06.19.2018

Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018

US President Donald Trump directs the Department of Defense to begin the process of establishing a “space force” as the sixth military branch of the United States Armed Forces. (CNBC)

Israel charges former energy minister Gonen Segev with spying for Iran. Segev is in custody; he was extradited from Equatorial Guinea. (BBC)

American rapper XXXTentacion is shot dead in Deerfield Beach, Florida, United States. (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC)

Google announces that it will invest US$550 million in the Chinese e-commerce company JD.com. (CNN)

A Palestinian man dies while tampering with the Israel–Gaza border’s automated defences, which detonate. (Reuters)

Islamic State kidnaps six people in Mosul, Iraq, and executes them. (Iraqi News)

 

A second attempt is made to extinguish burning container ship MV SSL Kolkata in the Bay of Bengal off India after rough conditions prompted an abandonment of yesterday’s efforts. (Telegraph India)

Iñaki Urdangarin, brother-in-law of King Felipe VI of Spain, enters prison to serve the sentence of almost 6 years for the Nóos case. (La Vanguardia)

The House of Commons of Canada votes to legalize recreational cannabis. The bill will now head back to the Senate, where it is expected to be passed into law. (The Independent)

Kim Jong Un makes third trip to China since March North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in China on Tuesday for a two-day visit, his third trip since March. Kim is expected to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his recent summit with President Trump. Kim and Trump agreed to work together toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump also offered to guarantee the security of the North Korean regime and promised to end “war games” with South Korea, which both North Korea and China have criticized as provocative. The long-reclusive Kim also is expected to use the clout he gained from his meeting with Trump to push for relief from tough international economic sanctions. Source: Reuters, The New York Times

Japan tops Colombia 2-1 in group stage, making World Cup history Japan stunned Colombia on Tuesday in the World Cup, with the heavy underdogs winning the match 2-1. The victory made Japan the first Asian country to beat a South American nation in World Cup history. The upset began within the first 10 minutes of the game, when Carlos Sanchez used his hand to block midfielder Shinji Kagawa’s shot. Sanchez received a red card and Kagawa scored on the penalty. Playing with just 10 men, Colombia’s Juan Quintero managed to score the equalizer on a free kick in the 39th minute, but Japan pulled ahead again in the 73rd minute thanks to Yuya Osako. Colombia, which lost 2-1 to Brazil in the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014, is stuck at 0 points in the group stage due to the loss. Source: The New York Times

THE END

Myopia

A Narrow View of Things
by Theodore Dalrymple
June 16, 2018

In North Korea I saw no one on the street, in the mass parades, or at the stadium seating 150,000 people wearing them and thought this strange, as Koreans are genetically predisposed to myopia. When I asked my personal spy who accompanied me everywhere where the people who wore glasses were, he replied, “That is a problem we have solved.” It was not by laser surgery, either, though the precise method of the solution went unsolved. The three successive heads of the Kim dynasty have all worn glasses, evidence of their superior, indeed unprecedented, intelligence…. If you kill all the people of above-average intelligence, your chances of having above-average intelligence yourself rise.

 

Monday, Jun 18, 2018

Japan lowers the age of adulthood from 20 to 18, with the changes coming into effect in 2022. The revision to Japan’s civil code means that 18-year-olds will be able to marry without their parents’ consent, apply for credit cards and loans, and transgender people will be able to have their new gender officially recognised. The change causes confusion and concern regarding the kimono industry and Coming of Age Day. (The Guardian)

A missing Indonesian woman’s body is found inside a python, being one of only two fully documented cases of a human being consumed by a snake. (The Hindu)

Audi CEO arrested in widening VW diesel scandal Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested in Germany on Monday in the latest fallout from the diesel-emissions cheating scandal at the automaker’s parent company, Volkswagen. “We confirm that Mr. Stadler was arrested this morning,” a VW spokesman said Monday, noting that Stadler was presumed innocent like any suspect. Audi made no immediate comment. The arrest came as Munich prosecutors expand their investigation into the scandal to look at possible fraud and false advertising at Audi, VW’s luxury brand. VW shares were down about 1.6 percent from Friday’s closing price. Source: Reuters

 

 

Sunday, Jun 17, 2018

Wynn Resorts Ltd. says that two board members, including one investigating sexual misconduct allegations against former Chief Executive Steve Wynn, will leave their posts after Elaine Wynn, the company’s largest shareholder, presses for additional board changes. (The Wall Street Journal)

In an upset victory, Mexico beats Germany 1–0, handing them their first opening loss in a World Cup since 1982. (TSN)

Twin suicide bombings in Damboa, Nigeria, leave at least 31 people dead. The explosions are reportedly followed by rockets fired from outside the town. (BBC)

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake strikes Osaka, Japan, at 7:58 a.m. local time (22:58 UTC). At least two people have been killed and several are transported to hospitals with injuries. Electrical services are disrupted citywide, affecting 170,000 buildings. (NHK)

Iván Duque wins the second round presidential election to become the new President of Colombia. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Jun 16, 2018

Boris Becker, who was once the highest ranked men’s singles tennis player in the world, has claimed diplomatic immunity from a bankruptcy claim by private bankers Arbuthnot Latham, based on his role as a sports attaché to the European Union from the Central African Republic. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabian-led coalition troops seize control of Hodeida International Airport in Al Hudaydah after driving out Houthi forces. Around 280 people have been reportedly killed in the last four days inside the Yemeni port city. (Sky News)

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency states that the eruption of lower Puna has destroyed 467 homes in total. (Upi)

The coalition government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survives a vote of no-confidence brought by the opposition party over a deal to end the dispute. (AP)

First time qualifier Iceland holds off a late charge from two-time champion Argentina and comes away with a 1-1 draw in the opening World Cup matches for both countries. (ESPN)

 

Friday,  Jun 15, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has his bail revoked for allegedly tampering with witnesses, and is sent to jail to await his trial for foreign lobbying charges. (CNN)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense reports that Mullah Fazlullah, the emir of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in Kunar province by an U.S. drone strike two days prior on June 13. (NBC News)

The United States imposes a 25% tariff on goods imported from China worth $50 billion, set to come into effect on July 6, and accuses Beijing of “intellectual copyright theft”. (BBC)

Cristiano Ronaldo scores a hat-trick achieving Portugal’s 3–3 draw against Spain. (Reuters)

 

 Thursday, Jun 14,  2018

The U.S. Department of Justice publishes a 568-page report by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz on the FBI’s handling of its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices. The report is critical of former FBI Director James Comey, accusing him of being “insubordinate”, but finding that his actions were not politically biased. (BBC)

The Message is the first Arabic film commercially screened in Saudi Arabia. (Quartz)

EU countries approve tariffs worth €2.8 billion in retaliation against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium. (AFP via Yahoo! News)

The Senate of France approves a bill to reform the SNCF railway company. The French state writes off €35 billion of SNCF’s €47 billion debt, but remains the sole owner of the joint-stock company with two subsidiaries: operator SNCF Mobility and infrastructure manager SNCF Network. (International Railway Journal)

Hosts Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5–0 in the opening match, with two goals by Denis Cheryshev. (BBC Sport)

The End

Bad Blood

Thursday, Jun 14,  2018

Blood Simple
by Steve Sailer
June 13, 2018

Some other lessons from the Theranos debacle involve the plausibility of conspiracy theorizing. After all, the cast of famous operators who played supporting roles in the Elizabeth Holmes saga makes it sound like this, if anything, ought to be a conspiracy of some sort, right?

And yet the tale turned out to be one couple hoodwinking the Bohemian Grove members.

Now, we are often told that conspiracy theories couldn’t possibly be true because no organization could keep a secret for very long (although Britain’s vast Bletchley Park code-breaking project during WWII was kept confidential until the 1970s.)

And yet Theranos had been in business for twelve years and had fired hundreds of disillusioned employees before anybody published a debunking article.

No, the real weakness in most conspiracy theories is the sheer quantity of elite ineptitude. It turns out that, unlike in 1984 or Brave New World, there is no Inner Party of Machiavellian but informed insiders who actually know what’s going on. Hence, even the guys who won the Cold War were made fools of by a megalomaniacal young lady with the winds of the zeitgeist at her back.

 

Justice Department watchdog expected to slam FBI over Clinton email probe On Thursday afternoon, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will release his anticipated report on the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The report is expected to criticize former FBI Director James Comey for violating longstanding DOJ policies by criticizing Clinton’s email use while announcing the FBI found no wrongdoing and then publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. Horowitz may also criticize former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — the report already contributed to his firing — and others. When he launched the investigation in January 2017, however, Horowitz made clear he would not second-guess the decision to not press charges against Clinton. Clinton and others have said Comey’s actions cost her the election. Source: NPR

2018 World Cup begins with match between Russia, Saudi Arabia The world’s most widely-viewed sporting event, the soccer World Cup, begins Thursday in Russia, where the national team will face off against Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Russia is the lowest-ranked team in the 2018 World Cup, having failed to win their last seven friendly matches since last October, while Saudi Arabia last reached the global finals in 1994. “Never mind that it’s the least appealing World Cup opener ever,” writes Henry Bushnell for Yahoo Sports. “If you’re a soccer fan, you watch the World Cup opener.” Games can be watched on Fox or Fox Sports 1, or in Spanish on Telemundo or NBC Universo. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia kicks off at 11 a.m. ET. Source: Sporting News

 

Wednesday,  Jun 13,  2018

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigns following anti-government protests. (RFE/RL)

Saudi-led coalition forces begin an operation to take control of the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, which has been held by the Houthis since 2015. (BBC News)

Volkswagen is fined €1 billion by German prosecutors after cheating on diesel particulate emissions testing. (BBC News)

The FIFA Congress votes to hold the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, with Morocco’s World Cup bid coming in second. (BBC Sport)

Julen Lopetegui is ousted as coach of Spanish national football team, one day before the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (The Guardian)

 

Tuesday,  Jun 12, 2018

Tesla announces that it intends to cut 3000 jobs in an attempt to improve profitability. Many of those workers will be offered alternative jobs under the same employer. (BBC)

A U.S. federal judge approves AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner. (NPR)

Seattle’s city council votes 7–2 to repeal a controversial employer head tax, which was approved a month earlier. (The Guardian)

Hurricane Bud grows into a category four hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 km/h) off of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. (CBS News)

Germany issues a recall of 73,000 eggs from the Netherlands suspected to be contaminated with fipronil. (BBC)

The United States unveils a new 6.5-hectare (16-acre) complex in Taipei for the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un meet for a historic summit on Sentosa Island in Singapore. This marks the first time that the leaders of both countries have met. (BBC)

The End

Bad Blood will next be filmed by Will Ferrell’s pal Adam McKay (director of the Big Short mortgage movie) with Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes.


https://twitter.com/SecPompeo

Kill Urself

The Latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2018 is out. It covers everything through 2017.

Excel Spreadsheet available here.

 

Why Is Suicide Becoming So Trendy?
by Jim Goad
June 11, 2018

Tuesday,  Jun 12, 2018

Trump and Kim end summit with signing of denuclearization document President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wrapped up their historic five-hour summit in Singapore on Tuesday by signing a document in which Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea and Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Both leaders also pledged to “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” There were no specific details on how these goals would be reached. Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that they hadn’t discussed withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, but said “we’re not going to play the war games” anymore, because they’re “very provocative.” Trump said at a news conference later that he wants to “bring our soldiers home.” Source: The Associated Press, ABC News

 

 Monday,  Jun 11, 2018

NASA’s Opportunity rover is temporarily shut down due to a dust storm. (BGR)

Deontay Wilder accepts the terms to fight Anthony Joshua. (ESPN)

Sunday, Jun 10, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive in Singapore ahead of the upcoming summit. (BBC)

A warehouse holding ballot boxes from elections last month burns down in Baghdad. Several politicians say the fire was a criminal act aimed at destabilising the state following a disputed election result. (BBC)

Authorities in Afghanistan announce the seizure of 156 sacks of ammonium nitrate being imported on a truck from Pakistan. This is one of the largest seizures of the compound, most commonly used as a fertilizer, but also used to manufacture explosives. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Basque nationalists form a 202-kilometre (126 mi) human chain asking for greater autonomy. (BBC)

In the men’s singles final, Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem and wins his 11th title at Roland Garros. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Jun 9, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump calls for “fair and reciprocal” trades between the United States and other countries, claiming that the United States is a “piggy bank that everyone keeps robbing”. (VOA) (BBC)

Donald Trump again calls for Russia to be reinstated into the group. Russia was suspended after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. (CNN)

Trump retracts his endorsement of the summit’s final communiqué. (CBS News)

The Taliban announce a three-day Eid ceasefire with the Afghan authorities, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. On Thursday, President Ashraf Ghaniannounced a ceasefire with the Taliban from June 12–19. (TASS)

The 18th Council of Heads of State meets in Qingdao, China. (The Nation)

Over 100,000 people participate in a large protest in Bucharest, Romania, against apparent judicial abuses and “illegitimate interference” of the secret services in the political and judicial systems. The protest was organised by the governing Social Democratic Party and supported by other political parties. (The Washington Post)

Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and becomes the second horse in four years to win the U.S. Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. (The New York Times)

 

 Friday,  Jun 8, 2018

The 10-megawatt IBM Summit supercomputer is unveiled at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, East Tennessee. With a reported 200 petaflops of processing power, it is expected to top the list of the world’s most powerful computers after this June’s update is presented at the International Supercomputing Conference. (Wired)

U.S. President Donald Trump calls for Russia, which was suspended from the group after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, to be reinstated in the group; a call supported by the Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, and rejected by most other G7 leaders. (Deutsche Welle)

The military chiefs of both countries, Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov, meet in Finland. (AP via ABC News)

On Quds Day – the last Friday of Ramadan – thousands of Palestinians protest near the Gaza border fence. Israeli troops fire live rounds and tear gas, killing four people and injuring over 600. (AP via CBS News)

A U.S. special forces soldier is killed and four others are wounded in an ambush by suspected al-Shabaab militants near the town of Jamame, Lower Juba, Somalia. (BBC)

The Walt Disney Company announces that its animation chief, John Lasseter, will leave the company after December 31, after he was accused of misconduct late last year. (Deadline)

The military chiefs of both countries, Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov, meet in Finland. (AP via ABC News)

In basketball, the Golden State Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games to win the National Basketball Association Championship. (New York Times)

THE END

fragile egomaniac

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018

Prostitutes at the Brussels-North red-light district strike today after one of their colleagues is found murdered this morning, says their professional association. (Het Laatste Nieuws)

Miss America pageant eliminates swimsuit competition The Miss America organization has eliminated the swimsuit portion of its competition for the first time in its 96-year history. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” said Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.” Carlson said the competition would focus on the talent and interview phases to determine scholarship awards, rather than operate as a beauty pageant. “We’re moving forward,” she said, “and evolving in this cultural revolution.” Source: Good Morning America

A 2–5-metre (6 ft 7 in–16 ft 5 in) wide asteroid named 2018 LA was estimated (before impact) to have an 82% chance of having impacted Earth today, with several corroborating reports from Botswana. An OFM media report from near Klerksdorp, North West province, South Africa, describes “‘a light’ falling from the sky” at 18:49 (UTC+02:00) Saturday night. (NASA) (Minor Planet Mailing List) (Project Pluto)

 

 

Penka, a pregnant cow from Bulgaria, faces death because, according to European Union rules, she lacks the required paperwork to re-enter her country after having strayed into Serbia. (Deccan Chronicle)

Google reports that they will not renew a contract with the U.S. military to develop machine learning algorithms for drones. (BBC)

In an effort to quell unrest caused by IMF-driven reforms, King Abdullah II of Jordan appoints Omar Razzaz as Prime Minister. (Reuters)

Trump disinvites Eagles from White House Super Bowl ceremony The White House announced Monday that President Trump has canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles set for Tuesday because some players are taking a knee during the national anthem, in protest of police brutality in the United States. The Eagles were supposed to visit the White House in celebration of their Super Bowl win earlier this year. In a statement, Trump said some members of the team “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart.” In response, the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, called Trump a “fragile egomaniac.” Source: The Associated Press

Billionaire David Koch to retire from Koch Industries, political network Citing health issues, billionaire David Koch, 78, will step down from his roles at Koch Industries and the political activism network he runs with his brother, Charles Koch. “Unfortunately, these issues have not been resolved, and his health has continued to deteriorate,” Charles wrote in a letter sent to Koch Industries employees Tuesday. This news comes just one day after the Kochs’ political network announced a major new campaign against President Trump’s tariffs. Long reviled on the left for their economic policy, in recent years the Kochs have made allies on both sides of the aisle on issues like immigration and criminal justice reform. Koch Industries is the second-largest private company in the United States. Source: CNBC

Chinese state media say that an explosion at an iron ore mine in Benxi, Liaoning, kills 11 people while 25 others remain trapped after the blast. (Reuters via DNA)

 

Monday, Jun 4, 2018

The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States announces the arrest of an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency whom they have charged with spying on the behalf of China. (BBC)

In a new filing, special counsel Robert Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering. (Vox)

Microsoft announces that it is acquiring code repository GitHub for US$7.5 billion in stock, pending regulatory review. (The Verge)

Starbucks executive chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz retires from the company. (The New York Times)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law – voted by the State Duma on 22 May and approved by the State Council on 30 May – with countermeasures against actions of the United States and other “unfriendly” countries. (TASS)

According to multiple sources, North Korea has fired the top three military officials and replaced them with younger loyalists. One of the three new appointees, general Ri Yong-gil, was inaccurately “reported” in 2016 as having been executed.  (BBC)

Hani Al-Mulki resigns as Prime Minister of Jordan following protests against economic reforms. (Al Jazeera)

 

Sunday, Jun 3, 2018

Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala erupts, leaving at least 62 people dead, 300 others injured, and forces the closure of La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. (The Guardian)

Wildfires in the American states of California, Colorado and New Mexico now burn 31,000 acres (13,000 ha) of land, causing thousands to evacuate their homes. (CNN)

India announces it successfully tested a Agni-V ICBM missile at a base near Odisha coast. (Defence Aviation Post)

TV Slovenia exit polls show that Janez Janša’s anti-immigration Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) would win a plurality of 24.4% of the votes. List of Marjan Šarec (LMS), the party of the mayor of Kamnik, would follow with 12.6%. (Reuters)

 

Saturday, Jun 2, 2018

The first legal bare-knuckle boxing match in U.S. history, titled the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships, takes place in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Sydney Morning Herald) (USA Today)

More than 80 homes have now been destroyed by the Kilauea eruption. (KTLA)

Thousands protest in Amman and other Jordanian cities, despite King Abdullah II ordering a freeze on controversial fuel and electricity price increases.  (The Guardian)

 

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

Pedro Parente, the head of Brazil Petrobras, resigns among protests related to diesel fuel prices. (BBC)

The CDC reports that five people have died and 197 have been hospitalized in the United States, in the largest incidence of E. coli since the 2006 North American E. coli outbreak. (BBC)

Visa card payments are disrupted throughout Europe due to a network failure. The disruption results in large queues at supermarkets and petrol stations. Mastercard and American Express say they were not affected. (BBC)

According to civil sources reported by SANA, the US-led coalition kills 8 people in an airstrike near al-Shaddadi, southern Hasaka. (Eurasia Review)

U.S. President Donald Trump officially announces that the summit will resume as scheduled following a White House meeting with North Korean general Kim Yong-chol. (BBC)

A Department of Defense report presented to the United States Congress estimates at 499 the number of civilian deaths in US military actions during the year 2017, with more than 450 reports remaining to be assessed. The casualties occurred in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. (CNN)

An Uber driver in Denver, Colorado, United States, fatally shoots a passenger after a conflict on the Interstate 25 highway. A portion of the highway is placed on lockdown following the incident. (NBC News via MSN)

THE END

6ix9ine

 

Thursday, May 31,  2018

The Federal Reserve wants to soften the Volcker Rule on big banks The three members of the Federal Reserve Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to advance a proposal that would roll back the Volcker Rule, which prevents banks from making risky bets with depositors’ money. The Volcker Rule, part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been in effect since April 2014 and is meant to keep banks in check in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Wall Street has complained about the rule ever since, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that regulators are trying to “replace overly complex and inefficient requirements with a more streamlined set of requirements.” The proposal is now open to 60 days of public comment. The Federal Reserve is supposed to have seven governors. Source: The Hill

 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Harvey Weinstein is indicted for rape charges by a New York City grand jury. (CBS)

Arkady Babchenko, who was reported dead after being shot yesterday in Kiev, appears on live television in Ukraine, stating that the assassination was staged. (BBC)

Top North Korean official Gen Kim Yong-chol meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York City to discuss the summit set to be held in June. (BBC)

A consortium led by the Institute of Cetacean Research, which is linked to Japan’s Ministry of Fisheries, reports that 333 Antarctic minke whales were killed in last year’s “scientific survey”. 122 of the whales were pregnant, and 114 immature. (Smithsonian)

According to Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, talks with Greece on Macedonia’s name are in a final phase. Zaev says that if a compromise name for the country is agreed upon, it will be put to a referendum. (RFE/RL)

Report: Trump asked Sessions to rescind his recusal from Russia probe President Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation during a dinner in Florida in March 2017, The New York Times reported Tuesday. Sessions refused. He had flown to see Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach because he needed to discuss Trump’s travel ban days after his Russia recusal, and the president wasn’t taking his calls. Trump reportedly berated Sessions and demanded his loyalty. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating this incident as part of his probe into whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, the Times reported. Mueller’s team has interviewed several current and former White House officials about how Sessions was treated by Trump. Sessions was interviewed in January. Source: The New York Times

 

 

Trump: ‘I wish’ I didn’t pick Jeff Sessions for attorney general President Trump publicly bashed his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Twitter Wednesday after The New York Times reported he had pressured Sessions in March 2017 to reverse his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Trump quoted Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who had appeared on Fox News to defend the president, writing: “[If] I picked somebody to be the country’s chief law enforcement officer and they told me later ‘oh by the way, I’m not going to be able to participate in the most important case in the office,’ I would be frustrated too … There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” Trump added his own comment after Gowdy’s quote: “And I wish I did!” Source: Donald J. Trump, The Week

Kim Kardashian West talks prison reform with Trump Reality star Kim Kardashian West went to the White House Wednesday to discuss prison reform with President Trump. Already the socialite has been in contact with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, to advocate for the pardon and release of 62-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, who is more than two decades into a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to offer advance details of the Wednesday visit, only confirming it would happen. “Happy Birthday Alice Marie Johnson,” Kardashian West tweeted earlier Wednesday. “Today is for you.” Source: Politico

 

 

Tuesday,   May 29, 2018

U.S. television network ABC cancels its recently revived sitcom Roseanne following a controversial tweet from Roseanne Barr about former U.S. President Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. (BBC)

The U.S. Government announces a 25% import tariff on US$50 billion of Chinese goods with “industrially significant technology”. A full list of affected products will be published on June 15. Investment restrictions and enhanced export controls are to be announced on June 30. (NPR)

Four Libyan leaders (Fayez al-Sarraj, Khalifa Haftar, Aguila Saleh and head of the Council of State Khaled al-Mishri) endorse a statement calling to hold “credible, peaceful” elections on 10 December. (The Guardian)

The End

 

Lil_tay_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz5Qk8i68l4

Silk Roads

 

Why were five U.S. soldiers killed by a B-1 Bomber in Afghanistan?
A classified report blames human error for the deadliest friendly fire incident of the Afghan War involving U.S. soldiers. Soldiers who were there say that’s wrong

 

How we entered the age of the strongman
Liberals have consistently misread the present – and their complacency is pushing us into a new authoritarian era.
by John Gray
May 2018

 

A NEW SILK ROAD
China is investing billions in building pathways to Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Photographs By Davide Monteleone

 

Khorgos, Kazakhstan – October 2017. A freight train arriving from China just left the Khorgos dry port to cross all Kazakhstan to reach Europe. Kazakhstan is a crucial country for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and the Khorgos dry port is quickly becoming the China west gate for land import and export.

 

Tuesday,   May 29, 2018

White House confirms tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods The White House confirmed Tuesday that it will be going forward with the implementation of heavy tariffs on Chinese imports next month following weeks of concern that doing so might spark a trade war. Some $50 billion in imported goods will be subject to the 25 percent tariff, with a finalized list of goods expected by June 15. The U.S. also plans to restrict China’s access to American technology, with the administration citing national security concerns. Trade negotiations between the nations are ongoing, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying the trade war was “on hold” less than two weeks ago. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will travel to China to continue talks in early June. Source: The New York Times, CNN Money

Top North Korean official to visit New York High-level talks between the United States and North Korea continue Tuesday, with senior Pyongyang official Kim Yong Chol en route to New York City, President Trump confirmed. Kim will be the most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000, following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two trips to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un this year. American diplomats in South Korea are also believed to be meeting with their North Korean counterparts on Tuesday, and on Monday a North Korean delegation reportedly arrived in Singapore, possibly to continue preparations for a summit Trump withdrew from last week. South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Jong Un over the weekend to push for the meeting to resume. Source: The Associated Press, CNN

Hurricane Maria death toll reportedly 70 times higher than official count More than 4,500 people are believed to have been killed in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria last year, more than 70 times the official death count of 64, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reported Tuesday. That estimate would make the hurricane far deadlier than Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when 1,833 people died. Deaths that count towards a total death toll include directly related events, like “flying debris,” as well as deaths “caused by unsafe or unhealthy conditions resulting in injury, illness, or loss of necessary medical services.” Puerto Rican deaths went underreported because hurricane-related casualties are required to be confirmed by the island’s Institute of Forensic Sciences, and indirect deaths often aren’t properly represented on official death certificates. Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

Palestinian militants in Gaza fire dozens of mortars at Israel in the heaviest such barrage in years. The Israeli Air Force responds with airstrikes on militant positions. (BBC)

The studio behind battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) sues Epic Games for allegedly copying their game, with Fortnite Battle Royale, which is currently the most played video game in the world. (BBC)

 

cardiB_https://youtu.be/iDjWKMbg_Ok

 

Two WYFF journalists, Mike McCormick and Aaron Smeltzer, are killed after a tree crushes their car as they covered the storm in North Carolina. (BBC)

Bashar al-Assad’s government of Syria recognises the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, “in an appreciation of [their] supportive positions towards the terrorist aggression against Syria”. Georgia severs relations with Syria in response. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Right-wing British activist Tommy Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison for contempt of court within five hours after being arrested outside Leeds Crown Court on 25 May. A ban on reporting his sentence is lifted today following a legal challenge by journalists. (The Mirror)

 

 

Monday,  May 28, 2018

Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister of Defence, says that he recently talked with United States officials in Washington D.C. about a permanent stationing in Poland of thousands of US troops as a deterrent against Russia. (AP via Business Insider)

Austria’s coalition government unveils plans to cut benefit payments for immigrants, including refugees, in a move aimed at deterring new arrivals. (BBC)

The Golden State Warriors advance to the NBA Finals and will play the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth straight year. (Cleveland.com)

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05.24.2018

Fishy Business

This mendacious exercise in manufacturing paranoia seeks to divert the public’s attention from the actual matter at hand, which is whether the highest higher-ups in the FBI will hand over documents to congressional committees who demanded them, as they are entitled to do by the constitution. Trump’s lawyers and General Kelly “dropped by” to remind the FBI officials that the president, as chief officer of the executive branch, has instructed the FBI mandarins to comply. In other words, the Newspaper of Record endeavors to distort the record of events. That’s disgraceful enough, but they are also abetting what appears more and more to be a case of mutiny with overtones of sedition.

How an Alexa speaker recorded and shared a private conversation

 

BLACK WRITER SETS ODDS ON WHEN TRUMP WILL FINALLY SAY THE “N-WORD”

But sometimes, much to the dismay of black people who make everything about being black, non-blacks don’t always have the time or interest to persecute them.

Thursday,  May 24,  2018

The NFL announces a new policy regarding kneeling for the anthem, requiring any players on the sidelines to stand. Thus, players will now be allowed to remain in the locker room while the Star-Spangled Banner is played, fining players who refuse to stand on the sidelines. (The Baltimore Sun)

Federal judge bars Trump from blocking Twitter users A federal district court judge in New York has ruled that it is unconstitutional for President Trump to block users on Twitter. The president’s Twitter feed was ruled to be a “public forum,” and by blocking users, he is in violation of the First Amendment. Part of the decision came down to the fact that when Trump blocks a user, they are no longer able to reply to his tweets, Reuters reports. “Once it is a public forum, you can’t shut somebody up because you don’t like what they’re saying,” argued U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald earlier this year. The lawsuit was filed by the Knight First Amendment Institute and Columbia University and a handful of Twitter users. Source: Reuters, Knight First Amendment Institute

North Korea slams Pence’s ‘ignorant’ comments, threatens scrap summit North Korea is again threatening to not attend a summit next month with President Trump, with the country’s vice minister of foreign affairs blasting Vice President Mike Pence for his “ignorant” comments comparing North Korea to Libya. Choe Son Hui said North Korea will “neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us.” During a Fox News interview Monday, Pence said it would be a “mistake” for North Korea to “play” Trump, and Washington could return to the “Libya model.” Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi agreed to give up his nuclear weapons in 2004, and he was overthrown and killed in 2011, after a U.S.-European intervention. Source: The Associated Press

Democrats, John Kelly, will now attend classified FBI informant briefing Only two members of Congress — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — will be at a noon Justice Department briefing on Thursday about an FBI informant who contacted members of President Trump’s campaign in 2016. But after protests from Democrats and some Republicans, there will be a second briefing at 2 p.m. with the Gang of 8 — the top Senate and House leaders and intelligence committee members from both parties — plus Gowdy. Despite a previous assurance that none of Trump’s aides would attend, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be at both briefings. The briefing will be conducted by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats. Source: Politico, The Associated Press

Dutch investigators conclude Russian army downed MH17 Dutch investigators have concluded that a Russian anti-aircraft missile brigade is responsible for shooting down a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine in 2014. The disaster resulted in the deaths of all 298 people on board. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in shooting down MH17, and has used its veto power at the United Nations to block an international tribunal over the incident. Dutch investigators say they are convinced Russia is behind the attack because they managed to identify a specific BUK missile system that was used, which was traced to a brigade based in Kursk, in western Russia. MH17 had been traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down. Source: BBC, The Guardian

CHI-COMS HERD MUSLIMS INTO CAMPS, FORCE THEM TO EAT PORK

A story that has largely been suppressed in the West due to the fact that our media mandarins shy away from depicting communists as humanity-squashing slave-masters is the fact that over the past year or so, Chinese authorities in the nation’s Xinjiang region have rounded up countless Muslims—at press time we weren’t able to do a head count, but estimates vary from a few thousand to a hundred thousand to over a million, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all—and sent them to communist indoctrination camps.

It is there that they are whipped and beaten and starved and tortured and “made to eat pork and drink alcohol,” which, as all students of Islam know, pisses Allah off somethin’ fierce.

 

Wednesday,  May 23,  2018

Iran sets seven conditions to stay in the JCPOA Iran deal after the U.S. withdrew. One of these conditions is that European banks should safeguard trade with Iran. (Al-Arabiya)

Iranian truck owners and drivers start striking in seven provinces to protest poor working conditions. (VOA) (The Washington Post)

The United States issues a health alert in China, following a government employee reporting “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure”, one in a range of physical symptoms, from late 2017 through to April 2018. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the State Department is moving medical teams into place in Guangzhou, adding that the incident was “entirely consistent” with reported “sonic attacks” in Cuba in 2016 and 2017. (CNN)

The Pentagon announces that it has “disinvited” China from this year’s biennial Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, after China announced in January that it had accepted the United States’ invitation. (Politico)

The European Commission recommends to remove France from the excessive deficit procedure which it entered in 2009. (Deutsche Welle)

The Turkish Central Bank raises its “late liquidity window” rate from 13.5% to 16.5% in a move to counter the slide of the Turkish lira over the last three weeks. Other rates are left unchanged. (Bloomberg)

Italian President Sergio Mattarella accepts Giuseppe Conte as Prime Minister. Conte is now going to form his government, supported by the Five Star Movement and League. (BBC)

 

Tuesday,   May 22, 2018

Syrian government forces declare Damascus and its surroundings “completely safe” for the first time since 2011, after taking Yarmouk Camp and Hajar al-Aswad from ISIL. (CBS News)

Israel announces it is the first country to use the new F-35 Lightning II fighter jet in combat operations. (BBC News)

At least 16 people are killed and 38 wounded in Kandahar, Afghanistan, by the accidental detonation of a container of explosives while security forces were attempting to dispose of it. (Al Jazeera)

U.S. President Donald Trump states there is a “very substantial chance” that the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next month may not occur. (BBC News)

The Chinese Finance Ministry announces it will cut import duties on passenger vehicles from 25% to 15% starting on July 1, just days after China and the U.S. agreed to a ceasefire in their recent trade hostilities. (CNN)

Police in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, India, kill nine people who protested against Vedanta Resources’ copper smelter operation, alleging that it is a major source of pollution and a risk to fisheries. State Minister D. Jayakumar says that it was “unavoidable” that the people were shot. National Congress opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls the killings “state sponsored terrorism”. (Reuters)

THE END

 

 

 

Illegitimi non carborundum

Can We Call It a Coup Now?
MIKE WHITNEYMAY 20, 2018 • 3,300 WORDS

This is not a Dems vs Republicans issue, at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s about the unelected cabal that operates behind the cloak of partisan politics to exert its stranglehold on political power. As comedian George Carlin said, “The parties exist to make you think you have a choice. But you have no choice. You have owners, and they own everything.” Russiagate was merely the paper-thin pretext this secretive group settled on to launch its attack on the candidate who was never supposed to win the election.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/us/politics/mark-penn-clinton-aide-mueller-investigation.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Tuesday,   May 22, 2018

Trump meets with DOJ officials to expand probe into FBI informant President Trump on Monday met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and asked the Justice Department to expand its investigation to “include any irregularities with the FBI’s or Justice Department’s tactics concerning the Trump campaign.” On Sunday, Trump initiated an inquiry into a report that an American academic working as an FBI informant met with several members of his 2016 campaign in the early days of the agency’s investigation into Russian election meddling. Trump demanded that the Justice Department look into whether Obama administration officials coordinated surveillance of his campaign for political reasons. Reports on the matter said there was no evidence the informant was embedded in the Trump campaign, as Trump suggested. Source: The Washington Post

Syrian government regains full control of Damascus for 1st time since 2011 The Syrian military said Monday that after fighting for a month, it has captured an area of southern Damascus from the Islamic State, and the capital is now, for the first time since the country’s civil war began in 2011, under full government control. They were able to take back the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk and the Hajar al-Aswad district, and will now focus on the territory held by rebels in southern Syria. A monitoring group said that 1,600 people, including hundreds of ISIS militants, left southern Damascus on Saturday and Sunday, and went toward the eastern desert after agreeing to a deal with the Syrian government. Source: The Associated Press

Monday,  May 21, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will impose the “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran if it does not meet various demands, including ending its nuclear program and leaving the Syrian Civil War. (Reuters)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejects Pompeo’s demands, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif accuses the U.S. of repeating past mistakes. (Al Jazeera)

Sony agrees to a $2.3 billion deal where they will buy a controlling interest in EMI Music Publishing. The deal will mean that Sony would indirectly own 90% of the record label and its two million songs. (BBC)

Paraguay opens its embassy in Jerusalem, making Paraguay the third country, after the United States and Guatemala, to transfer its diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AP via Politico)

The U.S. Supreme Court votes 5–4 to allow companies to enforce contracts which bar employees from entering class action lawsuits. (The Washington Postvia Concord Monitor)

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Can We Build a Brain?

Nova Wonders Can We Build A Brain?

 

Friday,  May 18, 2018

Senate confirms Gina Haspel as CIA director The Senate on Thursday voted 54-45 to confirm Gina Haspel as the director of the CIA. Haspel had faced fierce criticism for her involvement in previous CIA torture programs, including at a “black site” in Thailand in 2002. Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who was absent from the vote as he undergoes cancer treatment away from the Senate, had urged his colleagues to vote against Haspel, calling her previous actions “disqualifying.” During her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel had declined to say the CIA’s actions were “immoral,” but in a letter released earlier this week, she said that “the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.” Haspel will be the first woman to lead the CIA. Source: C-SPAN, NBC News

Paul Manafort’s ex-son-in-law entered plea deal with federal prosecutors Jeffrey Yohai, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law and business partner, reached a secret plea deal with federal prosecutors earlier this year that requires him to cooperate in other state and federal investigations, according to several news organizations. One of Special Counsel Robert Muller’s two criminal indictments against Manafort charges him with bank fraud for allegedly instructing an unidentified son-in-law to pretend he was living in a Manhattan apartment that was being used as a rental property. Mueller’s team interviewed Yohai last June and reportedly remains interested in what he knows about Manafort. Manafort, who invested in failed real estate deals with Yohai in California and New York, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Source: Reuters, Politico

Trump decries Russia investigation, accuses Democrats of spying President Trump on Thursday claimed to be the victim of “the greatest witch hunt in American history,” in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report concluding that Russia sought to swing the 2016 election specifically for Trump. The investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s meddling began one year ago, and Trump marked the occasion by accusing Democrats of collusion instead. He also claimed that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign using an “embedded informant,” referring to a National Review report alleging such a plot. Trump exclaimed: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!” Source: Twitter

Poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal released from the hospital Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was released from the hospital on Friday, more than two months after he and his daughter Yulia were found slumped over on a park bench in Salisbury, England, after being exposed to a Novichok nerve agent. Yulia Skripal was released from the hospital on April 9 and moved to a secure location. The U.S. and European allies blamed Russia for the poison attack and expelled diplomats and presumed intelligence agents. Sergei Skripal, 66, was a Russian military intelligence officer who Russia jailed for passing on secrets to Britain, then released in a 2010 spy swap. Source: BBC

 

 Thursday, May 17,  2018

North Korea cancels high-level talks with South Korea in protest of United States–South Korea joint military exercises. (Bloomberg)

North Korea warns that it might cancel talks with the United States if the U.S. keeps insisting that North Korea will “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear weapons program, similar to the disarmament of Libya. The White House says it is hopeful the planned summit will still happen. (The Washington Post)(Reuters)

White House unconcerned about North Korea’s threat to cancel Trump summit North Korean state media announced Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un may reconsider meeting with President Trump in Singapore next month if the United States continues to demand that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons program. The nation would refuse to make a deal based on economic rewards from the U.S. in exchange for denuclearization, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Trump administration had “fully expected” North Korea to make such threats, and said Trump was still open to the meeting. When asked about the summit, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens,” noting that North Korea had not canceled the plans. Source: Reuters, The Guardian

Denmark announces the partial withdrawal of its special forces from Iraq following the collapse of ISIL in the country. (Channel News Asia)

The summit at Kīlauea erupts and sends a plume of ash and smoke 30,000 feet (9.1 km) into the air. (CNN) (BBC)

 

Voters in Burundi go to the polls for a referendum to amend the constitution to allow current President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034. (The Guardian)

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