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

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

 

Borat interviews Trump

Russia wants to join the ISIS battle in Iraq

“I would say the Russian Ministry of Defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign,” Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, previously told reporters at a televised Pentagon briefing in November. The statements by Dillon were made after the Russian defense ministry posted screen shots of a video game as evidence of U.S. collusion with ISIS fighters.

However, the likelihood of any U.S. military cooperation with Russia in Iraq is low. “Our communication with the Russians, from a DoD standpoint, is limited to deconflicting our operations in Syria to prevent accidents,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson.

Russian and U.S. military officials use a communications channel on a daily basis to help deconflict ground operations and air space over a tightly congested battlefield. But, there has been no direct military cooperation between Russian and American forces in the region.

But today’s statement by a Russian military official does beg the question of Russian interest in western Iraq.

Trump administration pushes back against narrative of imminent Syrian military victory in civil war
Dec 4, 2017

…officials cited a recent battle to recapture Bukamal, along the Syria-Iraq border, that included almost no Syrian government units.

The Trump administration believes that about 80 percent of the military manpower fighting in support of the Syrian government is made up of foreign forces from Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

When government units undertake offensives against opposition forces, the official said, they must leave behind poorly trained and sparsely equipped troops to defend those reclaimed areas, making them vulnerable to militant attack.

That picture is sharply different from the one presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who assured Assad during a recent visit to Russia that the long Syrian conflict is “nearing completion.”

Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the President of the Russian Federation
Nov 11, 2017

President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria. They expressed their satisfaction with successful U.S.-Russia enhanced de-confliction efforts between U.S. and Russian military professionals that have dramatically accelerated ISIS’s losses on the battlefield in recent months.

The Presidents agreed to maintain open military channels of communication between military professionals to help ensure the safety of both U.S. and Russian forces and de-confliction of partnered forces engaged in the fight against ISIS. They confirmed these efforts will be continued until the final defeat of ISIS is achieved…

The two presidents, today, welcomed the Memorandum of Principles concluded in Amman, Jordan, on November 8, 2017, between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America. This Memorandum reinforces the success of the ceasefire initiative, to include the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of foreign forces and foreign fighters from the area to ensure a more sustainable peace. Monitoring this ceasefire arrangement will continue to take place through the Amman Monitoring Center, with participation by expert teams from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

 

Syrian forces capture ISIS border stronghold as pressure shifts to last enclaves
Nov 9, 2017

Phony Virtue is Ruining Western Society
From Hollywood to our foreign policy, Rousseau’s joke is on us.
By WILLIAM S. SMITH • December 7, 2017

In Hollywood and other elite institutions, puffed-up paragons of “virtue” reign, but backstage are characters such as Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer, people wholly lacking self-control, decency, moderation, temperance, and civility. In short, many of “the beautiful souls” who have been telling us how to live are reprobates–or protecting them, either tacitly or directly.

 

 

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/454382/vladimir-putin-conspiracy-theorists-jealous-unchecked-authoritarian-power

This is an astonishing exaggeration of Putin’s power. Russia’s actual influence efforts are troubling and deserve countering, but they do not explain away political discontent in the West, much less invalidate election results.Trump’s campaign was foolish to reach out to foreigners promising dirt. But the media manipulation attributed to Russia is small, and sometimes quite silly. The exaggerations of Putin’s ability to influence our political disagreements don’t just distort our debates; they strengthen Putin at home. His potential rivals loathe the way that the Western world makes him out to be a world-bestriding genius, a master of geopolitics. This reputation papers over his mixed record. The fact is Putin’s Russia suffers under sanctions. The American government is now in the habit of kicking out Russian diplomatic personnel and shutting down their facilities. Putin essentially lost the great game of influence over the neighboring government in Kiev and settled for an undignified scramble to collect the vitally important land around his nation’s naval base in Crimea. His government is often reduced to playing the role of petulant jerk, spoiling little diplomatic meetings with the U.S. president.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/world/europe/russia-vladimir-putin-liberals.html

 

 

 

Friday, Dec 8, 2017

Senate passes spending bill, averting government shutdown Shortly after the House passed a two-week spending bill on Thursday, the Senate followed with a vote of 81-14, averting a government shutdown on Friday. The stopgap measure will keep the federal government open through Dec. 22. Republicans, who are trying to finish work on their tax bill, need the support of Democrats in order to put together a two-year budget deal that will pass. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday Democrats “will not leave here without a DACA fix,” meaning the budget must include deportation protection for undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children. Source: Politico

Muslims worldwide protest against Trump’s Jerusalem decision Muslims around the world took to the streets after midday prayers on Friday to protest President Trump’s decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. America’s decision is highly controversial, because Palestinians seek eastern Jerusalem as their future capital, and the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem comes across as taking Israel’s side. Protests were as widespread as Jordan and Indonesia, although the heart of the demonstrations was across the West Bank. “In several cities and towns, angry protesters hurled stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets,” The Associated Press reports. “Smoke rose over Bethlehem.” Militant groups like Hamas and al Qaeda have called for violence, and the State Department issued warnings to U.S. embassies around the world. Source: The Washington Post

Thursday, Dec 7, 2017

The Czech Republic recognizes West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “in practice”. (Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expresses interest in moving his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Haaretz)

The President of Turkey embarks on a two-day state visit of Greece. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s démarche is a first in 65 years. (The Guardian)

Peoples’ Democratic Party’s co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş remains behind bars until the next hearing, scheduled for February 14, 2018. He risks 142 years in prison. (Turkey Purge)

In a 491-page ruling, a court indicts former President of Argentina Cristina Fernández for treason and orders for her arrest for “trying to cover up Iran’s possible role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center that killed 85 people”. Former foreign affairs minister Héctor Timerman is also concerned. Both have previously denied wrongdoing. (Reuters)

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło resigns just hours after surviving an opposition no-confidence motion. She will be replaced by Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, according to the ruling Law and Justice party. (BBC)

Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017

President Vladimir Putin announces his participation in the 2018 presidential election. (The Western Journal)

President Vladimir Putin declares victory over the Islamic State terror group across both banks of the river Euphrates. (TASS)

Police raid the wrong tent of an activist camp in Kiev and fail to arrest the stateless opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili. A police source says police are preparing a special operation and will be unleashed “in the near future”. (The Daily Star)

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is brought to reply to an online petition signed by thousands of people. The museum refuses to stop displaying a Balthus painting, Thérèse rêvant(The Telegraph) (Le Nouvel Obs)

The “Silence Breakers”, including those involved in the #MeToo movement, are named Time Magazine’s 2017 Time Person of the Year. (Time)

President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas says the move undermines the U.S. position as a peace mediator while the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas says that the decision would “open the gates of hell on U.S. interests in the region.” (BBC)

Pope Francis urges respect for the status quo for Jerusalem and calls for “wisdom and prudence” to avoid further conflict. (ABC News)

A French court does not order the custody of Suleyman Kerimov but sets a €40 million bail and tighter controls. Kerimov was arrested on November 21 in a money laundering and tax fraud case. (TASS)

The Lebanese cautiously welcome a political agreement that enables Prime Minister Saad Hariri to officially withdraw his unexpected November 4 resignation. (The Daily Star)

A study published in Nature and the Astrophysical Journal Letters describes the discovery of the most distant supermassive black hole ever, around 13.1 billion light years away. (The Verge)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Borat interviews Trump”

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

Mrs. Dinh Nhu Ngo firing .38 pistol.

 

Chapter 11.
The Huxleyan Warning

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.

No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures whose structure Orwell described accurately in his parables. If one were to read both 1984 and Animal Farm, and then for good measure, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, one would have a fairly precise blueprint of the machinery of thought-control as it currently operates in scores of countries and on millions of people. Of course, Orwell was not the first to teach us about the spiritual devastations of tyranny. What is irreplaceable about his work is his insistence that it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship equally pervasive.

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

In America, Orwell’s prophecies are of small relevance, but Huxley’s are well under way toward being realized. For America is engaged in the world’s most ambitious experiment to accommodate itself to the technological distractions made possible by the electric plug. This is an experiment that began slowly and modestly in the mid-nineteenth century and has now, in the latter half of the twentieth, reached a perverse maturity in America’s consuming love-affair with television. As nowhere else in the world, Americans have moved far and fast in bringing to a close the age of the slow-moving printed word, and have granted to television sovereignty over all of their institutions. By ushering in the Age of Television, America has given the world the clearest available glimpse of the Huxleyan future.

Those who speak about this matter must often raise their voices to a near-hysterical pitch, inviting the charge that they are everything from wimps to public nuisances to Jeremiahs. But they do so because what they want others to see appears benign, when it is not invisible altogether. An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We are not likely, for example, to be indifferent to the voices of the Sakharovs and the Timmermans and the Walesas. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Bacon, Voltaire, Goethe and Jefferson. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?

I fear that our philosophers have given us no guidance in this matter. Their warnings have customarily been directed against those consciously formulated ideologies that appeal to the worst tendencies in human nature. But what is happening in America is not the design of an articulated ideology. No Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto announced its coming. It comes as the unintended consequence of a dramatic change in our modes of public conversation. But it is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not vet assimilated the point that technology is ideology. This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years. For example, it would have been excusable in 1905 for us to be unprepared for the cultural changes the automobile would bring. Who could have suspected then that the automobile would tell us how we were to conduct our social and sexual lives? Would reorient our ideas about what to do with our forests and cities? Would create new ways of expressing our personal identity and social standing?

But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple. Moreover, we have seen enough by now to know that technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation. Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress. And in this sense, all Americans are Marxists, for we believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement…

– Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Paperback (1985)

 

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

 

VIETNAM WAR: NEW KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY DISMISSES THE ORIGINS OF THE FUTILE, DISASTROUS CONFLICT
BY JEFF STEIN
Sept. 17th, 2017

 

Anticipating the Forthcoming PBS Documentary, ‘The Vietnam War’
by Camillo Mac Bica
July 20, 2017

 

Distractions

05.09.2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prosecutors Taking Tougher Stance in Fraternity Hazing Deaths

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

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

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

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

 

A Handmaid’s Tale

This show is fucking good. It’s the new ‘Game of Thrones.’

THE HANDMAID’S TALE — “Offred” – Episode 101 – Offred, one the few fertile women known as Handmaids in the oppressive Republic of Gilead, struggles to survive as a reproductive surrogate for a powerful Commander and his resentful wife. 

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Renewed for Season 2 at Hulu

 

How Harvard Business School Has Reshaped American Capitalism

But how and why that might be the case isn’t really what interests McDonald, the author of previous books about McKinsey, the consulting firm, and JPMorgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon. In “The Golden Passport,” he’s determined to call the Harvard Business School to account, citing its founding doctrine, which was to develop “a heightened sense of responsibility among businessmen” (and eventually women) who “will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways.” In that regard, McDonald is scathing in his critique: Harvard Business School has not only “proven an enormous failure,” but its very success has made it positively “dangerous.”

He drives home the point in chapter after chapter, picking up steam in more recent decades: Harvard, he maintains, provided the ideological underpinnings for the junk-bond-induced takeover mania and resulting scandals of the 1980s; the corporate scandals of the 2000s; the egregious increase in the pay gap between chief executives and ordinary employees; the real estate mortgage bubble and ensuing financial crisis; even the election of Donald Trump. In McDonald’s view, the school has contributed to pretty much every bad thing that has happened in American business and the economy in the last century. In the wake of whatever scandal or financial collapse or recession to which it has contributed, it wipes its hands, distances itself and still has the nerve to put forth its experts as the solution to problems.

 

Macron’s Unusual Marriage Is OK—But NOT What His Type Are Doing to France (And America)
JOHN DERBYSHIRE • APRIL 29, 2017 • 1,300 WORDS

In my study, there hang portraits of my two literary heroes. One of them, Samuel Johnson, at age 25 married a woman twenty years his senior—a widow who, like Mrs. Macron, brought three children to the marriage. Johnson loved his wife dearly, to the bafflement of his friends. After she died seventeen years later, he mourned her for the rest of his own life.

My other literary hero, George Orwell, lost his wife Eileen after nine years of marriage, then remarried on his death bed to the prettiest girl in the office.

 

Putin’s New World Order
MIKE WHITNEY • APRIL 28, 2017 • 2,300 WORDS

 

Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen
JAMES PETRAS • MAY 1, 2017 • 1,000 WORDS

Le Pen’s program will raise taxes on banks and financial transactions while fining capital flight in order to continue funding France’s retirement age of 62 for women and 65 for men, keeping the 35 hour work-week, and providing tax free overtime pay. She promises direct state intervention to prevent factories from relocating to low wage EU economies and firing French workers.

Le Pen is committed to increasing public spending for childcare and for the poor and disabled. She has pledged to protect French farmers against subsidized, cheap imports.

Marine Le Pen supports abortion rights and gay rights. She opposes the death penalty. She promises to cut taxes by 10% for low-wage workers. Marine is committed to fighting against sexism and for equal pay for women.

 

Why Defend South Korean Ingrates?
Trump spills the beans as the “adults” panic
by Justin Raimondo
May 01, 2017

“On the THAAD system, it’s about a billion dollars. I said, ‘Why are we paying? Why are we paying a billion dollars? We’re protecting. Why are we paying a billion dollars?’ So I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. Nobody’s going to do that. Why are we paying a billion dollars? It’s a billion dollar system. It’s phenomenal. It’s the most incredible equipment you’ve ever seen – shoots missiles right out of the sky. And it protects them and I want to protect them. We’re going to protect them. But they should pay for that, and they understand that.”

Ah, but they don’t understand it – and neither does H. R. McMaster, Trump’s newly-appointed National Security Advisor, who rushed to assure Seoul that the President didn’t really mean what he clearly said. And the South Koreans, who are in the midst of a presidential election – the vote is on May 5 – are in a uproar.

 

More NYT ‘Spin’ on the Syria-Sarin Case
April 28, 2017
By Robert Parry

Further, the U.S. and its allies have been conducting airstrikes across much of Syria in campaigns against Islamic State and Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, which have been supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Sunni-led sheikdoms. Turkey has been active, too, with strikes against Kurdish forces. And Israel has hit repeatedly at Syrian targets to promote what it regards as its interests, including destruction of Iranian weapons believed headed to the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah.

Some – if not all – of these entities had a far stronger motive to create a chemical-weapons incident in Syria on April 4 than the Syrian government did. At the end of March, the Trump administration announced that it was no longer a U.S. priority to overthrow the Assad government, an announcement that upset several of the countries involved in the Syrian conflict, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel.

[…]

Shortly after the incident at Khan Sheikhoun, I was told by an intelligence source that U.S. satellite imagery had picked up what looked like a drone in the vicinity at around the time that the poison gas was released. Despite some technical difficulties in tracking its route, the source said the analysts believed that it may have come from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base in Jordan, used to assist the rebels.

 

David Ignatius’ 15 Years of Running Spin for Saudi Regime
BY ADAM JOHNSON

Ignatius, of course, is not alone. He joins a long line of faithful Western pundits who frame the Saudi regime as a reformist entity, earnestly pushing change in a fundamentally reactionary country under perma-threat from Shia forces. The Al Saud mafia is not in league with religious extremists, but a bulwark against them; they are not an illegitimate dictatorship, but an enlightened ruling class helping usher in “reform” in the face of a hyper-religious population.

And throughout it all, they are on a 71,500-year reform plan where they are effusively praised for moving their country toward the 19th century every five years or so. Other regimes that oppress their people and bomb civilians “must go” now, and are beyond the moral pale—mere allegations of being friendly with them, a career-ender. But the Saudi regime, a friendly host to light-touch US pundits, is just a well-meaning scrappy band of reformers this close to turning into Switzerland. All they need is a bit more time.

 

Healthcare

04.04.2017

Healthcare:

Top Opthalmologist: Medical Practices of Dr. Salomon Melgen Were ‘Abusive…Unconscionable…Horrifying’

Racket of Rackets (Good Stuff)
– JHK

They’ve turned an entire generation of office workers into servants of criminal enterprise. Imagine the damage this does to the soul of our culture.

 

I have no idea who this woman is, but apparently MSN thinks this is Important News:

Candace Cameron Bure: ‘Loving Jesus doesn’t mean I hate gay people’

Watching this now. It is good. At least the first 20 minutes. His books are too long and dense and jumbled to read. I’ll try again sometime.

 

Musktopia
-JHK April 3rd

It ought to be sign of just how delusional the nation is these days that Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X is taken seriously.

The political disorder currently roiling America is there because the contradictions in our national life have become so starkly obvious, and the first thing to crack is the political consensus that allows business-as-usual to keep chugging along. The political turmoil will only accelerate the accompanying economic turmoil that drives it in a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

 

Despite Ban, Japan Slaughters 333 Whales in Annual Antarctic Hunt

 

Mexican newspaper closes citing insecurity for journalists

 

South Korean freighter missing off Uruguay
More than 20 crew are feared dead after a South Korean cargo vessel went missing in the South Atlantic after making a mayday call.

Italian Cops Arrest 34 in Race to Foil Plot to Steal Enzo Ferrari’s Corpse

 

I have a hunch that history will look at Obama as not such a good President or good guy if it remembers him at all. Basically, nothing noticeable happened for 8 years. But behind the scenes everything was kinda creepy.

Eerie Prescience of Donald Trump
ISRAEL SHAMIR • APRIL 3, 2017 • 2,100 WORDS

– This surveillance and its leak caused the Flynn affair. I have learned what Flynn actually discussed with the Russian ambassador. I haven’t seen this being reported in the US media: they darkly hissed of Flynn “discussing sanctions” with the Russian. The truth was somewhat different. Flynn called the Ambassador when Obama in a fit of fury expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in 24 hours just before the New Year’s Eve, and forbade them to use their holiday vacation premises. Obama did it in order to poison the US-Russia relations, for as you know, the NWO-beholden Democrats want at least a cold war, or preferably a nuclear one with the Russian bear. Obama tried his worst to spoil the relations to such an extent, that even Trump would find it hard to heal.

– Obama knew that the threats were coming from Israel, but he never dared to say that. Trump is nobody’s fool.

– Trump ordered giving up the regime change drive in Syria, and this is already a good thing. It would be better if he were to forget about the Middle East completely, but probably the US military would not allow that.

-Partnership with the CIA means partnership with the liberals of the WaPo and the NY Times, and it is not the flavour of the month among American industrialists.

 

Searching for Russia
THE SAKER • APRIL 1, 2017 • 3,200 WORDS

For example, Russia never underwent any “Renaissance”. I would even argue that Russia never really underwent any Middle-Ages either since, being an heir to the East Roman Empire (aka Byzantium), Russian roots are in Antiquity. While one could, arguably, describe the phases of western civilization as Middle-Ages -> Renaissance -> Modernity -> Contemporary era, in the case of Russia the sequence would be a much shorter Antiquity -> Modernity -> Contemporary era.

[Sidebar: you will notice that I did place the roots of the modern western civilization in the Middle-Ages, not in antiquity. The reason for this is the fact that when the Franks finally conquered the western Roman Empire they destroyed it to such a degree that the era following the collapse of the western Roman Empire is called the “Dark Ages” (Russia, by the way, never went through this millennium of darkness and, hence, she never had any need for any “renaissance” or “re-birth”). Contrary to the official historical narrative, the current western civilization has never had any roots in the Roman Empire, and even less so, Greek antiquity. The true founders of the “western world” were, in so many ways, the Franks]

Get Out

03.02.2017

Warning: Do not watch this if you have not seen movie, plan to soon, and don’t want spoilers.
Otherwise, if you want to save $14 a head and an hour and forty-five minutes, this is a decent substitute for one of the better movies of the last year.

 

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

The consequences of boomer overconsumption, underinvestment, and appetite for risk reveal themselves every time a bridge or bank collapses, but can be summarized in America’s prolonged economic mediocrity. Finding decent growth requires stretching all the way back to the 1990s, and even so, the 1990s barely edged out 1970s’ squalor on a per capita GDP basis. Thanks to boomer policies, the new normal is 1.6 percent real growth, well below the 2.5 to 3.5 percent rates prevailing from the 1950s to the 1980s. For the young, the price will be incomes 30 percent to 50 percent lower than they could have been.

How the Press Serves the Deep State

 

Concealing and Revealing
by Andrew P. Napolitano, March 02, 2017

 

Enemy of the Year: Why Russia?
What’s up with the current Russophobia craze?
by Justin Raimondo, March 01, 2017

 

In Afghanistan, America’s Biggest Foe Is Self-Deception
William Astore and Tom Engelhardt, March 01, 2017

blackedge

 

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

 

Review: ‘Black Edge’

For those who do not remember: SAC Capital was once one of the most powerful hedge funds on Wall Street. Cohen, its fabled steward, was different from the other colossi of the industry (George Soros, Paul Tudor Jones) in that he never seemed to have a grand unified field theory of investing. Rather, he had a talent for reading the market’s movements and a freakishly high threshold for tolerating risk.

And, miraculously, he was on the right side of almost every transaction — “something that seemed, at least on the surface, to be impossible,” Kolhatkar writes. This improbable winning streak eventually got the F.B.I.’s attention, when it was investigating insider trading at a different hedge fund, the Galleon Group, and managed to lock up its chief.

But Cohen never faced a criminal charge. The most the government could do was order SAC Capital to shut down in 2013 and fine it $1.8 billion — a figure that sounds like an awful lot until you learn that Cohen had almost $10 billion of his own money left over, which he could still trade and invest as a private family office.