Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 10 Dec 2023
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters

Cardboard Box

More missing J6 committee evidence: Where are Secret Service records?

© Unknown
J6 Committee
In addition to deleted texts belonging to two dozen top Secret Service officials, "numerous" transcribed interviews taken by the J6 committee have not been turned over to House Republicans...

The unprecedented criminal prosecution of Donald Trump and his associates has heavily relied on unprecedented steps taken by government officials including Joe Biden. For the first time in history, for just one example, an incumbent president refused to confer executive privilege to his predecessor on a number of occasions — which forced Trump to share what is traditionally considered protected communications and records with bad-faith interests including House Democrats and Biden's Department of Justice.

Federal courts played an instrumental role, too. Privilege between Trump and his personal attorney was pierced by the chief judge of the district court in Washington. Judge Tanya Chutkan, now overseeing Special Counsel Jack Smith's case against Trump related to January 6, denied Trump's privilege claims in 2021 and ordered Trump to hand over presidential records to the January 6 Select Committee. In another history-making order, Chutkan recently denied Trump's motion to dismiss the J6 case on immunity grounds; she opined that being president does not entitle one to a "get-out-of-jail-free pass" — an assertion made by no one — and concluded a president is indeed subject to criminal prosecution.

Comment: If Trump, so Biden.

Snakes in Suits

Republicans threaten Hunter Biden with contempt of Congress for rejecting subpoena

© weeklyblitz
Hunter Biden
Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote in a brief letter to Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell that they "will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings" against the president's son if he fails to comply with a subpoena they sent him requiring him to testify in a closed-door setting on Dec. 13.

The warning shot from the pair of committee chairmen about using the rare process against the first son comes after Lowell told them last week, and again earlier Wednesday, that his client was willing to appear for a public hearing on Dec. 13, rather than for a deposition.

Lowell pointed to comments Comer has made in recent months signaling the chairman was open to hearing from Hunter Biden in a public setting, and he also accused Republicans of selectively sharing information they garnered in past closed-door settings to "misinform the American public."


EU leaders attempt to lobby China at Beijing summit fails miserably

china europe xi von der leyen ursula
European and Chinese leaders hold the first in-person talks between the two sides in four years in Beijing on Thursday.
China and the EU have agreed that they have a shared interest in a balanced trade relationship, and promised to step up people-to-people exchanges after three years of mutual isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the first in-person EU-China summit in Beijing on Thursday produced no breakthroughs in the areas of greatest friction such as trade imbalances and the war in Ukraine.

Comment: That's probably because the EU has little competitive edge these days - especially since the anti-Russia sanctions that sent their energy costs soaring - and because even the West acknowledges it has lost its proxy-war in Ukraine, so it's hardly in a position to negotiate.

Xi Jinping told European Council president Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that China saw the EU as a key partner for economic and trade co-operation, scientific and technological co-operation, and industrial and supply chain co-operation.

Comment: The South China Morning Post reveals some of the more telling details:

At Thursday's summit, the Europeans felt their concerns were being taken seriously by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang compared to recent interactions - one of which was famously panned as a "dialogue of the deaf" - even if they remain far apart on core issues like trade and Russia.

When European Council President Charles Michel travelled to Beijing a year ago, he was subjected to long lectures from Xi on topics ranging from the United States, to Taiwan, to human rights.

This time, there were no such diatribes. A "relaxed and non-confrontational" Xi told Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that China considers Europe to be a "pole" in its own right, and certainly not a "vassal" of anyone, according to several people briefed on the talks.

This minor semantic play will give Europe ammunition to counter claims often made by Chinese diplomats that it is beholden to the United States, and is partly viewed as a product of a relative stabilisation in US-China ties in recent weeks too.

China excels at diplomacy, and its more likely that this rather revealing comment actually confirms that, on the contrary, Europe is, increasingly, considered to be a vassal of the US.


There is a sense that Beijing's top leadership is concerned about swirling economic headwinds and wants desperately to avoid a full-blown trade war with the EU. Xi himself raised the Moody's downgrade warning for China's credit rating on Tuesday, saying it showed how the West fails to understand the world's second biggest economy.

He was warned in return that the EU market will not remain open forever if Beijing's policies do not change. China was asked to rein in bank lending and lower production targets for some manufacturing sectors.

Depending on the demands, China can simply take its business elsewhere, meanwhile the EU does not have homemade substitutes to replace them.

On trade, the Chinese leadership agreed to work in technical groups with EU officials to discuss overcapacity, which Europe feels will result in cheap Chinese hi-tech goods landing in its relatively open market.

When the Europeans raised the 1,000-plus issues flagged by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, Li said he was not aware of them, but committed to having his staff work through them in detail with EU staff.

"Will it solve the problem on its own? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Of course," said one well-placed source.

Brussels is hugely concerned about China's growing capacity as a carmaker, with a probe ongoing into state subsidies for electric vehicles. On Thursday, the Chinese leadership pointed out that Volkswagen sells only 20 per cent of its cars in Germany, so what's the difference?

"They came with a lot of data and arguments, not to accept our opposition, but to counter argue. When we talk about excess capacity, excess what does it mean, excess in respect to what?" said a third EU official.

There is no expectation that China will move away from its long-standing policy of using state subsidies to promote priority sectors. "Why would they? This is their growth model," said a fourth official.

A bit like how the EU subsidises its ailing agricultural sector? Farmer protests in France herald major clash on the horizon

But through technical groups - an idea floated by von der Leyen - it is hoped that Brussels can point to specific pain points in the Chinese economy, and that there may be some policy tweaks that could lessen the impact.

There will be suspicions that Beijing is buying time, trying to avoid opening another front with Europe when its own economy is struggling, and enabling its companies to pump more goods into the EU market before access diminishes.

But at the same time, Brussels is willing to offer that time - it too would prefer not to engage in economic warfare with such a powerful opponent, and its industries have largely asked the commission to pursue diplomatic resolutions.

On Russia, the EU presented Xi and Li with a list of 13 companies accused of selling European-made dual-use goods to the Russian military. These are turning up on the battlefield and killing Ukrainians, they said.

Xi told the Europeans he was "attentive" to this, according to several sources familiar with the discussion, and said that China has an export control regime of its own. So whereas there was little expectation that Xi would admit any wrongdoing on Beijing's part, Brussels is pleased that he was "happy to engage".

Von der Leyen told the Chinese leadership that she understood not all of the circumvention was being done by Chinese companies. In June, for instance, it was discovered that Russian entities registered in mainland China and Hong Kong were among the biggest culprits.

This is seen as a way of allowing Beijing to tackle the problem while saving face, but it remains to be seen whether it will put a stop to it.

It was Beijing that helped the hypocrits in the EU save face.

There was no firm commitment to return to Ukraine-backed peace talks, but nor was it dismissed out of hand. It is thought that Beijing prefers to engage in smaller formats on matters like this.

The Chinese side wanted to find a way of mutually lifting bilateral sanctions introduced in 2021, after the EU targeted officials accused of orchestrating mass human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The stumbling bloc there, however, is that the EU does not see the situation improving in the western Chinese region.

It's likely they never saw an 'improvement' because those accusations were never proven.

On Taiwan, Xi got reassurances that Brussels would not support any move for independence, and in return they feel like Beijing understood that altering the status quo by any means - including force - would have serious consequences.

China is likely aware that, like the US, the EU is now 'agreement incapable'. But it is a win for China that the EU admitted as much.

"We are opposed to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force. The EU maintains its one-China policy and I trust that China is fully aware of the serious consequences of any escalation in this area," Michel told reporters - a message he also delivered behind closed doors.

Discussions on the Middle East were described as "constructive", while Michel asked for Beijing's help to investigate the rupture of a Finnish-Estonian gas pipeline, with suspicion centred on a Chinese ship that was operating in the area.

Xi reacted positively to the request, and officials found him unusually engaged - briefed on technical matters that would ordinarily reside with underlings. Sources are doubtful that the summit will alter the downward trajectory in the relationship, but in Brussels it proved that the adage rings true: it's good to talk.
It's possible that, behind the scenes, more constructive discussions took place, such as those on the Middle East, otherwise, what this trip reveals just how little sway the EU holds these days, and how its leadership is capable of little more than spouting utter nonsense, and usually behind China's back.

Meanwhile, over in Russia, Putin is getting some actual work done: Putin makes rare trip to Middle East, UAE and Saudi leaders welcome 'dear friend'


Saudi prince dies in F-15 fighter jet crash during training exercise

Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a distinguished member of the Saudi royal family, has tragically passed away at the age of 62. The Saudi royal court confirmed his death, announcing that funeral prayers would be held at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh. Prince Talal's life was characterized by his contribution to the Royal Saudi Air Force as a lieutenant colonel and his significant role in the Saudi intelligence agency, GIP, where he served as assistant intelligence chief from 2004 to 2012.

A Tragic Accident

Comment: It remains to be seen whether this was indeed an accident or whether there is more to the story; because there have been a significant number of suspect deaths of officials and persons of import in recent years:


Spain expels US embassy staff - El Pais

© Getty Images / Dana Hoff
The decision followed allegations the personnel bribed host country intel agents, the newspaper has said

At least two employees at the US embassy in Madrid have been quietly expelled from Spain on suspicion of recruiting agents from the country's National Intelligence Center (CNI) to obtain highly classified information, El Pais reported on Thursday, citing government sources.

According to the newspaper, two Spanish intelligence officers were arrested two months ago after an internal inspection revealed that they had gained access to classified information that was not required for their work and which they had no right to know.

Comment: Original title: EU State expels US embassy staff - El Pais The sources for the Spanish articles are: from El Pais, and from El Espanol.

Considering the statements:
"The recruitment of secret agents of the host state to betray their own country is considered an openly hostile action" -"are counted between one and none" and it is unclear why the US had to pay when they "get everything they ask for."
One may ask if the issue is that Spain does not share everything as alleged, or whether the US intelligence agencies are so compartmentalized that what is known in one quarter is not known in the next, and somebody who felt they were left out of the loop did their own ground work?

Apart from the little stomach upset in Madrid, many other US initiatives are swallowed without any upset by EU and NATO countries.

US ripped off EU for €185 Bln for gas due to Russia sanctions
Germany now addicted to US LNG - German MP
'Humiliating': Germany is not a sovereign nation - Moscow
Ex-Nazi in the service of Uncle Sam: How the US took control of Germany's main intelligence service
No shame: US official Vicky 'f*ck the EU' Nuland praises Nord Stream 2 destruction
Escobar: Germany and EU have been handed over a declaration of war
The Crusades: Germany's Obedience to America's 'Papal Primacy'
Weaken Germany to strengthen US: Alleged leaked RAND doc outlines plan to destroy Europe as 'political competitor'
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says Washington has spent $5 billion trying to subvert Ukraine
Loony Nuland fumes over Minsk agreement, gives instructions to 'fight against the Europeans'
"F**k The EU" - U.S. State department blasts Europe; revealed as alleged mastermind behind Ukraine unrest
An important second listen to the "F--k the EU" Ukraine recording
'F**k the EU': Nuland's decade-old Maidan quip has never been more true

The list could go on and on; it is only a matter of recalling events and searching for the articles. Not that such an effort makes much of a difference, but it may help to keep things in perspective, next time a news item surfaces.


Scandal-stained Israeli 'rescue' group fuels October 7 fabrications

2 guys
© Landau
Founded by a serial rapist known as the "Haredi Jeffrey Epstein," Israeli ultra-Orthodox rescue group ZAKA is responsible for some of the most obscene post-October 7 atrocity fabrications, from beheaded babies to "mass rape" to a fetus cut from its mother.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken and President Joseph Biden have each echoed demonstrably false ZAKA testimonies about Hamas atrocities.

Marred by allegations of financial fraud, ZAKA is leveraging October 7 publicity to raise unprecedented sums of cash.

Its rival, United Hatzalah, has spun out bogus tales of babies baked in ovens as it closes in on a $50 million fundraising goal.

During an October 31 Senate hearing on Israel's war in Gaza, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered his rationale for rejecting a ceasefire. Summoning as much emotion as a dour Democratic Party operative could muster, Blinken conjured up a gruesome scene intended to illustrate the savagery of Hamas, and the impossibility of negotiations with such an organization:
"A young boy and girl, 6 and 8 years old, and their parents around the breakfast table. The father's eye gouged out in front of his kids. The mother's breast cut off, the girl's foot amputated, the boy's fingers cut off before they were executed."
The Secretary of State concluded, "That is what this [Israeli] society is dealing with."

Comment: Playing 'the fake victim' card, Israel is selling horror for money.

Arrow Up

UK preparing to push Ukraine toward peace talks - media

© AFP/Ukrainian Presidential Press Office
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky • British Foreign Secretary David Cameron
Kiev, Ukraine • November 15, 2023
The West is reportedly disappointed with Kiev's failed counteroffensive and doubts its ability to score a victory against Russia...

British diplomats may soon start to put pressure on Ukraine to hold peace negotiations with Russia, Politico's UK editor has suggested, citing "chatter" in diplomatic circles. Wider media reports suggest that the West has grown concerned at Kiev's ability to score a battlefield victory.

Speaking on Monday on the latest episode of the Politics at Jack and Sam's podcast, Jack Blanchard noted that "Ukraine's big counteroffensive was not anything like the success people hoped, and that is raising big questions about Ukraine's ability to win this war in any meaningful military way."

In light of this, Blanchard claimed that there are rumors in British "diplomatic circles" about "putting pressure on Kiev to sit down and negotiate."

Comment: The time to quit was before war was declared: Families together, a deal on the table, Z wore a suit.


WaPo whitewashes the Ukraine debacle: 'Miscalculations, divisions marked offensive planning by U.S., Ukraine'

zelensky ukraine government u.s. government
© Washington Post Staff

Comment: The WaPo has put an enormous amount of resources into lipsticking this pig (2 parts!) and absolving the U.S., as best it could, of any blame. "It was all Ukraine's fault!"

A slog to be sure, but if you want to see a shining example of high-end weasel masquerading as historical record, go for it. If that thought is too exhausting, here's a tl:dr of Part 1, courtesy of Moon of Alabama:
Key elements that shaped the counteroffensive and the initial outcome include:
  • Ukrainian, U.S. and British military officers held eight major tabletop war games to build a campaign plan. But Washington miscalculated the extent to which Ukraine's forces could be transformed into a Western-style fighting force in a short period — especially without giving Kyiv air power integral to modern militaries.
  • U.S. and Ukrainian officials sharply disagreed at times over strategy, tactics and timing. The Pentagon wanted the assault to begin in mid-April to prevent Russia from continuing to strengthen its lines. The Ukrainians hesitated, insisting they weren't ready without additional weapons and training.
  • U.S. military officials were confident that a mechanized frontal attack on Russian lines was feasible with the troops and weapons that Ukraine had. The simulations concluded that Kyiv's forces, in the best case, could reach the Sea of Azov and cut off Russian troops in the south in 60 to 90 days.
  • The United States advocated a focused assault along that southern axis, but Ukraine's leadership believed its forces had to attack at three distinct points along the 600-mile front, southward toward both Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov and east toward the embattled city of Bakhmut.
  • The U.S. intelligence community had a more downbeat view than the U.S. military, assessing that the offensive had only a 50-50 chance of success given the stout, multilayered defenses Russia had built up over the winter and spring.
  • Many in Ukraine and the West underestimated Russia's ability to rebound from battlefield disasters and exploit its perennial strengths: manpower, mines and a willingness to sacrifice lives on a scale that few other countries can countenance.
  • As the expected launch of the offensive approached, Ukrainian military officials feared they would suffer catastrophic losses — while American officials believed the toll would ultimately be higher without a decisive assault.
His summary of Part 2 is further below.

On June 15, in a conference room at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, flanked by top U.S. commanders, sat around a table with his Ukrainian counterpart, who was joined by aides from Kyiv. The room was heavy with an air of frustration.

Austin, in his deliberate baritone, asked Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov about Ukraine's decision-making in the opening days of its long-awaited counteroffensive, pressing him on why his forces weren't using Western-supplied mine-clearing equipment to enable a larger, mechanized assault, or using smoke to conceal their advances. Despite Russia's thick defensive lines, Austin said, the Kremlin's troops weren't invincible. Reznikov, a bald, bespectacled lawyer, said Ukraine's military commanders were the ones making those decisions. But he noted that Ukraine's armored vehicles were being destroyed by Russian helicopters, drones and artillery with every attempt to advance. Without air support, he said, the only option was to use artillery to shell Russian lines, dismount from the targeted vehicles and proceed on foot.

"We can't maneuver because of the land-mine density and tank ambushes," Reznikov said, according to an official who was present.

Comment: Meanwhile, back in reality:
southfront ukraine map
© SouthfrontPress.org
Larger image


IMF head wants world wide carbon taxes

IMF Logo
© Off-Guardian
IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva has called for every government to implement some form of carbon taxes or "carbon pricing" in the near future.

Yes, we're into week two of the UN's COP28 climate change summit, and the hits just keep on coming.

For example, yesterday it was announced sixty-three world governments have pledged to reduce the emissions from air conditioners and electrics fans.

[You can read a detailed breakdown of the other pledges made during COP28's first week here. Now, back now to the carbon taxes...]

Speaking at COP28 in Dubai, and repeated in an interview with the Guardian, Georgieva extolled the virtues of "carbon pricing" and heaped praise on the EU and Canada for their implementation:
When you put a price on carbon, decarbonisation accelerates. The Europeans introduced the emission trading scheme [in 2005] and they have been growing and yet emissions went down by 37%. You see the same thing in Canada with their carbon tax."
While both the speech and interview discuss the proposed carbon taxes in terms of corporations as "major polluters", any tax applied to big business would be directly passed onto private citizens via price increases.


Putin makes rare trip to Middle East, UAE and Saudi leaders welcome 'dear friend'

putin saudi uae
© Reuters
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Abu Dhabi. The Russian leader has been bolstering his partnerships with Gulf nations as Moscow faces growing isolation by the West.
Escorted by four fighter jets, Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a rare one-day lightning tour to the Middle East during which he visited Saudi Arabia after a short trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Putin landed on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which is hosting the United Nations COP28 climate talks. He was escorted to the presidential palace, where he was greeted with a 21-gun salute and a flyby of UAE military jets trailing smoke in the colours of the Russian flag.

The Gulf nation's President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan called Putin his "dear friend".

Comment: See also: Xi and Belarus' Lukashenko meet for 2nd time this year to renew strategic ties, strengthen defence, security

As you can see in the footage below, Putin received quite the welcome: