American Stalinism

Friday,  Apr 6, 2018

Saudi Arabia plans to build a Hyperloop

 

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

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

 

Thursday, Apr 5,  2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All Of This And Nothing

a phonebook full of accidents
a girl to drive your car
a suit to wear on mondays
and a coat a magazine
a heavy rain a holiday
a painting of the wall
a knife a fork and memories
a light to see it all
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
dominoes a pack of cards
a picture of the queen
a dress to wear on sundays
and a handle for the door
a letter that i sent for you
a note you left for me
a wave a pack of cigarettes
a pocket full of beads
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you on
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you on
the sound of people getting drunk
a ceiling and a sky
a bank that’s full of promises
a telephone that lies
a visit from your doctor
he crawls in through the door
a mirror you can look in
so that you know where you are
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
hey i never meant that stuff
i want to turn you round
you didn’t leave me anything
that i can understand
now i’m left with all of this
a room full of your trash

 

Tuesday,   Mar 27, 2018

Trump remains silent on Stormy Daniels President Trump has remained uncharacteristically quiet on the topic of adult film star Stormy Daniels in the wake of her 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night. “He’s really not in a punch-back mode,” explained one friend. “Everyone is telling him, look, you can’t win here, so just do nothing.” Privately, Trump has reportedly vented that Daniels’ claims about their alleged 2006 affair are a “hoax” and that he “personally did not think Daniels appeared credible,” The Washington Post and New York Times write. On Monday, White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed Trump “does not” believe Daniels’ statement that she was threatened by an anonymous man to keep silent about the alleged affair. In her interview with Anderson Cooper, Daniels said Trump “knows I’m telling the truth.” Source: The Washington Post, The New York Times

 

Monday,  Mar 26, 2018

U.S. firearms and ammunition manufacturer Remington Arms files for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after amassing US$950 million worth of debt. (Bloomberg)

China launches an oil futures market in a bid to compete with oil benchmarks from the United States and Europe. (MarketWatch)

More than 100 Russian diplomats are expelled from over 20 countries. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump orders the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. (BBC)

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker conclude talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The parties say they have been unable to agree on human rights issues but pledge to hold more talks. (The Financial Times)

Spanish police in Alicante arrest the suspected leader of a bank hacking scheme believed to have stolen over €1 billion. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Six alleged members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action appear in court. One is accused of planning to murder MP Rosie Cooper and another is charged with inciting murder. (The Independent)

The Egyptian electorate vote in their presidential election, with incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi facing only one opponent. (The Washington Post)

ArXiv publishes research that a gas giant may be orbiting a brown dwarf. The exoplanet, designated OGLE-2017-BLG-1522Lb, orbits its host at a distance of 0.59 AU and could be the first known gas giant to have formed inside the protoplanetary disk of a brown dwarf. (Phys.org)

 

Monday,  Mar 26, 2018

White House: Trump ‘doesn’t believe’ Stormy Daniels’ claims are accurate During Monday’s press briefing, White House spokesman Raj Shah dismissed adult film star Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview. In the segment, which aired Sunday, Daniels detailed an affair she says she had with President Trump in 2006. “The president doesn’t believe that any of the claims that Ms. Daniels made last night in her interview were accurate,” Shah said, confirming that Trump “does not” believe Daniels’ statement that she was threatened by an anonymous man to keep silent about the alleged affair. Shah also dismissed speculation about why Trump’s lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement, explaining: “False charges are settled out of court all the time.” In her interview with Anderson Cooper, Daniels said Trump “knows I’m telling the truth.” Source: CBS News

Trump to expel 60 Russian diplomats after spy poisoning President Trump on Monday ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials as well as the closure of the Seattle consulate in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter who were living in Britain, The Washington Post reports. The officials have a week to leave the U.S. At least 10 European countries have also banded together to expel Russian diplomats in a coordinated response. Russia has warned it will retaliate in kind, and the Russian embassy in the U.S. has claimed on Twitter that the accusations against Moscow are “another large-scale anti-Russian campaign.” European Union leaders have said that there is “no plausible alternative explanation” other than Russia being behind the poisoning of the ex-spy and his daughter. Source: The Washington Post, Bloomberg

Dow spikes nearly 670 points, rebounding amid trade turmoil The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded after a tumultuous run last week, jumping nearly 670 points by the time markets closed Monday afternoon. The index surged nearly 3 percent in part thanks to Microsoft, the top-performing stock of the day. The gains suggest the market is recovering after President Trump last week announced tariffs targeted at China, which sparked fears of a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. Investors “have apparently recognized that a trade war is in no one’s best interests and therefore extremely unlikely,” market strategist Jeremy Klein told CNBC in explaining the rebound. The S&P 500 also saw a more than 2 percent bump Monday, while the Nasdaq composite jumped 2.6 percent. Source: CNBC, MarketWatch

 

Sunday, Mar 25, 2018

Two suicide bombers strike a Shi’ite mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, killing one person and wounding seven others. Security forces kill one bomber while the device kills the other. ISIL claims responsibility. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

ISIL releases a statement claiming responsibility for killing or wounding 103 Iraqi soldiers within one month. The group also claims to have abducted 13 more soldiers, and destroyed 12 armoured vehicles. (Iraqi News)

Houthi forces fire several Burkan-2 ballistic missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia with at least one person, an Egyptian national, being killed in Riyadh. The Royal Saudi Air Defense says it intercepted seven missiles, three of them targeting Riyadh, two targeting Jizan and one apiece targeting Najran and Khamis Mushait. (The Washington Post)

A fire in the Winter Cherry complex, a shopping centre in Kemerovo, Russia, kills at least 64 people, the majority of which are children. (BBC)

South Korea and the United States reach agreements on trade and steel tariffs. (Bloomberg)

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini holds crisis talks with Markus Ederer, the bloc’s recalled ambassador to Russia. (France24)

Sheikh Tamim of Qatar visits Russia to discuss the situation in Syria, Yemen and Palestine. (Al Jazeera)

A former French Parliamentarian candidate of the La France Insoumise party is arrested for tweeting that the death of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame was “great” and “one less vote for Emmanuel Macron.” (BBC)

Researchers publish observations of a possible nova (ASASSN-18fv) in the constellation Carina. (AAVSO)(APOD)

Qantas Airways Flight QF9 becomes the first ever regularly scheduled non-stop flight between Australia and Europe after making the 17-hour journey from Perth to London. (The Evening Standard)

An anomalous weather event caused due to dust from a sandstorm in the Sahara, leads to an orange snow blanketing several Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. This weather event happens roughly every five years, a similar event occured in Siberia in 2007. (The Guardian)

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Hot Jupiters

The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative
ClusterFuck Nation

The RussiaRussiaRussia narrative has unspooled since Christmas and is blowing back badly through the FBI, now with the firing (for cause) of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe hours short of his official retirement (and inches from the golden ring of his pension). He was axed on the recommendation of his own colleagues in the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and they may have been influenced by the as-yet-unreleased report of the FBI Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, due out shortly.

The record of misbehavior and “collusion” between the highest ranks of the FBI, the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign, several top political law firms, and a shady cast of international blackmail peddlars is a six-lane Beltway-scale evidence trail compared to the muddy mule track of Trump “collusion” with Russia. It will be amazing if a big wad of criminal cases are not dealt out of it…

Monday,  Mar 19, 2018

Trump to unveil plan to fight opioid epidemic President Trump is expected to unveil his plan to fight the opioid epidemic on Monday. An early version of the plan would have called for the death penalty against some drug dealers, but the final version is expected to be scaled back, with a call for capital punishment against drug traffickers only “when appropriate under current law,” said Andrew Bremberg, the White House’s director of the Domestic Policy Council. Trump will announce his new policies during a trip to New Hampshire. The administration says the plan would lead to a reduction in opioid prescriptions by one-third within three years by mixing administration actions and new laws requiring money from Congress. It includes elements focused on law enforcement, education, prevention, treatment, and recovery. Source: Politico

Vladimir Putin wins re-election with 77 percent of the vote Russia’s Central Election Commission said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin won re-election with 76.67 percent of the vote in a field of eight candidates. That was a record-high number for Putin, who won his third term in 2012 with 63.3 percent. In second place was communist Pavel Grudinin, with 11.78 percent, followed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky (5.66 percent) and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak (1.68 percent), the only one of the candidates to openly criticize Putin. The candidate most likely to do well against Putin, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running because of a questionable disqualifying conviction. Election observers reported widespread ballot stuffing and unusually intense pressure on voters to participate in the election. Source: The Associated Press, Reuters

New explosion in Austin might have been set off by tripwire An explosion in Austin, Texas, left two men with serious injuries on Sunday night, stoking fears that a serial package-bomber is targeting the city. It was the fourth unexplained explosion in the city this month, and police believe the latest blast is related to the earlier ones, which killed two people. The fourth blast occurred on a roadside in an upscale neighborhood, while the earlier package-bombs exploded on the doorsteps of homes. The victims in the latest explosion, both in their 20s, were walking or riding bicycles, and Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said it was “very possible” that the device went off when one of them touched a tripwire. Source: The Associated Press, CNN

 

Sunday, Mar 18, 2018

Voters in Russia cast their votes for the President of Russia. Incumbent Vladimir Putin wins a fourth term

The Turkish Army and Free Syrian Army seize the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin from the YPG in northern Syria, raising the Turkish flag above the city centre. A statue of the Kurdish legendary figure, Kaveh the Blacksmith, is bulldozed by Turkish-backed forces. (BBC) (Reuters)

The Miami Police Department states that they believe they have recovered the last of the victims killed by the bridge’s collapse. (NPR)

A Cirque du Soleil performer dies after falling 15 feet (4.6 m) during a performance in Tampa, Florida. (CBC)

 

Saturday,  Mar 17, 2018

In response to the UK’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the Russian Federation expels 23 Britishdiplomats, closes the British Council in Russia and closes the Consulate-General of the United Kingdom in Saint Petersburg. (BBC)

Former Vice President of Iran Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a close ally to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is arrested after criticizing Iran’s judiciary. (AP via Al-Arabiya)

A man is arrested in Austin, Texas for threatening, via email, to bomb the SXSW festival. (NPR)

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launches an investigation into alleged harvesting of Facebook profiles by Cambridge Analytica, a firm employed by Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. (BBC) (Reuters via The New York Times)

 

Friday,  Mar 16, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fires former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe because of a report from the Office of Professional Responsibility accusing McCabe of making an unauthorized news media disclosure and lacking candor on multiple occasions. (CBS News)

South Korea states that they want high-level talks with North Korea before the summit. (Reuters)

The death of Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov, who lived in exile in the United Kingdom, is confirmed by a coroner’s examination to be a murder. The killing happened eight days after the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. (BBC)

South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority Director Shaun Abrahams says former President Jacob Zuma will be prosecuted for corruption, relating to a R30 billion arms deal in the late 1990s. Zuma disputes all the allegations against him. (The Guardian)

European astronomers discover eight new exoplanets classified as Hot Jupiters as part of the WASP project. (The Talking Democrat)

 

Thursday, Mar 15,  2018

The largest U.S. broadcaster, iHeartMedia, owner of 850 radio stations, files for chapter 11 bankruptcy after accumulating US$20 billion in debt. (CNN)

The Trump administration imposes financial sanctions on 19 Russian nationals, including 12 of those indicted in the Special Counsel investigation. (Business Insider)

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

Prime Minister of Slovakia Robert Fico resigns amid controversy over the murder of Ján Kuciak. (The Guardian) (BBC)

An under-construction pedestrian bridge over the eight-lane Tamiami Trail at Florida International University in Miami collapses killing at least six people and flattening eight cars. Nine people are rescued from the rubble and taken to nearby Kendall Regional Medical Center. Two require immediate surgery; the others injured sustain non-life-threatening wounds. (The Washington Post)

A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashes near Al-Qa’im in Iraq‘s western Al Anbar Governorate, killing all seven people on board. (ABC News) (CNN)

THE END

I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

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

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

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

Lopez: Gotcha,

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

Lopez: And Mars?

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

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

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

 

 

Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Clusterfuck Nation

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

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

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Nice Lips

 

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

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

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,  Feb 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

Klaatu Barada Nikto

 

All hell breaks loose in Syria after rebels shoot down Russian jet over the weekend

 

The Canadian Senate agrees with the House of Commons to make the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada”, gender neutral. The second line of the song will now read “in all of us” instead of “in all thy sons.” (NPR)

The upcoming Formula One season will abandon the practice of using “grid girls”, arguing that the practice does not “resonate” with Formula One’s values. Four days before, the Professional Darts Corporation abandoned the use of “walk-on girls” to accompany men onto the stage. (CNN)

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

Trump set to approve unredacted release of controversial Nunes memo President Trump on Friday will sign off on the release of a four-page memo compiled by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). It will likely be made public sometime during the day. Trump is expected to have no objections to the Nunes memo and request none of the redactions requested by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. The classified memo, released under a never-before-used House rule, purports to show that the FBI did not identify one of its sources in a FISA warrant, to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as working on a dossier funded indirectly by Hillary Clinton. The FBI and Justice Department have expressed “grave concerns” about the effects and accuracy of the memo. Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, beating forecasts U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating economists’ expectations of 190,000 jobs gained. The figure marked a pickup from December, when the economy added a modest 160,000 new jobs, a number adjusted up from the originally reported 148,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Wages rose by 2.9 percent over the last 12 months, the biggest jump since the Great Recession ended nearly nine years ago, as employers battled for candidates to fill record-high job openings. The figures were the latest in a long series of signs of strengthening employment. Stocks extended their losses after the report, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down by 255 points. Source: MarketWatch

 

Thursday, Feb 1, 2018

Apple Inc. removes the Telegram messaging service from its iOS App Store. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov says Apple claims “inappropriate content” is available on the service. (The Verge)

Two 15-year-old students are seriously wounded and three other people injured in a shooting at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, California. A 12-year-old female student is taken into custody. (CNN)

The Palestine Liberation Organization “rejects and condemns” the United States decision to put Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh on the OFAC SDN terror blacklist. (Times of Israel)

Morgan Geyser is sentenced to 40 years in a mental institution for her role in the attempted murder of Payton Leutner. (ABC News)

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray. (Reuters)

NASA confirms that Scott Tilley, a Canadian amateur astronomer and satellite tracker, has rediscovered NASA’s IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) satellite while he was searching for the U.S. government’s classified Zuma satellite. NASA engineers will try to analyze the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft. (The Independent) (Phys.org)

Wednesday, Jan 31, 2018

A BBC study finds that, as of October 2017, the Taliban presently maintains control of or has some territorial presence in 70% of Afghanistan, with full control of 14 districts (totaling 4% of the country) and demonstrating an open physical militant presence in 263 others (encompassing the remaining 66% of the group’s occupied territory). (Reuters)

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigns as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following a report that she purchased stock in food, health insurance, and tobacco companies shortly after taking up her federal government position. (CNBC)

A lunar eclipse is seen in Oceania, Asia, and North America, coinciding with a supermoon and blue moon. (AP via Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday,  Jan 30, 2018

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) takes control of the Yemeni port city of Aden following two days of fierce fighting in the city which has left dozens dead. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, and members of the President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led government are confined to the presidential palace which has been surrounded. (Reuters)

Reports about the publication on January 29 by the United States of a list of Russian politicians and oligarchs that the U.S. government was required by CAATSA to draw up surface. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the list, on which he is not included, is an “unfriendly act” that complicates ties between the two countries. (BBC1)(BBC2)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union Address to the 115th United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives.(The New York Times)

THE END

A Weak Dollar

Oof!!…that’s rough. First the Russians being banned from the Olympics and now this?

A dozen camels are disqualified from a beauty pageant at the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, near Riyadh, after reports in the media about injections with botox. A veterinarian is caught performing plastic surgery to make the camels more attractive. Rules prohibit to change the natural form of participating camels. (NPR)

The Case for Tesla
STEVE SAILER • JANUARY 23, 2018 • 400 WORDS

The best material is in the comments section.

 

 

Cryptocurrency mining is a waste of energy – IMF’s Lagarde
Jan 25, 2018

According to the Bloomberg’s data, cryptocurrency miners used more than 37 gigawatt-hours a day – equivalent to 30 1.2-gigawatt nuclear reactors running at full capacity.

Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index says cryptocurrency mining could power 4,124,115 US households, and the energy consumed can be compared to Iraq’s electricity consumption.

 

Thursday,  Jan 25,  2018

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says weak dollar is good for U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a weak dollar is good for the U.S., sending the dollar plunging in currency markets, The Associated Press reported. “Obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities,” Mnuchin said while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is to talk with U.S. trade partners and encourage investment from businesses. Mnuchin’s remarks, ahead of President Trump’s arrival in Davos, marked a break with a decades-long U.S. government commitment to a strong dollar. During his 2016 campaign and since, Trump has occasionally said he would like to see the dollar’s value fall so U.S. goods would become cheaper and exports would increase. But one economist told Politico rooting for a weak dollar was “playing with fire.” Source: The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal

Trump says he’s willing to testify under oath to Mueller President Trump said on Wednesday he is “looking forward” to speaking under oath with Special Counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Speaking to reporters as he prepared to leave for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump also said the interview could come in “two or three weeks.” Shortly after Trump made the comments, his attorney, Ty Cobb, told The New York Times Trump was speaking “hurriedly” and just meant to say he would meet with the special counsel. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

Several rockets fired from Syria strike the Turkish city of Kilis, near the Syria–Turkey border, killing at least one person and injuring 13 others. Turkey blames the YPG group. (Xinhuanet)

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIL says it has killed up to 150 militants in air strikes on a headquarters in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria. (BBC)

British, American and German men are among a group of international volunteers who travelled to Afrin to fight against Turkish-led forces in north-west Syria. (BBC) (Reuters)

Chinese scientists announce they have successfully cloned Crab-eating macaques using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), making them the first primates to be cloned. (Reuters)

SpaceX conducts the first static fire test of the Falcon Heavy rocket ahead of its maiden flight. (BBC)

Larry Nassar is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting Olympic gymnasts and other women. Many of the accusers were children, who were told to not question authority. (Chicago Tribune)

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers from the National Basketball Association (NBA) scores his 30,000 regular season points, in a loss against the San Antonio Spurs on January 23, 2018, as the youngest player ever to do so, at 33 years and 24 days, surpassing Kobe Bryant’s record of 34 years and 104 days. (Sports Illustrated)

Mueller probe reportedly focusing on obstruction of justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s push to question President Trump signals that he is “closing in on his determination about what obstruction of justice looks like,” a former aide to Mueller told CNN. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller wants to question Trump about his firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Legal experts told CNN that the recent spate of activity in Mueller’s probe — The New York Times reported Tuesday that Comey was interviewed by Mueller’s team last year, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned last week — indicates Mueller’s team is increasing its focus on whether Trump or his aides have tried to obstruct the Russia investigation. Source: The Washington Post,

Trump aides try to reassure Davos crowd about ‘America First’ policies Top Trump administration officials made their first comments at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, reassuring global leaders and business executives that President Trump’s “America First” agenda doesn’t mean the U.S. is unwilling to work with other countries. “America First is not America alone,” said Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council. While members of Trump’s Cabinet fight the perception that he is against free trade and globalization, they are also touting the new Republican tax cuts as evidence that Trump is making the economy stronger. Anti-capitalist demonstrators staged protests against Trump in several Swiss cities, including Davos, where he is to deliver a keynote address on Friday. Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018

Russia’s Ministry of Culture bars the release of the British–French political satire film The Death of Stalin in the country after accusing the film of containing “ideological warfare” and “extremist” content. (BBC)

The United States closes its embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, due to large-scale protests against the policy of U.S. President Donald Trump. (AP via Armenpress)

The United States Senate confirms Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank with 84 votes for and 13 against. (The New York Times)

The organizers of the Google Lunar X Prize announce that the $20 million grand prize for a commercial lunar lander will expire on 31 March 2018 without a winner because none of its five finalist teams would be able to launch a mission before the deadline. (Space News)

 

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

A motorcycle bomb kills at least three people and wounds 22 others at a market in Thailand’s southern Yala Province. (Reuters)

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raises Mount Mayon’s alert level to 4, its second highest volcano category which indicates a hazardous eruption is imminent. Mayon’s activity, which began the afternoon of January 13, 2018, has displaced about 40,000 residents in Albay Province on Luzon island. (Reuters via NBC News)

Mayon erupts at 12:43 p.m. (PST). The eight-minute phreatomagmatic eruption was a dense, five-kilometer tall column of volcanic ash, followed by two explosion-type earthquakes. Fountains of intense but sporadic lava, which lasted between three to 30 minutes, began at 9:37 p.m. (GMA News Online)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declares during a speech in the Israeli parliament that the new U.S. embassy located in Jerusalem will open in 2019, sooner than generally expected. (The Guardian)

After a meeting with the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini again assures President Abbas that the European Union supports his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state. (Reuters)

The United States Senate reaches an agreement to reopen federal agencies through to February 8. A bill is working its way through the legislative process. The first Senate vote was 81–18. (AP).

George Weah takes office as President of Liberia, and Jewel Taylor as Vice President. It is the first peaceful transition between two Liberian presidents in 74 years. (New York Times)

Sunday, Jan 21, 2018

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/01/turkey-deploys-thousands-fsa-rebels-syria-border-180120070616740.html

https://www.rt.com/news/416560-turkish-town-missile-attack-syria/

Turkish President Erdoğan announces that Turkish Army ground troops have entered the district of Afrin in Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım says the goal is to establish a 30-km safe zone. (Voice of America)

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian calls for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to address the Turkish incursion into Northern Syria’s Afrin Region. The UNSC will convene on Monday. (Reuters)

Abdullah II of Jordan tells U.S. Vice President Mike Pence the U.S. has to rebuild “trust and confidence” to achieve a two-state solution in Israel after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. (Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands protest for a second day throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (CNN)

U.S. President Donald Trump says on Twitter that if the shutdown stalemate continues, Republicans should consider the “nuclear option” parliamentary procedure in the Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell is opposed to taking this step, a spokesperson said. (Bloomberg)

Rocket Lab successfully launches test rocket Electron into orbit from Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand, becoming the first rocket to reach orbit using an electric pump-fed engine, after the original rocket launch in May 2017 had to be aborted by safety officials. (1 News)

THE END

Just Let The World Die

Saturday, Jan 20, 2018

The Syrian Army seizes control of the strategic Abu al-Duhur Military Airbase in the Idlib Governorate. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Romanians protest in Bucharest and major cities against perceived corruption and changes to judiciary. Romanians in diaspora stage protests in dozens of cities worldwide in solidarity with the anti-corruption movement in the country. (Associated Press) (Balkan Insight)

The United States federal government shuts down after the United States Senate fails to pass a budget bill. (The New York Times)

China claims its sovereignty was violated when a United States Navy ship sailed close to the Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines. (The Japan Times)

Thousands of women protest throughout the United States in support of women’s rights. (The New York Times)

Former candidate for the presidency Manuel Baldizón was captured in the United States accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht. (Reuters)

 

Friday, Jan 19, 2018

An Atlas V rocket successfully deployed the fourth SBIRS satellite for the United States Air Force. This launch completes the geosynchronous segment of SBIRS and provides a global missile detection system for the United States. (Spaceflight 101)

Presenting a new national defense strategy, the United States Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, says terrorism is no longer the focus of the national security of the United States. Now it is competition between great powers. (BBC)

With a cross-border artillery bombardment into the Afrin Canton, Turkey starts its announced military campaign to “destroy” the Syrian Kurdish YPG group. (Reuters)

Outside the Fleury-Mérogis prison, French police clash with prison guards who are striking over the detention conditions in French jails. (Reuters)

Citing a national “fervor”, the Communist Party of China proposes writing the Xi Jinping Thought into the state constitution, after it was already added to the party constitution. (Reuters)

Carl Higbie, Corporation for National and Community Service Chief of External Affairs, apologizes and resigns from his position with the agency that runs AmeriCorps after racist and anti-Muslim remarks he made in 2013 are reported by CNN(NPR)

 

Thursday, Jan 18, 2018

The Emirates airline announces an order for up to 36 Airbus A380s. Emirates is already the aircraft’s largest operator, with a fleet of over 100. (BBC)

A bus carrying Uzbek migrant workers catches fire in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe Region, killing 52 people. Five people escape and are treated by rescue workers. (BBC)

Police in Serbia arrest three Australians, one of them Rohan Arnold, a known businessman, for allegedly smuggling 1,280 kilograms (2,820 lb) of cocaine into Sydney in 2016. (Sydney Morning Herald)

In a world’s first, a drone rescues two people off the coast of Lennox Head, New South Wales in Australia by dropping a safety device to them. John Barilaro, the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, praises the rescue as historic. (Channel News Asia) (BBC)

 

 

Tillerson: U.S. will have an open-ended military presence in Syria Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria, as there are “strategic threats” to the United States beyond the Islamic State. “Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria […] through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies, and personnel in the region,” he said during remarks at Stanford University. U.S. troops were sent to northeastern Syria to assist Kurdish fighters battling ISIS militants, and although ISIS has just a small presence in the country, Tillerson said there’s concern of a revival. “We cannot repeat the mistake of 2011, where a premature departure from Iraq allowed al Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually become ISIS,” he said. Source: The Washington Post

North and South Korea to march together at Winter Olympics North and South Korea will march under a unified flag at the opening ceremony for next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Seoul confirmed Wednesday that the two technically warring nations will march together under a single Korean Peninsula flag. Additionally, North and South Korea will field a joint women’s ice hockey team, and the two nations’ skiing teams will practice together at a resort in North Korea ahead of the Games. The moves are a sign of the most significant thaw in relations on the Korean Peninsula in a decade, though Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono cautioned against overvaluing the symbolism: “It is not the time to ease pressure, or to reward North Korea,” he said. Source: The New York Times,

Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018

In Nazran, Ingushetia, arsonists set fire to the office of Memorial, a Russian human rights organization. (The Moscow Times)

The Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman conquest of England, is to be displayed in the United Kingdom for the first time after French PresidentEmmanuel Macron agreed to loan it out for the first time in 950 years. (BBC)

The South Korean Ministry of Unification announces that both North Korea and South Korea will march together under the Korean Unification Flag during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. (CNN)

Following the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines’ revocation of Rappler’s license, the National Bureau of Investigation of the Philippineslaunches a probe into Rappler. (Reuters)

Tuesday,   Jan 16, 2018

The Venezuelan government confirms that Óscar Pérez, the rogue pilot responsible for the Caracas helicopter incident in June 2017, was killed in a firefight with the Venezuelan Army yesterday. Two police officers and seven people from Pérez’s group were killed, and six members of Pérez’s group were arrested. (CNN) (teleSUR)

The European Parliament approves a call to ban electric pulse fishing, seen by some as cruel. (U.S. News & World Report)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) names Russell M. Nelson as the 17th President of the Church. (NPR)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches 26,000 points for the first time, after surpassing the 25,000-mark on January 4. (Chicago Tribune)

A meeting of senior officials from countries that backed what is now South Korea in the Korean War begins today in Vancouver which will look at ways to better implement sanctions to push North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. China and Russia will not be attending the meeting. (Reuters)

The United States will withhold $65 million for Palestinian aid paid via the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency stating that UNRWA needs to make unspecified reforms. The U.S. says it will provide $60 million, 48 percent of the regular payment. (Reuters)

Oliver Ivanović, the head politician of the Kosovo Serb party Freedom, Democracy, Justice, is killed outside his office in North Mitrovica in a drive-by shooting. (BBC)

Over 1,800 muslim clerics in Pakistan issue a fatwa aimed at prohibiting the use of suicide bombing, declaring it haram. (Sputnik).

The New York Times reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Steve Bannon last week to testify before a grand jury. The House Intelligence Committee issues a second subpoena, via powers seldomly used by Congress, following Bannon’s testimony today that, while he was willing to answer questions, the White House instructed him not to answer questions related to his White House tenure. (CNN) (NBC News) (The New York Times)

Temperatures reach −67 °C (−89 °F) in Russia’s Yakutia region, four degrees shy of the record low of −71 °C (−96 °F) recorded in 2013 in Yakutia’s village of Oymyakon. (Channel NewsAsia)

THE END

12.26.2017

Friday,  Dec 29, 2017

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

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

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

 

Thursday, Dec 28,  2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday, Dec 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

 

 Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Christmas  2017

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

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

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

 

Sunday, Dec 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday,  Dec 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

 

Friday,  Dec 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Long

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

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

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

 

 

Wednesday,  Dec 20, 2017

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

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

EU court deals major blow to Uber

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

 

 Tuesday,   Dec 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monday,  Dec 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Sunday, Dec 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday,  Dec 16, 2017

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

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

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

 

 Friday,  Dec 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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