite intoxicating surges and nerve-wracking drops. And the chart is morphing from “not pretty” to something a little uglier (data via S&P Dow Jones Indices):

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1% today, unceremoniously plopping through the 25,000 level and closed at 24,815. It’s now 7.9% below its October 2018 peak and right back where it had first been in December 2017, having spent 17 months gyrating to nowhere, including a 19% peak-to-trough plunge in four months followed by a blistering 22% rally in four months. The Nasdaq composite dropped 1.5% today, to 7,453, the level it first reached in January 2018, also going nowhere in nearly 17 months despite a huge bout of volatility. It fell 8.7% in May. The Russell 2000 index, which covers stocks with smaller market capitalization, fell 1.3% today, to 1,478. It’s down 9.2% in May alone, down 15.7% from its October 2018 peak, and right back where it had first been on September 26, 2017, a very volatile 20 months of going nowhere. Chart looking ugly (data via Investing.com):

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This just might go horribly wrong.

Mexico Tariffs May Hurt $600 Billion In Cross-Border Trade, US Economy (MW)

The U.S. economy could suffer a wrenching blow, business leaders and economists say, if President Trump follows through on his threat to slap tariffs on all imports from Mexico in a dispute over immigration controls. The president on Thursday said he would apply a 5% tariff on $350 billion in imports from Mexico unless the country reduces the flow of immigrants seeking to enter the United States. The surprise move slammed the stock market and prompted an immediate backlash from business. “These proposed tariffs would have devastating consequences,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers. “Workers should not be forced to suffer because of the failure to fix our immigration system.”

Households could face higher prices for groceries and other key consumer staples, economists say. And businesses would have to pay more for key parts and materials, especially in the auto industry. “The duties represent a significant risk to business activity both north and south of the border,” said chief economist Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics. He said Mexico could be thrown into recession while U.S. growth could fall to 1% or less by 2020. The economies of the U.S. and Mexico have become inextricably intertwined in the quarter of a century since the North American Free Trade Agreement deal was signed in 1994. The two countries exchanged a whopping $612 billion in goods last year, making Mexico the third largest trading partner after Canada and China. More than $1.5 billion in products cross the border between the two countries every day.


Although Mexico is popularly known as the main U.S. source for avocados and tequila, the huge amount of products it sends to its northern neighbor each year touch almost every major segment of America’s economy. The U.S. imports enormous quantities of autos and parts, computer equipment, oil and gas, appliances and plastic and rubber products — not to mention fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, berries and melons. Mexican imports in 2018 hit a record $347 billion.

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Geez, is that still on?

Brazil Snubs Venezuelan Opposition Envoy As Doubts Rise On Guaido (R.)

Brazil withdrew an invitation to the envoy for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to present her diplomatic credentials, she said on Friday, and the government in Brasilia said it would decide later whether to accept them. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro still recognises Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, his spokesman said. Guaido’s envoy, Maria Teresa Belandria, played down the idea that the snub reflected scepticism from Bolsonaro’s government. Diplomatic analysts said mounting evidence that a change of government in Venezuela is not imminent may have Bolsonaro and his aides wondering if they overplayed their support for Guaido.


Former military officers making up about a third of Brazil’s cabinet have been wary of provoking Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, warning against moves that could tip an economic and political crisis into violence across Brazil’s northern border. Belandria had been invited to present her credentials at the presidential palace along with ambassadors from other countries next Tuesday, but the government changed its mind. “I was uninvited,” she told Reuters, but went on to dismiss any suggestion the snub reflected diminished support for Guaido. “There will be another opportunity,” she said. “Brazil’s support continues to be strong, solid and decisive. It’s merely a protocol matter.”

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Julian on Google

 

 

 

 

Dec 282018
 
 December 28, 2018  Posted by at 10:33 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Berthe Morisot After luncheon1881

 

Investors Fear Historic Market Rebound Was Just A ‘Wicked Bear Trap’ (MW)
US Stocks Follow Record-Breaking Rise With Day Of Wild Swings (G.)
VIX Is About To Do Something It Hasn’t Done Since 2011 (MW)
Watch Out When Men Of War Come To The Rescue (Fisk)
Giuliani: Mueller Must Be Investigated For Destruction Of FBI Evidence (Hill)
Donald Trump ‘Worst Perpetrator’ Of Fake News: UN Special Rapporteur (Pol.eu)
Macron ‘Lost Authority’ After Caving To Yellow Jackets, Says Oettinger (Pol.eu)
Corbyn Wants May To Recall MPs Early Over Critical Brexit Vote (Ind.)
Brexit’s Aura Of Inevitability Is Vanishing (Kaletsky)
Turning Brexit Into a Celebration of Democracy (Varoufakis)
Crime and Punishment in an Age of the Jungle (Vallianatos)

 

 

Catchy, but A Christmas Carol might be a better example. ‘Investors’ believe the ghosts are real, just like they believe markets are real. Read yesterday’s 2019: Zombie Markets Before The Fall to understand why that is nonsense.

Investors Are Speechless: “It’s Like Watching Pulp Fiction” (ZH)

With market action becoming increasingly surreal and the panicked, vertigo-inducing bear market rallies (spawned by a record $64 billion pension fund reallocation into stocks in a historically illiquid market) reminiscent of the chaos observed at the depths of the financial crisis, it is only appropriate that some of the quotes Bloomberg picked for its daily wrap piece which commemorated the biggest intraday reversal since 2010, be just as surreal. “Investors are becoming desensitized,” Bryce Doty, SVP at Sit Investment Associates, told Bloomberg, then continued the verbal poetry: “It’s like watching ‘Pulp Fiction.’ Halfway through, the violence doesn’t even bother you anymore.”

He’s right, although whereas the market “violence” in past weeks was one directional, this week it has developed a twist to trap both the bulls and bears, and while the latest Dow swing (of nearly 1000 points) was only slightly bigger than the average up-and-down move last week, back then equities were merely tumbling, now it tends to drop early in the day then soar in afternoon trading. So fast forwarding to the post-Christmas chaos – which this website explicitly warned about when last Friday we said to “Brace For Seismic Volatility” – strategists are starting to ask: if days like these are now normal, is there a context in which the whole three-month rout starts to feel routine?

There are the optimists like Jim Kelleher, director of research at Argus Research, who said market turmoil that happens when the economy is holding up reminds him of past stock declines that ended gently. Unless evidence emerges of deep global growth erosion, what’s going on now “will prove to be shorter and more shallow than the declines experienced in ‘classic’ bear markets.” Others are not so sure: “Investors are wondering if this will be a crash,” said Dave Campbell, a principal at San Francisco’s BOS, who nonetheless still managed to put a favorable spin on events.

“The risks are there, but they’re always there. They’re more heightened but it’s not the most likely outcome. The economy continues to grow – maybe a little more slowly – but next year markets will have hit their lows and we’ll be on the rebound.” Then there are those who echo what we asked yesterday, namely if this is only a bear market rally, although granted a very furious one: as Bloomberg writes in its second end of day wrap, “on the surface, the rally is good news for investors searching for a bottom after a three-month sell-off sent the S&P 500 to the brink of a bear market. But days like this are rarely good omens.”

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What’s happening is much more profound than bear markets.

Investors Fear Historic Market Rebound Was Just A ‘Wicked Bear Trap’ (MW)

It’s been a rough three months, and a particularly difficult December, for stocks, however. The Nasdaq is in a bear market while the Dow and S&P 500 are solidly in correction territory and nursing hefty December losses and year-to-date declines. Some market watchers find big bounces in such an environment less than convincing. Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, offered up the table below in a Thursday note. It takes a look back at the 20 biggest one-day percentage gains for the S&P 500 going back to 1970, a stretch that includes nearly 12,800 trading days.

[..] Bulls can take encouragement from the fact that three of the 17 other days that saw an advance of 5% or more came immediately in the aftermath of the October 1987 crash, “when buying did prove a good plan,” while two more came in March 2009, when the S&P 500 hit bottom and began its current bull run. But here’s the rub: Eight of those gains of 5% or more came during the 2007-09 bear market and three more occurred during the downturn of 2000-03, “to suggest there is still a risk that this year’s Boxing Day bonanza could be no more than a wicked bear trap set to lure investors into more trouble,” Mould wrote ahead of Thursday’s open, saying that traders and investors “will be looking out for a couple of further definitive signals before they decide it really is time to buy on the dips following this year’s Christmas selloff.”

Indeed, market veterans warn that massive, one-day rallies are often more characteristic of downturns, occurring as selloffs lead to significantly oversold technical conditions that leave markets ripe for short covering only to give way to renewed selling once the frenzy of forced buying is exhausted. Investors who short a stock are essentially betting that its price will fall by first borrowing the shares, but those traders can be forced to buy shares back if prices suddenly swing higher, which, in turn, can amplify price swings.

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When is all this cheap money going to bail out?

US Stocks Follow Record-Breaking Rise With Day Of Wild Swings (G.)

US stock markets seesawed again on Thursday as a record-breaking day of gains gave way to selling once again before rising again in late trading. By lunchtime all the major US markets were in the red, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.4%, the S&P 500 losing 1.5% and the Nasdaq off 1.9%. But most US markets ended the day in the black with the Dow up 1.13%, the S&P adding 0.85% and the Nasdaq 0.38%. After a series of often wild swings the US stock markets are still on course to end the year in bear market territory – triggered when markets fall 20% from their most recent high. A bear market would be the first in close to a decade.

Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W Baird in Milwaukee, said he expected more dramatic days aheads. “There’s only two more sessions left before the end of the year. I would expect volatility to reign. It’s dug in like a tick,” he said. Stocks had fallen for four consecutive days through Monday. Wednesday’s rally – with the Dow adding close to 5% and a record 1,080 points – could have signaled a turning point. Markets closed up in Japan and Australia but European markets sank again on Thursday, with the FTSE closing down 1.5% in London, sinking to it’s lowest level since July 2016 (a month after the Brexit vote). Germany’s DAX closed down 2.3% and France’s CAC fell 0.6%

Stock markets have become increasingly volatile in recent months and recorded both record losses and record gains this week. The Dow Jones plummeted 653 points on Monday, capping its worst week in a decade and marking its “worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever”.

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The low VIX shows you how out of touch the financial world is. There can be only one reason for it: the Fed.

VIX Is About To Do Something It Hasn’t Done Since 2011 (MW)

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention that stock-market volatility is on the rise. But here’s a statistic that underlines the phenomenon. The Cboe Volatility Index, commonly known as the VIX and often, if not sometimes derisively, referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was on track Thursday to close above 30 for the fourth day in a row. The index, an options-based measure of expected volatility over the coming 30-day period, traded at 32.92 in recent action, up 2.51 points. According to data compiled by Dow Jones Market Data, that would be the longest streak since a 14-day run that ended in November 2011, surpassing a three-day period seen in August 2015. The index has a long-term average near 20.

It’s certainly been a week of whipsaw trading for investors. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq Composite all falling more than 2% in Monday’s holiday-abbreviated session to post the worst Christmas Eve performance in Wall Street history, only to roar back on Wednesday to more than reverse those declines as the S&P and Dow jumped 5% each and the Nasdaq gained 5.8%. On Thursday, stocks were back under pressure, with the Dow giving up more than half of the previous day’s 1,086-point gain.

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Robert Fisk is done. Comparing Putin to Hitler on the brink of 2019 is all we need to know. BTW, Mattis DID consider running.

Watch Out When Men Of War Come To The Rescue (Fisk)

When a general popularly known as James “Mad Dog” Mattis abandons a really mad American president, you know something has fallen off the edge in Washington. Since the Roman empire, formerly loyal military chiefs have fled crackpot leaders, and Mattis’s retreat from the White House might have the smell of de Gaulle and Petain about it. De Gaulle was confronted by an immensely powerful hero of the people – the Lion of Verdun – who was, in his dotage, about to shrug off the sacred alliance with Britain for Nazi collaboration (for which, I suppose, read Putin’s Russia). The decision was made to have nothing to do with Petain, or what Mattis now refers to as “malign actors”. De Gaulle would lead Free France instead.

Mattis has no such ambitions – not yet, at any rate – although there are plenty of Lavals and Weygands waiting to see if Trump chooses one of them for his next secretary of defence. Besides, history should not grant Trump and Mattis such an epic panorama. After all, no Trump tweet could compare with Petain’s 1916 “We’ll get them!” (“on les aura”) slogan, and the dignified, cold and fastidious de Gaulle would never have lent himself to the rant Mattis embarked upon in San Diego in 2005: “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”

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If investigations like this are not held, the US risks becoming a very volatile place.

Giuliani: Mueller Must Be Investigated For Destruction Of FBI Evidence (Hill)

Rudy Giuliani has an unmistakable New Year’s message for special counsel Robert Mueller: It is time for the chief investigator in the Russia case to be investigated in 2019. In wide-ranging interviews with Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and me on Wednesday and Thursday, President Trump’s defense lawyer pointedly accused Mueller’s office of destroying evidence by allowing text messages from now-fired FBI official Peter Strzok and his FBI lover, Lisa Page, to be erased in the Russia probe. “Mueller should be investigated for destruction of evidence for allowing those text messages from Strzok to be erased, messages that would show the state of mind and tactics of his lead anti-Trump FBI agent at the start of his probe,” Giuliani said.

The Justice Department inspector general (IG) reported this month that it found large gaps in the preservation of official government text messages between Strzok and Page, the two top FBI agents who helped to start the Russia probe in 2016, who were having an affair at the time, and who expressed disdain for Trump. The report said a technical glitch was to blame for the FBI’s failure to save those text messages, but the IG was able to recover more than 19,000 from the early part of the Russia probe before Mueller was named special prosecutor. However, the IG said it was unable to recover messages from the time Strzok and Page worked for Mueller’s office in spring and summer 2017 because the memories of both FBI officials’ government phones were wiped clean by technicians.

That erasure occurred after Strzok and Page left Mueller’s team over revelations they exchanged anti-Trump text messages, including one string in which they talked about stopping Trump from becoming president. “That should be investigated, damn it, that should be investigated fully. You want a special counsel, get one for that,” Giuliani said.

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Really? The UN is going to pick sides? Against Trump and pro Big Tech?

Donald Trump ‘Worst Perpetrator’ Of Fake News: UN Special Rapporteur (Pol.eu)

The President of the United States is the “worst” perpetrator of misinformation on the internet, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion David Kaye said in an interview published today. “Governments are real offenders when it comes to disinformation,” said Kaye. “In my own country, the United States, the worst perpetrator of false information is the President of the United States.” The problem of fake news emanating from governments should be covered by journalists, the rapporteur said. Platforms such as Google, Facebook or Twitter can help the broader fight against disinformation — bots, foreign interference… — but should not remove content, Kaye said.

“The platforms, I think, can do things that are more technical as long as they are not evaluating content. There are things they can do. They can’t just zap it and say, “This is fake news, it’s off the platform.” According to Kaye, platforms should focus on reducing spam and bot accounts rather than on policing content. And even bots are “tricky, because there are good bots and bad bots.” Google, Facebook and Twitter are under intense pressure from the European Commission to tackle fake news ahead of the European election in May 2019.

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When did the Yellow Vests become an insect species?

Macron Lost Authority After Caving To Yellow Jackets – EU’s Oettinger (Pol.eu)

The EU will accept a French budget deficit above the EU’s 3 percent ceiling in 2018 “as a one-time exception,” Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in an interview published Thursday. Oettinger told the Funke media group of German newspapers that French President Emmanuel Macron had “lost authority with his budget for 2019” by upping his spending in response to the Yellow Jackets protests, “but he remains a strong supporter of the European Union.” Brussels reviewed the French budget several weeks ago and won’t be revisiting it, Oettinger added. “It crucial now that Macron continues his reform agenda, especially in the labor market, and that France remains on its growth track.”

“Under this condition, we will tolerate a national debt higher than 3 percent as a one-time exception. However, it must not continue beyond 2019.” Oettinger also told the Funke media group that there’s still a chance Britain’s parliament will vote in favor of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal in January and that “there is certainly no majority for a disorderly Brexit or for a new referendum.” If the U.K. leaves the bloc without a Brexit deal, it will become “a third country like Morocco or Azerbaijan,” Oettinger said. He added that if Britain withholds its divorce payment in 2019, Germany would be left footing the bill “in the mid-three-digit range” of hundreds of millions of euros.

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The sudden urgency is too late.

Corbyn Wants May To Recall MPs Early Over Critical Brexit Vote (Ind.)

Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Theresa May to cut short the Christmas recess and recall parliament early in the new year in order to bring forward a critical vote on the Brexit deal. In an interview with The Independent, the Labour leader said he believed the prime minister and her allies were engaged in a “cynical manoeuvre” to run down the clock and offer MPs the “choice of the devil or the deep blue sea”. His remarks come as the Commons prepares to vote on the UK-EU deal in the week beginning 14 January – in what is being billed as the most significant moment in parliament for a generation.

With just 91 days remaining until Britain formally leaves the European Union, Mr Corbyn also reiterated it is a matter of “when, not if” Labour attempts to force a general election by tabling a motion of no confidence in the government, which he signalled will come in the aftermath of Ms May’s deal failing to receive MPs’ backing. But he refused to be drawn on whether a Labour government would seek to extend Article 50, given that just weeks would remain for any renegotiation of Britain’s exit from the bloc, and claimed: “Lots of things are possible, the EU has longform on reopening and extending negotiations, but let’s not jump too many hoops when we haven’t arrived at them.”

Speaking in his constituency office in Islington, north London, ahead of Christmas Day, he poured scorn on the prime minister’s decision earlier this month to pull a vote on the deal in the face of near-certain defeat and instead begin a last-ditch attempt to seek assurances from the EU to assuage Brexiteers’ concerns over the contentious issue of the Irish backstop. Pressed on whether he believed Ms May should now recall parliament a week early, on 2 January, the Labour leader replied: “Well it is in her hands to recall parliament. I want us to have a vote as soon as possible, that’s what I’ve been saying for the past two weeks, and if that means recalling parliament to have the vote let’s have it.

“But it looks to me the government has once again reneged on that and tried to put it back another week. We need to have that vote so a decision of parliament can be made. What I suspect is that it’s a completely cynical manoeuvre to run down the clock and offer MPs the choice of the devil or the deep blue sea.”

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For some, perhaps.

Brexit’s Aura Of Inevitability Is Vanishing (Kaletsky)

In times of political turmoil, events can move from impossible to inevitable without even passing through improbable. In early 2016, the idea of Britain leaving the European Union seemed almost as absurd as the next American president being the six-time bankrupt and serial sex pest Donald Trump. A few months later, Brexit and the Trump presidency were universally acknowledged as the inevitable consequence of an anti-elitist, anti-globalization backlash that was predictable decades ago. This sense of inevitability, far more than genuine anti-European conviction, is what has discouraged Britain from changing its mind about a pointless and self-destructive policy that few voters cared about until 2016.

The message from post-Brexit polling and focus groups has been: “We all know that Brexit has to happen, so why don’t the politicians just get on with it?” But with the Brexit process now moving toward its climax, another outcome is moving from impossible to inevitable: Britain could soon change its mind and decide to stay in the EU. This reversal of fortune could begin next month, when Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to lose the decisive parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal. If and when this defeat happens, May will face two unpalatable options. She could preside over a “No Deal” rupture with Europe — tantamount to a declaration of economic war against the EU — and risk a 2008-level economic crisis accompanied by a border upheaval in Ireland that could reignite the “Troubles.”

Or she could break her extravagant promises to honor the “people’s instruction” from the 2016 referendum and allow a new popular vote that might cancel Brexit. To avoid this invidious choice, May could try one last time to push her proposals through Parliament after losing the vote scheduled for the week of January 14. But if this last-ditch effort fails, her choices will be reduced to a No Deal rupture with Europe and a new referendum.

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Varoufakis is basically right, but I can’t see a three-year People’s Debate tackling 6 issues. Brits will think: we can’t even deal with one issue. And an extension of a transition period until 2022 is hard to see, too.

Turning Brexit Into a Celebration of Democracy (Varoufakis)

With weeks left before the UK leaves the EU by default, none of the three main options on offer – a no-deal Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, and rescinding Article 50 in order to remain in the EU – commands a majority in Parliament or among the population. Each generates maximum discontent: The no-deal scenario strikes most as a dangerous plunge into the unknown. May’s deal appalls Remainers and is seen by most Leavers as the kind of document only a country defeated at war would sign. Lastly, a Brexit reversal would confirm Leavers’ belief that democracy is allowed only when it yields results favored by the London establishment.

The conventional wisdom in Britain is that this impasse is lamentable, and that it proves the failure of British democracy. I disagree on both counts. If any of the three immediately available options were endorsed, say, in a second referendum, discontent would increase and the larger questions plaguing the UK would remain unanswered. Britons’ reluctance to endorse any Brexit option at present is, from this perspective, a sign of collective wisdom and a rare opportunity to come to terms with the country’s great challenges while re-thinking the UK’s relationship with the EU. But to seize it, the UK must invest in a “People’s Debate,” leading, in time, to a “People’s Decision.”

The People’s Debate must address six issues: the British constitution, including the creation of an English parliament or multiple regional English assemblies; the electoral system and the role of referenda; the Irish question, including the possibility of joint UK-Irish sovereignty over Northern Ireland; migration and freedom of movement; Britain’s economic model, particularly the outsize role of finance and the need to boost green investment across the country; and of course the UK-EU relationship.

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Proudly poisoning your food for 100 years.

Crime and Punishment in an Age of the Jungle (Vallianatos)

[..] studies funded by EPA and others have been connecting farmers’ sprays to ecocide, disease and death. I traced the catastrophic decline of honeybees to the neurotoxic pesticides of the farmers. This brought me in touch with a caring beekeeper from Colorado named Tom Theobald. He was telling me his days as a beekeeper were coming to an end. In December 2018, he summarized 44 years of living with honeybees and the poisoners of honeybees. “Almost every problem we face,” he said, “can be traced to a Criminal Corporatism and an out of control Capitalism. If there is a profit to be made, there is little regard paid to the consequences. If challenged, we get denial, diversion, excuses and junk science. It simply doesn’t matter how many people are sickened or die, how many species are pushed to extinction or how seriously the planet is compromised.”

[..] We are fortunate we have a reliable history of that irresponsible age by Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. A prolific and outstanding writer, Blum is telling a story that illuminates both early twentieth century, but, perversely, our own times. Her timely book, The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Penguin Press, 2018) paints an unforgettable picture of an American table full of “adulterated” food. Milk and meat were routinely treated with formaldehyde, a carcinogen used for embalming of corpses. Wine drinkers drank a liquid that had nothing to do with grapes. Wine was made from “tannin and coal tar.”

The poisonous copper sulphate dressed canned vegetables. The cleaning chemical borax coated butter. Honey had nothing to do with real honey. It was rather a version of “thickened, colored corn syrup.” Coffee was usually “sawdust, or wheat, beans, peas and dandelion seeds, scorched black and ground to resemble the genuine article.” Bread was baked with alum or chalk, or “sawdust chopped up very fine or gypsum in powder… Terra alba just out of the mine.” There was no law against the poisonous adulteration of food and drink. However, the adulteration of food, Blum says, gave sickness and death, potentially to huge number of Americans. Tainted milk alone killed thousands of children in New York City every year.

Read more …

Feb 212018
 
 February 21, 2018  Posted by at 8:06 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


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

 

Oxfam. I’m wondering if I should warn this is not for the faint of heart, or say don’t read on an empty stomach. If so, hereby. I know I found it hard.

The first and foremost thing the BBC last week felt its audience should know about the sleaziest scandal to come out of Britain in quite some time -and that’s saying something- is that an actress had turned her back on the aid organization. Your news in bite-size pre-chewed headlines.

While a guy who ‘served’ Oxfam in Bosnia claims it’s nobody’s business if he visited the local hookers in his spare time. The head office even specifically refuses to ban staff from doing that. Not violating a staff member’s civil liberties trumps a question like what drives desperate women -girls- into prostitution that same staff member pays for with money donated to aid desperate people.

Someone at the Dutch Oxfam/Novib office complained that his British colleagues should have provided more information, sooner, because now his branch suffers from the scandal (fewer donations). A branch that knew about it at least as far back as 2012, and passed on the info to the Dutch Foreign Ministry and Accounting Office. Who looked at potential -financial- damage in their country, found none, and located a carpet to sweep it under.

The only right choice for us, and our governments, would seem to be to cancel all donations to Oxfam, because apparently nobody connected to the organization is able to figure out who the actual victims are here. They instead portray themselves as the victims.

Of all people, its own chief executive feels a need, when responding to accusations of child sex abuse concerning his organization, to paint himself -and Oxfam- as victims. ‘Anything we say is being manipulated. We’ve been savaged’ . How does that guy hold on to that job?

Charities like Oxfam receive donations to help those people who have fallen victim to the conditions that exist where they live, be they manmade or due to natural disaster. Obviously, if Oxfam cannot (will not) even correctly identify these victims, it has no reason to exist.

Of course Oxfam announces more internal investigations when these accusations come out, but it’s too late. They’ve hush-hushed all previous such investigations, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen again. Oxfam has covered up the issues for a long time, likely decades, and if they can no longer cover things up -like now-, they try and make things look like incidents, stand-alone occurrences. This is a pattern.

 

Of course there are many people involved in international aid who are pure -enough- souls with the best intentions, but that’s simply not enough: sexual predation has infiltrated its ranks to such a degree, and management has refused to take the only appropriate steps against its perpetrators for so long, that sex abuse has become Oxfam’s middle name. And that very much includes child sex abuse.

I’ve been reading a lot about the story over the past 10 days, and one of the things that stand out is that the typical first reaction is to cover up whatever nastiness it is that surfaces, out of fear that donations would suffer. Instead of thinking about the people Oxfam is supposed to help, for which it receives those donations, and put their interests first. That is a death sentence for any aid organization. And rightly so.

It’s quite simple when you think about it: if we allow Oxfam to continue to exist, we accept that the aid we pay for through donations is sold to victims for sex. If you say, as many people do, that shutting down Oxfam will ‘only’ be bad for those in need who rely on it for aid, then that’s what you promote: aid for sex.

Through the many articles I’ve read I’ve seen people finger Oxfam for sex abuse in Haiti, Chad, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Nepal. Ten to one that is but a partial list. Other aid organizations cover even more territory. There are specific accusations, just through these articles, from 1999, 2004, 2012, 2015 and 2017. That too is but a partial list.

 

Let’s see if I can make a coherent story of all this without turning it into an entire book (would not be a problem). Here’s from The Independent, with a headline that takes us right where we need to be:

 

Oxfam Told Of Aid Workers Raping Children In Haiti A Decade Ago

Aid agencies including Oxfam were warned that aid workers were sexually abusing children in Haiti a decade ago, The Independent can reveal. Children as young as six were being coerced into sex in exchange for food and necessities, according to a damning report by Save the Children, which called for urgent action including the creation of a global watchdog. Its research exposed abuse linked to 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organisations operating in Haiti, Ivory Coast and what was then Southern Sudan. “Our own fieldwork suggests that the scale of abuse is significant,” the report concluded.

“Every agency is at risk from this problem … existing efforts to keep children safe from sexual exploitation and abuse are inadequate.” It identified “every kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation imaginable”, including rape, prostitution, pornography, sexual slavery, assaults and trafficking. One 15-year-old girl in Haiti told how “humanitarian men” exposed themselves and offered her the equivalent of £2 to perform a sex act. “The men call to me in the streets and they ask me to go with them,” said another Haitian girl. “They do this will all of us young girls.”

A six-year-old girl described being sexually assaulted and a homeless girl was given a single US dollar by a “man who works for an NGO” before being raped and severely injured, while boys were also reportedly raped. When asked why the abuse was not reported, children said they feared losing aid, did not trust local authorities, did not know who to go to, felt powerless or feared stigma and retaliation. “The people who are raping us and the people in the office are the same people,” said one girl in Haiti.

Ironically, that report is from Save the Children. Ironic because just today the Telegraph had this:

The former chief executive of Save the Children resigned after he admitted making “unsuitable and thoughtless” comments to three young female members of staff, it emerged on Tuesday. Justin Forsyth, who is now deputy executive director at Unicef, “apologised unreservedly” to the women after sending them text messages commenting on how they looked and what they were wearing. Mr Forsyth’s resignation from Save the Children came just four months after Brendan Cox, a friend of Mr Forsyth and former chief strategist at the charity, quit following separate allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mr Forsyth and Mr Cox worked together at Oxfam and later again as advisors to Gordon Brown in Downing Street. Mr Cox, the widower of the late Jo Cox who was murdered in 2016, admitted at the weekend that he had caused the women “hurt and offence”. Neither Mr Forsyth nor Mr Cox were subject to a formal disciplinary hearing. Save the Children said on Tuesday night that trustees had carried out two internal investigations into the complaints against Mr Forsyth in 2011 and 2015.

Save the Children admitted on Tuesday that it dealt with 193 child protection and 35 sexual harassment cases last year, which led to 30 dismissals.

It’s by no means just Oxfam. But they’re a major player. In more ways than one, unfortunately. Oxfam has some 2,500 staff and 31,000 volunteers through the world. Its annual budget is about half a billion dollars.

Another ‘interesting’ pattern to emerge is that the perpetrators, even if they are penalized, seemingly seamlessly float between aid organizations: get kicked out in one place, start afresh a few months later at the next. This article from IRIN is about the Belgian guy with whom the latest scandal surfaced.

He lived in a splendid $2000 a month Oxfam-sponsored villa in Haiti right after the 2010 earthquake, when most locals didn’t even have a roof over their heads, and threw sex-parties there. None of that hurt him much; he lost his Oxfam job, though only after many years of complaints, but just kept going (and denies just about all):

The man at the centre of a sexual exploitation scandal at aid agency Oxfam was dismissed by another British NGO seven years earlier for similar misconduct, IRIN has found. A former colleague reveals that Roland van Hauwermeiren was sent home from his job in Liberia in 2004 after her complaints prompted an investigation into sex parties there with young local women. Despite this, van Hauwermeiren was recruited by Oxfam in Chad less than two years later and went on to work for them in Haiti, and then in Bangladesh for Action contre la Faim.

The Swedish government’s aid department, alerted in 2008, also missed an opportunity to bring his behaviour to light and even went ahead that year to fund Oxfam’s Chad project, under his management, to the tune of almost $750,000. [..] Seeing the Times article about van Hauwermeiren, Swedish civil servant and former aid worker Amira Malik Miller was shaken to read about the Haiti case, which pertained to alleged parties and orgies in 2011, seven years after her own experiences of him in Liberia. She couldn’t believe he was still active in the aid world, especially after she had blown the whistle on him and his colleagues, not once but twice.

“Oh my God, he’s been doing this for 14 years,” she remembers thinking. “He just goes around the system… from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti, to Bangladesh. Someone should have checked properly,” she told IRIN. On two previous occasions, she thought she had done enough to stop his predatory behaviour. Malik Miller told IRIN how her initial complaints way back in 2004 led to van Hauwermeiren being pushed out of his job as Liberia country director of UK charity Merlin, a medical group now merged with Save the Children. An internal investigation into sexual exploitation and misconduct led to his departure, several Merlin staff members confirmed.

And that was just for warming up. An interesting voice in the whole narrative is that of Australian professor Andrew MacLeod, who worked with the Red Cross in Bosnia and the UN Emergency Co-ordination Centre in Pakistan. From the Times:

 

UN Staff Responsible For 60,000 Rapes In A Decade

Andrew MacLeod, who was chief of operations at the UN’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre, said that “predatory” abusers used development jobs to get to vulnerable women and children. He estimated that 60,000 rapes had been carried out by UN staff in the past decade, with 3,300 paedophiles working in the organisation and its agencies. “There are tens of thousands of aid workers around the world with paedophile tendencies, but if you wear a Unicef T-shirt nobody will ask what you’re up to,” he told The Sun. “You have the impunity to do whatever you want. It is endemic across the aid industry across the world.”

More Andrew McLeod, via the Daily Mail:

I was first alerted to it in 1996 while working in former Yugoslavia with the International Committee of the Red Cross. People would talk about a nightclub called Florida 2000, in the Bosnian city of Zenica, where girls of 14 and 15 were working as prostitutes. These children were being trafficked into Bosnia from neighbouring Moldova by individuals working for the UN and Bosnian police. They were used exclusively for the sexual gratification of UN staff. Such lurid rumours seemed difficult to credit at first, but when a UN peacekeeper called Kathryn Bolkovac tried to investigate, she was swiftly demoted and then fired. Her story was turned into a film, Whistleblower, in 2010, starring Rachel Weisz.

There is so much opportunity for abuse and so little to stop it that jobs in international aid actively attract sexual predators who benefit from the artificial power the aid industry confers upon them. [..] Senior figures in the UN and some of our best known charities have known for decades that this problem was rampant. They should have put in place systems for training, prevention, protection and prosecution. By failing to do so they were committing an offence. They were party to child sex crime. They did nothing, and they should face charges. If they’re not worried – they should be.

From the same article:

A middle-aged man who persistently hangs around the gates of a British primary school as children are leaving will attract the wary attention of teachers, parents and, pretty soon, the police. But the same man lurking outside a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, will be quite safe. Especially if he is wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of Unicef, Save the Children, Oxfam or any other internationally-renowed aid organisations. Almost 20 years ago, the UK’s National Criminal Intelligence Service, warned that due to better policing and safe-guarding strategies and an international crackdown on child sex tourism, predatory paedophiles were turning their attention to the developing world.

And the best way of gaining access to children? Work for a children’s charity in some place where paedophilia is ignored or difficult to police. Everyone working in the international aid industry needs to be aware of the scale of sexual abuse – happening on their watch and often involving their personnel – of vulnerable people, especially children. Those who deny it are either lying through their teeth, or have their heads buried so far in the sand that their ignorance is deliberate.

And if you think government investigations would solve anything, here’s how Britain’s Charity Commission deals with things:

The Charity Commission has been forced to defend its own investigations after Oxfam’s former head of safeguarding claimed she told the watchdog women were being coerced into sex for aid. Helen Evans said she was “extremely concerned” by the response to concerns she raised while heading the charity’s global efforts to protect staff and beneficiaries from 2012 to 2015.

While appealing for more resources from management to deal with a rising number of allegations, Ms Evans told how in a single day she was told of a woman being coerced into sex in exchange for aid, another aid worker having sex with a beneficiary and a member of staff being struck off for abuse. “There has been a lot of coverage about Oxfam and how shocking and surprising this is – it isn’t,” she told Channel 4 News.

“I went in 2015 to the Charity Commission, I went back again in 2017. Everything I’m saying today, the Charity Commission knew, so why is the Government saying this is a surprise?” Ms Evans had emailed Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, warning that data being gathered from staff “increasingly points to a culture of sexual abuse within some Oxfam officers” but a face-to-face meeting was cancelled in 2014.

So far we’ve encountered Oxfam, Save the Children, Doctors without Borders (MSF) and the UN (including its children’s fund Unicef). But that’s by no means the whole story. Try this on for size from Agence France Presse:

Oxfam is not the first non-governmental organisation to be accused of abuse. Previous revelations spurred the United Nations in 2002 to issue special measures for all its staff and others, including aid workers under UN contract, based on a policy of zero tolerance. The issue came to public attention in 2002 after allegations of widespread abuse of refugee and internally displaced women and children by humanitarian workers and peacekeepers in West Africa.

In refugee camps in Guinea, Liberia, and to a lesser extent Sierra Leone, dozens of male aid workers, often locals, were suspected of having exchanged money or gifts for sex with young refugee girls aged between 13 and 18. “It’s difficult to escape the trap of those (NGO) people, they use the food as bait to get you to have sex with them,” an adolescent in Liberia was quoted as saying in a report from the UN refugee agency. More than 40 agencies and organisations and nearly 70 individuals were mentioned in the testimonies taken from 1,500 children and adults for the UN report [..]

It’s everywhere, the pedophile rot. And the cover-ups, the industry approach, the aid as big business. And that can only lead to ever more misery. Because aid should never become an industry.

I touched on that about a year ago in one of many articles on our efforts for refugees and homeless in Greece. When it comes to scrutiny of aid organizations, you shouldn’t expect much if anything from governments. They’re part of the same industry.

Politicians find it much easier to fork over their constituents’ cash to ‘recognized’ aid organizations than to investigate them. They have a vested interest in letting the system roll on without disturbing it.

 

The Automatic Earth Still Helps Greeks and Refugees

[..] NGOs, as I’ve written before, have become an industry in their own right, institutionalized even. As someone phrased it: we now have a humanitarian-industrial complex. Which in Greece has received hundreds of millions of euros and somehow can’t manage to take proper care of 60,000 desolate souls with that.

I’ve even been warned that if I speak out too clearly about this, they may come after Konstantinos and his people and make their work hard and/or impossible. This is after all an industry that is worth a lot of money. Aid is big business. And big business protects itself.

Still, if we’re genuinely interested in finding out how and why it is possible that hundreds of millions of taxpayer euros change hands, and people still die in the cold and live in subhuman conditions, we’re going to have to break through some of the barriers that the EU, Greece and the iNGOs have built around themselves.

If only because European -and also American- taxpayers have a right to know what has made this ongoing epic failure possible. And of course the first concern should be that the refugees have the right, encapsulated in international law, to decent and humane treatment, and are not getting anything even remotely resembling it. Refugees Deeply quotes ‘a senior aid official’ (they don’t say from what) anonymously saying that €70 out of every €100 in aid is wasted.

But the Oxfam scandal, spreading as it is across the entire aid’ industry’, is many times worse than letting refugees freeze on islands. Or is it? Isn’t it perhaps the exact same thing, that changes appearance between places but remains always the same in essence?

Oxfam must go. It’s been found painfully wanting for too long and on too many occasions. It’ll be a useful deterrent for all other groups. The managers of which, who often make hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more, must also go. They’ve all either known or should have known for many years. The buck stops with them.

The aid itself may stop too in some places, at some times, but when you can only hand out aid when you’re ready to accept that it will be traded for sex with often underaged children, you’re losing big time, and you’re never going to turn that around. Institutionalization can only be halted when walls are broken down, up to and including their foundations.

 

The aid organizations that cause all these problems have one thing in common: they’re large, large enough to become like, look like, industries. The ones that have expensive offices in A locations because that’s where their major donors are, and executives who make salaries like the executives at those donors.

That’s simply the wrong scale. In all the countries where these organizations operate, and where they bring their depraved sex-crazed staff, there are other, smaller, local organizations too. Who most often don’t have anything like those issues, who often exhibit the exact opposite behavior: people helping people without looking for anything in return. I know this from my experiences in Greece since 2015.

It’s when you scale up the humanity that exists in many, if not most, people, that things go awry and the vermin creeps in. When things become so large that managers are hired, you can be sure that most of the money donated for aid will be burned in a bonfire of politicians, businessmen and, as we now know, pedophiles.

Oxfam gets $500 million a year or so. The EU has pumped over €1 billion into Greece, and probably as much into Italy as well, to ‘solve’ the refugee situation. That Brussels doesn’t want to solve, and neither do Athens or Rome, for fear that it will encourage more refugees to come.

So they make the people they purport to help, miserable, and they put a huge price sticker on that misery posing as help, for the taxpayer to pay. Like this, for instance -from my same article above:

 

[..] every refugee who, before the EU-Turkey deal, passed through Greece on his/her way to Europe, cost the EU €800. For a family of 5 that adds up to €4,000, which would have been more than enough to pay for transport, stay at decent hotels and eat in normal restaurants for the duration of their trip (7-10 days). Suffice it to say, that was not what they got.

After the EU-Turkey deal made it impossible for refugees to leave Greece, €15,000 has been spent per capita. That is €75,000 per family of 5, more than enough to rent a villa on the beach, hire a butler and eat gourmet food for 8 months. Instead, the refugees are stuck in old abandoned factories with no facilities, in old tents in the freezing cold and in the rain, and forced to eat a dirt poor version of rice with chickpeas and lentil soup.

It won’t be easy to stop this insanity, but it can be done. Refuse to dole out money to organizations that have been accused of abuse. Refuse to give any organization more than $1 million. Support many small organizations insteads. Humanitarian aid does not scale up well. To say the least.

It’ll be cost-effective as well. It’ll take more effort to locate the right people, but given that $70 out of every $100 in donations is wasted by large aid organizations today, there’s a huge win lurking right there. You just need to find people who are better at all this than the ones who made that disaster possible.

Then, fire any manager who has not acted in the past on complaints. Establish a system that promises to put anyone in jail against whom credible complaints have been filed.

There are thousands of those walking around right now working for organizations funded by you and me directly, and by our taxes too, free to abuse another girl or little boy, and then another one tomorrow, or a mother who needs to feed her child(ren) because her home has been swept away by floods or bombs.

And make this the number one issue for the UN (yeah, I know, that same UN), to discuss and control as per tomorrow morning. Get multiple countries’ military to deliver what Oxfam did before, and make sure all soldiers understand what’ll happen to them at the first sign of abuse, of money, of people, anything at all.

There are many things out there that we can’t control, but this one we can. Because, as I said, in all locations where aid is needed, there are local people available to deliver it without trying to abuse, centralize, institutionalize it, profit from it, or turn it into a business. Just keep aid donations so small it’s not interesting to do any of those things.

At the UN level, I’m thinking Jimmy Carter. He’s the only man I can conjure up who has the integrity to clean up this mess. I know, one is a very small number. But Carter will know others. Big job, but doable. After all, we can’t very well have the worst of our own societies run rampant in places where people are defenseless against them.

Oh wait, that right there is another reason why our governments like the way things are going, just fine, isn’t it? Oxfam allows them (us) to export their perverts.

Well, screw that. We’re better than our governments.

To summarize: right now, your donation to Oxfam literally pays for pedophiles to go rape children across the world. Not every penny or dollar (they need their shiny offices too), but that’s not the point: your dollars keep the aid industry, the system, and therefore the opportunity for the abuse going. Is that what you want?

 

 

Sep 242017
 
 September 24, 2017  Posted by at 6:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Robert Frank London 1952-53

 

‘Tis the jolly time of elections, referendums, flags and other democracy-related issues. They are all linked in some way or another, even if that’s not always obvious. Elections, in New Zealand and Germany this weekend, referendums in Catalonia and Kurdistan the coming week, a looming Party Congress in China, quarrels about a flag in the US and then there’s always Brexit.

About China: the Congress is only in October, Xi Jinping looks sure to broaden his powers even more, and it ain’t all that democratic, but we should still follow it, if only because party officials will be either demoted or promoted, and some of them govern more people than most kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but in China everything really is. Including debt.

New Zealand: the election very early this morning didn’t bring a much hoped for win for Labour, or any clear winner at all, so don’t expect any grand changes in policy. New Zealand won’t wake up till its economy dives and the housing bubble pops.

Germany: Angela Merkel has set up today’s election so that she has no competition. Though she will see the ultra-right AfD enter parliament. Still, her main ‘rival’, alleged left wing Martin Schulz, is a carbon copy of Merkel when it comes to the main issues, i.e. immigration and the EU. An election that is as dull as Angela herself, even though she’ll lose 10% or so. The next one won’t be, guaranteed.

As for the US, no elections there, but another round of big words about nationalism, patriotism and the flag. Donald Trump is well aware that 75% or so of Americans say the flag must be respected, so criticizing people for kneeling instead of standing when the anthem gets played is an easy win for him. No amount of famous athletes is going to change that.

It all doesn’t seem very smart or sophisticated. But then, the US is the only western country I know of that plays the anthem at domestic sports games and has children vow a Pledge of Allegiance to it every single day. Other countries can’t even imagine doing that. They keep their anthems for special occasions. And even then only a few people stand up when it’s played. For most, it’s much ado about nothing but a strip of cotton.

What is perhaps interesting is that a whole list of NFL team owners donated a million dollars to Trump, and now speak out against him and ‘side with their players’, even though not one of them has offered Colin Kaepernick a job since he got fired for going down on one knee. Should I add ‘allegedly’? The only right way to handle the issue would seem to be to talk about why Kaepernick and others do what they do, not that they do it. There’s more than enough division in the country to warrant such talks.

Let Trump invite Kaepernick and Stephen Curry, maybe even Lebron and Stevie Wonder, to the White House with the very intention to talk about that. In the current hostile climate that is not going to happen though, even if Da Donald might want to. There’s a group of people who after 30 years of a deteriorating economy said ‘this is not my country anymore’, and voted for the only -apparent- alternative available, Trump, and another group who then said ‘this is not my president’.

And never the twain shall have a conversation. Somebody better find a way to get them to talk about it, or worse is to come. Far too many Americans identify themselves solely as not being someone else. Yeah, Trump too, but he’s been under constant siege from all sides, and of course he’ll fight back. No, that does not make me a Trump cheerleader, as some have suggested, but what’s happening today threatens to blow up the entire nation, after first having eroded the whole political system. This is a serious risk.

Now spymaster James Clapper is saying again that the whole Russia thing, for which there still is zero proof, could make the election invalid. Well, not without proof, Jimbo. And until you do have that proof, shut up, it’s poisonous (he knows). Instead, go help the 3.5 million literally powerless Americans in Puerto Rico. There are plenty issues to deal with that don’t involve bashing your president. Keep that for later.

 

(Proposed) referendums (referenda?) in Catalunya and ‘Kurdistan’ raise interesting questions about sovereignty and self determination. We’ll see a lot more of that going forward. I’ve repeatedly mentioned the issue of sovereignty when it comes to Greece, which cannot really be called sovereign anymore because others, foreigners, make all main decisions about its economy.

There may be plenty different definitions of sovereignty, but there can be no doubt it means that a domestic authority has control over a country. That also means that possible changes to that authority can only be made domestically. To come back to Greece briefly, I’m surprised that no constitutional lawyers or scholars have questioned respective governments handing de facto control to ‘outsiders’.

But that can be both deepened and broadened to the decision to join both first the EU, and later the euro. Have all 27 EU countries run these decisions by their constitutional lawyers and highest courts? I’ve never seen an opinion like that from any country. Does a country’s ruling authority have the power to sign away its sovereignty? I would bet in most cases it does not, or the constitution involved was/is either shoddily written or not worth much to begin with.

That any elected US president -or Congress, Senate- would have the power to sell the country to the highest bidder -or any part of it- sounds preposterous, even if I’m no constitutional lawyer or scholar. What countries CAN do, of course, is sign treaties and other agreements concerning defence or trade, among others. But any possible sovereignty violations would always need to be scrutinized at the highest domestically available level of judicial power.

Moreover, I would argue that sovereignty is not something that can be divided, split up or broken into separate parts. You’re either sovereign or you’re not. One country, indivisible, as the US Pledge of Allegiance states (but that doesn’t mean a group of people inside a country can’t seek its own sovereignty).

 

The ‘composition’ of the EU raises a lot of questions. Many countries have given up their rights to control over their currencies, and therefore their entire economic policies, and though the euro is undoubtedly beneficial in some areas, it has turned out to be a straight-jacket in others, when less sunny economic times arrived.

So what happens if those less sunny times are here to stay? Will countries like Greece continue to bend over for Germany, and for the ECB it controls, or will some of these countries (re-)examine their rights to sovereignty? How is this defined in the EU charter anyway? It has to be there, or many constitutions were violated to begin with when countries signed up. Sovereignty that is not properly defined is meaningless.

Another, non-economic, example concerns the Visegrad countries, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. It’s wonderfully ironic that Wikipedia says the Visegrad alliance (est. in 1991) was formed “for the purposes of furthering their European integration”, ironic because one might be tempted to think it does the opposite. The Visegrad countries refuse to be part of the EU’s scheme to resettle refugees.

And Brussels tries to force them to comply with that scheme, with threat after threat. But that too, no matter how one views the issue or where one’s sympathies lie, is in the end a sovereignty issue. And what use is it to force refugees upon a country that doesn’t want them? The bigger question is of course: why were they ever invited into the EU when they think that way, and that way is fundamentally different from that prevalent in Brussels and other member countries?

Or perhaps the even bigger question should be: how do you combine a country’s sovereignty with a political and economic union of nations that must sign away parts of their sovereignty -and therefore all of it, as argued before-. If you ask me, it’s not nearly as easy -let alone legal- as they try to make it look.

 

Catalunya and ‘Kurdistan’ are good examples – albeit from a different angle- of that same conundrum. A topic closely linked to sovereignty is self-determination. Wikipedia:

The right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the {UN] Charter’s norms. It states that a people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.

[..] on 11 February 1918 US President Woodrow Wilson stated: “National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent.

‘Self determination’ is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action.

The Kurds have been denied that right for a very long time. For reasons related to divide and rule policies in a whole slew of different global powers both in the region and outside of it, and reasons related to oil. After being a major force in the fight against ISIS, and after seeing Turkey get ever more agressive against them -again-, the Kurds have -not for the first time- planned a referendum for a sovereign state. As the UN charter unequivocally says is their right.

The problem is, they want to establish their state on land that other countries claim is theirs. Even if the Kurds have lived there for a long time. And that’s a common theme in most of these ‘events’. Catalunya, Palestina, ‘Kurdistan’, they’re told they can perhaps have independence and sovereignty, but not on land where their people have lived for 1000s of years, because that land ‘belongs to us’.

And holding a referendum is therefore unconstitutional, says Spain, or whatever legal term is thrown out. But if the UN charter makes the international community’s position as clear as it does, how can it contradict a member nation’s constitution? Was that member not paying attention when it signed up to the Charter, or did the UN itself let that one slip?

 

 

Catalunya (Catalonia) is the northeast tip of Spain. Its people have long wanted independence and never gotten it. When present day Spain was formed, it was made part of Spain. And now the people want their own nation. It is not hard. But then again it is. We are now one week before October 1, the date the referendum was planned, and the Spanish government has done everything it could and then some to frustrate the referendum, and therefore the will of the people of Catalunya.

As the politicians who inhabit the EU and UN sit by idly, scared silly of burning their fingers. After arresting Catalan politicians and confiscating anything that could be used to hold the referendum, Spain has sent cruise ships full of police to Catalan harbors, and tried to take over control of the Catalan police force. But Catalan politicians and harbor crew have refused to let the ships dock, and Catalan police won’t obey Spanish orders.

It’s starting to look like Spain PM Rajoy wants to provoke a violent Catalan reaction, so he can send in his army and blame Barcelona and environs. What he doesn’t want to understand is that this will be the end of his government, his career, and of any chance Catalunya will remain part of Spain other than in the short term. It feels like Franco’s military, who, don’t forget, only relinquished control some 40 years ago, are still there in spirit if not physically.

For everybody’s sake, we can only hope someone does something to stop Rajoy and whoever’s behind his decisions, because if anyone ever wondered why the Catalans wanted to be independent, after those decisions there can be no question anymore. If he sends in the army, Spain as a whole will be something of the past. But first the referendum result, which was very doubtful all along, has now been settled: nearly all Catalans stand united against Rajoy today.

And Catalans are a mixed people. Many do not have their roots there, or even speak the language. But they will not turn on their friends and neighbors.

 

Kurdistan’s situation is even a lot more convoluted than Catalunya’s. Borders in the Middle East were drawn more or less at random by the French and British after the fall of the Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years ago. And the Kurds never got their independence, or their country. But now they want it. However, they live spread over 4 different countries, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. And some of the land they live on has oil. Lots of it. And the cradle of civilization, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

 

 

Just about everyone, including the US, all countries in the region, and the old colonial powers, have declared their resistance to the Kurdish referendum. Getting back to the UN charter et al, isn’t that a curious position? Politicians sign lofty declarations, but when their successors are called upon to uphold them, nobody’s home. And it’s not as if self-determination is such a difficult topic to understand.

The referendum will be held on September 25 in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, so not in other Kurdish regions. Therefore only 900,000 people, out of some 35 million Kurds, get to vote. But the question on the ballot will be:

“Do you want the Kurdistan region and the Kurdistani areas outside the region’s administration to become an independent state?”

And that of course means something much more, and much bigger. There’s a ‘Kurdistan’ in Iran, Syria and Turkey as well. Kurds there don’t get to vote, though.

Quoting Bloomberg: “The vote will be held in the three governorates officially ruled by the KRG, as well as in disputed areas currently controlled by Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga. The Kurds expanded their domain in 2014 when, faced with Islamic State attacks, the Iraqi army deserted the oil-rich city Kirkuk.”

Here’s where the Kurds were living according to the 2014 CIA World Factbook:

 

 

As is the case in Catalunya, Iraq’s parliament and top court have declared the vote unconstitutional. That again raises the question: how can a vote violate a country’s constitution if and when that country has signed the UN charter which explicitly defines every people’s right to self-determination? Who’s been asleep when both documents were signed?

How could the UN let countries sign its charter whose constitutions violated that same charter? Have we all just been playing fast and loose all along? Or, more interestingly, what are we all going to do now that we know about this? Are we going to take self-determination away from people, and sign that into a whole new UN charter? Or are we going to make sure the charter is upheld and make countries change their constitutions to comply with it?

 

There is a third option (very much in favor): to not do anything. But that gets more dangerous all the time. The days that people could just be ignored are gone. Social media have probably played a large role in that. And so have changing power relationships.

The EU is blowing itself up through increasing calls for more Europe just as people want less. I’ve said it often before: centralization stops when and where economic growth does. And despite all the creative accounting we see, economic growth is definitely gone in Europe. Just ask Greece, Spain. Ask the people, not the politicians. People will only accept their decisions being made by far away ‘leaders’ if they perceive them as beneficial to their lives, the lives of their children.

Those days are gone, no matter the propaganda. That’s true all over Europe, and it’s true all across the US. The refusal by incumbent powers to recognize this, admit to it, is what gives us the likes of Trump and Brexit and countless other challengers. That Marine Le Pen and others have failed to date doesn’t mean the status quo wins; others will follow. In that vein I was surprised to see Yanis Varoufakis, whom I hold in very great esteem, declare in name of his DiEM 25 movement that:

“I am not taking sides on whether Catalonia should be independent or not” and “What we’re promoting in DiEM25 would solve the problem. We want a real European Union that becomes a single jurisdiction, a country if you want to call it that. In that scenario, it doesn’t matter if Catalonia is part of Spain!”

Europe will not be one country. Nor should it want to be. Europe has 1000 different ways to work together, and the EU has been an utter failure at that. While it has done a ton of good, it is being -predictably- destroyed by the power politics at its top levels. Nobody ever told Europeans that they would wind up living as German provinces. But that is what they are.

As Varoufakis himself makes abundantly clear is his book Adults in the Room. That’s why Germans have no real choice in today’s election: they have such utter control of the EU they would be crazy to vote against it. But at the same time, the rest of the ‘Union’ would be crazy to let them hold that power.

And I know that DiEM25 wants to change and reform the EU, but how will they do that knowing they need Germany, more than all other countries, to accomplish it, as Germany is sitting so pretty? Calls for a one-country Europe seem at the very least irresponsibly premature. That’s very far from reality. First things first. No cheating. You can’t say it doesn’t matter what happen to the Catalans today because ‘we’ have bigger plans for tomorrow. That means abandoning them. That’s not a new Europe: that’s what they already have today.

 

As for ‘Kurdistan’, what can we do but hope and pray? Hope that the old European colonial powers, as well as Turkey, Iraq and Iran, plus Russia and China, live up to the UN Charter they signed, and let the Kurds show they can be a force for peace in the region, which needs one so badly?! They have shown in no uncertain terms they can defend themselves, and their land, against anyone who threatens them. The Kurdish women army, YPJ, is all you need to know when it comes to that. They are the bravest amongst us.

If they had their own country, they would continue to do just that, and better. Which just goes to show that nationalism and patriotism are not of necessity negative emotions. It gives people an identity. Which is exactly why brighter heads than the present ones put the right to self-determination in the UN Charter, at a time, 1945, when the world had seen indescribable destruction.

There’s a lesson there. That we seem to have forgotten already. And now have to learn all over again. Through Colin Kaepernick, through the unbelievable Kurdish women’s YPG army, though the streets of Barcelona. Our world is screwed up, and we need to unscrew it.

 

 

Jan 262017
 
 January 26, 2017  Posted by at 10:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Arthur Siegel Zoot suit, business district, Detroit, Michigan 1942

Trump Loves Debt, But It Won’t Love Him Back (BBG)
US Tax Reforms Could ‘Transform’ Global Oil Market (R.)
Trump Prepares Orders Aiming at Global Funding and Treaties, UN (NYT)
Trump Starts A ‘Sanctuary City’ War With Liberal America (BBC)
Kyle Bass Calls Trump ‘Gasoline’ on Smoldering Fire in China (BBG)
China Keeps 3% Budget Deficit Goal For 2017 As Debt Risks Grow (R.)
China Is Becoming ‘Increasingly Risky’ Because Of Its Economy (CNBC)
Dutch Respond To Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ With International Safe Abortion Fund (G.)
Why the Corrupt, Worker-Hating New Democrats Must Be Purged (Bill Black)
Pippa Malmgren: The Social Contract In The West Is Broken (SLD)
Seymour Hersh Blasts Media For Promoting Russian Hacking Story (IC)
Austerity Economics Has Just Been Smashed. By The IMF. (GDB)
The Super Rich Are Preparing For The End Of The World (CNBC)
Rome Mayor Raggi Says She Received Summons From Prosecutors (BBG)
Deal On Greek Bailout’s Second Review Possible At February Eurogroup (R.)
“INAUGURATION DAY” (Bad Lip Reading)

 

 

Catch 20-something.

Trump Loves Debt, But It Won’t Love Him Back (BBG)

President Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed king of debt, may end up with a revolt on his hands.He wants to spend billions of dollars to rebuild American highways and bridges to double economic growth to about 4% a year. He wants to preserve medical benefits for the poor and elderly. And he’s selected someone to oversee the national budget who’s fundamentally opposed to huge piles of debt and pledges to reduce the nation’s deficit.This recipe doesn’t add up, either in theory or practice. Even if Trump finances his promised infrastructure plans entirely by cutting other government services, the nation’s debt load is forecast to surge by trillions of dollars over the next decade.

Trump faces two big problems when grappling with the U.S. debt load: an aging population that’s becoming sicker and inauspicious bond math. If Trump succeeds in fostering substantially higher growth rates, as he’s promised, then interest rates will most likely rise much more than forecast. That’ll make it materially more expensive for the nation to service its debt.Even without much more growth, the U.S. deficit will likely increase as interest rates rise. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group that analyzes the U.S. economy, which just released its forecast for the nation’s deficit and debt load over the next decade.

Its baseline scenario calls for gradually rising benchmark borrowing costs, with 10-year Treasury yields leveling out at about 3.6% by 2022 from about 2.5% today. Even with that relatively modest projection, CBO analysts wrote that “the government’s interest payments on that debt rise sharply over the next 10 years — nearly tripling in nominal terms and almost doubling relative to GDP.”Interest expense will rise to $768 billion in 2027 from $270 billion in 2017 under the CBO’s base-case scenario.But let’s say Trump succeeds in his attempt to foster more economic growth. That’ll mean that inflation will rise, prompting investors to demand higher U.S. Treasury yields to offset steadily rising consumer prices. Jeffrey Gundlach, the bond guru who runs DoubleLine Capital, said after the election that U.S. 10-year government bond yields could reach 6% in five years. In that case, the interest expense would balloon much more than expected, substantially eating into the nation’s budget.

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“We expect WTI could move to a $10 per barrel premium to Brent from a $3 discount – a $13 (+25%) relative move immediately.”

US Tax Reforms Could ‘Transform’ Global Oil Market (R.)

The push by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives for a shift to border-adjusted corporate tax (BTA) could push U.S. crude prices higher than the global benchmark Brent, triggering large-scale domestic production, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs on Tuesday. The measure, known as border adjustment, intends to boost U.S. manufacturing by taxing imports while exempting U.S. business export revenues from corporate taxation. Goldman said it anticipates a 25% jump in the prices of U.S. crude futures, also known as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and refined products in comparison to the global prices if the switch is implemented.

The investment bank, however, said that uncertainty on whether such a policy will go ahead is high due to concerns about WTO-non compliance and transition issues and oil futures currently only imply a 9% probability for such a shift. “If implemented, the impacts on the oil market would be significant,” Goldman said. “We expect WTI could move to a $10 per barrel premium to Brent from a $3 discount – a $13 (+25%) relative move immediately.” Brent crude futures were trading on Tuesday at a $2.40 per barrel premium to WTI. The appreciation in prices could be an incentive for producers to sharply increase activity, the bank said warning, that the ramp up in U.S. production in a market only starting to rebalance would create a renewed large oil surplus in 2018, which could lead to an immediate sharp decline in global oil prices.

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The UN is dysfunctional, but this risks cutting the few parts that do actually work.

Trump Prepares Orders Aiming at Global Funding and Treaties, UN (NYT)

The Trump administration is preparing executive orders that would clear the way to drastically reduce the United States’ role in the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as begin a process to review and potentially abrogate certain forms of multilateral treaties. The first of the two draft orders, titled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” and obtained by The New York Times, calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria. Those criteria include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or support programs that fund abortion or any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran or North Korea.

The draft order also calls for terminating funding for any organization that “is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism” or is blamed for the persecution of marginalized groups or any other systematic violation of human rights. The order calls for then enacting “at least a 40% overall decrease” in remaining United States funding toward international organizations. The order establishes a committee to recommend where those funding cuts should be made. It asks the committee to look specifically at United States funding for peacekeeping operations; the International Criminal Court; development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies”; and the United Nations Population Fund, which oversees maternal and reproductive health programs.

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Interesting power fight. But there are laws.

Trump Starts A ‘Sanctuary City’ War With Liberal America (BBC)

Mr Trump’s border wall announcement will make most of the headlines today, given that it was a central focus of his presidential campaign and has increased diplomatic tension with the Mexican government. His plan to target US “sanctuary cities”, however, likely sets the stage for a much tougher, uglier domestic political fight. More than 400 jurisdictions across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle – major cities in left-leaning states that did not vote for Mr Trump – have enacted policies protecting undocumented immigrants within their boundaries. Officials in these designated areas, including local law enforcement, are not allowed to enquire as to an individual’s immigration status in the course of their duties.

Candidate Trump pledged to end this practice, and on Wednesday he put some teeth into his promise – authorising the federal government to withhold funds from cities that do not co-operate with immigration officials or comply with federal law. His executive order frames the issue as one of national security. “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States wilfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” it reads. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.”

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Speeding up decline. Or exposing it, rather.

Kyle Bass Calls Trump ‘Gasoline’ on Smoldering Fire in China (BBG)

Hedge fund manager Kyle Bass likened President Donald Trump’s trade and tax policies to gasoline — hastening an economic restructuring in China while stimulating capital investment and growth in the U.S. China has “recklessly built a system that’s going to need to restructure and that just so happens to be metastasizing right when Trump becomes elected,” Bass told Bloomberg TV. “This is a fire that’s been smoldering and it’s now starting to burn, and Trump is just more gasoline.” Imposing tariffs on Chinese imports could have “profound consequences” for the nation’s economy, where credit over the last 18 months has grown by $6.5 trillion while deposits expanded just $3 trillion, said Bass, founder of Hayman Capital Management.

Early last year, Bass called for a 30% devaluation in the yuan against the dollar, and he’s since opened two Asia-focused funds to wager on the imbalances in the region, which he said could extend to Hong Kong and Taiwan. “The idea that China is now the driving economic power in the world, I think, is illusory or somewhat of a fallacy,” he said. “It’s safe to say that the Asian theater is where we’ve been focused.” In the U.S., Bass said, border tax adjustments will help finance a lower corporate tax rate that Trump has proposed, which in combination with the repatriation of capital offshore will be “extremely stimulative.” He said Trump’s accelerated policies would lead to real capital investment, competitiveness and an improvement in productivity.

The impact will be “positive for the United States and slightly negative for the rest of the world,” he said. “But it’s not the globalist nightmare, in my opinion.” Inflation, set to increase in the U.S., will also spike in Germany, which will prompt a tapering of the ECB’s bond-buying program and possibly an increase in interest rates, he said. The move to do so will be sped up by Trump, he said.

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“Total fixed-asset investment rose 8.1% in 2016, the slowest pace since 1999, despite an 18.7% increase in investment by state entities..”

China Keeps 3% Budget Deficit Goal For 2017 As Debt Risks Grow (R.)

China’s policymakers plan to keep their budget deficit target for 2017 at the same level as last year to underscore a focus on debt reduction and reform, though they have wiggle room to increase fiscal stimulus if the economy needs support again. A budget deficit target of 3% of GDP, unchanged from 2016, was endorsed by top leaders at the Central Economic Work Conference in December, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting’s outcome. After government investment propped up activity for much of 2016, policymakers are looking for a recovery in private investment through public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects to drive growth this year. “Fiscal policy is clear. It’s necessary to maintain last year’s 3% deficit ratio, although there is room to increase it slightly,” said one of the sources, a policy adviser.

Preliminary finance ministry data this week implied an actual deficit of 3.8% of GDP in 2016. However, China’s budget accounting allows it to use unspent money from previous years and funds from a Central Budget Stabilization Fund so it can report a final deficit in line with the target. The world’s second-largest economy grew 6.7% last year, supported by higher government spending and record bank lending, though it was still the slowest growth in 26 years. Reuters reported last week that sources said the 2017 economic growth target would be around 6.5%, down from last year’s 6.5-7%. “If this year’s growth goal is not that high, there will be less pressure on the strength of policy support,” said a second policy source. [..] Total fixed-asset investment rose 8.1% in 2016, the slowest pace since 1999, despite an 18.7% increase in investment by state entities, as private investment grew just 3.2%, the weakest on record.

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A risk to the west, that is.

China Is Becoming ‘Increasingly Risky’ Because Of Its Economy (CNBC)

A major risk to U.S. markets is looming, and it’s bigger than headlines and President Donald Trump’s tweets, Goldman Sachs’ Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani told CNBC on Wednesday. The threat is the Chinese economy, the Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management chief investment officer told “Squawk on the Street.” “We use the term that China could ‘submerge’ under the burden of its own debt,” Mossavar-Rahmani said. “If you look at any of the debt measures in China, they’re tremendously high.” Mossavar-Rahmani focused on the credit-to-GDP number from the BIS as a key measure of China’s accumulating debt. As of the second quarter of 2016, China’s ratio was 28.8%.

“China is about 30, the U.S. was at 12.4% just before the crisis. And if the U.S. didn’t avoid a financial crisis with all its strength, how can we assume that China will?” the wealth manager asked. China is still awaiting its 19th gathering of the National Congress of the Communist Party in the fall, which Mossavar-Rahmani said would weigh on the country’s economic position in 2018. The meeting will determine 370 of China’s Central Committee members for the next five years. “Then we have to see, in 2018, will they put structural reforms on the front burner or does it stay on the back burner?” Mossavar-Rahmani asked.

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The US has a large block of religious zealots. The rest of the west, not so much.

Dutch Respond To Trump’s ‘Gag Rule’ With International Safe Abortion Fund (G.)

Up to 20 countries have indicated support for the Netherlands’ plan to set up an international safe abortion fund to plug a $600m funding gap caused by Donald Trump’s reinstatement of the “global gag rule”, the Dutch international development minister, Lilianne Ploumen, said on Wednesday. Ploumen took soundings from a number of her colleagues around the world on Tuesday evening after the Netherlands said it would act to mitigate the impact on hundreds of charities around the world. The “global gag rule”, also known as the Mexico City policy, was reimposed by Trump on Monday, and bans US federal funding for NGOs in foreign countries that provide abortion services or abortion advocacy. ‘We’re in talks with 15 to 20 countries and we’ve also spoken to foundations,” Ploumen told the Guardian.

“As well as contacting a number of European countries that we work with on these issues, we’re also in touch with countries in South America and Africa, as well as the foundations. It’s important to have the broadest possible support for the fund.” Ploumen did not identify which countries had been approached or how much money the Dutch government might commit to the scheme. She said the aim would be to continue support for existing programmes being run by organisations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA), the International Planned Parenting Federation and Marie Stopes International. “These are successful and effective programmes: direct support, distributing condoms, making sure women are accompanied at the birth, and making sure abortion is safe if they have no other choice,” she said.

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Damning. DO read.

Why the Corrupt, Worker-Hating New Democrats Must Be Purged (Bill Black)

This article explains three critical reasons why the Democratic Party’s leaders are far more insane than all but a few Democrats understand. It focuses on the leaders of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the New Democrats. The DNC leadership is composed of New Democrats. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to resign in disgrace when the leaks proved that she was putting the DNC’s thumbs on the scale to favor Hillary Clinton (a New Democrat) in the presidential nomination contest against Bernie Sanders. Wasserman Schultz also took large contributions from big finance and, until she faced the prospect of a serious primary challenger, she supported efforts by predatory lenders to use Congress to bar the regulators from stopping their abuses.

Donna Brazile, a New Democrat, now runs the DNC. In this article, I show that Brazile denounced Democrats who refused to cheer President Bush’s invasion of Iraq (and his “Mission Accomplished” declaration) as so disloyal that when their country needed them they went “AWOL.” Not satisfied with that libel, she added the homophobic smear that voters would view Democrats who failed to cheer Bush’s lies and invasion as “effete.” Best of all, she said that Democrats should take as their role models Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Frank Gaffney – Bush’s “chicken hawks” that devised the campaign of lies that led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Gaffney is now spreading hate of Muslims – and advising President Trump.

The DNC is also in the news because it has just accepted a $20 million “donation” funded by Third Way, a Wall Street front group, to study why the white working class “abandoned” Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a leader of the New Democrats. Wall Street has long been the largest single funder of the New Democrats various institutions. The New Democrats, at the behest of Wall Street, have waged the “long war” against the working class since their formation in 1984. The New Democrats did not simply abandon the working class – they targeted it for scorn and assaulted it with policies that harmed many Americans, but caused the greatest harm to the working class.

Particularly in light of the Trump’s election, the logical reaction of the DNC would have been to refuse to take the Wall Street buyout and announce that the New Democrats would never again do Wall Street’s bidding. They would return to the Democratic Party’s historic role as the party that championed the rights of workers. Brazile, of course, ensured that the DNC eagerly took the $20 million Wall Street buyout. The New Democrats not only continue to be for sale (or rent) by Wall Street – they continue to show that they continue to for sale for chump change. The DNC does not need $20 million to figure out why the white working class “abandoned” the New Democrats. They can check out from their local library Tom Frank’s books warning that this would happen and explaining in detail why the New Democrats’ long war against the working class was making it happen.

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When growth could not be delivered. “There is always a deal between citizens and their governments. But now governments are defaulting on their citizens because of the debt problem. They can’t deliver retirement at 65.”

Pippa Malmgren: The Social Contract In The West Is Broken (SLD)

Question: The inability of continental Europe to grow has been a clear part of the concern in Britain about Europe. What role has this played?

Malmgren: The British received more Foreign Direct Investment than any other locartion in the EU before Brexit. It was assumed this flow would fall after Brexit. But, I hear from my clients that they are even more interested in the UK now. That’s because money is like water. It flows to wherever it faces the least resistance – the lowest tax rates and least regulatory burden. I would challenge the British to end up with more regulation and higher taxes that the EU after Brexit. Frankly, that would take a huge effort! But the problems on the Continent are deeper than this; The real issue is that the social contract between citizens and governments in the West are being broken. There is always a deal between citizens and their governments. But now governments are defaulting on their citizens because of the debt problem. They can’t deliver retirement at 65. Now everybody has to work longer.

They can’t deliver the healthcare that had been expected. Frankly they can’t deliver police, fire departments or roads without potholes. The social contract in the EU is under even greater stress because growth has been so very poor. The night of the victory of Brexit, the markets attacked Italian banks, not British banks. What did the state in Italy do? They said they’d find 5b Euros to bail out the oldest bank which had lost 98% of its shareholder value. Meanwhile, they can’t find 5 cents for the young who are experiencing over 30% unemployment rates. This breaks the social contract and helps explain the new anti-EU sentiment. The Europeans are also increasingly uneasy about immigration issues. It was not part of the original deal in the European contract to have completely open borders. In my view, the British are not xenophobic, but want more process around immigration. They want a more secure movement of people within Europe.

The media talks all the time about the proposed Wall by Trump in the US with Mexico, but the reality is there a wall-building spree going on in Europe. Look at the new walls being constructed between Hungry and Serbia, between Germany and the Czech Republic, as well as new walls in Estonia, Poland and Lithuania are constructing one around Kaliningrad with watchtowers, etc. Frankly new walls will increasingly be digital. Processing of people will begin well before you get anywhere near what you think the border is. We will pass through borders without realizing we’ve already been assessed. We are in a period of history where the Europeans are fundamentally rethinking what they want Europe to stand for, the European Union to do, and how to generate economic growth again. As everywhere else, the public are questioning the establishment because they have failed to deliver on their promises.

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“I don’t think the notion of democracy is ever going to be as tested as it’s going to be now.”

The ‘media’ have lost so much credibility, and permamently. That is dangerous.

Seymour Hersh Blasts Media For Promoting Russian Hacking Story (IC)

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence community proved its case that President Vladimir Putin directed a hacking campaign aimed at securing the election of Donald Trump. He blasted news organizations for lazily broadcasting the assertions of U.S. intelligence officials as established facts. Hersh denounced news organizations as “crazy town” for their uncritical promotion of the pronouncements of the director of national intelligence and the CIA, given their track records of lying and misleading the public. “The way they behaved on the Russia stuff was outrageous,” Hersh said when I sat down with him at his home in Washington, D.C., two days after Trump was inaugurated.

“They were just so willing to believe stuff. And when the heads of intelligence give them that summary of the allegations, instead of attacking the CIA for doing that, which is what I would have done,” they reported it as fact. Hersh said most news organizations missed an important component of the story: “the extent to which the White House was going and permitting the agency to go public with the assessment.” Hersh said many media outlets failed to provide context when reporting on the intelligence assessment made public in the waning days of the Obama administration that was purported to put to rest any doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails.

The declassified version of the report, which was released January 7 and dominated the news for days, charged that Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election” and “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” According to the report, the NSA was said to have had a lower confidence level than James Clapper and the CIA about the conclusion that Russia intended to influence the election. Hersh characterized the report as full of assertions and thin on evidence.

“It’s high camp stuff,” Hersh told The Intercept. “What does an assessment mean? It’s not a national intelligence estimate. If you had a real estimate, you would have five or six dissents. One time they said 17 agencies all agreed. Oh really? The Coast Guard and the Air Force — they all agreed on it? And it was outrageous and nobody did that story. An assessment is simply an opinion. If they had a fact, they’d give it to you. An assessment is just that. It’s a belief. And they’ve done it many times.”

[..] While expressing fears about Trump’s agenda, Hersh also called Trump a potential “circuit breaker” of the two-party political system in the U.S. “The idea of somebody breaking things away, and raising grave doubts about the viability of the party system, particularly the Democratic Party, is not a bad idea,” Hersh said. “That’s something we could build on in the future. But we have to figure out what to do in the next few years.” He added: “I don’t think the notion of democracy is ever going to be as tested as it’s going to be now.”

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But it will just continue. Wanna bet?

Austerity Economics Has Just Been Smashed. By The IMF. (GDB)

A powerful new report finally kills off any remaining intellectual veil for a broken economics that is breaking society. Sometimes an ideology is so brilliantly propagated that observers might not even notice it’s an ideology. In the corridors of power and in mainstream discussion, it ceases to be questioned. Then it goes catastrophically wrong. And it begins to seen again for the ideology it is. It becomes questioned again. And, if they are smart, leaders hear this and start to self-correct. This is where we’ve got to with neoliberalism, austerity, and rising inequality. Except for the self-correct part. Right now, instead of self-correction, we’re seeing many mainstream politicians unable to shift away from dead economics, and what seems in too many countries like the start of social breakdown.

Change is well overdue. Who can prompt leaders to drop the old economic nostrums are causing so much harm? Enter the IMF with a sledgehammer. Progressives duck in case in the sledgehammer is meant for them. But then the IMF demolishes the case for neoliberalism and austerity. It sounds extraordinary, and it is. Today the IMF will launch a new report, “Macro-Structural Policies and Income Inequality in Low-Income Developing Countries”, the latest in series that mark the intellectual journey the IMF research department has been travelling in recent years. Packed with detailed quantitative analysis it demonstrates that much of what elites have been advancing as unquestioned economics is demonstrably harmful both to economic growth and to public wellbeing.

Of course what makes this surprising, and what may make some progressives unenthusiastic about welcoming this, is also what makes it so powerful: an institution that has been, for far too long, a defender of the free market story and the Washington Consensus – the idea that liberalizing trade, privatizing everything possible and cutting down public spending was a one-size-fits-all solution to any government in trouble – has now refuted it. This paper is not the first by the IMF to take a stand on inequality, but it is notable because it claims in no uncertain terms that public spending – i.e. the opposite of the budget cuts that it once advocated for – decreases income inequality. They even have a formula – a 1% increase in public spending, they report, leads to a 2.3% decrease in inequality after 5 years. The paper also takes a strong stand against prioritizing indirect taxes, such as VAT, showing that they increase inequality.

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Bit sensationalist, perhaps?

The Super Rich Are Preparing For The End Of The World (CNBC)

The Dow has hit 20,000 for the first time ever, but rather than celebrating, some of the richest of the rich are building bunkers to prepare for a potential apocalypse. These “preppers” are making other investments too. They’re buying houses in New Zealand, which has become a popular spot in case of calamity. Billionaire Peter Thiel just secured property and citizenship there. And they’re getting elective surgery. Steve Huffman, the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of the online community Reddit, got Lasik so that he’d be able to be more independent in case of emergency. “If the world ends — and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble — getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” the San Francisco resident tells Evan Osnos as part of The New Yorker’s chronicle of the elite’s end-of-the-world preparations. “Without them, I’m f—ed.”

In addition to the eye surgery, Huffman has accumulated guns, ammunition and motorcycles so that he won’t get caught in traffic jams during an evacuation. The notion of “doomsday prepping” was popularized in the mainstream by the National Geographic channel’s show by the same name. The show’s website offers a quiz titled “How prepped are you?” so you can test your own likelihood of surviving an apocalypse. Former Facebook product manager Antonio García Martínez bought wooded land in the Pacific Northwest that he has stocked with generators, solar panels and ammo, The New Yorker reports. “You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse,” García Martínez says. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.”

In particular, the political climate has made many coastal elites anxious about the future. “I think, to some degree, we all collectively take it on faith that our country works, that our currency is valuable, the peaceful transfer of power — that all of these things that we hold dear work because we believe they work,” says Huffman. “While I do believe they’re quite resilient, and we’ve been through a lot, certainly we’re going to go through a lot more.”

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The war on Grillo will intensify.

Rome Mayor Raggi Says She Received Summons From Prosecutors (BBG)

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi, a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, said she has received a summons from city prosecutors over a staff appointment. Raggi, a lawyer who was elected mayor last year, wrote in a post on Facebook that the summons concerns her nomination of Renato Marra as head of the tourism department, which she has revoked. She said she had informed Five Star co-founder Beppe Grillo and the city council of the summons. “I am very serene; I have full confidence in the judiciary, as ever,” Raggi wrote. “We are ready to give every clarification.” Raggi’s city hall administration has been plagued by resignations. Five Star, which wants a referendum on Italy’s membership in the euro area, has remained neck and neck with the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and his predecessor Matteo Renzi in national opinion polls.

Five Star has made denunciations of political corruption one of its main themes, often calling for elected officials to resign if they are placed under investigation, long before a case comes to court. But under new rules posted on Grillo’s blog earlier this month, Five Star officials do not have to resign automatically if they are investigated. Italian newswire Ansa said Raggi was under investigation for alleged abuse of office in the personnel matter. [..] Alessandro Di Battista, a senior Five Star lawmaker, told La 7 television that Raggi had a duty to explain why she had made the appointment. “This isn’t about public money, or decisions which affect a right of citizens,” Di Battista said. “This would involve mistaken signatures, a mistaken nomination which was immediately revoked.”

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If not in February, forget 2017.

Deal On Greek Bailout’s Second Review Possible At February Eurogroup (R.)

Euro zone creditors could approve the completion of the second set of Greek bailout reforms at the next meeting of finance ministers in February, an euro zone official said on Wednesday. The approval of the outstanding reforms, mainly concerning Greek fiscal targets, the labor market and liberalization of the energy sector, would pave the way for further euro zone loans to Athens, which faces large repayments in the third quarter. Finance ministers of the 19 countries of the euro zone will meet on Thursday in Brussels but there hasn’t been sufficient progress in Greek reforms yet for them to sign off on a deal now, the senior official said, confirming what the EU economics commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Tuesday.

Still, the ministers are likely to produce an agreement to continue talks with a view to concluding them at the next Eurogroup meeting on Feb. 20, according to the official. “There is a good chance” that an agreement will be reached on Thursday to send euro zone negotiators back to Athens so that a deal can be reached in February, the official said. “February is the last month in which there is no politically significant election in relevant member states,” the official said, and this meant “February is not formally but realistically the time when we need to reach a political agreement”. The Netherlands go to the polls in March, and the French will vote in presidential elections in April and likely also in May. Germany, the biggest economy in the euro zone, will hold a general election in September. A comprehensive deal for Greece will also have to involve the IMF, the official said.

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Pretty brilliant.

“INAUGURATION DAY” (Bad Lip Reading)

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