Jul 142022
 


Pablo Picasso Guernica [Study] II 1937

 

Russia And China Haven’t Even Started To Ratchet Up The Pain Dial (Escobar)
Russia State TV: War Will Expand To Poland If US Continues To Arm Ukraine (NYP)
NATO and EU Sound Alarm Over Risk Of Ukraine Weapons Smuggling (FT)
The International Political Debacle: The Unipolar System Is Crumbling (Wilbert)
The Fed’s Financial Nuke Will Obliterate The Global Economy (McDonald)
Letter To My Friends From America (Faina Savenkova)
Climate Mandates Imposed on Dutch Farmers Will Ruin Their Livelihoods (ET)
German Firm Calls For Energy Price Cap To Avoid Social Unrest (R.)
#VaccineInjured Trends on Twitter After British Report (Celente)
UK Excess Deaths Not From Covid Approach 9,000 in Last 10 Weeks (DS)
Doctors Push Hard for Child Vaccination Despite Their Own Research (BI)
Federal Judge Orders Biden Admin to Cooperate in Social Media Collusion Lawsuit (ET)
Court Rejects Bayer’s Latest Attempt to Duck Liability in Roundup Case (CHD)
Jury Convicts CIA Programmer Of Leaking To WikiLeaks (Dissenter)

 

 

 

 

Tucker Ray Epps
https://twitter.com/i/status/1547385947817484290

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything plays into Putin’s hands.

Russia And China Haven’t Even Started To Ratchet Up The Pain Dial (Escobar)

A case can be made that Putin and Russia’s Security Council are implementing a tactical trifecta that has reduced the collective West to an amorphous bunch of bio headless chickens. The trifecta mixes the promise of negotiations – but only when considering Russia’s steady advances on the ground in Novorossiya; the fact that Russia’s global “isolation” has been proved in practice to be nonsense; and tweaking the most visible pain dial of them all: Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. The main reason for the graphic, thundering failure of the G20 Foreign Ministers summit in Bali is that the G7 – or NATOstan plus American colony Japan – could not force the BRICS plus major Global South players to isolate, sanction and/or demonize Russia.

On the contrary: multiple interpolations outside of the G20 spell out even more Eurasia-wide integration. Here are a few examples. The first transit of Russian products to India via the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) is now in effect, crisscrossing Eurasia from Mumbai to the Baltic via Iranian ports (Chabahar or Bandar Abbas), the Caspian Sea, and Southern and Central Russia. Crucially, the route is shorter and cheaper than going through the Suez Canal. In parallel, the head of the Iranian Central Bank, Ali Salehabadi, confirmed that a memorandum of interbank cooperation was signed between Tehran and Moscow. That means a viable alternative to SWIFT, and a direct consequence of Iran’s application to become a full BRICS member, announced at the recent summit in Beijing.

The BRICS, since 2014, when the New Development Bank (NDB) was founded, have been busy building their own financial infrastructure, including the near future creation of a single reserve currency. As part of the process, the harmonization of Russian and Iranian banking systems is inevitable. Iran is also about to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September. In parallel, Russia and Kazakhstan are solidifying their strategic partnership: Kazakhstan is a key member of BRI, EAEU and SCO. India gets even closer to Russia across the whole spectrum of trade – including energy. And next Tuesday, Tehran will be the stage for a crucial face-to-face meeting between Putin and Erdogan. Isolation? Really?

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Russia state TV is kind of wild, and not the Kremlin.

Russia State TV: War Will Expand To Poland If US Continues To Arm Ukraine (NYP)

A Russian state TV host warned Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine could expand to Poland if the US continued to arm Kyiv’s forces. On a broadcast of Russia Channel 1’s “60 minutes,” TV host Olga Skabeyeva made the veiled warning saying that if the West continued to send aid to Ukraine the conflict could intensify, Newsweek reported. “If God forbid, Americans deliver missiles that can travel 186 miles. Then we simply can’t stop,” the TV host said. “We’ll go all the way to Warsaw.” Skabeyeva referenced the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which the US started sending to embattled Ukraine last week. Russia’s latest warning comes after the US pledged several more units to Ukraine. The Polish foreign ministry has yet to make any comment on the threat.

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This is Poland:

“All these weapons land in southern Poland” “..we have no idea where they go, where they are used or even if they stay in the country.”

NATO and EU Sound Alarm Over Risk Of Ukraine Weapons Smuggling (FT)

Nato and EU states are pushing for better tracking of weapons supplied to Ukraine in response to fears that criminal groups are smuggling them out of the country and on to Europe’s black market. Since Russia launched its war against Ukraine, western states have pledged more than $10bn in military support, from portable rocket launchers and armoured vehicles to rifles and vast amounts of ammunition. A number of Nato member states are discussing with Kyiv some form of tracking system or detailed inventory lists for weapons supplied to Ukraine, two western officials briefed on the talks told the Financial Times. Ukraine’s government is setting up a more extensive weapons monitoring and tracing system with the help of western countries, a third person familiar with the situation said.


“All these weapons land in southern Poland, get shipped to the border and then are just divided up into vehicles to cross: trucks, vans, sometimes private cars,” said one of the western officials. “And from that moment we go blank on their location and we have no idea where they go, where they are used or even if they stay in the country.” The potential for US weapons sent to Ukraine to fall into the wrong hands is “among a host of considerations” given the “challenging situation” on the ground in the country, said Bonnie Denise Jenkins, US under secretary for arms control and international security, on Tuesday. s“The US very seriously takes our responsibility to protect American origin defence technologies and prevent their diversion or illicit proliferation,” Jenkins told reporters in Brussels, adding that the US was in “continued contact” with Kyiv on the issue.

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The west accelerates its own demise.

The International Political Debacle: The Unipolar System Is Crumbling (Wilbert)

The multipolar world was going to emerge one way or another, but the mistakes of the Western leaders accelerated a process that would still take some years, and it can’t cope since it governs for less than 1 billion people (G7 population). And Operation Z in Ukraine was the trigger for a lack of diplomatic tact and will to war that even caused Ukraine’s allied leaders to fall, such as Boris Johnson. The bankruptcy of Europe was also imminent, since the various economic dependencies, including on Russian gas, prove that the continent, despite being so-called First World, was unable to generate an economy based on a real production of resources. And all attempts to escape from this dependency would lead to at least 10 years of pipeline works and economic agreements-treaties between other countries and them.

So it’s not like it was easy either to have prevented what was predestined to happen, but it could have been delayed if there was the right diplomacy, since the war was avoidable. But how? Simple. I’ll explain. What was Putin’s key argument? “Ukraine cannot join NATO!” And what could the West have done? Generated a document in multilateral coordination with the appropriate entities recognizing that the security of Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, was an important issue and Ukraine would not join the Atlanticist military alliance. Or: they could put 50,000 or 100,000 troops inside Kiev to stand up to the Russians since Biden shortly before the Special Military Operation began, acknowledged that Putin would “invade Ukraine,” so they knew the risks. But they did neither.

They wanted this war but it is not going as planned because the political debacle is happening, with the leaders who support the Atlanticist platforms falling away little by little, leaving the enthusiasts of the multipolar world standing like Putin and Xi Jinping in their proper nuclear strongholds. Moreover, it is interesting to note how parts of the Global South opposed the various diplomatic and economic sanctions on Russia, showing that they were unwilling to continue functioning as American semi-colonies in diplomatic and other matters.

It was inevitable that a totally new world would emerge out of the totally destroyed old world, because that is the natural way of what comes after destruction: reconstruction or new construction. And that is what is happening to the world at present, in that we see prominent leaders being murdered in the open or resignations due to inability of governance, clear signs of destruction. And after the destruction will come the construction, of which we don’t know what it will look like yet, but the first bricks have already been laid.

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“Volcker was jacking rates into a planet with about $200T LESS debt.”

The Fed’s Financial Nuke Will Obliterate The Global Economy (McDonald)

We are living in a period of mass “Jonestown” economic delusion. Just twenty months ago – central bankers were offering to buy nearly every junk bond known to mankind, dramatically distorting the “true cost of capital.” All the way from crypto to emerging markets – it was a moral hazard overdose. Everyone on earth was borrowing money at fantasy-land bond yields. Now, the Fed is promising endless rate hikes and $1T of balance sheet reduction onto a planet with emerging market and Euro-zone credit markets in flames. Listen, all I have is an economics degree from the University of Massachusetts, but after having spent the last 20 years trading bonds professionally and embarking on a 20k feet deep autopsy on the largest bank failure of all time – from my seat the current Fed agenda is sheer madness and will be outed very soon.

The true cost of capital was distorted for so long, we now have hundreds of academics– clueless to the underlying serpent inside global markets. When the 6 foot seven, Paul Volcker walked the halls of the Marriner S. Eccles Building of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, our planet embraced about $200T LESS debt than we are staring down the barrel at today. Please call out the risk management imbeciles that make any reference of “Powell to Volcker.” In 2021, global debt reached a record $303T, according to the Institute of International Finance, a global financial industry association. This is a FURTHER jump from record global debt in 2019 of $226T, as reported by the IMF in its Global Debt Database. Volcker was jacking rates into a planet with about $200T LESS debt. Please call out the risk management imbeciles that make any reference of Powell to Volcker.

Many economists in 2022 are highly delusional – a very dangerous group indeed. When you hike rates aggressively with a strong dollar you multiply interest rate risk, which was already off the charts coming from such a low 2020 base in terms of yield – it’s a convexity nightmare. Interest rate hikes today – hand in hand with a strong U.S. Dollar – carry 100x the destructive power than the Carter – Reagan era. At the same time, you add lighter fluid on to the credit risk fire in emerging markets with a raging greenback. Global banks have to mark to market most of these assets. If global rates reset higher and stay at elevated levels, the sovereign debt pile is in gave danger. The response to Lehman and Covid crisis squared (see above) has left a mathematically unsustainable bill for follow on generations.

The Fed CANNOT hike rates aggressively into this mess without blowing up the global economy. We are talking about mass – Jonestown delusion on roids. Then Covid-19 placed a colossal leverage cocktail on top. Emerging and frontier market countries currently owe the IMF over $100B. U.S. central banking policy + a strong USD is vaporizing this capital as we speak. A dollar screaming higher with agricultural commodities – priced globally in dollars – is a colossal tax on emerging market countries – clueless academics at the Fed are exporting inflation into countries that can least afford it.

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The 13-year-old girl from Lugansk.

Letter To My Friends From America (Faina Savenkova)

Two events have recently occurred in the world. In America – in the suburbs of Chicago – people died during the celebration of Independence Day. And during these three days, 5 children died from artillery shelling of Ukraine in the Donbass – in Donetsk and Makeyevka. A 10-year-old girl was torn apart by an incoming Ukrainian shell. According to the data and evidence collected by the Russian Foundation for Combating Repression, the Ukrainian military was given direct orders to use weapons to kill against civilians of Donbass. Here are the proofs of that https://fondfbr.ru/en/articles/sergey-yudayev-en/

But did American journalists notice this? No. I can understand why America mourns the dead on Independence Day. But at the same time, she stubbornly does not want to see what Ukraine is doing. I live in Donbass, and after the murder of children with weapons supplied by you and Europe, probably, should hate you and rejoice that the Lord punishes those because of whom our children die. But I am Russian and I have been living in the war for eight years now. I understand what death is, so I don’t feel anger and hatred. And I grieve with you for the dead. Human life is priceless, and murder is always terrible, because it is impossible to bring back those who have been lost, it is impossible to drown out this pain. Just as it is impossible to isolate yourself from the war, because the war, in which your government is no less to blame than the rest, will surely return to you.

I am very sorry that many in America do not know that it all started 8 years ago. And Ukraine is killing civilians, destroying our cities, killing children. But it is unlikely that your politicians pay attention to this. They are ready to fight to the last Ukrainian and, apparently, believe that they will defeat Russia in a nuclear war. It won’t be like that. I would like you to understand that war is bad, as well as the killing of innocent people. I hope that all this will end soon, and humanity will once again understand the value of life and a peaceful future, and Russia and America will be friends.

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The quiet last few days will make Rutte think he’s winning. But the farmers will be back; they know it’s now or never.

The farmers are simply the easiest target. If nitrogen is the problem, force people to fly and drive 30% less. Much more effective. But that costs votes.

Climate Mandates Imposed on Dutch Farmers Will Ruin Their Livelihoods (ET)

The livelihoods of Dutch farmers are under attack due to the Dutch government’s proposed nitrogen policy, which could necessitate the mass slaughter of livestock and potentially shut down almost a third of the country’s farms. If this policy is implemented, it will have “major security consequences, not just for the Netherlands, but for all of Europe and the world,” said Michael Yon, a war correspondent who has recently arrived in the Netherlands to report on the ground from the Dutch farmers’ protests. The Netherlands is a small country in Europe with a population of 17 million people, but it is the second-largest food exporter in the world, Yon said in a recent interview for EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program. “They have the most efficient farmers in the world.”

In 2021, the Netherlands’s coalition government proposed slashing livestock numbers in the country by 30 percent to meet nitrogen greenhouse gas emission targets. The country has already implemented stringent restrictions on new construction, intending to curb nitrogen emissions. Dutch bank Rabobank has argued that those new hurdles have slowed home building in the Netherlands, intensifying a housing shortage in the densely populated coastal nation. On June 10, Christianne van der Wal, the Dutch Minister for Nitrogen and Nature Policy, unveiled a plan to reduce nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The Dutch Provinces are responsible for developing corresponding measures to reach the nitrogen emission reductions between 12 and 70 percent, depending on the area,” the statement said.

“Farmers in some provinces will be particularly hard hit … and the Dutch government acknowledged ‘there is not a future for all {Dutch} farmers within [this] approach.’” The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce says that nitrogen environmental pollution comes from burning fossil fuels but also from manure produced by livestock and fertilizers used in farming. It is estimated that to implement the proposed plan, farmers would need to reduce their cattle herds by 30 percent, according to Barron’s. But Yon said Dutch farmers are not polluting the environment and that they’ve been farming the land for thousands of years. Nitrogen is being labeled as a pollutant and used as a decoy by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to put the farmers out of business and control the food supply, Yon said.

[..] Dutch farmers and truckers realize that their government is following the recommendations of the WEF, which has been trying to take their land and control their food supply, Yon said. “If you control the food supply, you control that population completely,” he said. Dutch farmers are very educated, and they are both businesspeople and farmers, Yon said. They know that if they lose, they will lose their livelihood, and the consequences of their loss will be felt for many generations, he said. “The farmers are rising up. They know they’re going to be put out of business … which would put all of Europe on its knees, foodwise,” Yon said.

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“..twice as much now, and three times at the end of the summer.”

German Firm Calls For Energy Price Cap To Avoid Social Unrest (R.)

Household energy costs could triple in Germany as Russian gas supplies dwindle, officials in the sector said, and one company representative raised the possibility of social unrest unless there was a cap on prices. In an interview with the RND newspaper group published on Thursday, Klaus Mueller, head of the Federal Network Agency regulator urged consumers to reduce consumption and set aside money. And in an interview with Reuters, the head of the municipal works of Chemnitz, one of the 900 city-owned public companies that are a major part of Germany’s energy landscape, went further. “We must help average households and set an upper limit for energy costs,” Roland Warner said, warning that annual bills of 1,500 euros could rise to 4,700 euros in October. “If we get social unrest the state won’t be able to cope.”

Energy minister Robert Habeck has in the past rejected calls for state price caps, saying the state cannot fully offset increased prices and that attempting to do so would send the wrong signal about the need to conserve energy. After prospering from cheap Russian gas for decades, Europe’s largest economy is facing a crunch as Russia dials back supplies. Western governments say Moscow is retaliating against sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine, but Moscow blames technical problems. Some analysts warn that public backing for a tough line against Moscow could weaken further if living standards decline.

A Forsa poll published on Wednesday found that support for a boycott of Russian gas – a major source of finance for what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine – had fallen from 44% of respondents six weeks ago to just 32% now. With spot prices soaring, Mueller warned that end-consumers rolling over their fixed-term contracts now would find themselves paying twice as much now, and three times at the end of the summer. “Some prices on exchanges are up sevenfold,” said Mueller. “It’s not all going to come through immediately, and won’t be fully passed on, but it’s going to have to be paid eventually,” he said.

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Good on GB News.

#VaccineInjured Trends on Twitter After British Report (Celente)

The hashtag #vaccineinjured trended on Twitter late Wednesday after GBN, a British news channel, aired a special on those who said their lives were upended after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Some of these individuals held up photos of loved ones they said died after taking the vaccine, or said they suffered from an adverse reaction. The show was intended to shed light on these cases and criticized social media platforms for silencing them.

The COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness could drop to about 20 percent a few months after the booster shot is administered, according to an Italian review of COVID studies. “Booster doses were found to restore the VE [vaccine effectiveness] to levels comparable to those acquired soon after administration of the second dose; however, a fast decline of booster VE against Omicron was observed, with less than 20% VE against infection and less than 25% VE against symptomatic disease at 9 months from the booster administration,” the authors wrote in the paper. The study found that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were less than 5 percent effective at preventing a symptomatic infection with the Omicron variant, which is famous for evading the immune defense system. Three doses were up to about 22 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

A recent Pew Research poll found a dramatic shift in the trust Americans have in health officials after more than two years of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. The survey found that President Joe Biden has lost public support in his handling of the outbreak. The survey pointed out that about 65 percent of Americans said they were confident in his ability to deal with the virus at the beginning of his presidency. The survey now says 56 percent of Americans believe he is doing a “fair or poor job” in handling the outbreak. Just 43 percent polled said he is doing an excellent job.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1547300429754761216

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900 a week in the UK alone.

UK Excess Deaths Not From Covid Approach 9,000 in Last 10 Weeks (DS)

There have been over 8,750 more deaths than usual from causes other than COVID-19 in England and Wales in the past 10 weeks, the latest data from the Office for National Statistics show. In the week ending July 1st, the most recent week for which figures are available, there were 10,357 deaths registered, which is 1,128 or 12.2% above the five-year average. Of these, 332 were registered with Covid as a contributory cause and 212 were registered as due to Covid as underlying cause. This leaves 916 excess deaths from an underlying cause other than COVID-19, bringing the total non-Covid excess deaths in the 10 weeks since the recent spike began in late April to 8,756 deaths.

Experts have called for an urgent investigation of this alarming trend, though the Government has yet to signal it intends to do this or to offer any explanation of the high rate of deaths. Looking at deaths by date of occurrence, if we compare them to the rollout of vaccine doses in the spring booster campaign among over-75s in England we can see what appears to be a correlation, meaning a possible connection should be investigated. The sharp drop in the most recent week may be an indication that the wave is easing, though with the crisis in ambulance services and hospital capacity ongoing that remains to be seen.

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Iceland.

Doctors Push Hard for Child Vaccination Despite Their Own Research (BI)

According to a study recently published in the Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the risk of COVID-19 to children is truly minuscule. The study tracks the outcomes for Icelandic children with a positive COVID-19 test, covering all the children who tested positive during the study period. It concludes that out of the 1,749 children tracked, none had severe symptoms and no child needed hospitalisation. A fifth of the children showed no symptoms. It is curious, then, that when Icelandic health authorities decided to offer COVID-19 vaccination to 5-11 year-old children earlier this year, two of the four study authors were among the most vocal advocates of the policy.

At the time, the health risks related to COVID-19 vaccines were becoming increasingly clear, with the rate of reported serious adverse effects in Iceland 75-fold the rate for flu vaccines in 2019. The French Medical Academy had recommended against vaccinating healthy young children, Swedish authorities had decided not to offer them vaccination and the JCVI had recommended against it. But Icelandic authorities decided to go ahead with an organised campaign. Earlier, the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Valtyr Thors, a prominent paediatrician, had said vaccination was not needed for young children, but in January 2022 he suddenly reversed his opinion and strongly recommended vaccination to “protect children against infection and serious illness”. At that time, the Omicron variant had already taken over in Iceland, and numbers showed vaccine protection against infection to be zero or negative.

Late December 2021, another author, paediatrician Dr. Asgeir Haraldsson, Professor of Medicine at the University of Iceland, said five to 10 out of every thousand healthy children would need hospitalisation after COVID-19 infection and strongly recommended vaccination, claiming both Delta and Omicron variants posed a considerably higher threat to children than previous variants. The study shows only 12% of infections among children occured in school. However, in late 2021 the importance of keeping schools open was repeatedly mentioned as an additional justification for the vaccination of children. In December 2021, Dr. Thors claimed infections in schools were a major problem and Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Thorolfur Gudnason suggested lifting quarantine requirements for vaccinated children under 16, while keeping them in place for the unvaccinated.

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“‘Government can’t outsource its censorship to Big Tech,’ Missouri attorney general says..”

Federal Judge Orders Biden Admin to Cooperate in Social Media Collusion Lawsuit (ET)

A federal judge ordered the Biden administration on July 12 to comply with information requests in a lawsuit brought by Missouri and Louisiana officials about alleged federal government collusion with social media companies to suppress important news stories in the name of fighting so-called misinformation. The lawsuit could help bring to light the Biden administration’s behind-the-scenes efforts to discourage the dissemination of information related to the advent of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19 and the ongoing Hunter Biden laptop scandal, according to Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s Republican attorney general.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump claim that if the story about the laptop belonging to the president’s troubled son hadn’t been suppressed, President Joe Biden would have lost the 2020 presidential election. Republicans say the laptop provides evidence of the son’s misbehavior and of the Biden family’s corruption. Facebook and Twitter infamously restricted the distribution of information related to the computer’s contents. Biden supporters claimed the story was manufactured by the Russian government as disinformation. Social media also suppressed numerous stories related to the origins of COVID-19, possible medical treatments to prevent, treat, or cure the disease, and discussions about government and corporate policies implemented to deal with the virus, many of which curbed personal freedoms.

Many government and corporate employees have been fired in the pandemic era for refusing to take government-approved vaccines, which they say have limited effectiveness and potentially severe side effects. The lawsuit could also provide fodder for Republicans who promise multiple investigations into government wrongdoing should they retake Congress in the November elections. Among the defendants are President Joe Biden, his former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, former Disinformation Governance Board executive director Nina Jankowicz, and Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

According to court documents, the states allege that the administration “colluded with and/or coerced social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms by labeling the content ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation.’” The states “allege the suppression of disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and contents constitutes government action and therefore violates Plaintiff States’ freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

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“..a cancer warning would deviate from Roundup’s EPA-approved labeling..”

Court Rejects Bayer’s Latest Attempt to Duck Liability in Roundup Case (CHD)

A federal appeals court has rejected a bid by Monsanto owner Bayer AG to head off claims brought by cancer victims alleging that Monsanto failed to warn them of the risks of Roundup. In a decision handed down Tuesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a “failure to warn claim” brought against Monsanto in Georgia by Roundup user John Carson is not preempted by requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) as lawyers for Monsanto, and its owner Bayer, have argued. Bayer has sought — and now failed — in multiple courts to find backing for its argument that it should be protected from allegations that Monsanto failed to warn users of a cancer risk associated with its products. (Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018.)

The company asserts that if it had placed cancer risk warnings on product labels it would have conflicted with provisions of FIFRA that give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight of labeling language. The EPA has said in its assessment, that the herbicides are “not likely” to be carcinogenic. “It’s another resounding rejection of Monsanto’s preemption defense,” said attorney Brent Wisner, who served as co-counsel for the first trial to take place in the nationwide Roundup litigation, which resulted in a unanimous jury decision finding Monsanto had hidden the cancer risks of its weed killers. “It is safe to say that their argument is dead. Every court to consider this issue has sided with plaintiffs,” Wisner said.

Bayer said in a statement that it believes the federal appeals court erred in its ruling. “We respectfully disagree with the Eleventh Circuit’s decision, as a cancer warning would deviate from Roundup’s EPA-approved labeling, render the product misbranded, and require the company to make a label change that would be contrary to the consistent conclusions of EPA’s scientific assessments for more than four decades. “The court’s determination that the FIFRA’s statutory registration process is not sufficiently formal to trigger preemption is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, and the company will review its legal options regarding further proceedings.”

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Not what the Espionage Act was meant for, even back in 1917.

Jury Convicts CIA Programmer Of Leaking To WikiLeaks (Dissenter)

A federal jury in New York convicted former CIA employee Joshua Schulte of violating the Espionage Act when he allegedly released materials on the CIA’s hacking capabilities to WikiLeaks. This was the second trial against Schulte. In March 2020, his first trial ended in a mistrial on several Espionage Act charges, but he was found guilty of contempt of court and lying to the FBI. Unlike the first trial, Schulte represented himself and argued his case. He again maintained he was not the source of the leaks published by WikiLeaks. A jury deliberated for nearly three days before announcing a verdict. Judge Jesse M. Furman in the Southern District of New York did not schedule a sentencing date because there are other charges pending against Schulte.

Known as the “Vault 7” materials, WikiLeaks began releasing documents on March 7, 2017. They came from what WikiLeaks described as an “isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence.” Documents revealed how the CIA could target iPhones, Androids, and Samsung TVs and convert the devices’ microphones into bugs used to spy on targeted persons. Malware was also developed to infect Microsoft Windows users, and the CIA was “hoarding” security vulnerabilities in software and hardware that they could use for their covert operations instead of notifying companies that users were at risk of being hacked.

It was one of the largest leaks of information in the history of CIA and a huge embarrassment for then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who responded by labeling WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” and developing “secret war plans” against the media organization that included kidnapping or even killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The US government has charged Assange with violating the Espionage Act, and the UK government authorized his extradition in June. Assistant US Attorney Michael D. Lockard asserted that on April 20, 2016, Schulte “stole the entirety of the CIA’s highly sensitive cyber intelligence capabilities.” This occurred just days after the CIA “locked the defendant out of the secure restricted vault-like location on the network.”

“Shortly after stealing this extraordinarily sensitive intelligence information, the defendant transmitted those backups to WikiLeaks, knowing full well that WikiLeaks would put it up on the internet,” Lockard argued. “In the weeks following this break-in, the defendant took every step he would need to take in order to transmit those files to WikiLeaks. He downloaded a program that WikiLeaks itself recommends to leakers to use to send stolen data.” [..] US prosecutors never presented any forensic evidence to specifically tie Schulte to the publication of the CIA hacking materials on WikiLeaks. Schulte acted very confident during his closing argument. He insisted that Lockard was “worried about the lack of evidence” because he had told the jury the “lack of evidence is not evidence of innocence.”

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Oborne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 232022
 
 June 23, 2022  Posted by at 8:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  28 Responses »


Georges Seurat Study for “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” 1884

 

Why Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky Won’t Say Ukraine Is Winning the War (NW)
Jay Powell: Not Russia That Created U.S. Inflation, It Is Joe Biden Policy (CTH)
Exile on Main Street: The Sound of the Unipolar World Fading Away (Escobar)
Russia Says West Is Spreading Lies About Causes of World’s Food Crisis (R.)
Letter from Faina Savenkova (Saker)
Covid Vaccines More Likely to Put You in Hospital Than Keep You Out (DS)
We Must Never Forget (Siglaugsson)
The Neocon’s Dream – Decolonize Russia, Re-colonize China (MoA)
China’s Ties to Russia Looms Large at NATO’s Madrid Meeting (Celente)
Sri Lanka Economy Has ‘Completely Collapsed’ – PM (Sky)
Ghislaine Maxwell: US Prosecutors Urge 30-Year Minimum Prison Sentence (G.)
Extraditing Assange Would Be a “Legalized” Rendition to US Torture (Kanji)
Assange Put on Suicide Watch After Patel Decision (Lauria)

 

 

My initial take was slightly different: Get your photo taken with Ben Stiller, and you’ll be taken down shortly afterward…

 

 

Bottom Gun

 

 

 

 

“Germany shuts down nuclear reactors.
Then buys gas from Russia.
Then Russia cuts gas supply.
Then Germany reopens coal plants.
The coal is bought from Russia.”

 

 

Dore Tucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Priceless. Newsweek outperforms itself.

Why Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky Won’t Say Ukraine Is Winning the War (NW)

Russia had lots of guns and materiel but it proved to be a hulking monster on the ground: poorly led, badly trained. Seventy-two hours became a week, then another, then the week after, then right after the next victory, then next month, and now, in the words of NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “years.” Yet despite the setbacks, somehow the widespread notion has remained that mighty Russia will inevitably prevail over a weaker Ukraine. It won’t. At some turning point, after those 72 hours, after the bogged-down convoy, after the valiant and heartbreaking defense of Mariupol, after the failure to establish air superiority, after running low on precision weapons, after the withdrawal from the north, after more and more friends entered the fight on Ukraine’s side—Javelin, Stinger, Switchblade, M777—after deaths and injuries in the thousands, after desertions and refusals to fight, after failure upon failure on the battlefield, after one month, after two, after 100 days, the tide turned.

Yet scarcely anyone wants to say that Russia has lost. Ukrainian President Zelensky, desperate for external support and more guns, motivator of the people and rouser of the troops, has to keep the tension high and the prospects dire, lest all of the urgency and attention dissipate. President Biden and his fellow Western leaders speak of the defense of freedom and democracy, of the heightened threat to Europe and the free world, of the inevitability of China following Putin’s path, all to feed the military beast, excite the public, keep “national security” at the top of everyone’s agenda. And Putin obviously can’t admit it, determined equally to stay in power and to avoid the humiliation and danger of defeat. Putin doesn’t motivate the troops—he sends them. For weeks, Ukraine has been releasing snippets of intercepted conversations between these lowly soldiers and their parents, wives and girlfriends back home.

The soldiers complain that there is no information and no support. They are confused about the point of the war and its objectives. They are not allowed to take a break from fighting. They are poorly equipped and supplied. There is not enough medicine or doctors. “Our command has left,” one soldier told his wife, referring to platoon and company commanders who were deserting their units and the battlefield. “Well, they didn’t leave– they dropped their weapons.” It’s a myth, the soldier says, that “Russians do not let Russians down.” They’ve been let down and they all know it. Morale is so bad, British intelligence says, that there have been armed standoffs between political enforcers and individuals and even units on the battlefield that have refused to follow their orders. Russia is suffering “very heavy casualties, combat stress, continued poor logistics, and problems with pay,” the U.K. reported.

“Morale problems in the Russian force are likely so significant that they are limiting Russia’s ability to achieve operational objectives.” Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of the British Armed Forces was more blunt. “Russia will never take control of Ukraine,” he said. “Ukraine has shown how courageous it really is. Russia has vulnerabilities because it’s running out of people, it’s running out of hi-tech missiles,” Radakin said. “Any notion that this is a success for Russia is nonsense. Russia is failing. It might be getting some tactical successes over the last few weeks. And those might continue for the next few weeks. But Russia is losing.”

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Under the bus.

Jay Powell: Not Russia That Created U.S. Inflation, It Is Joe Biden Policy (CTH)

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell admitted the obvious in his senate testimony today when asked about U.S. inflation. However, his testimony directly contradicts the White House claims. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), member of the Senate Banking Committee, walked through the inflation timeline and asked Chairman Powell about the cause of the escalated inflation in 2021. Powell admitted the massive rise in inflation had nothing to do with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Jay Powell

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“The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it..”

Exile on Main Street: The Sound of the Unipolar World Fading Away (Escobar)

The era of the unipolar world is over. The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it. Russia has renewed with its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority. The EU has completely lost its political sovereignty. The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just en ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty. Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony. Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and euro-democracy. Russia will supply grains to the poorer nations in Africa and the Middle East. Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the U.S.

The future world order, already in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states. The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back. How does it feel, for the collective West, to be caught in such a crossfire hurricane? Well, it gets more devastating when we add to the new roadmap the latest on the energy front. Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, in St. Petersburg, stressed that the global economic crisis is gaining momentum not because of sanctions, but exacerbated by them; Europe “commits energy suicide” by sanctioning Russia; sanctions against Russia have done away with the much lauded “green transition”, as that is no longer needed to manipulate markets; and Russia, with its vast energy potential, “is the Noah’s Ark of the world economy.”

For his part Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller could not be more scathing on the sharp decline in the gas flow to the EU due to Siemens’ refusal and/or incapacity to repair the Nord Stream 1 pumping engine: “Well, of course, Gazprom was forced to reduce the volume of gas supplies to Europe by 20%+. But you know, prices have increased not by 20%+, but by several times! Therefore, I’m sorry if I say that we don’t feel offended by anyone, we are not particularly concerned by this situation.” If this pain dial overdrive was not enough to hurl the collective West – or NATOstan – into Terminal Hysteria, then Putin’s sharp comment on possibly allowing Mr. Sarmat to present his business card to “decision-making centers in Kiev”, those that are ordering the current shelling and killing of civilians in Donetsk, definitely did the trick:

“As for the red lines, let me keep them to myself, because this will mean quite tough actions on the decision-making centers. But this is an area that shouldn’t be disclosed to people outside the military-political leadership of the country. Those who deserve appropriate actions on our part should draw a conclusion for themselves – what they may face if they cross the line.”

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“..disrupting payment systems, shipping, insurance which had prevented many Russian exports of food and fertiliser..”

Russia Says West Is Spreading Lies About Causes of World’s Food Crisis (R.)

Russia on Wednesday said the West was spreading lies about the causes of the global food crisis which Moscow said was being stoked by the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union due to the invasion of Ukraine.[..] Western sanctions, Zakharova said, had tipped agricultural markets towards the edge of the abyss by disrupting payment systems, shipping, insurance which had prevented many Russian exports of food and fertiliser. “It is illogical – on the one hand the European Union… says a threat to global food security is being created but at the same time they block the delivery routes of goods to themselves on their own continent,” Zakharova said. President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials do not use the words “war” or “invasion”. They cast the action as a “special military operation” aimed at preventing the persecution of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.


Putin also casts the war as a revolt against the United States, which he says has humiliated Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union by pushing for the enlargement of the NATO military alliance westwards. Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival against a land grab by Russia and that it will fight to the end to free its territory from Russian control. Kyiv dismisses claims that Russian-speakers have been persecuted. Eritrea, Armenia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Somalia, Belarus, Turkey, Madagascar, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan depend on Russia or Ukraine for more than 70% of their wheat imports in 2021, according to United Nations data. Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Serbia, Honduras and Ghana rely on Russia for 50% or more of their fertiliser imports in 2021, according to the data.

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“If there is chaos around, there must be people who can show the way out to the others..”

Letter from Faina Savenkova (Saker)

Truth is the way out of chaos. To Journalist Tucker Carlson. Hello, Tucker. I am 13 years old and I live in Lugansk. I think many people from the American authorities do not even know where it is, but they continue to supply weapons to Ukraine for the war with Russia. For a week now, Ukrainian artillery has been mercilessly shelling Donetsk, killing civilians in the Donbass. It’s one thing to fight with the army, and another to just shoot guns at schools, kindergartens and sleeping residents. Many will say that this is deception and propaganda, but it is not so. I was born and live in Lugansk. I spent the entire war – since 2014 – in my hometown. Living in a war for 8 years is very hard. It’s very scary when your childhood is spent in such conditions. 8 years of hope for peace, which never came. But it didn’t break me. I keep telling the truth about what’s going on here.

And I know that you do the same thing when you talk about America. I do not consider you a friend of Russia, but the fact that you are telling the truth and do not want a war with Russia pleases me. After all, if there is a nuclear war, there will be no winners in it. I’ve had to turn to world leaders a lot. I’ve been trying to stop the war for three years, but they, like musicians and politicians, are deaf and dumb. Perhaps someone wants to calmly meet old age, someone is afraid of change, and someone simply does not understand what war is. After all, it is not next to them. Last year, Ukrainian nationalists entered my personal data on the “myrotvorets.center” (english: “Peacemaker”) website, posting them in open access. After that, I started receiving threats. You may ask, “What is a myrotvorets.center?” Indeed, many in the US do not know what it is.

If we compare, imagine if the Ku Klux Klan in the USA created its own website and posted there the addresses, bank accounts and other personal data of all politicians, actors and musicians who disagree with them. And the authorities would help them at the same time. This is what is happening in Ukraine now. A lot of my friends from Ukraine faced the same problem: “myrotvorets.center ” published their personal data, including address and phone number. Can you imagine such a thing in the USA? No. It’s hard for me to say what will happen to me tomorrow. After all, I live in a war where shells arrive every day. But I believe that the war will end, just like the confrontation between Russia and the United States. And personally, Tucker, I want to wish you good luck. Thank you for trying to tell the truth, because someone has to do it. If there is chaos around, there must be people who can show the way out to the others.

Faina Savenkova, playwright and writer, 13-year-old girl, Lugansk

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“… BMJ Editor’s Analysis of Pfizer and Moderna Trial Data Finds..”

Whatever mistakes BMJ Editor Dr. Peter Doshi may have made, this is still significant.

Covid Vaccines More Likely to Put You in Hospital Than Keep You Out (DS)

A new paper by BMJ Editor Dr. Peter Doshi and colleagues has analysed data from the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccine trials and found that the vaccines are more likely to put you in hospital with a serious adverse event than keep you out by protecting you from Covid. The pre-print (not yet peer-reviewed) focuses on serious adverse events highlighted in a WHO-endorsed “priority list of potential adverse events relevant to COVID-19 vaccines”. The authors evaluated these serious adverse events of special interest as observed in “phase III randomised trials of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines”. A serious adverse event was defined as per the trial protocols as an adverse event that results in any of the following conditions:

• death; • life-threatening at the time of the event; • inpatient hospitalisation or prolongation of existing hospitalisation; • persistent or significant disability/incapacity; • a congenital anomaly/birth defect; • medically important event, based on medical judgement. Dr. Doshi and colleagues found that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were associated with an increased risk of serious adverse events of special interest of 10.1 events per 10,000 vaccinated for Pfizer and 15.1 events per 10,000 for Moderna (95% CI -0.4 to 20.6 and -3.6 to 33.8, respectively). When combined, the mRNA vaccines were associated with a risk increase of serious adverse events of special interest of 12.5 per 10,000 vaccinated (95% CI 2.1 to 22.9).

The authors note that this level of increased risk post-vaccine is greater than the risk reduction for COVID-19 hospitalisation in both Pfizer and Moderna trials, which was 2.3 per 10,000 participants for Pfizer and 6.4 per 10,000 for Moderna. This means that on this measure, the Pfizer vaccine results in a net increase in serious adverse events of 7.8 per 10,000 vaccinated and the Moderna vaccine of 8.7 per 10,000 vaccinated. Addressing the difference between their findings and those of the FDA when it approved the vaccines, the authors note that the FDA’s analysis of serious adverse events “included thousands of additional participants with very little follow-up, of which the large majority had only received one dose”.

The FDA also counted ‘people affected’ rather than individual events, despite there being twice as many individuals in the vaccine group than the placebo group who experienced multiple serious adverse events. The authors wonder where the U.S. Government’s own studies of adverse events are. They note that in July 2021, the FDA reported detecting four potential adverse events of interest following Pfizer vaccination – pulmonary embolism, acute myocardial infarction, immune thrombocytopenia and disseminated intravascular coagulation – and stated it would further investigate the findings. However, no update has yet appeared. They also note that “while CDC published a protocol in early 2021 for using proportional reporting ratios for signal detection in the VAERS database, the agency has not yet reported such a study”.

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“There will be a scramble for alternative truths once the narrative starts crumbling..”

We Must Never Forget (Siglaugsson)

Recently the Icelandic chief epidemiologist said in an interview the lockdowns hadn‘t been stringent enough. And he blamed those few politicians who voiced their doubts and worried about the well-being of society as a whole, for undermining the solidarity behind the measures. As if he were the emperor, the politicians only his servants. And he is not alone. Many of those people will continue pushing the narrative even as it crumbles around them. They will be the first targets of people‘s anger. Then it will be the politicians, pharmaceuticals, media and big tech. There will of course be strong pushback. There will be a scramble for alternative truths once the narrative starts crumbling; for something to keep the veil on the lies and atrocities. The push for continued masking, lockdowns, vaccine mandates will continue for a while.

And we shouldn‘t forget there are huge interests at stake here, to certain very big business sectors, lockdowns are a godsend; human interaction is a threat to them. The censorship will be ramped up even further. But despite all the power, money and technology, the facts will emerge, the truth will prevail in the end. It always does. Some might say I‘m too optimistic, that we are already under the control of conspiring media, big-tech and corrupt officials, with no way out. But is it really so? Recently a US attempt at handing unprecedented powers over to the WHO was averted, thanks mostly to African leaders and strong public opposition. The vaccine mandates are disappearing and what will eventually come of the still existing plans for health passes is unclear. But of course the danger is still there.

What really matters is how we react as the narrative crumbles. Will we just shrug and move on with our daily lives, not caring about the threat to our freedom and humanity? Or will we face the consequences of our failure to think critically, of our gullibility, our lack of moral integrity, as the German people were forced to do after World War II, as the Icelanders had to do after 2008? Will we bring those responsible to court? Will we learn, once again the hard way, how the only thing that can prevent such catastrophes in the future is taking responsibility as thinking, doubting individuals?

And will we finally understand the true meaning of Hannah Arendt‘s conclusion in The Origins of Totaliarianism, that flawed as it may be, it is only a sovereign nation state of free people, governed by elected representatives who take their responsibility seriously; as they did in the tiny Faroe Islands during the pandemic; and not unelected officials, supranational organizations or huge corporations; that only the nation state is really able to protect universal human rights? We have to move on. We have to rebuild our societies, reestablish our moral values and our rights, rebuild trust in science and trust within our communities. But to truly move on, we must face, understand and act on the roots of the catastrophe, and take full responsibility for the part each of us played. This is why we must not forget. We must never forget.

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“Russia sells its oil to China and India where it gets refined. The resulting gasoline and diesel is then exported to the U.S.. That is good for India and China as they buy the oil with a rebate and sell the end products with a substantial margin..”

The Neocon’s Dream – Decolonize Russia, Re-colonize China (MoA)

The neo-conservatives are back using a new narrative to push their old agenda. Russian officials will love such talk: “Today’s panel is a further step forward in that it tells ordinary Russians that even regime change and democracy is not good enough for them. They require the partition of their country into smaller (more easily controlled) polities, so that they can be free. Needless to say, this is a propaganda coup for Putin and the Kremlin as it allows them to paint the conflict in Ukraine as an existential fight.” The Kremlin has no need to ‘paint’ the conflict as an existential fight. The Russians know that it is such a fight. Biden’s haplessness continues to tank the Democrats chances to keep house majority. In a meager attempt to tackle the high fuel price he will today call on Congress to suspend the tax on fuel for three month. It is just a gimmick which would have little effect at the pump and has no chance to pass Congress:

“GOP lawmakers have been hammering Biden and Democrats on the campaign trail over inflation and fuel prices. They argue that such measures are political theater that will do little to make long-term dents in oil prices. The best way to reduce oil prices, they say, is to loosen regulations and increase U.S. oil production. … California had the highest average gas price of any state at $6.398 per gallon. The gas tax suspension would reduce the cost of a gallon of diesel fuel by 24 cents.” The real reason for high fuel prices is Biden’s misguided foreign policy. Three of the biggest oil producers on the globe, Venezuela, Iran and Russia, are under U.S. sanctions that limit their oil exports:

The sanctions have made it more difficult for Russia to sell its oil. Biden has also banned the import of Russian oil, and last month Europe announced it was imposing a partial embargo on it. As of 2020, Russia was the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As the New York Times correctly headlines: “Western Move to Choke Russia’s Oil Exports Boomerangs, for Now”. That move will continue to boomerang. Russia sells it oil to China and India where it gets refined. The resulting gasoline and diesel is then exported to the U.S.. That is good for India and China as they buy the oil with a rebate and sell the end products with a substantial margin. It is a ‘win’ ‘win’ ‘win’ for Russia, India and China with the sole loser being the ‘west’. Whatever NYT hope of sanction success is expressed in its ‘for now’ addition to the headline is not going to change that.

Meanwhile Russia is announcing the next target of its campaign to counter ‘western’ misbehavior – the reserve status of the U.S. dollar and the Euro: “MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. The issue of creating an international reserve currency based on currencies of BRICS member-states is under consideration, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in the welcome address to BRICS Business Forum participants. “The matter of creating the international reserve currency based on the basket of currencies of our countries is under review,” the Russian leader said. BRICS currently consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Together those countries represent 3.2 billion people and a third of the world’s purchase power GDP. The new international reserve currency would therefore have a much larger backing than the U.S. dollar or the Euro.

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Still longing for total control.

China’s Ties to Russia Looms Large at NATO’s Madrid Meeting (Celente)

Less than a month after President Joe Biden was sworn into office, he took a 10-minute drive from the White House to the Pentagon to meet with his top military leaders, including Lloyd Austin, his new defense secretary. Biden was there for one reason: China. Biden told workers there that he was briefed about a Defense Department-wide task force headed by Austin that would look at “operational concepts, technology, and force posture,” to counter the growing competition from Beijing. Biden said the U.S. will “meet the China challenge” by taking a “whole-of-government effort, bipartisan cooperation in Congress, and strong alliances and partnerships.” No presidency is ever without surprises, but even with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems that it’s China that keeps Washington awake at night.

Need proof? About a month before Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine, Biden announced that U.S. troops will not fight Russians in Ukraine, which was not protected by NATO’s Article 5. But he said twice -in roughly the same time frame – that U.S. would defend Taiwan against China. (The White House on both occasions corrected the record and said Washington’s position of strategic ambiguity has not changed, but the sentiment was there.) China has recognized Russia’s security concern over an expanding NATO while calling an end to the conflict. Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the invasion of Ukraine was not what Beijing hoped to see. “China has taken a responsible attitude and persuaded all parties not to escalate tensions or incite war,” she said.

“Those who follow the U.S.’s lead in fanning up flame and then shifting the blame onto others are truly irresponsible.” Beijing has lashed out at the U.S. over its interference over Taiwan. It is widely believed that Putin informed his Chinese counterpart about his intention to invade Ukraine during their meeting at the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. “The Chinese side stands ready to work with the Russian side to push for steady and long-term development of practical bilateral cooperation,” President Xi JinPing said, after a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Xi said trade with Russia over the first half of this year has been [in the tens of billions of U.S. dollars] and we “can expect new records in upcoming months, which is a testament to the great cooperation between our two nations.”

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Test case?!

Sri Lanka Economy Has ‘Completely Collapsed’ – PM (Sky)

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said the country’s economy has “completely collapsed”, leaving it unable to pay for essentials such as oil imports. It follows months of shortages of food, fuel, and electricity, and the realisation that even the credit lines from neighbouring India that have sustained the country so far will not be enough. Mr Wickremesinghe told Sri Lanka’s parliament: “We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food. “Our economy has completely collapsed – that is the most serious issue before us today.” Mr Wickremesinghe said that the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is $700m (£572m) in debt, adding: “As a result, no country or organisation in the world is willing to provide fuel to us.

“They are even reluctant to provide fuel for cash.” Sri Lanka has been struggling under the weight of its debt, combined with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, including a loss of tourism revenue and the rising cost of commodities. In April, it suspended payment on the equivalent of £9.8bn in foreign debt. Mr Wickremesinghe said that efforts to turn the situation around had failed, adding: “If steps had at least been taken to slow down the collapse of the economy at the beginning, we would not be facing this difficult situation today. “But we lost out on this opportunity. “We are now seeing signs of a possible fall to rock bottom.” Previous prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned in May after months of protests and clashes between government supporters and those demanding a change in leadership.

This brought veteran Mr Wickremesinghe to the role for a sixth time, in a move that opposition politicians said was aimed at protecting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family from protesters’ anger. A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrived in Colombo earlier this week and talks with them have made progress, Mr Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday, adding that an agreement was likely by the end of this month. “We have discussed multiple points including fiscal policy, debt restructuring and direct cash transfers,” he said. “Parallel to this, we have also started talks on a debt restructuring framework, which we hope will be completed in July.”

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“She will be sentenced on 28 June..” How about her clients?

Ghislaine Maxwell: US Prosecutors Urge 30-Year Minimum Prison Sentence (G.)

Ghislaine Maxwell should get at least 30 years’ imprisonment for sex trafficking when she is sentenced next week for her role in facilitating the abuse of teenage girls by Jeffrey Epstein, New York federal prosecutors have said in court filings. “Ghislaine Maxwell sexually exploited young girls for years. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of her crimes and the harm she caused. Her crimes demand justice,” they said in a court filing on Wednesday. “The government urges the court to impose a sentence within the applicable guidelines range of 360 to 660 months’ imprisonment.” The prosecution’s filing comes one week after Maxwell’s lawyers argued that she should receive “well below” the 20-year sentence recommended by sentencing officials.


Although Maxwell’s defense attorneys and prosecutors each make their arguments for an appropriate sentence, the decision ultimately rests with Alison Nathan, the judge. “Maxwell’s conduct was shockingly predatory,” prosecutors said in arguing for a lengthy sentence. “She was a calculating, sophisticated, and dangerous criminal who preyed on vulnerable young girls and groomed them for sexual abuse. “Not only did her conduct exhibit a callous disregard for other human beings, but her practice of targeting vulnerable victims reflects her view that struggling young girls could be treated like disposable objects.” Maxwell was convicted on 29 December for her role in the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of girls, some as young as 14, who she brought into his orbit. She will be sentenced on 28 June. She maintains her innocence.

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Very good angle.

Extraditing Assange Would Be a “Legalized” Rendition to US Torture (Kanji)

As the British government moves ever closer to extraditing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, the pantomime of “justice” cloaking his persecution in the regalia of the “rule of law” continues to unfold: a torture rendition by another name, inching forward as the world watches in real time. On June 17, the U.K.’s Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of Assange to the United States, following the magistrate court’s order that the transfer should proceed. In this fundamentally skewed process, Assange’s capacity to meaningfully defend himself has been systematically assaulted by government smear campaigns; surveillance of his lawyers; and stultifying, arbitrary rules and restrictions obstructing him from participating in his own case — as documented in detail by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in his recent book, The Trial of Julian Assange.

Previously, U.S. officials discussed “options” for kidnapping Assange and assassinating him by poison — tactics ultimately dismissed as “something we’d do in Afghanistan,” Egypt or Pakistan, but not the U.K. Therefore, they’ve opted for the more “civilized” alternative. Instead of kidnapping, extradition. And instead of assassination, entombment in the torturous U.S. carceral system, where Assange faces a death-in-prison sentence of 175 years for exposing U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. How is this, in essence and effect, anything but the “legal” equivalent of an extraordinary rendition — defined by the American Civil Liberties Union as “the practice of capturing people and sending them to countries that use torture or abuse in interrogations”?

While the U.S.’s infamous extraordinary rendition program has (now) been officially condemned and supposedly ceased, rendition to torture via legalized means is enduringly embraced. In “extraordinary” rendition, hundreds of “war on terror” detainees were secretly imprisoned and brutalized in CIA black sites around the world. In “legalized” rendition, the torture chambers are not foreign black sites but prisons transformed into “Guantánamo Norths” within the U.S. itself. In “extraordinary” rendition, victims were seized off the streets extrajudicially by the CIA. In the “legalized” version, the condemned are delivered into U.S. hands through judicially sanctioned means such as extradition — abusive processes accorded an aura of legal legitimacy.

U.S. courts have upheld transfers into U.S. custody even when the targets have been abducted at gunpoint, severely beaten, burned, kept in secret offshore captivity for weeks or months (an increasingly popular practice with U.S. law enforcement), and electrocuted in their feet and genitals: acts of violence for which the courts have refused to provide any legal redress because they occurred outside the U.S. In “legalized” rendition, as in “extraordinary” rendition, detainees have been subjected to intensive solitary confinement, forced nudity, sexual humiliation, sensory deprivation, extreme light and temperature exposure, and other mechanisms of deliberate “psychic demolition”; although the degree of isolation and control achieved in domestic U.S. prisons under regimes such as “special administrative measures” is in many ways even more totalizing than at Guantánamo Bay.

Dail Assange

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Sweet Jesus….

Assange Put on Suicide Watch After Patel Decision (Lauria)

After British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Julian Assange’s extradition order on Friday the authorities in Belmarsh prison stripped Julian Assange and threw him into a completely empty cell in an attempt to prevent his suicide, Assange’s father has said. It was just one more instance in which the prison humiliated his son, Shipton told a rally on Tuesday night at the offices of the junge Welt newspaper in Berlin. About 300 people attended, with an overflow crowd watching on close circuit TV in the courtyard. Testimony was heard from expert defense witnesses during Assange’s extradition hearing that he might try to end his life in prison once he learned he was going to the United States.

It is not the end of the road for Assange legally, however. His lawyers have until July 1 to file for an appeal of Patel’s decision to the High Court. They also intend to apply for a cross appeal of issues such as the political nature of the charges, the threat to free speech and the reported C.I.A. plot to kidnap or kill Assange before his arrest. Shipton and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, are in Berlin to lobby the German government to put pressure on the United States to drop the case against Assange. On Monday, the Shiptons met with Tobias Lindner, the minister of state, at the German foreign ministry. “It was a practical and appropriate step for Tobias to take, to welcome Julian Assange’s father and bother into the foreign ministry,” John Shipton said.

“The invitation in itself and the meeting in the foreign ministry indicates that the German government is sincere in bringing about the freedom of Julian Assange.” But Shipton said he would like to hear a public statement from Germany in support of his son. “We’d like Tobias to confirm what he’s said.” A German government spokesman on Monday said however that Germany was unlikely to intervene with either the U.K. or the U.S. “This is a legal process that is already in motion, so I would be a little wary of political intervention,” he said, the French Press Agency (AFP) reported.

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Imagine the collapse of this…..

 

 

Mike Lynch

 

 

Cave of El Castillo, Spain. Hands and a Bison. Some of the hand stencils, mostly near the front and middle sections of the cave, were painted more than 37,000 years ago, but some of the more recent hand stencils are 24,000 years old.

 

 

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

 

 

 

Jun 182022
 


Paul Ranson Apple tree with red fruit 1902

 

Putin Claims New World Order, Blasts The West For ‘Insane’ Sanctions (ABC/AP)
Putin Says Sanctions Cost EU $400BN, Warns Of Severe Fertilizer Shortage (ZH)
Biden Told Secretaries Of Defense And State To Tone It Down (NBC)
Two Awkward Biden Moments Draw Online Scrutiny (JTN)
Macron Bends to Pressure, Now Says Ukraine ‘Must Win’ War With Russia (Celente)
Pro-Ukrainian, but Anti-Nazi (Batiushka)
How Low Can You Go? (Jim Kunstler)
Last Tango in Washington? (Brenner)
The Ukrainian Endgame: An Imperfect Peace Is Better Than Endless War (Bandow)
US Drone Sale To Ukraine Hits Snag (R.)
Stephen Colbert Staffers At House Office Charged With Illegal Entry (Fox)
Hunter Biden’s ‘Troubling’ Connection With Big-Name Hollywood Lawyer Probed (ET)
Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: Tidal Wave Of Discounts And Crashing Prices (ZH)
Britain Orders Extradition Of Julian Assange To United States (ABC.au)

 

 

 

 

Never sick

 

 

 

 

Clare Daly

 

 

 

 

 

 

“..came to think of themselves as God’s own messengers on planet Earth..”

Putin Claims New World Order, Blasts The West For ‘Insane’ Sanctions (ABC/AP)

In one of Vladimir Putin’s most substantial addresses since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Russian President used his nation’s pre-eminent investment conference as an opportunity to lash out against his Western enemies. After a lengthy denunciation of countries that he claims want to weaken the Russian state with “reckless and insane” sanctions, President Putin used the stage at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum to lambaste the United States. “[The United States] declared victory in the Cold War and later came to think of themselves as God’s own messengers on planet Earth,” he said. In his 73-minute speech, he also said Russia was taking its place in a New World Order in which rules would be set by “strong and sovereign states”.


After sending troops into Ukraine in February, Russia came under a wide array of international sanctions, with hundreds of foreign companies also suspending operations or pulling out of the country entirely. But Mr Putin said these attempts to damage the Russian economy “didn’t work”. “Russian enterprises and government authorities worked in a composed and professional manner,” he said. “We’re normalising the economic situation. We stabilised the financial markets, the banking system, the trade system.” While Russia’s projected inflation rate has fallen marginally, Mr Putin conceded that the current projected annual rate of 16.7 per cent is still too high. Mr Putin also vehemently defended his country’s actions in Ukraine, as Russia has contended that its neighbour posed a threat due its desire to join the NATO military alliance.

Putin Spief

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From the PR team: “We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.”

Putin Says Sanctions Cost EU $400BN, Warns Of Severe Fertilizer Shortage (ZH)

Ukraine just got a big boost for its EU membership bid on Friday, with the 27-member nation bloc’s executive giving full support for its candidate status. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced for the first time that the commission recommends “that Ukraine is given candidate status. This is of course on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of further reforms.” She said further while speaking from Brussels, “In the view of the Commission, Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards.”

Von der Leyen included further: “We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.” “Yes, Ukraine should be welcomed as a candidate country — this is based on the understanding that good work has been done but important work also remains to be done,” von der Leyen said. The day prior, on Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi traveled to Kiev by train where they delivered a unified and “strong signal of support” to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. They publicly backed Ukraine’s path to the EU, urging “immediate EU candidate status.”

[..] Russian President Vladimir Putin in statements issued the same day as von der Leyen’s EU candidacy preliminary approval announcement stressed the growing ‘cost’ to Europe over its intransigent pro-Ukraine position and anti-Russia sanctions. He estimated that the European Union will incur “losses of at least $400 billion” due to its multiple waves of sanctions imposed on Moscow thus far. He once again rejected responsibility for the global economic downturn, stating instead that inflation, energy costs and food crisis are all linked to the West’s policies. He further predicted a potentially disastrous development for the global food supply, already under threat, according to news wires:

“Putin predicted the fertilizer shortage could push food prices even higher, adding that Russia could boost its exports of fertilizer and grain. He also claimed that “gloomy forecasts” about the state of the Russian economy did not come true and that his government has successfully stopped the rise of domestic inflation.”

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Back in April.

Biden Told Secretaries Of Defense And State To Tone It Down (NBC)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had taken off on separate flights from southeastern Poland after their risky, high-stakes visit to Kyiv when they were conferenced into a phone call from President Joe Biden. During their whirlwind April trip, Austin appeared to expand the U.S. goals in Ukraine, saying publicly that the administration wanted the Ukrainians to win the war against Russia, not just defend themselves, and that the U.S. hoped to weaken Russia to the extent that it could not launch another unprovoked invasion. Blinken had publicly aligned himself with the remarks. Now Biden wanted to discuss the mounting headlines that resulted. Biden thought the secretaries had gone too far, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the call.

On the previously unreported conference call, as Austin flew to Germany and Blinken to Washington, the president expressed concern that the comments could set unrealistic expectations and increase the risk of the U.S. getting into a direct conflict with Russia. He told them to tone it down, said the officials. “Biden was not happy when Blinken and Austin talked about winning in Ukraine,” one of them said. “He was not happy with the rhetoric.” The secretaries explained that Austin’s comments had been misconstrued, another senior administration official said. But the displeasure Biden initially conveyed during that phone call, the officials said, reflected his administration’s belief that despite Ukrainian forces’ unexpected successes early on, the war would ultimately head in the direction it is now in two months later: a protracted conflict in which Russia continues to make small and steady advances.

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine is untenable and are quietly discussing whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should temper his hard-line public position that no territory will ever be ceded to Russia as part of an agreement to end the war, according to seven current U.S. officials, former U.S. officials and European officials. Some officials want Zelenskyy to “dial it back a little bit,” as one of them put it, when it comes to telegraphing his red lines on ending the war. But the issue is fraught given that Biden is adamant about the U.S. not pressuring the Ukrainians to take steps one way or another. His administration’s position has been that any decision about how and on what terms to end the war is for Ukraine to decide.

“We are not pressuring them to make concessions, as some Europeans are. We would never ask them to cede territory,” one U.S. official said. “We are planning for a long war. We intend to prepare the American people for that, and we are prepared to ask Congress for more money.”

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“A staggering 47% of responders “strongly” disapproved of his performance.”

Two Awkward Biden Moments Draw Online Scrutiny (JTN)

Amid reports of record low approval ratings for his performance in office, President Joe Biden drew online scrutiny for two awkward moments which have fueled renewed concerns over his fitness to lead. On Thursday, Biden offered somewhat blunt condolences for the passing of Jo-Ann Stores CFO Matt Susz, who died suddenly the day before. In a White House speech addressing efforts to curb inflation, Biden ripped international shipping companies but paused briefly to address the head of the company, saying “and by the way, my sympathies to your family of your CFO, who dropped dead very unexpectedly.”

The ungentle “dropped dead” description of Susz’s death, prompted a torrent of jokes and criticism with many Twitter users disapproving of Biden’s tone and word choice while others made references to oft-repeated concerns that the president may be experiencing mental deterioration. In a Friday episode, first lady Jill Biden abruptly yanked her husband away from reporters as he attempted to answer questions about rising inflation. The Bidens, and first cat Willow, were on their way to their home state of Delaware for the long weekend. “It should not be this high,” he said to reporters, per the New York Post. “They’re making exorbitant profits, number one. Number two, I’ve contacted them, my team has, to ask what their plans are and to give any suggestions they have.”

“Number three, I think we’re going to be in a position where we’re gonna,” he continued before his wife pulled him toward the plane, firmly stating “we gotta go!” The Friday episode also attracted a flurry of mockery, with commenters taking the first lady’s assertive role in the moment as evidence of the presidents “cognitive issues.” Others took issue with Biden’s routine departures from Washington to his home state. Biden’s approval rating stood at 39% on Friday, per a USA TODAY/Suffolk poll. A staggering 47% of responders “strongly” disapproved of his performance.

Biden oil

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“Any world leader who does not vow complete loyalty to Zelensky’s effort to win back every inch of his country is met by anger in the Western media..”

Macron Bends to Pressure, Now Says Ukraine ‘Must Win’ War With Russia (Celente)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday passed the litmus test during a high-profile meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv when he told reporters that Ukraine must defeat Russia in its war. Macron was joined by Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The three took an 11′-hour train ride to Kyiv. They were also joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. “We saw a devastated city and traces of barbarism. And also the heroism of Ukrainian men and women who stopped the Russian army when it went to Kyiv. Ukraine is resisting. She must be able to win,” Macron said after a a tour of Irpin. The French president came bearing gifts. He promised Ukraine six massive truck-mounted artillery guns so “Ukraine alone can decide its fate.”

Any world leader who does not vow complete loyalty to Zelensky’s effort to win back every inch of his country is met by anger in the Western media that has become nothing more than mouthpieces for governments that hate Russia. Macron felt the wrath when he said, “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means. I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.” Dmitro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, took to Twitter at the time and posted, “Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it.” Even after the visit by the four European leaders on Thursday, Ukrainian leaders still insisted on not giving up an inch of territory.

Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told the Associated Press that the visit would not yield progress if the leaders ask Ukraine to sign a peace treaty with Russia that involves giving up territory. “I am sure that our president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is not going to make concessions and trade our territories. If someone wants to stop Russia by giving them territories, Germany has Bavaria, Italy has Tuscany, the French can concede Provence, for instance,” he said.


It’s the little people!

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Batiushka is an interesting writer. Here (s)he takes things a step further. Can we follow?

Pro-Ukrainian, but Anti-Nazi (Batiushka)

The problem has never been one of Ukrainians. The problem has always been that of the spiritual disease of Nazism. And that is what it is – a spiritual disease. Once the soul of the Ukraine has been liberated from this disease, in other words, once it has been denazified, a New Ukraine will be born. It may well take the form of a Protectorate centred around Kiev and speak a mixture of Ukrainian with Russian and Surzhyk (Ukrainian Russian). It will have secure borders and its people will be patriotic Ukrainians, not in some racist way that denigrates others, but in a positive way that respects others. Once freed of parasitic oligarchs and corruption, the naturally rich New Ukraine could have a brilliant future and take a positive part in the Concert of the Nations.

Once it has been understood that there is no problem with the Ukraine or Ukrainians, but only with Nazism, there may take place other Special Operations in other parts of the world. China may soon launch an Operation in Taiwan to free the ethnic Chinese there from the Nazism of its US-appointed elite. As for Russia, it has not yet finished the job in the Ukraine, where the task is constantly being extended because the Nazi West keeps sending long-range missiles and artillery to Kiev. As long as these weapons are in use, firing on Donetsk or anywhere else in liberated territory, the war will be extended and continue. Russia may physically have to liberate the whole country, mobilising more forces beyond the small expeditionary force it originally sent.

And then if Western aggression continues, it may have to launch other operations in Moldova and the Baltics in order to liberate those peoples too from NATO Nazism, from their corrupt US-appointed elites and EU exploitation. It may have to rebuild them, so that their peoples, economic refugees from corruption living now in Western Europe, can gratefully come home. Beyond that, as regards Western Europe in general, it too will surely one day find itself liberated one way or another from transatlantic tyranny and threats, safe under the Russian security and nuclear umbrella. Someone must defend Western Europe from the threats which for the moment are still coming from outside Afro-Eurasia, which is 86% of the world. Only Russia can do that. Russian troops once liberated Berlin and Paris. Will it have to happen again and maybe this time be extended to include Rome, Madrid and London?

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“..our Ukraine project “to weaken Russia” brought on an epochal shift in the balance of power to our enormous disadvantage.”

How Low Can You Go? (Jim Kunstler)

Lots of things are going south all at once: the stock markets and bond prices, Bitcoin is doing a vanishing act. The Colorado River reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, are so low that, by September, both water and electricity may run out for a vast region that includes Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Southern California. The housing market is tanking (suburbia’s business model is broken). Whole herds of beef cattle roll over and die out on the range. Fertilizer is scarce. Food processing plants get torched by the dozen. Shortages loom. The oil-and-gas industry is getting killed four ways: 1) our stupid Russia sanctions queered longstanding global distribution arrangements; 2) the industry is starved for capital; 3) depletion is seriously kicking in; and 4) “Joe Biden” and the knuckleheads running the EU countries are trying to kill it so as to usher in a Green New Deal that just doesn’t pencil-out.

The car dealers have no new cars on their lots, and pretty soon they’ll run out of decent used cars — which, these days, are often priced higher than the non-existent new cars. How’s that for a business model? Plus, the financially beaten-up middle-class can’t afford cars in either case, and increasingly can’t qualify for car loans. The airline industry reels with a sucking chest wound due to a pilot shortage (thanks to vaxx mandates) and the high cost of jet fuel. The trucking industry’s business model is also broken with diesel fuel over six dollars a gallon — the cost of delivery exceeds the value of the cargo. America runs on trucks and if they stop running, so does everything else. Replacement parts are growing scarce for every mechanical device in the land. It’s getting harder to fix anything that’s broken.

“Joe Biden’s” proxy war against Russia in Ukraine isn’t working out. It was flamboyantly stupid from the get-go. We deliberately broke the Minsk agreements for a cease-fire in the Donbas to goad the Russians into action. NATO didn’t have the troops or the political mojo to back up its US-inspired bluster. Our financial warfare blew back in our faces and actually benefited the Russian economy and its currency, the ruble. The billions of dollars in weapons we’re sending into the war are easily interdicted in transport, or else are getting loose in a world of non-state maniacs ranging from the Taliban to al Qaeda to drug cartels. Meanwhile, Russia steadfastly grinds out a victory on-the-ground that will leave it in control of the Black Sea and will reveal the USA’s lost capacity to impose its will around the world. In other words, our Ukraine project “to weaken Russia” brought on an epochal shift in the balance of power to our enormous disadvantage.

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“..you are stuck with the albatross of a truncated, bankrupt Ukraine hung around your neck.”

Last Tango in Washington? (Brenner)

Reality has a way of catching up to us. Sometimes it comes via a sudden shock — Sputnik or Tet. Sometimes it creeps up incrementally — as in Ukraine with each thousand round Russian artillery barrage and the steady rise of the ruble now 25 percent higher than at the onset of the crisis. Dim the lights, the party’s almost over. But that is not the end of the affair. Whatever the exact outcomes, there is no going back to the status quo ante — the world, especially Europe, has changed in fundamental respects. Moreover, it has changed in ways diametrically opposite to what was desired and anticipated. The West has been inhabiting a fanciful world that could exist only in our imaginations. Many remain stranded in that self-deluded mirage. The more that we have invested in that fantasy world, the harder we find it to exit and to make the adjustment — intellectual, emotional, behavioral.

[..] Necessity is the mother of invention — or so it is said. However, grasping what is “necessary” can be a very slippery business. An actual recasting of how one views a problematic situation normally is a last resort. Experience and history tell us that, as do behavioral experiments. The psychology of perceived necessity is complex. Adversity or threat in and of itself does not trigger improvisation. Even the survival instinct does not always spark innovation. Denial, then avoidance, are normally the first, sequential reactions when facing adversity in trying to reach an objective or to satisfy a recognized interest. A strong bias favors the reiteration of a standard repertoire of responses.

True innovation tends to occur only in extremis; and even then, behavioral change is more likely to begin with minor adjustments of established thinking and behavior at the margins rather than modification of core beliefs and patterns of action. Those truths underscore the American dilemma as the Ukraine venture turns sour on the battlefield and your enemy is faring far better than expected while your friends and allies are faring far worse. Russia has blunted everything thrown at them – to the shock of Western planners. Every assumption underpinning their scorched-earth assault on the Russian economy has proven mistaken. A dismal record of analytical error even by C.I.A. and think tank standards.

Off-the-charts forecasts on the country’s economy, and the global impact of sanctions, crippled Washington’s plan from the outset. Tactical initiatives of a military nature have proven equally futile; another 1,000 vintage Javelins with dead battery packs will not rescue the Ukrainian army in the Donbass. So, you are stuck with the albatross of a truncated, bankrupt Ukraine hung around your neck. There is nothing that you can do to cancel these givens — except a direct, perhaps suicidal test of force with Russia. Or, perhaps, a retaliatory challenge elsewhere. The latter is not readily available — for geographic reasons and because the West already has expended its arsenal of economic and political weaponry.

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Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan.

The Ukrainian Endgame: An Imperfect Peace Is Better Than Endless War (Bandow)

For good reason, then, Americans worry about deepening US involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian war. While it is unsurprising that Kyiv and its Washington factotums advocate going all in, even risking escalation of the conflict, doing so is not in this nation’s interests. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden’s recent article in the New York Time did little to ease public concerns. Especially his promise not to “pressure the Ukrainian government – in private or public – to make any territorial concessions.” The US and Europe should focus on ending, not winning, the war. The longer the conflict goes, the more it will devastate Ukraine and undermine the Ukrainian state. The economic harm to the allies and beyond also will grow, weakening support for Kyiv.


An American attempt to carry Ukraine to victory is more likely to encourage Putin to double down, perhaps even using nuclear weapons, than meekly yield. Washington’s goal should not be to save the Russian dictator from personal humiliation, which retired diplomat Dan Fried deemed “risible,” but to forestall Putin from engaging in dangerous escalation to prevent personal humiliation. Life is unfair, President Jimmy Carter once observed. That is especially true when it comes to international affairs. In a perfect world Ukraine would recover its territory, including that seized in 2014, collect reparations from Moscow, and frame Putin’s written apology for invading. However, none of these should be Washington’s objective. The US should promote a stable, peaceful settlement, one that keeps the Pandora’s Box of nuclear war closed.

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“..reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon..”

US Drone Sale To Ukraine Hits Snag (R.)

The Biden administration’s plan to sell four large, armable drones to Ukraine has been paused on the fear its sophisticated surveillance equipment might fall into enemy hands, according to two people familiar with the matter. The technical objection to the sale was raised during a deeper review by the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration charged with keeping high value technology safe from enemy hands. Previously the plan, which has been circulating since March, had been approved by the White House, three people said. The plan to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Russia was first reported by Reuters earlier in June.


The objection to the export of the drones arose due to concerns the radar and surveillance equipment on the drones could create a security risk for the United States if it fell into Russian hands. The sources said this consideration had been overlooked in the initial review but came up in meetings at the Pentagon late last week. “Technology security reviews are a standard practice for the transfer of U.S. defense articles to all international partners. All cases are reviewed individually on their own merit. Through the established process, national security concerns are elevated to the appropriate approving authority,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough. The decision on whether or not to continue with the deal is now being reviewed higher up the chain of command at the Pentagon, but the timing of any decision is uncertain, one of the people a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

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Adam Schiff did it.

Stephen Colbert Staffers At House Office Charged With Illegal Entry (Fox)

The U.S. Capitol Police arrested a group of staffers with CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” after they allegedly illegally entered a U.S. House of Representatives office building on Thursday night, Fox News has learned. The group of seven people were arrested in the Longworth House Office Building after being escorted out of the Jan. 6 committee hearing earlier in the day because they did not have proper press credentials, according to sources. The same group resurfaced later on Thursday night after the Capitol complex was closed to public visitors and Fox News is told that they took videos and pictures around the offices of two Republican members of Congress, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy R-Calif. and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.

A senior source in the U.S House of Representatives told Fox News that seven individuals associated with Stephen Colbert’s show were arrested. The group was unescorted and charged with illegal entry to House office buildings after hours. Fox News is told that the “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” team applied to get press credentials for the Jan. 6 hearing, but the House Radio/TV Gallery rejected the request because they are not considered “news.” The issue didn’t go to the Radio/TV Correspondents Association, which usually handles credentialing. In addition to a regular Capitol Hill press pass, a special “overlay” is required for members of the press who want to be in the room for the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.


Members of Colbert’s team could have been in House office buildings if they were invited, which they were. Fox News is told that Colbert’s team conducted interviews earlier on Thursday with members of the Jan. 6 Committee, including Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. They also interviewed Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass. [..] “On June 16, 2022, at approximately 8:30 p.m., U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) received a call for a disturbance in the Longworth House Office Building. Responding officers observed seven individuals, unescorted and without Congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway. The building was closed to visitors, and these individuals were determined to be a part of a group that had been directed by the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day,” the statement says. “They were charged with Unlawful Entry. This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney.”

Tucker Colbert

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“We are investigating the domestic and international business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality..”

Hunter Biden’s ‘Troubling’ Connection With Big-Name Hollywood Lawyer Probed (ET)

The ranking member of the House’s principal oversight committee has launched a probe into a Hollywood lawyer’s “sudden patronage” of Hunter Biden allegedly involving financial and pro-bono legal support. “We are investigating the domestic and international business dealings of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to determine whether these activities compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, wrote to Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris on behalf of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in a letter dated June 14.

“Your sudden patronage of the President’s son, enormous financial contributions to President Biden, and outsized role you are taking in defending against both congressional and criminal investigations raise serious concerns about whether you are providing in-kind contributions to President Biden’s re-election efforts,” Comer wrote. Morris is known for negotiating a $550 million licensing deal for the creators of “South Park” and has won a Tony award as a co-producer of the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.” His law firm has represented Hollywood celebrities including Chris Rock, Scarlett Johansson, and Matthew McConaughey. Comer’s letter came after a New York Times report in early May that alleged that Morris has taken on a “financier, confidant and would-be avenger” for the president’s son.

The latter is under federal investigation into his tax payments and alleged foreign deals with entities affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Morris donated $2,800 to Joe Biden’s campaign “Biden for President” in October 2019, and a total of $55,000 in 2020 to the American Bridge 21st Century Political Action Committee, which supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times reported that these donations occurred before Morris met and developed a relationship with the president’s son. According to Comer, the oversight committee Republicans are “particularly troubled” in seeing Morris’s alleged role in “attempting to personally shield Hunter Biden from congressional and criminal investigation.”

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You won’t know what hit you.

Deflationary Tsunami On Deck: Tidal Wave Of Discounts And Crashing Prices (ZH)

Three weeks ago, we showed readers what happens when the infamous “Bullwhip effect” reversal takes place by presenting the unprecedented surge in the “Inventory to Sales” ratio for a broad range of US retailers covering the furniture, home furnishings and appliances, building materials and garden equipment, and a category known as “other general merchandise,” which includes Walmart and Target. Since then, this ratio has only gotten even more extended, and as shown below it is now at the highest level since the bursting of the dot com bubble! What does this mean for retailers and the price of goods? Three weeks ago we said “Think: widespread inventory liquidations” and added…

To be sure, not every product will see its price cut: commodities, whose bullwhip effect take much longer to manifest itself, usually lasting several years in either direction, are only just starting to see their price cycle higher. However, other products – like those carried by the Walmarts and Targets of the world – are about to see a deflationary plunge the likes of which we have not seen since the global financial crisis as retailers commence a voluntary destocking wave the likes of which have not been seen in over a decade. Today both Wall Street and the mainstream media have caught up, with both predicting unprecedented deflationary price cuts in the coming weeks.

We start with Morgan Stanley’s bearish strategist Michael Wilson, who in his latest bearish weekly note (available to pro subs) focused on shrinking margins in general, and on retailer discounting in particular, and wrote that while there is a modest pick up in over sales, the far more concerning issue is that “inventory across the sector is up about 30% YOY and sales growth is up about 0% YOY translating to approximately 30% YOY of excess inventory” and while mark down/margin pressure did not hit in 1Q it should hit June/July. Indeed, “store checks show that aggressive discounting has already started as of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Discounting pressure could accelerate through July.” And since more retailers are now discounting, “companies are having to offer even bigger discounts to compel consumers to buy, and it is a race to the bottom in margins in order to clear through inventory.”

It gets much worse, however, because courtesy of the delayed nature of the bullwhip effect, Morgan Stanley thinks it will be some time before retailers can cut back on forward inventory orders! Companies are no longer in a position to order 6 months in advance because of delays in the supply chain, and are currently working with about an 8 month lead time. Shockingly, this means decisions today to cut forward orders could begin to eliminate the inventory problem in 1Q23, but not likely before then.

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“The elected Prime Minister stated that it’s time for Julian to come home..”

Britain Orders Extradition Of Julian Assange To United States (ABC.au)

The British government has ordered the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, but WikiLeaks said it would appeal against the ruling. Home Secretary Priti Patel made the decision after Mr Assange was denied a Supreme Court appeal back in March. That case related to Mr Assange’s physical and mental health, and the US government won after offering assurances he would not be held in solitary confinement. The Home Office said in a statement: “The UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange. “Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”

The decision is a big moment in Mr Assange’s years-long battle to avoid facing trial in the US — though not necessarily the end of the tale. The 50-year-old Australian still has 14 days to appeal against his extradition based on issues like freedom of speech, arguing the espionage charges against him are politically motivated. “Today is not the end of the fight. It is only the beginning of a new legal battle,” Mr Assange’s wife Stella said. Ms Assange also called for Australian Prime Minister Albanese to apply some pressure. “Our expectation as a family is the Australian government will do whatever it takes to get him home,” she said. The Australian federal government says it will continue to offer consular assistance to Mr Assange.


“We will continue to convey our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical care, and access to his legal team,” said a joint statement released late on Friday night from Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus. “The Australian government has been clear in our view that Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. “We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and [the] United States.” Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has labelled the decision by the UK government to green-light the extradition as an “outrageous betrayal of rule of law, media freedom and human rights”. “The elected Prime Minister stated that it’s time for Julian to come home,” Mr Wilkie said, “enough is enough, that he couldn’t see what was served by Julian remaining in prison.

Stella Moris

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May 102015
 


G. G. Bain Metropolitan Opera baritone Giuseppe De Luca, New York 1920

Capitalism is the West’s Dominant Religion (Michael Welton)
Stiglitz: “You Will Have Stronger Growth If You Reduce Inequality” (WEF)
Critical Choices Loom Ahead Of Eurogroup Meeting, IMF Repayment (Kathimerini)
Greece Calls On EU/IMF Lenders To Show Political Will For Deal (Reuters)
Greek Leader Faces Revolt By Party Hardliners As Debt Showdown Looms (Guardian)
The Greek Debt Writedown And Merkel’s Role In It (Kathimerini)
May 7th, 2015 – The Day The United Kingdom Died? (RT)
Sturgeon Vows To End Austerity Across UK (Sky)
An Ever More Fragile Union (FT)
US Urges Greece To Reject Turkish Stream, Focus On Western-Backed Project (RT)
US Trying To Create ‘Unipolar World’ Says Putin (Guardian)
Obama Scolds Democrats On Trade Pact Stance (NY Times)
President Obama Is Badly Confused About the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CEPR)
EU Proposes Plan to Take Up to 20,000 Migrants A Year (WSJ)
Americans Favor Jon Stewart, Colbert Over Conservatives For Punditry (Reuters)

Would anyone in his/her right mind dispute this?

Capitalism is the West’s Dominant Religion (Michael Welton)

David R. Loy, a professor of international studies at Bunkyo University in Japan and a Zen Buddhist teacher, offers us a compelling viewpoint on why we ought to understand our present economic system as the West’s dominant religion. In A Buddhist History of the West (2002), Loy argues that, although religion is “notoriously difficult to define,” if we “adopt a functionalist view and understand religion as what grounds us by teaching us what this world is, and what our role in the world is, then it becomes evident that traditional religions are fulfilling this role less and less, because that function is being supplanted by other belief systems and value systems.” This is a shocking statement for those of conventional religious sensibility. Certainly the monotheistic faith-traditions have not just disappeared into the thin air of modernity.

One could make a solid case that Islamic cultures still contain strong currents of resistance to Western consumer individualism (perceived as decadent and nihilistic). But in the West, Christianity in particular, has lost much of its power to resist the new god that has (and is) conquering the old ones (just like Christianity did in its displacement of Roman deities). Although the monotheistic religions contain many different streams and tendencies (including ascetic and contemplative traditions), these minority anti-materialist traditions have not been able to prevent the market from becoming our “first truly world religion, binding all corners of the globe into a worldview and set of values whose religious role we overlook only because we insist on seeing them as secular” (Loy).

Economics is the new theology of this global religion of the market; consumerism its highest good; its language of hedge funds and derivatives as incomprehensibly esoteric as Christian teachings about the Trinity. “Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses and the prophets! Marx cried out in the first volume of Capital. Loy wonders why we acquiesce in the appalling realities of global inequities and sleep so peacefully at night. He finds his answer in Rodney Dobell’s explanation that “lies largely in our embrace of a peculiarly European or Western [but now global] religion, an individualistic religion of economics and markets, which explains all of these outcomes as the inevitable results of an objective system in which … intervention is counterproductive.” [..]

We have made fetishes out of commodities as we believe we can derive sensuous pleasure from their magical properties. We sacrifice our time, our families, our children, our forests, our seas and our land on the altar of the market, the god to whom we owe our deepest allegiance.

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Across an entire economy, this may be true. But is it also true for those who profit from inequality?

Stiglitz: “You Will Have Stronger Growth If You Reduce Inequality” (WEF)

Nobel laureate and World Economic Forum on Latin America Co-Chair Joseph E. Stiglitz, Professor, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University, USA, has urged government and business leaders to make the fight against inequality a priority. Stiglitz was speaking at the 10th World Economic Forum on Latin America, taking place in Mexico. “We used to think there was a trade-off between equality and growth. Now we see the two as complementary. You will have stronger growth if you reduce the extremes of inequality,” he said. Latin America’s success in reducing inequality over the past decade, precisely when the region became more integrated into the global economy and more exposed to international market forces, proves that the increased inequality seen in much of the rest of the world comes from policy choices, Stiglitz said.

Latin America must not give up the fight to reduce poverty and equality – even now when many economies are slowing and government budgets are under pressure – since this fight is crucial for long-term growth. Stiglitz called Mexico’s recent round of structural reforms “very impressive” and said, “I’m very optimistic that these really will spur economic growth.” By breaking monopolies, the reforms will lower consumer prices in sectors such as electricity and the telecoms industry, leading to greater spending power for lower income Mexicans. Lower utility costs will make Mexico more attractive for business investment, which will increase jobs and wages. The reforms will therefore help the country reduce inequality.

Stiglitz criticized the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership. He cited the negotiations’ secrecy, the proposals that would make governments vulnerable to lawsuits over regulations that protect their citizens, and the proposed expansion of intellectual property rights, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. These expanded IP rights would upset the balance that the United States has already achieved in this area and lead to higher drug prices worldwide, bankrupting some public health systems and putting treatment out of reach for many, he noted. “I am strongly opposed,” he said. As part of the fight against inequality, Stiglitz called for measures to fight racial, ethnic and gender discrimination, and for measures to redistribute resources between richer and poorer parts of a country, such as Mexico’s north and south.

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For the troika, it’s a power game clear and simple.

Critical Choices Loom Ahead Of Eurogroup Meeting, IMF Repayment (Kathimerini)

Greek officials are bracing for a difficult Eurogroup summit in Brussels on Monday after what promises to be a weekend of feverish negotiations with representatives of Greece’s international creditors as European officials increase the pressure on Athens to compromise and avert a default. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been engaged in a flurry of telephone diplomacy in a bid to drum up political support. Meanwhile prominent officials underlined the risks Greece is facing as its coffers run dry and financial obligations loom, notably a repayment of some €750 million to the IMF on Tuesday. Greek officials have expressed the government’s intention to pay the IMF but according to sources some are in favor of not paying if the outcome of Monday’s Eurogroup is not satisfactory.

Such a move would lead to Greece being declared bankrupt within a month with capital controls likely to be imposed on Greek banks much sooner than that to avert a bank run. European officials suggested that Greece should be cautious. “Experience in other parts of the world has shown that a country can suddenly slide into bankruptcy,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted as telling Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Other European officials made less dramatic statements, with European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici stressing that reforms are not progressing quickly enough and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem saying Monday’s Eurogroup “won’t be decisive.”

Although a decision that will unlock loan money is not expected on Monday, at the very least Athens is hoping for a statement of support that will allow the ECB to provide some liquidity relief, or at least not turn the screws further. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will represent Greece at the Eurogroup but is to be flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis or Alternate Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, who is the new negotiations “coordinator,” or possibly both.

Talks at the technical level continued in Brussels on Saturday with three key sticking points: pension and labor reforms and the level of Greece’s primary surplus, which will determine the extent of economic measures that Athens must take. According to sources, creditors put Greece’s primary surplus for this year at 2% of gross domestic product, at least 1% above Athens’s estimate. Talks were also said to focus on possible tax increases, particularly likely plans for a flat value-added tax rate. Although Greek officials insist they have made significant concessions, and Tsipras has called on Europe to show “political will” opposite Athens, it appears that creditors want to see signs of concrete progress – and legislation – before they issue a statement of support, much less unlock funds.

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Lots of polls being held designed to put pressure on Syriza.

Greece Calls On EU/IMF Lenders To Show Political Will For Deal (Reuters)

Greece’s main debt negotiator called on the EU and the IMF to show their willingness to break an impasse in debt talks, ahead of a crucial meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist-led government, which came to power promising to end the austerity terms under Greece’s existing €240 billion debt deal, has been locked for months in talks with its foreign lenders over reforms that could unlock much needed bailout funds. “Any delay in achieving this compromise has to do with one and only one reason, and this is the political differences between the government and the institutions,” Euclid Tsakalotos, Greece’s newly appointed coordinator of the talks, told Avgi newspaper.

With bailout aid frozen while it is shut out of debt markets, Athens risks running out of cash unless a deal is reached soon. “After weeks of laborious negotiations, if there is a real will from the other side, it will be clear that the discussion has reached a level where an agreement is very close and will be reached in the coming period,” Tsakalotos said. Athens’ foreign creditors are demanding further austerity in exchange for funds, while an angry Greek public has felt the pain of income cuts amid a six-year recession.

A poll by MRB for Sunday’s Realnews showed that 72% of Greeks wanted what Athens calls an “honorable compromise”, meaning concessions from both sides to reach a deal. A March survey showed that 57% wanted Athens to stick to its “red lines” on pension and labor reforms. Tsipras will hold a wider cabinet meeting on Sunday, a day before euro zone finance ministers discuss progress made so far in the negotiations. Greece needs to pay a €750 million IMF loan this week and pensions and public sector wages at the end of the month, and Athens hopes for the European Central Bank to allow Greece to raise cash by issuing more Treasury bills. “It’s now the political side that must offer a solution,” Economy Minister George Stathakis told Avgi.

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Helena Smith’s coverage from Athens for the Guardian is not getting better as time goes by. She looks a bit lost.

Greek Leader Faces Revolt By Party Hardliners As Debt Showdown Looms (Guardian)

The epic struggle to keep Greece solvent and in the eurozone intensified on Saturday night amid signs of a looming crisis within the anti-austerity government that took Europe ablaze barely three months ago.As prime minister Alexis Tsipras scrambles to secure a financial lifeline to keep the debt-stricken country afloat, hardliners in his radical left Syriza party have also ratcheted up the pressure. In a make-or-break week of debt repayments, the politician once seen as the harbinger of Europe’s anti-establishment movement has found himself where no other leader would want to be: caught between exasperated creditors abroad and enraged diehards at home.

With government coffers almost at nil and Athens facing a monumental €750mloan instalment to the IMF on Tuesday, it is the last act in a crisis with potentially cataclysmic effect. Either Tsipras betrays his own ideology to deter default – reneging on promises that got him into power – or he goes down as the man who allowed his country to do what no other EU member has done: enter the uncharted waters of euro exit. It is a moment of truth with consequences far beyond the borders of Greece. “No doubt he is having nightmares about betraying ideas that he has held dear all his life,” said Aristides Hatzis, associate professor of law and economy at Athens University. “To make such a U-turn he is going to have to cross red lines that require a leap of faith I am not sure he has.”

The protracted standoff between Athens and the European Union and IMF – the bodies that have bailed out the country to the tune of €240bn since 2010 – has brought Tsipras to this point. To the dismay of inexperienced politicians in his left-dominated coalition, creditors have dug in their heels with cash reserves drying up inexorably as negotiations over a deal to unlock further bailout funds have gone to the wire.

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2nd part in the series.

The Greek Debt Writedown And Merkel’s Role In It (Kathimerini)

In his personal notes dated a day before the June 2012 general elections, Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos wrote: “Anxiety is mounting. Anxiety in every respect – even and particularly regarding the banks. The telephone call with [German] Chancellor [Angela] Merkel went very well. […] I gave her a general briefing and then discussed my communications with [European Commission President Jose Manuel] Barroso and [European Council President Herman Van] Rompuy. She was strict on this point. Greece’s declaration that it would abide by its commitments was not enough. She wanted a clear statement that there would be no request for a renegotiation of the memorandum, as is being so gratuitously promised in pre-election campaigns. ‘

They,’ she said – referring to the Commission – ‘do not have to answer to parliament.’” It was the most dramatic moment, up until then, of a crisis that showed no signs of abating – and which was threatening to drag the global economy into another recession. Twenty-five months after having approved, under pressure from a rapidly deteriorating situation, Berlin’s participation in the first bailout package for Greece, the German chancellor was without dispute the dominant figure on the European stage. In the period following the first Greek bailout and up until the end of 2011, she had managed to convince her eurozone partners to adopt new measures imposing fiscal discipline, while at the same time resisting calls for the mutualization of public debt, for example via the issue of eurobonds.

On the question of Greece she decided on a restructuring of the country’s soaring debt. This process, which took four months of negotiations and was completed (with all the requisite prior actions) just days before the first of two general elections in Greece in May 2012, at first appeared to be a success both because of the response from the private sector and because any legal difficulties had been avoided.

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No, it happened prior to that date.

May 7th, 2015 – The Day The United Kingdom Died? (RT)

Nobody doubts the UK General Election delivered an extraordinary outcome. However, in the long term, May 7th 2015 could eventually be remembered as the day the UK croaked it. The pundits and pontificators spun Election 2015 as a close run vote, certain to deliver a hung parliament. They were misguided. Instead, David Cameron reigns supreme with an overall majority for his Conservative Party and Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have all resigned. While the latter will probably reappear without much delay, the first two are now consigned to the wastebasket of history. In a single day, Miliband has gone from being the favorite to enter 10 Downing Street to the back-benches.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has spent the afternoon kicking back with the Queen. It all sounds like nothing has changed. This is wrong. Everything has changed. While the immediate analysis focuses on the destruction of political careers, May 7th 2015 has greater significance. It was the day the United Kingdom, as it’s presently constituted, entered its endgame. The Conservative majority and the SNP’s Scottish landslide mean checkmate for the union. Had Labour, as expected by pollsters, formed the next government, the UK’s current composition would have been safe, at least in the short-term. Instead, we have witnessed the triumph of nationalism, both Scottish and English, and the squeezing of the middle ground. There’s a smell resonant of Czechoslovakia in 1992 wafting from Britain.

David Cameron is now honor bound to hold an “in-or-out” referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017. It’s increasingly clear that the electorate will vote to leave. However, it won’t be the UK that decides to abandon the EU project, it will be England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will almost certainly vote to remain as members. This, I believe, will be catalyst for a second Scottish independence poll and the subsequent establishment of a Scottish state. Scotland’s needs are different from those of England and Edinburgh needs access to the world’s largest market in order to realize its dreams.

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Crucial point.

Sturgeon Vows To End Austerity Across UK (Sky)

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to carry an anti-austerity message to Westminster after the SNP gained a record 56 seats in the Commons. The SNP leader addressed her new MPs in Edinburgh and told them to “work with others” in Parliament to end austerity across the United Kingdom. “Let us be very clear – the people of Scotland voted for an SNP manifesto that had ending austerity as its number one priority and that is the priority for these men and women to now take to the very heart of the Westminster agenda,” she said. “We will continue to reach out to people of progressive opinion right across the UK so that we can put ending austerity, investing in public services like our precious NHS, investing in a stronger economy to get more young people in jobs… We will work with others to put those priorities right at the heart of Westminster.”

Voters granted the Conservatives a surprise majority on Thursday, but in taking all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats, the SNP ensured they will be hard to ignore in the new-look House of Commons. Ms Sturgeon had a brief conversation with the Prime Minister on Friday, agreeing to face-to-face talks “as soon as possible” – an early indication of the First Minister’s likely influence over the next five years. She told her audience in front of the Forth Bridge: “As I told the Prime Minister when I spoke to him yesterday, it simply cannot and will not be business as usual when it comes to Westminster’s dealings with Scotland.

“Scotland this week spoke more clearly than ever before and my message to Westminster is that Scotland’s voice will be heard there more loudly than it has ever been before. “Our job is to repay the trust you have shown in us and I pledge today that that’s exactly what we’ll do. “We will not let you down.” While a left-of-centre alliance would not be able to outvote a united Tory party in the Commons, the situation may change if Conservative backbenchers become restless. Ms Sturgeon’s predecessor and the new MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond, has predicted the Tory majority will “erode and change within months”.

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Not the EU.

An Ever More Fragile Union (FT)

Britain has a Conservative government. David Cameron has confounded the pollsters, and left egg on the faces of the pundits blindsided by their predictions — this columnist among them. The Tory leader has led his party to its first outright victory since Sir John Major pulled off the same trick in 1992. Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that the young Mr Cameron served as an aide to the then prime minister. He should savour the moment. The election also told the story of two nations — a Scotland that handed a spectacular victory to Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National party alongside an England that cleaved to an increasingly parochial Tory party. The destruction of the centrist Liberal Democrats amplified the sense of polarisation. Ahead lie dangerous times — for Britain and for Mr Cameron’s Conservatives.

Two great questions are set to shape British politics: the fragile future of the four-nation union and the UK’s permanently irascible relationship with the rest of Europe. For Mr Cameron, they promise only trials and tribulations. History may well see the real significance of the election in the collision between resurgent Scottish, and resentful English, nationalism, the point at which the divisive politics of identity upturned the old order. The SNP’s landslide was widely forecast. The consequences are no less seismic for that. The election reopened the question that should have been settled by the No vote in last year’s independence referendum. Alongside their grip on the devolved government in Edinburgh, the nationalists now hold 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster.

For the first time since the arguments about Irish home rule at the turn of the 20th century, an overtly nationalist party has become the third force in the UK parliament. The SNP is celebrating Mr Cameron’s return to Downing Street. The election saw Scotland turn left, and England right. Nothing could better fit Ms Sturgeon’s insidious narrative of a progressive Scotland forever shackled by a Tory-led England. Here, Mr Cameron must now live with the consequences of his own campaign. There are many reasons why England voted Tory — not least the Labour leader Ed Miliband’s alternative prospectus for socialism in one country. But Tory strategists were unabashed in stirring the embers of English nationalism in order to neutralise the UK Independence party and stoke fears among the undecided that a Labour government would “sell out” to the Scots.

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Yawn.

US Urges Greece To Reject Turkish Stream, Focus On Western-Backed Project (RT)

Washington is pushing Athens not to abandon a Western-backed Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project in favor of the Russia-proposed Turkish Stream, a pipeline that would bring Russian gas to Europe via Greece. Greece should consider joining the TAP, which will link Europe to natural gas supplies from Azerbaijan via Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, top US energy diplomat Amos Hochstein said after talks with Greek officials, Reuters reported on Friday. “Turkish Stream doesn’t exist. There is no consortium to build it, there is no agreement to build it. So let’s put that to the side, and wait until there’s some movement on that and see if that’s relevant or not relevant and in the meantime focus on what’s important – the pipeline we already agreed to, that Greece already agreed to”, Hochstein claimed.

He didn’t give any details on the meeting with Greek officials, saying that they “more agreed than disagreed.” Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, however, responded that the country would continue supporting the Russian gas pipeline. “We are backing this project because we think it will be useful for our country,” the minister said in a statement after the talks. The US envoy said that the US position was the best way for Europe to secure its energy supply is by diversifying its sources and ensuring competition. He also added that having other gas sources would “help with price, reliability of supply, and that will help take the political element out of the supply system.” Meanwhile, on Thursday Putin reportedly told Greek PM Alexis Tsipras during a phone conversation that Russia was ready to consider providing financial support for Greek companies that join the Russian pipeline project.

Tsipras confirmed his country’s readiness to participate in the Turkish Stream project. Earlier in April during the Greek PM’s official visit to Moscow, Putin and Tsipras agreed to collaborate in the construction of a new pipeline, to be part of the Turkish Stream project, which would deliver Russian gas to Europe via Greece. The Russian president said at that time that by joining the project Greece could become one of the main power distribution centers in Europe, and earn hundreds of millions of euros annually from gas transit fees. The Greek PM voiced interest in the proposal, claiming that the project could be a way to boost jobs and investment in the Greek economy. Cash-stripped Greece can also use revenues from potential joint projects with Russia to pay off debt to international creditors.

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It’s a disgrace Obama and Merkel et al refused to go to Moscow. A slap in the face of millions who died in WWII.

US Trying To Create ‘Unipolar World’ Says Putin (Guardian)

Vladimir Putin has used an address commemorating the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany to accuse the US of attempting to dominate the world. Speaking at Moscow’s annual Victory Day parade in Red Square, which this year has been boycotted by western leaders over the continuing crisis in Ukraine, the Russian president berated Washington for “attempts to create a unipolar world”. Putin said despite the importance of international cooperation, “in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world”. That phrase is often used by Russia to criticise the US for purportedly attempting to dominate world affairs.

The US president, Barack Obama, has snubbed the festivities, as have the leaders of Russia’s other key second world war allies, Britain and France, leaving Putin to mark the day in the company of the leaders of China, Cuba and Venezuela. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has likewise ducked out of attending the parade but will fly to Moscow on Sunday to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier and meet the Russian president. As western sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine continue to bite, Moscow has increasingly appeared to pivot away from Europe and focus more on developing relations with China.

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, will be the most high-profile guests on the podium next to Putin. Other presidents in attendance include India’s Pranab Mukherjee, president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Raúl Castro of Cuba, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Russia used the parade to show off its latest military technology, including the Armata tank, in the parade, which included 16,000 troops and a long convoy of weapons dating from the second world war to the present day. Also on show for the first time was a RS-24 Yars ICBM launcher, which Moscow has said described as a response to US and Nato anti-missile systems.

The celebrations stand in contrast to the festivities a decade ago, when Putin hosted the leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The Soviet Union lost about 27 million soldiers and civilians in what it calls the “great patriotic war” – more than any other country – and the Red Army’s triumph remains an enormous source of national pride. On Saturday morning, many Muscovites sported garrison caps and black and orange striped ribbons that have become a symbol of patriotism in recent years. More than 70% of Russians say a close family member was killed or went missing during the war, making Victory Day an emotional symbol of unity for the nation.

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The pusher man.

Obama Scolds Democrats On Trade Pact Stance (NY Times)

President Obama on Friday lashed out at critics within his own party as he accused fellow Democrats of deliberately distorting the potential impact of the sweeping new trade agreement he is negotiating with Asia and standing in the way of a modern competitive economy. With the cutting tone he usually reserves for his Republican adversaries, Mr. Obama said liberals who are fighting the new trade accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, were ”just wrong” and, in terms of some of their claims, ”making this stuff up.” If they oppose the deal, he said, they ”must be satisfied with the status quo” and want to ”pull up the drawbridge and build a moat around ourselves.”

”There have been a bunch of critics about trade deals generally and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he told an estimated 2,100 workers at the Nike headquarters here. ”And what’s interesting is typically they’re my friends coming from my party. And they’re my fellow travelers on minimum wage and on job training and on clean energy and on every progressive issue, they’re right there with me. And then on this, they’re like whupping on me.” But Mr. Obama said that he had no political motive for supporting freer trade with Asia. ”I’ve run my last election,” he said. ”And the only reason I do something is because I think it’s good for American workers and the American people and the American economy.” And so, ”on this issue, on trade, I actually think some of my dearest friends are wrong. They’re just wrong.”

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The pusher man doesn’t know what he’s pushing.

President Obama Is Badly Confused About the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CEPR)

That was the main takeaway from a NYT article on his trip to Nike. According to the article, he made many claims about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and opponents of the deal which are clearly wrong. For example, the article tells readers: “he [President Obama] scorned critics who say it would undermine American laws and regulations on food safety, worker rights and even financial regulations, an implicit pushback against Ms. Warren. ‘They’re making this stuff up,’ he said. ‘This is just not true. No trade agreement’s going to force us to change our laws.'” President Obama apparently doesn’t realize that the TPP will create an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism which will allow tribunals to impose huge penalties on the federal government, as well as state and local governments, whose laws are found to be in violation of the TPP.

These fines could effectively bankrupt a government unless they change the law. It is also worth noting that rulings by these tribunals are not subject to appeal, nor are they bound by precedent. Given the structure of the tribunal (the investor appoints one member of the panel, the government appoints a second, and the third is appointed jointly), a future Bush or Walker administration could appoint panelists who would side with foreign investors to overturn environmental, safety, and labor regulations at all levels of government. (Think of Antonin Scalia.) President Obama apparently also doesn’t realize that the higher drug prices that would result from the stronger patent and related protections will be a drag on growth. In addition to creating distortions in the economy, the higher licensing fees paid to Pfizer, Merck, and other U.S. drug companies will crowd out U.S. exports of other goods and services.

Obama is also mistaken in apparently believing that the only alternative to the TPP is the status quo. In fact, many critics of the TPP have argued that a deal that included rules on currency would have their support. This issue is hugely important, since it is highly unlikely that the U.S. economy will be able to reach full employment with trade deficits close to current levels. (It could be done with larger budget deficits, but no one thinks this is politically realistic.) Without a considerably tighter labor market, workers will lack the bargaining power to achieve wage gains. This means that income would continue to be redistributed upward.

The only plausible way to bring the trade deficit down is with a lower valued dollar which would make U.S. goods and services more competitive internationally. The TPP would provide an opportunity to address currency values, as many critics of the trade agreement have pointed out. It seems that Mr. Obama is unaware of this argument.

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One word: rudderless. Has it already been 10 days since they said 5,000?

EU Proposes Plan to Take Up to 20,000 Migrants A Year (WSJ)

The European Union may accept up to 20,000 refugees a year and set up an automatic redistribution program for migrants overcrowding southern European states, under plans currently being developed in Brussels. The proposed distribution among EU states of people who haven’t yet entered the bloc would use a formula that takes into account the size of the population, the strength of the economy and unemployment rates in each country, as well as the number of refugees they have taken in so far, according to a draft text seen by The Wall Street Journal. The text is due to be adopted by the European Commission—the bloc’s executive—on Wednesday. The 16-page “European Agenda for Migration” comes in response to the refugee crisis Europe is facing notably from the south, after thousands of migrants have died in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean and reach EU countries.

The United Nations has called on the EU to take up to 20,000 refugees a year, directly from camps outside the EU—for instance from Turkey or Lebanon, where most of the four million people who fled the Syrian war are currently located. Under the plan, an EU-wide “resettlement scheme” to meet or get close to that target will be proposed by the end of May and funded with €50 million ($56 million) in 2015-16. The exact number of places for refugees is still the subject of discussions within the commission, where 28 commissioners from each EU country have a say on the matter. “Expect a last-minute quarrel in the college of commissioners on the 20,000 resettlement figure,” one EU official said.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is the main driver behind this initiative, which has the backing of the German government, two EU diplomats confirmed. Germany and Sweden have so far taken the bulk of refugees in Europe and insist that a “voluntary system” doesn’t mean other countries should shirk their responsibilities. The program wouldn’t be binding for the U.K., Ireland and Denmark, which have opted out of the EU asylum system. If national governments agree to take refugees from outside the EU, the same distribution “key” may be used for “automatic relocation” of migrants who are already in Italy, Malta or Greece. “We have to start somewhere. Agreeing on refugees outside the EU may be easier, because they are the most in need. Then, we may move on to relocation within the EU,” one EU diplomat said.

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For what it’s worth.

Americans Favor Jon Stewart, Colbert Over Conservatives For Punditry (Reuters)

Jon Stewart has spent 16 years skewering U.S. politicians and media as the liberal host of television’s “The Daily Show” – and many Americans think he gets it right on the issues with his satirical look at the news. In a Reuters/Ipsos online poll, the Comedy Central comic topped a list of 10 pundits, with more than half of respondents saying they agreed with him on at least some issues. Only 12% did not agree with him on any issues at all. Stewart, who will host his last Daily Show episode on Aug. 6, also ranked highest on two other traits – fearlessness and most admired. Of the 2,013 people 18 and older polled, nearly half found him unafraid in confronting “issues that others ignore,” while 48% said they admired him.

Daily Show alumnus Stephen Colbert, who spoofed conservative talk-show hosts for nearly a decade on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” tied Stewart as most admired and placed second to him on issues and fearlessness. Colbert will soon take over hosting “The Late Show” on CBS. By contrast, only 34% of respondents agreed with Rush Limbaugh. The fiery conservative talk show host was the least admired commentator on a list that also included political satirist Bill Maher, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and conservative author Ann Coulter. Nearly 90% of respondents were familiar with Limbaugh’s work, the most for any commentator. [..] O’Reilly was the best performing conservative in the poll, finishing third behind Stewart and Colbert with viewers on confronting tough issues and on sharing the same views. He scored 43% in both areas. He was fifth on the list of most admired pundits behind Stewart, Colbert, Maher and Briton John Oliver, another Daily Show veteran who now anchors a similar program on HBO.

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