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

12.26.2017

Friday,  Dec 29, 2017

http://www.dw.com/en/russia-warns-us-against-meddling-in-presidential-election/a-41942772

Trump: Russia investigation makes the U.S. look ‘very bad’ During a 30-minute impromptu interview with The New York Times on Thursday, President Trump said Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election “makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position. So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.” Trump said 16 times “no collusion” has been discovered, and declared he has the “absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” The interview was conducted at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Source: The New York Times

Historic cold snap grips northern half of America Some 220 million Americans are experiencing dangerously cold Arctic air that has settled over the northern half of the country, and meteorologists warn relief likely won’t come for at least another week. “It felt like we’d been living in a war zone,” said Carole Van Duzer of Erie, Pennsylvania, which was buried this week under five feet of snow. New record lows include 23 below in National Mine, Michigan, and minus 36 in International Falls, Minnesota. With 110 mile per hour wind gusts at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, the wind chill is registering at negative 89 degrees. At least two people have died in Chicago from the cold and in the Midwest, “temperature anomalies on Saturday could be as much as 30 to 35 degrees below normal,” NOAA reports. Source: The New York Times, NOAA

 

Thursday, Dec 28,  2017

A suicide bombing at a Shi‘ite cultural center and news agency in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills 41 people and injures 84 others. ISIL-affiliated Amaq News Agency says this group is responsible. (Reuters) (CNN)

The Libyan National Army declares full control of Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, after retaking the last district held by Islamist militants. (Reuters)

United States consular missions in Turkey and the Embassy of Turkey, Washington, D.C. announce they will resume visa services. (France 24)

In Mandaluyong, Philippines, law enforcers mistakenly fired at a Mitsubishi Adventure, which they thought carried suspects in a previous shooting incident, resulting in two people dead and two others injured. As a result, 10 police officers were relieved from the post. (GMA News)(Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds a $135,000 fine against the Sweet Cakes by Melissa Christian owners for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission has reached the Supreme Court of the United States with a decision expected in June 2018. (NBC News)

With 98 percent of the votes counted, Liberia’s National Elections Commission announces these unofficial results show Senator George Weah, a former Pro footballer, defeating vice president Joseph Boakai, 61.5 to 38.5 percent, in the runoff of October’s presidential election, to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female Liberian president. (The New York Times)

 

Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017

Ukraine exchanges hundreds of prisoners with the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. (BBC)

A bomb goes off in a supermarket in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg, injuring at least 10 people. Police say they are treating the blast as an attempted terror attack. (Reuters)

Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz says that the new underground railroad terminal in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem (part of East Jerusalem) will be named in honor of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Jerusalem Post)

The Iranian Parliament votes 207–0 to declare Jerusalem the “everlasting capital” of Palestine. (The Times of Israel)

North Korea is building its first operational ballistic missile submarine on an “accelerated schedule,” according to the US-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (The Christian Science Monitor)

 

 Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017

According to emergency services and the Houthi-owned Al Masirah, Saudi Arabian coalition air strikes kill 15 people and wound 60 at al-Shahra souq, a popular market in Taiz Governorate. (Al Jazeera) (Het Laatste Nieuws)

Seven Israeli chess players are denied travel visas to the Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Saudi Arabia as the two countries have no diplomatic relations. Players from Qatar and Iran are given last-minute visas, while Ukrainian champion Anna Muzychuk refuses to participate because she does not want to wear an abaya. (BBC)

Forty Syrian rebel and opposition groups reject Russia’s offer to attend peace talks in late January 2018. (Fox News)

Fifteen militants accused of carrying out attacks in 2013 during the Sinai Insurgency are hanged in Egypt. The last mass execution in the country took place in 2015, when six jihadists were executed. (BBC)

Thousands of Moroccans protest working conditions in Morocco’s coal pits. (France 24)

Grigory Rodchenkov, the person who exposed Russia’s systematic doping of Olympic athletes, is warned by U.S. officials that Russian agents may be inside the United States looking for him, and that new security measures must be taken to ensure his safety. (UPROXX) (BBC Sport)

Indecision over Russian disinformation leaves U.S. vulnerable in 2018 The Trump administration is reportedly poised to make the same mistake of inaction against Russia’s disinformation campaigns as many administrations before it, The Washington Post wrote Monday. “The miscalculations and bureaucratic inertia that left the United States vulnerable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election trace back to decisions made at the end of the Cold War, when senior policymakers assumed Moscow would be a partner and largely pulled the United States out of information warfare,” the Postwrites. While Obama officials warned their Trump counterparts to draw up operations to combat Russian disinformation, “the Trump White House remains divided over whether to act,” the Post adds, with the president himself among those who “play down the effects of Russian interference.” Source: The Washington Post

China’s economy projected to surpass America’s by 2032 The Chinese economy is expected to be larger than the American economy for the first time in 2032, per a report from the Centre for Economics and Business (CEBR) Research in London. The CEBR also predicts significant economic growth for India over that period; India will have the third-largest economy by 2032, a decade after it replaces China as the world’s most populous country. The question of population is key to understanding what it means for Beijing to helm a larger economy than Washington. China’s population is currently about 1.38 billion, more than four times the United States’ 323 million. Even with a larger aggregate economy, per capita income and standard of living in China will remain significantly lower than in the U.S. for some time. Source: Bloomberg

Peruvians protest controversial pardon of jailed ex-leader Fujimori Protests erupted in Peru on Monday after President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned ailing former President Alberto Fujimori, who was serving 25 years in prison for human rights abuses and corruption. Thousands of demonstrators marched in the capital city of Lima, many carrying posters calling Fujimori a “murderer” and a “thief.” Police responded with tear gas. Critics say Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori in exchange for abstentions by lawmakers in a party run by Fujimori’s children that allowed the president to survive an impeachment vote on Friday. The conservative party, Popular Force, controls Congress, and Keiko Fujimori — the former president’s daughter and Kuczynski’s rival in the 2016 presidential election — had pushed to impeach him over a scandal involving his financial ties to Brazilian construction behemoth Odebrecht. Source: BBC News,

Holiday sales rise at best pace in 6 years Holiday retail sales rose at their best pace since 2011, thanks to strong consumer confidence and a healthy job market, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported. “It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard, which tracks spending online and in stores. Retailers got help from the calendar, with shoppers getting a full weekend for last-minute buys because Christmas fell on a Monday. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose by 4.9 percent over the Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve season, up from a 3.7 percent gain last year. Online sales continued to be the driving force, increasing by 18.1 percent. Source: MarketWatch

Trump lashes out at ‘Crooked Hillary’ and ‘bogus’ Russia dossier President Trump tweeted Tuesday about “Crooked Hillary” and the “bogus” Russia dossier from Mar-a-Lago, where he is spending the Christmas holiday with his family. “WOW, @foxandfrlends ‘Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED,'” Trump tweeted, adding: “And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!” Although Trump insists he doesn’t watch much TV, Tuesday’s tweet directly cited Fox & Friends’ morning interview with Jason Chaffetz. As CNN’s Dan Merica observed: “People do what they love on vacation and the president clearly loves watching Fox and criticizing the FBI.” Source: Donald J. Trump, The Week

 

Christmas  2017

More than 70 civilians are believed killed in a two-day airstrike by the Saudi Arabian air force targeting Houthi rebels. (Al Jazeera)

A public transport bus crashes into Slavyansky Bulvar subway station entrance in Moscow, Russia, killing four and injuring eleven. (BBC)

The Russian Central Election Commission refuses to register opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a candidate in the presidential election due to a previous embezzlement conviction, which he claims is politicized. Navalny has called for his supporters to boycott the upcoming election in response. (BBC)

 

Sunday, Dec 24, 2017

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says he will move his country’s Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Reuters)

Tunisia’s Transport Ministry suspends Emirates Airlines flights to Tunis. (Deutsche Welle)

North Korea’s foreign ministry, in an official statement, says the latest United Nations sanctions are an act of war and are, in effect, a complete economic blockade. (Reuters)

The Turkish government dismisses 2,756 public servants for alleged links to organizations involved in the July 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt. (France 24)

China’s AVIC AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, makes its maiden flight. State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle wildfires. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Dec 23, 2017

A fire breaks out at a café and shop at the London Zoo. An aardvark is killed and four meerkats are missing. (Sky) (Reuters)

The Thomas Fire becomes the largest in Californian state history. (BBC)

Previously secret documents from Alan Ewen Donald, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to China between 1988 and 1991, regarding the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, are released after being declassified in October, putting the death toll from the protests at 10,000 people. (BBC)

Former Peru president Alberto Fujimori is taken, from prison, to a local hospital for treatment for abnormally low blood pressure. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Dec 22, 2017

After 1,000 days of civil war in Yemen, eight million people are at risk of starvation. (BBC)

Two Palestinians are shot dead and about 60 others are wounded by Israeli troops gunfire as thousands protest along the Gaza border fence, in all seven West Bank cities and in East Jerusalem, against the U.S. declaration. (Reuters)

The digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin loses a third of its value within 24 hours. (CNN)

CSX Corporation names chief operating officer Jim Foote its new chief executive officer, succeeding E. Hunter Harrison who died last week. Harrison had started a restructuring campaign less than a year ago. (Reuters)

Apple Inc. faces backlash and lawsuits after admitting to slowing down the speed on some of their older phones deliberately. (CNET)(Business Insider)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will not accept any U.S. plan for peace with Israel, because it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (BBC)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposes new sanctions on North Korea that caps refined petroleum product imports to 500,000 barrels a year, a 90 percent cut, and demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months. (Reuters)

The U.S. agrees to supply Ukraine with more lethal weapons, now including Javelin anti-tank missiles. (AP via New York Daily News)

President Donald Trump signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 into law. (CNN)

You Don’t Need Medicine

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/an-interview-with-james-howard-kunstler/

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/friedmans-love-letter-to-a-war-criminal/

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/11/24/observatory-estimates-340000-killed-in-syrian-war/

http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/us-navy-floundering-under-sea-of-crises-according-to-jawdropping-reports/news-story/8fda86f46683247bc1586dfd34ec056b

Tuesday,   Nov 28, 2017

Cyber Monday sales set record Cyber Monday set a record with $6.59 billion in sales, making it the biggest U.S. shopping day in history, according to a report by Adobe Analytics. The total marked a 16.8 percent increase over the previous record of $5.65 billion set last year. Retailers this year also brought in $5.03 billion on Black Friday, and $2.87 billion on Thanksgiving. The global record was set on China’s Singles’ Day, with $25.4 billion earlier this month. In the U.S., 47.4 percent of Cyber Monday visits were from mobile devices, mostly smartphones. That’s also a record. Revenue from smartphone sales rose by 32.2 percent to a record $1.59 billion. Amazon probably took the biggest share of online sales, with an estimated 42 percent, according to marketing research firm Slice Intelligence. Source: Forbes, USA Today

Trump to meet with party leaders ahead of looming budget deadline President Trump will sit down with congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Tuesday as lawmakers enter the frantic final weeks of the year with a federal budget deadline looming on Dec. 8. With military spending as a major point of debate — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected at the meeting, too — Democrats are attempting to use their leverage to protect so-called “DREAMers,” or immigrants brought to the United States unlawfully as children. Party leaders are bracing for the unpredictable: At the last such sit-down, Trump unexpectedly sided with “Chuck [Schumer] and Nancy [Pelosi]” over raising the debt ceiling, leaving members of his own party “livid” and “shell-shocked.” Source: The Washington Post

Washington Post foils conservative activists with fake Roy Moore story On Monday, The Washington Post reported that a woman, Jaime T. Phillips, who works for conservative muckraker James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, had been falsely claiming to reporters for weeks that Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore had gotten her pregnant in 1992, when she was 15, and driven her to get an abortion. The Post reporters became suspicious at the woman’s repeated request for assurance that her story would cause Moore to lose, and fact-checking revealed inconsistencies in her story. A GoFundMe page she had set up announcing her move to New York to work for a conservative organization matches the description of Project Veritas. In a fundraising email, O’Keefe said on Monday that Phillips was an “investigative journalist” working for Project Veritas. Source: The Washington Post

Monday,  Nov 27, 2017

Authorities in Beijingevict thousands of its migrant population in wake of a fire that left 19 people dead earlier this month, leaving many homeless in sub-zero temperatures. (Radio Free Asia) (Quartz)

The PakistanMinister for Law Zahid Hamid resigns after days of protest over proposed changes to blasphemy (CNN)

The Attorney General of Catalonia, José María Romero de Tejada, unexpectedly dies in Barcelona of pneumonia at the age of 69. (El País)

Trump calls Elizabeth Warren ‘Pocahontas’ at event honoring Native Americans President Trump used a racially insensitive nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday during an Oval Office event honoring Native American code talkers. “You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump told the assembled group after initially declining to give a speech. “Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago,” Trump added, speaking beneath a portrait of Andrew Jackson, who signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act. “They call her Pocahontas.” The insult has been a favorite of Trump’s, stemming from Warren’s claim that she is of Native American descent. Trump earlier declared November to be Native American Heritage Month. Source: Toronto Star, Reuters

Meredith Corp. agrees to buy Time Inc. for $3 billion, with Koch financing On Sunday night, Meredith Corp. reached a deal to buy Time Inc. for $18.50 a share, or nearly $3 billion, combining under one company Time’s Sports IllustratedPeople, and Time with Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, among other titles. The boards of both companies approved the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. Meredith, based in Des Moines, made a bid for Time Inc. in 2013 and then again earlier this year, but it was unable to raise the funds for the all-cash deal until the private equity firm of conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch stepped in with $650 million in financing. Meredith says the Koch brothers will play no editorial role in the company. Source: The New York Times

Sunday,  Nov 26, 2017

Popocatépetl volcano continues to erupt in Mexico. (CNN)

Pakistan’s government calls for troops to be deployed in the capital, Islamabad, after violence breaks out during protests by Islamists that were organized by the Tehreek-e-Labaik. (BBC)

John Conyers stands down as the ranking Democrat on the United States House Committee on the Judiciary following a series of sexual harassment allegations. (The Globe and Mail)

 Saturday,  Nov 25, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs into law amendments that allow foreign media outlets in Russia to be listed as foreign agents. Earlier this month, RT America has been forced to be registered as a foreign agent in the United States. (CNN) (Reuters)

Former Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo, who was arrested during Operation Restore Legacy, is charged in Harare Magistrate’s Court with three counts of fraud, abuse of power, and corruption. (Reuters) (The Citizen)

The United States and Russia begin fighting over the extradition of Yevgeniy Nikulin, who was detained in October 2016 in the Czech Republic, after the U.S. Justice Department issued an international arrest warrant for him. However, soon after the U.S. issued its arrest warrant, Russian authorities also sought his extradition. The Russian charge accuses Nikulin of stealing from an online money transfer company back in 2009. (CNN)

Far-right protesters from La Meute and Storm Alliance, counter-protesters, and the Quebec City Police Service clash, and more than 40 people are arrested. (CBC.ca)

More After The Fold

Continue reading “You Don’t Need Medicine”

SHOULD YOU ALWAYS SCREW PEOPLE OVER?

SHOULD YOU ALWAYS SCREW PEOPLE OVER?

 

Legendary daredevil dies while attempting 22,000-foot base jump

Tuesday,   Nov 14, 2017

Sessions considering second special counsel to investigate Clinton Attorney General Jeff Sessions is considering appointing a second special counsel after Republican lawmakers expressed concerns that Special Counsel Robert Mueller might not have a broad enough mandate to look into such issues as alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the actions of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has called for a second special counsel to investigate Democrats’ actions during last year’s election campaign. Brian Fallon, who was press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, called the news part of a Trump administration “fog machine to distract from the Mueller probe” into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates. Source: The Washington Post

Under new guidelines, half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure More than a dozen medical groups have agreed to change the guidelines for what constitutes high blood pressure in adults, based on the findings of a major study conducted two years ago. For decades, the upper threshold for high blood pressure has been a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom number of 90; the new guidelines, announced Monday at the American Heart Association’s conference in California, drop the numbers to 130 over 80. That means an additional 30 million Americans now have the condition, and it affects half of all adults in the United States. The study found that when people tried to keep their top number at 120, it lowered their risk of having heart problems. Source: The Associated Press

 

Monday,  Nov 13, 2017

A Korean People’s Army soldier defects to South Korea via the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). He was shot and injured by fellow North Korean soldiers as he crossed to the South Korean side at Panmunjom, and has been taken to hospital. (BBC)

The BBC reveals that a secret deal allowed hundreds of ISIL fighters and their families, including some of their “most notorious members”, escape from Raqqa in a convoy that was between 6 to 7 km long. The United States government confirms that the deal with ISIL was made and that the evacuations took place. (BBC) The deal was previously reported here on Wikipedia on October 14th. (Rudaw) (The Guardian)

Twenty-three European Union countries sign a defence integration pact known as the Permanent Structured Cooperation. NATO members Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom (withdrawal from EU underway), and non-NATO members Malta and Ireland opt out. (Reuters)

RT America registers with the U.S. Department of Justice as a foreign agent in the United States. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump selects Eli Lilly’s American division president and former HHS deputy secretary Alex Azar to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, replacing Tom Price who resigned on September 29. (ABC News)

Italy fails to qualify—for the first time since 1958—for 2018 FIFA World Cup after being defeated by Sweden in the UEFA Second Round. (Independent)

Mitch McConnell calls on Roy Moore to ‘step aside’ from Alabama Senate race Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday called for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to “step aside” from the race, following a Washington Post report last week that alleged Moore had initiated intimate relationships with teenaged women while he was in his 30s. Moore, who is the Republican candidate in Alabama’s Dec. 12 special Senate election, has mostly denied the allegations, telling a Christian Citizen Task Force forum that the Post had printed false allegations “for which they will be sued.” McConnell said Republicans are exploring whether a write-in candidate could be “an option” and said he found the allegations against Moore to be credible: “I believe the women, yes,” he said. Four polls since Thursday show a dead heat between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Source: Axios

Uber seals big investment by SoftBank Uber on Sunday approved SoftBank’s offer to invest billions in the ride-hailing company. The Japanese conglomerate will lead a consortium of investors to buy at least 14 percent of Uber. SoftBank reportedly plans to buy about $1 billion of fresh Uber stock at the ride-hailing service’s current valuation of about $68.5 billion, and purchase about $9 billion worth of existing shares from current Uber shareholders. The deal is expected to pave the way for sweeping governance changes at Uber, which has shaken up its leadership following complaints about sexual harassment and a toxic corporate culture, and a move to take the company public by 2019. Source: Bloomberg

 

Sunday, Nov 12, 2017

 Hundreds of sexual abuse survivors and their supporters march in Hollywood, California. (Los Angeles Times)

Boeing announces at the Dubai Airshow that the airline Emirates will purchase forty 787 Dreamliners with a list value of US$15 billion. (BBC)

 

Saturday, Nov 11, 2017

The Iraqi Armed Forces launch an offensive to recapture the last ISIL stronghold in Iraq, Rawa. (BBC)

Mass graves containing at least 400 bodies have been found near Hawija, an Iraqi city that was occupied by ISIL until last month. (BBC)

ISIL regains control of Abu Kamal. (NDTV)

Trade ministers from 11 countries announce that they have agreed on “core elements” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and plan to move forward with approving the trade agreement. (Bangkok Post)

An estimated 60,000 Polish citizens, including a few hundred nationalists, some with banners “White Europe” and “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust”, march through Warsaw under an umbrella slogan of “We want God”, on the annual Independence March during the celebrations of Poland’s National Independence Day. (Radio Poland) (Fox13)

22 police agents are wounded in Brussels when celebrations for Morocco’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification turn violent. (VRT)

 

Friday, Nov 10, 2017

France’s nuclear safety institute (IRSN) picks up traces of ruthenium-106, suggesting a nuclear accident took place in either Russia or Kazakhstan, in late September and early October. (The Telegraph)

Saudi Arabia, and subsequently the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, urge all citizens currently in Lebanon to leave the country immediately. Recently, Saudi Arabia declared that a missile attack on its airport from Yemen was “an act of war” by Lebanon. (Al-Jazeera)

French President Emmanuel Macron makes an unscheduled visit to Saudi Arabia amidst an escalating crisis between the kingdom and Lebanon. France is a close partner of Lebanon. (BBC)

Hezbollah declares the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri invalid. Hariri has been detained in Saudi Arabia (presumably in Riyadh) for several days. The Saudi government is accused of pressuring Hariri to resign in the first place. (Al-Jazeera)

Louis C.K. confesses to sexual misconduct On Friday, comedian Louis C.K. confirmed allegations by five women who said he masturbated in front of them. “These stories are true,” C.K. said in a statement. “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay … [b]ut what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.” C.K.’s new film, I Love You, Daddy, was canceled by its distributor on Friday following the reports of his sexual misconduct. “The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else,” C.K. said, adding: “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.” Source: The New York Times

Trump touts America-first policies at Asia summit President Trump said at a regional summit in Vietnam that the U.S. “will not tolerate” trade abuses, saying only countries that “follow the rules” will get U.S. business. Trump said that the U.S. had removed trade barriers to let foreign goods into the U.S., but many countries have not reciprocated by opening their markets. “We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” the president said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in Danang. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.” Source: NPR

 

Thursday, Nov 9,  2017

A senior UN official warns that Yemen faces the world’s largest famine in decades “with millions of victims” if aid deliveries do not resume. (BBC)

Five anonymous women accuse comedian Louis C.K. of sexually inappropriate behavior. The production company for C.K.’s new film I Love You, Daddycancels its New York premiere. (The Guardian)

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general says at least $100bn (£76bn) has been misused through systemic corruption and embezzlement in recent decades. (BBC)

Four women accuse Roy Moore, a former Alabama judge and U.S. Senate candidate, of sexual misconduct during the 1970s and early 1980s when they were between the ages of 14 and 18 and he was in his 30s. (The Guardian)

END

 

You will have a dress of white
You will have a ring of gold
You will have a paper snow
We’ll fall
See the wall
The wall is black
We will have a heart attack
We will be alone and
We’ll fall we’ll fall we’ll fall
Fall in love like sailors do
Tell your lover you’ll be true
Sail upon the stupid sea
We’ll fall
You will have a sheet of red
Paint the trees, the trees are dead
We will be alone and
We’ll fall we’ll fall we’ll fall we’ll fall
Marry me and be my wife
You can have me all your life
Our love will never end
Parties for our stupid friends
Are the children really home?
We will lie upon the lawn
Needles on the beach at Goa
We will have another flower
We will be a part of structure
You will have a face of structure
We will make ourselves a scene
We will live our stupid dream
I am you and you are me
Tie me down i will be free
Our love will never end
Parties for our stupid friends
Marry me and be my wife
You can have me all your life
Our love will never end
Parties for our stupid friends
Are the children really home?
We will lie upon the lawn
Needles on the beach at Goa
We will have another flower
We will be a part of structure
You will have a face of structure
We will make ourselves a scene
We will live our stupid dream
I am you and you are me
Tie me down i will be free
Our love will have no end

 

Quagmire

The Kurdish Independence Referendum Was a Political Miscalculation
PATRICK COCKBURN • OCTOBER 1, 2017

 

 

How Syria’s Victory Reshapes Mideast
September 30, 2017

 

How Billionaires Become Billionaires
JAMES PETRAS • OCTOBER 4, 2017

One of the most likely sources of billionaire wealth is through tax evasion in all of its guises and forms.

Contrary to the propaganda pushed by the business press, between 67% and 72% percent of corporations had zero tax liabilities after credits and exemptions … while their workers and employees paid between 25 – 30% in taxes. The rate for the minority of corporations, which paid any tax, was 14%.

According to the US Internal Revenue Service, billionaire tax evasion amounts to $458 billion dollars in lost public revenues every year – almost a trillion dollars every two years by this conservative estimate.

 

Thursday, Oct. 5th,  2017

Tillerson downplays reports he called Trump a ‘moron,’ wanted to quit Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to defuse rumors that he is unhappy in the Trump administration on Wednesday, after reports surfaced that he called President Trump a “moron” in a private Pentagon meeting over the summer. “My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was on the day I accepted his offer,” he said, dismissing the “moron” rumor as “petty nonsense.” NBC News reported Tillerson threatened to quit over the summer after Trump gave a campaign-style speech to the Boy Scouts, and tensions flared again last weekend when Trump tweeted that Tillerson should stop trying to use diplomacy on North Korea. A State Department spokeswoman denied Tillerson ever called the president a “moron.” Source: Fox News

 

Wednesday,  Oct. 4th, 2017

 The Iraqi Army and allied paramilitary fighters storm the ISIL-held city of Hawija in the Kirkuk Governorate. Hawija is one of the last remaining ISIL strongholds in Iraq. (BBC)

 

3 Green Berets killed in Niger Three U.S. Army special operations commandos were killed Wednesday after they were ambushed in southwest Niger, U.S. officials said. Two others were wounded, and are in stable condition. The officials told The Associated Press the commandos were Green Berets, and likely came under fire by militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement the commandos were near the Mali border, on a joint U.S. and Nigerien patrol, when they were attacked. The Green Berets are training Nigerien Armed Forces and offering security assistance as they fight extremists. Source: The Associated Press

An apparent ambush in Niger near the Malian border leaves three U.S. Special Forces soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers dead during a joint patrol.    (Reuters)

Suspected Russian military jets target makeshift rubber dinghies and boats carrying dozens of families fleeing the town of al-Ashara along the western banks of the Euphrates that lies south of Deir Ezzor city, killing at least 60 civilians. (Middle East Eye)

According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, ISIL has undertaken several attacks on Syrian positions “from U.S.-controlled areas, implying that the recent well-coordinated actions of the terrorists indicate that they somehow possess intelligence data that could only be obtained as a result of … [U.S.] … air reconnaissance.” (RT)

The human rights group, Physicians for Human Rights, accuses Russia and the Syrian government of mounting the “worst string of attacks” on hospitals in Syria since April despite an agreement on “de-escalation” zones, saying it believes either Russian or Syrian government jets were behind at least five air raids on three hospitals in September in rebel-held Idlib province. (Al Jazeera)

Brazilian police detain fugitive Italian former left-wing guerrilla and convicted murderer Cesare Battisti, as he was attempting to flee across the border into Boliviato avoid extradition back to Italy and facing his life sentence prison term for four murders in the 1970s. (Reuters)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy deploys the 41st Logistic Support Group of the Spanish Armed Forces in Catalonia to support riot police in Barcelona. (The Sun)

The Nobel Committee awards Swiss Jacques Dubochet, German Joachim Frank, and British Richard Henderson the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structural determination of biomolecules in a solution. (The Guardian) (Nobelprize.org)

 

 

Tuesday,   Oct. 3rd, 2017

The Scottish Government Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announces that he will seek an indefinite ban (an existing moratorium has been in place since 2015) on crude oil recovery in Scotland by means of the process of hydraulic fracturing. (BBC)

Yahoo! reports that all three billion of its accounts were hacked in the August 2013 data theft. (Reuters)

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Ellen S. Huvelle awards Amir Mirza Hekmati, a U.S. Marine who was imprisoned in Iran as a falsely accused CIA spy, a default judgment of $63 million for his ordeal. (The Washington Post)

Pro-independent trade unions, businesses, and schools in Catalonia hold a general strike to protest Spanish police brutality during the October 1 independence referendum. (CNBC)

The Nobel Prize committee awards Americans Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration that discovered gravitational waves. (Nobel Prize.org)(The Washington Post)

Two women charged with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam plead not guilty in a Malaysian court because they thought it was a TV prank. Kim Jong-nam was the eldest son of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the half-brother of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (BBC)

 

 

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

Continue reading “It’s Too Horrible”

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

Mrs. Dinh Nhu Ngo firing .38 pistol.

 

Chapter 11.
The Huxleyan Warning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

 

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

 

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

 

Once Upon A Time

“If you try to convert someone, it will never be to effect his salvation but to make him suffer like yourself, to be sure he is exposed to the same ordeals and endures them with the same impatience. You keep watch, you pray, you agonize—provided he does too, sighing, groaning, beset by the same tortures that are racking you. Intolerance is the work of ravaged souls whose faith comes down to a more or less deliberate torment they would like to see generalized, instituted. The happiness of others never having been a motive or principle of action, it is invoked only to appease conscience or to parade noble excuses: whenever we determine upon an action, the impulse leading to it and forcing us to complete it is almost always inadmissible. No one saves anyone; for we save only ourselves, and do so all the better if we disguise as convictions the misery we want to share, to lavish on others. However glamorous its appearances, proselytism nonetheless derives from a suspect generosity, worse in its effects than a patent aggression. No one is willing to endure alone the discipline he may even have assented to, nor the yoke he has shouldered. Vindication reverberates beneath the missionary’s bonhomie, the apostle’s joy. We convert not to liberate but to enchain.”

-E.M. Cioran
“Civilized Man: A Portrait”
The Fall into Time
1964

 

 

How I Believe Facebook Was Censoring My Political Speech
Forget China, the Internet police are already here in U.S.
By PHILIP GIRALDI • September 15, 2017

They are well placed to shape what the public knows and what it is able to discover. Erasing old content and restricting searches is not so much different than George Orwell’s Winston Smith watching the evidence for no longer politically-acceptable events being dropped down the memory hole.

 

Saudi Arabia Detains Critics as New Crown Prince Consolidates Power
SEPT. 14, 2017

 

The Roof Korean Option

 

How History Explains the Korean Crisis
August 28, 2017

 

How Sony, Obama, Seth Rogen and the CIA Secretly Planned to Force Regime Change in North Korea
The secret backstory to the U.S.-North Korea standoff.
By Tim Shorrock / AlterNet September 5, 2017

 

The Other News:

 

Wednesday,  Sep 13, 2017

The United States Senate blocks an amendment that would have repealed the war authorizations for the use of force in Iraq and Afghanistan. (CNBC)

United States Homeland Security bans Kaspersky Lab products from government computers due to fears from alleged Russian intervention. (Gizmodo)

The Supreme Court of Israel strikes down the exemption on the conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews. (The Los Angeles Times)

Former businessman Martin Shkreli has his bail revoked for threatening former politician Hillary Clinton, after a Twitter post in which Shkreli said that he would offer $5,000 to anyone who could directly obtain a lock of Clinton’s hair. Shkreli was convicted of fraud in August and is awaiting sentencing. (CNN)

Scientists hope to revive the extinct Floreana island tortoise using a ‘genetically-informed’ captive breeding program with the tortoises closest ancestors. (Phys.org)

Sanders introduces universal health-care bill with Democratic backing Backed by at least 15 Democratic senators, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced long-shot legislation Wednesday to expand Medicare into a universal health insurance program. The Medicare for All Act of 2017 would replace the current health-care system with a public system paid for by higher taxes, covering everything from prescription drugs to mental health treatment, with no co-payments. Employers would pay higher taxes, but would no longer have to cover health insurance for workers, and there would still be private insurers for people who wanted elective treatments like plastic surgery. Doctors would be reimbursed by the government. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) vowed to end Sanders’ single-payer “dream” with the introduction of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson health-care bill. Source: The Washington Post

Supreme Court lifts limits on Trump’s refugee ban, blocks Texas redistricting The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a federal appeals court ruling issued last week that would have let refugees with support from resettlement agencies enter the U.S., despite President Trump’s travel ban. About 24,000 people could be affected by the 5-4 ruling, which was issued without comment. The Supreme Court in June lifted a block on Trump’s executive order that barred certain people from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen from entering the country. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments over the legality of the executive order on Oct. 10. On Tuesday night, five justices also blocked a lower court’s order that Texas redraw two congressional districts due to racial disenfranchisement. Source: CNN

 

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Once Upon A Time”