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"Any ruler who decides to start a war has made the conscious decision to send a million of his own people to their deaths, for his own profit." -- Michael Rivero
A group of Iraqi legislators plans to repeat calls for disclosure of the results of an investigation into the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport more than three years ago.
Hassan Salem, a member of the al-Sadiqoun bloc – the political wing of the anti-terror Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group in the Iraqi legislature, told Iraq's Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Saturday that lawmakers intend to reopen a file into the matter.
He added, “There are domestic and foreign parties involved in the crime, and the offenders hail from the United States, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq.”
Tens of thousands hold fresh rallies across several cities throughout the occupied territories for a 10th straight week, blasting so-called "legal reforms" that are planned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's extremist cabinet.
The biggest demonstration was held in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on Saturday, attracting, what the Israeli regime's media estimated were, around 100,000 people.
Some 50,000 also rallied in the northern city of Haifa and 10,000 in Beersheba in the central part of the occupied territories. Media reports said the populations that gathered for the protests in the cities were the largest ever since early January when the demonstrations began.
The so-called reforms serve as the centerpiece of the policies of the Netanyahu-led cabinet, which he cobbled together late last year by wooing ultra-Orthodox and hard-right parties.
As one might expect, the Judiciary hearing on the "weaponization" of federal agencies, featuring Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger as witnesses was full of fireworks, facts, and ad hominem friction.
Out of the gate, Ranking Member Democratic Del. Stacey E. Plaskett labeled the two "so-called journalists" as dangerous and a "threat" to former Twitter employees.
She claimed that Republicans brought "two of Elon Musk's ‘public scribes'" in "to release cherry-picked out-of-context emails and screenshots designed to promote his chosen narrative - Elon Musk’s chosen narrative - that is now being parroted by the Republicans" for political gain.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say you have called two witnesses who pose a direct threat to people who oppose them,” Plaskett said after the video.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, had a simple response to her accusations:
“It’s crazy what you were just saying.”
“You don’t want people to see what happened,” Jordan continued.
“The full video, transparency. You don’t want that, and you don’t want two journalists who have been named personally by the Biden administration, the FTC in a letter. They say they’re here to help and tell their story, and frankly, I think they’re brave individuals for being willing to come after being named in a letter from the Biden FTC.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed renaming Ukraine after notorious Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. His suggestion came after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky told his government to consider a proposal to change Russia’s name.
On Friday, Zelensky instructed authorities to “thoroughly study” the proposal to officially rename Russia to ‘Moscovia.’ He was reacting to an online petition, which argued that the name ‘Russia’ provided grounds for “further encroachment” on the history of Kievan Rus, a medieval state from which both Russia and Ukraine trace their origin. Many Ukrainian nationalists claim that their homeland is the only true heir of Rus.
Tbilisi’s main street, Rustaveli Avenue, was blocked for several days this week as thousands of people chanted anti-government slogans in front of the parliament building and sang the Georgian national anthem. Even more protesters gathered at the square in the evenings. By nightfall, the enraged crowd was throwing firecrackers, stones, and Molotov cocktails at the police, attempting to take down an iron fence and storm the parliament. The police used water cannons to promptly put out the fires and showered the crowds with water, at the same time spraying tear gas to disperse those present.
What led to this violent confrontation is perhaps difficult to understand from the perspective of a Western reader. It wasn’t a “civil society” uprising in the sense you might find, for example, in a country like France. Instead, it was organized by people whose livelihoods were threatened by the proposed legislation.
In a poor country like Georgia, foreign-funded roles pay multiple times better than local gigs. By taking on the NGO industry, the government went up against a powerful, and relatively well-heeled lobby.
A trip to Moscow is not impossible, Pope Francis said in an interview with the Argentina’s La Nacion news outlet.
"This is not impossible. We hope we will be able to do that. I would like to bring to the attention that there are no promises. I have not closed this door," the Pontiff said in the interview.
At the same time, the head of the Roman Catholic Church expressed doubt regarding the possibility of a bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky under auspices of the Vatican. "However, an international meeting on this topic is possible, a meeting of delegates from the whole world," he said. The Vatican is working in this direction, the Pontiff noted. [The Vatican has] no peace formula, the peace service is in place," Pope Francis added.
The founder of the popular ChatGPT tool has responded to criticisms by Twitter owner Elon Musk that his product is “too woke.”
OpenAI co-founder and President Greg Brockman said the company “made a mistake” in its initial tool creation, according to an interview he gave to The Information.
Musk was a co-founder of OpenAI, which created the ChatGPT tool. However, Musk has severed ties with the company in the meantime. He has criticized the tool for having safeguards within it to prevent it from producing responses that the founders have deemed offensive.
Brockman said in his interview: “We made a mistake: The system we implemented did not reflect the values we intended to be in there.” He continued, “And I think we were not fast enough to address that. And so I think that’s a legitimate criticism of us.”
A few days back writer Sammy Roth wrote a piece in the LA Times about a new form of racism in LA.
Roth cited a study from the University of Southern California that states the following:
“Decades of racially-motivated freeway infrastructure planning and residential segregation shape today's disparities in who produces vehicular air pollution and who is exposed to it, but opportunities exist for urban planning and transport policy to mitigate this injustice.
"[LA residents] who drive more tend to be exposed to less air pollution — and Angelenos who drive less tend to be exposed to more pollution.
“It’s a function of the racism that shaped this city and its suburbs, and continues to influence our daily lives — and a stark reminder of the need for climate solutions that benefit everyone."
Yossi Engel, a 35-year-old Israeli man who was indicted in absentia in January 2021 for allegedly defrauding investors of at least $47 million, has been arrested in Los Angeles by US authorities. Engel is accused of using his company, iWitness Tech, to target potential investors from Orthodox Jewish communities in Los Angeles and New Jersey between 2018 and 2021, when he fled to Israel. He is facing one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.
According to the indictment filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Engel deceived investors by portraying himself as a businessman seeking capital to purchase and install security cameras in Los Angeles as anti-Semitic incidents increased in the US. He also promised to use their funds to purchase property in Israel, which he claimed he would renovate and sell for a profit. However, he allegedly used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including spending $56,880 at casinos and flying on private jets at least twice. He also wired more than $2.5 million to currency exchangers in Israel and withdrew over $861,000 in cash.
Today Tucker seems to be turning a new leaf. He proclaimed on the popular podcast ‘Redacted’ “…but if you say “What actually happened with Building 7? But if you say something like that on television - they actually flip out!….Do buildings actually collapse like that? No! or maybe they do. I don’t know. But why can’t I ask questions about that?”
Knowing of Silicon Valley's fondness for "Effective Altruism", and the importance of The Silicon Valley Bank to their industry, I wondered this week if we'd see venture capitalists lined up in front of Silicon Valley Bank branches with $250k cashier's checks in hand to open CDs there, to boost confidence in the bank. Instead, they did the opposite, encouraging the CEOs of their portfolio companies to pull all their assets out of the bank...
And calling for a Federal bailout.
What Happens Next?
It looks like the damage is going to ripple outward from the collapse of The Silicon Valley Bank. Serial startup founder Brad Hargreaves sketched out some of the mechanics of that in this thread.
Banks' paper losses caused by higher interest on their holdings of debt securities became the focus of attention last week when Silicon Valley Bank - SVB Financial Group (SIVB) - was forced to sell billions of dollars of debt securities at a huge loss to pay depositors their money. Often this paper loss data is ignored by investors and is buried in lengthy SEC files, but it can be a significant loss per share compared to the current stock price. While many factors impact the valuation of a bank stock, many readers were asking me about this information, and I have compiled a list of some banks with their unrealized loss per share compared to their latest stock price.
Paper Losses on Securities
The data comes from the respective bank's latest 10-K that reflect December 31, 2022, numbers. Most banks keep securities in two different accounts. Available for sale - AFS - securities are those securities that might be sold before maturity. The fair value is reported on the balance sheet and the gain/loss is shown as accumulated other comprehensive income -AOCI - in the shareholder equity area of the balance sheet. If an AFS security is sold, then the gain/loss is reported on the income statement. Held-to-maturity -HTM - securities are those securities that are expected to be held to maturity. They are reported on the balance sheet at cost - not at fair value. Any gain/loss on either their sale or any gain/loss if they are held to maturity is also reported on the income statement.
They are these:
1. We don’t want war, we are only defending ourselves.
2. The other guy is solely responsible for this war.
3. Our adversary’s leader is evil and looks evil.
4. We are defending a noble purpose, not special interest.
5. The enemy is purposefully causing atrocities; we only commit mistakes.
6. The enemy is using unlawful weapons.
7. We have very little losses, the enemy is losing big.
8. Intellectuals and artists support our cause.
9. Our cause is sacred.
10. Those who doubt our propaganda are traitors.
SVB Financial Group's announcement that it needed to sell billions of dollars of assets to make its customers whole continued to send Wall Street into panic mode.
Several news outlets, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the financially-strapped bank was considering a potential sale to a larger institution.
On Friday morning, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation shut down the bank and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as the receiver.
There was a line of about 50 people deep Friday morning, waiting in the rain at the Menlo Park branch of Silicon Valley Bank, trying to withdraw their money. Instead, they were met with FDIC representatives.
"We have more than $250,000 with SVB," said Yegor Anchyshkin, co-founder and CEO of Instock.Com. "I am pretty concerned."
In the previous issue of Ke Aupuni Update (February 25) I spoke of the tragic 130-year long disconnection from the rest of the Pacific Island nations. This is particularly lamentable since Pasifika, not America, is our real, natural family. We have begun the process to be reunited with our Pacific family.
Living in Hawaii, we donʻt realize how deeply colonized and enslaved we are by the American system, until we visit other Pacific Island nations.
In the rest of our Pacific family, governments and the peoples are shedding the adverse aspects of colonial ways and actively engage in applying what is called the “Pacific Way” to address local, regional and even global issues.
What is this Pacific Way? Itʻs doing things in ways that are mutually respectful, inclusive, consultative, consensual, flexible and allow for compromise. The Pacific Way is a set of ideas, visions and processes that are dynamic, renewing itself under new contexts while simultaneously grounded to the core values of the native culture.
Simply put, its doing things island style.
Botswana is pushing for a larger share of diamonds mined by the De Beers consortium, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said on Thursday. Masisi’s government and the company have been trying to negotiate a new deal for five years, and the president now thinks Botswana can make more money cutting and refining its own stones.
Botswana’s diamond industry is completely controlled by Debswana, a joint venture of the government and De Beers. Although both parties own an equal stake in the venture, 75% of Debswana’s diamonds go to De Beers, while a quarter go to the Okavango Diamond Company, a diamond trader owned by the government.
De Beers sources rough diamonds from Botswana, which sell for a lower price than polished diamonds or jewelry. Masisi said that he wants the Okavango Diamond Company to receive a larger cut of these diamonds from the Debswana deal, which the state-owned firm can then refine and sell for a higher price.
On March 11, terrorists believed to be members of ISIS attacked a group of civilians who were collecting truffles near Khanaser town in the southern countryside of Aleppo in Syria’s central region.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the terrorists “slaughtered” three of the civilians, all young men, and abducted 26 others, including women. The London-based monitoring group said that the attack took place near a position of Iranian-backed forces, who maintain a large presence on the strategic road leading to Khanaser and from there to Aleppo city.
ISIS cells in central Syria escalated their attacks against government forces and civilians in the region in the last few months.
Just a day earlier, a pro-government fighter was killed and ten civilians were wounded in two separate attacks that took place near the town of Kobajjep in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor and in the area of al-Bruk in the governorate’s southern countryside. Both attacks were blamed on ISIS.