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China Daily Censors Opinion Article Written By EU Officials; Removes Any Mention Of China As Virus Origin

China Daily Censors Opinion Article Written By EU Officials; Removes Any Mention Of China As Virus Origin

BuzzFeed’s Alberto Nardelli points out that the European Union failed to discuss edits, including the removal of references to the spread of COVID-19, in an op-ed jointly published by all 27 member states in a Chinese-owned newspaper. 

Some European officials did not find out about the secret edits Brussels made with the Chinese until after the opinion piece was published. One diplomat told BuzzFeed there was no discussion about the edits with Brussels, saying there was “irony of the incident happening just a few days after World Press Freedom Day on Sunday.” 

Another diplomat said Brussels’ decision to make the edit as per China’s request is “weak,” with another diplomat saying member states being shunned from knowing about the edits is “really bad.” 

The piece was published in the China Daily Newspaper and after reviewing the same report but uploaded onto the EU embassy website, it becomes clear this could be the section China had removed: “But the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, and its subsequent spread to the rest of the world over the past three months.”

China limiting freedom of speech, or better yet, attempting to control the global narrative about the virus, marks a dangerous period for the world. One where China continues to coverup the origins of the pandemic. 

An EU spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the opinion piece was edited on the demands “of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” 

“The EU Delegation decided nevertheless to proceed with the publication of the Op-Ed with considerable reluctance, as it considered it important to communicate very important messages on EU policy priorities, notably on climate change and sustainability, human rights, multilateralism and the global response to the coronavirus.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US, NATO Consumed by ‘Black Sea Madness’

US, NATO Consumed by ‘Black Sea Madness’ 

Whom the gods would destroy, Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, they first make mad. What would Nietzsche make of the current, truly mad US and NATO obsession with charging into the Black Sea? It is a useful thought to ponder.

The Black Sea was far outside NATO’s traditional theater of operations for most of the Alliance’s history. However, Brussels and Washington have been piling up their military assets and visibility in the region like bees at a honey pot – or like a rogue herd of elephants charging off the edge of a cliff.

Yet NATO’s “In Your Face” presence in the Black Sea protects no one. On the contrary, it puts America’s allies in the region at grave risk by escalating tensions and increasing the danger that full scale war could break out by deliberately manufactured incident (Just think the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964) and or through a random error or clash that escalates out of control.

The US/NATO forward presence in the Black Sea is strategic madness. And it replicates parallel incendiary US exercises in fake macho stupidity against Beijing in the South China Sea: A region from which the Chinese people suffered invasion and societal collapse on a genocidal scale following defeats by Britain and France in the First Opium War (1839-42) and by Imperial Japan in its terrible invasion of summer 1937.

Washington seems equally intent on opening up a third front against Iran with its parallel forward policy in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.

Three simultaneous wars against three major nations, two of which are the largest, most populous in the world and formidably nuclear armed? US grand strategy –insofar as there is one – seems to have national suicide as its only goal.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Flash-Balls, Pitchforks And A Backstop

Flash-Balls, Pitchforks And A Backstop

Jan van Eyck  Madonna and Child at the Fountain 1439 (height: 7.4“, 19 cm)

It’s educational and even somewhat entertaining to observe the role of the western press in the ongoing erosion and demise of democracy in Europe. But while it’s entertaining, it also means their readers and viewers don’t get informed on what is actually happening. The media paints a picture that pleases the political world. And it it doesn’t please politicians to lift a veil here and there, too bad for the public. 

The Shakespearian comedy that was performed last night in the UK House of Commons is a lovely case in point. Basically, MPs voted whether or not to allow PM Theresa May to change the Brexit deal she had told them about a hundred times couldn’t possibly be changed. Brexit has turned full-blown Groucho by now: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

It was exactly two weeks ago last night that lawmakers voted by a historic 432 to 202 count to reject May’s Brexit deal. And now they voted to a) let her change it and b) go talk to the EU about changing it though Brussels has said as often as May herself that it cannot be changed. Remember: the UK is set to leave the EU 59 days from now, and counting.

It’s like in a game of chess that has long turned into a stalemate or threefold repetitionsituation: you stop playing. No such luck in British politics. The only way the parliament could find ‘unity’ (in a narrow vote) was to agree to ditch the Irish backstop that is an integral part of why the EU accepted May’s deal to begin with.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Europe is Burning

Johannes Vermeer The soldier and the laughing girl 1657

There will be elections for the European Parliament on May 23-26 2019. They will likely change the face of Europe more than anything has done since the EU was founded. That is not some wild prediction. Many European countries have held elections since the last European elections in 2014, and just about all had outcomes that shook up domestic political ratios.

In most cases, countries went from traditional parties to newly founded ones. France erased the Socialists and center-right in 2017, and the final round of the presidential elections was between Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Emmanuel Macron’s brand-new En Marche. Macron won sort of by default, because France as a country would never have voted for Le Pen.

In Italy, M5S and Lega have taken over. In Germany, Merkel’s CDU/CSU coalition lost bigly though it remained the biggest party, but Angela lost her ‘socialist’ SPD partner which gave up so much it didn’t want to be in government anymore. In Spain, Mariano Rajoy’s center right lost enough to cede power to the Socialists who came up tops because they played a smart game, not because the Spanish wanted it to rule.

We don’t have to go through all 27/28 different countries to establish that there are almost tectonic shifts happening all over, away from traditional parties and towards whoever showed up without insanely extreme views. And if you think this move is now completed, you may want to think again.

It’s amusing to realize that the country with the biggest political shift, the UK, is the only one that still hangs on to its traditional parties, and seeks its protest voice in a different way, namely through Brexit. That is, Britain shows it can get no satisfaction from the EU, whereas in the other major EU nations the dissatisfaction is projected onto domestic parties.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Macron – No taxation without representation

Macron – No taxation without representation

The mass protests on the streets of French cities recall the first years of the American War of Independence. In the years before and during the American Independence Movement, the resentment that independence advocates harboured was that the Thirteen Colonies were obliged to pay taxes to the British Crown without being represented in the British Parliament by their own elected deputies. The slogan of the founding fathers of American democracy at the time was “No taxation without representation”. Nowadays it could be inscribed on the flags of the Yellow Vests, the movement that opposes additional taxation by Macron’s government. The government represents the interests of the Brussels technocrats, i.e. bankers and large corporations, and not those of the French people. Brussels does not allow holes in the state budget, does not tolerate anyone who does not abide by its fiscal guidelines. The French were persuaded that they retained sovereignty, although for years the princes from Brussels (commissioners of the revolution against sovereignty of states – Timmermans, Juncker and others) have been setting the course for France. Although the French deputies allegedly represent their people in the European Parliament, they are not proposed directly by the people, but by the parties. Most voters have swallowed the bait for years that the parties act in their interests, but even the dimmest dummy gets wise over the years. Voters in the 21st century must not be treated as they were in the 19th: the first cracks in the beautiful image of the handsome president, whom the German media describe as “visionary”, appeared when he reduced property tax on real estate. French citizens could not swallow it. Though the move was supposed to keep money in the country, Macron was denounced by low earners as the “president of the rich”.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Delusional Leaders of the Eurozone

 I was looking forward to chilling with family and friends in Sydney this New Years Day, but Phil Dobbieruined it for me with this tweet:

I had forgotten that this was the 20th anniversary of the start of the Euro. But the Eurocrats in Brussels hadn’t. Some hours before the New Year commenced, Juncker and friends put out a press release extoling the virtues of the Euro. Virtues such as “unity, sovereignty, and stability … prosperity”.

Well so much for New Year cheer. With this one tweet, the EU put 2019 on track to be even worse than 2018. Using anyof those words to describe the Euro—apart perhaps from “unity”, since the same currency is used across most of continental Europe now—is a travesty of fact that even Donald Trump might baulk at.

Sovereignty? Tell that to the Greeks, Italians or French, who have had their national economic policies overridden by Brussels. Stability? Economic growth has been far more unstable under the Euro than before it, and Europe today is riven with political instability which can be directly traced to the straitjacket the Euro and the Maastricht Treaty imposed. Prosperity? Let’s bring some facts into Juncker’s fact-free guff.

I’ll start with Phil’s point about Greece. Greece’s GDP has fallen at Great Depression rates since the Eurozone imposed its austerity policies on it, and nominal GDP today is more than 25% below its peak.

Figure 1: Greek GDP and economic growth rate

Now of course that could be blamed on the Greeks themselves, so let’s look compare economic growth in the entire Eurozone to the USA (minus Ireland and Luxembourg, since in the former case their data is massively distorted by data revisions, and the latter has highly volatile data as well, and is so small—under 600,000 people—that it can safely be ignored).

Figure 2: Real economic growth rates

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Merkel & Macron Tag-Team – Surrender Sovereignty to Brussels

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; Merkel has come out and said that “Nation states must today be prepared to give up their sovereignty.” This is what you have been saying that the agenda is to federalize Europe. Would you care to elaborate on her latest statement?

Thank you from Berlin

PH

ANSWER: Merkel has stepped down as leader of the CDU. She knows that she is on the way out. She hopes to cling to her position of power until she is dragged out by the hair. This statement is indeed the behind the curtain view. But she qualified that statement insofar as yielding sovereignty to Brussels over especially migration. This is a shot across the bow at the rising nationalism. You must look at the entire statement she made in order to expose the thinking process.

Merkel condemned any notion that Germany should join a fast-growing number of nations pulling out of the migration agreement. Even Australia pulled out of the UN migration agreement. She said that “there were [politicians] who believed that they could decide when these agreements are no longer valid because they are representing The People”. What is interesting is how she is splitting a democratic form of government which represents the people and one of an anti-democratic position because politicians know better than the people. She continued to remark that “the people are individuals who are living in a country, they are not a group who define themselves as the [German] people.” She holds the position that migration is inevitable, necessary and desirable. She refuses to admit that allowing in the refugees was a mistake.

Her reasoning states that nationalism “is not patriotism, because patriotism is when you include others in German interests and accept win-win situations.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Macron Heralds The End Of The Union

Paul Almasy Paris 1950

The concept of the EU might have worked, but still only might have, if a neverending economic boom could have been manufactured to guide it on its way. But there was never going to be such a boom. Or perhaps if the spoils that were available in boom times and bust had been spread out among nations rich and poor and citizens rich and poor a little more equally, that concept might still have carried the days.

Then again, its demise was obvious from well before the Union was ever signed into existence, in the philosophies, deliberations and meetings that paved its way in the era after a second world war in two score years fought largely on the European continent.

In hindsight, it is hard to comprehend how it’s possible that those who met and deliberated to found the Union, in and of itself a beneficial task at least on the surface in the wake of the blood of so many millions shed, were not wiser, smarter, less greedy, less driven by sociopath design and methods. It was never the goal that missed its own target or went awry, it was the execution.

Still, no matter how much we may dream, how much some of the well-meaning ‘founding fathers’ of the Union may have dreamt, without that everlasting economic boom it never stood a chance. The Union was only ever going to be tolerated, accepted, embraced by its citizens if they could feel and see tangible benefits in their daily lives of surrendering parts of their own decision making powers, and the sovereignty of their nations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Take Heed Italy, Brussels Doesn’t Care One Whit About You

Take Heed Italy, Brussels Doesn’t Care One Whit About You

Take Heed Italy, Brussels Doesn’t Care One Whit About You

Watching the complete betrayal of Brexit by British Prime Minister Theresa “The Gypsum Lady” May is proving to be a wake up call for Italians. The latest polling results coming out of Italy show that while the populist coalition in Italy is unpopular in Brussels it is still very popular with Italians.

And that’s a good thing because when you look closely at Brexit negotiations it is clear that all that matters is the EU retaining power over the U.K. and not what is in the best interest of anyone involved, British or otherwise.

The Italian coalition partners still command nearly 60% of all Italians’ support, only their preference has changed. Lega now outpolls Five Star Movement (M5S) 33% to 26%, while the other center-right parties, namely Silvio “Stalking Horse” Berlusconi’s Forza Italia have collapsed (from 14% at March’s elections to just 7% now).

And roughly that same number now see the EU as mistreating Italy. These numbers will only get worse if the EU goes through with levying fines against Italy for submitting a budget Brussels doesn’t like.

Moreover, now we’re seeing support for Italeave rise as well. A recent poll by Politico Magazine posted over at Zerohedge shows a slight majority of Italians under age 45 are ready to do just that, leave the European Union.

The over 45 crowd is still enamored with the ideal of the EU tying together a warring Europe rather than confront the reality of what it actually is, a distant and tyrannical oligarchy led by unelected technocrats with strong ties to old money and old power.

The source of this support comes from, I think, the stark contrast between May’s appeasement of rankled EU leadership over the British people’s temerity to want out of their wretched union and how Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is attacking Brussels’ hypocrisy over fiscal restraints.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy Throws Down the Gauntlet to Challenge the Brussels Establishment

Italy Throws Down the Gauntlet to Challenge the Brussels Establishment

Italy Throws Down the Gauntlet to Challenge the Brussels Establishment

The EU has had a lot of trouble on its hands, as its members, such as Poland and Hungary, are openly challenging the established order. This time it’s a very serious situation, because Brussels is facing defiance from Italy, the 3rd largest national economy in the eurozone and the 8th largest global economy in terms of nominal GDP. It has a population of over 60 million. It is also a Europhile country and the bloc’s founding member.

The Italian government has rejected the EU’s calls to revise its draft budget for 2019 that includes a 2.4% deficit of GDP, which could dangerously boost the nation’s public debt. The ruling coalition in Rome, which is made up of the League and the populist Five Star Movement, has decided to increase borrowing so that it can fund its campaign promises, such as lowering the retirement age and increasing welfare payments.

Last month the European Commission claimed that these spending targets went against EU rules. Rome is burdened by the second-highest amount of public debt in the eurozone. There’s a 131.8% difference between borrowing and economic output there, but the government believes it will achieve substantial economic growth, while the EU’s predictions for Italy are rather gloomy. Nov. 13 was the deadline for submitting a revised draft budget. Rome did not comply. Now the EU leadership is threatening it with sanctions it until it falls into line. Italy could be slapped with a fine of €3.4 billion.

The Italian government takes an independent stance on a multitude of issues. It is seen as Russia-friendly in its calls for lifting, or at least easing, the sanctions against the Russian Federation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

SWIFT Caves To US Pressure, Defies EU By Cutting Off Iranian Banks

Shortly after Trump reimposed nuclear sanctions on Tehran on November 5, the international financial messaging system SWIFT announced the suspension of several Iranian banks from its service. “In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, SWIFT is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system,” SWIFT said.

The Belgium-based financial messaging service added:

“This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system.”

SWIFT’s decision has further undermined EU efforts to maintain trade with Iran and save an international deal with Tehran to curtail its nuclear program, after President Donald Trump pulled the US out in May. Being cut off from SWIFT makes it difficult for Iran to get paid for exports and to pay for imports, mostly of oil.

As a further note, the EU was one of the few entities not to receive a sanctions waiver from the US earlier this week.

The European Commission was understandably displeased, and on Wednesday said it found the SWIFT decision “regrettable”

“We find this decision rather … regrettable,” Commission foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told a briefing.

As we reported over the weekend, last Friday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned SWIFT it could be penalized if it doesn’t cut off financial services to entities and individuals doing business with Iran. However, by complying with Washington, SWIFT now faces the threat of punitive action from Brussels.

Washington has been pressuring SWIFT to cut off Iran from the financial system as it did in 2012 before the nuclear deal. Six years, ago the EU imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, forcing SWIFT, which is subject to EU laws, to cut financial transactions with at least 30 of Iran’s financial institutions, including the central bank.

Iranian banks were reconnected to the network in 2016 after the Iran nuclear deal came into force, allowing much needed foreign cash to flow into Tehran’s coffers.

Why’s France so Worried about Italy’s Showdown with Brussels?

Why’s France so Worried about Italy’s Showdown with Brussels?

The French megabanks are on the hook.

France was just served with a stark reminder of an inconvenient truth: €277 billion of Italian government debt — the equivalent of 14% of French GDP — is owed to French banks. Given that Italy’s government is currently locked in an existential blinking match with both the European Commission and the ECB over its budget plan for 2019, this could be a big problem for France.

On Friday, France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, urged the commission to “reach out to Italy” after rejecting the country’s draft 2019 budget for breaking EU rules on public spending. Le Maire also conceded that while contagion in the Eurozone was definitely contained, the Eurozone “is not sufficiently armed to face a new economic or financial crisis.” As Maire well knows, a full-blown financial crisis in Italy would eventually spread to France’s economy, with French banks serving as the main transmission mechanism.

France isn’t the only Eurozone nation with unhealthy levels of exposure to Italian debt, although it is far and away the most exposed. According to the Bank of International Settlements, German lenders have €79 billion worth of exposure to Italian debt and Spanish lenders, €69 billion. In other words, taken together, the financial sectors of the largest, second largest and fourth largest economies in the Eurozone — Germany, France and Spain — hold over €415 billion of Italian debt on their balance sheets.

While the exposure of German lenders to Italian debt has waned over the last few years, that of French lenders has actually grown, belying the ECB’s long-held claim that its QE program would help reduce the level of interdependence between European sovereigns and banks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It

A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It

Photo Source Giuseppe Milo | CC BY 2.0

Yet the problem with Italy is not the problem that the European Commission or financial markets see.

Rome is planning an expansionary budget – just what Italy needs and just the opposite of what Brussels and the financial speculators in the bond markets are expecting or demanding.
Brussels wants “fiscal consolidation”. That is, for Rome to reduce its deficit – the annual gap between spending and taxation – so it can start paying down its huge public debt, which is 131% of GDP, proportionately the highest in the euro zone after Greece’s.
The government of the League and 5-Star Movement has raised the target for next year’s deficit to 2.4% of gross domestic product. That is comfortably below the EU’s 3% ceiling, but up sharply from a targeted 1.8% this year, flouting EU rules which call on highly-indebted countries like Italy, to narrow the deficit steadily towards a balanced budget.
Rome’s budget includes a reversal of an increase in the retirement age enacted in 2011 by a previous Democratic Party Government. This is a genuinely progressive and an economically sensible move, as it should force employers to high more young people sooner, helping to reduce the 31% youth jobless rate.
The budget also contains a so-called ‘citizen’s wage’, aimed primarily at the young unemployed who currently have to rely on their families for financial support. Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio has said the proposed payment of up to 780 euros a month will “abolish poverty”. That’s hyperbole, but any attempt to cut the numbers, which have tripled in the last 10 years, while those in “absolute poverty” have risen to 5.1 million (or 8.4 percent of the population), has to be welcomed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The European financial establishment has just declared war on Italy

The European financial establishment has just declared war on Italy

This week in a CNBC interview Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the former Dutch minister of finance who served as the President of the Eurogroup, declared war on the Italian government. The European financial establishment is prepared to destroy the banking system and cause the Italian economy to implode. Like a Mafia boss, Dijsselbloem warned that Italy could run into trouble if it does not comply with Brussels’ directives. Of course, his statement was cloaked in diplomatic language:

“If the Italian crisis becomes a major crisis, it will mainly implode into the Italian economy … as opposed to spreading around Europe,” he said. “Because of the way that the Italian economy and the Italian banks are financed, it’s going to be an implosion rather than an explosion.”

For a man of this format it is unusual to publicly expose Italy as a state in a weak negotiating position or try to act as a scaremonger. We have never seen anything remotely like that, so we think that the utterance could only serve the purpose of giving the green light to the financial markets to orchestrate an attack on Italian bonds so as to drive Italian yield up.

“And there is gonna be a role for the markets, I mean if you look at what Italy needs in funding next year alone we are talking about over 250 billion Euro, refinancing part of the stock of their debt and also, of course, these new spending plans. So markets will really have to look at that very critically.”

Italy’s situation is ‘pretty worrisome’: Dijsselbloem from CNBC.

He reminded the Italian government that Italian banks are a sitting target for the European financial authorities. In order to destabilize a country’s economy, one must break its backbone i.e. banks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Juncker Warns ‘The EU Cannot Survive Without Italy’

Ignoring warnings from the European Commission, the ECB and the European Commission (as well as practically every other supranational organization in Europe), the populist-led Italian government managed to submit their draft budget to the Commission before a midnight deadline – an outcome that was cheered by BTP traders, who bought back into Italian bonds, once again compressing the spread to bunds, which has blown out in recent months.

But rather than representing a deescalation of tensions between Italy and Brussels, the game of fiscal chicken in which both sides are presently engaged is instead entering its most acute phase, as Brussels now has two weeks to review the budget proposal before it can either accept the plan, or send it back with requests for revisions. And anybody who has been paying even passing attention to the populist government’s denigration of EU budgetary guidelines over the past few months should already understand that Brussels won’t just sit back and accept the budget for what it is.

Juncker

In fact, European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker hinted as much Tuesday morning when he told Italian reporters that accepting the budget would be tantamount to inviting an widespread revolt against the EU, per Italian newswire ANSA and the FT. Juncker also blasted Italy for abandoning the fiscal commitments it made when it joined the EU. However, though they have wavered from time to time, the Italians haven’t kept their intentions to press for a budget deficit equivalent to 2.4% of GDP a secret. Even Giovanni Tria, Italy’s economy minister, defended the draft budget, saying the deficit “would be considered normal in all Western democracies, not explosive.”

Undeterred by the fact that there’s absolutely no political will in the Italian government to back down from their budget stance, despite threats from the ECB to provoke a Greece-style banking crisis if the Italians don’t yield to EU rules.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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