01.16.2018

Tuesday, Jan 16, 2018

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

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

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

Monday, Jan 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, Jan 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

Unholy Hosts of Hell

What Now?

And over the weekend, news comes out that Peter Strzok, the top FBI official assigned to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of collusion between Russia and Trump officials, had been removed from the probe after exchanging anti-Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton text messages with his mistress, who was an FBI lawyer working for Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. This information was concealed from the congressional oversight committee that had formally subpoenaed emails from the FBI all year long, only to be stonewalled by the agency. So, now the committee is threatening contempt citations against the current FBI Director, Christopher Fry and Rod Rosenstein, his deputy

Why should President Trump not fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller now? Mueller was James Comey’s mentor at the FBI when Mueller was director. Is there not a train of association and dishonesty that implicates criminal activity by the FBI itself. And if and when Trump does this, and pardons Mike Flynn for the non-crime of back channel negotiation, should a new special prosecutor be appointed by the Attorney General to investigate the activities of the FBI through 2016 and 2017?

Tuesday,   Dec 5, 2017

Supreme Court hears arguments in ‘gay wedding cake’ discrimination case The Supreme Court on Tuesday hears oral arguments in a case that could determine whether businesses can withhold services from gay couples, citing religious beliefs. The controversial case concerns Colorado baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes, who declined to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Phillips’ lawyers say he “gladly serves people from all walks of life, including individuals of all races, faiths, and sexual orientations. But he cannot design custom cakes that express ideas or celebrate events at odds with his religious beliefs.” The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, said Phillips violated a state law guaranteeing them “the same full and equal service” other customers get, and lower courts have sided with them. Source: ABC News

PBS to temporarily replace Charlie Rose with Christiane Amanpour program PBS announced Monday it will replace the now-canceled Charlie Rose with Amanpour on PBS, a global affairs interview program hosted by veteran journalist Christiane Amanpour. Rose’s show was canceled last month after several women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the host. Amanpour on PBS will start airing on New York PBS affiliate WNET Monday, and on PBS stations across the United States Dec. 11. PBS said it is also “finalizing plans” for an additional public affairs program to follow Amanpour on PBS at 11:30 p.m. Source: Variety

 

Monday,  Dec 4, 2017

For the second time in three days, Israel carries out a missile strike on military facilities near Damascus. (Daily Star UK)

The British government suspends payments to the so-called Free Syrian Police after a BBC Panorama investigation revealed that the cash has been diverted to the Salafist rebel groups of Nour al-Din al-Zenki and Jabhat al-Nusra, police officers being hand-picked by these groups, dead people appearing on the payroll and some police officers participating in summary executions. (BBC)

Hamas calls the U.S. government’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “a flagrant attack on the city by the American administration” and threatens to start a Third Intifada. (France 24)

Turkey’s deputy foreign minister Bekir Bozdağ warns of a “major catastrophe” if the U.S. moves its embassy to Jerusalem as planned in the Jerusalem Embassy Act. The last six-month presidential waiver delaying the move was signed on June 1. (Deutsche Welle)

A high-level United Nations delegation led by Department of Political Affairs head Jeffrey D. Feltman travels to North Korea for talks this week. It will be the first such diplomatic visit in six years. (The Guardian)

Malta arrests 10 people over the investigative journalist’s murder on October 16. (CNN)

U.S. President Donald Trump signs executive orders shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument area by 85% and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by half. (Fox News)

Yemen: Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh killed

Just two days after this:

The former president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh suggests that he is open to talking to the Saudi-led coalition that his forces have been fighting for years. (BBC)

Coincidence?

U.S., South Korea begin air exercises amid growing North Korea tensions On Monday, about 230 U.S. and South Korean military aircraft began a five-day joint air force exercise in South Korea, just days after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that can probably reach anywhere in the United States. The U.S. Seventh Air Force said the annual fall exercises were not a response to any incident or provocation from Pyongyang, but the U.S. sent an unusually large number of latest-generation stealth fighters: six F-22s and 18 F-35s. In all, 12,000 U.S. military personnel will be involved in the drill, called Vigilant Ace. North Korea said Sunday that this drill pushes the Korean Peninsula “to the brink of nuclear war” and Pyongyang will “seriously consider” countermeasures. Source: The Associated Press

Trump lawyer argues Trump can’t legally obstruct justice John Dowd, President Trump’s personal lawyer and the purported ghostwriter of a Trump tweet that suggests Trump obstructed justice in the federal investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia, told Axios that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.” Dowd also defended the tweet he says he wrote, insisting that it “did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.” The House impeached Bill Clinton and was set to impeach Richard Nixon for obstruction of justice and other perceived “high crimes.” The Republican-led House hasn’t demonstrated any appetite to prosecute Trump. Source: Axios

CVS to buy Aetna for $69 billion CVS will buy Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers, for $69 billion, the companies announced Sunday. Aetna insures around 22 million people, while CVS runs more than 9,700 drugstores and 1,100 walk-in clinics. The deal, which must be approved by antitrust regulators, has CVS Health Corp. paying $207 in cash and stock for each share of Aetna Inc. The acquisition could lead to CVS turning its stores into places where customers can do more than just pick up their prescriptions and basic household items, like have their blood drawn or meet with a nurse practitioner. Source: The Associated Press

link_https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9dZQelULDk

Sunday, Dec 3, 2017

The Royal Saudi Air Force bombs Houthi positions in southern Sana’a in support of Ali Abdullah Saleh-headed General People’s Congress. (Reuters)

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announces the creation of the Petro cryptocurrency in a bid to ease the country’s ongoing socioeconomic crisis. (BBC)

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping concludes a two-day “high-level dialogue” with party leaders from 120 countries. The program he announces includes the full funding by the Communist Party of China of 15,000 visits from foreign party leaders over the next five years “to deepen exchanges”. (The Australian)

In Tel Aviv, up to 20,000 people demonstrate in front of the home of the Attorney General of Israel, Avichai Mandelblit, against the slow pace of corruption investigations against Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. (Newsweek)

The lawyer of Ahmed Shafiq, a candidate for the spring 2018 presidential elections in Egypt, says she met him in a hotel room in Cairo following his arrest the day before in Dubai, U.A.E., after saying earlier today that his family didn’t know his whereabouts.  (BBC)

Several thousand opposition supporters demonstrate in central Kiev, calling for the parliament to adopt legislation on presidential impeachment. (RFE/RL)

The Pontiac Silverdome, former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions and the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, was to be partially imploded as part of its planned demolition; however, approximately 10% of the explosives do not detonate, and the attempted implosion fails. (NBC)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “Unholy Hosts of Hell”

A Double Deception

 

Israel’s Ploy Selling a Syrian Nuke Strike
by Gareth Porter Posted on November 20, 2017

 

There is No Such Thing As ‘Free Trade’
The media ignores how foreign protectionism is killing the American economy.
By EAMONN FINGLETON • November 20, 2017

The most obvious indicator of the problem is the balance-of-payments current account, which is the widest and most meaningful measure of a nation’s trade. It has remained in large deficit since the 1980s. The only previous great power ever to accumulate such a lengthy record of poor trade figures was the Ottoman Empire.

 

Saudi Arabia: The IPhone vs. the Ikhwan
ANATOLY KARLIN • NOVEMBER 16, 2017 • 1,600 WORDS

 

The US and Saudi Arabia Could Cause a War in the Middle East
PATRICK COCKBURN • NOVEMBER 18, 2017 • 1,200 WORDS

Shortly before the earthquake in Baghdad, I was making the above point about Iraq stabilising to a European diplomat. He said this might be true, but that real danger to peace “comes from a combination of three people: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy Jared Kushner, and Bibi Netanyahu in Israel.”

Probably, the Saudis and the Americans exaggerate the willingness of Netanyahu and Israel to go to war. Netanyahu has always been strong on bellicose rhetoric, but cautious about real military conflict (except in Gaza, which was more massacre than war).

Israel’s military strength tends to be exaggerated and its army has not won a war outright since 1973. Previous engagements with Hezbollah have gone badly. Israeli generals know that the threat of military action can be more effective than its use in maximising Israeli political influence, but that actually going to war means losing control of the situation. They will know the saying of the 19th century German chief of staff, Helmuth Von Moltke, that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.

But even if the Israelis do not intend to fight Hezbollah or Iran, this does not mean that they would not like somebody else to do so for them. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told me in an interview earlier this month that his greatest fear was a US-Iranian confrontation fought out in Iraq. This could happen directly or through proxies, but in either case would end the present fragile peace.

On the optimistic side, US policy in Iraq and Syria is largely run by the Pentagon and not the White House, and has not changed much since President Obama’s days. It has been successful in its aim of destroying Isis and the self-declared caliphate.

 

Monday,  Nov 20, 2017

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/what-now-2/

Charles Manson dies at 83  The cult leader and mastermind behind one of the 20th century’s most famous murder sprees, died Sunday. He was 83. Debra Tate, the sister of victim Sharon Tate, told TMZ he died at 8:13 p.m. local time, citing prison officials. He was taken to a hospital last week. Manson came to Los Angeles in the 1960s, hoping to become a musician, and soon attracted several followers, dubbed the Manson Family. On August 9 and 10, 1969, several of his followers murdered Tate and six others. Manson wanted their murders to start a race war, and for his role in the slayings, he was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. He received the death penalty, but after the state ruled it unconstitutional, he was given nine consecutive life sentences. Source: TMZ, The Associated Press

Report: Mueller’s team requests documents from Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has requested the Department of Justice hand over documents related to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the investigation into President Trump’s campaign and any connections to Russian officials, a person familiar with the matter told ABC News Sunday. The special counsel is looking into whether Trump attempted to obstruct the federal investigation. The request for documents, sent within the past month, is the first sent by Mueller’s team to the Justice Department. ABC News reports the special counsel has asked for communications between DOJ officials and communications with their counterparts at the White House. Source: ABC News

Sunday,  Nov 19, 2017

Chinese delegates visiting the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw propose a three-phase plan to resolve the conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh expressed support for the plan, which included repatriating refugees that have fled from violence in Rakhine State. (Reuters)

At least 15 people are killed in a human stampede over food in the village of Sidi Boualem, Morocco(BBC)

President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe is fired as the leader of ZANU–PF and replaced with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (The Guardian), (AP)

Charles Manson, the infamous former cult leader who ordered the murder of Sharon Tate and others, dies at age 83. (CNN)

 

Saturday,  Nov 18, 2017

AC/DC guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young dies at the age of 64 in Sydney. (Rolling Stone)

The Argentine Navy continues searching in the South Atlantic for the ARA San Juan submarine, which went missing on 15 November 2017. (Reuters via US News and World Report)

Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri meets President of France Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris. (Arab News)

Thousands of people celebrate the expected downfall of Robert Mugabe in the streets of Harare. (BBC) (Reuters)

Gerry Adams, the long-term leader of Sinn Féin, announces that he will step down as party leader next year. (Reuters via News Limited)

Th Spanish Attorney General José Manuel Maza unexpectedly dies of an unspecified illness in Buenos Aires. The office is now vacant. (Deutsche Welle)

 

Friday,  Nov 17, 2017

The Iraqi Army captures the town of Rawa from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It was the last town held by ISIL in Iraq. (AP)

Mungo Man, the oldest human remains in Australia, is returned to Lake Mungo in outback New South Wales, where he was originally buried. (AP)

The Navy of Argentina begins a search for one of its submarines, the San Juan, which has been out of contact for two days. (CNN)

 

Thursday, Nov 16,  2017

Rival factions within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement sign the “Declaration of Unification” in Cairo, Egypt. (Sudan Tribune)

Venezuela defaults on sovereign debt and bonds issued by state oil firm PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.). (Reuters)

A mistrial is declared in the 10-week corruption trial of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) who was accused of accepting private flights, campaign contributions, etc., from Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen in exchange for official favors. A juror told the media the panel was split 10–2 in favor of acquittal. (Reuters)

Trump administration to reverse ban on elephant trophies from Africa The Trump administration will reverse a 2014 ban on allowing American hunters to bring home trophies of elephants they killed in Zambia and Zimbabwe, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official told ABC News on Wednesday. There is a provision in the Endangered Species Act that lets the government issue permits to import trophies if it can be shown that the hunting benefits the species, and the official claims there is evidence coming out of Zimbabwe and Zambia to support reversing the ban. The Great Elephant Census released in 2016 found that from 2007 to 2014, savanna elephant populations dropped 30 percent across 18 countries in Africa, and there are about 350,000 left in the wild. Source: ABC News

Long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting sells for $450 million at auction After a 20-minute bidding war Wednesday night, Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Jesus Christ, “Salvator Mundi,” sold at Christie’s in New York City for $450 million, making it the most expensive piece of art to ever sell at auction. The painting was commissioned by France’s King Louis XII more than 500 years ago, and was presumed lost until early this century; in 2005, an art dealer purchased “Salvator Mundi” at an estate sale in the United States, and had it restored, authenticated, then unveiled at London’s National Gallery in 2011. The buyer has not yet been identified. Source: The Guardian

 

Wednesday,  Nov 15, 2017

Salvator Mundi, a long lost original painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is sold at auction Christie’s in New York City for $450.3 million setting a new record for the sale of an original work of art. (The Guardian)

Zimbabwe Defence Forces troops seize control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation headquarters as explosions are heard in the capital Harare amid reports of a coup against President Robert Mugabe. (Reuters)

A high-ranking representative of the Zimbabwe National Army broadcasted a military statement calling on the various sectors of society to keep calm and support the country’s development. (The Guardian)

Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo is among those people detained overnight in Zimbabwe. (The Guardian)

The outcome of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is announced with 61.6% voting yes to allow same-sex marriage with 79.5% of Australian voters participating. (Canberra Times)

LIGO announced it detected the gravitational waves GW170608. (LIGO Caltech)

Tuesday,  Nov 14, 2017

Police in Florida link a fourth unsolved murder to an unknown serial killer targeting the Seminole Heights area of Tampa, Florida. (CNN)

Soldiers directing traffic and at least six APCs have been spotted around Harare, a day after General Constantino Chiwenga intervened in attempt to prevent a purge within the ruling ZANU-PF party. The party accused the general of treason. (Reuters)

END

 

SHOULD YOU ALWAYS SCREW PEOPLE OVER?

SHOULD YOU ALWAYS SCREW PEOPLE OVER?

 

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

Tuesday,   Nov 14, 2017

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

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

 

Monday,  Nov 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday, Nov 12, 2017

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

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

 

Saturday, Nov 11, 2017

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

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

ISIL regains control of Abu Kamal. (NDTV)

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

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

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

 

Friday, Nov 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, Nov 9,  2017

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

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

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

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

END

 

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

 

Ксе́ния Анато́льевна Собча́к

Ксе́ния Анато́льевна Собча́к

 

Too soon?

 

Is Hillary Just the “Fall Guy” for the Intel Agencies and Their Moneybags Bosses?
MIKE WHITNEY • NOVEMBER 9, 2017 • 3,500 WORDS

 

The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate
October 29, 2017

 

More ‘Fake News,’ Alas, From the New York Times
Manafort isn’t the only villain in this establishment fairy tale.
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • November 8, 2017

 

Trump Plays with Fire in Saudi Arabia

 

Thursday, Nov 9, 2017

Trump says he doesn’t ‘blame’ China for ‘unfair’ trade relationship In front of Chinese business leaders and President Xi Jinping, President Trump on Thursday described the U.S. trade relationship with China as being “one-sided and unfair,” but said he doesn’t fault China for the deals it has made. “Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens,” Trump said. “I give China great credit.” Trump is in Beijing as part of his 12-day tour of Asia, and said he has “great chemistry” with Xi and thinks they will do “tremendous things” together. Source: The Washington Post

 

Trump administration announces new travel restrictions for Cuba The Trump administration announced a new list of travel restrictions and sanctions on Cuba on Wednesday. The new restrictions mean that American tourists will need to primarily book a trip with organized tour groups in order to visit the country, as well as follow a blacklist of 180 businesses, including 83 hotels and 10 Havana boutiques. U.S. government officials told The Associated Press that the restrictions aim to decrease American trade and commerce with businesses backed by the Cuban military. The blacklist will go into effect Thursday. Embassies in Havana and Washington will remain open. Source: The Associated Press

 

 Wednesday, Nov 8, 2017

The Syrian Army and its allies capture Abu Kamal from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (Deutsche Welle)

Former U.S. TV news anchor Heather Unruh accuses actor Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting her son in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 2016, when her son was 18 years old. (CNN)

British politician Priti Patel resigns from her position as Secretary of State for International Development amid reports that she had had unauthorized meetings with senior Israeli officials. (The Guardian)

U.S. federal prosecutors subpoena Carl Icahn over his role as an adviser on biofuels in the Trump administration. (CNBC)

 

 

Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017

A blanket of thick grey smog covers the Indian capital, Delhi, with some areas 30 times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit, one year after a similar smog. (BBC)

A North Korean defector claims children are being born with deformities near North Korea’s nuclear testing site. (Fox News)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman accuses Iran of an act of “direct military aggression” by supplying missiles to rebels in Yemen. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump visits South Korea amidst a crisis with North Korea. (CNN)

Syria signs the Paris Agreement. This will make the United States the only country not in the Paris Agreement, when they plan to leave on 4 November 2020. (The Guardian)

Former millionaire Chisako Kakehi (also known as Japan’s “Black Widow”) is sentenced to death for the murder of 3 men which included a husband. (AFP via MSN)(BBC)

Maine votes to expand Medicaid under Obamacare in the first ever referendum on the issue. (ABC News)

 

 

Tuesday, Nov 7, 2017

Trump urges North Korea to ‘come to the table’ President Trump started his visit to the Korean peninsula on Tuesday by calling for North Korea to “come to the table” and “make a deal” to curb its nuclear weapons program. The statement marked a shift from the tough stance reflected in other recent statements toward Pyongyang, including Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” on the North if it threatens the U.S. or its allies. “Ultimately, it’ll all work out,” Trump said, noting he had seen “a lot of progress” regarding North Korea lately. During Trump’s first day in South Korea, his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, said the two leaders had “agreed to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue in peaceful manner” to “bring permanent peace” to the peninsula. Source: The Associated Press

Harvey Weinstein reportedly hired investigators to spy on accusers Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein went to great lengths to keep allegations of sexual harassment and assault made against him under wraps, hiring private security firms to gather information on women and journalists who were attempting to write stories about the accusations, The New Yorker reports. Ronan Farrow read through dozens of pages of documents and spoke with seven people involved, who told him Weinstein started hiring firms in the fall of 2016, including Black Cube, which is run by former officers from Israeli intelligence agencies, to target people like actress Rose McGowan, who last month publicly accused Weinstein of rape. Journalists also interviewed women who made allegations against Weinstein, then reported back to the producer what they said, Farrow writes. A spokeswoman for Weinstein called the report “fiction.” Source: The New Yorker

 

Monday, Nov 6, 2017

Investors react poorly to the arrest of Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the world’s wealthiest men. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump visits Japan amidst the 2017 North Korea crisis. (CNN)

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon has declared war against it through acts of aggression. (Reuters)

Emmerson Mnangagwa is fired as Vice President by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The public and the media widely perceives Mugabe’s wife Grace as his likely successor after his death with Mnangagwa having been seen as her rival. (The Guardian)

 

 

Sunday, Nov 5, 2017

Journalists start reporting on the contents of 13.4 million documents leaked from the offshore law firm Appleby, along with business registries in 19 tax jurisdictions that reveal offshore financial activities of politicians, celebrities, corporate giants and business leaders. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung had previously obtained the documents and shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. (BBC) (The New York Times)

The documents include names of individuals and companies such as that of United States businessman and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, United Kingdom monarch Elizabeth II, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Russian-Uzbek business magnate Alisher Usmanov, the social media companies Twitter and Facebook, and pop stars Bono and Madonna. (Quartz)

A helicopter crashes near Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, killing the son of former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, and seven other Saudi officials. The cause of the crash is unknown. (NBC News)

A gunman opens fire at a Baptist church in the American town of Sutherland Springs, Texas in the San Antonio area, killing at least 26 people and injuring many others. The 26-year-old gunman is later found dead in his car from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (ABC News) (BBC) (CNN)

United States Senator Rand Paul is recovering from fractured ribs after being assaulted by a neighbor at his home. (NBC)

At least 260 people have been arrested while protesting against Vladimir Putin in Moscow while people in five other cities are also detained. The protests were organized by the Artpodgotovka movement founded by Vyacheslav Maltsev. (BBC)

Shalane Flanagan becomes the first American woman since 1977 to win the New York City Marathon. Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor wins the men’s marathon. (The New York Times)

 

Saturday, Nov 4, 2017

Houthi rebels in Yemen fire a ballistic missile at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The missile was shot down, according to Saudi officials, with no resulting injuries or damage.(BBC News) (The New York Times)

The United States will end the temporary protected status program (TPS) for more than 300,000 refugees from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Many of the refugees have already left for Canada, where it is easier to get asylum. (Newsweek) (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia announces the arrest of billionaire investor Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four government ministers and tens of former ministers by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s newly formed anti-corruption agency. (AFP via Yahoo!) (The New York Times)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports the discovery of several cases of fraud amounting to at least $6 million (£4.6 million) through overbilling and the “likely collusion” between a bank and former IFRC employees during the 2013–16 West African Ebola outbreak. (Voice of Africa) (The Guardian)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigns, citing assassination threats. (BBC)

 

Friday, Nov 3, 2017

The Syrian Army (SAA) and allies announce the complete liberation of Deir ez-Zor from ISIL. (Sputnik International)

At least nine people are killed and another 23 are injured in Hader, Quneitra Governorate, after a Tahrir al-Sham-operated car bomb detonates inside the town. (Reuters)

The Iraqi Armed Forces enter the town of Al-Qa’im, close to the border with Syria. Al-Qa’im is one of the last towns in Iraq still held by ISIL. (Reuters)

The United States launches airstrikes against Islamic State in Somalia for the first time. The United States Africa Command says “several terrorists” were killed in the strikes, which took place in coordination with Somalia’s government. (The Independent)

Netflix announces that it will no longer be working with American actor Kevin Spacey who plays Frank Underwood on the U.S. version of House of Cards(News Limited)

United States soldier Bowe Bergdahl is convicted of desertion and dishonorably discharged, but is not imprisoned. (The New York Times)

Zimbabwe accuses American citizen Martha O’Donovan of trying to overthrow the regime of Robert Mugabe. (The Los Angeles Times)

 

 

Thursday, Nov 2, 2017

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the city of Deir ez-Zor has largely been cleared of ISIS fighters by the Syrian Armed Forces. Deir ez-Zor was the scene of a three-year-long siege until it was broken in September 2017. (The Guardian)

A Bethlehem art installation (by anonymous artist Banksy) satirizes the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. (The Guardian)

Donald Trump nominates Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the Chair of the Federal Reserve. (ABC News)

At least 22 people killed and 100 injured in boiler explosion at a coal-fired power plant in Uttar Pradesh state, India. (BBC)

Opposition leader Katrín Jakobsdóttir of the Left-Green Movement receives the mandate to form a government with its coalition partners: the Social Democratic Alliance, the Progressives and the Pirates. (Bloomberg)

U.S. President Donald Trump’s main social media account is suspended for 11 minutes. Twitter blames the incident on an employee and says it is “taking steps to prevent this from happening again.” (The Guardian)

The Tapanuli orangutan is identified as a new species of great ape. (The Guardian)

 

END

 

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”

Sin Dones

 

“…The casual observer can’t avoid dragging Hillary into this. It appears that, among other things, the Clinton Foundation received over a $100 million in “charitable donations” from various Russian companies and individuals over the years. Gosh, they’re a big-hearted people! Maybe it’s all the vodka they guzzle. No doubt, the newly-converted Russian capitalists were yearning to support “impact entrepreneurs” who are creating “new enterprises to generate both social impact and financial returns” by addressing market gaps in developing countries, or to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence” — as the Clinton Foundation described their activities.

More likely they wanted to grease their access to the sure-thing It’s-My-Turn Madam President. Except then she went and lost the election… all because of Russian meddling.”

Thar She Blows!
-by James Howard Kunstler

 

Monday,  Oct 30th, 2017

Paul Manafort surrenders to federal authorities    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office served the first indictment in connection to the Russian election meddling investigation on Monday against President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s former business associate, Rick Gates. The pair were told to surrender to federal authorities on Monday morning. Manafort was under investigation before Mueller was appointed, and Mueller’s team absorbed those probes into Manafort’s actions in the election, as well as his real estate and financial dealings, including those in Ukraine, where he worked for a Russia-linked political party. Manafort and Gates face 12 counts on charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and unregistered agent of a foreign principal. Source: The New York Times, Politico

Manafort indictment kicks off long, complex legal process   President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, arrived at the FBI’s Washington Field Office on Monday morning, facing 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States. Extensive FBI investigations historically follow a similar pattern, which includes circling inward from “peripheral figures first,” Wired notes, and then encouraging them to cooperate in exchange for leniency. Trump’s lawyer has dismissed rumors that Manafort would or could offer damaging information on the president. Still, Wired explains Monday’s indictment is just the beginning of a “complex and deeply partisan process,” as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s task is to identify federal crimes, while Congress will be left to sort through “political problems.” Source: Wired, The New York Times

2 Navy SEALs under investigation in death of Green Beret in Mali   Two members of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six are under suspicion of being involved in the death of an Army Green Beret last June in Mali, U.S. officials told CNN Sunday. The New York Times reports Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead in his room at a U.S. government compound near the American embassy in Bamako, Mali. A military examiner has ruled his death a homicide, CNN says, and the Times reports he was strangled. Melgar was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group, which operates in northwest Africa. The four American service members killed in an ambush earlier this month in Niger were part of the same group. Source: CNN

 

Sunday,  Oct 29, 2017

Archives from Hewlett-Packard founders William Hewlett and David Packard are among those destroyed by fires in a Santa Rosa neighborhood. (Quartz)

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq since 2005, announces that he steps down after November 1. The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament now has to redistribute the authorities of the presidency. (AFPvia SBS)

Hundreds of thousands of supporters for a unified Spain gather in Barcelona, the capital and largest city of Catalonia, in one of the biggest shows of force against Catalan independence. (The Washington Post) (Reuters)

 

Saturday,  Oct 28, 2017

A “White Lives Matter” gathering takes place in Shelbyville, Tennessee, with 200+ WLM protestors met by 700+ counter-protesters. (USA Today)

 

Friday,  Oct 27, 2017

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan announces that the Kazakh language will begin using a Latin script, rather than the current Cyrillic script. (Official site of the Kazakh presidency) (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

The United States releases a list of 39 Russian military companies and intelligence agencies targeted by economic sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. (CBS News)

A federal grand jury approves the first charges from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 federal elections. The charges are sealed by a court order. (CNN) (The Hill)

Catalonia declares independence from Spain as Catalan Republic. (CNN)

The Parliament of Catalonia votes and starts a “constituent” process towards independence from the Kingdom of Spain. The Senate of Spain votes to permit direct rule according to article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. (BBC)

The euro drops to a three-month low after the declaration is made. (Reuters)

Information brought to Trump Jr. at 2016 meeting had Kremlin ties     Information brought by a Russian lawyer to a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had previously been discussed with the prosecutor general of Russia, Yuri Chaika, The New York Times reported Friday. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly touted having compromising intelligence on Hillary Clinton to Trump Jr., although Trump’s eldest son was ultimately unimpressed by the information, which attempted to portray some of Clinton’s campaign donations as “stolen” Russian money. Russia experts told the Times that it was “inconceivable” that Veselnitskaya “would have bypassed her own government to deliver what are now unmistakably official allegations to an American presidential campaign,” saying she must have coordinated with the Kremlin somehow. Source: The New York Times

Trump declares opioid crisis a public health emergency   On Thursday, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” Trump said. He also said that the government would require a particular “truly evil” opioid to be removed from the market, as well as promote research for non-addictive pain management techniques. Trump had been heavily criticized for not triggering a federal response to the crisis sooner, after saying he would make an announcement back in early August. STAT estimated earlier this year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade. Source: CSPAN, STAT

 Thursday, Oct 26th,  2017

Twitter bans all ads from Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik based on U.S. intelligence’s conclusion that both attempted to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of the Russian government. (Business Insider)

A Russian Mi-8 helicopter crashes into the sea off Svalbard with eight people reported missing. A search and rescue operation is underway. (BBC)

At least two Catalan officials defect from the ruling Junts pel Sí party as Catalan president Carles Puigdemont cancels a speech regarding snap elections. Puigdemont plans to draw back from declaring independence from Spain. (Bloomberg)

Nearly 3,000 files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 have been released, while U.S. President Donald Trump orders others to be withheld citing national security concerns. The documents were scheduled for release today in a 1992 law. (BBC)

Trump to declare opioid crisis a public health emergency today On Wednesday night, President Trump told reporters that he is “going to have a big meeting on opioids” Thursday, and White House officials tell USA Today that Trump will order the Health and Human Services department to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, a step short of the national emergency he promised to declare in August and again last week. Trump said the order would give the federal government the “power to do things that you can’t do right now,” and White House officials said the renewable 90-day order would give states more flexibility to spend the $1 billion for opioid treatment Congress approved last year, plus tap other funds. Trump’s opioid commission had recommended a more robust national emergency declaration. Source: USA Today

 

JFK assassination documents to be released today     Thursday is the deadline Congress set 25 years ago for the release of the remaining government files on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. President Trump, who can withhold some of the documents if he decides they compromise government sources or methods, teased the release again on Wednesday, tweeting: “The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!” The CIA has been urging Trump to withhold some information, while scholars and conspiracy theorists — including longtime adviser Roger Stone — are pushing Trump to release every scrap of information. Source: The Associated Press

 

Trump campaign data firm contacted Julian Assange about Clinton emails        Inan email last year, Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics firm hired by President Trump’s campaign, told a third party he had contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about how he could help him release some of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, The Daily Beast reports, citing two people familiar with the congressional investigation into ties between Trump associates and the Russian government. Nix’s email indicates that Assange refused the offer, saying he worked alone. If Nix’s claims are true, this is the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Assange. Assange told The Daily Beast “an approach by Cambridge Analytica” was rejected. It is unclear if Assange or anyone else has access to Clinton’s deleted emails. Source: The Daily Beast

 

Wednesday,  Oct 25, 2017

A militant group affiliated with ISIL seizes the coastal town of Qandala in the autonomous Puntland region. (Reuters)

Ghor Province Governor’s spokesman claims ISIL insurgents killed 26-42 civilians in his governed province, Afghanistan. (Reuters)

Suspected Syrian or Russian warplanes conduct airstrikes on a residential area and a school in Haas village in rebel-held Idlib Governorate, killing at least 26 civilians, most of them children. (Reuters)

A research team led by an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona publishes a paper in Nature on the genetic history of HIV proving that Gaëtan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant who had been identified for years as “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., did not spread the virus to the country. The study indicates that HIV first spread to the U.S. from the Caribbean around 1970. (BBC) (The New York Times)

Russia withdraws a request to refuel three of its warships, including the flagship of the Russian Navy, Admiral Kuznetsov, en route to Syria, at the Spanish port of Ceuta following NATO pressure on the Spanish government to not allow the warships to dock. (BBC)

 

Tuesday,   Oct 24th, 2017

The European Commission scraps the draft legislation that would have permitted the EBA regulator to order “too big to fail” banks to split off their trading activities, citing “no foreseeable agreement” in sight on criteria. The draft was supposed to be the EU’s answer to the United States’ Volcker Rule. (Reuters)

Security researchers report on the outbreak of the ransomware nicknamed Bad Rabbit, which has affected computer networks throughout the world, with Russia and Ukraine being the worst affected. (International Business Times) (BBC)

The week-long Communist Party congress in Beijing draws to an end, with General Secretary Xi Jinping set to become its most influential leader since Party Chairman Mao Zedong. (BBC)

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives launch an investigation into the Obama administration’s decision in 2010 to allow Rosatom to purchase Uranium One. (Los Angeles Times)

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Georgian_War

http://www.loc.gov/law/help/legal-aspects-of-war/russian-georgia-war.php

 

The Guns of August 2008: Russia’s War in Georgia

A Little War That Shook The World: Georgia, Russia, and the Future of the West

Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Tretyakov_(intelligence_officer)

 

 

The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Could Be Escalating
By: Pavel Felgenhauer
July 20, 2017

The situation has turned out to be more complicated, however. President Vladimir Putin’s aide Vladislav Surkov is the Kremlin’s point man on everything concerning Ukraine. He is a true decision maker (together with Putin), unlike Grizlov or any Russian parliamentarians. On July 19, he was reported to have actually supported Zakharchenko at a meeting with experts in the Kremlin. Surkov reportedly said, “All this hype about the fantasy Malorossia state is good—it emphasizes that Donbas is fighting not to separate from Ukraine but for its territorial integrity, for all of Ukraine and not for a part. There is a civil war in Ukraine between forces that see its future differently: Kyiv wants a pro-European utopia, Donbas replies with the idea of Malorossia” (RIA Novosti, July 19).

Surkov’s spin of the Malorossia idea seems to be more than just a way to cover up the embarrassment of a faulty move by Zakharchenko. It is in line with the Kremlin’s longstanding strategic goal to take back all of Ukraine under Russian domination as part of the so-called “Russkiy Mir” (“Russian World”). In essence, Zakharchenko followed up with what the Kremlin has been seeking to obtain all along. Speaking to reporters in Hamburg this month, after meeting President Donald Trump during the G20 summit, Putin once again insisted: “I am absolutely sure the interests of Ukraine and Russia, of the Ukrainian and Russian people fully match, but the interests of Ukrainian leaders and some political forces in Ukraine are different.” Putin accused the Ukrainian leadership of deliberately trying to separate the Ukrainian and Russian people and states, which need and want to be together to jointly develop and build a future. Putin accused Ukraine’s leaders of “trading in Russophobia” to please the West, which appears intent not to allow Russia and Ukraine to move any closer, at any cost. “I believe this situation will end eventually, and we are interested in it ending as soon as possible,” continued Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8).

The fighting in Donbas has been increasing after the Putin-Trump summit. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special observer mission in Donbas, there has been a 20 percent increase in ceasefire violations in the week after the G20 summit (Militarynews.ru, July 18). According to official Ukrainian military sources, on July 19 alone, nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five more wounded in renewed clashes along the eastern frontline. These losses seem to indicate a dramatic increase in violence (Militarynews.ru, July 20).

Meanwhile, the cost of keeping part of Donbas as a Russia-controlled enclave is growing for Moscow, as the fighting continues to simmer while its social and economic infrastructure degrades. But the Kremlin does not need a “frozen conflict” in Donbas with an ever-growing price tag, when the real goal is to take and “integrate” the entirety (or most) of Ukraine. According to Putin, the true enemy is the regime in Kyiv and its Western backers. And it seems increasingly unlikely that these enemies can be defeated by Russia simply maintaining the status quo in eastern Ukraine, instead of going all in to end “this situation as soon as possible,” to quote Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8).

All Our Better Angels Are Dead

Killed for $3 haircut


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

 

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

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

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

No Joy in Trumpville

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

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

 

The Bronx’s Quiet, Brutal War With Opioids

 

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

Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend

 

Thursday, Oct 12,  2017

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

 Wednesday,  Oct 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

The Rest of The News Below the Fold

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