Nov 102019
 
 November 10, 2019  Posted by at 10:30 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  8 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Breton girls by the sea 1889

 

Post Testimony Interview with Randy Credico (Craig Murray)
Nunes Demands Schiff -After Lying-, Whistleblower And Hunter Biden Testify (ZH)
Schiff Says Whistleblower Testimony Is ‘Redundant And Unnecessary’ (CNN)
Yovanovitch Communicated With Dem Staffer On ‘Delicate’ Issue (Fox)
Pentagon Asserts US Military Authority Over Syrian Oil Fields (CD)
Italian Court Convicts DB, Nomura In Monte Paschi Derivative Trial (R.)

 

 

Been reading a lot this morning about the UK, which has a general election in 5 weeks. The antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn are getting much louder for that purpose, while Boris Johnson is trying to squash two allegations against himself, one a police investigation into a deal he made with an American woman he allegedly had an affair with, the other a report that a number of Russian billionaires donated hefty sums to the Tory party. But I’ll leave that stuff alone for now, there’ll be plenty coming.

Still, it’s striking that the “campaign” is all about these things, and hardly about policy. Though of course Labour’s plans to change Britain are attacked by the entire press for being unaffordable.

 

 

Craig Murray in this article links to an Aug 4 article he wrote, that said:

“..what should have killed off “Russiagate” forever is the judgement of Judge John G Koeltl of the Federal District Court of New York. In a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and against Wikileaks, and against inter alia Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Julian Assange, for the first time the claims of collusion between Trump and Russia were subjected to actual scrutiny in a court of law. And Judge Koeltl concluded that, quite simply,the claims made as the basis of Russiagate are insufficient to even warrant a hearing.”

He also says here, as I have often said myself, that there never was a link between Russia, Assange and/or Roger Stone. As if that is not glaringly obvious enough.

Post Testimony Interview with Randy Credico (Craig Murray)

Following his appearance as the main witness for the prosecution against former Trump aide Roger Stone, my good friend Randy Credico has had the entire American mainstream media chasing him for an interview. He has however decided to give only this single interview to me, which is put out here and which is free for everybody to use, with acknowledgement.

Five of the seven charges against Stone relate directly to Randy, who is the witness that Stone is accused of tampering with and attempting to intimidate. There is a tremendous irony here. The Mueller investigation was set up to reveal links between the Trump campaign, Russia and Wikileaks. There are no such links, as has already been proven in another US court. Roger Stone ends up being charged with lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee, by pretending he had links to Wikileaks when he did not. He is also charged with trying to intimidate Randy into saying there was such a link and Randy was the back channel; which I myself can attest is nonsense.

The Mueller investigation has thus ultimately ended up prosecuting people for telling the same pack of lies that Mueller himself was pushing. The Clinton media, including CNN, the Washington Post and New York Times, are baffled by this. They follow the Stone trial assiduously from delight in seeing a long term Trump hanger-on brought down, and in the hope something will come out about Wikileaks or Russia. Their reporting, as that of the BBC, has been deliberately vague on why Stone is being charged, contriving to leave their audience with the impression that Stone’s trial proves Trump connections to Wikileaks and Russia, when in fact it proves the precise opposite. A fact you will never learn from the mainstream media. Which is why I am doing this at 2am on a very cold Edinburgh night, for the small but vital audience which is interested in the truth.

Read more …

Why would the GOP bother anymore? They won’t get their witnesses. This is fast becoming a banana republic-style show trial.

Nunes Demands Schiff -After Lying-, Whistleblower And Hunter Biden Testify (ZH)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) made a formal request that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) testify in a closed-door session as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. “Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place,” reads a Friday letter from Nunes to Schiff. “As the American public is now aware, in August 2019 you and/or your staff met with or talked to the whistleblower who raised an issue with President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Although you publicly claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, the three committees deserve to hear directly from you the substance and circumstances surrounding any discussions conducted with the whistleblower, and any instructions you issued regarding those discussions.”

“Given that you have reneged on your public commitment to let the committees interview the whistleblower directly, you are the only individual who can provide clarity as to these conversations,” the letter reads. Schiff lied about his office’s contacts with the whistleblower – initially claiming “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” when in fact the whistleblower, now known as CIA officer Eric Ciaramella, reached out to a committee aide who directed him to Democratic attorney Mark Zaid (who proudly obtained government security clearances for pedophiles and enjoys walking around children’s theme parks alone). That said, Schiff maintains he hasn’t personally spoken with Ciaramella, and that his committee was only given vague information as to the nature of the complaint.

Republicans, meanwhile, are gearing up for the public hearings by assembling a list of proposed witnesses – although Democrats have the final say over who can appear. Nunes’ and Republicans’ effort to devise a strategy going forward comes after the House approved rules for the impeachment inquiry process last week. While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, Democrats still gave GOP lawmakers the ability to subpoena witnesses with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.

This process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses. A GOP source told Fox News this week that it’s unlikely Democrats would go along with the efforts to call Schiff — who is essentially leading the impeachment probe. -Fox News On Saturday, Nunes wrote another letter to Schiff with a list of witnesses the GOP would like to call, including Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Ciaramella.

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That’s just his opinion and interpretation. How did that become the law?

Schiff Says Whistleblower Testimony Is ‘Redundant And Unnecessary’ (CNN)

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff made clear on Saturday that the Ukraine whistleblower won’t be testifying in the impeachment inquiry, arguing that the individual’s testimony would be “redundant and unnecessary.” House Republicans earlier Saturday had submitted a list of witnesses to Democrats that they’d like to testify as part of the chamber’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and Ukraine. The list included the whistleblower and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. In a letter obtained by CNN, Schiff goes further than he did earlier in the day when he said in a statement that his committee would evaluate the witness requests and “give due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry, as voted on by the House.”

“The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the President’s own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms, but far exceeds, the initial information in the whistleblower’s complaint. The whistleblower’s testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary. In light of the President’s threats, the individual’s appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk,” Schiff wrote to California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

The comments by Schiff, one of the Democrats in charge of the inquiry, are the clearest yet that the whistleblower won’t testify in the probe, a dramatic shift since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry in September when the individual’s testimony was viewed as paramount. The committee had engaged in a round of private talks to protect the whistleblower while allowing him or her to provide testimony, including disguising the individual’s identity or conducting the interview off-site. But as a parade of witnesses have corroborated the whistleblower’s account, detailing the under-the-radar push by the President and his allies to have Ukraine probe his political foes, and as Trump has stepped up his attacks against the person, Democrats have abandoned the idea of securing the testimony.

In a letter to Schiff earlier Saturday, Republicans had listed the anonymous whistleblower, Hunter Biden, former US special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, high-ranking State Department official David Hale and Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council among the people they wanted to testify. The GOP also requested Nellie Ohr, a former Fusion GPS contractor, and Alexandra Chalupa, a former Democratic National Committee staffer —a sign that Republicans still want to focus on unsubstantiated claims related to the 2016 presidential campaign. “As of right now, they are giving us no witnesses,” Nunes told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday night.

Read more …

Yovanovitch hates Trump (and Russia too). Why would he let her keep her job? Isn’t it a better idea to work with people who don’t hate you?

Yovanovitch Communicated With Dem Staffer On ‘Delicate’ Issue (Fox)

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a key witness in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, communicated via her personal email account with a Democratic congressional staffer concerning a “quite delicate” and “time-sensitive” matter — just two days after the whistleblower complaint that kickstarted the inquiry was filed, and a month before the complaint became public, emails obtained Thursday by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show. The emails appear to contradict Yovanovitch’s deposition on Capitol Hill last month, in which she told U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., about an email she received Aug. 14 from the staffer, Laura Carey — but indicated under oath that she never responded to it.

The communication came “from the Foreign Affairs Committee,” and “they wanted me to come in and talk about, I guess, the circumstances of my departure” in May as ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch testified, describing Carey’s initial email. “I alerted the State Department, because I’m still an employee, and so, matters are generally handled through the State Department.” Yovanovitch continued: “So, she emailed me. I alerted the State Department and, you know, asked them to handle the correspondence. And, she emailed me again and said, you know, ‘Who should I be in touch with?'” Fox News is told it is a breach of normal procedure for congressional staff to reach out to a current State Department employee at their personal email address for official business.

Asked directly whether she responded to Carey’s overtures, Yovanovitch testified only that someone in the “Legislative Affairs Office” at the State Department had responded to Carey, to the best of her knowledge. Yovanovitch did not indicate that she had responded to Carey’s first email in any way, and testified explicitly that she did not reply to Carey’s follow-up email concerning whom she should contact at the State Department. However, emails obtained by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” showed that in fact, Yovanovitch had responded to Carey’s initial Aug. 14 email, writing that she “would love to reconnect and look forward to chatting with you.”

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They are Syrian. Oil. Fields.

Pentagon Asserts US Military Authority Over Syrian Oil Fields (CD)

Pentagon officials asserted Thursday U.S. military authority over Syrian oil fields because U.S. forces are acting under the goal of “protecting Americans from terrorist activity” and would be within their rights to shoot a representative of the Syrian government who attempted to retake control over that country’s national resource. The comments came from Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman and Navy Rear Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. during a press briefing in which the two men were asked repeatedly about the legal basis the U.S. is claiming to control Syrian oil fields. The briefing came less than two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “That’s our mission, to secure the oil fields” in the Deir ez-Zor area of eastern Syria.

President Donald Trump’s comments before and after that remark —”We’re going to be protecting [the oil], and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future,” and “The oil… can help us, because we should be able to take some”— were seized on by critics who claimed Trump was suggesting violating international law by plundering another country’s resources and openly saying the U.S. was pursuing war for oil. Hoffman, in his comments Thursday, gave a different message—that “the revenue from this is not going to the U.S. This is going to the SDF,” referring to the Kurdish-led and U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who are battling ISIS. Byrne claimed that the U.S. has been waging the oil field control mission alongside SDF and that the goal was to prevent ISIS from obtaining the oil revenue.

But, as one reporter pointed out, ISIS fighters “have no armor. They have no aircraft.” “Do they have the capability to actually seize the oil fields?” the reporter asked. “And isn’t this really about Russia and Syria seizing those oil fields?” Hoffman replied that the goal was “to prevent a resurgence” of ISIS which would be facilitated if the terrorist group had access to the oil revenue.

Read more …

Bankers in jail? What?

Italian Court Convicts DB, Nomura In Monte Paschi Derivative Trial (R.)

An Italian court has convicted 13 former bankers from Deutsche Bank, Nomura and Monte dei Paschi di Siena over derivative deals that prosecutors say helped the Tuscan bank hide losses in one of the country’s biggest financial scandals. The verdict, read in court on Friday by lead judge Lorella Trovato, also ordered fines and asset seizures worth a total of €68 million from Deutsche Bank and €91.5 million from Nomura. Monte dei Paschi reached a settlement with the court over the case in 2016 at a cost of €10.6 million. The case centres on two complex derivatives transactions – known as Alexandria and Santorini – that Nomura and Deutsche Bank arranged for Monte dei Paschi in 2009.

Prosecutors said the deals helped Monte dei Paschi, which was founded in 1472 and is Italy’s fourth biggest lender, hide more than €2 billion of losses racked up after the costly acquisition of a smaller rival in 2008. [..] Monte dei Paschi’s former chairman Giuseppe Mussari, one of five former executives from the Tuscan bank on trial, was given the heaviest sentence of seven years and six months in jail. Deutsche Bank and Nomura were both convicted as institutions for failing to prevent wrongdoing by their employees. All six defendants linked to Deutsche Bank and the two who once worked for Nomura were handed jail terms.

They include sentences of four years and eight months each for Ivor Dunbar, former co-head of Global Capital Markets at the German bank, Michele Faissola, its former head of Global Rates, and Michele Foresti, its former head of Structured Trading. Nomura’s former chief executive for the EMEA region, Sadeq Sayeed, was also given a sentence of four years and eight months while Raffaele Ricci, the former head of the bank’s EMEA Sales, was handed a sentence of three years and 5 months.

Read more …

 

The UK has an Editors Code of Practice.

 

 

 

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Nov 092019
 
 November 9, 2019  Posted by at 9:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  7 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Sheperd and sheperdess in a meadow 1888

 

MSM Gets History & Russia All Wrong AGAIN (RT)
Trump Has ‘No Problem’ Releasing Second Phone Call With Ukraine (NBC)
Anonymous Author Writes Trump’s Decision-Making Is Eroding Over Time (NBC)
‘Steady State’ Kept ‘Wheels From Coming Off The White House Wagon’ (Hill)
Facebook Scrubs All References To Alleged Whistleblower Eric Ciaramella (ZH)
Trump On Impeachment: ‘They Shouldn’t Be Having Public Hearings’ (Hill)
Giuliani: Ukraine Quid Pro Quo Intended To Benefit Trump Personally (WE)
Enter the Old White Knight (Kunstler)
Brazil’s Former President Lula Released From Prison (RT)
Southwest and American Pull 737 MAX Until Early March (R.)

 

 

Over 20 million Russians died in WWII. This should be mandatory knowledge in all western schools. And for reporters. It’s about respect. It should also be mandatory for US presidents to attend V-Day, certainly when it’s the 75th.

MSM Gets History & Russia All Wrong AGAIN (RT)

US President Donald Trump managed to trigger his critics again by saying he would love to go to Russia for the celebration of victory in WWII – which a reporter and most media misnamed as the long-nonexistent “May Day parade.” “I would love to go if I could,” Trump said on Friday, answering a reporter who had asked if he would go to the “May Day parade” in Moscow next year. “I am thinking about it.” Trump noted it was in the middle of the campaign season for the 2020 US presidential election, so he might be busy. The mere mention of the possibility of going to Russia is enough to send the US president’s critics into a frenzy, but the mention of “May Day” had them additionally shrieking in outrage.

“All roads lead to Putin!” exclaimed Raw Story, rolling out a gamut of #Resistance Twitter reactions echoing that line from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Leading the way was CNN anchor Jim Sciutto, who characterized the parade as “a celebration of Russian military power, which Putin is using to undermine US national security interests across the globe.” [..] The trouble with all these hot takes is that there is no such thing as the “May Day military parade,” and hasn’t been in over 50 years. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union did roll out the tanks and missiles on Red Square for International Workers’ Day, but the last such military display was in 1968.

Trump’s own response on Friday – “It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war” – indicates he knew perfectly well to which event he’d been invited: the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ triumph over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, which Russia will celebrate on May 9, 2020.

Read more …

No, NBC, it’s V-Day, not a May Day military parade.

Trump Has ‘No Problem’ Releasing Second Phone Call With Ukraine (NBC)

President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke to the president of Ukraine by phone in April, months before the call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, and that he was willing to provide a transcript of the call. “I have the second call, which nobody knew about,” Trump said, speaking to reporters as he left the White House on Friday morning, referring to that spring conversation. “I guess they want that to be produced also. … I understand they’d like it, and I have no problem giving it to them.” Trump was referring to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, which was prompted by a whistleblower complaint about a phone conversation Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy on July 25.


The president said that the White House counsel did not want to release “all this information” but that he did not object to turning it over. “I had a call, I’m sure it was fine. I make a lot of calls. But I have no problem releasing it. I’m very transparent,” he said, though he was concerned that doing so “sets a bad precedent” with foreign leaders who might worry about the privacy of their future conversations with the United States. Trump said his first phone call with Zelinksiy was “very revealing,” adding it was another “perfect” call. Trump also said that he is considering visiting Russia for its May Day military parade. “I am certainly thinking about it,” he said, adding that President Vladimir Putin had extended an invitation

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Smearing has turned anonymous. The media should ignore it completely. They do the opposite.

Anonymous Author Writes Trump’s Decision-Making Is Eroding Over Time (NBC)

President Donald Trump’s behavior can be so erratic that most top administration officials have pre-written resignation letters ready to submit, an anonymous author claiming to be a senior official in the Trump administration says in a book scheduled to be published this month. To complicate matters, the president’s decision-making abilities are getting worse with time, according to excerpts of “A Warning” that were obtained and read Thursday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The author, described only as “a senior Trump administration official,” is the same person who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times last year headlined, “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration.”

The column said “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.” The information is coming from an anonymous source, and NBC News does not know who the writer is nor whether they were in a position to have witnessed what they say transpired. In the book excerpts, the author describes near-daily “five-alarm fire drill” that leads senior officials to cancel plans and race to the White House to intercept Trump before he can enact his latest “wacky or destructive idea.” “Staff throw up the Bat-Signal, calling a snap meeting or a teleconference. ‘He’s about to do something,’ one warns the group, explaining what the president is about to announce.” “‘He can’t do this. We’ll all look like idiots, and he’ll get murdered for it in the press,’ another exclaims. “‘Yeah, well, I’m telling you he’s going to do it unless someone gets to him fast,’ the first warns. ‘Can you cancel your afternoon?'”

[..] In excerpts published separately by The Washington Post, the author likens Trump to “a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.” “I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,” according to the Post’s excerpts. “He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.”

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One half of the nation keeps on eating it all up.

‘Steady State’ Kept ‘Wheels From Coming Off The White House Wagon’ (Hill)

In a new book, the author of an anonymous New York Times op-ed has described a “steady state” that formed to “keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” according to excepts from the book read by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on her show Thursday. “The early Steady State formed to keep the wheels from coming off the White House wagon,” Maddow read from the excerpts of the book “A Warning.” “When presidential appointees started conferring about their shared concerns with the nation’s chief executive … it was done informally, in weekly phone calls or on the margins of meetings,” Maddow continued, citing the book. Many of the concerns staff members had about the president stemmed from his “inattentiveness” and “impulsiveness.”


[..] “In Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable,” the person wrote last year. “This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state,” they continued at the time. The Post on Thursday also reported on an excerpt of the book in which the anonymous person, billed as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” wrote that officials wake up “in a full-blown panic” due to Trump’s tweets.

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And Twitter too. Curious. Everyone knows the name. So why the censorship?

Facebook Scrubs All References To Alleged Whistleblower Eric Ciaramella (ZH)

Facebook announced on Friday that it would be removing an posts which name alleged Trump-Ukraine whistleblower Eric Ciaramella. “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in the debate,” Facebook said in a statement in which they claim it violates their “coordinating harm” policy which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant, or activist.’ On Wednesday, the social media giant removed ads naming Ciaramella which had been viewed several hundred thousand times according to the Washington Post.

On Friday, Breitbart’s Allum Bohkari reported that the news outlet’s posts containing references to Ciaramella had been scrubbed from the site. Wednesday evening, Facebook removed Breitbart posts reporting on the fact other respected news outlets have reported the identity of the alleged whistleblower is Eric Ciaramella. Any Facebook user who attempts to click on that article on Facebook is now given a message that says, “this content isn’t available at the moment.” To be clear, Breitbart did not “out” the alleged whistleblower but did provide additional relevant reporting about him; he is, after all, a public figure, having served on the National Security Council. Moreover, his name has been used in the Mueller report (p283) and Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony.

Administrators of Breitbart News’ Facebook page began receiving notifications on Wednesday evening stating that Breitbart’s page is “at risk of being unpublished” but were not given any details as to why, or even which posts were allegedly at issue. -Breitbart Of note, it is not against the law for anyone except the Inspector General to disclose a whistleblower’s name. “There is no overarching protection for the identity of the whistleblower under federal law,” said attorney Dan Meyer, the former executive director of the intelligence community whistleblower program, adding “Congress has never provided that protection.”

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I think he means there should not be any hearings.

Trump On Impeachment: ‘They Shouldn’t Be Having Public Hearings’ (Hill)

Trump on Friday blasted the impeachment proceedings in his most extensive public comments since the first transcripts were released on Monday. He attacked Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment process and suggested an attorney for the whistleblower who raised concerns about his call with the Ukrainian president should be sued “and maybe for treason.” Trump downplayed the potentially damaging effects of the transcripts that have been released thus far, claiming he was unfamiliar with many of the witnesses and that none of them had first-hand information. “I’m not concerned about anything,” Trump said. “The testimony has all been fine. I mean for the most part, I’ve never even heard of these people. There are some very fine people. You have some Never Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any first-hand knowledge.”

The president asserted that the only thing that counts is the partial transcript from his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While Trump has insisted that document shows the call was “perfect,” it depicts the president urging his Ukrainian counterpart to “look into” the Bidens after Zelensky brought up the need for military assistance. Trump added that he’s open to releasing a similar memo detailing an earlier call with Zelensky if Democrats demand a copy. The House Intelligence Committee will hold public hearings next week with three witnesses who have testified privately in recent weeks, presenting new challenges for Trump’s efforts to discredit members of his own administration.

Diplomat William Taylor and State Department official George Kent will testify on Wednesday, and former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify Friday. The White House has refused to cooperate with the process thus far, directing officials not to testify. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney did not comply with a subpoena to testify on Friday. Trump told reporters at the White House he would have no problem with Mulvaney speaking with lawmakers, but he did not want to “give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt.”

Read more …

A very strange conclusion by the Washington Examiner. Defending a client against false accusations, which Giuliani says he did and does, equals “prioritizing Trump’s personal gain over that of the people”?!

Giuliani: Ukraine Quid Pro Quo Intended To Benefit Trump Personally (WE)

Here, the president’s personal attorney has conceded that he used formal diplomatic channels and the powers of the Oval Office to prioritize Trump’s personal gain over that of the people. Trump’s only option at this point is to throw Giuliani and his back-channel under the bus. It’s evident that Burisma only hired Hunter Biden for access to his father, even though it’s unclear that the vice president ever allowed the oil company or his son to exploit that connection. Furthermore, we know for a fact that Ukraine favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. But we have diplomatic channels and strategies to combat legitimate corruption and investigate malfeasance.


Furthermore, Trump’s personal legal defense should not involve using the powers of the presidency — potentially without the property security clearances — to gain exculpatory evidence. For a personal attorney to use congressionally approved aid to advance a president’s personal interests over national interests is unconscionable. If Trump signed off on that, then yes, it’s clearly an impeachable abuse of power that proves he’s willing to illicitly interfere with the 2020 election.

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“..liable to end in a farrago of humiliation so intense that all the Lawfare ninjas on God’s green earth will not avail to rescue the Democratic Party’s lost honor..”

Enter the Old White Knight (Kunstler)

And how does Mike measure up against his old Boomer Gen fellow New Yorker and sometime adversary, Mr. Trump? For all of his gilded trappings, there’s no denying that Mr. Trump is beloved by what used to be known as the Salt of the Earth — more lately the “Deplorables” — despite the fact that the president may have actually never been on a New York Subway once in his well-padded life, while Mike was a renowned “strap-hanger” in his city hall glory days. The awful irony! Also, President DJT is almost never seen dressed in anything but that straightjacket of a business suit and tie, gold cufflinks and all, while Mike has often appeared in Hamptons casuals of perfectly distressed blue jeans, polo shirt, and Gucci loafers which, these days, is tantamount to hippie garb.

Mike’s most obvious selling point is that he appears to be what used to be known as “a normal person,” that is in speech, manner, and general comportment. But, normal to whom these days? Perhaps not to the WalMart shoppers moiling by the tens of thousands in those heartland arenas where Mr. Trump casts his magic spells of plain speech and surly manner, much beloved in these days of dastardly, confabulating lawyer-speak, gender studies crypto-metaphysical bullshit, and self-serving New York Times Ivy League ambiguation.

Speaking of which, what might Mike Bloomberg do about the impeachment circus led by the imbecile Adam Schiff that is liable to end in a farrago of humiliation so intense that all the Lawfare ninjas on God’s green earth will not avail to rescue the Democratic Party’s lost honor? Or, how will a Bloomberg campaign maneuver through the blizzard of indictments coming down against the former agents, servelings, chore-boys, foot-soldiers, and media sirens of Barack Obama’s runaway Deep State?

Read more …

Brazil will have to get rid of Bolsonaro. But it may be too corrupted to achieve that.

Brazil’s Former President Lula Released From Prison (RT)

A judge has ordered the release from jail of former President of Brazil Lula da Silva until his appeal process ends. Da Silva stands accused of corruption, though he and his supporters call the charges politically motivated. On Friday, the judge accepted the request filed by the ex-president’s defense team, authorizing him to leave jail. Da Silva will now be able to stay out of prison until his appeal process continues. Within two hours after the release request was accepted, former Brazilian President walked out of jail, meeting a large crowd of his supporters who gathered outside to celebrate the occasion. Shortly after the ruling, Lula’s official Twitter account released a video of of the 74-year-old working out. The post was accompanied by two words only: “Lula free”.


The move follows the Thursday ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, which overturned, in a 6-5 vote, its own 2016 decision, which had obliged convicted criminals to go to jail after they lose their first appeal. Now, the court decided such a provision to be non-constitutional, since the country’s basic law says no one can be considered guilty until due process is over. Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva, who was Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, was slapped with a 12-year jail term as a result of a probe into an alleged massive corruption scheme, commonly known as the ‘Car Wash.’ The socialist icon has always maintained his innocence, vehemently rejecting all the accusations as politically-motivated.

Read more …

I wouldn’t bet on March either.

Southwest and American Pull 737 MAX Until Early March (R.)

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines Group Inc said on Friday they are extending Boeing 737 MAX cancellations until early March, just shy of the one-year anniversary of an Ethiopian Airlines crash of the jet that led to a worldwide grounding. Southwest and American, the two largest U.S. operators of the aircraft, have had to scale back growth plans and are together canceling more than 300 flights a day, taking a hit to profits as they manage slimmer fleets without the 737 MAX. Southwest, which has bet its entire growth strategy on Boeing’s newest single-aisle aircraft, had previously canceled all its 737 MAX flights until Feb. 8 and now expects a return to service on March 6, though it warned that the timeline could get pushed back again.


Boeing Co is facing increasing hurdles in obtaining approval to return the plane to service before the end of this year as it has targeted. [..] Reuters reported this week that U.S. and European regulators will need to return to a Rockwell Collins facility in Iowa to complete an audit of Boeing’s software documentation after regulators found gaps and substandard documents. Boeing has confirmed it must submit revised documentation. That has thrown into question when Boeing would be able to complete a certification test flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it would not unground the planes until 30 days after that flight occurs.

Read more …

 

A nice graph from Statista, but if they don’t specify which currency the debt is in, it loses much of its meaning.

 

 

 

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Nov 072019
 
 November 7, 2019  Posted by at 9:45 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Rear window tenement dwelling, 133 Avenue D, NYC June 1936

 

Dems’ ‘Star Witness’ Wasn’t On Trump-Ukraine Call, Sole Source Was NYT (ZH)
Top US Diplomat’s Damning Account Of Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine (CNN)
Adam Schiff Announces First Public Impeachment Hearings (ZH)
Trump Jr. Outs CIA Whistleblower Over Twitter (ZH)
Hunter Biden Took ‘Off The Books’ Payments From Burisma, Aided By FBI (CDM)
Ukrainians Pimped Hunter Biden’s Seat For Leverage With Obama State Dept (ZH)
‘Coup Has Started,’ Whistleblower’s Attorney Said In 2017 (Fox)
Jeffrey Epstein’s Brother Talks ‘Unexplained’ Injuries on Shoulder, Wrist (ET)

 

 

The US is becoming so divided it’s time to ‘heal’ before it’s too late. This whole impeachment thing should have been bipartisan from the start, but it hasn’t at all. The Dems have tried from the get-go to block the GOP from getting involved. And even now, as they claim hearings will become public, they put restraints on Republican House members. That will not end well.

Point in case: the first two articles below, one from Zero Hedge, the other from CNN, draw 180º different conclusions from the exact same material. And then that is supposed to move smoothly into the 2020 election process?

The testimonies from Taylor and Sondland appear tainted. The whistleblower who isn’t one refuses to talk, but is ‘willing’ to answer written questions (or rather his lawyers are). The Dems try to keep him anonymous while his identity has been out there for everyone to see. And looking at his background it’s not hard to see why they don’t want him to testify. But the entire process has become so distorted that no-one should want to be part of it.

Open it up!

 

 

“.. you’re telling us that Tim Morrison told you that Ambassador Sondland told him that the president told Ambassador Sondland that Zelensky would have to open an investigation into Biden?” “That’s correct,” Taylor admitted.”

Dems’ ‘Star Witness’ Wasn’t On Trump-Ukraine Call, Sole Source Was NYT (ZH)

“And this isn’t firsthand. It’s not secondhand. It’s not thirdhand,” Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., said to Taylor. “But if I understand this correctly, you’re telling us that Tim Morrison told you that Ambassador Sondland told him that the president told Ambassador Sondland that Zelensky would have to open an investigation into Biden?” “That’s correct,” Taylor admitted. “So do you have any other source that the president’s goal in making this request was anything other than The New York Times?” Zeldin asked. “I have not talked to the president,” Taylor said. “I have no other information from what the president was thinking.”

Additionally, as The Federalist notes, under questioning from Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Taylor also testified that the Ukrainian government wasn’t aware U.S. military funding had been temporarily suspended until late August, and then only after the information was leaked to the news media, meaning an alleged quid pro quo would have been impossible. “So, if nobody in the Ukrainian government is aware of a military hold at the time of the Trump-Zelensky call, then, as a matter of law and as a matter of fact, there can be no quid pro quo, based on military aid,” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor, said. “I just want to be real clear that, again, as of July 25th, you have no knowledge of a quid pro quo involving military aid.”

“July 25th is a week after the hold was put on the security assistance,” Taylor testified. “And July 25th, they had a conversation between the two presidents, where it was not discussed.” “And to your knowledge, nobody in the Ukrainian government was aware of the hold?” Ratcliffe asked. “That is correct,” Taylor responded. The Democrats may need a better witness.

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Ye olde defense: “There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Joe or Hunter Biden”. And there won’t be if you succeed in frustrating any investigation.

Top US Diplomat’s Damning Account Of Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine (CNN)

In his opening statement, which was published when he testified on October 22, Taylor explained that Sondland told him “everything” Ukraine wanted was conditioned on the investigation. There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Joe or Hunter Biden. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff announced Wednesday that Taylor would testify next week on Wednesday, the first day that Democrats will hold public impeachment hearings. Taylor’s testimony provided a damning account of how Trump told his appointees to establish a quid pro quo with Ukraine, trading much-needed US military assistance for political favors from Zelensky.

Taylor, a career official who remains in his post in Kiev, testified that he was prepared to resign amid the holdup of aid, and he explained in more detail what he meant in text messages describing a “nightmare” for Ukraine that would have prompted his departure. “‘The nightmare’ is the scenario where President (Volodymyr) Zelensky goes out in public, makes an announcement that he’s going to investigate Burisma and the election in 2016, interference in 2016 election, maybe among other things,” Taylor told the House committees. “The nightmare was he would mention those two, take all the heat from that, get himself in big trouble in this country and probably in his country as well, and the security assistance would not be released. That was the nightmare.”

In the wake of his testimony, Trump accused Taylor of being a “Never Trumper.” Trump made this claim even though there is zero public evidence to support his assertion, and available information paints Taylor as a respected and apolitical career diplomat.

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The first public hearing will be that of Bill Taylor, whose testimony they already took -and leaked from- two weeks ago, and which they released on Wednesday? Now they want a do-over? What’s the story, morning glory?

Adam Schiff Announces First Public Impeachment Hearings (ZH)

After weeks of secretive impeachment proceedings from which House Democrats have largely excluded Republican lawmakers, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced on Twitter Wednesday that his committee will hold its first public impeachment hearings next week. Unsurprisingly, those with the most damaging testimony will be peddled out, while witnesses who gave exonerating testimony such as special envoy Kurt Volker and Ambassador Gordon Sondland are notably absent from the roster. First up? On Wednesday, November 13 the panel will hear from Bill Taylor – the top US diplomat in Ukraine who told house investigators last month that he believes there was a quid pro quo between the Trump administration and Ukraine.

Taylor notably expressed his concerns in a Sept. 9 text message to US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, saying: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” To which Sondland, dictating from Trump, replies “Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” adding “I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.” Sondland, meanwhile, ‘updated’ his earlier testimony to clarify that he told a top Ukrainian official that the country would need to commit to investigating former VP Joe Biden and other Democrats in exchange for the release of nearly $400 million in US military aid.

“I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” said Sondland. That said, Sondland also testified that his quid pro quo comments were his opinion, and that President Trump specifically said he did not want one.

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No he didn’t really, the name was known to half the country.

Trump Jr. Outs CIA Whistleblower Over Twitter (ZH)

Drama ensued on Wednesday after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a Breitbart News article which contained the name of the alleged Trump-Ukraine whistleblower, Eric Ciaramella. The article, written by Breitbart senior investigative reporter New York Times bestselling author and Aaron Klein, details how Ciaramella was central to the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy – including the eventual signing of a $1 billion US loan guarantee after former VP Joe Biden pressured them into firing the guy investigating an energy company paying his son to sit on their board, Burisma Holdings.


In response to Trump Jr. tweeting Ciaramella’s name, journalist Yashar Ali (who worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign) contacted Don Jr., who told him “The outrage on this is BS. And those pretending that I would coordinate with The White House to send out a Breitbart link haven’t been watching my feed for a long time.” Don Jr. then tweeted “The entire media is #Triggered that I (a private citizen) tweeted out a story naming the alleged whistleblower. Are they going to pretend that his name hasn’t been in the public domain for weeks now? Numerous people & news outlets including Real Clear Politics already ID’d him.”

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CD Media continues its Ukraine series.

Hunter Biden Took ‘Off The Books’ Payments From Burisma, Aided By FBI (CDM)

Oleksandr Onyshchenko was elected to the Ukrainian Parliament in 2012. He served From November 2014 until 2016 as the deputy chairman of the Parliament Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety. He states on his website: “However, his political career would be cut short in the summer of 2016 after he was revealed to be an opposition supporter who was secretly helping opposition leader and Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her “Fatherland” party. A politically-motivated charge of embezzlement was placed against him by then-President Poroshenko and Mr Onyshchenko had to flee the country. On February 6 2017, The German Higher Regional Court of Koblenz issued a decision which ruled out any criminality in the actions of Mr Onyshchenko. Most notably, the State of Ukraine did not give any evidence of Mr Onyshchenko’s involvement in criminal activity, and no definitive circumstances were shown.”

Onyshchenko currently lives in Western Europe but intends to return to Ukraine to fight the corrupt schemes put in place by former President Poroshenko and to aid the Zelensky administration in such efforts. In Onyshchenko’s former oversight role over Ukrainian energy security, he was in a unique position to acquire information on Burisma and their dealings with the Biden family. In our extensive discussions with Onyshchenko, CD Media can report that he confirmed Hunter Biden took ‘off the books’ payments totally millions from Burisma. “There were ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ payments to the Biden family,” Onyshchenko stated.

Onyshchenko also confirmed that former FBI agent Karen Greenway, who oversaw the Obama administration’s anti-corruption efforts in Eastern Europe, directed the coverup of the Biden scandal at the time, in concert with the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and other Deep State American government assets ‘in-country’.

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Let’s hope Zelensky orders an in-depth probe of Burisma.

Ukrainians Pimped Hunter Biden’s Seat For Leverage With Obama State Dept (ZH)

Ukrainian gas giant Burisma leveraged their relationship with Hunter Biden in order to curry favor with the Obama State Department in 2016, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by journalist John Solomon. Burisma, represented by American lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies (founded by former Clinton administration officials Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano), mentioned Hunter Biden’s name in email exchanges with State Department staff while seeking a meeting – ” then mentioned him again during the meeting as part of an effort to improve Burisma’s image in Washington,” according to the report.

The email exchanges between State Department staffers show that Karen Tramontano, chief executive of Blue Star, cited Mr. Biden’s position in trying to secure a meeting with a senior official at the State Department. “She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member),” the special assistant at the Office of the Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment wrote in the Feb. 24, 2016, email. “Ms. Tramontano met with the undersecretary, Catherine Novelli, on March 1, 2016, the documents show. During the meeting, Ms. Tramontano mentioned Mr. Biden served on the company’s board, according to a former State Department official familiar with the discussion.” -Wall Street Journal

The 2016 lobbying effort was an attempt to change Burisma’s reputation in Washington. Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014 while his father was Vice President, and Obama’s ‘point man’ on Ukraine policy. The elder Biden notoriously pressured Ukraine’s president to fire the country’s lead prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was leading a wide-ranging investigation into Burisma at the time. While MSM outlets have reported that the probe had been long-closed by the time, however Shokin said in a sworn affidavit “I was forced out because I was leading a wide-range corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine, and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was a member of the board of directors.”

Blue Star’s efforts for Burisma came as the company and its Ukrainian tycoon founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, faced investigations in Ukraine focused on allegations of tax irregularities, money laundering and illegal enrichment Mr. Zlochevsky was never charged, and a lawyer for Burisma said at the time that the investigations were closed because of a lack of evidence. The dropping of the investigations in 2016 came after Ukraine’s prosecutor general was dismissed. Vice President Biden and European Union officials had brought pressure on the prosecutor, seeing him as a hindrance to anticorruption efforts. His dismissal has been seized upon by Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani as evidence that Vice President Biden exerted undue pressure on Kyiv to help his son. -Wall Street Journal

Amazing, nobody cites Shokin’s affidavit claiming he was fired for investigating Burisma. House Democrats, meanwhile, have been conducting an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, whose attorney Rudy Giuliani has been conducting an investigation “concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption,” which Giuliani says “was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.”

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“We should take [Zaid] at his word that this is a coordinated, premeditated plot to overturn the election.”

‘Coup Has Started,’ Whistleblower’s Attorney Said In 2017 (Fox)

Mark Zaid, one of the attorneys representing the intelligence community whistleblower at the center of the Democrats’ ongoing impeachment inquiry, tweeted conspicuously in January 2017 that a “coup has started” and that “impeachment will follow ultimately.” Then, in July 2017, Zaid remarked, “I predict @CNN will play a key role in @realDonaldTrump not finishing out his full term as president.” Also that month, Zaid tweeted, “We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters.” Amid a slew of impeachment-related posts, Zaid assured his Twitter followers that “as one falls, two more will take their place,” apparently referring to Trump administration employees who defy the White House. Zaid promised that the “coup” would occur in “many steps.”


The tweets, which came shortly after President Trump fired then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates for failing to defend federal laws in court, are likely to fuel Republican concerns that the anonymous whistleblower’s complaint is tainted with partisanship. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader, which is the subject of the complaint, occurred in July 2019. “The whistleblower’s lawyer gave away the game,” the Trump campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, told Fox News. “It was always the Democrats’ plan to stage a coup and impeach President Trump and all they ever needed was the right scheme. They whiffed on Mueller so now they’ve settled on the perfectly fine Ukraine phone call. This proves this was orchestrated from the beginning.” Added House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy: “We should take [Zaid] at his word that this is a coordinated, premeditated plot to overturn the election.”

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Here’s hoping we’re far away from having heard the last about this.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Brother Talks ‘Unexplained’ Injuries on Shoulder, Wrist (ET)

The brother of dead disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein said he had unusual injuries on his wrists and shoulders. Mark Epstein, 65, said there were two contusions on both of Jeffrey’s wrists, an injury to his left forearm, and muscle hemorrhaging of his left shoulder or deltoid. “Those are unexplained. Was he handcuffed and struggled? Was someone holding his wrists? The marks on his wrist are unexplained,” he told Fox News. His comments about his brother’s death in August—which the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office said was due to suicide by hanging—come after famed pathologist Dr. Michael Baden said there were questions about Epstein’s neck injury.

“Did the injuries happen a week before or at the time of the incident? We have to look at the microscopic slides to see when the injuries occurred,” Dr. Baden said of the injuries noted by his brother, according to Fox. “The brother requested this information three months ago and he still has not gotten it.” Mark Epstein also said that he attempted to obtain his brother’s file from the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office in mid-August, but he was told that it has to be processed by the U.S. Department of Justice first. “They’re playing games,” Mark told Fox on Wednesday. He explained: “I’ve done the appropriate requests with Justice twice, and have heard nothing. I was told someone is looking into it.”

Baden said, however, that the unexplained injuries on Epstein’s body that were mentioned by his brother might have been caused by the July 23 incident, where he was discovered in the fetal position with marks around his neck at the Manhattan Correctional Center. He was put on suicide watch for a short period of time before being taken off of it weeks before his death. Mark said that he’s unsure what happened to his brother, who was arrested and jailed without bail on sex trafficking charges in July. “I have no standing to sue … people should know the truth about what can happen in a federal facility,” Mark said. “My brother might have been murdered. This is not about me.” [..] Weeks after Epstein’s death, a judge announced that the criminal case against him was closed. “Because Jeffrey Epstein, the defendant, died while this case was pending, and therefore before a final judgment was issued, the Indictment must be dismissed under rule of abatement,” Judge Richard Berman wrote in late August.

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Dracula simia, also called “monkey orchid”

 

 

 

 

 

Nov 052019
 
 November 5, 2019  Posted by at 9:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  12 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Olga in a hat with feather 1920

 

Trump Refuses To Rule Out Government Shutdown If Impeachment Continues (Ind.)
Trump’s Impeachment Lures Democrats Into a Cold War Mentality (Maté)
How Far Will They Go? (Kunstler)
Nobody Talks About Impeachment on the Campaign Trail (Atl.)
Democratic Party, Not Russia, Has Delegitimized the Democratic Process (Vos)
Ryanair Says ‘Real Risk’ It Will Have No MAX Aircraft To Fly Next Summer (R.)
Ryanair Says Its Boeing 737 MAX Jets Will Not Fly Before Summer 2020 (Ind.)
FBI Tried To Make Iceland A Complicit Ally In Framing Julian Assange (Ind.au)
Julian Assange: The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek (GR)

 

 

It will get a lot crazier than it has so far.

Trump Refuses To Rule Out Government Shutdown If Impeachment Continues (Ind.)

Donald Trump has refused to rule out forcing a government shutdown if Democrats do not stop their impeachment inquiry into him. “We’ll see what happens,” the US president said when asked about the possibility of agencies being shuttered. During the last shutdown in December and January, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed or put on unpaid leave, while others in essential services, like hospital care, air traffic control and law enforcement, worked without pay for 35 days. It was the longest ever. Asked about Democrat concerns that he could shut down the government again if they continue to pursue and impeachment inquiry against him, Mr Trump replied: “I don’t think they believe that at all,”


Speaking on the White House lawn, he added: “I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiations are.” Congress has a deadline of 22 November to reach a funding agreement before triggering a shutdown. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer last week, said he was “increasingly worried” that Mr Trump could hold the US government hostage as a result of his anger with the impeachment inquiry which was launched last month after a whistleblower complaint from the unidentified US intelligence official who was concerned that the president’s actions on Ukraine were illegal and jeopardised national security.

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The political agendas of the so-called witnesses.

Trump’s Impeachment Lures Democrats Into a Cold War Mentality (Maté)

In the case of Taylor, arming Ukraine was a condition of his willingness to serve in the job. When the Trump administration asked him to take the position in Kiev, Taylor recalls thinking, “I could be effective only if the US policy of strong support for Ukraine… were to continue.” Taylor even told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “If US policy toward Ukraine changed, he would not want me posted there and I could not stay.” No wonder then, that Taylor was upset when he began to hear rumblings that US military assistance to Ukraine was in jeopardy. Another star witness, Vindman, offers a similar outlook. Russia, he says, “has manifested an overtly aggressive foreign policy” necessitating “a deterrent.”

To Vindman, that deterrent is “a strong and independent Ukraine,” which, he believes, is “critical to US national security interests because Ukraine is a frontline state and a bulwark against Russian aggression.” Morrison concurs, declaring that the administration’s policy “was to make sure the United States’ longstanding bipartisan commitment to strengthen Ukraine’s security remained unaltered.” In his view, “security sector assistance… is, therefore, essential to Ukraine.” Given their open dedication to ensuring the continuation of US military aid to Ukraine, it is reasonable to question if the trio’s interpretations of decisions and conversations about freezing military aid were colored by their own policy preferences. As The Washington Post put it, Vindman “told lawmakers that he was deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy.”

While undoubtedly many Democrats and Republicans share Vindman’s foreign policy views, it should be up to the president, not unelected bureaucrats, to decide US foreign policy. Even if their recollections are accurate, the consequence of embracing their collective worldview is worth considering. We do not need wade far into the intricacies of the Russia-Ukraine conflict to know that the position of Taylor, Vindman, and Morrison—and by extension, the entire liberal political and media establishment now cheering them—is well to the right of what the Democratic Party embodied just one administration ago. The very US military assistance that Trump froze is the same that President Barack Obama refused to provide during his last years in office. Obama feared, as The New York Times noted in 2015, that US weapons sent to Ukraine “would only escalate the bloodshed” in the Donbass and possibly “[end] up in the hands of thugs” (a likely reference to far-right Ukrainians, which proved prescient).

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“They” as in the FBI and CIA. “Ciaramella has just been hung out to dry by his sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff in a desperate attempt to dissociate himself from the huggermugger within his House Intel Committee that preceded the falsely blown whistle.”

How Far Will They Go? (Kunstler)

The CIA and the FBI are in a fight for their lives now. The evidence shows pretty clearly that these rogue agencies conducted all the election “meddling” of 2016 and that the RussiaGate hysteria was an engineered smokescreen to hide their tracks and cover their asses when the certainty of a Hillary election triumph nauseatingly resolved unfavorably in the cold, gray dawn of 11/8/16. Despite the chatter about an “insurance policy,” they were quite unprepared for the exposure that loomed. They also badly underestimated the resources of what is now a very sturdy alt.media which has managed to weave the real story of what happened over the past three years into a shocking tapestry of massive subversion and treachery.

A big part of the true story is how amazingly incompetent the RussiaGate coupsters were. Did they really believe they could conceal the ties between their agencies and Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS operation, and its feckless front man, British ex-spy Christopher Steele, and the whole outfit’s connection to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee? Did they suppose they could pass off Stephan Halper and Joseph Mifsud as Russian agents when the two have consorted with US and allied intelligence for decades? The US Department of Defense even holds Mr. Halper’s million-dollar pay stubs and Mr. Mifsud appears in photographs of every Western cloak-and-dagger cocktail get-together of spook officialdom for the last twenty years.

The latest, and most desperate gambit is the UkraineGate whistleblower, a CIA employee blatantly playing errand-boy for his mentor John Brennan and deeply tied to 2016 election shenanigans emanating from Ukraine, featuring his former employer, ex-Vice-President Joe Biden. This shadowy figure, pegged as Eric Ciaramella, 33, may shortly find himself in a grand jury chamber answering for his role in this charade. Ciaramella has just been hung out to dry by his sponsor, Rep. Adam Schiff in a desperate attempt to dissociate himself from the huggermugger within his House Intel Committee that preceded the falsely blown whistle.

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It’s all the media talk about, but it’s still not a winner. That says a lot.

Nobody Talks About Impeachment on the Campaign Trail (Atl.)

of the 13 candidates there, just one mentioned impeachment: Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist whose political group and TV ads over the past two years have helped mainstream the idea of removing the president. Steyer argues that his long record of being outspoken in favor of impeachment is a key part of why people should support his candidacy, yet his mention of impeachment Friday night got a warm but not overwhelming response. For the rest, despite all their Trump bashing that the crowd ate up—starting with Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price’s introduction with “Let’s beat Donald Trump and send his ass back to Russia!”—impeachment was absent.

Was that the right call? I asked Janet Petersen, the leader of the Democrats in the state Senate, at the end of the night. “Probably,” she said. Iowans care about impeachment, and are paying attention to the national-security and economic-security issues at stake, “but that doesn’t prevent them from paying attention to things that matter, like paying for preschool.” It’s not that the candidates are going easy on the president. They appear to hate Trump and everything he stands for. The most cynical view is that candidates are making a brute-force political calculation, allowing others to speak up so that they can avoid risk. But Pete Buttigieg claims at least part of what’s going on is that candidates, like everyone else, can’t quite wrap their head around everything happening.

“On some level, you could say that the stakes right now, the level of crisis we’re facing, is so great that it’s almost impossible to speak to it through a traditional political process like a campaign,” Buttigieg told me in South Carolina last weekend. “In many ways, we may yet be underreacting.” Of course, part of being a politician is giving people what they want to hear. The candidates aren’t just guessing that they shouldn’t be talking about impeachment—they have teams of advisers and internal polls and focus groups and months of personal interactions that are telling them the topic gets them nowhere, for the same reasons they didn’t talk much on the trail about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report before or after a redacted version of it was released in the spring.

Even Andrew Yang—the candidate who finishes his rallies chanting, “Not left, not right—forward!”—on Friday afternoon threw in this line as he spoke to the crowd in Iowa: “If this is a game of rock-paper-scissors, Donald Trump is the scissors and I am the fucking rock!” But a few minutes later, marching across a bridge in front of hundreds of supporters chanting his name and his slogans, Yang told me that voters don’t want to hear about impeachment, and that he doesn’t think there’s much point in talking about it anyway. “We have to face facts, where not a single Republican crossed the aisle to support the impeachment vote,” he said. “That would certainly suggest that impeachment’s going to run aground in the Senate and this is going to wind up Donald Trump claiming innocence and vindication.”

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We need a special counsel.

Democratic Party, Not Russia, Has Delegitimized the Democratic Process (Vos)

Establishment Democrats and those who amplify them continue to project blame for the public’s doubt in the U.S. election process onto outside influence, despite the clear history of the party’s subversion of election integrity. The total inability of the Democratic Party establishment’s willingness to address even one of these critical failures does not give reason to hope that the nomination process in 2020 will be any less pre-ordained. The Democratic Party’s bias against Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential nomination, followed by the DNC defense counsel doubling down on its right to rig the race during the fraud lawsuit brought against the DNC, as well as the irregularities in the races between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova, indicate a fatal breakdown of the U.S. democratic process spearheaded by the Democratic Party establishment.


Influences transcending the DNC add to concerns regarding the integrity of the democratic process that have nothing to do with Russia, but which will also likely impact outcomes in 2020. The content of the DNC and Podesta emails published by WikiLeaks demonstrated that the DNC acted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2016 Democratic primary. The emails also revealed corporate media reporters acting as surrogates of the DNC and its pro-Clinton agenda, going so far as to promote Donald Trump during the GOP primary process as a preferred “pied-piper candidate.” One cannot assume that similar evidence will be presented to the public in 2020, making it more important than ever to take stock of the unique lessons handed down to us by the 2016 race.

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How are they ever going to allow the thing to fly, and who will volunteer to be crew or passengers?

Ryanair Says ‘Real Risk’ It Will Have No MAX Aircraft To Fly Next Summer (R.)

Ryanair on Monday said there was a real risk that it would have no Boeing 737 MAX aircraft flying next summer if there are additional delays to the return to service of the grounded aircraft. “We have now reduced our expectation of 30 MAX aircraft being delivered to us in advance of peak summer 2020 down to 20 aircraft and there is a real risk of none,” Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a video presentation. “We have already reduced our passenger growth forecast … we may have to cut that again but frankly there is no point in keeping on changing the number until we get more certainty,” he said.

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“In July it was reported that Ryanair was renaming the Max as the “8200”.

Ryanair Says Its Boeing 737 MAX Jets Will Not Fly Before Summer 2020 (Ind.)

Ryanair will not fly the Boeing 737 Max before next summer, the airline’s chief executive has predicted. Europe’s biggest budget airline has 210 Max aircraft on order in a unique, high-capacity configuration, called the Max 200. Deliveries were due to begin in April 2019. But the plane has been grounded worldwide since March following two fatal accidents – both blamed on an anti-stall system known as MCAS. While Boeing has repeatedly insisted that the system will be made safe and the 737 Max will be flying by the end of 2019, Michael O’Leary said his airline will not operate them for a further six months.


He told the BBC Today programme: “Frankly we’ve now accepted they will be delayed beyond next March. “We now don’t expect to get them until summer next year, and then only 20 of them rather than the original 60 that Boeing had contracted to deliver. It’s a big challenge for us.” In July it was reported that Ryanair was renaming the Max as the “8200”. But the Ryanair boss said: “It’s a very safe aircraft, it’s a great aircraft, it has 4 per cent more seats, it operates with 16 per cent less fuel consumption and will enable us to offer lower fares at lower cost than ever.”

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Not an entirely new story, but important anyway. And attention for Assange in Australian media is long overdue.

FBI Tried To Make Iceland A Complicit Ally In Framing Julian Assange (Ind.au)

A minister of the interior wakes up one summer morning and finds out that a plane full of United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents has landed in his country, aiming to carry out police investigations without proper permission from the authorities. How many statesmen would have the strength to say, “No, you can’t do this”, to the United States? Former Icelandic Interior Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, in fact, did this — and for the sake of investigative journalism. He understood that something wrong with the sudden FBI mission in Reykjavik, and that this had to do with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Initially, it looked like a simple matter of collaboration against cyber attacks.

Mr Jónasson told IA: “In June 2011 I was told that U.S. intelligence had discovered that hackers were preparing an attack on Icelandic governmental institutions. I was asked if we wanted to cooperate with the Americans.” Of course, Iceland was interested in hearing what they had to say and then the idea was to evaluate whether to cooperate and to what extent. Icelandic police officers went to Washington and American officers visited Iceland in order to map the problem out, but no proof of possible attacks emerged. However, in August 2011, a plane full of FBI agents accompanied by prosecutors landed in Reykjavik. Jónasson says: “When I heard of this, I asked my colleagues in the Ministry if, unknown to me, the FBI had been given permission to carry out police work in Iceland. I certainly had not given such a permission and the decision should anyway have been on my table.”

He then spoke with the Chief of Icelandic Police, having been told a meeting had been planned. Jónasson explains: “I knew that the FBI were on the way to Police Headquarters with the intention to map out co-operation linked to the WikiLeaks issue. I requested that no such meeting should take place and that there should be no further contact whatsoever.” The FBI agents were not permitted to carry out any police work in Iceland. But this was not only about defending Iceland´s sovereignty. According to Mr Jónasson, during this process, he had been informed that the FBI showed up in Reykjavik with the aim of framing Julian Assange. While it would be logical to ask for some kind of documentary proof to this effect, Jónasson is clear:

“I am the proof. When I say they came here to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, I don’t say this lightly, I am selecting my words very carefully, I know what I am talking about. I am stating this in accordance with my word of honour that I knew this was the case. I have testified to this effect in front of a parliamentary committee and in the parliamentary assembly, and my words have not been contested”>

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Coverage of Greta Thunberg’s Asperger is all positive. How about Assange?

Julian Assange: The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek (GR)

Once upon a time, there was a very bright little boy in Australia who grew up as stranger to conventional society. His mother went from husband to husband, from theater to cult, always on the eccentric margins, while the boy’s natural father was left behind. As an adolescent he found his own world in cyberspace, which offered a field for his insatiable curiosity. As he learned about that great world out there and its secrets, he developed his very own rigorous ethic: his vocation was to search for true facts and share them with the public. Living outside the usual social codes, his moral compass was uninhibited by the usual niceties. Truth was truth, deception was wrong, lies on the part of the powerful should be exposed.

The original sin of Julian Assange was the same as that of Galileo Galilei. Galileo sinned by revealing to the people things the elite already knew or at least surmised, but wished to keep secret from the masses, in order not to shake the people’s faith in the official truth. Assange did the same thing with the formation of WikiLeaks The official version of reality was challenged. All lies should be exposed. By far the most sensitive targets of his wide-ranging reality revelations were the lies, the hypocrisy, the inhuman brutality of the United States in its wars of global hegemony. To Assange, these things were simply wrong. At first, WikiLeaks attracted a great deal of popular attention and even acclaim. Julian Assange became famous. He was a geek, but he didn’t look like a geek.

Tall, handsome, striking with his nearly white hair, Julian was something strange: a charismatic geek. He arrived in Sweden with near superstar status. Swedish women contrived to get him into their beds. They bragged about having sex with Julian: he was a trophy lover. But the charismatic geek didn’t know the social codes of the peculiar Swedish forms of virtuous promiscuity. This lacuna was exploited by his enemies in extravagantly unpredictable ways. Julian Assange tried to straighten out what seemed to be a serious misunderstanding before leaving Sweden. But the Swedish side failed to make matters clear and he left for London. In London, he was quickly taken up by the radical chic branch of the British upper class, the champagne and caviar humanitarians. The naïve charismatic geek who didn’t know the social codes no doubt thought he was among friends. He didn’t belong to any political or social movement in the UK, he depended on the beautiful people who for a time found him an interesting outsider, one of their latest causes.

Julian Assange may have been socially naïve, but he very acutely perceived what the imperial powers were working up against him. The totally unjustifiable demand for extradition to Sweden for questioning – unjustifiable because they had declined to question him while he was there and then declined to question him in the UK – appeared to Julian to be an obvious device to enable Sweden to extradite him to the United States, given the total obedience of post-Olof Palme Sweden to the wishes of Washington. Others didn’t see this so clearly, except for the excellent President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa. Correa offered Assange asylum in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London. Assange, unconventional, negligent of the codes, but with a clear view of the danger stalking him, jumped the bail set up for him and moved into the embassy.

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Nov 022019
 
 November 2, 2019  Posted by at 8:12 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »


Pablo Picasso Woman with blue collar (Portrait d’Inez) 1941

 

Christopher Steele Gave Evidence To UK Intrusion Inquiry (G.)
Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Suddenly Won’t Testify (ZH)
Former CIA Heads Praise Deep State, Admit They Want to ‘Take Out’ Trump (SN)
A Partisan Impeachment Vote Is Exactly What The Framers Feared (Dershowitz)
Horse-Trading Is Not An Impeachable Offense (HE)
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard (Sjursen)
Trevor Noah Asks Hillary: “How Did You Kill Jeffrey Epstein?” (ZH)
Halloween is Over and the Jig is Up (Kunstler)
Greek Refugee Camps ‘On Edge Of Catastrophe’ – EU Watchdog (BBC)
28,000 American Airlines Flight Attendants Refuse To Work On 737 Max (ZH)
Apple Introduces Gender-Neutral Versions Of Nearly Every Human Emoji (RT)

 

 

A fine piece of garbage co-authored by the least trustworthy man in UK media, Luke Harding, notorious for multiple fact-free Assange smear pieces. And really, Steele hasn’t been discredited enough?

Christopher Steele Gave Evidence To UK Intrusion Inquiry (G.)

A report on Russian interference in British politics allegedly being sat on by Downing Street includes evidence from Christopher Steele, the former head of MI6’s Russia desk whose investigation into Donald Trump’s links with Moscow sparked a US political scandal. Steele made submissions in writing to parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC), it is understood. [..] In April the US special counsel Robert Mueller corroborated Steele’s central claim that the Russians ran a “sweeping and systematic” operation in 2016 to help Trump win.


[..] on Thursday, Dominic Grieve, the MP who chairs the committee, accused Boris Johnson of sitting on the report – potentially preventing its publication before the general election. [..] Two sources told BuzzFeed that British intelligence found no evidence of Russian meddling in either the 2016 referendum vote or the 2017 general election. However, Steele’s involvement in the committee’s unpublished dossier raises the stakes considerably. [..] Experts who gave evidence were informed on Wednesday evening that the report was due to be published imminently. The decision to stop it from coming out is being seen inside Whitehall as unusual.

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Completely, completely nuts. They appear to have nothing, and try to drag that nothing out until the 2020 elections. This faultily labeled ‘whistleblower’ worked for Obama, Biden and Brennan, and was heavily coached by Schiff. And they STILL are afraid to use him. But Trump is the one under investigation?

If Trump did anything truly impeachable, and not merely “made up because you want to get rid of him”, by all means, impeach him. But in a regular way, one that includes Republicans. I can see now why Trump talks about impeaching Adam Schiff. Do the CNN, NYT and WaPo audience realize how damaging this whole affair is to their country?

Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Suddenly Won’t Testify (ZH)

A CIA officer who filed a second-hand whistleblower complaint against President Trump has gotten cold feet about testifying after revelations emerged that he worked with Joe Biden, former CIA Director John Brennan, and a DNC operative who sought dirt on President Trump from officials in Ukraine’s former government. According to the Washington Examiner, discussions with the whistleblower – revealed by RealClearInvestigations as 33-year-old Eric Ciaramella have been halted, “and there is no discussion of testimony from a second whistleblower, who supported the first’s claims.” Ciaramella complained that President Trump abused his office when he asked Ukraine to investigate corruption allegations against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as claims related to pro-Clinton election interference and DNC hacking in 2016.

On Thursday, a top National Security Council official who was present on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky testified that he saw nothing illegal about the conversation. “I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” said Tim Morrison, former NSC Senior Director for European Affairs who was on the July 25 call between the two leaders. “There is no indication that either of the original whistleblowers will be called to testify or appear before the Senate or House Intelligence committees. There is no further discussion ongoing between the legal team and the committees,” said the Examiner’s source.

“The whistleblower is a career CIA officer with expertise in Ukraine policy who served on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration, when 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was “point man” for Ukraine, and during the early months of the Trump administration.” -Washington Examiner In other words, House Democrats are about to impeach President Trump over a second-hand whistleblower complaint by a partisan CIA officer, and neither he nor his source will actually testify about it (for now…).

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No, you can NOT make this up: “This is the institution within the U.S. government — that with all of its flaws, and it makes mistakes — is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth,” McLaughlin claimed.

The CIA is committed to telling the truth… You heard it here first.

Former CIA Heads Praise Deep State, Admit They Want to ‘Take Out’ Trump (SN)

Two former intelligence heads bragged about how the deep state is engaged in a coup to remove President Trump Thursday, with one even praising God for the existence of the deep state. During an interview with Margaret Brennan of CSPAN, former CIA head John McLaughlin along with his successor John Brennan both basically admitted that there is a secretive cabal of people within US intelligence who are trying to ‘take Trump out’. “Thank God for the ‘Deep State,’” McLaughlin crowed as liberals in the crowd cheered. “I mean I think everyone has seen this progression of diplomats and intelligence officers and White House people trooping up to Capitol Hill right now and saying these are people who are doing their duty or responding to a higher call.” he added.


“This is the institution within the U.S. government — that with all of its flaws, and it makes mistakes — is institutionally committed to objectivity and telling the truth,” McLaughlin claimed. “It is one of the few institutions in Washington that is not in a chain of command that makes or implements policy. Its whole job is to speak the truth — it’s engraved in marble in the lobby.” he continued to blather. Brennan also expressed praise for the deep state and admitted that the goal is to remove the President. “Thank goodness for the women and men who are in the intelligence community and the law enforcement community who are standing up and carrying out their responsibilities for their fellow citizens.” he said.

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Derhowitz has been heavily tainted by the Epstein saga, but he does make sense here. The Founding Fathers knew the risk involved in impeachment proceedings.

A Partisan Impeachment Vote Is Exactly What The Framers Feared (Dershowitz)

The House vote to establish procedures for a possible impeachment of President Trump, along party lines with two Democrats opposing and no Republicans favoring, was exactly was Alexander Hamilton feared in discussing the impeachment provisions laid out in the Constitution. Hamilton warned of the “greatest danger” that the decision to move forward with impeachment will “be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.” He worried that the tools of impeachment would be wielded by the “most cunning or most numerous factions” and lack the “requisite neutrality toward those whose conduct would be the subject of scrutiny.” It is almost as if this founding father were looking down at the House vote from heaven and describing what transpired this week.

Impeachment is an extraordinary tool to be used only when the constitutional criteria are met. These criteria are limited and include only “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Hamilton described these as being “of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.” His use of the term “political” has been widely misunderstood in history. It does not mean that the process of impeachment and removal should be political in the partisan sense. Hamilton distinctly distinguished between the nature of the constitutional crimes, denoting them as political, while insisting that the process for impeachment and removal must remain scrupulously neutral and nonpartisan among members of Congress.

Thus, no impeachment should ever move forward without bipartisan support. That is a tall order in our age of hyperpartisan politics in which party loyalty leaves little room for neutrality. Proponents of the House vote argue it is only about procedures and not about innocence or guilt, and that further investigation may well persuade some Republicans to place principle over party and to vote for impeachment, or some Democrats to vote against impeachment. While that is entirely possible, the House vote would seem to make such nonpartisan neutrality extremely unlikely. It is far more likely that, no matter how extensive the investigation is and regardless of what it uncovers, nearly all House Democrats will vote for impeachment and nearly all House Republicans will vote against it. Such a partisan vote would deny constitutional legitimacy to impeachment.

[..] the partisanship strongly suggests that what Hamilton regarded as the greatest danger may be on the horizon, namely a vote to impeach a duly elected president based not on “real demonstrations of innocence or guilt” but rather on “comparative strength of parties.”

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Good find from Tyler. Go back to the Blagojevich case and take it from there. “[A] proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.”

Horse-Trading Is Not An Impeachable Offense (HE)

Horse trading is the oxygen of politics; it is how politicians are persuaded to care about things that otherwise would not make their radar. Not only does it happen all the time, but it is a core feature of our political system; representative government relies on this kind of political trading to ensure a plurality of interests and needs are satisfied. Members of Congress routinely trade “policy for policy.” You sponsor my bill, and I’ll sponsor yours, you vote for a road in my district, and vice versa. Members even trade policy for personnel and hiring purposes: you support my bill, and I’ll let so-and-so’s hearing move forward, you appoint me to this, and I’ll recommend your protege for that.

These deals can even cross the blood/brain barrier between states and the federal government. It is not corruption. It’s the warp and woof of a democratic political system. But in routinely branding President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine as potential “corruption,” and pointing to the exchange of unrelated asks as proof of that corruption, our friends in the fourth estate are acting in willful ignorance and bad faith. The President has taken a firm position that he did not hold out foreign aid to Ukraine as a condition for investigating Hunter Biden’s activities there. But, even if he did, bargaining isn’t corruption—it’s policymaking.

An esteemed panel of federal judges in Chicago made precisely this point a few years ago. You may recall the prosecution of former-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on various federal charges. And although the judges largely upheld his conviction, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit commentary on the affair was crystal clear. At least one of the counts that the trial judge had sent to the jury was just politics, pure and simple, and could not have been a crime. “[A] proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.” In other words, swapping one policy for another is a political commonplace. “Governance would hardly be possible without these accommodations,” the court went on to observe.

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View from the military. Hillary has opened the door for any and all of them to be accused of working for Putin.

In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard (Sjursen)

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.” – Arundhati Roy

Once again, Arundhati Roy – the esteemed Indian author and activist – more eloquently described what I’m feeling than I could ever hope to. After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, a lifetime in the Army and burying several brave young men for no good reason, I couldn’t remain silent one moment longer. Certainly not about the madness of America’s failed forever wars, nor about domestic militarization of the police and the border, nor about the structural racism borne of our nation’s “original sin.” Still, most of my writing and public dissent has stayed within the bounds of my limited expertise: the disease of endless, unwinnable and often unsanctioned American wars.

At times it’s been a decidedly lonely journey, particularly in the many years I remained on active duty while actively dissenting. I was, and remain, struck by how few of my fellow soldiers, officers and recent post-9/11 veterans felt as I did—strongly enough, at least, to publicly decry U.S. militarism. Then I discovered Tulsi Gabbard, an obscure young congresswoman from Hawaii who, coincidentally, serves in the Army and is herself a veteran of the war in Iraq. In the current climate of Gabbard-bashing, where even sites like Truthdig offer measured criticism, it’s hard to convey the profound sense of relief I felt that someone as outspokenly anti-war as Gabbard even existed way back in 2016. She said things I only dared think back then; and as I did, she backed Bernie Sanders—a risky endeavor that likely doomed her to the recent slanderous accusations of treason by Hillary Clinton. That’s called courage.

Perhaps the appropriate place to begin my qualified defense of Gabbard is with Clinton’s outrageous—and unsubstantiated—assertion that the long-shot 2020 presidential candidate is being “groomed” by the Russians to run a third-party spoiler campaign in the general election. First off, Gabbard should seriously consider suing for libel. Clinton has veritably, and without a shred of evidence, accused her of treason, a crime that, due to Gabbard’s continued military service, is punishable by death. This is no small matter.

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I wasn’t going to include this, thought it’s a nice thing for Tyler to run with and that’s it. But I am still hurt and surprised by the total demise of American late night TV. Saw Noah the other day on Seinfeld’s Comedians with Coffee series, and he seemed like an okay guy. But they are all caught in the Jeff Zucker/NYT et al thing, of How Do You Make Money?: By Dumping On Orange Man Bad. It’s a scam for dollars. And Noah gets paid off of that.

But I used to like Letterman and Jon Stewart, and I don’t like that being taken away from me for scraps off the table. All the media made the same calculation: sure, we’ll lose half the audience, but the one half we get to keep, they’ll be fully addicted to us as long as we dump on Trump. Because Trump Sells Better Than Sex.

Trevor Noah Asks Hillary: “How Did You Kill Jeffrey Epstein?” (ZH)

In what was oh-so-transparently aimed a debunking a so-called “right-wing-conspiracy,” Daily Show host Trevor Noah jokingly asked, during an interview with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton on Thursday, “How did you kill Jeffery Epstein?” “I have to ask you a question that has been plaguing me for a while: How did you kill Jeffrey Epstein?” asked Noah to laughter from the New York studio audience. “Because you’re not in power, but you have all the power. I really need to understand how you do what you do, because you seem to be behind everything nefarious, and yet you do not use it to become president.” “Honestly, what does it feel like being the boogeyman to the right?” the host asked.


Clinton responded by saying it was a “constant surprise.” “Well, it’s a constant surprise to me,” she said. “Because the things they say, and now, of course, it’s on steroids with being online, are so ridiculous, beyond any imagination that I could have. And yet they are so persistent in putting forth these crazy ideas and theories. Honestly, I don’t know what I ever did to get them so upset.” Of course, it would not be Hillary Clinton if she did not take a jab at President Trump proclaiming that, “I don’t think his real philosophy is America First, I think it’s Trump First… [Trump]…clearly does Putin’s bidding…” Forward to around 6:09 for Noah’s Epstein question…

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Jim has a lot of faith in Bill Barr. I am a bit more reserved on that one.

Halloween is Over and the Jig is Up (Kunstler)

And so Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff take the Republic into a dangerous defile on a dark day as they engineer a House resolution with rules for a medieval-style inquiry on the existence of phantoms. The phantom du jour, of course, is the fabled “whistleblower,” a CIA ectoplasm identified by everybody and his uncle in Swampland as one Eric Ciarmarella, 33, a former Joe Biden staffer, Obama White House low-level NSC holdover, and John Brennan “asset” deeply involved in Ukrainian pranks during the 2016 election and subsequent disinformation leakage to the media since the early days of the Trump administration.

The “whistleblower’s” trail winds through every shadowy turn of RussiaGate to the current phantasmagoria of UkraineGate, and connects the principal misdeeds carried out along the way including Hillary Clinton’s devious operations with Fusion GPS, the Comey-led FBI’s illegal entanglement with CIA spying on US citizens (including occupants of the White House), and lately the mendacious maneuvers of House Intel Committee chair Mr. Schiff. The notion that Mr. Ciamarella’s identity will remain officially hidden much longer is a joke, since his “complaint” lies at the center of the impeachment process underway, and sooner or later he will be compelled to make public testimony — unless Ms. Pelosi’s House majority votes to rename the USA the Haunted Forest of North America.

And when this unmasked phantom finally faces legitimate cross examination his mischief will be plain for all to see. Do you also suppose that Mr. Ciamarella’s revealed adventures in perfidy have not been noticed by the attorney general, Mr. Barr, and his deputy John Durham? It seems obvious that the Democrats’ mad rush to this wholly irregular impeachment happened in direct, proportional response to the encroaching danger to them posed by the DOJ inspector general’s imminent report and the news a week ago that the AG upgraded his “review” of all things RussiaGate to a criminal inquiry, with grand juries assembled to process indictments.

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Yes, the new rightwing government is screwing things up even more than they were. But this is on the EU.

Greek Refugee Camps ‘On Edge Of Catastrophe’ – EU Watchdog (BBC)

Thousands of people living in “abysmal” refugee camps on two Greek islands are “on the edge of catastrophe”, Europe’s human rights watchdog has said. Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke of an “explosive situation” on the Aegean islands, home to 36,000 asylum seekers. Hours later, Greece’s parliament passed a bill to fast-track deportations. The prime minister said refugees would be protected but Greece’s gates would not be thrown open to everyone. The left-wing opposition has criticised the law and some humanitarian groups, including United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, have warned it could restrict protection for asylum seekers.


But centre-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the move would deter those not entitled to asylum, telling parliament: “Enough is enough.” Nearly one million migrants refugees, including many fleeing war in Syria, crossed from Turkey to the Greek islands in 2015. Turkey agreed a financial deal with the EU to curb the influx but is still hosting 3.6 million Syrians. In recent months the numbers have surged and all the camps on the Greek islands are filled beyond capacity. [..] In a scathing assessment, Ms Mijatovic said: “The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living.” She described the camps as “vastly overcrowded” places where people “queue for hours to get food and to go to bathrooms, when these are available”.

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Saw the Reuters piece early Friday, thought bigger version would follow. Relevant, though, because WHO would want to fly 737MAX? Not passengers, not crew.

28,000 American Airlines Flight Attendants Refuse To Work On 737 Max (ZH)

Tens of thousands of American Airlines’ flight attendants fear for their safety and will not work on Boeing 737 Max planes if they return to the air in 2020, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) union’s president wrote in a letter to Boeing’s CEO this week, reported Reuters. “The 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines refuse to walk onto a plane that may not be safe and are calling for the highest possible safety standards to avoid another tragedy,” APFA President Lori Bassani said in the letter (seen by Reuters). Reuters noted the letter was dated Oct. 30, which followed several days of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg being grilled by lawmakers in Washington after two Max crashes killed 346 people and led to a worldwide grounding of the plane in March.

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Don’t know about you, but I like pretty girls in their summer dresses. Should I feel guilty about that now? This feels like something well-intentioned that has gone terribly off the rails.

Apple Introduces Gender-Neutral Versions Of Nearly Every Human Emoji (RT)

The latest iOS 13.2 update is dividing digital fans with dozens of new genderless emoji characters. More choice or a step too far? iOS updates – they drain your battery and cause social anxiety – but the world can relax as the flamingo and otter emojis have finally been released. The update has delivered almost 400 images in total…. and it even includes a gender free vampire. But it seems the new mix of identity politics can stimulate confusion and division. Many online supporters have given a thumbs up to the Unicode Consortium team (that approves new emojis) as gender neutral choices and people with disabilities are now listed. But some fear too many choices are dividing society. Do we really need to be placed into so many boxes and categories?


Emoji characters now have a genderless character as well as male and female. Whoever thought a non-binary vampire even existed? Perhaps the emoji mafia are trying too hard. We have come such a long way since the original emoticon. What started off as a smiley face text two decades ago now equates to hundreds of people that can be represented. But this wasn’t enough, so Emojipedia declared the year 2015 as “the year of Emoji diversity” adding different skin colours, more female characters, gender inclusive people and more hair colours.

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Oct 312019
 
 October 31, 2019  Posted by at 8:28 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Van Gogh painting sunflowers 1888

 

Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Revealed (GP)
Adam Schiff Coached Vindman Throughout Impeachment Testimony – Nunes (ZH)
Tulsi Gabbard Unleashes On Erdogan: “Radical Islamist Megalomaniac” (ZH)
We May Not Have A 2020 Election – Kunstler (USAW)
The Fumes of Fanaticism (Kunstler)
Boeing Employee Raised Concern Over Max Sensor Three Years Before Crashes (G.)
Over 50 Boeing 737NG Grounded Globally With Wing-Related Cracks (RT)
Union Calls On Qantas To Ground Entire 737 Fleet For Investigation (G.)
The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers (Pepe Escobar)
Russia-India Counter-Terrorism Group Vows ‘Credible Action’ (RT)
Famed Pathologist Michael Baden Says Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Was Homicide

 

 

Yeah, I know what I said: no more Debt Rattles. But then yesterday I found myself looking at the Epstein story, the whistleblower revealed, and some Boeing stuff, Jim Kunstler etc., and I was thinking: I should at least keep those for reference. So I injected them into the Debt Rattle format, and that sort of gelled. And so I decided I can perhaps do this, but I did give myself a deadline: it can not cost more than two hours in the morning. Which means some of these Things will be short, and some days there may not be one.

Oh, and we still need financial support, badly. People have been mighty generous this week, but we would need 52 such weeks in the year.

 

 

OK, now we know. What is the next step?

Trump-Ukraine Whistleblower Revealed (GP)

The anti-Trump whistleblower behind the Ukraine witch hunt was revealed on Wednesday night. According to investigative reporter Paul Sperry, one person’s name keeps coming up in the impeachment hearings that fits the description of the whistleblower — Eric Ciaramella. We have reported on Ciaramella previously at The Gateway Pundit. 33-year-old Ciaramella is a registered Democrat, worked for Obama, worked for Biden, worked for CIA Director John Brennan, he’s a vocal critic of Trump and he helped initiate the ‘Russia collusion’ hoax investigation! Ciaramella’s identity was an open secret in the DC swamp, says Paul Sperry.


Mr. Ciaramella is a CIA officer who specializes in Russia and Ukraine who was detailed to work in the National Security Council under Susan Rice in 2015. He was then moved into the West Wing in 2017 to ‘fill a vacancy’ where he was able to ‘see and read everything.’ The Gateway Pundit and others had already identified Ciaramella as Schiff’s CIA whistleblower. But we were not the first to point out that this dangerous Obama operative was working in the Trump White House and was given access to top secret information. Mike Cernovich warned the Trump administration about Eric Ciaramella back in June 2017.

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Vindman is yet another ‘witness’ whose import is heavily promoted.

Adam Schiff Coached Vindman Throughout Impeachment Testimony – Nunes (ZH)

Rep. Devin Nunes claims that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was coaching Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC), as he told House committees that he “did not think it was proper” for President Trump to ask Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate former VP Joe Biden during a July 25 phone call. “I have never in my life seen anything like what happened today, during the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman,” Nunes told Fox News’ “Hannity.”


“It was unprecedented,” Nunes continued. “I mean, they’ve been bad at most of these depositions, but to interrupt us continually to coach the witness, to decide… what we’re going to be able to ask the witness.” “And, to see someone coach a witness, this isn’t the first time that Schiff — Schiff is very good at coaching witnesses.”

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I see more and more people suggesting Tulsi is really a Republican. Ostensibly because you cannot be a Democrat and not agree with Hillary and her DNC. Expect ugliness.

Tulsi Gabbard Unleashes On Erdogan: “Radical Islamist Megalomaniac” (ZH)

A day after the US House of Representatives in a historic vote overwhelmingly passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide, resulting in an immediate fierce rebuke from Ankara, Democratic Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard issued a video statement slamming Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as “a radical Islamist megalomaniac” who for years supported ISIS. Erdogan has been “slaughtering the Syrian Kurds and he’s using terrorists from ISIS and al-Qaeda as his militia,” she explained, and has “been helping ISIS/AQ for years,” according to the social media video message.

She also reiterated her consistent position that the Islamic State was born of the externally funded and weaponized push to overthrow the Assad government. “He has denied this but is now openly using militias of ‘former’ ISIS/AQ terrorists, exposing him for what he really is: a radical Islamist megalomaniac who wants to establish a caliphate with himself as the Caliph — the supreme ruler.” The Democratic presidential candidate said Turkey is now doing this “openly” and “brazenly” but also reminded her audience that she’s been warning about this for years.

[..] Concerning the Saudis, she joined relatives of Sept. 11 victims on Tuesday to demand the US government release its full findings on the role that Saudi state operatives played in the 9/11 attacks. “We are 18 years removed from this terrible crime, and the victims of this crime, the families who are here today, the American people deserve all of the evidence to fully come to light,” the Hawaii congresswoman said.

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Jim Kunstler is one of very few people who agree with me that Trump is not the biggest factor, his antagonists are, in intelligence, in the Democratic party, and perhaps most of all in the media. The MSM have taken it upon themselves to control what you think. And if you get your news mostly from CNN or the NYT or WaPo, what defenses do you have?

We May Not Have A 2020 Election – Kunstler (USAW)

“What I am waiting for is if and when indictments come down from Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham. I am wondering whether the editors and publishers of the Washington Post and New York Times and the producers at CNN and MSNBC are going to be named as unindicted co-conspirators in this effort to gaslight the country and really stage a coup to remove the President and to nullify the 2016 election. I say this as someone who is not necessarily a Trump supporter. I didn’t vote for the guy. I am not a cheerleader for the guy, but basically, I think the behavior of his antagonists has been much worse and much more dangerous for the nation and the American project as a long term matter.

I really need to see some action to hold people responsible for the acts they have committed. . . . I am not an attorney, and I have never worked for the Department of Justice, but it seems to me that by naming the publishers and editors of these companies as unindicted co-conspirators, that allows you to avoid the appearance of trying to shut down the press because you are not going to put them in jail, but you are going to put them in disrepute. That may prompt their boards of directors to fire a few people and maybe change the way they do business at these places.”

“When all is said and done, I am not convinced there is enough there to convict President Trump of anything. At the same time, there is probably going to be a lot of legal actions brought against the people who started this coup against him, and that’s going to be extremely disturbing to the Left. I think one of the possibilities is we may not have a 2020 election. In some way or another, the country may be so disorderly that we can’t hold an election. There may be so much strife that we cannot handle the legal questions around holding the election, and it may be suspended. I don’t know what that means, but I am very impressed of the disorder that we are already in. It’s more of a kind of mental disorder between the parties, but it could turn into a lot of kinetic disorder on the ground and a lot of institutional failure.”

Read more …

And some more of that.

The Fumes of Fanaticism (Kunstler)

Judging by the volume of intemperate emails and angry social media blasts that come my way, the party of impeachment seems to be inhaling way too much gas from the smoking guns it keeps finding in the various star chambers of its inquisition against you-know-who. You’d think that the failure of Mr. Mueller’s extravaganza might have chastened them just a little — a $32 million-dollar effort starring the most vicious partisan lawyers inside-the-Beltway, 2,800 subpoenas issued over two years, 500 search warrants exercised, and finally nothing whatever to pin on Mr. Trump — except the contra-legal assertion that now he must prove his innocence.

When you state just that, these frothing hysterics reply that many background figures — if not the Golden Golem of Greatness himself — were indicted and convicted of crimes by Mr. Mueller’s crew. Oh yes! The Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency was indicted for spending $400,000 on Facebook ads (and never extradited or tried in a court-of-law). Pretty impressive victory there! The hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails by “Russia”? Still just alleged, never proven, with plenty of shady business around the search for evidence. Paul Manafort, on tax evasion of money earned in Ukraine, 2014? We’ll see about that as the whole filthy business of the 2014 Ukraine regime change op under Mr. Obama gets reviewed in the months ahead.

George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI? Stand by on that one, too; still a developing story. General Michael Flynn, for ditto? You may have noticed that General Flynn’s case is shaping up to be the biggest instance of prosecutorial misconduct since the Dreyfus affair (France, 1894-1906, which badly-educated Americans most certainly know nothing about). To set the record straight I’m forced to repeat something that these New Age Jacobins seem unable to process: you don’t have to be a Trump cheerleader to be revolted by the behavior of his antagonists, which is a stunning spectacle of bad faith, dishonesty, incompetence, and malice — and is surely way more toxic to the American project than anything the president has done.

Read more …

Haven’t really seen much of day 2, but it looks like more posing by Capitol Hill. If one person, dies, you get a crminal investigation. And when 346 die, you get a hearing in the House?!

Boeing Employee Raised Concern Over Max Sensor Three Years Before Crashes (G.)

In a second day of congressional hearings into Boeing’s handling of its ill-fated 737 Max plane, lawmakers were shown internal records revealing that three years before two fatal crashes one employee had expressed concern that an anti-stall flight system at the center of crash investigations could be triggered by a single sensor. “Are we vulnerable to single [angle-of-attack] failures with [the system’s] implementation or is there some checking that occurs?” a Boeing employee asked in an email from December 2015, nearly three years before the first Max 737 crash in Indonesia almost exactly a year ago. The employee, who has not been identified, was referring to a sensor on the outside of the plane that measured its angle in flight and could trigger a system, known as MCAS, to push it down if it thought the aircraft was at risk of stalling.


Relying on a single sensor, aviation experts say, is fundamentally dangerous. With no back-up any malfunction could trigger the plane into a dive – as investigators believe happened with both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline crashes, killing 346. The release of the document, in addition to warnings from Boeing’s chief test pilot that the MCAS system could engage without warning, adds to belief that Boeing overlooked safety in a rush to put the Max 737, its most profitable model, into production. The new email is among others unearthed during withering transportation committee hearings during which lawmakers have repeatedly assailed Boeing’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, over a failure to prioritize safety. “You have a systemic problem in your company. You’re driving profit. You’re not driving quality, and you’re sure as heck not driving safety,” the California Democrat John Garamendi told the chief executive.

Read more …

NG=Not Good.

Over 50 Boeing 737NG Grounded Globally With Wing-Related Cracks (RT)

Boeing has confirmed that it has grounded over 50 of its planes around the world, after wing-related cracks were discovered, while the company’s CEO has admitted to making safety mistakes. It’s the US aviation giant’s 737NG (Next Generation) model that is now under scrutiny. The plane is a precursor to the infamous Boeing 737 MAX, which killed 346 people in two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and has been grounded since March. A Boeing spokesperson told AFP that some 1,000 planes worldwide had “reached the inspection threshold.” The problem these inspections zeroed in on was the so-called ‘pickle fork’ – a part of the plane that connects the fuselage to the wing. The US aviation authority this month ordered checks of Boeing 737NG planes that had made over 30,000 flights.

Read more …

33 planes at over $100 million a piece. When are the airlines going to sue Boeing?

Union Calls On Qantas To Ground Entire 737 Fleet For Investigation (G.)

Australia’s aircraft engineers association has called on Qantas to ground all of its Boeing 737 aircraft after cracks were discovered in one of its planes. Steve Purvinas, the federal secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA), said the fleet of 33 should be “grounded until such time that Qantas can establish which aircraft are safe and which aircraft aren’t”. According to Purvinas, the crack was discovered in a part of the plane known as the “pickle fork”, which is part of the landing gear. “It is a primary structure which takes the load off the wing,” he told the ABC on Thursday. “This could cause loss of control of an aircraft, and Qantas shouldn’t be flying them.”

“The first [crack] found on a Qantas aircraft was about an inch long, it’s very small. But these things do propagate very quickly when they’re under load…It’s when that grows, and that grows very quickly, that you have problems.” He told the ABC on Thursday that another crack had been found in a second plane overnight. On Thursday morning, Qantas announced it would bechecking more than 30 of its Boeing 737 aircraft after cracking was discovered in one plane during a maintenance check. But Purvinas said the airline should go further and ground the fleet.

[..] The problem came to light after Boeing said that it had found cracking in a part of the 737NG (the model before the troubled 737 Max) called the “pickle fork” on jets being overhauled in China. Nearly 5% of 810 inspections subsequently conducted have found cracks in the part, which attaches the plane’s fuselage to the wing. Purvinas told the ABC that repairs on this kind of crack take “months to fix” and require a special Boeing team.

Read more …

The IMF. All the way down.

The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers (Pepe Escobar)

The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global South. It pitted, in a nutshell, the people versus neoliberalism. The people won – with new President Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his VP. Neoliberalism was represented by Mauricio Macri: a marketing product, former millionaire playboy, president of football legends Boca Juniors, fanatic of New Age superstitions, and CEO obsessed with spending cuts, who was unanimously sold by Western mainstream media as the new paradigm of a post-modern, efficient politician.

Well, the paradigm will soon be evacuated, leaving behind a wasteland: $250 billion in foreign debt; less than $50 billion in reserves; inflation at 55 percent; the U.S. dollar at over 60 pesos (a family needs roughly $500 to spend in a month; 35.4 percent of Argentine homes can’t make it); and, incredible as it may seem in a self-sufficient nation, a food emergency. Macri, in fact the president of so-called Anti-Politics, No- Politics in Argentina, was a full IMF baby, enjoying total “support” (and gifted with a humongous $58 billion loan). New lines of credit, for the moment, are suspended. Fernandez is going to have a really hard time trying to preserve sovereignty while negotiating with foreign creditors, or “vultures,” as masses of Argentines define them.

There will be howls on Wall Street and in the City of London about “fiery populism,” “market panicking,” “pariahs among international investors.” Fernandez refuses to resort to a sovereign default, which would add even more unbearable pain for the general public. The good news is that Argentina is now the ultimate progressive lab on how to rebuild a devastated nation away from the familiar, predominant framework: a state mired in debt; rapacious, ignorant comprador elites; and “efforts” to balance the budget always at the expense of people’s interests.

Read more …

Don’t really know what to make of this, let’s see.

Russia-India Counter-Terrorism Group Vows ‘Credible Action’ (RT)

Moscow and New Delhi will boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism and destroy militant “safe havens” around the world, the two countries’ counter-terror working group said in a joint statement. Meeting in India’s capital on Wednesday, the working group condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” and called for deeper ties on counter-terror issues, including through “intensifying exchange of information” and “regular meetings at [the] experts level.” The two parties also stressed the need for “credible, irreversible … action against terrorists” and terrorist “safe havens” – particularly in the South Asia region – “without double standards.” Drug trafficking and other avenues of funding for militant groups, as well as countering extremism on the internet, were also touched upon.

Read more …

Strongly denied by the NY medical examiner.

Famed Pathologist Michael Baden Says Jeffrey Epstein’s Death Was Homicide

New York City’s former chief medical examiner insisted Wednesday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a homicide. Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was hired by the pedophile’s brother, Mark Epstein, to observe his autopsy after he was found hanged in his Manhattan lockup in August. “I think that the evidence points toward homicide rather than suicide,” Baden insisted on Fox News Wednesday. “The brother is concerned that if [Epstein] was murdered, then other people who have information might be at risk,” Baden insisted, suggesting powerful players may have been involved in the death.


“If they think he has information, his life could be in jeopardy.” Baden said there were signs of “unusual” activity “from day one” of the autopsy, saying the wounds were “more consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation.” Baden noted three fractured bones in the sex attacker’s thyroid that he insisted he has never before seen from a hanging death in 50 years of examinations. “Hanging does not cause these broken bones and homicide does,” he insisted on Fox. “A huge amount of pressure was applied.”

Read more …

 

Saw this map of remaining elephant populations and noticed most of them are where recently researchers said the origin of mankind is.

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 302019
 
 October 30, 2019  Posted by at 1:52 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Rembrandt van Rijn Portrait of Rembrandt with gorget 1629

 

During the Senate hearing into Boeing on October 29, Senator Jon Tester told the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg: “I would walk before I would get on a 737 MAX. I would walk.” He added: “There is no way … You shouldn’t be cutting corners and I see corners being cut.”

That’s all fine and well, but the hearing, which continues today, Wednesday, lays bare a giant gap in US law: that of accountability. Muilenburg is the “ultimately responsible” in a chain of command that is responsible for killing 346 people. But he is still the CEO, even if he was demoted from the chairman of the board position. Which was taken over by another -10 year- veteran of the company by the way. Fresh insights galore.

If you are employed by a large company, you can sign off on such decisions, the ones that kill people, and walk away unscathed. It reminds one of Monsanto/Bayer, which just annnounced that the number of Roundup lawsuits against it went from 18,000 in July to 43,000 today. Bayer at the same time announced that its turnover rose by 6% in Q3. 43,000 lawsuits and they’re doing fine, thank you.

In that same vein, Boeing shares rose 2.4% last night after the hearing (“a sign investors were relieved.”) What the “investors” buying those shares may have missed is that India’s budget carrier IndiGo ordered 300 new aircraft from Airbus, at an initial cost of $33 billion -which will be subject to a juicy discount, but still-.

Now, Boeing is America’s biggest exporter. It’s also one of the cornerstones of Pentagon policy, a huge provider for the US military. So one can only expect the Senate to be lenient, to appear to be tough but let things more or less go. Still, the fact remains that Muilenburg et al made cost-cutting and other decisions that killed 346 people. But CNCB still labeled this a “brutal Senate hearing”. Yeah. Define ‘brutal’.

Maybe the thing is that those deaths were not in the US, but in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Think maybe the Senate is influenced by that? What do you think would have happened if two 737 MAX’s had fallen out of the sky in the US, even if only in deplorables’ territory? We can sort of imagine, can’t we?

And no, it’s not an all black and white picture, some people involved made some sense (via Seattle Times):

Boeing 737 MAX Should Be Grounded Until Certification Process Is ‘Reformed’ – Senator

..at least one member of the Senate committee that grilled Muilenburg on Tuesday suggested the troubled aircraft shouldn’t be flying again until a much-maligned Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight program retreats from its practice of delegating authority to Boeing and other aerospace manufacturers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal — citing revelations in recent news reports of a Boeing engineer’s claims that the MAX’s safety was compromised by cost and schedule considerations, and that the company pushed to undercut regulatory oversight — pushed back against findings that the FAA’s practice of delegating more safety certification authority is only likely to increase.

“The story of Boeing sabotaging rigorous safety scrutiny is chilling to all of us — and more reason to keep the 737 MAX grounded until certification is really and truly independent and the system is reformed,” said Blumenthal, D-Conn.

But, you know, the entire narrative is about ‘the company’, not about the people in the company who make these fatal decisions. They can do whatever they want, secure in the knowledge they will never be held to account. For financial losses perhaps at some point, but not for the loss of life. At best, they’ll get fired and walk away with a huge bonus. And that’s just wrong.

And it’s not like there were no warning signs (via Seattle Times again, from Oct 3):

Boeing Rejected 737 MAX Safety Upgrades Before Fatal Crashes – Whistleblower

Seven weeks after the second fatal crash of a 737 MAX in March, a Boeing engineer submitted a scathing internal ethics complaint alleging that management — determined to keep down costs for airline customers — had blocked significant safety improvements during the jet’s development. The ethics charge, filed by 33-year-old engineer Curtis Ewbank, whose job involved studying past crashes and using that information to make new planes safer, describes how around 2014 his group presented to managers and senior executives a proposal to add various safety upgrades to the MAX.


The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by The Seattle Times, suggests that one of the proposed systems could have potentially prevented the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Three of Ewbank’s former colleagues interviewed for this story concurred. The details revealed in the ethics complaint raise new questions about the culture at Boeing and whether the long-held imperative that safety must be the overarching priority was compromised on the MAX by business considerations and management’s focus on schedule and cost. Managers twice rejected adding the new system on the basis of “cost and potential (pilot) training impact,” the complaint states.

This one is from AP, Oct 18. These are just the most recent revelations, this stuff goes back years. Neither Boeing nor the FAA ever did anything, until the planes started falling from the skies:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

A former senior Boeing test pilot told a co-worker that he unknowingly misled safety regulators about problems with a flight-control system that would later be implicated in two deadly crashes of the company’s 737 Max. The pilot, Mark Forkner, told another Boeing employee in 2016 that the flight system, called MCAS, was “egregious” and “running rampant” while he tested it in a flight simulator.

“So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” wrote Forkner, then Boeing’s chief technical pilot for the 737. The exchange occurred as Boeing was trying to convince the Federal Aviation Administration that MCAS was safe. MCAS was designed at least in part to prevent the Max from stalling in some situations. The FAA certified the plane without fully understanding MCAS, according to a panel of international safety regulators.

Forkner also lobbied FAA to remove mention of MCAS from the operating manual and pilot training for the Max, saying the system would only operate in rare circumstances. FAA allowed Boeing to do so, and most pilots did not know about MCAS until after the first crash, which occurred in October 2018 in Indonesia.

As I covered extensively before the issue at hand is that Boeing, in order to cut costs, among other things, decided to have just one -active- “angle-of-attack” sensor (which measures the angle of the plane vs income air, it’s located at the bottom front of the fuselage) on the plane. All it takes is one bird flying into it to compromise and/or deactivate that sensor. And then neither the software not the pilots know what to do anymore. But yeah, it’s cheaper… One sensor won’t do, nor will two, you need at least three in case one is defective. But yeah, that costs money. Seattle Times once again:

Messages From Former Boeing Test Pilot Reveal 737MAX Concerns

Boeing’s chief engineer for commercial airlines acknowledged that the company erred by not specifically testing the potential for a key sensor to erroneously cause software on the 737 Max to drive down the plane’s nose. In both fatal crashes, faulty data from one of two angle-of-attack sensors, which measure the pitch of the plane against the oncoming stream of air, caused the 737 Max’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, to drive down the jet’s nose, which pilots struggled to counteract before ultimately entering a fatal dive.


John Hamilton, vice president and chief engineer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told senators that the company “did test the MCAS uncommanded inputs to the stabilizer system, due to whatever causes was driving it, not specifically due to an AOA sensor.’’ Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, the Senate Commerce Committee’s top Democrat, asked if he now thought that was wrong. “In hindsight, senator, yes,’’ Hamilton replied.

They didn’t test the hardware at all, they tested the software! And all they have to say is that that was wrong. But only in hindsight! And then they tried to fix the mess they created with a new software program, MCAS, but didn’t even tell the pilots it existed. I kid you not! They did this because it might have required pilots to do more training, which raises the price of a plane, and they were already losing out to Airbus.

And lest we forget, this all happened because when Boeing was busy spending its capital on buying back its own shares, Airbus had developed a new plane to accommodate a much more energy-efficient -though larger- engine. When Boeing figured that out, they had neither the time nor the money left (because of the share buybacks) to develop their own new plane.

So what they did was they stuck such an engine (which they did have) onto a 737 model that was not equipped for the much bigger and heavier load. That in turn lead them to work on a software solution to lift the nose of the plane despite that load, which might have worked in theory but was always a bad idea, something in the vein of putting a giraffe’s neck on a hummingbird.

But Muilenburg and his people kept pushing it all, because they knew they had been caught awfully wanting, and they needed that more cost-efficient plane. And this is how all the ensuing mess started. It was all because of money. Of the execs being caught with their pants down, and trying to hide their naked hairy asses.

And then, as I started out this essay, they are still not held accountable. The company will face billions in ‘repair’ damages, some of them may lose their jobs or bonuses, but none will be held responsible for the deaths of those 346 people.

That is just not right. Not in the case of Monsanto, and not in that of Boeing. Not all Boeing planes are disasters, but the 737 definitely is. Donald Trump a few months ago suggested they should just rebrand the plane, give it another name, do some expensive PR work and bob’s your uncle. But let me ask you, would you fly on a 737, even if under another name? Far as I know, all they did was change the software, not the hardware.

Plus, the other day some airline, was that in South Korea?!, grounded a whole bunch of 787’s because of cracks on their wings. Look, I’m not saying Boeing’s in trouble. I’m just saying Boeing’s in deep trouble. But then, you know, they’ll kick out Muilenburg and some other guys, and a few FAA heads will retire, and they’ll declare the rotten apples gone, and we’re off to a whole new start. Yay! But the 346 people will still be dead.

 

 

 

 

Oct 232019
 


Salvador Dali Portrait of my father 1920

Bernie Pledges To End Prosecuting Whistleblowers Under Espionage Act (IC)
Everyone Is a Russian Asset (Matt Taibbi)
Hillary, Acknowledge the Damage You’ve Caused (Tulsi Gabbard)
Graham To Introduce Resolution Condemning House Impeachment Inquiry (Hill)
The 2020 Election Is Shaping Up To Be An Expensive Run (ZH)
EU Moves Towards Brexit Delay As Johnson Seeks Election To Break Impasse (R.)
Facebook Probe By US States Expands To 47 Attorneys General (R.)
US States Plan Google Antitrust Meeting Next Month In Colorado (R.)
Boeing Ousts First Senior Executive As 737 MAX Crisis Grows (R.)
Trump Approves $4.5 Million In Aid To ‘White Helmets’ In Syria (RT)
The Medicare for All Cost Debate Is Extremely Dishonest (Dayen)

I kid you not, Bernie doesn’t know who Reality Winner is. While AOC has only heard her name, it seems.

These are the people who should protect Julian Assange. They’re just posturing.

Bernie Pledges To End Prosecuting Whistleblowers Under Espionage Act (IC)

As President, Bernie Sanders would end the practice of using the controversial Espionage Act to prosecute government whistleblowers, the Vermont senator told The Intercept in an interview on Saturday ahead of a major rally in New York. The century-old law had largely gone out of fashion until it was deployed heavily by the Obama administration, which prosecuted eight people accused of leaking to the media under the Espionage Act, more than all previous presidents combined. President Donald Trump is on pace to break Barack Obama’s record if he gets a second term: He has prosecuted eight such whistleblowers, five of them using the Espionage Act, according to the Press Freedom Tracker. Asked if it is appropriate to prosecute whistleblowers using the Espionage Act, Sanders said, “Of course not.”

The Espionage Act, which was passed in 1917 to suppress opposition to World War I and now considers leakers to effectively be spies, makes a fair trial impossible, as relevant evidence is classified and kept from the defense, and the bar for conviction is low. The law also comes with stiffer criminal penalties and longer sentences than more obvious charges that might be leveled, such as mishandling classified intelligence. During the interview, The Intercept noted that Trump has referred to White House officials, who provided information to the whistleblower who went through legally sanctioned channels and alerted Congress of Trump’s Ukraine activities, as “spies.”

Democrats widely condemned Trump for the comparison, though those same Democrats have not generally objected to the Justice Department’s use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to journalists, suggesting that the media is being treated tantamount to a foreign adversary. “Whistleblowers have a very important role to play in the political process,” Sanders said in response. “And I am very supportive of the courage of that whistleblower, whoever he or she may be.” Asked if he would give a second look at the record-setting length of the sentence doled out to National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner, Sanders demurred, saying that he was supportive of whistleblowers but unfamiliar with her case.*

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who joined Sanders during the interview, agreed. “I don’t want to speak out of turn when it comes to Reality Winner, but I just think that the prosecution of whistleblowers is frankly against our democracy. We rely on whistleblowers, we rely on journalists, in order for us to hold our systems accountable.”

Read more …

“Trump’s campaign was a clown show. He had almost no institutional backing. His “ground game” was nonexistent: his “campaign” was a TV program based almost wholly around unscripted media appearances. [..] He didn’t prepare a victory speech, for the perfectly logical reason that he never expected to win.”

Everyone Is a Russian Asset (Matt Taibbi)

Democrats now are assuming the role once played by Republicans of the Tom Delay era, who denounced everyone opposed to the War on Terror as “Saddam-lovers.” In the midst of this in 2003, the Washington Post protested the way American journalism was “infected with jingoism and intolerance.” That was after Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post ran a headline, “Don’t aid these Saddam-lovers” about “appeasement-loving celebs” like Laurence Fishburne, Tim Robbins, Samuel L. Jackson, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Susan Sarandon. Today, the New York Post is the paper crying out against the “sad, sick conspiracy theories” about Gabbard (an “Assad-lover” instead of a “Saddam-lover”), but some of the other players are the same.

Sarandon is regularly denounced now by Democrats instead of Republicans, this time for having supported Stein in 2016, an act seen as equivalent to having tongue-kissed Putin on live TV. She was also one of a handful of celebrities noted for a “controversial” political donation in the Daily Beast’s red-baiting May article about the suspicious contributors to Gabbard’s campaign. The #Resistance has come up with all sorts of words for such fifth-columnists and deviationists: they are “false-balancers” or “false equivalencers,” “neo-Naderites,” “purity-testers,” “both-sidesists,” “whataboutists,” “horseshoe theorists,” “Russia skeptics” or “Russia denialists,” and “anti-anti-Trumpers.” Such heretics are all ultimately seen as being on “team Putin.”

This witch-hunting insanity isn’t just dangerous, it’s a massive breach from reality. Trump’s campaign was a clown show. He had almost no institutional backing. His “ground game” was nonexistent: his “campaign” was a TV program based almost wholly around unscripted media appearances. Trump raised just over half the $1.2 billion Hillary pulled in (making him the first presidential candidate dating back to 1976 to win with a funds deficit). He didn’t prepare a victory speech, for the perfectly logical reason that he never expected to win. Even if you posit the most elaborate theories of Russian interference (which I don’t, but of course I’m denialist scum), what happened in 2016 was still almost entirely a domestic story, with Trump benefiting from long-developing public rejection of the political establishment.

Rather than confront the devastating absurdity of defeat before an ad-libbing game show host who was seemingly trying to lose – a black comedy that is 100% in America’s rich stupidity tradition – Democrats have gone all-in on this theory of foreign infiltration. House speaker Nancy Pelosi even said as much in a White House meeting, pointing at Trump and proclaiming: “All roads lead to Putin.” All? Seriously? Is this ever going to end?

Read more …

Tulsi pushes on as rumors of Hillary entering the race get louder.

Hillary, Acknowledge the Damage You’ve Caused (Tulsi Gabbard)


Hillary, your foreign policy was a disaster for our country and the world—resulting in the deaths and injuries of so many of my brothers and sisters in uniform, devastating entire countries, millions of lives lost, refugee crises, our enemy al-Qaeda/ISIS strengthened, increased Iranian and Russian influence in the region, Turkey emboldened, and exacerbated the problem of nuclear proliferation by overthrowing Gadhafi in Libya. Yet despite the damage you have done to our country and the world, you want to continue your failed policies directly or indirectly through the Democratic nominee.


It’s time for you to acknowledge the damage you have caused and apologize for it. It is long past time for you to step down from your throne so the Democratic Party can lead with a new foreign policy which will actually be in the interests of and benefit the American people and the world.

Read more …

Senate 180º opposite the House. Lovely.

Graham To Introduce Resolution Condemning House Impeachment Inquiry (Hill)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is planning to introduce a resolution condemning the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry process, and argued that any articles should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial. “This resolution puts the Senate on record condemning the House. …Here’s the point of the resolution: Any impeachment vote based on this process, to me, is illegitimate, is unconstitutional, and should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial,” Graham told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. President Trump and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill have lashed out at how House Democrats are handling the impeachment inquiry, arguing they should hold a vote to formally launch the investigation.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has argued the rules don’t require a vote. But Republicans say it would give them more leeway to call their own witnesses, and put swing-state Democrats on the record on launching the impeachment inquiry. Graham added on Tuesday night that Trump should get “the same rights that any American has if you’re giving a parking ticket to confront the witnesses against you: can’t be based on hearsay.” “We cannot allow future presidents and this president to be impeached based on an inquiry in the House that’s never been voted upon that does not allow the president to confront the witnesses against him, to call witnesses on his behalf, and cross-examine people who are accusing him of misdeeds,” he added.

Read more …

That’s a given in every next election.

The 2020 Election Is Shaping Up To Be An Expensive Run (ZH)

President Trump has more cash on hand than any single Democratic primary candidate, a product of his unorthodox campaign that started amassing money his first day in the White House, a move no other president in U.S. history has done. While President Trump is gearing up for the general election, there are still 18 Democratic candidates who are fighting to become the party’s nominee in the primary. As Statista’s Sarah Feldman notes, Senator Bernie Sanders has the most cash on hand, followed closely by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounds out the three leading Democrats by cash on hand. All top three Democratic hopefuls have over double the cash that former Vice President Joe Biden has on hand. Former Vice President Joe Biden has a moderate $9 million in cash, a number that hasn’t changed much since last quarter.

The amount of cash on hand includes money from fundraising, and any funds from any previous presidential, senate, or congressional campaigns. The cash on hand metric provides insights into how much wiggle room campaigns have to grow their staff, expand their operations, and develop their advertising strategy. Candidates need to do all three to gain traction in early primary and caucus states. Many of the middling and cash-strapped candidates will be in danger of running out of funds, or not meeting the DNC’s stringent fundraising threshold to make the next debate stage. The fundraising requirement involves getting 130,000 donors, 400 of whom need to be from at least 20 states.

Read more …

From what I understand the Withdrawal Agreement Bill did not pass parliament, as many claim. It merely passed the second reading, the step before being debated in both houses. Then Boris delayed it.

EU Moves Towards Brexit Delay As Johnson Seeks Election To Break Impasse (R.)

EU leaders should delay Brexit after Prime Minister Boris Johnson paused legislation on his deal following a parliamentary defeat, EU Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday, as Britain spins towards a possible election to break the impasse. As the clock ticks down to the deadline for Britain’s departure on Oct. 31, Brexit is hanging in the balance as divided lawmakers debate when, how and even whether it should happen more than three years since the 2016 referendum. In another day of Brexit drama in the 800-year-old Westminster seat of power, lawmakers handed Johnson the first major parliamentary victory of his premiership by signalling their support for his deal in an early legislative hurdle.


But that was overshadowed just minutes later when lawmakers defeated him on his timetable to rush the legislation through the House of Commons in just three days, prompting the government to say it would pause the legislative process. Tusk recommended late on Tuesday evening that the leaders of the remaining 27 member states back a delay. “In order to avoid a no-deal Brexit, I will recommend the EU27 accept the UK request for an extension,” he said on Twitter. [..] On Tuesday, lawmakers did vote by 329 to 299 in favour of the second reading of the legislation for the Brexit deal – still no guarantee of success since the bill could be amended by lawmakers who want changes. They then opposed by 322 to 308 votes Johnson’s extremely tight timetable.

Read more …

Will it lead anywhere?

Facebook Probe By US States Expands To 47 Attorneys General (R.)

A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday. The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam. Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday. The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.


Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices. Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides. “We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.” Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Read more …

They should investigate the links between CIA and Facebook/Google.

US States Plan Google Antitrust Meeting Next Month In Colorado (R.)

U.S. state attorneys general probing Alphabet’s Google plan to meet next month in Colorado to discuss a probe into whether the search giant’s business practices break antitrust law, according to three sources knowledgeable about the meeting. The meeting, which is being planned for Nov. 11, would be similar to a gathering this week in New York where state and federal enforcers from the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission discussed their probe of Facebook, according to one of the sources. A second source said that this meeting would touch on organizational issues and was likely to be one in a long series of gatherings to discuss the probe.


The investigation of Google appears to be well underway since Texas sent the search and advertising giant a subpoena asking for information about its ad business. As of earlier this month, Google began sending data to the attorneys general. The investigation, which involves all state attorneys general except Alabama and California, seeks to dig into the opaque business of online digital advertising, where Google is a dominant player. Attorneys general for the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico are also part of the investigation.

Read more …

The first of many, we may hope.

Boeing Ousts First Senior Executive As 737 MAX Crisis Grows (R.)

Boeing Co on Tuesday ousted the top executive of its commercial airplanes division, Kevin McAllister, marking the first high-level departure since two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX jets. The company said it named veteran Boeing executive Stan Deal to succeed McAllister effective immediately as president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Deal had led Boeing’s Global Services division. The world’s largest planemaker faces a growing crisis over the eight-month safety ban of its previously best-selling flagship single-aisle jet prompted by crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.


Tuesday’s announcement, a day before the company was due to report quarterly financial results, shocked some Boeing employees, with one insider calling McAllister a “scapegoat” and pointing out that he came to the helm of BCA later in the 737 MAX development. It ends a relatively unusual experiment at Boeing of handing an outsider a prominent position, and places the crucial commercial airplanes division in the hands of a long-serving Boeing insider who has formed relationships with some important customers, such as Singapore Airlines. McAllister, a regular figure at industry conclaves, had formed deep relationships with key airline customers forged during his previous position selling services for General Electric Co.

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The Deep State rules supreme: “Last May, the Trump administration had announced it would stop funding the White Helmets, only to backtrack a month later and send the group $6.8 million.”

Trump Approves $4.5 Million In Aid To ‘White Helmets’ In Syria (RT)

US president Donald Trump has authorized $4.5 million in aid to the so-called Syrian Civil Defense (SCD), aka “White Helmets,” calling their work “important and highly valued.” The group’s critics point to its terrorist ties. “Over the course of the 8-year conflict in Syria, the SCD has rescued more than 115,000 people, including many ethnic and religious minorities,” the White House said, announcing the aid on Tuesday. However, the source of this figure is the group itself, and it has not been independently verified. Likewise, the organization has only been around since 2014. Washington pledged $5 million in aid to the group at a conference back in March. Last May, the Trump administration had announced it would stop funding the White Helmets, only to backtrack a month later and send the group $6.8 million.

The group’s name is highly misleading, as the White Helmets have operated solely in areas controlled by anti-government militants, such as the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, now called HTS. The actual Syrian civil defense is part of the government, and has been subjected to US sanctions as such. Currently the White Helmets operate solely in the parts of Idlib province controlled by the militants. Photographs of armed militants with “White Helmets” insignia, participating in the Turkish-backed ‘Operation Peace Spring’ against the Kurds in northern Syria, have appeared on social networks over the past two weeks. Still, the US continues to encourage “allies and partners” to join in its support of the White Helmets, and “efforts to protect civilians, religious and ethnic minorities, and other innocent victims of the Syrian conflict,” according to the White House.

In December 2018, the Russia-based Foundation for the Study of Democracy presented evidence of their investigations in Syria, showing the group to be engaged in staging false chemical and other attacks, harvesting organs of the people they pretended to rescue, and looting the bodies of the fallen, among other things.

Read more …

Time to clean up the debate.

The Medicare for All Cost Debate Is Extremely Dishonest (Dayen)

Over the weekend in Indianola, Iowa, Elizabeth Warren announced that she would soon roll out specific details for financing Medicare for All, the culmination of a week of “but how will you pay for that” demands from the media and rival presidential candidates. That a nation with millions of uninsured people and tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths from lack of access to health care is consumed with talking about taxes, rather than the revolution in human rights that would come from universal coverage, tells you a lot about life in the United States, and why we still suffer from a broken system.

But this triumph of budgetary scolding is being applied unevenly. If we want to talk about “paying” for universal coverage, we should expand the discussion to all the candidates who claim to support it. While Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg and others have howled about cost, there’s a deception at the heart of their own plans: either they put just as much health care costs on the federal government as the Warren-Sanders single-payer model, or they’re effectively useless. Biden and Buttigieg have separately proposed public options that would compete with private insurance. In Biden’s plan, even those with employer-sponsored insurance could opt out and choose the public plan.

Buttigieg would offer subsidies to help people pay for the public option, capping the cost of insurance at 8.5 percent of income. Both explicitly pitch this as a cheaper way to establish universal coverage. But that claim relies on a hide-the-ball scenario. Biden or Buttigieg’s public option, over time, will either serve as a weak alternative to private coverage, with high premiums and substandard coverage. Or, backed by government bargaining power, it will outshine private insurance and gradually supplant it. Buttigieg himself talks about his plan as a “glide path” to Medicare for All.

Read more …

Places with mass protests : Chile, Ecuador, Lebanon, Barcelona, France, London, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Iraq, Guinea, Bolivia, Algeria, Haiti, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Sudan

New addition today: Azerbaijan.

Despite the name, snow leopards and clouded leopards are not closely related to leopards.

Oct 172019
 


Salvador Dali Sick Boy (Self-portrait in Cadaqués) 1923

 

Pelosi, Trump Exchange ‘Meltdown’ Barbs Over Meeting On US Policy In Syria (R.)
The Russian Masterpiece in Syria: Everyone Wins (Pieraccini)
Everybody Betraying Everybody in Syria (Fuller)
Schiff Pushed Volker To Say Ukraine Felt Pressure From Trump (WE)
One Person Is Missing In The Dems’ Impeachment Inquiry: The Whistleblower (R.)
Wait for It (Kunstler)
Michael Flynn Lawyer Seeks Data From Joseph Mifsud Phones (Ross)
Tulsi Gabbard Was A Dove On The Warpath (Tracey)
DUP Says It Cannot Support Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal (G.)
Australia’s Housing Downturn A Larger-Than-Expected Drag On Economy (R.)
China Bans Exports Of Black Clothing To Hong Kong (SCMP)
Assange Subjected To Torture & Violations Of Due Process Rights – UN Envoy (RT)

 

 

I like this one: “White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham called Pelosi’s decision to walk out “baffling but not surprising.”

And as long as the only things Dems have to say about Trump are exclusively negative, what do they expect? Goes to credibility, your honor.

This was a meeting about Syria, and some people have started calling the situation there “..one of the greatest diplomatic masterpieces ever conceived..”

Still, the House condemns it….

As for Pelosi’s comments to Trump: Russia’s always a had a foothold in the Middle East. But it’s convenient to ‘forget’ that, as well as the Mueller report. Goes to credibility, your honor.

 

Pelosi, Trump Exchange ‘Meltdown’ Barbs Over Meeting On US Policy In Syria (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democratic leaders cut short a meeting with Republican President Donald Trump after he had a “meltdown” over a House of Representatives vote condemning his Syria withdrawal and showed no signs of having a plan to deal with a crisis there. Trump called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and the meeting in the White House deteriorated into a diatribe, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. Later, in remarks to reporters on Capitol Hill, Pelosi said that Trump actually called her a “third-grade” politician. “What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say,” Pelosi had said upon leaving.

Trump posted on Twitter on Wednesday night – “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” with a photo of Pelosi standing up and pointing at him during the meeting. The Democrats exited the meeting complaining that they were expecting to hear Trump provide details on a plan for dealing with an unfolding “crisis” in Syria but instead were subjected to “derogatory” language from him about congressional Democrats and Democratic former President Barack Obama. White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, in a statement, called Pelosi’s decision to walk out “baffling but not surprising.” She added that after Democratic leaders “chose to storm out,” remaining Republican leaders held a productive meeting.


Pelosi directly to Trump: Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East” and now it has one. “All roads with you lead to Putin.”

Read more …

“..one of the greatest diplomatic masterpieces ever conceived..”

The Russian Masterpiece in Syria: Everyone Wins (Pieraccini)

The agreement between the Kurds (SDF) and Damascus is the only natural conclusion to events that are heavily orchestrated by Moscow. The deployment of Syrian and Russian troops on the border with Turkey is the prelude to the reconquest of the entirety of Syrian territory — the outcome the Kremlin was wishing for at the beginning of this diplomatic masterpiece. Washington and Ankara have never had any opportunities to prevent Damascus from reunifying the country. It was assumed by Moscow that Washington and Ankara would sooner or later seek the correct exit strategy, even as they proclaimed victory to their respective bases in the face of defeat in Syria. This is exactly what Putin and Lavrov came up with over the last few weeks, offering Trump and Erdogan the solution to their Syrian problems.

Trump will state that he has little interest in countries 7,000 miles from the homeland; and Erdogan (with some reluctance) will affirm that the border between Turkey and Syria, when held by the Syrian Arab Army, guarantees security against the Kurds. Putin has no doubt advised Assad and the Kurds to begin a dialogue in the common interests of Syria. He would have no doubt also convinced Erdogan and Trump of the need to accept these plans. An agreement that rewards Damascus and Moscow saves the Kurds while leaving Erdogan and Trump with a semblance of dignity in a situation that is difficult to explain to a domestic or international audience.

Moscow has started joint patrols with the Syrian Arab Army on the borders with Turkey for the purposes of preventing any military clashes between Ankara and Damascus. If Ankara halts its military operation in the coming days, Damascus will regain control of the oil fields. The world will then have witnessed one of the greatest diplomatic masterpieces ever conceived, responsible for bringing closer the end of the seven-year-long Syrian conflict.

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Former senior CIA official Graham Fuller has a slightly different take.

Everybody Betraying Everybody in Syria (Fuller)

Just what have we witnessed in the recent events in Syria? It’s hard to know, given the avalanche of superficial and over-the-top headlines in most US media: betrayal of the Kurds, handing Syria over to Russia, caving to Turkey’s Erdogan, bestowing a gift upon Iran, allowing ISIS to once again run wild, end of US leadership. Yet the bottom line of the story is that after some eight years of civil conflict, the situation in Syria is basically reverting to the pre-conflict norm. The Syrian government is now close to re-establishing its sovereign control again over the entire country. Indeed, Syria’s sovereign control over its own country had been vigorously contested, in fact blocked, by many external interventions—mainly on the part of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and a few European hangers-on—all hoping to exploit the early uprising against the Asad regime and overthrow it. In favor of what was never clear.


Much of this picture has a long history. The US has been trying to covertly overthrow the Syrian regime off and on for some fifty years, periodically joined on occasion by Israel or Saudi Arabia or Iraq, orTurkey or the UK. Most people assumed that when the Arab Spring broke out in Syria in 2011 that civil uprisings there too would lead to the early overthrow of another authoritarian regime. But it did not. This was in part due to Asad’s brutal put-down of rebel forces, in part because of the strong support he received from Russia, Iran and Hizballah, and in part because large numbers of Syrian elites feared that whoever might take Asad’s place—most likely one or another Jihadi group—would be far worse, more radical and chaotic than Asad’s strict but stable secular domestic rule.

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The secrets get spilled.

Schiff Pushed Volker To Say Ukraine Felt Pressure From Trump (WE)

In a secret interview, Rep. Adam Schiff, leader of the House Democratic effort to impeach President Trump, pressed former United States special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker to testify that Ukrainian officials felt pressured to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter as a result of Trump withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine. Volker denied that was the case, noting that Ukrainian leaders did not even know the aid was being withheld and that they believed their relationship with the U.S. was moving along satisfactorily, without them having done anything Trump mentioned in his notorious July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

When Volker repeatedly declined to agree to Schiff’s characterization of events, Schiff said, “Ambassador, you’re making this much more complicated than it has to be.” The interview took place Oct. 3 in a secure room in the U.S. Capitol. While the session covered several topics, the issue of an alleged quid pro quo — U.S. military aid in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens and a public announcement that such an investigation was underway — was a significant part of the discussion. “[The Ukrainians] didn’t want to be drawn into investigating a Democratic candidate for president, which would mean only peril for Ukraine, is that fair to say?” Schiff asked Volker.

“That may be true,” Volker said. “That may be true. They didn’t express that to me, and, of course, I didn’t know that was the context at the time.” (Volker has said he did not know that Trump had mentioned the Bidens on the July 25 call with Zelensky until the rough transcript of the call was released on Sept. 25.)

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A heavily distorted process. They should watch out with that.

One Person Is Missing In The Dems’ Impeachment Inquiry: The Whistleblower (R.)

Democratic lawmakers leading an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump have heard days of testimony from a parade of senior government officials. But they have yet to hear from the whistleblower who sparked the probe – and may never do. In the end, it may not matter, some Democratic lawmakers said, because the other officials who have testified, Trump’s own statements, a trove of texts between top U.S. diplomats, and other White House documents have largely substantiated the whistleblower’s complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden. Talks between lawyers for the whistleblower and representatives of the House of Representatives and Senate committees that want to question the intelligence official have all but deadlocked, three sources familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

Lawyers for the official have voiced concern about the person’s safety and that testifying in person to congressional aides could expose the person’s identity. They have attributed some of that concern to statements by Trump, who calls the inquiry a sham and has suggested the whistleblower committed treason. U.S. officials told Reuters last week that the government was providing security for the whistleblower. At first, the negotiations focused on proposals that would allow the whistleblower to testify but away from Capitol Hill and with face and voice obscured, two of the sources said. But the whistleblower’s lawyers remained concerned that those precautions might not be enough to protect their client’s anonymity.

A proposal was made for the whistleblower to answer questions in writing, the two sources said, and House aides accepted it in principle. Republican and Democratic sources both say, however, that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are insistent that they be allowed to interview the whistleblower, ideally face to face, although possibly under conditions that would still shield the person’s identity.

Read more …

“..a phantom confabulation of gossip threads..”

Wait for It (Kunstler)

An eerie silence cloaked the political landscape this lovely fall weekend as the soldiers in this (so far) administrative civil war scrambled for position in the next round of skirmishes. Rep. Adam Schiff fell back on the preposterous idea that he might not produce his “whistleblower” witness at all in the (so far) hypothetical impeachment proceeding. He put that one out after running a similarly absurd idea up the flagpole: that his “whistleblower” might just testify by answering written questions. I was waiting for him to offer up testimony by Morse code, carrier pigeon, or smoke signals.

Of course, the effort to “protect” the “whistleblower” has been a juke all along. For one thing, he-she-it is not a “whistleblower” at all; was only labeled that via legalistic legerdemain to avoid revealing the origin of this affair as a CIA cover-your-ass operation. Did Mr. Schiff actually think he could conceal this figure’s identity in a senate impeachment trial, when it came to that — for what else is impeachment aimed at? Anonymous sources are not admissible under American due process of law. Mr. Schiff must have missed that class in law school. All of this hocus-pocus suggests to me that there is no “whistleblower,” that it is a phantom confabulation of gossip threads that unraveled the moment Mr. Trump released the transcript of his phone call to Ukraine’s president Zelensky, aborting Mr. Schiff’s game plan.

The ensuing weeks of congressional Keystone Kops buffoonery since then appears to conceal a futile effort by Mr. Schiff and his confederates to find some fall guy willing to pretend that he-she-it is the “whistleblower.” He might as well ask for a volunteer to gargle with Gillette Blue Blades on NBC’s Meet the Press. One marvels at Rep. Schiff’s tactical idiocy. But just imagine the panicked consternation it must be triggering among his Democratic colleagues. Notice that Mrs. Pelosi has been hiding out during this latest phase of the action. She may sense that there is nothing left to do but allow Mr. Schiff to twist slowly slowly in the wind, as he has hung himself out to dry. She should have known better since every previous declaration of conclusive evidence by Mr. Schiff over the past three years has proved to be false, knowingly and mendaciously so.

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Flynn thanks the lord that he hired Sidney Powell. Buit still, more secrecy: why is the FBI sitting on those phones?

Michael Flynn Lawyer Seeks Data From Joseph Mifsud Phones (Ross)

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s attorney made a surprising request in a court filing Tuesday for two phones that she says belonged to Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese professor whose contacts with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos are at the heart of the Trump-Russia probe. Sidney Powell, a Flynn lawyer, asked the judge presiding over Flynn’s case to order prosecutors “to produce evidence that has only recently come into its possession.” She listed two Blackberry phones she asserts Mifsud used and requested data and metadata from the devices. Powell did not explain in the filing how the Mifsud phones might be relevant to Flynn’s case, but she wrote that “this information is material, exculpatory, and relevant to the defense of Mr. Flynn.”


Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, has been awaiting sentencing on a charge that he made false statements to the FBI on Jan. 24, 2017 regarding his conversations in December 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn pleaded guilty to the charge on Dec. 1, 2017 and has been awaiting sentencing for nearly 10 months. Powell has said that Flynn is not planning to try to withdraw his guilty plea. Instead, she has argued that the case should be dismissed against the retired lieutenant general altogether. Prosecutors have rejected some of Powell’s previous requests for a variety of documents from the special counsel’s probe, arguing that they are immaterial to the false statements charge to which Flynn pleaded guilty.

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“Tulsi threatened to boycott the debate because of the despicable tactics of the NYT, CNN, and the rest of the corporate media who hate her so intensely. But rather than boycotting, she went and called them despicable to their faces”

Tulsi Gabbard Was A Dove On The Warpath (Tracey)

It was never especially plausible that Tulsi Gabbard would follow through on her threat to boycott last night’s presidential debate. Too much campaign energy and resources have flowed into ensuring that she secured a spot on the corporate TV stage, which is a sordid but unavoidable aspect of the modern primary process. But in her first comments, she spelled out the reasons why such a boycott would in theory have been absolutely warranted. The two media co-sponsors, CNN and the New York Times, had just spent the past several days attacking her with a level of brazenness that was shocking even to those well-accustomed to the regularity with which she is smeared by journalistic antagonists.

The NYT released a bottom-of-the-barrel hit-job on Saturday, regurgitating the entire litany of bogus talking points marshaled against her over the course of the campaign — Russian apologist, Assad apologist, friend to white nationalists, naive isolationist, cult member — with the obligatory David Duke reference thrown in for good measure. This has all been aired before, but it was packaged together by the NYT in the cheapest, sleaziest form imaginable. The unsubtle subtext is always that Tulsi has some nefarious hidden motive, and couldn’t possibly be running on an earnest commitment to the principles she espouses. Her campaign refused to comply with the NYT’s requests for the article, and rightly so.

[..] CNN is generally of the same disposition toward Tulsi (undisguised contempt) and that reached a new peak Tuesday, the day of the debate, when Democratic operative and ‘analyst’ Bakari Sellers proclaimed with total self-satisfied certitude that she is a ‘puppet for the Russian government’. His esteemed co-panelists had neither the knowledge or interest to meaningfully interrogate the charge, which of course is grotesque nonsense. As such, that’s the context in which Tulsi’s threat to boycott the debate was perfectly valid — but it’s better to be there than not.

So she took the opportunity to point out how despicable the CNN/NYT attacks were and segue into a broader indictment of the entire political/media class for the ongoing debacle in Syria, in which they have been collectively complicit for years. They might prefer to pin sole blame for recent developments on Trump — Tulsi was also unsparing in maligning him for his role — but Tulsi correctly widened the indictment to include the entire bipartisan war-marking apparatus and its loyal media cheerleaders. They pushed one narrative of the conflict — the US was funding and arming ‘good guys’ in the form of ‘moderate rebels’ seeking to overthrow Assad — that turned out to be spectacularly wrong, seeing as those same ‘rebels’ are now being denounced by US officials for taking part in the massacre of Kurds.

Read more …

Never ending.

DUP Says It Cannot Support Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal (G.)

The Democratic Unionist party is threatening to scupper the Brexit deal that Boris Johnson is on the brink of agreeing with the EU. On the morning of a crucial EU summit in Brussels, a joint statement from the DUP’s leader, Arlene Foster, and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, explicitly says the party cannot support the deal that is close to being finalised. The pound fell 0.5% against the dollar and the euro within minutes of the announcement. The DUP statement said: “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues, and there is a lack of clarity on VAT.” The statement will come as blow to the prime minister, who hopes to bring back a deal from the Brussels meeting and then secure the backing of parliament in a rare Commons vote pencilled in for Saturday.

The backing of the 10 DUP MPs is crucial for the success of that vote because many Conservative Brexiters have indicated they will not back a deal that is opposed by unionists. Steve Baker, the chair of the hard Brexit European Research Group, said he was optimistic the group would back a deal. But he also suggested the ERG could not support it if Johnson failed to secure the backing of the DUP. The DUP statement added: “We will continue to work with the government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Johnson has met Foster and Dodds three times in the last three days as he tried to shore up their support before Saturday’s deadline to prevent a delay to Brexit. Housing minister Robert Jenrick said on BBC Breakfast: “We know there are clearly concerns on the part of the DUP and we want to try and work through these productively in the hours to come. “All sides in this do want to secure an orderly exit from the EU, and I think one is in sight, although there is clearly very significant issues to be hammered out. Let’s wait and see.”

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The zombies were never cleared for the 28 years of boom.

Australia’s Housing Downturn A Larger-Than-Expected Drag On Economy (R.)

Australia’s property downturn is hitting household consumption and is a big drag on economic growth and inflation that will likely last at least another year, despite three interest rate cuts, a senior central bank official said on Thursday. However, an uptick in home prices in recent months, steady population growth and all-time low interest rates were expected to revive housing construction by 2021, Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Deputy Governor Guy Debelle said in a speech. Housing is a significant part of Australia’s A$1.95 trillion ($1.3 trillion) economy, with residential construction accounting for around 2% of total employment and 6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).


“Much of the downturn in construction activity is still ahead,” Debelle said in Sydney in a speech titled “Housing and the Economy.” Home prices and construction activity in Australia peaked nearly two years ago with approvals to build new homes around 40% lower than their late-2017 highs. “We are forecasting a further 7% decline in dwelling investment over the next year, and there is some risk the decline could be even larger,” Debelle added. “This will directly subtract around 1 percentage point from GDP growth from peak to trough…” Housing also impacts consumption. The RBA’s standard estimate of the wealth effect is that a 10% fall in housing prices leads to a 1.5% fall in household consumption over time.

Read more …

Best thing perhaps is the South China Morning Post filed this in the lifestyle/fashion-beauty section.

China Bans Exports Of Black Clothing To Hong Kong (SCMP)

The Chinese government is cracking down on exports of black clothing to Hong Kong from mainland China. The protesters who have taken to the streets of Hong Kong for the last four months, initially to oppose a now-withdrawn extradition bill, have adopted as their uniform black T-shirts, black jeans and black sneakers, often paired with a black face mask. According to a notice issued by Guangdong courier company PHXBUY on July 11, mainland Chinese customs required courier companies to halt delivery of a list of products. “They include yellow helmets, yellow umbrellas, flags, flagpoles, poster banners, gloves, masks, black T-shirts, metal rods, fluorescent tubes, bludgeon clubs. We cannot take delivery of the above products … Thank you for supporting us,” the notice said.


A subsequent notice posted on September 26 by Guangdong-based EXPRESS contains an even longer list of banned items: foodstuffs, liquid, powder, gases, counterfeit brand products, big machines, helmets, umbrellas, wrist bands, towels, safety vests, speakers, amplifiers, trestles, walkie-talkies, drones, black shirts and other clothing, goggles, metal beads, metal balls, horticulture scissors, metal chains, torches, binoculars, remote-controlled toys. “Customers mailing products have to use their real names. For mismatch between proclaimed names of goods to be mailed and actual goods, they will be left in the warehouse … for any discovery of the aforementioned goods [for mailing to Hong Kong], a thorough investigation will be launched.”

Read more …

Everyone completely ignores the UN, and international law.

Assange Subjected To Torture & Violations Of Due Process Rights – UN Envoy (RT)

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has been subjected to “psychological torture” and his due process rights have been “systematically violated” by all the states involved, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer. Two medical experts accompanied Melzer when he visited Assange at Belmarsh prison in the UK, he said on Tuesday. “We came to the conclusion that he had been exposed to psychological torture for a prolonged period of time. That’s a medical assessment.” Melzer’s message fell largely on deaf ears, as only a handful of reporters attended Tuesday’s press conference at the UN headquarters in New York.


It was not the first time that Melzer has tried to bring attention to Assange’s plight. He wrote an opinion piece about it in June, only to find it ignored or rejected by mainstream media outlets, and ended up publishing open letters to the US, British, Ecuadorian, and Swedish governments in July. We asked for all the involved states to investigate this case and to alleviate the pressure that has been done on him, and especially to respect his due process rights, which in my view have been systematically violated in all these jurisdictions,” Melzer said on Tuesday. No country has agreed to do so, he added, even though this was their obligation under the Convention on Torture.

Read more …

 

Slogen of the year:

If it’s a Boeing… I’m not going!

 

 

 

 

Oct 102019
 
 October 10, 2019  Posted by at 9:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Salvador Dali Grandmother Ana sewing 1920

 

Inside Hunter Biden’s Dealings With Shadowy Foreign Firms (ZH)
Joe Biden ‘Personally Paid $900,000 By Burisma’ – Ukrainian MP (ZH)
An Insult To Real Whistleblowers- Kiriakou (RCP)
Shell To Offset Carbon Emissions For British Fuel Buyers (R.)
Federal Reserve Policymakers Increasingly Divided On Way Ahead (R.)
US Tariffs On China Are Working – Wilbur Ross (R.)
Nearly All Goods Traded By US And China Will Have Tariffs By December 15 (R.)
Chinese Consumers Are On A Worrying Staycation (Lam)
California Set To End Private Prisons And Immigrant Detention Camps (R.)
Owner Of Spanish Security Company That Spied On Assange Arrested (El Pais)
PG&E Power Outage: Lines For Gas, Batteries, Groceries And Generators (LAT)
Seven Latam Nations Suggest Maduro Behind Unrest In Ecuador (R.)
For The First Time Ever, Greece Issues Negative Yielding Debt (ZH)

 

 

I’ve been in a Not The Onion mode all day. It started off with reading that Shell is paying to offset its UK customers’ carbon emissions. For blunt stupidity, that’s hard to beat. That Johnson and Johnson was “ordered to pay $8 billion (!!!) after drug causes man to grow breasts” already seemed more logical after that. That Joe Biden made even more money off Burisma than Hunter did, then seemed perfectly normal. It was all uphill from there.

Inside Hunter Biden’s Dealings With Shadowy Foreign Firms (ZH)

According to the FT, Biden’s business interests “often show up in unexpected places.” While Democrats obviously prefer to focus on their impeachment investigation, there’s no denying that Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, China and elsewhere clearly raise questions about potential conflicts that existed while his father was in office. Joe Biden has denied wrongdoing, but questions linger over his role in the ouster of a top Ukrainian prosecutor, which some have suggested was done to help protect Hunter. When Hunter joined the Navy Reserves in May 2013, he required several waivers (at 42, he was above the age of enlistment, and there was an unspecified ‘drug-related’ incident that also would have disqualified him).

Despite his apparent eagerness to join, Biden was discharged from the Navy the following year after testing positive for cocaine. Soon after, his more successful older brother, Beau, passed away, and his wife Kathleen filed for divorce, citing Hunter’s “spending extravagantly on his own interests including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations.” Next, he started dating his brother’s widow. But in between trips to rehab and legendary drug benders. In 2016, shortly after he started dating Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, Hunter made plans to stay at a detox center in Arizona. But he somehow got sidetracked during a stopover in Los Angeles, and ended up missing the next wing of his flight. Instead, he traveled to Skid Row, where he was reportedly held up at gun point, but nevertheless apparently succeeded in buying and using crack, causing him to return several times over the following days.

Eventually, Hunter Biden took a Hertz rental car to his treatment center in Arizona, but workers at the Hertz office called the police after finding a crack pipe and baggie of crack, along with Biden’s license and a badge from Beau’s time as Delaware AG. Prosecutors declined to pursue the case, claiming a lack of evidence, but it definitely wasn’t a good look for Hunter. More recently, Hunter has been in the headlines for his whirlwind marriage to a South African Instagram model, and for a paternity suit brought by a woman claiming Hunter is the father of her newborn son. Of course, none of these transgressions have stopped Biden from earning millions of dollars off his family name and connections. In Wednesday’s issue, the FT published a breakdown of Biden’s foreign business interests.

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As I said, perfectly normal.

Joe Biden ‘Personally Paid $900,000 By Burisma’ – Ukrainian MP (ZH)

Ukrainian MP Andriy Derkach revealed on Wednesday that former Vice President Joe Biden received $900,000 from Burisma Group for lobbying activities, citing materials related to an investigation. Via Interfax: “Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden received $900,000 for lobbying activities from Burisma Group, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada member Andriy Derkach said citing investigation materials. Derkach publicized documents which, as he said, “describe the mechanism of getting money by Biden Sr.” at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine’s press center in Kyiv on Wednesday”. -Interfax. “This was the transfer of Burisma Group’s funds for lobbying activities, as investigators believe, personally to Joe Biden through a lobbying company.”


“Funds in the amount of $900,000 were transferred to the U.S.-based company Rosemont Seneca Partners, which according to open sources, in particular, the New York Times, is affiliated with Biden. The payment reference was payment for consultative services,” said Derkach. Derkach also puiblicized sums of money transferred to Burisma Group representatives – including Joe Biden’s son Hunter. “According to the documents, Burisma paid no less than $16.5 million to [former Polish President, who became an independent director at Burisma Holdings in 2014] Aleksander Kwasniewski, [chairman of the Burisma board of independent directors] Alan Apter, [Burisma independent director] Devon Archer and Hunter Biden [who joined the Burisma board of directors in 2014],” Derkach added.

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“If you are represented by Mark Zaid and you’re claiming to be a whistleblower, you are not…”

An Insult To Real Whistleblowers- Kiriakou (RCP)

Former CIA official and whistleblower John Kiriakou weighed in on Ukraine whistleblower being celebrated by the media. Kiriakou called the person a “so-called whistleblower” that is acting anonymously even though they have no undercover position at the CIA, likely an analyst. “I don’t think this is a whistleblower, not at all,” Kiriakou told FNC’s Tucker Carlson. “I think this is an anonymous source for the Democratic staff in the House of Representatives.” “You can’t hide this person’s identity just to save him from embarrassment or trouble of being recognized,” Kiriakou said. “It’s just not appropriate. If this is a whistleblower, he needs to come forward in public, testify in open session and blow that whistle.”


“Even his attorney, Mark Zaid, is one of these CIA insiders. He’s attached at the hip with the CIA. He’s represented dozens of CIA people. He has a CIA security clearance. If you are represented by Mark Zaid and you’re claiming to be a whistleblower, you are not,” Kiriakou said Wednesday.

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Yup, the British are funny.

Shell To Offset Carbon Emissions For British Fuel Buyers (R.)

Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday it would offset the carbon dioxide emissions of around 1.5 million road users in Britain starting later this month under a loyalty scheme. Shell, like other oil companies, has come under pressure from shareholders to show how it plans to reduce its carbon footprint and help cut greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of global warming. Britons are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact, with thousands of students striking earlier this year and green group Extinction Rebellion carrying out civil disobedience to push for more ambition on climate change.


Sinead Lynch, Shell UK country chair, said the best way for people to cut their road emissions was to use electric vehicles, supplied with renewable power. “But today the majority of people still use petrol and diesel. We can help them address the impact of their emissions by offsetting their fuel purchases,” she said in a statement. From Oct. 17, emissions relating to fuel purchased by customers with the Shell Go+ app or card will be offset for free until September 2020. Shell said about 20% of its customers were registered with the loyalty scheme. It expects the program to cost roughly 10 million pounds ($12.2 million) and offset emissions from around 1.5 million cars.

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It’s too late to repair their nonsense.

Federal Reserve Policymakers Increasingly Divided On Way Ahead (R.)

Most Federal Reserve policymakers supported the need for an interest rate cut in September, minutes of the central bank’s last policy meeting showed, but they remained divided on the path ahead for monetary policy. The readout of the meeting, released on Wednesday, also showed that the Fed agreed it would soon need to discuss increasing the size of its balance sheet following ructions in short-term money markets. Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced an imminent expansion of the central bank’s assets on Tuesday. Fed policymakers at the Sept. 17-18 meeting decided, in a 7-3 vote, to lower the benchmark overnight lending rate by a quarter percentage point to between 1.75% and 2%.


“Most participants believed that a reduction of 25 basis points in the target range for the federal funds rate would be appropriate,” the Fed said in the minutes. The U.S. central bank has lowered borrowing costs twice this year after having raised interest rates nine times since 2015. But what remains unclear from the minutes is how a softening in economic data since that meeting will affect viewpoints on the need for further rate cuts, if at all. In projections that accompanied the September statement, seven of the Fed’s 17 policymakers indicated they forecast one more rate cut this year. Five policymakers did not see any more cuts needed and the other five projected a rate rise by the end of 2019. Investors overwhelmingly expect another rate cut at the next meeting on Oct. 29-30.

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Working? You sure that’s the right term?

US Tariffs On China Are Working – Wilbur Ross (R.)

Tariffs are forcing China to pay attention to U.S. concerns, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in Sydney on Thursday. Ross said the United States would have preferred not to implement tariffs against Chinese goods more than a year ago, but added that it has forced Beijing into action. The trade war has weighed on global growth and roiled financial markets. “We do not love tariffs, in fact we would prefer not to use them, but after years of discussions and no action, tariffs are finally forcing China to pay attention to our concerns,” Ross told a business function held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia. “We could have had a deal two-and-a-half years ago without going through the whole tit-for-tat on tariffs that we have.”


Top U.S. and Chinese trade and economic officials will meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday to try to end the escalating dispute. Without a significant breakthrough, Washington is set to hike the tariff rate on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30% from 25% next Tuesday. Negotiators had made no progress in deputy-level trade talks held on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the meetings. The two sides have been at loggerheads over U.S. demands that China improve protections of American intellectual property, end cyber theft and the forced transfer of technology to Chinese firms, curb industrial subsidies and increase U.S. companies’ access to largely closed Chinese markets.

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Let’s call it a draw?

Nearly All Goods Traded By US And China Will Have Tariffs By December 15 (R.)

U.S. and Chinese negotiators meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday to try, once again, to defuse a trade war that has roiled markets and triggered tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of goods traded between the world’s largest economies. The meetings come days after the U.S. Department of Commerce blacklisted 28 Chinese companies, and China and the U.S. started reciprocal visa bans. Chinese officials say they have little expectation of significant progress. If negotiators cannot come to an agreement, a new set of punitive U.S. tariffs kicks in on Oct. 15 on about $250 billion of Chinese goods, and then both countries put tariffs on billions of dollars more of each others’ goods on Dec. 15. Here is what is set to take effect in the next few weeks:

U.S. OCT. 15 INCREASE A proposed Oct. 15 tariff rate boosts to 30% a duty of 25% already in place on at least $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. Set to take effect on Oct. 1, the higher tariff was delayed late in September by Trump “as a gesture of good will.” The 25% tariffs were adopted over nearly a year, from an initial tranche of largely non-consumer goods in July and August 2018, including machinery and electronic components such as semiconductors and printed circuit boards and many chemicals. Later the U.S. added consumer goods and building products, including furniture, vacuum cleaners, lighting fixtures, handbags and vinyl flooring.

U.S. DEC. 15 TARIFF INCREASE Two months later, the U.S. plans to target an additional tariff of 15% at about $300 billion in imports from China. These had already been hit with a tariff of 15% on Sept. 1, in a list mostly of consumer products, based on a Reuters analysis of 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data. It includes flat panel television sets, flash memory devices, power tools, cotton sweaters, bed linens, multifunction printers and some footwear. The largest category of targeted products covers smart watches, smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and other internet-connected devices spared in a prior round of tariffs, with Chinese imports estimated at $17.9 billion annually by the Consumer Technology Association.

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The numbers are not that impressive, but the trends are clear.

Chinese Consumers Are On A Worrying Staycation (Lam)

China is shopping, just not quite enough. Official numbers after a week-long National Day break showed revenue from domestic tourism climbed 8.5% compared to 2018, the slowest pace in at least 17 years. Retail and dining numbers also failed to dazzle. Beijing wants consumers to help revive a flagging economy, but a weak yuan and the fading impact of tax cuts will keep purse strings tight. Golden Week, which began on Oct. 1, has long offered a snapshot of Chinese consumption. This year, the picture is less than shiny. Spending on retail and dining was up 8.5% compared to a 9.5% increase last year according to Citi, and well below double-digit increases a decade ago. Growth in domestic travel cooled too.

Some 7 million Chinese still ventured overseas, a measure of the country’s increasing wealth, but the number of outbound travellers in the first six days of October fell 15% compared to a year ago. In part that was due to China’s anniversary celebrations, and Hong Kong hardly helped: anti-government protests there have prompted numbers coming over the border to fall precipitously. But it measures wider household concerns. Instead, it was the small luxuries that did well, like trips to the movies. Patriotic flicks including ‘My People, My Country’ – stories inspired by China’s history – drew record box office revenue and over 100 million viewers during the holiday, according to Xinhua.

Beijing, which usually leans on infrastructure to stimulate the economy, has increasingly turned to consumers too. Stimulus measures, including a personal income tax unveiled late last year, did help lift disposable incomes by 8.8% in the first half. That would have been 7.2% without the boost, reckons analyst Ernan Cui of Gavekal Dragonomics. Unfortunately, that’s not feeding into shopping baskets fast enough, given it impacted wealthier households more.

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The very idea of “privately outsourced incarceration” is so insane we should never even consider it.

California Set To End Private Prisons And Immigrant Detention Camps (R.)

America’s largest state prison system is moving to quit the practice of farming out inmates to lockups run under contract by private companies, following a nationwide decline in the for-profit incarceration business. California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign legislation this week designed to effectively ban private, for-profit corporations from running prisons or immigration detention facilities. Sponsors of the measure say it will end a brief but hapless experiment in privately outsourced incarceration begun as a means to ease overcrowding – an endeavor Newsom branded an outrage when he took office in January.


Bill supporters say private prisons, driven to maximize shareholder profits, lack proper oversight or incentives to rehabilitate inmates, and have contributed to a culture of mass incarceration by making it cheaper to lock up people. They point to research cited in a 2016 U.S. Justice Department Office of Inspector General report that found private prisons spend less on personnel, and are less safe, than public institutions. “This is a total and complete failure, and it’s hurting and abusing Californians,” said state Assemblyman Rob Bonta, a chief author of the bill.

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Yeah, well, the horse and the barn.

Owner Of Spanish Security Company That Spied On Assange Arrested (El Pais)

David Morales, the owner of the Spanish security company that was in charge of protecting the Ecuadorian embassy in London while Julian Assange was living there, has been arrested and released on bail, judicial sources have told EL PAÍS. The director of UC Global S. L. is being investigated by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, after allegedly ordering the private conversations of the WikiLeaks founder to be spied on, as well as supposedly passing the information collected to the United States’ intelligence services. Morales’ arrest took place on September 17 in the southern Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera, which is where the security firm is based. The information had not come to light until now given that the investigation is under seal.


Police officers searched the company’s offices and also seized hard disks and documents, all of which are now being analyzed by the judge in charge of the case, José de la Mata. According to judicial sources, two firearms with their serial numbers erased were found in Morales’ home, as well as €20,000 in cash. Morales was taken to Madrid were he was questioned at the High Court before being released on bail. His passport was taken from him and his bank accounts frozen. He currently has to check in at the High Court every two weeks. [..] After the revelations were published by EL PAÍS, Assange’s defense team filed a criminal complaint against Morales, in which he is accused of alleged privacy offenses as well as the violation of attorney-client privilege, misappropriation of funds, bribery and money laundering.

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A glimpse of your future.

PG&E Power Outage: Lines For Gas, Batteries, Groceries And Generators (LAT)

The massive blackouts imposed across Northern California on Wednesday led to a run on gasoline, portable generators and other supplies while retailers struggled to serve customers. Millions were expected to lose power as Pacific Gas & Electric shut down service in a bid to avoid wind-driven fires caused by downed power lines. Angie Sheets of El Dorado Hills outside Sacramento noticed that generators were flying off the shelves at the local Costco as she shopped for groceries earlier in the week. Considering the nearly $1,000 worth of food she planned to purchase and the imminent power outage, Sheets said she called her husband to talk about buying a generator for their home. “By the time I had done that, the last big generator was gone off the shelves,” she said. Her husband, a law enforcement officer, later found a generator at a Costco in Rancho Cordova.

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You sure it wasn’t Putin? How about Ukraine?

Seven Latam Nations Suggest Maduro Behind Unrest In Ecuador (R.)

Seven Latin American countries reject any attempt by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to destabilize democracies in the region and back Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno as he tries to calm unrest, Peru’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, speaking on behalf of the group. A statement from the Peru’s foreign ministry said that it as well as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Paraguay all expressed their “firm backing for actions taken by President Lenin Moreno” and “reject any action aimed at destabilizing our democracies by the regime of Nicolas Maduro.”

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Still bankrupt though.

For The First Time Ever, Greece Issues Negative Yielding Debt (ZH)

As armies of fixed income strategists battle over whether US Treasuries are facing higher or lower yields, Greece has no such qualms and in a historic shift today, the former bond market pariah and Eurozone’s most indebted nation, joined the exclusive club of negative-yielding European nations when bond investors lined up to pay the nation that was at the heart of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. A sale of €487.5 million of 13-week bills on Wednesday drew Greece’s first-ever negative yield of minus 0.02% as investors now pay Athens for the privilege of lending it cash, as Bloomberg first reported. Greece joins the likes of Ireland, Italy and Spain – not to mention virtually all core Eurozone nations – which benefit from the ECB’s insane monetary policy and deepening fears of a global recession.


It’s been an unprecedented turnaround for twice bankrupt Eurozone member, whose bondholders suffered massive losses back in March 2012 when the country was forced to accept the biggest bond restructuring in history, bringing the Eurozone to the verge of collapse. Just a few years and several trillions in bond purchases by the ECB later, the region is grappling with an altogether different problem – the spread of negative yields, which reduces borrowing costs for governments in a form of soft default, one which is crushing savers, pension funds and insurers, and which has prompted some of the most respected names in finance to shriek in terror as the cost of money in even Europe’s most insolvent nations is now negative.

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