Take Out The Gunman

 

Wednesday,  Apr 18,  2018

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant opens its doors to tourism. (TASS)

 CIA Director Pompeo secretly met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un President Trump confirmed Wednesday that over Easter weekend, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a covert visit to North Korea on behalf of the administration and met with Kim Jong Un. Trump told reporters that Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un and got along with him really well, really great.” Pompeo’s visit was an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Trump and Kim regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, per The Washington Post. The meeting was held soon after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, and about a week later, U.S. officials said the government had directly confirmed Kim was willing to discuss possible denuclearization. Source: The Washington Post

Trump administration reportedly decides against new Russia sanctions The Trump administration has apparently decided not to levy new sanctions on Russia. The White House informed the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., that no additional sanctions are coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told CNN. The decision comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that new sanctions would be coming to “send a strong message” to Russia about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other administration figures rushed to backpedal Haley’s statement, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that Haley’s announcement was the result of “momentary confusion.” Kudlow later clarified that Haley wasn’t confused, but rather was following “what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it.” Source: The New York Times

Miguel Díaz-Canel expected to succeed Raúl Castro as Cuban president Cuban President Raúl Castro is expected to step down this week, with Miguel Díaz-Canel the lone candidate to be his successor. The move comes less than two years after the death of Fidel Castro, who was the brother of 86-year-old Raúl. Díaz-Canel, 57, is described by The Washington Post as “a consensus builder unlikely to push for quick or radical change.” He will be the first new leader of the communist island nation after almost 60 years of rule by the Castro brothers. “This is about institutionalizing the regime,” explained Jorge Domínguez, a Cuba expert at Harvard University, adding: “If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.” Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday,   Apr 17, 2018

In Los Angeles, SpaceX announced that they will build a massive rocket named BFR capable of sending humans to Mars. (PC Magazine)

A passenger jet suffers an uncontained engine failure during a flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. One passenger is killed. The aircraft diverts to Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are considering replacing the U.S. military forces in Syria with a regional Arab force. (Haaretz)

Israel holds services remembering 23,646 Israeli soldiers and 3,134 civilians killed in the conflict. (The Times of Israel)

Egypt invites rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to meet in Cairo in a bid to halt violent protests at the Israeli-Gazan border. (i24 News)

The names of 3,607 employees of Unit 731, a Japanese military medical experimentation unit associated with war crimes during World War II, are released. Prosecutors in the United States had kept their identities secret following the war in exchange for access to data gleaned from the project. (Newsweek)

North Korea and South Korea announce that they are planning to officially end the Korean War by writing a peace agreement. An armistice agreement was reached, ending armed conflict, in 1953. U.S. President Donald Trump called the decision to end the war a blessing. (Business Insider)

United States officials state that Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo met with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. (WBIR-TV)

The European Commission announces plans to force tech companies worldwide that provide services within the European Union to supply data on their users in counterterror investigations. (The Guardian)

Amid anti-government protests, Armenia’s National Assembly swears in former President Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister. The opposition call the move a “power grab”. (BBC)

Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush dies at age 92. (Reuters)

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World’s Oldest Man

Thursday, Apr 12,  2018

Japanese supercentenarian Masazo Nonaka is confirmed as the world’s oldest living man. (Sky News)

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-violent-cities-in-the-world-2018-3

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/musta-israel-agents-pose-palestinians-171218061118857.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-instragram-spacex-mars-ship-2018-4

 

 

Trump backpedals threats against Russia, Syria President Trump appeared to backpedal his threats against Russia and Syria on Thursday after warning a day earlier that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” The White House has spent the week debating a response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria last weekend that left dozens dead and hundreds affected. Trump, who frequently lamented former President Barack Obama foregoing “the element of surprise,” said Thursday that he “never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The president added, “In any event, the United States, under my administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?'” Source: Donald J. Trump, HuffPost

Report: FBI raid on Trump lawyer sought Access Hollywood tape records The FBI was reportedly looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, caught Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals. While it wasn’t immediately clear what Cohen’s relation might be to the tape, the news “reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan,” The New York Times writes. The FBI agents are also thought to be investigating “hush” payments Cohen might have made to women on Trump’s behalf as well as other possible financial crimes. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday,  Apr 11,  2018

 The International Criminal Court finds radical nationalist Serb Vojislav Seselj guilty of war crimes against Bosnians during the Balkans war and sentences him to ten years in prison. He is immediately released as he served more than eleven years in the court’s custody, and takes to Twitter to declare himself “proud of my war crimes”. (al-Jazeera)

The family of a man killed in California when his Tesla Model X crashed with the Autopilot engaged says they intend to sue the carmaker. His wife further says he had complained of flaws in the vehicle’s behaviour and predicted his death in a collision with the barrier his car ultimately hit. (Electrek)

The death toll from tainted alcohol in Jakarta and West Java, Indonesia, reaches at least 82. (Reuters)

The Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over the Saudi capital Riyadh that caused panic among residents. Houthis say they fired several Burkan-2 missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco oil facilities. Separately, Saudi Air Defenses shoot down two Houthi-operated Qasef-1 drones near the border. (Reuters)

Spain’s Audiencia Nacional sentences ten Islamic extremists to between eight and twelve years in prison for a plot to launch attacks against Barcelona landmarks and behead a hostage on camera. The cell was convicted yesterday. (El País)

The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court jails two Egyptians and a Saudi for fifteen years each and fines them for promoting terrorist ideologies online. The court orders them deported after release, their computer equipment seized, and their social media presences deleted. (Gulf News)

An Ilyushin Il-76 military plane crashes shortly after take-off from Boufarik Military Airport in Algeria, killing all 257 passengers on board. (BBC)

Poland releases a new report on the disaster, which killed 96 including then-President Lech Kaczyński, rejecting previous findings and claiming instead air traffic controllers in Smolensk, Russia, gave the jet erroneous information prior to two explosions destroying the jet in midair. (Radio Poland)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, leaving existing permits untouched. (The New Zealand Herald)

Elmira Medynska, the partner of Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, tells his inquest at the Central Criminal Court in London he seemed nervous and had been unwell prior to his death. The inquest is attempting to determine if Perepilichnyy had been murdered. (BBC)

South Korean politician Ahn Hee-jung is indicted on accusations he repeatedly raped his aide Kim Ji-eun, who previously accused him publicly of sexual abuse. (Gulf News)

South Korea national security adviser Chung Eui-yong visits Washington, D.C. and meets with his U.S. counterpart John R. Bolton. (Yonhap News Agency)

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Ri Sol Ju

Thursday, Mar 29,  2018

U.S. graphics processing unit producer Nvidia suspends all its tests of self-driving cars. (The Verge)

Uber reaches a lawsuit settlement with the victim’s family of an autonomous vehicle. (Reuters)

Claims emerge that Uber had disabled Volvo’s collision avoidance technology in the self-driving car involved in a fatal accident in Arizona. (Bloomberg)

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launches a probe into a Tesla electric car crash and fire in California. The NTSB says it will investigate issues firefighters had trying to determine how to respond. (Bloomberg)

Date set for meeting between leaders of North and South Korea South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold a summit on April 27, South Korea announced Thursday. High-level officials from both countries set up the meeting during talks in the border village of Panmunjom, and the Koreas plan to hold a second preparatory meeting on April 4. South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said there was a “sufficient exchange of opinions” on the agendas of the April 27 summit, but didn’t provide a clear answer on whether Pyongyang’s nuclear program will be among the items Kim and Moon discuss. The leaders of South and North Korea have only held talks twice since the 1950-53 Korean War — once in 2000 and again in 2007. Source: Bloomberg, The Associated Press

Trump ousts VA Secretary David Shulkin President Trump announced Wednesday on Twitter that he has ousted Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Shulkin had been widely rumored to be on the outs, as his department has been consumed by internecine fighting and lack of direction. “I appreciate the work of Dr. David Shulkin and the many great things we did together at Veterans Affairs,” Trump said in a statement accompanying his tweet. Trump announced he would nominate Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who currently serves as the presidential physician, as Shulkin’s replacement; Robert Wilkie, an undersecretary in the Department of Defense, will serve until Jackson receives Senate confirmation. Source: NBC News, The Washington Post

Baseball returns with historic all-team opening day Baseball returns Thursday with an all-team opening day, the first of its kind since 1968, when there were just 20 Major League Baseball franchises. Although 15 games were scheduled for Thursday as to make for an appearance of all 30 teams, the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals have preemptively postponed their game until Friday due to “impending inclement weather” in Ohio, so only 28 baseball teams will ultimately play. The marathon otherwise kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET when the Chicago Cubs face the Miami Marlins. The 2017 World Series Champions, the Houston Astros, will play the Texas Rangers at 3:30 p.m. ET in Arlington, and games will continue on through 10:10 p.m. ET when the last, between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, begins in Phoenix. Source: The Ringer, SB Nation

 

Wednesday,  Mar 28,  2018

Mubarak al-Ajji, named on a Qatari official list of wanted terrorists, wins second place at a government-sponsored triathlon and is photographed at the medal ceremony. (The Week)

 The United Arab Emirates, with help from Korea Electric Power Corp., completes construction of the first reactor complex at the Barakah nuclear power plant 50 km west of Ruwais. The complex is the first Arab nuclear power plant. (The Mercury News)

The governments of China and North Korea both confirm that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing during the past four days. China states that North Korea is “committed to denuclearization” and willing to hold a summit with the United States. (Reuters)

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The Least Independentist

 

Topless Femen protester flashes Silvio Berlusconi

 

Are We Doomed?
by Steve Sailer

Consider airliner safety. During the month of August 1985, when I was flying frequently on business, three commercial jet airliners crashed, killing 712 people. In contrast, in the entire year of 2017, there was not a single fatal commercial jet airliner crash anywhere in the world.

This trend didn’t happen automatically or effortlessly. Guys like my father, an engineer at Lockheed from the 1930s to the 1980s, put a lot of sweat into making planes safer. And when they failed, they had to walk the crash sites picking up broken pieces of the plane (and of the passengers).

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

Shape of Water, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman win big at Oscars The Shape of Water was named best picture Sunday night at the 2018 Academy Awards, with Guillermo del Toro winning best director. The night’s other big winners include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s Frances McDormand for best actress and Sam Rockwell for best actor in a supporting role; Darkest Hour‘s Gary Oldman for best actor; I, Tonya‘s Allison Janney for best actress in a supporting role; Get Out‘s Jordan Peele for best original screenplay; Call Me By Your Name‘s James Ivory for best adapted screenplay; Coco for best animated feature film; and Icarus for documentary feature. Source: Los Angeles Times

China’s Xi Jinping poised to extend his rule indefinitely The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee introduced a proposal last week to remove the presidential term limit constraining the rule of President Xi Jinping. On Monday, the constitutional amendment is expected to be overwhelmingly passed by the National People’s Congress, permitting Xi, already enormously powerful, to extend his rule indefinitely. The change has been subject to criticism on Chinese social media, and it marks a major undoing of reforms implemented since the era of Mao Zedong. President Trump commented on the plan at a fundraiser in Florida Saturday, saying it is “great” Xi will be “president for life,” and musing, “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” The White House did not respond to a request to clarify whether Trump was joking. Source:  Reuters

Italy votes for populists, right-wingers, denies any faction a majority Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement won the most votes in the country’s national elections on Sunday, but a right-leaning coalition is likely to win the most seats, with no party or group earning a majority, projections showed early Monday. Five Star, a populist party started in 2009 by a former comedian, was projected to win about 32.5 percent of the vote, followed by the anti-immigrant right-wing party the League, with 17.7 percent, plus the League’s main coalition party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, at 13.3 percent. The ruling center-left Democrats are projected to get just under 20 percent, with their leftist coalition earning about 22 percent. It is unclear whether the Five Stars, which reject establishment parties, will be able or willing to form a governing coalition. Source: Reuters

 

Sunday, Mar 4, 2018

Scientists discover a big colony of the more than 750,000 pairs of Adélie penguins on the Danger Islands in Antarctica. (WGN-TV)

Advertisers remove their ads from InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ YouTube channel after being contacted by CNN. (Independent)

South African officials determine that the country’s ongoing listeriosis outbreak — which is already the world’s deadliest listeriosis outbreak, killing over 180 people and sickening 1,000 more—was caused by contaminated “Polony” processed meat from RCL Foods and from Tiger Brands subsidiary company Enterprise Food. The Ministry of Health issues a recall of contaminated products and advises the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat. (Reuters)

A senior Chinese diplomat says that China does not want a trade war with the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a plan to put tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. (CNBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump states North Korea was recently seeking talks with the United States. (Chicago Tribune)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in announces he is sending two officials to meet with North Korea. (The Week)

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulates Chinese President Xi Jinping on eliminating China’s presidential term limits, and reportedly advocates for similar action to be taken in the United States. (CNN)

SPD party members approve with 66% in favour to allow to form a coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU, ending a five-month political deadlock after the federal elections. (BBC)

15,000 demonstrators gather in Barcelona, Spain, to support the mock region of Tabarnia—a hypothetical area that includes the least independentist areas of Catalonia—as a way to oppose Catalan independence and the declaration of independence on October 27. (The Washington Post)

Swiss voters reject a proposal to scrap the television licence fee that provides the majority of funding for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. Swiss voters also approve the right of the federal government to levy VAT and direct federal tax until 2025. (BBC)

Hyperbolic asteroids A/2017 U7 and A/2018 C2 are announced, although their orbit suggests they are not interstellar in origin. (Minor Planet Center1)(Minor Planet Center2)

 

Saturday, Mar 3, 2018

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 36 pro-Syrian government troops were killed in a Turkish airstrike in Afrin, Syria. (BBC)

Turkish troops and the Free Syrian Army seize control of the strategic town of Rajo, Syria, from YPG forces. (Al Masdar News) (The Guardian)

Gazan officials say Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian farmer on his own land in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli military spokesperson said that he got too close to the border fence. (Oman Times)

In a message on Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump says the U.S. will apply a tax on cars made in the European Union if the E.U. “further” increases tariffs.(BBC)

Hours after the Polish so-called Holocaust Law about discussing of historical facts takes effect, the Polish League Against Defamation sues Argentinian newspaper Página/12, which it accuses of suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust. (Reuters)

On the day of the funeral of slain journalist Ján Kuciak, for lack of evidence, police release seven Italian nationals who are accused of links with the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in a posthumously published investigative report by Kuciak. (Daily Star)

The Florida Senate rejects a bill to ban “assault weapons” and holds a moment of “silence and reflection” for the Parkland, Florida, victims. (The Washington Post)

The International Football Association Board, which sets the rules for association football, approves the use of video assistant referees, which will be used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. (BBC)

 

 

Friday,  Mar 2, 2018

An Israel Police anti-corruption unit questions Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara. (Reuters)

A terrorist attack at the French embassy and military headquarters in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, leaves 28 people dead and at least 50 others injured. (BBC)

An attack on a village, part of the unrest between ethnic Lendu and Hema communities, leaves 49 people dead in the Ituri Province of DR Congo. (News18)

At least 25 people are killed in a fire at a drug-rehabilitation clinic in Baku, Azerbaijan. (RFE/RL)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denies White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders’ claim that Russia breached any international arms control pacts, after President Vladimir Putin’s March 1 speech on nuclear weapons. (Reuters)

The Hellenic Parliament passes a bill legalising the use of medical cannabis in Greece. New Democracy, Communist Party, Golden Dawn and the Union of Centrists voted against the government-sponsored bill. (Greek Reporter)

Antonio Tajani, the current President of the European Parliament, accepts the offer of Silvio Berlusconi to stand as a candidate for Prime Minister of Italy for Forza Italia. (The Local)

European Union lawmakers strike a deal on opening up the 3.6 and 26 GHz bandwidths by 2020 to make room for the new 5G network. (Reuters)

The Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden sets the 24-hour swimming record in a 25-meter pool at 102.8 kilometres (63.9 mi). (SwimSwam)

 

Thursday, Mar 1,  2018

The Parliament of Iraq votes to oblige the federal government to set a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops. (Iraq News)

An alleged Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a House Intelligence Committee Republican was behind the leak to Fox News of private text messages between a Russian-connected lawyer and Senator Mark Warner, the committee vice-chairman, concerning an attempt to contact Christopher Steele, author of the Trump–Russia dossier. Committee chairman Richard Burr later denied the leak report. (The New York Times)(Slate)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. (BBC)

Police in Oslo, Norway, say that the FBI is assisting in the investigation into two forged nominations of Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The impersonator allegedly used the same stolen identity twice. (Newser)(The Washington Post)

Dilek Öcalan, MP for the pro-Kurdish HDP party, is sentenced to two and a half years in jail on charges of terror propaganda related to her participation in the 2016 funeral of a PKK fighter. Nine HDP MPs are currently in jail. (NRT)

NASA astronomers use the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes in research implying that “hot Saturn” (high surface-atmosphere temperatures and gas giant-mass) exoplanet WASP-39b, located 700 light-years from Earth, has a large amount of water molecules in its atmosphere. (NASA)

THE END

The Real Wakanda

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

How To Exploit a High School Massacre

“Most accounts didn’t mention the fact that in the past seven years, police had been called to Cruz’s home 39 times for his erratic behavior. They didn’t play up the fact that Cruz had been banned from the high school where he committed the massacre after fighting with and repeatedly threatening his ex’s new boyfriend. They made not a peep about the fact that Cruz had been diagnosed with depression, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after a social-media post in which he inflicted wounds on both of his arms. They didn’t mention that a former sister-in-law suggested that Cruz was on psych meds, which is a factor far too prevalent in mass shootings. They didn’t say anything about the fact that the FBI had been warned about Cruz’s erratic behavior and his publicly stated aspirations to become a “professional school shooter” but dropped the ball and didn’t notify their Florida office about the warning. The ADL certainly didn’t offer any updates about the fact that Cruz claims his mother was Jewish, which would make him one of those White Supremacist Hispanic Jewish Nazis they keep soliciting funds to combat.”

 

Ethiopia

 

 

Influential evangelical pastor Billy Graham dead at 99 Rev. Billy Graham, a Christian evangelist known as “America’s Pastor,” has died at the age of 99. Over the course of his more than 70-year career, Graham preached to an estimated 200 million people across 185 countries, and was granted personal audiences with several U.S. presidents and world leaders. Rev. Martin Luther King credited Graham’s influence, saying: “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.” Long a presence on television and radio, Graham retired in 2005, citing his health. Graham was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 25 years ago. Source: The Huffington Post

Making My Peace With Billy Graham
by Joe Bob Briggs
February 22, 2018

U.S. beats Canada for 1st Olympic women’s hockey gold medal since 1998 Team USA beat Canada in the Olympic women’s hockey finals on Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in a thrilling 3-2 shootout after a hard-fought game that ended 2-2 even after a 20-minute overtime. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson fired in the game-winning shot past Canada’s Shannon Szabados, and when U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney blocked the potential equalizing shot from Canada’s Meghan Agosta, the U.S. women won their first gold medal since 1998, and their second ever. Canada had won the women’s hockey gold in the past four Winter Olympics. This was the first time the women’s hockey gold medal had ever been decided in a shootout. Source:  USA Today

Wednesday,  Feb 21,  2018

South Korea signs free trade agreements with the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to eliminate duties on about 95% of traded goods and services. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump meets in the White House State Dining Room with parents and friends of young people killed in school shootings to discuss what needs to be done. Suggestions for the president included a number of items to make schools safer, and for Trump to put the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution aside and back gun control measures. (NBC News)

 Tuesday,   Feb 20, 2018

Pro-Syrian government forces are sent to help the Kurdish YPG fight against Turkey and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army in the Afrin Region. This action opens up a new front in the war. (The Independent)

Venezuela launches its Petro cryptocurrency, which it claims is the world’s first sovereign cryptocurrency. (BBC)

Iranian forces have spotted the wreckage of the missing Aseman Airliner 30 meters below a hilltop on mount Dena. Helicopters could not land yet at the crash site due to weather and topographical conditions. 65 people are feared dead. (PressTV)

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung has a massive eruption, completely destroying the volcano’s peak, with ash reaching over 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) high. Much of the surrounding area is covered with ash. (Quartz)

Attorney Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to making false statements to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Specifically, the charges are that he lied to investigators about his interactions with political consultant and lobbyist Rick Gates and an unidentified Ukrainian-based associate of Paul Manafort. (The New York Times)

 

Florida, begin arriving in Tallahassee, the Florida State Capitol, for advocacy meetings with lawmakers and other State officials. During Tuesday’s legislative session, the Republican-controlled Florida House defeated, by a party-line vote, a motion to debate assault weapons ban legislation, 71-36. (Tallahassee Democrat) (Miami Herald)

 

 

Monday,  Feb 19, 2018

Ahead of an expected ground offensive, Syrian Air Force strikes on rebel-held eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, kill at least 44 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (France 24)

A collapse at a garbage dump in Mozambique kills at least 17 people. (BBC)

Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos, is set to be nominated by the Eurogroup to succeed Vítor Constâncio as Vice-President of the European Central Bank. (Business Insider)

In a Scientific Reports publication, researchers propose 1965 as the start of the Anthropocene era. In that year, human nuclear weapons testing caused a noticeable spike in radiocarbon in the heartwood of the world’s remotest tree, a Sitka spruce on Campbell Island, New Zealand. The general scientific community has already been using 1950 as the year “Before Present”, when nuclear weapons began to significantly affect the reliability of radiocarbon dating of objects whose organic matter content formed after that epoch. (Daily Mail)

 

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

An Iran Aseman Airlines ATR 72 commercial aircraft carrying 59 passengers and 6 crew members crashes near the Iranian town of Semirom. The airline reports that there are no survivors.  (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Feb 17, 2018

An Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore, Pakistan, sentences Imran Ali to death, for the rape and murder of 7-year-old Zainab Ansari. The victim’s family demands Ali’s hanging to be conducted in public. (The Express Tribune)

UK Independence Party (UKIP) members vote to remove Henry Bolton as leader amid controversy over his private life and leadership. Gerard Batten becomes interim leader. (BBC)

Friday,  Feb 16, 2018

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes near the town of Pinotepa Nacional and is widely felt across Southern and Central Mexico, causing material damages in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Mexico City. It is followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock. (USGS) (CNN)

The Court of Appeal in Rabat, Morocco, acquits Younes Chekkouri of undermining the security of the state. Chekkouri was detained in Guantanamo Bay detention camp for 14 years without charges. (Xinhua)

A court in Turkey hands life sentences to six journalists, including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is interviewed over two days this week as part of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (BBC)

Thirteen Russian nationals from the Internet Research Agency are indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.  (BBC)

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

Hailemariam Desalegn resigns as Prime Minister of Ethiopia after six years in office amid ongoing unrest in the Oromia and Amhara regions. (BBC)

The United Nations report that in 2017, more than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the war. (Deutsche Welle)

An arms depot explosion in Tabiyet Jazira, Deir ez-Zor, kills at least 23 people, including over a dozen Russian contractors allegedly belonging to the Wagner Group, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The Guardian)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission blocks a Chinese-led group of investors from buying the Chicago Stock Exchange. (CNN)

The United Kingdom government and the United States White House accuse the Russian military of being responsible for the launch of the NotPetya malware in June 2017. The White House calls it the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history and says Russia will be met with unspecified “international consequences”. Russia denies responsibility and dismisses the accusation as “groundless”, lacking evidence, and “Russophobic”. (Washington Examiner)

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov says that GERB, his party, will not ratify the convention due to lack of support from political parties. The treaty was designed by the Council of Europe to combat domestic violenceand violence against women but critics say its language is vague, it could encourage youth to identify as transgender or third gender and it could lead to same-sex marriage in Bulgaria. (Reuters)

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee backed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a package to reduce some of the strictest federal sentencing rules along with reforms for the federal prison system, by a vote of 16–5. (CNN)

Cyril Ramaphosa is elected by the National Assembly as President of South Africa. (PBS)

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered 95 new exoplanets. (USA Today)

 

THE END

 

Surprise! It’s Spectre and Meltdown

Friday, Jan 5, 2017

Security researchers disclose two hardware vulnerabilities—Spectre, which affects most modern processors, and Meltdown, which affects most Intel chips. (Reuters) (The Guardian)

Apple joins list of firms whose laptops, phones are vulnerable to security flaw On Thursday, Apple said that Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads are vulnerable to two hard-to-fix security flaws that cybersecurity experts revealed Wednesday. Windows, Google, and other companies that make PCs, smartphones, servers, and tablets had already acknowledged that their own devices have the same issue. The flaws — named Spectre and Meltdown — could be used by hackers to exploit the microprocessors, mostly made by Intel, in internet-connected devices to launch a “side-channel analysis attack” to steal files, passwords, photos, and other documents. Intel, the dominant chipmaker, says the vulnerability has been in every microprocessor it has made since 1995, but apparently nobody realized the risk until a few months ago. No hackers are known to have exploited the vulnerabilities. Source: The New York Times

North Korea and South Korea to hold first talks in 2 years North Korea has accepted South Korea’s invitation to discuss ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics, and agreed to meet at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Friday. This will be their first formal dialogue in more than two years, and they will also discuss how to improve ties between the Koreas. On Thursday, the United States and South Korea agreed to postpone their joint military exercises — an annual event that North Korea considers preparation for an invasion — until after the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. While some see this as the first step in bettering relations, others believe this could be Pyongyang’s way of causing friction between South Korea and the United States. Source: The Associated Press

Fire and Fury publisher pushes up release date after Trump lawsuit threat The White House has come out swinging after excerpts from a forthcoming tell-all book — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House — were published in various news outlets, featuring incendiary quotes from former chief strategist Stephen Bannon. In response, a Trump attorney sent Bannon a letter saying “legal action is imminent,” and demanded the book’s author and publisher halt the book’s release and “issue a full and complete retraction and apology” or else face legal action. Publisher Henry Holt instead pushed up the released date five days, putting it on sale Friday morning. “We see Fire and Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book,” the publisher said. Source: ABC News

U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than expected U.S. employers added 148,000 non-farm jobs in December, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The numbers fell short of the average increase of about 190,000 predicted by economists, and marked a slowdown from an average increase of 232,000 in the two previous months. Economists had been predicting that hiring would slow down eventually, just not this soon. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent. Wages increased by 2.5 percent over the last 12 months, edging up from November’s 2.4 percent figure, but still considered sluggish. Source: MarketWatch

 

Thursday, Jan 4,  2017

North Korea accepts South Korea’s proposal for official talks, and will meet on January 9 to discuss North Korea’s possible involvement with the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. These are the first high-level talks between the Koreas in more than two years. (BBC)

The U.S. State Department suspends its security assistance to Pakistan. (ABC News)

The U.S. Treasury sanctions five Iranian entities associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program. (Politico)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds three Obama-era memos that had adopted a policy of non-interference with states that have legalized recreational marijuana. (Associated Press)

A United Airlines flight headed from Chicago to Hong Kong makes an emergency landing in Anchorage, Alaska, after a passenger allegedly became unruly. (KTUU-TV)

Munich Re reports that the insurance industry faces record claims of US$135 billion from natural catastrophes, such as the Mexico earthquakes, South Asian floods, California wildfires and Atlantic hurricanes in 2017. Overall economic losses from natural disasters are estimated at the second highest amount since 2011. (Insurance Journal)

A massive winter storm hits the East Coast of the United States with up to 18 inches of snow predicted to fall between The Carolinas and Maine. So far, three people have died in North Carolina and a person has died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (AP via Yahoo!)

 

Wednesday,  Jan 3, 2017

A new Icelandic law goes into effect which requires government agencies and companies with more than 24 full-time employees to prove they are paying men and women equally, as required by existing legislation. (NPR)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announces that Ethiopia will drop charges against all political prisoners and close down the infamous prison camp of Maekelawi. (AP)

 

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump responds to Kim Jong-un’s claim of having North Korea’s nuclear missile launch button on his desk, boasting that the size of the nuclear missile launch button on his own desk is larger and more powerful than Kim’s.  (BBC)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, responding to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s offer during his New Year’s Day address, proposes a meeting to discuss the Winter Olympics and North Korea’s nuclear program next Tuesday at the border city of Panmunjom.  (BBC)

President Donald Trump tweets that the U.S. may withhold future payments to the Palestinian authority, over 350 million dollars per year, because they are “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel, and that Israel “would have had to pay more” in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Haaretz) (Politico)

Israel announces plans to deport African migrants residing in the country illegally. Migrants will be given 90 days to leave the country or face imprisonment. (BBC)

Vice Media suspends two of its top executives as it investigates allegations made against them. (ABC News)

Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government blocks Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram. (Reuters)

Joshua Boyle, a Canadian man recently rescued from a Taliban linked group, is arrested on 15 charges, including assault, sexual assault, and unlawful confinement. (Global News)

Nine prisoners have escaped from a Berlin, Germany prison over the last five days, with two escaping today. (BBC)

There’s Something Different About These Iran Protests
Four days into the protests, there are still more questions than answers.
by Trita Parsi
January 01, 2018

The fact that reformists—who have been at the center of most of the large-scale protests in Iran for the past two decades—appear to be neither driving nor even particularly involved presents a new political phenomenon in Iran.

The protestors likely include some disillusioned Rouhani supporters. But remember that Rouhani won re-election with 57% of the vote (and 70% voter participation) only seven months ago. That means it’s more likely that the core of the demonstrators are of a different ilk.

Their uncompromisingly anti-regime slogans suggest they may belong to the segment of the population who tends not to vote, doesn’t believe the system can be reformed and either never subscribed to or has lost hope in the idea of gradual change. Add to that those who have joined the protests out of a sense of economic desperation and humiliation.

Most analysts have not kept an eye on these segments of the population precisely because they have not been at the center of political change in Iran in recent history. Nor do they have a track record of being able to muster protests of this size.

http://www.businessinsider.com/store-closures-in-2018-will-eclipse-2017-2018-1

http://www.unz.com/comments/all/?commenterfilter=Art+Deco

http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-deliveries-november-2017-12

This is an outstanding 8,000 word article. You can even listen to it. There is an audio app at the beginning:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/01/the-dark-bounty-of-texas-oil

Between January, 2015, and December, 2016, more than a hundred U.S. oil and gas producers declared bankruptcy, nearly half of them in Texas. This figure doesn’t count the financial impact on the pipeline, storage, servicing, and shipping companies that depend on the energy business, or the seventy-four billion dollars’ worth of debt that these bankruptcies left behind. As a gesture of sympathy, Ouisie’s Table, a Houston restaurant in the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood, began offering a three-course meal on Wednesday nights that was pegged to the price of a barrel of oil. When I visited in the early spring of 2016, the meal cost about thirty-eight dollars. (Ouisie’s Table dropped the practice when oil prices inched back up. As of December 13th, the Wednesday special would have cost $56.60.)

Now that oil prices have stabilized, Texas’s economy is robust again. In recent years, it has finally begun to diversify, and now tops that of California in exporting technology, from semiconductors to communications equipment. Conservative politicians in Texas like to claim that the state’s low taxes and light regulation are the magic forces propelling its economy. But oil still sets Texas apart. It has been both a gift and a trap.

Clusterfuck Nation Forecast 2018

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/forecast-2018-go-wrong/

Russian Forecast 2018

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/new-year-predictions-for-2018/

Trump returns to Washington for high-stakes January President Trump returned to Washington on Monday night in an upbeat mood after 10 days at his members-only club in Florida, but White House aides are bracing for “the grim reality of 2018,” including slim legislative prospects, a potentially brutal midterm election, an expected exodus of White House aides with no replacements ready, and the ever-present “shadow of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Politico reports. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Congress returns over the next week with a full plate for January, including funding the government, children’s health care, protection for DREAMers, stability of health-care markets, a looming debt ceiling increase, and other contentious and high-stakes issues. Source: Politico

Deadly anti-government protests grip Iran At least 20 people have been killed in anti-government protests in Iran, including nine overnight Monday, Iranian state TV and semi-official ILNA news agency reported Tuesday. At least 450 others have reportedly been arrested as demonstrators stormed police stations and military bases. The protests, the biggest in the country since 2009, began Thursday, with protesters chanting “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei,” the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, despite the government’s threat of an “iron fist” of punishment. On Sunday, Tehran placed what it says is a “temporary” restriction on access to social media including Instagram and an encrypted messaging app call Telegram. Demonstrators have used both to chronicle and coordinate their efforts this week. Source:  CNN

Monday,  Jan 1, 2018

Ten people die at the protests overnight, with twelve deaths total so far as the protests enter their fifth day. (BBC)

Value Added Tax (VAT) has been introduced in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the first time. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump tweets that Pakistan has been a “safe haven” for terrorists from Afghanistan and has given America “nothing but lies & deceit” after getting more than $33 billion in U.S. aid. (Time)

Pakistan asks U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to clarify Trump’s remarks. Pakistani Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi calls for Cabinet and National Security Council meetings to discuss the tweet. (Los Angeles Times)

Pakistan’s Defence Minister accuses the U.S. of giving Pakistan “nothing but invective & mistrust” after receiving “land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs”. (AOL)

An armed standoff between Indian security forces and Kashimiri rebels at a paramilitary base ends after 36 hours and leaves eight people dead. (Al Jazeera)

California becomes the latest and most-populated state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. (BBC)

Alain Berset takes office as President of the Swiss Confederation. Mr. Berset is the youngest president of Switzerland since 1934. (SWI)

 

Sunday, Dec 31, 2017

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram as the largest anti-government protests since 2009 continue. (The Guardian)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issues “a red alert for our world,” saying that conflicts have deepened, global anxieties about nuclear weapons have increased, inequalities have grown, and nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise. Guterres calls for global unity to overcome these growing challenges. (CNN)

China announces the country’s ivory trade is now illegal. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-U.S. President Barack Obama announced “near-complete” ivory bans for each country. America’s ivory ban went into effect in June 2016. (National Geographic)

Palestine recalls their envoy to the United States for “consultations,” following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas says they will not accept any U.S. peace plan in the wake of Trump’s move. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 30, 2017

Two protesters are shot dead by Iranian police in Dorud, Lorestan Province, as anti-government protests spread across the country. (Reuters)

Nepal bans solo climbers, double amputees and blind climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, in a bid to reduce accidents. This has been criticized by successful double-amputee Everest climbers. (BBC)

A man strapped with explosives takes 11 people hostage in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Ukrainian police free all the hostages and arrest the man. (Reuters)

 

Friday, Dec 29, 2017

Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iran for a second day, with protests being held in a number of cities. (BBC)

Venezuelan communications director Jorge Rodríguez announces that the country’s Petro cryptocurrency, backed by 5.3 billion barrels of oil worth $267 billion, will launch shortly. (CNBC)

In a surprising event, Malian Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga and his government resign without providing a reason. (The Guardian)

THE END

Eloquent Obfuscation Expressed With ‘High Confidence’

06.15.2017

So Good:

 

The ‘Global Order’ Myth
Teary-eyed nostalgia as cover for U.S. hegemony
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • June 15, 2017

The world has changed in fundamental ways. So too has the United States. Those changes require that the principles guiding U.S. policy also change accordingly.

However ill-suited by intellect, temperament, and character for the office he holds, Trump has seemingly intuited the need for such change. In this regard, if in none other, I’m with the Donald.

But note the irony. Trump may come closer to full-fledged historical illiteracy than any president since Warren G. Harding. Small wonder then that his rejection of the mythic past long employed to preempt serious debate regarding U.S. policy gives fits to the perpetrators of those myths.

 

NBC’s Kelly Hits Putin With a Beloved Canard
To prove their chops, mainstream media stars can’t wait to go head-to-head with a demonized foreign leader, like Vladimir Putin, and let him have it, even if their “facts” are wrong, as Megyn Kelly showed
June 13, 2017
by Ray McGovern

As I noted in a Jan. 20 article about Obama’s news conference two days earlier, “Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the US intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation – expressed with ‘high confidence’ – has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds. …

 

kILL yOURSELF

Ms. Carter, then 17, was about an hour away at the time. But she had urged him, through screen after screen of texts, to kill himself.

As a judge considers whether Ms. Carter is legally responsible for Mr. Roy’s death, the pain and dependency of two desperately unhappy teenagers have spilled into the courtroom here in excruciating detail. Both had a history of emotional instability and, in his case, four failed suicide attempts. The copious texts between the two provide a stark window into their mind-sets, and the case will probably turn on the question of whether one person’s words can cause the suicide of another.

 

A GOLDEN AGE FOR DYSTOPIAN FICTION
What to make of our new literature of radical pessimism.
BOOKS
The New Yorker
JUNE 5 & 12, 2017 ISSUE
by Jill Lepore

 

Anything goes and nothing matters:
Corinne kept ‘sliding under water’ and DeMario tried to ‘hold her up and at the same time he appeared to be having intercourse with her’

Filming on the fourth season of The Bachelor spin-off was suspended on Sunday, over allegations of misconduct.

The incident that caused Warner Bros to halt production and launch an investigation centered on a hook-up between cast members Corinne and DeMario on the first day of shooting.

DeMario admitted to performing oral sex on Corinne when she put her genitals in his face, but Corinne says she was blacked out drunk and could not have given consent, according to sources who spoke to TMZ.

 

Police Hunt For Suspects In Bronx Avocado Assault

 

Distractions

05.09.2017

Lemme know if you can find the girls in bikinis in this video. What a rip-off.

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI
No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do. That could be a problem.
by Will Knight
April 11, 2017

I’d like to see Thomas Friedman and Paul Wolfowitz have a Republican marriage.

Why Paul Wolfowitz Is Optimistic About Trump
In an interview for the Global Politico, the controversial Republican hawk says the president has an ‘opportunity’ in the Middle East.

Like many other hawkish Republicans—“do me a favor,” he says, and don’t call him a “neocon,” which he believes is a charged word wielded by critics—Wolfowitz adamantly opposed candidate Trump in 2016, put off by his “America First” rhetoric, his rejection of the Iraq war as a disastrous mistake and his praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other autocratic leaders.

Indeed, Wolfowitz tells me that he did not vote for Trump because he feared he would be “Obama on steroids” given Trump’s campaign-trail reluctance to project American power and leadership in the Middle East and elsewhere—and that he decided not to vote for Hillary Clinton either because he was not sure she would pursue tougher policies and thought she had joined Obama in misjudging Putin with their failed Russia “reset” policy.

How U.S. Backing of ‘Moderate’ Rebels Is Bolstering Jihadists
A dispatch from Idlib in opposition-held Syria.
By Lindsey Snell / AlterNet May 2, 2017

I held my breath each time I heard a plane, but the family’s matriarch offered reassurance. “If you can hear that plane sound, it means they are far away.”

The Syrian and Russian militaries have bombed civilian infrastructure in opposition-held Syria, hitting hospitals, schools and markets. My host squinted and listened before declaring the plane was roughly two kilometers from us, demonstrating an uncanny ability honed during years of life under bombardment. The fading sound of the jets filled me with relief.

The chemical attack this month in the rebel-controlled town of Khan Shaykoun was followed by international outrage and a frenzy of Western media coverage calling for the American government to ramp up arms shipments and military training to the Syrian rebels. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called for the U.S. to “dramatically increase our aid to anti-Assad rebels,” describing them as “moderate.” At the same time, he urged the U.S. to weaponize ISIS, rather than combat it, in order to “bleed” the Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments.

Prosecutors Taking Tougher Stance in Fraternity Hazing Deaths

The parents of two former Penn State students, Adam and Denise Lipson, say that they warned administrators in 2014 and 2015 of fraternity hazing that included coercing first-year students to drink to excess, but that their concerns were ignored. Dismayed by that atmosphere, their sons transferred to other universities, where they found less emphasis on alcohol and less pressure to drink.

“Our sons are not prudes, they’re not anti-frat, they’re not anti-alcohol, but they couldn’t believe how far it went,” Ms. Lipson said. “There was this underlying acceptance of it.”

Dr. Barron said concerns about drinking had been taken seriously for some time.

The Marine Corps, 1966
Not Too Many Snowflakes
FRED REED • MAY 4, 2017 • 5,700 WORDS