‘Its Q I GDP plunged 17.6% year-over-year. It’s down 6.1% from Q IV 2014. Ten of the last 11 quarters saw economic contraction. Kiev depends on outside aid to keep operating.
Inflation is out-of-control. The Financial Times reported it reaching 61% in April. Its hryvnia currency is headed toward becoming worthless toilet paper. It’s worth less than 5 cents to the dollar. Adjusted for its decline, real inflation tops 270% year-over-year.
Living standards are plunging. Poverty is a growth industry. So are unemployment, underemployment and human misery.
Most Ukrainians struggle to get by. They can’t make ends meet. Skyrocketing prices makes basic goods and services unaffordable.’
Warning – graphic scenes
‘A shocking video shows US-backed militants in Ukraine hanging a pregnant woman and her husband, yet more evidence of atrocities being committed by pro-Kiev forces.
The chilling clip shows two individuals with bags over their heads strung up to a rudimentary gallows in a forest as three militants pose with the bodies and take photographs. The ropes around their necks are attached to a nearby vehicle. The woman is clearly heavily pregnant.
The car then drives in the opposite direction as the two victims are brutally hung while they writhe and struggle.
The militants then pose with the bodies for a second time and take more video footage and photographs.’
‘Both warring sides in eastern Ukraine are perpetrating war crimes almost daily, including torturing prisoners and summarily killing them, the Amnesty International rights group said in a report Friday.
Amnesty said in a statement that it has heard from former captives of both Ukrainian government and separatist forces who say they faced savage beatings, torture with electric shocks, kicking and stabbings.
Concern about the treatment of prisoners comes as Ukrainian authorities face scrutiny this week for publicly parading two men they say were Russian soldiers captured while fighting alongside separatists.’
‘The United States has blocked a global document aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
Over 150 countries participated in a month-long conference reviewing the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the NPT, the United States announced on Friday that there was “no agreement” and accused Arab countries of torpedoing the nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The talks ended in failure after the US and its allies, Canada and Britain rejected a proposal made by Arab countries to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East by March 2016.’
‘Alleged paedophile Lord Janner was re-appointed to a parliamentary committee last June despite being ‘too ill’ with dementia to be interviewed by police, it was revealed today.
The Labour peer was put on Parliament’s joint committee on consolidation bills – which considers how to combine complex acts – six months after detectives raided his home in London.
It was also three months after detectives searched his office at the House of Lords, during their investigation into allegations against him of sexually abusing boys, Exaro has found.
His appointment also came shortly after police sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) because Janner’s lawyers were claiming that he was in no state to be interviewed because of dementia.’
A video by Orion Lion
‘On Monday, May 18, the conservative government watchdog group Judicial Watch published a selection of formerly classified documents obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense and State Department through a federal lawsuit.
While initial mainstream media reporting is focused on the White House’s handling of the Benghazi consulate attack, a much “bigger picture” admission and confirmation is contained in one of the Defense Intelligence Agency documents circulated in 2012: that an ‘Islamic State’ is desired in Eastern Syria to effect the West’s policies in the region.’
‘Turkey helped deliver weapons to rebel-controlled Syrian territories, according to testimony from prosecutors and gendarmerie officers, Reuters says. It contradicts Ankara’s denials that it sent arms to rebels and thereby contributed to the rise of ISIS.
Testimony from gendarmerie officers, seen by the agency, allege that rocket parts, ammunition, and semi-finished mortar shells were carried in trucks accompanied by the country’s state intelligence agency (MIT) to parts of Syria under Islamist control. This occurred more than a year ago, according to the testimony.
Meanwhile, testimony from prosecutors backed up the story of Ankara sending weapons across the border.’
‘Retired Army officers and military experts, who engineered the 2007 “surge” in Iraq, call for a return of American combat troops to the country, saying the current US war strategy is “fundamentally flawed.”
The United States should deploy up to 20,000 troops to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground, conservative military experts told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, according to Stars and Stripes.
“We are not only failing, we are losing this war,” said General John M. “Jack” Keane, who previously served as vice chief of staff of the US Army.’
‘Saudi fighter jets targeted a market and UNICEF headquarters respectively in the Northwestern Yemeni provinces of Sa’ada and Hajjah on Thursday morning.
The Saudi-led coalition’s fighter jets fired over 50 missiles at Sa’ada market and turned it into rubbles. It was the fourth time in the past few weeks that the market came under attack.
Also, the Saudi fighter jets bombed the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) headquarters in Hajjah province’s Meidi district.’
‘A controversial child protection chief has quit her job with a six-figure payoff – only to be immediately rehired on almost £1,000 a day.
Deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz, who was criticised for failing to speak out about sexual abuse by British Pakistani gangs, took voluntary redundancy from her £99,333-a-year post on April 30.
She received a pay-off worth £134,000. But the next day she was rehired as a consultant, leading an inquiry into family child abuse that she had been in charge of in her former role.
The 61-year-old will be paid £960 a day under the new deal and will work for up to nine days a month. It means she will earn almost the same amount as she had been as a full-time employee – for much less work.’
‘The EU scrapped planned pesticide regulations under pressure from US officials over the controversial transatlantic trade deal TTIP, newly published documents have revealed.
According to documents obtained by the Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe, a visit from high-level officials from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) in July 2013 convinced the EU to drop planned rules that could have led to the banning of 31 pesticides containing health hazardous chemicals.
AmCham representatives reportedly “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances during the meeting, and US trade officials “emphasised the need for an impact assessment,” The Guardian has reported.’
‘Joe Bastardi, former chief long range forecaster at Accuweather and master weather predictor for WeatherBell Analytics, blasted President Obama’s “absurd” claim that climate change is a factor for the rise in terrorism. He then turned his ire towards the media and implored them to do their job and counter these false claims.
In a series of messages posted to Twitter, Bastardi replaced the impassioned rhetoric, and media ignorance, with scientific weather maps and historical facts:’
‘Starting in July, a new law in Kansas will restrict the amount of cash a welfare recipient can take out of ATM’s to just $25 a day—a move that critics say introduces a whole new host of financial burdens—including high ATM fees and travel costs—when they access cash.
Max Ehrenfreund at the Washington Post explains:
Since most banking machines are stocked only with $20 bills, the $25 limit is effectively a $20 limit. A family seeking to withdraw even $200 in cash would have to visit an ATM 10 times a month, a real burden for a parent who might not have a car and might not live in a neighborhood where ATMs are easy to find.
The law, backed by a GOP-dominated Kansas legislature and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, will benefit the pockets of large banks while taking money from poor families who rely on food stamps.’
A Virginia cop who tasered a man sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, following it with a ten-second blast of pepper spray into the man’s face, was forced to resign last week after his chief said he had used excessive force.
But Fredericksburg police officer Shaun Jergens said he only did it because the man in the car was not complying.
However, David Washington was experiencing a medical emergency, perhaps a diabetic seizure, which is why he struck another vehicle before running over a median and knocking over a city sign.’
‘Memorial Day commemorates soldiers killed in war. We are told that the war dead died for us and our freedom. US Marine General Smedley Butler challenged this view. He said that our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers, Wall Street, Standard Oil, and the United Fruit Company. Here is an excerpt from a speech that he gave in 1933:
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.’
‘Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan was not a particularly hospitable base for the tens of thousands of U.S. Marines and other troops who surged there towards the end of the last decade. Sandstorms regularly swept through the treeless landscape, and attacks on the base by Taliban forces claimed lives. The base’s initial name was “Tombstone.”
So it was perhaps understandable when the Marines declared an “operational need” in 2010 for a huge headquarters building at the site, to be outfitted with air conditioning, plush seating and comfortable offices.
But the decision to construct a 64,000-foot command and control facility has since come to exemplify the U.S. military’s careless waste in Afghanistan. After $34 million was spent on its construction, the tall, windowless building was never, ever used, except perhaps for target practice by the Taliban, according to U.S. officials. The facility was officially turned over to the Afghan Army last fall, but it remains empty and lies in a part of Afghanistan where U.S. personnel rarely if ever travel now.’
‘Bird flu is hitting an unprecedented number of CAFO lot chickens right now, but the situation is being reported in the mainstream media as a mystery. Why are backyard flocks escaping the virulent bird flu that’s wiping out millions of caged birds in biosecure metal buildings? Is it because birds raised in fresh air and sunshine are more capable of fighting off viruses? If that was true then why are the wild waterfowl: ducks and geese, etc., catching the deadly flu? Or maybe they’re not. Something is just not adding up here…
Could it be, as one commenter suggested below, intentional to make the price of meat and eggs skyrocket?’
‘The first rule of “Project Bookend” is that you don’t talk about “Project Bookend.”
In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been “you don’t accidentally e-mail ‘Project Bookend’ to a news agency”, because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE’s Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project.
Project Bookend is a secret (or ‘was’ a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential ‘Brexit’, but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating “a broad range of European economic issues.”’
‘At an 18th-century mansion in England’s countryside last week, current and former spy chiefs from seven countries faced off with representatives from tech giants Apple and Google to discuss government surveillance in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s leaks.
The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.
Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.’
‘Colonel Ian Henderson was a British official dubbed “the Butcher of Bahrain” because of atrocities he repeatedly committed during the 30 years he served as chief security official of that Middle Eastern country. His reign of terror began in 1966 when Bahrain was a British “protectorate” and continued when the post-“independence” Bahraini King retained him in the same position. In 1996, The Independent described him as “the most feared of all secret policemen” in Bahrain, and cited “consistent and compelling evidence that severe beatings and even sexual assaults have been carried out against prisoners under Henderson’s responsibility for well over a decade.”
A 2002 Guardian article reported that “during this time his men allegedly detained and tortured thousands of anti-government activists”; his official acts “included the ransacking of villages, sadistic sexual abuse and using power drills to maim prisoners”; and “on many occasions they are said to have detained children without informing their parents, only to return them months later in body bags.”’
‘France is making it illegal for large supermarkets to throw away edible food as part of a series of measures to cut down on waste.
The country’s National Assembly unanimously voted in new laws on Thursday night that will force chains to donate discarded food to charity or allow it to be turned into animal feed, compost or energy.
Guillaume Garot, a Socialist politician who sponsored the bill, said: “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods.”’
‘A fire broke out early Friday morning on a small oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, forcing the evacuation of 28 workers. No injuries were reported, but a 1.4-mile oil slick was visible in the water.
The oil platform is located 20 miles east of the tip of Louisiana. The rig has been shut down, according to the Coast Guard, but the platform still holds an estimated 5,000 gallons of crude oil. Crews in response vessels are on site working to extinguish the blaze.
Texas Petroleum Investment, which owns and operates the platform, has halted production, Reuters reported.’
‘Prime Minister David Cameron has unveiled new laws to prosecute migrants working illegally in the UK as immigration figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal that net immigration reached 318,000 in 2014.
The latest figures represent a catastrophic failure for the previous Conservative-led coalition, which pledged to have net migration capped at “tens of thousands.”
Quarterly ONS statistics show that net migration from outside the European Union is at its highest level since 2011, and is now rising nearly as fast as migration from within the EU.’
‘Despite mounting scientific evidence that fracking is increasing seismic activity in the state, Oklahoma legislators are poised to pass legislation preventing municipalities from passing local bans on drilling operations.
Senate Bill 468 would overturn an 80-year-old statute and explicitly prohibits local regulation of certain oil and gas activities—even if such regulation is approved by Oklahoma voters.
Following the lead of Texas lawmakers, who on Monday passed a law forbidding towns or cities from enacting local restrictions on any gas or oil drilling operations, both the Oklahoma House and Senate passed SB 468 with strong majority support. The bill now awaits changes in the Senate before advancing.’
‘Israel’s new deputy foreign minister on Thursday delivered a defiant message to the international community, saying that Israel owes no apologies for its policies in the Holy Land and citing religious texts to back her belief that it belongs to the Jewish people.
The speech by Tzipi Hotovely illustrated the influence of hardliners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, and the challenges he will face as he tries to persuade the world that he is serious about pursuing peace with the Palestinians.’
‘The runaway surveillance state in America has just taken a leap into the gutter. Or the sewer, actually, where government goons running their fraudulent “war on drugs” have begun to monitor raw sewage for traces of illicit drug use.
The American Chemical Society reports this as GOOD news, saying:
The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S., was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology and could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working.’
‘What do you get when you let the chemical industry write a “chemical safety” bill?
A bill that protects chemical companies, not consumers.
The last time Congress passed a chemical safety bill — the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) — was in 1976. The TSCA “was broken from the start,” according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), because it grandfathered in thousands of chemicals already on the market. It was so “broken and weak,” says EWG, that it didn’t even allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban asbestos, a known cause of cancer.’
‘A US District Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that sought the release of the full Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture by the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as an internal CIA report commonly referred to as the Panetta Review.
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a heavily redacted executive summary of its report on CIA torture on December 9, 2014. The Panetta Review, which consists of summaries of material on CIA torture activities to agency leaders to assist them in avoiding legal repercussions, is not available to the public in any form at this time.
The May 20 memorandum opinion by District Judge James E. Boasberg is the latest judicial rubber stamp of the dismantling of democratic rights.’
‘In the early 1950s, after Israel had fought a desperate war of Independence (or Nakba) in which thousands of Israelis died to ensure the founding of the State, David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, decided the nation required an existential trump card to guarantee its survival. In 1955, he tasked his chief aide, Shimon Peres, with creating a nuclear program that would lead to building a nuclear weapon.
The most critical part of this project was creating a nuclear reactor that would manufacture the fuel to make these weapons. In 1959, Israel began construction on its reactor in Dimona. Eventually, there were thousands of workers both building the plant and, once it was constructed, working within it to build the arsenal of 200 nuclear weapons Israel is reputed to possess. An excellent short overall history of the project can be found online here.
In the early stages of research, before Dimona existed, there were accidents that exposed scientists to lethal levels of radiation. Some of them died and their names are known (though not well). Less known, is that Dimona had a series of accidents (the most serious in 1966) which exposed hundreds of its workers to toxic, and even lethal doses.’
‘With the exception of a few mentions in the mainstream press when the incident originally occurred, Exxon is getting away with murder concerning their most recent snafu. I’m talking about the huge explosion at a gasoline refinery in Torrance, California that rained toxic ash on playgrounds and homes. Exxon assured their employees, and local citizens that “all was well,” though.
So what did happen at the Exxon plant, and why hasn’t it been talked about more since its occurrence? Employees who were present said there was a huge sonic boom, a fire, and loads of ash raining down on them.
Furthermore, a structure at the refinery was visibly damaged, with smoke smoldering from twisted metal, and with the air near the blast site smelling of sulfur and chemicals.’
‘US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that would allow Congress to review and potentially reject any final nuclear agreement with Iran.
The Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 was signed on Friday. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month.
The measure will allow for a 30-day review of any final nuclear deal with Iran.’
‘Thirty-one people, mostly Burundian refugees, have lost their lives to cholera outbreak in Tanzania since last week, the UN says.
The deaths, “two locals and 29 refugees”, were reported in the port town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, in the nearby villages of Kagunga and Nyarugusu, and among the people on ferries en route from Kagunga to Kigoma, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Friday.
“The epidemic is still worsening. To date some 3,000 cases have been reported, and numbers are increasing at 300-400 new cases per day, particularly in Kagunga and nearby areas,” said Arian Edwards, the agency’s spokesperson, speaking to journalists in Geneva.’
‘World states have strongly condemned the recent bomb attack at a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which claimed the lives of more than twenty people and left several more injured.
Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement released on Friday, expressed deep sorrow over the tragic event, and offered Islamabad’s deepest sympathy to the families of all the victims.
The statement described the “deliberate” assault against innocent civilians as “cowardly,” adding, “Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”’