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Tue, 17 May 2022
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McDonald's to sell entire portfolio of Russian business

mcdonalds restaurant russia
© Getty Images
A U.S.-based McDonald's restaurant is shown closed due to the military invasion of Ukraine, April 14, 2022 in Belaya Dacha, outside of Moscow, Russia.
McDonald's already paused operations in Russian market in March

McDonald's announced Monday it would sell its Russian business after more than 30 years of operations in the country as the war continues in Ukraine. The announcement comes after McDonald's said in early March that it temporarily closed restaurants in Russia and paused operations in the market.

"The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values," McDonald's said in a statement.

Comment: Russia will hardly miss the "food" McDonald's purveys. There are calls to instate local management and exclusive use of Russian suppliers.

Some wonder if it's an ominous sign:

Arrow Up

If you think gas prices are bad, diesel is in its worst crisis since the 1970s and has even raised fears of localized rationing

gas lines
© Bob Riha Jr / Getty Images
Vehicles line up for gasoline at service station during gas shortages, May 3, 1979 in Long Beach, California.
While Americans are reeling from sticker shock at the gas pump, the diesel market is in its worst crisis since the 1970s, analysts say.

The commodity fuels much of the economy, including big-rig trucks, farm equipment and industrial machinery. Prices hit a record $5.56 per gallon in the US, up 76.5% from a year ago.

"The markets are telling us there's a shortage," Jim Mitchell, Refinitiv's head of Americas oil analysts, told Insider. "This is a tailwind for inflation. We're demanding more diesel than anyone can supply."

In fact, supplies have been dwindling. Nationwide, inventories for the most commonly used diesel have dropped 43% since 2020 to the lowest since 2014. In the Central Atlantic region, inventories have crashed 78% from 2020 to the lowest in a decade. Other categories of diesel are seeing steeper drops.

Comment: The diesel fuel shortage is so bad that geopolitical analyst F. William Engdahl saw fit to explain why its occurring:

NATO sanctions and the coming global diesel fuel disaster


Terror attack foiled near Ukrainian border - Transnistria

A weaponized drone downed near the village of Mayak.
© PMR Interior Ministry
A weaponized drone downed near the village of Mayak.
An armed drone has been intercepted near a telecom center in a breakaway region of Moldova.

A weaponized cargo drone was intercepted overnight near a large telecom center located in the village of Mayak, the Interior Ministry of the self-proclaimed republic of Transnistria said on Tuesday.

The intercepted drone appeared to be a home-made contraption, jury-rigged from different parts, the ministry said.
"The drone with a diameter of one and a half meters was assembled from various components. The equipment was so powerful it could move loads of up to 20 kilograms to a distance of some 30 kilometers from the operator who controlled it," it added.
The drone carried a canister containing "unknown brown liquid" and a small barrel containing two kilograms of plastic explosives with radio detonators attached. Imagery released by the Transnistrian authorities suggest the drone was also fitted with a payload release system to drop its deadly cargo.

Comment: See also:


Tops Market shooting suspect in custody - 10 dead, 3 more wounded

A graphic video has emerged showing a possible suspect in the Tops Market shooting in Buffalo, New York. You can see it via a link below, but be aware that it's very disturbing because it shows what appear to be bodies lying on the ground outside.

A racist and anti-Semitic manifesto and a Twitch livestream were attributed online to the gunman, but authorities have not verified those accounts. NBC New York reported that the gunman carried "a rifle and wore military-style gear or a type of body armor." Buffalo Police confirmed at a press conference the suspect was live-streaming video. The suspect has been identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, about three hours east of Buffalo.

Comment: Video of the livestream is making the rounds on Telegram. In one 55-second clip, Gendron exits his car and appears to shoot at least 11 people within 48 seconds.

According to the Buffalo News, 10 people were murdered by the suspect, and three others wounded, two critically. Police said three others were wounded. Of the 10 who were killed, four were employees of the store and the others were customers.

"It's like walking onto a horror movie, but everything is real. It is Armageddon-like," a police source told the newspaper. "It is so overwhelming."

The manifesto contains a Q and A, including the question, "Why did you target those people?" The answer: "They are an obvious, visible, and large group of replacers. From a culture with higher fertility rates and strong, robust traditions that seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people. It would have eased me if I knew all the blacks I would be killing were criminals or future criminals, but then I realized all black people are replacers just by existing in White countries."

Heavy is not embedding the video because it is so graphic. The graphic video, which you can see at the previous link if you want, showed a possible suspect being taken into custody by law enforcement officers. There were unconfirmed reports he was dressed in military gear. The suspect is not identified. The motive is not clear, nor is the number of victims.

Comment: Axios reports:
The FBI is investigating the mass shooting that left 10 people dead in a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, as a hate crime and a case of "racially motivated violent extremism," said Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI Buffalo field office.

Driving the news: Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the attack a "straight-up racially motivated hate crime" after the alleged shooter, an 18-year-old white man, drove from "hours away" in tactical gear and opened fire in the store in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo on Saturday afternoon.
  • Trini Ross, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York, also said the shooting would be investigated as a hate crime.
The suspect was identified in court as Payton Gendron from Conklin, New York, per the Erie County district attorney's office. He pleaded not guilty to murder in the first degree. Buffalo is a more than 200-mile drive from Conklin and police said he'd traveled "many hours" to conduct the attack.
  • Law enforcement confirmed the suspect was livestreaming the shooting.
  • 13 people in total were shot, 3 of whom are expected to survive. Eleven of the 13 people were Black, police said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told NBC on Sunday that the suspect "drove here with the express purpose of taking Black lives."
  • Tops operations manager Shonnell Harris told the Buffalo News that the shooter was a white man wearing camouflage. "He looked like he was in the Army," Harris said.
  • Police said a security guard fired at the shooter as he entered the store but due to the shooter's body armor, the bullet was not able to stop him. The security guard, described by police as "beloved," was later killed.
  • Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told ABC on Sunday that the suspect was in Buffalo a day before the shooting to "scope out the area, to do a little reconnaissance work on the area before he carried out his evil, sickening act."
The latest: Mayor Brown on Sunday called on the federal government to pass "sensible" gun control laws and to end hate speech on the internet.
The first page of his manifesto includes the Nazi Black Sun (also used by Azov Battalion in Ukraine).

Like Brenton Tarrant's, the manifesto is part far-right conspiracy thinking, part 4chan trolling:

Meanwhile, this should be kept in mind:

Bizarro Earth

Transgender medication law in Alabama blocked by judge

Kay Ivey
© Jake Crandall/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP, File
FILE - Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey holds a sit down interview with reporters in the Governor's office at the Alabama State Capitol Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. A federal judge on Friday, May 13, 2022 blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors. U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a lawsuit goes forward.
A federal judge on Friday blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke issued a preliminary injunction to stop the state from enforcing the medication ban, which took effect May 8, while a lawsuit goes forward. The ruling was a victory for families and advocacy groups who challenged the first-of-its-kind law as an illegal intrusion into family and medical decisions. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey referred to the ruling as a "temporary legal roadblock." Alabama's state attorney general indicated he will appeal.

"This ruling means that parents of transgender children in Alabama will continue to be able to make the healthcare decisions that are best for their families. It is an extraordinary relief. Parents should not be punished for wanting to do what's best for their kids," said Jennifer Levi, director of the transgender rights project for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders

Arrow Up

Three of China's top universities quit international rankings to focus on 'educational autonomy'

Renmin University of China

Renmin University of China
After years of receiving extra government funding to push selected top universities up international university rankings, three major Chinese universities will no longer participate in overseas rankings - a move which academics say could make the rankings landscape less globally representative as Chinese universities pursue a different path.

The three prestigious universities, Renmin University of China, Nanjing University and Lanzhou University have withdrawn from "all international university rankings" according to Chinese official media this week, with official sources pointing to a focus on "educational autonomy" and "education with Chinese characteristics".

Renmin University, one of China's top 10 universities, was the first to announce it would not participate in overseas rankings, as reported by China National Radio (CNR) and China Daily earlier this week.

"The university's administrators have reached a consensus and made the decision to withdraw the university from overseas rankings, which conforms with the overall direction of China's education development and will become a trend," the CNR report said, pointing to the likelihood of further Chinese university withdrawals ahead.

Comment: Notably this isn't the only shake up China has made to its education system, including this announcement made last year:
a 1) reduction in the total amount of time and energy required by homework, and 2) a reduction in the strain of off-campus tutoring and other learning activities.

Comment: For an expose on the current state of the West's 'knowledge system', check out SOTT radio's: MindMatters: Follow the Science? A Peek Behind the Curtain of Institutional Science


Germany alarmed at number of pro-Hitler security personnel

© Sean Gallup/Getty Images
'Heil Hitler'
A German government investigation has revealed that more than 300 members of the country's security agencies have links to "right-wing" extremism, including officers who were found to have joined in "Heil Hitler" chants and Nazi salutes.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement on Friday:
"We will not allow our democratic constitutional state to be sabotaged from within by right-wing extremists. Every case of extremism must have clear consequences."
She added that Berlin will exhaust all current legal options to deal with extremists in the country's security ranks, and she will propose legislation to help "remove enemies of the constitution from the public service more quickly."

The probe examined 860 suspected cases of extremist behavior dating as far back as July 2018 and revealed "concrete evidence" against 327 employees of security services at federal and state levels. Germany's military intelligence service (MAD) was most rife with offenders, with 83 employees found to have been involved in activities "against the free democratic basic order," the report said. The federal police ranked second, with 18 such employees.

Comment: Right-wing extremism has been 'established and encouraged' in Ukraine. The West, due to its own motives and actions, shall inherit the consequences.

Arrow Up

European gas prices forecast to triple

© BigNewsNetwork.com
The long cold winter
A "perfect winter storm" may be forming in Europe, as the continent seeks to limit Russian gas flows, analysts at Rystad Energy said in a press release this week. They added there might be not enough LNG to replace Russian gas during the freezing weather. The price of gas in the EU was projected to soar to $3,500 per 1,000 cubic meters.

According to the report, last year Russia sent 155 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to the continent, providing more than 31% of its gas supply.
"Replacing a significant portion of this will be exceedingly difficult, with far-reaching consequences for Europe's population, economy, and for the role of gas in the region's energy transition."
By shunning Russian gas, Europe has destabilized the entire global LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) market, which began the year with a precarious balance after a tumultuous 2021, Rystad explained. The decision to sharply reduce reliance on Russian gas and LNG from current levels of between 30-40% will transform the global LNG market, it added.

Comment: The West shows how little people matter compared to punishing Russia.

Bizarro Earth

Russia to halt electricity exports to Finland over failure to pay & without giving reason - UPDATE

Gas pipe gasoducto
© Sputnik
Russian state-owned utility Inter RAO (IRAO.MM) will stop exporting electricity to Finland from Saturday because it has not been paid, the company's Finnish subsidiary said on Friday.

Inter RAO has not received payments for electricity sold via pan-European power exchange Nord Pool since May 6, the subsidiary said, without giving any reason.

"This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over twenty years of our trading history," RAO Nordic, said in a statement.

Power imports to Finland will be halted from 1 a.m. local time on Saturday (2200 GMT on Friday) "for the time being," Finnish grid operator Fingrid said in a separate statement, citing RAO Nordic.

Comment: So, rather than openly admit that it was going to refuse to pay for the electricity it uses in rubles, as per the new contract, and which it knew about weeks in advance, Finland simply stopped payments without notifying Russia: UPDATE 14/05/2022: Russia doesn't bluff:
Electricity supplies from Russia to Finland were halted on Saturday, RAO Nordic said in a statement, explaining that it had received no payment for power provided to the country in May.

"Unfortunately, we are forced to note that for the volumes which have been sold on the Nord Pool exchange since May 6, funds have not yet been credited to our bank account," said the company, which is a subsidiary of Russian state energy corporate Inter RAO.

The firm expressed hope that the situation would be resolved and trade could resume. RAO Nordic had reportedly been trading on the Nord Pool exchange for more than two decades.

"We hope that the situation will improve soon and the electricity trade with Russia can resume," the corporation said.

On Friday, Finland's transmission system operator Fingrid said there was no threat to electricity supply in the country as a result of the move. The grid company added that electricity imported from Russia accounted for around 10% of the nation's total consumption.

"The lack of electricity imports from Russia will be compensated for by importing more electricity from Sweden and by generating more electricity in Finland," said Reima Paivinen, Fingrid's senior vice president of power system operations.

In April, it announced plans to reduce electricity imports from Russia in cross-border connections, saying it would import more from Sweden instead. At the same time, analysts say that cutting electricity purchases from Russia would increase Finnish power prices by 30%.

The country's media also reported that Russia could stop providing Finland with natural gas on Friday over the nation's bid to join NATO. Russia has not confirmed the reports.
That 10% shortfall from Russia seems to be having an out-sized effect on Finnish power rates. Some good old-fashioned price gouging going on? Yay capitalism!


India halts wheat exports as "food security at risk"

india food export
India prohibited wheat exports effective immediately, saying the nation's food security was under threat, partly due to heatwaves that damaged yields in the country and disruptions to global grain markets in the Black Sea breadbasket region.

The notice was published in the government gazette by the Directorate of Foreign Trade on Friday. It read, "there is a sudden spike in the global food prices of wheat arising out of many factors, as a result of which the food security of India, neighboring and other vulnerable countries is at risk."

India said it was still committed to exporting wheat to "neighboring and other vulnerable developing countries which are adversely affected by the sudden changes in the global market for wheat and are unable to access adequate wheat supplies."

The move by the world's second-largest wheat producer comes as food protectionism runs rampant worldwide as countries limit or restrict exports of food staples to rein in domestic prices.