"When the speech condemns a free press, you are hearing the words of a tyrant!" -- Thomas Jefferson

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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.

Posted on: May 24 12:29

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:29

On April 26, Palantir, a data analytics company founded with CIA seed moneyannounced 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.

Posted on: May 24 12:28

.. 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.

Posted on: May 24 12:22

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. 

Posted on: May 24 12:18

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:18

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:17

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...

Posted on: May 24 12:17

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:11

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:08

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. 

Posted on: May 24 12:07

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:07

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:06

In the past several days, four separate events have occurred that, each in a significant way, signal the need for concern in the US.

Posted on: May 24 12:05

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:04

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.

Posted on: May 24 12:04

An overwhelming majority of US voters say they are concerned about law enforcement and intelligence agencies interfering in future elections, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll.

When asked whether they were concerned “about interference by the FBI and intelligence agencies in a future presidential election,” 37 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned,” while 33 percent said they were “somewhat concerned.”

Webmaster addition: Count me in the "very very very concerned" group.

Posted on: May 24 12:02

The following is the speech delivered on Monday by Stella Assange to the National Press Club in Canberra, provided in a tweet by Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother. 

Posted on: May 24 11:57

Najwa Abu Aisha, 48, is lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by family. She has been there since May 11 when Israel bombed empty farmland near her Gaza home, sending her hurtling from the second-floor rooftop of her house.

She was left paralysed by the fall.

Posted on: May 24 11:57

Israeli occupation forces on Tuesday closed the water holes that provide the Palestinian village of Bardala in the northern Jordan Valley with its daily water needs, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Human rights activist Aref Daraghmeh told WAFA that the occupation forces raided the village and closed the holes, noting that this is the tenth time that the water holes have been closed in two years.

Daraghmeh said that residents in Bardala and other communities in the Jordan Valley suffer from a lack of access to sufficient quantities of water in light of the occupation authorities’ control over most of the water resources in the Jordan Valley through the Israeli Mekorot water company.

Posted on: May 24 11:56

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel denied retaliating against whistleblowers who recently contacted Congress to allege a cover-up in the Hunter Biden tax fraud investigation. 

“I want to state unequivocally that I have not intervened – and will not intervene – in any way that would impact the status of any whistleblower,” Werfel said in a May 17 letter to the House Ways and Means Committee obtained by Fox News

Werfel contends that the purge of the IRS’s Biden investigatory team on May 15 was allegedly done on the orders of the Justice Department, which aligns with what one of the whistleblower’s attorneys told congressional leaders.

Posted on: May 24 11:56

Prosecutors overseeing the federal criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified information have issued a subpoena to obtain information about Trump’s business dealings in seven foreign countries since he took office in 2017.

The New York Times reported that special counsel Jack Smith issued the subpoena to the Trump Organization for its records related to its “licensing and development dealings” in China, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

The report noted that while the Trump Organization did not do any foreign deals while Trump was in office, the former president did make a deal with a Saudi-based real estate company for a project in Oman just before he announced his third presidential campaign last fall.

Posted on: May 24 11:50

A NASA lunar orbiter has spotted the final resting place of a private Japanese moon lander that failed in its touchdown attempt last month.

The Hakuto-R lander, also carrying a small rover for the United Arab Emirates, made its landing attempt on April 25, aiming to set down in Atlas Crater. However, communications with the lander were lost moments before the expected landing. The ispace team behind the lander later confirmed that the lander did not safely touch down on the surface. 

Now the site of the apparent crash has been discovered in images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). 

Posted on: May 24 11:49
The increasing disconnection between the frequently-adjusted global surface temperature datasets and the accurate satellite measurement of the troposphere is casting further doubt on the unproven hypothesis that humans cause all or most climate change by burning fossil fuels. IPCC computer models predict a higher warming in the lower and mid-troposphere, but the latest Met Office retrospective adjustments produce 36% faster warming on the surface. “The lack of much tropospheric excess warming over surface warming suggests that changes in greenhouse gases are likely not a significant factor in current warming,” note scientists in a recently published Clintel report.
Posted on: May 24 11:29
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.
Posted on: May 24 11:27
National Security Advisor Sullivan just stated it’s okay for Ukraine to use Western missiles to attack Crimea, because that’s not part of Russia, and President Biden signed off on F-16s for Kyiv.
Posted on: May 24 11:24
Speaking to the Financial Times, Jensen Huang, who is preparing for NVDA's earnings call after the close today, said US export controls introduced by the Biden administration to slow Chinese semiconductor manufacturing had left the Silicon Valley group with “our hands tied behind our back” and unable to sell advanced chips in one of the company’s biggest markets. At the same time, he added, out of necessity Chinese companies have no choice but to start building their own chips to rival Nvidia’s market-leading processors for gaming, graphics and artificial intelligence. “If [China] can’t buy from . . . the United States, they’ll just build it themselves,” he said. “So the US has to be careful. China is a very important market for the technology industry.”
Posted on: May 24 11:22
First-of-its-kind study finds that many products contain toxic volatile organic compounds - or VOCs - that can cause cancer or birth defects. Data from the California Air Resources Board showed more than 5,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals were released from consumer products inside the office or at home in 2020.
Posted on: May 24 11:14
Microplastics study suggests recycling is more harmful to humans, animals and planet The recycling of plastic has been found to release enormous amounts of tiny, toxic particles, which could be more harmful to the planet than not recycling By DOMINIC PICKSLEY 23:03, Tue, May 23, 2023 | UPDATED: 00:02, Wed, May 24, 2023 BOOKMARK GMB investigates the impact of microplastics in a roast dinner Recycling plastic could be releasing vast amounts of microplastics that are harmful to humans, animals and the planet, new research has discovered. A study has found that the chopping, shredding and washing of plastic in recycling facilities may turn as much as six to 13% of incoming waste into tiny, toxic particles. Four scientists sampled wastewater from a state-of-the-art recycling plant at an undisclosed location in the UK and were alarmed at the findings. They estimated that the facility could be releasing up to 75 billion plastic particles in each cubic metre of wastewater.
Posted on: May 24 11:11
Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard Branson's rocket company, has been sold off for £29million less than six months after the failure of its mission to launch nine satellites into space. Assets including Cosmic Girl, the company’s converted 747 jet, have been flogged off for just a fraction of the £3billion the company was valued at just two years ago.
Posted on: May 24 11:09