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"Gold is a pretty metal, soft and easy to work with for artists and with some interesting electrical properties, but otherwise rather useless other than as a symbol of wealth and power. If an alien race wanted to conquer the Earth (although one has to wonder what there could possibly be here on Earth worth the trouble) all they would have to do is start handing out 500 pounds of gold to every living human being and the financial/political foundations of our civilization would crumble overnight. I am not convinced that would be a bad thing in the long term" -- Michael Rivero
In Bakhmut/Artyomovsk, all of NATO, all 31 member nations, were defeated by a restaurant owner and a bunch of convicts, is how I saw someone describe it. That of course caricatures the situation somewhat (Wagner is well-organized), but it’s not that far off. And that spells a serious problem for NATO.
All of those 31 members may have lots of control over their media, but in the end you can’t endlessly deny being defeated.
So what will NATO do now? They will double down, and then again. And at the end of the “doubling down road” lie nuclear weapons. Not Russian nukes, because as my friend Wayne wrote the other day, their high-precision hypersonic missiles make nukes look crude and primitive, Middle Ages territory. But NATO/US never developed such weapons. They spent 10+ times as much money on weapons, still do, and -comparatively – ended up with bows and arrows.
A slump in the use of private jets in the US could suggest that wealthy individuals are reducing their spending in response to the rising threat of recession in the next 12 months.
Bloomberg data shows private jet flights across the US peaked in early 2022 and have been sliding ever since. Takeoffs and landings fell 4.5% in the first quarter compared with the same quarter last year. The drop accelerated to 9.3% in April compared with an 8.6% decline in March, possibly a sign demand is crumbling.
Developers looking to build thousands of wind turbines off the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast are coming up against a force even more relentless than the Atlantic winds: the Iron Law of Megaprojects, offering a warning of the trouble ahead for green-energy projects.
The Iron Law, coined by Oxford Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, says that “megaprojects” — which cost billions of dollars, take years to complete, and are socially transformative — reliably come in over budget, over time, over and over.
From Boston’s Big Dig to California’s high-speed rail to New York’s 12 years-overdue and 300% over-budget East Side Access rail project, big boondoggles routinely demonstrate the validity of the rule.
Offshore wind projects are not immune to the Iron Law, regularly experiencing vast cost overruns before a single watt is generated.
The New York state government, looking to replace oil- and gas-fired powerplants with hundreds of wind towers off Long Island, set out in 2019 to create an offshore wind supply chain from scratch, beginning with a massive state-funded turbine fabrication facility about 100 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River.
Ground still hasn’t even been broken, but the budget certainly has: The price of that Port of Albany facility has already doubled from $350 million to $700 million. An additional $100 million may be needed for equipment costs, raising the final price tag to $800 million.
A simulated war-game has pitted Chinese hypersonic weapons against the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier the USS Gerald R. Ford. Photo: AP
Hypersonic weapons could be “catastrophic” for the most potent aircraft carrier group in the US fleet, according to war game simulations run by a team of military planners in China.
Over 20 intense battles, Chinese forces sank the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier fleet with a volley of 24 hypersonic anti-ship missiles, in a simulation run on a mainstream war game software platform used by China’s military.
In the scenario, the US vessels are attacked after continuing to approach a China-claimed island in the South China Sea despite repeated warnings.
A paper detailing the war game was published in May by the Chinese-language Journal of Test and Measurement Technology. It is the first time the results of simulated hypersonic strikes against a US carrier group have been made public.
A San Francisco public safety meeting descended into chaos on Tuesday after a woman threw a brick at Mayor London Breed and other city lawmakers.
The Mayor was hosting a rare open-air hearing at United Nations Plaza to discuss the city's drug crisis before it had to be cut short following shouting and heckling from residents.
But when city officials were preparing to leave, a woman threw a brick towards Breed's podium and it struck a high school student who was presenting flags for the meeting.
San Francisco police arrested the suspect, later identified as 26-year-old Elysia Katet, and she was booked at San Francisco County Jail for child endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon.
Workers from Fox News swooped in and dismantled Tucker Carlson's Maine recording studio just as he was preparing to take his show to Twitter, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively.
And the studio – in a converted barn – will now have to be completely rebuilt after being left in shambles by the network's crew.
'Fox came in last week and got all their sh*t out of there,' Patrick Feeney, who is managing the work, told DailyMail.com.
'They took the set and everything, all the equipment, the chairs, the desk, the fake walls, everything.'
Now the conservative firebrand is helping work alongside a three-man construction crew at the studio in downtown Woodstock, DailyMail.com's exclusive photos show.
Republican senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley are pressing Special Counsel John Durham to provide answers about why top FBI officials - including former Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe - refused to cooperate with his investigation into the agency's opening of the Trump-Russia collusion probe.
Durham released a scathing report last week finding the Department of Justice and the FBI had no basis to launch the Trump-Russia probe, known as Crossfire Hurricane, and 'failed to uphold their mission of strict fidelity to the law.'
Durham - who was appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to look into misconduct related to Crossfire Hurricane - concluded four years later that the FBI opened the flawed probe 'based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence.'
He issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed 500 search warrants and conducted hundreds of interviews with key officials including Hillary Clinton and her campaign associates, Trump campaign officials and hundreds of involved FBI officials - but notably a few of the FBI's top brass at the time refused to cooperate with Durham's probe.
France has formally banned domestic flights on short routes that can be covered by train in less than two-and-a-half hours in a move aimed at reducing airline emissions.
The change, which came into effect on Tuesday, will mostly rule out air trips between Paris and regional hubs such as Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux, with connecting flights unaffected.
The European Union has approved a set of rules—the first such regulation in the world—to regulate crypto assets like cryptocurrencies and tokens in a bid to curb money laundering activities and protect investors.
The markets in crypto-assets (MiCA) legislation was approved on May 16 by EU ministers. The new rules will increase transparency and create a comprehensive framework for businesses operating in crypto markets, including compliance with anti-money laundering rules, according to a May 16 press release. “Recent events have confirmed the urgent need for imposing rules which will better protect Europeans who have invested in these assets, and prevent the misuse of crypto industry for the purposes of money laundering and financing of terrorism,” said Elisabeth Svantesson, Minister for Finance of Sweden.
Crypto markets have suffered in recent months due to the collapse of multiple firms. FTX, Alameda, Core Scientific, Voyager Digital, Celsius Network, BlockFi, and Three Arrows Capital are some of the major crypto companies that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and decided to liquidate their assets to pay back customers. Each of these firms is estimated to have liabilities worth billions of dollars that they owe to thousands of creditors.
In 2014, the organisation GRAIN revealed that small farms produce most of the world’s food in its report Hungry for land: small farmers feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland.
The report Small-scale Farmers and Peasants Still Feed the World (ETC Group, 2022) confirmed this.
Small farmers produce up to 80% of the food in the non-industrialised countries. However, they are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. The period 1974-2014 saw 140 million hectares – more than all the farmland in China – being taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane plantations.
GRAIN noted that the concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day. While industrial farms have enormous power, influence and resources, GRAIN’s data showed that small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity.
I’ve been sticking my head in the WEF site to see how many Thai members are knocking about. You could try doing this wherever you are in the world, by typing ‘weforum people [insert nationality / country here]’. It’s strange that the weforum.org/people page is a blank non-listed directory, although does yield individual search results.
The ‘Young Global Leaders’ site is easier to navigate, being able to search by region.
Members are not exactly innocent until proven guilty, as alarm bells do of course ring out for any WEF affiliates, but we cannot see into the hearts and minds of men.
Today we will look at a few of the more prominent members in Thailand.
Reality isn’t what it used to be. It never really was, but that’s another story. This one isn’t about reality per se. It’s about the War on Reality, the one we’re in the middle of, the war that started when the War on Terror was cancelled in the Summer of 2016. It’s actually an extension and an evolution of the War on Terror, and the War on Populism, and the rollout of the New Normal in 2020 … but that is also another story. I want to focus on the war that is raging currently, on the Internet, in people’s workplaces, homes, among friends and families, and in people’s heads. I’m pretty sure you know the war I’m talking about, regardless of which “side” you feel you are on.
On April 26, Palantir, a data analytics company founded with CIA seed money, announced an expansion of its operations in Lithuania after entering into a strategic partnership with Lithuania’s Ministry of Defense.
This announcement exemplifies how the new Cold War is being used to justify CIA collaboration with a foreign government in advancing intrusive surveillance operations targeting Russia and pro-Russian political elements. It also exemplifies how central the CIA is to the war in Ukraine, as Palantir is playing a key role in the war by tracking Russian military movements and helping Ukraine to coordinate battlefield maneuvers.
The U.S. claims to be supporting democracy against Russian and Chinese authoritarianism; however, Palantir’s methods are right out of George Orwell’s 1984.
.. and as Stifel's Brian Gardner confirmed just a few days later...
Federal revenues cover only 75 percent of outlays so at some point, without an increase in the debt limit, Treasury will be unable to pay all of the government’s bills. It seems clear that Treasury will prioritize the payment of principal and interest on U.S. Treasuries, so the chances of a default on Treasuries is remote. Also, it is unfathomable that the government would not pay Social Security recipients or meet payroll of the American military. On any given day, however, Treasury would likely have to delay payments of some obligations. Depending on who the creditor is (a government contractor, veterans’ benefits, other social safety net payments, etc.), delayed payments would likely increase political pressure which would, in turn, increase the chances of reaching a debt ceiling deal, but would also be accompanied by some economic disruption and possibly a downgrade in the credit rating of U.S. government debt.
... because despite all the posturing, the US can and will prioritize debt and interest payments and avoid a technical default, even if it means that some 20 million deep state bureaucrats go unpaid for a week or two.
But since we are dealing with hypotheticals, below is a quick snapshot courtesy of Curvature Securities' analyst Scott Skyrm who looks at what the impact of a US default (again, purely hypotehtical) would be on the repo market.
As Skyrm explains, in the Repo market, the debt ceiling dynamics boils down to the fact that no cash investor wants to hold a defaulted Treasury as collateral. As a result, cash investors will pull their cash from the market as the drop-dead date approaches, which according to Janet Yellen may be as soon as June 1, for the simple reason that there is a massive $80 billion net cash outflow from the Treasury on that day, one which tips the cash balance into the red.
Just three weeks ago Defense News published an extensive investigative report which posed the question in its headline, Lockheed eyes new F-35 parts deal, but can it handle wartime demands? The report introduced:
By the end of the year, a new and unusual deal for the F-35 fighter′s spare parts could be in place — one that would flip the current supply model on its head.
If the proposed performance-based logistics contract works the way F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has promised, it will save the government money, improve the availability of spare parts and give the company greater flexibility on how it assists repairs, such as making it easier to fix a broken part without fabricating a new one.
Fast-forward to Tuesday, and the congressional watchdog Government Accountability Office (GOA) released a devastating report which reveals the entire question of "saving the government money" to be laughable and way off.
House Republicans took to the podium on May 17 to condemn the Biden administration’s negotiation of global pandemic agreements that they say will grant additional power to the World Health Organization (WHO) and centralize authority in an organization they say failed the American public during the COVID pandemic.
Shortly thereafter, on May 19, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a report to member nations stating that, while the “re-emergence of epidemic-prone diseases continues to accelerate,” the WHO’s mandate regarding “health emergencies” must extend beyond pandemics to include hunger, poverty, ecological degradation, climate change, and social and economic inequalities.
The Director General wrote that member nations must establish a “global architecture for health emergency preparedness, prevention, response, and resilience (HEPR),” which includes “global governance, financing and HEPR systems.”
But GOP lawmakers disagreed with the WHO.
Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have demanded answers from the National Institutes of Health over a two year study involving prescribing gender changing hormones to hundreds of children, as it emerged that two of the ‘youths’ ended up killing themselves.
As Fox News reports, the study titled “Psychosocial Functioning in Transgender Youth after 2 Years of Hormones,” examined 315 individuals “between the ages of 12 and 20 who identify as transgender and were given cross-sex hormones.”
The study, involving 240 children, was funded by NIH which admits that “two young people tragically died by suicide.”
Despite the deaths, the NIH carried on the study to its conclusion.
Zelensky's surprise appearance at the Arab League summit, which came on the same day Assad made his return after 12 years of U.S.-sponsored isolation, was no coincidence. Washington is making it clear that it still doesn't approve of the Middle East making their own policy decisions—especially when that includes ties with an ally of Russia and world leader the U.S. has spent the last decade trying to overthrow...
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is using a tool called Babel X that can link a person's Social Security number to their social media posts and location data, according to an internal CBP document obtained by Motherboard.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is using an invasive, AI-powered monitoring tool to screen travelers, including U.S. citizens, refugees, and people seeking asylum, which can in some cases link their social media posts to their Social Security number and location data, according to an internal CBP document obtained by Motherboard.
The news provides much more detail on how CBP deploys a tool sold widely across the U.S. government. Called Babel X, the system lets a user input a piece of information about a target—their name, email address, or telephone number—and receive a bevy of data in return, according to the document. Results can include their social media posts, linked IP address, employment history, and unique advertising identifiers associated with their mobile phone. The monitoring can apply to U.S. persons, including citizens and permanent residents, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, according to the document.
“This document provides important new information, and it raises a number of questions about what specific purposes CBP is using social media monitoring for and how that monitoring is conducted in practice,” Patrick Toomey, deputy project director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Motherboard in an email after reviewing the document.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with a group of Republicans in Texas on Monday to urge them to continue supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, POLITICO reported.
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), a pro-Ukrainian think tank based in Washington, decided to enlist Johnson to push Republicans to support Ukraine as more and more GOP members have questioned the policy of flooding weapons into the country with no clear goal.
“I just urge you all to stick with it,” Johnson told a group of Texas Republicans in Dallas. “You are backing the right horse. Ukraine is going to win. They are going to defeat Putin.” While visiting Texas, Johnson also met with former President George W. Bush and Governor Greg Abbot.
Alina Polyakova, the chief executive of CEPA, said Johnson was enlisted because he is “very much seen as the architect of the Western policy” on Ukraine.
The US Defense Department is sending its warships through the Strait of Hormuz at an increased pace. The operations are a reaction to rising tensions with Iran.
Last month, the US seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil to China. In response, Tehran took control over two commercial ships in the Persian Gulf. Washington was irate with the retaliatory seizures, with the commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, declaring on Monday that “Iran’s actions are unacceptable.”
After Iran took possession of the second ship, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced that the US military “will be making a series of moves to bolster our defensive posture in the [Persian] Gulf.”
However, Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a spokesman for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, told the New York Times that Washington will not deploy more military assets to the region. Instead, Central Command is ordering more operations with the personnel and equipment already in the region.
Israel’s defense minister said Monday that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled airstrikes in Syria since taking power in late December 2022.
“Since I took office, the number of Israeli strikes against the Iranians in Syria have doubled,” Israeli Defense Yoav Gallant said.
While Israel frames its airstrikes in Syria as operations against Iran, and they occasionally kill Iranians, the strikes often kill or wound Syrian soldiers and civilians. This year, Israel targeted Syria’s Aleppo airport several times following an earthquake that devastated the city.
Israeli officials rarely comment on individual airstrikes in Syria, and Gallant would not offer a number on how many strikes have been launched by the Netanyahu government. He claimed the operations are weakening Iran’s capabilities in Syria.
Six African leaders are seeking to bring Kiev to the negotiating table for peace talks with Moscow, even as Russian troops remain in annexed Ukrainian oblasts, Pretoria said on Monday. The peace mission is expected to visit both countries’ capitals early next month.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will insist that his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, agree to enter peace talks before Russian troops leave his country. This is a necessary step for negotiations to begin, which Kiev has so far ruled out.
Zelensky’s government holds the position that Russian troops must leave all the provinces Moscow has annexed since the war began. Ukraine’s leadership has also set as a non-starter precondition that Moscow must vacate the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 following a US-backed coup in Kiev.
Conversely, in order for talks to succeed, the Kremlin demands that Kiev recognize Russia’s sovereignty over these territories – including Crimea, which has hosted the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet for nearly 250 years. Since 2014, polling has demonstrated overwhelming support among Crimeans for rejoining the Russian Federation, which originally handed over the peninsula to Ukrainian control in the Soviet era.
In the past several days, four separate events have occurred that, each in a significant way, signal the need for concern in the US.
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to pursue a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia before the end of this year.
According to Axios, President Biden will seek to work out the deal before the election campaign “consumes” his agenda. While the prospect of a normalization deal between these countries is not as far-fetched as it once was, it remains a long-shot and there is no compelling reason for the U.S. to make this the focus of its diplomatic efforts in the region.
The president might think that a deal like this would be a feather in his cap as he seeks re-election, but it would be a serious error to make the additional commitments to Saudi Arabia that would be needed to make it possible.
Biden already made the mistake of trying to curry favor with Mohammed bin Salman last year, only to be rebuffed ahead of the midterm elections last year. He would be unwise to make a big pre-election push for a deal with the Saudis that would come at America’s expense when there is good reason to expect that the crown prince would leave him in the lurch once again. Mohammed bin Salman would probably prefer to wait until after the election so that he can extract even bigger concessions later. Even if the Saudis were willing to accept Biden’s offer this year, it would be a bad deal for the United States.
Like the casino gambling scene in “Casablanca,” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court is “shocked, shocked” that the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to ravage the privacy of vast numbers of Americans.
For each American the FISA court permitted the FBI to target, the bureau illicitly surveilled almost 1,000 additional Americans.
The court’s just-revealed ruling signals the FBI presumed any American suspected of supporting the Jan. 6, 2021, protests forfeited their constitutional rights.