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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Facing Loss

Losing Face,

France recalls Ambassador from Italy over the tremendous insult of an official Italian State meeting with representatives of the Gilets Jaunes movement. So who represents "French democracy" now? (French banks hold the most Italian government debt outside Italy. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-italian-banks/ )
The diplomatic row between France and Italy is escalating. More than half a year after Italy summoned the French ambassador over Europe's migrant row, on Thursday France one-upped Italy when it announced it would recall its ambassador to Italy over what it said were "outrageous" verbal attacks...
Luigi di Maio, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement hailed the "winds of change across the Alps" yesterday on Twitter after meeting with Yellow Vest activists Cristophe Chalencon and Ingrid Levavasseur.
"The latest interference is an additional and unacceptable provocation,” according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Thursday. It added that this “violates the respect that democratically and freely elected governments owe each other."
"All these acts create a serious situation that questions the intentions of the Italian government" towards France.


​John Ward, The Slog, summarizes Brexit negotiations:  ​The EU is facing an existential crisis. The UK isn’t. That’s the reality.
This clarification explains the reason why the EU cannot negotiate in good faith, but has to take the hardest possible line, a position of betting everything upon reversing the Brexit vote, by creating fear and despair in the UK. If Brexit happens, it will hasten the inevitable demise of the common currency. That is death, so Eurocrats must bluff hard and gamble everything against that death. They have no room to negotiate, nor can they come to any other consensus. No-deal Brexit hastens Eurodeath faster, but it's all-or-nothing at this point.

President Trump on Wednesday said he would nominate David Malpass, the Treasury Department undersecretary for international affairs and a critic of the modern development finance system, to be next president of the World Bank...
Malpass has more than four decades of financial policy experience in the federal government and private sector. He previously served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and as chief economist for the now-defunct investment titan Bear Stearns...
Malpass has argued that “globalism and multilateralism have gone substantially too far,” and said international lenders like the World Bank failed to accomplish their goals.
“They spend a lot of money. They are not very efficient. They are often corrupt in their lending practices, and they don’t get the benefit to the actual people in the countries,” Malpass told the House Financial Services Committee at 2017 hearing. “They get the benefit to the people that fly in on a first-class airplane ticket to give advice to the government officials.”
Malpass’s defenders say his critical eye will help bring sorely needed reforms to the World Bank. In a Wednesday telephone briefing with reporters, a senior administration official called Malpass “a happy warrior and champion of pro-growth policies.”
“The goal is the ensure that these institutions serve their targets, in this case developing countries,” the official said. “Sometime that requires real reform.”Malpass is one of Trump's chief negotiators with the Chinese government as administration and Beijing seek a deal to end an 11-month trade battle. The senior administration official said Malpass will continue to work on trade issues until he's confirmed by the World Bank board. 

Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, coordinates his every step with a foreign country and Moscow sees no point in communicating with a dependent figure, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.  

A Taliban official said on Wednesday the United States had promised to withdraw half of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of April, but the US military said no timeframe had been set.  

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/taliban-official-troops-leave-afghanistan-1-190206112809013.html

​"A Direct Order From The President"​
The first such order, according to a senior officer of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, came during Trump’s surprise Christmas visit to the al-Asad Airbase in Iraq. There the president (and First Lady Melania Trump) not only joined U.S. soldiers in a high-profile meet-and-greet, but, along with national security adviser John Bolton, huddled with the U.S. high command in a tent set aside for the meeting. Among the team that met with Trump was U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman and Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera. Of the two, LaCamera was the more important, as he is the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the military organization established in October 2014 to “degrade and defeat” ISIS.
After an extended question and answer session with the press on December 26, Trump was privately briefed on the anti-ISIS effort by LaCamera, who told the president that only a few pockets of ISIS militants remained in Syria’s Euphrates Valley. Trump praised the effort, I was told, but then issued his order. “I want us out of Syria,” the Centcom officer with whom I spoke quoted Trump as saying. “There wasn’t anything ambiguous about it,” the Centcom senior officer added. “There were no qualifiers, no conditionals, and so far as I know, nothing about that conversation has changed.” Put another way, while any number of civilian Pentagon officials speculate that the military has been given leeway in implementing the president’s directive, that is not the understanding among senior Centcom officers. “Nothing has changed since that meeting,” I was told. “We’re out.”​...
Which is only to say that, while Trump’s Syria withdrawal decision has been derided by a cross-section of the foreign policy establishment, the announcement was greeted with a collective shrug by most senior military officers. A planner at Centcom headquarters in Tampa was puzzled by the controversy over the Trump announcement, saying that the only response he received was from officers “whose immediate reaction was not whether this was a good or bad decision” but how quickly and effectively it could be implemented. “It was more like, ‘fine, but you know, how many trucks is it going to take? What do we need to do? When do we start? What do we need to move?'”

An undiplomatic public statement produces a predictable response...
The Iraqi government insists that there are no exclusively American bases in the country. Rather, US troops act as trainers and are embedded with Iraqi troops on Iraqi bases.
The deputy speaker of the house, Hasan al-Kaabi (another Sa’irun stalwart), said, “Iraqi will never be the springboard for an attack on or for surveillance of any country, and everyone must mobilize to end the American presence.”
Al-Ka`bi added, “Once again Trump has violated the legal and constitutional norms of the Iraqi state, after his visit to the Ayn al-Asad base. Today, he visited on us a new outrage with his statement affirming that US troops will stay in the country in order to commit aggression against a neighboring country.”
Al-Kaabi addressed the American president, saying, “Iraq is not your father’s estate, and we will never allow any foreign troops on our soil.”


​Gotta' love Persian diplomacy...
Iran to the Iraqis: Do Not Attack US Forces Unless They Refuse to Withdraw Following a Parliamentary Decision
https://www.globalresearch.ca/iran-to-the-iraqis-do-not-attack-us-forces-unless-they-refuse-to-withdraw-following-a-parliamentary-decision/5667862

​Tulsi Gabbard Is Driving The MSM Bat Shit Crazy, Caitlin Johnstone​  :-)
Military interventionism is by far the most depraved and destructive aspect of the US-centralized power establishment, and it is also the most lucrative and strategically crucial, which is why so much energy is poured into ensuring that the American people don’t use the power of their numbers to force that interventionism to end. Anyone who throws a monkey wrench in the works of this propaganda machine is going to be subjected to a tremendous amount of smears, and I’m glad to see Gabbard fighting back against those smears. From personal experience I know that smear campaigns must be fought against ferociously, because the only alternative is to allow your detractors to control the narrative about you, which as far as your message goes is the same as allowing them to control you. It’s not fun, it’s not clean, but it’s necessary.
The narrative control war keeps getting hotter and hotter, ladies and gentlemen. Buckle up.
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/02/07/tulsi-gabbard-is-driving-the-msm-bat-shit-crazy/

Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, is working on a plan that would tax financial trades, according to his spokesman, Michael Inacay, who declined to provide details on how, exactly, it would be structured.
Financial transaction taxes typically place a levy of a fraction of a percent on the price of a securities trade. The idea has gained popularity within the Democratic Party as a way to curb high-frequency trading as well as raise revenue for progressive policies such as free college tuition...
Critics of such taxes say they would make capital more expensive for companies, meaning they’d raise less of it, and that they reduce liquidity in markets.
Overseas, the idea for a tax on financial trades in gaining steam. Stock buyers in Europe would pay a 0.2 percent tax under a plan that Germany and France proposed last month.


Today Tasmania is burning. Its fires are so large that a firefighting team was reportedly called out in New Zealand to investigate a heavy smoke haze that turned out to have drifted across 2,500km of ocean from the Tasmanian fires. Firefighters are confronted with 1,629km of fire front, with fires having consumed 190,000 hectares, or 3% of Tasmania’s land, with authorities warning there is no sign of the fires abating for several weeks, and the potential for catastrophic consequences still a distinct possibility.​..
What has become clear is that another global treasure in the form of Tasmania’s ancient Gondwanaland remnant forest and its woodland alpine heathlands are at profound and immediate risk because of climate change.​..​  
At the same time Tasmanians find themselves living in a frightening new world where summer is no longer a time of joy, but a period of smog-drenched dread that goes on week after week, and it seems inevitable, month after month. Whole communities have been evacuated and are living in evacuation centres or bunking down with friends and families. Those that remain live in a fug of sleeplessness and fear, never knowing when the next ember attack will occur or a nearby fire will break containment lines, a gut-clutching terror of wind, smoke and heat. Volunteer firefighters find themselves no longer fighting fires for a week but for a season. Government is confronted with the extraordinary cost of fighting fires of this size and scale for months.

​Who pays for THAT?​
French and German farmers have been forced to dig up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after authorities found an illegal GMO strain mixed in with the natural seeds they’d bought from Bayer-Monsanto. Authorities discovered the illicit seeds in three separate batches of rapeseed seeds last fall, but the public has only just been notified. While Bayer issued a recall, by the time the farmers learned of it some of the seeds had already been planted, covering 8,000 ha in France and 3,000 ha in Germany.​..​ 
The agrochemical giant refused to estimate the total cost of the GMO contamination, which knocks out not only this season’s crop but also the next season’s, as farmers will be barred from growing rapeseed next year “to avoid re-emergence of the GMO strain,” according to Bayer-Monsanto’s French COO Catherine Lamboley. They offered to compensate farmers €2,000 per hectare, which would work out to about €20 million between both countries.  

​Our Plastics, Our Selves
The scientific exploration of the hormonal effects of compounds in plastics dates back to July 1991, when physician and biologist Ana Soto traveled to Wisconsin to attend a conference on the potential effects of chemical exposure on human sexual development. She had been invited because her lab had made an important, impromptu discovery two years earlier: The suppliers of a plastic tube that Soto and her colleague Carlos Sonnenschein used in their lab had changed the tube’s formula, in order to make it stronger. The researchers then noticed that the nutrient mixture they stored in these new tubes was causing cells in their test cultures to proliferate when they hadn’t before. Soto and Sonnenschein eventually figured out the cells were responding to a compound leaching from the new tubes, nonylphenol, as if it were the natural sex hormone estrogen.​..
Nearly 30 years of research have transpired between that Wisconsin conference and today, Soto explained. And that work has produced a body of evidence that prenatal exposure to EDCs is tied to a higher incidence of various disorders. Animal experiments link prenatal EDC exposure to a higher incidence of altered behavior and cancer. These results, Soto said, “provide strong support to the idea that environmental chemicals that have hormone-like properties are at least one of the causes of the increase in breast and prostate cancer and reproductive problems throughout the population.”​...
Just that possibility is concerning considering that the list of endocrine-disrupting chemicals now includes some phthalates — a component in many plastics, like Saran wrap, that makes them soft and pliable — which have been banned from products for small children in the European Union and are now starting to be phased out of products there and in the U.S. An estimated 1,000 others, many derived from plastics, are suspected to also interfere with normal hormonal function.
The problem is that our ingenuity in developing plastics has led to a bewildering variety of possible culprits to test — more than any scientist can ever hope to explore. “If we have to do all the research that we have done to determine endocrine-disrupting characteristics of BPA and nonylphenol and some phthalates, we will exterminate the rats and mice produced for research,” Soto said.​..
In 2009, Katsuhiko Saido, then a researcher at Nihon University in Japan, found that plastics are actually far less stable than believed; they decompose into pieces and particles. Saido’s research showed that as they break down into tinier and tinier pieces, plastics release endocrine-disrupting compounds such as BPA. Due to this process, he says, plastic debris in the ocean will give rise to new sources of global contamination that will persist long into the future.​..
According to Arizona State’s Halden, plastics can concentrate those contaminants up to 100,000-fold, and then, at least in theory, carry that super-concentrated contaminant into the next creature that consumes it — a bit of plankton, a shrimp, a fish, and, continuing on down the food chain, maybe eventually to a human.

​Facing Consequences​

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