May 212024
 


Roy Lichtenstein Crying girl 1963

 

Assange Secures Big Win In US Extradition Hearing: How It Happened (RT)
Vladimir Zelensky: No Mandate, No Election. So What Now? (Drize)
End of Zelensky’s Term To Have No Effect On Russia’s Operation – Kremlin (TASS)
Zelensky Emerges as ‘First Obstacle’ to Peaceful Resolution of Ukrainian Conflict (SP.)
Zelensky A ‘Legitimate Military Target’ – Medvedev (RT)
Ukraine has lost 90% Of Energy Capacity – Ex-Minister (RT)
ICC Chief Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants For Netanyahu And Hamas Leaders (RT)
There Is No Genocide In Gaza – Biden (RT)
Why Are Israel And The West Unravelling In Tandem? (Alastair Crooke)
Judge in Trump Case Says She’s Concerned With Special Counsel Jack Smith (ET)
Michael Cohen Admits Stealing Tens of Thousands From Trump Organization (ET)
The President Whose Voice Must Not Be Heard (Turley)
China Offloads Record Amount Of Dollar Assets – Data (RT)
Fugazy Land (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

Tapper

 

 

Biden SCOTUS

 

 

Fani
https://twitter.com/i/status/1792738591161901068

 

 

Totalitarianism

 

 

 

 

“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Sputnik that the decision of the UK’s High Court of Justice in London doesn’t appear to be in support of the Wikileaks founder. “It is difficult to call the ongoing execution a ‘decision in favor of Assange,'” Zakharova said.”

“The UK High Court ruled that Washington’s assurances of a fair trial for the WikiLeaks founder were insufficient, allowing a full appeal.”

My first reaction: Until now, the appeals were always limited to a few small points, excluding most others. This appears different. RT claims it is a full appeal. Which would involve 1000s upon 1000s of pages of documents that may have to be revisited. I don’t see a positive confirmation of this. We’ll have to see. Knock on wood.

Assange Secures Big Win In US Extradition Hearing: How It Happened (RT)

The High Court in London has ruled that WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has the right to appeal an extradition request by the US. Washington is seeking to put the Australian publisher on trial for espionage for disclosing alleged war crimes committed by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. The UK High Court considered Washington’s assurances that Assange would be given a fair trial if extradited to the US. The court had previously requested two sets of written guarantees from the US stating that the WikiLeaks founder would not be discriminated against due to his Australian citizenship, and would not be held in a maximum security prison or be given the death penalty. If the court had ruled that these guarantees were adequate, Assange would likely have been extradited to the US in a matter of days. While the US had provided the assurances, it did so with a number of conditions.

The American side promised not to immediately place Assange in a maximum security prison, but reserved the right to do so based on his conduct. US prosecutors also stated that the WikiLeaks founder would be able to rely on the First Amendment right to free speech during the trial, but noted that its applicability would be “exclusively within the purview of the US courts.” Assange’s supporters slammed Washington’s diplomatic assurances, with Amnesty International’s criminal justice expert Juli Hall calling them “inherently unreliable because the US government gives itself an out.” The publisher’s wife, Stella Assange, had also described the US guarantees as “blatant weasel words.” Ahead of Monday’s ruling, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the High Court in London calling for Assange’s immediate release.

During the hearing, Assange’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald told the judges that the assurances of a fair trial given by US prosecutors could not be relied upon as American courts would not be bound by them. “We say this is a blatantly inadequate assurance,” Fitzgerald told the court. In a short ruling, the two senior judges of London’s High Court stated that the assurances provided by the US were not sufficient, and gave Assange’s legal team the right to a full appeal hearing. While the legal battle continues, Assange himself will remain in London’s top-security Belmarsh Prison, where he has been held for the past five years since his arrest in 2019 when his asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was revoked.

The legal victory was immediately celebrated by Assange’s supporters, with Amnesty International’s Simon Crowther calling it a “rare piece of positive news for Julian Assange and all defenders of press freedom.” Stella Assange applauded the court’s verdict, calling it the “right decision.” She criticized the US for the ongoing persecution of her husband, and demanded that Washington “read the situation” and drop the case against him. Former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also celebrated Monday’s verdict, but stressed that there was still a lot to be done to secure Assange’s freedom.

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“On May 20, Vladimir Zelensky’s presidential powers officially expired..”

Vladimir Zelensky: No Mandate, No Election. So What Now? (Drize)

On May 20, Vladimir Zelensky’s presidential powers officially expired. He retains power, however, because no elections can be held in Ukraine due to the current state of martial law. Responding to a question last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said peace agreements can only be signed with legitimate leaders. He added that the Ukrainian legal system should draw the necessary conclusions. Firstly, because there is the temptation, if not to cancel them altogether, then to postpone elections in Ukraine for as long as possible. Of course, even if peace is achieved, Ukraine’s infrastructure will have to be rebuilt in order to conduct a proper ballot. Political life also needs to be restarted. All this takes time. But the main point is that Zelensky may well lose the election. He no longer looks like a winner. Moreover, it’s relevant to ask if Ukraine will survive not just as a state but with some form of democracy. It is also unlikely to join NATO any time soon.

There is a growing sense that Zelensky’s backers are tiring of him. A true politician has to be able to run a long race, which is why US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hinted at the desirability of holding elections. So what’s the bigger picture here? A high-level peace conference on Ukraine is scheduled for mid-June in Burgenstock, Switzerland. It’s highly likely that this will fall short of expectations, to put it mildly. If it takes place at all. At the very least, the participation of the Global South appears to be unlikely. And US President Joe Biden is apparently not coming either. What was the point of all this? Well, for Zelensky this is an important project – to get as many influential states on his side as possible. Instead, China is promoting its own peace plan, supported by Russia. And the West is subtly making it clear that, in theory, it would be open to discussions.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent trip to Europe saw all this discussed. We also have to recognize that it’s very difficult for Zelensky to continue fighting without enough weapons and without clear guarantees that supplies won’t stop at some point. And with mobilization not going well, Russia advancing, and the West getting tired of him, if the conference in Switzerland also fails, it will be a big blow for the Ukrainian leader. On the other hand, a compromise might be even worse. This is where you need political experience – rather than making unreasonable demands or issuing statements about saving the West. But we aren’t going to give advice. It’s clear that there is no ideal way out for Moscow either, so everything is very complicated. The chances for peace are slim, but at least some do exist.

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“The powers of the current Ukrainian president under the current Constitution expire on May 21. There is no legitimate way of extending them..”

End of Zelensky’s Term To Have No Effect On Russia’s Operation – Kremlin (TASS)

The expiration of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s term of office does not affect the special military operation, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told reporters. “No, the special operation continues,” Peskov said when asked whether the expiration of Zelensky’s term of office might influence the special operation. The powers of the current Ukrainian president under the current Constitution expire on May 21. There is no legitimate way of extending them. Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that the issue of the Zelensky presidency’s legitimacy after May 20 should be resolved in Ukraine by its political and legal systems.

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“He is the first obstacle to any peace negotiation. If he comes to Switzerland, it would be for receiving the support of his Western supporters and to get more aid for the war. Not for peace..”

Zelensky Emerges as ‘First Obstacle’ to Peaceful Resolution of Ukrainian Conflict (Sp.)

Nextpmonth, Switzerland is expected to host a conference ostensibly meant to help achieve a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian conflict, even though Russia was not invited while BRICS members and Global South countries seem reluctant to attend the event. The upcoming conference at the Burgenstock resort in Switzerland, touted by its organizers as an event to further the peace process in Ukraine, will most definitely be anything but a peace summit, says Swiss MP and former executive director of the Geneva Press Club Guy Mettan. “The deliberate rejection of Russia is now jeopardizing the success of the meeting and returning against its organizers,” Mettan tells Sputnik, pointing out that Russia was not invited to participate in the conference. “Aware of this problem, the Swiss official narrative is now trying to put forward that Russia didn’t wish to participate and that its absence came from its own decision, which is false and will not mislead anybody outside the collective West.”

According to Mettan, the countries of the Global South may end up sending their representatives to this gathering, though they will likely dispatch “medium-level participants with no-decision power, in order to avoid being accused of being ‘against the peace’ or of ‘boycotting the West’.” “For the Global South, the present questions are: why should it participate in a summit which is no longer a summit, which is not focused on peace due to the non-invitation of Russia, and which will certainly be a failure?” he adds. Mettan also argues that Zelensky is in fact opposed to the “real negotiation process” as he signed a decree banning any peace talks with Russia and with his so-called peace formula essentially calling for Russia’s capitulation. “He is the first obstacle to any peace negotiation. If he comes to Switzerland, it would be for receiving the support of his Western supporters and to get more aid for the war. Not for peace,” Mettan remarks.

The lawmaker suggests that Western support for Zelensky’s regime, aimed at weakening Russia, may persist until the US presidential election in November, but afterwards, the strategy’s failures might become more apparent across the military, economic, financial, and political domains. Meanwhile, it appears that the summit in question has been snubbed by many of the prospective participants due to the “unrealistic approach” adopted by the event’s organizers, says Paolo Raffone, a strategic analyst and director of the CIPI Foundation in Brussels. During an interview with Sputnik, Raffone points out that not only Russia was not invited to the summit, but the conference itself is aimed at promoting the so-called Zelensky ‘peace formula,’ a scheme that includes the demand for Russia to cede a part of its territory to Ukraine as a precondition for ending the Ukrainian conflict. “Such an unrealistic approach is the reason for many invitees not attending. The countries that have chosen not to attend are aware that a dialogue in the absence of Russia does not represent ‘the legitimate interests of the parties’,” he explains. “Moreover, no peace talks are well funded if not based on reality. Any meaningful peace talks imply that the Ukrainian government must recognize the ‘new territorial realities’.”

“World leaders are aware that any resolution to the war in Ukraine can only find a settlement between the real world powers underpinning the events, notably Russia and US,” he adds. “While behind the scenes contacts and talks are continuing, the majority of world leaders believe that the time is not yet ripe for ‘peace talks’ and that in any case the starting point cannot be other than the document drafted and mostly agreed in Turkiye in March 2022.” The analyst also observed that the implementation of Zelensky’s plan would be impossible without the “direct military intervention of Western countries,” and that it has already become clear that “none of the Western countries will officially send troops to fight in Ukraine against Russia.”

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“He spat on the Constitution of his ‘country,’ ignored the Constitutional Court, and did not even extend, but usurped the supreme power..”

Zelensky A ‘Legitimate Military Target’ – Medvedev (RT)

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, as the leader of a “hostile political regime,” is a legitimate military target, Dmitry Medvedev, the head of Russia’s Security Council, has said. Speaking to TASS on Monday, Medvedev said that the question of Zelensky’s legitimacy as president is of no particular importance to Moscow. “For Russia, the final loss of legitimacy by the pseudo-president of the former Ukraine will not change anything,” the former Russian president said, noting that the leaders of countries waging war are “always considered” a legitimate military target. Medvedev called Zelensky a “war criminal,” who should be caught and brought to justice or “liquidated as a terrorist” for his crimes against Russians and Ukrainians.

Zelensky appeared on the Russian Interior Ministry’s wanted list earlier this month though no data has been released about criminal proceedings against him. The constitutional powers of the current Ukrainian president expired on May 20. A presidential election was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed under the pretext of martial law, which was imposed after the start of the conflict with Russia in February 2022, and has repeatedly been extended by the nation’s legislature. Zelensky announced in December 2023 that no presidential or parliamentary elections would be held as long as martial law remains in force. In early May, lawmakers prolonged martial law by another three months. According to Medvedev, Zelensky “effectively seized power” in the country after elections were annulled.

“He spat on the constitution of his ‘country,’ ignored the Constitutional Court, and did not even extend, but usurped the supreme power,” Medvedev argued, adding that Zelensky “covered himself with an inarticulate declaration of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian parliament) on the abolition of presidential elections in times of war.” In March, Ukrainskaya Pravda claimed, citing members of parliament, that Zelensky had virtually stripped the legislature of its powers and established de facto personal rule. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said recently that a “moment will come soon when many people, including those inside Ukraine, will question [President Zelensky’s] legitimacy.”

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“..Galushchenko urged Ukrainians to prepare for outages during spring and summer, and advised the population to stock up on electricity generators and power banks..”

Ukraine has lost 90% Of Energy Capacity – Ex-Minister (RT)

About 90% of Ukraine’s power generation capacity has been taken out by Russian missile attacks, according to former minister of infrastructure Aleksey Kucherenko. The situation is not expected to improve dramatically, as the damaged infrastructure cannot be restored quickly, the member of parliament warned during an interview with the YouTube channel Vishka. “We have lost around eight thousand megawatts of electricity, that’s a lot, out of eight thousand, 800 are currently working,” he said, citing power engineers, and warning of extensive power outages through the summer and winter. Moscow began targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure in the autumn of 2022, after Russia’s Crimean Bridge was bombed that October.

In recent months Russia has intensified its strikes on Ukrainian military and energy facilities. In April, the Russian Defense Ministry said the bombardment was in response to Kiev’s attempts to target Russian oil infrastructure. Since January, Ukraine has launched multiple long-range attacks on energy facilities deep inside Russia, including oil depots and refineries, using kamikaze drones. In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia’s strikes on energy facilities “directly affect the defense industry of Ukraine,” calling them part of “demilitarization” efforts. Moscow reiterated the attacks are only aimed at Ukrainian military targets and facilities that support their operations, and never at the civilian population.

To alleviate the pressure on the power grid, Ukraine has introduced temporary blackouts for industrial and household consumers in all regions. The nation has also ramped up imports of electricity from neighboring EU countries – Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – and also from Moldova. Earlier this month, Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko claimed that the combined financial losses from Russian attacks amounted to more than $1 billion, and warned that the figure is likely to rise. He noted that the main damage was to thermal and hydro generation, as well as power transmission systems. In April, Galushchenko urged Ukrainians to prepare for outages during spring and summer, and advised the population to stock up on electricity generators and power banks.

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Not everyone will be pleased…

ICC Chief Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants For Netanyahu And Hamas Leaders (RT)

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said he’s seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There are “reasonable grounds to believe” that the wanted persons are responsible for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Gaza and in Israel, Karim Khan outlined in a statement on Monday. Along with Netanyahu, the prosecutor is looking to arrest Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. The wanted Hamas officials include the Palestinian armed group’s leader Yahya Sinwar, the commander of its military wing –al-Qassam Brigades – Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and the chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh, the prosecutor’s statement reads. According to Khan, Netanyahu and Gallant are suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza such as intentional attacks on a civilian population, willful killing and causing of suffering, using starvation as a method of warfare, “extermination and/or murder” as well as other “inhumane acts.”

The wanted Hamas leaders allegedly “bear criminal responsibility” for murder, rape and other acts of sexual violence, and for taking hostages, torture and other “inhumane acts,” the prosecutor said. On October 7, Hamas fighters carried out an incursion into Israel, which resulted in about 1,200 people being killed and 250 taken hostage. The Israeli government responded to the attack by launching a large-scale military operation in Gaza that is still ongoing. According to data from the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry, 35,456 have been killed and 79,476 others wounded as a result of Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive. Israel is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the UN court, but the State of Palestine joined the organization in 2015. Once warrants against Netanyahu and Hamas leaders are issued, any of the court’s 124 member-states will be obliged to arrest them if they set foot on their territory.

Benny Gantz, the centrist member of Israel’s three-person war cabinet, labeled the decision by Khan to seek arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant as “a crime of historic proportions.” Israel is waging “one of the just wars fought in modern history” and drawing parallels between its top officials and Hamas leaders is “a deep distortion of justice and blatant moral bankruptcy,” he claimed in a statement. The country’s far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich said that “we have not seen such a show of hypocrisy and hatred of Jews like that displayed by the court in the Hague since Nazi propaganda.” Another rightist cabinet member, national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, has urged the Israeli PM and defense minister to “ignore the anti-Semitic prosecutor and order a stepped-up assault against Hamas until they are completely destroyed.”

Back in April, when reports of a possible arrest warrant against Netanyahu emerged, the PM blamed the ICC for seeking to “paralyze Israel’s very ability to defend itself,” while fanning the “fires of anti-Semitism.” Axios reported earlier this month that a group of Republican lawmakers in the US House of Representatives had been devising sanctions against the ICC in a bid to deter it from prosecuting the Israeli leaders. The US, Israel’s major ally, is not a state party to the Rome Statute, which founded the ICC in 2002.

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We’re beyond semantics, Joe…

There Is No Genocide In Gaza – Biden (RT)

US President Joe Biden has dismissed arguments that Israel’s military operation in Gaza can be described as genocide, reiterating Washington’s support for West Jerusalem as he hosted an event for Jewish American Heritage month at the White House. On Monday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, announced that he is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh, accusing them of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Speaking at the White House later in the day, Biden condemned the ICC move as well as separate allegations by the UN’s International Court of Justice that Israel’s actions in Gaza could be genocidal.

“Let me be clear, contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide. We reject that,” Biden said. Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out an incursion into Israel on October 7 which resulted in about 1,200 people being killed and 250 taken hostage. The Israeli government responded by launching a large-scale military operation in Gaza, which according to the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry has killed over 35,000 people and left almost 80,000 others wounded. Israel has vowed to continue the offensive until Hamas is completely eliminated. “We stand with Israel to take out Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas,” Biden said on Monday. “We want Hamas defeated. We’ve worked with Israel to make that happen.”

In January, an interim ruling by the ICJ, the UN’s top court in The Hague, ordered Israel to take steps to prevent genocide and improve humanitarian conditions for Gaza’s population. The lawsuit, filed by South Africa late last year, accuses West Jerusalem of committing systematic war crimes in the Palestinian region. Ireland announced in March that it would support Pretoria’s case, calling Israel’s actions in Gaza a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law on a mass scale.” Last week, Egypt also called on Israel to “comply with its obligations as the occupying power.”

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“..more and more Israelis on both sides of the divide see their country as essentially split into two distinct (non-reconcilable) entities”. Does this sound familiar, albeit in another context?..”

Why Are Israel And The West Unravelling In Tandem? (Alastair Crooke)

Alon Pinkas, a former senior Israeli diplomat (well plugged in at the White House), says aloud the ‘reality’ about Israel which he underlines cannot be hidden further: “[There are now] two [Jewish] states – with contrasting visions of what the nation should be. There is an elephant in the Israeli room – and ‘no’: it’s not occupation, though that is its main cause”. “The elephant in the room is Israel gradually but inexorably being divided [into a high-tech, secular, liberal state] … and a Jewish-supremacist, ultranationalist theocracy with messianic, antidemocratic tendencies that encourage isolation”. “Zionism … has morphed and mutated through the settler movement and extreme right-wing zealots into a Masada-like political culture, based on the concept of the redemption of the ancient kingdom in the ancestral land. (Masada was a Sicarii cult in CE 73)”. Pinkas continues:

“[I]n essence, there is a civil war raging in Israel. It has not reached Gettysburg levels, but the deep and wide schism is becoming glaringly evident. The two political value systems are just not reconcilable. “We are fighting the Arabs (or Iran) for our existence” remains the only common thread, but it is weakening. That is a negative definition of national identity: a common enemy and threat, but very little of what unites us in terms of the type of society and country we want to be”. “Even the most fundamental common narrative, the Declaration of Independence, is now being questioned with some of its basic tenets and guiding principles a source of political contention”. Of course, one can see from which side of the divide Pinkas views his world – yet “above and beyond pondering 7 October, there is a growing realization that ‘unity’, ‘one destiny’ and ‘we have no choice and no other country’ have become meaningless and hollow clichés. Instead, more and more Israelis on both sides of the divide see their country as essentially split into two distinct (non-reconcilable) entities”. Does this sound familiar, albeit in another context?

It should. For it is a metaphor for the inexorable divide in the West, too. The war in Gaza has precipitated and sharpened the latent schisms within in the West. It too can be hidden no longer. On the one hand, there is an (illiberal) social engineering project posing as liberalism. And on the other, a project to recover the ‘eternal’ values (however imperfect) that once lay behind European civilisation. The conflict in the Middle East has thrown the parallels between the two spheres in the West into clarity. Again, the parallels and similarities are discomforting: As Pinkas says: “the divide is real, widening and becoming unbridgeable. The political, cultural and economic gaps and rifts are growing, accompanied by toxic vitriol that masquerades as political discourse. Even the most fundamental common narrative, the Declaration of Independence, is now being questioned with some of its basic tenets and guiding principles a source of political contention”.

He is referring to Israel, but the same is true in the U.S., where the basic tenets and guiding principles of the Constitution (i.e. free speech) are a source of political contention. He talks also of the Right’s claim that Tel Aviv ‘is a bubble’, but adds: “As for the bubble claim, they’re right – but New York is a bubble, Paris and London are bubbles” – geographical, as well as ideological bubbles. Yet Pinkas does not ‘get’ the paradox he creates: Is not that the core of the problem? The ‘Techie-obsessed’ Metro-Élites of America versus the Rest (i.e. ‘flyover America’)? The bubbles are the problem, not something to be brushed aside. Today, tens of thousands of students in the West are protesting the on-going massacre of Palestinians, whilst the institutional place-holders fully support the annihilation of Hamas and any ‘complicit’ civilians (which is extended by some to include all who live in Gaza). The two worldviews share no common perception. They represent contrasting visions for the future – and of the essence of their nations. October 7 exploded the simulacra of the ‘status quo’ in Israel – and at the same time, unravelled the political order in the West – as in Israel.

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“The sealing and redaction rules should be applied consistently and fairly upon a sufficient factual and legal showing..”

Judge in Trump Case Says She’s Concerned With Special Counsel Jack Smith (ET)

The federal judge overseeing one of the criminal cases against former President Donald Trump on May 19 expressed concern and disappointment with special counsel Jack Smith. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, an appointee of President Trump, said that Mr. Smith and his team have taken inconsistent positions during the case as it pertains to keeping some information sealed, or hidden from the public. “In two separate filings related to sealing, the special counsel stated, without qualification, that he had no objection to full unsealing of previously sealed docket entries related to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. In light of that repeated representation, and in the absence of any defense objection, the court unsealed those materials consistent with the general presumption in favor of public access,” Judge Cannon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida wrote in an order.

The materials that were unsealed, though, contain information such as grand jury details that the special counsel has and continues to say, in all other filings, should be kept sealed. Judge Cannon asked for an explanation of the inconsistency. “In response to those inquiries, counsel explained that the special counsel took the position on unsealing in order to publicly and transparently refute defense allegations of prosecutorial misconduct raised in pretrial motions,” Judge Cannon wrote. “Fair enough. But nowhere in that explanation is there any basis to conclude that the special counsel could not have defended the integrity of his Office while simultaneously preserving the witness-safety and Rule 6(e) concerns he has repeatedly told the court, and maintains to this day, are of serious consequence, and which the court has endeavored with diligence to accommodate in its multiple orders on sealing/redaction.”

Judge Cannon described herself as being “disappointed in these developments.” “The sealing and redaction rules should be applied consistently and fairly upon a sufficient factual and legal showing. And parties should not make requests that undermine any prior representations or positions except upon full disclosure to the court and appropriate briefing,” she added.

The case was brought against President Trump over his alleged mishandling of sensitive documents. The order came after Mr. Smith and President Trump filed competing proposals for redactions, in response to a May 9 order from the judge that directed the parties to submit the proposals. The order concerns several motions filed by President Trump, including a motion to dismiss the case based on allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, which have not yet been placed on the docket. The proposals for redactions are also not yet public. Both parties and the judge agree that the names of potential witnesses or information that would clearly identify them should be kept hidden, along with “ancillary names” and personal identifying information such as addresses. Redactions agreed upon by both parties were accepted by the judge in the new order, with a few exceptions. President Trump’s proposed redactions to some witness statements were rejected.

“No basis is provided for these redactions, and the court has previously denied requests to redact the substance of potential witness statements are relied upon in pre-trial motions,” Judge Cannon said. The judge also turned down a request by the special counsel to redact some of the same information. Judge Cannon said that for redactions where the parties disagree, she would “accept for now” President Trump’s characterization of portions of the material falling under privilege, pending her review of privilege arguments. She would also accept the special counsel’s position on Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, despite the concerns outlined in the order. The filings with the authorized redactions are now expected to be docketed in the coming days. Rule 6 states, in part, that a number of people, including government attorneys, must not disclose any matters occurring before a grand jury, with limited exceptions.

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“The former president has denied her claims, describing her and Mr. Cohen in April as “sleaze bags” who are making false statements against him.”

Michael Cohen Admits Stealing Tens of Thousands From Trump Organization (ET)

Former Trump associate and lawyer Michael Cohen on Monday admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from the Trump Organization as he testified during the former presidents’ trial in New York City. Mr. Cohen made the admission while facing cross-examination from defense attorney Todd Blanche. “You did steal from the Trump Organization based upon the expected reimbursement from Red Finch,” Mr. Blanche asked him, making reference to a repayment plan that was intended to pay adult film performer Stormy Daniels $130,000 and tech firm Red Finch $50,000. “Yes sir,” Mr. Cohen said in response. The former attorney then said he went to the bank and took out cash over several days, totaling about $20,000 before keeping it in a small brown paper bag. Then he gave it to the tech firm, he testified, adding he never gave the full $50,000 amount.

The Trump Organization ultimately repaid Mr. Cohen $50,000 and then doubled that payment in a practice known as “grossing up” to cover taxes he’d incur by declaring the money as income rather than a tax-free reimbursement. Mr. Blanche noted that despite Mr. Cohen’s guilty pleas in 2018 to federal charges including a campaign finance violation for the hush money payment and unrelated tax evasion and bank fraud crimes, he’d never been charged with stealing from President Trump’s company. “Have you paid back the Trump Organization the money you stole from them?” Mr. Blanche asked. “No, sir,” Mr. Cohen responded. President Trump was seen by courtroom reporters looking directly at the witness stand as Mr. Cohen made the admission about stealing. Eric Trump, Trump’s son, who is in the courtroom, posted on social media around the same time: “This just got interesting: Michael Cohen is now admitting to stealing money from our company.”

The 34 charges of falsifying business records stem from internal Trump Organization records where payments to Mr. Cohen were marked as legal expenses, when prosecutors say they were really reimbursements for Ms. Daniels’ payment. President has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers say there was nothing criminal about the Daniels deal or the way Mr. Cohen was paid. Last week, Mr. Cohen told jurors that President Trump was allegedly involved in the scheme to pay Ms. Daniels to prevent her from going public in 2016 about an alleged 2006 affair between her and President Trump. The former president has denied her claims, describing her and Mr. Cohen in April as “sleaze bags” who are making false statements against him.

The 34 charges of falsifying business records stem from internal Trump Organization records where payments to Mr. Cohen were marked as legal expenses, when prosecutors say they were really reimbursements for Ms. Daniels’ payment. President has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers say there was nothing criminal about the Daniels deal or the way Mr. Cohen was paid. Last week, Mr. Cohen told jurors that President Trump was allegedly involved in the scheme to pay Ms. Daniels to prevent her from going public in 2016 about an alleged 2006 affair between her and President Trump. The former president has denied her claims, describing her and Mr. Cohen in April as “sleaze bags” who are making false statements against him.

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Curious: President Joe Biden invoked executive privilege over the audiotape of his interrogation by Special Counsel Robert Hur. The transcripts of which were released long ago… So what’s on those tapes?

The President Whose Voice Must Not Be Heard (Turley)

Below is my column in The Hill on the curious claim of executive privilege over the audiotape from President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur. It is the first time that I know of where the content of a presidential conversation was treated as unprivileged but the audio of the conversation claimed as privileged. It is also an invocation on answering questions about alleged criminal acts committed while a private citizen. It is, in my view, entirely without merit but Attorney General Merrick Garland appears more interested in running out the clock than prevailing on the claim.

[..] While all eyes were focused on a Manhattan courthouse for Donald Trump’s trial, a curious thing happened in Washington. President Joe Biden invoked executive privilege in defiance of Congress. It is not the invocation that is particularly unusual. What is curious is that Biden is withholding the audiotape of his own interrogation by Special Counsel Robert Hur, even though the transcript has been released as unprivileged. It appears that Joe Biden is “he who must not be heard.” The invocation of privilege over the audiotape is so transparently political and cynical that it would make Richard Nixon blush. Multiple committees are investigating Biden for possible impeachment and conducting oversight on the handling of the investigation into his retention and mishandling of classified material over decades. Classified documents were found in various locations where Biden lived or worked, including his garage. The mishandling of classified material is uncontestable. Broken boxes, unprotected areas and lack of tracking are all obvious from the photos.

The comparison to the Trump case in Florida is both obvious and disturbing. Where Trump was charged with a litany of charges, including mishandling and retention of documents (in addition to obstruction), Hur decided not to charge Biden at all. His reason was outright alarming: The president is an elderly man with failing memory. Biden made the situation even worse with a disastrous press conference in which he attacked Hur and misrepresented his findings. Biden told the public that the special counsel did not find willful retention of material. This was untrue — Hur not only found that Biden had done this, but repeatedly detailed such violations in the report. Biden also claimed that he had not shown classified material to third parties, even though Hur specifically found that he had and established that there is a witness to that violation.

Biden also attacked Hur for bringing up the death of Beau, his son who passed away in 2018. In showing why Biden could use his diminished faculties as a defense, Hur had noted that Biden got the date wrong of his own son’s death. In the press conference, Biden angrily asked “How in the hell dare he raise that?” Frankly, when I was asked the question, I thought to myself it wasn’t any of their damn business.” It was later shown that it was not Hur but Biden himself who raised his son’s death, which he often does in speeches. Hur’s view that Biden’s diminished cognitive abilities would undermine any prosecution left many dumbfounded. After all, the man who is too feeble to prosecute is not only running a superpower with a massive nuclear arsenal but running for reelection to add four more years in office.

From impeachment to oversight to the 25th Amendment (allowing the removal of a president for incapacities), there are ample reasons for Congress to demand information and evidence from the government on these questions. Congress is also interested in looking at repeated omissions for “inaudible” statements. Under this sweeping theory that Biden can legitimately withhold these recordings under executive privilege, any president could withhold any evidence of incapacity or criminality. The House is poised to find Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to release the audiotapes. It is a cynical calculation. Garland knows that his own department will never prosecute him for contempt of Congress.

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Worst: China stops buying US treasuries…

China Offloads Record Amount Of Dollar Assets – Data (RT)

China sold a record number of US bonds in the first quarter of this year, highlighting the country’s shift away from dollar assets, the latest data from the US Treasury Department reveals. Beijing has divested a total of $53.3 billion in Treasuries and agency bonds combined in the first three months of the year, while at the same time increasing its purchases of gold and other commodities, data showed. Some analysts have suggested that this reduction in foreign exchange reserves could be part of China’s broader strategy to diversify away from US dollar-denominated assets amid rising geopolitical tensions with the US. Some experts have pointed to the economic impact of Western sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine conflict, saying that China seeks to mitigate similar risks.

“The handling of Russian reserves by the US and other G7 countries, including threats of expropriations and sanctions, likely prompted China to reduce its exposure to US Treasury assets to avoid being similarly targeted,” Craig Shapiro, a macroeconomic adviser at LaDuc Trading, told Newsweek on Saturday, referring to the seizure of Russian assets. The West has frozen roughly $300 billion in Russian sovereign funds since the start of the Ukraine conflict. The Brussels-based clearinghouse Euroclear, often seen as a custodian of China’s holdings, disposed of $22 billion in US Treasuries during the reporting period, according to Bloomberg.

As the second largest foreign holder of US Treasury securities after Japan, China’s sell-off could potentially unsettle the Treasury market and raise US borrowing costs, some economists argued. “As China is selling both despite the fact that we are closer to a Fed rate-cut cycle, there should be a clear intention of diversifying away from US dollar holdings,” said Stephen Chiu, chief Asia foreign-exchange and rates strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence. “China’s selling of US securities could speed up as the US-China trade war resumes” especially if Trump returns as president, he said. While China is selling dollar assets, its holdings of gold have surged in the country’s official reserves. The share of the precious metal in reserves climbed to 4.9% in April, the highest since records began in 2015, according to the People’s Bank of China.

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“It was a rather poor frontier province of Russia, and for a while was badly mistreated by Stalin, but it was not a problem outside of Ukraine and, frankly, it was none of our business..”

Fugazy Land (Jim Kunstler)

Really, you must agree: just about anything can happen now, and probably will, and possibly all at the same time — war, sickness, a disordered economy, chaos in money and finance, savages pouring across the open borders, assassination, mayhem in the streets, systems failure, mental illness everywhere you look. You have a sinister, blob-infested government acting like a desperate, cornered animal, fronted by a venal phantasm trailing a personal history of crime. What could go wrong? All of it. The doings in Judge Merchan’s Manhattan present the rectified essence of America’s authority problem. You will stipulate that judges are authorities in a pretty pure sense of the word. Their role is to determine what is right and what is wrong, or, at least guide the proceedings that would result in such a fair determination.

And, of course, the officers of this court, the District Attorney and his prosecutors, are also entrusted with bringing comprehensible cases that follow the facts fairly, and the laws pertaining to those facts. This maliciously misguided prosecution has only accomplished one thing so far: to demonstrate to the American public that the authority of our law has been contorted to become a sick joke. That is a ruinous lesson for the country. The free-for-all of our national life has required reliable adjudication of all the quarrels and inequities that arose out of it. For a long time, the rule of law was America’s great draw. If that goes out the window, all you’re left with is the free-for-all which pretty soon devolves into Thomas Hobbes’s nightmare existence in the state of nature where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

The current Trump trial in Manhattan will likely resolve this week, one way or another, though there is no way that the candidate will land in jail, even if he is convicted and sentenced to go there. That will only be another quandary for the foundering rule of law, and a dreadful challenge. Altogether this trial has alerted even the deranged news channels that the nation is still capable of feeling grossly insulted by its own rulers, and insults will be answered. Tribulation may be the only answer that will avail to correct America’s tragic capture by blobs foreign and domestic. And you must understand that our nation’s bad choices have brought these tribulations upon ourselves. Fugazy finance is finally hitting the wall it has been seeking. Wealth based on pretense eventually runs out of hallucinatory mojo. Zooming gold and silver prices signal that the US dollar is in distress. The eagle is flying upside down.

A system based on credit is one thing, when credit can plausibly be paid back. But that system is gone. Finally, you must learn what truth or consequences really means, and the truth is that our debts are unpayable and everybody knows it. The consequences await. Any way you slice that — bond market blow-up, raging inflation, bank failures, stocks cratering, a “great taking” of collateral (your property) — the effect is the same: a crashing standard of living. That will get everybody’s attention in a way that Pride Month marches won’t. If “Joe Biden” thinks he will put over a central bank digital currency to cover for all this failure, he and the blob he rode in on will be in for a rude surprise. Fugazy war isn’t working either. When did Ukraine become a problem for Western Civ? When Victoria Nuland & Company in the US State Department decided to make it a problem in 2014. Before that, going back into the mists of history, Ukraine was not a problem.

It was a rather poor frontier province of Russia, and for a while was badly mistreated by Stalin, but it was not a problem outside of Ukraine and, frankly, it was none of our business. And in a matter of months, as Russia rolls up on the Zelensky regime, it will cease to be a problem for anyone. The notion that the USA and NATO can reverse this now is insane. The nations of Western Civ won’t draft troops to battle on the ground there. There’s no will to fight in Ukraine among the young people of Europe and America. And we have no more guns or ammo to give. The war will end in humiliation for all concerned in the West, especially the “Joe Biden” regime, which has been recklessly flirting with nuclear aggression — as if this would accomplish anything but turning Western Civ into an ashtray.

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Elon water

 

 

Lioness
https://twitter.com/i/status/1792578570889445445

 

 

Lions

 

 

Merlin

 

 

Table

 

 

 

 

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