News 02.15.2018

 A man is caught impersonating Kim Jong-un after walking through North Korea’s cheerleading squad. (Business Insider)

We have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla.

Chanos: And anybody that can do that and then rise to CEO, you know, had to be able to sell pretty much anything. And that I think is Elon’s greatest quality. He’s a pretty good salesman. He’s always pitching the next great idea. The problem is that the execution of the current ideas is falling short. And that’s where I think it’s problematic. And on top of that, I think — increasingly — he’s making promises that he knows he cannot keep. And I think that’s a much more ominous, turn.

Lopez: What is the most recent promise that he’s made that he can’t keep?

Chanos: Well I think the the biggest whopper that I’ve seen, and we have a spreadsheet of Elon’s whoppers, along with a longer spreadsheet of all the executive departures at Tesla. But I think the latest one that kind of stunned me was when he unveiled the semitruck — EV.

Lopez: But he hasn’t really even given us a regular car. The $30,000 car that he promised everyone.

Chanos: Well forgetting that, he said that truck will be out in 2019. And if that’s the case, those production lines have to be up now. That factory has to be up now. And where is that? I mean what factory line is going to be making a truck in 2019 and a roadster sports car that he unveiled in 2020? You can’t simply say things like that without having some evidence to back them up. You’re a public company’s CEO. And, you know, I’d want some clarification on where exactly this truck is going to be built to be out in 2019. But, you know, he’s missed production estimate after production estimate. He thought there’d be 10,000 Model 3s a week by the end of ’17.

Lopez: Isn’t it 5,000?

Chanos: Now it’s 5,000 by June. I think even worse is that people have thought they were getting a car for what amounted to $27,500 — the $35,000 base plus the federal tax credit. Now they’re realizing that the federal tax credit’s going to, basically, be over by this year. And every manufacturer has a limit.

Lopez: So then it’s a $60,000 car?

Chanos: Well the Model 3s he’s delivering now are $50,000 base pretty much. And with delivery charges and sales tax they’re probably closer to $55,000. So they’re almost twice what he promised people. And the car for $55,000 is not a particularly great car in our view. It might be for $27,500. But it competes against basically luxury cars at $55,000. And that’s a pretty competitive area and going to get more competitive.

Lopez: Gotcha,

Chanos: But he’s already talking about the Model Y.

Lopez: And Mars?

Lopez: Yeah, I mean Mars looks good I guess.

Chanos: And Mars doesn’t have a current extradition treaty with the US from what I understand.

Lopez: He could go; it’s fine. So you once said that the single most important market in the world is the Chinese property market. China has been incredibly quiet in 2018. We didn’t see our normal China puking that we do every year at the beginning of the year. So what’s going on there? And is it still the most important market in the world?

 

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/jim-chanos-interview-2018-2

Thursday, Feb 15,  2018

Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will succeed Jacob Zuma as president, after Zuma announced his resignation Wednesday in a nationally televised speech. Ruling party legislators officially elected Ramaphosa on Thursday. The BBC writes that there is “a renewed sense of hope” as Ramaphosa assumes the leadership role he has had his eye on since 1994. Zuma was at the center of several scandals during his nine-year tenure, with critics claiming that his friends and family profited handsomely from his presidency. The leadership of Zuma’s party, the African National Congress, had called for his resignation on Monday. Source: BBC News

 

Wednesday,  Feb 14, 2018

At least 17 people are killed and over 14 wounded in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida – the most deadly high school shooting in U.S. history. The suspected shooter is apprehended and identified as a 19-year-old former student. (CNN)

Eurozone GDP rises by 2.5% in 2017, a pace not seen since 2007, and industrial production is up 5.2% year-on-year. The production of durable consumer goods is up 7.4% and capital goods, indicating investments, are up 7.6%. (Reuters via Arab News)

A car accident at the headquarters of the United States National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, injures three people. Police officers shoot at the driver, who they say was attempting to attack the building. (The Verge)

The residence of the Gupta family is raided by the South African Police Service’s elite Hawks unit and three people are arrested. (BBC)

Michael D. Cohen, the private lawyer of U.S. President Donald Trump, says he made a “lawful” US$130,000 payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, from his own private funds. The statement to The New York Times comes after the Common Cause organization on January 22, 2018, filed a complaint about the payment with the Federal Election Commission. (ABC News)

Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the opposition Movement of New Forces party, who was deported from Ukraine to Poland, relocates to the Netherlands. (NOS) (Xinhua)

 

 Tuesday,   Feb 13, 2018

 

Russia wants YouTube and Instagram to remove videos posted by Alexey Navalny, a prominent opposition figure, describing his investigation into Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with bribing Sergey Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, and offering information about the 2016 U.S. election he had received from Paul Manafort. (ABC News)

In closed-door proceedings at an Israeli military court in Ofer Prison, near Ramallah, 17-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is indicted on 12 counts of assault and incitement. She is ordered held until the end of the trial, which is adjourned until next month. (PRI) (VOA)

Israeli police recommend indicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with charges of corruption and bribery. Netanyahu calls the accusations “baseless”. (NBC News)

Halbe Zijlstra offers his resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Minister Sigrid Kaag takes over the portfolio ad interim. (NOS) (The Washington Post) (De Telegraaf)

A new plane that would fly from London to New York City in three hours has just received crucial funding. The aircraft, officially named Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) and dubbed the “Son of Concorde”, was proposed by NASA and has just been given the go-ahead by US officials. QueSST could make its maiden voyage in 2021 if all goes according to plan. If so, it will halve the current travel time between London and New York City. (Metro)

 

Monday,  Feb 12, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls for female communist rebels to be shot in the genitals. Duterte’s comments are described as “a funny joke” by his spokesman, while drawing heavy criticism from others. (Al Jazeera)

Egypt bans Saturday Night Live Arabia for using “sexual expressions that are inappropriate for viewers”. (The Guardian)

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) confirms its deputy leader Khalid Mehsud has been killed in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. (BBC)

The European Union urges calm and restraint after Turkish Navy warships obstruct a Cypriot offshore drilling vessel in the Eastern Mediterranean, which was approaching an area to explore for natural gas. (Reuters)

Mikheil Saakashvili, leader of the opposition Movement of New Forces party, who has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko on 26 July 2017, is detained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Kiev and deported from Ukraine to Poland. (U.S. News) (Kyiv Post) (Sputnik News)

U.S. President Donald Trump sends his US$4.4 trillion 2019 budget proposal to Congress. (The New York Times)

2018 Sunday, Feb 11, 2018

An Antonov An-148 of Saratov Airlines with 71 people on board crashes shortly after take-off from Domodedovo Airport, Moscow, Russia. The TASS agency cites an emergency source stating that none of the 65 passengers and 6 crew members has survived. (BBC) (Reuters via The Daily Star)

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani proposes a referendum to heal country’s divisions, according to the Article 59 of constitution. (Guardian)

 

 Saturday,  Feb 10, 2018

The Israeli Army says that it shot down a Syrian UAV manufactured in Iran and, in response, it bombed the Tiyas Military Airbase in Homs Governorate, Syria, where it was launched from. (Reuters)

The Syrian Air Defense Force shoots down an Israeli F-16 over the Golan Heights after it fired on alleged Iranian targets inside Syria. Both pilots parachute to safety. (BBC) (RFERL)

The Kurdish YPG shoots down a Turkish Air Force T129 ATAK helicopter over Syria’s Afrin District, killing both pilots. (Al Jazeera)

Mary Lou McDonald is confirmed in the position of president of Sinn Féin. She succeeds Gerry Adams, who was Sinn Féin’s leader since 1983. (Reuters)

 

Friday,  Feb 9, 2018

Trinity Mirror agrees to buy British publishing group Northern & Shell from Richard Desmond for £126.7 million. The deal gives Trinity Mirror ownership of the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers. (The Guardian)

A Vice Motherboard report traces the origin of a significant iOS source code leak to an Apple intern and five “friends” in the iOS jailbreaking community. (The Verge via Slashdot)

The New York Times reports that the CIA handed $100,000 to an unnamed Russian intelligence source in a Berlin hotel room, allegedly expecting to get back stolen NSA hacking tools. (Newsweek)

Turkey arrests 17 leaders of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party for opposition to the ongoing Afrin offensive. (Reuters UK)

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh claim they have successfully brought prepubescent-sourced, immature human egg cells to maturity in a laboratory for the first time. The work may be significant because it may allow the harvesting and preservation of eggs from young girls undergoing toxic cancer treatment before their lifetime reservoirs of those cells are destroyed. (BBC) (Oxford Academic)

As predicted, asteroid 2018 CB, estimated to be between 15 and 40 metres (50–130 feet) in diameter, makesa fly-by past Earth at a distance of around 64,500 km (40,100 mi). This is the second asteroid to make a fly-by this week. (The Guardian)

 

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

Mexican authorities arrest American-born Jose Maria Guizar Valencia, the alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel, as he was entering a hotel in Mexico City’s upscale neighborhood of Roma. (Los Angeles Times) (BBC)

Syria and the Russian Federation once again state that the United States’ military presence in Syria is “illegal”. United States and US-backed forces now have control of about a quarter of Syrian territory. (The Washington Post)

A force of five hundred Syrian pro-government troops supported by tanks and artillery launched a ground assault on a local headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near the town of Khasham, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. More than one hundred Syrian government fighters were killed in the battle, including Russian private military contractors of Wagner Group. (The Washington Post)

Germany’s trade surplus shrank in 2017 for the first time since 2009, reflecting strong domestic demand. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales. Trump thanks Morales for having supported the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They discuss various issues about the crisis in Venezuela, drug trafficking and the UN anti-corruption commission. (The Times of Israel)

THE END

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News 02.08.2018

Thursday, Feb 8,  2018

http://stephenkotkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/23_Kotkin.pdf

 

https://www.rt.com/business/418173-tesla-reports-record-loss/

 

https://youtu.be/71XT5yaElK4

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-kills-more-than-100-pro-assad-forces-after-unprovoked-attack-syria2018-2

 

https://www.rt.com/news/418227-syria-us-resources-grab/

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-the-mother-of-all-bubbles-is-now-crashing-2018-2

 

http://www.businessinsider.com/dubai-worlds-longest-zipline-jebel-jais-flight-uae-2018-2

 

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes kill 100 pro-government forces in Syria Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS in Syria killed more than 100 fighters allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday, the coalition said in a statement. About 500 pro-regime forces had “initiated an unprovoked attack” against the Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters where coalition advisers were working with the mostly Kurdish U.S.-backed rebels. “Syrian pro-regime forces maneuvered T-54 and T-72 main battle tanks with supporting mortar fire in what appears to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces” in Syria, a U.S. military official said. Source: CNN

Twitter reports its first profitable quarter Twitter on Thursday reported its first quarterly net profit, of $91 million, after it slashed expenses and its revenue beat analysts’ expectations. The microblogging company’s inability to start making money had confounded Wall Street, given its broad reach and popularity among celebrities and power brokers, including President Trump. The company said it also expected to show profit, using generally accepted accounting principles, for the full year in 2018. Still, Twitter’s user growth missed expectations, falling flat for the quarter at 330 million monthly active users, although that marked a 4 percent increase from a year earlier. A change to Apple’s Safari web browser cost Twitter about 2 million active users. The company also stepped up efforts to reduce spam and automated or fake accounts. Source: Reuters

 

Wednesday,  Feb 7, 2018

United States Central Command says that it killed more than 100 pro-government troops in “self-defense” strikes 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of the Euphratesde-confliction line that was reportedly agreed with Russia. (AFP via Rappler)

Syrian state media say that Israeli warplanes attacked a military position in Jamraya, Rif Dimashq Governorate, from Lebanese airspace, with the Syrian Air Defense Force intercepting most of the missiles. The target is rumored to be a weapon research facility. (Xinhua)

Rob Porter resigns as White House Staff Secretary after two of his ex-wives make allegations of physical and emotional abuse. Porter denies the allegations, which were first published by the Daily Mail(The Guardian)

Researchers at London’s Natural History Museum state that the DNA extracted from “Cheddar Man” reveals that early inhabitants of Great Britain had blue eyes and dark skin. The name “Cheddar Man” was given to a fossil of a human man that lived thousands of years ago, which was discovered in 1903. (BBC)(The New York Times)

 

Tuesday,   Feb 6, 2018

Turkey detains nearly 600 people for social media posts and protests opposing the Afrin offensive in Syria. (Reuters)

Multiple earthquakes, including a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, strike near Hualien City, Taiwan. At least 9 people are killed and over 250 are injured, with extensive damage to many structures in the city. (The Independent)

In the United States, billionaire Steve Wynn, best known for his casino hotels and resorts, resigns as CEO of Wynn Resorts following sexual harassment reports, including a $7.5 million settlement with a former worker at his Las Vegas resort. (The New York Times)

Polish President Andrzej Duda ratifies a controversial Holocaust bill, despite angry protests from Israel and the United States. Duda defends the legislation, which will make it illegal to accuse the Polish state of complicity in the Holocaust during the Nazi occupation. (BBC) (Bloomberg)

SpaceX successfully launches its long-awaited Falcon Heavy—a feat the space company hopes will lead to increased commercial and national security missions. Both boosters were successfully landed and recovered. The core didn’t land and was softly ditched in the water near the drone ship. The rocket launched Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, playing “Life on Mars” by David Bowie, which is expected to be in an elliptic orbit of the sun, close to Mars, for several hundred million years. (Los Angeles Times)

Scientists (in the article published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics) warn that the ozone layer that protects people from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is recovering only over less populated areas. (The Guardian)

THE END

Books – February 2018

Featured

Frederick The Great – Tim Blanning – Library BIOG DD404

Armageddon Averted – Stephen Kotkin – Delivery Desk DK274

Special Tasks – Anatoli Sudoplatov – BIOG JN6529

Barbarossa 1941 – Frank Ellis – D764

Mortal Crimes – Nigel West –

The Growth Delusion – David Pilling –

Bending Adversity – David Pilling – DS806

News 02.02.2018

https://syriancivilwarmap.com/

http://www.businessinsider.com/bitcoin-the-mother-of-all-bubbles-is-now-crashing-2018-2

http://www.businessinsider.com/dubai-worlds-longest-zipline-jebel-jais-flight-uae-2018-2

 

Tuesday,   Feb 6, 2018

Massive Dow plunge triggers global sell-off  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down more than 1,170 points on Monday, or 4.6 percent, following a drop of almost 1,600 points earlier in the afternoon. The plummet marks the Dow’s worst one-day point plunge in history, and the stock-market volatility index (VIX) jumped 85 percent in its biggest one-day leap ever. The Dow’s decline follows a rocky week that culminated in a 666-point drop last Friday. The turbulence, fueled in part by inflation and interest rate fears sparked by a strong January jobs report, spread overseas Tuesday, with Asian markets closing sharply lower — Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed down 4.7 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng ended down 5 percent — and European benchmark indexes down 1-2 percent. Source: BBC News, The Washington Post

 

Monday,  Feb 5, 2018

 Syrian government airstrikes pound rebel-held Eastern Ghouta enclave near the capital Damascus, killing at least 23 civilians including four children. (Al Jazeera) (Times of Israel)

The Wall Street stock market sheds 4.6% of its value, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping a record 1,175 points at close. At one point during the day, the benchmark index loses a record 1,579 points. (NPR) (BBC) (USA Today)

The Netherlands withdraw their ambassador in Ankara and say that they will not accept a new Turkish ambassador in The Hague. Dutch foreign ministerHalbe Zijlstra says, “We have not agreed on how to normalise ties.” (BBC)

Esmond Bradley Martin, a world-renowned ivory investigator whose detailed reports contributed to the fight against elephant poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, is murdered at his home in Kenya. (The Guardian)

Scientists using data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory discover new exoplanets in galaxies beyond the Milky Way for the first time. (NBC News) (National Geographic)

 

2018 Sunday, Feb 4, 2018

The Cabinet of Israel decides to legalize a previously unauthorized outpost “deep inside the [occupied] West Bank”, Havat Gilad, allegedly in reaction to the recent killing of an Israeli rabbi there. (Voice of America)

Israeli authorities tear down parts of a European Union-funded school in the Palestinian village of Abu Nuwar, on the occupied West Bank, saying it was built illegally. Palestinians say this is the fifth such demolition since 2016, with residents and NGO’s each time reconstructing it. (Reuters)

An Anglo-Eastern Group oil tanker with 22 Indian crew members on board is reported missing off the coast of Benin. The area is well known for piracy. (BBC)

2011 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Tawakkol Karman is ordered suspended from the Islah party’s ranks after she likened the Saudi-led intervention in Yemento “reckless adventurism” and “ugly occupation”. (Reuters)

A ~600 meter asteroid named (276033) 2002 AJ129 makes a close approach to Earth of 0.028 Astronomical units (4.2 million km, 2.6 million mi). (Space)

The Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl, defeating the New England Patriots 41–33. It is their first championship title since 1960. (AP)

 

2018 Saturday,  Feb 3, 2018

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that unidentified rebel factions have shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 jet over the Idlib Governorate, near Maarrat al-Nu’man, also killing its pilot. The pilot had escaped with his parachute but was killed on the ground while he fought with a pistol to evade capture. No groups claim responsibility. Russia’s Ministry of Defence corroborates this version of events. (Deutsche Welle)

The Turkish Army suffers its deadliest day of Operation Olive Branch so far after seven soldiers are killed in clashes with the Kurdish YPG. (BBC)

1992 QB1), the first discovered Kuiper belt object, is officially named by its discoverers. (Minor Planet Center)

 

Friday,  Feb 2, 2018

Amid a perceived erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, British Prime Minister Theresa May concludes a three-day visit to China, said to have generated £9 billion in trade deals. (Hong Kong Free Press)

YouTube announces that YouTubers who make “egregious” content will be punished. Critics of the move call it censorship. (BBC)

YouTube, in a move to boost transparency and combat propaganda, announces that it will start to label videos by broadcasters that receive state-funding. (The Hill)

Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Videgaray Caso, flanked by visiting United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland, rejects “any option that would imply the use of violence” on the subject of Venezuela. On the eve of his visit, Tillerson had defended the 19th-century United States policy in Latin America and suggested that the Venezuelan Army could manage a “peaceful transition” from President Nicolás Maduro. (Reuters)

After two days of questioning, influential Islamic academician and Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan is charged with the alleged rape of two women and jailed in Paris. (The Guardian)

An Arizonan ammunition dealer is charged in a Nevada federal court with “conspiracy to manufacture and sell armor-piercing ammunition without a license” after his fingerprints were discovered on unfired armor-piercing ammunition inside Stephen Paddock’s suite. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump authorizes Congress to release the Nunes memo, against the wishes of the FBI, Department of Justice, and lawmakers from both sides, all of whom say that the document’s release poses a risk to national security. (NPR)(USA Today)

The United States releases a new policy on nuclear arms, the first update since 2010. It calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal: low-yield nuclear submarine-launched ballistic (SLBM) and cruise (SLCM) missiles. (Denver Post) (NPR)

THE END

News 02.02.2018

The Canadian Senate agrees with the House of Commons to make the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada”, gender neutral. The second line of the song will now read “in all of us” instead of “in all thy sons.” (NPR)

The upcoming Formula One season will abandon the practice of using “grid girls”, arguing that the practice does not “resonate” with Formula One’s values. Four days before, the Professional Darts Corporation abandoned the use of “walk-on girls” to accompany men onto the stage. (CNN)

 

Friday,  Feb 2, 2018

Trump set to approve unredacted release of controversial Nunes memo President Trump on Friday will sign off on the release of a four-page memo compiled by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). It will likely be made public sometime during the day. Trump is expected to have no objections to the Nunes memo and request none of the redactions requested by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. The classified memo, released under a never-before-used House rule, purports to show that the FBI did not identify one of its sources in a FISA warrant, to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as working on a dossier funded indirectly by Hillary Clinton. The FBI and Justice Department have expressed “grave concerns” about the effects and accuracy of the memo. Source: The New York Times, The Washington Post

U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in January, beating forecasts U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating economists’ expectations of 190,000 jobs gained. The figure marked a pickup from December, when the economy added a modest 160,000 new jobs, a number adjusted up from the originally reported 148,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. Wages rose by 2.9 percent over the last 12 months, the biggest jump since the Great Recession ended nearly nine years ago, as employers battled for candidates to fill record-high job openings. The figures were the latest in a long series of signs of strengthening employment. Stocks extended their losses after the report, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures down by 255 points. Source: MarketWatch

 

Thursday, Feb 1,  2018

Apple Inc. removes the Telegram messaging service from its iOS App Store. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov says Apple claims “inappropriate content” is available on the service. (The Verge)

Two 15-year-old students are seriously wounded and three other people injured in a shooting at Sal Castro Middle School in Los Angeles, California. A 12-year-old female student is taken into custody. (CNN)

The Palestine Liberation Organization “rejects and condemns” the United States decision to put Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh on the OFAC SDN terror blacklist. (Times of Israel)

Morgan Geyser is sentenced to 40 years in a mental institution for her role in the attempted murder of Payton Leutner. (ABC News)

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Mexico to meet with President Peña Nieto and Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray. (Reuters)

NASA confirms that Scott Tilley, a Canadian amateur astronomer and satellite tracker, has rediscovered NASA’s IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) satellite while he was searching for the U.S. government’s classified Zuma satellite. NASA engineers will try to analyze the data from the spacecraft to learn more about the state of the spacecraft. (The Independent) (Phys.org)

 

Wednesday,  Jan 31, 2018

A BBC study finds that, as of October 2017, the Taliban presently maintains control of or has some territorial presence in 70% of Afghanistan, with full control of 14 districts (totaling 4% of the country) and demonstrating an open physical militant presence in 263 others (encompassing the remaining 66% of the group’s occupied territory). (Reuters)

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigns as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following a report that she purchased stock in food, health insurance, and tobacco companies shortly after taking up her federal government position. (CNBC)

A lunar eclipse is seen in Oceania, Asia, and North America, coinciding with a supermoon and blue moon. (AP via Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday,   Jan 30, 2018

The Southern Transitional Council (STC) takes control of the Yemeni port city of Aden following two days of fierce fighting in the city which has left dozens dead. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, and members of the President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi-led government are confined to the presidential palace which has been surrounded. (Reuters)

Reports about the publication on January 29 by the United States of a list of Russian politicians and oligarchs that the U.S. government was required by CAATSA to draw up surface. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the list, on which he is not included, is an “unfriendly act” that complicates ties between the two countries. (BBC1)(BBC2)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union Address to the 115th United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives.(The New York Times)

THE END

News 01.30.2018

Tuesday, Jan 30, 2018

Trump to deliver first State of the Union address tonight President Trump’s first State of the Union will focus on “building a safe, strong, and proud America” with an emphasis on his trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, the ongoing debate over immigration, the economy, trade, and national security. It isn’t clear if Trump will offer lawmakers a specific blueprint for how he wants to proceed on thorny topics like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, after signaling last week he is open to a pathway to citizenship for people brought illegally to the U.S as children. “I think you’re going to see a lot of the president’s heart in this speech,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Today. The speech will air on every major network as well as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Source: NBC News

House GOP votes to release secret memo on Russia probe Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a secret memo accusing senior FBI officials involved in the Russia probe of misconduct. The Department of Justice warned its release would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the committee also voted against releasing a memo written by Democrats and denied a request by FBI Director Christopher Wray to brief the committee on the intelligence behind the memo. The memo reportedly alleges that FBI officials misused their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on President Trump’s former campaign associate Carter Page. Democrats say the memo presents information without context in order to undercut the Russia investigation. Trump has five days to decide if he should block its release. Source: The New York Times

Trump administration won’t impose new sanctions, but names Russia’s elite The Trump administration said it will not implement sanctions against companies and individuals doing business with Russian defense and intelligence sectors, but released a name-and-shame list of 210 Russians who have flourished during Vladimir Putin’s rule. The sanctions and list of Russian oligarchs and political elite were mandated under a law Congress passed with veto-proof majorities to punish Russian interference in the 2016 election. A State Department official said Monday that “sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.” President Trump has repeatedly defended Russia against allegations that the country meddled in the election, despite U.S. intelligence agencies saying Russia intervened to help Trump. Source: CNN

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase to form new health-care company Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Tuesday that they are teaming up to improve health-care options for their U.S. workers. The three companies plan to use their scale and joint expertise to help reduce costs and improve employee satisfaction in health plans, using an independent company. The companies said they hope to use a fresh approach to solve longstanding problems. “The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. “Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable.” Source: MarketWatch

 

Monday, Jan 29, 2018

Andrew McCabe resigns as Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation amid a dispute with President Donald Trump. (The Independent)

Minutes before the registration deadline, a second candidate, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, fulfills paperwork to participate in the 2018 presidential election. Leading opposition members called for a boycott, saying that a wave of repression has cleared the field of challengers to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Reuters)

Viorica Dăncilă (PSD) is confirmed as Romania’s first female Prime Minister. She is Romania’s third premier in less than 13 months. (Irish Times)

Toronto Police charge landscaper Bruce McArthur with five charges of first-degree murder, after the remains of an additional three people are found in planters on a property linked to him. (CBC News)

 

Sunday, Jan 28, 2018

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is arrested by police at a protest rally in Moscow. His arrest comes shortly after police raid the headquarters of his unregistered Progress Party in an apparent attempt to disrupt online broadcasts of opposition rallies against Vladimir Putin, while police say they were looking for a bomb. Navalny is released from police custody without charge late Sunday but needs to appear in court later. (The Guardian) (Reuters)

United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) fighters seize control of government buildings in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, after clashing with forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. At least 10 people are reportedly killed and 30 wounded. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr accuses the separatists of mounting a coup. (BBC) (Al Jazeera)

Turkish airstrikes and shelling heavily damage the ancient Syro-Hittite Ain Dara temple in Syria’s Afrin District. The Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums calls on the international community to pressure Turkey “to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites”. (Reuters)

Researchers note that in November 2017, Strava, which processes data from apps and Internet of Things devices such as Fitbit, accidentally revealed the locations of alleged United States military bases overseas, including in Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria. (The Verge)(The Guardian)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Tarō Kōno in Beijing and says they hope to work to improve relations. (Reuters)

Incumbent Sauli Niinistö takes an unprecedented first round victory after receiving 62.7 percent of the votes. (Bloomberg)

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer successfully defends his title in the five-sets men’s singles final against Marin Čilić, winning his sixth title at the Australian Open and becoming the first man to win 20 titles in Grand Slam tournaments. (ESPN)

Seven survivors from the MV Butiraoi, six adults and a baby, are found in a dinghy and rescued, four days after the 50-passenger ferry sank in Kiribati. New Zealand rescuers say there is a lot of debris near the dinghy, but no sign of anyone else. (Sky News)

 

Saturday, Jan 27, 2018

A suicide bomber in an ambulance packed with explosives kills at least 102 people and wounds 158 outside a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. (The Washington Post)

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that the U.S. and Poland “oppose” the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. They see it as undermining Europe’s overall energy security and stability. (Reuters via U.S. Report)

According to the Turkish presidency, United States National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster said January 26 that the U.S. “will not provide any more weapons to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia”. (Reuters via U.S. News & World Report)

In the United States, billionaire Steve Wynn, best known for his casino hotels and resorts, resigns as Republican National Committee finance chair following sexual harassment reports, including a $7.5 million settlement with a former worker at his Las Vegas resort. (Bloomberg via Fortune)

Incumbent Miloš Zeman, who opposes immigration and objects to EU sanctions against Russia, is elected to a second term as President of the Czech Republic after receiving 51.8 percent of the votes in the run-off electionover pro-EU challenger Jiří Drahoš. (BBC)

 

Friday,  Jan 26, 2018

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says the Afrin offensive, as announced, is now to turn east, towards Manbij and the border with Iraq. (Reuters)

The United States International Trade Commission votes 4–0 in favor of dismissing the Boeing Company’s petition against Bombardier Inc. over alleged price dumping. (Reuters)

In France, zoological park is evacuated and closed after dozens of baboons escape their enclosure. (The Guardian)

Cape Town announces that they will reach their “zero day”, when they run out of all available water reserves, on April 12, 2018. (CNN) (BBC)

The cost of the Oroville Dam spill rises to US$870 million. The U.S. state of California continues to hope for federal aid for the project. (KQED)

Jose Arturo Sierra, former President of the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala, is shot and killed while driving to Guatemala City. (AP via The New Zealand Herald)

Hackers steal $535 million worth of the NEM cryptocurrency from Japanese exchange Coincheck. (CNBC)

THE END

The Saker 01.26.2018 – Syria/The Kurds

Turkey would like Sunni Arabs in control of Syria. Turkey does not want Sunni Kurds operating in Syria on Turkey’s border with its own PKK insurgency. This is well known and understood.

Russia wants clear access through the Dardanelles and is ONLY concerned with its facilities at Khmeimim and Tartus. Russia does not care much what happens with the Kurds, or with Syrian Sunni Arabs for that matter. Russia labels ALL Syrian Sunni Arabs that are fighting against Assad in this civil war terrorists and extremists because Assad in power is the only thing that guarantees the Russian bases in Syria right now. This is well known and understood.

Russia wants good relations with Turkey so that it won’t have to risk World War III to have access through the Dardanelles. But Turkey is on the opposite side of Russia in this Sunni/Shia conflict. This has always been problematic. It has also been well known and understood.

Russia also wants good relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia. This is tricky. But not rocket science. And Russians can handle rocket science, anyway.

There is no oil-production in Syria that is strategically important for anybody except Syrians. There never has been. It has to be sold at reduced prices and basically smuggled out of the country (by ISIS, and now the Kurds).

Israel and Syria have been enemies since 1948. Leaving aside the history of domestic political turmoil in Syria in the 1960s, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War – Israel is basically always in a state of low-level war with Syria because of Syria’s meddling in Lebanon.

Let’s skip all the nonsense about Syria and keep it simple. Wikipedia says – “Upheaval dominated Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s.” Then you have authoritarian rule by a father and his son. Then you have catastrophic civil war because Assad was unwilling to reform or leave office. The civil war started during the “Arab Spring.” It’s hard to see the region or Syria any worse off than in the last 70 years with Assad gone. But that’s just my opinion. I’ll admit, I’ve been studying the Middle East for 30 years. I know a little about the history. That may be an unfair advantage. I realize the Saker spends a lot of time reading and writing fiction so he doesn’t know as much about the region as some people.

If it is wrong for the US to be meddling in Syria, then it is also wrong for Russia to be meddling in Ukraine, or Syria to be meddling in Lebanon. The Saker would do well to dispense with all this holier-than-thou tripe.

Israel considers Hezbollah a terrorist entity because it operates out of Lebanon targeting a civilian population with medium-range rocket capability provided by Iran. Hezbollah is not the government, or state, or military of Lebanon. Israel has a serious and legitimate security concern in this regard. From the Israeli point of view – Assad and Syria support terrorists. Therefore Russia indirectly supports terrorists by supporting Assad. Russia wants good relations with Israel so it doesn’t want to be seen as involved with this. This is well known and understood.

I’ll leave the things said and not said about Hezbollah and the 2006 Lebanon War for another time.

If you don’t understand this, I would recommend reading or listening to Oliver Stone’s Putin Interviews. Tsar Putin I of Russia illuminates the multi-level geopolitical/geostrategic picture quite well by both what he says and doesn’t say. I’m surprised the Saker, who is a self-admitted Kremlin troll, doesn’t seem to grasp these issues.

None of this gibberish from The Saker makes an appearance in over nine hours of Putin’s explanations of the situation. This article here is largely fantasy and straw-man argument.

The stated goal of the United States is to destroy ISIS. It largely did that in Iraq using the Iraqi government forces and Iraqi Kurds. Yes, it utilized the help of “Iran-supported” Shia in Iraq. The stated goal of the United States in Syria has been to support the YPG in destroying ISIS.

ISIS was a serious CIA intelligence failure (not the worst, first, or last – but very serious). ISIS is not a CIA/Israel project unless you are evidence-free, history-illiterate, mentally ill or some combination of those things.

The Unites States created the power vacuum in Iraq necessary for ISIS. It did not create ISIS.

There was no “plan” as The Saker claims. This is a straw-man. And besides, this detailed “plan” that the Saker completely fabricated makes no sense, is literally impossible to achieve, and seems the the work of the crazy person – so, of course, it’s stupid. This is too funny. The Saker is calling the generals in Washington arrogant idiots for hatching and attempting this plan, but it was the Saker that came up with this plan. What is going on here? Is this for real?

The unstated goal of the United States is obviously the absence of Assad. Duh. This is also the goal of everybody else in the region with the exception of Hezbollah and Iran.

The only question is how long Putin will continue to believe this quagmire is worth it. Putin may be thinking just as much about how his own job and comfort depend on Assad being in power.

There is no AngloZionist Empire. There are no ZioWahhabis. These concepts are absurd. Where is the palace? Who is the emperor? There is an American-led world order which you can call an American Empire. Its long-term goal is the stable, secure delivery of Saudi and Persian Gulf oil to its allies – Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan and the free transfer of goods globally.

The Israelis, the Saudis, and the Kremlin know perfectly well who calls the shots in the Middle-East.

Putin understands this. He may not like it, but he understands this.

Much is made of Operation Ajax and the removal of Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953. What is rarely mentioned is that Stalin would have almost certainly invaded Iran after 1946 if the British and Americans weren’t there. And what were Americans doing in Iran (the world’s biggest oil producer at the time) before 1946? They were supplying Russia with arms, ammunition, and equipment to save it from being over-run by Hitler.

The United States felt after World War II that the world, and especially Europe at the time, did a poor job of managing things. Europe was too important to be left to Europeans.

The Arabs and Persians have also done a poor job of managing things in the Middle East. The oil in that region of the world was discovered and produced by Americans and British.

Everything in this world is dependent on that oil. Most importantly – American air power.

Americans don’t trust that other nations can manage those arrangements in a way that makes Americans comfortable.

Americans let people do whatever they want with their products, their mone, with their viewing habits, and in their bedrooms. That may be your desert, but that is our oil buried under your sand. You can do whatever you want with our oil, as long as you pump it and use it or sell it. You can also do whatever you want with the proceeds as long as you don’t use it to try to kill us or our allies.

It is RUSSIA that wants the Middle East pumping less oil. That would make Russia’s oil more valuable. And Russia is dependent on oil sales.

Russia has a history of making other countries their slaves and the only things Russians make well is vodka and weapons. And anybody can make vodka, it’s not that big a deal. They also have a history of repeatedly invading their neighbors. They have a history of imprisoning and torturing and executing millions of their own citizens in the name of progress.

If you want to understand that history in a nutshell just look at the story of East and West Germany between 1949 and 1989. This isn’t rocket science. The Saker must really think his readers are fools.

After 1989, the parts of the world that had been managed by Russians since 1945 or before decided that the Russian way of doing things was not good. Serbia being maybe the only exception.

Get over it.

And then there’s the prediction in the last paragraph.

The chances of a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass are now even higher then before, especially before or during the soccer World Cup in Moscow this summer

the US Americans will now seek a place to take revenge on the evil Russkies and this place will most likely be the Ukraine. And we can always count the Israelis to find a pretext to continue to murder Palestinians and bomb Syria.

What is the Saker’s success rate with these vague yet specific predictions? What is the deal with these anyway? What is he trying to say? What is the point?

That if anybody dies in Ukraine or the Middle East he will have been right? And that if it happens this summer, he’s a genius?

More bold predictions. No. This is angry, resentful war-mongering and fear-mongering.

“take revenge”

I love that. It’s cute.