"Every human being is a unique individual. Any attempt to replace the personal conscience by a collective conscience does violence to the individual and is the first step toward totalitarianism." -- Hermann Hesse - Author (1877-1962)

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Wirepoints recently warned in a Chicago Sun-Times oped that Chicago’s pension mess was going to get worse. As Chicago’s latest annual financial report shows, that’s just what happened.

Chicago’s pension shortfall across the city’s four major retirement funds – Municipal, Laborers, Police and Fire – rose to $37.2 billion total in 2023. That’s a 5% increase from $35.4 billion reported the prior year. Most of the increase is attributed to changes in actuarial assumptions and recent legislation that sweetened the cost-of-living pension benefit for thousands of police and firefighters.

Add in the Teachers Pension Fund’s $15.8 billion shortfall and Chicagoans are on the hook for $53 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. That’s over $45,000 owed per Chicago household to be paid off over time.

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Vladimir Zelensky has finally accepted a request to be interviewed by Tucker Carlson, the American journalist has revealed. A notorious Ukrainian government-linked website branded Carlson an enemy of the state, in particular for his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

Carlson used to host a highly-rated evening show on Fox News until he was fired last April for reasons never quite explained. He has since launched his own network, posting on X (formerly Twitter) and Telegram.

“Looks like we’ve got the Zelenskyy interview,” Carlson said on Wednesday. “We’ve been trying for two years, and with particular intensity after interviewing Putin in February.”

“The point is to bring Americans much-needed information about the conflict that’s completely reshaping their country’s position in the world. Coming soon we hope,” he added.

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Former US President Donald Trump should set out his plan to resolve the Ukraine conflict, which he claims would take just 24 hours if he’s returned to the White House in November, Vladimir Zelensky has said.

Following the launch of Russia’s military campaign against Kiev in 2022, Trump has repeatedly said the conflict would not have escalated if he were still president, and has vowed to resolve the crisis in a single day if he is elected once again. 

During last week’s debate with President Joe Biden, Trump reiterated this promise, stating that he could quickly resolve the conflict – even before he officially assumes office. However, he has yet to specify how he would end the fighting. 

Webmaster addition: Cut off the money and weapons and Ukraine will surrender in 24 hours.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that he texts French President Emmanuel Macron every day to express his support and discuss the “disheartening” popularity of the right-wing National Rally party.

Jordan Bardella’s National Rally (RN) trounced Macron’s centrist Ensemble bloc in the first round of parliamentary elections in France over the weekend. The National Rally, formerly led by Marine Le Pen, won 33% of the vote, ahead of the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) with 28%, and Ensemble with 20%.

Speaking at his SPD party’s summer festival in Berlin on Wednesday, Scholz said that he sends daily messages of encouragement to Macron, and that the pair “discuss the situation, which is indeed quite disheartening,” according to Germany’s dpa news agency.

Scholz added that he will work “to prevent the French, whom I love and respect, and the country that means so much to me, from having a government led by a right-wing populist party.”

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Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signaled her support if Ukraine attempted to dig up dirt on GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. She made the comment in a phone call with Russian prankster duo Vovan and Lexus, one of whom posed as ex-Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko.

According to a recording of the conversation made public on Wednesday, Clinton and the man she believed to be Poroshenko discussed the political landscape in the US leading up to the November election, as well as the potential repercussions of a Trump victory for both Kiev and Washington. Trump has repeatedly criticized the way the administration of US President Joe Biden has handled the Ukraine conflict, saying he would end hostilities within 24 hours if elected and stop sending unconditional financial support to Kiev.

Clinton said that she is “doing everything” she can to secure Biden’s reelection, while acknowledging that those efforts come at “a very difficult time in this country.” Her comments followed a recent television debate between Biden and Trump, widely seen as a disaster for the incumbent.

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In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he could start peace talks with Russia through intermediaries, a similar model already used in the Ukrainian grain corridor negotiations, where agreements were reached through the UN and Turkey. However, any such peace talks would be a waste of time from Moscow’s perspective since the Kiev regime still delusionally maintains demands that all territory captured since 2014 be returned, in addition to compensation for war damages.

Zelensky described the possibility of negotiations in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer on June 30: “This model was used for the first time in the example of the grain corridor when Ukraine negotiated not with Russia, but with the UN and Turkey.”

“Now, this can be done with countries from different continents. For now, we only have this model,” he added.

According to the report, the Kiev regime claims that the intermediaries should propose ways to resolve the crisis. Then, they would consider these and, if approved, broker them with representatives of Russia. This is a drastic change from the position adopted at the end of 2022 when Zelensky banned all negotiations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and his administration by decree.

For its part, Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is open to peace negotiations.

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A popular pizza chain is the latest to face money problems in the face of rising costs and falling customer numbers.

Mod Pizza is preparing to file for bankruptcy as early as next week, sources told Bloomberg on Wednesday. 

The plans are not finalized and could still change, the person familiar with the matter said. 

'We're working diligently to improve our capital structure and are exploring all options to do so,' a Mod Pizza spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

Mod Pizza, known for its custom personal pizzas and salads, has more than 500 locations across 28 US states.

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An explosive hearing unfolded at the Philippines’ House of Representatives, focusing on the concerning increase of over 290,000 excess deaths. As people start to connect the dots to the roll-out of experimental vaccines, heated discussions ensued, revealing shocking testimonies and data.

Attorney Tanya Lat voiced the frustrations of many Filipinos:

“There are Filipino people who are sick and tired of how the DOH has let us down, has refused to admit that people are dying, turning a blind eye to the people who are getting sick, turbo cancers, myocarditis, children who are suddenly sick as if they are 60, 70-year-old people.”

Her words resonated in the chamber, painting a grim picture of a Department of Health (DOH) that seems indifferent to the suffering caused by the vaccines.

“We look into their eyes, there does not seem to be any sympathy for the people who have died, for the people who are now physically disabled because of these vaccines,” she added.

The tension continued as analyst Sally Clark presented alarming statistics:

“This is our birth data. And it shows that we have had a loss of babies every single year since the pandemic has started. So 2019 was our last normal birth year. And the last line at the bottom is 2023.”

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Beyond NATO's carefully disguised swastika logo(yes, it's there, you just have to think about it), the insanity here is a snapshot of Everything That is Wrong And Just Frankly Completely Nuts &c &c... the opening sentence in this article says it all:

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg proposed sanctioning China over its support for Russia amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Unlike the West, China has not directly provided countless aid packages to Russia, but China has kept trade open and exchanged technology with Moscow. Stoltenberg believes China must face “consequences” for not aligning with NATO.

The West is theoretically not at war with Russia or China. NATO is on the offensive, completely stepping over boundaries and harassing foreign nations to instigate World War III. Then they tell the public and mainstream media to announce that they are merely protecting their own people from our enemies who have done absolutely nothing to earn such a title.

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The Kiev regime continues to make dangerous decisions that could lead to a serious escalation in the conflict with the Russian Federation. Recently, Ukrainian troops began to be deployed on the border with the Republic of Belarus, which is a serious step, considering that any attack on Belarusian sovereignty will be responded militarily by Moscow, since both countries have a mutual defense pact. Ukraine is aware of this risk of escalation, but openly seeks to internationalize the conflict.

On June 29, the deputy commander of the Belarusian special operations forces, Colonel Vadim Lukashevich, stated that Kiev is positioning soldiers, armored vehicles and US-supplied artillery systems along the 1,000-km border between the two countries. Furthermore, minefields have been created in the region, which is clearly a sign of preparation for a possible open conflict. In addition to the Ukrainian army, the Belarusian border service also reported the presence of neo-Nazi mercenaries on the border.

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Marjorie Cohn , Truthout 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrives at the United States courthouse where he entered a guilty plea to an espionage charge ahead of his release in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, on June 26, 2024.Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

The Justice Department agreed to the plea bargain a little over a month after the High Court of England and Wales ruled that Assange would be allowed to appeal an extradition order. The High Court found the U.S. government didn’t provide satisfactory assurances that Assange could rely on a First Amendment defense if extradited and tried in the U.S. The Justice Department, now fearful it would lose the case, scrambled to strike a deal with Assange.

Assange was prosecuted because WikiLeaks exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. In 2010, U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who had a “TOP SECRET” U.S. security clearance, furnished WikiLeaks with 700,000 documents and reports, many of which were classified “SECRET.”

Claire's Observations:  Nothing Wikileaks ever published was discredited as "untrue"; but what it did was hold several administrations' collective "feet to the fire" about the atrocities committed during the ugly, unwinnable, and insane wars initiated by  Bush, then followed through upon by Obama, Trump, and now Biden.  

Truth is always the "first casualty of war", and for telling the American public and the world the truth, Assange would most probably been in jail for the rest of whatever life he would have had left in Belmarsh. 

I am grateful, that there is some life and reason left in the British judicial system, and that they did not trust the US to do right by Assange, if he were extradited to the US.


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Then reports surfaced of how bad the situation really is for Joe. His mental and physical condition did not crop up the night of the debate. They have clearly known it and tried to manage it for weeks (if not month or years).

From Mediaite:
“Mr. Biden was drained enough from the back-to-back trips to Europe that his team cut his planned debate preparation by two days so he could rest at his house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., before joining advisers at Camp David for rehearsals,” the Times reported. “The preparations, which took place over six days, never started before 11 a.m. and Mr. Biden was given time for an afternoon nap each day, according to a person familiar with the process.”

This isn’t a schedule befitting a commander-in-chief. Needing naps and starting late? This just highlights the concerns many have about Biden’s fitness for office. The debate preparation was clearly insufficient, and it showed on stage.

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Donald Trump—and all future presidents—were given a huge win by the Supreme Court. The highest court ruled that presidents have immunity from official actions. While this has been the expectation for years, we now have it in writing.

This means, among other things, that Democrats’ ability to prosecute Trump was significantly limited.

It is yet another blow against Biden, who has been watching his reelection chances crater. Democrats are hounding him to step down. Polling shows that he is losing to Trump in battleground states. Now, his campaign will be spending millions to attack the highest court in the land and fearmonger voters.

From Axios:
The Biden campaign is launching a seven-figure ad blitz in battleground states on Wednesday slamming the U.S. Supreme Court’s immunity decision and warning of former President Trump’s threat to be a “dictator.” …

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Biden fumbled in just a five-minute statement, where he attacked the courts and Trump. He refused to answer any questions. That came as wild reports flooded in about what was happening in the White House. Democrats are panicking. For some reason Hunter Biden is interfering with official meetings.

All that was put on Karine Jean-Pierre’s plate as reporters demanded an answer. KJP is known for her dismissive, unprofessional reactions to reporters’ questions. She is often unprepared and leaves pressers without answering questions. But this time, she could not just run out of the room, not after what Biden did.

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Russia Says It Will Respond to Finland Giving US Access to Bases

Under a new agreement, the US will gain access to 15 bases in Finland, including a border guard base 20 miles from the Russian border by Dave DeCamp July 3, 2024 at 4:02 pm ET Categories NewsTags Finland, Russia

On Wednesday, Russia said it would respond to Finland’s move to allow the US access to military bases inside the Nordic nation, which joined NATO last year and shares an over 800-mile border with Russia.

Under a new Defense Cooperation Agreement that was ratified by Finland’s parliament on Monday, the US can access 15 bases in Finland, including a border guard base only 20 miles from the Russian border.

“I can only confirm that Russia will not leave unanswered the NATO military buildup on our border, which threatens the security of the Russian Federation,” said Andrei Nastasin, a deputy spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“We will also take the necessary measures, including of a military-technical nature, to counter aggressive decisions by Finland, as well as its NATO allies,” Nastasin added.

After Finland first applied to join NATO in 2022, Russia vowed to increase its military presence in western Russia and near the Finnish border in response to any buildup of NATO military infrastructure in the Nordic nation.

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President Biden is facing an increasingly tough reelection. He has suffered terrible approval ratings for years. Most swing state polls in recent months show Trump leading. And after his recent debate failure, Democrats are talking about removing the man from their ticket entirely.

But there was one factor that Biden still held over Trump’s head. He even bragged about it in recent campaign emails.

Biden thought he had this edge, which would give him a huge advantage in reaching voters. But never underestimate how badly Sleepy Joy could perform. He’s doing so badly he’s even hurting himself! Now, the Trump campaign has just announced that they are beating Joe in this key area.

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According to a report by the Daily Wire, a senior Biden official has described the president as “not a pleasant person to be around.”  He even revealed that “people are scared sh*tless” of good old “Uncle Joe.” This contrasts sharply with his public persona of calm and kindness. But it is consistent with an elderly man suffering from the advance stages of cognitive decline.

Biden has long been known to have a temper, especially towards the media. He is quick to become combative when reporters press him with tough questions. On top of that, people who suffering from cognitive issues quickly flare up in anger, as they struggle with their failing mental abilities.

Webmaster addition: When Presidents get angry, they make mistakes.

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by Juan Cole

In mid-June, the Associated Press announced that the U.S. Navy had been engaged in the most intense naval combat since the end of World War II, which surely would come as a surprise to most Americans. This time, the fighting isn’t taking place in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans but in the Red Sea and the adversary is Yemen’s – yes, Yemen’s! – Shiite party-militia, the Helpers of God (Ansar Allah), often known, thanks to their leading clan, as the Houthis. They are supporting the Palestinians of Gaza against the Israeli campaign of total war on that small enclave, while, in recent months, they have faced repeated air strikes from American planes and have responded by, among other things, attacking an American aircraft carrier and other ships off their coast. Their weapons of choice are rockets, drones, small boats rigged with explosives, and – a first! – anti-ship ballistic missiles with which they have targeted Red Sea shipping. The Houthis see the U.S. Navy as part of the Israeli war effort.

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Daniel Larison


The U.S. reassured its reckless client that it will still bail them out in a war in Lebanon:

Senior US officials reassured a delegation of top Israeli officials visiting Washington this week that if a full-out war were to break out on Israel’s northern border between Israel and Hezbollah, the Biden administration is fully prepared to back its ally, according to a senior administration official.

Escalation with Hezbollah would be disastrous for Israel and Lebanon, but it seems increasingly likely that Netanyahu will do this. The Biden administration has been credited with discouraging the Israeli government from escalating in Lebanon before now, but when it matters most they are failing to stop the conflict from spiraling out of control. The U.S. has reportedly been warning Hezbollah that it cannot restrain Israel, but the reality is that Biden simply will not. Given the choice between reining in its client or watching it set the region alight, the president will opt for the latter.

Unfortunately, it appears that this writer is absolutely correct in his assessment.  One wonders, now that men in the US are involuntarily placed on Selective Service recruitment lists (i.e., a "draft") how soon are we going to see more US troops in Israel?!?  Please remember;  the US has one base in Israel, plus another one under construction. As things get worse in the region, we will probably see a few more go up.

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by | Jul 3, 2024

Palestinians' right of return

As violence and ethnic cleansing surges throughout the occupied West Bank, the Israeli NGO Peace Now says Tel Aviv has approved the largest illegal settlement expansion in over three decades. Israel’s Supreme Planning Council will also review plans to advance the construction of more than 6,000 housing units across dozens of West Bank Jewish-only colonies.

This comes as far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who holds a key position in the Defense Ministry acting as the West Bank’s de facto governor, is moving forward with plans to fully annex the occupied territory.

Claire's Observations:  Finance Minister Smotrich, a word, please.  Where the hell are those Palestinian people whose historic lands you are "annexing" supposed to go?!?  Egypt can't take them; their economic and political problems preclude any absorption of Palestinians, and the same is true for Jordan. Saudi Arabia is a "no go" right now, as is Iran.  So...... IF your government allows them to live, where should they go?!?

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