COMING UP SHORT THIS MONTH.
Thought for the day
"The first panacea of a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permeant ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists." -- Ernest Hemingway
A Russian billionaire was criminally charged in New York with violating U.S. sanctions in an indictment unsealed Thursday that also charges three others in a scheme to ensure his child was born in the United States.
The Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, 52, has faced economic sanctions since 2018, when he was designated for them by the U.S. Treasury Department, which said he had acted for or on behalf of a senior Russian official and had operated in the energy sector of the Russian economy.
Andrew C. Adams, a Manhattan federal prosecutor who heads a task force pursuing crimes by Russian oligarchs, said in a release that Deripaska had lied and evaded U.S. sanctions as he sought to benefit from life in America 'despite his cozy ties with the Kremlin and his vast wealth acquired through ties to a corrupt regime.'
The U.S. economy was even weaker in the first half of the year than previously thought, data from the Commerce Department indicated on Thursday.
Gross Domestic Product contracted by 1.6 percent in the first three months of 2022 and by 0.6 percent in the April through June quarter, meaning the economy shrank for two consecutive quarters.
Those who argued that the economy was not actually in a recession could point to the low unemployment rate and a measure of the economy known as Gross Domestic Income, which had been reported as growing 1.8 percent in the first quarter and 1.4 percent in the second quarter.
On Thursday, the Commerce Department released revisions to its estimates of GDP and GDI. The GDP estimates were unchanged but the GDI estimates for the first half of this year were marked down sharply. First quarter GDI grew at a 0.8 percent annual rate and second quarter GDI growth was a mere 0.1 percent.
Depending on how heavily loaded they were, even assuming everyone had a full battery charge, cars from southern Florida would start running out of juice after 100 – 250 miles. They would then have to spend hours at recharging stations, which would rapidly be clogged with other cars and trucks waiting their turn, since an electricity “fill up” can easily take an hour or more, as compared to a couple of minutes for gasoline. Cars waiting to be charged would spill onto the highways, potentially blocking traffic.
Those cars that ran out of juice on the highway would block traffic. Even assuming that emergency service vehicles could get to them (unlikely if the entire fleet were electric cars), towing a portable generator (powered by fossil fuels, of course) and recharging the stalled vehicles would take plenty of time, as well, further blocking traffic. The stranded cars would, of course, have no air conditioning, no wipers, no GPS.
In all likelihood, the highways would become vast parking lots, trapping their passengers wherever they happened to be stalled, waiting for the storm and flood waters to reach them, unable to get to safety.
The Yemeni government said Thursday it has signed a deal worth $200 million with Saudi Arabia to provide fuel to war-torn Yemen.
Under the deal, the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) will provide 250,000 metric tons of oil derivatives to Yemen, the state news agency Saba reported.
Saba said the deal will help increase the capabilities of Yemeni government institutions and the stability of electric power in various government and private institutions and the industrial sector.
Yemen has recently experienced a severe electricity crisis amid a fuel shortage in the war-ravaged nation.
Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014 when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to restore the government to power.
Slowly but surely, the bureaucracy that imposed restrictive, destructive, and ineffective pandemic policies are quietly dropping the rules as we head into the November election.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased its universal masking recommendation for nursing homes and hospital. The only exception would be for facilities in areas seeing high levels of covid transmission.
Earlier in the pandemic, everyone was asked to wear well-fitting masks or respirators in health care settings. Later, exceptions included that visitors could “choose not to wear source control” if they had updated vaccines and were alone together with those they were visiting, CBS News reported. Another exception allowed staff who were up to date on vaccines to unmask when not with patients.
Three Russian cosmonauts returned safely Thursday from a mission to the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft carrying Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov touched down softly at 4:57 p.m. at a designated site in the steppes of Kazakhstan, 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan.
The trio had arrived at the space station in March. For Artemyev, the mission marked a third space flight, bringing his total time spent in orbit to 561 days. Matveyev and Korsakov each logged 195 days on their first missions.
As the Soyuz capsule was descending, using a big striped red-and-white parachute under clear skies, Artemyev reported to Mission Control that all members of the crew were feeling fine.
On Saturday, September 23, Israeli forces shot and killed 36-year-old, Mohammad Awad in Beit Ijza near Jerusalem claiming he attempted a ramming attack against soldiers. The Palestinian foreign ministry reported that Awad was “defenseless” and did not pose a danger to his executioners.
Less than 24 hours later, Israeli forces assassinated 23-year-old resistance fighter, Sa’ed Al-Koni, in Nablus. His body remains withheld by the Israeli military, an illegal practice that Israeli authorities continue to implement punitively.
Another three resistance fighters were injured in the military ambush and managed to escape in a car, while the motorcycle which Al-Koni was riding erupted into flames. Al-Koni is the 18th Palestinian to be killed in Nablus by Israeli military operations.
This is amazing. Starting two years ago, college students all over the country were demanding the defunding and even removal of the police. Now these students want more security?
It’s only fitting that literally hours after the most clueless dwarf in capital markets history, Janet “No crisis in my lifetime” Yellen said that financial markets are functioning well, that the Bank of England literally panicked, and shocked markets by resuming unlimited QE.
“We haven’t seen liquidity problems develop in markets — we’re not seeing, to the best of my knowledge, the kind of deleveraging that could signify some financial stability risks,” Yellen said in answering reporters’ questions Tuesday on a trip to North Carolina.
Fast forward just a few hours when the the Bank of England saw quite a few “liquidity problems” when it cited “significant repricing of UK and global financial assets… This repricing has become more significant in the past day – and it is particularly affecting long-dated UK government debt.” It warned that “were dysfunction in this market to continue or worsen, there would be a material risk to UK financial stability” and used that to justify the end of QT (before it even started) and the restart of QE.
There is no bigger threat to democracy in our country than the power of Big Tech companies to control what information we as citizens are allowed to share. The monopoly power that companies such as Google and Facebook have over the online advertising market gives the far-left employees of these firms far too much control over what ideas can be shared on their platforms.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and John Kennedy (R-LA) dealt a huge blow to these monopolists last week when they successfully attached an amendment to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act that forbids Big Tech firms and online publishers from forming an agreement on how to censor content online.
After decades of lax antitrust enforcement at the Federal Trade Commission, both Google and Facebook have been able to merge their way into monopoly positions in the online advertising marketplace. Using their ill-gotten market power, Google and Facebook are able to capture about half of all online advertising spending. This is why even though news site traffic has been up 40% since 2014, the revenues that publishers collect have been down 58%.
The Kremlin said on Friday that attacks against any part of the swathe of Ukraine that president Vladimir Putin was about to annex would be considered aggression against Russia itself, adding that Russia would fight to take the whole of the Donbas region.
Russian resident Vladimir Putin is due to proclaim the annexation of more than 15 per cent of Ukraine on Friday, escalating his seven-month war and taking it into an unpredictable new phase.
Moscow is declaring Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, largely or partly occupied by Russian or Russian-backed forces, to be part of Russia.
A federal judge on Thursday eased several demands a special master had imposed on former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers in conducting a review of documents the F.B.I. seized from his residence last month, overruling an arbiter she had appointed herself.
In a six-page order, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida set aside requirements the special master, Judge Raymond J. Dearie, put in place in recent days that would have tested excuses Mr. Trump has made in connection with the trove of documents taken from his estate, Mar-a-Lago.
Judge Cannon also rejected a swift timetable Judge Dearie had set to resolve the review of the documents, slowing the matter down.
Comedian and talk show host Trevor Noah is leaving The Daily Show after seven years at the helm during which the late-night infotainment show's viewership declined dramatically.
Noah, 38, who hails from South Africa, took over the show from former host Jon Stewart in 2015.
He revealed the news to a stunned live audience during yesterday's taping of the show, which runs from Monday-Thursday on Comedy Central.
Webmaster addition: Get woke, go broke!
New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul announced Thursday there will be “no more excuses” not to buy an electric vehicle after directing the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take significant action to accelerate the state’s transition to clean transportation to protect the environment.
In White Plains, New York, Governor Hochul outlined the state’s new ambitious clean energy and climate goals. The most important takeaway is all new vehicles sold in the state of New York will now need to be zero-emission by 2035, the same requirement that was set in California by the state’s new Advanced Clean Cars II regulation.
California Air Resources Board (CARB) predicts California’s new regulation will cut emissions by 50% between 2026 and 2040. Since it passed, 18 other states have followed in California’s footsteps, adopting California’s Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV) and Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandates, with New York being the most recent.
On September 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that, given mounting economic sanctions, full “de-dollarization” of the Russian economy is only a matter of time (RBC, September 12). Putin`s remark was preceded by a statement from Russian Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev, who argued that “Russia no longer needs the US dollar as a reserve currency.” Instead, Russia must accumulate funds in currencies of so-called “friendly countries,” such as the Chinese yuan, which is playing a key role in this regard (RBC, September 8).
The idea of departing from the US dollar as a reserve currency is by no means new to Russia: It was first entertained in the 1990s. By 2018, Moscow had devised a “plan on the de-dollarization” of its economy. Prior to the outbreak of Russia`s war against Ukraine on February 24, Dmitry Medvedev stated that, if the Kremlin`s operations with US dollars were to be restricted, Moscow could fully switch to the yuan and euro instead (Vedomosti.ru, January 27). However, following Russia`s attack on Ukraine, the United States, the European Union, and other large economies have effectively barred Moscow from using their national currencies. As a result, aside from the Turkish lira, the United Arab Emirates` dirham and the Indian rupee—each of which cannot be fully relied on due to a number of factors—Russia has been reduced to the use of the yuan as an alternative reserve currency to the US dollar and euro.
The Senate on Thursday approved a stopgap funding bill needed to avert a government shutdown that includes up to $16 billion in new aid for Ukraine.
The legislation passed the Senate in a vote of 72-25 and is expected to be passed quickly by the House so it can reach President Biden’s desk by Friday night.
One provision in the bill is for a $12.3 billion aid package for Ukraine. It includes $4.5 billion in direct budgetary aid for the Ukrainian government, $2.8 billion for the Pentagon to pay for troops deployments in Eastern Europe, $1.5 billion to replenish US stockpiles sent to Ukraine, and $3 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). The USAI allows the US government to purchase weapons for Ukraine.
Webmaster addition: "Those people in Florida will just have to deal with the hurricane damage on their own!" -- Official White Horse Souse
The US is planning to establish a new command base in Germany that will focus entirely on supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Establishing the command would be part of the Western effort to support Ukraine in the long term, as there are no signs that the war will be ending anytime soon. The command would oversee the arming and training of Ukrainian forces.
US officials told the Times that Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, the top US military officer in Europe, recently submitted a proposal to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on establishing the command. Austin is reviewing the plan and is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks, and the idea is said to be favored by the White House and the Pentagon.
The US and its European allies have begun depleting their arms stockpiles by transferring myriad weapons systems to Kiev. The civilian head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said he is working with the arms industry to increase production.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, members of NATO have sent tens of billions in arms to Ukraine. On Wednesday, the White House announced a new $1.1 billion arms transfer to Kiev. Washington has led all donors by a significant margin, giving over $65 billion to Ukraine in just over seven months.
Most weapons President Joe Biden has sent to Ukraine have come under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to give away American weapons without Congressional approval. The legislature has approved billions for the PDA in a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill that was passed in May.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Moscow was exploring the idea of holding in-person talks with the US on New START, the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty between the two powers.
“At the moment, we are exploring possibilities for holding a face-to-face session,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
Zakharova said that there is an “ongoing dialogue” between the US and Russia concerning the resumption of inspections under the New START treaty, which have been suspended since 2020 due to COVID-19. “There is an ongoing dialogue through the appropriate channels on how the parties could return to full implementation of the treaty in this part,” she said.
Mercifully, the January 6th committee hearings in congress were canceled yesterday, presumably because Hurricane Ian’s landfall would have botched ratings. With midterms approaching, Democrats have a lot riding on January 6th and are growing impatient. New York congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who runs the party’s campaign arm, even grumbled about a lack of indictments.
“I think it’s going to be very hard for people to understand if there aren’t actions by the Justice Department to hold people accountable,” he said.
As with Ukrainegate and impeachment, and Russiagate before that, polls show January 6th remains low on the list of voter concerns (the cratering economy is first). However, the reason it “may be hard for people to understand,” as Maloney says, is that congress has spent too much time blurring lines between election denial and conspiracy to overturn the result. If they just focused on the latter — and they have produced evidence, like Trump asking Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to seize voting machines — the hearings might be more effective, even with Republicans.
But they haven’t been, for a reason made obvious by Matt Orfalea’s damning video — which YouTube incredibly has already demonetized — above. Amid sweeping efforts to punish election denial in the Trump context, both criminally and with censorship, an almost exactly similar denial campaign that inspired four-plus years of blue politics has been dropped down a memory hole.
Led by the losing candidate in 2016, Democratic Party politicians along with law enforcement and intelligence officials and media spent years denying the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, based on an equally specious/dishonest formulation: “The election was hacked.” Moreover, they instigated removal efforts based on the same declare-guilt-now, prove-it-later mentality that gripped figures like Trump and Rudy Giuliani in 2020. How different really is “Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me” from “We just have to dig deeper, do the investigation and find it”?
A federal appeals court in Manhattan handed former President Donald Trump a procedural victory Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit, after famed columnist E. Jean Carroll claimed that Trump had raped her in the 1990s.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state at the Covelli Centre, in Youngstown, Ohio, on Sept. 17, 2022. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
In a two-to-one decision on Sept. 27, the panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court erred when it ruled that Carroll could sue Trump for defamatory statements during his presidency, given that a federal law, known as the Westfall Act, shields government employees from liability in work-related incidents.
Carroll, 78, sued Trump in 2019, claiming the Republican sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan. Because the alleged attack happened decades ago, Carroll was originally barred from suing over sexual battery, pushing her to sue for defamation over allegedly disparaging comments Trump made about the rape allegation.
Trump denied her allegation at the time and accused her of using false claims as a way to promote her book. “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened,” the-then president told The Hill in an interview at the White House in June 2019.
An election-integrity group is filing a new legal complaint each day this week regarding a different Minnesota county for officials’ failure to remove duplicate voter registrations from county voter rolls.
“Federal law requires that duplicate registrations are eliminated from the voter roll,” said J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF). Adams is a former civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It is troubling that we are seeing duplicate registrants remain on the voter roll in Minnesota counties. Each duplicate registration allows for a person to vote more than once. Removing these duplicate registrations will make Minnesota’s elections more secure.”
PILF describes itself as “the nation’s only public interest law firm dedicated wholly to election integrity.” The nonprofit organization “exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity, and fight against lawlessness in American elections.”
Under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), states are required to implement a computerized statewide voter registration list that is accurate and eliminates duplicate registrations.
PILF is now using state implementation provisions in HAVA that have “pretty much never been used for 20 years,” Adams told The Epoch Times in an interview.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers are seeking another delay in allowing lawyers for former President Donald Trump to peruse documents seized in August from Trump’s Florida estate.
The DOJ was supposed to provide electronic copies of the documents to Trump attorneys and U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master in the case, no later than Sept. 26. But the government sought and received a delay of four days for the production.
DOJ lawyers said that the delay was warranted because of issues contracting a vendor to scan and store the materials.
Those issues have not been resolved, DOJ lawyers said in a new filing entered late Sept. 27.
None of the five vendors proposed by the government “were willing to be engaged by Plaintiff,” the lawyers said, citing attorneys for Trump.
The sabotage of the Nord Stream (NS) and Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipelines in the Baltic Sea has ominously propelled ‘Disaster Capitalism’ to a whole new, toxic level.
This episode of Hybrid Industrial/Commercial War, in the form of a terror attack against energy infrastructure in international waters signals the absolute collapse of international law, drowned by a “our way or the highway”, “rules-based”, order.
The attack on both pipelines consisted of multiple explosive charges detonated in separate branches close to the Danish island of Bornholm, but in international waters.
That was a sophisticated operation, carried out in stealth in the shallow depth of the Danish straits. That would in principle rule out submarines (ships entering the Baltic are limited to a draught of 15 meters). As for prospective “invisible” vessels, these could only loiter around with permission from Copenhagen – as the waters around Borholm are crammed with sensors, reflecting fear of incursion by Russian submarines.
Swedish seismologists registered two underwater explosions on Monday – one of them estimated at 100 kg of TNT. Yet as much as 700 kg may have been used to blow up three separate pipeline nodes. Such amount could not have possibly been delivered in just one trip by underwater drones currently available in neighboring nations.
The pressure on the pipelines dropped exponentially. The pipes are now filled with seawater.
The United States has carried out multiple surveillance flights this week around Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave located on the Baltic Sea coast. The American spy planes are likely assessing Moscow’s nuclear weapons activity as the two sides step up threats and warnings over the ongoing war in Ukraine.
During the past week, at least three Boeing RC-135s have circled Kaliningrad – a small piece of land sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland – according to data collected by flight tracking site RadarBox.
The territory has become a potential flashpoint in recent months, as members of the US-led military bloc have threatened to cut it off from mainland Russia, with which it shares no border.
Earlier this year, NATO announced that it would welcome Finland and Sweden into the alliance. Moscow warned it could increase its military presence in the region as a response to any future strategic weapons deployments within the territory of new members.
Banks in Turkey will no longer accept the Russian Mir payment system, as reported by the Turkish NTV broadcaster on Wednesday, 28 September.
According to a person speaking on behalf of the Russian Kremlin, this decision is due to weeks of “unprecedented pressure” exercised by the United States.
“It’s clear that banks and economic operators are under the strongest possible pressure from the United States, and they are threatened with secondary sanctions on the banking system,” the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized Washington for its measures.
Turkiye Vakiflar Bankasi, TC Ziraat Bankasi, and Turkiye Halk Bankasi were the last three banks to receive the Russian Mir bank cards. The report says that the three banks will still process the ongoing payments but will pull out of the system.
Hungary cannot support the European Union's planned eighth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine if those contain energy sanctions, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.
The EU executive proposed on Wednesday fresh sanctions against Russia, including tighter trade restrictions, more individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposed sanctions fall short of harder-hitting measures, including a ban on importing Russian diamonds, sought by Russia hawks Poland and the three Baltic countries.
But EU states need unanimity to impose sanctions and Orban has been a vocal critic, saying on Monday that the EU sanctions have "backfired", driving up energy prices and dealing a blow to European economies.