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"A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of a higher obligation…To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus, absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means." -- Thomas Jefferson
Russia and Iran developed a way to avoid the US dollar routing system known as SWIFT, Trade between the nations is booming.
What is the SWIFT Banking System?
Investopedia explains: The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system powers most international money and security transfers. SWIFT is a vast messaging network used by financial institutions to quickly, accurately, and securely send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions.
Most global transitions touch SWIFT in some way. The EU wanted to develop a way around SWIFT because the EU is sick (rightfully so) of the US setting sanction policy for the whole world.
Russia beat the China to secure SWIFT avoidance mechanism.
Business between the two most sanctioned countries in the world, Russia and Iran, is thriving. Iran’s exports to Russia have surpassed the $2bn mark last year according to Iran’s ambassador to Moscow. This is a considerable jump from the figures the previous years, and a 30% rise throughout the year, according to the Tehran Chamber of Commerce. The total value of bilateral trade between the two in volume reached $4.9bn in 2023 according to Iran’s official statistics. A Russian economic delegation with 170 representatives was in Tehran this week as the two countries held the 17th round of their joint economic commission. The two sides have pledged to increase trade tenfold over the coming years.
What facilitates their trade is their own banking solution, which the two countries set up last year to circumvent the dollar.
Claire's Observations: When you throw two alleged enemies together, like Iran and Russia they will figure out how to work together economically, despite another country's sanctions against them, which is precisely what has happened here.
The US government had better figure out how to make the US economy more competitive, and focus on quality products, or when the BRICS financial system comes into place, the US economy will be lost in the dust.
I am very upset at the current political system, which has seemed to unveil its candidates as "Two Grumpy Old Men", one with dementia, and the other with some anger management issues which concern me right now.
Why the hell am I supposed to hold my nose, and vote "for the lesser of two evils"?!? Which of them will actually contribute to a growing US economy and salvage a failing foreign policy, which seems to be best defined as endless wars?!?
Right now, I am betting that a Trump Presidency will do this, if, in fact, elections are held in November, which is not a sure bet at all.
I am hoping he has learned from his mistakes (like withdrawing the US from the JCPOA agreement with Iran.) And no, I don't believe this guy walks on water without touching the rocks. But if he can learn from his mistakes, right now, he appears the far better candidate to move this country forward than Dementia Joe and his minions, ever could.
European consumer rights groups have accused Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, of carrying out a “massive” and “illegal” operation of collecting data from hundreds of millions of users in the region.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), an umbrella body for 45 consumer groups, said eight of the groups were filing complaints with their respective national data protection authorities Thursday.
The groups claim that Meta (META) collects an unnecessary amount of information on its users — such as data used to infer their sexual orientation, emotional state or even their susceptibility to addiction — which they are unable to freely consent to.
The company’s practices, the groups argue, breach parts of the European Union’s signature data privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.
President Biden wants the G7 countries to develop a plan to eventually have Russia's frozen sovereign assets handed over Ukraine in order to support the war effort, Bloomberg has reported. Bloomberg's source have also said the US president has privately warned allies that Ukraine's collapse, and a Russian victory, would signify the international order is effectively destroyed for at least the next half-century.
"G-7 officials have been discussing options to use the $280 billion of immobilized Russian Central Bank assets, including using the money as collateral to raise debt or issuing guarantees against the frozen funds, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity," according to the report. Biden reportedly wants a firm plan proposed by the time of the Italy G7 summit in June. The US has been working behind the scenes to build consensus.
The UK and Canada are reportedly on board, but not Germany and France. Earlier this week France firmly voiced its rejection of seizing the frozen Russian bank funds.
"We don’t think this legal basis is sufficient," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said after the G7 finance ministers meeting in Brazil on Wednesday.
"This legal basis must be accepted not only by the European countries, not only by the G7 countries, but by all the member states of the world community, and I mean by all the member states of the G20. We should not add any kind of division among the G20 countries."
Opponents, including of course Russian officials themselves, have highlighted that such a act would be outright and brazen theft.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has warned in response, "We have ways to respond. We have also frozen sufficient volumes of financial assets and investments of foreign investors in our securities, all of which transfers we carry out for the owners of our securities."
Claire's Observations: French Finance Minister Le Maire is absolutely correct in his assessment.
And in looking at Secretary Yellen's face at this conference, she knows full well, that such a suggestion has absolutely "laid one big stinking egg" that no one in their right mind wants to touch, because the economic blowback from Russia could be horrific.
The best defense against ransomware is avoiding sites and downloads riddled with it, but you can take other protective measures, too. Modern antivirus software often restrict which apps can change files in folders commonly targeted by ransomware. Microsoft Defender, which is built into Windows, can do this too. (Microsoft changed the name from Windows Defender several years ago, but it’s the same program.) Some antivirus suites also run automatic backups, in case you need to restore your files.
The catch? Unlike third-party antivirus software, these extra safeguards are not turned on by default in Microsoft Defender. You have to enable them yourself.
The reports out of China arrived just before Thanksgiving. A surge in respiratory infections among children in the northern part of the country triggered a sense of foreboding -- and Deja-vu. Meetings between the World Health Organization and Chinese officials quickly followed.
The WHO's conclusions brought some relief. The surge was caused by an "immunity gap" in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, wherein children had few defenses against influenza and other respiratory infections after years of quarantine.
This episode should be a wake-up call for the U.S. national security establishment. We remain reliant on other nations, including countries of concern, like China, for critical intelligence needed to defend against biological dangers -- whether naturally occurring, mistakenly released, or purposefully engineered.
That needs to change. It starts with expanded investment in the technological infrastructure that can monitor for and detect dangerous pathogens that could devastate our nation and economy.
Since COVID-19, we've all become familiar with the risk posed by novel infectious diseases with pandemic potential. Just 30,000 base pairs of RNA -- roughly one one-hundred-thousandth as many as the human genome contains -- managed to shut down our planet.
And, as we know from our experience with the last pandemic, time is essential to stopping the spread and minimizing danger to people. We need a strategy for the rapid identification and understanding of emerging threats, as well as timely countermeasures once a threat has been intercepted.
A sophisticated bio surveillance or "bio radar" network would include collection points where pathogens are most at risk of emerging or being identified as threats -- including airports, borders, conflict zones, labs, and farms. Once bio radar systems leveraging DNA sequencing have detected a threat, we can create a digital fingerprint of the suspect pathogen's genetic material and begin analyzing the level of risk and mitigation options. This creates true bio intelligence, or BIOINT.
Artificial intelligence tuned to biological information like this can quickly begin analyzing the data collected from bio radar systems. And by learning to "speak DNA" the way chatbots can speak English, AI has the potential to identify anomalies and quickly inform development of genomic-informed countermeasures.
Today, nodes in this bio radar network are already at work. We just need to connect the dots of this biosecurity infrastructure and expand its scale.
Claire's Observations: This makes sense, but only if done in a very non-draconian, non-military manner, which doesn't scare or panic people, or leave them sealed in their homes, with no chance to obtain vital supplies, as China did during the pandemic.
Should governments around the world choose to do this in a very dictatorial manner, that is another brilliant reason for prepping in advance for this, or any other kind of disaster. And unless you are prepping currently , you won't know how world governments will react to this kind of crisis until it is too late.
Although my focus is on markets rather than politics, it’s impossible to forecast markets without understanding what’s going on in the political realm. While there are important Senate and House races this year, all eyes are focused on the presidential race likely (as of now) to be between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
A Trump vs. Biden (if he makes it) replay of the 2020 election could be close and is difficult to predict this far in advance. But we can say that the simple narrative of Trump vs. Biden does not come close to capturing the complexities of what’s ahead.
In the first place, Biden may not even be the Democratic nominee because of his obvious physical and mental disabilities. I’ll save the Biden story for another day. For now, let’s look at the other wild card affecting the 2024 election — the role of third parties.
Most observers disregard third-party candidates. They typically get 1–2% of the vote, don’t come close to winning individual states and have no impact on the final electoral results. That’s true, but there are some important historical exceptions.
To understand the potential impact of third parties and get a preview of what might happen this year, we need to look at three critical elections. In reverse chronological order, they are 1992, 1968 and 1912.
A flicker of light and a buzz of sound may hold the key to combating Alzheimer’s disease—and a new study in mice offers insights into how this unconventional therapy might work in humans.
The noninvasive brain-stimulation technology features an audiovisual disco of rhythmic 40-hertz stimuli, designed to boost brain health by enhancing neural activity at the same “gamma” frequency.
Administered for an hour each day through an integrated headset or display panel, the at-home therapy has shown promise in early clinical testing. In people with various stages of Alzheimer’s, it has been associated with preserved brain volume, strengthened connectivity between neurons, improved mental functioning, and more restful sleep, among other benefits.
The Wall Street says it has gotten its hands on a secretive document revealing the details of a failed Ukraine-Russia peace deal that was on the table within the opening months of the war. Since then there have been several reports, including from Foreign Affairs which said the UK at the time sought to sabotage the deal.
The draft peace treaty was drawn up by negotiators from both sides in April 2022, and reveals the thinking and objectives of Moscow at the time. The 17-page document has never been made public, with the WSJ for the first time on Friday divulging key sections and points.
Dated April 15, 2022, the document is said to lay out an agreement that turns Ukraine into a "permanently neutral state that doesn’t participate in military blocs". It further stipulated that Ukraine must not build up its military using Western support and that Crimea must remain under Russian control.
The WSJ analysis admits that there were some deep concessions on the table from the Ukraine side, and further underscores many of these things would likely remain in place in any future deal where Ukraine would no doubt be inflicted with even more compromises given its forces are currently being rolled back by superior Russian military might.
Claire's Observations: Apparently, "Hopium/Changium" is not just a US "thing" it has also infected our British cousins,at least those in power, who worked so hard to make sure a viable cease-fire didn't happen
This week, a bipartisan cohort of US Senators unveiled a new version of the Kids Online Safety Act, a bill that aims to impose various restrictions and requirements on technology platforms used by both adults and minors.
Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. responded:
“This bill is constitutionally dubious and would create new powers that should frighten not only every parent but also every user of digital platforms such as social media. In writing new federal rules to “protect” kids online, the real effect will be to significantly degrade the experience for all users while putting their sensitive personal information at risk.”
This excellent presentation meticulously breaks down exactly what went awry throughout COVID-19. What everyone needs to know is summarized below...
Ron Johnson has gradually become one of my favorite senators in American history. In 2020, he repeatedly advocated for early COVID-19 treatments to be made available to Americans (which had they been made available would have ended the pandemic).
Throughout 2021, he spoke out against the vaccine mandates and in November hosted a panel at the Senate which scrutinized the federal vaccine mandates and exposed how poorly those who experienced severe COVID-19 vaccine injuries were being treated. In January 2022, he hosted a panel which scrutinized the entire COVID-19 response, and in December of 2022, he hosted a panel focusing on everything we now know about the vaccines.
Being one of the most outspoken critics of the vaccination program in American history got him a lot of pushback, and in 2022, he decided to postpone his retirement to go through a grueling re-election campaign so there would be someone in the government who could advocate for everyone whose lives had been ruined by the COVID vaccines.
Despite being public enemy number one of the pharmaceutical industry, Johnson narrowly won, becoming the first politician in America’s history to run on the vaccine safety issue and win. Since then Johnson has kept his promise and fought for the vaccine injured (along with taking a variety of other difficult but important positions such as giving one of the most poignant speeches I’ve heard on the Ukraine War when he tried to block the Senate from continuing to fund it).
Within 13 years the culture of ownership will have changed dramatically and people will simply not buy stuff the way they do today. That’s the conclusion of a contributor to the World Economic Forum, who has predicted that by 2030 we will no longer own “stuff” but rather rent it.
HP launched a subscription service today that rents people a printer, allots them a specific amount of printed pages, and sends them ink for a monthly fee. HP is framing its service as a way to simplify printing for families and small businesses, but the deal also comes with monitoring and a years-long commitment.
Prices range from $6.99 per month for a plan that includes an HP Envy printer (the current model is the 6020e) and 20 printed pages. The priciest plan includes an HP OfficeJet Pro rental and 700 printed pages for $35.99 per month.
Very few people in Russia and across the Global South are as qualified as Sergei Glazyev, the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Commission (EEC), the policy arm of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), to speak about the drive, the challenges and the pitfalls in the road towards de-dollarization.
As the Global South issues widespread calls for real financial stability; India inside the BRICS 10 makes it clear that everyone needs to think seriously about the toxic effects of unilateral sanctions; and Professor Michael Hudson keeps reiterating current policies are not sustainable anymore, Glazyev graciously received me at his office at the EEC for an exclusive, extensive conversation, including fascinating off the record odds and ends.
These are the highlights – as Glazyev’s ideas are being re-examined, and there’s huge expectation for the green light from the Russian government for a new trade settlement model – which for the moment is in the final stages of fine-tuning.
Glazyev explained how his main idea was “elaborated a long time ago. The basic idea is that a new currency should be first of all introduced on the basis of international law, signed by the countries which are interested in the production of this new currency. Not via some kind of conference, like Bretton Woods, with no legitimacy. At the first stage, not all countries would be included. BRICS nations will be enough – plus the SCO. In Russia, we already have our own SWIFT – the SPFS. We have our currency exchange, we have correspondent relations between banks, consultation between Central Banks, here we are absolutely self-sufficient.”
All that leads to adopting a new international currency: “We don’t really need to go large scale. BRICS is enough. The idea of the currency is that there are two baskets: one basket is national currencies of all countries involved in the process, like the SDR, but with more clear, understandable criteria. The second basket are commodities. If you have two baskets, and we create the new currency as an index of commodities and national currencies, and we have a mechanism for reserves, according to the mathematical model that will be very stable. Stable and convenient.”
Then it’s up to feasibility: “To introduce this currency as an instrument for transactions would not be too difficult. With good infrastructure, and all Central Banks approving it, then it’s up to businesses to use this currency. It should be in digital form – which means it can be used without the banking system, so it will be at least ten times cheaper than present transactions through banks and currency exchanges.
Claire's Observations: The legitimacy of the US dollar will come to a very screeching halt, once these financial changes are instituted by BRICS countries, because the US dollar has absolutely nothing substantive which backs it up.
In fact, it's only legitimacy comes from the weapons with which the US enforces that legitimacy upon the rest of the world, and on that issue,we are way behind the curve compared with countries like Russia and China.
Microsoft released Edge 122.0.2365.63 yesterday, and soon after, users began reporting across multiple sites that the browser was crashing repeatedly with memory errors.
BleepingComputer was first alerted to the issue yesterday by one of our readers, who said the problem affected Windows 10 and Windows 11 users.
Since then, the bug has been widely reported, with users receiving "This page is having a problem" or "Not enough memory to open this page" errors while browsing the web, with an error code of "Out of Memory."
"Inadequate," "confusing," "disconnect," and "lack of awareness" aren't words passengers would like to hear associated with aviation safety, but according to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that's exactly what the situation is like at Boeing.
The findings come from a report compiled by an expert panel convened in March of 2023 and published Monday that relied on more than 4,000 pages of Boeing documents, multiple surveys, more than 250 employee interviews and visits to six Boeing locations. What it uncovered can only be described as devastatingly serious shortcomings in Boeing's safety culture.
"The panel observed documentation, survey responses, and employee interviews that did not provide objective evidence of a foundational commitment to safety that matched Boeing's descriptions of that objective," the panel said in its report - and that's probably the least damning thing they conclude.
For whales, exposure to "noises" can cause immediate effects, such as behavioral disruption and impacts on hearing. They can also result in longer-term effects, such as increased stress.
Increasingly background noise, notably in areas of persistent and heavy use, reduces their "listening and communication" spaces – making it more difficult for cetaceans to communicate, navigate and hear critical sounds from predators and prey.
For humans, health authorities have admitted that the "wind turbine syndrome" is real. Living too close to wind turbines can cause heart disease, migraines, panic attacks, sleep deprivation tinnitus and vertigo, among others, according to research done by New York pediatrician and psychiatrist Dr. Nina Pierpont.
The threat of antibiotic resistance is increasing as the pharmaceutical industry continues to pump out new antibiotic drugs to replace old antibiotic drugs that no longer work.
Believe it or not, most antibiotics sold in the United States are administered to livestock used in the meat industry. And they are typically given to healthy animals for purposes other than treating sickness – this includes for prophylactic and growth promotion purposes.
As of 2020, upwards of 69 percent of the U.S. antibiotic supply is found in meat that people and other animals eat for sustenance. Since the drugs often persist in meat tissue, many people are thus consuming a steady dose of antibiotic drugs on a daily basis with every meal.
Google Gemini, the tech giant’s new AI chatbot aimed at competing with ChatGPT, generated a series of fabricated reviews—falsely attributing them to actual individuals—to undermine the credibility of Peter Hasson’s 2020 book on political biases within Google and other major tech firms.
Ursula von der Leyen sees genocide as a business opportunity. Just this week, the European Commission president argued that a new “mindset” is required to bolster the weapons industry. “The continuing war in Gaza and the large-scale destabilization in the Middle East point to an era of insecurity and conflict in the region and beyond,” she said. The comment on Palestine in a speech about assisting arms makers prompts an unavoidable conclusion: Von der Leyen is exploiting the crisis to urge greater militarization, according to author and editor of the Electronic Intfada, David Cronin.