World’s Oldest Man

Thursday, Apr 12,  2018

Japanese supercentenarian Masazo Nonaka is confirmed as the world’s oldest living man. (Sky News)

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-violent-cities-in-the-world-2018-3

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/musta-israel-agents-pose-palestinians-171218061118857.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-instragram-spacex-mars-ship-2018-4

 

 

Trump backpedals threats against Russia, Syria President Trump appeared to backpedal his threats against Russia and Syria on Thursday after warning a day earlier that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” The White House has spent the week debating a response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria last weekend that left dozens dead and hundreds affected. Trump, who frequently lamented former President Barack Obama foregoing “the element of surprise,” said Thursday that he “never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The president added, “In any event, the United States, under my administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?'” Source: Donald J. Trump, HuffPost

Report: FBI raid on Trump lawyer sought Access Hollywood tape records The FBI was reportedly looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, caught Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals. While it wasn’t immediately clear what Cohen’s relation might be to the tape, the news “reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan,” The New York Times writes. The FBI agents are also thought to be investigating “hush” payments Cohen might have made to women on Trump’s behalf as well as other possible financial crimes. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday,  Apr 11,  2018

 The International Criminal Court finds radical nationalist Serb Vojislav Seselj guilty of war crimes against Bosnians during the Balkans war and sentences him to ten years in prison. He is immediately released as he served more than eleven years in the court’s custody, and takes to Twitter to declare himself “proud of my war crimes”. (al-Jazeera)

The family of a man killed in California when his Tesla Model X crashed with the Autopilot engaged says they intend to sue the carmaker. His wife further says he had complained of flaws in the vehicle’s behaviour and predicted his death in a collision with the barrier his car ultimately hit. (Electrek)

The death toll from tainted alcohol in Jakarta and West Java, Indonesia, reaches at least 82. (Reuters)

The Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over the Saudi capital Riyadh that caused panic among residents. Houthis say they fired several Burkan-2 missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco oil facilities. Separately, Saudi Air Defenses shoot down two Houthi-operated Qasef-1 drones near the border. (Reuters)

Spain’s Audiencia Nacional sentences ten Islamic extremists to between eight and twelve years in prison for a plot to launch attacks against Barcelona landmarks and behead a hostage on camera. The cell was convicted yesterday. (El País)

The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court jails two Egyptians and a Saudi for fifteen years each and fines them for promoting terrorist ideologies online. The court orders them deported after release, their computer equipment seized, and their social media presences deleted. (Gulf News)

An Ilyushin Il-76 military plane crashes shortly after take-off from Boufarik Military Airport in Algeria, killing all 257 passengers on board. (BBC)

Poland releases a new report on the disaster, which killed 96 including then-President Lech Kaczyński, rejecting previous findings and claiming instead air traffic controllers in Smolensk, Russia, gave the jet erroneous information prior to two explosions destroying the jet in midair. (Radio Poland)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, leaving existing permits untouched. (The New Zealand Herald)

Elmira Medynska, the partner of Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, tells his inquest at the Central Criminal Court in London he seemed nervous and had been unwell prior to his death. The inquest is attempting to determine if Perepilichnyy had been murdered. (BBC)

South Korean politician Ahn Hee-jung is indicted on accusations he repeatedly raped his aide Kim Ji-eun, who previously accused him publicly of sexual abuse. (Gulf News)

South Korea national security adviser Chung Eui-yong visits Washington, D.C. and meets with his U.S. counterpart John R. Bolton. (Yonhap News Agency)

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Tesla 2018

EPA says it is relaxing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it plans to roll back emissions standards for cars and trucks set by former President Barack Obama, claiming the regulations present “challenges for auto manufacturers due to feasibility and practicability.” As the regulations stand now, new vehicles must get 36 miles per gallon by 2025, but those standards are “too high,” the EPA said. The agency is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come up with new standards. While automakers approve of the move, environmentalists argue it will increase pollution and make it more expensive to fill up vehicles. Source: The Associated Press

 

Not So Happy Motoring
Clusterfuck Nation, James Howard Kunstler
March 30th, 2018

First, there’s the energy embedded in producing the car: mining and smelting the ores, manufacturing the plastics, running the assembly line, etc. That embedded energy amounts to about 22 percent of the energy consumed by the car over a ten-year lifetime. Then there’s the cost of actually powering the car day-by-day. The electricity around the USA is produced mostly by burning coal, natural gas, or by nuclear fission, all of which produce harmful emissions or byproducts. But the illusion that the power just comes out of a plug in the wall (for just pennies a day!) is a powerful one for the credulous public. The cherry-on-top is the fantasy that before much longer all that electric power will come from “renewables,” solar and wind, and we can leave the whole fossil fuel mess behind us.

Tesla Asks for Model 3 Factory Volunteers to Prove ‘Haters’ Wrong

 

Elon Musk: Government-Subsidized Pied Piper
The captain of cheesy stunts, his trendy space debris is destined to orbit the sun for an estimated billion years.
By GILBERT T. SEWALL • March 28, 2018

Speaking after World War II, the eminent psychologist Carl Jung said to the German novelist Hermann Hesse, “Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the moon than it is to penetrate one’s own being.” He later restated this idea to The New Republic, “In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space.“

“There’s absolutely nothing that might make Mars a ‘sustainable’ habitat for human beings, or probably any other form of Earthly life,” wrote James Howard Kunstler. The dream of Mars colonization, he pointed out, evades “making a go of it here on Earth, a planet that humans were exquisitely evolved for (or designed for, if you will), and which we are in the process of rendering uninhabitable for ourselves and lots of other creatures.”

 

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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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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

 

 

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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

 

Nice Lips

 

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

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

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,  Feb 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

Volatility


Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018

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

 

Monday,  Feb 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

2018 Sunday, Feb 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saturday,  Feb 3, 2018

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

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

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

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

THE END

A Weak Dollar

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

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

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

The best material is in the comments section.

 

 

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

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

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

 

Thursday,  Jan 25,  2018

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

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

 

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, Jan 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

01.16.2018

Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

Mueller subpoenaes Bannon President Trump’s former chief strategist Stephen Bannon was reportedly subpoenaed last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before a grand jury. This is the first known instance of a grand jury subpoena being used on someone in Trump’s inner circle, and “could be a negotiating tactic,” The New York Times writes, noting that Mueller “is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to instead be questioned by investigators.” Bannon also testified behind closed doors Tuesday in front of the House Intelligence Committee which, like Mueller, is looking for evidence of Russian interference in the election. Source: The New York Times, The Week

Kushner was reportedly warned Wendi Deng Murdoch might be Chinese agent In early 2017, U.S. counterintelligence officials told President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a friend of Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, could be using her relationship with the pair to push Beijing’s agenda, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. There was also concern she was lobbying for a Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, paid for by the Chinese government, which the intelligence community feared could be used for surveillance. Murdoch, the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, came to the U.S. from China in 1988, and is a U.S. citizen. Her spokesman said she “has no knowledge of any FBI concerns or other intelligence agency concerns relating to her or her associations.” Source: The Wall Street Journal

Police arrest California parents after 13 kids found shackled, malnourished Authorities in Perris, California, arrested a husband and wife who allegedly kept their 13 kids, ranging in age from 2 to 29, captive inside their home, with some shackled to their beds and all of them malnourished. Early Sunday, a 17-year-old girl was able to escape from the house with a cellphone and called 911. When police entered the home, they found “several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings,” the department said. David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, were “unable to immediately provide a logical reason why their children were restrained in that manner,” officials said, and were both arrested. Neighbors said they were “devastated” and had no idea what was happening inside the house. Source: The Press-Enterprise

Monday, Jan 15, 2018

Turkey threatens to “strangle” the United States-backed Syrian Border Security Force “before it’s even born”, while Syria vows to crush it and expel American military personnel from the country. Russia called the plans “a plot to dismember Syria”. (Reuters)

American actress Eliza Dushku says that a stuntman molested her when she was 12 years old. (The Guardian)

A 910 ct “D colour Type II A” diamond is dug up in the Letseng diamond mine, Lesotho. (MiningMX)

The mezzanine overlooking the main lobby of the Indonesia Stock Exchange in Jakarta, Indonesia, collapses, injuring at least 70 people. The Indonesian National Police ruled out terrorism as the cause. (The Australian)(Daily Express)

Nabil Shaath, the foreign affairs adviser of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, says that the Palestinian Central Council freezes its recognition of the state of Israel until Israel recognizes Palestine as a state. Palestine will freeze the Oslo accords. (Sputnik)

A knife fight between students breaks out in a school in Perm, Russia. Twelve injured are reported, with three of them in serious condition. (BBC)

Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, the nephew of the assassinated Egyptian president Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, announces that he will not run in March’s presidential election, blaming an environment of fear surrounding the vote. (The Guardian)

Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose resigns after losing the support of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). (Reuters)

Four Pakistani soldiers are killed in shelling by the Indian Army across the disputed Kashmir frontier. (Reuters)

Sunday, Jan 14, 2018

The U.S.-led coalition confirms reports that it will form a new 30,000-strong Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Half of the forces will be Syrian Democratic Forces veterans. Another 15,000 will be recruited and trained in the near future. (Daily Sabah)

The Israel Defense Forces report the complete destruction of an underground tunnel dug by Hamas under the Kerem Shalom crossing. Israel shut down the crossing before its jets bombed the tunnel opening in Gaza Saturday night. The crossing remains closed. (Ynetnews)(CNN)

The National Iranian Tanker Company-operated MV Sanchi sinks, following its January 6 collision with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship off Shanghai, China, leaving no survivors. (BBC)

President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas describes President of the United States Donald Trump’s Middle East peace efforts as the “slap of the century.” (Euronews)

The Tunisian government announces a wave of social and economic reforms after violent anti-austerity protests that have resulted in at least one death and the arrest of more than eight hundred people. (BBC)

A study in Biological Psychiatry asserts that increasing the activity of the habenula brain region leads to social problems in rodents, whereas decreasing activity of the region prevents social problems. (Brinkwire)

More After The Fold

Continue reading “01.16.2018”

Surprise! It’s Spectre and Meltdown

Friday, Jan 5, 2017

Security researchers disclose two hardware vulnerabilities—Spectre, which affects most modern processors, and Meltdown, which affects most Intel chips. (Reuters) (The Guardian)

Apple joins list of firms whose laptops, phones are vulnerable to security flaw On Thursday, Apple said that Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads are vulnerable to two hard-to-fix security flaws that cybersecurity experts revealed Wednesday. Windows, Google, and other companies that make PCs, smartphones, servers, and tablets had already acknowledged that their own devices have the same issue. The flaws — named Spectre and Meltdown — could be used by hackers to exploit the microprocessors, mostly made by Intel, in internet-connected devices to launch a “side-channel analysis attack” to steal files, passwords, photos, and other documents. Intel, the dominant chipmaker, says the vulnerability has been in every microprocessor it has made since 1995, but apparently nobody realized the risk until a few months ago. No hackers are known to have exploited the vulnerabilities. Source: The New York Times

North Korea and South Korea to hold first talks in 2 years North Korea has accepted South Korea’s invitation to discuss ways to cooperate on the Winter Olympics, and agreed to meet at the border village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced Friday. This will be their first formal dialogue in more than two years, and they will also discuss how to improve ties between the Koreas. On Thursday, the United States and South Korea agreed to postpone their joint military exercises — an annual event that North Korea considers preparation for an invasion — until after the Pyeongchang Olympics in February. While some see this as the first step in bettering relations, others believe this could be Pyongyang’s way of causing friction between South Korea and the United States. Source: The Associated Press

Fire and Fury publisher pushes up release date after Trump lawsuit threat The White House has come out swinging after excerpts from a forthcoming tell-all book — Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House — were published in various news outlets, featuring incendiary quotes from former chief strategist Stephen Bannon. In response, a Trump attorney sent Bannon a letter saying “legal action is imminent,” and demanded the book’s author and publisher halt the book’s release and “issue a full and complete retraction and apology” or else face legal action. Publisher Henry Holt instead pushed up the released date five days, putting it on sale Friday morning. “We see Fire and Fury as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book,” the publisher said. Source: ABC News

U.S. economy added 148,000 jobs in December, fewer than expected U.S. employers added 148,000 non-farm jobs in December, the Labor Department reported on Friday. The numbers fell short of the average increase of about 190,000 predicted by economists, and marked a slowdown from an average increase of 232,000 in the two previous months. Economists had been predicting that hiring would slow down eventually, just not this soon. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent. Wages increased by 2.5 percent over the last 12 months, edging up from November’s 2.4 percent figure, but still considered sluggish. Source: MarketWatch

 

Thursday, Jan 4,  2017

North Korea accepts South Korea’s proposal for official talks, and will meet on January 9 to discuss North Korea’s possible involvement with the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. These are the first high-level talks between the Koreas in more than two years. (BBC)

The U.S. State Department suspends its security assistance to Pakistan. (ABC News)

The U.S. Treasury sanctions five Iranian entities associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program. (Politico)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinds three Obama-era memos that had adopted a policy of non-interference with states that have legalized recreational marijuana. (Associated Press)

A United Airlines flight headed from Chicago to Hong Kong makes an emergency landing in Anchorage, Alaska, after a passenger allegedly became unruly. (KTUU-TV)

Munich Re reports that the insurance industry faces record claims of US$135 billion from natural catastrophes, such as the Mexico earthquakes, South Asian floods, California wildfires and Atlantic hurricanes in 2017. Overall economic losses from natural disasters are estimated at the second highest amount since 2011. (Insurance Journal)

A massive winter storm hits the East Coast of the United States with up to 18 inches of snow predicted to fall between The Carolinas and Maine. So far, three people have died in North Carolina and a person has died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (AP via Yahoo!)

 

Wednesday,  Jan 3, 2017

A new Icelandic law goes into effect which requires government agencies and companies with more than 24 full-time employees to prove they are paying men and women equally, as required by existing legislation. (NPR)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announces that Ethiopia will drop charges against all political prisoners and close down the infamous prison camp of Maekelawi. (AP)

 

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump responds to Kim Jong-un’s claim of having North Korea’s nuclear missile launch button on his desk, boasting that the size of the nuclear missile launch button on his own desk is larger and more powerful than Kim’s.  (BBC)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, responding to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s offer during his New Year’s Day address, proposes a meeting to discuss the Winter Olympics and North Korea’s nuclear program next Tuesday at the border city of Panmunjom.  (BBC)

President Donald Trump tweets that the U.S. may withhold future payments to the Palestinian authority, over 350 million dollars per year, because they are “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel, and that Israel “would have had to pay more” in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Haaretz) (Politico)

Israel announces plans to deport African migrants residing in the country illegally. Migrants will be given 90 days to leave the country or face imprisonment. (BBC)

Vice Media suspends two of its top executives as it investigates allegations made against them. (ABC News)

Citing national security concerns, the U.S. government blocks Ant Financial’s acquisition of MoneyGram. (Reuters)

Joshua Boyle, a Canadian man recently rescued from a Taliban linked group, is arrested on 15 charges, including assault, sexual assault, and unlawful confinement. (Global News)

Nine prisoners have escaped from a Berlin, Germany prison over the last five days, with two escaping today. (BBC)

There’s Something Different About These Iran Protests
Four days into the protests, there are still more questions than answers.
by Trita Parsi
January 01, 2018

The fact that reformists—who have been at the center of most of the large-scale protests in Iran for the past two decades—appear to be neither driving nor even particularly involved presents a new political phenomenon in Iran.

The protestors likely include some disillusioned Rouhani supporters. But remember that Rouhani won re-election with 57% of the vote (and 70% voter participation) only seven months ago. That means it’s more likely that the core of the demonstrators are of a different ilk.

Their uncompromisingly anti-regime slogans suggest they may belong to the segment of the population who tends not to vote, doesn’t believe the system can be reformed and either never subscribed to or has lost hope in the idea of gradual change. Add to that those who have joined the protests out of a sense of economic desperation and humiliation.

Most analysts have not kept an eye on these segments of the population precisely because they have not been at the center of political change in Iran in recent history. Nor do they have a track record of being able to muster protests of this size.

http://www.businessinsider.com/store-closures-in-2018-will-eclipse-2017-2018-1

http://www.unz.com/comments/all/?commenterfilter=Art+Deco

http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-deliveries-november-2017-12

This is an outstanding 8,000 word article. You can even listen to it. There is an audio app at the beginning:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/01/the-dark-bounty-of-texas-oil

Between January, 2015, and December, 2016, more than a hundred U.S. oil and gas producers declared bankruptcy, nearly half of them in Texas. This figure doesn’t count the financial impact on the pipeline, storage, servicing, and shipping companies that depend on the energy business, or the seventy-four billion dollars’ worth of debt that these bankruptcies left behind. As a gesture of sympathy, Ouisie’s Table, a Houston restaurant in the wealthy River Oaks neighborhood, began offering a three-course meal on Wednesday nights that was pegged to the price of a barrel of oil. When I visited in the early spring of 2016, the meal cost about thirty-eight dollars. (Ouisie’s Table dropped the practice when oil prices inched back up. As of December 13th, the Wednesday special would have cost $56.60.)

Now that oil prices have stabilized, Texas’s economy is robust again. In recent years, it has finally begun to diversify, and now tops that of California in exporting technology, from semiconductors to communications equipment. Conservative politicians in Texas like to claim that the state’s low taxes and light regulation are the magic forces propelling its economy. But oil still sets Texas apart. It has been both a gift and a trap.

Clusterfuck Nation Forecast 2018

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/forecast-2018-go-wrong/

Russian Forecast 2018

http://www.unz.com/akarlin/new-year-predictions-for-2018/

Trump returns to Washington for high-stakes January President Trump returned to Washington on Monday night in an upbeat mood after 10 days at his members-only club in Florida, but White House aides are bracing for “the grim reality of 2018,” including slim legislative prospects, a potentially brutal midterm election, an expected exodus of White House aides with no replacements ready, and the ever-present “shadow of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation,” Politico reports. On the other side of Capitol Hill, Congress returns over the next week with a full plate for January, including funding the government, children’s health care, protection for DREAMers, stability of health-care markets, a looming debt ceiling increase, and other contentious and high-stakes issues. Source: Politico

Deadly anti-government protests grip Iran At least 20 people have been killed in anti-government protests in Iran, including nine overnight Monday, Iranian state TV and semi-official ILNA news agency reported Tuesday. At least 450 others have reportedly been arrested as demonstrators stormed police stations and military bases. The protests, the biggest in the country since 2009, began Thursday, with protesters chanting “death to the dictator” and “death to Khamenei,” the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, despite the government’s threat of an “iron fist” of punishment. On Sunday, Tehran placed what it says is a “temporary” restriction on access to social media including Instagram and an encrypted messaging app call Telegram. Demonstrators have used both to chronicle and coordinate their efforts this week. Source:  CNN

Monday,  Jan 1, 2018

Ten people die at the protests overnight, with twelve deaths total so far as the protests enter their fifth day. (BBC)

Value Added Tax (VAT) has been introduced in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for the first time. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump tweets that Pakistan has been a “safe haven” for terrorists from Afghanistan and has given America “nothing but lies & deceit” after getting more than $33 billion in U.S. aid. (Time)

Pakistan asks U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale to clarify Trump’s remarks. Pakistani Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi calls for Cabinet and National Security Council meetings to discuss the tweet. (Los Angeles Times)

Pakistan’s Defence Minister accuses the U.S. of giving Pakistan “nothing but invective & mistrust” after receiving “land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs”. (AOL)

An armed standoff between Indian security forces and Kashimiri rebels at a paramilitary base ends after 36 hours and leaves eight people dead. (Al Jazeera)

California becomes the latest and most-populated state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. (BBC)

Alain Berset takes office as President of the Swiss Confederation. Mr. Berset is the youngest president of Switzerland since 1934. (SWI)

 

Sunday, Dec 31, 2017

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram as the largest anti-government protests since 2009 continue. (The Guardian)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issues “a red alert for our world,” saying that conflicts have deepened, global anxieties about nuclear weapons have increased, inequalities have grown, and nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise. Guterres calls for global unity to overcome these growing challenges. (CNN)

China announces the country’s ivory trade is now illegal. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-U.S. President Barack Obama announced “near-complete” ivory bans for each country. America’s ivory ban went into effect in June 2016. (National Geographic)

Palestine recalls their envoy to the United States for “consultations,” following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas says they will not accept any U.S. peace plan in the wake of Trump’s move. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 30, 2017

Two protesters are shot dead by Iranian police in Dorud, Lorestan Province, as anti-government protests spread across the country. (Reuters)

Nepal bans solo climbers, double amputees and blind climbers from scaling its mountains, including Mount Everest, in a bid to reduce accidents. This has been criticized by successful double-amputee Everest climbers. (BBC)

A man strapped with explosives takes 11 people hostage in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Ukrainian police free all the hostages and arrest the man. (Reuters)

 

Friday, Dec 29, 2017

Anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iran for a second day, with protests being held in a number of cities. (BBC)

Venezuelan communications director Jorge Rodríguez announces that the country’s Petro cryptocurrency, backed by 5.3 billion barrels of oil worth $267 billion, will launch shortly. (CNBC)

In a surprising event, Malian Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga and his government resign without providing a reason. (The Guardian)

THE END