04.19.2018

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Thursday, Apr 19,  2018

http://theweek.com/articles/768374/mike-pompeos-secret-trip-north-korea-makes-zero-sense

A 35-year ban on movie theaters ends in Saudi Arabia with Marvel Studios’ Black Panther being the first film to show. (CNN)

Cuban president Raúl Castro prepares to step down as Miguel Díaz-Canel is elected as his successor. This marks the first time since the Cuban Revolution that the country is not led by a member of the Castro family. (Washington Post)

Miguel Díaz-Canel elected president of Cuba, succeeding Raúl Castro Cuba on Thursday elected Miguel Díaz-Canel to be its next president. Díaz-Canel succeeds Raúl Castro, who stepped down Thursday morning, though Castro will remain head of Cuba’s Communist Party. Díaz-Canel was the lone candidate to be Castro’s successor and was handpicked by Castro for the job. The move comes less than two years after the death of Fidel Castro, who was the brother of 86-year-old Raúl. Díaz-Canel, 57, is described by The Washington Post as “a consensus builder unlikely to push for quick or radical change.” He is the first new leader of the communist island nation after almost 60 years of rule by the Castro brothers. Source: The Washington Post, NBC News

It is revealed a recent airstrike mounted by Israel against an airbase in Syria targeted an Iranian Tor missile air defence system. (Haaretz)

As Israel marks Memorial Day followed immediately by Independence Day a truck driver is arrested at a checkpoint at the Reihan Crossing in the West Bank suspected of being on his way to launch a terror attack. The truck’s contents were marked as supplies for communities on the border but were actually explosives. (Haaretz)

Iran’s central bank officially switches from using the U.S. dollar to the euro in its international transactions. (Reuters)

NASA’s TESS exoplanet space telescope, whose launch was initially delayed, is successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by SpaceX on a Falcon 9 rocket. The first stage of the rocket successfully landed on SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. (CNN) (Space)

Search and rescue operations end after a crewman missing after a fire broke out aboard drillship MV Geo Technical in the South China Sea yesterday is found dead on the vessel. A gas leak discovered today was hampering the efforts. (The Star) (The Maritime Executive)

Puerto Rico experiences an island-wide blackout after an excavator accidentally downs a transmission line. (AP News)

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will hold military drills for the first time. (Trend)

A Crown Court in England jails Daryll Rowe for life with a minimum of 12 years for deliberately infecting five men with HIV and attempting to infect five more. He is the first person convicted of deliberate HIV transmission in the United Kingdom. (BBC)

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory states that Kīlauea is showing unusually high activity and that a new vent could form. (Big Island Now)

Trump administration reportedly decides against new Russia sanctions The Trump administration has apparently decided not to levy new sanctions on Russia. The White House informed the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., that no additional sanctions are coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told CNN. The decision comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that new sanctions would be coming to “send a strong message” to Russia about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other administration figures rushed to backpedal Haley’s statement, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that Haley’s announcement was the result of “momentary confusion.” Kudlow later clarified that Haley wasn’t confused, but rather was following “what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it.” Source: The New York Times, CNN

Ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal now free to discuss alleged Trump affair American Media Inc., the parent company of The National Enquirer, reached a settlement on Wednesday with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, which lets McDougal out of a contract that prevented her from being able to speak about an affair she says she had with President Trump. In 2016, American Media gave McDougal $150,000 in exchange for the rights to her story about Trump, but never ran the article. McDougal’s attorney, Peter Stris, said under the terms of the settlement, McDougal can keep the $150,000 payment, while American Media has the right to up to $75,000 of any future profits from the story. Trump, who is friends with American Media Chairman David J. Pecker, has denied the affair ever happened. McDougal said she does not have any plans right now to sell her story. Source: The New York Times

The End 

 

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04.18.2018

Wednesday,  Apr 18,  2018

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant opens its doors to tourism. (TASS)

 CIA Director Pompeo secretly met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un President Trump confirmed Wednesday that over Easter weekend, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a covert visit to North Korea on behalf of the administration and met with Kim Jong Un. Trump told reporters that Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un and got along with him really well, really great.” Pompeo’s visit was an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Trump and Kim regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, per The Washington Post. The meeting was held soon after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, and about a week later, U.S. officials said the government had directly confirmed Kim was willing to discuss possible denuclearization. Source: The Washington Post

Trump administration reportedly decides against new Russia sanctions The Trump administration has apparently decided not to levy new sanctions on Russia. The White House informed the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., that no additional sanctions are coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told CNN. The decision comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that new sanctions would be coming to “send a strong message” to Russia about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other administration figures rushed to backpedal Haley’s statement, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that Haley’s announcement was the result of “momentary confusion.” Kudlow later clarified that Haley wasn’t confused, but rather was following “what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it.” Source: The New York Times

Miguel Díaz-Canel expected to succeed Raúl Castro as Cuban president Cuban President Raúl Castro is expected to step down this week, with Miguel Díaz-Canel the lone candidate to be his successor. The move comes less than two years after the death of Fidel Castro, who was the brother of 86-year-old Raúl. Díaz-Canel, 57, is described by The Washington Post as “a consensus builder unlikely to push for quick or radical change.” He will be the first new leader of the communist island nation after almost 60 years of rule by the Castro brothers. “This is about institutionalizing the regime,” explained Jorge Domínguez, a Cuba expert at Harvard University, adding: “If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.” Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday,   Apr 17, 2018

In Los Angeles, SpaceX announced that they will build a massive rocket named BFR capable of sending humans to Mars. (PC Magazine)

A passenger jet suffers an uncontained engine failure during a flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. One passenger is killed. The aircraft diverts to Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are considering replacing the U.S. military forces in Syria with a regional Arab force. (Haaretz)

Israel holds services remembering 23,646 Israeli soldiers and 3,134 civilians killed in the conflict. (The Times of Israel)

Egypt invites rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to meet in Cairo in a bid to halt violent protests at the Israeli-Gazan border. (i24 News)

The names of 3,607 employees of Unit 731, a Japanese military medical experimentation unit associated with war crimes during World War II, are released. Prosecutors in the United States had kept their identities secret following the war in exchange for access to data gleaned from the project. (Newsweek)

North Korea and South Korea announce that they are planning to officially end the Korean War by writing a peace agreement. An armistice agreement was reached, ending armed conflict, in 1953. U.S. President Donald Trump called the decision to end the war a blessing. (Business Insider)

United States officials state that Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo met with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. (WBIR-TV)

The European Commission announces plans to force tech companies worldwide that provide services within the European Union to supply data on their users in counterterror investigations. (The Guardian)

Amid anti-government protests, Armenia’s National Assembly swears in former President Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister. The opposition call the move a “power grab”. (BBC)

Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush dies at age 92. (Reuters)

 

Monday,  Apr 16, 2018

Desiree “Desi” Linden becomes the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. For the men’s division, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan became the first Japanese person to win since 1987. (USA Today)

South Carolina authorities announce that a riot yesterday at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, Lee County, killed seven inmates and wounded seventeen others. (The Guardian)

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman declares the Iliya Institute, a Jerusalem community centre, to be a terror organisation operating on behalf of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. (The Jerusalem Post)

Russia denies interfering with the site of a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, and says a nine-member Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons team currently waiting in Damascus will be allowed to visit on Wednesday. (BBC)

Syrian state media SANA reports that the Syrian Air Defense Force has intercepted several missiles fired at Shayrat Airbase in the Homs Governorate. The U.S. denies any involvement. (Haaretz)

The annual Pulitzer Prizes, which celebrate US journalism, are awarded. The New York Times wins the most with three. Pieces on Donald Trump and the #MeToo movement feature prominently. (The Guardian)

Police clash with KKE protestors in Athens, Greece, firing tear gas as the crowd uses angle grinders in an attempt to topple a statue of former U.S. President Harry Truman in response to the United States’ airstrikes in Syria. Three protestors are injured. (eKathimerini)

U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson goes on trial in Turkey facing espionage and terrorism charges that carry a maximum prison term of 35 years. (ABC News)

Russian investigative journalist Maxim Borodin falls from a window in Yekaterinburg and dies. Local officials say the death is non-suspicious but Novy Dens chief editor and international monitor OSCE both say he may have been murdered. (BBC)

German prosecutors charge an unidentified 94-year-old ex-Auschwitz guard with aiding and abetting 13,335 murders when he was nineteen. (BBC)

SpaceX’s scheduled launch of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is delayed until April 18. TESS is designed to search for exoplanets using the transit method and is 400 times more powerful than the Kepler space observatory. (BBC)

China’s People’s Liberation Army says the nation’s J-10C fighter jets have entered combat service. (Xinhua)

Bombardier announces an increase in range for the Global 7000 business aircraft to 7,700 nautical miles, surpassing the Gulfstream G650 as the longest-range private jet. (The Montreal Gazette)

Archaeologists announce the discovery of a treasure haul potentially linked to 10th Century Danish King Harald Bluetooth in Rügen, Germany. The initial finds were made by amateur treasure hunters in January and the total haul is the largest of its type. (BBC)

 

Sunday, Apr 15, 2018

Afghan and Pakistani forces exchange cross-border fire on the Durand Line, killing two Pakistan Army troops and injuring five others. (Voice of America)

Israel Defense Forces announce the destruction of a Gaza-Israel tunnel thought to belong to Hamas, with Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman claiming it to be the longest tunnel found to date. (Jerusalem Online)

Russia sends landing ship Nikolai Filchenkov, chartered civilian vessel MV Alexander Tkachenko, and transport ship Orsk to Syria laden with military equipment. (Metro)

Deputy tourism and antiquities minister Qais Hussein Rashid unveils a United Nations-brokered plan for “re-constructing touristic, archaeological and heritage sites” damaged by ISIL in Mosul. (Iraqi News)

Prominent New York LGBT and environmental lawyer David Buckel commits suicide by setting himself on fire with petrol in Prospect Park. He leaves and circulates a suicide note indicating his death is in protest against the use of fossil fuels. (BBC News)

U.S. President Donald Trump warns Syria’s government that the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to strike again if Syria were to carry out new chemical attacks. (BBC News)

The Arab League summits in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, their first meeting since the Qatar diplomatic crisis, focused on Jerusalem and Iran. (Al Jazeera)

Israeli authorities release 207 African migrants from Saharonim Prison after a Supreme Court ruling ordering their release amid deportation negotiations. The migrants had refused to leave the country voluntarily. (The Times of Israel)

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews riot outside the Israel Defense Forces draft office in Jerusalem after rumours emerge of a female draft dodger being arrested in Har Nof. Police open fire with water cannons and stun grenades. (The Times of Israel)

Former FBI Director James Comey doesn’t believe Donald Trump should be impeached, despite saying that he’s “morally unfit” to be president. (CNN)

An asteroid, 2018 GE3, sized between 37 and 138 metres (121 and 453 ft) passes 193,000 kilometres (120,000 mi) from Earth, possibly the largest known asteroid to ever pass that close in observational history. (Minor Planet Center)

Another asteroid, 2018 GY3, which had passed 301,000 kilometres (187,000 mi) from Earth on April 10, is identified as the lost asteroid 2008 GY21, which had passed similarly close to Earth in 2008. (Minor Planet Center)

 

 Saturday,  Apr 14, 2018

The United States, France, and the United Kingdom target chemical weapon sites and other Syrian military sites with missile strikes on early Saturday morning Syrian time (EET), in response to the Douma chemical attack. (The Washington Post) (BBC)

Russia calls for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council as it considers supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria. (Reuters)

An explosion near the Israel–Gaza border fence kills at least four Palestinians. Hamas says terrorists from Islamic Jihad were killed. Locals claim the explosion was from the Israeli Defence Forces shelling Hamas. Israel denies any involvement. (The Times of Israel)

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi calls for international intervention to “protect Palestinians”. (wafa)

The Taliban destroy an electricity pylon in Doshe, Baghlan, Afghanistan, overnight. The pylon carries imported power from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and its destruction causes widespread blackouts across several provinces and in capital Kabul. (Tolo News)

An explosion strikes a major weapons depot linked to Hezbollah and Iran in Mount Azzan, near Aleppo, Syria. Local media and Sky News reports an unidentified jet attacked the site, possibly as part of Western coalition airstrikes in the region, but al-Mayadeen denies any airstrike happened and said controlled explosions were carried out at the site yesterday. (The Times of Israel)

Yemen accuses Iran of arming Houthi rebels with drones in violation of United Nations sanctions to allow the militants to launch attacks on Saudi Arabia. Iran supports the Houthis but denies arming them. (The Daily Star)

The Islamic State ambushes a member of al-Hashd al-Shaabi on Neft Khana road, near Khanqeen, northeast of Baquba, Iraq. The militants execute him. (Iraqi News)

 

 Friday,  Apr 13, 2018

The United Nations Security Council meets amid concerns of military strikes in Syria by the United States and its allies following a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria last weekend, with the United States ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, accusing Russia of lies and covering for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which she said had used chemical weapons at least 50 times in the past seven years of warfare, and the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, blaming the United States, France and the UK for escalating tensions. (The Washington Post)

Protests enter a third week, with thousands taking part. (The Washington Post)

Israel opens fire again, with the Gaza Health Ministry claiming one Palestinian was killed and 233 injured as protesters torched tyres and Israeli flags. (Haaretz)

Sir Mark Sedwill, national security advisor to the United Kingdom, says Russian intelligence targeted Yulia Skripal’s email account. (BBC)

Russian authorities say a Kamov Ka-29 belonging to the Baltic Fleet crashed late yesterday whilst attempting to land on a ship, killing two people. (RadioFreeEurope / Radio Liberty)

The International Maritime Organisation announces agreements to reduce shipping emissions by 50% of 2008 levels by 2050, and to ban heavy fuel oil from the Arctic. (CBC)

An unidentified civilian is jailed for three and a half years for terror offences connected to banned neo-Nazi group National Action. Acquitted Finnish national Mikko Vehvilainen, a serving soldier in the British Army, is jailed alongside him for a weapons offence, receiving 12 months. (BBC)

The Parliament of Portugal passed a new law, by a 109 vote margin, making it easier for people to change their legal gender. Portuguese citizens from the age of 16 will now be able to change their gender and name in documents without the need of a medical report. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump pardons former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted of lying about leaks to the media. (BBC)

Elliott Broidy resigns as deputy financial chairman of the U.S. Republican National Committee following reports that he negotiated a $1.6 million payoff with a Playboy Playmate over claims he had impregnated her. (Politico)

The U.S. government releases a report by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz that accuses former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe of improperly authorizing a media disclosure and “lack of candor” concerning this disclosure. (The Hill)

Experimental satellite RemoveDEBRIS arrives at the International Space Station ahead of a planned mission removing orbital debris. (GetSurrey)

 

Thursday, Apr 12,  2018

 

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons states it agrees with UK authorities on their analysis of the identity of the toxic chemical used against the Skripals. The UK identifies the substance as a Novichoknerve agent, of a type developed by Russia. (BBC) (OPCW)

Adalah and Al Mezan say Gazan doctors had to amputate the legs of two young protestors wounded by Israeli fire after Israel refused permission for their transfer to Ramallah in the West Bank for treatment. Israel says the men were refused transfers because they were involved in violence. (The Times of Israel)

Egypt, citing humanitarian reasons, opens the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula for three days. (The Times of Israel)

Syrian government fighters remove the last rebels from Douma, completing the Syrian government’s recapture of former rebel stronghold Eastern Ghouta. (al-Jazeera)

Ex-MI5 agent Jeremy Fleming gives his first public speech as head of GCHQ, revealing the United Kingdom launched a “major offensive cyber-campaign” against Islamic State. He also criticises Russia for actions such as launching the NotPetya virus and the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal, both actions Russia denies involvement in. (BBC)

Steve Huffman, co-founder and CEO of Reddit, says racism is allowed on the website. Some users criticize his position, while others praise Huffman for defending free speech. (BBC)

A Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000-5F fighter jet crashes near the Greek island of Skyros in the Aegean Sea while intercepting a Turkish aircraft that had violated Greek airspace. The pilot is reported dead. (The Independent)(Protothema)

Strong winds from a storm cause two of the Taj Mahal’s minarets to collapse. No injuries are reported (BBC)

Tesla Inc. withdraws from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s probe of a fatal Model X crash in California. Tesla had drawn the NTSB’s ire by releasing information publicly about its view of the case and about the car’s Autopilot feature, something the Board does not allow during active investigations. (Reuters) (Bloomberg)

Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer pleads guilty to conspiracy and money laundering and agrees to assist in the prosecution of other Backpage employees, including co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin, who were charged with several counts of human trafficking on April 6 after the site was seized by the FBI. (The Wall Street Journal)

THE END for Wed 04.18

04.12.2018

Thursday, Apr 12,  2018

Japanese supercentenarian Masazo Nonaka is confirmed as the world’s oldest living man. (Sky News)

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/musta-israel-agents-pose-palestinians-171218061118857.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-instragram-spacex-mars-ship-2018-4

Trump backpedals threats against Russia, Syria President Trump appeared to backpedal his threats against Russia and Syria on Thursday after warning a day earlier that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” The White House has spent the week debating a response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria last weekend that left dozens dead and hundreds affected. Trump, who frequently lamented former President Barack Obama foregoing “the element of surprise,” said Thursday that he “never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The president added, “In any event, the United States, under my administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?'” Source: Donald J. Trump, HuffPost

Report: FBI raid on Trump lawyer sought Access Hollywood tape records The FBI was reportedly looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, caught Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals. While it wasn’t immediately clear what Cohen’s relation might be to the tape, the news “reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan,” The New York Times writes. The FBI agents are also thought to be investigating “hush” payments Cohen might have made to women on Trump’s behalf as well as other possible financial crimes. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday,  Apr 11,  2018

 The International Criminal Court finds radical nationalist Serb Vojislav Seselj guilty of war crimes against Bosnians during the Balkans war and sentences him to ten years in prison. He is immediately released as he served more than eleven years in the court’s custody, and takes to Twitter to declare himself “proud of my war crimes”. (al-Jazeera)

The family of a man killed in California when his Tesla Model X crashed with the Autopilot engaged says they intend to sue the carmaker. His wife further says he had complained of flaws in the vehicle’s behaviour and predicted his death in a collision with the barrier his car ultimately hit. (Electrek)

The death toll from tainted alcohol in Jakarta and West Java, Indonesia, reaches at least 82. (Reuters)

The Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over the Saudi capital Riyadh that caused panic among residents. Houthis say they fired several Burkan-2 missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco oil facilities. Separately, Saudi Air Defenses shoot down two Houthi-operated Qasef-1 drones near the border. (Reuters)

Spain’s Audiencia Nacional sentences ten Islamic extremists to between eight and twelve years in prison for a plot to launch attacks against Barcelona landmarks and behead a hostage on camera. The cell was convicted yesterday. (El País)

The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court jails two Egyptians and a Saudi for fifteen years each and fines them for promoting terrorist ideologies online. The court orders them deported after release, their computer equipment seized, and their social media presences deleted. (Gulf News)

An Ilyushin Il-76 military plane crashes shortly after take-off from Boufarik Military Airport in Algeria, killing all 257 passengers on board. (BBC)

Poland releases a new report on the disaster, which killed 96 including then-President Lech Kaczyński, rejecting previous findings and claiming instead air traffic controllers in Smolensk, Russia, gave the jet erroneous information prior to two explosions destroying the jet in midair. (Radio Poland)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, leaving existing permits untouched. (The New Zealand Herald)

Elmira Medynska, the partner of Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, tells his inquest at the Central Criminal Court in London he seemed nervous and had been unwell prior to his death. The inquest is attempting to determine if Perepilichnyy had been murdered. (BBC)

South Korean politician Ahn Hee-jung is indicted on accusations he repeatedly raped his aide Kim Ji-eun, who previously accused him publicly of sexual abuse. (Gulf News)

South Korea national security adviser Chung Eui-yong visits Washington, D.C. and meets with his U.S. counterpart John R. Bolton. (Yonhap News Agency)

Tuesday,   Apr 10, 2018

Representatives of Russia and Israel meet in Moscow to discuss the Middle East, particularly recent developments in Syria and Gaza. (TASS)

United States senators question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the various controversies the social network is dealing with, including recent disclosures concerning Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data. (Los Angeles Times),

U.S. Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert resigns at the request of National Security Advisor John R. Bolton. (CNBC)

Yulia Skripal is released from hospital. Russia says it will view any resettlement efforts by the United Kingdom as “abduction.” (Sky News)

New York police arrest members of Jewish group IfNotNow during a protest against Israeli actions. IfNotNow members were blockading a local politician, and have previously chained themselves to the Israeli consulate. (The Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Greek soldiers fire warning shots at a Turkish helicopter over the Aegean Sea after it approaches the island of Ro. (The Telegraph)

France claims that a Russian military plane made a low pass over the warship Aquitaine off the Lebanese coast, claiming the aircraft was in deliberate breach of international law. (The Jerusalem Post)

United States Federal Prosecutors file a request to sentence Enrique Marquez, who purchased rifles used in a 2015 terror attack in California, to 25 years in prison. (AP via U.S. News & World Report)

Hungarian businessman Lajos Simicska shuts down daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet after 80 years in print, and Lánchíd Rádió in response to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán winning a third consecutive parliamentary supermajority. Simicska was a former supporter of Orbán until he fell out with the Prime Minister in 2015. (Bloomberg)

Jet Airways withdraws from the race to acquire debt-ridden state-owned Air India. (Arabian Business)

A French military jet accidentally drops an inert bomb on a car factory in Nogent-sur-Vernisson, France. Two are injured and gendarmes evacuate 150. (The Express)

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice unveils a new monument on the eighth anniversary of the disaster, which killed 96 including then-President Lech Kaczyńskinear Smolensk, Russia. Initial investigations primarily blamed errors on the flight crew but Poland is conducting a new investigation with a new report expected to claim Russian air traffic controllers purposely misled the jet about its location before it was destroyed in an explosion. (Radio Poland)

U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and praises the nation’s efforts to combat terrorism, reversing his previous stance that Qatar funded terrorists at a “high level”. Qatar and its neighbours are presently disputing the level and nature of terrorism in Qatar. (Fox News)

Judges from the United States meet with counterparts in Malaysia to discuss strategies for prosecuting terrorists. (The New Straits Times)

Ukraine detains a Russian ship in Odessa suspected of illegally extracting sand. (TASS)

Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Ali Najafi resigns from his post after eight months in the office. His last resignation was rejected by the City Council. (Radio Farda)

The Scott Polar Research Institute announces a mission planned for 2019 to search for Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s famed lost ship Endurance, which sank in 1914 leading to a multi-year rescue operation. (The Independent)

Proxima Centauri b, an Earth-like exoplanet, is hit with a deadly superflare. (ARS technica)

Trump lashes out at ‘disgraceful’ FBI raid on his lawyer, Michael Cohen FBI agents raided the law office, home, and hotel room of President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen on Monday, looking for evidence of possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations, The Washington Post reports. Among the records seized were communications between Cohen and his clients and documents related to the $130,000 payment he made in 2016 to porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan ordered the raid, but Cohen lawyer Stephen Ryan linked it to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump told reporters that the raid was “a disgraceful situation,” a “witch hunt,” and “an attack on our country in a true sense.” He suggested he might order Mueller fired. Source: The Washington Post, Bloomberg

THE END

04.09.2018

Monday,  Apr 9, 2018

 

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/state-of-failure/

 

Trump vows decision after ‘barbaric’ Syrian chemical attack President Trump said Monday that he will decide within the next 24 to 48 hours how to respond to a “heinous,” “barbaric” chemical weapon attack in Syria over the weekend that left as many as 70 people dead. “We’re talking about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin “may” bear some responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Putin ally, saying that if Putin was involved, “it’s going to be very tough.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Trump for apparently walking back his stated desire to pull troops from Syria, saying the U.S. appears to be “[establishing] a foothold there for a very long time.” Source: The New York Times

North Korea reportedly told U.S. Kim Jong Un ready to talk denuclearization North Korean officials have directly notified the United States that leader Kim Jong Un is prepared to discuss his country’s nuclear weapons program when he meets with President Trump, The Associated Press reports. Two members of the Trump administration confirmed with AP on Sunday that Pyongyang directly communicated with the U.S., but would not say when or how this contact occurred. Last month, South Korean leaders visiting Washington passed along an invitation from Kim to Trump to hold a summit, with Trump immediately accepting the offer. They have not yet set a date for their meeting. Source: The Associated Press

 

In a new apostolic exhortationGaudete et ExsultatePope Francis mentions Satan or the Devil twelve times. Warning against Catholic media transgressing the eighth commandment, he calls to “see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.” (Reuters)

The New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approves the sale of clothing company Icebreaker to US retail conglomerate VF Corporation, revealing the sale price as NZ$288 million. (Stuff)

US entertainer Bill Cosby‘s sexual assault retrial begins. As he enters the court a topless woman with the words Women’s Lives Matter written on her body charges him and is arrested. (AP via Fredricksburg.com)

Around 2,500 police armed with tear gas launch a raid in Notre-Dame-des-LandesFrance, in a bid to force the removal of 250 activists who have occupied the site of the proposed Aéroport du Grand Ouest for ten years to prevent its construction. The proposed airport is abandoned but the activists refuse to leave their community. (The Guardian)

MV Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship at 206,912 tonnes, begins her first voyage with paying passengers. (Stuff)

 

 

2018 Sunday, Apr 8, 2018

 

The death toll from yesterday’s suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, rises to at least 70, according to the White Helmets group. The Syrian government and Russia deny the allegations of a chemical attack. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump warns Russia and Iran for backing Bashar al-Assad and calls him “Animal Assad”. (Sky News)

8 missiles are launched at the Syrian T4 air base, reportedly by Israeli F-15s. 5 of the missiles are shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Force.  (BBC) (Reuters)

Israeli Defence Forces fire shells at Palestinians on foot near the border fence, saying the men had crossed the fence before reentering the Gaza Strip near Gaza City(Haaretz)

Gazan hospitals declare a state of emergency owing to the thousands injured. (al-Jazeera)

The International Criminal Court‘s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, says conduct by both Israel and Hamas may amount to war crimes and warns anybody violating international law may face prosecution. (The Times of Israel)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the PA will take no further responsibility for the Gaza Strip unless Hamas hands over full control. (The Times of Israel)

German authorities arrest six men aged 18 to 21 suspected of planning a terror attack on today’s Berlin Half Marathon(The Telegraph)

A report commissioned by the UK states terrorists and extremists are increasingly turning to Bitcoin, the dark net, and encrypted communications apps in a bid to evade detection. (The Guardian)

Belgian Vérandas Willems–Crelan cyclist Michael Goolaerts crashes during the race in France and subsequently dies in hospital. (BBC)

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva surrenders to police following a two-day stand-off at a steelworkers’ union building in São Bernardo do Campo(BBC)

A ship due to carry 65,000 sheep to the Middle East fails an Australian Maritime Safety Authority inspection after docking in FremantleWestern Australia and is denied permits for the voyage. The government is investigating newly emerged footage of conditions on the ship, where thousands of sheep died during a similar voyage last year. (ABC)

 

2018 Saturday,  Apr 7, 2018

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman both praise the military response, with Liberman accusing Murtaja of “putting himself in danger” by operating a drone. (The Times of Israel)

The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology of Iran says hackers attacked its networks, leaving an image of US flags on screens. A researcher at Cisco‘s Talos security group acknowledges “several incidents in multiple countries” involving the use of their Smart Install protocol. (Reuters)

Dozens of people in the Syrian city of Douma are reported killed in an apparent chemical weapons attack. (Washington Post)

A fire breaks out at the 50th floor of the New York Trump Tower, killing one resident and injuring four firefighters. According to the New York City Fire Department, the building had no sprinklers. (BBC) (The Sydney Morning Herald)

MV Vitaspirit, a 225-meter cargo ship, crashes into a 200-year-old historic coastal mansion on the outskirts of IstanbulTurkey after an engine failure during a voyage from Russia to Saudi Arabia(Hurriyet Daily News)

Several administration officials say the governments of the United States and North Korea have begun secret, direct talks with each other. (CNN)

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva gives a public address alongside his impeached successor Dilma Rousseff in São Bernardo do Campo, saying he will comply with an arrest warrant and begin a 12-year term for corruption after two failed appeals to have the warrant withdrawn. He maintains his innocence. (BBC)

 

Friday,  Apr 6, 2018

Police announce they will expand Project Servator to cover London. Project Servator involves the deployment of hundreds of armed counterterror officers in a bid to rapidly swarm potential terrorists. (Sky News)

Three members of the Swedish Academy leave their seats after failing to oust another member whose husband is accused of sexual misconduct including raping young female writers. (Expressen)

U.S. stocks drop by about 2 percent in light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff statement yesterday concerning Chinese imports. (Reuters)

The United States imposes sanctions on twelve Russian owned companies, a Russian arms exporter, and a bank. The U.S. cites multiple reasons, including Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and military engagements in UkraineCrimea, and Syria, among others. (ABC News)

Australia says it will prevent the departure of a ship due to carry 65,000 sheep to the Middle East next week unless the operators can reassure the government of the animals’ welfare. The government launched an investigation yesterday after a video depicting conditions on the ship emerged. (The Guardian)

Former President of South Korea Park Geun-hye is sentenced to 24 years in prison and an ₩18 billion fine for bribery, coercion, and abuse of power, among other charges. (The New York Times)

Salisbury District Hospital says poisoned spy Sergei Skripal is no longer critically ill, responding well to treatment, and “improving rapidly”. His daughter was previously revealed to have regained consciousness. (BBC)

Viktoria Skripal, a cousin of Yulia, states the poisoned pair suffered food poisoning rather than an attack with a nerve agent. Hours later she is denied a visa to visit her relatives in hospital. (Sky)

Several U.S. federal authorities led by the FBI seize the personal ad website Backpage in an effort to stop alleged human trafficking, including that of minors. Its co-founder Michael Lacey was also charged with 93 counts of human trafficking. (Reuters) (Arizona Central)

The FBI offers a US$10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of mechanic Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes, who is accused of triggering the 1996 disaster by mispackaging oxygen cylinders that caught fire in the DC-9‘s hold. He fled justice in 1999. (CNN)

Facebook states that people running popular pages will now have to verify their identity as part of its continued efforts to stem fake news and propaganda(BBC)

Virgin Galactic successfully tests SpaceShipTwo, the first test since a crash three years ago destroyed a previous version. (Euronews)

THE END

04.06.2018

Friday,  Apr 6, 2018

http://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-virgin-hyperloop-one-transit-2018-4

Trump considering hitting China with an additional $100 billion in tariffs President Trump announced Thursday that he is contemplating imposing an additional $100 billion in tariffs against China, piling on to the $50 billion already authorized by the White House. Trump said the increase is in response to China’s decision to raise import duties on U.S. products, including soybeans and pork, by up to 25 percent, which he called an “unfair retaliation” against the U.S. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump said. Source: The New York Times

Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years for corruption A court in Seoul convicted former South Korean President Park Geun-hye of bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and other corruption-related charges on Friday and sentenced her to 24 years in prison and a $16.8 million fine. Park, who maintains her innocence, was not in court to hear the verdict. She has a week to appeal the verdict. Park was impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017 by the Constitutional Court, and the scandal has also taken down longtime ally Choi Soon-sil, who is serving 20 years, and dozens of other government and business leaders, most prominently Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, whose five-year sentence was cut in half and suspended. Source: The Associated Press

 

Thursday, Apr 5,  2018

The Israeli Defence Forces releases footage of a man fatally shot yesterday during an apparent attempt to breach the Gazan border fence. Israel says he was carrying an AK-47 and explosive devices including grenades, and accused Hamas of “playing with fire”. (Ynet News)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a press conference in Vinnytsia announcing the end of the Anti Terror Operation in Donbass in May. It will be replaced with a military force. (UNIAN)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls 15 peaceful anti-war protestors arrested last month at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul terrorists and says they will not be allowed to complete their education. (Times Higher Education)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he is willing to resume six-party talks. (Yahoo! News)

Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, tells the UN Security Council the United Kingdom has created a “fake story” and says Russia has “told our British colleagues that you are playing with fire and you will be sorry.” UK UN representative Karen Pierce tells the Security Council UK actions “stand up to any scrutiny” and compares Russian requests to join the investigation to an arsonist investigating their own fire. (BBC)

Brazilian federal judge Sérgio Moro orders the arrest of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by late Friday to begin serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. (Reuters)

Newly released documentation reveals Benjamin Morrow, a man killed by an explosion on March 5 in his home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, possessed white supremacist literature, five guns with ammunition, boxes of binary explosives, jars of explosive TATP, and a small explosives manufacturing laboratory. (Wisc News)

An arrest warrant is issued for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Conor McGregor after he was involved in a melee at a press conference at the Barclays Center in New York City ahead of UFC 223. Video footage appears to show McGregor throwing a guard rail through a window of the Khabib Nurmagomedov team bus. (The Guardian)

White House: U.S. involvement in Syria coming to ‘rapid end’ The White House on Wednesday said that U.S. military involvement in Syria is “coming to a rapid end.” Roughly 2,000 American troops are still in the country, assisting in the fight against the Islamic State. In a statement, the White House said that ISIS is “almost completely destroyed,” and as such, the U.S. will seek to wind down its combat presence. “The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated,” the statement read. “We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans.” No timetable was offered for withdrawal. Source: NBC News, The Associated Press

Mueller’s team is reportedly questioning Russian oligarchs In recent weeks, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Russian oligarchs traveling in the United States, and in at least one case searched a man’s electronic devices after he disembarked from his private jet in the New York City area, several people familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and by showing interest in Russian oligarchs, it reveals his team is focusing on the possible flow of foreign money to President Trump’s campaign and inauguration fund, CNN reports. Under campaign finance laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to U.S. political campaigns. Source: CNN

Facebook says Cambridge Analytica breach affected up to 87 million users Personal information from up to 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with data firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook revealed Wednesday — significantly more than the company’s previous estimate of 50 million. Most of the 87 million users were Americans, the social media company explained in a blog post. Facebook will start notifying users next week if their information was improperly obtained. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since reports found that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm with ties to President Trump, had harvested user information without permission. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee to address the “breach of trust.” Source: Facebook

 

Wednesday,  Apr 4,  2018

Lawyers representing U.S. President Donald Trump are told by FBI special counsel Robert Mueller the President is considered to be more than a witness but is not under criminal investigation. (CNN)

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, calls for an investigation into comments by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Johnson is facing criticisms he overstated the strength of evidence against Russia, an accusation he calls “lamentable” and accuses Corbyn of sympathizing with Russia. (The Guardian) (BBC)

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons rejects a Russian request for a joint investigation. (BBC)

Facebook increases its estimate of the number of affected users to 87 million. (BBC)

The leaders of IranTurkey and Russia meet in Ankara. They declare their commitment to achieving a “lasting ceasefire” in Syria(Ahval)

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an order sending the National Guard to patrol the Mexico–United States border in response to Congress’s failure to pass tightened border security measures. (CBS)

Shin Bet and the Israeli Defence Forces announce the arrests of eleven suspected members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group off the Gazan coast suspected of planning an attack on the Israeli Navy. (Israel National News) (The Times of Israel)

Protests enter a second week, with the death toll from last week’s clashes at the Israeli-Gazan border rises to 19. Hamas organisers directing participants to stay well back from the border fence to prevent further violence. (Haaretz)

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem launches a campaign calling on soldiers to refuse orders at the border. (972)

The parents of Ayşe Deniz Karacagil, killed in Raqqa, Syria, after she joined the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, are acquitted of a terrorism propaganda charge for attending her funeral. (Hurriyet Daily News)

The Sohag Criminal Court in Egypt sentences 35 alleged Muslim Brotherhood members to life imprisonment and imposes prison terms on 155 more. Separately, a military court sentences four more to life imprisonment, imposes prison terms on two others, and acquits 13. (The Star Tribune)

Police across the nation arrest a total of 29 alleged coup participants on suspicion of terrorism. (Anadolu Agency)

Authorities in Ukraine announce the arrest of a suspected terrorist in connection with a 2017 Kiev attack that killed two and wounded three including MP Ihor Mosiychuk. (Interfax)

The first ever direct train from London to Amsterdam departs from St Pancras railway station. The new Eurostar service estimated at three hours and 41 minutes arrived six minutes behind schedule. (The Independent)

Ukraine and Turkey sign an agreement improving aviation co-operation. (Anadolu Agency)

China threatens tariffs of 25% on the import of 106 U.S. products, including soybeans and Boeing aircraft in reaction to a previous U.S. threat of tariffs worth up to $50 billion. (Deutsche Welle)

Egyptian news site Masr al-Arabia says its offices were raided and a journalist arrested in response to them republishing an article by The New York Times alleging irregularities in the nation’s recent Presidential election. (The Guardian)

 

Tuesday,   Apr 3, 2018

Military scientists at Porton Down state they are uncertain of the source of the nerve agent used, but are “completely confident” it was a Novichok agent. (ITV)

Russia asks for the United Kingdom to release “every possible element of evidence” proving Russian involvement and asks the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to call a special session tomorrow. (The Independent)

On the first anniversary of the attack Russia’s Investigative Committee releases a statement saying they have identified all participants, have eleven suspects in custody, and have almost concluded their investigation. (The Moscow Times)

A shooting at YouTube headquarters wounds four. The gunwoman takes her own life. (The Guardian)

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman says the nation will maintain its tactics at the Gazan border of shooting anybody who approaches the fence, and calls on Hamas to cease hostilities in exchange for aid. (The Times of Israel)

The Saudi-led Arab Coalition says the Saudi Arabian Navy repelled an attack by Iran and Houthis against a Saudi-flagged oil tanker in the Red Sea. (Arab News)

UK retailer Conviviality, owner of Bargain Booze, says it intends to appoint administrators within ten days. (Citywire)

Two underground trains collide in Duisburg, Germany, injuring at least 35. (Euronews)

At a United Nations donor conference nations pledge US$2 billion in aid for Yemen, with almost half coming from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (The Guardian)

A 13-year-old boy is rescued after falling into a sewer and becoming trapped for 12 hours in Los Angeles. (Isle of Wight Radio)

Russian MPs call for sanctions against Latvia in response to plans to make Latvian mandatory for all students in secondary schools in the country, which is a quarter ethnic Russians. (BBC)

Saudi Arabia lifts a ban on imports of frozen guava from Egypt. (Egypt Today)

Reuters reports the United States’ planned meeting this spring with Gulf Arab leaders is postponed because of the ongoing dispute between Qatar and other U.S. allies in the Middle East. (Reuters)

THE END

04.03.2018

Tuesday,   Apr 3, 2018

EPA says it is relaxing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles The Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday it plans to roll back emissions standards for cars and trucks set by former President Barack Obama, claiming the regulations present “challenges for auto manufacturers due to feasibility and practicability.” As the regulations stand now, new vehicles must get 36 miles per gallon by 2025, but those standards are “too high,” the EPA said. The agency is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come up with new standards. While automakers approve of the move, environmentalists argue it will increase pollution and make it more expensive to fill up vehicles. Source: The Associated Press

Trump, tariffs, and tech uncertainty send markets tumbling Trade war fears and uncertainty in the tech sector have resulted in a stock market roller coaster ride, with The New York Times declaring “the Trump Bump is becoming the Trump Slump.” Monday saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumble more than 600 points at various moments in the afternoon, and Asian stocks fell for a second day Tuesday as China has responded to the White House’s tariffs by imposing new taxes on U.S. imports. Separately, Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft — some of America’s most valuable companies — all closed down Monday. “People think that tech is going to go from the Wild West to a much more regulated, scrutinized environment,” explained Bank of America Merrill Lynch equity strategist Dan Suzuki. Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

To speed up deportations, the DOJ will set new quotas for immigration judges The Department of Justice has told federal immigration judges that in order to receive a “satisfactory” job performance evaluation, they must clear 700 cases a year, The Wall Street Journal reports. The new quotas were announced in a memo sent out on Friday, and will go into effect when the next fiscal year starts on October 1. There are more than 600,000 cases pending before the Executive Office of Immigration Review, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to clear the backlog in order to speed up deportations. A Justice Department spokesman said that over the past five years, the average judge completed 678 cases, although some judges were able to clear as many as 1,500 cases annually. Source: The Wall Street Journal

 

Monday, Apr 2, 2018

 The White House criticizes China’s decision to place tariffs of up to 25% on 128 U.S. imports including pork and wine which was in retaliation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to introduce tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium imports. (BBC)

Chinese space station Tiangong-1 crashes into the South Pacific Ocean near Tahiti. (CNN) (BBC)

Villanova beats Michigan 79–62 to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship. (Market Watch)

A lorry carrying five circus elephants crashes in Albacete, Spain, killing one elephant. (Fox News)

Trump floats White House meeting with Putin The Kremlin reported Monday that President Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the White House, a move that would be enormously controversial as bipartisan critics have argued that Trump has failed to properly condemn Moscow’s election meddling and its apparent attacks on overseas nationals. Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters: “When our presidents spoke on the phone, Trump suggested having the meeting in Washington at the White House.” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed the report, saying that when Trump spoke with Putin last month to congratulate him on re-election, he floated a “number of potential venues, including the White House,” for a meeting. Putin last visited the United States in 2015. Source: AFP, The New York Times

‘Mother of the Nation’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela dies at 81 South African anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died at the age of 81 after “a long illness,” a family spokesperson said Monday. The ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, who was the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Madikizela-Mandela was known as “the Mother of the Nation.” The Guardian writes that “her uncompromising methods and refusal to forgive contrasted sharply with the reconciliation espoused by her husband,” and that their 1992 divorce ultimately tarnished her reputation in the eyes of some South Africans, although she “retained the support of radical black nationalists to the end.” In a 1996 American University speech, she recalled: “I learned to deal with the police … to be tough … to survive.” Source: The Guardian, The Washington Post

 

Sunday, Apr 1, 2018

Bahraini state media reports the discovery of the nation’s largest known deposit of oil and gas in an offshore field. (Bloomberg)

Iraq’s Oil Ministry brings forward the proposed date for awarding oil exploration contracts for new fields offshore and near the Iranian and Kuwaiti borders to April 15. (CNBC)

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board criticizes Tesla over the carmaker’s release of investigative information regarding the fatal crash of a Model X in California. (The Washington Post)

The Israeli Government rejects calls for an inquiry, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likening criticism by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to an April Fool’s Day joke. (The Telegraph)

Rebel fighters start evacuating from Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria, and head to Idlib Governorate on government buses. Douma is the last rebel stronghold in Eastern Ghouta. (The Washington Post)

The trial of Guatemalan ex-ruler Efraín Ríos Montt, accused of genocide during the civil war in the 1980s, ends abruptly with the defendant’s death. (BBC)

Governor Aman Tuleyev of Russia’s Kemerovo Oblast resigns over the disaster last week at the Winter Cherry complex. Tuleyev himself lost a young relative in the fire, but had faced protests in the aftermath. (The Guardian)

An overnight prison riot kills seven police officers in Amatlán de los Reyes, Veracruz, Mexico. (BBC)

The Commonwealth Games Federation places India under formal investigation for doping. (TVNZ)

 

Saturday,  Mar 31, 2018

U.S.-based automobile manufacturer Tesla confirms that one of their Model X cars was placed into Autopilot mode moments before a fatal crash in California, United States. Tesla’s Autopilot system is not intended to operate independently and as such the driver is meant to have their hands on the wheel at all times. The recorder of the system logged that the driver did not have their hands on the wheel at the time of the crash. (BBC)

The Syrian Army declares that the eastern Ghouta towns of Arbin, Zamalka, Jobar, and Ein Tarma are vacated of rebel fighters. Except for the town of Douma, which is facing an ultimatum, the government controls most of the area around the capital Damascus. (AP via The New Zealand Herald)

In Japan, Kyushu Electric Power shuts down their Genkai Nuclear Power Plant because of a steam leak less than a week after being restarted for the first time in seven years. (The Mainichi)

The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs detains Ziyavudin Magomedov, his brother Magomed Magomedov, and the chief executive of the Summa Group on charges of embezzlement of public funds and criminal association. A Moscow court orders Ziyavudin Magomedov, one of the richest Russians, to remain in pre-trial custody until May 30. (TASS)(Reuters)

A fairground ride collapses in Neuville-sur-Saône, central France. Occupied pods attached to the ride fall to the ground, ejecting some riders, with one man dead. (Channel News Asia)

The United Kingdom Foreign Office considers a consular request from the government of Russia for visitation with Yulia Skripal, the daughter of poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal. (The Guardian)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of responsibility for the deaths of 16 protestors at the border with Gaza. Israel accuses Palestinian terrorists of using civilians as human shields. A video begins circulating on social media appearing to show an unarmed teenager being shot. (Bloomberg)

Israel claims to have identified ten of the dead as members of terrorist organisations, and publishes a list of their names and the groups Israel says they belonged to. (The Times of Israel)

An unknown source supposedly leaks a report from the German defence ministry which suggests the nation’s Tornado fighter jets may not meet NATO requirements for secure encrypted communications and are therefore potentially unsuitable for NATO missions. (Reuters)

The Law Society of England and Wales issues a report claiming that Turkey has prosecuted 1,539 lawyers since the 2016 coup d’état attempt. The report states that 580 people still remain incarcerated with 103 more having received prison sentences. (The Law Gazette)

The current largest cruise ship in the world Royal Caribbean International’s $1.35 billion MV Symphony of the Seas commences its maiden voyage. (USA Today)

THE END

 

03.30.2018 Tesla

Not So Happy Motoring
Clusterfuck Nation, James Howard Kunstler
March 30th, 2018

 

First, there’s the energy embedded in producing the car: mining and smelting the ores, manufacturing the plastics, running the assembly line, etc. That embedded energy amounts to about 22 percent of the energy consumed by the car over a ten-year lifetime. Then there’s the cost of actually powering the car day-by-day. The electricity around the USA is produced mostly by burning coal, natural gas, or by nuclear fission, all of which produce harmful emissions or byproducts. But the illusion that the power just comes out of a plug in the wall (for just pennies a day!) is a powerful one for the credulous public. The cherry-on-top is the fantasy that before much longer all that electric power will come from “renewables,” solar and wind, and we can leave the whole fossil fuel mess behind us.

Tesla Asks for Model 3 Factory Volunteers to Prove ‘Haters’ Wrong

 

Elon Musk: Government-Subsidized Pied Piper
The captain of cheesy stunts, his trendy space debris is destined to orbit the sun for an estimated billion years.
By GILBERT T. SEWALL • March 28, 2018

Speaking after World War II, the eminent psychologist Carl Jung said to the German novelist Hermann Hesse, “Space flights are merely an escape, a fleeing away from oneself, because it is easier to go to Mars or to the moon than it is to penetrate one’s own being.” He later restated this idea to The New Republic, “In the threatening situation of the world today, when people are beginning to see that everything is at stake, the projection-creating fantasy soars beyond the realm of earthly organizations and powers into the heavens, into interstellar space.“

“There’s absolutely nothing that might make Mars a ‘sustainable’ habitat for human beings, or probably any other form of Earthly life,” wrote James Howard Kunstler. The dream of Mars colonization, he pointed out, evades “making a go of it here on Earth, a planet that humans were exquisitely evolved for (or designed for, if you will), and which we are in the process of rendering uninhabitable for ourselves and lots of other creatures.”

 

Wall Street is completely confused by Tesla

Tesla has been clobbered in the markets, down over 25% over the past month.

For some, like Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas, a stock price around $250 is a buying opportunity. For others, like Nomura’s Romit Shah, it’s an occasion for a target-price trim.

“We remain constructive on TSLA, believing that much of the recent weakness is based on concerns (accounting, insolvency risk, and passenger safety) that are largely without merit,” he wrote in a research note published Thursday, knocking $80 off his previous price target of $500, taking Nomura to $420.

“At the same time, we see significant momentum for alternative energy vehicles, an inferior competitive landscape and continued progress on Model 3 production driving more than 70% top-line growth this year, easily one of the fastest ever by a multibillion- dollar company. As such, we remain Buy-rated on TSLA.”

Shah’s move is logical: Tesla looks more like it’s going to $200 than $400 at the moment, amid numerous challenges ranging from a Moody’s credit downgrade to ongoing struggles with Model 3 production to another big loss for the first quarter.

Shah’s argument about “an inferior competitive landscape” makes no sense, however, although it’s of a piece with other Tesla mega-bulls, such as Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster, who seems to think that Tesla can basically sell 11 million cars in the US alone.

For perspective, that’s more than General Motors sold worldwide last year. For more perspective, Tesla sold just over 100,000 globally in 2017.

“We believe that competition remains years behind, and in some cases appears to be moving backwards,” Shah wrote, going on to cite GM’s request to revisit US emissions and fuel-economy standards as a baffling commitment to the internal-combustion engine in a worldwide market where the company sold about … 10 million of those in 2017.

For what it’s worth, GM beat the Tesla Model 3 to market by a country mile with the Chevy Bolt, a $37,500 all-electric vehicle that hit the streets in October 2016 and sold almost 25,000 units in 2017. GM is also using the Bolt as the platform for its Cruise self-driving division. Earlier this month, GM announced that it would increase production.

Wall Street has always been pretty confused about Tesla. Morgan Stanley’s Jonas is a car guy and gets the business, so his bullishness can be chalked up more to far-reaching thinking than knee-jerk bullishness. More bearish analysts are focused on Tesla’s weak fundamentals.

Shah is a different case, in that he covers Tesla more explicitly as a tech company. He doesn’t have any other carmakers in his coverage area. But his bullishness is typical of how tech investors view Tesla: they argue that growth is all that matters and expect the company to at some point achieve a monopoly position in an industry that’s among the world’s most competitive.

GM has already shown that a carmaker can quickly eliminate Tesla’s competitive advantage. Shah references the new Jaguar I-PACE in his note, writing that “[d]espite its competitive price, we see a few fundamental issues with the overall competitiveness of I-Pace.”

He lists the problems, including lack of profits, nothing new on the self-driving front, and battery supplies. None of this addresses the core challenge for Tesla, which is that the I-PACE is a very nice car that’s significantly cheaper than the Tesla Model S and Model X.

In doing so, Shah makes the classic error of the tech analyst looking at a car company and failing to understand the value of segmentation. The I-PACE isn’t really competing with Tesla’s vehicles — instead, Jaguar is moving to occupy a segment where Tesla can’t play.

GM reveals it’s ramping up Chevy Bolt production as Tesla struggles to build the Model 3 – March 7th, 2018

Future Battlefield Tech

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