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Forbes: Tesla Green Car Production Circus Distracting From Solar City Woes

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 22, 2018

As Elon Musk ramps up the hype over whether Tesla will hit its Model 3 production targets, another financial disaster may be unfolding at Tesla’s subsidiary Solar City.

Tesla’s Constant Turmoil Can’t Hide The Fact That SolarCity Is Dying

Jim Collins
JUN 22, 2018 @ 03:07 PM

I am convinced that the financial media will never end its fascination with Tesla and this week has been even more rife with intrigue than most. While the actions of self-proclaimed whistleblower Martin Tripp—including his extraordinary email exchange with CEO Elon Musk—have garnered most of the headlines, there are more relevant news items for investors.  Thursday’s Reuters article has the details of Tesla’s abrupt shutdown of a major part of its SolarCity sales network, and the ending of the company’s partnership with Home Depot had been announced last week in the press release detailing Tesla’s workforce reductions.

As Tesla’s struggles to perform the most basic assembly tasks at its Fremont car plant grab the headlines, the SolarCity news is signaling to the market a reality of which I have been convinced for some time: SolarCity is worthless. So, now the focus has to shift to that transaction, in which the former Tesla Motors paid 11 million shares of its stock to a company that was also chaired by its chairman and CEO and run on a day-to-day basis by his cousin (SolarCity’s former CEO Lyndon Rive.)  The conflicts of interest were so obvious then, and even though most of Tesla’s Board members recused themselves from the SolarCity acquisition process, the simple fact is that Tesla picked up a lemon when they drove SolarCity off the lot.

How would the market perceive such a write-off given that Tesla is contractually obligated to spend $5 billion in capital in the ten years following the completion of the currently-in-construction (also being built by Panasonic) Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo?  I am terrible at predicting Tesla’s share price movements over the short-term, but over the long-term, SolarCity will be a huge drain on the value of a car company that has been massively overvalued for years.

Full article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2018/06/22/teslas-constant-turmoil-cant-hide-the-fact-that-solarcity-is-dying/

How different things would have been had Hillary Clinton won. Hillary Clinton pledged to install five hundred million solar panels during her presidency. Solar City would likely have been front of the queue to supply those solar panels, and Elon Musk would likely have pocketed billions of dollars of taxpayers cash helping Clinton fulfil her solar pledge.

Perhaps a Clinton victory is what Elon Musk had in mind when he bought out Solar City, and signed binding deals to build those extravagant Gigafactories.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

UN Climate Demand Opens the way for More Abuse of Poor Farmers

By Eric Worrall | Watts Up With That? | June 22, 2018

If there is one climate program which should have died in a welter of shame, that programme is third world conservation programmes, programmes which have reportedly already caused mayhem in places where government backed forces have committed atrocities to drive farmers and tribes out of nature reserves.

Forests provide a critical short-term solution to climate change

22 JUN 2018

To prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to act now.

There is a “catastrophic climate gap” between the commitments that countries have made under the Paris Climate Agreement and the emissions reductions required to avoid the worst consequences of global warming, according to UN Environment’s Emissions Gap Report 2017.

The Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2˚ Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5˚ Celsius.

Current pledges from governments represent only about half of what would be required to avoid a 2˚C temperature rise, and just one third of what’s required to limit warming to 1.5˚C.

While this “emissions gap” is significant, UN Environment suggests it can still be closed in a cost-effective manner.

One of the major contributors to closing the gap is forests.

The good news here is that 6.3 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide emission reductions have already been reported over the past six years from forests in Brazil, Ecuador, Malaysia and Colombia alone under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), according to the UNFCCC Lima Hub. This is equivalent to more than the annual emissions of the United States.

“This is a significant step forward, showing that forests can be a central part of the solution to climate change,” says the head of the UN-REDD Programme Secretariat, Mario Boccucci. “We have an unprecedented opportunity: political will, know-how, finance. Now we need to build on progress and scale up rapidly in the coming years.”

Protecting forests, including mangroves, makes climate action cheaper and faster. We need to build the political case for this across all countries.

“The Emissions Gap Report once again underscores the urgency of redoubling our efforts to reduce emissions,” says UN Environment climate change expert Niklas Hagelberg.

“It shows that solutions exist, and if they are adopted quickly we can turn our current situation around. But with each year we wait, we make our ability to limit dangerous climate change more difficult, risky and costly.”

Full article: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/forests-provide-critical-short-term-solution-climate-change

Even the Guardian has noted the connection between offering large cash grants to tyrants in return for declaring regions off limits to humans, and vicious attacks against people living in the affected regions;

The tribes paying the brutal price of conservation

John Vidal
Sun 28 Aug 2016 17.00 AEST

Across the world, governments are protecting habitats. But indigenous peoples are being evicted

The Botswana police helicopter spotted Tshodanyestso Sesana and his friends in the afternoon. The nine young Bushmen, or San, had been hunting antelope to feed their families, when the chopper flew towards them.

There was a burst of gunfire from the air and the young men dropped their meat and skins and fled. Largely through luck, no one was hit, but within minutes armed troops arrived in a jeep and the nine were arrested, stripped naked, beaten and then detained for several days for poaching in a nature reserve.

Welcome to 21st-century life in the vast Central Kalahari game park, an ancient hunting ground for the San, but now off-limits to the people who forged their history there. The brutal incident took place last week, just days after Botswana’s wildlife minister Tshekedi Khama, the brother of President Ian Khama, announced a shoot-on-sight policy on poachers.

Khama claims the policy, which is supported by conservation groups, will deter poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, which is widely seen by Europe and the US as disastrous for biodiversity. But there are no rare or endangered species such as elephants or rhinos in the areas where the bushmen hunt. Sending a helicopter gunship and armed guards to arraign the hunters looks rather like an escalation of the low-grade war that Botswana has waged for years on one of the most vulnerable indigenous groups in the world.

Full article: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/aug/28/exiles-human-cost-of-conservation-indigenous-peoples-eco-tourism

The damage is not limited to shooting down tribespeople from helicopter gunships. In Ivory Coast, poor farmers who are trying to produce cocoa are being pressured to pay large bribes to be allowed to work their farms in “conservation areas”.

… The government of Ivory Coast took action recently against cocoa-driven deforestation by expelling cocoa farmers from Mount Péko National Park (which means “mountain of hyenas” in the local Gueré language). According to a report by Human Rights Watch and the Ivorian Coalition of Human Rights (RAIDH), the evictions were poorly planned and carried out in violation of human rights standards. When we visited Mount Péko after the eviction, we found the park once again filled with cocoa smallholders who had returned. Some smallholders explained to us that when they finally returned to Mount Péko, they simply paid the authorities higher bribes to go back to cultivating their lands in the park. …

Read more: http://www.mightyearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/chocolates_dark_secret_english_web.pdf

Lets see – large numbers of skilled but very poor farmers in Africa trying to make an honest living being backed into a corner, forced to pay large bribes, their families brutalised by armed thugs. Its pretty obvious what will happen next, and when it does, Western green policies will bear the ultimate blame.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Can Universities Lawfully Bully Academics into Silence?

By Jennifer Marohasy | June 19, 2018

Dr Peter Ridd has taken James Cook University to court protesting his sacking for what he says is, primarily, speaking-out about the lack of quality assurance in Great Barrier Reef science.

Dr Ridd spoke out initially about there being no quality assurance of Great Barrier Reef science – science that is arguably misused to secure billions of dollars of tax-payer funding. When the University tried to stop Dr Ridd doing this, Dr Ridd spoke out against University management – making all the documentation public including on his new website.

I would really like the court case to be about academic freedom and the science – to lay bare the evidence. But when I went to the first day of the hearing of an application in the Federal Circuit Court last Monday (11th June – the hearing continued on 12 June 2018) for an order for reinstatement of Dr Ridd’s employment pending determination at trial, it quickly became evident that there would be no testing of the actual scientific evidence relied upon by Dr Ridd to claim that scientific institutions like AIMS and ARC Centre “can no longer be trusted” and “spin their story”.

Yesterday (19th June), Judge Jarrett gave his reasons for making orders declining to reinstate Dr Ridd but allowing him to amend his primary application to include a claim for the university taking “adverse action” against him for exercising a workplace right (i.e. his intellectual/academic freedom pursuant to the enterprise agreement). On hearing the reasons I was concerned to discover that it may all come down to poorly worded clauses in an enterprise agreement. In particular, was Dr Ridd allowed to exercise his academic freedoms free of the constraint of the university’s ‘aspirational’ (according to His Honour) code of conduct, and was he permitted to say anything publicly about what many ordinary Australians would consider a straight-forward case of the university bullying him into silence?

On the first day of the preliminary hearing Barrister Ben Kidston for the applicant (Dr Ridd) argued eloquently about how the case was about ‘academic freedom’. He went-on for over an hour moving from the big picture to the detail with respect to specific clauses in a code of conduct and the enterprise agreement, and back again. All the while His Honour and the audience listened intently – no one interrupted. Again yesterday, His Honour cited the poorly worded specific clause which the university has been relying on to silence Dr Ridd, and observed that it was open to two interpretations.

His Honour didn’t mention the Union. The National Tertiary Education Union has an interest in the enterprise agreement and like Dr Ridd, they say that the relevant clause in the agreement shouldn’t be used to silence the employee but rather, amongst other things, that the obligation of confidentiality only applies to the University’s management of the disciplinary process. Any other interpretation means that university academics would be obliged to suffer any disciplinary action by the University (legitimate or otherwise) in silence – they would never be able to publicly defend themselves in the court of public opinion, court proceedings being the only practical option. One wonders if the Union realises the implications to its members.

Yesterday, when His Honour gave his reasons for declining the application by Dr Ridd for an injunction – for his temporary reinstatement as a Professor at James Cook University pending the trial – he didn’t deal with many of the arguments advanced for Dr Ridd e.g. the effect of the clause of the enterprise agreement which states that the code of conduct is not to “detract” from the intellectual freedoms, the interaction of the express right to disagree with the University‘s decisions and processes pursuant to his intellectual freedom and the purported obligation to keep disciplinary proceedings again him confidential, whether a conflict of interest, apprehended bias or actual bias, exists by reason of the university’s commercial relationship with AIMS, GBRMPA and ARC and the effect that this has on the obligation to afford Dr Ridd procedural fairness and natural justice in the determination of the disciplinary complaint (which concerned comments he made about those bodies).

That is not intended to be critical of His Honour. His Honour took a broad brush approach and did not descend into the detail of the arguments and the evidence, as all His Honour was required to do was to ascertain whether Dr Ridd had a prima facie case, and not to decide the case itself.

Yesterday, His Honour found that Dr Ridd had an arguable prima facie case in relation to the alleged breach of the enterprise agreement by JCU and that it took adverse action against him, but that the balance of convenience did not favour his reinstatement pending trial primarily because:
1. an award of damages would be an adequate remedy if Dr Ridd was successful at trial; and
2. the university paid Dr Ridd the equivalent of six month’s pay upon his termination – so he was not presently without income to support himself and (it seems) that a trial would likely occur before the expiration of that six month period; and
3. Dr Ridd had previously turned down an offer of an undertaking by the university to suspend the disciplinary proceedings pending determination of the proceeding. It is important to note that that undertaking would have required Dr Ridd to remain silent about the disciplinary proceedings that had been taken against him by the university.

Of course, in making this determination the Judge was entirely ignoring (as he was entitled to) the very nature of Dr Ridd – a man of integrity who will not be silenced even if costs him his job, his career and results in vicious bullying.

When Christopher Murdoch QC for the respondent (JCU) argued on the first day of the hearing he explained that the University’s core issue was the breaking of confidentiality, in particular Dr Ridd was not allowed to tell anyone that he had been censured. Never mind that he had been censured for daring to speak out against a culture where scientific integrity is perhaps sacrificed for profit.

So, when I blogged about this issue of Peter Ridd being censured and the need for everyone to contribute to his GoFundMe Campaign back in May, I very deliberately emphasised the importance of being able to speak out. The most important thing, I wrote, is to not be silenced.

I was also thinking of the famous Edmund Burke quote: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Dr Ridd has done something. First, he detailed the scientific facts as an expert on these issues including in the scientific literature. For example, there is his article published in Marine Geology (Volume 346, pages 392-399) in which he explains that the only reason Glenn De’ath found an apparent decline in coral calcification rates was because he didn’t consider the age effect on coral growth. This is just one of many instances when Dr Ridd has detailed how scientists make spurious claims based on a flawed methodology. More recently Dr Ridd has explained the consequences of this in plain English on television.

None of this has made him popular with his colleagues most of whom rely on perceptions of imminent catastrophe at the Great Barrier Reef for their relevance and certainly their funding. Dr Ridd has done what the average Australian would consider to be the right thing. Most importantly he has not remained silent – surely, he will be vindicated at the final trial when all the evidence is heard and all the arguments made and considered.

 

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Here’s why the whole Russiagate scenario set out in Trump Dossier is totally absurd

By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran | March 31, 2017

It has become increasingly clear over the last two weeks that the amateur sleuths who are driving Russiagate are taking the Trump Dossier prepared by the British ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele as their starting point.

This is despite the fact that the Trump Dossier is still “uncorroborated”, and has been trashed by seasoned intelligence professionals like former CIA Acting Assistant Director Michael Morell.

Right from the first moment the Trump Dossier was first published I speculated that it might be the original source of the ‘Russiagate’ story. Here is what I wrote about it on 11th January 2017, immediately after it was published:

The big question is not whether the facts in this dossier are true or not; it is the extent to which the paranoid claims made in the dossier have shaped and might even have been the origin for the whole Russian hacking scandal.

I say this because media reports confirm that the dossier or extracts from it have circulated amongst US politicians (including Hillary Clinton and John McCain), US intelligence agencies, and within the media for weeks if not months.  The earliest reports in the dossier are dated to July, which suggests that some of its claims – which include circumstantial details of who supposedly within the Russian government was behind the Clinton leaks – were already circulating early in the summer.  That is a very early point in the Russian hacking story, making it at least possible that the dossier at least influenced the thinking of some of the people in the US intelligence community and in the media who have been pushing the Russian hacking scandal most aggressively.

Many have remarked on the absence of evidence in the ONDI report which was published last Friday. Even Masha Gessen – one of President Putin’s most relentless critics – has pointed this out.

Publication of this dossier looks like an attempt to provide “evidence” which the ODNI report failed to do.  If so then that at least gives rise to the possibility that the dossier is the “evidence” – or more correctly a part of the evidence – that formed the background to the ONDI report but which the ODNI report omitted.

Whatever the truth of this, the fact that an obviously concocted dossier like this has circulated for weeks if not months with its source apparently still considered “unimpeachable” and “reliable” by the West’s intelligence agencies shows how wildly paranoid and ignorant about Russia the West’s intelligence agencies and its politicians and journalists have become.

Fantasy has replaced truth, and it seems that a clever fabricator out to make money has successfully cashed in on it, quite possibly doing serious harm along the way.

The US investigative reporter Robert Parry is now saying the same thing: that the Trump Dossier is the document which provides the frame narrative for the whole Russiagate story, and this was also confirmed by the BBC article I discussed yesterday, which says the following:

The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain’s secret intelligence service MI6.

As it happens I am far from sure that the actual investigation being carried out into the Russiagate claims by the FBI is using the Trump Dossier as its ‘roadmap’. Contrary to what the BBC says I have never seen this “publicly acknowledged” anywhere. However what is now indisputable is that the Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees are doing so, and that much of the media is following them.

This is extraordinary because even a cursory knowledge of how the Russian government operates ought to make it obvious that the scenario described in the Trump Dossier makes no sense, and is completely fantastic.

Briefly, the Trump Dossier’s story is that a furious Putin, who supposedly hates Hillary Clinton, was persuaded by his press secretary Dmitry Peskov and his Chief of Staff Sergey Ivanov to order an elaborate campaign to interfere in the US election in order to swing the election to Donald Trump over whom the Russians supposedly possess various forms of leverage, including blackmail film of his cavorting with prostitutes.

The Russian intelligence officials supposedly carrying out Putin’s orders are then supposed to have closely coordinated their actions with Trump’s campaign. They are also supposed to have discussed it with each other and with all sorts of other people who passed on information about these conversations to the Trump Dossier’s compiler, Christopher Steele.

If one is to believe the Trump Dossier, the campaign to meddle in the election was also the subject of furious argument and recrimination within the Kremlin itself, with people like Ivanov, Peskov, Medvedev and Rosneft CEO Sechin complaining about it to each other and to various intimates, so that word of their arguments also found its way to Christopher Steele.

The Trump Dossier provides a phantasmagoric description of cloak and dagger meetings between Russian intelligence officials and Trump campaign associates in Moscow, Prague and other places, and of discussions of senior Russian officials with each other and of the recriminations which supposedly passed between them as the extent of Russian meddling in the US election supposedly became public.

There is so much wrong with this whole scenario that it is difficult know where to start, but a good point might be to question the whole starting thesis that President Putin “hates” Hillary Clinton.

There is virtually no evidence of this. The origins of this claim appear to be a comment of Putin’s made at the time of the election protests in Russia in December 2011.  Putin as reported by Reuters said the following

She (Hillary Clinton – AM) set the tone for some opposition activists, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work

What a politician says during an election is not usually taken too seriously, and this comment scarcely seems to confirm the thesis that Putin “hates” Hillary Clinton. By the standards of what Western leaders regularly say about Putin it comes across as rather temperate.  Compare it for example with Hillary Clinton’s comparison in March 2014 of Putin with Hitler.

The claim that Putin “hates” Hillary Clinton is anyway at odds with a far more recent and much more thought through comment Putin made about her at the SPIEF conference in St. Petersburg last June, which because it hardly supports the claim Putin “hates” Hillary Clinton has gone almost completely unreported

I worked with Bill Clinton, although for a very short time, and we had a very good relationship. I can even say that I am grateful to him for certain moments as I was entering the big stage in politics. On several occasions, he showed signs of attention, respect for me personally, as well as for Russia. I remember this and I am grateful to him.

About Ms Clinton. Perhaps she has her own view on the development of Russian-US relations. You know, there is something I would like to draw [your] attention to, which has nothing to do with Russian-US relations or with national politics. It is related, rather, to personnel policy.

In my experience, I have often seen what happens with people before they take on a certain job and afterward. Often, you cannot recognise them, because once they reach a new level of responsibility they begin to talk and think differently, they even look different. We act on the assumption that the sense of responsibility of the US head of state, the head of the country on which a great deal in the world depends today, that this sense of responsibility will encourage the newly elected president to cooperate with Russia and, I would like to repeat, build a more secure world.

These remarks do not suggest any hatred for Hillary Clinton. Spoken at a time when the universal assumption was that Hillary Clinton would win the US Presidential election, they suggest on the contrary a willingness to work with her, a readiness to disregard her harsh anti-Russian election rhetoric, and a hope that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would exercise a restraining influence over her.

Putting aside the fact that there is no real evidence that Putin “hates” Hillary Clinton, Putin at the time of the US election had been continuously at the top of the Russian power structure for 17 years, ever since Boris Yeltsin appointed him Russia’s Prime Minister on 9th August 1999. Over that long period Putin has gained immense experience and knowledge of politics, including of US politics. No one moreover seriously doubts that Putin is also highly intelligent and well-informed, and is able to put this experience and knowledge to good use.

It beggars belief that such an experienced and knowledgeable person as Putin was in 2016 would seriously believe that Russia could influence a US Presidential election so as to effect its outcome. That by the way is something which no outside power has ever previously managed to do. Putin would surely know such a thing was impossible, and that it would be completely counter-productive and extremely dangerous to try it.

Let us assume however that Putin acted completely contrary to what we know of his background and character, and nonetheless ordered Russia’s intelligence agencies to meddle in the US election in order to act out some feud he has against Hillary Clinton.

It beggars belief that Russia’s intelligence agencies would agree. Their chiefs – Patrushev, Ivanov, Fradkov and Bortnikov, all experienced intelligence professionals and like Putin all members of Russia’s Security Council, together with General Shoigu, who is not only a member of Russia’s Security Council but who as Russia’s Defence Minister has overall charge of the Russian military’s main intelligence agency the GRU – would undoubtedly have told Putin it couldn’t be done, and that it would be extremely dangerous to try.

Let us nonetheless go on to assume – ever more farfetched though these assumptions become – that Putin acted even further against his known background and character, and decided to ignore their advice, and ordered them to conduct the operation regardless.

It beggars belief that they would not in that case have insisted on having his order formally debated by Russia’s Security Council, Russia’s most important policy making body, which significantly finds no mention in the Trump Dossier at all. They would have been bound to do this if only to safeguard their positions when the operation went wrong – as it was bound to do – by putting it on formal record during the Security Council meeting that they opposed the order.

The Security Council is in theory an advisory body, and Putin could in theory have refused to convene it and have his order debated there. However that would almost certainly have provoked a crisis at the heart of the Russian government, and there is no evidence that ever happened. In practice it is inconceivable that an order of such magnitude would not have been discussed by the Security Council.

At that point Putin would have encountered the collective opposition of the entire Security Council, which includes people like Prime Minister Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov who speak English and who know the US well, and who would also have told him what he wanted couldn’t be done, and that it would be extremely dangerous to try.

Putin has been Russia’s leader for as long as he has precisely because he heeds the advice and warnings of his experts, and is careful to ensure the prior backing of the rest of Russia’s political leadership for his decisions. It is precisely because Putin acts in this way that he has a loyal and disciplined government behind him.

Conceivably Putin could have cast all this aside and in a fit of madness struck out on his own, ignoring what would almost certainly have been the collective opposition of the country’s entire political and national security leadership in order to carry out a quixotic quest to stop Hillary Clinton from being elected. However had he done such a thing he would have risked a government crisis and furious recriminations when it all went wrong, which would almost certainly have spilled over into public argument as does occasionally happen in Russia. That there is no evidence of anything like this happening is the surest sign it didn’t happen at all.

As it happens this focus on Putin is anyway completely misplaced. If the the Russians did carry out hacks of the computers of the DNC and of John Podesta then the whole Trump Dossier/Russiagate story becomes even more surreal, since there is actually no need to introduce Putin to explain the hacks.

Russian intelligence would not have needed an order from Putin to hack John Podesta or the DNC. At a time of extreme tension in US-Russian relations, with the militaries of the two countries cranking up towards a potentially disastrous face-off in Syria, the entirety of Russia’s mighty foreign policy and intelligence establishment would have been working overtime trying to find out what the policies of the US after the election would be. Ambassador Kislyak together with the diplomats and spies in his embassy would have been trying hard to build as many contacts with both the Hillary Clinton and the Donald Trump camps as they could, and Russian intelligence would have been pulling out all the stops to gather all the intelligence on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and their associates that it could.

Quite possibly this would have included reading the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails. Since both had obvious relevance to an information gathering effort intended to ascertain the future policies of a Hillary Clinton administration, it is easy to see why Russian intelligence might have wanted to read them, and it would not have needed an order from Putin for it to try to do so.

Conceivably the evidence of hacking by Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear discovered by CrowdStrike is evidence of this, though the crude way in which those hacks were done suggests they may actually have been the work of someone else. Russian intelligence would hardly have been the only intelligence service trying to find out as much information about Hillary Clinton (and Donald Trump) as possible, and besides there is reason to think the Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear hacks were the work of private individuals.

In saying all this I wish to make it clear that I do not know for a fact that Russian intelligence did obtain the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails. My point is that they would not have needed an order from Putin to try to do so, since trying to obtain those emails would have been a normal part of their work, and there is no reason to introduce an angry and vengeful Putin to explain them doing it.

As for the question of whether Russian intelligence might have leaked the emails, the only possible scenario where they might have done so would have been if they had found in the emails – obtained as a result of an entirely conventional intelligence gathering operation almost certainly not ordered by Putin himself – things that were so damaging to Hillary Clinton that their effect on the election if they were published could be absolutely guaranteed.

At that point Russian intelligence might conceivably have reported this finding to Putin and Russia’s Security Council, and have asked for permission to publish the emails. However given Russia’s longstanding policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and the extremely high political risks for Russia of publishing the emails, it would still even in those circumstances have been highly unlikely that Putin or the Security Council would have granted Russian intelligence permission to publish the emails.

Which in turn brings us to the contents of the emails themselves. The actual content of the DNC and Podesta emails hardly fits the criteria of something so damaging that it would be guaranteed to effect the outcome of the election if it were published. Putin himself made this very point in an interview he gave to Bloomberg on 5th September 2016

I could never even imagine that such information would be of interest to the American public or that the campaign headquarters of one of the candidates – in this case, Mrs. Clinton – apparently worked for her, rather than for all the Democratic Party candidates in an equal manner. I could never assume that anybody would find it interesting. Thus, in view of what I have said, we could not officially hack it. You know, it would require certain intuition and knowledge of the U.S. domestic policy peculiarities. I am not sure that even our experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have such intuition.

Putin is absolutely right. Not only would it have required profound knowledge of US politics – knowledge which the Russians almost certainly don’t have – to see why the contents of the DNC and Podesta emails might be damaging to Hillary Clinton, but it is actually doubtful that the contents of the emails were in fact especially damaging to Hillary Clinton. Certainly no polling evidence I have seen has proved conclusively that they were.

Given this uncertainty, it is very difficult to believe that the Russians would have taken on themselves the immense risk of meddling in the election by publishing the emails, and of course the people who actually did publish the emails – Julian Assange and Wikileaks, together with ambassador Craig Murray – categorically deny that they did.

The BBC article I discussed yesterday reports former Obama administration officials complaining that the FBI is “fumbling” its inquiry because “The FBI doesn’t know about Russia” and cannot “see, let alone understand, the bigger picture”.

On the contrary it is the “bigger picture” the Trump Dossier gets hopelessly wrong, and which immediately exposes it as a fake.

The Trump Dossier’s baroque picture of the Russian decision making process bears some resemblance to the chaotic way the Russian government operated back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when sinister figures like the oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Boris Yeltsin’s bodyguard General Korzhakov wielded vast power outside Russia’s formal state structures. That of course was the period when Christopher Steele, the Trump Dossier’s compiler, was working in Moscow for MI6, and when he formed his ideas about Russia.

However the Trump Dossier bears no resemblance to the way Russia’s government operates today. Anyone who follows Russian affairs at all closely and whose opinions are not blinded by prejudice can see that immediately. Unfortunately it seems that such people in the West are in short supply.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 10 Comments

Defending the EU Rather Than One’s Own Country

By Andrew Spannaus | Consortium News | June 24, 2018

Milan – By invoking his power last month to reject a proposed government minister because of the his critique of the EU, Italian President Sergio Mattarella made it clear that his priority is not to defend the Italian state—his job, theoretically—but rather the European Union.

This put into the open something rarely admitted publicly: that Italy—like other European countries—has essentially given up its existence as a sovereign nation-state. The EU treaties adopted by national parliaments now take precedence over the basic principles of each member country’s constitution.

Mattarella had announced on May 27 that Paolo Savona, the minister of the economy proposed by the populist parties that won the March elections, was unacceptable because of his critical position towards the EU. The president said the appointment would spook the markets and threaten the survival of the Euro. When the two populist parties that had joined together to govern, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League, insisted on keeping Savona, Mattarella exercised his power to reject their choice and began plans to appoint an IMF technocrat who would guarantee the current budget orthodoxy while taking the country towards new elections.

Luigi di Maio, the 31-year old M5S leader, ultimately got Matteo Salvini, head of the League, to partially relent, shifting Savona to another position in order to avoid the collapse of their newly-formed coalition. Yet the brief firestorm touched off by the clash with Mattarella was revealing, as it risked doing precisely what the president and his EU backers fear most—promote even more opposition to the loss of national sovereignty that has occurred over the past 25 years.

Finance Dominates Government

Mattarella: Serving the EU, not Italy.

The EU’s principle aim is to continue the pro-finance policies launched in the 1980s with wide-scale de-regulation and the emergence of what became known as globalization, i.e. the loss of national sovereignty in favor of a borderless world in which financial interests would become more important than governments. The Union adopted the free market mantra, which it imposed through increasing supra-national bureaucracy. State intervention and regulations were considered the enemies of efficiency and growth, while austerity and so-called structural reforms were launched to break down the successful mixed state/market model that had been in place for decades.

Over the years, as national institutions gradually relinquished their power to make economic policy, European political elites adopted the goal of complete EU integration. They followed this dogma despite numerous contradictions, from the failure of austerity policies to increasing economic divisions, from the lack of democratic debate to sharply different foreign policy goals among member states.

Naturally, some members of national elites recognized the folly of the EU policies, one of whom was Paolo Savona. However, he is by no means “anti-European,” against further political cooperation at the supranational level. Rather, he simply recognizes that the neo-liberal policies of budget balancing and prohibiting state intervention are harmful to Italy (and others). And, given the European institutions’ refusal to re-think these rules, he came up with what some saw as a radical idea: draw up a “Plan B” in which Italy would withdraw from the single currency. The aim was to use this threat to the very survival of the Euro to exact changes such as abandoning austerity policies and allowing for large-scale public investment.

In practical terms, it is very unlikely that Italy or any other large country would today simply “leave” the Euro on its own. A more probable scenario is that the EU architecture would crumble if some of its largest members broke with the Brussels and Frankfurt orthodoxy. So, if Italy were to dig in its heels, for example, resisting calls for further deregulation and insisting on large-scale, targeted public investment, it could potentially find support from other victims of austerity such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, but also factions critical of EU policies in France and Germany.

Most of the Italian population now supports such a scenario and populist parties big and small have used it explicitly to increase their popularity. This gave them a crucial margin of added support, beyond exploiting other hot-button issues such as immigration, which despite having taken on more importance in recent years, by itself would not have been enough to bring the outsiders to power.

Thus when Mattarella stood before the TV cameras on May 27 to declare his veto, he made what was potentially a colossal blunder, both formally and politically. Besides overstepping his authority as President, since the Constitution does not allow him to intervene regarding the political orientation of the government, he sparked a backlash that could have easily strengthened his opponents.

Populists Reject Russophobia

The new government has already shown its willingness to break with establishment policies, specifically regarding relations with Russia. At the G7 meeting in Canada this month, Prime Minister Conte supported Donald Trump’s call to bring Russia back into the fold, providing the U.S. President with support on this issue that he has lacked so far among the leaders of the world’s most industrialized countries. Conte stressed Italy’s position as a loyal ally of the United States and NATO, while still insisting that better relations with Russia are needed. This point is also felt strongly among Italian businesses and institutions, particularly due to economic ties developed over many decades.

While the popularity of M5S is based on its anti-existing-system, anti-corruption platform, the League is best-known for its anti-immigration rhetoric. But over the years, the League has also adopted the most “sovereignist” positions among the large Italian political parties regarding economic policy. It now showcases economists who reject budget constraints outright, suggesting that governments can create currency freely, if need be. Further, the party has run national campaigns to re-regulate the banking sector—which would conflict directly with EU rules; both they and M5S promise to abandon austerity policies and increase both social spending and public investment. Last, they aim to implement a soft version of a “flat tax,” simplifying the tax system with only two brackets so as to inject more liquidity into the coffers of companies and the pockets of families, while raising penalties for tax evasion.

Any of these issues can cause an open clash with the EU, given its strict budget rules. The question is if the new government will attempt to finesse the issue and avoid an open fight, or welcome a political debate over the validity of the neo-liberal policies whose failure brought them to power.

Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He was elected Chairman of the Milan Foreign Press Association in March 2018. He has published the books “Perché vince Trump” (Why Trump is Winning – June 2016) and “La rivolta degli elettori” (The Revolt of the Voters – July 2017).

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , | 2 Comments

Kushner says US Administration Will Continue with “Peace Plan” Even Without Abbas

IMEMC News & Agencies – June 24, 2018

US president Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushne,r in an interview with Al-Quds Palestinian newspaper, said that his country will go on with a Middle East peace plan which has not been announced yet, whether Abbas agrees to participate in it or not.

Kushner questioned Abbas’s ability to make a deal, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) is boycotting the US administration for its moves, which included declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage; if he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly,” Kushner said, according to an English-language transcript released in Washington.

“However, I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal. He has his talking points which have not changed in the last 25 years,” Kushner said.

Commenting on the interview, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Abbas, said: “The road to peace is clear – commitment to the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital. This is the road to any negotiations or any meetings.”

Kushner and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, visited Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt before talks on Friday and Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Arab leaders conveyed they wanted to see a Palestinian state.

Erekat: Kushner represents a policy of dictation

In response, senior PLO member, Dr. Saeb Erekat said Kushner’s interview again illustrates the US refusal to talk substance, to mention Palestinian rights or a Palestinian state.

“This is an attempt to push forward a plan that consolidates Israel’s colonial control over Palestinian land and lives while telling the Palestinian people that money will compensate for our inalienable rights. Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale,” Erekat said in a statement, according to the PNN.

“Kushner represents a policy of dictation rather than negotiations”, he added. “It is the Trump Administration has walked away from the negotiations, from international law and UN resolutions.”

Erekat added that the PA has continuously heard the same from the Israeli government that believes that there will be a better economic situation by pulverizing the political rights of the people of Palestine. Therefore, Kushner’s interview only confirms what we have heard from every international envoy we have met with, that there’s nothing of substance coming from the Trump Administration.

He added that it is outrageous to accept such blatant disregard of international law to be replaced with business packages to resolve the struggle of a people striving for their freedom.

“The aids of the current US Administration, including Jared Kushner, have heard it clear from our fellow Arab leaders that the core of the solution should be grounded on ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a sovereign and the independent State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Certainly, the end of Israel’s occupation and the fulfillment of our political rights is a matter of consensus among all Palestinians that are united on the vision and will to live in freedom,” Erekat concluded.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Human Rights Group Accuses UK of Secret Arms Sales to Saudis

Sputnik – 24.06.2018

NGOs allege that the UK has been selling weaponry to Saudi Arabia through an obscure system of arms exports licenses. Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been involved in the Yemen war at the request of the country’s internationally recognized government.

Despite the UK has been insisting that it keeps all arms exports under close control, a freedom of information request submitted by Campaign Against Arms Trade, a UK-based NGO, disclosed that Britain has been selling Storm Shadow and Brimstone missiles, as well as Paveway IV laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

According to The Guardian, the deadly exports have been shipped for the last five years under Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs), which don’t oblige the seller to publish the total value of the license after it expires.

The surprising finding has prompted campaigners to claim that the authorities are trying to hide the real extent of their arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, a Labour MP and member of the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls, said, as quoted by The Guardian, that hundreds of millions of pounds of bombs were shipped to Saudi Arabia under open licenses issued before it launched its Yemen campaign.

“Open licenses remove the need for the seller to obtain prior approval for each export,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade.

According to him, the “opaque” system of OIELs is used to hand over “extremely sensitive weaponry to the Saudi regime.”

Yemen is the site of a long-lasting conflict that rapidly escalated in September 2014 following a Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. In 2015, Saudi Arabia, the leader of a nine-member, mostly Sunni Arab, coalition, entered the conflict in a bid to restore Hadi’s government, concerned by the rise of Houthis.

The violent clash has destroyed the local economy and caused a humanitarian disaster. The UN estimates that the conflict has displaced around 3 million people and leaving over 22 million people in need of humanitarian assistance or protection.

June 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment