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)

So Long

Just kicked all my vices
In time for her next crisis
Shit’s crashing around us
No use pretending we trust
She’s better
No wonder every day gets longer
You push I shove
Just like we were in love

Forgive forget
But she ain’t done yet
Its total disaster
To duck, try to slip past her
-Helmet

What Putin Really Wants
Russia’s strongman president has many Americans convinced of his manipulative genius. He’s really just a gambler who won big.

 

 

Wednesday,  Dec 20, 2017

Cardinal Bernard Law, key figure in Catholic abuse scandal, dead at 86

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston whose handling of child sex abuse by priests set off a global scandal and reckoning in the Catholic Church, died early Wednesday in Rome. He was 86 and had reportedly been in poor health. When he resigned as archbishop in December 2002, Law was the most senior Catholic official in the U.S., but his position became untenable after The Boston Globe revealed that he had shuffled abuser priests among parishes, most infamously defrocked priest John Geoghan, without telling the new churches. Upon Law’s resignation, Pope John Paul II moved him to Rome and appointed him archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a position he held until his 80th birthday in 2011 Source: USA Today, Boston Herald

EU court deals major blow to Uber

The European Union’s highest court handed Uber a major defeat on Wednesday by declaring that the ride-hailing service must comply with the same tough rules as conventional taxi companies. Uber had argued that it should be exempt because it is really just a digital services provider, helping to connect riders with independent drivers through its ride-hailing smartphone app. The decision threatens to hamper Uber’s plans to expand in Europe by forcing it to spend a fortune on licensing fees and employee benefits. It also could signal broader changes in store for the gig economy, in which a growing number of people work as freelancers or under short-term contracts rather than as full-time employees with clear rights and benefits under established labor rules. Source: The New York Times

 

 Tuesday,   Dec 19, 2017

Houthis say that they launched a Volcano H-2 missile targeting at the Al-Yamamah Palace in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh. According to the Saudis, the missile was intercepted south of Riyadh and caused no casualties. (Wall Street Journal)

The Secretary-General of the OIC, Yousef Al-Othaimeen, says the repeated launch of ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia served to confirm the Houthis’ “hostility and criminality” and further claimed “The Houthis are trying to destabilize Saudi Arabia and the entire region.” (AA)

An NTSB spokesperson says that preliminary indications are that the train was travelling at 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) on a 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) track. The Positive train control (PTC) safety system was not operational on the train, says Amtrak. (BBC)

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announce the formation of an international group that seeks to increase pressure on North Korea regarding their nuclear program. The group, comprised of 18 countries, will meet for the first time on January 16, 2018 in Vancouver(AFP)

Excessive speed cited in Amtrak derailment that killed 3 people An Amtrak train derailed Monday morning in Washington state, causing “multiple injuries and fatalities,” said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. At least three people died in the crash. The train was carrying 78 passengers and five crew members when it derailed roughly 40 miles south of Seattle just before 8 a.m. local time, causing a train car to dangle over Interstate 5. Thirteen of the train’s 14 cars jumped the track, and on the freeway five cars and two semi-trucks were also involved in accidents because of the derailment. It was the inaugural run of a new, high-speed route connecting Seattle and Portland, and the National Transportation Safety Board said preliminary data shows the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Source: The Associated Press

Trump unveils national security plan President Trump unveiled a new national security strategy on Monday, presenting China and Russia as rivals seeking to “challenge American power, influence, and interests, [and] attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” Trump’s policy statement additionally reflects the America First themes of his campaign, reversing Obama-era warnings about climate change, and emphasizing the economic implications of U.S. foreign policy. In comments Monday, Trump called the strategy “principled realism” and explained: “To succeed we must integrate every dimension of our national strength and we must compete with every instrument of our national power. Source: The Washington Post

Senate committee investigating Russia asks for documents from Jill Stein Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, has been approached by the Senate Intelligence Committee and asked to turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, her former communications director told BuzzFeed News Monday. Dennis Trainor Jr. said Stein told him this on Friday, and he was informed because during the campaign, his personal cell phone was a “primary point of contact” for people who wanted to speak with Stein, including several producers from the Russian state-funded news agency RT who called him to book Stein appearances. When asked by BuzzFeed News what the committee was looking for from Stein’s campaign, committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) responded, “collusion with the Russians.” Source: BuzzFeed News

Report: Mueller team expects probe to continue well into 2018 When White House lawyers meet later this week with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, they are expected to ask how much more information they will need before deciding their probe is over as far as President Trump is concerned, several White House advisers told The Washington Post. People with knowledge of the probe say it’s likely the investigation will continue well into 2018, especially as they gather new leads from witnesses who have pledged to cooperate: former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. Trump has told associates he’s not concerned about the probe, with one telling the Post he is “confident, even arrogant” about having done nothing wrong. Source: The Washington Post

 

Monday,  Dec 18, 2017

Twitter suspends the accounts of well-known white nationalists per recently implemented new offensive content rules. (AP via Time)

At least three people are killed and 77 injured when an Amtrak passenger train derails on an Interstate 5 overpass in Pierce County, Washington. This train is part of a new Cascades service from Tacoma that launched the same morning. (CNN)

The Unites States vetoes an United Nations Security Council resolution calling for it to withdraw its declaration of a capital in Jerusalem, which was approved by the other 14 members. (Reuters)

The United States and the United Kingdom claim North Korea is directly responsible for the WannaCry ransomware attack which occurred earlier this year. (BBC)

U.S. radio preacher Brother Stair is arrested on eight charges of sexual assault. (Walterboro Live)

Charlottesville Police Chief Alfred Thomas announces his retirement. He was previously criticized for his poor handling of the rally and counterprotests. (NPR)

Sebastian Kurz becomes the new Chancellor of Austria and a new government is inaugurated. (Bloomberg)

Cyril Ramaphosa becomes president of the African National Congress (ANC), defeating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by 2,440 votes to 2,261. (News24)

University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers report, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that microscopic fossils discovered in a nearly 3.5 billion-year-old piece of rock in Western Australia are the oldest fossils ever found and the earliest direct evidence of life on Earth. (Phys.org)

 

John Skipper resigns from ESPN, citing substance addiction ESPN President John Skipper resigned from the network Monday, citing a substance abuse problem. “I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,” Skipper said in a statement, adding that the decision for him to resign was made in tandem with the company. “I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation, and a feeling of having let others I care about down.” Skipper joined ESPN in 1997 and became the company’s president in 2012. Former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will oversee a 90-day transition period for the company as it searches for a replacement. Source: ESPN

 

Sunday, Dec 17, 2017

A Russian airstrike using napalm kills at least ten civilians, including four children and six women from one family, in Idlib’s town of Khan Shaykhun, according to the leader of the White Helmets. (Anadolu Agency)

The Russian Ministry of Defense says that Russia and China concluded a five-day computer-generated air defense drill in Beijing. (Newsweek)

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanks U.S. President Donald Trump for sharing intelligence from the Central Intelligence Agency which they say helped prevent a terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg. (Los Angeles Times)

Several hundred people take part in clashes between Ukrainian police and anti-Petro Poroshenko protesters (led by opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili) demanding the president’s resignation at the October Palace in Kiev. (VOA)

Venezuela and Rosneft sign agreements on gas exploration and exploitation. (Marine Link)

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey says “the day is close when officially, with God’s permission” his nation will open an embassy in East Jerusalem. (The Hill)

 

Saturday,  Dec 16, 2017

The BBC reports that former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron is to head a £750 million ($1 billion) U.K. private fund to improve air, road and railway links between China and its trading partners.  (The Guardian)

Thousands of delegates of the African National Congress gather in Johannesburg to elect a party leader, who may replace President Jacob Zuma before his term expires in 2019. (AP via Newser)

The existence of a U.S. government program that investigated reports of UFOs is revealed. (The New York Times)

 

 Friday,  Dec 15, 2017

The most recent U.S. government statistics show a marked increase in the yearly number of deaths by drug overdose. The number for end May 2017 is 66,324, up 17% when compared to the previous 12-month period. (U.S. News & World Report)

Former economy minister Alexey Ulyukaev is found guilty of soliciting a $2 million bribe from Rosneft’s Igor Sechin. He is sentenced to 8 years in prison. Ulyukayev is the most senior serving official to be arrested in decades. He previously denied the charges, saying he’d been “set up”. (Reuters)

In a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, denounces as “failed” the assumptions underlying the December 6 announcement by President Donald Trump. (Los Angeles Times)

Beate Uhse AG, suppliers of the Pabo erotica catalog, files for bankruptcy in Germany. Only the holding company restructures in order to secure refinancingwith the creditors. Beate Uhse-Rotermund opened the first sex shop in 1962, in Flensburg, under the name “Institut für Ehehygiene”. (Daily Mail)

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, FIFA warned the Royal Spanish Football Federation, threatening to exclude Spain from participation in the 2018 World Cup. FIFA reportedly argues that the Spanish attempt to remove Ángel María Villar (who is accused of corruption) from the national federation’s presidency is an illicit government intervention in the Spanish football federation’s activities. (The Independent)

After disparaging FBI, Trump speaks at FBI National Academy graduation President Trump spoke at the FBI National Academy Graduation Ceremony on Friday after he had vaguely claimed that “it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI” before the event. On stage, though, the president told the law enforcement graduates, “You rarely get the recognition you deserve. With me as your president, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be.” Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Research Institute noted that the graduates Trump was addressing are “high level, strong performing state and local law enforcement officers from around the country,” rather than FBI agents — “i.e. Trump’s base.” Source: Mediaite, The Week

3 additional women accuse Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct Three women have come forward to accuse actor Dustin Hoffman of sexual misconduct, including one who said he exposed himself to her when she was in high school, Variety reports. One woman said in 1980, when she was 16, Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room. She was friends with his daughter, and had the spent the afternoon with them. Two other women told Variety Hoffman sexually assaulted them while filming 1987’s Ishtar. Hoffman’s attorney, Mark A. Neubauer, called the accusations “defamatory falsehoods.” Earlier this year, Anna Graham Hunter accused Hoffman of groping her in 1985, while she was a teenager. Source: Variety

Papadopoulos

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/putins-revenge/


Does Russia Now Have Superior Military Technology?

 

The Russian Navy Is Powerful (But Suffers from 2 Big Fatal Flaws)

But the problem for the Russian Navy is that the vessel’s gas-turbine engines are built by Zorya-Mashproekt in Ukraine—a legacy of the Soviet Union. “The frigate program has run into a mess because of Ukrainian engines,” Kofman said. “They’re looking at substantial delays of probably at least five years.”

On the positive side, the Russians have learned to maintain and overhaul Ukrainian-made engines onboard their existing ships, Kofman said. However, the solution was to hire as many Ukrainian technicians as possible who were willing to work in Russia. Kofman noted Russia has not yet been able to indigenously produce its own gas turbines to replace those currently installed in its fleet. But Moscow is exploring the purchase of Chinese-built engines (which are “derived” from German engines made by MTU and China similarly benefitted from extensive cooperation with Ukraine in this sphere).

 

Dr. Tom Fedyszyn on the State of the Russian Navy

The Russian economy is built on exporting minerals (mostly oil and gas). Below that, it’s arms exports. They export almost as much as we do! But they have such a small economy that their arms sales really matter. So, when you look at Russian military capability, sometimes that’s just a small part of why they deploy. A larger part of why they deploy is to show off what type of technology they have and to try to sell it. You mentioned the Indian Navy. When I was in Moscow, there were more Indian officers there than from any other nation. U.S. was second. Why? Because the Russians, by the default of politics, ended up selling India its navy. Still today, about 70 percent of the Indian Navy is Russian.

I’ve spoken to lots of Indian Navy officers about this. The sense is that they don’t like the Russian ships, they don’t work too well, they’re suboptimal, but they can afford them. The U.S. has this double-whammy where we’re not that good at selling high technology, and when we sell it, it costs a lot of money. And the Indian budget makes them buy Russian – and they continue to buy Russian. So, should the Russians be able to continue to build the Shtorm, India would be the most likely nation that would buy it.

But remember, of course, Russia just sold and delivered to them the Vikramaditiya, a ski-jump carrier which was 4 years overdue, 300 percent over budget, and every Indian naval officer I’ve spoken to has said, “Well, it’s not a good ship, but we needed an aircraft carrier and we could afford it, so we got what we got.”

 

Weaken From Within

 

 

Mueller Mugs America: The Case of Baby George Papadopoulos
by David Stockman
November 02, 2017

 

Thursday, Nov 2, 2017

Trump expected to name Jerome Powell as Fed chair Thursday    President Trump is expected to name Federal Reserve board governor Jerome Powell as the next chair of the U.S. central bank on Thursday. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires in February 2018. Powell is largely considered to be a safe pick that “signal[s] continuity with the current low-interest rate environment and take-it-slow approach that Yellen has overseen,” Business Insider writes. Whoever Yellen’s successor, economists warn that the job ahead won’t be easy, as rate hikes could potentially swing the economy back into a recession if they keep inflation below the target. “Tightening too slowly could stoke asset values even further, creating trouble down the road,” Bloombergwrites. “Powell, and Trump by association, will own the outcome.” Source: Business Insider, Bloomberg

 

Wednesday, Nov 1, 2017

A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a market in Sahar District in Yemen’s northern Saada Governorate, which is under Houthi control, kills at least 26 people, according to medics and local officials. (Reuters)

Citing “inappropriate behavior”, Michael Oreskes resigns from his position as senior vice president of news at NPR after three journalists accuse him of sexual harassment. (CNN)

Shinzō Abe is officially reinstated as Prime Minister of Japan following the election on 22 October 2017. (Reuters)

France declares the end of the country’s state of emergency which was enforced as a reaction to the November 2015 Paris attacks. The state of emergency gets replaced with a new counterterrorism law signed by President Emmanuel Macron. (The Independent)

Michael Fallon resigns as the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence amid controversy over reports he touched a female journalist inappropriately in 2002. (BBC)

In baseball, the Houston Astros defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5–1 in the seventh and deciding game of the World Series. It is the first World Series title for the Astros, who had lost 111 games just four seasons earlier. The Astros’ George Springer, who set records for most extra-base hits (8) and total bases (29) in a single World Series, and tied the record for most home runs in a single World Series (5), is named series MVP. (CNN) (CBS Sports)

 

The Rest of the News Below the Fold

Continue reading “Papadopoulos”

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

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”

Black The Fall

 

The Alt-Right Is Not Who You Think They Are
Southern, uneducated, generational racists? Not quite.
By GEORGE HAWLEY • August 25, 2017

A final problem with contemporary discussions about racism is that they often remain rooted in outdated stereotypes. Our popular culture tends to define the racist as a toothless illiterate Klansman in rural Appalachia, or a bitter, angry urban skinhead reacting to limited social prospects. Thus, when a white nationalist movement arises that exhibits neither of these characteristics, people are taken by surprise.

 

This video game depicts life in an ultra-nationalist dystopia
‘Black the Fall,’ inspired by Romanian communism, was designed to warn against totalitarianism.

 

Wal-Mart Applies for Patent for Blimp-Style Floating Warehouse

 

The Ascent of Society 282
ANATOLY KARLIN • AUGUST 17, 2017 • 2,500 WORDS

Tech oligopolies

The products of tech companies are more and more intertwined with our everyday lives.

The most germane aspect of this influence for dissidents are media platforms: The complex of DNS registrars, web hosts, and CDN providers that you need to run a website; the social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) behemoths that account for an ever greater percentage of news delivery; the online payments systems that finance them.

But it doesn’t stop there. As Egor Kholmogorov succinctly remarked, “In this new world, if your politics aren’t approved of by the owners of Uber, or Airbnb, or food delivery services – you will have to walk by foot and remain hungry and stay at home.” Airbnb has been permanently deactivating the accounts of people it suspected of planning to march on the Alt Right side in Charlottesville. Uber has kicked off people who participated as well.

This trend is only going to intensify. Cars are going to get automated. Google Glass or something similar is a matter of time as well. Combining them with reputational apps will allow the global village to identify its pariahs on sight.

As the Marxists said, you can’t have an ideological superstructure without the economic base; by cutting off the latter, you can strangle the former.

 

Moral Vacuum

Freedom for the Speech We Hate
ANDREW NAPOLITANO • AUGUST 17, 2017 • 1,000 WORDS

 

Hate is the New Sex
by John Michael Greer

If you have any doubts concerning this, dear reader, observe the way that the same people who were sporting LOVE TRUMPS HATE bumper stickers a year ago talk about Donald Trump and his supporters today. Back in January of 2016, when I first predicted Trump’s victory, I pointed out that if you wanted to hear really over-the-top hate speech, all you had to do was listen to a group of comfortably well-to-do Americans in the bicoastal urban bubble talk about white working class Americans in the flyover states. That’s become even more true now than it was then. Take the rhetoric currently being flung by well-off Democratic voters at Trump supporters, swap out the ethnic labels for any other set you choose, and you’ll have a hard time telling it apart from the rantings of any other group of bigots.

 

Ann Coulter: When Liberals Club People, It’s with Love in Their Hearts

And let’s recall the response of Hillary Clinton to the horrifying murder of five Dallas cops last year. The woman who ran against Trump displayed all the moral blindness currently being slanderously imputed to him.

In an interview on CNN about the slaughter that had taken place roughly 12 hours earlier, Hillary barely paused to acknowledge the five dead officers — much less condemn the shooting — before criticizing police for their “implicit bias” six times in about as many minutes.

 

If We’re Tearing Down White Supremacy, Start With Planned Parenthood
AUGUST 15, 2017
By Daniel Payne

It is also in killing black people that Planned Parenthood really shines. Around 941 black babies are aborted in this country every day. Planned Parenthood, netting more than a third of the abortion market in the country, is responsible for 329 of those daily deaths. That averages out to a little more than 120,000 black abortions at Planned Parenthood per year, or around a third of the total abortions the organization performs—this from a demographic that makes up about 13 percent of the United States population. According to the Guttmacher Institute, black women get abortions at five times the rate of white women.

If you were a white supremacist who wanted to sharply reduce the black population to make way for more whites, what would you be doing differently than Planned Parenthood?

Nothing, as it turns out. Spencer, the lily-white organizer of the infamous tiki-torch protest in Charlottesville last week, is a proponent of legalized abortion, precisely because it does very well the thing Spencer is most enthusiastic about, i.e. reducing the number of black people in the United States. “I would say that it is the unintelligent and blacks and Hispanics who use abortion as birth control,” Spencer says, favorably, while also speaking poorly of “people who think in terms of human rights,” i.e. pro-lifers.

 

Smoke and Fire
Clusterfuck Nation
by James Howard Kunstler
08.14.2017

The “Antifa” movement would be funny if it wasn’t itself prone to violence, since it espouses exactly the same kind of despotism against free thought that it pretends to fight against. It wants to shut down and stamp out debate in the public arena and trample over principles that make it uncomfortable, for instance, the First Amendment asserting the right to free speech. It makes a mockery of the battle cry for “diversity” (diversity only for Antifa-approved ideas). That so many current college students subscribe to the movement ought to make thoughtful people very uneasy about the politics of the coming generation. In their black battle garb and masks, they resemble the very fascist mobs of the 1930s that the name “Antifa” supposedly evokes as its enemy.

 

Al Gore’s Pivot to Idiocy

 

White-On-White Riots: A Theory

They need an absolution of guilt. They need there to be a moral code, so they can perform the appropriate rites and make themselves pure. Without it, there’s no metric at all that allows them to say — even to themselves — whether they’re good people. And there’s a lot of evidence against it. Like those homeless people you keep passing on the street.

The shrill protestations of commitment to the code just speak to how steep the dropoff is. Because behind it, in our society, there is nothing but a moral vacuum.

 

 

 

Corpse Left Hanging from Overpass As Cartel War Rages in Mexico

 

Sacrificing Smart Asians to Keep the Racial Peace
ROBERT WEISSBERG • AUGUST 16, 2017 • 1,500 WORDS

In effect, racial preferences in elite higher education (and beneficiaries includes students, professors and the diversity-managing administrators) separates the top 10% measured in cognitive ability from their more violent down market racial compatriots. While this manufactured caste-like arrangement hardly guarantees racial peace (as the black-on-white crime rate, demonstrates) but it pretty much dampens the possibility of more collective, well-organized related upheavals, the types of disturbances that truly terrify the white establishment. Better to have the handsomely paid Cornel West pontificating about white racism at Princeton where he is a full professor than fulminating at some Ghetto street corner. This status driven divide just reflects human nature. Why would a black Yalie on Wall Street socialize with the bro’s left behind in the Hood? This is the strategy of preventing a large-scale, organized rebellion by decapitating its potential leadership. Violence is now just Chicago or Baltimore-style gang-banger intra-racial mayhem or various lone-wolf criminal attacks on whites.

 

Nuclear-Powered Cars, Tesla, Gore, Solar Power, Elon Musk, and More
A Broad Spectrum Column
FRED REED • AUGUST 10, 2017 • 1,100 WORDS

The CIA Runs Everything for You Know Who

Yes Congress, Afghanistan is Your Vietnam
Does any member have the courage and vision to take responsibility?
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • August 11, 2017

 

Bring Me the Head of Jeff Bezos

 

Absolutely hilarious. I can’t stop reading this guy. Is he serious? Some of what he says might actually be true. Which is, well…really disturbing.
Jeff Bezos looks like another CIA Front

 

…in case you are easily amused, like me, and want more…
http://mileswmathis.com/updates.html

 

 

You can always count on The Economist to keep you up-to-date with knowledge:

Electric cars
The death of the internal combustion engine
It had a good run. But the end is in sight for the machine that changed the world

 

Saudi Arabia Is Trying to Remake the Middle East In Its Image
No country has done more to spread radical Islam than Saudi Arabia.
By MICHAEL HORTON • August 8, 2017

In 1744, Muhammad ibn Saud made a Faustian bargain with Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab: al-Wahhab would back al-Saud in his battle for supremacy if he pledged allegiance to al-Wahhab’s puritanical vision of Islam. This interpretation of Islam, which differs little from the militant Salafi beliefs that inform the Islamic State’s and al-Qaeda’s understanding of Islam (the Islamic State uses Saudi produced textbooks in its schools), became known as Wahhabism.

The Saudis, who are not descended from the Prophet and have no particular claim to rule even in their territorial heartland of Najd, relied on the clerics of the al-Wahhab family for religious legitimacy. The bargain struck in 1744 held fast. In 1926, Ibn Saud took over the Hejaz and in 1932 the country of Saudi Arabia was created. Ibn Saud’s conquest of most of the Arabian Peninsula would not have happened without the support of the fanatical warriors (the Ikhwan) who, more than anything else, fought to purge the peninsula of what they deemed to be heretical beliefs and practices.

 

 

 

Wow. This is good. I like this guy. How can you not? Everything is a conspiracy. Everything. I bet his own mother is a CIA project. Definitely makes you think. Y’all are gonna wanna read this

The BRAVE NEW WORLD of Stephen Hawking
by Miles Mathis
November 21, 2011

“Controlling majorities has never helped these fascists, although they are obsessed with controlling majorities. No, the problem is they can’t control themselves, and they always overreach. As the last example, we can look at the Nazis, who had the war won but decided they needed to attack Russia as well. The German people didn’t restrain the Nazis, the Nazis destroyed themselves. The same could be said of Stalin and the later Communists. They overreached and collapsed. Like the Nazis, they wanted world domination and couldn’t manage it. And we see the same thing happening now. The rich here in the US were already raking it in in the 1990’s under Clinton, but that wasn’t enough. They already had a bloated CIA and military, the world was already dotted with our bases, but it wasn’t enough. The banks were already stealing freely from the people, but it wasn’t enough. The CIA had already been running the media since the 1950’s, but it wasn’t enough. The success just made them hungry for more. So they repealed Glass-Steagall and all other regulations, pulled 9/11, started wars in a dozen places, dismantled the Constitution, and installed the new police state. All I can say is, IS IT WORKING? Have they created a successful system of control and theft, one that is self-perpetuating so that their children can steal as easily as they have? No. They are killing the host. You can’t tax or steal from people that are huddling in concentration camps or living off welfare. You can’t loan money to people who are in jail.

So while their subsistence base diminishes, their appetite does not. They don’t know when to stop. Like junkies, they keep going until they hit the wall. What wall is that? I don’t know. Could be Russia or China or both, could be financial meltdown, could be a military coup, could be class warfare between the rich and superrich, could be Mother Earth biting back. All we know is that “the mighty will fall.” They always do. There are no masters of the universe in this part of the galaxy.”