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.

 

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

 

I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.

Instagram deleted this video of Russian oligarchs allegedly partying with prostitutes on a yacht

 

 A man is caught impersonating Kim Jong-un after walking through North Korea’s cheerleading squad. (Business Insider)

 

We have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla.

Chanos: And anybody that can do that and then rise to CEO, you know, had to be able to sell pretty much anything. And that I think is Elon’s greatest quality. He’s a pretty good salesman. He’s always pitching the next great idea. The problem is that the execution of the current ideas is falling short. And that’s where I think it’s problematic. And on top of that, I think — increasingly — he’s making promises that he knows he cannot keep. And I think that’s a much more ominous, turn.

Lopez: What is the most recent promise that he’s made that he can’t keep?

Chanos: Well I think the the biggest whopper that I’ve seen, and we have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla. But I think the latest one that kind of stunned me was when he unveiled the semitruck — EV.

Lopez: But he hasn’t really even given us a regular car. The $30,000 car that he promised everyone.

Chanos: Well forgetting that, he said that truck will be out in 2019. And if that’s the case, those production lines have to be up now. That factory has to be up now. And where is that? I mean what factory line is going to be making a truck in 2019 and a roadster sports car that he unveiled in 2020? You can’t simply say things like that without having some evidence to back them up. You’re a public company’s CEO. And, you know, I’d want some clarification on where exactly this truck is going to be built to be out in 2019. But, you know, he’s missed production estimate after production estimate. He thought there’d be 10,000 Model 3s a week by the end of ’17.

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

Chanos: Now it’s 5,000 by June. I think even worse is that people have thought they were getting a car for what amounted to $27,500 — the $35,000 base plus the federal tax credit. Now they’re realizing that the federal tax credit’s going to, basically, be over by this year. And every manufacturer has a limit.

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

Chanos: Well the Model 3s he’s delivering now are $50,000 base pretty much. And with delivery charges and sales tax they’re probably closer to $55,000. So they’re almost twice what he promised people. And the car for $55,000 is not a particularly great car in our view. It might be for $27,500. But it competes against basically luxury cars at $55,000. And that’s a pretty competitive area and going to get more competitive.

Lopez: Gotcha,

Chanos: But he’s already talking about the Model Y.

Lopez: And Mars?

Lopez: Yeah, I mean Mars looks good I guess.

Chanos: And Mars doesn’t have a current extradition treaty with the US from what I understand.

Lopez: He could go; it’s fine. So you once said that the single most important market in the world is the Chinese property market. China has been incredibly quiet in 2018. We didn’t see our normal China puking that we do every year at the beginning of the year. So what’s going on there? And is it still the most important market in the world?

 

 

Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Clusterfuck Nation

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will succeed Jacob Zuma as president, after Zuma announced his resignation Wednesday in a nationally televised speech. Ruling party legislators officially elected Ramaphosa on Thursday. The BBC writes that there is “a renewed sense of hope” as Ramaphosa assumes the leadership role he has had his eye on since 1994. Zuma was at the center of several scandals during his nine-year tenure, with critics claiming that his friends and family profited handsomely from his presidency. The leadership of Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, had called for his resignation on Monday. Source: BBC News

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.”

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

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”

All Our Better Angels Are Dead

Killed for $3 haircut


US porn king offers $10mn for ‘smoking gun’ to impeach Trump

 

KNOWINGLY EXPOSING OTHERS TO H.I.V. NO LONGER A FELONY IN CALIFORNIA

Even though it’s homophobic to allege that AIDS is a gay disease, it is also homophobic to criminalize intentionally infecting someone with HIV, even though, you know, it’s not a gay disease. In other words, for you laymen out there, it’s not a gay disease, but you’re a homophobe if you’re afraid of catching it.

That’s why a new bill sponsored by California state senator Scott Weiner—who looks gayer than 100 penises in 99 male rectums—has demoted the act of intentionally infecting someone with this fatal illness from a felony to a mere misdemeanor. From henceforth, HIV-positive “gift givers” don’t necessarily have to be shooting their deadly semen all over the mucus membranes of willing “bug chasers.” Now, in the interest of progress and to protect the feelings and self-esteem of those wish to deliberately infect the unwitting with a virus that will likely kill them, gift givers can give the gift that keeps on giving anonymously. To Scott Wiener and all those like him, intentionally injecting someone with a fatal virus is not the real crime—treating that person like a criminal is.

No Joy in Trumpville

As I watched the endless stream of tourists and hipsters stride by in their selfie raptures, I pictured the various downtowns of the Midwest I’ve visited over the years — St Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Detroit, Akron, Dayton, Cleveland, Louisville, Tulsa, and many more — and remembered the incredible desolation of their centers. There was no one there, certainly no tourists or hipsters, really no activity to speak of. They were ghost cities. The net effect of financialization has been the asset-stripping of every other place in America for the benefit of a very few cities on the coasts, and especially the financial engineers within them.

Thus, the ironic rise of New Yorker Trump as the avatar and supposed savior of all those people “out there” in their dying hometowns and beyond. And their tremendously bitter enmity against the “blue” coastal elites, of which Trump is a nonpareil exemplar. History is a trickster.

 

The Bronx’s Quiet, Brutal War With Opioids

 

The Elites “Have No Credibility Left”
An interview with journalist Chris Hedges
OCTOBER 6, 2017 • 3,900 WORDS

Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend

 

Thursday, Oct 12,  2017

Trump attacks press freedom, says it is ‘disgusting’ media can write freely President Trump attacked the free press Wednesday, telling reporters that “it is frankly disgusting that the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.” The comments followed Trump’s tweets Wednesday morning, which reacted to an NBC News story that claimed the president had called for the nuclear arsenal to be increased “tenfold.” “With all of the fake news coming out of NBC and the networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license?” Trump asked. When pressed in the afternoon about whether there should be limits on the media, Trump said “no,” but added that reporters should write “more honestly.” Citing no evidence, Trump said: “When they make up stories like that, it’s just made up … They make up sources.” Source: Bloomberg News

 Wednesday,  Oct 11, 2017

Three suicide bombers attack a police command center in Damascus, killing two people and injuring six others. (Reuters)

Last year a hacker stole non-classified information about Australia’s Joint Strike Fighter program and other military hardware after breaching the network of a defense contractor. (Reuters)

The Peruvian Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Administration through the Ministry of Justice appoints a new head to the Direction of Presidential Graces, which is believed to be a first step towards granting a pardon to 79-year-old former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), although the president Kuczynski has denied it. In April 2009, a three-judge panel had sentenced Fujimori for acts of corruption, Human Rights violations, and various others crimes. Fujimori, who has been in jail since 2007 and whose health has deteriorated, including alleged tongue cancer, has applied for a pardon unsuccessfully on two occasions. (RPP Noticias)(El Comercio)(Diario Correo)

Nature publishes research from The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia at the Glorieta de la Astronomía of Granada, Spain, describing the discovery that a ring system orbits the dwarf planet, trans-Neptunian object, Haumea. (The Verge)(Nature)

SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to supersynchronous orbit an Airbus-built communications satellite for Luxembourg-based SES and U.S.-headquartered EchoStar. (Space Flight Now)

 

Confusion lingers about Las Vegas shooter’s timeline MGM Resorts International, the parent company of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, released a statement Tuesday night disputing the latest police timeline of the Oct. 1 mass shooting targeting the Route 91 Harvest Festival. MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong said her company “cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate.” On Monday, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said a Mandalay Bay security guard was shot before Stephen Paddock fired down at the music festival, not after, and that Paddock checked in on Sept. 25, not Sept. 28. Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Boy Scouts to begin admitting girls in 2018  A program for older girls will roll out in 2019, allowing them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout for the first time in its 107-year history. “This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values,” said the BSA’s chief scout executive, Michael Surbaugh. “The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave, reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women.” Cub Scout units, or “dens,” will be single-gender. A similar organization, Girl Scouts, has so far resisted allowing boys to join due to the desire to nurture an environment specifically to promote female leaders. Source: NBC News, ABC News

 

The Rest of The News Below the Fold

Continue reading “All Our Better Angels Are Dead”

Warning

Some say it was a warning
Some say it was a sign
I was standing right there
When it came down from the sky
The way it spoke to us
You felt it from inside
Said it was up to us
Up to us to decide

You’ve become a virus
The keeper of this host
We’ve been watching you with all of our eyes
And what you seem to value most
“So much potential” or so we used to say
Your greed, self-importance and your arrogance
You piss it all away

We heard a cry
We’ve come to intervene
You will change your ways and you will make amends
Or we will wipe this place clean

Your time is tick-tick-ticking away

 

 

Spain agrees to extradite Russian programmer accused of hacking to the US
Oct. 3rd, 2017

 

Tesla is struggling to be 2 different car companies at the same time

As my colleague Danielle Muoio reported, the focus was rightly on a big miss for Model 3 deliveries: 220 official sales, with just 260 vehicles produced.

CEO Elon Musk had predicted total production of 1,500 for September.

On the other hand, the company delivered 26,150 of its Model S and Model X vehicles, putting it on track to deliver around 100,000 cars for 2017 without hitting Musk’s ambitious targets for the Model 3, which is supposed to ramp to a production target of 5,000 per week by the end of the year.

The markets seem to have priced this in, as Tesla’s stock hasn’t fallen off a cliff. In pre-market trading on Tuesday, shares were sliding, but only about 2%, to $333. Year-to-date, Tesla is up 55% and at times has pushed toward $400. The company’s market cap, at $57 billion, is neck-and-neck with General Motors.

 

Monday,  October 2nd, 2017

The death toll rises to at least 59 people with an additional 527 others injured. (The New York Times)

The attack is the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. (The Guardian)

Stephen Paddock’s former neighbors in Reno, Nevada, describe him as having a possible gambling problem. (Newsweek)

CBS fires Hayley Geftman-Gold, vice president and senior counsel of strategic transactions at CBS, for a social media post stating that she did not have sympathy for the shooting’s victims because “country music fans often are Republican gun toters”. (Fox News)

 

 

After suffering a cardiac arrest in his Malibu, California home, American singer and songwriter Tom Petty dies at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 66. (Rolling Stone)

The Nobel Prize committee awards Americans Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young the prize for their work on molecular mechanisms that control circadian systems. (The Guardian) (Nobel Prize.org)

Thirty-thousand North Korean rocket propelled grenades are seized off the coast of Egypt by American forces after being purchased by Egyptian business executives for $23 million (E£406 million/₩20 billion). (Haaretz)

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. Trump says he wants to lower the U.S. trade deficit with Thailand. (Reuters)

Russian opposition leader and hopeful presidential candidate Alexei Navalny is sentenced in Moscow to 20 days detention for organizing unauthorized public meetings. This is Navalny’s third jail term this year. (Reuters) (RT)

Ecuador’s Supreme Court orders that Vice President Jorge Glas be jailed for his alleged acceptance of bribes from the Odebrecht construction company. Prior to this, Glas had been free but barred from leaving the country. (AP)

 

Catalonia votes in favor of independence The Catalan regional government announced early Monday that 90 percent of voters in Sunday’s referendum on independence from Spain voted in favor of a split. A spokesman said that there are 5.3 million voters in the region, with 2.26 million casting ballots. The Spanish central government views the vote as being illegal, and hundreds of people were injured when police raided polling stations and fired rubber bullets at voters. Catalonia is an autonomous region bordering France, and many of its residents believe because it has its own culture and history and its revenue pays to subsidize other areas of Spain, it must become independent. Source: The Guardian

 

Supreme Court returns with weighty cases The Supreme Court begins a new term Monday with a weighty list of cases on its docket. The high court is slated to review mandatory dues for public-sector unions; religious liberty and discrimination in the wedding cake business; gerrymandering; digital privacy rights; and the practice of purging inactive voters from voter rolls. “There’s only one prediction that’s entirely safe of the upcoming term, and that is it will be momentous,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With the seating of Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court has a full bench. Source:  Fox News

 

Sunday,  October 1st, 2017

Houthi forces claim to have shot down a S. MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Yemeni capital Sana’a. Footage released by Saba News Agency appears to show crowds gathering around the wreckage of an aircraft. (Reuters)

Soldiers in Bueaand Bamenda, Cameroon, shoot dead a total of at least eight people during various protests by Anglophone (Reuters)

The Islamic Stategroup seizes the Al-Qaryatain town in the central province of Homs in a surprise attack against Syrian government forces. (Firstpost)

A gunman opens fire in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from the upper floors down upon a Jason Aldean outdoor concert, with at least 2 people dead and 26 others injuried. Authorities believe the lone gunman is dead. (The New York Times)

The United Kingdom‘s Monarch Airlines goes into financial bankruptcy administration, suspending all flights, cancelling 300 thousand bookings, and leaving 10’s of thousands of passengers stranded. (Reuters)

Nevada prison authorities release former NFL player  J. Simpson on parole after serving nine years for a 2007 Las Vegas armed robbery. Previously, a jury had acquitted Simpson of the 1995 murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. (CNN)

Spanish riot police clash with some protesters in Gironaand Barcelona, with 844 people and 33 police reported injured. (Sky News) (NBC News) (BBC) (The Independent)

The Mayor of BarcelonaAda Colau calls on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to resign following the police crackdown on Catalan protestors which has left hundreds injured. (Euronews)

The government of Cataloniadeclares that the “yes”-to-independence-vote has won a landslide victory. (AP)

Some players throughout the National Football League hold demonstrations before or during the U.S. national anthem. These demonstrations include kneeling, raising fists, or praying, as a show of unity or protest of social inequality. (CNN)

SkanskaUSA implodes the Old Kosciuszko Bridge in New York City after 78 years of connecting Brooklyn and Queens. (NBC)

The rest of the week’s news below the fold

Continue reading “Warning”

Mykonos

The Worst Financial Crash You Have Ever Seen Is Coming

Despite President Trump threatening to “totally destroy North Korea,” devastating hurricanes, monstrous earthquakes hitting Mexico and uncertainty with the Federal Reserve unwinding its massive balance sheet, famed investor Jim Rogers says the worst is yet to come.

“This was not the end of the world because the market is still making all-time highs,” the investor and best-selling author said in a new interview.

But the current bull market – which is the second longest running – will end badly, according to Rogers, warning that the next financial meltdown is going to be the worst yet.

As for the timeline? The famed investor said the crash is coming sooner than we think.

“I would expect it to start this year or the next…and it’s going to be the worst in your lifetime and my lifetime,” he told me back in July.

The sole survivors will be investors that know what they are doing. “And the way to protect yourself is to invest in what you know,” he said.

Rogers added that he plans not to be around twenty-somethings when the crash does come. “I have been around a long time and when things go bad, 26-year-olds don’t have enough experience.”

 

 

In Other News:

Thursday, Sep 28,  2017

Trump announces tax plan with cuts for businesses, wealthy

President Trump on Wednesday announced his intention to cut tax rates for businesses and the wealthy and raise the lowest individual tax rate in a speech in Indianapolis. The plan — which proposes shrinking the seven tax brackets down to three at 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent — is being promoted as a win for the middle class because it will also double the standard deduction for all taxpayers. Additionally, the tax reform plan cuts business taxes: “We need Washington to promote American jobs instead of obstructing them,” Trump said. Analysts, however, fret that if “economic growth projected by Republicans fails to materialize,” then the massive cuts could “balloon the federal deficit and debt,” Reuters writes. Source: Reuters

U.S. GDP growth rate revised up to 3.1 percent for Q2

The U.S. economy recorded its fastest expansion pace in two years this spring, growing at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter, The Associated Press reports. “We’re focused on growth,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business. “We think the 3 percent GDP is a very moderate aspiration and we can do higher than that.” The revised numbers for the economy’s output of goods and services between April and June slightly exceeds the 3 percent estimate made a month ago, and shows improvement since the 1.2 percent rate in the January-March period. “Economists believe growth has slowed again to around 2 percent in the current quarter,” AP writes, but the economy could get a boost in early 2018 due to rebuilding stemming from hurricane damage.

 

Wednesday,  Sep 27, 2017

Russia announces it has completed the destruction of all of its chemical weapons under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention. (New York Times)

The government of Iraqi Kurdistan announces that they won the referendum by over 92% of the vote. (The Independent)

Iraq’s prime minister has demanded the Kurdistan Regional Government “cancel” the outcome of the referendum on independence that it held on Monday. (BBC)

California moves its 2020 presidential primary to March 3, making it fifth in the nominating process after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The 2016 primary was held on June 7. (Reuters)

 

Tuesday,   Sep 26, 2017

The king of Saudi Arabia issues a decree allowing women to be issued driving licenses by June 2018. Saudi Arabia is the world’s last sovereign state that does not allow women to drive. (The Guardian)

Turkey’s president has said Iraqi Kurds could go hungry as a result of the punitive measures it is considering after Monday’s independence referendum. (BBC)

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismisses Nizhny Novgorod Oblast governor Valery Shantsev from his post, the second governor to lose his job in a week after Putin dismissed Samara Oblast governor Nikolay Merkushkin the day before. The dismissals come amid speculation that governors of several federal subjects will resign in anticipation of presidential elections in 2018. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Africa’s Great Green Wall is successfully reversing desertification. (BBC)

Monday,  Sep 25, 2017

The first ever female United States Marine Corps Infantry officer graduates. (NPR)

Russian police arrest a couple from the southern Krasnodar region that has allegedly murdered as many as 30 people since 1999 and consumed parts of the human bodies. (International Business Times)

The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe calls a snap election with the election to be held on October 22. (Reuters)

 

Sunday,  Sep 24, 2017

Mortar fire from ISIL militants near the city of Deir ez-Zor, according to the Russian Defence Ministry. Asapov has been described as one of the senior Russian military advisers in Syria. (Al Arabiya)

Iranian forces launch a military exercise near the border of Iraqi Kurdistan, hours before a Kurdish vote on independence from Iraq. Turkey is also conducting a military exercise in the region. (CNBC)

The Iraqi government discourages foreign countries from importing crude oil directly from its Iraqi Kurdistan region. (Reuters)

Exit polls indicate Merkel has won a fourth term in power, and that Alternative for Germany will enter the Bundestag for the first time as the third largest party. (BBC)

Amid criticism of U.S. national anthem protests by U.S. President Donald Trump, some National Football League players and teams react to the controversy by kneeling, linking arms, or skipping game performances of the national anthem. (ESPN)

City officials in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, announce that residents will receive incentives for swapping their petrol engine vehicles for electric ones, including a free Salik tag, and an exemption from RTA registration and renewal vehicle fees. (Khaleej Times)

 

Saturday,  Sep 23, 2017

Iran successfully tests the Khorramshahr missile. (AFP via Yahoo! News)

 

Friday,  Sep 22, 2017

Transport for London announces that it will not issue Uber a new private hire license. (BBC)

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than those of modern humans, contradicting previous studies. (BBC)

Kim calls Trump a ‘mentally deranged’ dotard, Trump calls Kim a ‘madman’

Late Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded to President Trump’s threat on Tuesday to “totally destroy North Korea” with a very rare personal statement saying Trump’s “unprecedented rude nonsense” has “convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct.” The colorful statement ends with Kim threatening to “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire,” and hours later, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters that Pyongyang might test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific as a retaliatory action. On Friday morning, Trump responded, tweeting: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” Source: BBC News

Facebook to give Congress political ads bought by Russians

 

Facebook will give Congress copies of the more than 3,000 ads purchased through Russian accounts during the 2016 election, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch announced Thursday in a blog post. “We believe the public deserves a full accounting of what happened in the 2016 election, and we’ve concluded that sharing the ads we’ve discovered … can help,” Stretch wrote. Though Facebook gave the ads to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the social networking site took back ads shown to congressional investigators before they could be thoroughly examined, citing privacy concerns. The move sparked complaints from government officials and the public. In a Facebook Live event after the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to “make sure that Facebook is a force for good ahead in democracy.” Source: BuzzFeed News

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than modern humans, contradicting previous studies. (BBC)

Thursday, Sep 21,  2017

Russian and Syrian warplanes carry out airstrikes in southern Idlib, killing three civilians and wounding others. (Iraqi News)

Google strikes a $1.1bn (£822m) deal with Taiwan’s HTC to expand its smartphone business. (BBC)

China’s credit rating has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) because of worries over the rapid build up of debt in the country. (BBC)

Rescuers are focusing on 10 collapsed buildings where people may still be alive. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera reports the death toll is now at least 273, with 50 people still missing. (Reuters)

Facebook agrees to disclose ads that ran in the U.S. in 2016 from accounts associated with a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency to United States Congressional investigators. Earlier, this information was provided to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (CBS News)

END

It’s Too Horrible

 

MIT physics professor Daniel Rothman’s mathematical formula, published in the peer-review journal Science Advances, predicts a sixth mass extinction may be set to occur within 10,000 years if by the year 2100 current carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, and a critical amount of carbon (310 gigatons) is added to the oceans. (Phys.org) (Science Advances)

 

The Other News since last time

Thursday, Sep 21,  2017

Report: Manafort offered Russian magnate ‘private briefings’ on campaign While he was still serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort sent an email to an employee of his consulting business in Kiev requesting he tell a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin that if he wanted “private briefings” on the presidential race, Manafort would set it up, several people familiar with the emails told The Washington Post. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has the emails. No exact name is ever used, but investigators believe the emails refer to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and one of the richest men in Russia. The emails could suggest that Manafort was trying to use his access to Trump for his own benefit. Source: The Washington Post

 

Hurricane Maria leaves Puerto Rico completely without power  Puerto Rico is completely without power after Hurricane Maria made landfall early Wednesday as a dangerous Category 4 storm, the first to strike the island since 1932. Early Thursday, Maria was a Category 3 hurricane nearing the Dominican Republic. In Puerto Rico, the hurricane ripped trees from the ground and caused widespread flooding, and more than 10,000 people are in shelters. Puerto Rican officials said it could take six months for full power to be restored. After the Dominican Republic, Maria is forecast to move on to Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas by Thursday night. Source: CNN

 

SEC says its data was hacked in 2016 The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday night that someone hacked its computer database on company filings last year, accessing private information that could have been used to trade stocks and make profits. The announcement from the SEC, the top U.S. securities regulator, came following the disclosure of a breach at Equifax, a major credit reporting firm, that exposed the personal information of 143 million people. Together, the breaches have intensified concerns about the computer vulnerabilities of key financial institutions. Source: The New York Times

Wednesday,  Sep 20, 2017

The U.S. Federal Reserve announces its benchmark interest rate will not change this month, though it expects an increase by the end of the year, along with three increases in 2018 and two in 2019. The Federal Reserve also says its balance sheet reduction program will begin in October. (CNBC)

Searches continue for possible survivors of the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that hit central Mexico yesterday. By mid-afternoon, 52 people are rescued while at least 226 people have been killed and another 800 injured. (Los Angeles Times)

Hurricane Maria makes landfall on Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. Effects are disastrous and the entire island loses power. Seven deaths are reported on Puerto Rico, along with two on Guadeloupe. Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló declares a 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew through Saturday.  (Reuters)

Spanish police raid Catalan government offices and arrest Catalan officials as part of the effort to halt a banned referendum on independence. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont says, “The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia’s government and has established emergency rule.” (The New York Times)

Saudi Arabia lifts its 2013 ban on internet calls, effective midnight local time (21:00 UTC). (Reuters)

 

Tuesday,   Sep 19, 2017

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes Mexico, killing at least 220 people and collapsing several buildings in Mexico City and widespread evacuations, hours after a yearly earthquake drill in commemoration of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. (KTLA)

Two African-American men are killed in separate incidents near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a third home is shot at in what local and federal officials call racially-motivated crimes. A local man is arrested on suspicion of the murders. (CBS News)

Apple Inc. releases the iOS 11 update for most current models of the iPhone and iPad. (CNN)

Monday,  Sep 18, 2017

Toys “R” Us files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, and also files for bankruptcy in Canada, as it attempts to restructure its debts. (CNBC)

More news below the fold

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