Thought for the day
"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two are lawyers and three or more are the government." -- John Adams (1735 - 1826)
Fortunately, nobody was injured when a massive sinkhole suddenly opened up in the middle of Tel Aviv’s Ayalon Highway on Saturday. However, the incident is a sobering reminder of the need for greater safety precautions. Although it is not yet completely clear what caused the sinkhole to appear, it is considered likely to be related to major construction work going on in the area, in which excavation work has diverted subterranean water flow.
The predictable result of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Kharkiv region was another information attack launched by the Kiev regime. Following the scenario played out in Bucha, the Ukrainian military discovered mass graves of “victims of the Russian occupation” in the city of Izyum.
In another attempt to blame the Russian military for nazism, the Ukrainian media reported on September 15: “The terrible footage are the graves of the victims of the Rashist occupation on the outskirts of Izyum. There are almost no names on the plates anywhere. Apparently, bodies are buried here from under the rubble of bombed houses, which have yet to be identified.” The reports did not mention that the town has been heavily shelled by Ukrainian artillery for about five months.
The very next day, the exhumation of corpses by the Ukrainian authorities began. About 400 bodies were reportedly found at the mass burial sites. Of course, the corpses of civilians and children with signs of torture were reportedly discovered.
The head of the Ukrainian Kharkiv administration, supported the claims: “there are several bodies with their hands tied behind their backs, and one person is buried with a rope around his neck. Obviously, these people were tortured and executed. There are also children among those buried.”
Click to see full-size image
The Izyum massacre was staged just a day after EU chief Ursula von der Leyen visited Ukraine and said in an interview that she wants to see Russian President Vladimir Putin face the International Criminal Court over war crimes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is in talks with G-7 nations to set up a war crimes tribunal which would investigate and punish Russia and its top officials and military leaders for “war crimes”.
“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” — Abraham Lincoln
It’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation.
We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.
It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.
So where does that leave us?
The possible, even likely, collapse of the European economy would inflict some heavy costs to present European institutions. In this entry, Dr. Peter Nyberg and I detail why we believe we are likely to see some rupturing of the European Union (EU) as originally conceived.
This may occur in two ways: Either the European Union disintegrates completely, or it mutates into something unrecognizable to its original purpose. This comment concentrates on some of the factors causing disintegration.
The functioning of the EU has, until recently, been built on two political pillars that now appear to be crumbling. Primarily, German growth has made possible the joint financing (through low-cost debt, the EU budget, and the central banks’ clearing system) of unsuccessful economies without the EU forcing them to commit to politically unacceptable reforms. Beneficent global developments have made possible the concentration on economic integration while going slow on the much more contentious integration of cultural, social, and foreign policies.
The deterioration of the global economy, together with EU policies, now threaten industry and living standards in EU member states, reduce the scope of joint economic support, and force member states to rapidly evaluate their readiness for possibly radical reductions in their political self-determination. This is most evident in Italy.
The Joe Biden administration rolled out a new assistance agreement with Jordan. Washington will send Amman $10.15 billion over the next seven years. The new deal will make Jordan the third largest recipient of American aid, following only Ukraine and Israel.
The White House signed the new memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday. The Biden administration first discussed the new agreement with Jordan on the sidelines of the Jeddah summit in July. The MOU is the largest aid package the US has ever signed with Amman.
Jordanian officials celebrated the aid, and claimed it was essential. "It’s an extremely important MOU. It speaks to the strong friendship the two countries have," foreign minister Ayman Safadi said. He added, "The US has gone above and beyond for Jordan."
Webmaster addition: Boy, they just can't give your money away fast enough!
The Biden administration is hesitant to give Ukraine the longer-range missiles it is asking for as Russia has warned providing such arms would make the US a party to the conflict.
Ukraine has asked the US for Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, which have a range of about 190 miles, significantly farther than anything Washington has provided Kyiv up to this point. The HIMARS rocket launch systems that the US has sent Ukraine are currently equipped with missiles that can hit targets up to 50 miles away.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that President Biden is resisting Ukraine’s calls to send the arms. The report cited senior aides to Biden who said the president was told by the Pentagon that the benefits of sending Ukraine the ATACMS would be minimal, leading him to conclude it wasn’t worth the risk of provoking Moscow.
In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, President Biden said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, marking the fourth time of his presidency that he’s made the pledge despite the long-standing US policy of strategic ambiguity.
When asked by host Scott Pelley if US forces would defend Taiwan, President Biden said, “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
Pelley followed up by asking, “So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, US forces, US men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”
The president replied, “Yes.”
Webmaster addition: Here's your rifle, Joe. And have another for Hunter!
The massive wave of retail thefts in the United States over the past two years have become a major challenge for both the retail industry and law enforcement.
Weakened law enforcement policies and lesser penalties for these criminal bandit gangs have hit a critical juncture, as crime in the United States has hit proportions not seen in three decades.
The number of increasingly professional organized retail crime (ORC) rings and their frequent attacks have reached crisis scale, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in a Sept. 14 report.
These crimes have hurt thousands of businesses and have contributed to higher prices for consumers and loss of key retailers in many communities, as countless stores have closed to due to lack of security.
“The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Meadows, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis.
Ron DeSantis’ Immigration Moves Not Limited to Martha’s Vineyard: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been trying to establish himself as a conservative leader on a number of issues. The latest is immigration.
Many of you reading this are ready for winter, both literally and figuratively. Your firewood is stacked and your kindling is split. Your barn is stacked full of hay. Your larder is crammed full of food. Your fuel tanks are topped off. And your home armory is “dialed-in”, with its walls comfortably stacked with ammo cans. But some of you reading this are not nearly so well prepared. Whether by lack of resolve or lack of resources, you aren’t ready for the manifold challenges of the 21st Century.
Winter is coming. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the winter of 2022-2023 will be harsh, for most of the country. And in Western Europe, the winter will surely be an uncomfortable one, since the Russians have embargoed natural gas.
Far worse than the predicted La Niña winter in North America, we are also entering what I term a Societal Winter: An era of rancorous discontent between political factions here in the United States that is replete with iciness, and dismissiveness, by The Powers That Be. With divisive “Woke” rhetoric and plenty of finger-pointing, people are feeling a lot less “United” these days. From my vantage point here in the rural Northern Rockies, it appeared that immediately after Joe Biden and his activist cabinet took office in D.C., the Mainstream Media (MSM) cranked the Acrimony knob all the way up to “11.” (For those not familiar, the 11 is a reference to the mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap.)
The EU Commission presented an energy crisis emergency plan this week.
The plan includes a windfall tax and a framework on capping energy prices in EU member states.
The $140 billion windfall tax plan could slow down investment in both oil and gas and renewables.
This week saw the European Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen do something that would have probably been considered the opposite of democracy just a few years ago. She proposed that governments impose a ceiling on certain energy producers' revenues and add a windfall profit for Big Oil majors. Called "a solidarity contribution" or "a crisis contribution," the windfall tax's aim is the same as the aim of the revenue ceiling: manage energy costs in a runaway inflation environment and get some additional money to, according to the plan, distribute among those who most need it.
Like all grand plans, however, unintended consequences abound with this one, and one of the gravest is the discouragement of oil and gas investments at a time when global oil and gas investments are already lower than they should be in light of demand projections.
JP Morgan's head of global energy strategy said it this week in an interview with Bloomberg.
"If you're planning your capital budget, you have to think twice now that you have a new risk," Malek told Bloomberg.
"It encourages majors to return cash to shareholders as they use that free cashflow that could have been used in investment."
A German bakery was slapped with a €330,000 (US$330,000) gas bill after a new energy company suddenly terminated their contract which guaranteed pricing until the end of 2023, Junge Freiheit reported, citing Bild.
"Are they crazy?" said owner Eckehard Vatter, who says he has 14 days to pay the bill. "A year ago, we paid €5,856 per month in gas costs for our large furnaces and heating," he added.
Vatter said his new energy supplier hasn't given him a reason for the 1,200% price increase.
What's more, since Vatter's bakery is considered a 'craft business' under commercial law, he can't receive any support from the state. He claims to have paid €19.9 million in taxes in recent years, according to ReMix.
While California may be sitting on close to a $100 billion budget surplus, it's also sitting on an estimated $1.5 trillion in unfunded local and state pension liabilities - which will fall squarely on the shoulders of California taxpayers.
Compounding the situation is an 11% drop in personal income tax revenue than California expected this year, in what may be the new normal as we enter what may be a global recession. And let's not forget - the great migration out of California by residents and companies alike. A net 280,000 people left the state in 2021 for various reasons, which may be setting the state economy up for disaster.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that it is ready to implement a prisoner exchange deal with the US and that it’s up to Washington to make the swap happen.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said that an agreement had already been reached on the issue.
“We have already voiced our readiness to exchange prisoners with the US, and we are still ready to do so. Negotiations have been conducted in different ways over the matter, and parties have reached the necessary agreements,” Kanaani said, according to Iran’s MEHR news agency.
“It is now up to the US administration to decide whether it wants to implement this agreement or not. We are prepared to enforce it,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) led a congressional delegation to Armenia, from where she slammed on Sunday Azerbaijan’s “illegal” attacks on the country.
Pelosi’s visit came after clashes erupted on the Azeri-Armenian border in the heaviest fighting in the region since the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. A ceasefire has held since Wednesday, but over 200 troops were killed in the flare-up.
Armenia said the fighting was started by massive Azeri shelling, while Azerbaijan claims it was responding to attacks on the border. Pelosi said it was clear that Azerbaijan was the aggressor, saying the fighting “was initiated by the Azeris and there has to be recognition of that.”
Webmaster addition: There is something very weird going on here. Nominally, the US has sided with Azerbaijan while Armenia is close to Russia. Is Pelosi trying to lure Armenia towards the US, or simply starting another front against Russia?
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally faction in the lower house of France’s parliament, has slammed Paris’ participation in the anti-Russian sanctions as a geopolitical mistake.
"France has made a geopolitical mistake by taking part in the inapt and ill-considered sanctions against Russia," she said at a party conference on Sunday.
According to Le Pen, the European Union’s policy is becoming "imperial." "Brussels’ dangerous and belligerent position is being more and more repelled by those forces in the member countries who give priority to national interests," she said, adding that this tendency is being seen in the moods of voters in Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands. She recalled that in the June elections in France her party has won seats in 80 constituencies. "It was our biggest success in the 50 years of the party’s existence," she stressed.
Western countries’ supplies of long-reach artillery and rocket systems to Ukraine make them accomplices of Kiev’s crimes against civilians, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky said on Sunday.
"Providing Kiev regime with long-reach artillery and rocket launchers makes our Western ex-partners accomplices of NaziUkraine’s crimes against civilians," he wrote on his Twitter account.
"It’s disgusting that weapons supplies is a lucrative business-project for US and UK. Where are notorious "Western values"?," he noted.
Bill Clinton, 76, said that Republicans are only able to 'close' in midterm elections because 'they scare people' into thinking they need to vote in right-leaning politicians.
The former Democratic president said that his party could hold onto the House and Senate in November's election if they 'say the right things' – suggesting that Republicans are better at embellishing to make their cause seem more dire.
While early predictions pointed to a Republican bloodbath in the 2022 midterms, more recent polling has shown Democrats and the GOP at a tie or close to one when asked which party likely voters would rather see control Congress.
An often-repeated historical pendulum pattern shows Congress flipping to the opposite party than a new president in the midterms two years after they are sworn into office.
President Clinton, who was in office from 1993 to 2001, thinks the pattern can be broken this year.
Police in Bremen, Germany have arrested at least one man in possession of a fully operational U.S. "Stinger" anti-aircraft system - originally sent to Ukraine as military aid - which ended up on the black market. This is one of the most deadly, accurate, and fully portable systems in the world!
A Stinger missile, fired from the shoulder of any single man, can hit and destroy an aircraft flying up to 15,000 feet, and up to five miles away!
It has been previously reported that an enormous amount of weapons being sent to Ukraine by the United States have been stolen by Ukrainians, and then offered for sale on the black market. In fact, it is now an open secret that only about thirty percent (30%) of the weapons sent, actually make it to the Ukraine military!
Webmaster addition: Remember, you originally paid for that!
Russian citizens with active Schengen visas will not be able to enter Lithuania starting on 00:00 Monday.
On Monday, the September 13 Sejm decision enters into effect, which prolongs the state of emergency until December 15 and bars entry for Russian citizens, including those with active Schengen visas.
This decree was also supported by Poland and the rest of the Baltic States. Meanwhile, Vilnius made exceptions for certain categories of Russians, including diplomats, representatives of the opposition, employees of shipment companies moving cargo to other EU states, and family members of people who have EU residence permit or citizenship.
This morning, September 18, 2022, in the far southwestern region of Ukraine, the first snow fell in the Carpathian Mountains. Winter is coming, and soon, western Europe will be plunged into a COLD, DARK, deadly time . . . because Europe has sanctioned Russian natural gas and oil; and will freeze to death from their own actions!
Here is brief video of the first snow falling in the Carpathian Mountain area of western Ukraine.
The SCO summit this week offers much welcome hope for a saner, more peaceful world.
The 22nd summit this week of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization explicitly and unreservedly promotes peaceful partnership and multilateralism – in stark contrast to the de facto Western worldview of hegemony and endless conflict.
The SCO summit, held on Thursday and Friday, saw the leaders of 15 nations convening in Uzbekistan, which is hosting the gathering this year. The venue in the ancient city of Samarkand is quite fitting. It is one of the oldest cities in Asia and was a key hub in the centuries-old Silk Roads for trade and human interaction.
The Ukrainian army has detained seven students from Sri Lanka and taken them to an unknown destination, the head of the region’s military-civilian administration Vitaly Ganchev has said.
"Seven citizens of Sri Lanka, who studied at the Kupyansk Medical College, have been detained and taken to an unknown destination. Given the notorious methods the Ukrainian special services employ, we do not rule out provocations against the military-civilian administration of the Kharkov Region," he said.
Ganchev previously said that Ukrainian forces and foreign mercenaries were torturing and shooting civilians in their zone of control. He stressed that this was happening in many places, including Izyum, Kupyansk, Veliky Burluk and Volchansk. He pointed out that it hard to say if those responsible for torturing and humiliating civilians were regular army soldiers, members of nationalist battalions or Ukraine’s security service SBU, but "there are now quite a few people who do not speak Russian or Ukrainian."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin to "cautiously proceed with" discussions on grain and fertilizer supplies via the maritime corridor in the Black Sea.
"We are undoubtedly engaging in talks with corresponding states on all types of products coming from both Russia and Ukraine. It can be grain products and fertilizers. There have been no problems in the negotiation process. During our meeting with Mr. Putin, we agreed to cautiously proceed with this process," the Turkish leader was quoted as saying by the TRT channel after the summit in Samarkand.
The Turkish leader went on to say that he, together with Putin,"spoke in favor of using the grain corridor for the benefit of poorly developed nations."
"Naturally, President Putin emphasized this issue as well. In the future, we will closely monitor the supply process so that the corridor would benefit poorly developed nations as much as possible," he added.
Russia’s Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft was installed on Launch Pad 31 (Vostok) of the Baikonur Space Center, a TASS correspondent reported from the facility.
Now the personnel is to roll up the service towers, and final launch preparations will begin.
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket carrying the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft will blast off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 16:54 on September 21. The spacecraft’s crew will comprise Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio. Their space mission is to last 188 days, until March 28. The spacecraft will also carry about 120 kilograms of payload.
International partners provided $17.422 billion of financing to cover Ukraine's state budget deficit in the period from the end of February to September 13, which amounts to 52% of the $33.325 billion of aid that they have announced.
Grants amounted to $8.524 billion or 48.9% of the funds received, Ukraine's Finance Ministry reported on its website.
The largest amount of support has been promised by the United States and the European Union: $12.99 billion and $11.6 billion, respectively. However, while the U.S. has already provided $6.99 billion or 54% of the promised amount, and all in the form of grants, the EU has provided $2.426 billion or 21%, of which only $144 million as grants, the ministry said.
The third, fourth and fifth largest donors are Canada, the International Monetary Fund and Germany, which planned to provide $1.521 billion, $1.41 billion and $1.373 billion, respectively. All of this money has already been provided. Only Germany provided the whole amount as a grant.
Switzerland has decided to stop sharing tax information with Russia, the Swiss government announced on Friday.
The Federal Council decided to suspend the exchange of information on tax issues with Russia, the statement said.
Earlier on Friday, Switzerland, following the example of the European Union, announced that it had decided to suspend an agreement with Russia on simplifying the visa regime.
A crazy man at a New York City McDonald’s took out an axe and demolished the restaurant during an altercation at 2:30 AM on Saturday morning.
On Wednesday, Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes carrying illegal immigrants to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.