Jan 192022
 
 January 19, 2022  Posted by at 9:36 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  61 Responses »


Alfred Sisley Snow at Louveciennes 1878

 

US Daily COVID Cases Drop By 47% And Deaths Fall By 38% Week-on-week (DM)
‘Much Brighter Than Before’: COVID-19 Cases Plunge Across US (ET)
The Narrative Is Falling Apart, Piece By Piece (Kirsch)
US Faces Wave Of Omicron Deaths In Coming Weeks, Models Say (AP)
New Research: Covid Less Deadly Than Thought In 1st Year Of Pandemic (JTN)
The Last Days of the Covidian Cult (CJ Hopkins)
Calls Grow To Ditch Compulsory Covid Jabs Law For NHS Staff (DM)
Observations From An Experienced Nurse About The Covid Vaccines (Kirsch)
Think About What Denying Health Care To The Unvaccinated Means (Vezina)
Nicola Sturgeon Announces Lifting Of Omicron Restrictions In Scotland (G.)
New Zealand Closes Borders To New Arrivals Over Omicron Risk (G.)
Grocery Stores Could Close If Labour, Product Shortages Worsen (CP)
Ghislaine Maxwell Ends Fight To Keep Eight ‘John Does’ Secret (CTV)
Western Governments Drop Plans To Cut Russia Off From SWIFT – Media (RT)
5G Network Deployment In The US Spawns A Cluster Of Disruption (TAC)
Multiple Flights to US Suspended Over 5G Fears (RT)

 

 

 

 

Dr. Bowden Houston Methodist

 

 

“The virus is better at immunising than the vaccine”.

 

 

That’s a lot.

US Daily COVID Cases Drop By 47% And Deaths Fall By 38% Week-on-week (DM)

Covid infections are falling in the U.S. for the first time since the Omicron variant erupted at the end of 2021. The nation recorded 721,651 new cases on Monday, a steep fall from the 1.364 million cases reported last Monday. America’s new daily case average has also dropped 10 percent over the past seven days, from 766,939 to 684,457. A DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found there were 717,874 new cases recorded between midnight Monday and midnight Tuesday. Monday is often the day when reported case counts are highest as lagging figures from the weekend are finally reported. Last week’s 1.364 million cases recorded on Monday was the highest single day case total the nation ever recorded.

This week’s total was affected by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, where many local governments and municipalities were closed and did not fully report cases. It is likely that some cases shift to Tuesday this week instead. But Covid cases have been plunging for days in those states hardest hit by Omicron when it first arrived in the US in early December, suggesting the latest phase pandemic could really be drawing to a close. Two-week case averages are generally the most stable figures and can smooth out single day outliers. Over the past 14 days, overall cases in the U.S. are up 40 percent, though that figure is expected to decline further in the coming days as many previous Covid hotspots in the U.S. are now seeing case counts trend in the right direction.

As of Tuesday morning, Johns Hopkins University reports that the U.S. has logged 66,456,516 cases and 851,730 deaths since the pandemic first began. That means there has been one reported Covid case for every five Americans so far – with the figure likely being even higher due to the mass underreporting of cases and test shortages that have been a problem during different waves of the pandemic.Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, put a fly in the ointment after warning that yet another new variant could emerge – and that it could resist existing immunity in those infected or vaccinated.

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As predicted.

‘Much Brighter Than Before’: COVID-19 Cases Plunge Across US (ET)

COVID-19 case counts have dropped across the United States in recent days, stoking optimism that the Omicron-fueled wave is subsiding. 34 states have recorded a decrease in cases in recent days, not including states that reported a single-day drop, according to an Epoch Times analysis. That includes some of the states that saw huge Omicron-fueled increases, including New York, California, and Florida. Other states that have seen fewer cases recently include Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. States in every region of the country have reported fewer cases, and a smaller number have also seen a lower number of people being admitted to hospitals with or for COVID-19.

Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant, which dominated the United States for months last year. However, it causes a smaller percentage of cases that require hospital care or lead to death. States saw a significant increase in positive tests with the emergence of Omicron late last year, in part because the COVID-19 vaccines provide little protection against infection from the strain. Cases in New York shot above 90,000 on Jan. 7, but have since dropped sharply, hitting 26,772 on Monday. Hospitalizations attributed to COVID-19 have also gone down in the northeastern state in recent days. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, worries that hospital admissions may go back up in the near future, “but overall, the prognosis, the forecast, for COVID is much brighter than it had been before.” “The COVID clouds are parting,” she told reporters in Latham last week.

[..] Overall, the number of new cases nationwide dropped from 1.3 million on Jan. 10 to the mid-800,000s in the following days, according to data reported by states to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. health officials have said the drop in cases could come quickly, similar to the plunges seen in South Africa and other countries that dealt with earlier Omicron waves.

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“I’m now hearing a lot from prominent formerly pro-vax docs that they are turning on the vaccine. This is great news. Nobody is going public yet, but they are all pissed and realize they have been misled.”

The Narrative Is Falling Apart, Piece By Piece (Kirsch)

Here are some narrative pieces that have been falling apart that were recently brought to my attention. Here are the four new truths:

1/ The vaccines make you more likely to get COVID: It was supposed to make things better, but we’re basically mandating you get a shot that makes you more likely to get infected. That is totally insane, but that’s what we are doing. Check out the graphs here. No age confounding this time: UK Government Data proves the Covid-19 Vaccines DOUBLE your chances of catching Covid-19.

2/ The vaccines aren’t safe: I’m now hearing a lot from prominent formerly pro-vax docs that they are turning on the vaccine. This is great news. Nobody is going public yet, but they are all pissed and realize they have been misled. It will not be pretty. This is of course great news.

3/ Cloth masks don’t work: The CDC finally admits that cloth masks that they said worked before and that everyone wore (including Rochelle Walensky) don’t actually work. The other mask types don’t work either, but it will take them longer to figure out the obvious. P100 respirators do work but only a small percentage of people know that. I can’t wait to see Rochelle Walensky wear a P100 respirator; after all, she should be modelling best practices.

4/ Kids shouldn’t have boosters shots: Top WHO scientist finally admits that kids shouldn’t get boosted!!!! Yet the US colleges and universities aren’t going to back off. Someone is very wrong here and for once it isn’t the WHO.

Here are some older truths that should have been realized by now, but are still going on:

1/ Remdesivir is killing patients, not saving them: RDV is standard operating procedure in the US, but everyone I talk to says it doesn’t work and is much more likely to kill patients than save them. Doctors are forced to give it by hospital policy.

2/ Social distancing doesn’t work: The MIT study came out in April, 2021 that showed social distancing makes no difference. 6 feet or 60 feet made no difference. People still haven’t figured this out.


P100 mask

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There we go again. Omicron deaths, in waves.

US Faces Wave Of Omicron Deaths In Coming Weeks, Models Say (AP)

The fast-moving omicron variant may cause less severe disease on average, but COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are climbing and modelers forecast 50,000 to 300,000 more Americans could die by the time the wave subsides in mid-March. The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been trending upward since mid-November, reaching nearly 1,700 on Jan. 17 — still below the peak of 3,300 in January 2021. COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents started rising slightly two weeks ago, although still at a rate 10 times less than last year before most residents were vaccinated. Despite signs omicron causes milder disease on average, the unprecedented level of infection spreading through the country, with cases still soaring in many states, means many vulnerable people will become severely sick. If the higher end of projections comes to pass, that would push total U.S. deaths from COVID-19 over 1 million by early spring.


“A lot of people are still going to die because of how transmissible omicron has been,” said University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi. “It unfortunately is going to get worse before it gets better.” Morgues are starting to run out of space in Johnson County, Kansas, said Dr. Sanmi Areola, director of the health department. More than 30 residents have died in the county this year, the vast majority of them unvaccinated. But the notion that a generally less severe variant could still take the lives of thousands of people has been difficult for health experts to convey. The math of it — that a small percentage of a very high number of infections can yield a very high number of deaths — is difficult to visualize. “Overall, you’re going to see more sick people even if you as an individual have a lower chance of being sick,” said Katriona Shea of Pennsylvania State University, who co-leads a team that pulls together several pandemic models and shares the combined projections with the White House.

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Ioannidis.

New Research: Covid Less Deadly Than Thought In 1st Year Of Pandemic (JTN)

COVID-19 was less lethal across nearly every age group in its first full year than previously thought, according to an updated review of global research from Stanford University’s Meta-Research Innovation Center (METRIC). Between summer and Christmas 2021, METRIC’s estimates of deaths from infection fell by half in multiple age groups, including young people, and less sharply in others. The international estimates, which have not been peer-reviewed, are not substantially different from the CDC’s own “best estimate” of COVID mortality in the U.S., last updated in March. They use different age ranges, making exact comparisons difficult. The findings raise questions about ongoing COVID restrictions and mandates, particularly for schoolchildren and college students, who remain at the lowest overall risk from infection.

The risk-benefit ratio of vaccine boosters is also under scrutiny, with international authorities souring on their wide deployment and a new Israeli study finding that a fourth dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines doesn’t stop the Omicron variant. METRIC codirector John Ioannidis, credited by one medical publisher as having “practically invented” the field of meta-research, warned early in the pandemic that available infection data were “utterly unreliable.” His ongoing tracking of “seroprevalence,” which measures COVID infection rates using the presence of antibodies in blood samples, has made him controversial in scientific circles. Ioannidis led a study in Stanford’s backyard that estimated a much higher infection rate than local authorities were reporting in spring 2020, leading to criticism of his methods. The revised paper was published last spring in an Oxford medical journal.

He has also consistently emphasized that mortality risks for the non-elderly were “very small” even in COVID “hotbeds.” A June 2020 review of seroprevalence studies determined a median “infection fatality rate” (IFR) of 0.26% overall and 0.04% for everyone under 70. [..] The Greece-born Ioannidis told the Greek Reporter this week that he believes the earlier Delta variant is responsible for a substantial portion of recent COVID deaths in the U.S. and Europe, with infections predating the Omicron wave. “Omicron has the characteristics of an endemic wave,” he said, echoing South African research on Omicron infection providing some protection against Delta infection.

The milder variant has a “seasonal appearance, high rates of transmission, [and] disproportionately low death burden in a setting where there is very high background immunity due to prior infection and/or vaccination,” Ioannidis said. The chief epidemiologist at Denmark’s State Serum Institute made the same claim earlier this month, telling Danish TV 2 that “we will have our normal lives back in two months.” Tyra Grove Krause said her organization found the hospitalization risk from Omicron was half that of Delta. It welcomed the spike in cases in recent weeks, saying the “massive spread” of a mild variant will put the country “in a better place than we were before.’

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“And now the clock is running down, and the resistance isn’t crushed … on the contrary, it is growing..”

The Last Days of the Covidian Cult (CJ Hopkins)

This isn’t going to be pretty, folks. The downfall of a death cult rarely is. There is going to be wailing and gnashing of teeth, incoherent fanatical jabbering, mass deleting of embarrassing tweets. There’s going to be a veritable tsunami of desperate rationalizing, strenuous denying, shameless blame-shifting, and other forms of ass-covering, as suddenly former Covidian Cult members make a last-minute break for the jungle before the fully-vaxxed-and-boosted “Safe and Effective Kool-Aid” servers get to them. Yes, that’s right, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the official Covid narrative is finally falling apart, or is being hastily disassembled, or historically revised, right before our eyes.

The “experts” and “authorities” are finally acknowledging that the “Covid deaths” and “hospitalization” statistics are artificially inflated and totally unreliable (which they have been from the very beginning), and they are admitting that their miracle “vaccines” don’t work (unless you change the definition of the word “vaccine”), and that they have killed a few people, or maybe more than a few people, and that lockdowns were probably “a serious mistake.” I am not going to bother with further citations. You can surf the Internet as well as I can. The point is, the “Apocalyptic Pandemic” PSYOP has reached its expiration date. After almost two years of mass hysteria over a virus that causes mild-to-moderate common-cold or flu-like symptoms (or absolutely no symptoms whatsoever) in about 95% of the infected and the overall infection fatality rate of which is approximately 0.1% to 0.5%, people’s nerves are shot.

We are all exhausted. Even the Covidian cultists are exhausted. And they are starting to abandon the cult en masse. It was always mostly just a matter of time. As Klaus Schwab said, “the pandemic represent[ed] a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.” It isn’t over, but that window is closing, and our world has not been “reimagined” and “reset,” not irrevocably, not just yet. Clearly, GloboCap underestimated the potential resistance to the Great Reset, and the time it would take to crush that resistance. And now the clock is running down, and the resistance isn’t crushed … on the contrary, it is growing.

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“..more than 80,000 – 6 per cent of the workforce – remain unvaccinated..”

Calls Grow To Ditch Compulsory Covid Jabs Law For NHS Staff (DM)

Ministers are under pressure from Tory MPs to scrap a law requiring all NHS staff to have a Covid jab as bosses prepare to start sacking 80,000 in a fortnight. All frontline workers must have had two doses of the vaccine by April 1, meaning the first must have been administered by February 3. But more than 80,000 – 6 per cent of the workforce – remain unvaccinated despite repeated efforts to boost take-up. New NHS guidance to employers says staff who have not been jabbed should start being called into formal meetings from February 4 and warned they face dismissal with the notice period ending on March 31. But the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have urged ministers to delay the rules, saying they could have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on the delivery of services.


And Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, yesterday urged No 10 to reconsider its approach. He said: ‘The Government is still ploughing on, regardless of the consequences on staffing levels. It’s nonsense. Ministers must change course.’ He posted a link to the Government’s own impact assessment, which says 73,000 NHS staff in England could be lost because of the rules. He added: ‘Here are the stark numbers – which let’s not forget are real people with real families – behind this policy.’ Health Secretary Sajid Javid last week told the Commons the Government remained committed to the plans.

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“It’s time for us to admit that we’ve been completely deceived.”

Observations From An Experienced Nurse About The Covid Vaccines (Kirsch)

One of my nurse friends forwarded this note to me. It was originally written by a nurse, but the source is unknown, probably out of fear of retribution. Among all the vaccines I have known in my life (diphtheria, tetanus, measles, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis, meningitis, flu, and pneumonia, and tuberculosis) I have never seen a vaccine that forced me to wear a mask and maintain my social distance, even when you are fully vaccinated. I had never heard of a vaccine that spreads the virus even after vaccination. I had never heard of rewards, discounts, incentives to get vaccinated. I never saw discrimination for those who didn’t. If you haven’t been vaccinated no one has tried to make you feel like a bad person. I have never seen a vaccine that threatens the relationship between family, colleagues and friends.

I have never seen a vaccine used to threaten livelihoods, work or school. I have never seen a vaccine that would allow a 12-year-old to override parental consent. After all the vaccines I listed above, I have never seen a vaccine like this one, which discriminates, divides and judges society as it is. And as the social fabric tightens… It’s a powerful vaccine! It does all these things except IMMUNIZATION. If we still need a booster dose after we are fully vaccinated, and we still need to get a negative test after we are fully vaccinated, and we still need to wear a mask after we are fully vaccinated, and still be hospitalized after we have been fully vaccinated, it will likely come to “It’s time for us to admit that we’ve been completely deceived.”

I think she forgot to mention that she’s probably also never seen: • a vaccine which makes it more likely you’ll be infected by the virus they are trying to protect you from (after a brief efficacy period). See Incriminating evidence for all the studies showing this. • a vaccine which helps other latent viruses or cancers to re-emerge with a vengeance. • a vaccine which has killed at least 150,000 previously healthy Americans • a vaccine with over 20,000 deaths reported into VAERS and the CDC can’t find a single death that was due to the vaccine • lockdowns for the unvaccinated that can last for years to come

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“..be careful about deciding what medical ethics we are prepared to amend or abandon in order to “get life back to normal.”

Think About What Denying Health Care To The Unvaccinated Means (Vezina)

Once again, the calls to systemically deny or restrict health care to the unvaccinated are surging, opening the Pandora’s box of changing modern biomedical ethics. Many people are saying it is time for our leaders to have, as they phrase it, the difficult conversation. There are two assumptions made in this. The first is that we have decided a medical system which — overtly and in full view — places certain people’s lives above others is tolerable. It’s true we already have other systems which do this indirectly and subtly. There is no rule, for example, that explicitly states the rich are treated better than the poor, but in practice they are, for numerous reasons. The second assumption is that it is permissible to trade not just the quality of life, but lives themselves, especially in the short term, for securing critical infrastructure.

This is also already the case in our society although, again, it is done indirectly. For example, safeguarding economic infrastructure takes priority over extending people’s lives. Greater priority is given to safeguarding Canadian banks than to affordable housing. The poor are given limited public assistance so that the cost of living does not increase even faster for everyone else. Whether any of this is good or bad is irrelevant. It is simply what happens. But going beyond that, with the Pandora’s box of changing medical ethics having been opened, the following strategies can be considered, all doable and each with its own risks and benefits.

1. Deny health care to the unvaccinated. Benefits: Opens up significant ICU and hospital space; removes people who disagree with modern medical science from the population; perhaps gets us through the COVID-19 pandemic faster. Risks: Potential for widespread civil unrest; long-term effects on medical ethics with a precedent having been set; disproportionate impact on workers and industries required to keep critical infrastructures operational. External control measures, such as business closures and public gatherings would need to be maintained, or vaccinated patients might fill ICUs with uncontrolled Omicron spread.

2. Deny ICU health care to all COVID-only patients, regardless of vaccine status. Benefits: Can restart surgeries rapidly; difficult but easier to ethically justify than the first option; perhaps get through COVID-19 faster. Risks: Easy to abuse in terms of preferential treatment on an individual basis; difficult to implement in terms of practicality; potential staffing shortages, with some frontline health-care workers viewing this as the “last straw” ethically and quitting. With this strategy, external control measures are separated from hospital ICU capacity. Once everyone (of all ages) has an available vaccine to control their personal level of risk, removing control measures and allowing people to decide their risks for themselves becomes more attractive.

3. Reach endemic status rapidly, to decrease hospital load over the long term. By delaying the onset of COVID-19 infections and having hospitals at or exceeding capacity for long periods of time, cancer and many other life-saving surgeries are being further delayed. If the assumption is that everyone will get the virus eventually anyway, then a rapid endemic strategy would be to encourage people to become infected as quickly as possible, through the immediate removal of all external control measures to contain the pandemic. This includes allowing all businesses to reopen at full capacity and removing all limits on the number of people allowed to attend public and private events, as well as in people’s homes. Benefits: Reaches COVID endgame much more quickly, the load on hospital infrastructure recedes much faster, cancer and other life-saving surgeries can be resumed much earlier. Risks: Over the short term, a scenario from hell with increased deaths, the hospital system strained beyond maximum capacity during this period; increased chances of a new Canadian variant developing; it will appear to the public as if governments are abandoning frontline health care. In all of these strategies, the ability or inability of society to recover ethically from what has been done, once the immediate pandemic crisis is over, would be on the table. So be careful about deciding what medical ethics we are prepared to amend or abandon in order to “get life back to normal.”

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People who know more than they tell.

Nicola Sturgeon Announces Lifting Of Omicron Restrictions In Scotland (G.)

Restrictions brought in before Christmas to stem the Omicron surge across Scotland are to be lifted from next Monday, Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said. Nightclubs will reopen, there will be an end to social distancing and to a three-household limit indoors, Sturgeon said, adding that the country had “turned the corner on the Omicron wave”. But Sturgeon urged the public to remain “cautious” about socialising in larger groups, while government guidance remains to work from home wherever possible and use face coverings, with vaccine passports still in place for large-scale events. Sturgeon said in her regular statement at Holyrood that the data suggested Omicron peaked in Scotland in the first week of January and that “we are now on the downward slope of this wave of cases” as hospital and intensive care admissions were falling.


Cases were down from 36,526 new cases on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of last week to 20,268 cases reported this Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. She said that, after discussion with her cabinet, the remaining statutory measures introduced in response to Omicron – limits on indoor public events; the requirement for one-metre physical distancing between different groups in indoor public places; the requirement for table service in hospitality premises serving alcohol on the premises; and the closure of nightclubs – would be lifted from next Monday, 24 January. From that day, the guidance asking people to stick to a three-household limit on indoor gatherings will also be lifted.

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Locking people out of their own country, and home, should be a no-go.

New Zealand Closes Borders To New Arrivals Over Omicron Risk (G.)

New Zealand has temporarily cut off the only pathway home for overseas citizens and visa holders, citing the risk of the Omicron variant. Officials announced on Tuesday evening that new spaces in the country’s managed isolation and quarantine system (MIQ) would not be released. The Covid-19 response minister, Chris Hipkins, said on Wednesday that while the pause was “temporary” there was no date for when spaces would again be available – meaning New Zealand’s border would be closed for an indeterminate time to citizens without an existing booking. “Pausing the next MIQ lobby is a temporary position while MIQ is under extreme pressure from New Zealanders returning with Omicron,” he said.

“No decisions have been made on the date, sequence and conditions for the border reopening and cabinet will consider options within the next couple of weeks based on the most up to date advice. Until then, we are not in a position to release more MIQ rooms.” The MIQ head, Chris Bunny, said there had been an “unprecedented number of Omicron cases coming into New Zealand and MIQ”, with a tenfold increase in cases at the border compared with December, and a seven day rolling average of 33. On Wednesday, New Zealand recorded 24 new cases in the community. One of those cases has been confirmed as Omicron, a household contact of an MIQ worker. Separately, an airport worker tested positive on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s tough border restrictions have been crucial to its avoiding an Omicron outbreak and keeping Covid cases extremely low – but they are also a source of increasing heartache and rage for those who have found themselves locked out, often in extremely difficult personal circumstances. Other than the risky path of chartering a boat across the Tasman sea, securing a spot in MIQ is the only way into New Zealand. Competition for the rooms, which are released via a lottery system, is fierce. At the last release in early January, a queue of 16,000 people were vying to book one of 1,250 available rooms.

For those stranded overseas, the cancellation of future releases was distressing. Maxine Strydom, a member of Grounded Kiwis, which advocates for stranded New Zealanders, said she was stuck in Perth with her two children, and had been unable to secure a spot, despite her job and tenancy in Australia ending. “All of us stranded overseas are affected. We’re all going through mental and emotional stress,” she said. “Soon I’m going to have no money, no house, and no help in a foreign country.” Claire, a New Zealander in San Diego, said: “I feel like every shred of hope has been stripped away … There is no end in sight, it’s just demoralising.” Claire asked to be referred to by first name only amid concerns about criticism by fellow New Zealanders, most of whom have favoured border restrictions.

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Canada screwing up royally.

Grocery Stores Could Close If Labour, Product Shortages Worsen (CP)

Grocery stores are struggling with rising labour and product shortages that could threaten Canada’s food security, experts say. Employee absenteeism due to workers calling in sick and COVID-19 protocols has hit about 30 per cent at some stores and is continuing to rise, Gary Sands, senior vice-president of public policy with the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, said Tuesday. Without access to rapid testing in many provinces, he said workers are repeatedly forced to isolate for a week or more after an exposure to COVID-19. If the situation worsens, some grocery stores won’t be able to stay open _ threatening food security in rural and remote areas that rely on a sole independent grocer, Sands said. “If we have to keep sending people home, at a certain point stores are not going to be able to operate,” he said. “We’re very frustrated with the lack of rapid test kits for grocers.”


Health Canada has made some rapid test kits available directly to companies in critical sectors, including the food industry, with 200 or more employees. But many independent grocery stores don’t meet that threshold, putting those kits out of reach, Sands said. Yet many grocers cannot obtain rapid tests through provinces either, he said. “Independent grocers are in a myriad of communities in this country where there is no other grocery store,” Sands said. “If those stores close, you’ve got a food security issue.” Meanwhile, stores are also experiencing a shortage of goods stemming from supply chain issues, including a shortage of truckers, packaging and processing delays and the Canadian winter. Grocers rely on “just in time” delivery, meaning even transient issues like inclement weather can cause delays and shortages, Retail Council of Canada spokesperson Michelle Wasylyshen said.

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How many will be famous?

Ghislaine Maxwell Ends Fight To Keep Eight ‘John Does’ Secret (CTV)

Ghislaine Maxwell will no longer fight to keep the names of eight ‘John Does’ secret and will leave it to the court to decide whether the names should be unsealed, according to a Jan. 12 letter to federal Judge Loretta Preska of the Southern District of New York. The documents containing the names are connected to a 2015 defamation case brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claimed Epstein sexually abused her while she was a minor and that Maxwell aided in the abuse. The case was settled in 2017. Maxwell, 60, faces up to 65 years in prison after she was found guilty last month in a New York federal court on five federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor. The charges were related to her role in Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls between 1994 and 2004.

“After careful review of the detailed objections submitted by Non-Party Does 17, 53, 54, 55, 73, 93 and 151, counsel for Ghislaine Maxwell writes to inform the Court that she does not wish to further address those objections,” Maxwell attorney Laura Menninger wrote. “Each of the listed Does has counsel who have ably asserted their own respective privacy rights. Ms. Maxwell therefore leaves it to this Court to conduct the appropriate review.” Giuffre’s attorney had filed a brief on Wednesday, arguing for the names to be revealed. “[G]eneralized aversion to embarrassment and negativity that may come from being associated with Epstein and Maxwell is not enough to warrant continued sealing of information. This is especially true with respect to this case of great public interest, involving serious allegations of the sex trafficking of minors,” Guiffre attorney Sigrid McCawley wrote.

“Now that Maxwell’s criminal trial has come and gone, there is little reason to retain protection over the vast swaths of information about Epstein and Maxwell’s sex-trafficking operation that were originally filed under seal in this case.” McCawley said the court has already rejected similar arguments for anonymity and the same standard should apply to the eight ‘John Does’ who still remain anonymous in court documents.

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“Germany would have no way of paying Moscow for its natural gas contracts”

Western Governments Drop Plans To Cut Russia Off From SWIFT – Media (RT)

German newspaper Handelsblatt has reported that Western leaders have ruled out the possibility of disconnecting Russia from the global banking interchange SWIFT. However, the US government has contradicted the assertion. “No option is off the table,” a spokesperson for Washington’s National Security Council told reporters on Monday. The denial comes after Handelsblatt claimed that the US had, in fact, given up on the threat of removing Russia from SWIFT in talks with the German government. If the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication cuts ties with Russian banks, Germany would have no way of paying Moscow for its natural gas contracts. It could also unleash a catastrophic rise in oil and food prices.


Instead, the Düsseldorf-based business daily reported that the US and German governments are discussing “targeted” sanctions against Russia’s largest banks in the event that Moscow “invades” Ukraine. US intelligence has claimed for several weeks now that Russia is preparing an attack on its neighbor. Moscow has rejected the insinuations as “fake news.” Germany has insisted that any sanctions include exceptions so that the import of oil and gas from Russia can continue, according to Handelsblatt. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Berlin on Thursday to discuss the sanctions proposal with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the paper added.

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“PULL UP WHOOP WHOOP DON’T SINK TOO LOW GEAR”

5G Network Deployment In The US Spawns A Cluster Of Disruption (TAC)

Something is going on with Runway 10L at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida. Last week, a Bombardier-built CRJ200 regional jet on final approach had the strangest thing happen. The aircraft’s radar altitude abruptly ran down to zero, causing repeated loud aural warnings: PULL UP WHOOP WHOOP DON’T SINK TOO LOW GEAR. The flight landed without incident in good weather, but it wasn’t the first time. “Exact same location multiple times the past two weeks,” the pilot, who was on the flight deck for both anomalies, told The Air Current.

The incidents were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration. It’s not known definitively if the radar altimeter behavior was related to pre-deployment testing of 5G telecommunication technologies, but the unexplained incident underscored the fears of aviators, as well as the confusion and increasing disruption that is now befalling U.S. commercial aviation. International airlines like Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways have cancelled flights to select cities, citing the 5G C Band interference risk to their aircraft. Boeing on Monday night sent a so-called multi-operator message to carriers flying 777 and 747-8s and “recommends operators do not operate 777 airplanes on approach and landing to U.S. runways” with 5G C Band notices starting on January 19 unless there is an alternative means of compliance with FAA directives, according to guidance reviewed by The Air Current.

“The above recommendation has been determined through the Boeing Safety Review Board and engineering pilot evaluation based on the uncertainty of the 5G operating environment,” the company wrote. The review board meeting was held on January 15. “Boeing recommends that operators develop contingency plans for their operations.” Boeing referred comment to the FAA after saying, like Airbus, it was working with an industry coalition to address the 5G deployment issue with U.S. regulators. The FAA did not respond to questions about the reported incident in Palm Beach.

5G

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Y2K?

Multiple Flights to US Suspended Over 5G Fears (RT)

Prominent airlines from Japan, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have suspended flights to airports across the United States after expressing concern over the deployment of 5G. Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines, and All Nippon Airways canceled flights to New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Seattle, among other US cities. Air India announced on Tuesday that it would no longer operate flights the next day to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport “due to deployment of the 5G communications in USA.”


On the same day, Emirates canceled flights to at least nine US cities, again “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S,” while Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways canceled at least 13 flights. Airlines and the FAA previously repeatedly voiced concerns about C-band 5G potentially disrupting airplane instruments, namely radio altimeters. So far, the US aviation body cleared less than a half of the nation’s commercial fleet for low-visibility landings at the airports potentially affected by 5G interference. International airlines were also seriously affected, with All Nippon Airways saying that while its Boeing 787 aircraft could operate under the new guidelines, 777’s could not. In response to concerns, AT&T and Verizon postponed the Wednesday rollout of 5G service near some airports, but not all.

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Rogan McMaster

 

 

 

 

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Jan 182022
 
 January 18, 2022  Posted by at 10:09 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  52 Responses »


Johannes Vermeer The lacemaker 1669-71

 

No Time for Crybabies (Jim Kunstler)
Israel Finds 4 Covid Vaccine Jabs ‘Not Good Enough’ Against Omicron (RT)
The War on Treatment Is Fiercer Now Than Even Covid Itself (Pfeiffer)
Incriminating Evidence (Steve Kirsch)
Returning Travellers To Hand Over Phones, Passcodes At Australian Border (G.)
Australia’s Government Is From the Dark Ages (Simon Black)
Watch Australia Closely (Berenson)
Djokovic Facing Fresh Grand Slam Blow (RT)
Oh Look, MORE BS! (Denninger)
Beta and Delta Variants Trigger Fc Effector Function (Cell)
Poor UK Households May Have To Spend Half Their Income On Energy (G.)
Airlines Say 5G Will Create ‘Economic Calamity’ (RT)
Eisenhower’s Warning About The Military-industrial Complex Is Still Valid (CST)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covid profits

 

 

“..a culture of junk food, junk work, junk art, junk environments, junk government, junk economics, and, lately, junk science..”

No Time for Crybabies (Jim Kunstler)

[..] it’s obvious now, after a year on-the-scene, that the vaxxes work poorly at best to protect against infection or control the spread, and, at worst, induce terrible long-term damage to organs, blood vessels, and the immune system. The vaxxes can kill you or gravely disable you. The statistics in the CDC’s VAERS registry show this in no uncertain terms: 1,003,992 Covid vaxx adverse event reports including 21,745 deaths linked to them through January 7 — and these figures are said to be deeply understated due to the poor design and difficulty using the VAERS website with its clunky, out-dated code that the CDC refuses to fix.

Dr. Fauci has avoided addressing these adverse reactions and the negative efficacy of the “vaccines.” He simply states that the vaxxes are “safe and effective.” That so many Americans believe him, despite all the evidence, and go along with the crusade to vaxx-up everybody, is proof that they are insane. But now that the whole story is unravelling, they are ever more determined to stick to the script. Covid-19 has been their security blanket for two years. As long as it was in the picture, raging and killing as an invisible demon, it could be the focus of all their free-floating terror.

Terror of what, you might ask? Of the meaninglessness, alienation, and debility induced by the managerial class in its own sick institutions and corporations… in short, the 21st-century America that the managers evolved in and supported — a culture of junk food, junk work, junk art, junk environments, junk government, junk economics, and, lately, junk science… a sickening panorama of systems out-of-control and entering failure mode. Confronting the disaster of its own incapacity to sustain a healthy culture and an economy with a future, the managerial class went nuts. Its insane actions now are killing people while seeking to punish those who refuse to walk sheepishly into America’s version of the gas chamber, the Anthony Fauci “vaccines.”

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5,6,7….

Israel Finds 4 Covid Vaccine Jabs ‘Not Good Enough’ Against Omicron (RT)

A fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine showed dwindling effectiveness against the Omicron variant, according to a trial conducted in Israel, with one its lead researchers saying the immunization is simply “not good enough.” A study involving 154 medical staffers at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv found that a fourth shot of the Pfizer vaccine gave only marginal protection against the Omicron strain compared to previous mutations. A separate group of 120 volunteers were also given a fourth dose of Moderna’s inoculation following three rounds with Pfizer, but their immune response was similar. “We see an increase in antibodies, higher than after the third dose. However, we see many infected with Omicron who received the fourth dose,” said Gili Regev-Yochay, one of the head researchers on the trial, adding that while “the vaccine is excellent against the Alpha and Delta [variants],” for Omicron “it’s not good enough.”


Despite the new findings, Israeli health officials already moved ahead with fourth doses for the elderly, the immunocompromised and medical workers beginning earlier this month, with some 500,000 receiving a second booster on top of an initial two-dose regimen as of Sunday. Though the trial is still in an early phase and the hospital did not offer specific figures, Regev-Yochay said she made its preliminary conclusions public as boosters are a matter of “high public interest,” according to the Times of Israel. She noted that giving fourth doses to high-risk residents is “probably” still the best approach, but suggested the booster campaign should be limited to an even older age group than the current over-60 guideline.

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Good overview.

The War on Treatment Is Fiercer Now Than Even Covid Itself (Pfeiffer)

Omicron is tearing through the country, with Covid cases quadrupling and quintupling in thirty-five states from last winter’s peak.That’s the bad news, but only sort of.The good news: For the first time in twenty-two months, experts are uttering words we haven’t heard in answer to the central question: Are we nearing the pandemic’s end? “I think we are,” said Dr. Pierre Kory, a pulmonary and critical care specialist and president of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance.“I am optimistic for this,” said Dr. Harvey Risch, a Yale epidemiologist and treatment advocate. “The more Omicron cases the better until the peak starts to turn downward.”

These two early treatment pioneers echo the sentiments of other experts, some guarded but mostly hopeful, that the highly transmissible, less-virulent Omicron may end covid as we know it. “I’m so happy that Omicron is milder, that Omicron is winding up the pandemic,” said Dr. Mobeen Syed, known to a half-million subscribers of Drbeen Medical Lectures on YouTube.From France, treatment advocate Dr. Christian Perronne, author of the aptly titled, Is There A Mistake They Didn’t Make?, told me, “It could be the end of the pandemic soon.” By all indications, the U.S. and Europe—where a “west-to-east tidal wave” is unfolding—will follow the South Africa–United Kingdom model.

There, Omicron rose and fell fast, obliterating the more fearsome Delta, and leading to far lower rates of hospitalization and death. Experts are anxiously waiting for that to happen in exploding Omicron hot spots like the United States. But one certainty remains. The U.S. and first-world governments still do not want doctors to treat covid early and are doing all it can to stop them. This article covers that ongoing problem, how to adapt to a veritable blockade on safe effective generics, and how I got around those obstacles when I got sick.

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Steve risks overkill.

Incriminating Evidence (Steve Kirsch)

For many people, the most convincing argument is not the scientific data presented here, but seeing what happened to a formerly perfectly healthy friend or family member (or famous public figure) after they took the vaccine. In my case, I lost confidence in the COVID vaccines when a friend told me that three of her relatives died shortly after being vaccinated (and they were all perfectly healthy before the shot). A week later, another friend had a heart attack 2 minutes after getting the vaccine and his wife developed Parkinson’s symptoms after she got her vaccine. Today, my wife just told me that one of her friends recently got boosted and now her four kids don’t have a mother anymore. It’s tragic, but for most people, it takes many events like this before people wake up and realize they’ve been lied to.

In most cases, the victims remain silent because they don’t want to be ostracized or receive death threats. So you rarely hear of the incidents. Also, the press will never cover the reactions because the media cannot prove the vaccine was the cause of the event. [..] Tragically, when all these events happen, the news reports never mention that the person was recently vaccinated. Many never realize it was due to the vaccine because the vaccine is supposed to be completely safe. For example, Celine Dion’s career ended shortly after she got vaccinated. Did anyone ever notice that the singer never announced the cause of her sudden uncontrolled muscle spasms? Did her agent ever tell the public why the vaccine was ruled out as a possible cause? Nope.

Uncontrolled muscle spasms post-vaccination is a very common side effect of the vaccine, especially in women. Is it possible that her injury was just bad luck? Of course, but statistically, it is far more likely that her injury was caused by the COVID vaccines. If she isn’t being treated by a specialist in vaccine injury, she may never return to the stage.

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Freedom.

Returning Travellers To Hand Over Phones, Passcodes At Australian Border (G.)

A man who was forced to hand over his phone and passcode to Australian Border Force after returning to Sydney from holiday has labelled the tactic “an absolute gross violation of privacy”, as tech advocates call for transparency and stronger privacy protections for people’s devices as they enter the country. Software developer James and his partner returned from a 10-day holiday in Fiji earlier this month and were stopped by border force officials at Sydney airport. They were taken aside, and after emptying their suitcases, an official asked them to write their phone passcodes on a piece of paper, before taking their phones into another room. It was half an hour before their phones were returned, and they were allowed to leave. James initially posted about his ordeal on Reddit.


“We weren’t informed why they wanted to look at the phones. We were told nothing,” he told Guardian Australia. “Who knows what they’re taking out of it? With your phone and your passcode they have everything, access to your entire email history, saved passwords, banking, Medicare, myGov. There’s just so much scope.” James said he has no idea what officials looked at, whether a copy of any of the data was made, where it would be stored and who would have access to it. “It’s an absolute gross violation of privacy.” Under the Customs Act, ABF officers can force people to hand over their passcodes to allow a phone search, as part of their powers to examine people’s belongings at the border, including documents and photos on mobile phones.

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“..these politicians think that Australian residents will only become vaccine hesitant if Djokovic is physically present in Australia..”

Australia’s Government Is From the Dark Ages (Simon Black)

Vaccination rates in Australia are among the highest in the world, and they’re feverishly (no pun intended) administering booster shots to the population. Yet despite this adherence to public health authorities, cases are surging to record highs. In the last 24 hours there were 55,232 new Covid cases in Australia. By comparison, Australia had 10 (yes, ten) new daily cases a year ago in January 2021, just prior to the vaccine rollout.But now that 92.6% of eligible Australians have been vaccinated, the infection rate has increased more than 5,000x from a year ago. Obviously vaccinated people are transmitting the virus to other vaccinated people.Yet the government seems to be asserting that only unvaccinated people like Djokovic can spread Omicron… which is a very flat-earth, anti-science view.

But the Australian government’s dumbest reason to expel Djokovic was that his presence in the country may increase vaccine or booster hesitancy. This one is really extraordinary.Let’s we assume for a moment that their point is true, i.e. Djokovic could infect Australian people with his dangerous ideology.Even so, the Australian government apparently believes that ideas only spread through physical contact.In other words, these politicians think that Australian residents will only become vaccine hesitant if Djokovic is physically present in Australia, as if he’s going to sneeze and his ideas will spread like Omicron droplets.But as long as they keep him out of the country, then Australians will be sufficiently socially distanced from his ideas and no one will be exposed to his heresy.

Just like the rest of their arguments, this notion is completely absurd. And yet it was their ‘rational’ basis for punishing someone whose only transgression was exercising independent thought.Back in the 1600s (and prior), anyone who disagreed with the civil or religious authorities was branded a heretic. And their censorship was especially brutal; people were expelled, imprisoned, tortured, and even put to death for questioning authority and expressing a different view.We have once again returned to medieval intolerance for ideological differences.

Australia’s government is a sad example of this Dark Ages-era mentality– that they (and they alone) dictate truth. And anyone who questions their supreme wisdom must be banished.Back then people faced Inquisition, witch hunts, and public beheadings. Today it’s the Twitter mob, cancel culture, and expulsion.It’s not quite as bloody, but still ruinous.

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“..because their risk of infection is higher, a vaccinated person will need to have substantial post-infection protection to have an overall lower risk of serious outcomes.”

Watch Australia Closely (Berenson)

Australia now averages more than 100,000 new Covid cases per day – equal to about 1.5 million in the United States. One fine day last week, it reported 175,000, the equivalent of about 2.5 million, maybe the highest per-capita total any country has ever reported.Not even six months ago, Australia was still chasing zero Covid and patting itself on the back for “Doughnut Days” – with no new Covid infections. (Because a doughnut is shaped like a zero, see?) By the way, Australia is among the world’s most Covid vaccinated counties. Its policy of open coercion and discrimination against the unvaccinated has “succeeded” – more than 95 percent of Australians 16 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, and 93 percent two doses. Those figures effectively represent full vaccination – many of the people left are probably simply too frail to tolerate Covid vaccines.

Deaths are still relatively low by American standards. But they have risen sixfold in the last two weeks and are now at their highest level ever, equal to almost 700 deaths in the United States a day. The trend adds to other worrisome signs about Omicron in highly vaccinated countries. At this point two facts about Omicron are near-certain: 1: Vaccinated people are at HIGHER risk of being infected with Omicron than the unvaccinated (and whatever protection boosters offer does not last). In Scotland, another highly vaccinated country, vaccinated people are more than twice as likely to be infected as the unvaccinated – and people who have received a booster are 30 percent more likely. 2: Omicron is less dangerous than earlier variants.

But how much less dangerous is not entirely clear, because infections have risen so fast that hospitalizations and deaths are still catching up. In South Africa, the first country to see an Omicron spike, deaths from Omicron didn’t peak until Jan. 11 – almost four weeks after infections peaked. In Britain, infections peaked 10 days ago, but deaths are still soaring; they have tripled since late December. Unfortunately, at this point we still do not know how those two facts interact. In other words, if you are vaccinated and infected with Omicron, will your risk of being hospitalized or dying the same, higher, or lower than someone who is infected but unvaccinated? Remember, because their risk of infection is higher, a vaccinated person will need to have substantial post-infection protection to have an overall lower risk of serious outcomes.

In other words, vaccinations will only help and not hurt against hospitalization or death from Omicron if they somehow substantially reduce the risk of getting very sick even though they substantially increase the risk of infection. Is that tightrope even biologically possible? Sure, it’s possible. The vaccine advocates have lately been writing stories about T-cell protection. But possible doesn’t mean plausible. In reality the vaccines do little to drive broad B- or T-cell responses – and that fact was known before Omicron.

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That only took 48 hours.

Djokovic Facing Fresh Grand Slam Blow (RT)

After his deportation from Australia, Novak Djokovic could be forced to miss another Grand Slam after French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu signaled a vaccination pass will be mandatory for international athletes. World number one Djokovic was deprived of the chance to defend his title in Melbourne after a federal court backed the decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel the unvaccinated tennis star’s visa. Djokovic is due to arrive back in Serbia on Monday, but could now find himself barred from the second Grand Slam of the season after the French National Assembly approved the introduction of a controversial new vaccine pass which will exclude anyone who is not fully jabbed from restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

The legislation is set to come into force in the coming days, and was backed by Sports Minister Maracineanu. “The vaccination pass has been adopted. As soon as the law is promulgated, it will become mandatory to enter public buildings already subject to the health pass (stadium, theater or lounge) for all spectators, practitioners, French or foreign professionals,” she tweeted. “Thank you to the sports movement for the work of conviction with the last rare unvaccinated. We will work together to preserve the competitions and to be the ambassadors of these measures at the international level.” Sunday’s parliamentary vote in France means Sports Minister Maracineanu appears to have been forced to backtrack on previous comments which suggested Djokovic’s vaccination status would not be an issue for his participation at the French Open.

“He would not follow the same organizational arrangements as those who are vaccinated,” Maracineanu told the FranceInfo radio station earlier this month. “But he will nonetheless be able to compete [at Roland Garros] because the protocols, the health bubble, allows it.” That position now appears to be in doubt after the more stringent rules are due to be imposed.

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“It’s hard to sell fear — and jabs — to those who have already been infected if you tell them the truth..”

Oh Look, MORE BS! (Denninger)

Not only do the shots not work they have negative efficacy — that is, they make it more likely for you to not only get it but get seriously ill with it. Of course that’s exactly the opposite of what the medical “profession” has claimed, isn’t it? When you make pronouncements without evidence that has a way of happening. Let’s not forget you’ve been bull****ting people for quite some time in public, haven’t you?”Not only that, but multiple studies have shown that the Omicron variant itself affects the upper airways far more than the lungs, even as it’s much more transmissible than any other variant. This is exactly what happened in the later stages of 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, according to John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,” who spoke to me about it on SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio this week.”

I thought *****-19 was the deadliest plague in history? Oh, you mean it isn’t? In fact its not even close, as you’re well-aware, but scaring people is hard when you admit that there have been many pandemics through history that have been worse, isn’t it? Indeed. And yes, this very same pattern did happen in 1918. It has also happened in every other respiratory pandemic, including the one in the late 1800s that we think was caused by a beta coronavirus that is known as OC43 and circulates today. We can’t prove that one because we have no preserved samples to test, but genetic sequencing and back-fitting does appear to line up with a pandemic that caused disease very similar to what we saw this time around — and both are beta coronaviruses. In fact there is not one respiratory pandemic where this pattern has not been true.

How do I know this is a fact? You and I are both on this planet along with many billions of other humans, that’s how. Were this not true the human race would have ceased to exist long ago — well before anything known as “modern medicine” showed up.Of course admitting that blows up all the screaming and fear-mongering too, doesn’t it, including that nice fear-mongering OpEd you got published in August? Yeah, it does. Especially for those who already had it, they’re ok, and thus no longer have a reason, statistically-speaking, to fear it in any way. It’s hard to sell fear — and jabs — to those who have already been infected if you tell them the truth about how every respiratory pandemic in history has played out isn’t it? Never mind it being rather tough to convince such people they should wear a mask too eh?

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Going to have to take a closer look at this.

Beta and Delta Variants Trigger Fc Effector Function (Cell)

SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) exhibit escape from neutralizing antibodies, causing concern about vaccine effectiveness. However, while non-neutralizing cytotoxic functions of antibodies are associated with improved disease outcome and vaccine protection, Fc effector function escape from VOCs is poorly defined. Furthermore, whether VOCs trigger Fc functions with altered specificity, as has been reported for neutralization, is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the Beta VOC partially evades Fc effector activity in individuals infected with the original (D614G) variant.


However, not all functions are equivalently affected, suggesting differential targeting by antibodies mediating distinct Fc functions. Furthermore, Beta and Delta infection trigger responses with significantly improved Fc cross-reactivity against global VOCs compared to D614G-infected or Ad26.COV2.S vaccinated individuals. This suggests that, as for neutralization, the infecting spike sequence impacts Fc effector function. These data have important implications for vaccine strategies that incorporate VOCs, suggesting these may induce broader Fc effector responses.

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Trumped by Nordstream 2 posturing.

Poor UK Households May Have To Spend Half Their Income On Energy (G.)

Soaring energy bills could eat up more than half of some UK households’ incomes, a leading poverty charity has said, amid warnings that vulnerable people will be left unable to eat regularly or could even be at risk of death from the cold. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said that while households across the board faced bill increases of 40% to 47% from April, there would be huge variations in the ability of families to cope. Energy bills would amount to 6% of the average income of a middle-income family but 18% for a low-income family. This would rise to 25% for lone parents and couples without children, while single-adult households on low incomes could be forced to spend 54% of their income on gas and electricity when the new energy price cap comes in on 1 April, the JRF found.

“Rising energy prices will affect us all but our analysis shows they have the potential to devastate the budgets of families on the lowest incomes. The government cannot stand by and allow the rising cost of living to knock people off their feet,” said Katie Schmuecker, the deputy director of policy and partnerships at the JRF. The warning came as one of the UK’s most respected financial advisers, Martin Lewis, said ministers must intervene urgently to help vulnerable people whose lives could be at risk. Lewis, the founder of the consumer advice website MoneySavingExpert, said the government must provide billions of pounds in support to millions of poorer households who faced major financial stress and “heat or eat” decisions.

“We absolutely know we need a substantial increase in the billions of pounds funding to vulnerable people, and people on low incomes, or it is not an exaggeration to say some will have to choose between heating or eating, and that is not appropriate in one of the world’s richest economies and a civilised nation,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “What we can’t get away from is we are going to need to put money into the system or we are going to have an absolute, not a relative, an absolute poverty crisis in this country, with people really being unable to eat or dying because of the cold.”

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Rollout is tomorrow.

“The ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable… To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt.”

Airlines Say 5G Will Create ‘Economic Calamity’ (RT)

Some of the US’ largest commercial and cargo airlines have sounded the alarm about the potentially “devastating” effects of 5G service around airports, saying the technology could effectively grind travel and shipping to a halt. Airlines for America – a lobbying group that represents JetBlue, American Airlines, Southwest, United, Delta, UPS, and FedEx, among others – issued a letter on Monday warning that the new 5G C-Band service could have a massive impact on aircraft operations around the country and create a “completely avoidable economic calamity.” “Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” it said, adding that up to 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers could experience delays and cancelations per day.


While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has acknowledged the new cell network could interfere with key aircraft systems – namely radio altimeters, which help pilots land in low visibility – as of Sunday, the agency said it had cleared less than half of the US fleet to operate alongside C-Band towers. The latest update came just days ahead of a planned rollout set for January 19, which itself followed several delays due to the ongoing safety concerns. However, the airlines stressed that the interference goes beyond one system, as altimeters “provide critical information to other safety and navigation systems in modern airplanes,” which could mean that “huge swaths of the operating fleet” are “indefinitely grounded” until the issues are resolved.

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MORE valid.

Eisenhower’s Warning About The Military-industrial Complex Is Still Valid (CST)

President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address of Jan. 17, 1961, is just as relevant today as back then. Ike warned American citizens of the “military-industrial complex” and the dangers it presented to our nation and the world. Eisenhower was rightly wary of the armaments industry, which at that time was relatively new. Ike knew that such a massive arms industry could dominate the nation. Eisenhower said in his speech, “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”

Resources for this arms industry would come from the American people. And if the arms industry is large, that burden becomes substantial. The more you finance the military, the less money you have for other priorities. With people profiting from armaments and their development, there will inevitably be the push for more weapons. Any arms buildup will encourage other nations to build up their weapons. Arms races remain a continuing danger. Eisenhower further warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Ike believed the American people needed to be politically active when it came to regulating the arms industry. He said, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” We need to question military spending, especially when it comes at the expense of social programs. For example, the Build Back Better legislation is being rejected by many senators complaining about its costs. This means important social programs, such as the Child Tax Credit, free school meals and summer feeding for impoverished children won’t get passed because they claim they’re too expensive.

Yet those same senators are not questioning a nearly $2 trillion program of nuclear weapons modernization. Spending on nuclear weapons simply encourages arms races with Russia and China. Eisenhower warned against such reckless military spending that comes at the expense of the American people. Ike said, “As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.” Eisenhower emphasized in his speech the need for diplomacy and peacemaking. He said, “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

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MLK

 

 

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Aug 132020
 


Joel Meyerowitz Florida 1967

 

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)
Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)
Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)
When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)
Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)
AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)
Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)
China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)
Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)
Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)
We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

 

 

I get quite a few of my entries in the Debt Rattles from my Twitter feed; I follow 193 accounts, let, right, and everything in between.

Now I clearly see the attention in there shifting away from COVID to US politics. Not surprisingly, of course. But what happens in that shift sometimes is. Joe Biden tweeted yesterday that Trump three years ago called neonazis in Charlottesville “very fine people”.

Now, we know that Trump did not do that, it’s a blatant lie, and one which has been well documented, because we know what he did say, word for word. How and why then can Biden make that claim?

Easy: he knows -and his handlers do- that his supporters don’t read or view anything in which this is explained to them. They simply believe Trump said that, because CNN and the NYT say so.

That’s how far the US media landscape – and journalism in general- has sunken. Biden’s tweet:

But here’s what Trump actually said:

And a clip of that:

Even CNN’s Jake Tapper said so. Maybe he can tell his colleagues the truth, refresh their memories?!

 

 

C’mon, get a grip on the numbers already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently this has been available for months. Let’s start ASAP.

COVID-19 Rapid Tests Demo (MedCram)

We’ve received your requests for a brief summary video (to share!) of Dr. Mina’s research and how inexpensive (approx. $1), at-home, COVID-19 tests (results in 15 minutes) could be utilized to dramatically slow the spread of this pandemic (and open up schools etc. in a faster and safer way). Dr. Mina is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research has demonstrated that the sensitivity (accuracy) of these simple saliva or swab paper antigen tests (the technology already exists) is high enough to detect the vast majority of infectious #COVID19 and could be utilized frequently at home.

At-Home, Rapid Result Testing: 5 Min. Summary with Dr. Mina

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Frozen food? Isn’t that a bit far out?

Puzzling New Zealand Virus Outbreak Grows To 17 Cases (AP)

A puzzling new outbreak of the coronavirus in New Zealand’s largest city grew to 17 cases on Thursday, with officials saying the number will likely increase further. And a lockdown in Auckland designed to extinguish the outbreak could be extended well beyond an initial three days. It was a turnabout from Sunday, when the South Pacific nation of 5 million marked 100 days without any cases of local transmission. For most people, life had long returned to normal as they sat down in packed sports stadiums and restaurants or went to school without the fear of getting infected. The only cases for months had been a handful of returning travelers who have been quarantined at the border. But then earlier this week, health workers discovered four infections in one Auckland household.

The source of the new infections continues to stump officials. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said genome testing has not yet matched the new cluster with any infections that have been caught at the border, although the testing has indicated the strain of the virus may have come from Australia or Britain. Auckland was moved to Alert Level 3 on Wednesday, meaning that non-essential workers are required to stay home and bars, restaurants and most businesses are shut. The rest of the country has moved to Level 2, requiring social distancing. The government is due to make a decision Friday on whether to extend Auckland’s lockdown, which seems increasingly likely given the new cases. The good news for health officials about the latest 13 cases is that they could all be linked through work and family to the initial four cases, meaning there is no evidence yet of a wider community outbreak. Officials say they tested just over 6,000 people on Wednesday.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the outbreak was a reminder of the trickiness of the virus and how easily it can spread. “As with our first outbreak, we do have an expectation that things will get worse before they get better,” Ardern said. “Modeling suggests that we will still see more positive cases. At this stage, though, it’s heartening to see them in one cluster.” Bloomfield said he expected that sooner or later the new cases would be linked to somebody who had arrived in the country with an infection or a worker at a quarantine facility, airport or maritime port. “At the moment we haven’t established a direct connection,” Bloomfield said. “But as we find each case and do that thorough interview and investigation, that will help.” Some of those infected work at an Auckland refrigerated food facility, leading to speculation the virus could have survived from abroad on chilled or frozen food.

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In the US, this will always be about money. The government buys billions worth of “maybe vaccines” whose research it has already paid for. Big Pharma sees the pandemic as a major profit opportunity. And both don’t want some Russian vaccine to spoil their schemes.

Russian Vaccine CEO: US Waging “Major Information Warfare” (ZH)

The global race among multiple nations to be the first to produce a coronavirus vaccine – especially the US, China, and Russia – has sparked not just competition to see who’ll be first, but an information war in the wake of Moscow’s announced breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine this week. The announcement of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry and expected to be available to the Russian public by October almost immediately drew widespread scorn and mockery in the West based on allegations Russia is skipping large-scale clinical trials. One Russian official told CNBC this week the US is waging “major information warfare” against the possibility of a successful Russia-produced vaccine.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is backing the Sputnik V vaccine – said in comments Wednesday, “It really divided the world into those countries that think it’s great news … and some of the U.S. media and some U.S. people who actually wage major information warfare on the Russian vaccine.” “We were not expecting anything else, we are not trying to convince the U.S. Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if that works with your regulator … [while] people who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he added.


Dmitriev claimed further that Russia does plan on sharing its data from the vaccine with the rest of the world, also at a moment World Health Organization officals said they wil move to review the COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved by Russian regulators on Tuesday. The WHO said it will require “a rigorous safety data review” before being available for use among citizens.

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Brilliant. Solves much of the loneliness problem, makes sure peole get books, keeps them in touch. It’s often in the little things that we find most value. Localize. Such approaches simply don’t work nationwide, unless you have a real small nation.

When COVID Closed The Library, Staff Called Every Member Over 70 (G.)

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone. “One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation. “The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.” So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records. Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.


“We called them to say hi, see how they were doing, and then see if there was anything they needed help with, such as access to services, counselling support, tech help, that kind of thing. We would then refer them to a service that would help them,” said Dempster. “What we’ve found mostly is that people are really up for the chat and love getting that call from the librarian. Some calls go for five minutes and some go for half an hour or more.” Yarra Plenty’s “caring calls” are just one of the ways that libraries around the state have been servicing community needs since the onset of Covid-19 shutdowns. From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

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Gundlach was right: Biden WAS unelectable in March. But then a miracle happened.

Smart Money On Trump To Win In November, Stocks Could Crash – Gundlach (MW)

Joe Biden/Kamala Harris in 2020? Not so fast, according to DoubleLine Capital’s billionaire boss Jeffrey Gundlach, who predicted Donald Trump’s win the 2016 election. ‘Will Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in November? I don’t think so. I’d bet against that. I think the polls are very, very squishy because of the highly toxic political environment in which we live. That’s the so-called “Bond King,” sharing his thoughts on the upcoming election in a webcast this week for DoubleLine’s closed-end funds cited by Bloomberg News.


Harris, he said, won’t likely change that because she’s “a little too charismatic” and her personality “might be a little bit dominant.” Then again, Gundlach didn’t think Biden would win the Democratic nomination, having called him “unelectable” in March. Regardless, there are still “a lot of twists and turns” to come, he added. Biden is still the favorite, according to a RealClear Politics average showing a 7.3-point margin in the polls. His lead is narrower in key battleground states, where he’s up an average of 4.3 points. As for the market, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if stocks revisited their March lows, and, as Bloomberg reported, he forecast gold to keep moving higher.

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They want her voters, not her ideas. And people are surprised at that? Wake up! This thing lasts for 4 days, and she gets one minute of that. What will Kasich get, half an hour? Look at who’s in charge at the DNC. Same old same old.

AOC Only Gets 60 Seconds At DNC To Deliver Pre-Recorded Message (F.)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will only have one minute to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, Business Insider first reported Wednesday, prompting complaints the party was out of touch with young voters. The DNC will air a 60 second pre-recorded message filmed by AOC in her home. The convention is being held virtually because of the coronavirus, and speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who will deliver a live speech on Thursday, according to Business Insider. Other progressive leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are also slated to speak.


It’s unclear if any other speakers are subject to the same time limits [..] Some slammed the Democratic Party for being out-of-touch with young voters, especially considering AOC’s national profile. In addition to AOC’s minute, the DNC speaker lineup has been widely panned by left-leaning activists for including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, while not giving enough time to Latino, progressive and LGBT politicians. Former candidate Andrew Yang said he expected to speak and was disappointed he was not chosen.

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You need to buy just one vote, it must be unanimous.

Romney Blocks Sen. Ron Johnson From Subpoenaing Comey, Brennan (GP)

A Senior Republican Senate source has confirmed to Gateway Pundit that Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to block Senator Ron Johnson from subpoenaing James Comey and John Brennan. Johnson, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair, said during a radio appearance on Wednesday that fellow Republicans were blocking him from subpoenaing the former FBI Director and former CIA Director, among other figures involved in the scandal. “We had a number of my committee members that were highly concerned about how this looks politically,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who pressed the Senator to name the Republicans blocking him. Johnson declined to name names.


Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports that Johnson’s committee said no one is blocking any subpoenas for Comey or Brennan, rather there’s just a desire to exhaust all options to get them to testify voluntarily. However, shortly after Johnson made his claims, a senate source reached out to Gateway Pundit and confirmed that Romney is leading the obstruction. “Romney was for impeachment. He has been against Trump every step of the way. Now he is obstructing going after the leakers and liars who went after Trump,” the senior senate source said. The obstruction claims come despite the fact that the committee gave him the unilateral power to subpoena people earlier this year.

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China doesn’t have a huge amount of dollars left.

China State-Run Banks Quietly Complying With Trump’s Hong Kong Sanctions (ZH)

On the surface, there is a non-stop tide of daily diplomatic drama and escalating jawboning between the US and China which – quite theatrically – will be at each other’s throat at least until the conclusion of the Nov 3 election. However, behind the scenes, one can discern just who has the upper hand. According to Bloomberg, China’s largest state-run banks operating in Hong Kong have taken “tentative steps” to comply with US sanctions imposed on officials in the city, seeking to safeguard their access to crucial dollar funding and overseas networks, and putting their financial future above their patriotic duty to defend questionable Hong Kongers who have fallen in the crossfire.

As a reminder, last week Trump sanctioned Chinese and Hong Kong officials including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the city’s police for their role in implementing a security law in Hong Kong. The officials will have property and assets in the U.S. frozen; they also will be increasingly frozen by their own financial institutions. China’s bank giants, most of which have operations in the U.S. including Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and China Merchants Bank have turned cautious on opening new accounts for the 11 recently sanctioned HK officials, including Lam, and at least one bank has suspended such activity. To avoid Trump’s ire, at some banks transactions via the U.S. are banned, while compliance must now review and sign off on others that would previously have been immediately processed, Bloomberg sources said.


At the same time, foreign banks operating in Hong Kong such as Citigroup have already taken aggressive steps to suspend accounts or are increasing scrutiny of Hong Kong clients. The quick capitulation by China’s biggest lenders once again underscores how Trump has weaponized the greenback and the ability of the U.S. to use the dollar’s dominance in international transactions as a critical pressure point in the standoff with China. And since China’s state-owned lenders need to preserve their access to global financial markets – with the Yuan years if not decades from even thinking about thinking about becoming a global reserve currency – they have quietly bent the knee to Trump to preserve dollar access at a time when Beijing has leaned on them to prop up the economy from the fallout of the coronavirus.

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WHen your business model falls apart as soon as you must pay decent wages.

Uber May Shut Down In California If Forced To Call Drivers Employees (V.)

Uber may shut down its operations in California, one of its largest markets in the US, if it is forced to classify drivers as employees, the company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on MSNBC Wednesday. Earlier this week, Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California superior court judge to classify their drivers as employees. At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors, which Uber and Lyft say most drivers prefer because of the flexibility and ability to set their own hours. But labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers’ compensation. Both companies have said they would appeal the ruling, which was stayed for 10 days.

But if their appeal fails, Uber may have to close up shop in California, Khosrowshahi said. “If the court doesn’t reconsider, then in California, it’s hard to believe we’ll be able to switch our model to full-time employment quickly,” he told MSNBC. In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued Uber and Lyft, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employees under the state’s AB5 law that went into effect on January 1st. Becerra later filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that could compel the ride-hailing companies to classify drivers as employees immediately. AB5, which was signed into law last September, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee.


In his ruling in favor of Becerra’s preliminary injunction, Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman said Uber and Lyft’s arguments — that drivers’ work is outside the companies’ usual course of business — “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

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There are valid reasons to investigate 5G, and when the Pentagon surrenders bandwidth at record speed, there are even more such reasons. It’s being treated the same way as glyphosate currently, with people saying there’s no evidence of harm. No, that comes later, which is why you need research now. Precautionary principle.

And no, comments like this don’t help: “Those are precisely the frequencies they used to pull in the ‘virus’ from outer space ! And now they’re selling them off to cover it all up! Or maybe they’ve embedded even worse viruses IN THOSE WAVELENGTHS & will now use apps to infect EVERYONE IN THE WORLD “

Pentagon Gives Up Huge Slice Of Spectrum For 5G (BD)

After a remarkably fast interagency review, the White House today announced a massive transfer of electromagnetic spectrum from military use to commercial 5G. It will be the “fastest transfer of federal spectrum to commercial use in history,” US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios told reporters proudly this afternoon. But, Kratsios and Pentagon CIO Dana Deasy assured reporters ahead of the announcement, the rush won’t compromise military readiness or operations. The 100 megahertz of spectrum runs from 3450 MHz to 3550, so-called mid-band frequencies prized by 5G developers because they allow longer-ranged transmissions than the millimeter-wave spectrum that makes up most of what’s been available in the US so far.

Kratsios and other officials told reporters shortly before this afternoon’s announcement that the move would dramatically expand 5G access for all Americans – fulling a congressional mandate in the 2018 MOBILE NOW Act – and strengthen potential competitors to Chinese giant Huawei in the global market. Currently, Deasy said, “the 3450-3550 mHZ band supports critical DoD radar operations, including high-powered defense radar systems on fixed, mobile, shipboard, and airborne platforms, [including] air defense, missile and gun fire control, counter mortar, bomb scoring [during training exercises], battlefield weapon locations, air traffic control, and range safety.” That’s a wide range of military functions, many with life-or-death significance for either training safety or outright combat. Deasy and other officials didn’t detail how the Defense Department would work this massive transfer.


Their remarks, however, suggested a mix of migrating military radars to other frequencies – a complex and costly process typically funded from a share of the FCC auction – and sharing frequencies with commercial users in specific times and places. The White House formally made the request in April. Roughly 200 technical experts from all four armed services, the Office of Secretary of Defense, and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy studied the problem for 15 weeks. The FCC, which has already endorsed the plan, will start auctioning the spectrum off in December 2021, Kratsios said, with commercial use beginning “as soon as mid-2022.” That’s as fast as the transfer can possibly go through the FCC’s public rule-making process, officials said. Historically transferring spectrum takes six years or more. ““The timeline that we’re working with is absolutely unprecedented,” one senior administration official told reporters, “and I cannot underscore that enough.”

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I like the line of thinking. Ideas that once were mainstream start to look crazy.

We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough (CP)

Bloodletting was a common medical treatment for nearly 3,000 years. It developed around an idea, originating with Hippocrates and later wildly popular in Europe of the Middle Ages: that an imbalance of the four humours of the body – blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile – caused illness. Around 500 years after Hippocrates, Galen declared blood to be the most important humour. These and other ideas driven by surgical experimentation and, often, superstition, led to bleeding the body, ridding it of bad blood, if you like, to save the patient. Leeches were used for bloodletting, including the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. We will never know how many people lost their lives across 3,000 years to this treatment, how many humans turned corpses, bled to death by the medico-ideological delusions of their doctors.

We do know that King Charles II of England had some 24 ounces of blood taken from him before he died. George Washington’s three doctors drained him of copious amounts of blood (on his own request) to cure him of a throat infection – he died soon after. Covid-19 has given us a brilliant, thorough autopsy of neoliberalism, indeed of capitalism itself. The corpse is on the table, in glaring light, every vein, artery, organ and bone staring us in the face. You can see all the leeches – privatisation, corporate globalism, extreme concentration of wealth, levels of inequality unseen in living memory. The bloodletting approach to social and economic ills that has seen societies drain working people of the basics of decent and dignified human existence.

The 3,000-year-old medical practice reached its peak in Europe in the 19th century. Its discrediting came only with the late 19th and 20th centuries – but the doctrine and practice are still dominant in the disciplines of economics, philosophy, business and society. Some of the most powerful social and economic doctors around the corpse before us, analyse it much the way doctors in say, medieval Europe, did. As the late Alexander Cockburn, founder editor of CounterPunch, once said, when the Middle Ages medicos lost their patient, they probably shook their heads sadly and said: “We didn’t bleed him enough.” Precisely as the World Bank and the IMF have whined for decades that the horrific damage of their shock and awe treatment, of sometimes near-genocidal structural adjustment – was not because their ‘reforms’ went too far, but because their reforms, alas, did not go far enough, indeed were not allowed to, by the rowdy and great unwashed.


Inequality, the ideologically insane argued, was not such a dreadful thing. It promoted competitiveness and individual initiative. And we needed more of those. Inequality is now central to any debate we have on the future of humanity. The rulers know this. For over 20 years now, they’ve been savaging the suggestion that inequality has anything to do with humanity’s problems. Early this millennium, the Brookings Institute warned against this debilitating discussion on inequality. Less than 90 days before Covid-19 swept the world, The Economist magazine, neoliberalism’s Oracle of Delphi, read the chicken entrails before it and ran a bitter cover story: “Inequality Illusions: Why wealth and income gaps are not what they appear.” Could turn out the most famous last words since Tarzan’s – “who greased the grapevine?”

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May 302020
 


Edward Hopper Folly Beach, Charleston, South Carolina 1929

 

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)
Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)
Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)
Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)
Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)
Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)
Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)
A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )
Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)
Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)
States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)
De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)
No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

 

 

The conversation has shifted away from corona for now. Is that a good thing?

Total global cases pass 6 million as daily new cases set another record at 125,511.

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 25,069
• Brazil + 30,739
• Russia + 8,952
• UK 4,938
• India + 8,105
• Peru + 6,506
• Chile + 4,654

 

 

 

Cases 6,054,777 (+ 122,597 from yesterday’s 5,932,180)

Deaths 367,288 (+ 4,674 from yesterday’s 362,614)

 

 

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two sides prone to violence.

Protests Spread Nationwide: Minnesota Curfew, White House Locks Down (JTN)

The anger over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody fueled intense protests coast to coast Friday night, as activists ignored a Minnesota curfew to set new fires while the White House temporarily locked down over security concerns just outside its gates. The arrest and murder charges filed earlier in the day against the police officer who allegedly knelt on Floyd’s neck did little to quell a swelling rage that drove protests in cities as diverse as New York and San Jose. In Atlanta, protesters spray-painted sayings and broke windows at CNN’s headquarters while tense officers in Brooklyn borough lined up to keep angry, chanting protesters from straying from street protests toward business.


The Secret Service on Friday evening put the White House on brief lockdown, sheltering reporters inside the press room, as several videos on social media showed unruly protesters outside of the Treasury Department, adjacent to the heavily fortified White House, and large groups of protesters walking from the city’s historically black U Street neighborhood chanting, “No peace, no justice.” The protests started Tuesday in Minneapolis, where weary residents and officers faced a fourth night of violence, rioting and fire setting. The Minnesota governor activated the national guard and a strict curfew for 8 p.m. was imposed in the Twin Cities, but it failed to keep large numbers of protesters from taking to the streets anew.

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“..that’s the same brutality..”

Unsanitized: Social Unrest When There’s Nothing to Lose (Dayen)

There’s a reason that Spike Lee set Do the Right Thing on the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn. The pressure from the heat simmered through the community and created sparks that ignited existing tensions. There was a triggering event, which led to a police chokehold and the death of Radio Raheem, and the destruction of Sal’s Pizzeria. The weather was the backdrop as events played out. That was 1989 and it couldn’t be more relevant right now. The death of George Floyd is obviously unforgivable on its own terms. There doesn’t need to be any context. Unreformed police murder in communities of color has been part of America since well before I was born. I have nothing to comment on about looters—at least eight people sent me this Onion headline, “Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” (I guess my reputation precedes me.)

I can’t say anything about the burning of the 3rd police precinct. And I have a lot to say about the great misfortune of having Donald J. Trump in a leadership position during this moment, but most of it would be curse words. Decades of disinvestment and routinized brutality and structural racism created these conditions. The officer who killed George Floyd had enough history of violence alone to contribute mightily to this rage. (And yes, Amy Klobuchar declined to prosecute him and many others for these crimes.) But you cannot separate this outpouring of anger from two months of death, economic collapse, and the disproportionate pain raining down right now on communities of color.

Decades of environmental racism have created toxic vectors for spreading the virus; that’s the same brutality. Minority small business owners have had a harder time securing federal aid, owing to more distant relationships with local banks; that’s the same brutality. African Americans are more likely to be in “essential” jobs and unable to work from home and protect themselves; that’s the same brutality. They’re more likely to be in prisons under perhaps the worst conditions of this crisis; that’s definitely the same brutality. “Black Americans are 80 percent more likely than white people to have diabetes,” which puts them at higher risk from COVID-19; that’s the same brutality. Lack of decent food in communities of color, and access to healthcare, and the ability to rent enough space in shelter to physically distance—this is all brutality against a people, manifested today but going back 400 years.

When you are either out of work or on a hair trigger because you know you’re risking your life by going to work; when your business can’t get a bridge loan and you know everything you worked for is about to be extinguished; when you’re cut off from your friends and neighbors; when your source of sustenance is the food bank; when you have nothing to lose, and then on television you see a black man with his neck wedged between a police officer’s knee and the pavement until he chokes, and you hear he died in police custody after pleading “I can’t breathe,” and you remember how those words were spoken by Eric Garner, and you hear that the man was in custody for using counterfeit money and you don’t think that’s a sufficient reason to kill somebody, and you recall that the Minneapolis Police Department has had a really ugly history with the black community for a long time, and when you exhale a little because the cops involved were fired but then the local prosecutor says this murder of a black man doesn’t merit prosecution… what results from this injustice should meet your expectations.

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It boils down to: how big of a threat is China? Opinionsvary.

Trump Orders His Administration To Begin Eliminating Hong Kong Privileges (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong, in response to China’s plans to impose new security legislation in the territory. Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong’s autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world. “We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment,” he said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong’s autonomy.


Trump’s move follows Chinese plans to impose new national security legislation on the former British colony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under U.S. law that has enabled it to remain a global financial center. Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls. He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks.

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The WHO has failed/refused to reform the way Trump asked them to.

Trump Says US To Withdraw From WHO. Does He Have The Authority To Do It? (NPR)

President Trump has announced that he is immediately halting the decades-long U.S. membership in the World Health Organization over its response to China’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic. In a press briefing Friday at the White House, Trump said, “We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.” Trump said the decision came because WHO has “failed to make” reforms the U.S. requested. Last week, Trump sent a letter to WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, outlining his views on how the agency favors China and asking the organization to “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

It’s not clear what specific reforms the U.S. has requested, because those discussions have not been made public. Nor did Trump say why he acted on the threat after one week rather than waiting a month. The U.S. was a major force in founding WHO in 1948 and is the organization’s top funder, providing around $450 million a year, according to Trump. The level of funding the U.S. provides to WHO has been a sore spot for Trump, who complained at the briefing that the U.S. pays significantly more than China but does not wield more power in the agency. Global health experts said the president’s choice to leave the global health governing body during a pandemic is a dangerous call.

“This decision is really so short-sighted and ill-advised, and all it does is put American lives at risk,” said Dr. Howard Koh, former assistant secretary for health in the Obama administration and now a professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “I disagree with the president’s decision,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement after the announcement. “Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

It’s questionable whether the president can make a unilateral decision to withdraw from WHO. “It is an overreach of his constitutional powers,” said Larry Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin said he believes that the president may need congressional approval to terminate U.S. membership in the U.N. agency. “The only situation where he can do this is if Congress had agreed beforehand to give these powers to the president,” said Kelley Lee, a professor of public health at Simon Fraser University. “It is the role of legal advisers to inform the president on what authority he can exert. He is either not receiving good advice or not listening to it.”

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Thugs, huh?

Twitter Targets Trump Again, Flagging Tweet After Executive Order (SAC)

Twitter flagged and hid a tweet posted by President Donald Trump’s early Friday morning after the president signed an Executive Order challenging the growing political bias in tech companies, whose platforms are meant to be neutral. Trump’s tweet was in response to the growing unrest and rioting in Minnesota, in response to the horrific death of George Floyd while in police custody. Thursday night the situation in Minneapolis escalated again when rioters overran a police precinct, forcing police officers, who were told not to respond by city officials, to evacuate before it was burned to the ground.

Trump signed the Executive Order Thursday aimed at social media giants he says, have been operating as biased publishers rather than platforms for free speech. Trump tweeted that these “THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

The National Guard was sent to assist local authorities in containing the rioting. Earlier the president criticized the city’s mayor, who ordered the evacuation of the precinct saying, “the very weak radical left mayor Jacob Frey” if he didn’t bring the city under control. In response, Twitter flagged the President’s tweet and attached a notice saying “we have placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realDonaldTrump.” The tweet is actually hidden from public view but can be viewed if the reader so chooses to click on it. “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” said Twitter. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

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Consumer spending is way down. Therefore, savings must be way up? is that so?

Coronavirus Sinks US Consumer Spending As Savings Hit Record High (R.)

U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April while boosting savings to an all-time high, and the growing frugality reinforced expectations the economy could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed an economy highly reliant on the government, with financial aid checks from a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion driving a record surge in personal income. Together with news that monthly exports collapsed, the report left economists anticipating the largest contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter since the Great Depression. Data has also been dismal this month on the labor market, manufacturing production and homebuilding.

“Right now, the economy is totally dependent upon the largesse of the government,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economics in Holland, Pennsylvania. “Will the federal government keep sending out checks or will the household and business welfare payments dry up?” The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, plunged 13.6% last month, the biggest drop since the government started tracking the series in 1959. It eclipsed the previous all-time decrease of 6.9% in March.

[..] Personal income surged a record 10.5% last month. Without the government money, income would have declined 6.3% with business closures pushing wages down 8.0%. The unprecedented economic upheaval saw the saving rate hitting a record 33%. “If the economy reopens quickly without consequence, the millions who lost jobs are hired back and have no reason to fear they will lose their jobs again, these savings represent considerable spending power in the second half,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN in New York. “If it takes longer to reopen the economy, these savings will be used for sustenance over the next few months. They will limit the decline, but not fuel a sharp rebound.”

[..] In a second report on Friday, the Commerce Department said goods exports tumbled 25.2% to $95.4 billion in April, a 10-year low. The broad decline in exports was led by a 65.9% collapse in shipments of motor vehicles and parts. That outpaced a 14.3% tumble in imports. As a result, the goods trade deficit widened 7.2% to 69.7 billion last month. The larger goods trade deficit is likely a drag on second GDP, which economists expect could drop at as much as a 40% rate, a pace not seen since the 1930s. The economy contracted at a 5.0% annualized rate last quarter, the deepest pace of decline in GDP since the 2007-09 recession. Consumer spending tumbled at a 6.8% rate, the sharpest drop since the second quarter of 1980.

Read more …

Everyone buys Amazon, consumers and investors.

Investors Eye Consumer Discretionary Stocks As US Reopens (R.)

Investors are taking a closer look at the market’s consumer discretionary companies as a reopening U.S. economy fuels hopes of a turnaround for some of the sector’s hardest-hit names. Many companies in the sector have been battered by the country-wide coronavirus-fueled lockdowns that have weighed on growth and damaged retail spending over the last several months, though the stocks of a few, like Amazon, have soared. A gradual lifting of lockdowns in some states has stirred hopes for a bounce back for the retailers that make up much of the sector.Some investors, however, say it may be months before consumers return to their previous shopping habits, making it unlikely that the companies will see a pickup in revenues in the near term.

Firms ranging from middle-income retailers such as Gap Iand American Eagle Outfitters to high-end destinations like Tiffany & Co and Vail Resorts Inc are expected to report results in the week ahead. “This particular group is full of landmines,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “There is not going to be a lot of investor follow-through until we get some certainty with what future revenue prospects are going to be.” Shares of the Gap, for instance, are down 43% for the year to date. A recession that persists through the fourth quarter of this year would reduce the company’s revenues by 40%, according to a note by research firm Trefis.

Next Friday’s U.S. jobs report is expected to show that the unemployment rate rose to 19.8% in May, smashing April’s record 14.7%, according to a Reuters poll. Non-farm payrolls are expected to drop by 7.4 million, adding to the 20.5 million jobs lost the previous month. Cox is focusing on dominant players such as Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc and Target Corp, which have a mix of essential items such as groceries as well as electronics and games that can appeal to customers who may face extended lockdowns during a potential second wave of the virus. Overall, retail companies in the S&P 500 are up 12.9% for the year to date, a gain powered largely by Amazon’s 31% rally. Apparel companies, by comparison, are down 16.2% over the same time.

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Yanis doesn’t want separate countries, though they are likely the best format in a pandemic. No, he wants globalization, just not the one we know. How practical is that?

A Chronicle of a Lost Decade Foretold (Varoufakis )

To exorcise my worst fears about the coming decade, I chose to write a bleak chronicle of it. If, by December 2030, developments have invalidated it, I hope such dreary prognoses will have played a part by spurring us to appropriate action. Before our pandemic-induced lockdowns, politics seemed to be a game. Political parties behaved like sports teams having good or bad days, scoring points that propelled them up a league table that, at season’s end, determined who would form a government and then do next to nothing. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic stripped away the veneer of indifference to reveal the political reality: some people do have the power to tell the rest of us what to do. Lenin’s description of politics as “who does what to whom” seemed more apt than ever.

By June 2020, as lockdowns began to ease, left-wing optimism that the pandemic would revive state power on behalf of the powerless remained, leading friends to fantasize about a renaissance of the commons and a capacious definition of public goods. Margaret Thatcher, I would remind them, left the British state larger, more powerful, and more concentrated than she had found it. An authoritarian state was necessary to support markets controlled by corporations and banks. Those in authority have never hesitated to harness massive government intervention to the preservation of oligarchic power. Why should a pandemic change that? As a result of COVID-19, the grim reaper almost claimed both the British prime minister and the Prince of Wales, and even Hollywood’s nicest star. But it was the poorer and the browner that the reaper actually did claim. They were easy pickings.

[..] Just as cathedrals were the Middle Ages’ architectural legacy, the 2020s left us tall walls, electrified fences, and flocks of surveillance drones. The nation-state’s revival made the world less open, less prosperous, and less free precisely for those who had always found it hard to travel, to make ends meet, and to speak their minds. For the oligarchs and functionaries of Big Tech, Big Pharma, and other megafirms, who got on famously with the strongmen in authority, globalization proceeded apace.

The myth of the global village gave way to an equilibrium between great-power blocs, each sporting burgeoning militaries, separate supply chains, idiosyncratic autocracies, and class divisions reinforced by new forms of nativism. The new socioeconomic cleavages threw the prevailing features of each country’s politics into sharp relief. Like people who become caricatures of themselves in a crisis, whole countries focused on their collective illusions, exaggerating and cementing pre-existing prejudices.

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Your daily dose of anti-remdesivir.

Malaria Drug And Zinc, The Missing Link (Berry)

Mystery surrounds why an anti-malaria drug is not being tested as a Covid-19 treatment in combination with zinc, which doctors say is crucial for efficacy. As we reported recently, President Trump revealed he was taking hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) alongside zinc after reports that many doctors are doing the same to help ward off Covid-19. Criticism of the President rose sharply after a non-randomised study published in the Lancet said that HCQ provided no benefit to hospitalised Covid-19 patients while being linked to increased deaths. What the mainstream media did not point out is that the Lancet study failed to test HCQ with zinc. Other experts have found zinc to be vital for efficacy in this context.

Zinc, available as an over-the-counter supplement, has long been seen as an immune-system booster that helps develop immune cells, or antibodies, and can strengthen the body’s response to a virus. American infectious disease specialist Joseph Rahimian explained that, in relation to Covid-19, zinc ‘does the heavy lifting and is the primary substance attacking the pathogen’. HCQ is said to work as a delivery systemfor zinc in fighting coronavirus. Ironically, the Lancet study came out at the same time as it was reported that India’s premier health body had expanded use of HCQ as a preventive for key workers following three studies showing positive results.

[..] ..a study by the New York University Grossman School of Medicine published this month [..] found that those receiving the triple-drug combination (HCQ, with azithromycin and, crucially, zinc) ‘were 44 per cent less likely to die, compared with the double-drug combination (i.e. without zinc)’. As the study notes:‘This study provides the first in vivo evidence that zinc sulfate in combination with hydroxychloroquine may play a role in therapeutic management for Covid-19.’ The above makes the question of why zinc was not used in the Lancet study more baffling. And why don’t the media note that the combination of zinc and HCQ is crucial?

Read more …

This sounds quite confused. “5G = communism”? Where do we start?

Yeah, 5G should be researched much more before it’s lanuched. But how can it turn COVID19 into a scam?

Australian Anti-Vaxxers Label COVID19 a ‘Scam’ At Anti-5G Protests (AAP)

Hundreds of anti-vaccination protesters have defied social distancing measures at rallies in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Protesters claiming the Covid-19 pandemic was a “scam” gathered at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne on Saturday, and carried signs declaring they were against vaccines and 5G technology. Their placards claimed “5G = communism”, “Covid 1984” and “our ignorance is their strength”. They booed police – clad in gloves and face masks – who warned the crowd that they were breaching social distancing rules designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. In a statement, police said those found in breach of Covid-19 directions faced fines of $1,652 each.


In Sydney, up to 500 protesters voiced conspiracy theories regarding not only vaccination but also 5G telecommunication networks, fluoride and large pharmaceutical corporations. The group convened at Hyde Park in the CBD before holding a singalong of anti-vaccination songs and walking to NSW Parliament House. They chanted “freedom of choice” and “my body, my choice” on the march, with some attempting to raise the spectre of a “new world order”. The walk passed without incident or police intervention. When asked about the protest, Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said “there’s no message that can get through to people who have no belief in science”. “There’s probably no reaching them,” he earlier told reporters.

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Hey, you wanted a for-profit medical system.

States Are Copying & Pasting Immunity Laws For Nursing Home Execs (Sirota)

To date, 19 states have enacted some form of immunity for the hospital and nursing home industries during the pandemic. In general, these new policies shield nurses, doctors and other frontline health care workers from liability when they are treating COVID patients. However, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina go further: unlike other states, the identical language added to their laws explicitly define health care providers as including “a health care facility administrator, executive, supervisor, board member, trustee” or other corporate managers. That exact word-for-word clause appears in emergency legislation in all three states. In practice, it extends immunity to corporate officials who are not on the medical frontlines, but who are making life-and-death decisions across their companies.


“The new measures granting immunity to health care providers and professionals go well beyond protecting front-line workers from lawsuits — many also provide immunity to administrators who make unreasonable and dangerous, even lethal, decisions,” said Syracuse University law professor Nina Kohn. “New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina take protection for corporate owners and executives to a whole new level by explicitly granting immunity to board members, trustees, and directors.” “This is extraordinary protection which is in no way in the public interest,” Kohn said. “These states are explicitly and unabashedly giving for-profit corporations and corporate executives the green light to make unreasonable decisions that put vulnerable people in imminent danger, and letting them know that they don’t have to worry about being held legally accountable for the avoidable human damage that results.”

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Teaching the poor another lesson will always trump the pandemic.

De Blasio Ramps Up Destruction Of Homeless Encampments (Gothamist)

Trudi and Rickey Reppi live in a tent on a triangular stretch of sidewalk between three lanes of traffic by the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. The tent serves as a headquarters of sorts for a community of homeless people and panhandlers. Dave, Rob, Richard, Russia, and Seven all often sleep outside, some on mattresses or chairs, some on cardboard and bundled-up clothing. Others drop by frequently throughout the day, accepting packaged meals Trudi and Rickey had picked up from an aid organization (“Homeless people help each other way more than anyone in these hundred thousand dollar cars ever help us,” Trudi says) or fanning out, cardboard signs in hand, to ask passing drivers for money for hours on end.

The police arrive at about 9 a.m, flanked by outreach and Sanitation workers forming a team of around a dozen city employees. Trudi and Rickey wearily begin the weekly routine of taking down their tent, bundling up all the possessions they can carry, and leaving everything else on the side of the street for the Sanitation workers to throw away. For years, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has been sending joint teams of NYPD officers, Sanitation workers, and Department of Homeless Services staff to require that homeless people move from locations where they’ve set up shelter. The number of sweeps (also called “clean-ups”) per week has risen dramatically in the last six months, according to homeless people, advocates and case workers.

A DHS employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the team implementing the sweeps had increased last November from about 3 to about 40. The employee said that the clean-ups would be increasing to twice a week at most encampments; eventually, he suggested, homeless people would give in and accept shelter. Trudi says that she’s been subject to ten to fifteen sweeps in just the last three months. This count doesn’t include the nightly visits the NYPD has paid her in May, sending as many as nine police officers at 3 a.m. to demand that she take down her tent. “In my administration, we made a decision that from our point of view, it was unacceptable to have [a] single encampment anywhere in New York City and they had to be dismantled anytime they’re identified,” Mayor de Blasio said at a press conference earlier this month.

“And we’ve been doing that now for years and it’s really caused the encampments to become a rarity, but whenever we see a new one, we immediately take it down.” But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has explicitly recommended against clearing encampments or displacing unsheltered homeless people during the pandemic. “If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are,” the guidelines read. “Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

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The Netflix series on Epstein brings her to our attention again.

Still No One Knows Where Ghislaine Maxwell Is (Esq.)

Though multiple survivors have alleged that Maxwell participated in Epstein’s alleged crimes, she’s never been criminally charged. One thing that could stymie potential efforts to level charges against Maxwell is the infamous 2008 plea deal that Epstein struck with the US Attorney for Miami, Alexander Acosta, which found him serving just 13 months in prison after initially facing charges that could have garnered him a life sentence. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich producer Joe Berlinger described the deal to Esquire as “unprecedented, unheard of sweetheart deal” that “included a non-prosecution agreement for named and unnamed co-conspirators.”

In April, an appeals court upheld the 2007 deal, writing in its opinion that the decision was “not a result we like, but it’s the result we think the law requires.” Maxwell is currently suing Epstein’s estate for money for her legal fees, and for the price of private security, alleging that her “prior employment relationship” with Epstein has caused to her be subjected to death threats. Though once a fixture of the global high-society, Maxwell has been spotted rarely in recent years. Last summer, she was photographed at a Los Angeles In-N-Out Burger, though the authenticity of the photo has been disputed. Her New York townhouse was sold in 2016.

This month, it was reported that lawyers for accusers seeking to file a civil suit against Maxwell have been unable to locate her. According to ABC news, one alleged victim’s “legal team dispatched process servers to five addresses previously connected to Maxwell, including a multi-million dollar brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, an apartment building in Miami Beach and Epstein’s mansion on Palm Beach Island.” Maxwell is also contending with other civil lawsuits filed by alleged survivors. Just this month, she won the right to delay her questioning in a suit filed by Annie Farmer, the sister of fellow Epstein accuser Maria Farmer, on the grounds that her testimony could be used against her in a current criminal investigation. But with the FBI allegedly investigating Maxwell, her story could be far from over.

Read more …

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Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

May 292020
 


Edward Hopper Railroad crossing 1923

 

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)
Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)
Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)
7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)
Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)
The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)
EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)
Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)
China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)
Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)
Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)
US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)
Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)
Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)
Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)
Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

 

 

First Debt Rattle in a very long time without a direct virus article. Unfortunately that’s not going to last. New global cases set a new record at 119,000.

 

 

New cases past 24 hours in:

• US + 22,618
• Brazil + 26,417
• Russia + 8,572
• UK 4,938
• India + 7,466
• Peru + 5,874
• Chile + 4,654

New deaths past 24 hours in:

• US + 1,230
• Brazil + 1,294
• Mexico + 447
• UK + 446
• Peru + 3,984(?!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 5,932,180 (+ 118,941 from yesterday’s 5,813,239)

Deaths 362,614 (+ 4,721 from yesterday’s 357,893)

 

 

 

From Worldometer yesterday evening -before their day’s close-:

 

 

From Worldometer:

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

You start a piece with a headline that says everyone’s broke, and then list all the billions in extra savings. Why?

Half of Britain Is Broke – And The Other Half Is Richer Than Ever (G.)

When was the last time you filled up the car? Bought a train ticket? Paid an air fare? Ordered a new sofa? Or even just bought a latte or booked the cinema? Days now go by when I do not spend one pence. And I know I’m far from alone. Figures emerging across Europe reveal that forced saving is happening on an unprecedented scale. French savers put aside nearly €20bn (£16.2bn) in March, compared with the monthly average before coronavirus of €3.8bn. The Italians were much the same, adding €16.8bn to savings accounts, or five times the monthly average of €3.4bn. In the UK, the Bank of England says bank deposits soared by £13.1bn in March, a record monthly rise.

Unorthodox spending patterns abound. GoCompare reckons UK drivers spent £267m less on petrol during the strictest phase of the lockdown. Retail data company Kantar says we are spending a lot more on online groceries but £1bn less on the likes of those £3 sandwich, crisps and juice lunch deals popular in Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. Nationwide says four out of 10 of its customers have more disposable income than before the crisis. The better off are almost wallowing in spare cash. Even after assuming we are spending 20% more on food and alcohol, stockbroker Peel Hunt reckons upper-middle-class households in the UK (those in the ninth decile of income distribution) have cut their disposable spending by just over half.

It estimates that across the entire economy, households in 2020 will save £120.8bn, compared with £38.2bn in 2019, a gigantic increase. That’s a cool £82bn extra kicking around in savings and current accounts. [..] The stockbroking firm at least has the good grace to note we’re not all in this together. “The beneficiaries are skewed towards the top end of the income distribution. Lower-income earners are more likely to work in sectors most affected by job losses and reduced working hours. They also spend a greater proportion of their income on essentials,” it says. So what’s going to happen with all this money? These involuntary savings are entirely the product of the pandemic rather than frugality so we might expect them to go back down to normal levels when the crisis is over and pent-up demand is satisfied.

Read more …

@Jack is in trouble.

Trump Signs Order Targeting Social Media Firms’ Legal Protections (Hill)

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms, a marked escalation of his lengthy feud with Silicon Valley over allegations of anti-conservative bias. The brunt of the order is focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that gives platforms legal immunity for content posted by third-party users while also giving them cover to make good-faith efforts to moderate their platforms. Trump’s order directs an agency within the Commerce Department to file a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to clarify the scope of Section 230, a proposition that has already drawn rebukes from the two Democratic members of the five-person commission.

Another section of the order would encourage federal agencies to review their spending on social media advertising. Trump, joined by Attorney General William Barr, addressed reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon before signing the executive order. “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly, and you know what’s going on as well as anybody. It’s not good,” Trump told reporters. The president accused social media companies of having “unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.” He also said that if he were able to shut Twitter down, he would.

Trump and Barr indicated that legislation on Section 230 could be coming soon in Congress. Barr did not provide further details, while Trump suggested they could just “remove or totally change 230.” When asked about the possibility of a legal challenge to the order, Trump said, “I guess it’s going to be challenged in court, but what isn’t?”

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The victim and the killer had worked together as bouncers in a bar for 17 years.

Police Precinct Torched inThird Night Of Rioting In Minneapolis (R.)

Peaceful rallies gave way to a third night of arson, looting and vandalism in Minneapolis on Thursday as protesters vented their rage over the death of a black man seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck. The latest spasm of unrest in Minnesota’s largest city went largely unchecked, despite Governor Tim Walz ordering the National Guard activated to help restore order following the first two days of disturbances sparked by Monday night’s fatal arrest of George Floyd, 46. In contrast with Wednesday night, when rock-throwing demonstrators clashed repeatedly with police in riot gear, law enforcement kept a low profile around the epicenter of the unrest, outside the city’s Third Precinct police station.

Protesters massing outside the building briefly retreated under volleys of police tear gas and rubber bullets fired at them from the roof, only to reassemble and eventually attack the building head on, setting fire to the structure as police seemed to withdraw. Protesters were later observed on the roof. The city authority warned about ‘unconfirmed’ reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct police station were cut and that there were other explosives in the building. It appealed to people to retreat from the building.A car and at least two other buildings in the vicinity were also set ablaze, and looters returned for a second night to a nearby Target discount store, left boarded up and vacant from the previous night, to make off with whatever remained inside. Fire officials said 16 buildings were torched on Wednesday night.

President Donald Trump on Twitter said that he will send the National Guard troops and “get the job done right” if Mayor Jacob Frey failed to bring the city under control. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote in tweets posted late midnight.

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Louisville, Dallas, New York.

7 Shot During Protests In Louisville (NBC)

Seven people were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, one of whom was in critical condition, during protests that turned violent Thursday night, police said. Circumstances of the shootings were not immediately clear, and a police spokesman called the situation downtown fluid early Friday. Officers were not involved in the shootings, Police Sgt. Lamont Washington said. No other details were immediately available from police. Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video statement early Friday that seven people were shot “from within the crowd” and no police officers fired their weapons. Five were in good condition, two were sent to surgery, he said, adding “my prayers are with all of them.”


The violence happened as hundreds had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman who was killed by Louisville police this spring. “What we are seeing tonight in this community is the obvious frustration of the tension between police and residents,” police special adviser Jessie Halladay said earlier in a video call. “What started out as a peaceful protest earlier this evening is now escalating into property damage, more aggressive action, and we’ve just heard reports of shots fired in the crowd,” she said at the time. She said that in addition to property damage bottles had been thrown at officers.

Read more …

If confused about the logic, see next article.

Why Do Protestors Loot Shops Without Forming Private Equity Firm? (Onion)

Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. “Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn’t mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,” said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company’s assets before plundering.


“I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn’t just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It’s disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There’s a right way and wrong way to do this.” At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers.

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The looters should copy Carl Icahn.

The Hertz Story Isn’t What You Think (Ben Hunt)

On June 30, 2016, Carl Icahn led a restructuring of “Old Hertz”, where the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation (HERC) was split off from the car rental operations (Hertz Global Holdings). Each became a separate publicly-traded company (Icahn with 39% equity stake in Hertz and a 15% stake in HERC), each installed an Icahn-controlled board (not “controlled” in a legal sense, but controlled sure enough), and each started taking on massive amounts of debt. How much debt? Well, HERC has about $2.1 billion in long-term debt, against an equity market cap of only $830 million (and that’s more than twice what it was at the March lows). The equity position is what we might call a stub … a small piece of the enterprise value of the overall corporation (debt + equity – cash). If you want to understand HERC as an equity investment, you better focus your analysis on that debt position and how the company can support that kind of leverage!


As for the debt levels at Hertz … LOL. Hertz has more than $19 billion in long-term debt, against a market cap that was (at its 2019 peak!) about $2.1 billion. Now there’s a stub for you. It’s hard for me to adequately convey the playground that an insanely levered rental company – whether it rents cars or construction equipment – provides for a financialization genius like Carl Icahn. Between asset depreciation assumptions, cost of capital assumptions, and the ability to securitize or otherwise move assets off your balance sheet … the accounting cookie jar that a rental company gives Icahn is otherworldly. Keep in mind, too, that in 2017 – more than a year after Icahn took control – Hertz was forced to report that management had “identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting.”

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Well, actually, the UE has no mechanism with which to rapidly agree on this.

EU Not In Mood To Follow Donald Trump Into China Conflict (SCMP)

European leaders are in no mood to follow the United States in threatening trade sanctions against China as it moves to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, although foreign ministers will meet on Friday to try to hack out a common position. China’s top legislature on Thursday voted to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, sparking concerns that Beijing will limit the autonomy granted by the “one country, two systems” principle that followed the end of British rule in 1997. The US, Canada, Australia and Britain condemned Beijing’s step, hailing Hong Kong as a “bastion of freedom,” while Britain held open the prospect of citizenship for more Hongkongers if Beijing presses ahead.

But despite growing tensions over the former British colony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician, insisted she still wants the European Union to reach a landmark investment agreement with China this year. And while US President Donald Trump said on Thursday the US would be announcing new US policies on Friday as “we are not happy with China” after his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already cast doubt on Hong Kong’s continued preferential trading status, the EU stuck to traditional diplomatic expressions of concern. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he had “deep concern” about Thursday’s move.

He has previously insisted Brussels “attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” but said this week he did not think “sanctions against China are going to be a solution for our problems”. Merkel also said the EU, the world’s biggest trade bloc, needed to maintain a “critical and constructive” dialogue, with trade retaliation not on the agenda when European foreign ministers meet on Friday. “Sanctions are not on the table, our relations with the Chinese are simply too important,” one senior EU diplomat said. The senior EU diplomat added that Hong Kong could be “a game changer” as questions increase about the rule of law in a city of 7 million people that is the base for many European investors in the region.

But the key issue is whether China’s power grab in Hong Kong will weigh on the EU’s investment agreement with China. Germany wants the deal to be concluded at an EU-China summit in the German city of Leipzig in September, although the agreement was already in trouble even before the latest flare-up in Hong Kong. Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to the EU and a former ambassador to China, admitted earlier this month that talks were stuck over market access rights for European companies.

Read more …

Europe’s Council on Foreign Relations likes a hard line.

Europe, China, and Hong Kong: New Red Lines Will Be Worth The Cost (EFCR)

Both international and Chinese companies have long benefitted from the framework of ‘one country, two systems’. It has allowed business to take place outside the direct access of Beijing’s tight authoritarian control of people and capital on the mainland. For decades Hong Kong has enjoyed special privileges in international trade and has thus been one of Asia’s most vibrant economic and financial hubs. Beijing’s alteration of the status quo will likely provoke a US response in the form of sanctions against China or the cancellation of Hong Kong’s special economic privileges. The attempt to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city will no doubt hurt Chinese businesses and elites, but it will likely hurt Western companies even more, as they have long relied on Hong Kong’s excellent business conditions as an invaluable gateway to the Chinese market.


Amid the global pandemic and rising US-China tensions, the push on Hong Kong was foreseeable, but still somewhat unexpected. The Chinese government has likely judged that now is the perfect time to complete some unfinished business. China is intensifying its patrols and creating new administrative structures in the South China Sea. It has increased sabre-rattling towards Taiwan. And Chinese military forces have reportedly entered into Indian territory along the Sino-Indian border, where stand-offs and limited skirmishes have lately occurred on a more regular basis. While the coronavirus has effectively pressed the pause button on the world economy, China’s policymakers have hit fast-forward on restoring ‘territorial integrity’ and dominance in Asia. For Europe, this comes at the worst possible moment.

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If need be under grave threat.

China Says Wants ‘Peaceful Reunification’ With Taiwan (R.)

The head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Friday that “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification” is the best way to bring China and Taiwan together. Outside attempts by foreign forces to interfere in “reunification” will fail, Liu Jieyi told an event at the Great Hall of the People marking 15 years since China signed into law its Anti-Secession Law. Beijing passed the law in 2005 which authorises the use of force against Taiwan if China judges it to have seceded.

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Two different voices saying the same thing. Agenda much?

Attack On Taiwan An Option To Stop Independence, Top China General (R.)

China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country’s most senior generals said on Friday, in a rhetorical escalation from China aimed at the democratic island Beijing claims as its own. Speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law, Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission, left the door open to using force. The 2005 law gives the country the legal basis for military action against Taiwan if it secedes or seems about to, making the narrow Taiwan Strait a potential military flashpoint.


“If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions,” Li said. “We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait,” he added. Although China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, it is rare for a top, serving military officer to so explicitly make the threat in a public setting. The comments are especially striking amid international opprobrium over China passing new national security legislation for Chinese-run Hong Kong.

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Five Eyes alliance. They should ban 5G until it’s been properly researched.

Britain Seeks Alliance Of 10 Democracies To Break China’s 5G Monopoly (Sun)

Britain is seeking an international alliance to supply Brits with 5G internet and break China’s monopoly over the network. The Government is driving forward plans for 10 democratic countries to work together and find a new provider for the superfast internet. Ministers want the UK to form a club of nations, dubbed the ‘D10’, to fund technology companies and find a 5G supplier to replace Huawei. The PM approved plans for the Chinese company to build part of the UK’s new internet network in January, despite pressure from MPs and the US government. The D10 club would see G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – join forces with Australia, South Korea and India to find another company to build the 5G network.


The UK has already approached Washington with the plan, the Times has reported. A source told the newspaper: “We need new entrants to the market. That was the reason we ended up having to go along with Huawei at the time.” It comes amid rising tensions between the UK and China, with the Government accusing the Communist state of covering up coronavirus. Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said in March that China “was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this disease.” Nokia and Ericsson are the only two companies in Europe that are currently supplying 5G infrastructure, but it is believed they could not build the network as quickly as Huawei.

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Feels like Vito Corleone taking the Tattaglia family to court.

US Judge Orders 15 Banks To Face Big Investors’ FX Rigging Lawsuit (R.)

A U.S. judge on Thursday said institutional investors, including BlackRock and PIMCO, can pursue much of their lawsuit accusing 15 major banks of rigging prices in the $6.6 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield in Manhattan said the nearly 1,300 plaintiffs, including many mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, plausibly alleged that the banks conspired to rig currency benchmarks from 2003 to 2013 and profit at their expense. “This is an injury of the type the antitrust laws were intended to prevent,” Schofield wrote in a 40-page decision.


The banks, which sometimes controlled more than 90% of the market, included Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, Societe Generale, Standard Chartered and UBS or various affiliates. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accused the banks of improperly sharing confidential orders and trading positions, and using chat rooms with such names as “The Cartel,” “The Mafia” and “The Bandits’ Club.” Banks were also accused of using deceptive trading tactics such as “front running,” “banging the close” and “taking out the filth.” [..] The litigation began in November 2018, after the plaintiffs “opted out” of similar nationwide litigation that had resulted in $2.31 billion of settlements with most of the banks.

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Sorry to see this. Finish what you start.

Tulsi Gabbard Drops Defamation Suit Against Hillary Clinton (NYP)

Former presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard dropped her defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, saying the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential election are more important than her legal claims. In court papers filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday, Gabbard wrote that, while her claims have merit, it’s better to “focus their time and attention on other priorities, including defeating Donald Trump in 2020, rather than righting the wrongs here.” Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, sued Clinton in January, claiming the former first lady defamed her by calling her a “Russian asset” during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.


“Tulsi Gabbard is running for President of the United States, a position Clinton has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” Gabbard’s Manhattan federal lawsuit read. “In October 2019 — whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated — Clinton lied about her perceived rival Tulsi Gabbard. She did so publicly, unambiguously, and with obvious malicious intent,” it added. Clinton had refused to walk back comments she made during a 2019 appearance on a podcast, in which she referred to Gabbard as a “favorite of the Russians.” “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” Clinton told “Campaign HQ” host and former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.

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Where the real danger resides.

Adam Schiff Alarmingly Close to Handing Trump Dangerous Spying Powers (Timm)

Congress has been embroiled in debate over the potential renewal of three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, the post-9/11 spying bill that has been harshly criticized by civil liberties advocates for almost two decades. At issue in Congress is the fact that Section 215 of the Patriot Act (the provision once secretly reinterpreted by the FISA court to authorize the NSA’s mass phone surveillance program) allows the Trump administration to gather the internet browsing and search histories of Americans without a warrant. Sen. Ron Wyden had proposed an amendment that would require federal authorities to get a probable cause warrant before ever accessing this data.

It seemed like a popular no-brainer: Web browsing and search history is some of the most sensitive content online, and internet privacy has never been a bigger concern to the public. But in a dramatic vote two weeks ago, the Senate roll call on Wyden’s amendment fell just one vote short of the 60-member threshold from passing. With two Democratic caucus members — Bernie Sanders and Patty Murray — missing the vote, the final tally was 59 for and 37 against. The outrage was swift. Even in the Covid-saturated media environment, dozens of news outlets covered the controversy, and the reaction from constituents across the country then came pouring in. Civil liberties organizations immediately mobilized their supporters to contact members of the House, which still must vote on the final bill before it goes to Trump’s desk for a signature.

The pressure worked. Later that same day, Senators voted to pass another amendment that has the potential to reform the secretive FISA court in a significant way. And the House’s privacy advocates felt emboldened to push House leadership to hold a vote on the Wyden amendment during its debate of the Patriot Act bill this week. At the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a bipartisan team of House representatives — led by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson — negotiated for three days with Schiff on the exact language of the amendment. Lofgren and Davidson wanted an up and down vote on Wyden’s version that failed in the Senate by one vote, but Schiff reportedly resisted. The sides reached a compromise late Tuesday afternoon.

Schiff pushed for a change to the amendment so that warrant protections would only cover “U.S. persons,” a definition that would exclude millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, including the thousands of DACA recipients, who are at particular risk of surveillance under the Trump administration. Even with the weakened language, Wyden supported the bill, while emphasizing in a statement that the bill’s language meant that if there was any possibility of Trump collecting U.S. persons’ data, then the administration had to get a warrant.

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The judge will get roasted. Nobody agrees with the move.

Law Professionals Support DOJ Decision To Dismiss Michael Flynn Case (Hill)

More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges and active trial lawyers filed a brief backing the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to dismiss the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The bipartisan group of former government attorneys are asking U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan for them to formally file an amicus brief on the case. The group includes former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr and U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “The issue presented in this case is whether the court has discretion to deny a motion to dismiss to which the defendant consents, as Gen. Flynn has done here. The answer is no,” the attorneys wrote.


Attorney General William Barr requested that the Justice Department drop the charges against Flynn of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia shortly before Trump took office. The attorneys argue that Sullivan does not have the legal right to override the decision from the prosecutor — in this case the DOJ — to dismiss a case they are prosecuting. “There is simply no basis upon which this Court can review and deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, to which the defense has consented,” they wrote. Earlier this month, 16 former Watergate prosecutors also asked Sullivan for permission to weigh in on the case. The attorneys argued that given the DOJ’s decision to dismiss Flynn’s criminal prosecution — despite his 2017 guilty pleas — the department cannot be counted on to give the court a fair and complete presentation of the issues raised by the move.

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History lessons are always good.

Why Did So Many Restaurants Stay Open During the 1918 Pandemic? (Spang)

You’re living in a pandemic. Public health officials recommend new measures every few days: avoid crowds, open windows, wear a mask. Schools close, theaters go dark, even churches shut their doors. But at least the restaurants are open! The year is 1918—maybe not so much like 2020 after all. For years, centuries even, we took restaurants for granted; it is news to most people that they had to be invented (I write about this history in my book The Invention of the Restaurant). As a child, it made sense to me that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone—as we learned in school, “progress” meant currently familiar technologies had all started at some point in the past. Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine. These people were all famous because they invented a new thing. But that social and cultural forms had a history, that not just individual eateries but the entire category of restaurants might be new at one point and non-existent at another? Go figure.

Now it appears that restaurants may not only have a start date, but an end date as well. Born of Enlightenment medical sensibility (the first restaurateurs sold restorative broths and marketed their products especially to people with “weak and delicate chests”), restaurants as we knew them just six months ago may well be a thing of the past—killed off, or at least radically altered, by the current pandemic. For more than 200 years, restaurants have been public places where people go to be private: to sit at their own tables, have their own conversations, eat their own meals. But even that limited degree of interaction violates the social distancing guidelines widely in place today.

Operating in most cases with small profit margins—this month’s customers pay next month’s rent—few restaurants can afford two weeks (much less months) of forced closure. Estimates are that 75 percent of independently owned restaurants may never re-open. Without them, bakeries, specialty farmers, and wine distributors are likely to be in serious trouble as well. While most authorities in the United States today agreed on restaurants closures as a vital public-health measure, their counterparts during the deadly 1918 influenza epidemic saw things differently. A hundred years ago, it seemed obvious that crowds would form along parade routes, in public parks, at revival or club meetings—but not in restaurants.

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Feb 062019
 


Pablo Picasso Portrait de femme au col d’hermine (Olga) 1923

 

Trump Calls For End To ‘Politics Of Revenge,’ Touts ‘Hottest Economy’ (AP)
Trump, Kim To Hold Second Summit In Vietnam At End Of February (AP)
Too Fast, Too Furious (Roberts)
Elizabeth Warren Apologizes For Identifying As Native American (MW)
May Rules Out Brexit Delay And Hard Border With Ireland (G.)
Ireland And EU Discuss Emergency Funding For No-Deal Brexit (G.)
China: Expansion, Stagnation and Decline (CHSmith)
French Lawmakers Approve Controversial ‘Anti-Riot’ Bill (F24)
Judge Pauses Lawsuits Against Cryptocurrency Company Quadriga (R.)
5G Wireless: A “Massive Health Experiment” (SHTF)
18% Of Young People In UK Do Not Think Life Is Worth Living (G.)
50,000 Elderly In UK -77 Per Day- Die Waiting For Social Care (G.)

 

 

At least they all agree on Venezuela.

Trump Calls For End To ‘Politics Of Revenge,’ Touts ‘Hottest Economy’ (AP)

Facing a divided Congress for the first time, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Washington to reject “the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution.” He warned emboldened Democrats that “ridiculous partisan investigations” into his administration and businesses could hamper a surging American economy. Trump’s appeals for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address clashed with the rancorous atmosphere he has helped cultivate in the nation’s capital — as well as the desire of most Democrats to block his agenda during his next two years in office. Their opposition was on vivid display as Democratic congresswomen in the audience formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.

Trump spoke at a critical moment in his presidency, staring down a two-year stretch that will determine whether he is re-elected or leaves office in defeat. His speech sought to shore up Republican support that had eroded slightly during the recent government shutdown and previewed a fresh defense against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation,” he declared. Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.

[..] One bright spot for the president has been the economy, which has added jobs for 100 straight months. He said the U.S. has “the hottest economy anywhere in the world.” He said, “The only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations” an apparent swipe at the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign, as well as the upcoming congressional investigations. The diverse Democratic caucus, which includes a bevy of women, sat silently for much of Trump’s speech. But they leapt to their feet when he noted there are “more women in the workforce than ever before.”

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Haven’t heard Moon for a while. There’s talk of a NoKor industrial area reopening.

Trump, Kim To Hold Second Summit In Vietnam At End Of February (AP)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam to continue his efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. Trump has said his outreach to Kim and their first meeting last June in Singapore opened a path to peace. But there is not yet a concrete plan for how denuclearization could be implemented. Denuclearizing North Korea is something that has eluded the U.S. for more than two decades, since it was first learned that North Korea was close to acquiring the means for nuclear weapons. “As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Trump said in his State of the Union address.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last week that U.S. intelligence officials do not believe Kim will eliminate his nuclear weapons or the capacity to build more because he believes they are key to the survival of the regime. [..] At the second Trump-Kim summit, some experts say North Korea is likely to seek to trade the destruction of its main Yongbyon nuclear complex for a U.S. promise to formally declare the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, open a liaison office in Pyongyang and allow the North to resume some lucrative economic projects with South Korea. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months,” Trump said. “If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.

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Interesting, good graph. It’s just that referring to ‘markets’ means you’re guaranteed to get so many things wrong. There are no markets when the Fed decides prices insead of allowing markets to do so.

Too Fast, Too Furious (Roberts)

As noted by Deutsche Bank’s Parag Thatte noted recently: “While the S&P 500 rallied +15% since late December, equity funds have continued to see large outflows. As Thatte elaborates, “US equity funds in particular have continued to see large outflows (-$40bn) since then, following massive outflows (-$77bn) through the sell-off from October to December.” This confirms our concern the recent rally has primarily been a function of short-covering and repositioning in the markets rather than an “all-out” buying spree based on a “conviction” the “bull market” remains intact.

David Rosenberg recently confirmed the same: “Let’s go back to December for a minute. This was the worst December since 1931, mind you, followed by the best January since 1987. This is nothing more than market that has gone completely manic. To suggest that there is anything fundamental about this dead-cat bounce in equities is laughable. This is an economy, and a market, that couldn’t even sustain a 3% yield on the 10-year T-note. It sputtered at the thought of the Fed taking the funds rate marginally above zero on a ‘real’ basis, even as it feasted on unprecedented stimulus for a such a late-cycle economy. Yes, Powell et al. helped trigger this latest up-leg, not just at last week’s meeting, but in the lead-up to the confab as well. The Fed has been crying uncle for weeks now.”

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Too many attempts at covering lies with other ones. What was she thinking?

Elizabeth Warren Apologizes For Identifying As Native American (MW)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologized Tuesday for previously identifying herself as a Native American. In an interview with the Washington Post, the Massachusetts Democrat expanded on an apology issued last week to the Cherokee Nation. “I can’t go back,” she told the Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.” As a presidential candidate, Warren has been trying to fight accusations that she identified as Native American to advance her career as a professor at Harvard and Penn law schools. In the same report, the Post published Warren’s previously undisclosed 1986 registration card to the State Bar of Texas, in which she handwrote her ethnicity as “American Indian.”

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Thought she might flee into an Article 50 extension. But it wouldn’t bring anything. She’s close to checkmate.

May Rules Out Brexit Delay And Hard Border With Ireland (G.)

Theresa May fired a warning shot at Brexit supporters on Tuesday, insisting there was “no suggestion” Britain would leave the EU without an insurance provision to protect against a hard border in Northern Ireland. At a speech in Belfast, May would only accept that technology could “play a part” in any alternative arrangements and that she would not countenance anything that would disrupt the lives of border communities. Brexit supporters immediately expressed their alarm at some of May’s language, which they fear could be read as a step back from previous assurances. “She knows what she promised us,” one ERG source said. “Even if she didn’t mean what she said, we do.”

The comments came as May prepared to meet EU leaders in Brussels for the first time since the historic defeat of her Brexit deal, where she is expected to formally request the reopening of the withdrawal agreement in order to address concerns about the backstop. The prime minister will travel to the Belgian capital on Thursday, meeting the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU parliament president Antonio Tajani, and the European council president. Donald Tusk. Both Tusk and Juncker have been adamant that the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.

Number 10 sources suggested they did not expect a warm reception, but that it would signal the start of a new diplomatic process, involving proposals on the backstop worked on by MPs and ministers. Earlier on Tuesday, May told her cabinet she would not countenance any delay to the UK’s exit on 29 March, a message to ministers such as Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid who have suggested at least some delay might now be inevitable. Ministers who are more pessimistic about the prospects of the UK leaving on time with a deal held their tongues in the meeting after May’s warning. “She was pretty clear she had no time for anyone calling for it to be extended,” one cabinet source said.

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“He has previously said Ireland would seek “mega-money” from the EU.”

Ireland And EU Discuss Emergency Funding For No-Deal Brexit (G.)

Ireland is in talks with the EU over a substantial Brexit emergency fund to offset the damage caused to the country’s €4.5bn (£3.96bn) food exports to Britain if the UK crashes out of the bloc with no deal next month. As Theresa May prepares for a crunch meeting in Brussels on Thursday, officials at the European commission are already looking at continuous compensatory measures for Ireland as part of an ongoing arrangement that could last years. Contingency funds to compensate farmers have already been discussed at the highest levels and are expected to arise in talks with the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, during a round of meetings in Brussels on Wednesday.

Sources say Ireland will be looking for a “long-term fix” in EU budget talks in April rather than a lump sum Brexit bailout. Politicians have cited the ongoing assistance given to the Baltic states after Russia banned certain food exports from the EU as an example of financial solidarity it hopes to win in a no-deal Brexit. Ireland exports €4.5bn worth of food and drink a year to the UK, ranging from beef to cheddar cheese. Calculations by the Department of Agriculture put the cost of tariffs under World Trade Organization rules at €1.7bn. Michael Creed, Ireland’s minister for agriculture, food and the marine, has said this would be an “existential challenge” for the food and drink sector. He has previously said Ireland would seek “mega-money” from the EU.

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“China entered 2008 with $8 billion in officially counted debt; 10 years later that debt is $40 trillion..”

China: Expansion, Stagnation and Decline (CHSmith)

China entered 2008 with $8 billion in officially counted debt; 10 years later that debt is $40 trillion, plus unknown trillions more in the shadow banking system which expanded the options for risky speculation and massive expansions of credit. Like all the other stagnating economies, China’s “solution” to stagnation was to expand debt-funded speculation and “investments” with little to no actual return. The high water mark of China’s financialization orgy was 2018. From now on, adding debt simply adds more drag on the underlying economy, as income is diverted to service speculative debt and defaults start hollowing out both the official banking system and the shadow banking system.

All the policies that worked in the Boost Phase no longer work. the policy tool chest is empty, and so China’s leadership is doing more of what’s failed: burying bad debt off the visible balance sheets, re-issuing new loans to pay off defaulted debt, and all the usual tricks of a failed banking/credit system. Japan has papered over its systemic rot and decline for 30 years by using a financial Perpetual Motion Machine: the state borrows and spends trillions by selling bonds to the central bank, which in effect prints “free money” for the state to burn propping up a sclerotic, corrupt, failed status quo.

If that’s policy makers’ idea of success, they are delusional. Credit/asset bubbles all deflate, and central bank buying of assets only gives the lie to the illusion of stability and market liquidity. Simply put, there is no indication China’s leadership has any plan to manage the inevitable stagnation and decline of China’s economy that is now painfully obvious to anyone with the slightest willingness to look beneath the flimsy propaganda of official statistics. They are not alone, of course; every other major economy is equally bereft of policies and equally dependent on bogus statistics and debt to paper over the decline.

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Macron support slips further. “50 MPs from Macron’s own party abstained from voting”.. but “The main thing is that there were no votes against..”, says the party.

French Lawmakers Approve Controversial ‘Anti-Riot’ Bill (F24)

French MPs on Tuesday approved an anti-rioting bill giving security forces the power to ban suspected hooligans from demonstrating, in a controversial bid to crack down on violence that has marred Yellow Vest protests over the last three months. Opponents say the bill, approved by the lower house of parliament by 387 votes to 92, contravenes the constitutional right to demonstrate. Under its most contentious provision, government officials would be able to ban people suspected of being hooligans from taking part in demonstrations – without oversight from a judge. Inspired by legislation used to crack down on football hooligans, the new law calls for a six-month prison sentence and a €7,500 ($8,500) fine for violators.

The legislation, if passed by the upper house and approved by the constitutional council, would also allow fines of €15,000 ($17,000) and a one-year prison term for demonstrators covering or masking their faces to escape identification. It would also hand French police greater powers to search would-be demonstrators for weapons. [..] Unusually, some 50 MPs from Macron’s own party, the Republic on the Move (LREM), abstained from voting in favour of the legislation on Tuesday in a sign of divisions within the group. [..] “The main thing is that there were no votes against,” Gilles Le Gendre, who heads LREM’s parliamentary group, told reporters after the vote on Tuesday.

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A very curious case. We’ll hear much more of it.

Judge Pauses Lawsuits Against Cryptocurrency Company Quadriga (R.)

A cryptocurrency platform that lost access to millions of dollars when its founder died with sole knowledge of company passwords has been granted a temporary reprieve from creditor lawsuits. Halifax judge Michael Wood on Tuesday ordered a 30-day stay that precludes filing of claims against Quadriga, a Canadian cryptocurrency exchange that has left thousands of investors without their money after the death of founder Gerald Cotten. Customers have threatened lawsuits. Ernst & Young has been appointed the company’s third-party monitor, to help manage Quadriga’s finances during the process.

Cotten, who died in December of complications from Crohn’s disease while in India, was the only person who had passwords to digital wallets containing C$180 million ($137.13 million) in cryptocurrencies, according to court filings. He was 30 years old. “Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find (the passwords) written down anywhere,” his widow Jennifer Robertson said in an affidavit. A court file indicates Quadriga owes 115,000 users the equivalent of C$250 million ($190.46 million). The document showed Quadriga has $30 million in bank drafts, many of which it has had trouble depositing. Lawyer Maurice Chiasson told the court the company wants time to find the C$250 million it owes users. According to court filings the company is considering selling its platforms to cover its debts.

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The riches of smartphones.

5G Wireless: A “Massive Health Experiment” (SHTF)

Experts are warning that superfast broadband known as 5G could cause cancer in humans, and the usage of 5G is nothing more than a “massive health experiment.” 5G could very well be a global catastrophe that kills wildlife, gives people terminal diseases, and causes the Earth’s magnetic field to change, according to shocking claims by a technology expert. Arthur Robert Firstenberg is an American author and an activist for electromagnetic radiation and health. In his 1997 book Microwaving Our Planet: The Environmental Impact of the Wireless Revolution, he claimed: “The telecommunications industry has suppressed damaging evidence about its technology since at least 1927.”

Firstenberg has also founded the independent campaign group the Celluar Phone Task Force and since 1996 he has argued in numerous publications that wireless technology is dangerous. According to a report by the Daily Star, Firstenberg has also recently started an online petition calling on world organizations, such as the United Nations, World Health Organisation (WHO), and European Union to “urgently halt the development of 5G,” which is due to be rolled out this year. In fact, Verizon has activated the world’s first 5G networks in four cities in the United States: Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. According to the Firstenberg, wireless networks are “harmful for humans” and the development of the next generation is “defined as a crime” under international law, as he states it in the online petition.

When speaking to The Daily Star Online, Firstenberg said this 5G rollout is deadly. “There is about to be as many as 20,000 satellites in the atmosphere. The FCC approved Elon Musk’s project for 12,000 satellites on November 15th and he’s going to launch his in mid-2019. I’m getting reports from various parts of the world that 5G antennas are being erected all over and people are already getting sick from what’s there now and the insect population is getting affected,” Firstenberg stated.

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More riches of smartphones. Someone soon will propose a better term than ‘smart’-phones.

18% Of Young People In UK Do Not Think Life Is Worth Living (G.)

The number of young people in the UK who say they do not believe that life is worth living has doubled in the last decade, amid a sense of overwhelming pressure from social media which is driving feelings of inadequacy, new research suggests. In 2009, only 9% of 16-25-year-olds disagreed with the statement that “life is really worth living”, but that has now risen to 18%. More than a quarter also disagree that that their life has a sense of purpose, according to a YouGov survey of 2,162 people for the Prince’s Trust, a charity that helps 11 to 30-year-olds into education, training and work. Youth happiness levels have fallen most sharply over the last decade in respect of relationships with friends and emotional health, the survey found, while satisfaction with issues like money and accommodation have remained steady.

The Prince’s Trust has been gauging youth opinion for 10 years and found that just under half of young people who use social media now feel more anxious about their future when they compare themselves to others on sites and apps such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. A similar amount agree that social media makes them feel “inadequate”. More than half (57%) think social media creates “overwhelming pressure” to succeed. The gloomy view on life being taken by a growing minority of young people comes amid reports of an increased rate of teenage suicide. It was reported on Sunday that official statistics due later this year will show that suicides now occur at more than five in 100,000 teenagers in England. That contrasts with a figure of just over three in 100,000 in 2010.

“Social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time,” said Nick Stace, UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust. “Young people are critical to the future success of this country, but they’ll only realise their full potential if they believe in themselves and define success in their own terms. It is therefore a moral and economic imperative that employers, government, charities and wider communities put the needs of young people centre stage.”

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Britain gets rid of its old and its young. And presumably other ‘weaker’ groups.

50,000 Elderly In UK -77 Per Day- Die Waiting For Social Care (G.)

More than 50,000 people have died waiting for care while ministers dither over long-awaited plans to overhaul the funding of social care, a charity has claimed. Age UK estimated that 54,000 people – or 77 a day – have died while waiting for a care package in the 700 days since the government first said in March 2017 it would publish its social care green paper, which has since been delayed several times. The claim came as a cross-party group of MPs warned that the government was “in denial” about the perilous state of English local authority finances – a crisis driven by a growing demand for the care of vulnerable adults and children.

The Commons public accounts committee (PAC) said that after eight years in which central government funding had halved, councils were under “enormous pressure” just to maintain essential services. MPs accused ministers of having no meaningful plan to ensure local authority finances were sustainable in the future. Overall spending by local authorities on services fell by 19.2% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2016-17, according to the report. Meg Hillier, the committee chair said: “Government needs to get real, listen fully to the concerns of local government and take a hard look at the real impact funding reductions have on local services.”

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced a funding boost for councils at last autumn’s budget, amounting to £1.4 bn in 2018-19 and 2019-20. But the PAC said such short-term fixes failed to deal with the underlying challenges facing councils. It urged the government to focus on assuring the long-term sustainability of local authority finances, and be more ambitious than simply allowing them to “cope”.

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Jan 292018
 
 January 29, 2018  Posted by at 11:10 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  11 Responses »


Fratelli Alinari Delphi c1920

 

German Carmakers Take Another Hit With Diesel Testing on Monkeys, Humans (BBG)
The Risks Facing Global Stocks As Money Printing Comes To An End (BI)
Fire Sale By The Treasury Could Send Shock Waves Through Bond Market (CNBC)
The Donald’s Davos Delusions (David Stockman)
ECB’s Knot Says QE Must End ‘As Soon As Possible’ (BBG)
The ECB And The Euro Are The Only Glue Holding Parts Of Europe Together (CNBC)
Trump Administration Ponders Nationalizing 5G Mobile Network (CNBC)
Facebook Makes Privacy Push Ahead Of Strict EU Law (R.)
Hundreds Of Thousands Living In Squalid Rented Homes In England (G.)
UK Brexit Bill ‘Constitutionally Unacceptable’ – House of Lords (Ind.)
Australia Unveils Plan To Become One Of World’s Top 10 Arms Exporters (G.)
Greek Debt Relief Will Depend On Continued Reforms – Regling (K.)

 

 

They get together to set up a testing group, but carefully far enough removed from their structures to deny any responsibility. “We paid millions into it, but we have no idea what they do”. And they will escape any real punishment. TBTF. Testing carcinogenics on people. In the past 10 years.

German Carmakers Take Another Hit With Diesel Testing on Monkeys, Humans (BBG)

The reputation of Germany’s auto industry took a fresh hit from revelations it sponsored tests that exposed humans as well as monkeys to diesel exhaust fumes, which can cause respiratory illness and cancer. The study, supported by a little-known group founded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW in 2007, had 25 people breathe in diesel exhaust at a clinic used by the University of Aachen, Stuttgarter Zeitung reported Monday. The story, citing annual reports from the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, or EUGT, which closed last year, followed a New York Times report earlier that the organization also conducted tests using monkeys. Germany’s auto industry, which is still reeling from Volkswagen’s diesel-cheating scandal where the company rigged emissions tests, distanced itself from the organization.

“We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation,” Daimler said Monday in an emailed statement, adding it didn’t have any influence over the study and promised an investigation. “We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.” The revelations are another bombshell undermining diesel’s image. The technology remains a key profit driver for German automakers, even as demand gradually slips in Europe, the main market for the diesel models. The reports also weaken the carmakers’ position in its efforts to counter criticism of the technology as cities mull bans and German politicians weigh more stringent upgrades to lower pollution levels. In an additional twist, the VW Beetle model used in the test with animals was among the vehicles rigged to cheat on emissions tests, the New York Times reported. Volkswagen apologized for the misconduct and lack of judgment of some individuals, calling the trials a mistake. VW on Monday again distanced itself from the activities of the group.

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That rumbling roar in the distance.

The Risks Facing Global Stocks As Money Printing Comes To An End (BI)

“Correlation does not imply causation” is a vital principle of statistics and numerical models which reminds us that just because two things correlate doesn’t mean one causes the other. For many investors, they’ll be hoping that the correlation shown in the chart below is not a sign for things to come for stock market returns. Because if this correlation holds, things could be about to get nasty. The chart, from Citi, shows the rolling annual change in central bank asset purchases overlaid against annual returns for the MSCI World Stock Market Index since the depths of the global financial crisis back in early 2009. Clearly, as asset purchase levels have changed, so too has the performance of global stocks, tending to rise when asset purchases increase and fall when asset purchases decline.

Until recently that is. As shown in the red circle on the chart, despite a recent deceleration in central bank purchases, stock market returns have actually increased recently, bucking the trend seen over much of the past nine years. “In a world where the global CB taper is well underway — and in any case largely announced — stocks are seemingly starting to decouple from the bearish implication of [the chart],” says Citi. “As we had hoped, in a strong cyclical backdrop, with earnings coming in strong, markets can focus on underlying fundamentals rather than the reduction in central bank accommodation.” Central bank asset purchases set to slow sharply over the next year, as seen in the dotted black line in the chart. If the relationship between asset purchases and stock market returns were to snap back into place, it suggests that stocks could fall by close to 50% over the next year or so. 50%!

To be clear, Citi isn’t saying that’s going to happen, but it is a reminder that we’re entering uncharted territory for financial markets. Ultra-easy monetary policy settings are slowly being reversed, and no one is really certain as to how it will all play out. Adding to the intrigue, it’s clear from this other chart from Citi that while stocks recently disconnected from central bank asset purchases, corporate credit markets have not, with spread compression in investment grade debt starting to reverse in line with lower asset purchases.

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Bond yields are already soaring. Does the Fed have any control left, or is this it?

Fire Sale By The Treasury Could Send Shock Waves Through Bond Market (CNBC)

Wells Fargo’s head of interest rate strategy is detecting a major trouble spot in the bond market. Michael Schumacher’s chief concern right now: Who’s going to buy all those extra Treasury notes? “They [people] are worried about Treasury issuance going up, up, up. You could see an increase in 2018 of 50% — maybe more versus last year. That’s got a lot of people very concerned, myself included,” he said recently on CNBC’s “Futures Now.” He anticipates the Treasury Department will likely announce within days a “pretty significant change” in the way it issues bonds. It comes just as the Fed is shrinking its balance sheet. With less demand coming from the Fed, a fire sale of sorts would increase supply and emerge as the major catalyst causing yields to jump.

“You could see a pretty significant sell-off not just in the 10-year, which people focus on quite a bit, but also on 30-year bonds. We’re very concerned about that,” Schumacher said. “Being the bond nerd that I am, I’d say the market wants to climb a wall of worry like it does in stocks.” Right now, 10-year Treasury yields are bouncing around 2.6% — up nearly 40 basis points during the past six months. Schumacher’s year-end forecast on the note is 2.95%. But he believes it’s not unreasonable to expect rates to push 3.25%. “Something around that level probably does get people pretty worked up. And, it’s such a contrast versus last year when bonds did very, very little,” he said. Yields for 30-year Treasurys, essentially flat for the past six months, appear to be waking up. They’re up about 17 basis points this year.

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Too much swamp to be drained.

The Donald’s Davos Delusions (David Stockman)

[..] above all else, the Donald has whiffed entirely on what is really killing the American economy. That is, the nation’s out-of-control central bank. Via its massive falsification of financial asset prices, the Fed has turned Wall Street into a gambling casino, the corporate C-suites into financial engineering joints and Washington into a profligate den of debt addicts. Likewise, its idiotic pursuit of more inflation (2%) through 100 straight months of ZIRP (or near zero interest rates) has savaged retirees and savers, enriched gamblers and leverage artists, eroded the purchasing power of stagnant worker paychecks and unleashed virulent speculation and malinvestment throughout the warp and woof of the financial system.

Of course, we did not really expect the Donald to take on the money printers – notwithstanding his campaign rhetoric about “one big, fat, ugly bubble”. After all, Trump has always claimed to be a “low interest man” and he did spend 40 years getting the worst financial education possible. To wit, he rode the Fed’s easy money fueled real estate bubble to a multi-billion net worth, or so he claims, and pronounced himself a business genius – mostly by virtue of piling cheap debt upon his properties and reaping the windfall gains. Stated differently, the Donald came to office wholly unacquainted with any notion of sound money and free market financial discipline. And now he has spent a year proving he is completely clueless as to why Flyover America has been shafted economically.

Rather than the top-to-bottom housecleaning that the Eccles Building desperately needed, Trump actually appointed a pedigreed Keynesian crony capitalist Washington lifer, Jerome Powell, to chair the Fed. Then and there, and whether he understood it or not (he didn’t), the Donald surrendered to the permanent rulers of the Imperial City. That’s because at the end of the day, it was the Fed’s serial financial bubbles and massive monetization of the public debt that has enabled Washington’s imperial hegemony abroad, welfare state largesse at home and the egregious inflation of financial asset prices for the rich and the bicoastal elites coupled to them.

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Knot is from Holland, an export-dependent country that suffers from a strong euro.

ECB’s Knot Says QE Must End ‘As Soon As Possible’ (BBG)

The European Central Bank has to end its quantitative easing as soon as possible, according to ECB Governing Council member Klaas Knot, who said there’s not a single reason anymore to continue with the program. “The program has done what could realistically be expected of it,” Knot, who also heads the Dutch Central Bank, said in an interview on the television talk show Buitenhof on Sunday. The ECB is inching closer to unwinding unprecedented stimulus. At their December meeting, officials held out the prospect of a change in policy language early in the year, and some governors have since expressed their favor for taking a first step in March. While President Mario Draghi said Thursday that confidence in a sustained pickup in inflation has increased, patience and persistence are still warranted as progress so far remains muted.

“The program is fixed until September,” Knot said, with Draghi’s reasoning being that the central bank doesn’t have to commit yet to what will happen after that month. “We don’t have to communicate yet that it will be over after September, but I think that’s where we’re headed.” He said there is enough proof to make that clear. [..] Knot said the lack of commitment to any communication by the ECB as to what might happen to the QE program beyond September could have a dampening affect on the euro. A 6% surge in the euro since mid-December is threatening to become a thorn in the economy’s side if it curbs exports and damps prices.

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And that’s definitely not enough.

The ECB And The Euro Are The Only Glue Holding Parts Of Europe Together (CNBC)

Many German political observers estimate that, under the best circumstances, their country is unlikely to have a new three-party coalition government before Easter — April 1. They realize that this might be an optimistic forecast given the fundamental differences separating those who want a status quo stability (two right-wing parties) and a radical change of “governing culture” (the left-wing Social Democratic Party of Germany). Expectations are so dire, and so low, that the unfolding political events in Germany could mean the end of stability in the entire EU. In spite of that, the euro was soaring last Thursday to $1.2537 during the press conference at the European Central Bank. That was the highest reading since the middle of December 2014. And that had little to do with the talking down of the dollar by a U.S. delegation having fun in the Alps.

As of last Friday, the euro was up 16% against the dollar and 5.4% in trade-weighted terms since the Trump administration came to power a year ago. That puzzling paradox of a strong currency in a politically disintegrating economic system owes mainly to the euro area’s improving cyclical growth dynamics, engineered by a supportive monetary policy, and to trading bets ignoring the convulsions of the European project. The project in question has been a difficult work-in-progress for the past 59 years, as the relentless French-German rivalry failed to define mutually acceptable terms for a fairy tale called the European economic and political union. The euro is a result of such a political struggle between the two nations: Fearful of an overwhelming power of a reunited Germany, France insisted on a monetary union to dilute the influence of its erstwhile arch-enemy across the Rhine.

Reluctantly, Germany accepted to part with the Deutsche mark while imposing a legal and institutional infrastructure that would make the euro a clone of it. And to make sure that happened, Germany dictated the rules for the ECB — a supra-national institution and the world’s only genuinely independent monetary authority. Born out of fear of German domination, the euro is, arguably, the only major achievement of a project that was supposed to make another French-German war an impossibility. Still, a war by other means did happen, and France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece – 54% of the euro area GDP – have only the ECB to thank for rescuing them from an assault of disastrous German-imposed austerity policies.

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When will we talk about making Facebook a public utility?

Trump Administration Ponders Nationalizing 5G Mobile Network (CNBC)

National security officials in the Trump administration are looking at options where the U.S. government could take over a part of the country’s mobile network as a way of guarding against China, news outlet Axios reported. Axios, citing sensitive documents it obtained, said there are two options up for consideration: First, the U.S. government could pay for and build a single, super-fast mobile network and could then rent access to national carriers. The move, according to Axios, could see an unprecedented nationalization of infrastructure that has historically been privately-owned. But, the news outlet reported, a source familiar with the matter said a newer version of the document is neutral about whether the government should build and own such a network.

The alternative, according to Axios, is that wireless providers in the U.S. build their own 5G networks that would compete with one another — an option the document said could be costly and more time-consuming, but would be less commercially disruptive to the industry. The reason for even considering nationalization of part of the system is that China “has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure” and it’s “the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain,” the document said, according to Axios. Reuters reported that a senior administration official on Sunday said that the government wants to build a secure 5G network and it’ll have to work with the industry to figure out the best way to do it. “We want to build a network so the Chinese can’t listen to your calls,” the official told Reuters.

“We have to have a secure network that doesn’t allow bad actors to get in. We also have to ensure the Chinese don’t take over the market and put every non-5G network out of business.” The matter was being debated at a lower level, the official said to Reuters, adding that it would take between six to eight months before it reaches President Donald Trump for consideration. The fifth generation (hence the 5G name) of mobile networks aims to provide faster data speeds and more bandwidth to carry ever-growing levels of web traffic. Late last year, the first specification for 5G was completed, which was considered a huge step toward commercializing the technology. Market watchers have predicted the technology will have more than one billion users by 2023, with more than half based in China. U.S. carriers are already working on deploying 5G networks.

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Facebook gets nervous.

Facebook Makes Privacy Push Ahead Of Strict EU Law (R.)

Facebook said on Monday it was publishing its privacy principles for the first time and rolling out educational videos to help users control who has access to their information, as it prepares for the start of a tough new EU data protection law. The videos will show users how to manage the data that Facebook uses to show them ads, how to delete old posts, and what happens to the data when they delete their account, Erin Egan, chief privacy officer at Facebook, said in a blog post. Facebook, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, said it had never before published the principles, which are its rules on how the company handles users’ information.

Monday’s announcements are a sign of its efforts to get ready before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enters into force on May 25, marking the biggest overhaul of personal data privacy rules since the birth of the internet. Under GDPR, companies will be required to report data breaches within 72 hours, as well as to allow customers to export their data and delete it. Facebook’s privacy principles, which are separate from the user terms and conditions that are agreed when someone opens an account, range from giving users control of their privacy, to building privacy features into Facebook products from the outset, to users owning the information they share. “We recognize that people use Facebook to connect, but not everyone wants to share everything with everyone – including with us. It’s important that you have choices when it comes to how your data is used,” Egan wrote.

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No-one can be surprised by this anymore: “..Rats, mouldy walls, exposed electrical wiring, leaking roofs and broken locks ..” and “..holes in external walls, insect-infested beds, water pouring through ceilings and mould-covered kitchens ..”

Hundreds Of Thousands Living In Squalid Rented Homes In England (G.)

Rented housing so squalid it is likely to leave tenants requiring medical attention is being endured by hundreds of thousands of young adults in England, an analysis of government figures has revealed. Rats, mouldy walls, exposed electrical wiring, leaking roofs and broken locks are among problems blighting an estimated 338,000 homes rented by people under 35 that have been deemed so hazardous they are likely to cause harm. It is likely to mean that over half a million people are starting their adult lives in such conditions, amid a worsening housing shortage and rising rents, which are up 15% across the UK in the last seven years. Visits by the Guardian to properties where tenants are paying private landlords up to £1,100 a month have revealed holes in external walls, insect-infested beds, water pouring through ceilings and mould-covered kitchens.

A 30-year-old mother near Bristol said her home is so damp that her child’s cot rotted. A 34-year-old woman in Luton told of living with no heating and infestations of rats and cockroaches, while a 24-year-old mother from Kent said she lived in a damp flat with no heating and defective wiring for a year before it was condemned. “Young adults have very little option but to rent from a private landlord, so we should at least expect a decent home in return for what we pay,” said Dan Wilson Craw, director of the Generation Rent campaign group. “Relying on cash-strapped councils to enforce our rights means that too many of us are stuck with unsafe housing.” The extent of the impact on young people emerged as a cross-party bid to give tenants new powers to hit back against rogue landlords gathers strength.

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And the House of Commons passed the bill without noticing?!

UK Brexit Bill ‘Constitutionally Unacceptable’ – House of Lords (Ind.)

An influential group of peers have warned Theresa May’s flagship Brexit legislation is “constitutionally unacceptable” and will need to be substantially rewritten. The stark warning comes as peers in the upper chamber gear up to begin the lengthy process of debating the legislation – passed with a seal of approval from the Commons earlier this month. The EU (Withdrawal) Bill seeks to transpose all existing EU law onto the UK statue book in time for Britain formally leaving the bloc in March 2019. More than 180 members are already lined up to speak during the two-day debate accompanying the legislation’s second reading this Tuesday and Wednesday, and there are likely to be impassioned interventions from both prominent Leave and Remain voices.

But peers on the Lords Constitution Committee warn in a report to be released on Monday that, while the legislation is necessary to ensure legal continuity after Brexit, it has “fundamental flaws” in its current state. The committee claims that at present the bill risks “undermining the legal certainty it seeks to provide” and gives “overly broad” powers to government ministers. Baroness Taylor of Bolton, who chairs the committee, said: “We acknowledge the scale, challenge and unprecedented nature of the task of converting existing EU law into UK law, but as it stands this bill is constitutionally unacceptable. “In our two previous reports we highlighted the issues this raised and we are disappointed that the Government has not acted on a number of our recommendations.

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Words fail.

Australia Unveils Plan To Become One Of World’s Top 10 Arms Exporters (G.)

Australia is set to become one of the world’s largest arms exporters under a controversial Turnbull government plan. The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has unveiled a new “defence export strategy” setting out the policy and strategy to make Australia one of the world’s top 10 weapons exporters within the next decade. Hailing it a job-creating plan for local manufacturers, the Coalition says Australia only sells about $1.5bn to $2.5bn in “defence exports” a year and it wants the value of those exports to increase significantly. It has identified a number of “priority markets”: the Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. It will set up a new Defence Export Office to work hand in hand with Austrade and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to coordinate the commonwealth’s whole-of-government export efforts and provide a focal point for more arms exports.

A $3.8bn Defence Export Facility, to be administered by the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation, will provide the finance local companies need to help them sell their defence equipment overseas. A new Australian Defence Export Advocate position, set up to support the Australian Defence Export Office, will provide industry with the constant high-level advocacy needed to promote Australian-made weapons overseas. “It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses,” Turnbull said. “A strong, exporting defence industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment, support high-end manufacturing jobs and support the capability of the Australian defence force.”

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Them’s fighting words. Greece needs debt relief no matter what. Blackmailing the country with it is amoral.

Greek Debt Relief Will Depend On Continued Reforms – Regling (K.)

If Greece wants to see its debt burden lightened further it must ensure that it enacts agreed-to reforms and be prepared for the supervision of its foreign creditors to continue, European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Managing Director Klaus Regling told Sunday’s Kathimerini in an interview in which he also stressed that markets would like to see the IMF join the country’s third bailout. “If Greece wants additional debt relief, which means for creditor countries to grant something extra, there is the legitimate question that creditor countries would want to make sure that agreed policies are implemented and that there is no backtracking, on promises in relation to the primary surplus for instance, on future tax policies and on privatizations, or on the reduction of non-performing loans,” Regling said.

He added that there would be no additional conditions for further debt relief but that reforms must be fully implemented, noting that greater “ownership” of the bailout program will help achieve this. “Ownership has improved,” he said, adding however that, “sometimes there are still signals that it’s not fully there the way we would like. For example, on privatizations there are different voices.” As for continued foreign supervision of Greece after its scheduled exit from the third bailout in August, Regling said this was “normal,” noting that there is “post-program surveillance” in other countries that borrowed from the ESM. He added that “markets are always happy if a country is under the surveillance of its creditors.”

As for the potential participation of the IMF in Greece’s third bailout, Regling said it was “one of the elements that could play a positive role to further strengthen the good impression that the markets have.” He added, however, that the markets will also “look for statements by the Greek government that show there is real ownership of the program.”

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