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Vladimir Rodzianko

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French riots have streets on fire over the Paris Climate Accords

France goes up in flames as the implementation of the vaunted Paris Accords increases, showing that socialism does not even work in Europe.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The United States is often criticized for its citizens’ “love affair with the automobile.” It was roundly criticized when its president withdrew the US from the highly vaunted Paris Climate Accords.

Europeans are often perceived to look on the actions of Americans complaining over the high price of gasoline as somehow immoral. However, Americans do not usually go destroying things and setting fires in the streets over high fuel prices. In fact, no one does that.

Do they?

In France, this is precisely what has been happening over the last week to ten days, and in a stunning bit of silence, the news media has simply not covered this matter honestly. In the United States and in Europe, the story was “French people riot over high fuel prices.” However, that only tells part of the story.

The Washington Examiner finally began running accurate reports as recently as November 26 (emphasis added):

In France all hell is breaking loose. Parisians, who live in the city of the climate accords that were supposed to save us all, are rioting. More than a quarter million protesters have taken to the streets to revolt against a rising fuel tax amid France’s already exorbitant taxes.

Nearly half of France’s gross domestic product is already eaten up by taxation. You might think that that frog has already been boiled, yet this environmentally inspired carbon tax proves otherwise. It is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Police deployed over 5,000 tear gas grenades and water cannons against the protesters, who donned yellow jackets for the second weekend in a row.

As a recently released report from the U.S. government demonstrates, climate change does not only have the capacity to destroy the planet in the long term but also to wreck our economy. It’s a pressing and significant issue that both the country and the world will have to grapple with before it becomes catastrophic.

But the scenes of France on fire are good reminders that attempts to drive down energy use or drive up its cost tend to suffer from a lack of consent from the governed.

And it is very interesting that the cultured, calm French are reacting to this tax in total outrage.  Maybe a closer look at the exact nature of the fuel tax is needed. To that end, the BBC reported this in a piece released a scant 43 minutes before this article was filed (with emphasis):

The price of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, has risen by around 23% over the past 12 months to an average of €1.51 (£1.32; $1.71) per litre, its highest point since the early 2000s.

World oil prices did rise before falling back again, but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol.

Mr Macron has blamed world oil prices for three-quarters of the price rise but said more tax on fossil fuels was needed to fund renewable energy investments.

The decision to impose a further increase of 6.5 cents on diesel and 2.9 cents on petrol on 1 January 2019 was seen as the final straw for the protesters.

To put these prices in perspective, €1.51 per litre is US$ 5.70 per gallon, more than twice the US price level of $2.45 for the same fuel in Colorado as of December 3, 2018. But this wasn’t all. In President Emmanuel Macron’s view, this price is still way too low, and the Paris Climate Accords were supposed to remedy this by raising the price for fuel to a level so high that people would be forced to not use it.

The same strategy was a hope early in the Obama administration, as expressed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu in September 2008:

President Barack Obama’s Energy secretary unwittingly created a durable GOP talking point in September 2008 when he talked to The Wall Street Journal about the benefits of having gasoline prices rise over 15 years to encourage energy efficiency.

“Somehow,” Chu said, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Chu, a Nobel-winning physicist and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was not yet a member of the not-yet-in-existence Obama administration. But Republican politicians and conservative pundits have seized on his words as evidence that the White House is deliberately driving gasoline prices higher — ensuring that Chu’s remarks are the energy policy sound bite that will not die.

Newt Gingrich was the latest to jump on the bandwagon, telling CBS’s “This Morning” on Tuesday that Obama’s “outrageously anti-American” energy policy is aimed at increasing the price at the pump.

“Chu, his Energy secretary, said in 2008 he wanted gasoline prices to get to the European level, which is $9 or $10 a gallon,” Gingrich said.

A column Tuesday on Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government also dredged up the 2008 quote, sardonically observing that “Mr. Chu’s energy plans appear to be working.”

In the United States, fuel prices peaked in 2008 right before the financial crisis began, with levels near US$4.20 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. A second peak during President Obama’s term made it to similar levels, but was abruptly cut off by the development of the production of oil from “depleted” oil wells in the US through the use of hydraulic fracking that sent the prices below $3.00 ever since 2014.

So with France’s prices already much higher than this and only a promise of further increases to appease the climate change gods (the UN most likely, for the purposes of “redistribution of wealth”, meaning we will never see that money again), the proverbial straw broke the backs of the French, who have already suffered through events like 100% taxation rates and other distinctly socialist policies under recent leadership. The BBC piece went on to report the outcome of this policy thus far:

France’s PM has announced a six-month suspension of a fuel tax rise which has led to weeks of violent protests.

Edouard Philippe said that people’s anger must be heard, and the measures would not be applied until there had been proper debate with those affected.

The protests have hit major French cities, causing considerable damage for the past three weekends.

The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests) protests have now grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.

Three people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism – notably when statues were smashed at the Arc de Triomphe last Saturday – have been widely condemned.

“Yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law. (that in itself is very interesting and socialist sounding as well – Ed.)

The movement has grown via social media and has supporters across the political spectrum…

Mr Macron says his motivation for the increase is environmental, but protesters call him out of touch – particularly with non-city dwellers who rely on their cars.

The movement later grew to reflect a range of grievances, including the marginalisation of rural areas, high living costs, and general anger at President Macron’s economic policies.

The protests have no identifiable leadership and gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in-between.

This is interesting, because it sounds like Trumpian-style populism is breaking out. Again. We continue with the BBC:

Nearly 300,000 people took part in the first countrywide demonstration. There were more than 106,000 a week later, and 136,000 people last Saturday.

The Washington Examiner gave a very good set of concluding thoughts on this matter:

The best economic argument for a carbon tax is that the market price of goods and services resulting in carbon emissions fail to include the true social and environmental costs of carbon emissions. Carbon taxes can result in significant deadweight losses, but a good politician would mostly lean on the economics of a carbon tax to sell it to the people.

Or you might argue, as French President Emmanuel Macron does, that one should prefer the taxation of fuel over the taxation of labor, even though the former is regressive and affects the poor more than the rich.

Macron’s messaging is a masterclass in how not to sell climate policy. Almost 80 percent of the French people now support the protesters, whereas only a quarter have a favorable opinion of Macron. As it turns out, there are limits to what the French will accept from their president, as there always are in a republic.

Whether a fuel tax is good or bad is still up for debate, but there’s no question that forcing it down the public’s throats while they are struggling economically is a losing strategy. Given the rapid rate at which carbon-reducing technology is advancing, a carbon tax may be more trouble than its worth.

This also shows the discernment of American president Donald Trump, who withdrew the US from this deal. When he did so, the US President had this to say:

Trump said, “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect the United States and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” adding “The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” [2] He claimed that the agreement, if implemented, would cost the United States $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million jobs.[3] He added that it would “undermine our economy, hamstring our workers,” and “effectively decapitate our coal industry”.

It appears that France is enjoying precisely these sort of problems.

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The Magnitsky affair: the confession of a hustled hack

A Cypriot journalist’s confession of how he too fell for the wrong account of the Magnitsky Affair

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Before getting down to brass tacks, let me say that I loathe penning articles like this; loathe writing about myself or in the first person, because a reporter should report the news, not be the news. Yet I grudgingly make this exception because, ironically, it happens to be newsworthy. To cut to the chase, it concerns Anglo-American financier Bill Browder and the Sergei Magnitsky affair. I, like others in the news business I’d venture to guess, feel led astray by Browder.

This is no excuse. I didn’t do my due diligence, and take full responsibility for erroneous information printed under my name. For that, I apologize to readers. I refer to two articles of mine published in a Cypriot publication, dated December 25, 2015 and January 6, 2016.

Browder’s basic story, as he has told it time and again, goes like this: in June 2007, Russian police officers raided the Moscow offices of Browder’s firm Hermitage, confiscating company seals, certificates of incorporation, and computers.

Browder says the owners and directors of Hermitage-owned companies were subsequently changed, using these seized documents. Corrupt courts were used to create fake debts for these companies, which allowed for the taxes they had previously paid to the Russian Treasury to be refunded to what were now re-registered companies. The funds stolen from the Russian state were then laundered through banks and shell companies.

The scheme is said to have been planned earlier in Cyprus by Russian law enforcement and tax officials in cahoots with criminal elements. All this was supposedly discovered by Magnitsky, whom Browder had tasked with investigating what happened. When Magnitsky reported the fraud, some of the nefarious characters involved had him arrested and jailed. He refused to retract, and died while in pre-trial detention.

In my first article, I wrote: “Magnitsky, a 37-year-old Russian accountant, died in jail in 2009 after he exposed huge tax embezzlement…”

False. Contrary to the above story that has been rehashed countless times, Magnitsky did not expose any tax fraud, did not blow the whistle.

The interrogation reports show that Magnitsky had in fact been summoned by Russian authorities as a witness to an already ongoing investigation into Hermitage. Nor he did he accuse Russian investigators Karpov and/or Kuznetsov of committing the $230 million treasury fraud, as Browder claims.

Magnitsky did not disclose the theft. He first mentioned it in testimony in October 2008. But it had already been reported in the New York Times on July 24, 2008.

In reality, the whistleblower was a certain Rimma Starova. She worked for one of the implicated shell companies and, having read in the papers that authorities were investigating, went to police to give testimony in April 2008 – six months before Magnitsky spoke of the scam for the first time (see here and here).

Why, then, did I report that about Magnitsky? Because at the time my sole source for the story was Team Browder, who had reached out to the Cyprus Mail and with whom I communicated via email. I was provided with ‘information’, flow charts and so on. All looking very professional and compelling.

At the time of the first article, I knew next to nothing about the Magnitsky/Browder affair. I had to go through media reports to get the gist, and then get up to speed with Browder’s latest claims that a Cypriot law firm, which counted the Hermitage Fund among its clients, had just been ‘raided’ by Cypriot police.

The article had to be written and delivered on the same day. In retrospect I should have asked for more time – a lot more time – and Devil take the deadlines.

For the second article, I conversed briefly on the phone with the soft-spoken Browder himself, who handed down the gospel on the Magnitsky affair. Under the time constraints, and trusting that my sources could at least be relied upon for basic information which they presented as facts, I went along with it.

I was played. But let’s be clear: I let myself down too.

In the ensuing weeks and months, I didn’t follow up on the story as my gut told me something was wrong: villains and malign actors operating in a Wild West Russia, and at the centre of it all, a heroic Magnitsky who paid with his life – the kind of script that Hollywood execs would kill for.

Subsequently I mentally filed away the Browder story, while being aware it was in the news.

But the real red pill was a documentary by Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, which came to my attention a few weeks ago.

Titled ‘The Magnitsky Act – Behind The Scenes’, it does a magisterial job of depicting how the director initially took Browder’s story on faith, only to end up questioning everything.

The docudrama dissects, disassembles and dismantles Browder’s narrative, as Nekrasov – by no means a Putin apologist – delves deeper down into the rabbit hole.

The director had set out to make a poignant film about Magnitsky’s tragedy, but became increasingly troubled as the facts he uncovered didn’t stack up with Browder’s account, he claims.

The ‘aha’ moment arrives when Nekrasov appears to show solid proof that Magnitsky blew no whistle.

Not only that, but in his depositions – the first one dating to 2006, well before Hermitage’s offices were raided – Magnitsky did not accuse any police officers of being part of the ‘theft’ of Browder’s companies and the subsequent alleged $230m tax rebate fraud.

The point can’t be stressed enough, as this very claim is the lynchpin of Browder’s account. In his bestseller Red Notice, Browder alleges that Magnitsky was arrested because he exposed two corrupt police officers, and that he was jailed and tortured because he wouldn’t retract.

We are meant to take Browder’s word for it.

It gets worse for Nekrasov, as he goes on to discover that Magnitsky was no lawyer. He did not have a lawyer’s license. Rather, he was an accountant/auditor who worked for Moscow law firm Firestone Duncan.

Yet every chance he gets, Browder still refers to Magnitsky as ‘a lawyer’ or ‘my lawyer’.

The clincher comes late in the film, with footage from Browder’s April 15, 2015 deposition in a US federal court, in the Prevezon case. The case, brought by the US Justice Department at Browder’s instigation, targeted a Russian national who Browder said had received $1.9m of the $230m tax fraud.

In the deposition, Browder is asked if Magnitsky had a law degree in Russia. “I’m not aware that he did,” he replies.

The full deposition, some six hours long, is (still) available on Youtube. As penance for past transgressions, I watched it in its entirety. While refraining from using adjectives to describe it, I shall simply cite some examples and let readers decide on Browder’s credibility.

Browder seems to suffer an almost total memory blackout as a lawyer begins firing questions at him. He cannot recall, or does not know, where he or his team got the information concerning the alleged illicit transfer of funds from Hermitage-owned companies.

This is despite the fact that the now-famous Powerpoint presentations – hosted on so many ‘anti-corruption’ websites and recited by ‘human rights’ NGOs – were prepared by Browder’s own team.

Nor does he recall where, or how, he and his team obtained information on the amounts of the ‘stolen’ funds funnelled into companies. When it’s pointed out that in any case this information would be privileged – banking secrecy and so forth – Browder appears to be at a loss.

According to Team Browder, in 2007 the ‘Klyuev gang’ together with Russian interior ministry officials travelled to Cyprus, ostensibly to set up the tax rebate scam using shell companies.

But in his deposition, the Anglo-American businessman cannot remember, or does not know, how his team obtained the travel information of the conspirators.

He can’t explain how they acquired the flight records and dates, doesn’t have any documentation at hand, and isn’t aware if any such documentation exists.

Browder claims his ‘Justice for Magnitsky’ campaign, which among other things has led to US sanctions on Russian persons, is all about vindicating the young man. Were that true, one would have expected Browder to go out of his way to aid Magnitsky in his hour of need.

The deposition does not bear that out.

Lawyer: “Did anyone coordinate on your behalf with Firestone Duncan about the defence of Mr Magnitsky?”

Browder: “I don’t know. I don’t remember.”

Going back to Nekrasov’s film, a standout segment is where the filmmaker looks at a briefing document prepared by Team Browder concerning the June 2007 raid by Russian police officers. In it, Browder claims the cops beat up Victor Poryugin, a lawyer with the firm.

The lawyer was then “hospitalized for two weeks,” according to Browder’s presentation, which includes a photo of the beaten-up lawyer. Except, it turns out the man pictured is not Poryugin at all. Rather, the photo is actually of Jim Zwerg, an American human rights activist beaten up during a street protest in 1961 (see here and here).

Nekrasov sits down with German politician Marieluise Beck. She was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace), which compiled a report that made Magnitsky a cause celebre.

You can see Beck’s jaw drop when Nekrasov informs her that Magnitsky did not report the fraud, that he was in fact under investigation.

It transpires that Pace, as well as human rights activists, were getting their information from one source – Browder. Later, the Council of Europe’s Andreas Gross admits on camera that their entire investigation into the Magnitsky affair was based on Browder’s info and that they relied on translations of Russian documents provided by Browder’s team because, as Gross puts it, “I don’t speak Russian myself.”

That hit home – I, too, had been fed information from a single source, not bothering to verify it. I, too, initially went with the assumption that because Russia is said to be a land of endemic corruption, then Browder’s story sounded plausible if not entirely credible.

For me, the takeaway is this gem from Nekrasov’s narration: “I was regularly overcome by deep unease. Was I defending a system that killed Magnitsky, even if I’d found no proof that he’d been murdered?”

Bull’s-eye. Nekrasov has arrived at a crossroads, the moment where one’s mettle is tested: do I pursue the facts wherever they may lead, even if they take me out of my comfort zone? What is more important: the truth, or the narrative? Nekrasov chose the former. As do I.

Like with everything else, specific allegations must be assessed independently of one’s general opinion of the Russian state. They are two distinct issues. Say Browder never existed; does that make Russia a paradise?

I suspect Team Browder may scrub me from their mailing list; one can live with that.


“The author would like to thank investigative reporter Lucy Komisar for her invaluable assistance.”

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Tucker Carlson EVISCERATES Stormy Daniels’ creepy lawyer (VIDEO)

Tucker Carlson refuses to let “Creepy Porn Lawyer” Michael Avenatti get away with his hypocritical rhetoric on Tucker’s program.

Seraphim Hanisch

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“Creepy Porn Lawyer” is the nickname that Tucker Carlson gave Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing the porn star who goes by the name “Stormy Daniels”, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. Ms. Clifford, as “Stormy”, made a name for herself after the election of President Trump, by alleging that the now-president had relations with her back in 2006, shortly after Mr. Trump married Melania.

This revelation was against the agreement Trump’s attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, had made with the actress, paying her about $130,000 in “hush money.”

Ms. Clifford opted to disregard this agreement, since it had value as sensationalism paparazzi style “news”, and Mr. Avenatti represented her in this effort. But now, Avenatti has gone further, making a name for himself and even postulating the idea of running for President himself.

His own publicity in fact, has surged far past his client’s, with multiple TV spots on CNN and other mainstream media and cable networks.

Tucker Carlson dubbed him “Creepy Porn Lawyer”, to which Avenatti obviously took exception, while not changing a whit of his own doings. In this session, though, Mr. Carlson agreed not to call Mr. Avenatti “Creepy Porn Lawyer” if Avenatti would come on Tucker’s program for an interview. That interview is shown here:

Tucker was clearly determined not to let Avenatti get away with saying nonsense, but in the same sense, there was so much more that could have been done. One of the greatest pieces of hypocrisy Tucker did address, which was the matter of “Stormy Daniels” actually being used by the attorney to bolster his own fame, whilst the actress continued to perform and began getting in trouble.

Mr. Avenatti tried, rather absurdly, to pull the morality card as a foundation for his side of the argument, saying that it is immoral behavior for the President to cheat on his wife and young son, Barron. However, this wasn’t flying either. Even by saying such a thing on national television, this allegation, true or not is an outrage against the President’s family. And again, Avenatti was trying to use the Mr. Trump’s behavior against him to try to seal the Left’s connection that Trump is immoral, and thus unfit for presidency.

Of course… Bill Clinton comes to mind as the poster child for moral behavior as president, whose wife lost in 2008 and 2016 in her own bid. Of course, the left is into all manner of support for identity politics, which have created anywhere from ten to thirty “gender” identifications for people who are simply mentally ill and do not want to take responsibility for themselves.

While much of this interview is more of a near-shouting match rather than a discussion and dispassionate debate, lovers of Mr. Carlson will certainly feel that he scored a lot of points interviewing and blowing away the Creepy Porn Lawyer.

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