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Italian PM Salvini says EU deficit reduction rules limit infrastructure spending which risks lives

Matteo Salvini
© Tony Gentile / Reuters
Matteo Salvini
Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has laid the blame for the Genoa bridge collapse on the European Union, saying that spending restrictions has limited the country's investment in its infrastructure.

Salvini, the leader of the eurosceptic Northern League, told reporters in Sicily that the fall of the 100-meter-long stretch of the A10 motorway in the port city on Tuesday showed that budgetary strictures imposed by the EU are putting lives of Italians at risk.

"If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules," said Salvini, according to Reuters. "There can be no tradeoff between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians."

At least 35 people are reported to have died in the incident. The bridge, known as the Ponte Morandi, was built in the late 1960s and has undergone various redevelopment works over the years. The director of motorway operator Autostrade said the collapse of the bridge was impossible to predict, but its design has come in for criticism in the past.

Comment: It is true, EU budgetary restrictions do mean there is less money available for Italy to spend it where it is needed. But while there are a great many disasters due to EU membership, Salvini would probably be taking the idea a little too far by conflating it with the bridge collapse.

See also:


X

What happens when powerful people get scared? Censorship

hand over mouth
© The Washington Post
"Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer." - Bangambiki Habyarimana

Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign. It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company's gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.

Let's not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we're aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

Comment: Galvanizing the public to support lies and deception guarantees a diminishing threshold of investigation and reflective thinking as mass perception snowballs. Truth becomes the lie as lies replace the truth. Censorship is merely a barrier to support the process. Perhaps the next question should be: What happens when the public awakens and gets scared?


Take 2

Rand Paul interview: Russia promised not to mess with 2018 election

Rand Paul
© newsmax.com/KJN
US Senator (R-KY) Rand Paul
The Gateway Pundit spoke to Senator Rand Paul regarding his trip to Russia last week, how media hysteria impacted it, their promise to stay out of the midterms, and why it is so important that we keep communications open with another nuclear power.

Rand Paul's trip has caused uproar by hawkish partisans on both sides of the aisle who have decided that war would be better than diplomacy - but Senator Paul explained on Tuesday that the trip was a great success.
"I think it was a huge success. Our first day there we met with the Federation, which is the upper house of the Russian Parliament, and they agreed to continue our conversation by coming to Washington in November," Senator Paul told TGP. "So, we believe that we will have members of the Federation and the Duma Foreign Relations Committee come continue dialogue."
The only hitch in the visit, which would have huge potential for working towards peace, is that sanctions currently prevent several members of both committees from entering the United States. Senator Paul explained that this is something he hopes to try and remedy.
"One of the things we talked about was whether or not we could try to get to where our sanctions don't prevent their members from coming to the United States," he said. "Both the chairman of the Federation and Duma Foreign Relations Committees are banned from coming to the US."

Comment: Common sense might save the day, though common sense in Washington is hard to come by - even more so a really good and effective diversion such as Russiaphobia.


Propaganda

Media Manipulation is Conditioning us With False Narratives

Pinochios
© People's Daily Online
One of the weirdest things about the post-Iraq invasion world is how the mass media has actually gotten less accountable instead of more accountable for its reporting since that time.

Right now in the UK there's an amazingly viral smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn running across all mainstream outlets, which, from what I can tell, consists entirely of narrative spin and no actual evidence. The powerful elites who control British mass media have an obvious vested interest in keeping the UK government from moving to the left, so they advance the absolutely insane narrative that Corbyn is a secret Nazi. They just keep saying it and saying it like it's true until people start believing it without feeling any pressure at all to substantiate their narrative with facts. It's been jaw-dropping to watch.


More and more we are seeing narratives about cyber-threats being used to advance reports of "attacks" and "acts of war" being perpetrated which, as far as the public is concerned, consist of nothing other than the authoritative assertions of confident-sounding media pundits. There was a recent NBC exclusive which was co-authored by Ken Dilanian, who is an actual, literal CIA asset, about the threat of hackers working for the Iranian government. The alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections is now routinely compared to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, despite no hard, verifiable evidence that that interference even took place ever being presented to the public.

Snakes in Suits

Beijing, fuming at new US defense bill, warns of interfering in its internal affairs

Trump, Troops NDAA
© WSAU.com
President Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act • Soldiers from US Army's 10th
The new the US $716-billion defense bill foreseeing stronger military support for Taiwan and closer scrutiny of Chinese companies, is a manifestation of "Cold War mentality" that will damage bilateral ties, Beijing warned.

China said it was "strongly dissatisfied" with the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA for 2019 recently signed by Donald Trump.

The Chinese Defense Ministry blamed the Americans of being stuck with "Cold War mentality" and exaggerating the level of differences between China and US.

Beijing is "firmly opposed" to the NDAA, which "interferes in China's internal affairs, violates the One-China principle and... damages China-US mutual trust and cooperation," the statement read.

Comment: China has not cemented Taiwan to its control in that a defiant Taipei does not refute US flirtations and weapons sales. The US is itching to increase animosity between Taiwan and China - a political conflict that could create a foothold in Asia.


Footprints

NY Times: Sessions sends home a 'record' number of asylum-seekers

Jeff Sessions
© Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
The June asylum reform set by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is quietly having a huge impact on border migration, lawyers told the New York Times.

"I haven't met a single person in the last few weeks who passed their credible-fear interview," according to Allegra Love, executive director of an immigration law firm in New Mexico, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project. "We have never seen such a high volume of denials," she told the New York Times.

President Barack Obama allowed migrants through the border whenever they claimed to a "credible fear" of abusive spouses and criminal gangs. This catch-and-release policy triggered a wave of Central American migration into the United States.

Sessions' reform has ended Obama's spouses-and-gangs loophole and has sharply reduced the number of Central American migrants who are allowed through the border to make a courtroom plea for asylum.

Comment: Individual circumstance and collective volume - two aspects that may require guidelines for regulatory balance. Sessions is tightening a regulatory loophole. Is he right in doing so?

The San Diego Union-Tribune:
Having people waiting in the system who are not eligible for asylum "undermines those with legitimate claims," Bars* said. The new [Sessions] memo applies to both asylum seekers asking for help when they reach the U.S. and refugees waiting abroad to be resettled.

*Michael Bars, spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that employs asylum officers.



Briefcase

Manafort Trial: US prosecutors rest their case

Paul Manafort
© Matt Rourke/AP
Paul Manafort
U.S. prosecutors have rested their case against President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, after 10 days of testimony alleging how he hid millions he earned for political consulting work in Ukraine to escape taxes.

Manafort's defense team is set to decide on August 14 if it will call any witnesses. Judge T.S. Ellis said he will ask Manafort whether he wants to take the stand in his own defense, something that legal experts say is highly unlikely.

Manafort is being tried on 18 counts of tax and bank fraud. If found guilty on all charges, he may face eight to 10 years in prison.

The government says Manafort hid at least $16 million in income from U.S. tax authorities between 2010 and 2014 by disguising money he earned advising politicians in Ukraine as loans and hiding it in foreign banks.

The trial is the first courtroom test for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted Manafort in October 2017 as part of his probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Comment: See also:


Dollar

Qatar makes a $15B pledge of direct investments in Turkey

Erdogan,al-Thani
© Reuters
Emir of Qatar al-Thani • Turkish President Erdogan
Qatar has pledged $15 billion of direct investment in Turkey's financial markets and banks. The news comes in a statement released on Turkey's President's website following his meeting with Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

"The Turkish President and Emir of Qatar met today [Wednesday] in the presidential complex in Ankara. They have exchanged views on bilateral relations and regional issues, Al-Thani said that Qatar intends to directly invest $15 billion in Turkey," said a press release after the meeting.

The Turkish lira firmed to 5.8699, from 6.04 to the US dollar after the news. The record low level of 7.2 against the greenback happened on Monday.

The Turkish officials did not provide any further information on the nature of the investments, according to AP. Erdogan's office said the pledge was made by Qatar's head, Al Thani.

The investment will be channeled into Turkish financial markets and banks, a government source told Reuters.

Comment: An interesting development given the Qatar-Saudi rift.


Attention

Remember that time Omarosa was fired from the Clinton White House?

Omarosa Manigault Newman
© Fox News
Omarosa Manigault Newman
Omarosa Manigault Newman is no stranger to failing in The White House. She became well known by television viewers of NBC's hit show The Apprentice with Donald Trump.

Now, after being let go for personal issues, she's using that closeness to President Trump to make millions by calling her former boss a racist and a liar. She made the situation worse by illegally recording herself in secure parts of the White House.

But this isn't Omarosa's first series of White House problems. She worked in the Clinton Administration under Vice President Al Gore. As Al Gore's former office administrator Mary Margaret Overbey said at the time, Omarosa "was the worst hire (the Office of the Vice President) ever made."

People magazine reported in 2004, she was "banished from four jobs in two years with the Clinton administration." The White House personnel office transferred her to the Commerce Department briefly. At her last short-lived administration role, Cheryl Shavers, the former Under Secretary for Technology at the Clinton Commerce Department, opined, "She was asked to leave as quickly as possible, she was so disruptive. One woman wanted to slug her." Omarosa only lasted in that final role for several weeks.

Comment: When you hire a disaster...you should expect no less.
See also:


Bullseye

Russian and Chinese firms targeted over N. Korea sanctions breaches

NK ship
© Reuters
The United States has imposed fresh sanctions on one individual and three entities, including Russia and China-based companies, over breaches related to North Korea sanctions.

The US Treasury said the new sanctions applied to the Russia-based Profinet Pte Ltd and its director general, the China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading Co. and the Singapore based SINSMS Pte Ltd.

In a statement on its website, the Treasury said the sanctions targeted "persons involved in facilitating illicit shipments on behalf of North Korea" and said the move was part of the US commitment to "prevent financial flows" to North Korea's "unlawful WMD programs and activities" in accordance with UN Security Council decisions.

The statement said that the tactics the entities in question had used to "evade sanctions" were prohibited under US law and that "all facets of the shipping industry have a responsibility to abide by them" or expose themselves to serious risks. "Consequences for violating these sanctions will remain in place until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," it said.

Comment: Sanctions are the new guns, able to target the private economic sector that supplies the military might of other countries.