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Fri, 25 May 2018
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Russia ready to toss dollar like a smelly sock in favor of Euro for foreign trade

Euro dollar
© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
Settlements in US currency could be dropped by Russia in favor of the euro if the EU takes a stand against the latest US sanctions on Moscow, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"As we see, restrictions imposed by the American partners are of an extraterritorial nature. The possibility of switching from the US dollar to the euro in settlements depends on Europe's stance toward Washington's position," said Siluanov, who is also Russia's first deputy prime minister.


Russia provides exhaustive evidence that Ukrainian BUK systems were used in downing MH17

© Sputnik / Andrey Stenin
Russia has provided exhaustive evidence pointing to the involvement of the Ukrainian BUK system crews in the destruction of the MH17 flight, Russian Defense Ministry said.

"The Russian Defense Ministry, both in the first hours after the tragedy, and in the future, officially denied the insinuations of the Ukrainian side about the alleged involvement of Russian servicemen in the skies of Ukraine and brought the relevant evidence to the Dutch investigation team. Not a single anti-aircraft missile system of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border," the Russian Defense Ministry report said.

Dutch investigators in the case of the Boeing crash did not take into account eyewitness testimonies regarding the launch of a missile from territory controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Russian Defense Ministry added.


Russian MoD shows video of sub launching barrage of 4 nuclear ICBMs

Launching a missile
© Russian Defense Ministry
The Russian Defense Ministry has released footage of a Borei-class submarine firing a barrage of four Bulava missiles - the first such test for this type of submarine. The test was conducted on Tuesday in the White Sea.

The video published on Wednesday shows some pre-launch activities on board the Yuriy Dolgorukiy, the lead of the project. Then the submarine is shown firing four Bulava missiles at a test range in Kamchatka in quick succession.

Previous tests of the weapon were conducted solo or in barrages of two on two occasions. Firing missiles in a barrage is more challenging for the crew and ship, but reduces the time the submarine stays close to the surface exposed to detection and possible attack.

Star of David

Israeli Security Cabinet annuls law allowing Netanyahu to declare war 'on his own'

© CC BY 2.0 / James Emery
Israel's government has reportedly moved to alter a law that would allow the prime minister to declare war without the backing of the majority of the cabinet.

The Israeli Security Cabinet has decided to annul a law that was approved by the parliament last month and which effectively grants the country's prime minister and defense minister the authority to declare war without the support of other ministers or legislators, Haaretz reports.

According to the newspaper, the original draft of the law, which is about to be "promoted anew" by the government, allows the cabinet to declare war or authorize any significant military action even if some of the cabinet's members are absent when the decision is being made.

Comment: See also: Israeli parliament allows Netanyahu to declare war with only defense minister's approval


Pentagon report: Arms industry not sustainable - problems in demography, material sourcing, innovation, lack of manufacturing diversity

military industry
© Jeff Martin/Staff
Production lines for military equipment might face challenges in the future, as the industrial base ages out.
Between globalization and nearly 20 years of constant warfare, the industrial part of the US military-industrial complex is not looking so good, putting future wars at risk, according to a new Pentagon report.

The Annual Industrial Capabilities report, published by the Pentagon's Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, warns that reliance on foreign-sourced materials combined with "twenty years of intermittent conflict," have put a strain on US manufacturers of weapons, parts and ammunition.

"While US national defense demands for materials are seldom unmet, there exist risks to their supply now and risks are anticipated in the foreseeable future," the report says, describing the two broad trends as the scarcity of materials used in new technologies and the US' growing reliance on foreign supply sources.

Both US economic security and national defense are at risk due to "high US import reliance on foreign countries who may become adversaries and cut off peacetime supply during future conflicts,"the report says.

One example is Dechlorane, a flame retardant used in insulation on all US missile systems. The sole source of the material is the Belgian company Occidental Chemical. Worse yet, the precursor to make Dechlorane used to come from China, but is no longer available, "so there is now no source for Dechlorane in the world."

Comment: And those aren't the only problems:
The greatest challenge that could harm domestic defense capabilities is the demographics of the workforce. Only 39 percent of the current workforce is under the age of 45. And while jobs in the aerospace and defense sectors are seen positively by the majority of young professionals, only 1.5 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. have a science degree.

Taken together, the challenge is obvious to the authors of the report: Aerospace and defense companies are "faced with a shortage of qualified workers to meet current demands as well as needing to integrate a younger workforce with the 'right skills, aptitude, experience, and interest to step into the jobs vacated by senior-level engineers and skilled technicians' as they exit the workforce."
According to the Pentagon, the biggest risk for the aerospace sector is its ability to "sustain the design and manufacturing skills and capabilities needed for future aircraft design and manufacture." Specifically, the authors of the report are concerned that "foreign dependency, single or sole sources, and financial viability continue presenting a risk for the aircraft" puts lower-tier suppliers at risk in the defense and aerospace sector.

For the ground vehicle sector, the Pentagon is concerned that a lack of innovation over the last decade has led to stagnation, and hence "any new combat vehicle design will face cost, schedule, and performance challenges." And notably, the authors warn that around the world, combat vehicles are slowly approaching parity with the U.S. at a time that "the lack of new development programs for tracked systems is challenging the U.S. ability to innovate in this subsector."

Stock Up

"Those people": Michael Bloomberg on why raising taxes for the poor is a good thing

Michael Bloomberg
© REUTERS/ Stephane Mahe
Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg: "The question is do you want to pander to those people?"

Bloomberg: "Taxes or life? Which do you want to do? Take your poison."

Nanny-state-imposing left-wing billionaire Michael Bloomberg is now on video admitting how much he likes to raise taxes on poor people, calling such tax hikes a "good thing." For years, Bloomberg has personally funded and promoted all sorts of regressive taxes and regulations in an attempt to push people around. He uses the coercive power of the government to force people to live their lives as he sees fit.


Elon Musk sets up 'Pravda' - organization for public to rate credibility of mainstream journalists and publications

Tesla CEO Elon Musk bankruptcy joke
© Joe Skipper / Reuters
The company’s shares dropped over 7 percent on Monday to $245 per share.
Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk appears to have declared war on the media, tweeting that he was launching a site that would let the public rate the credibility of journalists, editors and publications - which he will call "Pravda."

Annoyed by the recent media coverage of him and his companies, Musk fired off a series of tweets on Wednesday, culminating with the proposal for the new site. The public would be able to rate the "core truth of any article" and track the "credibility score over time" for each reporter, editor and publication, he said.

Pravda, the word for "truth" in most Slavic languages, was also the name of the official newspaper of the Russian (later Soviet) Communist Party for much of the 20th century.

In a follow-up tweet, Musk explained the reasoning behind creating such a site. Even if the public doesn't care, he said, "the journalists, editors & publications will. It is how they define themselves."

Comment: This has the potential to be amazing. But of course, the public who give bad ratings to many mainstream sources will be denounced by the media as Russian bots. So it goes.

War Whore

The FBI's "sensitive matter team"

James Comey

James Comey, former FBI Director
Newly-examined emails among high-ranking U.S. intel officials at the time-including then-Director James Comey and his chief of staff James Rybicki -- reference a "sensitive matter team."

Based on the context of the emails, the "sensitive matter" appears to be the Trump-Russia narrative, and political opposition research funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The research -- known as the "Steele dossier" -- was peddled to the press and secretly used, in part, to justify controversial FBI wiretaps against at least one Trump associate.

The emails were first obtained by the Justice Department Inspector General and recently turned over to the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray Monday asking for the identity of all members of the "sensitive matter team."

Comment: A few summations to fill in the gaps.


North Korea has dismantled its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, all infrastructure destroyed at the site

North Korea nuclear test site
© Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters
A man walks past a TV broadcasting a news report on the upcoming dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, in Seoul, South Korea, May 23, 2018.
North Korea has dismantled its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, according to RT's Igor Zhdanov, who is part of a journalist pool that witnessed the event.

According to Zhdanov, the journalists were shown three of four tunnels used for nuclear tests at the site. One of them, the northern tunnel, had been used extensively for recent nuclear testing, he said.

The North Koreans explained that the two other tunnels were new and would have likely been used for tests in the near future. Demolishing the tunnels, Zhdanov said, "was a real way of showing how they are ready to make real concessions."

He said the explosions used to destroy the tunnels were "impressive," describing them as "small eruptions of earth and rock." All infrastructure at the site - including barracks and security checkpoints - were destroyed by the blasts, Zhdanov reports.


As evidence continues to pile up, mainstream media ignores the 'other' Trump-Russia scandal

obama wiretap, obama spying
Scandalous Media Bias: There have been two major ongoing investigations involving President Trump. One is looking into whether Trump colluded with Russia. It's borne no fruit. The other involves abuse of power at the highest levels of government to hurt Trump and is producing damning evidence by the bushel. Guess which one the press is ignoring?

National Review reporter John Fund relates an interesting story. He was waiting to go on the air and struck up a conversation with another prominent reporter in the network's green room.

Why, he asked, aren't reporters actively investigating the suspicious activities at the Justice Department and the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia and Hillary/email investigations?

Fund says the reporter "bluntly told me 'There's only room for one narrative on all this. And it's all about Trump.' "