All Of This And Nothing

a phonebook full of accidents
a girl to drive your car
a suit to wear on mondays
and a coat a magazine
a heavy rain a holiday
a painting of the wall
a knife a fork and memories
a light to see it all
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
dominoes a pack of cards
a picture of the queen
a dress to wear on sundays
and a handle for the door
a letter that i sent for you
a note you left for me
a wave a pack of cigarettes
a pocket full of beads
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you on
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you on
the sound of people getting drunk
a ceiling and a sky
a bank that’s full of promises
a telephone that lies
a visit from your doctor
he crawls in through the door
a mirror you can look in
so that you know where you are
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
now i’m left with all of this
a room full of your trash

 

Tuesday,   Mar 27, 2018

Trump remains silent on Stormy Daniels President Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet on the topic of adult film star Stormy Daniels in the wake of her 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night. “He’s really not in a punch-back mode,” explained one friend. “Everyone is telling him, look, you can’t win here, so just do nothing.” Privately, Trump has reportedly vented that Daniels’ claims about their alleged 2006 affair are a “hoax” and that he “personally did not think Daniels appeared credible,” The Washington Post and New York Times write. On Monday, White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed Trump “does not” believe Daniels’ statement that she was threatened by an anonymous man to keep silent about the alleged affair. In her interview with Anderson Cooper, Daniels said Trump “knows I’m telling the truth.” Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

 

Monday,  Mar 26, 2018

U.S. firearms and ammunition manufacturer Remington Arms files for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after amassing US$950 million worth of debt. (Bloomberg)

China launches an oil futures market in a bid to compete with oil benchmarks from the United States and Europe. (MarketWatch)

More than 100 Russian diplomats are expelled from over 20 countries. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump orders the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. (BBC)

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker conclude talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The parties say they have been unable to agree on human rights issues but pledge to hold more talks. (The Financial Times)

Spanish police in Alicante arrest the suspected leader of a bank hacking scheme believed to have stolen over €1 billion. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Six alleged members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action appear in court. One is accused of planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper and another is charged with inciting murder. (The Independent)

The Egyptian electorate vote in their presidential election, with incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi facing only one opponent. (The Washington Post)

ArXiv publishes research that a gas giant may be orbiting a brown dwarf. The exoplanet, designated OGLE-2017-BLG-1522Lb, orbits its host at a distance of 0.59 AU and could be the first known gas giant to have formed inside the protoplanetary disk of a brown dwarf. (Phys.org)

 

Monday,  Mar 26, 2018

White House: Trump ‘doesn’t believe’ Stormy Daniels’ claims are accurate During Monday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Raj Shah dismissed adult film star Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview. In the segment, which aired Sunday, Daniels detailed an affair she says she had with President Trump in 2006. “The president doesn’t believe that any of the claims that Ms. Daniels made last night in her interview were accurate,” Shah said, confirming that Trump “does not” believe Daniels’ statement that she was threatened by an anonymous man to keep silent about the alleged affair. Shah also dismissed speculation about why Trump’s lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement, explaining: “False charges are settled out of court all the time.” In her interview with Anderson Cooper, Daniels said Trump “knows I’m telling the truth.” Source: CBS News

Trump to expel 60 Russian diplomats after spy poisoning President Trump on Monday ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials as well as the closure of the Seattle consulate in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter who were living in Britain, The Washington Post reports. The officials have a week to leave the U.S. At least 10 European countries have also banded together to expel Russian diplomats in a coordinated response. Russia has warned it will retaliate in kind, and the Russian embassy in the U.S. has claimed on Twitter that the accusations against Moscow are “another large-scale anti-Russian campaign.” European Union leaders have said that there is “no plausible alternative explanation” other than Russia being behind the poisoning of the ex-spy and his daughter. Source: The Washington Post, Bloomberg

Dow spikes nearly 670 points, rebounding amid trade turmoil The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded after a tumultuous run last week, jumping nearly 670 points by the time markets closed Monday afternoon. The index surged nearly 3 percent in part thanks to Microsoft, the top-performing stock of the day. The gains suggest the market is recovering after President Trump last week announced tariffs targeted at China, which sparked fears of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Investors “have apparently recognized that a trade war is in no one’s best interests and therefore extremely unlikely,” market strategist Jeremy Klein told CNBC in explaining the rebound. The S&P 500 also saw a more than 2 percent bump Monday, while the Nasdaq composite jumped 2.6 percent. Source: CNBC, MarketWatch

 

Sunday, Mar 25, 2018

Two suicide bombers strike a Shi’ite mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, killing one person and wounding seven others. Security forces kill one bomber while the device kills the other. ISIL claims responsibility. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

ISIL releases a statement claiming responsibility for killing or wounding 103 Iraqi soldiers within one month. The group also claims to have abducted 13 more soldiers, and destroyed 12 armoured vehicles. (Iraqi News)

Houthi forces fire several Burkan-2 ballistic missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia with at least one person, an Egyptian national, being killed in Riyadh. The Royal Saudi Air Defense says it intercepted seven missiles, three of them targeting Riyadh, two targeting Jizan and one apiece targeting Najran and Khamis Mushait. (The Washington Post)

A fire in the Winter Cherry complex, a shopping centre in Kemerovo, Russia, kills at least 64 people, the majority of which are children. (BBC)

South Korea and the United States reach agreements on trade and steel tariffs. (Bloomberg)

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini holds crisis talks with Markus Ederer, the bloc’s recalled ambassador to Russia. (France24)

Sheikh Tamim of Qatar visits Russia to discuss the situation in Syria, Yemen and Palestine. (Al Jazeera)

A former French Parliamentarian candidate of the La France Insoumise party is arrested for tweeting that the death of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame was “great” and “one less vote for Emmanuel Macron.” (BBC)

Researchers publish observations of a possible nova (ASASSN-18fv) in the constellation Carina. (AAVSO)(APOD)

Qantas Airways Flight QF9 becomes the first ever regularly scheduled non-stop flight between Australia and Europe after making the 17-hour journey from Perth to London. (The Evening Standard)

An anomalous weather event caused due to dust from a sandstorm in the Sahara, leads to an orange snow blanketing several Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. This weather event happens roughly every five years, a similar event occured in Siberia in 2007. (The Guardian)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “All Of This And Nothing”

Whoops

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump announces former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton will become his National Security Advisor, succeeeding the outgoing H. R. McMaster. (USA Today)

Trump says H.R. McMaster out, John Bolton in as national security adviser President Trump tweeted on Thursday evening that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is being replaced by John Bolton, a former United States ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News analyst. “I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job and will always remain my friend,” Trump said. “There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.” Bolton is known for being a hard-line conservative and a hawk on Iran and North Korea, and he’s had regular contact with Trump throughout his presidency to discuss foreign policy. Source: Twitter

Ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal details alleged affair with Trump In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night, former Playboy model Karen McDougal detailed her purported 10-month extramarital affair with President Trump, saying they were intimate “many dozens of times” more than a decade ago. McDougal said she knew Trump was married to his third wife, Melania Trump, and she “felt guilty about it” and is “sorry” for what happened. While Trump was “very sweet” and told her he loved her, McDougal said, after they had “been intimate” the first time, Trump “tried to pay me, and I actually didn’t know how to take that.” She said she cried the entire way back to her house after indignantly turning down the money. Source: CNN

 

 

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, wounded when he came to the aid of the poisoned Russian dissidents, is discharged from hospital. (BBC)

British Prime Minister Theresa May calls the incident “part of a pattern of Russian aggression against Europe” and promises to raise the matter at an upcoming European Union summit. (BBC)

http://victorhanson.com/wordpress/my-war-with-russian-trolls/#more-11071

An inquest is opened into the death of murdered Russian exiled dissident Nikolai Glushkov in London. (The Independent)

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepts an invitation to visit Sudan from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (Africa News)

Evacuations of 7,500 people from rebel-held Harasta, Eastern Ghouta begin. Rebels agree with the Syrian government and Russia for the displaced people to be exiled in Idlib Governorate. (The Guardian)

A market in the town of Harem, Idlib province, is reportedly struck by Russian aircraft, killing 35 people including 12 children. (NPR)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer tells a Senate panel that President Donald Trump has decided to “pause” tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump imposes tariffs on US$60 billion of Chinese goods, while also limiting China’s ability to invest in the U.S. technology industry. (The Washington Post)

 

 

The Chauffeur (uncensored):

http://dai.ly/x2942g

 

Qatar’s Interior Ministry releases a list of individuals and entities it says are linked to terrorism. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, who had demanded the list amid tensions with Qatar, welcome its release but criticise the time taken to prepare it. (Gulf News)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice proposes changes to planned judicial reforms in response to European Union criticisms the plans threaten judicial independence. The European Commission is threatening Poland with sanctions over the reforms. (Deutsche Welle)

Polish and U.S. authorities say the completion of the United States missile defense complex in Poland, part of a NATO project, will be delayed until 2020. (U.S. News and World Report)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice’s Arkadiusz Mularczyk says Germany owes Polish victims of World War II a total of 1.984 trillion zloty (US$543 billion, 440 billion euros) in compensation. (The Times of Israel)

Iranian immigrant Hussein Khavari is convicted of rape and murder in a case that provoked widespread discussion of refugee immigration to Germany. (BBC)

Ukrainian MP Nadiya Savchenko is arrested in Parliament over an alleged plot to attack Parliament and overthrow the government. (BBC)

An Indian court convicts eleven Hindus of murdering a Muslim man they discovered transporting beef, sentencing them to life. It is the first successful prosecution of cow vigilantism violence in India. (BBC)

Two men accused of an attempt to assassinate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah die in a shootout with security forces. Two Hamas security personnel also die. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Court of Protection hears the Skripals are unable to communicate and may have suffered lifelong brain damage. It rules blood samples can be taken from the pair for analysis by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and grants the group access to medical records. (The Independent)

DNA tests confirm Ata, an unusual six-inch-long mummy found in Chile in 2003, to be the remains of a newborn human with genetic mutations. (BBC)

 

Thursday, Mar 22,  2018

Lawmakers face Friday deadline for $1.3 trillion budget bill On Wednesday, congressional negotiators finalized a $1.3 trillion budget bill that must be passed by both the House and Senate by midnight Friday in order to avoid another government shutdown. The 2,232-page text of the bill was released in the evening, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said while “no bill of this size is perfect,” the “legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad.” The bill increases military and domestic spending but does not address DACA or give President Trump much money for his Mexico border wall. Trump tweeted his support anyway, saying he “got $1.6 billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming,” and “got $700 billion to rebuild our military.” Source: The Associated Press

Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for Cambridge Analytica data breach Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN on Wednesday he’s “really sorry” about a data breach that affected an estimated 50 million Facebook users, acknowledging that the company has “a basic responsibility” to protect users’ private information. Facebook is under scrutiny following the revelation that a data scientist created a personality quiz that was taken by millions of users, and their personal information was then secretly passed along to the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg said “anyone whose data may have been affected” will be notified, and the platform plans on building a tool that lets users see if their information has been compromised and if they are using any apps that are “doing sketchy things.” Source: CNN

Saudi crown prince reportedly bragged he has Kushner ‘in his pocket’ Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told people close to him that President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, shared with him the names of Saudis who were disloyal to him, and also told the crown prince of Abu Dhabi he has Kushner “in his pocket,” current and former White House and government officials told The Intercept. Before his security clearance was downgraded, Kushner read the President’s Daily Brief, filled with classified intelligence. A spokesperson for Kushner’s lawyer told The Intercept Kushner did not discuss any names with the crown prince. Source: The Intercept

 

 

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Whoops”

Hot Jupiters

The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative
ClusterFuck Nation

The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative has unspooled since Christmas and is blowing back badly through the FBI, now with the firing (for cause) of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours short of his official retirement (and inches from the golden ring of his pension). He was axed on the recommendation of his own colleagues in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and they may have been influenced by the as-yet-unreleased report of the FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, due out shortly.

The record of misbehavior and “collusion” between the highest ranks of the FBI, the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign, several top political law firms, and a shady cast of international blackmail peddlars is a six-lane Beltway-scale evidence trail compared to the muddy mule track of Trump “collusion” with Russia. It will be amazing if a big wad of criminal cases are not dealt out of it…

Monday,  Mar 19, 2018

Trump to unveil plan to fight opioid epidemic President Trump is expected to unveil his plan to fight the opioid epidemic on Monday. An early version of the plan would have called for the death penalty against some drug dealers, but the final version is expected to be scaled back, with a call for capital punishment against drug traffickers only “when appropriate under current law,” said Andrew Bremberg, the White House’s director of the Domestic Policy Council. Trump will announce his new policies during a trip to New Hampshire. The administration says the plan would lead to a reduction in opioid prescriptions by one-third within three years by mixing administration actions and new laws requiring money from Congress. It includes elements focused on law enforcement, education, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Source: Politico

Vladimir Putin wins re-election with 77 percent of the vote Russia’s Central Election Commission said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin won re-election with 76.67 percent of the vote in a field of eight candidates. That was a record-high number for Putin, who won his third term in 2012 with 63.3 percent. In second place was communist Pavel Grudinin, with 11.78 percent, followed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky (5.66 percent) and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak (1.68 percent), the only one of the candidates to openly criticize Putin. The candidate most likely to do well against Putin, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running because of a questionable disqualifying conviction. Election observers reported widespread ballot stuffing and unusually intense pressure on voters to participate in the election. Source: The Associated Press, Reuters

New explosion in Austin might have been set off by tripwire An explosion in Austin, Texas, left two men with serious injuries on Sunday night, stoking fears that a serial package-bomber is targeting the city. It was the fourth unexplained explosion in the city this month, and police believe the latest blast is related to the earlier ones, which killed two people. The fourth blast occurred on a roadside in an upscale neighborhood, while the earlier package-bombs exploded on the doorsteps of homes. The victims in the latest explosion, both in their 20s, were walking or riding bicycles, and Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said it was “very possible” that the device went off when one of them touched a tripwire. Source: The Associated Press, CNN

 

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018

Voters in Russia cast their votes for the President of Russia. Incumbent Vladimir Putin wins a fourth term

The Turkish Army and Free Syrian Army seize the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin from the YPG in northern Syria, raising the Turkish flag above the city centre. A statue of the Kurdish legendary figure, Kaveh the Blacksmith, is bulldozed by Turkish-backed forces. (BBC) (Reuters)

The Miami Police Department states that they believe they have recovered the last of the victims killed by the bridge’s collapse. (NPR)

A Cirque du Soleil performer dies after falling 15 feet (4.6 m) during a performance in Tampa, Florida. (CBC)

 

Saturday,  Mar 17, 2018

In response to the UK’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the Russian Federation expels 23 Britishdiplomats, closes the British Council in Russia and closes the Consulate-General of the United Kingdom in Saint Petersburg. (BBC)

Former Vice President of Iran Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close ally to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is arrested after criticizing Iran’s judiciary. (AP via Al-Arabiya)

A man is arrested in Austin, Texas for threatening, via email, to bomb the SXSW festival. (NPR)

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launches an investigation into alleged harvesting of Facebook profiles by Cambridge Analytica, a firm employed by Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. (BBC) (Reuters via The New York Times)

 

Friday,  Mar 16, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe because of a report from the Office of Professional Responsibility accusing McCabe of making an unauthorized news media disclosure and lacking candor on multiple occasions. (CBS News)

South Korea states that they want high-level talks with North Korea before the summit. (Reuters)

The death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who lived in exile in the United Kingdom, is confirmed by a coroner’s examination to be a murder. The killing happened eight days after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. (BBC)

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority Director Shaun Abrahams says former President Jacob Zuma will be prosecuted for corruption, relating to a R30 billion arms deal in the late 1990s. Zuma disputes all the allegations against him. (The Guardian)

European astronomers discover eight new exoplanets classified as Hot Jupiters as part of the WASP project. (The Talking Democrat)

 

Thursday, Mar 15,  2018

The largest U.S. broadcaster, iHeartMedia, owner of 850 radio stations, files for chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating US$20 billion in debt. (CNN)

The Trump administration imposes financial sanctions on 19 Russian nationals, including 12 of those indicted in the Special Counsel investigation. (Business Insider)

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov says Russia will “definitely” expel British diplomats. (Sputnik News)

Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico resigns amid controversy over the murder of Ján Kuciak. (The Guardian) (BBC)

An under-construction pedestrian bridge over the eight-lane Tamiami Trail at Florida International University in Miami collapses killing at least six people and flattening eight cars. Nine people are rescued from the rubble and taken to nearby Kendall Regional Medical Center. Two require immediate surgery; the others injured sustain non-life-threatening wounds. (The Washington Post)

A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashes near Al-Qa’im in Iraq‘s western Al Anbar Governorate, killing all seven people on board. (ABC News) (CNN)

THE END

Magical Thinking

 

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018

The United Kingdom expels 23 Russian diplomats and cuts off all top-level ties with Russia as punishment for a reported attack with the Novichok military-grade nerve agent, an attack which Prime Minister Theresa May described as an “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom”. (The Guardian) (NPR) (Reuters)

Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, says Russia will “definitely” expel British diplomats. (Sputnik)

The Trump administration imposes financial sanctions on the 13 Russian government hackers and spy agencies indicted in the Special Counsel investigation. (Business Insider)

America’s largest broadcaster iHeartMedia, owner of 850 radio stations, files for chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating $20 billion in debt. (CNN)

Toys ‘R’ Us announces that it will close all U. S. stores. (New York Times)

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca announces that it is shutting down due to the economic and reputational damage inflicted by its role in the global tax evasion scandal. (The Guardian)

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says white South African farmers could receive fast-track visas on “humanitarian grounds” amid calls to transfer land ownership from white to black farmers, and fears over the number of racially-motivated farm killings. (BBC)

Brazilian politician and outspoken police critic Marielle Franco is killed along with her driver in a drive-by shooting in Rio de Janeiro. (BBC)

After a 18-month Sunday Mirror investigation, Theresa May has called for an inquiry “as quickly as possible” on reported Asian grooming gangs in Telfordwhereby up to 1,000 girls were lured from their families to be drugged, beaten, raped and even murdered. (The Mirror)

Miro Cerar announces his resignation as Prime Minister of Slovenia, due to the Supreme Court of Slovenia’s annulment of the referendum that approved building a railway between Koper and Divača, a project which he calls “strategic”. (Associated Press)

Ford issues a recall of 1.4 million vehicles, including some models of the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ, citing an issue where the steering wheel could come loose. (CNN)

 

Wednesday,  Mar 14,  2018

Trump picks Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as top economic adviser President Trump has chosen economist and media analyst Larry Kudlow to direct the National Economic Council, Politico reported Wednesday. Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn, the Goldman Sachs executive who resigned from the post amid disagreements over Trump’s steel and aluminum import tariffs. Trump called Kudlow on Tuesday night to offer the job, and Kudlow accepted, CNN reports. Kudlow was long considered a frontrunner to step in as the chief economic adviser, after his role informally helping to shape Trump’s messaging on taxes and other economic issues during the 2016 presidential election, reports CNBC. Source: Politico, CNN

Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend contact with Kremlin after spy poisoning British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that the United Kingdom will expel 23 Russian diplomats, the most since the Cold War, as well as suspend all planned high-level bilateral contacts with the Kremlin. The decision follows the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil with a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. “For those who wish to do us harm, my message is clear: You are not welcome here,” May told Parliament. Additionally, May announced that members of the royal family would not attend the World Cup in Russia this summer. Russia has dismissed the accusations, and called Britain’s moves “a very serious provocation.” Source: NBC News, Business Insider

Facebook blocks Britain First, a far right group that has been deregistered as a political party in the United Kingdom, because leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen have repeatedly violated its community standards. (The New York Times) (BBC) (NBC News)

British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies at age 76 at his home in Cambridge. (The Guardian)(The New York Times)

 

Toys “R” Us are to close down all their stores in the United Kingdom after rescue talks fail, resulting in the loss of about 3,000 jobs. (The Guardian)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over “outrageous attacks” by United Nations officials. (Reuters)

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says white South African farmers could receive fast-track visas on “humanitarian grounds” amid calls to transfer land ownership from white to black farmers, and fears over the number of racially-motivated farm killings. (BBC)

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany is elected and sworn in for a new term. Olaf Scholz and Heiko Maas assume the positions of Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs respectively. (The Guardian)

 

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76 Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, has died, a spokesman for his family announced Wednesday. He was 76. Hawking died at his home in Cambridge. In a statement, his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, called their father “a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.” Hawking worked on black holes and quantum fluctuations, and his 1988 book A Brief History of Time sold more than 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages. Hawking had an early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that progressed slowly over time, ultimately leaving him paralyzed, and he used a computer to speak. When he was diagnosed at 21, he expected to live only two more years.Source: The Guardian

More Below The Fold Continue reading “Magical Thinking”

The Least Independentist

 

Topless Femen protester flashes Silvio Berlusconi

 

Are We Doomed?
by Steve Sailer

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

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

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

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

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

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

 

Sunday, Mar 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday, Mar 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Friday,  Mar 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, Mar 1,  2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

Antwerp

 

Cocaine’s New Gateway to Europe: Busy Belgian Port
More of the drug is coming through Antwerp’s port as output from Latin America rises

 

Wakanda Blockbuster Is This?

Wakanda is a sort of black Zion mixed with the governmental structure of Israel’s new best friend forever, Saudi Arabia, augmented by the xenophobic policies of Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate.

 

 

Thursday, Mar 1,  2018

Putin claims Russia has powerful new nuclear weapons Russia has successfully developed a new range of nuclear weapons that are unparalleled in the West and are effectively impossible for America to intercept, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Thursday. Russia’s new weapons include “a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world,” The Associated Press writes. Putin cited the 2002 decision by the U.S. to withdraw from the Cold War-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as well as American efforts to subsequently develop missile defense systems, for fueling Moscow’s determination to create weapons that can get around the protections. Putin claimed that while the weapons Russia has developed “may appear [elsewhere] someday … by that time we will develop something new.” Source: The Associated Press

Kushner Cos. got millions in loans after lenders met Kushner at White House Kushner Cos., the family business of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, received a loan of $184 million last November from Apollo Global Management, a firm whose founder, Joshua Harris, made several visits to the White House over the year, three people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. Harris met with Kushner multiple times to discuss infrastructure policy, but they also spoke about Harris possibly getting a job with the administration, which never happened. The Apollo loan was triple the size of the average Apollo property loan, the Times says. Citigroup also lent Kushner Cos. $325 million last spring after CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner in the White House, reportedly to discuss financial and trade policy. Source: The New York Times

Wednesday,  Feb 28,  2018

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political formation as part of a proposed process aimed at ending more than 16 years of war. (Reuters)

Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart raise the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21 and stop selling military-style semi-automatic rifles altogether. (NPR)(Reuters)

Two former employees of InfoWars founder and radio host Alex Jones accuse him of sexual harassment, racism and antisemitism. (New York Daily News)

Hope Hicks announces that she will resign as White House Communications Director, one day after being interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. (The Guardian)

The International Olympic Committee restores the Russian Federation’s membership after the ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics. (BBC)

 

Tuesday,   Feb 27, 2018

The Israeli Prosecutor’s Office links Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a corruption case. (Times of Israel)

Saudi King Salman replaces top army commanders and reshuffles key security and government ministries. (Al Jazeera)

U.S. President Donald Trump names Brad Parscale as his 2020 presidential campaign manager as he formally declares he is running for re-election, a record 980 days before the election. (CNBC)

Syrian government violates Eastern Ghouta ceasefire, killing 2 A Russia-brokered ceasefire in Syria was violated by the government early Tuesday, in the besieged rebel-held region of Eastern Ghouta. Russia said Monday that it would arrange the temporary truce in Eastern Ghouta, where hundreds have been killed in the government’s week-long bombardment of the area. In Tuesday’s shelling, at least two civilians were killed, one of them a child, per the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Residents of Eastern Ghouta told ABC News that they could see government warplanes in the sky after the designated 9 a.m. start time for the ceasefire. Since the offensive began eight days ago, more than 570 civilians have been killed. Source: ABC News, Reuters

White House reportedly downgrades Kushner’s top-secret security access President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has lost his top-secret security clearance, Politico reported Monday, being downgraded along with the rest of the White House aides working on interim highest-level clearances to the “Secret” level. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sent a memo Friday revoking high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Kushner had apparently been “resisting giving up his access to highly classified information,” The New York Times reports. Trump could theoretically grant Kushner permanent security clearance himself, but he told reporters Friday that he would “let General Kelly make that decision.” Kushner’s considerable White House portfolio includes overseeing the Israel-Palestine peace process. Source: Politico, The New York Times

Comcast offers $31 billion for Britain’s Sky, outbidding Rupert Murdoch On Tuesday, Comcast made a cash offer for Britain’s Sky PLC, outbidding Rupert Murdoch’s stalled attempt to purchase the European satellite TV giant by about 16 percent per share. Comcast’s £12.50-a-share ($17.50) offer values Sky at $31 billion. “We think Sky is an outstanding company,” Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement. “Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s U.K. headquarters.” Murdoch has long wanted to purchase the 61 percent of Sky his company doesn’t already own, but British regulators have raised objections. Source: Bloomberg News

 

 Monday,  Feb 26, 2018

Five Dutch nationals and a Colombian are arrested at the staged delivery operation in Oss, Netherlands, of a container with 4,500 kilograms (9,900 lb) of cocaine and bananas for cover, originating from Colombia, that was previously intercepted in the Port of Antwerp. (De Gelderlander)

Saudi Arabia opens applications for women to join its armed forces for the first time. (BBC)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancels a scheduled trip to the United States after a heated phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, in which Trump refused to publicly back down from his pledge of having Mexico pay for the U.S.–Mexico border wall. (CNN)

French President Emmanuel Macron phones Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, telling Erdoğan that the UN-approved ceasefire in Syria also applies in the Afrin Region. (Reuters)

 

Sunday, Feb 25, 2018

Government forces launch a ground and air offensive in eastern Ghouta despite the adoption of Resolution 2401 by the United Nations Security Council demanding a ceasefire in part of the area. (Al Jazeera)

South Korean president Moon Jae-in states that North Korea is willing to enter talks with the United States in an effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (ABC News)

A Iraqi court sentences 15 Turkish women to death by hanging after they were found guilty of joining the ISIS group as brides. (Newsweek)

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposes that the country’s constitution be amended to abolish term limits for the posts of President and Vice President. The move is seen as an attempt by current president Xi Jinping to solidify his power. (The Guardian)

The closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics occurs, officially bringing the competitions to an end. The Norwegian team leads the medal table with 14 gold and record 39 medals in total. (Pyeonchang 2018)

 

Saturday,  Feb 24, 2018

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. (BBC)

A memo written by Democrats on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is released, countering the Republican memo released on February 2. The memo is “a nothing,” President Donald Trump told Fox TV. (Bloomberg)

Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (a medication used to treat angina) at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang admits to doping and has been disqualified from competing. (AP via MSN)

 

Friday,  Feb 23, 2018

Syrian government warplanes carry out a sixth day of airstrikes in the rebel-held Ghouta suburbs east of Damascus, killing 32 people as the death toll from a week of bombardment reaches over 400. (US News)

Rick Gates pleads guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, and agrees to cooperate with the Special Counsel investigation. (NPR)

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

Russia blocks agreement on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a 30-day truce in Syria. A formal vote was postponed. The death toll since Sunday in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta is more than 400, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The New York Times)

Montenegrin police identify the perpetrator of a grenade attack on the U.S. embassy in Podgorica which occurred yesterday. According to authorities, he was a veteran of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia. (BBC)

Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announces that he would trigger the dismissal procedures of the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruța Kövesi. The announcement sparks protests. (Act Media)

Russian police detained the political activist Alexei Navalny and his chief of staff Leonid Volkov, who will be taken to court for having organized an unauthorized protest on January 28. Navalny claims that the authorities want him in jail when the upcoming presidential election occurs on March 18. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller files a 32-count indictment against political consultant and lobbyist Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates in the Eastern District of Virginia for multiple crimes including tax evasion and bank fraud. (ABC News)

THE END

 

The Real Wakanda

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

How To Exploit a High School Massacre

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

 

Ethiopia

 

 

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

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

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

Wednesday,  Feb 21,  2018

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

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

 Tuesday,   Feb 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Monday,  Feb 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

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

 

Saturday,  Feb 17, 2018

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

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

Friday,  Feb 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE END

 

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

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