Take Out The Gunman

 

Wednesday,  Apr 18,  2018

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant opens its doors to tourism. (TASS)

 CIA Director Pompeo secretly met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un President Trump confirmed Wednesday that over Easter weekend, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a covert visit to North Korea on behalf of the administration and met with Kim Jong Un. Trump told reporters that Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un and got along with him really well, really great.” Pompeo’s visit was an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Trump and Kim regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, per The Washington Post. The meeting was held soon after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, and about a week later, U.S. officials said the government had directly confirmed Kim was willing to discuss possible denuclearization. Source: The Washington Post

Trump administration reportedly decides against new Russia sanctions The Trump administration has apparently decided not to levy new sanctions on Russia. The White House informed the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., that no additional sanctions are coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told CNN. The decision comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that new sanctions would be coming to “send a strong message” to Russia about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other administration figures rushed to backpedal Haley’s statement, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that Haley’s announcement was the result of “momentary confusion.” Kudlow later clarified that Haley wasn’t confused, but rather was following “what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it.” Source: The New York Times

Miguel Díaz-Canel expected to succeed Raúl Castro as Cuban president Cuban President Raúl Castro is expected to step down this week, with Miguel Díaz-Canel the lone candidate to be his successor. The move comes less than two years after the death of Fidel Castro, who was the brother of 86-year-old Raúl. Díaz-Canel, 57, is described by The Washington Post as “a consensus builder unlikely to push for quick or radical change.” He will be the first new leader of the communist island nation after almost 60 years of rule by the Castro brothers. “This is about institutionalizing the regime,” explained Jorge Domínguez, a Cuba expert at Harvard University, adding: “If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.” Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday,   Apr 17, 2018

In Los Angeles, SpaceX announced that they will build a massive rocket named BFR capable of sending humans to Mars. (PC Magazine)

A passenger jet suffers an uncontained engine failure during a flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. One passenger is killed. The aircraft diverts to Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are considering replacing the U.S. military forces in Syria with a regional Arab force. (Haaretz)

Israel holds services remembering 23,646 Israeli soldiers and 3,134 civilians killed in the conflict. (The Times of Israel)

Egypt invites rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to meet in Cairo in a bid to halt violent protests at the Israeli-Gazan border. (i24 News)

The names of 3,607 employees of Unit 731, a Japanese military medical experimentation unit associated with war crimes during World War II, are released. Prosecutors in the United States had kept their identities secret following the war in exchange for access to data gleaned from the project. (Newsweek)

North Korea and South Korea announce that they are planning to officially end the Korean War by writing a peace agreement. An armistice agreement was reached, ending armed conflict, in 1953. U.S. President Donald Trump called the decision to end the war a blessing. (Business Insider)

United States officials state that Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo met with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. (WBIR-TV)

The European Commission announces plans to force tech companies worldwide that provide services within the European Union to supply data on their users in counterterror investigations. (The Guardian)

Amid anti-government protests, Armenia’s National Assembly swears in former President Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister. The opposition call the move a “power grab”. (BBC)

Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush dies at age 92. (Reuters)

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American Stalinism

Friday,  Apr 6, 2018

Saudi Arabia plans to build a Hyperloop

 

Trump considering hitting China with an additional $100 billion in tariffs President Trump announced Thursday that he is contemplating imposing an additional $100 billion in tariffs against China, piling on to the $50 billion already authorized by the White House. Trump said the increase is in response to China’s decision to raise import duties on U.S. products, including soybeans and pork, by up to 25 percent, which he called an “unfair retaliation” against the U.S. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump said. Source: The New York Times

Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years for corruption A court in Seoul convicted former South Korean President Park Geun-hye of bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and other corruption-related charges on Friday and sentenced her to 24 years in prison and a $16.8 million fine. Park, who maintains her innocence, was not in court to hear the verdict. She has a week to appeal the verdict. Park was impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017 by the Constitutional Court, and the scandal has also taken down longtime ally Choi Soon-sil, who is serving 20 years, and dozens of other government and business leaders, most prominently Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, whose five-year sentence was cut in half and suspended. Source: The Associated Press

 

Thursday, Apr 5,  2018

The Israeli Defence Forces releases footage of a man fatally shot yesterday during an apparent attempt to breach the Gazan border fence. Israel says he was carrying an AK-47 and explosive devices including grenades, and accused Hamas of “playing with fire”. (Ynet News)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a press conference in Vinnytsia announcing the end of the Anti Terror Operation in Donbass in May. It will be replaced with a military force. (UNIAN)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls 15 peaceful anti-war protestors arrested last month at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul terrorists and says they will not be allowed to complete their education. (Times Higher Education)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he is willing to resume six-party talks. (Yahoo! News)

Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, tells the UN Security Council the United Kingdom has created a “fake story” and says Russia has “told our British colleagues that you are playing with fire and you will be sorry.” UK UN representative Karen Pierce tells the Security Council UK actions “stand up to any scrutiny” and compares Russian requests to join the investigation to an arsonist investigating their own fire. (BBC)

Brazilian federal judge Sérgio Moro orders the arrest of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by late Friday to begin serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. (Reuters)

Newly released documentation reveals Benjamin Morrow, a man killed by an explosion on March 5 in his home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, possessed white supremacist literature, five guns with ammunition, boxes of binary explosives, jars of explosive TATP, and a small explosives manufacturing laboratory. (Wisc News)

An arrest warrant is issued for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Conor McGregor after he was involved in a melee at a press conference at the Barclays Center in New York City ahead of UFC 223. Video footage appears to show McGregor throwing a guard rail through a window of the Khabib Nurmagomedov team bus. (The Guardian)

White House: U.S. involvement in Syria coming to ‘rapid end’ The White House on Wednesday said that U.S. military involvement in Syria is “coming to a rapid end.” Roughly 2,000 American troops are still in the country, assisting in the fight against the Islamic State. In a statement, the White House said that ISIS is “almost completely destroyed,” and as such, the U.S. will seek to wind down its combat presence. “The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated,” the statement read. “We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans.” No timetable was offered for withdrawal. Source: NBC News, The Associated Press

Mueller’s team is reportedly questioning Russian oligarchs In recent weeks, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Russian oligarchs traveling in the United States, and in at least one case searched a man’s electronic devices after he disembarked from his private jet in the New York City area, several people familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and by showing interest in Russian oligarchs, it reveals his team is focusing on the possible flow of foreign money to President Trump’s campaign and inauguration fund, CNN reports. Under campaign finance laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to U.S. political campaigns. Source: CNN

Facebook says Cambridge Analytica breach affected up to 87 million users Personal information from up to 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with data firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook revealed Wednesday — significantly more than the company’s previous estimate of 50 million. Most of the 87 million users were Americans, the social media company explained in a blog post. Facebook will start notifying users next week if their information was improperly obtained. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since reports found that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm with ties to President Trump, had harvested user information without permission. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee to address the “breach of trust.” Source: Facebook

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Magical Thinking

 

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018

The United Kingdom expels 23 Russian diplomats and cuts off all top-level ties with Russia as punishment for a reported attack with the Novichok military-grade nerve agent, an attack which Prime Minister Theresa May described as an “unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom”. (The Guardian) (NPR) (Reuters)

Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, says Russia will “definitely” expel British diplomats. (Sputnik)

The Trump administration imposes financial sanctions on the 13 Russian government hackers and spy agencies indicted in the Special Counsel investigation. (Business Insider)

America’s largest broadcaster iHeartMedia, owner of 850 radio stations, files for chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating $20 billion in debt. (CNN)

Toys ‘R’ Us announces that it will close all U. S. stores. (New York Times)

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca announces that it is shutting down due to the economic and reputational damage inflicted by its role in the global tax evasion scandal. (The Guardian)

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says white South African farmers could receive fast-track visas on “humanitarian grounds” amid calls to transfer land ownership from white to black farmers, and fears over the number of racially-motivated farm killings. (BBC)

Brazilian politician and outspoken police critic Marielle Franco is killed along with her driver in a drive-by shooting in Rio de Janeiro. (BBC)

After a 18-month Sunday Mirror investigation, Theresa May has called for an inquiry “as quickly as possible” on reported Asian grooming gangs in Telfordwhereby up to 1,000 girls were lured from their families to be drugged, beaten, raped and even murdered. (The Mirror)

Miro Cerar announces his resignation as Prime Minister of Slovenia, due to the Supreme Court of Slovenia’s annulment of the referendum that approved building a railway between Koper and Divača, a project which he calls “strategic”. (Associated Press)

Ford issues a recall of 1.4 million vehicles, including some models of the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ, citing an issue where the steering wheel could come loose. (CNN)

 

Wednesday,  Mar 14,  2018

Trump picks Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as top economic adviser President Trump has chosen economist and media analyst Larry Kudlow to direct the National Economic Council, Politico reported Wednesday. Kudlow will replace Gary Cohn, the Goldman Sachs executive who resigned from the post amid disagreements over Trump’s steel and aluminum import tariffs. Trump called Kudlow on Tuesday night to offer the job, and Kudlow accepted, CNN reports. Kudlow was long considered a frontrunner to step in as the chief economic adviser, after his role informally helping to shape Trump’s messaging on taxes and other economic issues during the 2016 presidential election, reports CNBC. Source: Politico, CNN

Britain to expel 23 Russian diplomats, suspend contact with Kremlin after spy poisoning British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that the United Kingdom will expel 23 Russian diplomats, the most since the Cold War, as well as suspend all planned high-level bilateral contacts with the Kremlin. The decision follows the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil with a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union. “For those who wish to do us harm, my message is clear: You are not welcome here,” May told Parliament. Additionally, May announced that members of the royal family would not attend the World Cup in Russia this summer. Russia has dismissed the accusations, and called Britain’s moves “a very serious provocation.” Source: NBC News, Business Insider

Facebook blocks Britain First, a far right group that has been deregistered as a political party in the United Kingdom, because leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen have repeatedly violated its community standards. (The New York Times) (BBC) (NBC News)

British physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies at age 76 at his home in Cambridge. (The Guardian)(The New York Times)

 

Toys “R” Us are to close down all their stores in the United Kingdom after rescue talks fail, resulting in the loss of about 3,000 jobs. (The Guardian)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the withdrawal of the Philippines from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over “outrageous attacks” by United Nations officials. (Reuters)

Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says white South African farmers could receive fast-track visas on “humanitarian grounds” amid calls to transfer land ownership from white to black farmers, and fears over the number of racially-motivated farm killings. (BBC)

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany is elected and sworn in for a new term. Olaf Scholz and Heiko Maas assume the positions of Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs respectively. (The Guardian)

 

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76 Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist and cosmologist, has died, a spokesman for his family announced Wednesday. He was 76. Hawking died at his home in Cambridge. In a statement, his children, Lucy, Robert, and Tim, called their father “a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.” Hawking worked on black holes and quantum fluctuations, and his 1988 book A Brief History of Time sold more than 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages. Hawking had an early-onset form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that progressed slowly over time, ultimately leaving him paralyzed, and he used a computer to speak. When he was diagnosed at 21, he expected to live only two more years.Source: The Guardian

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Some Like It Cold

Thursday, Mar 8, 2018

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

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

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

 

Wednesday,  Mar 7,  2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,   Mar 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

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

 

The Real Wakanda

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

How To Exploit a High School Massacre

“Most accounts didn’t mention the fact that in the past seven years, police had been called to Cruz’s home 39 times for his erratic behavior. They didn’t play up the fact that Cruz had been banned from the high school where he committed the massacre after fighting with and repeatedly threatening his ex’s new boyfriend. They made not a peep about the fact that Cruz had been diagnosed with depression, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder after a social-media post in which he inflicted wounds on both of his arms. They didn’t mention that a former sister-in-law suggested that Cruz was on psych meds, which is a factor far too prevalent in mass shootings. They didn’t say anything about the fact that the FBI had been warned about Cruz’s erratic behavior and his publicly stated aspirations to become a “professional school shooter” but dropped the ball and didn’t notify their Florida office about the warning. The ADL certainly didn’t offer any updates about the fact that Cruz claims his mother was Jewish, which would make him one of those White Supremacist Hispanic Jewish Nazis they keep soliciting funds to combat.”

 

Ethiopia

 

 

Influential evangelical pastor Billy Graham dead at 99 Rev. Billy Graham, a Christian evangelist known as “America’s Pastor,” has died at the age of 99. Over the course of his more than 70-year career, Graham preached to an estimated 200 million people across 185 countries, and was granted personal audiences with several U.S. presidents and world leaders. Rev. Martin Luther King credited Graham’s influence, saying: “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been.” Long a presence on television and radio, Graham retired in 2005, citing his health. Graham was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 25 years ago. Source: The Huffington Post

Making My Peace With Billy Graham
by Joe Bob Briggs
February 22, 2018

U.S. beats Canada for 1st Olympic women’s hockey gold medal since 1998 Team USA beat Canada in the Olympic women’s hockey finals on Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in a thrilling 3-2 shootout after a hard-fought game that ended 2-2 even after a 20-minute overtime. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson fired in the game-winning shot past Canada’s Shannon Szabados, and when U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney blocked the potential equalizing shot from Canada’s Meghan Agosta, the U.S. women won their first gold medal since 1998, and their second ever. Canada had won the women’s hockey gold in the past four Winter Olympics. This was the first time the women’s hockey gold medal had ever been decided in a shootout. Source:  USA Today

Wednesday,  Feb 21,  2018

South Korea signs free trade agreements with the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to eliminate duties on about 95% of traded goods and services. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump meets in the White House State Dining Room with parents and friends of young people killed in school shootings to discuss what needs to be done. Suggestions for the president included a number of items to make schools safer, and for Trump to put the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution aside and back gun control measures. (NBC News)

 Tuesday,   Feb 20, 2018

Pro-Syrian government forces are sent to help the Kurdish YPG fight against Turkey and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army in the Afrin Region. This action opens up a new front in the war. (The Independent)

Venezuela launches its Petro cryptocurrency, which it claims is the world’s first sovereign cryptocurrency. (BBC)

Iranian forces have spotted the wreckage of the missing Aseman Airliner 30 meters below a hilltop on mount Dena. Helicopters could not land yet at the crash site due to weather and topographical conditions. 65 people are feared dead. (PressTV)

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung has a massive eruption, completely destroying the volcano’s peak, with ash reaching over 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) high. Much of the surrounding area is covered with ash. (Quartz)

Attorney Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to making false statements to the FBI during the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Specifically, the charges are that he lied to investigators about his interactions with political consultant and lobbyist Rick Gates and an unidentified Ukrainian-based associate of Paul Manafort. (The New York Times)

 

Florida, begin arriving in Tallahassee, the Florida State Capitol, for advocacy meetings with lawmakers and other State officials. During Tuesday’s legislative session, the Republican-controlled Florida House defeated, by a party-line vote, a motion to debate assault weapons ban legislation, 71-36. (Tallahassee Democrat) (Miami Herald)

 

 

Monday,  Feb 19, 2018

Ahead of an expected ground offensive, Syrian Air Force strikes on rebel-held eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, kill at least 44 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (France 24)

A collapse at a garbage dump in Mozambique kills at least 17 people. (BBC)

Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, Luis de Guindos, is set to be nominated by the Eurogroup to succeed Vítor Constâncio as Vice-President of the European Central Bank. (Business Insider)

In a Scientific Reports publication, researchers propose 1965 as the start of the Anthropocene era. In that year, human nuclear weapons testing caused a noticeable spike in radiocarbon in the heartwood of the world’s remotest tree, a Sitka spruce on Campbell Island, New Zealand. The general scientific community has already been using 1950 as the year “Before Present”, when nuclear weapons began to significantly affect the reliability of radiocarbon dating of objects whose organic matter content formed after that epoch. (Daily Mail)

 

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

An Iran Aseman Airlines ATR 72 commercial aircraft carrying 59 passengers and 6 crew members crashes near the Iranian town of Semirom. The airline reports that there are no survivors.  (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Feb 17, 2018

An Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore, Pakistan, sentences Imran Ali to death, for the rape and murder of 7-year-old Zainab Ansari. The victim’s family demands Ali’s hanging to be conducted in public. (The Express Tribune)

UK Independence Party (UKIP) members vote to remove Henry Bolton as leader amid controversy over his private life and leadership. Gerard Batten becomes interim leader. (BBC)

Friday,  Feb 16, 2018

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes near the town of Pinotepa Nacional and is widely felt across Southern and Central Mexico, causing material damages in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Mexico City. It is followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock. (USGS) (CNN)

The Court of Appeal in Rabat, Morocco, acquits Younes Chekkouri of undermining the security of the state. Chekkouri was detained in Guantanamo Bay detention camp for 14 years without charges. (Xinhua)

A court in Turkey hands life sentences to six journalists, including Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is interviewed over two days this week as part of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (BBC)

Thirteen Russian nationals from the Internet Research Agency are indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.  (BBC)

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

Hailemariam Desalegn resigns as Prime Minister of Ethiopia after six years in office amid ongoing unrest in the Oromia and Amhara regions. (BBC)

The United Nations report that in 2017, more than 10,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the war. (Deutsche Welle)

An arms depot explosion in Tabiyet Jazira, Deir ez-Zor, kills at least 23 people, including over a dozen Russian contractors allegedly belonging to the Wagner Group, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The Guardian)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission blocks a Chinese-led group of investors from buying the Chicago Stock Exchange. (CNN)

The United Kingdom government and the United States White House accuse the Russian military of being responsible for the launch of the NotPetya malware in June 2017. The White House calls it the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history and says Russia will be met with unspecified “international consequences”. Russia denies responsibility and dismisses the accusation as “groundless”, lacking evidence, and “Russophobic”. (Washington Examiner)

Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov says that GERB, his party, will not ratify the convention due to lack of support from political parties. The treaty was designed by the Council of Europe to combat domestic violenceand violence against women but critics say its language is vague, it could encourage youth to identify as transgender or third gender and it could lead to same-sex marriage in Bulgaria. (Reuters)

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee backed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a package to reduce some of the strictest federal sentencing rules along with reforms for the federal prison system, by a vote of 16–5. (CNN)

Cyril Ramaphosa is elected by the National Assembly as President of South Africa. (PBS)

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered 95 new exoplanets. (USA Today)

 

THE END

 

I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

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

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

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

Lopez: Gotcha,

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

Lopez: And Mars?

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

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

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

 

 

Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Clusterfuck Nation

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

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

More Below The Fold

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

Nice Lips

 

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

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

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,  Feb 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

Volatility


Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018

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

 

Monday,  Feb 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

2018 Sunday, Feb 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saturday,  Feb 3, 2018

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

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

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

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

THE END

Launch on Warning

WHITE WOMEN: RACISM IS AS INSIDIOUS AS RAPE CULTURE AND MISOGYNY by Erin White (who is black)

“And White America would rather have an unhinged sexual predator for its President than a Black man (or a White woman).”

 

‘Teresa May’: White House spells Theresa May’s name wrong three times in memo ahead of visit

Stormy Weather
by JHK

If an attorney from Mars came to Earth and followed the evidence already made public, he would probably suspect that the FBI and DOJ colluded with the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party to derail the Trump campaign train, and then engineer an “insurance policy” train wreck of his position in office. Also, in the process, to nullify any potential legal action against Clinton, including the matter of her email server, her actions with the DNC to subvert the Sanders primary campaign, the Steele dossier being used to activate a FISA warrant for surveillance of the Trump campaign, the arrant, long-running grift machine of the Clinton Foundation (in particular, the $150 million from Russian sources following the 2013 Uranium One deal, when she was Secretary of State), and the shady activities of Barack Obama’s inner circle around the post-election transition. There is obviously more there there than in the Resistance’s Russia folder.

 

North Korea backs off military exercises as Trump puts ‘maximum pressure’ on Kim Jong Un

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018

Trump to deliver first State of the Union address tonight President Trump’s first State of the Union will focus on “building a safe, strong, and proud America” with an emphasis on his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, the ongoing debate over immigration, the economy, trade, and national security. It isn’t clear if Trump will offer lawmakers a specific blueprint for how he wants to proceed on thorny topics like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, after signaling last week he is open to a pathway to citizenship for people brought illegally to the U.S as children. “I think you’re going to see a lot of the president’s heart in this speech,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Today. The speech will air on every major network as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Source: NBC News

House GOP votes to release secret memo on Russia probe Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a secret memo accusing senior FBI officials involved in the Russia probe of misconduct. The Department of Justice warned its release would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the committee also voted against releasing a memo written by Democrats and denied a request by FBI Director Christopher Wray to brief the committee on the intelligence behind the memo. The memo reportedly alleges that FBI officials misused their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump’s former campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats say the memo presents information without context in order to undercut the Russia investigation. Trump has five days to decide if he should block its release. Source: The New York Times

Trump administration won’t impose new sanctions, but names Russia’s elite The Trump administration said it will not implement sanctions against companies and individuals doing business with Russian defense and intelligence sectors, but released a name-and-shame list of 210 Russians who have flourished during Vladimir Putin’s rule. The sanctions and list of Russian oligarchs and political elite were mandated under a law Congress passed with veto-proof majorities to punish Russian interference in the 2016 election. A State Department official said Monday that “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.” President Trump has repeatedly defended Russia against allegations that the country meddled in the election, despite U.S. intelligence agencies saying Russia intervened to help Trump. Source: CNN

Putin reacts to US Treasury ‘Kremlin List’: ‘Dogs bark but the caravan moves on’

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase to form new health-care company Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to improve health-care options for their U.S. workers. The three companies plan to use their scale and joint expertise to help reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction in health plans, using an independent company. The companies said they hope to use a fresh approach to solve longstanding problems. “The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.” Source: MarketWatch

 

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

Andrew McCabe resigns as Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation amid a dispute with President Donald Trump. (The Independent)

Minutes before the registration deadline, a second candidate, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, fulfills paperwork to participate in the 2018 presidential election. Leading opposition members called for a boycott, saying that a wave of repression has cleared the field of challengers to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Reuters)

Viorica Dăncilă (PSD) is confirmed as Romania’s first female Prime Minister. She is Romania’s third premier in less than 13 months. (Irish Times)

 

Toronto Police charge landscaper Bruce McArthur with five charges of first-degree murder, after the remains of an additional three people are found in planters on a property linked to him. (CBC News)

 

Sunday, Jan 28, 2018

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is arrested by police at a protest rally in Moscow. His arrest comes shortly after police raid the headquarters of his unregistered Progress Party in an apparent attempt to disrupt online broadcasts of opposition rallies against Vladimir Putin, while police say they were looking for a bomb. Navalny is released from police custody without charge late Sunday but needs to appear in court later. (The Guardian) (Reuters)

“I think we outta look at this from the military point of view.”

 

 

United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters seize control of government buildings in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, after clashing with forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. At least 10 people are reportedly killed and 30 wounded. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr accuses the separatists of mounting a coup. (BBC) (Al Jazeera)

Turkish airstrikes and shelling heavily damage the ancient Syro-Hittite Ain Dara temple in Syria’s Afrin District. The Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums calls on the international community to pressure Turkey “to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites”. (Reuters)

Researchers note that in November 2017, Strava, which processes data from apps and Internet of Things devices such as Fitbit, accidentally revealed the locations of alleged United States military bases overseas, including in Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria. (The Verge)(The Guardian)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno in Beijing and says they hope to work to improve relations. (Reuters)

Incumbent Sauli Niinistö takes an unprecedented first round victory after receiving 62.7 percent of the votes. (Bloomberg)

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer successfully defends his title in the five-sets men’s singles final against Marin Čilić, winning his sixth title at the Australian Open and becoming the first man to win 20 titles in Grand Slam tournaments. (ESPN)

Seven survivors from the MV Butiraoi, six adults and a baby, are found in a dinghy and rescued, four days after the 50-passenger ferry sank in Kiribati. New Zealand rescuers say there is a lot of debris near the dinghy, but no sign of anyone else. (Sky News)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Launch on Warning”

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