May 092024
 
 May 9, 2024  Posted by at 9:17 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  56 Responses »


Pieter Bruegel the Elder Dulle Griet, also known as Mad Meg 1563

 

How May 9th Became The Chief National Holiday In Modern Russia (RT)
Stormy Daniels Day: Alvin Bragg Lights Dumpster Fire in Manhattan
Keeping Fani On RICO Trial Under Scrutiny By Appeals Court (ZH)
RFK Jr. Had ‘Dead Worm’ In Brain in 2010– NYT (RT)
Von der Leyen Facing Growing Discontent In EU Capitals – Media (RT)
A tale of Two Sovereigns, a Lackey and a Nanny (Pepe Escobar)
Being An US “Ally” Means Silently Watching Your Own Destruction (Dionísio)
Zuckerberg Considered Buying Associated Press (RT)
MTG Initiates Ouster of US House Speaker (RT)
Hapless President Biden Caught Between Unhappy Base, Unrepentant Israel (Sp.)

 

 

 

 

Stormy
https://twitter.com/i/status/1788059772513619972

 

 

CNN Stormy
https://twitter.com/i/status/1788062188688580682

 

 

Supercharger

 

 

 

 

It’s been 79 years.

How May 9th Became The Chief National Holiday In Modern Russia (RT)

WWII Victory Day, celebrated in Russia on May 9, has become a special holiday. The war was both the greatest trial and the greatest triumph in Russia’s modern history. However, the celebrations acquired their current shape and form not so long ago, and some important traditions were established quite recently. The Act of Unconditional Surrender of the German Third Reich was signed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel on May 8, 1945, at 22:43 Central European Time. In Moscow, it was already the early hours of May 9th. That very morning, Russians found out that the war, which had claimed 27 million Soviet lives, was finally over and the enemy had surrendered. The first celebration of victory in WWII – or the Great Patriotic War, as it is known in Russia – took place that very day.

Army reports instantly dropped their official tone and described how the residents of Prague pulled the troops off their armored vehicles to dance and drink together. In the provinces, people ran out on the streets and congratulated each other. Indeed, some fanatical Nazis continued to put up resistance, Europe was full of mines, and reports stated that there were many losses throughout the month of May. But the big war was over, and to the sound of fireworks, people returned home. No one doubted that victory in WWII was an incredibly important event. However, people were grieving the deaths of their relatives and friends, and their pain was great. May 9 was immediately designated a national holiday. However, lavish celebrations seemed out of place as the country was in ruins, and mentally and physically crippled soldiers, concentration camp prisoners, ‘ostarbeiters’ and refugees returned home.

In Western Ukraine and the Baltic States, battles against nationalist partisans continued. In those years, the Victory Day Parade was held only once, in the summer of 1945. During this grand spectacle, Wehrmacht and SS banners seized in Germany were thrown in front of the Kremlin. But in the following years, the celebrations became more modest. Every year on May 9th there was a fireworks display, but otherwise, from 1947 it was a regular workday (even though a festive one), and veterans usually celebrated it with friends. Things changed in 1965. By that time, 20 years had passed since the end of the war. New Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, himself a WWII veteran, decided to once again make May 9 a day off. From then on, military parades were held on Victory Day jubilees, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial was opened by the Kremlin wall, and the tradition of laying wreaths at the memorials was established. In short, the holiday acquired a grand scale and became quite solemn after the nation’s pain had somewhat subsided.

The country is gone, but the memory remains . The annual large-scale celebration of Victory Day, with parades held across the country and a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square, is a fairly new tradition. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, an obvious question arose – what should be done with the country’s communist legacy and symbology? For example, the Day of the 1917 Revolution was observed on November 7. It was replaced by another holiday, associated with Russian national heroes Minin and Pozharsky, who lived in the 17th century. But no one ever considered revising May 9th as Victory Day.

However, the authorities wanted to separate the holiday from socialist ideology. In the Soviet Union, ideology and victory were inseparable. But in the 90s, a new era had dawned. The USSR had collapsed. Moreover, many war heroes fell prey to new conflicts. For example, Vladimir Bochkovsky, a hero of the battles in Ukraine and Germany, became a citizen of the unrecognized Republic of Transnistria, which started a bloody uprising against the former Soviet Republic of Moldova. Meliton Kantaria – the standard-bearer who had hoisted the Soviet flag over the Reichstag – was forced to flee from Abkhazia when an ethnic conflict broke out between the Abkhazians and Georgians, even though by that time, he was a very old man. At that time, a question arose – what does Victory Day mean for the new republics?

Opinions differed. In the Baltic states, national elites believed that in the 40s their countries had been held hostage by two totalitarian regimes. Moreover, unofficially, the Nazis were preferred over the communists – for example, in Latvia, the memorial day of the Latvian SS Legion was officially celebrated for some time. In many other former USSR republics, Victory Day is celebrated in one way or another. In Russia, Victory Day has remained one of the most important national holidays, and a key moment in Russian history. However, the holiday has lost some of its political meaning. For example, Lenin’s Mausoleum is draped on May 9 in order to avoid ideological ties, and a new symbol has been added to the celebrations – the black and orange St. George ribbon, which resembles both the ribbon of the Order of St. George (the highest military decoration in Imperial Russia) and the ribbon of the Order of Glory – a WWII soldier’s award.

Russian communists and leftists didn’t like the fact that the Soviet symbols were replaced. However, for the majority of Russian people, other aspects turned out to be more important. WWII impacted almost every family in Russia, and most people consider the Soviet era as simply one period in the country’s history. Therefore, national motives are considered more important than Soviet symbology.

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“The court was told that this would happen, it happened, and now the court wants to ask the jury to pretend that it did not happen..”

Stormy Daniels Day: Alvin Bragg Lights Dumpster Fire in Manhattan

Before the start of the Manhattan prosecution of former president Donald Trump, I characterized the case of District Attorney Alvin Bragg as based on a type of obscenity standard. In a 1984 pornography case, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote “I shall not today attempt further to define [obscenity]. . . . But I know it when I see it.” Bragg has refused to clearly define the crime that Trump was seeking to conceal when payments for a non-disclosure agreement were listed as a legal expense. We would just know it when we saw it at trial. We are still waiting, but this week, Bragg seems to be prosecuting an actual obscenity case. The prosecution fought with Trump’s defense counsel to not only call porn star Stormy Daniels to the stand, but to ask her for lurid details on her alleged tryst with Trump. The only assurance that they would make to Judge Juan Merchan was that they would “not go into details of genitalia.”

For Merchan, who has largely ruled against Trump on such motions, that was enough. He allowed the prosecutors to get into the details of the affair despite the immateriality of the evidence to any criminal theory. Neither the NDA nor the payment to Daniels is being contested. It is also uncontested that Trump wanted to pay to get the story (and other stories, including untrue allegations) from being published. The value of the testimony was entirely sensational and gratuitous, yet Merchan was fine with humiliating Trump. Daniels’ testimony was a dumpster fire in the courtroom. The most maddening moment for the defense came at the lunch break when Merchan stated, “I agree that it would have been better if some of these things had been left unsaid.” He then denied a motion for a mistrial based on the testimony and blamed the defense for not objecting more.

That, of course, ignores the standing objection of the defense to Daniels even appearing, and specific objections to the broad scope allowed by the court. This is precisely what the defense said would happen when the prosecutors only agreed to avoid “genitalia.” There was no reason for Daniels to appear at all in the trial. Even if he was adamant in allowing her, Merchan could have imposed a much more limited scope for her testimony. He could also have enforced the limits that he did place on the testimony when it was being ignored by both the prosecutors and the witness. Merchan said that he is considering a limiting instruction for the jury to ignore aspects of the testimony.

But that is little comfort for the defendant. The court was told that this would happen, it happened, and now the court wants to ask the jury to pretend that it did not happen. Merchan knows that there is no way for the jury to unhear the testimony. More importantly, the prosecution knew that from the outset. Daniels appeared eager to share the stories for the same reason that she was eager to sell her story. While she said that she “hates” Trump and wants him “held accountable,” Daniels is no victim.

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“..Trump and other defendants argued that McAfee was wrong not to remove both WIllis and Wade, writing that “providing DA Willis with the option to simply remove Wade confounds logic and is contrary to Georgia law.”

Keeping Fani On RICO Trial Under Scrutiny By Appeals Court (ZH)

One day after former President Donald Trump’s classified documents trial was postponed indefinitely after we learned that the DOJ mishandled evidence in the case (with Judge Aileen M. Cannon citing a mountain of ‘outstanding’ pre-trial matters that would make a May 20 trial ‘imprudent’), another Trump case appears to have no chance of going to trial before the 2024 election. On Wednesday, a Georgia appeals court agreed to review a lower court ruling which allowed Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to remain on the Trump RICO prosecution despite being highly conflicted. To review, Atlanta Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton Superior Court, who donated to Fani Willis when she was running for office, ruled in March that the Fani simply had to kick her lover, Nathan Wade, off the case after she paid him more than $600,000. The two notoriously took several lavish vacations together on Wade’s dime (which Fani swears she repaid in cash).

According to McAfee, while he found the “appearance of impropriety,” no “disqualification of a constitutional officer necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available,” adding “that the prosecution of this case cannot proceed until the State selects one of two options.” And now, the Atlanta Court of Appeals has agreed to hear an appeal from the defendants over whether McAfee erred in his decision. Willis indicted Trump and 18 other defendants last August, accusing them of a wide-ranging scheme to attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. All of the defendants were charged under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, law. Trump and most of the other defendants have pleaded not guilty. In their appeal application, Trump and other defendants argued that McAfee was wrong not to remove both WIllis and Wade, writing that “providing DA Willis with the option to simply remove Wade confounds logic and is contrary to Georgia law.”

Most recently, Willis has defiantly refused to appear before a Georgia Senate Investigative Committee, telling reporters earlier this week (via RedState): REPORTER: Would you appear before a Georgia Senate committee without a subpoena? WILLIS: Well first of all I don’t even think they have the authority to subpoena me, but they didn’t learn the law. REPORTER: Will you appear, yes or no? WILLIS: I will not appear to anything that is unlawful. I have not broken the law in any way. I’ve said it, you know, I’ll say it amongst these leaders—I’m sorry folks get p***ed off that everybody gets treated even. FAITH LEADER STANDING NEXT TO HER: I think she answered that very well.

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Is it still there?

RFK Jr. Had ‘Dead Worm’ In Brain in 2010– NYT (RT)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. once thought he had a brain tumor but the dark spot on the scans turned out to be a dead parasitic worm, the New York Times has reported citing legal documents. President John Kennedy’s nephew, who is currently running an independent presidential campaign, has argued that he is both younger and healthier than incumbent President Joe Biden and his chief rival Donald Trump. In 2010, however, RFK Jr. was experiencing “brain fog” and memory loss so severe, he turned to top neurologists for advice about a possible tumor, according to the Times. One New York doctor gave him a different opinion, however: a dead parasite. The anomaly seen on the scans “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died,” Kennedy said in a 2012 deposition.

In the same legal interview, Kennedy said he “clearly” had cognitive problems, including short-term and longer-term memory loss. In a subsequent interview with the Times, however, he attributed those to mercury poisoning, caused by his fish-heavy diet at the time. Blood tests found mercury levels 10 times higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe, Kennedy said, adding that he fully recovered after undergoing chelation therapy to remove the heavy metal from his body. According to the Times article, the cyst containing the dead worm remained in Kennedy’s brain and did not require treatment, nor did he have any aftereffects from it. He said he did not know what type of parasite it may have been or how he contracted it, though he suspected it was on a trip to South Asia.

The 2012 document was related to divorce proceedings from Mary Richardson Kennedy, RFK Jr’s second wife. Kennedy argued at the time that his earnings potential had been diminished by cognitive struggles. Kennedy has been outspoken about another obvious mental condition, a neurological disorder called spasmodic dysphonia that causes his voice to become hoarse and strained. RFK Jr. initially launched a primary challenge to Biden within the Democratic Party, but switched to an independent bid after several months of stonewalling from the party apparatus. Biden, 81, is widely believed to suffer from several cognitive impairments due to his age and prior medical conditions – though his doctors have insisted that the oldest US president ever to be inaugurated was just fine.

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Another dead worm.

Von der Leyen Facing Growing Discontent In EU Capitals – Media (RT)

EU elites are growing increasingly disenchanted with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung has claimed. Bloomberg reported last month that French President Emmanuel Macron, widely regarded as a key backer in von der Leyen’s rise, is eyeing a replacement for her. Although she is unelected, von der Leyen’s fate still indirectly depends on the outcome of the European parliamentary elections scheduled for next month. She remains the main candidate for the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), which has the most seats in the European Parliament. Despite an expected right wing surge in the upcoming votes, it is expected to reinforce its dominant position in June. Any EPP nominee would still require the backing from an absolute majority of MEPs and von der Leyen has refused to rule out a coalition with right wing groups in order to secure another five-year term.

In an article on Wednesday, Neue Zurcher Zeitung claimed that “in the capitals, many are dissatisfied with [von der Leyen’s] record, with her excessive climate policy [and] the weakening economy.” The media outlet added that “accusations of nepotism and non-transparency” have also cast a shadow on her prospects. According to the Swiss newspaper, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, along with French President Macron, are considering alternatives to von der Leyen, including former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg also claimed in April that Macron was discussing potential replacements with other EU leaders. The media outlet likewise named Draghi as a possible candidate.

Macron has taken several thinly veiled swipes at von der Leyen in recent months. In March, he complained that while the “commission presidency is there to defend the general interest,” it has become “over-politicized.” Von der Leyen’s standing has also been shaken by several high-profile scandals. Last month, the commission president found herself in hot water after giving fellow German MEP Markus Pieper the lucrative job of “special adviser” on a reported salary of €17,000 ($18,000) a month. EU heavyweights such as the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Commissioner Thierry Breton have sounded the alarm over “questions about the transparency and impartiality of the nomination process.”The commission, however, insisted that the “process [to appoint Pieper] took place in full compliance with procedures.”

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“..it’s idle to dwell on what can only be described as suicidal stupidity..”

A tale of Two Sovereigns, a Lackey and a Nanny (Pepe Escobar)

Startling mirror images swirl around two major developments this week directly inbuilt in the Grand Narrative that shapes my latest book, Eurasia v. NATOstan, recently published in the U.S.: Xi Jinping’s visit to Paris and the inauguration of Vladimir Putin’s new term in Moscow. Inevitably, this is a contrasting tale of Sovereigns – the comprehensive Russia-China strategic partnership – and lackeys: the NATOstan/EU vassals. Xi, the quintessential hermetic guest, is quite sharp at reading a table – and we’re not talking about Gallic gastronomic finesse. The minute he sat at the Paris table he got the Big Picture. This was not a tete-a-tete with Le Petit Roi, Emmanuel Macron. This was a threesome because Toxic Medusa Ursula von der Leyen, more appropriately defined as Pustula von der Lugen, had inserted herself in the plot.

Nothing was lost in translation for Xi: this was graphic illustration that Le Petit Roi, the leader of a third-rate former Western colonial power, enjoys zero “strategic autonomy”. The decisions that matter come from the Kafkaesque Eurocracy of the European Commission (EC), led by his Nanny, the Medusa, and directly relayed by the Hegemon. Le Petit Roi spent the whole of Xi’s Gallic time babbling like an infant on Putin’s “destabilizations” and trying to “engage China, which objectively enjoys sufficient levers to change Moscow’s calculus in its war in Ukraine”. Obviously no pubescent adviser at the Elysee Palace – and there’s quite a crowd – dared to break the news to Le Petit Roi about the strength, depth and reach of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

So it was up to his Nanny to volunteer out loud the fine print on the “Monsieur Xi comes to France” adventure. Faithfully parroting Treasure Secretary Janet Yellen in her recent, disastrous Beijing incursion, the Nanny directly threatened the superpowered hermetic guest: you are exceeding in “over-capacity”, you are over-producing; and if you don’t stop it, we will sanction you to death. So much for European “strategic autonomy”. Moreover, it’s idle to dwell on what can only be described as suicidal stupidity.

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“..if anything is falling, it’s American hegemony, whose containment strategies have so far only resulted in even stronger and more capable opponents..”

Being An US “Ally” Means Silently Watching Your Own Destruction (Dionísio)

The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, once said that the formula used by the European Union to manage its relations with China is “impractical”, “it’s like driving a car to an intersection and looking at the traffic light and seeing the yellow, green and red lights on at the same time”. I would say more… In addition to the confusion with the traffic light indications, the driver — for the Chinese only — still has to watch out for nails, oil and potholes in the road, which can lead to a crash or damage to the vehicle.

And who would cause such dangers along the way? Given the desperation of the actors involved and the unidirectional nature of the actions… Consequently, the exasperated and catastrophic tone that we find in the Western press, as opposed to a more triumphalist tone that was still in force six months ago (maybe even less than that), tells us everything we need to know. It’s incredible how Western emotions run riot, going from one extreme to the other in very short periods of time. From certain victory in Ukraine against Russia, we move on to widespread panic, in which Sullivan, Biden, Borrell or Macron, who as recently as September were already bathing in the good waters of Crimea, have now moved on to the certainty that Russian troops will not stop at the Dnepr and perhaps not even at the Danube, Rhine or Elbe.

During 2023 we all watched the unstoppable succession of predictions of the fall of the Chinese economy — remember, the Russian one was already “in taters — only now to be panicked by the flood of high-quality, low-cost products that the lazy West can’t even dream of competing with. It’s happening in cars, as well as semiconductors and agricultural machinery, and we’re gradually discovering, from the hysterical tone of Janet Yellen and Blinken, that if anything is falling, it’s American hegemony, whose containment strategies have so far only resulted in even stronger and more capable opponents. After all, it’s hard work that shapes character. The rentier capitalist elite of the West is too used to the easy money of royalties to be able to compete with those who have never abandoned industry, agriculture and truly productive activities.

The fact is that, in the Washington Post, David Ignatius, a researcher linked to the U.S.’s largest think thank, based on work by the Rand Corporation itself, says that analysts say the U.S. is entering a decline from which few powers have recovered; it is also RAND that provides us with an article entitled “U.S.-China rivalry in a new middle age”, pointing to the need for decision-makers to develop a neo-medieval mentality, namely by having to wage war in the knowledge that the “public” doesn’t want it; Borrell says that the U.S. is no longer hegemonic and that China has already become a superpower, something that Brzezinski had promised would never happen again; or the statistics on the U.S. economy, which say that it grew by only 1.6% in the first quarter of 2024, which shows a slowdown compared to the forecast. A big slowdown, considering the 2.7% predicted by U.S. broadcasting networks such as the IMF.

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To speed up its demise?!

Zuckerberg Considered Buying Associated Press (RT)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg considered acquiring or taking a major stake in the Associated Press news agency, Business Insider reported on Tuesday, citing sources. The potential deal was mooted after the social media giant faced accusations of influencing the 2016 US presidential election. Now known as Meta, the company’s role in the election, in which Donald Trump was voted into power, faced intense scrutiny from Washington amid claims that the platform had helped spread fake news. The moral panic worsened after Facebook disclosed that a Russian agency had spent $100,000 on social network ads that allegedly attempted to incite divisions during the presidential campaign.

Moscow has denied any attempt to interfere in the US election, while Facebook’s vice president for advertising, Rob Goldman, later revealed that the Russian spending had in fact come after the election. Zuckerberg, however, was still forced to make significant changes to Facebook’s services and privacy policies, and even officially apologized to the US Congress in 2018 for his management of the platform. According to Business Insider, the CEO had the idea of acquiring a news outlet around the same time. Sources said Zuckerberg had planned to use it as a reliable source of information to create high-quality news posts and tackle controversy over the platform’s content. The billionaire reportedly discussed the idea extensively within Facebook. While Zuckerberg is said to have considered several media outlets for acquisition, he eventually focused on the Associated Press (AP), the major international news agency based in New York.

The AP is a news cooperative, which made an outright acquisition difficult, sources claimed. Instead, Zuckerberg reportedly focused on the potential permanent subsidization of the agency. According to the report, the tech boss was set on acquiring the AP and even involved Facebook’s mergers and acquisitions team in his plans. He ultimately dropped the idea, however, supposedly fearing even more regulatory scrutiny over the move. Later, Zuckerberg reportedly mulled the idea of launching Facebook’s own news organization to produce original content, and considered luring top journalists from other outlets with financial incentives. This idea was also said to have been abandoned amid concerns about the lack of public trust in the social media giant at the time.

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Too late now.

MTG Initiates Ouster of US House Speaker (RT)

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has filed a motion to vacate the chair of the US House of Representatives, accusing Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana of betraying his party. According to the text of the resolution, made public by fellow Republican Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Johnson “has not lived up to a single one” of the seven tenets he announced when he was elected speaker last October. Johnson’s tenure “is defined by one self-serving characteristic: When given a choice between advancing Republican priorities or allying with Democrats to preserve his own personal power, Johnson regularly chooses to ally himself with Democrats,” Greene said. The House leadership responded to Greene’s proposal with a motion to dismiss the resolution. The final vote was 359 in favor (196 Republicans and 163 Democrats) to 43 opposed, saving Johnson’s speakership.

Only 11 Republicans and 32 Democrats voted to support Greene’s resolution, indirectly proving Greene’s point that the speaker is aligned with the “uniparty” in Washington. Among the things Greene and Massie – who backed her proposal – blamed Johnson for was the expulsion of Congressman George Santos in December. His seat was taken over by a Democrat in a special election. Johnson counted on Democrats to pass the omnibus government funding bill in March and the $61 billion funding package for Ukraine in April; on both occasions, the majority of House Republicans voted against. “By passing the Democrats’ agenda and handcuffing Republicans’ ability to influence legislation, our elected Republican Speaker Mike Johnson has aided and abetted the Democrats and the Biden administration in destroying our country,” Greene added.

Bills that Johnson worked to pass funded all of President Joe Biden and the Democrats’ agenda, Greene argued, including the “deadly border invasion,” the “energy-killing Green New Deal climate agenda,” the “weaponized” FBI and the Department of Justice, the “trans agenda on kids,” continued full term abortions, and the “fueling of foreign forever wars.” Greene’s resolution called Johnson’s excuses for these actions “pathetic, weak, and unacceptable,” noting that even with a razor-thin majority in the House, the GOP still has the power of the purse. Johnson also trampled his previous record as a defender of civil liberties to vote against requiring a warrant for FISA spying on Americans, Greene said, and funded the Democrats’ “witch hunt” against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

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They never expected the blowback.

Hapless President Biden Caught Between Unhappy Base, Unrepentant Israel (Sp.)

Six months out from November’s election, US President Joe Biden continues to flounder on a key foreign policy issue. “We’ve made clear our views about operations in Rafah that could potentially put more than a million innocent people at greater risk,” said White House spokesman John Kirby Monday. “[Biden] also made clear that we continue to believe that the hostage deal was the best way to avoid that sort of an outcome while securing the release of those hostages.” Days later, the IDF’s operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah continues with no apparent progress on a deal to bring it to an end. The incident is characteristic of the White House’s relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed analyst Hasan Unal, which leaves the US president with the impossible task of attempting to please both pro-Palestine elements in his party and Israel’s far-right leadership. The professor of political science and international relations at Bashkent University joined Sputnik’s Fault Lines program Wednesday to discuss these latest developments and their strategic and humanitarian implications.

“I think Israel would’ve wanted to see Hamas rejecting any deal on that,” said Unal after reports emerged the Palestinian group had accepted a proposal negotiated with the help of the US, Egypt and Qatar. “That would have cleared the way for Israel, particularly the Netanyahu government, to undertake that awful military operation in Rafah… It has certainly placed Israel in a very difficult corner in that sense. So Hamas has won the tactical game.” “That doesn’t mean that that is going to stop Israel,” he explained. “Don’t forget, the United States is the only country perhaps in the world that has so much leverage over Israel. On the one hand, yes, there is the Israeli lobby, which is very powerful in the United States. But at the same time the United States has enormous influence and leverage over Israel.”

Unal recounted the United States’ efforts to rein in Israel in the past, such as during 1956’s Suez Crisis in which the US, the Soviet Union, and international authorities ordered Israel to end its occupation of Egyptian territory in the Sinai Desert. The US again forced Israel into a compromise during the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords and once again when former President Ronald Reagan ordered the country to end its bombing of Beirut in 1982. In 1991 US Secretary of State James Baker succeeded in delaying US loan guarantees to Israel until it agreed to pause illegal settlement building in Gaza and the West Bank. Baker and former President George H.W. Bush faced strident opposition for the move from AIPAC and other pro-Israel interests. Bush lost reelection the following year, and US leaders have shown little willingness to challenge Israel ever since.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

How we do
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787808759756341374

 

 

Sequoia

 

 

Big cat belly

 

 

Shark

 

 

Empires
https://twitter.com/i/status/1788209987740639713

 

 

Ghost
https://twitter.com/i/status/1787949929907851646

 

 

Pet shower

 

 

 

 

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Oct 092023
 
 October 9, 2023  Posted by at 8:55 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  66 Responses »


Edgar Degas A la mer 1863

 

Israel’s Massive Intelligence Failure (Scott Ritter)
The West’s Hypocrisy Towards Gaza’s Breakout Is Stomach-Turning (Cook)
Palestinians Speak the Language of Violence Israel Taught Them (Chris Hedges)
Republicans Point Fingers in Wake of Crisis in Israel (Sp.)
Iran Denies Helping Hamas Plot Attack On Israel (RT)
The Insane Foreign Policy of America’s Satanic Neocons (Paul Craig Roberts)
Will There Be a 2024 Presidential Election? (Paul Craig Roberts)
Ukrainians Desert En Masse Due to Rising Casualties, Mental Fatigue (Sp.)
Military Solution To Ukraine Conflict Unlikely – Italian Defense Minister (RT)
Ukraine Admits Repeated Failures To Capture Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant (RT)
Americans Get Poorer As Washington Throws Cash At Ukraine And Migrants (Bridge)
Blue States Turn On Biden Over Border Crisis (ET)
Judge Hands Trump a Win in DC Election Case (ET)
The Father of Facebook Doesn’t Understand Social Media Anymore (RM)

 

 

 

 

Reagan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pepe Escobar: 1. Bibi showing his ‘New Middle East’ map at the UN completely erasing Palestine. 2. Serial provocations at Al-Aqsa, including a storming by hundreds of Israeli settlers. Al-Aqsa is a definitive red line – for Palestinians, for the Arab world, and for the lands of Islam. Yet there’s WAY more. The dead giveaway is the Israeli rhetoric of a ‘Pearl Harbor’. Everyone knows what it means. Project Ukraine is dead. So the Masters of the Universe need a new war (“on terror”) to set West Asia on fire.

Peaceful West Asia means reconstruction for Syria, redevelopment for Iraq and Lebanon, Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of BRICS 11, the Russia-China strategic partnership respected and engaged all across West Asia. The Northern Sea Route is already in effect, directly undermining the Suez Canal. One of the key themes discussed at Valdai at the highest level was de-dollarization. All of the above is anathema for the usual suspects. Mossad and IDF caught by surprise is childish fantasy. They knew it was coming. The question now is whether Hezbollah will be coming to town.

 

 

 

 

Israel intel has so much info, they developed an AI model to interpret it. Hamas found out about it.

“Hamas was able to generate a veritable Ghost in the Machine..”

Israel’s Massive Intelligence Failure (Scott Ritter)

[..] perhaps the largest source of the Israeli intelligence failure regarding Hamas was the over reliance Israel put on intelligence collection and analysis itself. Gaza and Hamas have been a thorn in the side of Israel for years, and as such have attracted the overwhelming attention of the Israeli intelligence and security services. Israel has perfected the art of human intelligence against the Hamas target, with a proven track record of placing agents deep inside the Hamas decision-making hierarchy. Unit 8200 likewise has spent billions of dollars creating intelligence collection capabilities which vacuum up every piece of digital data coming out of Gaza — cell phone calls, e-mails, and SMS texting. Gaza is the most photographed place on the planet, and between satellite imagery, drones, and CCTV, every square meter of Gaza is estimated to be imaged every 10 minutes.

This amount of data is overwhelming for standard analysis techniques relying on the human mind. To compensate for this, Israel developed a huge artificial intelligence (AI) capability which it then weaponized against Hamas in the short but deadly 11-day conflict with Hamas in 2021, named Guardian of the Walls. Unit 8200 developed several unique algorithms which used immense databases derived from years of raw intelligence data collected from every possible source of information. Building upon concepts of machine learning and algorithm-driven warfare that have been at the forefront of Israeli military research and development for decades, Israeli intelligence was able to use AI to not only select targets, but also to anticipate Hamas actions. This ability to predict the future, so to speak, helped shape Israeli assessments about Hamas’s intent in the lead up to the 2023 Yom Kippur attacks.

Israel’s fatal mistake was to openly brag about the role AI played in Operation Guardian of the Walls. Hamas was apparently able to take control of the flow of information being collected by Israel. There has been much speculation about Hamas “going dark” regarding cell phone and computer usage to deny Israel the data that is contained in those means of communication. But “going dark” would have, by itself, been an intelligence indicator, one that AI would have certainly picked up. Instead, it’s highly probable that Hamas maintained an elaborate communications deception plan, maintaining a level of communications sufficient in quantity and quality to avoid being singled out by AI — and by Israeli analysts deviating from the norm.

In the same way, Hamas would likely have maintained its physical profile of movement and activity to keep the Israeli AI algorithms satisfied that nothing strange was afoot. This also meant any activity — such as training related to paragliding or amphibious operations — that might be detected and flagged by Israeli AI was done to avoid detection. The Israelis had become prisoners of their own successes in intelligence collection. [..] Denied the benefit of the contrarian approach to analysis put in place in the aftermath of the Agranat Commission, Israel set itself up for failure by not imagining a scenario where Hamas would capitalize upon the Israeli over-reliance on AI, corrupting the algorithms in a way that blinded the computers, and their human programmers, to Hamas’ true intention and capability. Hamas was able to generate a veritable Ghost in the Machine, corrupting Israeli AI and setting up the Israeli people and military for one of the most tragic chapters in the history of the Israeli nation.

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Very much a black and white issue, as I read the views.

The West’s Hypocrisy Towards Gaza’s Breakout Is Stomach-Turning (Cook)

The current outpouring of sympathy for Israel should make anyone with half a heart wretch. Not because it is not awful that Israeli civilians are dying and suffering in such large numbers. But because Palestinian civilians in Gaza have faced repeated rampages from Israel decade after decade, producing far more suffering, but have never elicited a fraction of the concern currently being expressed by western politicians or publics. The West’s hypocrisy over Palestinian fighters killing and wounding hundreds of Israelis and holding dozens more hostage in communities surrounding and inside besieged Gaza is stark indeed. This is the first time Palestinians, caged in the coastal enclave, have managed to inflict a significant strike against Israel vaguely comparable to the savagery Palestinians in Gaza have faced repeatedly since they were entombed in a cage more than 15 years ago, when Israel began its blockade by land, sea and air in 2007.

Western media are calling the jailbreak and attack by Palestinians from Gaza “unprecedented” – and the most dismal intelligence failing by Israel since it was caught off-guard during the Yom Kippur War exactly 50 years ago. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Hamas, which nominally runs the open-air prison of Gaza, of starting “a cruel and evil war”. But the truth is that the Palestinians have “started” nothing. They have managed, after so much struggle, to find a way to hurt their tormentor. Inevitably for the Palestinians, as Netanyahu also observed, “the price will be heavy” – especially for civilians. Israel will inflict on the prisoners the severest punishment for their impudence. Watch how little sympathy and concern there will be from the West for the many Palestinian men, women and children who are killed once again by Israel. Their immense suffering will be obscured, and justified, by the term “Israeli retaliation”.

All the current analysis focusing on Israel’s intelligence “blunders” distracts from the real lesson of these rapidly evolving events. No one really cared while Gaza’s Palestinans were subjected to a blockade imposed by Israel that denied them the essentials of life. The few dozen Israelis being held hostage by Hamas fighters pale in comparison with the two million Palestinians held hostage by Israel in an open-air prison for nearly two decades. No one really cared when it emerged that Gaza’s Palestinians had been put on a “starvation diet” by Israel – only limited food was allowed in, calculated to keep the population barely fed. No one really cared when Israel bombed the coastal enclave every few years, killing many hundreds of Palestinian civilians each time. Israel simply called it “mowing the lawn”. The destruction of vast areas of Gaza, what Israeli generals boasted of as returning the enclave to the Stone Age, was formalised as a military strategy known as the “Dahiya doctrine”.

No one really cared when Israeli snipers targeted nurses, youngsters and people in wheelchairs who came out to protest against their imprisonment by Israel. Many thousands were left as amputees after those snipers received orders to shoot the protesters indiscriminately in the legs or ankles. Western concern at the deaths of Israeli civilians at the hands of Palestinian fighters is hard to stomach. Have not many hundreds of Palestinian children died over the past 15 years in Israel’s repeated bombing campaigns on Gaza? Did their lives not count as much as Israeli lives – and if not, why not? After so much indifference for so long, it is difficult to hear the sudden horror from western governments and media because Palestinians have finally found a way – mirroring Israel’s inhumane, decades-long policy – to fight back effectively. This moment rips off the mask and lays bare the undisguised racism that masquerades as moral concern in western capitals.

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“..Regimes implanted and maintained by violence engender violence..”

Palestinians Speak the Language of Violence Israel Taught Them (Chris Hedges)

The indiscriminate shootings of Israelis by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations, the kidnapping of civilians, the barrage of rockets into Israel, drone attacks on a variety of targets from tanks to automated machine gun nests, are the familiar language of the Israeli occupier. Israel has spoken this blood-soaked language of violence to the Palestinians since Zionist militias seized more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, destroyed some 530 Palestinian villages and cities and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in more than 70 massacres. Some 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed between 1947 and 1949 to create the state of Israel in 1948. Israel’s response to these armed incursions will be a genocidal assault on Gaza. Israel will kill dozens of Palestinians for every Israeli killed.

Hundreds of Palestinians have already died in Israel air assaults since the launch of “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” on Saturday morning, which left 700 Israelis dead. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday to “leave now,” because Israel is going to “turn all Hamas hiding places into rubble.” But where are Palestinians in Gaza supposed to go? Israel and Egypt blockade the land borders. There is no exit by air or sea, which are controlled by Israel. The collective retribution against innocents is a familiar tactic employed by colonial rulers. We used it against Native Americans and later in the Philippines and Vietnam. The Germans used it against the Herero and Namaqua in Namibia. The British in Kenya and Malaya. The Nazis used it in the areas they occupied in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Central Europe. Israel follows the same playbook. Death for death. Atrocity for atrocity. But it is always the occupier who initiates this macabre dance and trades piles of corpses for higher piles of corpses.

This is not to defend the war crimes by either side. It is not to rejoice in the attacks. I have seen enough violence in the Israeli occupied territories, where I covered the conflict for seven years, to loathe violence. But this is the familiar denouement to all settler-colonial projects. Regimes implanted and maintained by violence engender violence. The Haitian war of liberation. The Mau Mau in Kenya. The African National Congress in South Africa. These uprisings do not always succeed, but they follow familiar patterns. The Palestinians, like all colonized people, have a right to armed resistance under international law. Israel never had any interest in an equitable settlement with the Palestinians. It built an apartheid state and has steadily absorbed larger and larger tracts of Palestinian land in a slow motion campaign of ethnic cleansing. It turned Gaza in 2007 into the world’s largest open air prison.

What does Israel, or the world community, expect? How can you trap 2.3 million people in Gaza, half of whom are unemployed, in one of the most densely populated spots on the planet for 16 years, reduce the lives of its residents, half of whom are children, to a subsistence level, deprive them of basic medical supplies, food, water and electricity, use attack aircraft, artillery, mechanized units, missiles, naval guns and infantry units to randomly slaughter unarmed civilians and not expect a violent response?

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“What happened this weekend was an unprovoked invasion by Hamas into Israel.”

Republicans Point Fingers in Wake of Crisis in Israel (Sp.)

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley blamed the Biden administration for their dealmaking with Iran while other GOP contenders exchanged blows over America’s role on the world stage. Republicans’ intra-party feud over American foreign policy intensified Sunday with various candidates for the party’s presidential nomination exchanging views about the country’s role in international affairs. Former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on US television to denounce the Biden Administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran, a common refrain among Republicans in the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel Saturday. “I actually think it was irresponsible for Secretary Blinken to say that the $6 billion doesn’t weigh in here,” said Haley, referring to frozen Iranian funds the Biden administration released in exchange for five detained American citizens.

“Hamas knows and Iran knows they’re moving money around as we speak, because they know $6 billion is going to be released.” “You saw that when those planes full of cash sent by Obama to Iran… What happened was those funds were sent to Hezbollah in Lebanon. They were sent to Hamas in Gaza. They were sent to the Houthis in Yemen. They go and spread terrorism every time they get a dollar.” Republicans have criticized diplomatic efforts between the United States and Iran since the Obama administration, when Joe Biden served as vice president. The US has sanctioned the Middle Eastern country since the hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979. More recently, the Biden administration released frozen Iranian funds in a prisoner swap deal with the country. The deal stipulated the $6 billion could only be used for humanitarian purposes.

But Republicans have pointed out the fungible nature of the assets, arguing the deal frees up resources for Iran to fund terrorist groups. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) echoed Haley’s remarks on the X social media platform Sunday, claiming “Biden’s negotiation funded the attack.” Meanwhile, former US Vice President Mike Pence joined Haley on the neoconservative wing of his party, finding fault with other Republicans’ calls for foreign policy restraint. “This is what happens when we have leading voices like Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis signaling retreat from America’s role as leader of the free world,” said Pence on Sunday, referring to the growing opposition towards sending funds to Ukraine within his party. “What happened this weekend was an unprovoked invasion by Hamas into Israel.”

Foreign policy has emerged as a major debate for Republicans as some leaders within the US political party have called for a return to the muscular approach of the George W. Bush administration. Former US president and 2024 contender Donald Trump became known as a critic of US foreign policy, famously calling the country’s invasion of Iraq “a big, fat mistake.” But the former Republican president has also advocated for improved relations with Russia and has claimed he has a “good relationship” with Russian president Vladimir Putin. The United States devotes more money to defense spending than the next 10 countries combined while funding more than 700 military bases around the world.

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They deny and admit at the same time.

Iran Denies Helping Hamas Plot Attack On Israel (RT)

Tehran has denied accusations that it helped Palestinian militants to plan the surprise attack on Israel that was launched on Saturday morning. “The decisions made by the Palestinian resistance are fiercely autonomous and unwaveringly aligned with the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people,” Iran’s mission to the UN said in a statement to the media. “We are not involved in Palestine’s response, as it is taken solely by Palestine itself.” On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal cited several sources, including unnamed members of the Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups, as saying that officers from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had helped to plan the attack on Israel since August. It also “gave the green light” for the operation at a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon last Monday. Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman, told the BBC that the militants had “direct backing” from Iran.

However, Ali Baraka, another Hamas official, insisted in an interview with NBC News that Tehran had not been notified about ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’beforehand. “It was a surprise to everyone, including Iran,” he said. Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the White House had not yet seen evidence of Tehran’s involvement, some Israeli and American officials accused the Islamic Republic of colluding with Hamas. The Palestinian militants and allied groups carried out a surprise attack on Israel from Gaza, simultaneously firing rockets and dispatching troops to infiltrate Israeli settlements. The Israeli government responded by declaring war on Hamas and carrying out airstrikes on Gaza. Iran has endorsed the assault and urged other Muslim countries to back the Palestinians against Israel. More than 700 Israelis and at least 436 Palestinians have been killed since Saturday.

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“..convinced the Kremlin that the West intends Russia’s destruction..”

The Insane Foreign Policy of America’s Satanic Neocons (Paul Craig Roberts)

We are on the verge of nuclear annihilation. Every agreement made during the 20th century to reduce the risk of nuclear war has been abandoned by Washington. Why worry, some ask, mutual assured destruction means neither the US nor Russia would initiate a nuclear attack. Perhaps not, but the greatest danger of nuclear armageddon comes from false alarms from warning systems. During the Cold War there were many such alarms. The false alarms did not result in mutual destruction because both governments were working to defuse, not exacerbate, the situation, and there was time for the validity of the alarm to be verified before a fatal pushing of the button. Today the situation is entirely different. Washington and the NATO puppets have a policy of provoking Russia, with the 2014 coup in Ukraine and its consequences being the worst to date.

Moreover, the hypersonic speeds of the Russian missiles and the closeness of US missiles to Russia’s border cuts time before impact to 5 or 10 minutes, which means no time to verify or confer. The extraordinary insulting hostility shown toward Russia by the US, NATO and the Western media has convinceds the Kremlin that the West intends Russia’s destruction. Russia’s President Putin has stated many times that the West has led him to this conclusion. A couple of days ago at the Valdai Discussion Club Putin expressed concern that the West’s belligerence toward Russia could end in nuclear war. If President Biden were a responsible leader, he would have said that the Russian president is right, and we must stop the escalation of threats. Instead, Biden sent B-2 stealth bombers, aircraft specifically designed for a nuclear first-strike, to European bases, thus escalating the threat, a mindless and irresponsible response to President Putin.

In the US the constant propaganda against Russia (and now China) has convinced many Americans that they face the danger of nuclear attack. This is not a situation in which a false alarm is likely to be recognized. The risk of not believing the alarm is much higher in the environment created by the American neoconservatives, who have controlled US foreign policy in the 21st century. In US foreign policy and military ranks there are some, especially among the military/security-funded think tanks, who believe, automatically it seems with no evidence required, that the US, being the greatest and most powerful country ever, would win a nuclear war. This belief exists despite the total absence of any US preparation for surviving a nuclear war, assuming such a war is survivable. The most likely outcome would be nuclear winter, a situation in which dust from the massive explosions block the sunlight and the entire world starves to death.

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Two months ago I wrote: No US Presidential Election in 2024.

“It is clear that the Biden regime and security agencies regard half or more of the US electorate as domestic terrorists. In other words, the FBI is now a political police, no longer a criminal police.”

Will There Be a 2024 Presidential Election? (Paul Craig Roberts)

This question arises from the FBI’s designation of Donald Trump and the half or more of the American electorate that supports him as “domestic terrorists” who constitute a “persistent, evolving, and deadly threat” to the United States. As a senior official put it, “Trump’s army constitutes the greatest threat of violence domestically, politically, that’s the reality.” Here we have the FBI causing disunity by splitting the US population into half. The good half are the Democrats. The bad half is comprised of traditional Americans who want their country back from the special interests and support Donald Trump. It is the FBI that has made this division, not the people who want their country back. The FBI has proved itself to be a dangerous domestic terrorist that has created disunity among the population and gone to war against the traditional American population.

How can the FBI permit such a deadly threat to America, as the FBI declares Trump and his supporters to be, to win the election? How can an army of domestic terrorists be allowed to vote Trump into office? The FBI has equated Trump’s election with an insurrection, that is, with the overthrow of the government. This would seem to commit the FBI to preventing Trump’s election, and the FBI is applying “counterterrorism methods developed over the past decade in response to Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups” to Trump supporters. In other words, the FBI doesn’t differentiate between Trump and his supporters and Muslin terrorists. It is reasonable to conclude that if the Democrats’ political prosecutions of Trump fail to prevent him from running for president, the Biden regime will declare a national emergency and suspend the election. Biden’s Homeland Security also equates Trump supporters with “the use of violence to pursue political ends” and “a threat to our national security.”

Attorney General Garland says “attacks by domestic terrorists are attacks on all of us collectively.” What attacks is Garland talking about? The ones the FBI is about to orchestrate? It is clear that the Biden regime and security agencies regard half or more of the US electorate as domestic terrorists. In other words, the FBI is now a political police, no longer a criminal police. The FBI and Homeland Security are geared to protecting Washington from the American electorate. Attorney General Garland has made it clear that the “Justice” Department will validate whatever unconstitutional methods are used. The position of the FBI and Homeland Security is that if you disagree with an official narrative, you are a domestic terrorist. I do not believe that Trump will be permitted to be President. If he wins, it will be said that he lost, or he will be assassinated, or a state of emergency will be declared. The Establishment will do whatever it takes to keep Trump out of the White House.

I think that the Democrats and their security agencies are demonstrating their Nazi inclinations for no real purpose. If Trump regains the White House, he still doesn’t have the government. Who can he appoint to help him? Who are they? Those who helped him in the past, such as his lawyers, are all indicted by a black woman in Fulton County, Georgia. If Trump is reelected, it will be a repeat of his first term–constant accusations against him repeated endlessly by the presstitutes, constant investigations, more impeachments. Any cabinet secretary who helps him will be a social outcast. His career will be over. When white Americans themselves are demonized as “aversive racists” and “white supremacists” in US universities and public schools and are investigated by the FBI for protesting the brainwashing of their children at school board meetings, what can anyone do?

Insouciant Americans have been asleep for too long, and they have lost their country. How are they going to get it back? Consider that those who vote Democrat actually believe that the other half of the electorate are dangerous white supremacist domestic terrorists. They believe this despite the absence of any buildings blown up by Trump supporters, by the absence of assassinations, by the absence of rioting and looting as practiced by the Democrats’ agents, Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Democrats are so indoctrinated that they believe the propaganda in the absence of evidence. The wedge that has been so successfully driven between Americans makes white people a minority in their own country. They are so divided that they cannot defend themselves or the Constitution that is the shield of their liberty.

Now that the FBI has declared the 85 million Americans who twice elected Trump president to be domestic terrorists, the FBI will have to organize some domestic terrorists events, like it had to organize Muslim terrorist events, in order to validate its proclamation of domestic terrorism from Trump supporters. Will federal agents blow up buildings, stage rioting and looting events, and assassinate Democrats in order to incriminate Trump supporters? Is this the playbook for the Democrats to win the next election? What do we make of Hillary Clinton’s statement that Trump supporters have to be officially deprogrammed? Are we being set up for reeducation camps? In America today, all of this is possible.

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A Chinese newspaper..

Ukrainians Desert En Masse Due to Rising Casualties, Mental Fatigue (Sp.)

According to a Chinese newspaper, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) are grappling with a surge in desertions caused by increasing casualties and mental exhaustion among soldiers. The news outlet cited “emerging reports of ever-increasing stress and mental health issues, with soldiers reluctant to take to the battlefield as they feel they do not have enough time to recover from their traumatic experiences.” The newspaper added that “numerous” UAF servicemen “have gone the entire year with only a handful of days spent at home, with many being thrust back onto the front line, leading to a spike in suicides.” The media outlet cited Romanian immigration authorities as saying that “6,200 Ukrainian men of military age have crossed their border illegally, while some 20,000 have fled with special permits, though these are often falsified documents such as medical certificates and exemptions.”

On top of that, the newspaper added that the UAF struggles with a shortage of ammunition due to “inconsistent donations and varying arms types.” “This leads to the inefficient use of supplies due to shells, and to rockets being unreliable in their accuracy, which can result in equipment being damaged and soldiers injured. This contributes to low morale in the Ukrainian troops,” per the newspaper. With the assistance of NATO instructors, the Ukrainian forces have been trying to make progress on various front lines since the beginning of June. Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that the UAF has been unable to achieve any significant success on the fronts, already suffering the loss of over 90,000 soldiers and 557 tanks.

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“..Rome is considering ways to bring the two sides to the negotiating table, while continuing to arm Kiev..”

Military Solution To Ukraine Conflict Unlikely – Italian Defense Minister (RT)

It is unlikely that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will be resolved on the battlefield, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto has predicted. He also revealed that Rome is considering ways to bring the two sides to the negotiating table, while continuing to arm Kiev. In an interview with Corriere della Sera published on Sunday, Crosetto acknowledged that no matter how much Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government wants to support Ukraine indefinitely, the policy is simply not realistic. He pointed out that the hostilities there have dragged on for over a year and a half, adding that the “more time passes, the more the possibility of helping Ukraine with resources that are not unlimited decreases.” The official emphasized that this does not indicate a change in Italy’s policies but rather the finite nature of the country’s stocks.

According to the official, the “situation in Ukraine is getting worse,” with Kiev having “great difficulty in regaining lost ground,” and Moscow being unable to “conquer” the nation. “We are witnessing the impossibility of resolving the conflict on the field,” Crosetto argued, adding that Italy was busy looking for ways to “build dialogue tables, achieve peace.” He concluded by claiming that if Russia prevails in Ukraine, its tanks will be rolling toward European borders, making the prospect of World War III more likely. Late last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated that Moscow is ready for peace talks with Kiev in principle, adding, however, that it has yet to see any “serious proposal.” The diplomat dismissed Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s peace formula as a “pure ultimatum,” which Russia would never accept.

Russian officials have previously pointed out that President Zelensky effectively ruled out negotiations when he signed a decree last October prohibiting dialogue with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Earlier this month, POLITICO reported, citing a European official, that EU member states have reached their limit in terms of weaponry they can provide to Ukraine without compromising their own defenses. “We cannot keep on giving from our own stockpiles,” the anonymous official told reporters. In a separate story around the same time, the media outlet claimed that support for funding the Ukrainian government was “showing more cracks than ever,” citing the recent failure of the US Congress to allocate more aid money in its stopgap budget, as well as the election victory of former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who vowed when he was campaigning that he’d stop assistance to Kiev.

Meanwhile, on Friday, POLITICO alleged that the Biden administration is looking for “creative” ways to secure further military aid for Ukraine, amid mounting opposition at home. The supposed workarounds under consideration include using the State Department’s foreign military financing program as well as a three-way swap of air-defense systems involving Poland, the media outlet claimed.

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“..The last effort was a major operation involving hundreds of troops, including foreign fighters…”

Ukraine Admits Repeated Failures To Capture Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant (RT)

Ukrainian commandos have failed on three occasions to gain a foothold in Energodar, the city in Russia’s Zaporozhye Region where Europe’s largest nuclear plant is located, Kiev’s military intelligence chief has confirmed. Kirill Budanov and some of the people involved in the botched operations were interviewed by the Ukrainian news outlet NV, which published an article on Sunday about the activities of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR). The first attempt to seize control of land in Energodar, which took place in August 2022, involved commandos crossing the Kakhovka water reservoir on civilian speedboats, according to the interviews. The last effort was a major operation involving hundreds of troops, including foreign fighters.

Budanov and his subordinates explained that the GUR troops had been repelled by Russian forces on each occasion, but claimed that the failures had some value. Surviving troops and planners gained experience in amphibious operations, which has since been used to attack Crimea, they said. Meanwhile, Kiev’s overarching goal of preventing Russia from supplying electricity generated by the Zaporozhye plant to the region was achieved thanks to moles, according to Ukrainian sources. Russian officials reported several Ukrainian attempts to seize Energodar last year, the largest of which took place in mid-October. Kiev deployed 37 speedboats for the amphibious assault and lost some 90 troops to Russian retaliation, they said at the time. People in Zaporozhye Region, formerly a part of Ukraine, voted to join Russia in September 2022.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has repeatedly warned about the risks that hostilities near the Zaporozhye plant may pose to its safety. It has failed to mediate an agreement between Russia and Ukraine for a no-fighting zone around Energodar. Last week, Ukrainian commandos were killed or captured during a landing in Crimea after their watercraft were attacked by Russian warplanes. The Russian security service, the FSB, claimed that survivors had said the goal of the operation was to film troops holding a Ukrainian flag on Russian soil.

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“..the annual cost of providing care for the millions of illegal migrants entering the US is $150.7 billion..”

“..it’s just another day in the discombobulated American empire, which, much like its ancient Roman precursor, could learn the lesson of overexpansion and overspending in the most brutal way imaginable – with its total and complete dissolution.”

Americans Get Poorer As Washington Throws Cash At Ukraine And Migrants (Bridge)

The poverty rate in the US exploded last year, the first increase in 13 years, according to the Census Bureau. In 2022, the rate was 12.4%, up 4.6 percentage points from 2021, according to the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a method for tallying government welfare programs and tax credits designed to assist low-income families. Meanwhile, the Expectations Index, determined by consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions, sunk to 73.7 in September. That follows a drop to 83.3 in August. The worrisome part is that an Expectations Index below 80 generally indicates an impending recession. An economic tragedy is already quietly happening for millions of American consumers who are now living paycheck to paycheck precariously and who have been forced to use the payment method of last resort to make ends meet: the almighty credit card, with its exorbitant interest fees.

On this score, the US economy has broken yet another record, although not in a way that could be considered something to cheer about. “US credit card debt rose by $45 billion to $1.03 trillion in the second quarter from the first quarter, a 4.6% quarterly increase,” The Street reported. “It’s the first time in US history that household credit card balances topped the $1 trillion mark as the number of credit card accounts expanded by 5.48 million to 578.35 million in the quarter.” When consumer debt suddenly equals the amount the US spends on its military-industrial complex, you know there’s a problem. Clearly, the US has some serious domestic issues that need to be resolved, but instead, it would rather fund a totally senseless proxy war against a nuclear power halfway around the world. Washington has given Ukraine close to $100 billion in aid, with more in the pipeline, since Moscow launched its military operation in February 2022.

The cash, however, has not only been used to fund Ukraine’s military. Billions of dollars have subsidized participants of the Ukrainian economy, like farmers and small business owners, market players whose counterparts in the US desperately need help, too. A recent study conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations shows that more than $30 billion – around 40% of total US aid to Ukraine as of July 31 – has been financial or humanitarian assistance that is not directly connected to military support. Military funding comes out to around $50 billion. As if that were not enough, the Biden administration continues to welcome illegal migrants at a price that is more than what is being spent fighting a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. Yes, you read that right; the annual cost of providing care for the millions of illegal migrants entering the US is $150.7 billion, according to the Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers (FAIR).

In August, US Border Patrol recorded 232,972 migrant encounters along the southwestern border, a jump from 183,494 in July. The number of crossings for September is predicted to be higher than the previous month. So here we have two concurrent events – a disastrous military conflict in Ukraine and a leaky US border – that are sucking away precious funds from the American taxpayer. It’s important to note that the king’s ransom that is being handed over to support these deranged Democratic agendas will never be returned, not in our lifetime. Instead, it will just be added to the unsustainable US national debt load, which is currently at $33 trillion, according to the US Debt Clock. That is an astronomical sum of money that we or future generations will someday be forced to deal with, and probably sooner rather than later.

What American citizen could possibly believe that any of this government funding has been a good investment for the American people? Well, they’re representatives in Washington, DC, for one. In May, ‘conservative’ US Senator Lindsey Graham, during a meeting with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev, pronounced joyfully that “the Russians are dying” and aid to Ukraine is “the best money we’ve ever spent.” Aside from discounting the chances that such an “investment” could have towards unleashing World War III, Graham never thought for a second that such funds could have gone far at rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, like that non-existent wall on the US-Mexico border. It would have been a wonderful work program for the US economy. In short, it’s just another day in the discombobulated American empire, which, much like its ancient Roman precursor, could learn the lesson of overexpansion and overspending in the most brutal way imaginable – with its total and complete dissolution.

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“There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.”

Blue States Turn On Biden Over Border Crisis (ET)

President Joe Biden is facing significant backlash from Democratic elected leaders, particularly in northern U.S. cities that are struggling to deal with the surge in illegal immigration. They accuse the president of not doing enough to curb the influx of illegal immigrants, which is putting enormous strain on their resources. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is the latest Democratic politician to voice strong criticism of the federal response to the crisis. In a letter to President Biden on Oct. 2, Mr. Pritzker said that his state was in an “untenable situation” and urged the president to take “swift action.” In August, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and business leaders asked President Biden to address the “humanitarian crisis” that has overwhelmed New York City following an influx of more than 100,000 illegal immigrants from the southern border.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey issued a state of emergency in August in response to the state’s illegal immigrant crisis. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, she wrote that her state has taken action “to address what sadly has been a federal crisis of inaction.” Officials at the White House are scrambling to respond to this criticism with statements that appear to indicate the administration is making a U-turn on its border policies. Some claim that the recent measures by President Biden are increasingly looking like the policies of the Trump administration. Before taking office, President Biden declared, “There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attempted to defend the move, arguing that the government is following Trump-era laws but still doesn’t believe in the wall’s effectiveness. “We believe that we need border technology that is modernized and land ports of entry. And that’s what we want to see,” Ms. Jean-Pierre told reporters on Oct. 5, adding that the president’s stance on the border wall hasn’t changed. “He does not believe it is effective. He has been very clear about that.” She added that the funding for the wall is from a 2019 appropriations bill signed by President Donald Trump. “We asked Congress to reappropriate the funds,” she said. “But they’ve refused, and so now we’re moving forward.”

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“Several members of the Trump legal team don’t have the appropriate security clearances to review the evidence..”

Judge Hands Trump a Win in DC Election Case (ET)

A federal judge in Washington partially granted a request by former President Donald Trump’s attorneys to allow for extra time to file motions in the federal election obstruction case ahead of his March 2024 trial. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan issued the order on Oct. 6, representing as a partial win for the Trump legal team. In court papers filed last week with the court, they had wanted additional time to craft arguments in the case, which was brought by special counsel Jack Smith. The judge granted President Trump some additional time to file motions, although she mostly rejected his lawyer’s requests to delay the trial deadlines. In her order, she rejected the former president’s request to order a declassified version of some of the government’s court filings regarding classified evidence.

“Lengthy deadline extensions for the defense’s anticipated dispositive motions—like motions to dismiss—are not warranted,” her order said. “If the court were to extend the briefing schedule for these motions by the requested sixty days, they would not be fully briefed until January 2024.” Although the former president requested a 60-day extension to file pre-trial court motions, Judge Chutkan only allowed a two-week extension. Motions to dismiss the case and several other types of motions have to be filed by Oct. 23. The judge also granted a request from the Trump legal team to file objections regarding classified evidence in the case. It came days after President Trump’s lawyers wrote in court papers that more time is needed to consider procedures for reviewing classified evidence in the case, adding his team is “seeking a fair opportunity for reasonable adversary proceedings” regarding the materials.

They said that lawyers were able to review classified evidence that was provided by Mr. Smith’s office for the first time on Tuesday, but it was too short. “Our review was brief and preliminary,” the motion stated. “But it it is clear that President Trump is entitled to additional materials possessed by the U.S. intelligence community” and other portions of the executive branch. Several members of the Trump legal team don’t have the appropriate security clearances to review the evidence, it also said. “Third, as noted above, in light of restrictions on one of the central documents in the classified discovery, we are presently foreclosed from making applications to the Special Counsel’s Office or the Court relating to the substance of the document,” his lawyers wrote. “Thus, although we anticipate transmitting discovery requests and motions to compel, we are not in a position to pursue those mechanisms as of this filing.”

Responding to the former president’s motion, federal prosecutors said it was an attempt to “delay the proceedings” and claimed the amount of classified materials in the case was relatively small. His team also failed “to provide a basis for any extension” regarding pre-trial motions in the case, prosecutors said. President Trump is charged with four federal felonies in the case alleging that he tried to obstruct the 2020 presidential election. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and said it’s part of a longstanding effort by Democrats and federal bureaucrats to imperil his 2024 presidential campaign. Last week, President Trump’s team filed a motion that sought the dismissal of the case, citing what they described as immunity. Judge Chutkan has not ruled on that dismissal motion, and the special counsel lawyers have not responded.

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Threads has been an utter failure..

The Father of Facebook Doesn’t Understand Social Media Anymore (RM)

In the world of social media business, where revenues are on the decline and the social media industry faces pressing commercial challenges, a fundamental principle comes to the fore: Adapt or risk fading into obscurity, reminiscent of MySpace’s fate. To everyone’s surprise, Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, chose to launch two new platforms amidst the shifting sands of the social media world. Was it a personal vendetta against Elon Musk, or did he simply bypass the innovation that typically fuels platform success, opting instead to replicate the ideas of others? The results, alas, were far from stellar. In this realm, where new social media players perpetually strive to challenge established giants, Meta, under the leadership of the somewhat uncharismatic Mark Zuckerberg, has consistently sought to redefine the game. However, recent endeavors, notably Threads and WhatsApp Channels, have cast doubt on Meta’s strategy and Zuckerberg’s approach.

Threads, initially positioned as a potential rival to Twitter (or X now), appeared promising at first glance. But upon closer inspection, a familiar pattern emerged – Meta’s tendency to replicate rather than innovate. Threads seemed to mimic Elon Musk’s Twitter presence, but struggled to retain its users. While Threads did rocket to 100 million users within five days of its early July launch, it hemorrhaged more than half of them within two weeks. Zuckerberg himself acknowledged this precipitous decline, expressing a desire for sustained user engagement. Despite being hailed as the “fastest-growing app in history,” the platform’s true source of users, possibly re-routed from Instagram, raises questions about its validity as the “fastest-borrowed” app. This fleeting hype left Threads unlikely to have a lasting impact beyond generating media headlines. Its fundamental issue lies in its unclear purpose, or perhaps its lack thereof.

Threads introduced no novel features or competitive advantages and debuted in a somewhat incomplete state, missing essential functions expected on a social media platform. It felt more like Zuckerberg’s personal jab at Musk, stemming from their longstanding feud, rather than a genuine effort to innovate. The absence of spontaneous, controversial subjects – censored to the point of resembling a Twitter feed from North Korea – further detracted from Threads’ appeal. However, the core challenge with Zuckerberg’s platforms lies in censorship. It extends beyond content moderation to the accessibility of the platforms themselves. Threads was initially unavailable in Europe and other parts of the world outside the United States for months following its launch – a significant misstep. Zuckerberg seems to be repeating this mistake with his latest endeavor, WhatsApp Channels. Here, too, Meta chose imitation over innovation, blatantly replicating Telegram’s Channels feature.

Both Threads and WhatsApp Channels are emblematic of a more substantial issue – Meta’s heavy-handed censorship. While their aim may have been to curate a “nice” and “woke” environment, they inadvertently created exclusive clubs where only the chosen few could thrive. Contacting the customer support or service teams at these social media projects often leads to automated bot interactions, which raises questions about the involvement of human personnel at Meta’s headquarters. As we examine the outcomes of these Meta ventures, a valuable lesson emerges: In the realm of social media, authenticity and originality should be paramount. Meta’s penchant for imitation, coupled with stringent censorship, has yielded lackluster results. Threads and WhatsApp Channels serve as stark reminders that replication without innovation leads to initial hype followed by inevitable disappointment. The essence of social media should be creativity, enthusiasm, and open dialogue, rather than mere imitation and exclusivity.

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Jul 112023
 
 July 11, 2023  Posted by at 9:11 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  65 Responses »


Gustave Doré Over London — By Rail 1872 (woodblock)

 

China Ready To Contribute To Build Stable World Jointly With Russia – Xi (TASS)
41+ Countries Returning To Gold Standard (QTR)
Anti-Russian Sanctions Spooking Countries Into Repatriating Gold Reserves (RT)
US, Europeans Depleted Their Weapons Stockpile Fighting Russia in Ukraine (Sp.)
Vaudevillian Visitors in Vilnius (Sp.)
Zelensky Can Expect Military Aid Guarantees From NATO Summit at Best (Sp.)
Ukraine In NATO Is ‘Path To Peace’ – FM (RT)
US State Dept Has Become ‘Ministry Of Truth’ – Moscow (RT)
Erdogan Ties Sweden’s NATO Bid To Türkiye’s EU Membership (RT)
Putin Held Meeting With Prigozhin, Wagner Commanders June 29 -Kremlin (Sp.)
Prigozhin’s War (Lauria)
US Cluster Munitions to Ukraine Can Lead to Humanitarian Problems – China (Sp.)
Ukraine Stepping Up Mercenary Recruitment Effort – Russian MOD (RT)
Welcome to Zuckerberg’s Vision of Internet “Kindness” (Turley)
UK Parents Prosecuted for Refusing to Pay for Transgender Treatments? (Turley)

 

 

 

 

Baby myocarditis
https://twitter.com/i/status/1678475139841662996

 

 

 

 

Luft
https://twitter.com/i/status/1678528304616226816

 

 

BRICS

 

 

 

 

“..mutual assistance, deep integration, innovation and pioneering, as well as mutual benefit.”

China Ready To Contribute To Build Stable World Jointly With Russia – Xi (TASS)

Beijing is ready to join efforts with Moscow to contribute to building a prosperous, stable and just world order, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Monday. “China is ready to continue working with Russia <…> in order to contribute to developing and reviving both countries as well as to build a prosperous, stable and just world order,” China’s CCTV quoted Xi as saying at a meeting with Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko in Beijing. Xi said that, in the new era, his country was ready to continue developing the comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation with Russia which imply “mutual assistance, deep integration, innovation and pioneering, as well as mutual benefit.”

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“That’s one she’s going to want to take back at some point, I’m certain.”

41+ Countries Returning To Gold Standard (QTR)

Remember back when the Russia/Ukraine war had just started, and I predicted that Russia and China would launch their own gold backed currency? At the time, this idea sounded completely foreign, and I was ridiculed for bringing it up. Today, it just become reality. 41+ countries look like they could be returning to a gold standard. The images plastered all over RT this weekend had headlines like “New Money, New World” and “Gold Standard Will Be Of Great Benefit To Strengthening New Singly Currency”. “The official announcement is expected to be made during the BRICS summit in August in South Africa,” Kitco reported over the weekend. “At first glance, a new transaction unit, backed by gold, sounds like good money – and it could be, first and foremost, a major challenge to the US dollar’s hegemony,” Thorsten Polleit, chief economist at Degussa, said.

He continued: “For making the new currency as good as gold, a truly sound currency, it must be convertible into gold on demand. I am not sure whether this is what Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have in mind. Using gold as money, the unit of account would be a true game changer, no doubt about it. It could lead to a sharp devaluation of many fiat currencies vis-à-vis the yellow metal (including the BRICS fiat currencies), and it could catapult up goods prices in terms of fiat currencies. It could be a shock to the global fiat money system. I am not sure that this is what the BRICS wish to achieve.” The official announcement of the new currency is expected in August during the BRICS summit in South Africa.

Even more shocking than the announcement is the cavalier attitude that United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen appears to be taking to the news. In statements I can only describe as completely delusional, Yellen said this weekend: “I just want to reiterate what I’ve said in the past, which is I think the United States can rest assured that the dollar is going to play the dominant role in facilitating international transactions and serving as a reserve currency in the years ahead. I don’t see that role being threatened by any development including the one that you’ve mentioned [BRICS common currency].” That’s one she’s going to want to take back at some point, I’m certain.

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“’If it’s my gold then I want it in my country’”

Anti-Russian Sanctions Spooking Countries Into Repatriating Gold Reserves (RT)

An increasing number of countries are bringing home their bullion reserves in the wake of unprecedented sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, Reuters reported on Monday, citing an Invesco survey of central bank and sovereign wealth funds.According to the report, widespread losses for sovereign money managers resulting from last year’s financial market rout made them “fundamentally”rethink their strategies amid fears of higher inflation and further geopolitical tensions. The survey showed that over 85% of the participating 85 sovereign wealth funds and 57 central banks believe that inflation will now be higher in the coming decade than in the last.

A “substantial share” of central banks were reportedly concerned by the precedent set by sanctions on Russia. Almost 60% of respondents said it had made gold more attractive, while 68% were keeping reserves at home, compared with 50% in 2020. “’If it’s my gold then I want it in my country’ (has) been the mantra we have seen in the last year or so,”according to Invesco’s head of official institutions, Rod Ringrow, who oversaw the report. Confirming Ringrow’s assessment, one central bank told Reuters anonymously: “We did have it (gold) held in London… but now we’ve transferred it back to [our] own country to hold as a safe haven asset and to keep it safe.”

Nearly half of Russia’s $640 billion worth of gold and forex reserves were frozen by the West last year, included in numerous rounds of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has condemned the freezing of its assets, describing the West’s plans to expropriate those funds as theft and warning of retaliatory measures. The Ivesco study showed that geopolitical concerns, combined with opportunities in emerging markets, have also triggered a shift among some central banks away from the US dollar. Of those surveyed, 7% reportedly believe that mounting US debt is also negative for the greenback, but most still see no alternative to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

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The military industrial complex is making a killing.

US, Europeans Depleted Their Weapons Stockpile Fighting Russia in Ukraine (Sp.)

The US and Europe may have the military budgets which far outstrip those of their global rivals, but there are multiple factors helping to explain their depletion and inability to expand production, retired. Major General Vallely, the chairman of the Stand Up America Foundation, a US advocacy and non-profit, told Sputnik. “As you know, when the Americans surrendered in Afghanistan, we left $85 billion-worth of equipment, ammunition, guns, tanks, helicopters, artillery. $85 billion is a lot. That would arm an entire country for years,” Vallely explained. Secondly, the US defense sectors “sells a lot of equipment to other countries – some 50 different countries,” which means not all its resources can be concentrated on one task, like flooding arms into Ukraine.

“And the third reason is the amount that we have sent into Ukraine, including what we called ‘prepositioned’ equipment in Europe. Those resources are depleted. So the American defense industry can’t keep up with demand now. We don’t have the manufacturing capability to keep up with what’s being used and what is needed in the future. The same goes for the European countries,” the senior officer said, pointing out that much of the weapons and equipment given to Kiev over the past year-and-a-half have been destroyed. Vallely also pointed to political, economic and social factors to account for the shortfall, saying many NATO countries, particularly in Europe, “are sort of reluctant” to keep pumping their military equipment into Ukraine with no end in sight.

Instead, they’ve actually “slowed down their production, I think, and also the amount of supplies that they’re giving Ukraine, because they want to keep a lot of that, at least some for themselves. So those are all reasons why we see this shortage and it’s going to continue,” he said. Major European NATO powers such as Germany, Italy and the UK have spent months warning that the stocks of weapons they have left after splurging on Ukraine would be enough to withstand just “48-72 hours” of combat in the event of a surprise invasion or other major conflagration. In the UK, defense officials complained privately back in January that the military had been “hollowed out” by arms shipments to Kiev, and London’s reluctance to up defense expenditures.

In spite of talk among NATO members about record defense budgets, Vallely doesn’t expect the alliance to be able to substantially ramp up production capabilities over the coming months and years. “I don’t think they want to. It costs the countries a lot of money to build this equipment. And you have an ailing economy in Europe and the United States. They can print all the money they want to, but still you have to build these things and it takes a lot of time,” he said. On top of that are resource constraints, including the rare-earth minerals the US has come to rely on China for but which Beijing has recently indicated it would be trimming down amid the ongoing trade war with Washington, Vallely said.

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NATO must deliver this week. But all they have is words. Bonuspoint for the headline.

Vaudevillian Visitors in Vilnius (Sp.)

The crisis in Ukraine is in many respects the consequence of the Western alliance’s decade-and-a-half long quest to pull Kiev into the bloc, despite repeated warnings by Russia that Ukrainian NATO membership was a “red line” for Moscow. The alliance first welcomed Ukraine’s “Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership” at its 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania. Two years later, the pro-Western government in Kiev was replaced in democratic elections by the government of Viktor Yanukovych, who pledged Kiev’s bloc neutrality. Four years after that, in 2014, Yanukovych was overthrown in a US-backed coup d’etat, with the crisis prompting Crimea to break off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, and sparking a bloody conflict in Donbass. Moscow attempted to mediate the crisis over eight years through the Minsk peace accords, a comprehensive, 12-point peace deal calling for broad autonomy for Donbass as part of Ukraine.


Successive governments in Kiev dragged their feet on the Minsk deal’s implementation. In the meantime, in 2019, Ukraine’s parliament amended the country’s constitution to cement Kiev’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union. In December 2021, as war clouds gathered over Donbass, Moscow attempted one final push to prevent the escalation of the Ukraine crisis into a Russia-NATO proxy conflict, proposing comprehensive security agreements to the US and the alliance to reduce tensions, including a request for a commitment from the Western alliance not to allow Ukraine to join the bloc. The alliance refused, saying it would never reject its “open door” policy. Several weeks later, amid Russian intelligence reports that Kiev would try to resolve the Donbass crisis by force, Moscow kicked off its special military operation.

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“NATO member states cannot use security guarantees as an alternative to Ukraine’s membership in the bloc.”

Zelensky Can Expect Military Aid Guarantees From NATO Summit at Best (Sp.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky can expect from the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius on Ukraine’s admission to the alliance is guarantees of further military aid at best, Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of the Russian delegation at the military security and arms control talks in Vienna, said in an interview with Sputnik. Zelensky continues to bend his line that he needs Western weapons and military equipment under the pretext of a confrontation with Russia, the diplomat said, adding that is why Zelensky has long hinted that he would like an accelerated process of joining NATO. The UK and the US, however, have made it clear that the necessary criteria must be met for this.


“The best that Zelensky can expect [from the summit] is guarantees of further military assistance and supplies of ammunition,” Gavrilov said, adding that “the fact that a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council will be held during the NATO summit is just a nod to Kiev and nothing more.” On Monday Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that “NATO member states cannot use security guarantees as an alternative to Ukraine’s membership in the bloc.” The Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius will host the NATO summit from July 11-12. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will chair the meeting. Discussions on Ukraine’s NATO prospects, strengthening the alliance’s eastern flank and defense spending are expected to top the summit’s agenda. On June 19, Stoltenberg said that the summit would not discuss a formal invitation, but rather ways to “move Ukraine closer to NATO.”

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War is peace.

Ukraine In NATO Is ‘Path To Peace’ – FM (RT)

Inviting Kiev into NATO will create peace in Europe, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba argued on Monday, during an interview with the German public broadcaster ARD. Kiev was “promised entry” in 2008, but Germany and other Western European countries got cold feet, Kuleba told the Tagesschau newscast on Monday. The upcoming Vilnius summit of the US-led military bloc is the time to correct that “mistake,” he added.“We appreciate everything that Germany and the US are doing for Ukraine to support us in this war,” Kuleba added, but disagreed with Berlin that the invitation into NATO would drag the West into open war with Russia. The invitation is simple “a political message to Ukraine” and Article 5 – the mutual defense clause – “only applies if Ukraine is a member country.”

“Ukraine’s NATO membership is a path towards peace. Once Ukraine can join NATO, there will be no more wars in Europe,” Kuleba claimed, because “Russia will no longer dare to attack the alliance.” Although Kiev’s bid is strongly supported by the Eastern European and Baltic states, the leaders of Western Europe and the US have opposed making Ukraine a full-fledged NATO member. In a CNN interview over the weekend, US President Joe Biden reiterated that Washington is against admitting Ukraine into NATO and offered “Israel-like guarantees” instead. “Why does everyone always want to put Ukraine in a separate pot?” lamented Kuleba. “Why are people always looking for alternative solutions? Why can’t we simply develop a holistic solution for a European security architecture in which Ukraine sits in the NATO boat?”

He went on to insist that Ukraine is “a win” and not a burden, because “without our army, the eastern flank [of NATO] could not be defended at all.” Kiev will not accept guarantees as a replacement for membership, Kuleba added, but only as an interim measure. The US and its allies have spent over $100 billion just in 2022 to provide Ukraine with weapons, equipment, ammunition and even cash, while insisting they were not a party to the conflict with Russia. Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov has argued on multiple occasions that his country was already “de facto” a member of the Western alliance and “carrying out NATO’s mission” with theblood of Ukrainian soldiers.

No NATO membership for Ukraine was one of the key demands in Russia’s collective security proposal sent to Washington and Brussels in December 2021. Biden also revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had presented that condition at their July 2021 summit in Switzerland – but that he refused, citing NATO’s open-door policy. Moscow considers NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat to Russia’s national security and has cited Kiev’s ties to the bloc as one of the root causes of the current armed conflict with Ukraine. Russian officials have argued that Ukraine’s neutrality would be one of the necessary prerequisites for a lasting peace between the two countries.

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Yup, more Orwell.

US State Dept Has Become ‘Ministry Of Truth’ – Moscow (RT)

US authorities are urging the country’s media outlets to propagate falsehoods about Russia in a bid to undermine its stability amid the ongoing stand-off between Moscow and the West, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) has claimed. In a statement on Monday, the agency quoted its director, Sergey Naryshkin, as saying that “the US State Department … basically dictates to the American media what exactly they should write and say,” adding that it “has finally turned into the ‘Ministry of Truth’.” The comment was an apparent reference to the fictional ministry tasked with falsifying historical events from George Orwell’s world-renowned dystopian novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.

The SVR, citing intelligence data, claimed that last month the department sent instructions to several major media holdings, including AT&T, Comcast Corporation, Graham Media Group, Nash Holdings, Newsweek Publishing and The New York Times Company, telling them to “reflect events in and around Russia in a distorted manner.” According to the agency, these outlets were tasked with convincing Russian citizens that there was a need for a “forceful struggle against the authorities, up to an armed rebellion.” They also wanted to “involve the population in protest actions” by “actively circulating falsehoods” about Russia’s purported weakness and its “inevitable defeat in the stand-off with the West,” the statement read.

To achieve this goal, Washington has told media organizations to focus on packaging certain narratives to young Russians, as well as hailing Russian opposition figures and other nationals engaged “in sabotage and terrorist actions” against Moscow as heroes, the agency claimed. “There is nothing new in freedom of speech being trampled on in the West. It is unfortunate that the State Department, which used to be a sober-minded and rational agency … has turned into a stinking landfill of informational garbage,” the SVR added. The statement comes after Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov predicted in April that the level of “external interference” into Russia’s domestic affairs would only grow amid the Ukraine conflict. He also suggested that the West would be interested in derailing Russia’s presidential elections, which are scheduled for March 2024.

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The EU will never accept a muslim nation as a member.

Erdogan Ties Sweden’s NATO Bid To Türkiye’s EU Membership (RT)

Ankara will sign off on Sweden’s accession to NATO if the EU “opens the way” to membership for Türkiye, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday. Erdogan has reportedly asked US President Joe Biden to help pressure Brussels into accepting Türkiye into the European bloc. “Türkiye has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union,” Erdogan told reporters before flying to NATO’s summit in Lithuania. “Come and open the way for Türkiye’s membership in the European Union. When you pave the way for Türkiye, we’ll pave the way for Sweden as we did for Finland,” he added.

Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye agreed last summer that Ankara would approve the two Nordic nations’ applications for NATO membership if both granted a number of key concessions to Ankara. Sweden and Finland promised that they would lift arms embargoes on Türkiye, extradite alleged Kurdish and Gulenist terrorists, and crack down on the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within their borders. Türkiye’s parliament signed off on Finland’s application in March, but Erdogan maintains that Sweden hasn’t fulfilled its end of the bargain. In a phone call with Biden on Sunday, the Turkish president claimed that Sweden still allows “terrorist organizations” – referring to the PKK – to demonstrate on its streets, according to a readout of the call from Ankara.

Erdogan also told Biden that Türkiye expects a “clear and strong message of support” from NATO leaders for its EU membership at this week’s summit in Lithuania. A readout of the call from the White House made no mention of this request. Erdogan is set to hold talks with Biden and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson while in Lithuania. sAsked about Erdogan’s comments, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told the Associated Press that Türkiye’s accession to the EU was not a part of the deal that Sweden, Finland, and Türkiye signed last year.

Stoltenberg insisted that Sweden has fulfilled its obligations, and that it is “still possible to have a positive decision” on its accession to the military bloc during this week’s summit. Türkiye applied for EU membership in 1987 and was recognized as a candidate in 1999. Membership negotiations opened in 2005, but progress was slow, and no talks have taken place since 2016. Brussels has since condemned Erdogan over alleged human rights abuses, and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament warned in a 2017 report that constitutional reforms strengthening his powers could run afoul of EU law and threaten Ankara’s membership bid.

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“Putin listened to the explanations of the commanders and offered them further employment options..”

Putin Held Meeting With Prigozhin, Wagner Commanders June 29 -Kremlin (Sp.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting in the Kremlin with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner PMC and the group’s commanders to discuss the events of June 24, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. “Indeed, the president had such a meeting. He invited 35 people to it. All group commanders and company management, including Prigozhin. This meeting took place in the Kremlin on June 29 and lasted almost three hours,” Peskov told a briefing. The details of the meeting are confidential, but both Putin and Wagner commanders gave an assessment of the June 24 events, the spokesman said.

“The only thing we can say is that the president gave an assessment of the company’s actions at the front line during the special military operation, and also gave his assessment of the events of June 24. Putin listened to the explanations of the commanders and offered them further employment options,” Peskov said. Commanders of Wagner told Putin that they are his staunch supporters and are ready to continue fighting for Russia, the spokesman concluded. On June 23, forces of the Wagner Group (PMC) seized the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in the city of Rostov-on-Don, following accusations leveled against the Russian Ministry of Defense for allegedly striking the group’s camps. Both the Russian military and the Federal Security Service have denied the allegations.

The next day, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko revealed that he had spent the entire day negotiating with Yevgeny Prigozhin, as agreed upon with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As a result of the talks, the Wagner group leader accepted Lukashenko’s proposal to stop the movement of his troops in Russia and take measures to de-escalate the situation. Putin guaranteed that the Wagner group fighters would have the opportunity to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, return home, or move to Belarus.

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“..Western governments and pundits clearly suffered more embarrassment from this episode than Putin did..”

Prigozhin’s War (Lauria)

MacGregor disagreed that the former Wagner chief was in cahoots with Russia’s enemies. He said: “I see no evidence that Mr. Prigozhin was made an agent by MI6 or the CIA or anybody else. Anybody who knows the Russians knows that any senior officer or commander or leader is surrounded by numerous FSB informants. The idea that he could have sold out even if he wanted to seems ludicrous.” Ritter pointed out in his CN piece that the Russian government is investigating the matter. If Prigozhin was indeed working for Western or Ukrainian intelligence they clearly did not get what they paid for. Lessons: For Russia: Don’t repeat the mistake of hiring a private army. Several analysts pointed to a 500-year old lesson from Niccolo Machiavelli that Russia ignored:

“Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful. … I wish to demonstrate further the infelicity of these arms [i.e., mercenaries]. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain [i.e., the leader of the mercenaries] is not skillful, you are ruined in the usual way [i.e., you will lose the war].”

MacGregor disputed the whole idea. He told Galloway: “I reject the notion that these people are mercenaries. I would compare them to the French Foreign Legion. The French Foreign Legion consists of large numbers of non Frenchmen in many cases, but they have sworn allegiance to the French state and the French nation, and no one has fought harder and more loyally for France than the French Foreign Legion. I would say you have something very similar in the Wagner group.= These are still Russians overwhelmingly, but there are numbers of Serbs or some Germans or others in the group, and they too have sworn allegiance to the Russian state. And as far as we can tell, none of them thought that they were marching on Moscow to remove Putin.

On the contrary, they saw themselves as going to Moscow to rescue Putin from what was widely considered bad advisors, bad councilors who have held up the Russian offensive and caused this war to drag out beyond the point of reason.” Whether they were mercenaries or not, the Kremlin and the MOD tried to get away with a dodgy legal maneuver and it caused them international embarrassment and nearly a bloody civil conflict. Lessons: For the West: Wait until an operation is over before popping the corks. Cries about a Russian civil war being under way, such as tweets from former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, which blared that “The fight is now on. This is now a civil war,” blew up in their faces when Prigozhin turned tail.

The bigger lesson would be not to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs but that would be too much to ask. The entire Russian nation had rallied around Putin, leaving him in a much stronger position, exposing the continuing line that Russia is now a dangerously unstable nation. Western governments and pundits clearly suffered more embarrassment from this episode than Putin did. But ideologues rarely learn any lessons.

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A soft warning. China speaks in whispers.

US Cluster Munitions to Ukraine Can Lead to Humanitarian Problems – China (Sp.)

Last week, the US unveiled a new military assistance package for Ukraine that includes cluster munitions. The weapons are banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has been ratified by 123 countries, excluding the US and Ukraine. Supplies of cluster munitions by the United States to Ukraine may lead to humanitarian problems, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Monday. “Many countries have spoken out against it [cluster munition supplies], irresponsible transfers of cluster munitions can easily lead to humanitarian problems. Humanitarian issues and military security issues must be dealt with in a balanced manner, and the transfer of cluster munitions must be treated with restraint and caution,” Mao told reporters.

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“..a recruitment drive is underway in Argentina, Brazil, Afghanistan, Iraq, and areas of Syria that are “under American control.”

Ukraine Stepping Up Mercenary Recruitment Effort – Russian MOD (RT)

Ukrainian units formed from foreign mercenaries have suffered high battlefield casualties, forcing Kiev to change its approach to finding hired fighters, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Monday. In a statement, the ministry alleged that the Ukrainian military command views foreign fighters as cannon fodder, sending them into the riskiest missions and placing them at the back of the line when it comes to the evacuation of injured troops. This has made recruiting fighters in European countries such as Poland much harder for Kiev, the assessment claimed. Ukraine has consequently ramped up efforts to find candidates in other parts of the world, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, which stated that a recruitment drive is underway in Argentina, Brazil, Afghanistan, Iraq, and areas of Syria that are “under American control.”

The reference to Syria likely concerns the predominantly Kurdish northeastern part of the country. The US supplied Kurdish militias with weapons, training and air support when they served as ground forces for the Washington-led coalition in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The Pentagon also maintains a military base in eastern Syria, despite the objections of the government in Damascus. The Russian Defense Ministry further claimed that Ukraine’s diplomatic missions in the US and Canada are actively hiring fighters with the help of the CIA and private military contractors under its influence.

Ukraine created the so-called International Legion for what it describes as foreign volunteers fighting for its cause. Moscow considers the fighters to be mercenaries and has repeatedly said that the regular laws of war do not apply to them. The Russian Defense Ministry’s assessment on Monday put the number of foreign mercenaries currently employed by Kiev at 2,029. There are numerous accounts from foreign fighters describing the perils of joining the Ukrainian ranks, including mismanagement by military leaders, corruption with logistics, and the overwhelming risks of engaging Russian forces.

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I’m seeing Orwell eveywhere today:

“..they were unwilling to allow the safety of others “to go to the winds so that people can speak freely.”

Welcome to Zuckerberg’s Vision of Internet “Kindness” (Turley)

“Threads’s rollout coincides with a court ruling that the government’s interventions to censor people on social media represented “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” Now, Facebook is offering an alternative to Twitter, with the assurance that users will be protected against any thoughts that Meta’s staff finds problematic. While free speech on Twitter is portrayed as harmful, the company has promised to “prioritize kindness.” That sounds eerily familiar to some of us as a way to deprioritize free speech. Recently, former Twitter executive Anika Collier Navaroli testified on how she and her staff would remove anything they considered “dog whistles” and “coded” messaging. Rather than using “kindness,” Twitter used undefined standards of “safety” to cancel free speech.

Navaroli declared that they were unwilling to allow the safety of others “to go to the winds so that people can speak freely.” Facebook has long tried to get the public to embrace its role as some kind of speech overlord. Years ago, Facebook rolled out an Orwellian commercial campaign to get the public to embrace censorship. The commercials showed young people heralding how they grew up on the internet and how the world was changing, creating a need for censorship under the guise of “content moderation.” Facebook, they promised, was offering the “blending of the real world and the internet world.”

Facebook is not alone in trying to get people to accept censorship. Recently, after the court ruling, various figures assured the public that they are better off letting corporate and government censors protect them from harmful thoughts. On CNN, Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly went so far as to state that it simply “makes sense” for tech companies to go along with government censorship demands. After this week’s decision, the New York Times immediately issued a panicky tweet that the resulting outbreak of free speech could “curtail efforts to combat disinformation.” For his part, Zuckerberg prefers to just offer “kindness” and “sanity” with few details. Of course, there is a very simple way for Zuckerberg to show that he is committed to free speech: He can release the Facebook Files.

One of the reasons many of us in the free-speech community still support Musk is that he transformed the debate over government censorship by releasing the Twitter Files. For years, politicians and pundits dismissed objections from some of us to government-corporate coordination of censorship as unproven. In Congress, Democratic members attacked witnesses for supposedly lacking proof of censorship, even as they fought to block any investigation that might uncover that evidence. Musk changed all that by showing the public an extensive network of government interventions to support censorship and blacklisting of private citizens. Much of what we know today is derived from the Twitter Files, but surely there is more to learn.

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“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”

UK Parents Prosecuted for Refusing to Pay for Transgender Treatments? (Turley)

According to the UK’s Code for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), abusive conduct now includes “withholding money for transitioning [and] refusing to use their preferred name or pronoun.” So a parent with familial or religious objections to the transitioning of a child would be required under the law to fund operations or treatments. According to the guidance material, this is not even “an exhausted list,” but some of the first “examples” of potentially criminal conduct that comes to mind. The guideline would suggest that parents with deep-seated religious convictions against transgender status would either have to fund an operation that they consider immoral or face arrest for failing to do so.

To potentially prosecute a parent for refusing to use an adopted pronoun of their child is chilling and wrong. Nevertheless, a CPS spokesperson doubled down with a comment to Fox News that “domestic abuse is a severe crime and leaves victims with a lasting impact . . . This assists prosecutors to ensure that any victim, regardless of who they are, can get justice for the abuse they have faced.” This follows the erosion of free speech and religious rights in Britain, including English courts upholding the criminalization “toxic ideologies.” It was Sir Edward Coke in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628 who declared “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].” William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham later added:

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.” That no longer appears the case when misusing pronouns or failing to write a check for a child’s transitioning, which will now be treated as the same as physical child abuse. As the definition of abuse is broadened, the state derives greater control and direction over family affairs and relations. Moreover, leaving enforcement to the discretion of police in this “nonexhaustive” list only further undermines this long-standing protection over internal family matters. The question is what the limiting principle will be as the state defines a wider array of conduct to be child abuse. The default assumption of Pitt appears to have flipped in the United Kingdom.

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RFK
https://twitter.com/i/status/1678544638334967809

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 292023
 


Edward Hopper Cat boat 1922

 

What’s Next? (Helmholtz Smith)
Ex-Polish FM Names Two Major Ukrainian Problems (RT)
Neutrality and Peaceful Multi-Ethnicity (Rosel)
Air Force General Predicts War With China In 2025 (NBC)
NATO Ready For Direct Confrontation With Russia – Official (TASS)
If WWIII Breaks Out, It Won’t Start On Tanks Or Fighter Jets – Medvedev (TASS)
White House Confronted Over Tanks To Ukraine (RT)
Britain ‘Modeling Cyber Strikes’ On Russian Infrastructure – Moscow (RT)
Mozart Group Trains Ukrainians To ‘Kill Russians’ – Founder (RT)
As West, Debt & Stocks Implode, East Gold & Oil Will Explode (Von Greyerz)
Are You Really Against Fossil Fuels? Read This Before You Answer (RCE)
Zuckerberg-Funded “Non-Profit” Gears Up for 2024 Elections (GP)
Bill Gates Trashes Effectiveness of COVID Vaccines (CHD)
Meet Hamilton 68, the New King of Media Fraud (Matt Taibbi)
Responding to Hamilton 68 (Matt Taibbi)

 

 

 

 

Douglas Macgregor – We are co Belligerents

 

 

 

 

“At first, the Germans sent soldiers’ helmets [to Ukraine], saying that they did not want to supply lethal weapons there. Now it’s come to tanks, and there are already talks about planes.” “Step by step, the Germans are drifting towards war,”
– Viktor Orban

 

 

Gonzalo Lira 2023.01.28 The West Has Lost Already

 

 

 

 

Madness

 

 

Ethical Sceptic

 

 

 

 

• Gonzalo: The last numbers I was confident of came from Col. Douglas Macgregor: He reported 157,000 KIA as of a few days ago.
• According to unofficial data circulating online, AFU Chief Valery Zaluzhny reported to the Pentagon and NATO on the number of losses of Ukrainian servicemen. According to the Ukrainian command, the AFU has lost a total of 232,000 killed since the start of the special operation.
• According to the private company Stratfor Forecasting, Ukraine’s losses exceed 305,000 killed.

 

 

 

 

“This grinding away can continue until Ukraine collapses because it is easier for the Russians to let the enemy come to them than go after them.”

What’s Next? (Helmholtz Smith)

I don’t know what the Russians are going to do in Ukraine and neither does anyone else outside of their high command. But there sure have been a lot of wrong predictions. Leaving aside the Western propaganda mill (of which more below), serious observers seem to get the timing wrong. We know the correlation of forces favors Russia but we expect things to happen more quickly. We agree that Moscow was expecting something shorter, less bloody and quicker at the beginning and was probably surprised by the resistance of the Kiev regime and NATO’s unhinged support. Therefore there was a re-examination and the call-up of further forces. Thus far we are in agreement – it’s the timing of the next step that we seem to get wrong.

I’ve been thinking about why this is so and I have come to the following conclusions. By now everybody who is paying attention knows that the Ukraine battlefield is part of a world war in which those who control the US empire are trying to hold onto their dominance. For those outside the NATO propaganda bubble there is general agreement that
1/ Russia is winning both in the Ukraine battlefield and the wider theater.
2/ Time is on Russia’s side.

First the Ukraine battlefield. The first aim in war is to destroy the enemy’s power and that Russia is doing, especially in the Bakhmut slaughterhouse. Kiev is determined to stand and fight here and the Russians are quite happy to let them do so – “artillery conquers and infantry occupies” – and that is what we see here. Slowly slowly the Russian forces advance over mountains of Ukrainian bodies. In the last week or so Russian forces have begun to advance on other fronts too. This grinding away can continue until Ukraine collapses because it is easier for the Russians to let the enemy come to them than go after them. Meanwhile Russian missiles destroy the infrastructure Kiev needs to continue the war. Time and developments favor Russia and there is no incentive to make “big arrow” movements.

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Ukraine went steeply downhill due to corruption.

“..the country had “nuclear plants, an aviation industry, no debt and the most fertile land in the world.”

Ex-Polish FM Names Two Major Ukrainian Problems (RT)

Ukraine was never able to achieve economic prosperity despite having a head start due to widespread graft among officials and delusions of being a significant global player, former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has suggested. In an interview with the magazine Krytyka Polityczna on Friday, Sikorski, who has represented Poland in the EU Parliament since 2019, stated that Ukrainian elites “were simply wasting their time.” In his view, they were “hiding their corruption and delusions of grandeur behind a story” that they were playing some big game with the US, Russia, Europe, and China.

The MEP recalled that after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Ukraine had a huge edge over many other ex-Soviet republics and members of the former Eastern bloc. In particular, he said the country had “nuclear plants, an aviation industry, no debt and the most fertile land in the world.” However, even before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine last year, the country “had a GDP four times smaller than Poland,” the former minister pointed out, adding that Ukrainians “are now paying dearly for this maneuvering” by the elites. Earlier this week, Sikorski suggested that Warsaw had considered partitioning Ukraine in the first weeks of the conflict. The allegation, however, was vehemently denied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who accused Sikorski of acting “like a Russian propagandist.”

Once the second-largest economy in the Soviet Union, Ukraine was Europe’s poorest country by per-capita GDP as of 2020. Even before Russia’s military operation in February 2022, a major economic problem facing Ukraine stemmed from a popular revolt and hostilities in industry-heavy Donbass, which were sparked by a Western-backed coup in Kiev in 2014. Another major reason Ukraine had become something of an economic backwater, however, is rampant corruption. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception index, Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 countries globally as of 2021. The same year, Freedom House, a US government-financed non-profit organization, described graft in Ukraine as “endemic,” noting that the government’s efforts to combat it “have met resistance and experienced setbacks.”

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“For those two diplomats Minsk was not a sham, it was an attempt in good faith to bring peace to Ukraine..”

Neutrality and Peaceful Multi-Ethnicity (Rosel)

Switzerland has been neutral since the year 1815. The great powers at that time guarantied the territorial integrity of Switzerland in the borders of 1815 provided that Switzerland would remian neutral in future conflicts. But even before 1815 the independence of the confederation from the great powers Austria and France was intertwined with its neutrality. Neutrality has been an issue in Switzerland since the latest Ukraine conflict began. A few months back the Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was considered to be negligent in the matter of neutrality and as a result a referendum is now being prepared by the Swiss People’s Party which will confirm, clarify and strengthen Switzerland’s neutrality. Switzerland is not unique. Austria is also neutral, meaning that it is not a member of NATO, and in this way it avoided being partitioned after World War II as Germany was.

Switzerland is also a multi-ethnic country. Despite its population of only 8 million, there are four cultural groups and four official languages. There is an unofficial custom which parliament always observes when electing a new government: the three main regions must always be represented in the government. All ministers are bilingual. There are no ethnic tensions. If you want to talk about values, think about neutrality and peaceful multi-ethnicity! Switzerland’s last war was in 1848 and it was a very short civil war. It is also said that the neutrality of Switzerland allows it to be an honest broker. Thus many international agencies and summits are hosted in Geneva. Switzerland is a go-between the estranged nations United States and Iran.

The change in government in Kiev in 2014 can be considered to be a coup d’état since the elected government was replaced by a government according to the wishes of the United States, as was evidenced by the leak of an infamous telephone conversation between the US ambassador and the US diplomat (who is now known for her undiplomatic language) Victoria Nuland. The Maidan coup d’état resulted in severe ethnic tensions in a politically fragile country, which at that time had only been a nation state for a total of 28 years including the years from 1917 to 1922. There was for example a massacre in Odessa in which 46 anti-Maidan demonstrators were killed.

When the conflict in Ukraine broke out in 2014 after the troubles on the Maidan square and the violent change of government, Switzerland held the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE. Therefore the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini (called “the facilitator” and praised by Bloomberg) was allowed to work on a ceasefire agreement which resulted in the Minsk I and the Minsk II Protocols, both signed for the OSCE by Tagliavini. She was supported by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter who at that time was President of the OSCE. He cautioned all parties not to pour oil on the fire. For those two diplomats Minsk was not a sham, it was an attempt in good faith to bring peace to Ukraine. Burkhalter retired prematurely from politics two years later.

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“If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.”

Air Force General Predicts War With China In 2025 (NBC)

A four-star Air Force general sent a memo on Friday to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head.” In the memo sent Friday and obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025.” Air Mobility Command has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes and is responsible for transport and refueling. Minihan said in the memo that because both Taiwan and the U.S. will have presidential elections in 2024, the U.S. will be “distracted,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to move on Taiwan.

He lays out his goals for preparing, including building “a fortified, ready, integrated, and agile Joint Force Maneuver Team ready to fight and win inside the first island chain.” The signed memo is addressed to all air wing commanders in Air Mobility Command and other Air Force operational commanders, and orders them to report all major efforts to prepare for the China fight to Minihan by Feb. 28. During the month of February, he directs all AMC personnel to “fire a clip into a 7-meter target with the full understanding that unrepentant lethality matters most. Aim for the head.” He also orders all personnel to update their records and emergency contacts. In March he directs all AMC personnel to “consider their personal affairs and whether a visit should be scheduled with their servicing base legal office to ensure they are legally ready and prepared.”

Minihan urges them to accept some risk in training. “Run deliberately, not recklessly,” he writes, but later adds, “If you are comfortable in your approach to training, then you are not taking enough risk.” He also provides a window into one capability the U.S. is considering for possible conflict with China — commercial drone swarms. He directs the KC-135 units to prepare for “delivering 100 off-the-shelf size and type UAVs from a single aircraft.”

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Looks like he’s actually saying that NATO is not ready:

“The fact that your enemy has better weapons is not the problem of the enemy. That is your problem..”

NATO Ready For Direct Confrontation With Russia – Official (TASS)

Chair of the NATO Military Committee Rob Bauer said that the US-led bloc is ready for a direct confrontation with Russia in an interview with Portugal’s RTP TV channel. Replying to a question on the matter, he asserted: “We are ready.” That said, he added that NATO is going to respond only if Russia crosses the red line by invading one of NATO member states. The military official stressed that NATO should be better prepared because currently Russia has the military initiative. “The fact that your enemy has better weapons is not the problem of the enemy. That is your problem,” he said. The interview also raised the issue of introducing “a war-time economy but in peace time,” however, Bauer admitted that this process would be difficult.

Chair of the NATO Military Committee Rob Bauer – A doofus
https://twitter.com/i/status/1619357056032710657

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“Then everything will definitely be turned to dust..”

If WWIII Breaks Out, It Won’t Start On Tanks Or Fighter Jets – Medvedev (TASS)

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has lambasted Western attempts to justify arms deliveries to Kiev as an alleged effort to prevent a world war. “Firstly, defending Ukraine, which nobody needs in Europe, will not save the senile Old World from retribution if anything occurs. Secondly, once the Third World War breaks out, unfortunately it will not be on tanks or even on fighter jets. Then everything will definitely be turned to dust,” Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday. In this post, Medvedev commented, in particular, on Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto’s remarks that the Third World War would erupt if Russian tanks reached Kiev and “the borders of Europe”, and that the weapons sent to Ukraine were meant to stop the escalation. Medvedev equated his remarks to the calls from the United Kingdom to provide Kiev with all the weapons NATO has.

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“What actions will you take to ensure that our military equipment is not falling into the hands of criminal networks, terrorists, or being sold for profit?”

White House Confronted Over Tanks To Ukraine (RT)

Several Republican lawmakers have raised red flags about the decision by the administration of US President Joe Biden to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. They claim that the move comes at a time when the US is struggling with domestic problems, while the delivery itself is bound to face numerous challenges. In a letter released on Friday, representatives Troy Nehls, Paul Gosar, Eli Crane, and Lauren Boebert demanded answers from Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about the unprecedented step of sending Ukraine 31 M1 Abrams tanks to help it in its fight against Russia. The lawmakers said they were not elected by the American people “to continually spend their hard-earned money into a conflict halfway around the world” without the ability to properly track the use of military assistance to Ukraine.

They further argued that it is “shameful that the American taxpayer is continuing to subsidize the ongoing Ukraine conflict” while the White House is “turning a blind eye” to the issue of domestic security, particularly the record-high number of illegal crossings at the southern border. The delivery of heavy armor is certain to face logistical challenges, they said, noting that Abrams tanks could be delivered only in several months, while Ukrainian service members will have to undergo lengthy training to learn how to operate the machinery. The letter also noted that Ukraine has a history of being a hotbed for illegal arms trafficking. “What actions will you take to ensure that our military equipment is not falling into the hands of criminal networks, terrorists, or being sold for profit?” the lawmakers asked Biden and Austin.

They also wondered how the Pentagon intended to track the weapons and how the administration would account for the destruction of hardware provided under US military assistance and reimburse American taxpayers. In November, congressional Republicans called for an audit of US government funds appropriated for aid to Ukraine. A month later, however, the initiative was narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives, with Democrats arguing that it would send the wrong signal to Kiev.

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All sides, all the time.

Britain ‘Modeling Cyber Strikes’ On Russian Infrastructure – Moscow (RT)

Britain has been modeling cyberattacks on Russia’s critical infrastructure, the country’s deputy foreign minister, Oleg Syromolotov, said on Saturday. He added that the simulated hacks included energy facilities and were conducted under NATO guidance. The deputy minister stated that attempts to hack Russian government entities by foreign actors have “increased by two to three times” over the course of last year. Syromolotov was reacting to a story published by The Times last month, in which Lt. Gen. Tom Copinger-Symes, the deputy commander of the UK’s strategic command, was quoted as saying the National Cyber Force was seeking to recruit people with Russian degrees.

“The British are systematically using their offensive capabilities to target Russia’s information [sector],” Syromolotov told the TASS news agency. He added that London regularly conducts exercises, including joint NATO drills, simulating attacks on “Russian critical infrastructure.” “They include the modeling of strikes on government entities in the Kaliningrad Region and Moscow’s energy system,” the diplomat said. The Kaliningrad Region is a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea that borders Poland and Lithuania. Syromolotov said that last year Russia was hit by “unprecedented cyberattacks from abroad,” with the majority of intrusions coming from the US and other NATO members, as well as Ukraine. “We have become a target of coordinated aggression involving intelligence services, transnational IT corporations and hacktivists from the collective West and its puppets.”

According to Syromolotov, government services have been targeted the most. The Foreign Ministry has been repeatedly attacked, he said. “Overall, around 50,000 hacker attacks were repulsed last year.” On April 11, 2022, on the eve of Russia’s Cosmonautics Day celebrations, hackers targeted the website of the country’s space agency, Roscosmos, according to its press service. Also last year, intruders gained access to the database of one of the contractors of the Russian national postal service, leaking some internal documents. On Wednesday, cyber attackers briefly hijacked a TV signal in Russia’s Belgorod Region and Crimea and broadcast an excerpt from a speech by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Crimean officials blamed Kiev’s intelligence services for the intrusion.

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“Why do we train guys? It isn’t simply to defend themselves, it’s to kill the enemy.”

Mozart Group Trains Ukrainians To ‘Kill Russians’ – Founder (RT)

Despite its professed humanitarian mission in Ukraine, the Mozart Group is a private military company training Ukrainian soldiers to kill Russians, its founder and CEO told RT’s Afshin Rattansi on Saturday’s episode of ‘Going Underground.’ Founded by US citizens Andrew Milburn and Andrew Bain last March, the Mozart Group has been described as the Western answer to the Wagner Group – the Russian private military company currently fighting the Kiev forces for control of the key Donbass city of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine). Speaking to Rattansi, Milburn was keen to dispel any comparison between Mozart and Wagner. He told the RT host that his group’s mission is “purely humanitarian,” and that Mozart’s members primarily work to supply and evacuate civilians living near the front lines.

However, the group’s other mission is the training of Ukrainian soldiers, which often takes place “very close to the front line,” Milburn, a former US Marine Corps commander, said. “Sadly in this war – in any war actually – the more of the adversary you take off the playing field, or kill, the less the danger is to your own guys,” he said. “Why do we train guys? It isn’t simply to defend themselves, it’s to kill the enemy.” “Everything we’re doing is exactly within the parameters of NATO policy,” he continued. “The West is providing Ukraine with lethal weapons that kill Russians. Why are they doing that? It’s to kill Russians.” “When we train soldiers that is their goal. It’s why we teach them how to operate their weapons.”

While Mozart survives on private donations, Milburn has previously called for “funding from Western governments,” asking Newsweek last month, “What the hell is stopping the US, or UK, or European Union governments from reaching out and saying ‘Let us help you?’” Milburn is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Bain, who accused the retired commander of violating US arms trafficking regulations and seeking to expand Mozart’s training operations into Armenia. The suit also accused Milburn of embezzling money donated to the organization, orchestrating the burglary of humanitarian supplies in Ukraine, sexually harassing a female co-worker, and bribing Ukrainian military leaders. Milburn in turn accused Bain of seeking money from the Mozart Group, and claimed that Bain is “heavily invested in Russia,” which he denies.

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“Before the Western Ponzi scheme comes to an end, these three nations will virtually hold 100% of their own debt. At that point, the bonds will be worthless and interest rates will have reached infinity. Not a pretty prospect!”

As West, Debt & Stocks Implode, East Gold & Oil Will Explode (Von Greyerz)

“The risk of over-tightening by the European Central Bank is nothing less than catastrophic” says Prof Kenneth Rogoff . At Davos he also said: “Italy is extremely vulnerable. But this could pop anywhere. Global debt has gone up massively since the pandemic: public debt, corporate debt, everything.” Rogoff believes that it is a miracle that the world averted a financial crisis in 2022, but the odds of a major accident are shortening as the delayed effects of past tightening feed through. As Rogoff said: “We were very fortunate that we didn’t have a global systemic event in 2022, and we can count our blessings for that, but rates are still going higher and the risk keeps rising.” But lurking in the murkiness is also the global financial assets/liabilities which is almost $500 trillion including the shadow banking system at 46% of the total. The shadow banking sector includes pension funds, hedge funds and other financial institutions which are largely unregulated.

Shadow banking is not subject to the normal mark-to-market rules. Thus no one knows what the real position or losses are. This means that central banks are in the dark when it comes to evaluation of the real risks of the system. Clearly, I am not the only one harping on about the catastrophic global debt/liability situation. And no one knows the extent of total global derivatives. But if they have grown in line with debt and also with the shadow banking system, they could easily be in excess of $3 quadrillion.

Cultures don’t die overnight, but the US has been in decline since at least the Vietnam war in the 1960s. Interestingly, the US has not had a real Budget surplus since the early 1930s with a handful of years of exception. But when you, like the US, live on borrowed time and borrowed money, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up appearances. In 1971, the pressures on the US economy and currency became too great. Thus Nixon closed the Gold Window with the dollar having lost over 98% in real terms since then. This is of course a total catastrophe and a guarantee that the remaining 2% fall to ZERO will come in the near term future, whether it takes 5 or 10 years for the dollar to reach oblivion. Remember that the final 2% is 100% from today!


The US, EU and Japan have now reached the stage when no one wants their debt. So sovereign debt of these nations is no longer a question of “passing the parcel” but keeping the parcel. When every third party holder of these debts is a seller, who will buy? These three countries will end up holding their own debt. Japan already holds over 50% of its debt. Before the Western Ponzi scheme comes to an end, these three nations will virtually hold 100% of their own debt. At that point, the bonds will be worthless and interest rates will have reached infinity. Not a pretty prospect!

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Why Just Stop Oil is a pretty dumb statement.

Are You Really Against Fossil Fuels? Read This Before You Answer (RCE)

It is easy for anyone to say that they are against fossil fuels. Opposition to coal, oil and natural gas is fashionable and will prompt heads to nod and even hands to applaud in most places. But are people aware of the extent to which their lives are dependent on fossil fuels? Do they know that more than 90 percent of things used in their everyday lives are derived from fossil fuels? From your toothbrush to your car tire, a majority of the things you use today has been made possible because of fossil fuels. Shoes, refrigerators, washing machines, coffee makers, furniture, pens, eating utensils, eyeglasses, commodes, medical gear, camping equipment, and the list goes on and on.


Consider the computer or the phone from which you are reading this article. They are made of glass, metal, plastic, lithium and silicon – all of which require fossil fuels to mine, process or manufacture. While some are chemical derivatives of fossil fuels, all depend one way or another on their combustion for electricity generation, process heat or transportation. You wouldn’t have the iPhone, Android or MacBook without fossil fuels. Imagine the irony of typing out “end oil” from a phone that is made from fossil fuels! Or supporting climate activism by relaying video that was recorded with a camera made from fossil fuels! Of course, this sort of irony is displayed regularly and missed constantly. In short, the most fundamental necessities – and the most cherished conveniences – of daily life are products dependent on the use of fossil fuels.

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“Twenty-four states have enacted bans or restrictions on private funding of local election offices. But the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence has been working to ingratiate itself with local offices.“

Zuckerberg-Funded “Non-Profit” Gears Up for 2024 Elections (GP)

The Zuckerberg-funded group the Center for Tech and Civic Life that gave out $420 million to election offices in 2020 is doing the same in 2024. Through the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, they are funneling $80 million in election grants to local election offices. A report from election integrity watchdogs Honest Elections Project, John Locke Foundation, and Florida’s Foundation for Government Accountability issued a warned that the Alliance “is focused on systematically reshaping election offices and pushing progressive voting policies.”

Epoch Times reported: Election integrity watchdogs, including Virginia-based Honest Elections Project (HEP), North Carolina’s John Locke Foundation, and Florida’s Foundation for Government Accountability, are again raising the alarm about CTCL—this time, a year before the election rather than months after—claiming its Alliance is a front for boosting Democratic turnout, especially in Democratic strongholds within swing states. “No matter what it claims to be, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is nothing more than a dark money-fueled scheme to push liberal voting policies and influence election administration in key states,” HEP Executive Director Jason Snead told The Epoch Times.

“The work of the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is ‘Zuck Bucks 2.0,’” John Locke Foundation Civitas Center for Public Integrity Director Dr. Andy Jackson said, claiming in a statement that the Alliance is a vehicle “for the private funding of elections by left-wing donors.” Snead and Jackson collaborated in producing a Jan. 19 Zuck Bucks 2.0 report that claims CTCL’s Alliance “is focused on systematically reshaping election offices and pushing progressive voting policies,” adding, “How state and local governments respond will have ramifications for free and fair elections in 2024 and beyond.” An investigation from House Republicans found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Twenty-four states have banned or restricted private funding for local election offices.

Fox News reported:” CTCL issued about $400 million in grants during the 2020 election to fund a variety of work and equipment. That included ballot drop boxes, voting equipment, additional manpower, protective gear for poll workers and public education campaigns on new voting methods, among other expenses.… House Republicans found in an investigation that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Instead, the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence appears to be another effort by Zuckerberg and CTCL to influence local election operations, according to critics. “The work of the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is Zuck Bucks 2.0, which is why they avoided states that have instituted bans on the private funding of election administration,” Andy Jackson, director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity, said in a statement. Twenty-four states have enacted bans or restrictions on private funding of local election offices. But the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence has been working to ingratiate itself with local offices.“ The GOP needs to stop this!

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“He invested $55 million in BioNTech back in 2019 and it’s now worth north of $550 million.

Bill Gates Trashes Effectiveness of COVID Vaccines (CHD)

Bill Gates, long recognized as one of the world’s foremost proponents of vaccines, raised some eyebrows at a recent talk in Australia when he admitted there are “problems” with current COVID-19 vaccines. Speaking at Australia’s Lowy Institute as part of a talk entitled “Preparing for Global Challenges: In Conversation with Bill Gates,” the Microsoft founder made the following admission: “We also need to fix the three problems of [COVID-19] vaccines. The current vaccines are not infection-blocking. They’re not broad, so when new variants come up you lose protection, and they have very short duration, particularly in the people who matter, which are old people.” Such statements came as a surprise to some in light of Gates’ longstanding support of — and investments in — vaccine manufacturers and organizations promoting global vaccination.

However, they were the latest in a string of developments in recent weeks that have increasingly called the COVID-19 vaccines, in particular, into question. Several analysts and commentators were critical of Gates — but not due to disagreement with the statements he made in Australia. Instead, they argued that he had previously heavily invested in mRNA vaccines at the same time he encouraged a global COVID-19 vaccination campaign and supported mandatory vaccination. Speaking Jan. 25 on The Hill TV’s “Rising,” co-hosts Briahna Joy Gray and Robby Soave addressed Gates’ statements. Soave initially agreed at face value with Gates’ criticism of current mRNA vaccines, saying: “He really nails it on the issues that we’re having: the short duration of protection, not a significant discernable impact on the transmission of cases … not a massive benefit for a lot of otherwise healthy and younger people.”

However, Soave — who on Jan. 19 revealed “Facebook files” indicating the CDC significantly influenced content moderation and censorship on the platform pertaining to COVID-19 vaccines — then pointed out Gates’ prior investments that contributed to the development of mRNA vaccine technology. Soave said, “Bill Gates was a major proponent of mRNA technology … he was an investor in BioNTech, which developed the mRNA vaccine for Pfizer.” “We were just doing some digging,” continued Soave, “[and] we saw that he sold a lot of those shares at … how much profit was that?” “10x,” replied Gray. “He invested $55 million in BioNTech back in 2019 and it’s now worth north of $550 million. He sold some stock … at the end of last year, I believe it was, with the share price over $300, which represented a huge gain for him over when he invested.”

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“No evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops.” “Hardly evidence of a massive influence campaign.”

Meet Hamilton 68, the New King of Media Fraud (Matt Taibbi)

If one goes by volume alone, this oft-cited neoliberal think-tank that spawned hundreds of fraudulent headlines and TV news segments may go down as the single greatest case of media fabulism in American history. Virtually every major news organization in America is implicated, including NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post. Mother Jones alone did at least 14 stories pegged to the group’s “research.” Even fact-checking sites like Politifact and Snopes cited Hamilton 68 as a source. Hamilton 68 was and is a computerized “dashboard” designed to be used by reporters and academics to measure “Russian disinformation.” It was the brainchild of former FBI agent (and current MSNBC “disinformation expert”) Clint Watts, and backed by the German Marshall Fund and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan think-tank. The latter’s advisory panel includes former acting CIA chief Michael Morell, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, former Hillary for America chair John Podesta, and onetime Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

The Twitter Files expose Hamilton 68 as a sham: The secret ingredient in Hamilton 68’s analytic method was a list of 644 accounts supposedly linked “to Russian influence activities online.” It was hidden from the public, but Twitter was in a unique position to recreate Hamilton’s sample by analyzing its Application Program Interface (API) requests, which is how they first “reverse-engineered” Hamilton’s list in late 2017. The company was concerned enough about the proliferation of news stories linked to Hamilton 68 that it also ordered a forensic analysis. Note the second page below lists many of the different types of shadow-banning techniques that existed at Twitter even in 2017, buttressing the “Twitter’s Secret Blacklist” thread by Bari Weiss last month. Here you see categories ranging from “Trends Blacklist” to “Search Blacklist” to “NSFW High Precision.” Twitter was checking to see how many of Hamilton’s accounts were spammy, phony, or bot-like. Note that out of 644 accounts, just 36 were registered in Russia, and many of those were associated with RT.

Examining further, Twitter execs were shocked. The accounts Hamilton 68 claimed were linked to “Russian influence activities online” were not only overwhelmingly English-language (86%), but mostly “legitimate people,” largely in the U.S., Canada, and Britain. Grasping right away that Twitter might be implicated in a moral outrage, they wrote that these account-holders “need to know they’ve been unilaterally labeled Russian stooges without evidence or recourse.” Other comments in internal company emails: “These accounts are neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots.” “No evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops.” “Hardly evidence of a massive influence campaign.”

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“I genuinely wanted to hear an innocent explanation if they had one. They still said nothing. Only after the story blew up online yesterday did they put out an explanation.”

Responding to Hamilton 68 (Matt Taibbi)

Days before yesterday’s Twitter Files report about Hamilton 68, I wrote the public relations officers of both of the sites’ parent organizations, the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) and the German Marshall Fund (GMF). I told them I was in possession of the Hamilton 68 list, which purported to track “Russian influence activities.” I said I had a slew of internal Twitter documents that among other things identified their project as “bullshit.” Toward the end I added: Given the sheer quantity of news stories sourced to Hamilton 68, this has to go down as one of the great media frauds of all time. Unless you have an explanation for how and why hundreds of non-Russians like Dennis Michael Lynch, Patrick Hennigsen, Joe Lauria, and [I inserted the name of a San Diego school board member] came to be on this list, there’s no other conclusion.

I hope you will treat this matter with respect and answer this query. My story is going to identify not just people like Clint Watts but members of the ASD advisory board as party to this. The story eventually published, “Move Over, Jayson Blair: Meet Hamilton 68, The New King of Media Fraud,” was based on email assessments of Twitter executives like Yoel Roth and Nick Pickles, the forensic analysis Roth had done in 2017 and which was excerpted yesterday, and interviews with people on the list. These elements — especially the interviews — made for a pretty ironclad case that the much-ballyhooed Hamilton 68 “dashboard” was a sham, that took real opinions of real people and falsely declared them part of a “network” of “Russian influence activities.”

On the remote chance Hamilton 68 had inside information legitimizing the linking of Dennis Michael Lynch, David Horowitz, and @TrumpDyke to “Russian influence activities,” I not only reached out to Hamilton’s creators, but when they were quiet, threw a tantrum on Twitter, tagging every member of the ASD advisory board in an effort to hear from them pre-publication. I genuinely wanted to hear an innocent explanation if they had one. They still said nothing. Only after the story blew up online yesterday did they put out an explanation.

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Elon Mars
https://twitter.com/i/status/1619140353743015936

 

 

 

 

Musk landing

 

 


This 1974 photograph shows the freshly excavated pit with 2,000-year-old terracotta warriors still showing the original color scheme before the rapid deterioration that made them as we know them today

 

 

Mandarin duck

 

 


The sabertooth longhorn beetle is one of the largest beetles reaching a length of up to 17.7 cm. Its larval stage can last up to 10 years, while its adult phase is likely to last no more than a few months

 

 

Odd couple
https://twitter.com/i/status/1619316157235986432

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 202022
 
 February 20, 2022  Posted by at 9:42 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  130 Responses »


Vincent van Gogh On the outskirts of Paris near Montmartre 1887

 

Geert Vanden Bossche: Why The COVID Vaccine Is A Bad Idea For Kids (Loesch)
Omicron A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (Vanden Bossche)
Vaccinating Teens for COVID Is Literally ‘Heartbreaking’ (Setty)
More Attractive People Have Stronger Immune Systems, Study Says (SF)
Leaders of Freedom Convoy Charged With “Mischief” (CTH)
Alberta Premier Files Legal Challenge To End Trudeau’s Emergencies Act (ES)
U.S. ‘People’s Convoy’ Ready To Roll On Wednesday (JTN)
West Promised Not To Expand NATO – Der Spiegel (RT)
Does NATO Really Pose A Threat To Russia? (Diesen)
US Doubles Downs on Russian ‘Invasion’ Rhetoric (Lauria)
“Operation Cyclone: Ukraine Edition” – Is This The Real Plan? (O’Reilly)
The Washington Post: The Voice of the CIA (Paul Craig Roberts)
Ruling Against Trump Leaves More Questions Than Answers On Free Speech (Turley)
How Trains Abolished By Switzerland Are Now Back In Business In Greece (Bersi)
Zuckerberg’s Facebook Empire Collapsing (RT)
Why Canada Will Become a Dictatorship Under Trudeau (Dickin)

 

 

Jim Rickards @JamesGRickards
Brexit never had to happen except David Cameron called a referendum and lost. Freedom Convoys never had to happen except Trudeau and Fascist Freeland refused to listen. The coming general strike and supply chain collapse is on them. The elites sure are dumb.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1494832194573021186

 

 

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice asked self-custody wallet provider @nunchuk_io to disclose user information and freeze user’s bitcoin. This was the team’s response.

 

 

Bill Gates: Sadly

 

 

“By vaccinating children with this mRNA ‘vaccine’, you are actually suppressing their own robust immune system, making them vulnerable to other diseases.”

Geert Vanden Bossche: Why The COVID Vaccine Is A Bad Idea For Kids (Loesch)

Dana (@DLoesch / @DanaLoeschRadio) talks with Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche (@GVDBossche on Twitter, and @GVandenBossche on GETTR), who has a PHD in virology – Certified Expert in microbiology and infectious diseases – with a long standing career in human vaccinology, and Dr. Vanden Bossche talks about the fact that it isn’t even necessary to inject children with this mRNA ‘vaccine’, as the FDA and Dr. Fauci (along with the pharmaceutical companies) want to do. He has previously pointed out that this virus is an infection in children, like the flu – and not a disease. By vaccinating children with this mRNA ‘vaccine’, you are actually suppressing their own robust immune system, making them vulnerable to other diseases.


Dr. Vanden Bossche mentions that these vaccinations will not – and CANNOT – eliminate a virus, but that our own immune systems CAN. The worldwide government push to inject these people, is actually making people more vulnerable, and any mandate needs to stop immediately. Governments doing this, are actually forcing this virus to evolve and avoid elimination, which certainly keeps the virus going indefinitely.

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“..Omicron has the capacity to evolve into a much less benign variant..”

Omicron A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (Vanden Bossche)

Given the high and steadily increasing vaccine coverage rates in large parts of the world and the ongoing mass vaccination of children and continuation of booster campaigns, I am of the opinion that Omicron has the capacity to evolve into a much less benign variant, regardless of whether or not infection prevention measures are relaxed or lifted.

A coronavirus (CoV) can only replicate and mutate. The widely held belief that during the course of a pandemic viruses tend to become more infectious but less virulent is a myth—one kept alive by those who don’t understand the evolutionary dynamics of a pandemic. The latter are fully dependent upon the outcome of the interplay between the virus and the host immune system at a population level. Abiding by this ‘rule’ is the sole qualifier necessary to be an expert of viral pandemics. For several months I’ve been warning that continued mass vaccination and high vaccine coverage rates would prevent SARS-CoV-2 (SC-2) from generating sufficient herd immunity to control, let alone end, the current pandemic. The advent of Omicron hasn’t changed my mind, on the contrary!

Now that mass vaccination campaigns have quickly rendered the virus resistant to the adaptive immune response (cfr. Omicron), I am fearful that this may have a snowball effect. I’ve been postulating that the mechanism of innate immune adaptation to viral exposure (i.e., through a process of epigenetic changes referred to as ‘training’) is compromised in the vaccinated population and I am now predicting that the resulting burden of infectivity will cause massive population-level immune pressure on Omicron. In an attempt to overcome high immune pressure on Omicron’s infectiousness, natural selection of viral mutants that are capable of resisting both the acquired SC-2-specific and the CoV-reactive innate immune response in vaccinees is likely to occur.

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This post-vaccine reaction may represent an overly exuberant immune response..”

Vaccinating Teens for COVID Is Literally ‘Heartbreaking’ (Setty)

Pathologists who examined the autopsies of two teenage boys who died days after receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine concluded the vaccine caused the teens’ deaths. The three pathologists, two of whom are medical examiners, published their findings Feb. 14 in an early online release article, “Autopsy Histopathologic Cardiac Findings in Two Adolescents Following the Second COVID-19 Vaccine Dose,” in the Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The authors’ findings were conclusive. Two teenage boys were pronounced dead in their homes three and four days after receiving the second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 dose. There was no evidence of active or previous COVID-19 infection. The teens had negative toxicology screens (i.e. no drugs or poisons were present in their bodies).

These boys died from the vaccine. Histopathological examination of their cardiac tissue revealed an important new finding: Neither heart demonstrated evidence of typical myocarditis. Instead, the authors found evidence of microscopic changes consistent with a different form of heart injury called toxic cardiomyopathy. They wrote: “The myocardial injury seen in these post-vaccine hearts is different from typical myocarditis and has an appearance most closely resembling a catecholamine-mediated stress (toxic) cardiomyopathy.” [..] The pathologists determined there was a different mechanism of heart injury at play in these two boys, distinct from a purely infectious process that would result directly from a viral infection like COVID-19.

This is an important finding. There may be a way to distinguish cardiac injury resulting from a SARS-COV-2 infection from cardiac injury where the vaccine predisposes the patient to stress cardiomyopathy before contracting COVID-19. However, the authors are careful not to assume that cardiac injuries from COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines can always be sorted out under the microscope. They explain that stress cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome,” may also occur in a rare hyperinflammatory state that is known to occur in COVID-19 infection as well: “This post-vaccine reaction may represent an overly exuberant immune response and the myocardial injury is mediated by similar immune mechanisms as described with SARS-COV-2 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) cytokine storms.”

Yeadon

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“..men and women have very different ideas about what makes a face attractive and healthy..”

More Attractive People Have Stronger Immune Systems, Study Says (SF)

The beautiful people get all the breaks. A new study finds an interesting link between how attractive someone is and the strength of their immune system. A team at Texas Christian University found that when people had to rate a group of photos based on the attractiveness of each person’s face, they consistently rated individuals with stronger immune health as more attractive than other photos in the study. Although beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, researchers say there has been a historical link between what societies consider attractive and reproductive success. The TCU team theorized that, because certain evolutionary traits tie into more mating success, people who seem more attractive to others may also appear healthier to the opposite sex.

To test that theory, researchers gathered 159 men and women and photographed each one without makeup and while displaying a neutral expression on their face. Study authors then took blood samples from each person to measure their levels of white blood cells — which battle disease and infections. The team then brought in 492 other people to rate members of the opposite sex in these photos based on their attractiveness. The volunteers did not have any information on each person’s immune health and only had that one neutral photo to base their rating on. Results show people with stronger immune systems were rated as being more attractive by the 492 volunteers.

“The current research suggests that a relationship between facial attractiveness and immune function is likely to exist,” corresponding author Summer Mengelkoch and her team write in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Interestingly, the study finds men and women have very different ideas about what makes a face attractive and healthy. Researchers found that, on average, women rated men with higher levels of NK (natural killer) cells as more attractive. These cells play a key role in fighting off and killing bacteria. Men, on the other hand, found women with lower NK cell levels in their blood more attractive. Study authors believe the reason for this is women with lower NK levels generally have higher estrogen levels — a hormone important to sexual reproduction.

As for which features are likely to stand out and attract attention, researchers found a not-so-surprising list of qualities people look for in a pretty face. “Features such as clear skin, prominent cheekbones, bright eyes, and full, red lips have been deemed attractive throughout recorded human history,” the researchers write.

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“..y’all do realize we are talking about invoking the Emergency War Measures Act against people charged with mischief, right?“

Leaders of Freedom Convoy Charged With “Mischief” (CTH)

The need for control is a reaction to fear. What does the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fear so much that he invoked the first ever declaration of the Emergency War Measures Act? A group of middle class Canadians who challenged him. That’s it. That’s the sum total of the Trudeau justification. Need proof? Well, here’s the lead organizer of the Trucker rebellion, Tamara Lich, who triggered the declaration of a national emergency and invocation of the federal Emergency Act. What heinous crime against the state was she charged with? “Counseling to Commit the Offense of Mischief“. Think about it.

No, seriously, think about it. It is true that she may later be charged with removing mattress tags. However, for right now, the biggest domestic terrorist in the history of Canadian politics is currently charged with the same offense as if she stole the lids off the shampoo bottles at the hotel where the Liberal Party of Canada was holding their national convention. If the charge of “mischief” rings a bell for some of you, it’s likely because a very famous duo was previously charged with the same criminal offenses.

The Canadian Parliament is currently debating whether or not the members within government will support the use of the Emergency Act. The members of Parliament are spending hours waxing philosophically, with tremendous seriousness, about the need to support the same declaration that is used when Canada would decide to go to war with another country. And they are doing this because blue collar workers have infiltrated the capital city with a demand to remove COVID mandates. The crimes against the truckers are so serious, they require the invocation of the most massive weapon that can be deployed to remove the constitutional freedoms of Canadian citizens, in an effort to protect them from grave and serious harm stemming from… …. people charged with “MISCHIEF”.


It would be nice if someone, anyone, in the Canadian Parliament stood up and made this simple point. “Um, hey folks… ahem… I don’t mean to be all captain obvious and stuff… and I certainly do not want to deflate your sense of self-importance…. or the seriousness of the debate. However, that said, y’all do realize we are talking about invoking the Emergency War Measures Act against people charged with mischief, right?“

The cops don’t want to

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A bit half-ass. If the House votes on Monday/Tuesday to support Trudeau, what’s Kenney going to do? Or a judge?

Alberta Premier Files Legal Challenge To End Trudeau’s Emergencies Act (ES)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government are so disgusted by the federal Liberals’ imposition of the Emergencies Act to end the truckers’ blockade of downtown Ottawa that they will file a legal challenge in Federal Court in Ottawa early next week to end Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arbitrary and high-handed action. In an exclusive interview with Postmedia, Kenney said the use of Canada’s most powerful law was “unjustified in the circumstances,” an “overreach,” a violation of due process and “an intrusion into provincial jurisdiction.” As a consequence, lawyers representing the Alberta government will be asking judges not to overturn the act, but rather to suspend its use in the current situation.

The premier doesn’t want anyone to misunderstand his motives. “The situation in Ottawa is serious. Law and order has to be restored.” Protesters cannot be allowed to blockade the core of any Canadian city, much less our capital, Kenney explained, no matter what their cause. “But the Emergencies Act was designed to come into effect at the failure of the state,” at a time when it was possible our democratic institutions might fall. “However, there is no insurrection or coup,” Kenney said pointedly. “Police services already have all the powers they need through provincial authority. All the tools already exist” to clear the blockade and restore order, Kenney believes. The feds, for instance, don’t need the power to “seize and freeze” people’s bank accounts and other assets.

The banking provisions of the Emergencies Act were, according to Kenney, “designed to interrupt terrorism financing,” to choke off the money supply of radical cells plotting attacks within Canada. Now, according to the premier, the Trudeau government is instead using those provisions to harass “people whose opinions they disagree with.” Federal Justice Minister David Lametti even hinted on CTV that the feds are even considering having financial institutions freeze the accounts of anyone who used a credit card to donate a few dollars to the convoy.Kenney thinks if the Trudeau-ites are allowed to get away with freezing the finances of their political opponents, even if only for a few days “it sets a very dangerous precedent.” “Let’s stick to the basics here — the basics of law enforcement.”

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“..the exact location will be announced closer to the start of the event because of the “paramount” concern for operational security.”

U.S. ‘People’s Convoy’ Ready To Roll On Wednesday (JTN)

The “People’s Convoy,” a U.S. trucker protest against COVID-19 mandates, is set to begin on Wednesday in California. Inspired by the Canadian truckers’ “Freedom Convoy,” the People’s Convoy is expecting about 1,000 trucks to start the journey east, with more joining along the way. “We’re going to be starting the convoy out of Barstow, California,” Maureen Steele, the national organizer of the movement, told Newsmax, explaining that the exact location will be announced closer to the start of the event because of the “paramount” concern for operational security. “The Canadian convoy was pretty organic when it happened,” Steele said. “Ours, they had a month’s notice, so our concern is disruptive groups coming in. We’re trying to just prepare for counter-protests and to take safety precautions for that.”

Truckers can register with their license plates on the organizers’ website “so we know exactly who is in the convoy and to make sure that it’s going to be a safe ride,” she explained. According to the website, the organization is calling for the “declaration of a national emergency concerning the COVID-19 pandemic be lifted immediately and our cherished Constitution reign supreme.” The website has its own donation link instead of using GoFundMe or other crowdfunding services. Steele clarified that donations for the convoy will be held with a private bank to prevent them from being frozen by governmental opposition. “So our funds should not be able to be frozen or hijacked, and all the money is being held by this third-party firm, so we can assure that it absolutely gets to the truckers and it’s clean,” she said.

“That’s why it took so long. We have such an infrastructure built for this operation. It took us a while before we could come out.” The towns where the convoy plans to stop will be announced about 24 hours prior to their arrival for precautionary purposes, Steele said, but she did confirm that they will stop in Arizona and Texas. A few trucks will be ahead of the convoy “just to check in with law enforcement in towns ahead of the convoy, that if we’re going to be marshaling there that evening, to make sure they’re prepared for a massive convoy to roll into town,” Steele said.

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Of course they did.

West Promised Not To Expand NATO – Der Spiegel (RT)

A newly discovered document from March 1991 shows US, UK, French, and German officials discussing a pledge made to Moscow that NATO would not expand to Poland and beyond. Its publication by the German magazine Der Spiegel on Friday comes as expansion of the US-led bloc has led to a military standoff in Eastern Europe. The minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting in Bonn between political directors of the foreign ministries of the US, UK, France, and Germany contain multiple references to “2+4” talks on German unification in which the Western officials made it “clear” to the Soviet Union that NATO would not push into territory east of Germany.

“We made it clear to the Soviet Union – in the 2+4 talks, as well as in other negotiations – that we do not intend to benefit from the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe,” the document quotes US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada Raymond Seitz. “NATO should not expand to the east, either officially or unofficially,” Seitz added. A British representative also mentions the existence of a “general agreement” that membership of NATO for eastern European countries is “unacceptable.” “We had made it clear during the 2+4 negotiations that we would not extend NATO beyond the Elbe [sic],” said West German diplomat Juergen Hrobog. “We could not therefore offer Poland and others membership in NATO.”

The minutes later clarified he was referring to the Oder River, the boundary between East Germany and Poland. Hrobog further noted that West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher had agreed with this position as well. The document was found in the UK National Archives by Joshua Shifrinson, a political science professor at Boston University in the US. It had been marked “Secret” but was declassified at some point. Shifrinson tweeted on Friday he was “honored” to work with Der Spiegel on the document showing that “Western diplomats believed they had indeed made a NATO non-enlargement pledge.”


Screenshot of the minutes of a March 6, 1991 meeting of US, UK, French and German diplomats discussing NATO and Eastern Europe © screenshot via Kommersant

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“The concept of escalation dominance refers to the ability to increase military pressure and possibly resort to limited use of force, based on the logic that the stakes can be continuously increased until the other side is compelled to capitulate.”

Does NATO Really Pose A Threat To Russia? (Diesen)

Russia has laid down its red lines, insisting that NATO expansion towards its borders poses an unacceptable challenge to its policy of so-called “indivisible security.” As the US-led military bloc insists it exists solely to defend its members, Moscow’s requests for mutual security assurances have revealed the two sides no longer even speak the same language. Western governments committed themselves to a new defensive doctrine in all the main pan-European security agreements signed in the 1990s. The principle of “indivisible security” was explicitly defined in these agreements as the “commitment not to pursue national security interests at the expense of others,” which reflected the larger objective of ending the dividing lines in Europe.

Although, Russia was weak in the 1990s and the West could ignore these security guarantees by expanding NATO. Russia has now recovered, established firm red lines, and has demanded security guarantees based on these existing pan-European security agreements. The US and NATO, however, insist that “indivisible security” is interpreted as the right to choose alliance membership freely. The creative re-interpretation of very specific agreements does not clarify how the expansion of Cold War military alliances would achieve the overarching objective of ending the Cold War legacy of dividing lines in Europe.

[..] not long ago, it was commonplace across the West to argue that President Trump could start a major war with another great power. More recently, US Senator Roger Wicker casually suggested that America could engage in a war with Russia over Ukraine, in which even the use of nuclear weapons should not be taken off the table. Evelyn Farkas, the former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia in the Obama administration, and former senior adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander in NATO, also penned an op-ed in which she argued that “The US Must Prepare for War Against Russia over Ukraine.”

Even if Washington would not follow the reckless advice of going to war with Russia, the growing US military presence along Russian borders can give the US escalation dominance. The concept of escalation dominance refers to the ability to increase military pressure and possibly resort to limited use of force, based on the logic that the stakes can be continuously increased until the other side is compelled to capitulate. With the knowledge that the US could defeat Russia in a war, the US could use its ability to escalate tensions to compel Russia to capitulate on strategically important issues.

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“..hundreds of millions of dollars in NATO lethal aid is being sent, supposedly for defense, but which Vershinin said could be intended instead for an offensive that could potentially set a trap for Russia.”

Yes. But Putin has seen this coming from miles away, too.

US Doubles Downs on Russian ‘Invasion’ Rhetoric (Lauria)

The U.S. began in November to portray the Russian troop deployment as an invasion force and has since worked its message into a crescendo of daily warnings of an imminent attack. In Spring 2021, Russia made a similar deployment near the Ukraine border and yet there were no Washington cries of invasion then. So what changed? This time the Russian troop movement coincided with Moscow presenting draft treaty proposals to the U.S. and NATO drawing a deep redline after decades of objecting to the Western military alliance moving ever closer to Russia, a country that was invaded by and defeated the largest European powers of the 19th and 20th centuries. The U.S. reacted to these bold proposals by changing the subject. They moved from the defensive to offense with a supreme distraction: the maniacal mantra of “the Russians are coming.”

NATO routinely carries out military deployments and exercises near Russia’s borders. Moscow never screams “invasion” when U.S. war planes practice cruise missile strikes at the Russian frontier. Instead Russia presented proposals that would see: • NATO roll back forward troop deployments from former Warsaw Pact states, now NATO members; • NATO would not admit Ukraine and Georgia as members and • The U.S. would remove long-range missiles in Romania and Poland and not deploy new ones in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO have so far rejected the Russian draft treaties out of hand, except on the missile issue, which Washington is ready to negotiate (Joe Biden has promised not to deploy missiles in Ukraine.)

The New York Times could not, however, stop itself from mocking Russia on Thursday with a story, which it seems to have just discovered, headlined, “On the Edge of a Polish Forest, Where Some of Putin’s Darkest Fears Lurk: A U.S. missile facility in Poland is at the heart of an issue animating the Kremlin’s calculations over whether to go to war against Ukraine.” Instead of withdrawing forward NATO deployments from Eastern Europe, the U.S. delivered a slap in the face by sending more NATO troops to the east. This was supposed to be in response to the alleged Russian threat to Ukraine, where no U.S. or NATO troops are being deployed.

Instead hundreds of millions of dollars in NATO lethal aid is being sent, supposedly for defense, but which Vershinin said could be intended instead for an offensive that could potentially set a trap for Russia. In Blinken’s scenario, “The government will issue proclamations declaring that Russia must respond to defend Russian citizens or ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Next, the attack is planned to begin.” If Russian regular units enter Donbass to protect ethnic Russians and Russian citizens there from the offensive, that would be the invasion the U.S. is screaming about. It would unleash the “mother of all sanctions,” as a U.S. Senate sanctions bill against Russia has been called.

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“..tying Russia down for the foreseeable future in an Iraq-style military quagmire..”

“Operation Cyclone: Ukraine Edition” – Is This The Real Plan? (O’Reilly)

Ukraine has been under the rule of the successive US-EU friendly governments of Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky since the 2014 Euromaidan, a CIA and MI6-orchestrated regime change operation launched in response to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s November 2013 decision to suspend an EU trade deal in favour of pursuing closer ties with the Russian Federation. With the ongoing collapse of the global COVID-19 media narrative following the highly coincidental timing of last month’s World Economic Forum Davos Agenda virtual event, a hypothetical Russian invasion of Ukraine has now taken centre stage amongst corporate media outlets with a track record of promoting war and regime change in countries refusing to kowtow to the demands of the US-NATO hegemony.

A media narrative which has seen thousands of US and British troops being deployed to Eastern Europe as a result – a highly provocative action and one, that should even a minor miscalculation occur amidst the current tensions, could easily escalate into a full-blown military conflict between East and West. Recent comments by current Ukrainian President Zelensky however, in which he poured cold water over the idea of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as the recent supply of over 90 tonnes of weaponry to Kiev by the United States amidst the current tensions, and US President Joe Biden stating himself that Washington would not engage militarily with Russia, would suggest that although the possibility of the current crisis inadvertently spiralling into a global conflict between Russia and NATO remains, that that is not the current intention of the West.

Rather, a plan seemingly exists to provoke Russia into intervening in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine to protect the predominantly ethnic Russian inhabitants of the breakaway Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, before drawing Moscow into a wider guerrilla conflict in the rest of Ukraine, the second-largest country in Europe, with the intentions of tying Russia down for the foreseeable future in an Iraq-style military quagmire.

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“If I were Putin and I wanted Ukraine, I would just take it. I would say, you Americans took Iraq and Libya. The Israelis stole Palestine. I’m taking Ukraine.”

The Washington Post: The Voice of the CIA (Paul Craig Roberts)

The Washington Post has always been a CIA asset. The CIA used the Washington Post to orchestrate the Watergate narrative used to drive President Nixon out of office. The CIA wanted Nixon gone, because Nixon was threatening the military/security complex’s budget and power by making arms control agreements with the Soviets and by opening to China. The CIA was afraid to assassinate Nixon because of the suspicion it was under for assassinating President Kennedy and Senator Kennedy. So the CIA used the Washington Post to assassinate Nixon politically. The entire history of the Washington Post is one of fake news. The latest fake news from the disinformation sheet claims that the Russian troop pullback is a “deliberate ruse to mislead the United States and other world powers” about Russia’s planned invasion of Ukraine. “Anonymous US intelligence sources” (the CIA) are cited as the source.

First of all, the Russian troops were part of an exercise, not an invasion plan. But push this fact aside and ask yourself what is the point of Russia concealing its plans? If Russia wants to invade Ukraine, no one on earth can do anything whatsoever about it. So why hide it? Indeed, with satellites overhead a force concentrated for invasion cannot be hidden. The presstitute who wrote the story and the CIA that dictated it are thinking in WW II terms when modern surveillance capabilities did not exist. Ask yourself also why Russia needs to create a false flag attack in order to justify invading Ukraine. If Russia wants Ukraine, Russia has plenty of up front reasons.

One is to prevent Ukraine from being a NATO member and hosting US missile bases on Russia’s border. Another is that Ukraine is part of Russia and had been for 300 years until the Americans broke it off from Russia when Russia was to weak to do anything about it. Another reason is that Ukraine has violated the Minsk Agreement and continues to attack the Russian population in the Donbass region. In actual fact, Russia doesn’t need any excuse, because no one can stop them. Also ask yourself what is the point of an excuse. No matter how good it is, Washington and NATO would not believe it. The excuse would do no good and serve no purpose. In fact an excuse would be worse than no excuse, because the excuse would simply result in the endless refutation of the excuse. If I were Putin and I wanted Ukraine, I would just take it. I would say, you Americans took Iraq and Libya. The Israelis stole Palestine. I’m taking Ukraine.

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“Judge Mehta’s opinion seems to reinforce the view that Trump’s speech was protected, too.”

Ruling Against Trump Leaves More Questions Than Answers On Free Speech (Turley)

A “one-of-a-kind case.” Judge Amit Mehta’s description of the litigation against four principal speakers at the Jan. 6 Trump rally may have been as much a prayer as a portrayal. As famed Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Hard cases make bad law” — and the litigation against President Trump and his associates is a hard case that just proved Holmes right. In consolidated cases brought by Democratic members of Congress and Capitol Police officers, Judge Mehta ruled on motions to dismiss by the former president, his son Donald Jr., former Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), as well as several extremist groups like the Oath Keepers. The judge dismissed the claims of a violent conspiracy against Trump Jr. and Giuliani, and he invited Brooks to file a motion to dismiss on the same grounds. He rejected arguments that their speeches at the rally caused the subsequent rioting in the Capitol.

Yet, while admitting that the case raised difficult constitutional questions, he declined to dismiss the claim against Trump. The ruling will now allow a long-awaited appeal on core constitutional questions, including the protections for inflammatory speech. Most analysts expected that groups like the Oath Keepers would likely remain in the lawsuit, given their active role in the rioting and the recent charges of seditious conspiracy filed against them. The most controversial parties were the speakers at the rally near the White House before the riot. The judge’s 112-page opinion makes easy work of dismissing the claims against the other speakers. These speeches were reckless but constitutionally protected. Giuliani’s declaration — “Let’s have trial by combat” — has been cited by some critics as a clear incitement to an insurrection, but the judge found such arguments were implausible and that Giuliani’s words “were not likely” to cause a riot.

He also found that Trump Jr.’s comments on the election were “protected speech,” and he rejected claims that Brooks urging Trump’s supporters to “start taking names and kicking ass” could be the basis for liability. I previously wrote that the claims against these four Jan. 6 speakers might find “a sympathetic trial judge” but that “they will likely fail on appeal, even if they survive the trial level litigation.” All but one of those claims are now dismissed on the trial level. Moreover, Judge Mehta’s opinion seems to reinforce the view that Trump’s speech was protected, too. The judge could well be reversed on the threshold question of immunity, raised by Trump, that presidents cannot be sued for speaking on matters of public interest. Mehta was honest in saying that “this is not an easy issue” and that “the alleged facts of this case are without precedent.”

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The EU forced Greece to sell its national rail operator for €45 million. And pay the foreign buyer €50 million a year.

How Trains Abolished By Switzerland Are Now Back In Business In Greece (Bersi)

Delays, breakdowns, cancellations… For years, ETR 470 trains were the biggest headache of the Swiss railways. In the end, the Swiss sent them for scrap. But the Italian railways — which has been running all Greek passenger trains since 2017 — presented the very same trains as state-of-the-art. “Stay away from these trains,” say executives who know them first hand. So why is this train — that has repeatedly put passengers in danger in the past — getting a new lease of life? Twenty years ago, the Swiss press dubbed the ETR 470 train — serving the Milan-Switzerland route — ‘Pannenzug’, meaning ‘breakdown train’. Meanwhile, the website that documented its problems was named CessoAlpino, meaning (in elegant translation) ‘Alpine toilet’.

Two former officials familiar with this train, who were contacted by Investigate Europe and Reporters United, find it hard to believe that the five remaining ETR 470s not sent to the scrapyard are now being touted as the future of the Athens-Thessaloniki rail link — the most important route in the Mediterranean country. “The advice from Switzerland: hands off these trains,” says Walter Finkbohner, former secretary of the board of directors of Cisalpino AG, the subsidiary of Italian and Swiss railways that bought the ETR 470s from the manufacturer, Fiat Ferroviaria in the 1990s. “Buy proven trains or new trains. There is nothing for free in life,” he adds. But Greece is not in a position to accept such recommendations, nor to choose which rolling stock circulates on its tracks, since its railways were fully privatised five years ago, as required by its creditors.

The Italian state company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FSI) bought 100% of TRAINOSE, the Greek rail operator, for a mere €45 million. The privatisation contract remains secret, but people familiar with its terms, such as the current vice-minister for infrastructure and transport, Giorgos Karayannis, dub it “colonial”. This is unusually strong language from a member of a conservative government. The Greek transport ministry has agreed to subsidise the Italian company to the tune of €50 million a year to run certain routes, as outlined in a Public Service Obligations (PSO) contract.

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“The $240 billion loss in market capitalization was the largest one-day loss in US corporate history.”

Zuckerberg’s Facebook Empire Collapsing (RT)

Once the world’s sixth largest firm with a valuation of over $1 trillion, Facebook’s parent company Meta finished Thursday’s trading with a value of $565 billion. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the social media giant has tumbled out of the world’s 10 largest companies by market value, hammered by its worst monthly stock decline ever.

The stock rout has placed Mark Zuckerberg’s company in 11th place behind Chinese Tencent Holdings. Chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) holds the ninth spot. The list of the world’s most-valuable companies, ranked by market capitalization, includes Apple, Microsoft, Aramco, Alphabet, Amazon, Tesla, Berkshire Hathaway, and Nvidia. Data shows that the value wiped out by the selloff in Meta’s shares exceeds the market caps of all but eight companies in the S&P 500 Index. Meta’s share price is down about 40% year-to-date after the company reported two weeks ago that its social media platform Facebook lost about one million users from the third quarter to the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s the first such decline for the company in its 18-year history.

Meta’s stock plummeted 26.4% on February 3 after the company released its weaker-than-expected outlook. The $240 billion loss in market capitalization was the largest one-day loss in US corporate history. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal net worth is down more than $46 billion from the beginning of the year, he’s currently worth $78.8 billion.

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Originally published in the Prince Arthur Herald.
12/12/2014 12:59pm EST | Updated February 11, 2015

Why Canada Will Become a Dictatorship Under Trudeau (Dickin)

It’s becoming clearer as the days of Trudeau’s Liberals wear on: if elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau would turn Canada into a dictatorship. This is the man who admitted he “admires China’s basic dictatorship.” It wasn’t just a sarcastic comment – he seriously said that he admires the dictatorship because they can get things done quickly. And it’s becoming clearer that Trudeau not only admires the dictatorship — he runs the Liberal Party like one too. How else can one explain the police-enforced acclamation of Andrew Leslie as the Liberal candidate for Orleans? Even with hundreds of Liberals attending the meeting to show their support for another candidate (and former Trudeau leadership rival), it was clear from the beginning that Leslie was Trudeau’s hand-picked favourite, and certainly wouldn’t be stopped by pesky processes like “democracy.”

Just the imagery of Trudeau’s chosen candidate being selected with police intervention is scary. It shows that Trudeau doesn’t just admire China’s dictatorship — he would practice one if he had the chance. The nomination in Orleans is only the latest rigged “open nomination.” Despite Trudeau’s promises to actually, you know, practice democracy, at least a half dozen Liberal nominations have been rigged or tampered with through the direct intervention of Trudeau’s office: mysteriously disqualifying candidates, changing nomination dates, paperwork going “missing,” and using dirty “back-room” politics to ensure the leader’s candidate is chosen at any cost. But those are only Liberal candidates; surely Trudeau would loosen his grip on his caucus colleagues once they’ve been elected, wouldn’t he? Unfortunately, no.

The Liberal caucus randomly learned one morning early last year that their leader had come up with a new diktat: that all Liberals would be expected, no, required, to vote pro-choice. When Trudeau’s pathetic attempted defence (that they were “the party of the Charter,” obviously missing those small sections about freedom of conscience and religion) agitated more than a few Liberal MPs, he attempted to invent some weird “grandfathering” rule. But then he went back on that too. The result is that Liberal MPs who dare question the diktat of Trudeau are being punished. Those who dare disagree have already been punished, resigned, or indicated that they won’t seek another term in office — at least not under the iron fist of Trudeau.

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Very eloquent protester


https://twitter.com/i/status/1493408984270835714

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 292021
 
 October 29, 2021  Posted by at 9:05 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  80 Responses »


Paul Gauguin Haymaking in Brittany 1889

 

Rates Among ‘Fully Vaccinated’ are Now Higher Than ‘Not Vaccinated’ (TP)
85% of Covid-19 Deaths & 75% of Hospitalisations among Fully Vaccinated (TE)
A.30 Variant ‘Efficiently Evades’ Antibodies Induced By Pfizer & AstraZeneca (RT)
The Treason of the Healers (BI)
Fast-Selling COVID-19 Treatment Avigan Made Available in UAE
Molnupiravir: Covid Wonder Drug or Money-Making Scam? (OffG)
There Are No Arguments on the Other Side (eugyppius)
Zuckerberg Announces Fantasy World Where Facebook Is Not Horrible (Vice)

 

 

The richer, and the more vaccines, the higher the covid counts

 

 

 

 

Ladapo

https://twitter.com/i/status/1453534072521756678

 

 

“The “pandemic of the unvaccinated” phrase is officially dead ”

Rates Among ‘Fully Vaccinated’ are Now Higher Than ‘Not Vaccinated’ (TP)

The American people have been inundated with the phrase “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the White House has embarked on a relentless push for universal Covid ‘vaccination’ for months regardless of medical necessity. But new data out of the United Kingdom throws into question whether vaccination is a public health matter at all, given that the so-called vaccines’ ability to slow the spread is dubious at best. The United Kingdom’s data, although flawed, are still some of the most useful data in the world for investigating Covid rates and vaccination effects. The public health agency is direct about noting stunning developments in the case rates.

“The rate of a positive COVID-19 test is substantially lower in vaccinated individuals compared to unvaccinated individuals up to the age of 29,” Public Health England’s latest report notes. “In individuals aged greater than 30, the rate of a positive COVID-19 test is higher in vaccinated individuals compared to unvaccinated.” “This is likely to be due to a variety of reasons, including differences in the population of vaccinated and unvaccinated people as well as differences in testing patterns,” the report added. The adjusted data here show that there are more Covid-19 ‘cases’ per 100,000 in the vaccinated group than in the unvaccinated group for persons over age 30 years old.


Whether you want to blame the routine asymptomatic testing regime or the public health authorities ignoring natural immunity, these data can be interpreted as meaning that the vaccines are failing to appreciably slow the spread. Another thing it means: The “pandemic of the unvaccinated” phrase is officially dead.

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“But yet again the difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated gets much worse when it comes to deaths allegedly related to Covid-19.”

85% of Covid-19 Deaths & 75% of Hospitalisations among Fully Vaccinated (TE)

The latest official Public Health data shows that the fully vaccinated accounted for 85% of Covid-19 deaths in the past four weeks, whilst also accounting for 75% of Covid-19 hospitalisations and 61% of alleged Covid-19 cases from September 25th through to October 22nd. The Covid-19 Statistical Report is a weekly report on Covid-19 data published by Public Health Scotland, and the latest update published October 27th confirms that things are getting worse for the fully vaccinated population by the week whilst things improve for the not-vaccinated population. Table 23 of the report confirms that the majority of Covid-19 cases were among the fully vaccinated population in the week beginning October 16th 2021, accounting for 10,992 cases. Whilst the not-vaccinated population accounted for just over half the amount, recording 5,756 cases.

The totals number of cases by vaccination status as confirmed by the above table between September 25th and October 22nd 2021 were as follows –
Not-vaccinated population = 27,511 cases
Partly vaccinated population = 3,621 cases
Fully-vaccinated population = 38,474 cases
This means the vaccinated population accounted for 61% of Covid-19 cases between September 25th and October 22nd, whilst the not-vaccinated population accounted for 39%.

However, the difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated gets much worse when it comes to hospitalisations, with the fully vaccinated now accounting for the majority of Covid-19 hospitalisations since at least July 2021. The above table shows that the not-vaccinated over-60’s accounted for just 10% of Covid-19 hospitalisations between September 25th and October 22nd, whilst the vaccinated over 60’s accounted for 90%. A similar trend can also be seen in the 30 to 59 year-old age group with the not-vaccinated accounting for just 33% of Covid-19 hospitalisations, whilst the vaccinated accounted for 67%.

The totals number of hospitalisations by vaccination status for all age groups between September 25th and October 22nd 2021 as confirmed by table 24 of the PHS report were as follows –
Not-vaccinated population = 584
Partly vaccinated population = 81
Fully vaccinated population = 1672
This means the vaccinated population accounted for 75% of Covid-19 hospitalisations between September 25th and October 22nd 2021, whilst the not-vaccinated accounted for just 25%.

But yet again the difference between the vaccinated and unvaccinated gets much worse when it comes to deaths allegedly related to Covid-19.

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Have they developed anything at all specific for new variants?

A.30 Variant ‘Efficiently Evades’ Antibodies Induced By Pfizer & AstraZeneca (RT)

The A.30 variant of the coronavirus, detected in Angola and Sweden, is highly resistant to antibodies induced by the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, a new lab study has shown. A team from Germany looked at the rare A.30 variant that was first recorded in Tanzania and later detected in several patients in Angola and Sweden this spring. They compared the mutation to the Beta and Eta variants. Beta was chosen because it has “the highest level” of resistance to antibodies, the researchers said. According to the study published in the peer-reviewed journal Cellular & Molecular Immunology this week, the A.30 variant showed improved ability to enter most host cells, including kidney, liver, and lung cells.


The mutation “enters certain cell lines with increased efficiency and evades antibody-mediated neutralization,” the study found. “In summary, A.30 exhibits a cell line preference not observed for other viral variants and efficiently evades neutralization by antibodies elicited by ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 [AstraZeneca] or BNT162b2 [Pfizer] vaccination.” The variant also proved to be resistant to monoclonal drug Bamlanivimab, which is used for Covid-19 treatment, but was vulnerable to a cocktail of Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab. A.30 has so far not been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of interest or concern, due to its low prevalence.

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“..like the hierarchically-minded “good students” they were and are, they simply assume that someone somewhere up the chain of power has actually read things about these matters..”

The Treason of the Healers (BI)

There was, of course the long campaign of intellectual terror waged by Lysenko and his acolytes in the Soviet Union and the large-scale buy-in—much bigger than is still generally acknowledged or admitted—by German physicians of the genocidal program of “Nazi medicine” during the 30s and 40s. And here at home, we have more than enough disgusting cases of medical abuse (forced lobotomies, the Tuskegee Study, MK Ultra, Oxycontin to name just a few) to keep a forensic journalist or historian of medical crime busy for a lifetime. But when it comes to acknowledging this, things are much the way they are when it comes to acknowledging the serial crimes of the US empire.

It is—as Harold Pinter said in addressing this last matter in his Nobel speech—as if, “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” And because we have largely ignored these outrages against human dignity and the core ethos of healing—explaining them away the very few times when they are mentioned with the ever-useful “a few bad apples” meme—we find ourselves completely flat footed before the dangers of a new expert-led imposition of highly questionable public health policies, as well as a medical cadre that is more arrogant and less capable of personal and collective insight than one could have ever believed to be possible.

Emblematic of this new reality was a “dialogue” about Covid containment I recently had with a doctor friend who insisted in the inimitably declamatory fashion of his caste that: “We know what we have to do to control Covid. Just use masks and social distancing.” When I expressed skepticism about this and asked him whether he, like me, had read the available science on the effectiveness of those approaches to containment, he ignored me. And when I again asked if he had read the science he said: “You can cite all the trivia you want, but we know this is what works”. Indeed, I am more and more convinced that most practicing physicians have read precious few studies on the clinical treatment of Covid or the effectiveness of the public health measures that were invented out of whole cloth in March of 2020 to combat the spread of the disease.

Rather, like the hierarchically-minded “good students” they were and are, they simply assume that someone somewhere up the chain of power has actually read things about these matters, subjected them to critique, and decided they all made perfect sense. Indeed, never has Thomas Kuhn’s portrayal of the drone-like and paradigm-enslaved thinking of most working scientists looked more true. How else can we explain the fact that so many physicians have sat by silently while blatant anti-science and anti-logic nonsense is proffered to the public day after day by their media colleagues, and worse yet, have, in numerous cases, organized and led campaigns to silence the minority in their ranks who have the courage to challenge these absurd claims and the policies they make possible?

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“Avigan is the branded version of Favipiravir..”

Fast-Selling COVID-19 Treatment Avigan Made Available in UAE

AiPharma owned Global Response Aid (GRA) and Pharmax, both leading Dubai-based healthcare solutions providers, have partnered to supply the proven COVID-19 treatment, Avigan (Favipiravir), in the UAE. It allows patients with mild to moderate symptoms to be treated at home, easing the pressure on hospitals. Favipiravir was added to the list of approved therapeutics in the Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA) National Guidelines for Clinical Management and Treatment of COVID-19 in June 2020. The DHA recognises the drug as an effective treatment option for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Avigan is the branded version of Favipiravir, a broad-spectrum anti-viral in oral tablet form originally developed by FujiFilm Toyama Chemical and approved in Japan for pandemic influenza.

Avigan has received full marketing authorization or emergency use authorisation in a number of markets as a treatment for COVID-19 including Mexico, India, Indonesia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia, with many other countries buying the drug under compassionate use programmes including the United Kingdom,, Greece, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. Worldwide sales of Avigan have risen from $9m in Q1 to more than $150m in Q3 2021. It has and continues to be stockpiled by governments and in the past 12 months 80m tablets have been stockpiled GRA, which has joint marketing and distribution rights to Avigan globally outside Japan, China and Russia, is now dealing with unprecedented demand for the drug. Third-quarter 2021 orders have topped more than $150M and continue to grow.

Pharmax, one of the region’s leading manufacturers and distributors of high-quality medications, has partnered with GRA to lead Avigan regulatory, sales and distribution efforts in the UAE. Together, Pharmax and GRA delivered 1.2 million tablets to the Emirates this week for Abu Dhabi-based ADQ’s affiliate RAFED. Since delivery of this order, RAFED has awared a further tender for millions of tablets. “We have been working with the GRA and AiPharma teams to bring Avigan to the UAE to meet the patient and market demand for an effective COVID-19 treatment,” said Dr. Madhukar Tanna, CEO of Pharmax. “Bringing this drug to the UAE market has never been more vital given the current and potential future surges of COVID-19.”

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“This unapproved (yes, unapproved) drug costs $700 per course and the US government has just agreed to buy 1.7m courses. That’s a 1.2 BILLION dollar investment.”

Molnupiravir: Covid Wonder Drug or Money-Making Scam? (OffG)

What happens when you fail in your attempts to create a vaccine for “Covid-19” and then realize you’ve just missed out on a billion-dollar profit-making opportunity? You hurriedly develop a new drug, rush it through a clinical trial (which you yourself design to ensure good results), and then announce it to the world as the Covid cure we’ve all been waiting for, except no one’s been waiting for it because Covid isn’t any more deadly than the flu, and can be treated by easy-to-procure, inexpensive means (if it exists at all). But governments are too stupid to know that and you own most of the corrupt politicians making the decisions, so who cares? As long as they’re willing to invest in your new concoction, it doesn’t even have to be necessary, or safe, or effective, or ethical…

Yes, I’m talking about “Molnupiravir”, Merck’s latest poison being promoted as an effective treatment against covid-19 (hang on, I thought that’s what the vaccines were for?). This unapproved (yes, unapproved) drug costs $700 per course and the US government has just agreed to buy 1.7m courses. That’s a 1.2 BILLION dollar investment. The deal is part of the Biden administration’s pledge to “respond to the health needs of the public”, but, in actuality, it’s simply a money-siphoning operation, with the American public coming off second best. Molnupiravir is being sold to the public as the next big breakthrough in Covid-19 treatment off the back of what appears to be a SINGLE study, which was never even completed. Furthermore, the study was conducted by Merck (the makers of the drug), who chose not to disclose any adverse events. If that isn’t suspicious enough, the study was never published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Media press releases are apparently the new standard when it comes to evaluating medical treatments. After all, why would you wait for independent confirmation of your results or objective peer-review when you can get paid journalists, without a shred of medical expertise, to convince the public that they need your new drug?

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The experts are everywhere.

There Are No Arguments on the Other Side (eugyppius)

On 3 September, noted German virologist and Corona astrologer Christian Drosten made a series of curious remarks on his state radio podcast. He argued that “scientists should … start thinking about whether it’s … harmful to argue too strongly for [antigen] testing of the vaccinated,” musing that “the vaccinated should also see some advantages from being vaccinated in daily life.” He also expressed hope that the vaccines would in the end make Corona indistinguishable from the common cold, and went so far as to say that he personally hoped for multiple post-vaccination infections: “Immunity from infection,” he said, “is more robust in the long run. My goal as virologist Drosten, is … I want to have vaccine immunity and then, on top of that, I want to have my first infection, and my second, and my third at some point.”

Drosten is basically Germany’s Fauci. He devised the world’s first PCR test for SARS-2, and he has advocated tirelessly for all of the most noxious containment policies. Until the vaccines arrived, he loved nothing so much as mass testing, closed schools, and lockdowns. At one point he even gave a bizarre speech comparing himself to Friedrich Schiller, in which he claimed that this giant of German literature would’ve also worn a mask, and proposed we all live our lives as if we’ve just tested positive for Corona and everyone we meet is old and vulnerable. With a ponderous and philosophically illiterate allusion to Immanuel Kant, he christened this lunatic principle the “pandemic imperative.”

How had a man such as this come to openly wish for multiple SARS-2 infections before millions of admiring listeners? The answer is vaccine failure. Drosten spoke after steep case spikes in the United States and Israel had shown all the world that the SARS-2 vaccines do not stop transmission. These events had destroyed all arguments for Germany’s coercive vaccination policies, along with any lingering hopes that anybody, anywhere would eradicate SARS-2. It was up to Drosten to see how these awkward facts might be sown into the tapestry of virus hysteria that he and the rest of the propaganda apparatus had spent the last 18 months spinning.

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“..grab “tickets” to a “metaverse afterparty” in which NFTs are for sale..”

Zuckerberg Announces Fantasy World Where Facebook Is Not Horrible (Vice)

Moments before announcing Facebook is changing its name to “Meta” and detailing the company’s “metaverse” plans during a Facebook Connect presentation on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg said “some people will say this isn’t a time to focus on the future,” referring to the massive, ongoing scandal plaguing his company relating to the myriad ways Facebook has made the world worse. “I believe technology can make our lives better. The future will be built by those willing to stand up and say this is the future we want.” The future Zuckerberg went on to pitch was a delusional fever dream cribbed most obviously from dystopian science fiction and misleading or outright fabricated virtual reality product pitches from the last decade.

In the “metaverse—an “embodied” internet where we are, basically, inside the computer via a headset or other reality-modifying technology of some sort—rather than hang out with people in real life you could meet up with them as Casper-the-friendly-ghost-style holograms to do historically fun and stimulating activities such as attend concerts or play basketball. These presentations had the familiar vibe of an overly-ambitious video game reveal. In the concert example, one friend is present in reality while the other is not; the friend joins the concert inexplicably as a blue Force ghost and the pair grab “tickets” to a “metaverse afterparty” in which NFTs are for sale. This theme continued throughout as people wandered seamlessly into virtual fantasy worlds over and over, and the presentation lacked any sense of what this so-called metaverse would look like in practice.

It was flagrantly abstract, even metaphorical, showing more the dream of the metaverse than anything resembling reality. We’re told that two real people, filmed with real cameras on real couches, are in a “digital space.” When Zuckerberg reveals that Facebook is working on augmented reality glasses that could make any of this even a remote possibility, it doesn’t show any actual glasses, only “simulated footage” of augmented reality from a first-person perspective. “We have to fit hologram displays, projectors, batteries, radios, custom silicon chips, cameras, speakers, sensors to map the world around you, and more, into glasses that are five millimeters thick,” Zuckerberg says.

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Oct 152021
 


Paul Gauguin Christ in the garden of olives 1889

 

For the Right to Try (Hope)
Deaths Following Vaccination in Taiwan Exceed COVID Death Total (BA)
Go Ahead, Keep Being Stupid (Denninger)
FDA Panel Recommends Half-dose Boosters For Moderna Vaccine (JT)
Navy Announces Plans To Expel Those Refusing Vaccine, Revoke Benefits (ZH)
Workers At Los Alamos Nuclear Lab Sue Over Vaccine Mandate (JTN)
The 2020 Election Wasn’t Stolen, It Was Bought By Mark Zuckerberg (Fed.)
Blackwell: Republicans Should Have Poll Workers At Every Precinct In 2022 (JTN)
#EmptyShelvesJoe Hits Number 1 Trend On Twitter (PM)
Joe Biden Could Get Drawn Into The FBI Probe Into His Son Hunter (Fox)
Americans’ Heating Bills To Soar Up To 50% This Winter (ZH)

 

 

Hessen becomes the first federal state in Germany to allow supermarkets to bar unvaccinated persons from entry (BILD).

 

 

Highly effective

 

 

Vermont is the most vaccinated US state

 

 

 

 

Murder by judge.

For the Right to Try (Hope)

“A Fairfield Township man with COVID-19 whose wife sued to force West Chester Hospital to treat him with Ivermectin has died, according to his attorney. Jeffrey Smith died Saturday, September 25, said his attorney, Jonathan Davidson of Hamilton. Smith, 51, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in July and was in the intensive care unit at West Chester Hospital.” According to a news report published October 4, 2021, “Jeffrey Smith tested positive for COVID-19 July 9, was hospitalized, and was admitted to the intensive care unit July 15. He was put on the hospital’s COVID-19 protocol of the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, along with plasma and steroids. On July 27, after a period of relative stability, Jeffrey Smith’s condition began to decline. He was sedated and intubated, and placed on a ventilator on August 1.

Smith was in a medically-induced coma on August 20, according to an affidavit his wife filed with her lawsuit. ‘My husband is on death’s doorstep; he has no other options,’ she wrote, adding at another point that her husband’s chances of survival had dropped to less than 30%.” In August, Judge Gregory Howard ordered the hospital, West Chester, to honor the family’s request to treat him with Ivermectin. Judge Howard approved Dr. Fred Wagshul’s prescription of Ivermectin 30 mg daily for three weeks. Dr. Wagshul is a renowned Pulmonary Specialist who reports having treated over 2,000 patients with Ivermectin with 100% success. He heads the Lung Center of America in Dayton, Ohio.

In addition, he is a founding member of the World-Renowned Front-Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a non-profit group of highly-published physicians dedicated to saving lives. By the grace of God and Judge Howard, Jeffrey Smith won the court order to receive the life-saving Ivermectin for which attorney Ralph Lorigo and his team had fought at his wife’s plea. It appeared that Jeffrey Smith would be another in the string of Lorigo’s cases that received court-ordered Ivermectin and went on to enjoy a full recovery. Lorigo’s ICU cases who win court-ordered Ivermectin have more than a 90% recovery rate, unlike their chances with standard care, which is well below 50%, and in this case, less than 30%.

[..] Over thirteen days, Smith faithfully got the Ivermectin, and began to improve, said Dr. Wagshul. It looked like Ralph Lorigo had worked another miracle. And then the unthinkable occurred. A new judge ordered the Ivermectin stopped against the wishes of his wife, his family, and Dr. Wagshul. And soon after that, 51-year-old Jeffrey Smith’s life ended. Judge Michael Oster reversed the ruling before Smith could receive the entire three weeks of court-ordered Ivermectin. As a result, he only received 13 doses out of the 21 mandated by the previous order. According to Ralph Lorigo, lead attorney, “they were planning to begin weaning off the ventilator.”

Read more …

Taiwan was doing fine. And then the vaccines came.

Deaths Following Vaccination in Taiwan Exceed COVID Death Total (BA)

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, few nations have been lauded as much for their management of the disease as Taiwan has. Since the first cases of COVID-19 in the country were reported in February 2020, only 16,313 infections and 846 deaths have been recorded. Despite how successfully the nation had managed the outbreak, it still enrolled itself in the World Health Organization-led COVAX exchange program and began its first wave of vaccinations on March 22, 2021. While the nation hadn’t had even a dozen deaths attributed to COVID-19 by the time the first vaccine was administered, 836 of the 846 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred since the vaccination program began. In an even more dubious display concerning the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines administered in Taiwan, the nation’s Central Epidemic Command Center (“CECC”) has stated that 850 deaths have been reported as adverse events following vaccinations. That total eclipses the number of fatalities attributed to the virus itself.


Taiwan’s vaccination campaign began much later than many other nations, a lag which many blame on political interference from China which was best illustrated by the island nation’s difficulties procuring orders of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines. Despite these hurdles, the country was able to first able to procure 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccines. Additional deliveries of 200,000 and 400,000 doses from the same manufacturer arrived the following two months before another 150,000 vaccines from Moderna were delivered in May 2021. It gave emergency approval to a domestically engineered alternative made by Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corporation with shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson soon following. As of October 11, 4.48 million Taiwanese, about 19% of the population, have been fully vaccinated and 13.7 million, or about 59% of population, have received on dose. The country has stated that it seeks to have 70% of its population fully vaccinated.

Yet, by the time Taiwan had approved those five vaccines for emergency use, an alarming trend began appearing. The highest seven-day average of new cases of COVID-19 observed in Taiwan before its first vaccines were deployed was just 3. By May 28, 2021, that seven-day average exploded to 597. As the rest of the world grappled with an increase in cases despite the global advancement of vaccination efforts, most those countries had record their all-time highs for new cases and deaths before any vaccines were available. One exception to that rule was seen in Israel, where the record for a highest single-day case count was recorded following the beginning of the nation’s campaign to administer third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in the wake of concerns of the delta variant’s impact of the efficacy of vaccines. Yet, even though Israel did surpass its previous one-day high, the amount by which it exceeded that paled in comparison to Taiwan. The seven-day average in Taiwan would not fall under 10 new cases again until September 2021. Since then, despite the increase in vaccinations, that national average has never managed to reach its pre-vaccination levels. The lowest seven-day average Taiwan has seen since it began vaccinating its citizens was recorded at 5 on September 5, 2021.

Read more …

“If your particular “circle of friends and acquaintances” hasn’t seen a spike of severe injuries, disability and mortality yet — I’ll make a prediction: It will.”

Go Ahead, Keep Being Stupid (Denninger)

Two days of FDA murderfest are on deck with the agenda items being Moderna and J&J “booster” shots. As with the Fraudzer jabs there will be no data deck submitted, no side effect profile, no disclosure of the data the manufacturers have that is not in VAERS, no reconciliation of the VAERS data with clinical experience and zero accountability for any of the people already wounded, including those mortally wounded who don’t know it yet all the way up to those already dead. The screamfest about how Covid-19 infection produces “worse” myocarditis and other cardiac complications than the vaccines will, of course, be maintained. Never mind the clinical study data that says that’s a lie:

“To analyse the impact of COVID-19 pandemics on CVD outcomes in Belo Horizonte (BH), the 6th greater capital city in Brazil, including: mortality, mortality at home, hospitalizations, intensive care unit utilization, and in-hospital mortality; and the differential effect according to sex, age range, social vulnerability, and pandemics phase.” Oh, you mean someone’s done the work? Why yes, yes they have. Oh look, we have a formal study here in Brazil. They have fat people, thin people, old people, young people, you know, humans. And like everywhere else they get cardiovascular disease. Like everywhere else they also have gotten hammered with Covid-19; indeed, they’ve been hammered worse than many other places, largely because they have an extraordinarily-stratified population and a large part of it has jack for medical care, routine or otherwise.

So if Covid-19 was killing people a few weeks to months later via heart attack it would show up in the numbers. This study ran through November of 2020, that is, all through the worst of the first wave, with months of time for those adverse impacts to show up and kill people. By the claims all those who got Covid-19 and recovered contributed massively to CVD deaths, right? The rate was much higher than it would otherwise be. Why, after you got Covid-19 you were much more likely to have a heart attack and die! THIS IS THE CLAIM SO WHAT WERE THE RESULTS? “Results: We found no changes in CVD mortality rates (RiR 1.01, 95%CI 0.96-1.06). However, CVD deaths occurred more at homes (RiR 1.32, 95%CI 1.20-1.46) than in hospitals (RiR 0.89, 95%CI 0.79-0.99), as a result of a substantial decline in hospitalization rates, even though proportional in-hospital deaths increased.”

Oh. What did they find related to this? That people avoided the hospital when in cardiac distress and thus the percentage of such deaths that occurred at home went up. But wait….. is this one indictment or two indictments in one study? You see, if going to the doctor or hospital saves your ass when in such a condition then the death rate from CVD should have gone up. That it was difficult to figure out why it went up is still an open question, but it should have increased, assuming said hospitals and doctors actually improved outcomes. But…. they don’t improve outcomes, do they? Need to read it again? Results: We found no changes in CVD mortality rates So said doctors and hospitals don’t help. That’s a bummer.

What’s a bigger bummer is that the jabs are killing and severely-injuring people, and not a few of them either. If your particular “circle of friends and acquaintances” hasn’t seen a spike of severe injuries, disability and mortality yet — I’ll make a prediction: It will.

Read more …

Protection for 6 weeks? Or do we have to subtract the first two here as well?

Oh, and your booster can be another vaccine too, I hear, so nobody will have any idea anymore about a specific vaccine’s efficacy.

FDA Panel Recommends Half-dose Boosters For Moderna Vaccine (JT)

The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel unanimously approved Thursday a booster shot of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for select groups of people. According to the Associated Press, the panel of outside experts recommended booster shots be administered to people over the age of 65, people ages 16 and older who have underlying conditions causing them to be at risk of severe illness, and those whose profession puts them at risk of contracting COVID. The final category of people includes frontline workers, such as supermarket employees, healthcare professionals, and first responders.


The panel recommended booster shots at half the dosage of the original shots, advising that they can be administered six months after a person was fully vaccinated. According to NPR, some experts pointed out that the FDA has set a precedent by granting emergency use to Pfizer for its booster shots. “I support this [emergency use authorization] because we’ve already approved it for Pfizer, and I don’t see how we can possibly not approve it for Moderna and not have most U.S. folks completely confused,” said Dr. Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa. “I think it’s a pragmatic issue.” The panel is expected to discuss booster shots for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine on Friday.

Read more …

We’re going to lose a lot of doctors, nurses, policemen, soldiers.

Navy Announces Plans To Expel Those Refusing Vaccine, Revoke Benefits (ZH)

At the end of August the Pentagon initially announced a mandate for military personnel across all armed service branches, ordering them to “immediately begin” Covid vaccination. A memo issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the time directed the Secretaries of the Military Departments to “immediately begin full vaccination of all members of the Armed Forces under DoD authority on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, including the National Guard, who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.” However, when the mandate went out it remained unclear precisely what repercussions military members would face if they don’t comply – this also as a number of lawsuits have since been filed against the DoD by troops arguing that the order violates individual medical freedom. On Thursday the US Navy made it clear to their personnel: receive the jab by November 28 for be expelled from the service.

“With Covid-19 vaccines now mandatory for all military members, the Navy has announced plans to start processing for discharge those who refuse vaccination without a pending or approved exemption,” the US Navy said in the statement. The Pentagon had so far remained ambiguous over whether servicemembers would actually be booted after the mandate cut-off date. With Thursday’s Navy announcement, other branches are expected to soon follow suit. The AFP notes that “The navy said that 98 percent of its 350,000 active duty members had begun or completed the vaccination process.” The rate among all branches combined is about equal – or just under this, but Pentagon officials worry about lagging vaccination rates in the reserves, given recent reports indicate just 80% of the reserves have had at least one dose.

The AFP report underscores that if official Pentagon policy becomes to expel troops across the board for refusing the shot, this could create a significant problem for US defense readiness, given it would inevitably involve a mass exit of troops. “If all the services take the same hard line that the navy is taking, it risks losing as many as 46,000 troops, though presumably more will accept vaccinations before the deadline,” the report underscores. What remains is the question of the terms under which they would be discharged at the end of November. The Navy said in the Thursday announcement those kicked out for not taking the vaccine “will receive no lower than a general discharge under honorable conditions.” However, there could be penalties like being forced to pay back certain training and education costs – or more significantly the loss of post military service benefits, as the official Navy guidance spells out: “This type of discharge could result in the loss of some veterans’ benefits.”

Read more …

“Workers at the lab face potential termination if they are unable to provide proof of vaccination by Friday.”

Workers At Los Alamos Nuclear Lab Sue Over Vaccine Mandate (JTN)

Workers at a nuclear laboratory in New Mexico filed a lawsuit Thursday attempting to stop a vaccine mandate from taking effect. According to The Hill, more than 100 workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are alleging that the laboratory’s vaccine exemption policy is too strict and that their exemptions were wrongfully denied. The New Mexico laboratory is best known for creating the atomic bomb and is one of the largest employers within the state. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have some of the highest security clearances in the nation, and their jobs range from nuclear engineers to research technicians.


According to the Associated Press, the workers allege that the company that manages the lab, Triad National Security LLC., created a hostile work environment, as well as violated their constitutional rights by implementing a strict COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In an anecdote reported to The Hill, one worker claimed they were scolded publicly for not being vaccinated and told that his “family deserved to die.” According to the Associated Press, the management company says 96% of its workforce is vaccinated, while the plaintiffs claim this number is actually much lower. Workers at the lab face potential termination if they are unable to provide proof of vaccination by Friday.

Read more …

“..passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices..”

The 2020 Election Wasn’t Stolen, It Was Bought By Mark Zuckerberg (Fed.)

During the 2020 election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars to turn out likely Democratic voters. But this wasn’t traditional political spending. He funded a targeted, private takeover of government election operations by nominally non-partisan — but demonstrably ideological — non-profit organizations. Analysis conducted by our team demonstrates this money significantly increased Joe Biden’s vote margin in key swing states. This unprecedented merger of public election offices with private resources and personnel is an acute threat to our republic, and should be the focus of electoral reform efforts moving forward.

The 2020 election wasn’t stolen — it was likely bought by one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men pouring his money through legal loopholes. The Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) and The Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR) passed a staggering $419.5 million of Zuckerberg’s money into local government elections offices, and it came with strings attached. Every CTCL and CEIR grant spelled out in great detail the conditions under which the grant money was to be used. This is not a matter of Democrats outspending Republicans. Private funding of election administration was virtually unknown in the American political system before the 2020 election.

Big CTCL and CEIR money had nothing to do with traditional campaign finance, lobbying, or other expenses that are related to increasingly expensive modern elections. It had to do with financing the infiltration of election offices at the city and county level by left-wing activists, and using those offices as a platform to implement preferred administrative practices, voting methods, and data-sharing agreements, as well as to launch intensive outreach campaigns in areas heavy with Democratic voters. For instance, CTCL/CEIR funded self-described “vote navigators” in Wisconsin to “assist voters, potentially at their front doors, to answer questions, assist in ballot curing … and witness absentee ballot signatures,” and a temporary staffing agency affiliated with Stacey Abrams called “Happy Faces” counting the votes amidst the election night chaos in Fulton County, Georgia.

Read more …

“..training ex-military to be poll workers on Election Day..”

Blackwell: Republicans Should Have Poll Workers At Every Precinct In 2022 (JTN)

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is urging that all Republican candidates should follow the lead of GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who is training ex-military to be poll workers on Election Day. Youngkin’s campaign is ensuring they have poll workers — not just observers — at every precinct for the the state’s gubernatorial election in November, Blackwell explained on the John Solomon Reports podcast Wednesday. With this strategy, “any attempt to hide in the dark corners of a process and snatch this election from the voters of Virginia will be stopped dead in its tracks,” said Ohio’s former top election official. “[S]afeguarding the integrity of our elections is paramount to preserving our republic,” he continued.


“And any attempts of individual cheaters, or any attempt by the federal government to concentrate control of our elections back in one party in Washington, D.C. must be resist[ed].” Blackwell added that Virginia is the first test case “to build a strong team on the field — you know, not sideline sitters, but folks who are on the frontline.” Blackwell was asked if the Republican Party should train poll workers, like Youngkin is doing with ex-military, and have them cover every precinct in America during the 2022 midterm elections. “I’m encouraging … that battle plan to be carried out in every state,” he replied. In a country of over 3,000 counties, there are hundreds of thousands of precincts, he noted. “[W]e cannot allow what happened in 2020 to happen again,” Blackwell stressed, when “we had tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of precincts left uncovered.”

Read more …

They’re sweating by now.

#EmptyShelvesJoe Hits Number 1 Trend On Twitter (PM)

On Wednesday afternoon, #EmptyShelvesJoe became the number one trending hashtag on Twitter in the US as the country experiences shortages stemming from a supply chain crisis. Despite President Joe Biden calling himself a “Supply Commander” during his run for president, the US has been hit hard with supply chain snarls. At one point, there were 62 boats backed up at the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles. In a Wednesday speech, Biden addressed the supply chain issues, saying he signed an executive order in February regarding the issue. Conditions have gradualy deteriorated since then.

“I know you’re hearing a lot about something called supply chains, and how hard it is to get a range of things from a toaster to sneakers to bicycles bedroom furniture. And that’s why, back in February. I signed a piece of legislation on supply chain — Executive Order on supply chains, and what we had to move on. And with the holidays coming up, you might be wondering if gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time,” said Biden. He continued: “Well, let me explain. Supply chains, essentially mean, how we make things, and how the material and parts get delivered to factory a factory, so we can manufacture things, and manufacturing here, how we move things, how a finished product moves from a factory to a store to your home.”

Biden assured residents in June that after a dismal jobs report, saying “There are going to be ups and down in jobs and economic reports, but there are going to be supply chain issues and price pressures on the way back to stability and steady growth.” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the issue would get better before it got worse, but she refused to make a prediction on the matter. “I’m not going to make a prediction of that from here. We know there are a number of issues that impact the supply chain and I don’t want to make a prediction because it’s not just one issue. Certainly, increasing the capacity at… ports and increasing the number of hours will have a positive impact, there’s no question about that,” said Psaki on Wednesday.

Read more …

“With these disclosures, we have accounts being used to pay both Hunter and Joe Biden..”

Joe Biden Could Get Drawn Into The FBI Probe Into His Son Hunter (Fox)

A report published Tuesday contends that President Joe Biden could get tied up in the ongoing FBI investigation into his son Hunter Biden’s finances due to the sharing of bank accounts and payment of each other’s bills. Emails obtained by DailyMail.com from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop show that his business partner, Eric Schwerin, was working on Joe Biden’s tax returns and discussing the father and son paying each other’s bills. Additionally, the emails show that Schwerin fielded book deal requests for Joe Biden, who was vice-president at the time, and also managed the donation of Biden’s Senate papers to the University of Delaware.

Hunter Biden has claimed that he and his father shared a bank account and admitted last year that he was under federal investigation over his taxes. Emails show that on April 9, 2010, Schwerin wrote to Hunter: “I was dealing all afternoon with JRB’s taxes (but solved a big issue – so it was all worth it).” On June 10 of the same year, Schwerin wrote, “Your Dad’s Delaware tax refund check came today. I am depositing it in his account and writing a check in that amount back to you since he owes it to you. Don’t think I need to run it by him, but if you want to go ahead. If not, I will deposit tomorrow.” It is unknown what specifically Joe Biden owed Hunter money for.

An expert on money laundering and criminal tax law told DailyMail.com that those entanglements could drag the current president into the FBI’s investigation. “Whatever transaction you’re looking at, if there’s a connection to a family member or a friend, sure the answer is yes [they would be investigated],” the expert, a former federal prosecutor who requested not to be named, told DailyMail.com. “Obviously, if you’re talking about the President of the United States, you’d better have a pretty damn good reason to talk to that person.”

[..] JONATHAN TURLEY: With these disclosures, we have accounts being used to pay both Hunter and Joe Biden and money being reimbursed to Hunter Biden from an individual associated with a company called Rosemont Seneca. Now that’s a company that has been tied to payments from China and Russia. And so this is getting more and more serious. The question is why the Justice Department hasn’t considered the appointment of a special counsel. We know there’s a criminal investigation into the tax issues, possible money laundering. But there are also serious questions about whether the Biden family conducted an extensive influence-peddling operation involving not just Hunter but his uncle and potentially the president of the United States.

Read more …

The pandemic cost us a lot of energy.

Americans’ Heating Bills To Soar Up To 50% This Winter (ZH)

So far, Americans have been watching the money-depleting energy crisis that hit Europe and Asia with detached bemusement: after all, while US energy prices are higher, they are nowhere near the hyperinflation observed in Europe. That is about to change because as the Energy Information Administration warned this week, much higher heating bills are coming this winter. According to the IEA’s October winter fuels outlook (pdf), nearly half of U.S. households that warm their homes with mainly natural gas can expect to spend an average of 30% more on their “multi-year high” bills compared with last year. The agency added that bills would be 50% higher if the winter is 10% colder than average and 22% higher if the winter is 10% warmer than average.


The forecast rise in costs, according to the report, will result in an average natural-gas home-heating bill of $746 from Oct. 1 to March 31, compared with about $573 during the same period last year. As the Epoch Times adds, propane costs are forecasted to rise by 54%, heating oil costs to rise by 43%, natural gas costs to rise by 30%, and electricity costs to rise by 6 percent. And with natural gas consumption projected to rise by 3% this winter, households are expected to spend $746 this winter, up from $573 last winter. The increase in natural gas heating costs varies by region with the Midwest U.S. leading the price hike at a 45% increase from last winter, and the Northeast expecting a hike of 14%.

Nearly half of all U.S. households use natural gas as the primary source of heating. Households relying on heating oil over winter will spend $1,734 over winter, relative to $1,212 last winter. Houses in Northeastern regions will be more affected by the price hike as nearly one in five homes in the region rely on heating oil as their primary source of space heating. The projection is based on the Brent crude oil price, which helps determine the prices of U.S. petroleum products. “The higher forecast Brent crude oil price this winter primarily reflects a decline in global oil inventories compared with last winter as a result of global oil demand that has risen amid restrained production levels from OPEC+ countries,” according to the EIA.


While most households commonly use electricity for heating, 41% rely on electric heat pumps or heaters as their primary source for space heating. These homes should expect to spend $1,268 this winter season, relative to $1196 last year. This projection accounts for 3 percent more residential electricity demand with more Americans working from home, a colder winter, as well as a rise in fuel costs for power generation. “During the first seven months of this year, the cost of natural gas delivered to U.S. electric generators averaged $4.97/MMBtu, which is more than double the average cost in 2020,” stated EIA.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dec 172020
 


Vincent van Gogh Self-Portrait with Straw Hat Aug-Sep 1887

 

Assange Spoke to US State Dept to Stop Publication of Unredacted Cables (Sp.)
Julian Assange Has Formally Requested a Pardon From President Donald Trump (GP)
Pfizer To Assess Report About ‘Serious Allergic Reaction’ To Vaccine (RT)
First Glitches Emerge In COVID-Vax Rollout (ZH)
An App Could Catch 98.5% Of All COVID19 Infections. Why Isn’t It Available? (G.)
Grand County Coroner Raises Concern On Deaths Among COVID Cases (CBSDenver)
A Record 61% Of Restaurants, 35% Of Small Businesses Can’t Pay December Rent (ZH)
Where Americans Splurged & Where They Cut Back (WS)
Congress to Pass $17 Billion Bailout of Airline Shareholders & Bondholders
Cuomo v. Cuomo (Turley)
AOC: Nancy Pelosi Needs To Go (IC)
Amistad To Sue Zuckerberg For Using ‘Dark Money’ To Fund ‘Massive’ Fraud (RT)
Enter Trump: America’s First Shadow President (Tracey)
Unicef To Feed Hungry Children In UK For First Time In 70-Year History (G.)

 

 

 

 

The recording is new, but what it says is not. We’ve known for years that Assange was trying to prevent material from coming out. The key would appear to be that Guardian “journalists” David Leigh and Luke Harding wanted to write Assange’s biography, and he declined. They then published the encryption key in a book, out of spite, to damage him. The wrong guy is in Belmarsh today.

Let’s hope James O’Keeffe gets this through to Trump.

“So the material, there is an encrypted version of the materials on the internet somewhere that we do not control. One doesn’t actually need to convey the material itself, one only needs to convey the location of the material and its encryption key”, the WikiLeaks co-founder explains to Johnson.

Assange Spoke to US State Dept to Stop Publication of Unredacted Cables (Sp.)

Julian Assange has been accused of endangering US interests and assets by “recklessly” publishing unredacted US State Department diplomatic cables. The charges are denied by both by WikiLeaks and the many journalists who note that Assange ‘meticulously’ redacted documents and sought to minimise possible harm while exposing illegal actions. Audio recordings of a 2011 conversation between Julian Assange and Hillary Clinton’s State Department, published by Project Veritas, provide new insight into the extent with which the WikiLeaks publisher sought to minimise harm from the potential release of unredacted US diplomatic cables, by actors working against the express wishes of the transparency organisation.

“So the situation is that, we have intelligence that the State Department database archive of 250,000 diplomatic cables, including the classified cables, is being spread around. […] To the degree that we believe that within the next few days, it will become public and we’re not sure what the timing could be, imminently or within the next few days to a week. And, there may be some possibility to stop it”, Assange is heard explaining to Cliff Johnson, an attorney with the US State Department. “Who would be releasing these cables?” Johnson asks, “Is this WikiLeaks?”. “No,” Assange explains, adding, “We would not be releasing them. This is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a previous employee that we suspended last August”.

The problem was that Domscheit-Berg was apparently sharing the link of the full unredacted diplomatic cables, which had been copied from the WikiLeaks website, and which could be found online. Ordinarily, the file with the full unredacted cables would have been useless as it was encrypted and would likely require years of highly-sophisticated computing to break the password through what is known in tech circles as the “brute force” method. However, the password to the encrypted file was entrusted by Assange to Guardian journalist David Leigh, who, by his own account, kept pressing the Australian born-journalist for access to the entirety of the 250,000 documents. Leigh and fellow Guardian journalist Luke Harding would in February 2011 reveal the password to the world by publishing the key as the title of one of the chapters in their book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

“[D]oes that mean that [Daniel Domschit-Berg] now [has] the ability…, without your control or authorisation, to make this as available as they want?” Johnson asks. “That’s correct”, Assange replies, adding “and there there’s no attempted redaction programme and no attempted harm minimisation.” “In case there are any individuals who haven’t been warned, they should be warned”, Assange stresses. Assange also explains the possibility of tracking down the encrypted files from the internet, potentially before people start using the encryption key revealed by Leigh and Harding. However, he explains that doing so is beyond the capability of WikiLeaks but that he was prepared to assist the State Department by urging other people to provide all the locations of the encrypted files. “[W]e have been calling the State Department and the embassy for over a day, trying to explain the urgency, and they have not called back other than this call”, Assange explains.

“Well, I appreciate what you’ve told us Mr Assange”, Johnson replies.

Assange

Read more …

Praying.

Julian Assange Has Formally Requested a Pardon From President Donald Trump (GP)

People from across the political spectrum have called on President Trump to pardon the WikiLeaks founder, citing the importance of the freedom to publish. Assange’s fiancé Stella Morris, the mother of his two young children, has previously called for a pardon — but a formal request was not filed with the White House until this week. Assange is imprisoned in the United Kingdom pending a decision about his extradition to the United States where he faces charges under the Espionage Act for his publication of the Iraq and Afghan War Logs. If convicted he could face a maximum sentence of 175 years for the “crime” of publishing material that the US government did not want the population to know. In 2018, President Trump’s attorneys quietly made a case in defense of WikiLeaks throughout legal filings responding to a lawsuit filed by Democrat Party donors who alleged that the campaign and former advisor Roger Stone conspired with Russians to publish the leaked Democratic National Committee emails.

Their assessment was correct. Buried within hundreds of pages of case filings, in a motion filed in October 2018, Trump lawyer Michael A. Carvin argued that under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S.C. § 230), “a website that provides a forum where ‘third parties can post information’ is not liable for the third party’s posted information.” “That is so even when even when the website performs ‘editorial functions’ ‘such as deciding whether to publish,’” the filing contends. “Since WikiLeaks provided a forum for a third party (the unnamed ‘Russian actors’) to publish content developed by that third party (the hacked emails), it cannot be held liable for the publication.” This defense holds true for the war log releases that Assange has been charged for publishing.

“In addition, the First Amendment generally denies the government power to punish truthful speech,” Carvin wrote. He added that privacy cannot justify these violations of core First Amendment norms. The filing then refers to the 1989 case of Florida Star v. B.J.F., in which it was determined that “punishing truthful publication in the name of privacy” is an “extraordinary measure.” The formal pardon request comes on the heels of a viral claim from a Trump ally that the president would be pardoning the publisher. While he ended up retracting his statement, claiming he had faulty sources, it was clear that it was a move that people from both sides of the political spectrum support. The tweet gained over 75,000 “likes” on Twitter in about an hour, before being retracted.

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And also: “anaphylactic shock suffered by multiple healthcare workers in the UK..” [..] The UK also reported a “possible allergic reaction” in a third recipient..

Pfizer To Assess Report About ‘Serious Allergic Reaction’ To Vaccine (RT)

A healthcare worker in Alaska has reportedly been hospitalized with a serious allergic reaction after taking Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. They had no reported history of drug allergies, unlike others who’ve suffered such reactions. The afflicted individual remains in the hospital on Wednesday after suffering a powerful reaction Tuesday, three sources who had seen official reports of the victim’s health told the New York Times. The workplace or residence of the health worker have not been disclosed, nor have any more details about their health status been released, and it’s not clear if they had other, non-medical allergies, one of the sources explained.

Pfizer is “working with local health authorities” to assess the details of the report about a “potential serious allergic reaction,” the company told RT in a statement on Wednesday, pledging to “closely monitor all reports suggestive of serious allergic reactions following vaccination” and “update labeling language if needed.” They also added that “there were no safety signals of concern identified in our clinical trials, including no signal of serious allergic reactions associated with the vaccine.” The reaction was reportedly similar to the anaphylactic shock suffered by multiple healthcare workers in the UK, where the Pfizer-BioNTech jab was approved earlier this month. One of the stricken British women had a history of egg allergies, though the manufacturer has insisted there are no egg-related ingredients in its formula, and the other was said to be allergic to certain medications.

The UK also reported a “possible allergic reaction” in a third recipient, though the incident was not described in detail. UK health authorities have warned people with any history of “anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine, or food” away from getting the Covid-19 shot, and suggested that facilities set up to administer the vaccine be equipped with “resuscitation equipment” – guidance echoed in Pfizer’s own prescribing information. While the company did not report any allergic reactions among clinical trial participants, individuals with medical allergies and anyone who had ever suffered a “severe adverse reaction associated with a vaccine” were specifically excluded from the trials, and doctors were advised to watch for such reactions so the allergic could be routed out of the studies.

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“..roughly 900,000 fewer doses would be delivered next week than were shipped this week.”

We could roll out Vitamin D, HCQ and Ivermectin. We know much more about those than about the vaccine. But we now contend that they need to be studied more, not the vaccine.

First Glitches Emerge In COVID-Vax Rollout (ZH)

A healthcare worker in Alaska was hospitalized on Tuesday with a ‘serious allergic reaction’ after receiving Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times. The person, who had no known drug allergies, was still in the hospital on Wednesday morning under observation, according to the report. It is unknown whether they suffer from any other types of allergies. The Alaska resident’s reaction was reportedly similar to anaphylactic reactions two heal workers in Britain experience after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week – both of whom have recovered. Of note, they both had a history of severe allergies. One, a 49-year-old woman, is allergic to eggs (which Pfizer says are not in their vaccine). The other, a 40-year-old woman is allergic to several different medications. Both routinely carry EpiPenn-like devices in case of reactions.

“After the workers in Britain fell ill, authorities there initially warned against giving the vaccines to anyone with a history of severe allergic reactions. They later clarified their concerns, changing the wording from “severe allergic reactions” to specify that the vaccine should not be given to anyone who has ever had an anaphylactic reaction to a food, medicine or vaccine. That type of reaction to a vaccine is “very rare,” they said.” -NYT. No serious adverse effects were reported during Pfizer’s US trial involving over 40,000 participants, aside from aches, fevers and other ‘minor’ side effects. As Bloomberg notes, the first hiccups in the distribution of Pfizer’s vaccine are just beginning – including a holdup on the delivery of 3,900 shots to two states, and the announcement that roughly 900,000 fewer doses would be delivered next week than were shipped this week.

“Four delivery trays of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine were pulled back from delivery to California and Alabama this week and sent back to the company because they were colder than anticipated, according to Gustave Perna, the army general who serves as Operation Warp Speed’s chief operations officer. Each of the trays can likely be used to vaccinate 975 people. Pfizer has said its formula needs to be stored at 70 degrees below zero Celsius, the equivalent of negative 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. These trays were found to be much colder, according to Perna.” -Bloomberg. “We were taking no chances,” said Perna during a Wednesday news briefing.

Read more …

Not sure how this would work, but let’s hear it from you.

An App Could Catch 98.5% Of All COVID19 Infections. Why Isn’t It Available? (G.)

In late September, researchers at MIT announced that they had developed an algorithm that can accurately detect Covid-19 infections over the phone. When participants in their study produced a forced cough, MIT said their AI algorithm successfully detected 98.5% of Covid-19 infections with patients who have a cough and 100% of asymptomatic cases. If released in the form of an app, the technology could mean instant Covid-19 testing anytime, any place. As they wrote in their peer-reviewed article: “AI techniques can produce a free, non-invasive, real-time, anytime, instantly distributable, large-scale Covid-19 asymptomatic screening tool to augment current approaches in containing the spread of Covid-19. Practical use cases could be for daily screening of students, workers and public as schools, jobs and transport reopen, or for pool testing to quickly alert of outbreaks in groups.”


The impact of this technology would be huge. Currently, test results can take a week to be processed. Testing delays and shortages are due to things like strains on the supply chain providing swabs and chemicals, as well as the pressures on lab technicians processing high volumes of tests. And the test only tells you if you were positive at the time, not whether you are positive now, which can lead to a false sense of security. A smartphone-based, instant Covid-19 test would be a game changer and would save countless lives. The developers say they intend to make the technology available as an app, pending regulatory approval, but there is no clear timeline for when it might be released to the public.

People treated like infants

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“..two of their five deaths related to COVID-19 were people who died of gunshot wounds..”

Grand County Coroner Raises Concern On Deaths Among COVID Cases (CBSDenver)

The Grand County coroner is calling attention to the way the state health department is classifying some deaths. The coroner, Brenda Bock, says two of their five deaths related to COVID-19 were people who died of gunshot wounds. Bock says because they tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 30 days, they were classified as “deaths among cases.” “It’s absurd that they would even put that on there,” she said. “Would you want to go to a county that has really high death numbers? Would you want to go visit that county because they are contagious. You know I might get it, and I could die if all of a sudden one county has a high death count. We don’t have it, and we don’t need those numbers inflated.”


The state health department says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires them to report people who’ve died with COVID-19 in their systems because it’s crucial for public health surveillance.Colorado provides death data related to COVID-19 in two ways: Deaths due to COVID-19: This is based on CDC coding of death certificates where COVID-19 is listed as the cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. Deaths among COVID-19 cases: This reflects people who died with COVID-19, but COVID-19 may not have been the cause of death listed on the death certificate. CDPHE explains that they are required to report deaths among COVID-19 cases to the CDC.

Read more …

When we wake up, the world will have changed beyond recognition.

A Record 61% Of Restaurants, 35% Of Small Businesses Can’t Pay December Rent (ZH)

According to the latest Alignable Rent Poll, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses everywhere to pay their rent in full and on time, given the latest COVID resurgences. The need for more federal funding is also becoming more pronounced for many of these businesses, according to the poll. These findings are based on the most recent Alignable Rent Poll conducted among 9,204 small business owners from 11/21-11/23/2020. Several B2C industries are devastated – 61% of restaurants can’t pay their rent this month. That’s up 19% from 42% in November. 35% of U.S. small businesses couldn’t pay their rent this month, up 3% from 32% in November. Beauty salons (46%) and travel/hospitality businesses (43%) round out the Top 3 most-affected businesses, but many others are in trouble.


Looking at demographics, minority-owned businesses are suffering the most, as 49% of them reported that they could not afford their rent in December. That figure is 5% higher than it was in November. Women-owned businesses are also struggling (38% of those have not paid their rent, up 3% from 35% last month). Overall, 35% of small business owners reported that they couldn’t make rent this month (up 3% from 32% in November). For minority-owned businesses, the struggle is even more pronounced: nearly half (49%) report being unable to cover their rent in December. That figure jumped 5% from 44% in November. For women-owned businesses, 35% couldn’t make rent in November and now that percentage is up to 38% in December.

Read more …

Only large chains will survive.

Where Americans Splurged & Where They Cut Back (WS)

Retail sales in November fell 1.1% from October, the second month in a row of declines, and they even fell with restaurants and bars removed from the total. Sales at nonstore retailers, the placeholder for ecommerce, eked out a new record. This is the second month now of what I called a month ago Stimulus Fatigue. But wait… the Pandemic-induced switch from services – such as airline tickets, concert tickets, hotel bookings, and haircuts – to goods – such as food & beer at home, bicycles, and consumer electronics – is still on. In November, retail sales of $547 billion (seasonally adjusted) were still up 4.1% from November last year, according to the Census Bureau this morning. And for the 11-month period, they were essentially flat ($5.70 trillion), despite the collapse in March and April:

The metric of “retail sales” measures the sale of “goods” at various establishments and online. It doesn’t measure the sale of “services,” such as airline tickets, insurance, or healthcare services. During the Pandemic, consumers splurged on durable goods and food at home like never before, as free money flooded over them from the government, and as they cut back on other spending, such as plane tickets, payments on mortgages and student loans in forbearance, and on rent, protected by the eviction bans. A refinancing boom, triggered by record low mortgage interest rates, allowed consumers to extract cash from their homes and lower their mortgage payments. Part of this money from the government, and money not spent, and money extracted from the home was spent on goods, and part of it was used to pay down credit cards, whose balances have plunged 10.3% from a year ago.


[..] The once iconic retail institution of department stores – in their heyday, many of them were locally owned – has been obviated by events including the internet. For Americans, department stores have outlived their usefulness. For mall landlords, they’ve turned into a nightmare. The #1 and # 2 mall landlords – Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property – have ganged up to buy J.C. Penney out of bankruptcy, apparently to control the decline of their malls.Since the peak in December 2000, department store sales have collapsed by 55%, despite two decades of inflation and population growth, and the Pandemic has merely accelerated the process:

Read more …

Propping up zombies. Favorite pastime.

Congress to Pass $17 Billion Bailout of Airline Shareholders & Bondholders (WS)

Airlines in the US will get another $17 billion taxpayer-funded bailout if the $748 billion “bipartisan” stimulus proposal that the four most senior Congressional leaders are discussing this afternoon makes it into law. There is a commitment now to pass something. Many items that either party wanted but that the other refused to yield on have been trimmed out of this proposal, including the $1,200 stimulus checks. But their airline bailout is in it. Democrats and Republicans may not agree on much of anything these days, but they both love to bail out airline shareholders and bondholders. And that’s what this is – dressed up as payroll protection and airline support program.

The Democratic-backed $2.2 trillion stimulus package that the House passed at the end of September but that was not taken up by the Senate included $25 billion to bail out airline shareholders and bondholders. The airline industry has been lobbying with all its might to get this money. So now, it looks like they will have to make do with $17 billion. This new bailout comes on top of the original stimulus bill, which was passed in March and which came with $25 billion in so-called payroll support for the airlines, an additional $25 billion in loans for passenger airlines, and over $10 billion in grants and loans for cargo airlines and aviation contractors. The payroll protection provisions expired on September 30, under the assumption that by then the airlines would be operating more or less back at normal.

[..] The number of passengers going through TSA checkpoints to enter the secured areas at US airports through December 14 has dropped sharply since late November. The chart shows the number of TSA checkpoint screenings in 2020 (red) and 2019 (green) per day (thin lines) and the seven-day moving averages (bold lines):

Airline shareholders feel the money. And taxpayers feel the pain. This rally comes as revenues at the largest airlines have collapsed by 60% to 70%, and as debt has piled up in previously unthinkable amounts, and as airlines continue to report huge losses and – despite massive capacity cuts and layoffs – dizzying “daily cash burn” figures. Taxpayer money props up those shares and is a basic transfer of wealth from the American public to airline shareholders and to airline bondholders. This is the same industry where the top four airlines — Delta, United, American, and Southwest — willfully blew, wasted, burned, and annihilated $45 billion on share buybacks since 2012 to enrich their shareholders, including their own executives:

Read more …

Another story that must be buried.

Cuomo v. Cuomo (Turley)

There remains a blackout on the sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo by most major media outlets. Putting aside the striking lack of interest in comparison to the allegations raised against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the controversy from that confirmation fight could raise difficult questions for Cuomo who not only insisted that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford must be believed but demanded that Kavanaugh take a polygraph examination. It is not clear if Cuomo will now follow his own standard and take a polygraph examination arranged by others. During the Kavanaugh hearing, various Democratic leaders publicly insisted that “women must be believed” when raising sexual harassment allegations and declared Kavanaugh guilty before either he or Ford actually testified.

Senator Maxie Hirono publicly stated that Kavanaugh was not even entitled to any presumption of innocence. Indeed, Hirono insisted that men needed to “just shut up” and accept the allegations. The view that “women must be believed” changed the minute that Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault and then refused to allow the review of his papers held under seal at the University of Delaware. Suddenly, figures like Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer insisted that they believed Biden without any review such papers or even speaking with the alleged victim (a former Biden staffer). Ethics experts like Richard Painter attacked those who suggested that the accuser might be telling the truth as endangering the election. Others like Rep. Iihan Omar, Linda Hirschman, and Lisa Bloom found an even more startling resolution: they stated that Biden was clearly a rapist, but they would still vote for him.

The allegations raised by former Biden aide Lindsey Boylan are notably easier to confirm. She stated “Yes, [Cuomo] sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched. I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years.” These are not allegations that are decades old with few, if any, witnesses. Boylan worked for the governor’s administration from 2015 to 2018 and says that there were many witnesses. Notably, the Kavanaugh hearing was in 2018.

[..] The strongest case against Cuomo may be Cuomo. In the Kavanaugh hearing, Cuomo declared Kavanaugh clearly guilty. He publicly declared “The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is a sad day for this country, and it will haunt us for as long as he is on the court. Today 50 senators put partisan politics over the sanctity of the highest court in the nation. In November, the American people get to respond and make their voices heard. In New York, we will not waver and will not back down. To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors of sexual assault, we believe you and we will fight for you. The sham FBI investigation and the bigger sham, this confirmation process, have energized us to fight even harder for our shared vision for a better future for all.”

Joe Biden voting machines 2007
https://twitter.com/i/status/1338923147215638528

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That will be appreciated.

AOC: Nancy Pelosi Needs To Go (IC)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez believes the Democratic Party needs new leadership, telling The Intercept in an interview that it’s time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to go. But the left, she said, currently has no plan on how to fill the subsequent leadership vacuum. “If you create that vacuum, there are so many nefarious forces at play to fill that vacuum with something even worse,” she told Jeremy Scahill during an interview aired Wednesday on Intercepted this week. Pelosi cruised to reelection in a virtual caucus vote last month and will face a full House floor vote for the speakership in January. She’s expected to remain speaker but has almost no room for error, after a disastrous performance in the general election cost the caucus at least a dozen seats.

With a single-digit majority, she can only afford to lose a handful of Democratic votes on the House floor or else she’ll be short of the required 218, which would then throw the contest back to the caucus. The rest of Pelosi’s octogenarian leadership team, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn, has held these top positions for over a decade and won their slots without any opposition. On the Senate side, Schumer won reelection unanimously. Ocasio-Cortez argued that there are no viable alternatives for House or Senate leadership at the moment because the caucus’s current leaders spent a number of years concentrating power without any “real grooming of a next generation of leadership.”

“A lot of this is not just about these two personalities, but also about the structural shifts that these two personalities have led in their time in leadership,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The structural shifts of power in the House, both in process and rule, to concentrate power in party leadership of both parties, frankly, but in Democratic Party leadership to such a degree that an individual member has far less power than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.” This dynamic is what pushes the “really talented members of Congress that do come along” to leave or run for statewide office instead. But Pelosi has also indicated that this upcoming term could be her last, “and the left isn’t really making a plan for that either,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “So I do think that it’s something that we really need to think about.”

Tulsi Gabbard Patriot Act

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“..Zuckerberg’s money “purchased machines – Dominion and otherwise – and Zuckerberg’s funding was contributed to Secretaries of State.”

Amistad To Sue Zuckerberg For Using ‘Dark Money’ To Fund ‘Massive’ Fraud (RT)

Mark Zuckerberg poured cash into an “ecosystem” that caused widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential contest, election integrity watchdog the Amistad Project has alleged. The group will file suit against the Facebook CEO. The lawsuit, based on a report authored by the organization, will claim that Zuckerberg used $500 million of “dark money” to unlawfully tip the scales in battleground states that Democrat Joe Biden won by narrow margins, said Mark Serrano, a Trump 2020 campaign adviser who runs a communications firm that handles media relations for the Amistad Project. The lawsuit is expected to be filed by today in the District Court for the District of Columbia and will cover alleged election irregularities that took place in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia.

According to Serrano, the legal complaint takes aim at “the ecosystem” that caused “fraud on a massive level to take place” during the 2020 contest. He accused Zuckerberg of using his vast financial resources and influence to undermine the presidential election in the months leading up to, and continuing after, November 3. “A billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, was allowed in the counting room because he funded it, and the American people were kicked out.” The lawsuit announcement coincided with the release of a report by the Amistad Project which outlines how Zuckerberg allegedly used private funding to “improperly” influence the election outcome. Amistad Project director Phill Kline said during a press conference on Wednesday that Zuckerberg funneled huge amounts of money into charities and nonprofits that lobbied officials and carried out other partisan activities that impacted the 2020 results.

“He paid for election judges, purchased drop boxes, contrary to state laws,” Kline said, adding that Zuckerberg’s money “purchased machines – Dominion and otherwise – and Zuckerberg’s funding was contributed to Secretaries of State.” This injection of hundreds of millions of dollars into the election by Zuckerberg and others “violated state election laws and resulted in an unequal distribution of funding that deprived voters of both due process and equal protection,” according to a press release issued by the Amistad Project.

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“How could a country with a mystically-endowed “exceptional” nature — the “shining city on a hill,” Ronald Reagan once proclaimed — be said to retain its “exceptional” status if its elections are, as Trump vigorously maintains, structurally and systematically fraudulent?”

Enter Trump: America’s First Shadow President (Tracey)

The Electoral College formally convened this week, and with it expired the last faint hope of Donald Trump retaining the presidency. While the outcome had never been in real doubt, Trump and innumerable Republican boosters had for six weeks kept up the mirage of frantic irresolution, with Trump issuing a daily barrage of ALL-CAPS tweets claiming that despite what you might have heard, he’d actually won. In any event, all states have now ratified their results without serious incident, and the hucksterish post-election litigation efforts undertaken by Trump’s various sundry representatives have predictably gone nowhere. Yesterday, Republican senate leader Mitch McConnell even declared Biden the “president-elect” and now the Democrat is faithfully filling his forthcoming administration with a cast of characters drawn directly from the pits of the Washington, DC Democratic Party professional class — the same people whom he openly campaigned on rehabilitating and restoring to power.

The election is well and truly over, whatever toothless protestations may continue to arise. What’s far from over, however, is the political influence of Trump. No one can say with total certainty what he’ll do when he eventually leaves office; no one can even say exactly on what terms he’s going to leave. But in just over a month now, we may face a scenario that would be a first in modern US history: an aggrieved former president making a competing claim to the presidency and refusing in perpetuity to acknowledge the reality of his defeat. In other words, a “shadow” president. Trump’s lack of compunction about doing something like this would seem to solidify his position as the most thoroughgoing “post-exceptionalist” president since at least World War II.

That is, he is entirely unmoved by the kind of bipartisan “American exceptionalism” dogma that had previously bound together the elite US political class, across partisan lines. It’s the dogma which holds that, in short, the US possesses a singular uniqueness that sets it apart in all of world history. Often blended together with notions of Christian providence, it ascribes the very foundations of the US Constitutional order with a kind of divine import. But over the last four years, Trump has thrown these old assumptions into doubt. For one thing, the Constitution certainly makes no provision for a “shadow” president. How could a country with a mystically-endowed “exceptional” nature — the “shining city on a hill,” Ronald Reagan once proclaimed — be said to retain its “exceptional” status if its elections are, as Trump vigorously maintains, structurally and systematically fraudulent?

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The failure of all failures. Why do we let it happen? Because there’s no money to be made feeding children. We never escaped the Middle Ages, or the Industrial Revolution. We’ve been standing still for centuries.

Unicef To Feed Hungry Children In UK For First Time In 70-Year History (G.)

Unicef has launched a domestic emergency response in the UK for the first time in its more than 70-year history to help feed children hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The UN agency, which is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide, said the coronavirus pandemic was the most urgent crisis affecting children since the second world war. A YouGov poll in May commissioned by the charity Food Foundation found 2.4 million children (17%) were living in food insecure households. By October, an extra 900,000 children had been registered for free school meals. Unicef has pledged a grant of £25,000 to the community project School Food Matters, which will use the money to supply 18,000 nutritious breakfasts to 25 schools over the two-week Christmas holidays and February half-term, feeding vulnerable children and families in Southwark, south London, who have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The food delivery firm Abel & Cole will also provide 1.2 tonnes of fruit and veg worth £4,500 to include in the boxes. The founder and chief executive of School Food Matters, Stephanie Slater, said: “We’re so grateful to Unicef for providing this timely funding. The response to our summer breakfast boxes programme has shown us that families are really struggling and many were facing the grim reality of a two-week winter break without access to free school meals and the indignity of having to rely on food banks to feed their children. “By providing our breakfast boxes, families know that their children will have a great start to the day with a healthy nutritious breakfast.

“Our breakfast boxes programme has also shown us that the threshold for free school meal eligibility is too low to capture all the families in need of support. That’s why we’re getting behind the national food strategy call for an extension to free school meal eligibility. “We cannot continue to rely on civil society to fill the hunger gap as too many children will miss out on the nutrition they need to thrive.”

Read more …

 

 

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Oct 292020
 
 October 29, 2020  Posted by at 9:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  20 Responses »


Gustav Klimt Pine forest II 1901

 

Senate Committee: All Bobulinski Materials Reviewed To Date Legitimate (DC)
Tucker Carlson: Bobulinski Documents Intercepted and Removed (sundance)
Zuckerberg: ‘I Would Guess That Our Employee Base Skews Left-Leaning’ (JTN)
Gundlach: Trump Will Win Next Week, “Some Sort Of Revolution” By 2027 (ZH)
Professor Deliberately Catches COVID19 To Test His Immune Response (ST)
Cable News October Ratings Explode As Fox News Hits Historic Highs (Hill)
CNN Won’t Run Trump Ad Warning Biden Will Raise Taxes On Middle Class (Hill)
‘Anonymous’ Anti-Trump Official Revealed As CNN Pundit Miles Taylor (Fox)
ALICE Doesn’t Work Here Anymore (CHS)
The Fed MUST Have Inflation (Rickards)
Ornstein: Impeach Amy Coney Barrett (Turley)
Bellingcat Smears OPCW Whistleblower, Journalists With False Letter (Maté)
Greece Has Protected Its Jobs Better Than The Rest Of The EU (K.)
Jack Dorsey Hires Homeless Man To Fill In For Him At Senate Hearings (BBee)

 

 

“If you can’t expose crime in the government you don’t really have a government. You have a dictatorship that is dressed up like a government.”

– Joe Rogan

 

 

Joe Rogan Greenwald

 

 

“I appreciate that the FBI has a job to do, and I am glad they are finally taking an interest in these concerning financial matters that our Committees have been investigating for months..”

Senate Committee: All Bobulinski Materials Reviewed To Date Legitimate (DC)

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been successful in verifying all materials reviewed so far from Hunter Biden’s ex-business partner Tony Bobulinski, the Daily Caller has learned. Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson will not call Bobulinski to testify before the November 3 elections, as the committee is working to review all the information provided to the committee by Bobulinski. The information has to be verified, as it is subject to the same false information to Congress laws that verbal or written testimony does. However, a Johnson spokesperson told the Caller that all the material provided by Bobulinski that has been reviewed so far has turned out to be legitimate. The committee has “also” not come across any “signs” or evidence to suggest the content is false, the spokesperson added.


Bobulinski, who said Tuesday he believes “Joe Biden and the Biden family are compromised” in an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, has turned over evidence to the FBI alleging he met twice in the past with the former vice president in regards to business with his son Hunter. The Biden family has not yet disputed this information. [..] Johnson had the chance to interview Bobulinski on Friday and released a statement shortly after saying: “I appreciate that the FBI has a job to do, and I am glad they are finally taking an interest in these concerning financial matters that our Committees have been investigating for months,” Sen. Johnson said. “I expect that Mr. Bobulinski will speak with our committee as soon as possible and fully share his insights into the Biden family’s business dealings.”

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Strange story. He has copies.

Tucker Carlson: Bobulinski Documents Intercepted and Removed (sundance)

Tucker Carlson revealed this evening that someone intercepted an envelope containing documents of evidence supporting the claims by Tony Bobulinski. The documents were mailed by a “well known overnight transport” company and mysteriously were removed in transit from New York to LA. I have a hunch what happened…. but first, WATCH:

Tucker missing documents

I review this story from a position that I cannot fully explain. However, I have personal experience -recent experience- with a similar and rather unusual situation that cannot be explained by any method other than DHS surveillance. So here’s what I think took place. The package, likely a Fed-X delivery, was intercepted by FBI agents using mechanisms for tracking and surveillance that open targeting through portals connected to DHS. As an outcome of the U.S. Patriot Act, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has an agreement in place with mail shipping companies, public/private services, that essentially allows them a portal to track all in-state and interstate mail deliveries.

The FBI has access to this data network in the same way the FBI has access to federal transportation records. Just like when you book a flight and DHS portals are open that allow FBI to track your movements domestically. This type of portal is also accessed in private company transportation like Uber, Lyft etc. DHS, and as a consequence the FBI, can easily track your whereabouts. Without much hesitation I will bet the FBI was monitoring the communication of Bobulinski, and by extension the entire Tucker Carlson production network. Once the shipment was known to be taking place, the DHS portals are opened; the package is tracked; and the FBI moves in to intercept the delivery.

The transport company doesn’t need to be participating because they are essentially unneeded. Their system network is connected to the FBI. That’s the likely scenario. Wanna bet?

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Every time these people come in for questioning, nothing happens.

Zuckerberg: ‘I Would Guess That Our Employee Base Skews Left-Leaning’ (JTN)

Under questioning from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that the employees at his company “skew left-leaning.” “Would you say that the political ideology of the employees at your company is, let’s say, 50:50, conservative versus liberal progressive or do you think it’s closer to 90% liberal and 10% conservative?” Johnson asked during a hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. “I don’t know the makeup of our employees because it’s not something we ask or focus on,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded. “It’s not something I look for.”

In response to the same question, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said more than 50% of Google’s 100,000 employees are from outside of California. “It does tend to be proportionate to the areas that we are in,” he said. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “I don’t know the exact number but I would guess that our employee base skews left-leaning.” According to OpenSecrets.org, the employees of Facebook, Google and Twitter favored Democrats over Republicans with political contributions in this election cycle. Johnson also asked Dorsey and Zuckerberg if they had “any evidence” that the New York Post’s recent reporting on content from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was based on Russian disinformation.

“We don’t,” Dorsey said. Later in the hearing, GOP Sen. Roger Wicker, the committee chairman, asked Zuckerberg if he has evidence that Russia was the source of the information in the New York Post’s reporting. “I would rely on the FBI to make that assessment,” Zuckerberg said but added that he personally does not have that evidence. “I do not, myself.”

@tedcruz and @jack

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“Some people will hedge their bets and split their vote towards retaining the Republican Senate because they view Biden as risky..”

Gundlach: Trump Will Win Next Week, “Some Sort Of Revolution” By 2027 (ZH)

Back at the start of 2016, when nobody else would even consider such an outcome, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeff Gundlach shocked the economic, financial and political establishments when during the January Barron’s roundtable of that year, he predicted that Donald Trump would become the next US president. He was right. Fast forward to today when one week before the elections, and in an environment when most polls predict that Biden will crush Trump and where Nate Silver gives Trump just as 13% chance of defeating Trump, Jeffrey Gundlach is predicting another victory for President Donald Trump.


As Financial Advisor magazine reported, during a Tuesday webcast as part of Schwab’s 2020 IMPACT conference, Gundlach said that despite polls, analysis and betting odds that suggest otherwise, Trump is likely to outpace former Democratic vice president Joe Biden in the contest. “The polls right now say he isn’t going to win, but they said that four years ago,” said Gundlach referring to the following chart. “Mind you, my conviction is way lower than it was four years ago. But back in [that period], when Trump was little more than an asterisk in the betting odds, I predicted he was going to win. This one is much more murky, but in my eyes, it favors a Trump win.”

Addressing the elephant in the room, Gundlach said that public political polls are often “designed to create impressions” rather than illustrate reality, said Gundlach, and shouldn’t be trusted. He also argued that many Trump voters are unwilling to engage with pollsters and the media because they fear retribution for their political beliefs, also known as the “shy voter” phenomenon according to which “Over 10% Of Trump Voters Won’t Admit Preferences To Pollsters.” Biden also faces an enthusiasm problem, said Gundlach. Gundlach then went on to crush hopes of a Blue Wave, arguing that Republicans will likely keep the Senate regardless of who wins – mainly because of uncertainty around Biden.


“Some people will hedge their bets and split their vote towards retaining the Republican Senate because they view Biden as risky,” said Gundlach, who noted that Trump is often portrayed as riskier than Biden. And yet, in the four years of his presidency, there have been no international conflicts, despite some outrageous and bellicose language. “You might dislike Trump or some of his policies, but risk is not what you’re getting with him, particularly compared to turning the presidency over to another party, and particularly when that party’s candidate isn’t saying what some of his policy positions are.”

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“His conclusion is that there will be no collective immunity to coronavirus despite earlier hopes. The virus is here to stay for a long while, and while vaccines may give immunity this is likely to be temporary.”

Professor Deliberately Catches COVID19 To Test His Immune Response (ST)

Alexander Chepurnov had already recovered once when he re-infected himself in an experiment. The virologist experimented with his own health to check how long the body’s immune response lasted after his first bout of COVID-19. A former researcher at the Vector Centre of Virology and Biotechnology who currently works at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Chepurnov was first infected at the end of February 2020. ‘I was on my way to a skiing holiday from Siberia to France with a stopover in Moscow,’ he said. ‘After getting to the mountains I felt unwell with a high fever and sharp chest pain. My sense of smell has gone, too.’ It was impossible back then to do a COVID-19 test in Europe, he told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper in Novosibirsk.

He cut the holiday short, returned home to Novosibirsk, and was promptly diagnosed with double pneumonia. A month later in March he did a test which showed antibodies to Covid, confirming that he had been infected with the new virus. ‘I was the first in my team who had COVID-19,’ he said. ‘We started to follow the way antibodies ‘behaved’, how strong they were, and how long they stayed in the body. ‘The observation showed that they were fast to decrease. By the end of the third month from the moment I felt sick the antibodies were no longer detected.’ The scientist, 68 when he was first hit by COVID-19, said that he wanted to study the probability of getting re-infected.

To test the strength of his own immune response, Chepurnov deliberately exposed himself to COVID-19-positive patients wearing no protection. ‘My body’s defence fell exactly six months after I got the first infection. The first sign was a sore throat. The nasopharyngeal PCR smear immediately showed a positive reaction to COVID-19 on the 27th cycle, and two days later already on the 17th cycle, which corresponds to a high viral titre’, Chepurnov said of the second bout. The second illness was more acute, with Chepurnov needing hospitalisation after his saturation fell below 93. ‘For five days, my body temperature remained above 39C,’ he said. ‘I lost the sense of smell, my taste perception changed.

‘On the sixth day of the illness, the CT scan of the lungs was clear, and three days after the scan the X-ray showed double pneumonia. ‘The virus went away rather quickly – after two weeks it was no longer detected in the nasopharyngeal or in other samples.’ His conclusion is that there will be no collective immunity to coronavirus despite earlier hopes. The virus is here to stay for a long while, and while vaccines may give immunity this is likely to be temporary. ‘We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit,’ he said. ‘Once injected with the adenoviral vector-based vaccine we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering.’

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I’d be more interested in seeing these numbers for social media.

Cable News October Ratings Explode As Fox News Hits Historic Highs (Hill)

Cable news ratings exploded in October across Fox News, CNN and MSNBC as all three networks saw record numbers for the month, with Fox News having the highest-rated month in cable news history, according to Nielsen Media Research. The month included a positive coronavirus test for the president, who was briefly hospitalized, and a fever pitch on the presidential campaign trail. The month also included a presidential debate, a vice presidential debate and multiple town hall events. Fox News led the way with a whopping 4.9 million total viewers in prime time, the highest number in the history of cable news dating back 40 years. MSNBC was second with 2.7 million viewers, followed by CNN with 2.4 million.


The top five shows for the month included Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” with an average of 5.3 million viewers, followed by “Hannity” with 5.2 million and “The Five” with 4.1 million despite airing before prime time in the 5 p.m. EDT slot. “The Ingraham Angle” delivered an average of just over 4 million total viewers, finishing fourth overall, with MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” rounding out the top five with 3.7 million. All three of the major cable news networks also saw substantial growth when compared to the same month last year. Fox News was up 83 percent year-over-year in total viewers and 139 percent in the key 25-54 demographic that advertisers covet most in prime time. CNN saw a 98 percent increase in total viewers when compared to October 2019, and a 116 percent jump in the demographic, while MSNBC is up 38 percent in total viewers and 45 percent in the younger category.

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“..the ad has been approved to run on ABC, AMC, Cooking, CBS, Comcast, DIY, Discovery, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, HGTV, History, Lifetime and The Weather Channel.”

CNN Won’t Run Trump Ad Warning Biden Will Raise Taxes On Middle Class (Hill)

CNN has informed the largest outside group supporting President Trump’s reelection that it will not run one of its new ads, saying the ad is false because it warns Democratic nominee Joe Biden will raise taxes on the middle class and implies that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports socialist policies. The ad, from America First Action (AFA), says Biden “sided with socialists,” while showing pictures of Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The narrator of the ad also warns that Biden will “raise taxes on the middle class” and that “his liberal agenda will cost millions of jobs.” America First Action says the ad has been approved to run on ABC, AMC, Cooking, CBS, Comcast, DIY, Discovery, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, HGTV, History, Lifetime and The Weather Channel.

But in an email, an account executive at Warner Media said the clearance team rejected it. “WarnerMedia Commercial Clearance has not accepted America First Action’s advertisement ‘We Are America’ for its networks as the ad does not meet its commercial clearance standards,” the email states. “Specifically, the ad asserts that Biden will raise taxes on the middle class. That claim is not adequately substantiated and has been judged false by independent fact-checkers. The advertisement also mischaracterizes Nancy Pelosi as a socialist.” [..] In a letter to lawyers at Warner Media, an attorney representing AFA accused the media company of censoring normal political speech that is “at the very least a matter worthy of debate.”

“While AFA’s opponents are, of course, permitted to purchase air time to try to rebut AFA’s claims, it is not the job of your network to censor a statement that is factually supported and relates to an important issue in the upcoming election,” wrote Stephen Kenny of Jones Day. “Indeed, every other cable network is currently airing AFA’s ad. If you continue to decline to air the ad, please let us know why the factual support outlined above is insufficient.”

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The New York Times offers anonymous editorial space to complete nobodies these days. Sweet Jesus. Anything to smear Trump.

‘Anonymous’ Anti-Trump Official Revealed As CNN Pundit Miles Taylor (Fox)

The anonymous senior Trump administration official who authored the infamous New York Times op-ed in 2018 declaring to be part of the “resistance” revealed himself on Wednesday to be former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor. Taylor, who previously came forward as a critic of President Trump and a supporter of Joe Biden in August, explained that he wrote his 2019 book “A Warning” as Anonymous as a “caution to voters that it wasn’t as bad as it looked inside the Trump administration – it was worse.” “While I claim sole authorship of the work, the sentiments expressed within it were widely held among officials at the highest levels of the federal government,” Taylor wrote in a statement published on Medium. “In other words, Trump’s own lieutenants were alarmed by his instability.”

Taylor was hired by CNN as a contributor in September. However, it is now known that he lied to the network by denying authorship of the op-ed during an Aug. 21 interview with his now-colleague Anderson Cooper. “There was an op-ed, there was a book by someone calling themselves ‘Anonymous.’ Are you aware of who that is?” Cooper asked. “I’m not,” Taylor responded. “Look, that was a parlor game that happened in Washington D.C. of a lot of folks trying to think of who that might be. I’ve got my own thoughts about who that might be, but-” “You’re not Anonymous,” Cooper interjected. “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloweens and pandemics. So, no,” Taylor answered.

[..] According to CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who broke the news on his network on Wednesday afternoon, “We did not know this until today. [..] White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany released a statement knocking Taylor as a “low-level, disgruntled former staffer,” as well as “a liar and a coward who chose anonymity over action and leaking over leading. “He was ineffective and incompetent during his time as DHS Chief of Staff which is why he was promptly fired after only serving in this role for a matter of weeks,” McEnany added. “It is appalling a low-ranking official would be granted anonymity and it is clear the New York Times is doing the bidding of Never-Trumpers and Democrats.”

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also piled on the former Trump official. You have got to be kidding me. Miles Taylor? That’s who the New York Times granted an anonymous editorial article? I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes. What a monumental embarrassment,” Meadows tweeted.

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“ALICE will never go back to her insecure, low-wage job, ever.”

ALICE Doesn’t Work Here Anymore (CHS)

Meet ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, at least she was employed until the pandemic presented impossible choices between taking care of her children and their education, and her aging parents, and keeping her demanding, low-wage job. Though it doesn’t fit in with the cute mythology of “capitalism” that apologists love to promote, ALICE wasn’t working to get ahead–she was working to barely survive in an economy where wages have stagnated for decades and recently lost ground at an alarming rate as costs for everything from rent to childcare to utilities have soared while her hours have been cut.

This is the neofeudalism I’ve often described here: the modern-day equivalent of the landless (i.e. owns no capital) serf is a landless (i.e. owns no capital) debt-serf with student loans, an auto loan and credit card debt and income that is constrained by globalization, financialization and the scarcity of high-paying work that isn’t reserved for insiders and the privileged few who chose their wealthy, well-educated, socially connected parents wisely. Lacking capital and any realistic means of acquiring any, the debt-serf has only labor to sell, and in a globalized world in which everyone selling their labor is competing globally for work producing tradable goods and services, ordinary labor has lost purchasing power for the past 45 years (see charts below).

The dominance of Big Tech monopoly platforms has created new fields for the exploitation of ordinary labor in the low-paid gig economy and fulfillment centers. The traditional neofeudal fiefdoms (retail outlets, hospitality and restaurants) have been hit by the pandemic pullback in consumer spending, and the other low-wage fiefdoms (fast food and domestic service) have been in structural decline for years. Meanwhile, the owners of the Financial Nobility’s fiefdoms and Big Tech monopolies have enjoyed unprecedented gains in income and wealth (see charts below) as wages’ share of the economy has declined for decades, in effect transferring trillions from labor to the Financial Nobility.

This neofeudal arrangement is about to change as Universal Basic Income (UBI) or its equivalent becomes the accepted status quo solution to neofeudalism’s soaring inequality. Since there’s no limit to how much currency can be created by the Federal Reserve, then why not distribute enough “free money” to the serfs to tamp down the brewing revolt? What the political class and the Financial Nobility don’t yet grasp (due to their complete disconnect from neofeudal daily life) is that ALICE will never go back to her insecure, low-wage job, ever. No matter how meager the UBI, permanent unemployment, stimulus or whatever the political class calls the distribution of “Fed free money,” ALICE will find a way to escape the bonds of neofeudal serfdom.

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But can’t create it, or print it. I’m not a fan of using all sorts of different kids of inflation, but in this case the point remains the same.

The Fed MUST Have Inflation (Rickards)

The Fed says that “price stability” is part of their dual mandate and they are committed to maintaining the purchasing power of the dollar. But the Fed has a funny definition of price stability. Common sense says price stability should be zero inflation and zero deflation. A dollar five years from now should have the same purchasing power as a dollar today. Of course, this purchasing power would be “on average,” since some items are always going up or down in price for reasons that have nothing to do with the Fed. And how you construct the price index matters also. It’s an inexact science, but zero inflation seems like the right target. But the Fed target is 2%, not zero. If that sounds low, it’s not. Inflation of 2% cuts the purchasing power of a dollar in half in 35 years and in half again in another 35 years.


That means in an average lifetime of 70 years, 2% will cause the dollar to 75% of its purchasing power! Just 3% inflation will cut the purchasing power of a dollar by almost 90% in the same average lifetime. But for the Fed, there’s a problem: They can’t produce 2% inflation. Inflation depends on consumer psychology. We have not had much consumer price inflation, but we have had huge asset price inflation. The “inflation” is not in consumer prices; it’s in asset prices. The printed money has to go somewhere. Instead of chasing goods, investors have been chasing yield. Inflation would help diminish the real value of the debt, but central banks have obviously proved impotent at generating inflation. Now central banks face the new depression and more deflation with few policy options to fight it.

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” There is not a single case in history where such a recusal of the justice has occurred under this type of flimsy claim.”

Ornstein: Impeach Amy Coney Barrett (Turley)

My column this morning in the Hill discussed a call by columnist and professor Norm Ornstein to impeach Amy Coney Barrett if she does not yield to a demand to recuse herself from any election challenge before the Court. A demand for such recusal was filed yesterday in the Supreme Court. Ornstein’s call for impeachment is the latest unhinged response to Barrett nomination and further decouples our national debate from any sense rationality and restraint. Ornstein declared on Twitter: “If Amy Coney Barrett goes on the Court and immediately votes for PA voter suppression, she should quickly be impeached. Trump asked her openly to act to tilt the scales of the election.”

I have already addressed the recusal calls as entirely baseless. Recusal under these circumstances would create a dangerous precedent for future nominees who are pressured to recuse solely to influence the outcome of pending or expected cases. There is not a single case in history where such a recusal of the justice has occurred under this type of flimsy claim. Barrett has no personal, professional, or financial interest in pending election cases. We have had only one justice ever impeached in our history. That was Samuel Chase in 1804 and he was acquitted by the Senate in 1805.

The Chase case is a telling point of comparison. Like today, the politics of the time were lethal and hysterical. Chase was a highly partisan Federalist who was tainted by the use of the Alien and Sedition Acts to attack political critics during the Administration of John Adams. The impeachment, supported by Thomas Jefferson, was based on Chase’s presiding on controversial trials for figures like James Callender. Despite the Federalist being in the minority in the Senate, the senators overwhelmingly rejected the case against Chase. It remains to be seen if we have a bipartisan majority of senators equally committed to the integrity of the Court and the Constitution today.

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Bellingcat is a dangerous arm of US, UK intelligence. We will see that soon again in the MH17 mess.

Bellingcat Smears OPCW Whistleblower, Journalists With False Letter (Maté)

Bellingcat, the NATO member state-funded website that has participated in a propaganda effort to accuse Syria of a chemical weapons attack in April 2018 and justify the US-led bombing that followed, has published a new falsehood-ridden attack on an OPCW whistleblower whose suppressed findings exposed the pro-war deception. According to Bellingcat, a leak that it has obtained not only “proves that a chemical attack did occur,” in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018, but also, “shows that any notion of a cover-up at the OPCW is false.” Contrary to Bellingcat’s account, the website has only added a new chapter to the OPCW cover-up scandal by publishing an article beset with multiple demonstrable falsehoods and outlandish or unsupported claims.

It also features a malicious effort to dox and discredit a veteran, highly-regarded OPCW inspector who challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation. The anonymously authored Bellingcat article’s problems begin with its very premise, which turns out to be a blatant falsehood. The article is based on excerpts of a leaked draft letter that, Bellingcat claims, was sent in June 2019 by OPCW Director General Fernando Arias to Brendan Whelan, a member of the OPCW’s Douma team. However, The Grayzone can reveal that the text that Bellingcat published was never actually sent to Whelan. Indeed, the text of the letter featured by Bellingcat was actually an unsent draft that Whelan never received. This fact dismantles the heart of the NATO state-backed website’s argument.

Dr. Whelan, a 16-year OPCW veteran, first challenged the censorship of his team’s investigation in June 2018, weeks after the OPCW team returned from Syria. A series of leaks show that Whelan and the other OPCW inspectors who deployed to Syria found evidence that undermined allegations of a chemical attack in Douma. Yet their data was suppressed, and, when the censorship was challenged, the inspectors were removed from their own investigation. The cover-up coincided with pressure on the OPCW from the U.S. government, which had bombed Syria, along with the UK and France, in April 2018 based on the pretext that the Syrian government was culpable. The OPCW’s final report in March 2019 omitted the suppressed findings and strongly implied Syrian government guilt.

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Well, it’s something.

Greece Has Protected Its Jobs Better Than The Rest Of The EU (K.)

The Greek government’s measures to protect workers from the effects of the pandemic have served as a shield against unemployment, according to the course of the jobless rate in Greece and the rest of the European Union as revealed by Eurostat figures. In the second quarter of the year, when most of the bloc was in lockdown, the share of workers in Greece who lost their job was below 2% of those employed, against over 6.5% in Spain and between 3.5% and 5% in Italy. Across most EU countries, that rate ranged between 2% and 3.5%, according to an experimental study by the bloc’s statistical service.


Greece achieved that thanks to the introduction of contract suspensions and the subsidy of 534 euros per month to each worker furloughed, which is continuing for more than 160,000 recipients. This puts this country among the member-states that proved best at protecting jobs in the April-June period. On Thursday 116,860 workers will receive the special-purpose compensation for September, adding up to €58 million, and another 41,504 will collect a total of €10.6 million through the Syn-Ergasia labor subsidy program.

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“Don’t harsh my mellow, man. I’m doing this for a couple bags of blow and a $20, man. You suck!”

Jack Dorsey Hires Homeless Man To Fill In For Him At Senate Hearings (BBee)

Jack Dorsey was summoned to the Senate’s hearing on Big Tech today, but he was tripping on acid with the spider-monkeys off the southern coast of St. Bart’s, so he quickly called up his office and had his people hire a homeless man hanging out in front of Twitter’s headquarters to fill in for him. The hobo was holding up a sign reading “Will Go to Senate Hearing for Crack,” and Dorsey’s assistants quickly hired him for the hearing. “Yeah, uh, censorship, I like that. That’s good stuff,” said the hobo to the confused panel. “The apocalypse is coming, man. The signs are all around us!”

“Sorry, Mr., uh, Dorsey, we were expecting a professional-looking CEO, but you’re clearly just a hobo off the streets of San Francisco,” said Senator Mike Lee. “Couldn’t you at least have taken a shower before talking to the United States Senate?” “Hey, bro, chill out,” the hobo responded. “Don’t harsh my mellow, man. I’m doing this for a couple bags of blow and a $20, man. You suck!” For his part, Mark Zuckerberg programmed a lookalike android to testify.

Ron Johnson @jack

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May 252018
 


Wassily Kandinsky Moscow Red Square 1916

 

Riskiest Junk Bonds Still Blissful in La-La Land, High-Grade Bonds Bleed (WS)
When Rates Go Up, Stuff Blows Up (Dillian)
Where America’s Debt Slaves Are the Most Vulnerable (WS)
North Korea Says Still Open To Talks After Trump Cancels Summit (R.)
Brilliant Strategy Of Offering North Korea “The Libya Model” Falls Through (CJ)
About $1.2 Billion In Cryptocurrency Stolen Since 2017 (R.)
Zuckerberg Set Up Fraudulent Scheme To ‘Weaponise’ Data, Court Case Alleges (G.)
Facebook Accused Of Conducting Mass Surveillance Through Its Apps (G.)
EU Officials Tear Into UK’s ‘Fantasy’ Brexit Negotiating Strategy (Ind.)
Italy’s Belligerent New Coalition Is Bad News For The EU (Marsili)
Greece’s Post-Bailout Program Contains At Least 20 Milestones For 2018-2022 (K.)
How Rural America Became A Hospital Desert (G.)

 

 

Perhaps not a good time to chase yield?

Riskiest Junk Bonds Still Blissful in La-La Land, High-Grade Bonds Bleed (WS)

High-grade corporate bonds have had a hard time. Yields have surged as prices have fallen. The S&P bond index for AA-rated corporate bonds is down 3.2% so far this year. Losses are concentrated on bonds with maturities of 15 years and over. They’re down 7%, according to Bloomberg. As prices have declined, yields have surged, with the average AA yield now at 3.47%, up from around 2.2% in mid to late-2016:

In the chart above of the ICE BofAML US AA Effective Yield Index, I marked some key events, in terms of the bond yield:
• The election in November 2016, after which the yield spiked.
• In December 2016, the Fed’s second rate hike in this cycle. This was when the Fed got serious and added an increasingly more hawkish – or less dovish – tone. But the market blew it off, yield fell again, and bonds returned to la-la-land.
• In September 2017, the Fed announced details of its QE unwind, and yields began to rise again and then started spiking in late-2017. This was when the bond market got serious.

But at the riskiest end of the spectrum, with corporate bonds rated CCC or below (deep into junk), there is no such pain. In fact, the S&P bond index for CCC rated bonds is up 4.3% so far this year. They’ve had a blistering 82%-run since February 2016, when Wall Street decided that the oil bust was over and plowed new money into junk-rated energy companies. The average yield of bonds rated CCC or lower is now at 9.78%, down from 12.5% in December 2016, when the Fed got serious, and down from 22% during the peak of the oil bust:

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Looking for the third victim.

When Rates Go Up, Stuff Blows Up (Dillian)

When rates go up sharply, stuff blows up, because lots of people are negatively exposed to higher rates. Households, corporates, and governments are all negatively exposed to higher rates, in different degrees. Back in 1994, we found that it was Mexico, Procter & Gamble, and Orange County, California who all suffered because of higher interest rates. Where does the risk live today? We will soon find out. There is a playbook for when interest rates go up. Rising interest rates do not necessarily cause a recession per se, but they are usually found at the scene of the crime. There was no recession in 1994, but the financial world shivered. Today, we have rising rates and a more-hawkish Fed which has shown no signs of letting up.

As usual, emerging markets are puking their guts out. I was in Argentina last week and saw the carnage first-hand. The Argentine peso declined a smooth 20% in a week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Erdogan is calling himself an “enemy of interest rates.” He is an FX trader’s dream. Of course, there are idiosyncratic things going on in Argentina and Turkey, but all EM currencies and stock markets have been getting hit hard. Emerging markets was a consensus pick at the beginning of 2018, so it is making some people look a bit foolish.

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“..the ratio of non-housing consumer debt to disposable income – the burden these consumers carry on the backs in relationship to their incomes – is higher than ever..”

Where America’s Debt Slaves Are the Most Vulnerable (WS)

Many consumers are debt free and have lots of money and good jobs. Other consumers have large amounts of debt, lousy jobs or no jobs, and are paying for groceries by charging them on their credit cards. Credit problems always involve the most vulnerable consumers. During the mortgage crisis, the delinquency rate peaked at 11.5% in 2010. It wasn’t the 60% of homeowners that had significantly payed down their mortgages or owed no money on their homes who triggered that event. It was the financial mayhem among the smaller portion of the most exposed and most vulnerable. For a different view of the burden of debt, let’s look at non-housing consumer debt, because this is where the music is playing right now.

To eliminate for a moment the impact of interest rates, let’s look at the amount of debt – not the monthly payments – as percent of disposable income. And suddenly, the risks emerge a little more clearly. At year-end 2017, the ratio of non-housing debt – revolving credit such as credit card balances, plus auto loans and student loans – to disposable income reached a new record of 26.3%, up from 23% at the end of 2010, and up from 24% in 2007, the peak before it all came apart during the Great Recession:

So the ratio of non-housing consumer debt to disposable income – the burden these consumers carry on the backs in relationship to their incomes – is higher than ever, and only historically low interest rates have kept it manageable. But interest rates are now rising, and many of these consumer debts have variable rates. This explains a phenomenon that is already appearing: How this toxic mix – rising interest rates and record high consumer debt in relationship to disposable income – has now started to bite the most vulnerable consumers once again. And for them, debt service is getting very difficult. In Q1, the delinquency rate on credit card debt at banks other than the largest 100 – so at the 4,788 smaller banks – spiked to 5.9%, higher than at the peak during the Financial Crisis, and the credit-card charge-off rate spiked to 8%.

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They seem more than open.

North Korea Says Still Open To Talks After Trump Cancels Summit (R.)

North Korea responded on Friday with measured tones to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to call off a historic summit with leader Kim Jong Un scheduled for next month, saying Pyongyang hoped for a “Trump formula” to resolve the standoff over its nuclear weapons program. On Thursday, Trump wrote a letter to Kim to announce his withdrawal from what would have been the first-ever meeting between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12. “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it would be inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote.

Trump’s announcement came after repeated threats by North Korea to pull out of the summit over what it saw as confrontational remarks by U.S. officials. Friday’s response by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan was more conciliatory, specifically praising Trump’s efforts. “We have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit,” Kim said in a statement carried by state media. “We even inwardly hoped that what is called “Trump formula” would help clear both sides of their worries and comply with the requirements of our side and would be a wise way of substantial effect for settling the issue,” he said, without elaborating.

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Caitlin: “..Pence blathered something about it being “a fact”, not a threat, but that is because he is a fake plastic doll manufactured by Raytheon. ..”

Brilliant Strategy Of Offering North Korea “The Libya Model” Falls Through (CJ)

Three days before President Trump announced him as the new National Security Advisor, deranged mutant death walrus John Bolton appeared on Radio Free Asia and said of negotiations with North Korea, “I think we should insist that if this meeting is going to take place, it will be similar to discussions we had with Libya 13 or 14 years ago.” Bolton has been loudly and publicly advocating “the Libya model” with the DPRK ever since. “I think we’re looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004,” Bolton said on Face the Nation last month, and said the same on Fox News Sunday in case anyone failed to get the message.

Bolton never bothered to refine his message by saying, for example, “Without the part where we betray and invade them and get their leader mutilated to death in the streets.” He just said they’re doing Libya again. This was what John Bolton was saying before he was hired, and this was what John Bolton continued to say after he was hired. This was what John Bolton was hired to do. He was hired to sabotage peace and facilitate death and destruction. That is what he does. That is what he is for. Can openers open cans, John Bolton starts wars. You don’t buy a can opener to rotate your tires, and you don’t hire John Bolton to facilitate peace. It should have surprised no one, then, when the administration saw Bolton’s Libya comments and raised him a canceled peace talk.

“You know, there were some talk about the Libya model last week,” Vice President Pence told Fox News on Saturday. “And you know, as the president made clear, you know, this will only end like the Libya model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.” “Some people saw that as a threat,” Fox’s Martha MacCallum replied, because there is no other way it could possibly be interpreted. Pence blathered something about it being “a fact”, not a threat, but that is because he is a fake plastic doll manufactured by Raytheon.

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The comments here on GDPR are at least as interesting.

About $1.2 Billion In Cryptocurrency Stolen Since 2017 (R.)

Criminals have stolen about $1.2 billion in cryptocurrencies since the beginning of 2017, as bitcoin’s popularity and the emergence of more than 1,500 digital tokens have put the spotlight on the unregulated sector, according to estimates from the Anti-Phishing Working Group released on Thursday. The estimates were part of the non-profit group’s research on cryptocurrency and include reported and unreported theft. “One problem that we’re seeing in addition to the criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering using cryptocurrencies is the theft of these tokens by bad guys,” Dave Jevans, chief executive officer of cryptocurrency security firm CipherTrace, told Reuters in an interview. Jevans is also chairman of APWG.

Of the $1.2 billion, Jevans estimates that only about 20 percent or less has been recovered, noting that global law enforcement agencies have their hands full tracking down these criminals. Their investigations of criminal activity will likely take a step back with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect on Friday. “GDPR will negatively impact the overall security of the internet and will also inadvertently aid cybercriminals,” said Jevans. “By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud and crypto-jacking,” he added.

GDPR, which passed in 2016, aims to simplify and consolidate rules that companies need to follow in order to protect their data and to return control of personal information to EU citizens and residents. The implementation of GDPR means that most European domain data in WHOIS, the internet’s database of record, will no longer be published publicly after May 25. WHOIS contains the names, addresses and email addresses of those who register domain names for websites.

WHOIS data is a fundamental resource for investigators and law enforcement officials who work to prevent thefts, Jevans said. He noted that WHOIS data is crucial in performing investigations that allow for the recovery of stolen funds, identifying the persons involved and providing vital information for law enforcement to arrest and prosecute criminals. “So what we’re going to see is that not only the European market goes dark for all of us; so all the bad guys will flow to Europe because you can actually access the world from Europe and there’s no way you can get the data anymore,” Jevans said.

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Facebook makes contradictory claims: First, it says it’s a neutral platform. But then it also wants full freedom to edit.

Interesting court case: the claim is Facebook stiffed 40,000 (!) companies. Reason why? It completely missed the shift to smartphones, and its ads were not ready for that at all.

Zuckerberg Set Up Fraudulent Scheme To ‘Weaponise’ Data, Court Case Alleges (G.)

Mark Zuckerberg faces allegations that he developed a “malicious and fraudulent scheme” to exploit vast amounts of private data to earn Facebook billions and force rivals out of business. A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme.

Facebook rejects all claims, and has made a motion to have the case dismissed using a free speech defence. It claims the first amendment protects its right to make “editorial decisions” as it sees fit. Zuckerberg and other senior executives have asserted that Facebook is a platform not a publisher, most recently in testimony to Congress. Heather Whitney, a legal scholar who has written about social media companies for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said, in her opinion, this exposed a potential tension for Facebook. “Facebook’s claims in court that it is an editor for first amendment purposes and thus free to censor and alter the content available on its site is in tension with their, especially recent, claims before the public and US Congress to be neutral platforms.”

The company that has filed the case, a former startup called Six4Three, is now trying to stop Facebook from having the case thrown out and has submitted legal arguments that draw on thousands of emails, the details of which are currently redacted. Facebook has until next Tuesday to file a motion requesting that the evidence remains sealed, otherwise the documents will be made public.

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Somewhat oddly similar to the article above, also Guardian. Facebook is up against people who actually DO understand the field.

Facebook Accused Of Conducting Mass Surveillance Through Its Apps (G.)

Facebook used its apps to gather information about users and their friends, including some who had not signed up to the social network, reading their text messages, tracking their locations and accessing photos on their phones, a court case in California alleges. The claims of what would amount to mass surveillance are part of a lawsuit brought against the company by the former startup Six4Three, listed in legal documents filed at the superior court in San Mateo as part of a court case that has been ongoing for more than two years. A Facebook spokesperson said that Six4Three’s “claims have no merit, and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously”. Facebook did not directly respond to questions about surveillance.

Documents filed in the court last week draw upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives, which are currently sealed. Facebook has deployed a feature of California law, designed to protect freedom of speech, to argue that the case should be dismissed. Six4Three is opposing that motion. The allegations about surveillance appear in a January filing, the fifth amended complaint made by Six4Three. It alleges that Facebook used a range of methods, some adapted to the different phones that users carried, to collect information it could use for commercial purposes.

“Facebook continued to explore and implement ways to track users’ location, to track and read their texts, to access and record their microphones on their phones, to track and monitor their usage of competitive apps on their phones, and to track and monitor their calls,” one court document says.

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All over the place.

EU Officials Tear Into UK’s ‘Fantasy’ Brexit Negotiating Strategy (Ind.)

Brexit negotiations have begun to dramatically sour after months of deadlock, with exasperated EU officials tearing into Britain’s “fantasy” negotiating strategy and warning that Theresa May’s latest customs plan would ruin any chance of progress. This week’s latest meetings are understood to have produced no progress on the core issues of the Northern Ireland border and customs, with last year’s business-like start to discussions having given way to bitter behind-the-scenes briefings. One senior EU official said the UK still lacked negotiating positions on a wide variety of issues and that in others it was “chasing the fantasy of denying the consequences of Brexit in a given policy area” – while a UK government source accused Brussels of trying to “insult” the British negotiating team.

Another Brussels official close to talks told The Independent they had been warned internally that there would probably be no progress by the June meeting of the European Council – which would throw off the timetable and raise the risk of a disastrous “no deal”. News that Theresa May wants to align the whole UK with the customs union and single market on a time-limited basis until 2023 as a backstop to solve the Irish border issue was particularly poorly received in Brussels. The Prime Minister is due to actually announce the new policy in the comings weeks, but people familiar with the talks confirmed it had already been raised by UK negotiators. The European Commission’s negotiators have already rejected the plan before its public announcement

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Then agan, Tsipras folded too…

Italy’s Belligerent New Coalition Is Bad News For The EU (Marsili)

As Giuseppe Conte is asked to form Italy’s next government, I walk out of a screening of Loro, the controversial portrayal of Silvio Berlusconi by Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino. With images of drug-fuelled sex parties still in my mind, the uproar that accompanies the announcement about Conte appears odd. Italy has endured more than 30 years of dreadful governments. For much of the last two decades the country was led by a convicted tax fraudster. Before that, it was led by Bettino Craxi, a politician so corrupt that he ended his days as a fugitive in Tunisia. Why worry now? Part of the answer lies in the outsider nature of the new governing parties. Italian elites have traditionally been very adept at assimilating political newcomers.

Who, in turn, have been willingly co-opted by the system. But the new coalition of the Five Star Movement and far-right League appears peculiarly unconnected to Italy’s high establishment: the risk of loss of influence is real enough. Previous governments were quick to guarantee policy continuity, maintaining a neoliberal economic stance, overall respect for EU obligations, and a US-aligned foreign policy. The coalition promises to break away from this consensus, ushering in an era of fiscal expansion, resentment at Italy’s eurozone membership and closer ties to Russia. The key question now is: will the new government abandon its fiery stance or stick to it? Both alternatives are unfortunately dreadful.

The capitulation scenario is a familiar one. Just like Alexis Tsipras, who turned into a reliable implementer of austerity measures in Greece, so Conte’s government might decide to set aside its promises. The gulf is wide: the coalition programme contains at least €60bn of additional yearly expenses, or 3.5% of Italy’s GDP, while the EU is demanding a 0.6% deficit reduction for 2018. A bargain might look strikingly similar to what Matteo Renzi has achieved in recent years: a moderate loosening of deficit targets allowing for an insignificant fiscal expansion. In other words: business as usual.

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Cuts, cuts, cuts, taxes and sell-offs.

Greece’s Post-Bailout Program Contains At Least 20 Milestones For 2018-2022 (K.)

The sweeping agreement for the conclusion of the fourth bailout review, publicized early on Thursday by the European Commission, contains binding commitments for Greece until 2022. It more or less constitutes an extension to the bailout agreement for another four years, but without the inflow of money, while rendering the coalition government’s rhetoric regarding a “clean exit” and its so-called “holistic plan for growth” irrelevant. The text uploaded by the Commission on its website leaves open the possibility for the income tax discount reduction to be brought forward by 12 months to January 2019, and provides for the monitoring of the deal’s implementation in the context of the enhanced surveillance to be agreed in the next Eurogroup meeting on June 21.

Besides the almost 90 milestones that need to be implemented in the next three weeks for the completion of the program, the government is undertaking at least 20 post-program obligations to be applied by 2022. The post-program milestones start from the fiscal side: Apart from the well-known primary budget surplus of 3.5% of GDP, the adjusted bailout agreement calls for additional interventions should any court decisions annul any austerity measures in place.

The text also contains the reduction of pensions from 2019 to save 1% of GDP, the full abolition of the EKAS benefit for people on low pensions, the completion of the National Cadaster by June 2021, the implementation of privatizations such as the gas network operator (DESFA), the 17% stake in PPC, and the Elliniko development, among others, and ceilings on civil servant employment and salaries by 2022. The document further refers to the need to improve labor mediation to avert recourse to arbitration, the completion of the process for hiring general and special secretaries for ministries, and the immediate transfer of railway property company GAIAOSE and the company managing the Olympic Sports Center of Athens to the privatizations hyperfund.

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Don’t let accountants run your health care.

How Rural America Became A Hospital Desert (G.)

It makes sense to sell this old place now, but he can’t bring himself to leave her ashes. Barry Gibbs lives alone in a single-story home among the loblollies of Hyde County in eastern North Carolina. The army veteran collects a small disability check after he tore tendons in his shoulder during a fall at his maintenance job at the local school. He winces every time he stands up. He’s 64 years old and the closest hospital is more than an hour away, a distance he came to understand too damn well on the day she needed help. Their wedding portrait still hangs on the living room wall. It’s one of those 1980s shots with the laser beam backgrounds, her hair big and his mustache combed, his hand on her shoulder.

The interior of the house is almost as she left it four years ago: white oak floors, paintings of black bears, family Christmas photos on end tables. Outside along the driveway, a line of cypress trees shades a headstone that marks where Barry cut a ditch and spread Portia’s ashes, right where she asked to be. Everybody called her Po. She was picking up sticks from the yard on 7 July 2014, five days shy of her 49th birthday, when she felt a sharp pain in her chest. Six days earlier, their community hospital had closed. Pungo district hospital was 47 miles west of their house, in Belhaven, and had served the county since 1949, back when crab-picking plants and lumber mills kept these small waterfront communities working.

If you’re an accountant, hospitals are only as good as the number of paying patients. Belhaven’s population is about half what it was then. And Hyde county is now the fifth-sparsest county on the east coast, with nine people per square mile. This spongy stretch of North Carolina’s inner banks represents the suffering side of a modern migration pattern in which southern cities are flourishing, but rural areas are shrinking and losing healthcare options. Since 2010, 53 rural hospitals have closed in 11 southern states, compared with 30 in the other 39 states.

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