The Titanic

Monday,  Apr 9, 2018

 MV Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship at 206,912 tonnes, begins her first voyage with paying passengers. (Stuff)

Tesla’s Q1 Numbers Have A Dark Side

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/state-of-failure/

Syrian Showdown: Trump vs. the Generals
by Patrick J. Buchanan

April 06, 2018

 

Trump vows decision after ‘barbaric’ Syrian chemical attack President Trump said Monday that he will decide within the next 24 to 48 hours how to respond to a “heinous,” “barbaric” chemical weapon attack in Syria over the weekend that left as many as 70 people dead. “We’re talking about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin “may” bear some responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Putin ally, saying that if Putin was involved, “it’s going to be very tough.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Trump for apparently walking back his stated desire to pull troops from Syria, saying the U.S. appears to be “[establishing] a foothold there for a very long time.” Source: The New York Times

North Korea reportedly told U.S. Kim Jong Un ready to talk denuclearization North Korean officials have directly notified the United States that leader Kim Jong Un is prepared to discuss his country’s nuclear weapons program when he meets with President Trump, The Associated Press reports. Two members of the Trump administration confirmed with AP on Sunday that Pyongyang directly communicated with the U.S., but would not say when or how this contact occurred. Last month, South Korean leaders visiting Washington passed along an invitation from Kim to Trump to hold a summit, with Trump immediately accepting the offer. They have not yet set a date for their meeting. Source: The Associated Press

China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system

In a new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis mentions Satan or the Devil twelve times. Warning against Catholic media transgressing the eighth commandment, he calls to “see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.” (Reuters)

The New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approves the sale of clothing company Icebreaker to US retail conglomerate VF Corporation, revealing the sale price as NZ$288 million. (Stuff)

US entertainer Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial begins. As he enters the court a topless woman with the words Women’s Lives Matter written on her body charges him and is arrested. (AP via Fredricksburg.com)

Around 2,500 police armed with tear gas launch a raid in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France, in a bid to force the removal of 250 activists who have occupied the site of the proposed Aéroport du Grand Ouest for ten years to prevent its construction. The proposed airport is abandoned but the activists refuse to leave their community. (The Guardian)

Reich’s Laboratory
by Steve Sailer

March 28, 2018

Sunday, Apr 8, 2018

The death toll from yesterday’s suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, rises to at least 70, according to the White Helmets group. The Syrian government and Russia deny the allegations of a chemical attack. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump warns Russia and Iran for backing Bashar al-Assad and calls him “Animal Assad”. (Sky News)

8 missiles are launched at the Syrian T4 air base, reportedly by Israeli F-15s. 5 of the missiles are shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Force.  (BBC) (Reuters)

Israeli Defence Forces fire shells at Palestinians on foot near the border fence, saying the men had crossed the fence before reentering the Gaza Strip near Gaza City. (Haaretz)

Gazan hospitals declare a state of emergency owing to the thousands injured. (al-Jazeera)

 

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Ri Sol Ju

Thursday, Mar 29,  2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday,  Mar 28,  2018

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

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

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

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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)

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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

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03.12.2018

Monday,  Mar 12, 2018

China’s National People’s Congress approves the removal of presidential term limits, in a move that allows current president Xi Jinping to remain president for life. (BBC)

A Brooklyn federal court sentences Martin Shkreli to seven years in prison for securities fraud in his hedge fund and pharmaceutical companies. (CNBC)

Black Panther reaches $1 billion worldwide Black Panther continued to dominate as it reached $1 billion in the global box office in just four weeks, according to estimates released by Box Office Mojo on Sunday. It is the 16th Disney movie to reach the billion-dollar mark, and the first Marvel superhero film to top ticket sales for four weeks in a row. Black Panther has grossed $562 million domestically, making it the No. 7 highest-grossing movie ever in North America, without adjusting for inflation. It has now surpassed The Dark Knight to become the second highest-grossing superhero movie ever in the U.S. Source: The Washington Post

 

Sunday, Mar 11, 2018

A helicopter crash in Manhattan’s East River kills five people. (ABC News)

A private plane from Sharjah to Istanbul crashes in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, killing Turkish socialite Mina Başaran along with, according to Iranian state media, ten other people on board. (The National (Abu Dhabi))(BBC)

Activist and journalist Lauren Southern is detained at Calais and prevented from entering the United Kingdom, with the reason given by the UK Home Office that her presence ‘was not conducive to the public good’. (The Evening Standard)(Newsweek)

Senator Elizabeth Warren talks around a suggestion by a Massachusetts newspaper to take a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage. (CNN)

 

Saturday,  Mar 10, 2018

Jeju Island emerges as a possible location for U.S.–North Korea summit talks in May. (The Hankyoreh)

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho will visit Sweden and meet with Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallström. (Reuters via The Japan Times)

Congolese President Joseph Kabila signs a law that increases taxes on mining and government royalties on international mining companies working in DR Congo, including on the mining of cobalt, despite the opposition from foreign companies. (BBC)

 

Identitarian leaders Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone are detained in the UK for wanting to hold a speech at Speaker’s Corner in London and wanting to interview Tommy Robinson. (Demokracija)(Evening Standard)

 

Friday,  Mar 9, 2018

White House: Trump will accept Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet South Korea’s national security adviser announced Thursday evening that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “committed to denuclearization” and “expressed an eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.” Speaking outside the White House, Chung Eui-yong said Trump “appreciated the briefing, and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.” He also said that while talks are underway, North Korea “would refrain from any form of nuclear or missile tests,” and Kim understands that routine military exercises between South Korea and the United States “must continue.” Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Trump will accept the invitation to meet, “at a place and time to be determined.” Source: The Week, Twitter

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that the White House needs to see “concrete and verifiable steps” toward the denuclearization of North Korea before meeting with Kim Jong-un. (Business Insider)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urges U.S. President Donald Trump to be cautious in North Korea talks. Turnbull also said that Australia must retain sanctions on North Korea. (Canberra Times)

French President Emmanuel Macron says that Trump should hold tough talks with North Korea. (First Post)

An Afghan War veteran and recently expelled resident takes an executive director and two psychologists into a room at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, California. Seven hours later, California Highway Patrol officers find all of them shot dead. (The New York Times)

U.S. President Donald Trump pardons Kristian Saucier, who had served a one-year sentence for unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information. (The Washington Post)

Arianespace launches mission VS18 from the Guiana Space Centre, a Soyuz rocket carrying a payload of four O3b communications satellites for SES. (NASASpaceFlight.com)

Manafort pleads not guilty to tax and fraud charges in Virginia President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Thursday to tax and fraud charges in Virginia federal court, and will be outfitted with a second GPS monitoring bracelet. His trial will start July 10. The bracelet will be in addition to the original tracking device Manafort was assigned last month, after he pleaded not guilty to Washington, D.C.-based charges. The Virginia probation officer told the judge that she wouldn’t have access to tracking data from the D.C.-based bracelet, hence the need for a second monitoring device. Manafort’s plea of not guilty to the 18-count indictment is part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Source: Twitter

 

Thursday, Mar 8,  2018

Kim Jong-un invites Donald Trump to discuss Korea’s denuclearization sometime by May, and Trump accepts. (CBC) (The New York Times)

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit demands Guatemala reverse its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Sandra Jovel says the move is “irreversible.” (Xinhua News Agency)

U.S. President Donald Trump imposes his tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imported from most countries. Canada and Mexico are provisionally exempt pending NAFTA renegotiations. The tariffs will take effect on March 23. (CBS News)

Eleven countries in Asia, North America, Oceania, and South America sign the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (The New York Times)

The End

 

Some Like It Cold

Thursday, Mar 8, 2018

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army forces seize control of Jindires in Syria’s Afrin District from the Kurdish YPG. The town has suffered extensive destruction due to Turkish airstrikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Reuters)

Trump officially imposes steep tariffs on steel, aluminum President Trump on Thursday officially ordered a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, putting him at odds with traditional Republican economic priorities. The tariff will take effect in 15 days, with carve-outs for Canada and Mexico under the condition that the North American Free Trade Agreement can be renegotiated. “You don’t wanna pay tax? Bring your plant to the U.S.A.,” Trump said during his announcement. Trump added that he is open to exempting certain countries “as long as we can make sure their products no longer threaten our security,” referring to the national security provision that has allowed him to impose the new taxes. Source: NPR

Report: Mueller has proof Trump team tried to set up Kremlin back channel Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidence that a Seychelles meeting between Erik Prince and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin was likely an early attempt to establish a secret line of communication between the U.S. and Russian governments, The Washington Post reports. Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, said the meeting was spontaneous and he did not know Russian official Kirill Dmitriev was at his hotel. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who also attended the meeting, has been cooperating with Mueller, The New York Times reports. The evidence Mueller has gathered shows that the Seychelles meeting was set up so a representative of Trump’s transition could discuss future U.S.-Russia relations with an emissary from Moscow. Source: The Washington Post

 

Wednesday,  Mar 7,  2018

 A message in a bottle found in Australia is confirmed to have been adrift for almost 132 years, making it reportedly the oldest known. (ABC Online)

A Russian Border Guard Service Mil Mi-8 crashes in Chechnya, killing at least eight people. (TASS)

Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, leader and deputy of the British far-right organization Britain First, are convicted of hate crimes for posting things deemed offensive online. Golding is sentenced to 36 weeks in prison and Fransen for 18 weeks in prison for promoting Islamophobic activities and harassment. (The Independent) (BBC)

European astronomers observe the “birth” of a symbiotic X-ray binary, IGR J17329-2731, described as a transient, from the Galactic Center using INTEGRAL space telescope. (European Space Agency) (The Astronomer’s Telegram)

 

Tuesday,   Mar 6, 2018

Porn star Stormy Daniels sues Donald Trump, arguing that a nondisclosure agreement signed by her and Trump’s lawyer Michael Dean Cohen is invalid. (NBC News)

A Russian Antonov An-26 transport plane crashes during an attempted landing at Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia, Syria, killing all 39 people onboard. (BBC)

South Korea and North Korea agree to hold a summit in April 2018. (LocalNews8) (CNBC)

The United States accuses North Korea of using VX to kill Kim Jong-nam, and imposes apparently symbolic sanctions against North Korea. (Reuters)

The UN Refugee Agency reports that more than 900,000 people have been displaced by the ongoing fighting in the central provinces of DR Congo between militias and government forces since 2016. (UNHCR)

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich replaces Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko as the Russian government executive in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (AP via ABC News)

U.S. National Economic Council director Gary Cohn announces his resignation. (BBC)

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

China’s “two sessions” – the annual meetings of the national legislature and the top political advisory body – opens in Beijing; major announcements include an 8% rise in its military budget and a GDP growth target of around 6.5%. (BBC 1)(BBC 2)(Reuters)

The USS Carl Vinson enters Vietnam’s Da Nang Port, becoming the first U.S. aircraft carrier to visit a Vietnamese port since the Vietnam War in 1975. The visit comes amid tensions in the region with China. (NPR)

A search team led by Paul Allen’s company Vulcan, Inc., using his research vessel Petrel, announces the discovery of the wreck of the USS Lexington (CV-2)about 800 kilometres (500 mi) off the eastern coast of Australia at a depth of around 3 km (2 mi). The aircraft carrier was lost in the Battle of the Coral Seaduring World War II. (United States Naval Institute) (BBC)

Former Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) spy Sergei Skripal is taken to a hospital in critical condition after being exposed to an unknown substance in Wiltshire, United Kingdom. Skripal was granted refugee status in the UK following a “spy swap” deal between the UK and Russia in 2010. (BBC)

Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammad bin Salman meets Pope Tawadros II at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral. (Reuters)

Italy faces a period of political instability after the results of the general election are almost complete. The populist Five Star Movement (M5S) is projected to be the largest party in the Italian Parliament with 32% of the vote. The party has long stated its hostility towards forming a coalition government. (The Wall Street Journal)

Richard B. Spencer when he gives a speech at Michigan State University, before they are separated by police. (Chicago Tribune)

Facebook apologizes after including a question in a user survey on the acceptability of soliciting sexual pictures from minors on its platform. (The Verge)

THE END

 

All eyes are on the 27-year-old Brazilian star who has posted an explicit clip to her Instagram that consolidated her title as Miss Bum Bum 2015.

 

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