I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.

Instagram deleted this video of Russian oligarchs allegedly partying with prostitutes on a yacht

 

 A man is caught impersonating Kim Jong-un after walking through North Korea’s cheerleading squad. (Business Insider)

 

We have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla.

Chanos: And anybody that can do that and then rise to CEO, you know, had to be able to sell pretty much anything. And that I think is Elon’s greatest quality. He’s a pretty good salesman. He’s always pitching the next great idea. The problem is that the execution of the current ideas is falling short. And that’s where I think it’s problematic. And on top of that, I think — increasingly — he’s making promises that he knows he cannot keep. And I think that’s a much more ominous, turn.

Lopez: What is the most recent promise that he’s made that he can’t keep?

Chanos: Well I think the the biggest whopper that I’ve seen, and we have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla. But I think the latest one that kind of stunned me was when he unveiled the semitruck — EV.

Lopez: But he hasn’t really even given us a regular car. The $30,000 car that he promised everyone.

Chanos: Well forgetting that, he said that truck will be out in 2019. And if that’s the case, those production lines have to be up now. That factory has to be up now. And where is that? I mean what factory line is going to be making a truck in 2019 and a roadster sports car that he unveiled in 2020? You can’t simply say things like that without having some evidence to back them up. You’re a public company’s CEO. And, you know, I’d want some clarification on where exactly this truck is going to be built to be out in 2019. But, you know, he’s missed production estimate after production estimate. He thought there’d be 10,000 Model 3s a week by the end of ’17.

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

Chanos: Now it’s 5,000 by June. I think even worse is that people have thought they were getting a car for what amounted to $27,500 — the $35,000 base plus the federal tax credit. Now they’re realizing that the federal tax credit’s going to, basically, be over by this year. And every manufacturer has a limit.

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

Chanos: Well the Model 3s he’s delivering now are $50,000 base pretty much. And with delivery charges and sales tax they’re probably closer to $55,000. So they’re almost twice what he promised people. And the car for $55,000 is not a particularly great car in our view. It might be for $27,500. But it competes against basically luxury cars at $55,000. And that’s a pretty competitive area and going to get more competitive.

Lopez: Gotcha,

Chanos: But he’s already talking about the Model Y.

Lopez: And Mars?

Lopez: Yeah, I mean Mars looks good I guess.

Chanos: And Mars doesn’t have a current extradition treaty with the US from what I understand.

Lopez: He could go; it’s fine. So you once said that the single most important market in the world is the Chinese property market. China has been incredibly quiet in 2018. We didn’t see our normal China puking that we do every year at the beginning of the year. So what’s going on there? And is it still the most important market in the world?

 

 

Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Clusterfuck Nation

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will succeed Jacob Zuma as president, after Zuma announced his resignation Wednesday in a nationally televised speech. Ruling party legislators officially elected Ramaphosa on Thursday. The BBC writes that there is “a renewed sense of hope” as Ramaphosa assumes the leadership role he has had his eye on since 1994. Zuma was at the center of several scandals during his nine-year tenure, with critics claiming that his friends and family profited handsomely from his presidency. The leadership of Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, had called for his resignation on Monday. Source: BBC News

 

Wednesday,  Feb 14, 2018

At least 17 people are killed and over 14 wounded in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida – the most deadly high school shooting in U.S. history. The suspected shooter is apprehended and identified as a 19-year-old former student. (CNN)

Eurozone GDP rises by 2.5% in 2017, a pace not seen since 2007, and industrial production is up 5.2% year-on-year. The production of durable consumer goods is up 7.4% and capital goods, indicating investments, are up 7.6%. (Reuters via Arab News)

A car accident at the headquarters of the United States National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, injures three people. Police officers shoot at the driver, who they say was attempting to attack the building. (The Verge)

The residence of the Gupta family is raided by the South African Police Service’s elite Hawks unit and three people are arrested. (BBC)

Michael D. Cohen, the private lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, says he made a “lawful” US$130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, from his own private funds. The statement to The New York Times comes after the Common Cause organization on January 22, 2018, filed a complaint about the payment with the Federal Election Commission. (ABC News)

Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the opposition Movement of New Forces party, who was deported from Ukraine to Poland, relocates to the Netherlands. (NOS) (Xinhua)

 

 Tuesday,   Feb 13, 2018

Russia wants YouTube and Instagram to remove videos posted by Alexey Navalny, a prominent opposition figure, describing his investigation into Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with bribing Sergey Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, and offering information about the 2016 U.S. election he had received from Paul Manafort. (ABC News)

In closed-door proceedings at an Israeli military court in Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is indicted on 12 counts of assault and incitement. She is ordered held until the end of the trial, which is adjourned until next month. (PRI) (VOA)

Israeli police recommend indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with charges of corruption and bribery. Netanyahu calls the accusations “baseless”. (NBC News)

Halbe Zijlstra offers his resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Minister Sigrid Kaag takes over the portfolio ad interim. (NOS) (The Washington Post) (De Telegraaf)

A new plane that would fly from London to New York City in three hours has just received crucial funding. The aircraft, officially named Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) and dubbed the “Son of Concorde”, was proposed by NASA and has just been given the go-ahead by US officials. QueSST could make its maiden voyage in 2021 if all goes according to plan. If so, it will halve the current travel time between London and New York City. (Metro)

 

Monday,  Feb 12, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls for female communist rebels to be shot in the genitals. Duterte’s comments are described as “a funny joke” by his spokesman, while drawing heavy criticism from others. (Al Jazeera)

Egypt bans Saturday Night Live Arabia for using “sexual expressions that are inappropriate for viewers”. (The Guardian)

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirms its deputy leader Khalid Mehsud has been killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. (BBC)

The European Union urges calm and restraint after Turkish Navy warships obstruct a Cypriot offshore drilling vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean, which was approaching an area to explore for natural gas. (Reuters)

Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the opposition Movement of New Forces party, who has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on 26 July 2017, is detained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kiev and deported from Ukraine to Poland. (U.S. News) (Kyiv Post) (Sputnik News)

U.S. President Donald Trump sends his US$4.4 trillion 2019 budget proposal to Congress. (The New York Times)

 

Sunday, Feb 11, 2018

An Antonov An-148 of Saratov Airlines with 71 people on board crashes shortly after take-off from Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, Russia. The TASS agency cites an emergency source stating that none of the 65 passengers and 6 crew members has survived. (BBC) (Reuters via The Daily Star)

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani proposes a referendum to heal country’s divisions, according to the Article 59 of constitution. (Guardian)

 

 Saturday,  Feb 10, 2018

The Israeli Army says that it shot down a Syrian UAV manufactured in Iran and, in response, it bombed the Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs Governorate, Syria, where it was launched from. (Reuters)

The Syrian Air Defense Force shoots down an Israeli F-16 over the Golan Heights after it fired on alleged Iranian targets inside Syria. Both pilots parachute to safety. (BBC) (RFERL)

The Kurdish YPG shoots down a Turkish Air Force T129 ATAK helicopter over Syria’s Afrin District, killing both pilots. (Al Jazeera)

Mary Lou McDonald is confirmed in the position of president of Sinn Féin. She succeeds Gerry Adams, who was Sinn Féin’s leader since 1983. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Feb 9, 2018

Trinity Mirror agrees to buy British publishing group Northern & Shell from Richard Desmond for £126.7 million. The deal gives Trinity Mirror ownership of the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers. (The Guardian)

A Vice Motherboard report traces the origin of a significant iOS source code leak to an Apple intern and five “friends” in the iOS jailbreaking community. (The Verge via Slashdot)

The New York Times reports that the CIA handed $100,000 to an unnamed Russian intelligence source in a Berlin hotel room, allegedly expecting to get back stolen NSA hacking tools. (Newsweek)

Turkey arrests 17 leaders of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party for opposition to the ongoing Afrin offensive. (Reuters UK)

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh claim they have successfully brought prepubescent-sourced, immature human egg cells to maturity in a laboratory for the first time. The work may be significant because it may allow the harvesting and preservation of eggs from young girls undergoing toxic cancer treatment before their lifetime reservoirs of those cells are destroyed. (BBC) (Oxford Academic)

As predicted, asteroid 2018 CB, estimated to be between 15 and 40 metres (50–130 feet) in diameter, makesa fly-by past Earth at a distance of around 64,500 km (40,100 mi). This is the second asteroid to make a fly-by this week. (The Guardian)

 

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

Mexican authorities arrest American-born Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, the alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel, as he was entering a hotel in Mexico City’s upscale neighborhood of Roma. (Los Angeles Times) (BBC)

Syria and the Russian Federation once again state that the United States’ military presence in Syria is “illegal”. United States and US-backed forces now have control of about a quarter of Syrian territory. (The Washington Post)

A force of five hundred Syrian pro-government troops supported by tanks and artillery launched a ground assault on a local headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near the town of Khasham, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. More than one hundred Syrian government fighters were killed in the battle, including Russian private military contractors of Wagner Group. (The Washington Post)

Germany’s trade surplus shrank in 2017 for the first time since 2009, reflecting strong domestic demand. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. Trump thanks Morales for having supported the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They discuss various issues about the crisis in Venezuela, drug trafficking and the UN anti-corruption commission. (The Times of Israel)

THE END

Nice Lips

 

http://stephenkotkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/23_Kotkin.pdf

http://www.businessinsider.com/dubai-worlds-longest-zipline-jebel-jais-flight-uae-2018-2

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

https://www.rt.com/business/418173-tesla-reports-record-loss/

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-kills-more-than-100-pro-assad-forces-after-unprovoked-attack-syria2018-2

 

https://www.rt.com/news/418227-syria-us-resources-grab/

 

Twitter reports its first profitable quarter Twitter on Thursday reported its first quarterly net profit, of $91 million, after it slashed expenses and its revenue beat analysts’ expectations. The microblogging company’s inability to start making money had confounded Wall Street, given its broad reach and popularity among celebrities and power brokers, including President Trump. The company said it also expected to show profit, using generally accepted accounting principles, for the full year in 2018. Still, Twitter’s user growth missed expectations, falling flat for the quarter at 330 million monthly active users, although that marked a 4 percent increase from a year earlier. A change to Apple’s Safari web browser cost Twitter about 2 million active users. The company also stepped up efforts to reduce spam and automated or fake accounts. Source: Reuters

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

United States Central Command says that it killed more than 100 pro-government troops in “self-defense” strikes 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of the Euphratesde-confliction line that was reportedly agreed with Russia. (AFP via Rappler)

Syrian state media say that Israeli warplanes attacked a military position in Jamraya, Rif Dimashq Governorate, from Lebanese airspace, with the Syrian Air Defense Force intercepting most of the missiles. The target is rumored to be a weapon research facility. (Xinhua)

Rob Porter resigns as White House Staff Secretary after two of his ex-wives make allegations of physical and emotional abuse. Porter denies the allegations, which were first published by the Daily Mail(The Guardian)

Researchers at London’s Natural History Museum state that the DNA extracted from “Cheddar Man” reveals that early inhabitants of Great Britain had blue eyes and dark skin. The name “Cheddar Man” was given to a fossil of a human man that lived thousands of years ago, which was discovered in 1903. (BBC)(The New York Times)

 

Tuesday,  Feb 6, 2018

Turkey detains nearly 600 people for social media posts and protests opposing the Afrin offensive in Syria. (Reuters)

Multiple earthquakes, including a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, strike near Hualien City, Taiwan. At least 9 people are killed and over 250 are injured, with extensive damage to many structures in the city. (The Independent)

In the United States, billionaire Steve Wynn, best known for his casino hotels and resorts, resigns as CEO of Wynn Resorts following sexual harassment reports, including a $7.5 million settlement with a former worker at his Las Vegas resort. (The New York Times)

Polish President Andrzej Duda ratifies a controversial Holocaust bill, despite angry protests from Israel and the United States. Duda defends the legislation, which will make it illegal to accuse the Polish state of complicity in the Holocaust during the Nazi occupation. (BBC) (Bloomberg)

SpaceX successfully launches its long-awaited Falcon Heavy—a feat the space company hopes will lead to increased commercial and national security missions. Both boosters were successfully landed and recovered. The core didn’t land and was softly ditched in the water near the drone ship. The rocket launched Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, playing “Life on Mars” by David Bowie, which is expected to be in an elliptic orbit of the sun, close to Mars, for several hundred million years. (Los Angeles Times)

Scientists (in the article published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics) warn that the ozone layer that protects people from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is recovering only over less populated areas. (The Guardian)

THE END

 

Volatility


Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018

Massive Dow plunge triggers global sell-off  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 1,170 points on Monday, or 4.6 percent, following a drop of almost 1,600 points earlier in the afternoon. The plummet marks the Dow’s worst one-day point plunge in history, and the stock-market volatility index (VIX) jumped 85 percent in its biggest one-day leap ever. The Dow’s decline follows a rocky week that culminated in a 666-point drop last Friday. The turbulence, fueled in part by inflation and interest rate fears sparked by a strong January jobs report, spread overseas Tuesday, with Asian markets closing sharply lower — Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed down 4.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended down 5 percent — and European benchmark indexes down 1-2 percent. Source: BBC News, The Washington Post

 

Monday,  Feb 5, 2018

 Syrian government airstrikes pound rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave near the capital Damascus, killing at least 23 civilians including four children. (Al Jazeera) (Times of Israel)

The Wall Street stock market sheds 4.6% of its value, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping a record 1,175 points at close. At one point during the day, the benchmark index loses a record 1,579 points. (NPR) (BBC) (USA Today)

The Netherlands withdraw their ambassador in Ankara and say that they will not accept a new Turkish ambassador in The Hague. Dutch foreign ministerHalbe Zijlstra says, “We have not agreed on how to normalise ties.” (BBC)

Esmond Bradley Martin, a world-renowned ivory investigator whose detailed reports contributed to the fight against elephant poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, is murdered at his home in Kenya. (The Guardian)

Scientists using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory discover new exoplanets in galaxies beyond the Milky Way for the first time. (NBC News) (National Geographic)

 

2018 Sunday, Feb 4, 2018

The Cabinet of Israel decides to legalize a previously unauthorized outpost “deep inside the [occupied] West Bank”, Havat Gilad, allegedly in reaction to the recent killing of an Israeli rabbi there. (Voice of America)

Israeli authorities tear down parts of a European Union-funded school in the Palestinian village of Abu Nuwar, on the occupied West Bank, saying it was built illegally. Palestinians say this is the fifth such demolition since 2016, with residents and NGO’s each time reconstructing it. (Reuters)

An Anglo-Eastern Group oil tanker with 22 Indian crew members on board is reported missing off the coast of Benin. The area is well known for piracy. (BBC)

2011 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Tawakkol Karman is ordered suspended from the Islah party’s ranks after she likened the Saudi-led intervention in Yemento “reckless adventurism” and “ugly occupation”. (Reuters)

A ~600 meter asteroid named (276033) 2002 AJ129 makes a close approach to Earth of 0.028 Astronomical units (4.2 million km, 2.6 million mi). (Space)

The Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl, defeating the New England Patriots 41–33. It is their first championship title since 1960. (AP)

 

 

Saturday,  Feb 3, 2018

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that unidentified rebel factions have shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jet over the Idlib Governorate, near Maarrat al-Nu’man, also killing its pilot. The pilot had escaped with his parachute but was killed on the ground while he fought with a pistol to evade capture. No groups claim responsibility. Russia’s Ministry of Defence corroborates this version of events. (Deutsche Welle)

The Turkish Army suffers its deadliest day of Operation Olive Branch so far after seven soldiers are killed in clashes with the Kurdish YPG. (BBC)

1992 QB1), the first discovered Kuiper belt object, is officially named by its discoverers. (Minor Planet Center)

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

Amid a perceived erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, British Prime Minister Theresa May concludes a three-day visit to China, said to have generated £9 billion in trade deals. (Hong Kong Free Press)

YouTube announces that YouTubers who make “egregious” content will be punished. Critics of the move call it censorship. (BBC)

YouTube, in a move to boost transparency and combat propaganda, announces that it will start to label videos by broadcasters that receive state-funding. (The Hill)

Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso, flanked by visiting United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland, rejects “any option that would imply the use of violence” on the subject of Venezuela. On the eve of his visit, Tillerson had defended the 19th-century United States policy in Latin America and suggested that the Venezuelan Army could manage a “peaceful transition” from President Nicolás Maduro. (Reuters)

After two days of questioning, influential Islamic academician and Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan is charged with the alleged rape of two women and jailed in Paris. (The Guardian)

 

An Arizonan ammunition dealer is charged in a Nevada federal court with “conspiracy to manufacture and sell armor-piercing ammunition without a license” after his fingerprints were discovered on unfired armor-piercing ammunition inside Stephen Paddock’s suite. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump authorizes Congress to release the Nunes memo, against the wishes of the FBI, Department of Justice, and lawmakers from both sides, all of whom say that the document’s release poses a risk to national security. (NPR)(USA Today)

The United States releases a new policy on nuclear arms, the first update since 2010. It calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal: low-yield nuclear submarine-launched ballistic (SLBM) and cruise (SLCM) missiles. (Denver Post) (NPR)

THE END

Klaatu Barada Nikto

 

All hell breaks loose in Syria after rebels shoot down Russian jet over the weekend

 

The Canadian Senate agrees with the House of Commons to make the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada”, gender neutral. The second line of the song will now read “in all of us” instead of “in all thy sons.” (NPR)

The upcoming Formula One season will abandon the practice of using “grid girls”, arguing that the practice does not “resonate” with Formula One’s values. Four days before, the Professional Darts Corporation abandoned the use of “walk-on girls” to accompany men onto the stage. (CNN)

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

Trump set to approve unredacted release of controversial Nunes memo President Trump on Friday will sign off on the release of a four-page memo compiled by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). It will likely be made public sometime during the day. Trump is expected to have no objections to the Nunes memo and request none of the redactions requested by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. The classified memo, released under a never-before-used House rule, purports to show that the FBI did not identify one of its sources in a FISA warrant, to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as working on a dossier funded indirectly by Hillary Clinton. The FBI and Justice Department have expressed “grave concerns” about the effects and accuracy of the memo. Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, beating forecasts U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating economists’ expectations of 190,000 jobs gained. The figure marked a pickup from December, when the economy added a modest 160,000 new jobs, a number adjusted up from the originally reported 148,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Wages rose by 2.9 percent over the last 12 months, the biggest jump since the Great Recession ended nearly nine years ago, as employers battled for candidates to fill record-high job openings. The figures were the latest in a long series of signs of strengthening employment. Stocks extended their losses after the report, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down by 255 points. Source: MarketWatch

 

Thursday, Feb 1, 2018

Apple Inc. removes the Telegram messaging service from its iOS App Store. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov says Apple claims “inappropriate content” is available on the service. (The Verge)

Two 15-year-old students are seriously wounded and three other people injured in a shooting at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, California. A 12-year-old female student is taken into custody. (CNN)

The Palestine Liberation Organization “rejects and condemns” the United States decision to put Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh on the OFAC SDN terror blacklist. (Times of Israel)

Morgan Geyser is sentenced to 40 years in a mental institution for her role in the attempted murder of Payton Leutner. (ABC News)

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray. (Reuters)

NASA confirms that Scott Tilley, a Canadian amateur astronomer and satellite tracker, has rediscovered NASA’s IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) satellite while he was searching for the U.S. government’s classified Zuma satellite. NASA engineers will try to analyze the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft. (The Independent) (Phys.org)

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2018

A BBC study finds that, as of October 2017, the Taliban presently maintains control of or has some territorial presence in 70% of Afghanistan, with full control of 14 districts (totaling 4% of the country) and demonstrating an open physical militant presence in 263 others (encompassing the remaining 66% of the group’s occupied territory). (Reuters)

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigns as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following a report that she purchased stock in food, health insurance, and tobacco companies shortly after taking up her federal government position. (CNBC)

A lunar eclipse is seen in Oceania, Asia, and North America, coinciding with a supermoon and blue moon. (AP via Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday,  Jan 30, 2018

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) takes control of the Yemeni port city of Aden following two days of fierce fighting in the city which has left dozens dead. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, and members of the President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led government are confined to the presidential palace which has been surrounded. (Reuters)

Reports about the publication on January 29 by the United States of a list of Russian politicians and oligarchs that the U.S. government was required by CAATSA to draw up surface. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the list, on which he is not included, is an “unfriendly act” that complicates ties between the two countries. (BBC1)(BBC2)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union Address to the 115th United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives.(The New York Times)

THE END

Launch on Warning

WHITE WOMEN: RACISM IS AS INSIDIOUS AS RAPE CULTURE AND MISOGYNY by Erin White (who is black)

“And White America would rather have an unhinged sexual predator for its President than a Black man (or a White woman).”

 

‘Teresa May’: White House spells Theresa May’s name wrong three times in memo ahead of visit

Stormy Weather
by JHK

If an attorney from Mars came to Earth and followed the evidence already made public, he would probably suspect that the FBI and DOJ colluded with the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party to derail the Trump campaign train, and then engineer an “insurance policy” train wreck of his position in office. Also, in the process, to nullify any potential legal action against Clinton, including the matter of her email server, her actions with the DNC to subvert the Sanders primary campaign, the Steele dossier being used to activate a FISA warrant for surveillance of the Trump campaign, the arrant, long-running grift machine of the Clinton Foundation (in particular, the $150 million from Russian sources following the 2013 Uranium One deal, when she was Secretary of State), and the shady activities of Barack Obama’s inner circle around the post-election transition. There is obviously more there there than in the Resistance’s Russia folder.

 

North Korea backs off military exercises as Trump puts ‘maximum pressure’ on Kim Jong Un

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018

Trump to deliver first State of the Union address tonight President Trump’s first State of the Union will focus on “building a safe, strong, and proud America” with an emphasis on his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, the ongoing debate over immigration, the economy, trade, and national security. It isn’t clear if Trump will offer lawmakers a specific blueprint for how he wants to proceed on thorny topics like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, after signaling last week he is open to a pathway to citizenship for people brought illegally to the U.S as children. “I think you’re going to see a lot of the president’s heart in this speech,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Today. The speech will air on every major network as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Source: NBC News

House GOP votes to release secret memo on Russia probe Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a secret memo accusing senior FBI officials involved in the Russia probe of misconduct. The Department of Justice warned its release would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the committee also voted against releasing a memo written by Democrats and denied a request by FBI Director Christopher Wray to brief the committee on the intelligence behind the memo. The memo reportedly alleges that FBI officials misused their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump’s former campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats say the memo presents information without context in order to undercut the Russia investigation. Trump has five days to decide if he should block its release. Source: The New York Times

Trump administration won’t impose new sanctions, but names Russia’s elite The Trump administration said it will not implement sanctions against companies and individuals doing business with Russian defense and intelligence sectors, but released a name-and-shame list of 210 Russians who have flourished during Vladimir Putin’s rule. The sanctions and list of Russian oligarchs and political elite were mandated under a law Congress passed with veto-proof majorities to punish Russian interference in the 2016 election. A State Department official said Monday that “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.” President Trump has repeatedly defended Russia against allegations that the country meddled in the election, despite U.S. intelligence agencies saying Russia intervened to help Trump. Source: CNN

Putin reacts to US Treasury ‘Kremlin List’: ‘Dogs bark but the caravan moves on’

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase to form new health-care company Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to improve health-care options for their U.S. workers. The three companies plan to use their scale and joint expertise to help reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction in health plans, using an independent company. The companies said they hope to use a fresh approach to solve longstanding problems. “The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.” Source: MarketWatch

 

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

Andrew McCabe resigns as Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation amid a dispute with President Donald Trump. (The Independent)

Minutes before the registration deadline, a second candidate, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, fulfills paperwork to participate in the 2018 presidential election. Leading opposition members called for a boycott, saying that a wave of repression has cleared the field of challengers to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Reuters)

Viorica Dăncilă (PSD) is confirmed as Romania’s first female Prime Minister. She is Romania’s third premier in less than 13 months. (Irish Times)

 

Toronto Police charge landscaper Bruce McArthur with five charges of first-degree murder, after the remains of an additional three people are found in planters on a property linked to him. (CBC News)

 

Sunday, Jan 28, 2018

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is arrested by police at a protest rally in Moscow. His arrest comes shortly after police raid the headquarters of his unregistered Progress Party in an apparent attempt to disrupt online broadcasts of opposition rallies against Vladimir Putin, while police say they were looking for a bomb. Navalny is released from police custody without charge late Sunday but needs to appear in court later. (The Guardian) (Reuters)

“I think we outta look at this from the military point of view.”

 

 

United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters seize control of government buildings in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, after clashing with forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. At least 10 people are reportedly killed and 30 wounded. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr accuses the separatists of mounting a coup. (BBC) (Al Jazeera)

Turkish airstrikes and shelling heavily damage the ancient Syro-Hittite Ain Dara temple in Syria’s Afrin District. The Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums calls on the international community to pressure Turkey “to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites”. (Reuters)

Researchers note that in November 2017, Strava, which processes data from apps and Internet of Things devices such as Fitbit, accidentally revealed the locations of alleged United States military bases overseas, including in Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria. (The Verge)(The Guardian)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno in Beijing and says they hope to work to improve relations. (Reuters)

Incumbent Sauli Niinistö takes an unprecedented first round victory after receiving 62.7 percent of the votes. (Bloomberg)

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer successfully defends his title in the five-sets men’s singles final against Marin Čilić, winning his sixth title at the Australian Open and becoming the first man to win 20 titles in Grand Slam tournaments. (ESPN)

Seven survivors from the MV Butiraoi, six adults and a baby, are found in a dinghy and rescued, four days after the 50-passenger ferry sank in Kiribati. New Zealand rescuers say there is a lot of debris near the dinghy, but no sign of anyone else. (Sky News)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Launch on Warning”

A Weak Dollar

Oof!!…that’s rough. First the Russians being banned from the Olympics and now this?

A dozen camels are disqualified from a beauty pageant at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, near Riyadh, after reports in the media about injections with botox. A veterinarian is caught performing plastic surgery to make the camels more attractive. Rules prohibit to change the natural form of participating camels. (NPR)

The Case for Tesla
STEVE SAILER • JANUARY 23, 2018 • 400 WORDS

The best material is in the comments section.

 

 

Cryptocurrency mining is a waste of energy – IMF’s Lagarde
Jan 25, 2018

According to the Bloomberg’s data, cryptocurrency miners used more than 37 gigawatt-hours a day – equivalent to 30 1.2-gigawatt nuclear reactors running at full capacity.

Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index says cryptocurrency mining could power 4,124,115 US households, and the energy consumed can be compared to Iraq’s electricity consumption.

 

Thursday,  Jan 25,  2018

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says weak dollar is good for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a weak dollar is good for the U.S., sending the dollar plunging in currency markets, The Associated Press reported. “Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is to talk with U.S. trade partners and encourage investment from businesses. Mnuchin’s remarks, ahead of President Trump’s arrival in Davos, marked a break with a decades-long U.S. government commitment to a strong dollar. During his 2016 campaign and since, Trump has occasionally said he would like to see the dollar’s value fall so U.S. goods would become cheaper and exports would increase. But one economist told Politico rooting for a weak dollar was “playing with fire.” Source: The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal

Trump says he’s willing to testify under oath to Mueller President Trump said on Wednesday he is “looking forward” to speaking under oath with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Speaking to reporters as he prepared to leave for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump also said the interview could come in “two or three weeks.” Shortly after Trump made the comments, his attorney, Ty Cobb, told The New York Times Trump was speaking “hurriedly” and just meant to say he would meet with the special counsel. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

Several rockets fired from Syria strike the Turkish city of Kilis, near the Syria–Turkey border, killing at least one person and injuring 13 others. Turkey blames the YPG group. (Xinhuanet)

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIL says it has killed up to 150 militants in air strikes on a headquarters in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria. (BBC)

British, American and German men are among a group of international volunteers who travelled to Afrin to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria. (BBC) (Reuters)

Chinese scientists announce they have successfully cloned Crab-eating macaques using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), making them the first primates to be cloned. (Reuters)

SpaceX conducts the first static fire test of the Falcon Heavy rocket ahead of its maiden flight. (BBC)

Larry Nassar is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting Olympic gymnasts and other women. Many of the accusers were children, who were told to not question authority. (Chicago Tribune)

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers from the National Basketball Association (NBA) scores his 30,000 regular season points, in a loss against the San Antonio Spurs on January 23, 2018, as the youngest player ever to do so, at 33 years and 24 days, surpassing Kobe Bryant’s record of 34 years and 104 days. (Sports Illustrated)

Mueller probe reportedly focusing on obstruction of justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s push to question President Trump signals that he is “closing in on his determination about what obstruction of justice looks like,” a former aide to Mueller told CNN. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Legal experts told CNN that the recent spate of activity in Mueller’s probe — The New York Times reported Tuesday that Comey was interviewed by Mueller’s team last year, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned last week — indicates Mueller’s team is increasing its focus on whether Trump or his aides have tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. Source: The Washington Post,

Trump aides try to reassure Davos crowd about ‘America First’ policies Top Trump administration officials made their first comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, reassuring global leaders and business executives that President Trump’s “America First” agenda doesn’t mean the U.S. is unwilling to work with other countries. “America First is not America alone,” said Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council. While members of Trump’s Cabinet fight the perception that he is against free trade and globalization, they are also touting the new Republican tax cuts as evidence that Trump is making the economy stronger. Anti-capitalist demonstrators staged protests against Trump in several Swiss cities, including Davos, where he is to deliver a keynote address on Friday. Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

Russia’s Ministry of Culture bars the release of the British–French political satire film The Death of Stalin in the country after accusing the film of containing “ideological warfare” and “extremist” content. (BBC)

The United States closes its embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, due to large-scale protests against the policy of U.S. President Donald Trump. (AP via Armenpress)

The United States Senate confirms Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank with 84 votes for and 13 against. (The New York Times)

The organizers of the Google Lunar X Prize announce that the $20 million grand prize for a commercial lunar lander will expire on 31 March 2018 without a winner because none of its five finalist teams would be able to launch a mission before the deadline. (Space News)

 

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

A motorcycle bomb kills at least three people and wounds 22 others at a market in Thailand’s southern Yala Province. (Reuters)

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raises Mount Mayon’s alert level to 4, its second highest volcano category which indicates a hazardous eruption is imminent. Mayon’s activity, which began the afternoon of January 13, 2018, has displaced about 40,000 residents in Albay Province on Luzon island. (Reuters via NBC News)

Mayon erupts at 12:43 p.m. (PST). The eight-minute phreatomagmatic eruption was a dense, five-kilometer tall column of volcanic ash, followed by two explosion-type earthquakes. Fountains of intense but sporadic lava, which lasted between three to 30 minutes, began at 9:37 p.m. (GMA News Online)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declares during a speech in the Israeli parliament that the new U.S. embassy located in Jerusalem will open in 2019, sooner than generally expected. (The Guardian)

After a meeting with the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini again assures President Abbas that the European Union supports his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The United States Senate reaches an agreement to reopen federal agencies through to February 8. A bill is working its way through the legislative process. The first Senate vote was 81–18. (AP).

George Weah takes office as President of Liberia, and Jewel Taylor as Vice President. It is the first peaceful transition between two Liberian presidents in 74 years. (New York Times)

Sunday, Jan 21, 2018

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/turkey-deploys-thousands-fsa-rebels-syria-border-180120070616740.html

https://www.rt.com/news/416560-turkish-town-missile-attack-syria/

Turkish President Erdoğan announces that Turkish Army ground troops have entered the district of Afrin in Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım says the goal is to establish a 30-km safe zone. (Voice of America)

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calls for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the Turkish incursion into Northern Syria’s Afrin Region. The UNSC will convene on Monday. (Reuters)

Abdullah II of Jordan tells U.S. Vice President Mike Pence the U.S. has to rebuild “trust and confidence” to achieve a two-state solution in Israel after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands protest for a second day throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (CNN)

U.S. President Donald Trump says on Twitter that if the shutdown stalemate continues, Republicans should consider the “nuclear option” parliamentary procedure in the Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to taking this step, a spokesperson said. (Bloomberg)

Rocket Lab successfully launches test rocket Electron into orbit from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, becoming the first rocket to reach orbit using an electric pump-fed engine, after the original rocket launch in May 2017 had to be aborted by safety officials. (1 News)

THE END

Just Let The World Die

Saturday, Jan 20, 2018

The Syrian Army seizes control of the strategic Abu al-Duhur Military Airbase in the Idlib Governorate. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Romanians protest in Bucharest and major cities against perceived corruption and changes to judiciary. Romanians in diaspora stage protests in dozens of cities worldwide in solidarity with the anti-corruption movement in the country. (Associated Press) (Balkan Insight)

The United States federal government shuts down after the United States Senate fails to pass a budget bill. (The New York Times)

China claims its sovereignty was violated when a United States Navy ship sailed close to the Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines. (The Japan Times)

Thousands of women protest throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (The New York Times)

Former candidate for the presidency Manuel Baldizón was captured in the United States accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht. (Reuters)

 

Friday, Jan 19, 2018

An Atlas V rocket successfully deployed the fourth SBIRS satellite for the United States Air Force. This launch completes the geosynchronous segment of SBIRS and provides a global missile detection system for the United States. (Spaceflight 101)

Presenting a new national defense strategy, the United States Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, says terrorism is no longer the focus of the national security of the United States. Now it is competition between great powers. (BBC)

With a cross-border artillery bombardment into the Afrin Canton, Turkey starts its announced military campaign to “destroy” the Syrian Kurdish YPG group. (Reuters)

Outside the Fleury-Mérogis prison, French police clash with prison guards who are striking over the detention conditions in French jails. (Reuters)

Citing a national “fervor”, the Communist Party of China proposes writing the Xi Jinping Thought into the state constitution, after it was already added to the party constitution. (Reuters)

Carl Higbie, Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs, apologizes and resigns from his position with the agency that runs AmeriCorps after racist and anti-Muslim remarks he made in 2013 are reported by CNN(NPR)

 

Thursday, Jan 18, 2018

The Emirates airline announces an order for up to 36 Airbus A380s. Emirates is already the aircraft’s largest operator, with a fleet of over 100. (BBC)

A bus carrying Uzbek migrant workers catches fire in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe Region, killing 52 people. Five people escape and are treated by rescue workers. (BBC)

Police in Serbia arrest three Australians, one of them Rohan Arnold, a known businessman, for allegedly smuggling 1,280 kilograms (2,820 lb) of cocaine into Sydney in 2016. (Sydney Morning Herald)

In a world’s first, a drone rescues two people off the coast of Lennox Head, New South Wales in Australia by dropping a safety device to them. John Barilaro, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, praises the rescue as historic. (Channel News Asia) (BBC)

 

 

Tillerson: U.S. will have an open-ended military presence in Syria Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria, as there are “strategic threats” to the United States beyond the Islamic State. “Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria […] through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies, and personnel in the region,” he said during remarks at Stanford University. U.S. troops were sent to northeastern Syria to assist Kurdish fighters battling ISIS militants, and although ISIS has just a small presence in the country, Tillerson said there’s concern of a revival. “We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011, where a premature departure from Iraq allowed al Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually become ISIS,” he said. Source: The Washington Post

North and South Korea to march together at Winter Olympics North and South Korea will march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony for next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Seoul confirmed Wednesday that the two technically warring nations will march together under a single Korean Peninsula flag. Additionally, North and South Korea will field a joint women’s ice hockey team, and the two nations’ skiing teams will practice together at a resort in North Korea ahead of the Games. The moves are a sign of the most significant thaw in relations on the Korean Peninsula in a decade, though Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono cautioned against overvaluing the symbolism: “It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea,” he said. Source: The New York Times,

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

In Nazran, Ingushetia, arsonists set fire to the office of Memorial, a Russian human rights organization. (The Moscow Times)

The Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest of England, is to be displayed in the United Kingdom for the first time after French PresidentEmmanuel Macron agreed to loan it out for the first time in 950 years. (BBC)

The South Korean Ministry of Unification announces that both North Korea and South Korea will march together under the Korean Unification Flag during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. (CNN)

Following the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines’ revocation of Rappler’s license, the National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippineslaunches a probe into Rappler. (Reuters)

Tuesday,   Jan 16, 2018

The Venezuelan government confirms that Óscar Pérez, the rogue pilot responsible for the Caracas helicopter incident in June 2017, was killed in a firefight with the Venezuelan Army yesterday. Two police officers and seven people from Pérez’s group were killed, and six members of Pérez’s group were arrested. (CNN) (teleSUR)

The European Parliament approves a call to ban electric pulse fishing, seen by some as cruel. (U.S. News & World Report)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) names Russell M. Nelson as the 17th President of the Church. (NPR)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches 26,000 points for the first time, after surpassing the 25,000-mark on January 4. (Chicago Tribune)

A meeting of senior officials from countries that backed what is now South Korea in the Korean War begins today in Vancouver which will look at ways to better implement sanctions to push North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. China and Russia will not be attending the meeting. (Reuters)

The United States will withhold $65 million for Palestinian aid paid via the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency stating that UNRWA needs to make unspecified reforms. The U.S. says it will provide $60 million, 48 percent of the regular payment. (Reuters)

Oliver Ivanović, the head politician of the Kosovo Serb party Freedom, Democracy, Justice, is killed outside his office in North Mitrovica in a drive-by shooting. (BBC)

Over 1,800 muslim clerics in Pakistan issue a fatwa aimed at prohibiting the use of suicide bombing, declaring it haram. (Sputnik).

The New York Times reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Steve Bannon last week to testify before a grand jury. The House Intelligence Committee issues a second subpoena, via powers seldomly used by Congress, following Bannon’s testimony today that, while he was willing to answer questions, the White House instructed him not to answer questions related to his White House tenure. (CNN) (NBC News) (The New York Times)

Temperatures reach −67 °C (−89 °F) in Russia’s Yakutia region, four degrees shy of the record low of −71 °C (−96 °F) recorded in 2013 in Yakutia’s village of Oymyakon. (Channel NewsAsia)

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

12.26.2017

Friday,  Dec 29, 2017

http://www.dw.com/en/russia-warns-us-against-meddling-in-presidential-election/a-41942772

Trump: Russia investigation makes the U.S. look ‘very bad’ During a 30-minute impromptu interview with The New York Times on Thursday, President Trump said Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.” Trump said 16 times “no collusion” has been discovered, and declared he has the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” The interview was conducted at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Source: The New York Times

Historic cold snap grips northern half of America Some 220 million Americans are experiencing dangerously cold Arctic air that has settled over the northern half of the country, and meteorologists warn relief likely won’t come for at least another week. “It felt like we’d been living in a war zone,” said Carole Van Duzer of Erie, Pennsylvania, which was buried this week under five feet of snow. New record lows include 23 below in National Mine, Michigan, and minus 36 in International Falls, Minnesota. With 110 mile per hour wind gusts at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the wind chill is registering at negative 89 degrees. At least two people have died in Chicago from the cold and in the Midwest, “temperature anomalies on Saturday could be as much as 30 to 35 degrees below normal,” NOAA reports. Source: The New York Times, NOAA

 

Thursday, Dec 28,  2017

A suicide bombing at a Shi‘ite cultural center and news agency in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills 41 people and injures 84 others. ISIL-affiliated Amaq News Agency says this group is responsible. (Reuters) (CNN)

The Libyan National Army declares full control of Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, after retaking the last district held by Islamist militants. (Reuters)

United States consular missions in Turkey and the Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C. announce they will resume visa services. (France 24)

In Mandaluyong, Philippines, law enforcers mistakenly fired at a Mitsubishi Adventure, which they thought carried suspects in a previous shooting incident, resulting in two people dead and two others injured. As a result, 10 police officers were relieved from the post. (GMA News)(Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds a $135,000 fine against the Sweet Cakes by Melissa Christian owners for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has reached the Supreme Court of the United States with a decision expected in June 2018. (NBC News)

With 98 percent of the votes counted, Liberia’s National Elections Commission announces these unofficial results show Senator George Weah, a former Pro footballer, defeating vice president Joseph Boakai, 61.5 to 38.5 percent, in the runoff of October’s presidential election, to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female Liberian president. (The New York Times)

 

Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017

Ukraine exchanges hundreds of prisoners with the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. (BBC)

A bomb goes off in a supermarket in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, injuring at least 10 people. Police say they are treating the blast as an attempted terror attack. (Reuters)

Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says that the new underground railroad terminal in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem (part of East Jerusalem) will be named in honor of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Jerusalem Post)

The Iranian Parliament votes 207–0 to declare Jerusalem the “everlasting capital” of Palestine. (The Times of Israel)

North Korea is building its first operational ballistic missile submarine on an “accelerated schedule,” according to the US-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (The Christian Science Monitor)

 

 Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017

According to emergency services and the Houthi-owned Al Masirah, Saudi Arabian coalition air strikes kill 15 people and wound 60 at al-Shahra souq, a popular market in Taiz Governorate. (Al Jazeera) (Het Laatste Nieuws)

Seven Israeli chess players are denied travel visas to the Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Saudi Arabia as the two countries have no diplomatic relations. Players from Qatar and Iran are given last-minute visas, while Ukrainian champion Anna Muzychuk refuses to participate because she does not want to wear an abaya. (BBC)

Forty Syrian rebel and opposition groups reject Russia’s offer to attend peace talks in late January 2018. (Fox News)

Fifteen militants accused of carrying out attacks in 2013 during the Sinai Insurgency are hanged in Egypt. The last mass execution in the country took place in 2015, when six jihadists were executed. (BBC)

Thousands of Moroccans protest working conditions in Morocco’s coal pits. (France 24)

Grigory Rodchenkov, the person who exposed Russia’s systematic doping of Olympic athletes, is warned by U.S. officials that Russian agents may be inside the United States looking for him, and that new security measures must be taken to ensure his safety. (UPROXX) (BBC Sport)

Indecision over Russian disinformation leaves U.S. vulnerable in 2018 The Trump administration is reportedly poised to make the same mistake of inaction against Russia’s disinformation campaigns as many administrations before it, The Washington Post wrote Monday. “The miscalculations and bureaucratic inertia that left the United States vulnerable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election trace back to decisions made at the end of the Cold War, when senior policymakers assumed Moscow would be a partner and largely pulled the United States out of information warfare,” the Postwrites. While Obama officials warned their Trump counterparts to draw up operations to combat Russian disinformation, “the Trump White House remains divided over whether to act,” the Post adds, with the president himself among those who “play down the effects of Russian interference.” Source: The Washington Post

China’s economy projected to surpass America’s by 2032 The Chinese economy is expected to be larger than the American economy for the first time in 2032, per a report from the Centre for Economics and Business (CEBR) Research in London. The CEBR also predicts significant economic growth for India over that period; India will have the third-largest economy by 2032, a decade after it replaces China as the world’s most populous country. The question of population is key to understanding what it means for Beijing to helm a larger economy than Washington. China’s population is currently about 1.38 billion, more than four times the United States’ 323 million. Even with a larger aggregate economy, per capita income and standard of living in China will remain significantly lower than in the U.S. for some time. Source: Bloomberg

Peruvians protest controversial pardon of jailed ex-leader Fujimori Protests erupted in Peru on Monday after President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned ailing former President Alberto Fujimori, who was serving 25 years in prison for human rights abuses and corruption. Thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital city of Lima, many carrying posters calling Fujimori a “murderer” and a “thief.” Police responded with tear gas. Critics say Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori in exchange for abstentions by lawmakers in a party run by Fujimori’s children that allowed the president to survive an impeachment vote on Friday. The conservative party, Popular Force, controls Congress, and Keiko Fujimori — the former president’s daughter and Kuczynski’s rival in the 2016 presidential election — had pushed to impeach him over a scandal involving his financial ties to Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht. Source: BBC News,

Holiday sales rise at best pace in 6 years Holiday retail sales rose at their best pace since 2011, thanks to strong consumer confidence and a healthy job market, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported. “It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard, which tracks spending online and in stores. Retailers got help from the calendar, with shoppers getting a full weekend for last-minute buys because Christmas fell on a Monday. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose by 4.9 percent over the Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve season, up from a 3.7 percent gain last year. Online sales continued to be the driving force, increasing by 18.1 percent. Source: MarketWatch

Trump lashes out at ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘bogus’ Russia dossier President Trump tweeted Tuesday about “Crooked Hillary” and the “bogus” Russia dossier from Mar-a-Lago, where he is spending the Christmas holiday with his family. “WOW, @foxandfrlends ‘Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED,'” Trump tweeted, adding: “And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!” Although Trump insists he doesn’t watch much TV, Tuesday’s tweet directly cited Fox & Friends’ morning interview with Jason Chaffetz. As CNN’s Dan Merica observed: “People do what they love on vacation and the president clearly loves watching Fox and criticizing the FBI.” Source: Donald J. Trump, The Week

 

Christmas  2017

More than 70 civilians are believed killed in a two-day airstrike by the Saudi Arabian air force targeting Houthi rebels. (Al Jazeera)

A public transport bus crashes into Slavyansky Bulvar subway station entrance in Moscow, Russia, killing four and injuring eleven. (BBC)

The Russian Central Election Commission refuses to register opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a candidate in the presidential election due to a previous embezzlement conviction, which he claims is politicized. Navalny has called for his supporters to boycott the upcoming election in response. (BBC)

 

Sunday, Dec 24, 2017

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he will move his country’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Reuters)

Tunisia’s Transport Ministry suspends Emirates Airlines flights to Tunis. (Deutsche Welle)

North Korea’s foreign ministry, in an official statement, says the latest United Nations sanctions are an act of war and are, in effect, a complete economic blockade. (Reuters)

The Turkish government dismisses 2,756 public servants for alleged links to organizations involved in the July 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt. (France 24)

China’s AVIC AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, makes its maiden flight. State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle wildfires. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 23, 2017

A fire breaks out at a café and shop at the London Zoo. An aardvark is killed and four meerkats are missing. (Sky) (Reuters)

The Thomas Fire becomes the largest in Californian state history. (BBC)

Previously secret documents from Alan Ewen Donald, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to China between 1988 and 1991, regarding the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, are released after being declassified in October, putting the death toll from the protests at 10,000 people. (BBC)

Former Peru president Alberto Fujimori is taken, from prison, to a local hospital for treatment for abnormally low blood pressure. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Dec 22, 2017

After 1,000 days of civil war in Yemen, eight million people are at risk of starvation. (BBC)

Two Palestinians are shot dead and about 60 others are wounded by Israeli troops gunfire as thousands protest along the Gaza border fence, in all seven West Bank cities and in East Jerusalem, against the U.S. declaration. (Reuters)

The digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin loses a third of its value within 24 hours. (CNN)

CSX Corporation names chief operating officer Jim Foote its new chief executive officer, succeeding E. Hunter Harrison who died last week. Harrison had started a restructuring campaign less than a year ago. (Reuters)

Apple Inc. faces backlash and lawsuits after admitting to slowing down the speed on some of their older phones deliberately. (CNET)(Business Insider)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not accept any U.S. plan for peace with Israel, because it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (BBC)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposes new sanctions on North Korea that caps refined petroleum product imports to 500,000 barrels a year, a 90 percent cut, and demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months. (Reuters)

The U.S. agrees to supply Ukraine with more lethal weapons, now including Javelin anti-tank missiles. (AP via New York Daily News)

President Donald Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. (CNN)

So Long

Just kicked all my vices
In time for her next crisis
Shit’s crashing around us
No use pretending we trust
She’s better
No wonder every day gets longer
You push I shove
Just like we were in love

Forgive forget
But she ain’t done yet
Its total disaster
To duck, try to slip past her
-Helmet

What Putin Really Wants
Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.

 

 

Wednesday,  Dec 20, 2017

Cardinal Bernard Law, key figure in Catholic abuse scandal, dead at 86

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston whose handling of child sex abuse by priests set off a global scandal and reckoning in the Catholic Church, died early Wednesday in Rome. He was 86 and had reportedly been in poor health. When he resigned as archbishop in December 2002, Law was the most senior Catholic official in the U.S., but his position became untenable after The Boston Globe revealed that he had shuffled abuser priests among parishes, most infamously defrocked priest John Geoghan, without telling the new churches. Upon Law’s resignation, Pope John Paul II moved him to Rome and appointed him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a position he held until his 80th birthday in 2011 Source: USA Today, Boston Herald

EU court deals major blow to Uber

The European Union’s highest court handed Uber a major defeat on Wednesday by declaring that the ride-hailing service must comply with the same tough rules as conventional taxi companies. Uber had argued that it should be exempt because it is really just a digital services provider, helping to connect riders with independent drivers through its ride-hailing smartphone app. The decision threatens to hamper Uber’s plans to expand in Europe by forcing it to spend a fortune on licensing fees and employee benefits. It also could signal broader changes in store for the gig economy, in which a growing number of people work as freelancers or under short-term contracts rather than as full-time employees with clear rights and benefits under established labor rules. Source: The New York Times

 

 Tuesday,   Dec 19, 2017

Houthis say that they launched a Volcano H-2 missile targeting at the Al-Yamamah Palace in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh. According to the Saudis, the missile was intercepted south of Riyadh and caused no casualties. (Wall Street Journal)

The Secretary-General of the OIC, Yousef Al-Othaimeen, says the repeated launch of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia served to confirm the Houthis’ “hostility and criminality” and further claimed “The Houthis are trying to destabilize Saudi Arabia and the entire region.” (AA)

An NTSB spokesperson says that preliminary indications are that the train was travelling at 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) on a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) track. The Positive train control (PTC) safety system was not operational on the train, says Amtrak. (BBC)

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announce the formation of an international group that seeks to increase pressure on North Korea regarding their nuclear program. The group, comprised of 18 countries, will meet for the first time on January 16, 2018 in Vancouver(AFP)

Excessive speed cited in Amtrak derailment that killed 3 people An Amtrak train derailed Monday morning in Washington state, causing “multiple injuries and fatalities,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. At least three people died in the crash. The train was carrying 78 passengers and five crew members when it derailed roughly 40 miles south of Seattle just before 8 a.m. local time, causing a train car to dangle over Interstate 5. Thirteen of the train’s 14 cars jumped the track, and on the freeway five cars and two semi-trucks were also involved in accidents because of the derailment. It was the inaugural run of a new, high-speed route connecting Seattle and Portland, and the National Transportation Safety Board said preliminary data shows the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Source: The Associated Press

Trump unveils national security plan President Trump unveiled a new national security strategy on Monday, presenting China and Russia as rivals seeking to “challenge American power, influence, and interests, [and] attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” Trump’s policy statement additionally reflects the America First themes of his campaign, reversing Obama-era warnings about climate change, and emphasizing the economic implications of U.S. foreign policy. In comments Monday, Trump called the strategy “principled realism” and explained: “To succeed we must integrate every dimension of our national strength and we must compete with every instrument of our national power. Source: The Washington Post

Senate committee investigating Russia asks for documents from Jill Stein Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, has been approached by the Senate Intelligence Committee and asked to turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, her former communications director told BuzzFeed News Monday. Dennis Trainor Jr. said Stein told him this on Friday, and he was informed because during the campaign, his personal cell phone was a “primary point of contact” for people who wanted to speak with Stein, including several producers from the Russian state-funded news agency RT who called him to book Stein appearances. When asked by BuzzFeed News what the committee was looking for from Stein’s campaign, committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) responded, “collusion with the Russians.” Source: BuzzFeed News

Report: Mueller team expects probe to continue well into 2018 When White House lawyers meet later this week with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, they are expected to ask how much more information they will need before deciding their probe is over as far as President Trump is concerned, several White House advisers told The Washington Post. People with knowledge of the probe say it’s likely the investigation will continue well into 2018, especially as they gather new leads from witnesses who have pledged to cooperate: former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Trump has told associates he’s not concerned about the probe, with one telling the Post he is “confident, even arrogant” about having done nothing wrong. Source: The Washington Post

 

Monday,  Dec 18, 2017

Twitter suspends the accounts of well-known white nationalists per recently implemented new offensive content rules. (AP via Time)

At least three people are killed and 77 injured when an Amtrak passenger train derails on an Interstate 5 overpass in Pierce County, Washington. This train is part of a new Cascades service from Tacoma that launched the same morning. (CNN)

The Unites States vetoes an United Nations Security Council resolution calling for it to withdraw its declaration of a capital in Jerusalem, which was approved by the other 14 members. (Reuters)

The United States and the United Kingdom claim North Korea is directly responsible for the WannaCry ransomware attack which occurred earlier this year. (BBC)

U.S. radio preacher Brother Stair is arrested on eight charges of sexual assault. (Walterboro Live)

Charlottesville Police Chief Alfred Thomas announces his retirement. He was previously criticized for his poor handling of the rally and counterprotests. (NPR)

Sebastian Kurz becomes the new Chancellor of Austria and a new government is inaugurated. (Bloomberg)

Cyril Ramaphosa becomes president of the African National Congress (ANC), defeating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by 2,440 votes to 2,261. (News24)

University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers report, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that microscopic fossils discovered in a nearly 3.5 billion-year-old piece of rock in Western Australia are the oldest fossils ever found and the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth. (Phys.org)

 

John Skipper resigns from ESPN, citing substance addiction ESPN President John Skipper resigned from the network Monday, citing a substance abuse problem. “I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,” Skipper said in a statement, adding that the decision for him to resign was made in tandem with the company. “I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation, and a feeling of having let others I care about down.” Skipper joined ESPN in 1997 and became the company’s president in 2012. Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will oversee a 90-day transition period for the company as it searches for a replacement. Source: ESPN

 

Sunday, Dec 17, 2017

A Russian airstrike using napalm kills at least ten civilians, including four children and six women from one family, in Idlib’s town of Khan Shaykhun, according to the leader of the White Helmets. (Anadolu Agency)

The Russian Ministry of Defense says that Russia and China concluded a five-day computer-generated air defense drill in Beijing. (Newsweek)

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanks U.S. President Donald Trump for sharing intelligence from the Central Intelligence Agency which they say helped prevent a terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg. (Los Angeles Times)

Several hundred people take part in clashes between Ukrainian police and anti-Petro Poroshenko protesters (led by opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili) demanding the president’s resignation at the October Palace in Kiev. (VOA)

Venezuela and Rosneft sign agreements on gas exploration and exploitation. (Marine Link)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey says “the day is close when officially, with God’s permission” his nation will open an embassy in East Jerusalem. (The Hill)

 

Saturday,  Dec 16, 2017

The BBC reports that former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron is to head a £750 million ($1 billion) U.K. private fund to improve air, road and railway links between China and its trading partners.  (The Guardian)

Thousands of delegates of the African National Congress gather in Johannesburg to elect a party leader, who may replace President Jacob Zuma before his term expires in 2019. (AP via Newser)

The existence of a U.S. government program that investigated reports of UFOs is revealed. (The New York Times)

 

 Friday,  Dec 15, 2017

The most recent U.S. government statistics show a marked increase in the yearly number of deaths by drug overdose. The number for end May 2017 is 66,324, up 17% when compared to the previous 12-month period. (U.S. News & World Report)

Former economy minister Alexey Ulyukaev is found guilty of soliciting a $2 million bribe from Rosneft’s Igor Sechin. He is sentenced to 8 years in prison. Ulyukayev is the most senior serving official to be arrested in decades. He previously denied the charges, saying he’d been “set up”. (Reuters)

In a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, denounces as “failed” the assumptions underlying the December 6 announcement by President Donald Trump. (Los Angeles Times)

Beate Uhse AG, suppliers of the Pabo erotica catalog, files for bankruptcy in Germany. Only the holding company restructures in order to secure refinancingwith the creditors. Beate Uhse-Rotermund opened the first sex shop in 1962, in Flensburg, under the name “Institut für Ehehygiene”. (Daily Mail)

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, FIFA warned the Royal Spanish Football Federation, threatening to exclude Spain from participation in the 2018 World Cup. FIFA reportedly argues that the Spanish attempt to remove Ángel María Villar (who is accused of corruption) from the national federation’s presidency is an illicit government intervention in the Spanish football federation’s activities. (The Independent)

After disparaging FBI, Trump speaks at FBI National Academy graduation President Trump spoke at the FBI National Academy Graduation Ceremony on Friday after he had vaguely claimed that “it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI” before the event. On stage, though, the president told the law enforcement graduates, “You rarely get the recognition you deserve. With me as your president, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be.” Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute noted that the graduates Trump was addressing are “high level, strong performing state and local law enforcement officers from around the country,” rather than FBI agents — “i.e. Trump’s base.” Source: Mediaite, The Week

3 additional women accuse Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct Three women have come forward to accuse actor Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including one who said he exposed himself to her when she was in high school, Variety reports. One woman said in 1980, when she was 16, Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room. She was friends with his daughter, and had the spent the afternoon with them. Two other women told Variety Hoffman sexually assaulted them while filming 1987’s Ishtar. Hoffman’s attorney, Mark A. Neubauer, called the accusations “defamatory falsehoods.” Earlier this year, Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of groping her in 1985, while she was a teenager. Source: Variety