Magical Thinking

 

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Wednesday,  Mar 14,  2018

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

More Below The Fold Continue reading “Magical Thinking”

03.12.2018

Monday,  Mar 12, 2018

China’s National People’s Congress approves the removal of presidential term limits, in a move that allows current president Xi Jinping to remain president for life. (BBC)

A Brooklyn federal court sentences Martin Shkreli to seven years in prison for securities fraud in his hedge fund and pharmaceutical companies. (CNBC)

Black Panther reaches $1 billion worldwide Black Panther continued to dominate as it reached $1 billion in the global box office in just four weeks, according to estimates released by Box Office Mojo on Sunday. It is the 16th Disney movie to reach the billion-dollar mark, and the first Marvel superhero film to top ticket sales for four weeks in a row. Black Panther has grossed $562 million domestically, making it the No. 7 highest-grossing movie ever in North America, without adjusting for inflation. It has now surpassed The Dark Knight to become the second highest-grossing superhero movie ever in the U.S. Source: The Washington Post

 

Sunday, Mar 11, 2018

A helicopter crash in Manhattan’s East River kills five people. (ABC News)

A private plane from Sharjah to Istanbul crashes in the Zagros Mountains in Iran, killing Turkish socialite Mina Başaran along with, according to Iranian state media, ten other people on board. (The National (Abu Dhabi))(BBC)

Activist and journalist Lauren Southern is detained at Calais and prevented from entering the United Kingdom, with the reason given by the UK Home Office that her presence ‘was not conducive to the public good’. (The Evening Standard)(Newsweek)

Senator Elizabeth Warren talks around a suggestion by a Massachusetts newspaper to take a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage. (CNN)

 

Saturday,  Mar 10, 2018

Jeju Island emerges as a possible location for U.S.–North Korea summit talks in May. (The Hankyoreh)

North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho will visit Sweden and meet with Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallström. (Reuters via The Japan Times)

Congolese President Joseph Kabila signs a law that increases taxes on mining and government royalties on international mining companies working in DR Congo, including on the mining of cobalt, despite the opposition from foreign companies. (BBC)

 

Identitarian leaders Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone are detained in the UK for wanting to hold a speech at Speaker’s Corner in London and wanting to interview Tommy Robinson. (Demokracija)(Evening Standard)

 

Friday,  Mar 9, 2018

White House: Trump will accept Kim Jong Un’s invitation to meet South Korea’s national security adviser announced Thursday evening that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “committed to denuclearization” and “expressed an eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.” Speaking outside the White House, Chung Eui-yong said Trump “appreciated the briefing, and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization.” He also said that while talks are underway, North Korea “would refrain from any form of nuclear or missile tests,” and Kim understands that routine military exercises between South Korea and the United States “must continue.” Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Trump will accept the invitation to meet, “at a place and time to be determined.” Source: The Week, Twitter

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that the White House needs to see “concrete and verifiable steps” toward the denuclearization of North Korea before meeting with Kim Jong-un. (Business Insider)

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urges U.S. President Donald Trump to be cautious in North Korea talks. Turnbull also said that Australia must retain sanctions on North Korea. (Canberra Times)

French President Emmanuel Macron says that Trump should hold tough talks with North Korea. (First Post)

An Afghan War veteran and recently expelled resident takes an executive director and two psychologists into a room at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, California. Seven hours later, California Highway Patrol officers find all of them shot dead. (The New York Times)

U.S. President Donald Trump pardons Kristian Saucier, who had served a one-year sentence for unauthorized possession and retention of national defense information. (The Washington Post)

Arianespace launches mission VS18 from the Guiana Space Centre, a Soyuz rocket carrying a payload of four O3b communications satellites for SES. (NASASpaceFlight.com)

Manafort pleads not guilty to tax and fraud charges in Virginia President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Thursday to tax and fraud charges in Virginia federal court, and will be outfitted with a second GPS monitoring bracelet. His trial will start July 10. The bracelet will be in addition to the original tracking device Manafort was assigned last month, after he pleaded not guilty to Washington, D.C.-based charges. The Virginia probation officer told the judge that she wouldn’t have access to tracking data from the D.C.-based bracelet, hence the need for a second monitoring device. Manafort’s plea of not guilty to the 18-count indictment is part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow. Source: Twitter

 

Thursday, Mar 8,  2018

Kim Jong-un invites Donald Trump to discuss Korea’s denuclearization sometime by May, and Trump accepts. (CBC) (The New York Times)

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit demands Guatemala reverse its decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Sandra Jovel says the move is “irreversible.” (Xinhua News Agency)

U.S. President Donald Trump imposes his tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imported from most countries. Canada and Mexico are provisionally exempt pending NAFTA renegotiations. The tariffs will take effect on March 23. (CBS News)

Eleven countries in Asia, North America, Oceania, and South America sign the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. (The New York Times)

The End

 

Some Like It Cold

Thursday, Mar 8, 2018

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

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

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

 

Wednesday,  Mar 7,  2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,   Mar 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

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

 

The Least Independentist

 

Topless Femen protester flashes Silvio Berlusconi

 

Are We Doomed?
by Steve Sailer

Consider airliner safety. During the month of August 1985, when I was flying frequently on business, three commercial jet airliners crashed, killing 712 people. In contrast, in the entire year of 2017, there was not a single fatal commercial jet airliner crash anywhere in the world.

This trend didn’t happen automatically or effortlessly. Guys like my father, an engineer at Lockheed from the 1930s to the 1980s, put a lot of sweat into making planes safer. And when they failed, they had to walk the crash sites picking up broken pieces of the plane (and of the passengers).

 

Monday,  Mar 5, 2018

Shape of Water, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman win big at Oscars The Shape of Water was named best picture Sunday night at the 2018 Academy Awards, with Guillermo del Toro winning best director. The night’s other big winners include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s Frances McDormand for best actress and Sam Rockwell for best actor in a supporting role; Darkest Hour‘s Gary Oldman for best actor; I, Tonya‘s Allison Janney for best actress in a supporting role; Get Out‘s Jordan Peele for best original screenplay; Call Me By Your Name‘s James Ivory for best adapted screenplay; Coco for best animated feature film; and Icarus for documentary feature. Source: Los Angeles Times

China’s Xi Jinping poised to extend his rule indefinitely The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee introduced a proposal last week to remove the presidential term limit constraining the rule of President Xi Jinping. On Monday, the constitutional amendment is expected to be overwhelmingly passed by the National People’s Congress, permitting Xi, already enormously powerful, to extend his rule indefinitely. The change has been subject to criticism on Chinese social media, and it marks a major undoing of reforms implemented since the era of Mao Zedong. President Trump commented on the plan at a fundraiser in Florida Saturday, saying it is “great” Xi will be “president for life,” and musing, “Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” The White House did not respond to a request to clarify whether Trump was joking. Source:  Reuters

Italy votes for populists, right-wingers, denies any faction a majority Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement won the most votes in the country’s national elections on Sunday, but a right-leaning coalition is likely to win the most seats, with no party or group earning a majority, projections showed early Monday. Five Star, a populist party started in 2009 by a former comedian, was projected to win about 32.5 percent of the vote, followed by the anti-immigrant right-wing party the League, with 17.7 percent, plus the League’s main coalition party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, at 13.3 percent. The ruling center-left Democrats are projected to get just under 20 percent, with their leftist coalition earning about 22 percent. It is unclear whether the Five Stars, which reject establishment parties, will be able or willing to form a governing coalition. Source: Reuters

 

Sunday, Mar 4, 2018

Scientists discover a big colony of the more than 750,000 pairs of Adélie penguins on the Danger Islands in Antarctica. (WGN-TV)

Advertisers remove their ads from InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ YouTube channel after being contacted by CNN. (Independent)

South African officials determine that the country’s ongoing listeriosis outbreak — which is already the world’s deadliest listeriosis outbreak, killing over 180 people and sickening 1,000 more—was caused by contaminated “Polony” processed meat from RCL Foods and from Tiger Brands subsidiary company Enterprise Food. The Ministry of Health issues a recall of contaminated products and advises the public to avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat. (Reuters)

A senior Chinese diplomat says that China does not want a trade war with the United States after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a plan to put tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. (CNBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump states North Korea was recently seeking talks with the United States. (Chicago Tribune)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in announces he is sending two officials to meet with North Korea. (The Week)

U.S. President Donald Trump congratulates Chinese President Xi Jinping on eliminating China’s presidential term limits, and reportedly advocates for similar action to be taken in the United States. (CNN)

SPD party members approve with 66% in favour to allow to form a coalition with Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU, ending a five-month political deadlock after the federal elections. (BBC)

15,000 demonstrators gather in Barcelona, Spain, to support the mock region of Tabarnia—a hypothetical area that includes the least independentist areas of Catalonia—as a way to oppose Catalan independence and the declaration of independence on October 27. (The Washington Post)

Swiss voters reject a proposal to scrap the television licence fee that provides the majority of funding for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. Swiss voters also approve the right of the federal government to levy VAT and direct federal tax until 2025. (BBC)

Hyperbolic asteroids A/2017 U7 and A/2018 C2 are announced, although their orbit suggests they are not interstellar in origin. (Minor Planet Center1)(Minor Planet Center2)

 

Saturday, Mar 3, 2018

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 36 pro-Syrian government troops were killed in a Turkish airstrike in Afrin, Syria. (BBC)

Turkish troops and the Free Syrian Army seize control of the strategic town of Rajo, Syria, from YPG forces. (Al Masdar News) (The Guardian)

Gazan officials say Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian farmer on his own land in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli military spokesperson said that he got too close to the border fence. (Oman Times)

In a message on Twitter, U.S. President Donald Trump says the U.S. will apply a tax on cars made in the European Union if the E.U. “further” increases tariffs.(BBC)

Hours after the Polish so-called Holocaust Law about discussing of historical facts takes effect, the Polish League Against Defamation sues Argentinian newspaper Página/12, which it accuses of suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust. (Reuters)

On the day of the funeral of slain journalist Ján Kuciak, for lack of evidence, police release seven Italian nationals who are accused of links with the ‘Ndrangheta mafia in a posthumously published investigative report by Kuciak. (Daily Star)

The Florida Senate rejects a bill to ban “assault weapons” and holds a moment of “silence and reflection” for the Parkland, Florida, victims. (The Washington Post)

The International Football Association Board, which sets the rules for association football, approves the use of video assistant referees, which will be used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. (BBC)

 

 

Friday,  Mar 2, 2018

An Israel Police anti-corruption unit questions Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara. (Reuters)

A terrorist attack at the French embassy and military headquarters in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, leaves 28 people dead and at least 50 others injured. (BBC)

An attack on a village, part of the unrest between ethnic Lendu and Hema communities, leaves 49 people dead in the Ituri Province of DR Congo. (News18)

At least 25 people are killed in a fire at a drug-rehabilitation clinic in Baku, Azerbaijan. (RFE/RL)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denies White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders’ claim that Russia breached any international arms control pacts, after President Vladimir Putin’s March 1 speech on nuclear weapons. (Reuters)

The Hellenic Parliament passes a bill legalising the use of medical cannabis in Greece. New Democracy, Communist Party, Golden Dawn and the Union of Centrists voted against the government-sponsored bill. (Greek Reporter)

Antonio Tajani, the current President of the European Parliament, accepts the offer of Silvio Berlusconi to stand as a candidate for Prime Minister of Italy for Forza Italia. (The Local)

European Union lawmakers strike a deal on opening up the 3.6 and 26 GHz bandwidths by 2020 to make room for the new 5G network. (Reuters)

The Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden sets the 24-hour swimming record in a 25-meter pool at 102.8 kilometres (63.9 mi). (SwimSwam)

 

Thursday, Mar 1,  2018

The Parliament of Iraq votes to oblige the federal government to set a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops. (Iraq News)

An alleged Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a House Intelligence Committee Republican was behind the leak to Fox News of private text messages between a Russian-connected lawyer and Senator Mark Warner, the committee vice-chairman, concerning an attempt to contact Christopher Steele, author of the Trump–Russia dossier. Committee chairman Richard Burr later denied the leak report. (The New York Times)(Slate)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. (BBC)

Police in Oslo, Norway, say that the FBI is assisting in the investigation into two forged nominations of Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. The impersonator allegedly used the same stolen identity twice. (Newser)(The Washington Post)

Dilek Öcalan, MP for the pro-Kurdish HDP party, is sentenced to two and a half years in jail on charges of terror propaganda related to her participation in the 2016 funeral of a PKK fighter. Nine HDP MPs are currently in jail. (NRT)

NASA astronomers use the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes in research implying that “hot Saturn” (high surface-atmosphere temperatures and gas giant-mass) exoplanet WASP-39b, located 700 light-years from Earth, has a large amount of water molecules in its atmosphere. (NASA)

THE END

Antwerp

 

Cocaine’s New Gateway to Europe: Busy Belgian Port
More of the drug is coming through Antwerp’s port as output from Latin America rises

 

Wakanda Blockbuster Is This?

Wakanda is a sort of black Zion mixed with the governmental structure of Israel’s new best friend forever, Saudi Arabia, augmented by the xenophobic policies of Japan during the Tokugawa shogunate.

 

 

Thursday, Mar 1,  2018

Putin claims Russia has powerful new nuclear weapons Russia has successfully developed a new range of nuclear weapons that are unparalleled in the West and are effectively impossible for America to intercept, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted Thursday. Russia’s new weapons include “a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world,” The Associated Press writes. Putin cited the 2002 decision by the U.S. to withdraw from the Cold War-era Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, as well as American efforts to subsequently develop missile defense systems, for fueling Moscow’s determination to create weapons that can get around the protections. Putin claimed that while the weapons Russia has developed “may appear [elsewhere] someday … by that time we will develop something new.” Source: The Associated Press

Kushner Cos. got millions in loans after lenders met Kushner at White House Kushner Cos., the family business of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, received a loan of $184 million last November from Apollo Global Management, a firm whose founder, Joshua Harris, made several visits to the White House over the year, three people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. Harris met with Kushner multiple times to discuss infrastructure policy, but they also spoke about Harris possibly getting a job with the administration, which never happened. The Apollo loan was triple the size of the average Apollo property loan, the Times says. Citigroup also lent Kushner Cos. $325 million last spring after CEO Michael Corbat met with Kushner in the White House, reportedly to discuss financial and trade policy. Source: The New York Times

Wednesday,  Feb 28,  2018

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offers to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political formation as part of a proposed process aimed at ending more than 16 years of war. (Reuters)

Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart raise the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21 and stop selling military-style semi-automatic rifles altogether. (NPR)(Reuters)

Two former employees of InfoWars founder and radio host Alex Jones accuse him of sexual harassment, racism and antisemitism. (New York Daily News)

Hope Hicks announces that she will resign as White House Communications Director, one day after being interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee. (The Guardian)

The International Olympic Committee restores the Russian Federation’s membership after the ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics. (BBC)

 

Tuesday,   Feb 27, 2018

The Israeli Prosecutor’s Office links Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a corruption case. (Times of Israel)

Saudi King Salman replaces top army commanders and reshuffles key security and government ministries. (Al Jazeera)

U.S. President Donald Trump names Brad Parscale as his 2020 presidential campaign manager as he formally declares he is running for re-election, a record 980 days before the election. (CNBC)

Syrian government violates Eastern Ghouta ceasefire, killing 2 A Russia-brokered ceasefire in Syria was violated by the government early Tuesday, in the besieged rebel-held region of Eastern Ghouta. Russia said Monday that it would arrange the temporary truce in Eastern Ghouta, where hundreds have been killed in the government’s week-long bombardment of the area. In Tuesday’s shelling, at least two civilians were killed, one of them a child, per the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Residents of Eastern Ghouta told ABC News that they could see government warplanes in the sky after the designated 9 a.m. start time for the ceasefire. Since the offensive began eight days ago, more than 570 civilians have been killed. Source: ABC News, Reuters

White House reportedly downgrades Kushner’s top-secret security access President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has lost his top-secret security clearance, Politico reported Monday, being downgraded along with the rest of the White House aides working on interim highest-level clearances to the “Secret” level. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sent a memo Friday revoking high-level access to classified information for White House employees whose background checks have been pending since before June 2017. Kushner had apparently been “resisting giving up his access to highly classified information,” The New York Times reports. Trump could theoretically grant Kushner permanent security clearance himself, but he told reporters Friday that he would “let General Kelly make that decision.” Kushner’s considerable White House portfolio includes overseeing the Israel-Palestine peace process. Source: Politico, The New York Times

Comcast offers $31 billion for Britain’s Sky, outbidding Rupert Murdoch On Tuesday, Comcast made a cash offer for Britain’s Sky PLC, outbidding Rupert Murdoch’s stalled attempt to purchase the European satellite TV giant by about 16 percent per share. Comcast’s £12.50-a-share ($17.50) offer values Sky at $31 billion. “We think Sky is an outstanding company,” Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement. “Comcast intends to use Sky as a platform for growth in Europe. We already have a strong presence in London through our NBCUniversal international operations, and we intend to maintain Sky’s U.K. headquarters.” Murdoch has long wanted to purchase the 61 percent of Sky his company doesn’t already own, but British regulators have raised objections. Source: Bloomberg News

 

 Monday,  Feb 26, 2018

Five Dutch nationals and a Colombian are arrested at the staged delivery operation in Oss, Netherlands, of a container with 4,500 kilograms (9,900 lb) of cocaine and bananas for cover, originating from Colombia, that was previously intercepted in the Port of Antwerp. (De Gelderlander)

Saudi Arabia opens applications for women to join its armed forces for the first time. (BBC)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancels a scheduled trip to the United States after a heated phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump, in which Trump refused to publicly back down from his pledge of having Mexico pay for the U.S.–Mexico border wall. (CNN)

French President Emmanuel Macron phones Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, telling Erdoğan that the UN-approved ceasefire in Syria also applies in the Afrin Region. (Reuters)

 

Sunday, Feb 25, 2018

Government forces launch a ground and air offensive in eastern Ghouta despite the adoption of Resolution 2401 by the United Nations Security Council demanding a ceasefire in part of the area. (Al Jazeera)

South Korean president Moon Jae-in states that North Korea is willing to enter talks with the United States in an effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (ABC News)

A Iraqi court sentences 15 Turkish women to death by hanging after they were found guilty of joining the ISIS group as brides. (Newsweek)

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposes that the country’s constitution be amended to abolish term limits for the posts of President and Vice President. The move is seen as an attempt by current president Xi Jinping to solidify his power. (The Guardian)

The closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics occurs, officially bringing the competitions to an end. The Norwegian team leads the medal table with 14 gold and record 39 medals in total. (Pyeonchang 2018)

 

Saturday,  Feb 24, 2018

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. (BBC)

A memo written by Democrats on the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is released, countering the Republican memo released on February 2. The memo is “a nothing,” President Donald Trump told Fox TV. (Bloomberg)

Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (a medication used to treat angina) at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang admits to doping and has been disqualified from competing. (AP via MSN)

 

Friday,  Feb 23, 2018

Syrian government warplanes carry out a sixth day of airstrikes in the rebel-held Ghouta suburbs east of Damascus, killing 32 people as the death toll from a week of bombardment reaches over 400. (US News)

Rick Gates pleads guilty to charges of conspiracy against the United States and making false statements, and agrees to cooperate with the Special Counsel investigation. (NPR)

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

Russia blocks agreement on a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a 30-day truce in Syria. A formal vote was postponed. The death toll since Sunday in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta is more than 400, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (The New York Times)

Montenegrin police identify the perpetrator of a grenade attack on the U.S. embassy in Podgorica which occurred yesterday. According to authorities, he was a veteran of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia. (BBC)

Romanian Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announces that he would trigger the dismissal procedures of the Chief Prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Codruța Kövesi. The announcement sparks protests. (Act Media)

Russian police detained the political activist Alexei Navalny and his chief of staff Leonid Volkov, who will be taken to court for having organized an unauthorized protest on January 28. Navalny claims that the authorities want him in jail when the upcoming presidential election occurs on March 18. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller files a 32-count indictment against political consultant and lobbyist Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates in the Eastern District of Virginia for multiple crimes including tax evasion and bank fraud. (ABC News)

THE END

 

The Real Wakanda

 

Thursday, Feb 22,  2018

How To Exploit a High School Massacre

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

 

Ethiopia

 

 

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

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

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

Wednesday,  Feb 21,  2018

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

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

 Tuesday,   Feb 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Monday,  Feb 19, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday, Feb 18, 2018

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

 

Saturday,  Feb 17, 2018

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

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

Friday,  Feb 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE END

 

I never heard so much fucking nonsense in my life.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

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

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

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

Lopez: Gotcha,

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

Lopez: And Mars?

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

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

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

 

 

Yet Another Year of Magical Thinking
Clusterfuck Nation

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

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

More Below The Fold

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

Nice Lips

 

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

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

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

 

Tuesday,  Feb 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE END

 

Volatility


Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018

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

 

Monday,  Feb 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

2018 Sunday, Feb 4, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Saturday,  Feb 3, 2018

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

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

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

Friday, Feb 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

THE END

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