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Sun, 05 Feb 2023
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US shoots down alleged Chinese spy balloon

chinese spy balloon
© Twitter / Brad Panovich / Travis Huffstetler
The balloon, which the United States has claimed is a Chinese surveillance balloon, first became public knowledge on Thursday, though Bloomberg reported earlier on Saturday that the Biden administration has known about the craft since January 28.

The US Military shot down the Chinese balloon that has been flying over the United States over the past few days on Saturday afternoon. Witness video of the balloon's destruction was first posted on social media and live streamed by national media. The balloon was reportedly shot down off the East Coast of North Carolina.

The Chinese government says the balloon is a civilian vessel designed to monitor weather patterns that had blown off course. The balloon was reportedly flying at about 66,000 feet.

Comment: See also: The Chinese 'spy balloon' story as manufactured crisis: An alternative reading


In Douma cover-up, OPCW's new smoking gun backfires

In a new phase of a multi-year cover-up, the OPCW has accused Syria of a chemical attack in Douma. But to make the case, the OPCW breaks its own rules and offers an argument that its own findings undermine.

Douma Syria gas attack
In the latest chapter of an international cover-up scandal, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has directly accused Syria of committing a deadly chemical attack in the town of Douma. A new report from the chemical watchdog's Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) alleges that Syrian forces dropped two chlorine gas cylinders and killed 43 civilians on April 7, 2018.

The report received an immediate and unequivocal endorsement from the US Department of State, the British Foreign Office and French Foreign Ministry - the diplomatic branches of the countries that rushed to bomb Syria in response to the events in Douma.

The IIT's conclusion follows years of refusal by OPCW leaders to account for the suppression of the Douma probe's initial findings.

The OPCW's first report, finalized in June 2018 by a separate Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), raised doubts that a chemical attack occurred in Douma. It also left open the possibility that the incident was staged, presumably by insurgents who controlled the area at the time. Leaked documents reveal that this original report was doctored, and, along with other critical material, concealed from public view. The following month, a delegation of US officials lobbied the FFM team to conclude that chlorine gas was used as a weapon in Douma and that the Syrian government was responsible. A follow-up report, released in March 2019, omitted the original's key findings and endorsed the US-led narrative of a chlorine attack.

Comment: See also:


They're not worried about "Russian influence", they're worried about dissent

Hamilton 68
Being labeled a Russian propagandist all day every day for criticizing US foreign policy is really weird, but one advantage it comes with is a useful perspective on what people have really been talking about all these years when they warn of the dangers of "Russian propaganda".

I know I'm not a Russian propagandist. I'm not paid by Russia, I have no connections to Russia, and until I started this political commentary gig in 2016 I thought very little about Russia. My opinions about the western empire sometimes turn up on Russian media because I let anyone use my work who wants to, but that was always something they did on their own without my submitting it to them and without any payment or solicitation of any kind. I'm literally just some random westerner sharing political opinions on the internet; those opinions just happen to disagree with the US empire and its stories about itself and its behavior.

Yet for years I've watched people pointing at me as an example of what "Russian propaganda" looks like. This has helped inform my understanding of all the panic about "Russian influence" that's been circulating these last six years, and given me some insight into how seriously it should be taken.

Eye 1

The Chinese 'spy balloon' story as manufactured crisis: An alternative reading

Chinese balloon
© The Billings Gazette/AP
Previous constant headlines of the Ukraine-Russia war were put on pause Friday into Saturday as the American public's attention and discourse got temporarily consumed by the bizarre Chinese 'spy balloon' saga, which grew more dramatic by the hour until it was shot down by the Pentagon over the Atlantic Ocean.

But few are currently asking the necessary deeper questions related to the timing. Given the last major balloon crisis to take over 24/7 network news coverage ended up being a complete hoax (remember the "balloon boy" stunt of 2009 which had the world breathless and on edge for a full news cycle?), the current context to the Chinese balloon story and the question of cui bono is worth a deeper dive...

Entrepreneur and geopolitical commentator Arnaud Bertrand, who as a Westerner has spent many years living in China and frequently attempts to correct the often misleading analysis of mainstream press reports, offers an 'alternative view' of what's fast unfolding below [emphasis ZH's)...

Cardboard Box

Europe's food prices set to soar up to 50% higher due to energy crisis

grocery supermarket europe
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not only affected European security. It has also severely impacted the cost of living.

Comment: Europe sanctioned Russia, not the other way around, and so this rise in costs is solely the fault of Europe's pathocrats.

In Europe, prices for food and drink rose more in 2022 than ever before, with customers paying 10-15% more for products than the previous year. Inflation is set to continue through 2023.

Banana storage costs are now five times higher

Bananas, Luxembourg's favourite fruit, are set to become more expensive due to energy costs. The fruit is often kept in cold storage to ripen before it is placed in stores, which is becoming ever more expensive. Christophe Vandenbroeck, director of a cold storage site, explained that pallets of the fruit arrive in Anvers from Costa Rica and are kept in storage for 5-6 days before being shipped to supermarkets.

Comment: It should come as no surprise that a wave of strike action and protests attended by millions of people has erupted across Europe: France rocked by protests as 2 MILLION march against government reforms in 2nd wave of mass strikes to hit this month

Stock Down

EU to face diesel shortage & fuel price hike due to anti-Russia sanctions, warns Hungary's Energy Ministry

diesel truck tanker
© AP/Michael Probst
Diesel and other fuel is delivered to a gas station in Frankfurt, Germany, Friday, Jan 27, 2023
The Hungarian Energy Ministry said on Saturday that Europe may face an increase in diesel prices in light of the upcoming ban on Russian oil commodities that is expected to come into force on February 5.

Russia used to account for half of the EU's energy needs. Therefore, a bloc-wide ban will most likely trigger a fuel shortage across the continent.

On Friday, the G7 and Australia announced that they have agreed to implement a price cap on Russian fuel shortly after the EU issued a similar announcement.

Comment: Most of the trucks that carry Europe's freight are powered by diesel-powered, which means that the already fragile supply chain, that is also suffering due to strike action, will take yet another hit and could cause shortages of a great many other items: Strikes disrupt shipments at several oil refinery sites in France

Car Black

Jury sides with Elon Musk over 2018 tweets claiming he would take Tesla private

Musk +
© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Elon Musk
Elon Musk and Tesla have been cleared of wrongdoing in a lawsuit over a pair of tweets from the executive that investors say cost them billions of dollars.

After less than two hours of deliberation wrapping up a three-week trial, a jury in San Francisco ruled on Friday that the Tesla CEO had not deceived investors with two tweets posted in August 2018 about a Tesla buyout that never happened.

Musk had tweeted that he planned to take the electric carmaker private at $420 a share, and had "funding secured" to do so. The posts triggered stocks to surge over a 10-day period before falling back after Musk abandoned the deal, investors argued.

The decision marks an important victory for Musk, who is embroiled in several lawsuits and has aggressively fought any charges that he was guilty. The executive, who now is the CEO of Twitter after purchasing the company months ago for $44bn, has repeatedly defended his ability to tweet broadly.

The case was seen as a test of whether or not Musk could be held liable for his freewheeling use of Twitter. The billionaire testified on multiple days of the trial, arguing that his tweets were a democratic way to communicate and did not always affect Tesla stock the way he expected. "Just because I tweet something does not mean people believe it or will act accordingly," he told the jury.

Arrow Down

Twitter shutting down free access to its public data

© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, CA
Starting next week, Twitter users will have to pay to access the company's public data.

Early Thursday, Twitter's official developer account tweeted that starting Feb. 9, customers must pay a fee to access what is known as Twitter API. The tweet read:
"Twitter data are among the world's most powerful data sets. We're committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us."
Twitter's Application Programming Interface has been used by third-party developers for years to create helpful bots and applications. Apps like Thread Reader, which condenses long tweet threads into easily digestible paragraphs, and Pikaso, which takes screenshots of tweets, are popular examples of apps created with Twitter's API.

Many of the most popular apps created with free Twitter API are not-for-profit and mostly simple novelty apps. Many of them will likely shut down or start their own subscription service to pay for access to Twitter API.

Comment: Musk is cleaning house. It is his commitment to make Twitter solvent then profitable.


UK's 'Nudge Unit' recommends various online psychological manipulations when people shop and travel to push a "net zero society"

facial recognition
Behavioral manipulation.

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) - started by the UK government to then in late 2021 become owned by Nesta, which describes itself as an independent charity focused on innovation - has a new report out.

And while its authors present it as a useful "guide" toward building "a net zero society," what observers critical of this content have taken away from it is that it is promoting, and detailing, various forms of psychological manipulation of people.

Comment: It's not so shocking when you realize they've been doing this all along via advertisements, popular culture media and mainstream news.

See also:

Black Magic

Satanic Temple opens abortion clinic where patients undergo 'religious ritual' before pregnancy termination

satan statue satanic temple
The Satanic Temple has created a telehealth abortion clinic in New Mexico called "Samuel Alito's Mom's Satanic Abortion Clinic" that will provide abortion inducing drugs to anyone who completes their Satanic religious ritual, a health screening, and a virtual appointment.

According to the clinic's website, "Samuel Alito's Mom's Satanic Abortion Clinic is an online clinic that provides religious medication abortion care. The clinic provides abortion medication via mail to those in New Mexico who wish to perform The Satanic Temple's Religious Abortion Ritual.'

The first step for a person to get an abortion through the Satanic Temple is to speak aloud the "religious ritual."

Comment: See also: