Nov 122020
 


Mondriaan Amaryllis 1910

 

Divisive Pentagon Hire May Rush Troop Withdrawals Before Trump’s Exit (Axios)
Maricopa County GOP Chair Resigns Following Failure to Check Voting Machines
Russia Accused Of Undermining US By Not Recognizing Its Election Results (RT)
Nevada Whistleblower Describes Biden Van Vote Factory In Sworn Affidavit (WE)
Russian COVID19 Vaccine Sputnik V 92% Effective, No Serious Side Effects (RT)
Rural Hospitals Can’t Afford Ultra-Cold Freezers To Store COVID Vaccine (STAT)
Pfizer CEO Sold Millions In Stock On Same Day Of Vaccine Reveal (NYP)
Surge In Covid Cases Tests Sweden’s Go-it-alone Approach (FT)
Banks Around World In Joint Pledge On ‘Green Recovery’ After Covid (G.)
Gas Denied ‘Transition’ Fuel Status In Draft EU Green Finance Rules (EurActiv)
“Own Nothing and Be Happy”: The Great Reset’s Vision of the Future (OffG)
Left-Wing Jewish Labour Member Under Investigation For Antisemitism (LE)
School Bans Parents From Throwing Children Over 6ft Fence When Late (DM)

 

 

Joe promised not to declare victory until the election results were independently certified. And then, this being Joe, he forgot.

 

 

Yeah, we can’t have troop withdrawals. Let’s start by labeling him “divisive”. And then we heap praise on Biden’s prospective chief of staff Ronald Klain, who’s not at all divisive (Ronald Klain was Joe Biden’s White House chief of staff from 2009-2011):

Divisive Pentagon Hire May Rush Troop Withdrawals Before Trump’s Exit (Axios)

President Trump’s newly installed acting Pentagon chief is bringing on a senior adviser in a sign the administration wants to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East before the end of his presidency in January, three people familiar with the move told Axios. A senior administration official says a wave of firings at the Pentagon and the hiring of Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor is in part a settling of Trump’s personal scores — but senior White House officials also have made clear “they want them more publicly to talk about getting out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.” Trump, who ran in 2016 on a promise to bring U.S. troops home, is frustrated with the slow pace of withdrawing troops from the Middle East, another senior administration official said.

The president has told advisers on numerous occasions he wants troops home from Afghanistan by Christmas. In a 2019 interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Macgregor said he would advise the president to get out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible,” including removing the U.S. embassy from Kabul, and that talking to the Taliban was unnecessary. Macgregor also said the U.S. needs to pull its troops out of Syria immediately and America had no national interest there. He said, “We need to listen very carefully to the Iranians … find out what their interests are and look for areas where we can cooperate” and that the U.S. needs to “turn the operational control of the [Korean] Peninsula militarily over to President Moon and the Koreans.”

The Pentagon, in a statement to Axios, confirmed Macgregor has been hired as a senior adviser to acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. It said Macgregor’s “decades of military experience will be used to assist in the continued implementation of the President’s national security priorities.” Since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump has refused to concede the race — but he’s also moved rapidly this week to fire top officials in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. That includes Mark Esper, as well as the former Defense secretary’s chief of staff and other high-level officials in charge of intelligence and policy. He is replacing them with those perceived as loyal to him.

Macgregor, a decorated combat veteran, is a Trump loyalist and regular Fox News commentator. He’s known for his questioning of conventional Army leadership and decision-making, including strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his extreme rhetoric about Muslims and undocumented immigrants. He was passed over earlier this year for the Pentagon’s top policy job amid reports Esper had concerns about him.

Tucker MacGregor Afghanistan

MacGregor Tucker May 1 2018

MacGregor Tucker Mexico Nov 6 2019
https://twitter.com/i/status/1192276635426279424

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Dominion.

Maricopa County GOP Chair Resigns Following Failure to Check Voting Machines

Rae Chornenky, the Maricopa County GOP Chair, has been forced to resign following her failure to sign the Certificate of Accuracy for the voting machines. Maricopa County in Arizona, which contains the state capitol Phoenix, has been at the center of attention following the election, being judged as crucial to President Trump’s chances of winning the state. At the time of writing, Arizona is still counting its votes, and a winner has not been declared by most media organizations, bar Fox and the AP. A number of allegations of voter irregularities have also arisen in Arizona. However, the Certificate of Accuracy, that should be signed by representatives of both parties, ensuring no fraud can occur, was not signed by any Republican.

Maricopa County GOP Chairman Rae Chornenky failed to show up to verify the document, leaving only Democrats and representatives from the Secretary of State to sign it. Arizona State Representative, and now State Senator-elect, Kelly Townsend, called on Chornenky to resign, along with her 1st Vice Chair Linda Brickman. “This is 100% unacceptable and has contributed to the collapse of Arizona voter confidence,” Townsend tweeted. As of Wednesday, Chornenky stepped down as Maricopa County GOP Chair. “I wish to thank Rae Chornenky for doing the right thing,” Townsend tweeted. “I place my full support behind the wishes/decisions of the full membership of the MCRC on how they decide to move forward.”

Before a photograph of the document had been released, Chornenky appeared to deny the claims on Twitter on Monday. “I’ll resign when you sprout even an ounce of integrity and obtain the intelligence to check your facts before spreading filth about a person whom you don’t know on a topic about which you have not the slightest clue,” Chornenky tweeted. The voting machines, which Chornenky failed to verify, have come under scrutiny themselves. Dominion, the company behind the machines used in Arizona and other states, not only have ties to the Clinton Global Initiative, but also continue to sell decade-old machines that have “known vulnerabilites” that make them susceptible to hacking.

Giuliani Dominion

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“The entire media coverage of Russia’s lack of congratulations is indeed intended to do the exact opposite – to heighten the legitimacy of Biden as the opponent of authoritarians.”

Russia Accused Of Undermining US By Not Recognizing Its Election Results (RT)

The same people who spent four years accusing Russia of interfering in America’s internal affairs are now attacking Moscow for not meddling. It’s another curious case of something previously described as ‘Russophrenia’. Russia has explained that it will hold off congratulations to Biden until the US election has been officially called, or his rival Donald Trump concedes. You may think this is a reasonable approach to demonstrate respect for the democratic process amid a contested election. But you would be wrong according to the Western mainstream media, which explains this is an effort by authoritarian leaders to keep their man in Washington. It is also apparently evidence of Moscow supposedly still supporting Trump and Putin fearing that the morally righteous Biden will hold the evil Russians accountable yet again.

No matter that the US State Department, long America’s primary ‘democracy promotion’ vehicle, has reminded foreign leaders that the count has yet to be completed. The narrative of Russiagaters in the media immediately collapses once you factor in how China and Mexico have also indicated they will wait for the official election results. Trump started a trade war and a Cold War against China and his principal foreign policy objective has been to curb the rise of China. [..] What is Moscow achieving by not recognizing Biden? After four years of checking under the bed for Russians, these accusations only need to rest on innuendos, and they collapse once articulated. One can make a reasonable argument that Russia would benefit from a divided America.

Much like the West attempting to sow divisions within Russia, it could be beneficial for Moscow to have divisions in an America that casts Russia as the principal enemy that must be confronted. However, how do delayed congratulations sow divisions in the US? The failure to obtain Russia’s blessing and support is presented by the liberal political-media class as a badge of honor that proves the anti-Russian credentials of Biden. The Republicans are for the same reason not using Russia’s delayed congratulations to advance the legitimacy of their efforts to investigate alleged election fraud. The entire media coverage of Russia’s lack of congratulations is indeed intended to do the exact opposite – to heighten the legitimacy of Biden as the opponent of authoritarians.

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A sworn affidavit is no joke.

Nevada Whistleblower Describes Biden Van Vote Factory In Sworn Affidavit (WE)

A second sworn affidavit from a whistleblower who was an election worker in Clark County, Nevada, claims mail-in ballots were improperly filled out in a Biden-Harris van outside a polling place. A redacted copy of the affidavit signed on Nov. 8 and obtained by the Washington Examiner puts weight behind some of the claims first detailed by American Conservative Union President Matt Schlapp, who is helping lead the charge for the president’s legal efforts in Nevada. In a Sunday press conference, Schlapp said that an election worker saw a van “marked Biden-Harris” with open ballots inside.

The whistleblower, who worked as a poll worker from Oct. 17-30, complained about a Biden-Harris bus or van that was often stationed outside the polling place that would often have “speakers, dancers, music and other festivities going on” and whose organizers had to be told “several times a day” to “stay 100 feet from the polling location.” He also said that voters without proper identification were permitted to cast provisional ballots. The biggest shock claim, though, dealt with improperly filled out ballots in the van belonging to supporters of presumptive President-elect Joe Biden, whom he saw while on a lunch break walk on Oct. 28 or 29.

“I personally witnessed two people handing multiple unopened mail in ballot envelopes to two other people who then opened and filled out the ballots against the side of the Biden/Harris van,” the affidavit said. “The same two people who marked the ballots then put the marked ballots in official pink and white envelopes. These people were not poll workers.” he affidavit continued: “By my final walking lap, there were 5 or 6 additional people who formed a human wall, which moved as I walked by, apparently in an attempt to block my view of the four people who were opening envelopes, marking ballots, and placing those ballots in the pink and white return envelopes.”

The whistleblower recalled reporting the incident to a supervisor, who then called the Clark County Elections Office, to no avail. “Someone there told her nothing could be done about the ballots or envelopes being handled outside at the Biden/Harris area,” the whistleblower said in the affidavit. The elections office added that “ballot harvesting is legal in Nevada,” according to the affidavit, but that practice is not what the whistleblower detailed.

Tucker Dead people vote

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“The researchers say six months will be necessary to make sure that participants of the study do not develop dangerous side effects.”

So much for Russia rushing its vaccine.

Russian COVID19 Vaccine Sputnik V 92% Effective, No Serious Side Effects (RT)

The developers of Russia’s pioneering Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine say their formula appears to show 92 percent efficacy and no serious side effects, based on the preliminary results of a large-scale Phase III clinical trial. The vaccine is being tested in a large-scale double-blind survey involving 40,000 volunteers. Preliminary results based on the observation of 16,000 participants indicate that the drug does a good job of protecting people from the coronavirus, the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology said on Wednesday. According to the statement, there were 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases among the group, which consisted of volunteers who were injected either with the vaccine or a placebo.

The effectiveness of Sputnik V is estimated at 92 percent, meaning it boosts the immune system enough to fend off the coronavirus in just over nine out of ten people. The subjects of the Phase III testing were not the only ones to receive the jab. Russia registered the vaccine in August after it was proven safe in a smaller Phase II survey and made it available to volunteers from high-risk groups, like doctors in Covid-19 wards. The developers observed 10,000 of those people and now say the results showed a similar efficacy rate of over 90 percent. The report said that, as of Wednesday, “no unexpected adverse events were identified as part of the research.” Some of the vaccinated people reported flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue and headache, or pain at the injection site, but those were all short-term.

The Gamaleya Institute promised to publish a report on its findings in a world-leading medical journal after an evaluation and to provide access to a full clinical trial report once the tests are fully complete. The researchers say six months will be necessary to make sure that participants of the study do not develop dangerous side effects. The vaccine is based on two types of human adenoviral vector, with two shots administered three weeks apart.

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Let alone the third world.

Rural Hospitals Can’t Afford Ultra-Cold Freezers To Store COVID Vaccine (STAT)

Large urban hospitals across the U.S. are rushing to buy expensive ultra-cold freezers to store what’s likely to be the first approved Covid-19 vaccine. But most rural hospitals can’t afford these high-end units, meaning health workers and residents in those communities may have difficulty getting the shots. The vaccine, developed by Pfizer and the German firm BioNTech, seems to provide 90% immunity according to early data released on Monday. But there’s a catch: The vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius. Typical freezers don’t get that cold, making distribution of this vaccine a logistical nightmare.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised state health departments against purchasing ultra-cold freezers — which cost $10,000 to $15,000 each — saying other vaccines with less demanding storage requirements will be available soon. Hospitals with money to spare are flouting this guidance. Four major health care systems, from North Carolina to Ohio, North Dakota, and California, told STAT they had bought additional ultra-cold freezers, while Jefferson Health in Philadelphia said it has leased five units.

About 20% of the hospitals that work with Vizient, one of the largest group purchasers for U.S. hospitals, have bought -80 C freezers, said Azra Behlim, its senior director of pharmacy sourcing and program services. Vizient works with 60% of hospitals nationwide, suggesting that more than 10% of hospitals have shelled out for their own freezers. She couldn’t provide a breakdown, but another major group purchasing organization, Premier, said most of its clients buying ultra-cold freezers were academic medical centers.

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He must have had very little confidence in the vaccine.

Pfizer CEO Sold Millions In Stock On Same Day Of Vaccine Reveal (NYP)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla cashed in on his company’s coronavirus vaccine breakthrough. The executive sold more than $5.5 million worth of Pfizer stock on Monday — the same day the drugmaker said its experimental COVID-19 shot was more than 90 percent effective, records show. The groundbreaking development sent Pfizer’s share price surging as high as $41.99 that day, its highest level in more than a year. Bourla dumped more than 132,000 shares for $41.94 apiece, just five cents shy of that peak, according to a Tuesday securities filing. Those shares amounted to more than 60 percent of Bourla’s Pfizer stock holdings, the filing shows. He still owns 78,273 shares directly plus another 3,539 that are held indirectly.


The filing says the sale had been arranged in advance under a so-called Rule 10b5-1 trading plan, which allows corporate executives to make predetermined stock transactions in compliance with insider trading laws. Bourla adopted the trading plan in August of this year, according to the document. Bourla — who got more than $15 million in total direct compensation from Pfizer last year, records show — wasn’t the only Pfizer honcho to make a well-timed trade on Monday. Sally Susman, the Manhattan-based company’s executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer, dumped more than 43,000 shares to the tune of about $1.8 million, according to another securities filing. The sale was similarly made under a Rule 10b5-1 plan Susman adopted in November 2019, the filing says.

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Myth. Boom.

Surge In Covid Cases Tests Sweden’s Go-it-alone Approach (FT)

Do not judge Sweden until the autumn. That was the message from its state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell in May and through the summer as he argued that Sweden’s initial high death toll from Covid-19 would be followed in the second wave by “a high level of immunity and the number of cases will probably be quite low”. Now the autumn is here, and hospitalisations from Covid-19 are currently rising faster in Sweden than in any other country in Europe, while in Stockholm — the centre for both the first and second waves in the country — one in every five tests is positive, suggesting the virus is even more widespread than official figures suggest. “So far Sweden’s strategy has proven to be a dramatic failure,” said Lena Einhorn, a Swedish virologist and prominent critic of its strategy.

“Four days ago we had eight times higher cases per capita than Finland and three and a half times more than Norway. They were supposed to have it worse off than us in the autumn because we were going to have immunity.” Even Sweden’s public health agency admits its earlier prediction that the country’s Nordic neighbours such as Finland and Norway would suffer more in the autumn appears wrong. Sweden is currently faring worse than Denmark, Finland and Norway on cases, hospitalisations and deaths relative to the size of their population. “We also see that many other countries in Europe that had a big effect during the spring that had lockdowns and now again have lockdowns also see a big increase now.


So it seems to follow this pattern that if you had a lot of cases during the spring you also see a lot of cases now,” Sara Byfors, a specialist at the health agency, said in response to a question from the Financial Times. She added: “We don’t know why this is.” Mr Tegnell himself told the FT’s Global Boardroom event on Wednesday that it was “a big mystery” who had immunity and who did not. But he insisted Covid-19 was a “long-term haul” and that having a sustainable strategy that could work for many months or even years was the most important thing. Sweden is persisting with its strategy of standing out from other European countries by not ordering a formal lockdown. Instead, the public health agency issues recommendations on social distancing, hand hygiene, and working from home. It is the only European country not to compel people to wear face masks outside hospitals.

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But of course. Want to save the planet? Ask the banks.

Banks Around World In Joint Pledge On ‘Green Recovery’ After Covid (G.)

The world’s publicly financed development banks have pledged to tie together their efforts to rescue the global economy from the Covid-19 crisis and the climate emergency, using their financial muscle to assist a green recovery for poor countries. But the banks stopped short of pledging an end to fossil fuel finance, and did not set out firm targets for how much funding they would devote to a green recovery in a declaration signed on Thursday by 450 development banks worldwide. Poverty and climate campaigners said publicly funded banks and rich country governments needed to do much more to address the shortfall in finance to poor countries to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the ravages of climate breakdown.

A report by the OECD group found that rich countries provided about $79bn in climate finance in 2018, an increase of about 11% on the previous year. However, the annual growth rate has halved: in 2016 climate finance was $59bn, which grew by 22% to $71bn in 2017. The total is also still well short of the target of $100bn a year of climate finance for developing countries from 2020, agreed under the UN more than a decade ago. The $100bn pledge is one of the cornerstones of the UN climate talks, as poor countries have agreed to curb their greenhouse gas emissions in return for receiving such help. The OECD also found that climate finance from private-sector sources was failing to grow at the levels needed to reach the $100bn target.

Developing countries received, in 2018, about $14.6bn in private-sector investment in climate-related activities, from green technology to increasing resilience to storms and floods. This figure was scarcely changed from the previous year, though was an increase of about $4.5bn from 2016. The average annual increase from 2016-2018 was $2.2bn. There are also wide disparities in how the investment is distributed. According to the report, only about 14% of climate finance is going to the world’s least developed countries, and only about 2% is going to the “small island developing states”, which are in danger of inundation from storms and sea level rises.

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How to power a complex society.

Gas Denied ‘Transition’ Fuel Status In Draft EU Green Finance Rules (EurActiv)

Power plants fuelled by natural gas will not be classed as “sustainable” or “transition” investments in Europe unless they meet emission limits which are so low that none are currently able to comply, according to draft EU rules seen by EURACTIV. The new standards will be tabled in the coming weeks under the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy, which determines what type of investments make a substantial contribution to the EU’s fight against climate change. Failing to obtain the EU’s green label could deprive those power plants of billions of euros in funding as private investors seek shelter in investments seen as climate-friendly. To qualify as a “sustainable” investment, gas power plants must not emit more than 100 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour, according to the draft rules, seen by EURACTIV.

But the 100g CO2 limit would also prevent gas plants from being labelled as a “transition” technology on the way to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the industry, this would hamper Poland’s efforts to replace its ageing fleet of polluting coal power stations with cleaner gas plants, which emit on average half the amount of CO2. Combined cycles gas plants “are currently at 350-300g today which means investors in countries like Poland may not be able to consider CCGT investments as a transition activity,” said James Watson, secretary-general of trade association Eurogas. “We fully expect natural gas to be classed as a ‘transition’ activity,” he said. “But the 100g threshold will unfortunately not allow this,” he told EURACTIV.

Environmentalists, for their part, hailed the draft EU rules for shutting the door to fossil gas investments being labelled “green”. “The gas lobby has had its core request conclusively rejected,” said Rebecca Vaughan, an analyst tracking industry lobbying for InfluenceMap cited by Reuters. In December last year, the European Investment Bank (EIB) decided to stop all unabated fossil project financing from end-2021, a move welcomed by green activists. “That’s the world we’re in now: fossil gas is not sustainable,” said Dave Jones from Ember, an independent climate think-tank focusing on the global electricity transition. “It’s perhaps disappointing even that the taxonomy didn’t set zero as the threshold,” Jones told EURACTIV.

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Dystopia 2.0.

“Own Nothing and Be Happy”: The Great Reset’s Vision of the Future (OffG)

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, Switzerland, brings together international business and political leaders, economists and other high-profile individuals to discuss global issues. Driven by the vision of its influential CEO Klaus Schwab, the WEF is the main driving force for the dystopian ‘great reset’, a tectonic shift that intends to change how we live, work and interact with each other. The great reset entails a transformation of society resulting in permanent restrictions on fundamental liberties and mass surveillance as entire sectors are sacrificed to boost the monopoly and hegemony of pharmaceuticals corporations, high-tech/big data giants, Amazon, Google, major global chains, the digital payments sector, biotech concerns, etc.

Using COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions to push through this transformation, the great reset is being rolled out under the guise of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ in which older enterprises are to be driven to bankruptcy or absorbed into monopolies, effectively shutting down huge sections of the pre-COVID economy. Economies are being ‘restructured’ and many jobs will be carried out by AI-driven machines. A happy smiling face is depicted while a drone delivers a product to a household, no doubt ordered online and packaged by a robot in a giant Amazon warehouse: ‘no humans were involved in manufacturing, packaging or delivering this product’; rest assured, it is virus- and bacteria-free – because even in 2030, they will need to keep the fear narrative alive and well to maintain full-spectrum dominance over the population.

The jobless (and there will be many) could be placed on some kind of universal basic income and have their debts (indebtedness and bankruptcy on a massive scale is the deliberate result of lockdowns and restrictions) written off in return for handing their assets to the state or more precisely the financial institutions helping to drive this great reset. The WEF says the public will ‘rent’ everything they require: stripping the right of ownership under the guise of ‘sustainable consumption’ and ‘saving the planet’. Of course, the tiny elite who rolled out this great reset will own everything.

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Jeremy Corbyn could have been Jewish himself, and it wouldn’t have made any difference.

Left-Wing Jewish Labour Member Under Investigation For Antisemitism (LE)

The Labour Party is understood to be investigating comments from a Wirral councillor which followed a report into how antisemitism was handled. Cllr Jo Bird, who represents Bromborough, spoke in a video published last week which discussed a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into anti-semitism within the Labour Party. The damning EHRC report detailed “specific examples of harassment, discrimination and political interference”, but also noted “a lack of leadership within the Labour Party on these issues”, which it said was “hard to reconcile with its stated commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism”. The EHRC “uncovered serious failings” in the way complaints were handled, until at least 2018, during which Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader.

Reacting to the report at the end of last month, Mr Corbyn said Jewish Labour members were right to expect the party to deal with anti-semitism “and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.” But he added: “The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”. He has since been suspended from the party over his reaction to the report. Cllr Bird, who is Jewish, responded to the report in the video, stating: “In Jeremy’s case, the evidence confirms what the twice elected leader of the Labour Party said, ‘One anti-semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons’. “The [EHRC’s report] also agrees with our human right to say this [in page 27].

The Labour leadership have commented publicly on the EHRC report and an individual case. If they can do it, then so can we! “Jeremy Corbyn should be reinstated, without further ado.” She added: “I’m speaking in a personal capacity. I am a Jewish woman. My Jewish great grandparents fled fascism in Europe and my grandad’s cousins perished in the Holocaust. “I have experienced warmth and welcome at almost all levels of the Labour party. 46,000 members voted for me in the NEC (National Executive Committee, Labour’s ruling body) by-elections earlier this year. Thank you very much!”

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Desperate times.

School Bans Parents From Throwing Children Over 6ft Fence When Late (DM)

A school in France has banned parents from throwing their children over its 6ft fence when they’re running late. Trillade primary school in Avignon, southern France, put up ‘no throwing’ signs outside the school entrance depicting an adult throwing a child. It comes after parents running late reportedly resorted to throwing their children over the fence after missing the 8.30am deadline. The notices include instructions to late parents to come back at 10am or 3pm when the gates are reopened. The school’s head teacher, Sanaa Meziane, said she’d had enough of ‘irresponsible’ parents.


‘Parents arriving after the bell were literally throwing their kids,’ she told The Times, adding that she believed it was only a matter of time before a child was injured. Following recent terror attacks in France, security measures at many schools in the country has been ramped up. Teachers in many schools are not allowed to leave classrooms once the gates are locked.


Trillade primary school in Avignon, southern France, put up ‘no throwing’ signs outside the school entrance depicting an adult throwing a child

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Space doodles. The patterns that these planets make in our skies.

 

 

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Nov 062020
 


W. Eugene Smith Orson Welles 1942

 

Death by Lockdown (AIER)
China: Life After COVID Is Back To Normal (marc)
Vladimir Putin ‘Will Quit In January Amid Fears of Parkinson’s Disease’ (DM)
Which is the Real “Working Class Party” Now? (Taibbi)
President Trump Delivers Remarks About The Election From White House
Trump Gets ‘Big Legal Win In Pennsylvania,’ Setback In Michigan, Georgia (RT)
Dems Melt Down On Conference Call Over Losing House Seats (RT)
EHRC Antisemitism Report Added Fire To Labour’s Simmering Civil War (Cook)
Australian Property Bubble Hasn’t Yet Burst Amid The Pandemic (Abc.au)
Experts Want 15 Days Of Counting To Flatten The Curve Of Votes For Trump (BBee)

 

 

Election fatigue is setting in. Good thing I’m not a lawyer.

 

 

 

 

Bob Hope Democrats
https://twitter.com/i/status/1324577385153470464

 

 

“The most startling data concerns the age group 25-44. This is a group with a Covid-related infection fatality rate of 0.0092%, which is to say barely a disease at all for nearly everyone in this group. And yet they are dying at a rate far above what is expected..”

Death by Lockdown (AIER)

On March 28 – very early in the pandemic – AIER published an article that I felt at the time received far too little attention. “Drugs, Suicide, and Crime: Empirical Estimates of the Human Toll of the Shutdown” by economists Audrey and Thomas Duncan cited empirical literature on the human toll of economic devastation. This article forecasted more than 100,000 excess deaths due to drug overdoses, suicide, alcoholism, homicide, and untreated depression – all a result not of the virus but of policies of mandatory human separation, economic downturn, business and school closures, closed medical services, and general depression that comes with a loss of freedom and choice.

These two economists demonstrated that as bad as a virus is, policies that wreck normal social functioning will cause massive and completely unnecessary suffering and death. Because the article was so well-cited, with references to all the available literature, I thought it would make a difference. But after it appeared, it was crickets. I was amazed. Here you have a beautiful piece of research that perfectly forecasted the nightmare being created by politicians and their advisers and it made no dent in the national narrative. Here we are seven months later and the worst has come true. These two economists should be considered prophets. Sure enough, the Centers for Disease Control has documented a shocking number of excess deaths not from Covid.

Scott Atlas summarizes:
• Hispanic: 40% excess deaths NOT Covid related
• Black: 46% NOT Covid related
• White: 38% NOT Covid related
• 25-44: 77% excess deaths NOT Covid related
• 65+: 39% NOT Covid related

The most startling data concerns the age group 25-44. This is a group with a Covid-related infection fatality rate of 0.0092%, which is to say barely a disease at all for nearly everyone in this group. And yet they are dying at a rate far above what is expected, and mostly from issues not related to Covid. There should not be any excess deaths. Instead we find people dropping dead in ways that are shocking.

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“The science is clear, but politicians are clearly no scientists.”

China: Life After COVID Is Back To Normal (marc)

A few months ago I was lucky to get a visa to China so I could visit the country during the middle of the global pandemic. After 2 weeks in quarantine in Xiamen in late September and a total of 5 COVID tests I was finally allowed to fly to Beijing. When I landed there I had literally arrived in a different world, a world without COVID. Of course I knew that there is no COVID in China anymore, but seeing it for yourself is different. Everything is open again, even bars and clubs. Social distancing is a thing of the past, but when I arrived in Beijing most people still wore face masks, even outside. When I visited Xiamen again last week a lot less people wore them, but maybe that was also because of the much higher temperatures there. Everybody needs to have a health app installed on their phones, without it you can’t enter many public places (the app proves you have no COVID or have not been in contact with COVID-positive people) and you can’t fly without a green QR code on your app (not even if you just want to leave China).

Life is back to normal in China. Interesting is that people work from their offices again: The work-from-home phase did not last here, maybe because people only worked from home for a few weeks instead of a few months. I wonder if that will also happen in the Western world or if people will keep working remotely. Everything is open and there are hardly any restrictions left, although you still need to wear face masks in among others taxis and in school. What dit China do to get here? It’s actually quite simple, they had a complete lockdown of the whole country for a couple of weeks, and for some hotspots like Wuhan for a few months. After that they opened up again, but they did that with ubiquitous testing and obligatory face masks everywhere. Each time a new outbreak occurred they would lock (part of) a city down and test everybody. In that way China got the virus completely under control.

It may be hard to believe if you live in Europe or the US, but it is really not that hard to do. The partial lockdown in many other countries is simply not enough. It turns out that it is much better to have a shorter but very strict lockdown than to have a much longer partial lockdown that just tries to ‘flatten the curve’. I think Europe and the US are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to remain open for business. The long term effect in the Western world will simply be much worse than the short term effect in China.I am actually flabbergasted that the Western economies don’t see this and don’t copy the China playbook. I have argued for a short but full lockdown on Twitter since March, but most people did not take it serious. Of course it’s not the full story, China also had face masks from day one, while many other countries still don’t seem to ‘believe’ in them (although that finally started to change after the summer). The science is clear, but politicians are clearly no scientists.

And of course you need testing capacity, something that seems impossible to scale up in many Western countries. The virus started in January and soon after that it became clear to me that this could be a global danger. As I noted on Twitter, face masks were sold out in Vancouver on January 25 already, simply because most Chinese in Vancouver also saw the risk and started buying them. But governments took a full 6-7 weeks before they started to take it more serious. They lost so much precious time, instead of getting face masks ready and prepare test facilities they downplayed the risk. It was hard to believe for me, but I realized (once again…) that you should never rely on politicians for information but do your own research.

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No idea what to make of this, can’t trust western media to say one true thing about Putin, but I do like Scott Adams’ take.

Vladimir Putin ‘Will Quit In January Amid Fears of Parkinson’s Disease’ (DM)

Vladimir Putin will quit in January amid fears he has Parkinson’s disease, Moscow sources have claimed. The 68-year-old strongman president of Russia is being urged to retire by his former gymnast lover Alina Kabaeva, 37, insiders say. Recent footage of Putin’s legs moving around as he gripped onto the armrest of a chair have raised eyebrows. Eyes are also drawn to a twitching pen in the former KGB operative’s fingers and a cup which analysts told The Sun was filled with painkillers. Earlier this week it emerged that unexpected legislation was being rushed through to ensure that Putin could be made a senator-for-life. The new draft legislation was introduced by Putin himself, and would guarantee him legal immunity and state perks until he dies.


State-run RT media forecast the move will be seen ‘as a sign that the groundwork is being laid for an eventual transition of power in Russia’. It is not the first time that people have speculated that Putin may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Others have previously noted his ‘gunslinger’s gait’ – a clearly reduced right arm swing compared to his left, giving him a lilting swagger. An asymmetrically reduced arm swing is a classic feature of Parkinson’s and can manifest in ‘clinically intact subjects with a predisposition to later develop’ the disease, according to the British Medical Journal.

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“There were so many serious analyses wondering what could be done to convince Homer Simpson not to vote Trump that it soon became clear Bart’s donut-loving Dad was the closest thing to a Trump voter most educated people could relate to, or knew even.”

Which is the Real “Working Class Party” Now? (Taibbi)

In an irony he is humorously ill-equipped to appreciate, Donald Trump by losing this week may have gained something for the Republican Party bureaucracy he took such pleasure in humiliating four years ago: a future. Defying years of muddle-headed media analyses, Trump underperformed with white men, but made gains with every other demographic. Some 26 percent of his votes came from nonwhite Americans, the highest percentage for a Republican since 1960. The politician who became instantly famous — and infamous — by saying of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists,” performed stunningly well with Latino voters.

Exit polls, which can be unreliable, pegged his national support at 32%-35% of the Latino vote. More tellingly were results in certain counties. Starr County, Texas, the county with the highest percentage of Hispanic or Latino voters – above 95% – voted for Hillary Clinton by a 60-point margin in 2016, but went for Biden by just five points in 2020. Even more amazing was Trump’s performance among Black voters. The man whose 2016 message to “the blacks” was very nearly a parody of long-ago New York mayoral candidate Mario Procaccino’s pledge that “My heart is as black as yours” must have found a new way to connect. Trump doubled his support with Black women, moving from 4% in 2016 to 8%, while upping his support among Black men from 13% to 18%. Remember, this was after four years of near-constant denunciations of Trump as not just a racist, but the leader of a literal white supremacist movement.

Trump’s numbers with the LGBTQ community were a stunner also, jumping from 14% to 28%. In September, a dating app for queer men called Hornet ran a survey that showed 45% support for Trump among gay men. Ever since Trump jumped into politics, media observers have rushed to denounce any Trump-related data that conflicts with conventional wisdom, and the Hornet survey was no different. Out magazine quoted a communications professor from Cal Poly Pomona as saying, “To tout a Hornet poll as evidence of LGBTQ support for Trump is clickbaity, sloppy journalism.” Even the Hornet editor scoffed at his own poll, before it all turned out to be true in the election.

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“If you count the legal votes, I easily win..”

President Trump Delivers Remarks About The Election From White House

As the nation continues waiting to find out who will win the 2020 presidential contest, President Trump on Thursday delivered remarks from the White House. “If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said. “If you count the illegal votes they can try to steal the election from us, if you count the votes that came in late,” he said. The president said that election polling was weaponized to harm his candidacy. “As everyone now recognizes media polling was election interference, in the truest sense of that word,” Trump said. “By powerful special interests, these really phony polls…were designed to keep our voters at home, create the illusion of momentum for Mr. Biden and diminish Republicans’ ability to raise funds. They were what’s called suppression polls, everyone knows that now.”


“So it will be hopefully cleared up, maybe soon, I hope soon,” he said. “But it’ll probably go through a process, a legal process and as you know I’ve claimed certain states and he’s claiming states…but ultimately I have a feeling judges are gonna have to rule. But there’s been a lotta shenanigans and we can’t stand for that in our country.”


Jo Jorgenson losing half her support in the space of 12 minutes

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Georgia count just flipped to Biden.

Trump Gets ‘Big Legal Win In Pennsylvania,’ Setback In Michigan, Georgia (RT)

As Donald Trump continues to accuse Democrats behind Joe Biden of trying to “steal” the presidential election, he celebrated a “big legal” win in his Pennsylvania lawsuit. “Big legal win in Pennsylvania!” the president tweeted on Thursday, following orders mandating certain mail-in ballots to be placed aside for the time being and allowing Republican poll watchers to observe more closely as votes are counted. It remains to be seen how this “big legal win” will benefit Trump, but it does ensure that it could be even longer before people know who has won the presidential race. Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, a key swing state that remains up for grabs, that lack identifying information from their voter will be placed aside and not counted until the court gives further guidance on what to do.

Once ballots are “segregated,” those with information that cannot be confirmed by November 9 will “not be counted until further notice” from the court. Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has also ordered that Republican poll watchers will be able to observe ballots being counted in Philadelphia from a distance of six feet following complaints that they were being kept too far away from the actual counting. In Michigan, the president has faced a setback with a judge scoffing at Trump’s lawsuit to stop the count in the state due to allegations voter fraud. Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens said on Thursday she will deny Trump’s request as the accusations of voter fraud are “hearsay” and contain no “firsthand knowledge.”

Michigan has been called in Joe Biden’s favor by multiple US outlets, but Trump has claimed victory in the state, blaming last minute “ballot dumps” on the former vice president’s surge on the night of the election. Earlier, a judge in Georgia also dismissed lawsuit by Trump campaign that requested to ensure that state laws were followed in regards to absentee ballots. Trump’s campaign has also said they will be demanding a recount in Wisconsin, which Biden reportedly won by around 20,000 votes. The incumbent president has also alleged in another lawsuit that thousands of people voted in Nevada who are not residents there.

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Will they oust Pelosi?

Dems Melt Down On Conference Call Over Losing House Seats (RT)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), who is leading her congressional race by a thread, has reportedly blamed the Democrat Party for losing elections “we shouldn’t have lost” due to embracing radical ideas like Defund the Police. During a conference call between Democrats discussing the results of various 2020 elections, Spanberger claimed she nearly lost her race (she’s won by a few thousand votes) because of an attack ad connecting her to the Defund the Police movement. “Don’t say socialism ever again,” the congresswoman said on the call, according to Washington Post reporter Erica Werner.


“We need to be pretty clear … it was a failure. It was not a success,” she added about election night. While the results of the presidential race remain unclear, Democrats had a disappointing election night regardless, as they failed to gain control of the Senate and actually ended up losing seats in the House, where they still remain the majority party. Werner reported that Spanberger did not find a lot of support on the call, with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) openly disagreeing with the assessment, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) pushing back and saying former President Barack Obama was called a Muslim and socialist without being connected to movements like Black Lives Matter or Defund the Police.

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The totally insane idea that Corbyn is an anti-semite has been as hard to kill by evidence in the UK as Russiagate is in the US and UK. And several lies about Assange. The media has become toxic.

EHRC Antisemitism Report Added Fire To Labour’s Simmering Civil War (Cook)

It was easy to miss the true significance of last week’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on the British Labour Party and antisemitism amid the furore over the party suspending its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The impression left on the public – aided by yet more frantic media spin – was that the EHRC’s 130-page report had confirmed the claims of Corbyn’s critics that on his watch the party had become “institutionally antisemitic”. In fact, the watchdog body reached no such conclusion. Its report was far more ambiguous. And its findings – deeply flawed, intentionally vague and glaringly inconsistent as they were – were nowhere near as dramatic as the headlines suggested.

The commission concluded that “there were unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible”. Those failings, according to the commission, related to the handling of antisemitism complaints, interference by the leader’s office in the disciplinary procedure, and “unlawful harassment” by two Labour Party “agents”. None of that seemed to amount to anything like the supposed claims of a “plague” and “tidal wave” of antisemitism that have dominated headlines for five years. Paradoxically, the equalities commission’s conclusions sounded a lot like Corbyn’s statement that the scale of Labour’s antisemitism problem had been “dramatically overstated”. That remark quickly became grounds for the party suspending him.

So sustained has the furore about “institutional antisemitism” been in Labour that, according to a recent survey by academics Greg Philo and Mike Berry, the British public estimated that on average a third of Labour members had been disciplined for antisemitism – more than 300 times the real figure. But in the end, the commission could identify only two cases of unlawful antisemitism the party was responsible for. According to the report, there were 18 “borderline” cases, however, “there was not enough evidence to conclude that the Labour Party was legally responsible for the conduct of the individual.”

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“The Government also has to consider the political consequences of continuing to throw stimulus at construction over other sectors that are in pain..”

Sorry, but that government is stuck in a corner.

Australian Property Bubble Hasn’t Yet Burst Amid The Pandemic (Abc.au)

After years of dire predictions that Australia’s property bubble could burst, national house prices continue to withstand the otherwise devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and once again the doomsayers have been proven wrong. Data released this week from CoreLogic shows the national average rose 0.4 per cent in October, following five months of national declines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every state across Australia (except for Melbourne which suffered the impact of a second COVID lockdown) experienced gains. But how long will the good run last? It’s a question I asked AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver, who in late March at the onset of the pandemic in Australia, had warned that house prices could plummet by 20 per cent in a worst-case scenario.

In response to my question, Dr Oliver jokes that when people get their Australian citizenship, it should come with a written warranty saying, ‘Congratulations, you are now guaranteed to live in a country where house prices will continue to rise’. He says over the years regulators and government have always stepped in and introduced measures that stopped the bubble bursting. These range from interest rate cuts, tax incentives for property investors and other measures aimed at propping up construction. During the early 1990s recession, the level of household debt in Australia was around 40 per cent of income, he says, whereas now it is close to 200 per cent — one of the highest levels in the world.

“Each time there’s a downturn people get worried about debt and pay some of it back, but before things go too far [into the positive], the Reserve Bank cuts rates and people start borrowing again — we go back to a new level of debt and it starts the cycle again.” [..] But Dr Oliver and other economists also warn that in the current environment there are limits to how fiercely regulators and governments can fuel house prices. Interest rates are near zero, and tax incentives aimed at housing are already generous (with calls to wind them back as part of a wider tax reform package). The Government also has to consider the political consequences of continuing to throw stimulus at construction over other sectors that are in pain. In short, the pandemic has created several reasons to maintain a level of cynicism about the future of house prices.

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“..the CDC quickly reversed its support for the decision, then went back and supported it again, then did it again, etc.”

Experts Want 15 Days Of Counting To Flatten The Curve Of Votes For Trump (BBee)

After a concerning spike in votes for Trump occurred on election night, experts are calling for 15 days of counting to flatten the curve of votes for the “wrong candidate.” While some scientists recommended just letting the votes for Trump be counted fairly until we all achieve herd immunity to Trump, others said we need to lock down the vote-counting places, and make sure no one can get inside, in order to kill off the virus of Trump. “If we all band together and allow just 15 days of counting, we can flatten the curve of votes for Trump,” said Dr. Fauci. “And we also advise Trump supporters to wear airtight masks. For, you know, science.”


The CDC, WHO, and China are all backing the plan, saying it is “SCIENCE!” and anyone who is opposed to it is “ANTI-SCIENCE!” However, the CDC quickly reversed its support for the decision, then went back and supported it again, then did it again, etc. At publishing time, the experts had revised their recommendation to at least 8 months of counting to flatten the curve.

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Bill Barr in September on mail-in ballots

 

 

 

 

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Nov 292019
 
 November 29, 2019  Posted by at 9:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Dorothea Lange Negro woman who has never been out of Mississippi July 1936

 

The Limits of Lagarde (Varoufakis)
Millennials Have a Right To Be Pissed at Boomers (Vice)
What’s Behind the Subprime Consumer Loan Implosion? (WS)
DOJ Watchdog Expected To Downgrade ‘Spying’ On Trump Campaign (ZH)
Papua New Guinea Faces Cash Crunch As China Repayment Schedule Ramps Up (R.)
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Mirvis Is Helping to Stoke Antisemitism (Cook)
Boris Johnson Replaced By Melting Ice Block In TV Debate (R.)
Greeks Are Last In Welfare Chart (K.)
‘There Is Only One Of Us Telling The Truth’ – Virginia Giuffre (Ind.)
Prince Andrew’s Ex Mulling Bombshell Tell-All Book (NYP)
How Prince Andrew Forced Me To Recognise The Hollowness Of The Crown (G.)

 

 

In my view this is far too close to “I was only following orders”. Draghi, Lagarde, Bernanke et al are responsible for their own actions.

The Limits of Lagarde (Varoufakis)

Shortly after the Eurogroup meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on June 27, 2015, I bumped into a worried-looking Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank. “What on earth is Jeroen doing?” he asked me, referring to Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup’s then-president. “Damaging Europe, Mario. Damaging Europe,” I replied. He nodded, looking concerned. We took the elevator to the ground floor and parted silently. Journalists find it natural to assume that Draghi and I had a hostile relationship during the 2015 standoff between Greece, which I represented, and the ECB. But the impasse at which we had become stuck was not caused by a clash of characters, and it involved no mutual recrimination. Rather, it reflected an institutional failure for which I never held Draghi personally responsible. Hostility between us, being unnecessary, was absent.

My fleeting exchange with him came to mind as he recently vacated the electric chair amid much speculation about the ECB’s future direction under his successor, Christine Lagarde. It reminded me of the unacknowledged powerlessness of the ECB president, who leads a mighty institution that is far less independent in practice than it is in theory. Lagarde will now have to reckon with that powerlessness as she steers the ECB in a sea of deflationary hazards. During 2015, Draghi sometimes made decisions detrimental both to the Greek people and to Europe’s common interest. One came on February 4. On that morning, following a meeting I had in London the previous day with financiers to whom I presented my plans for a moderate debt restructuring, the Athens stock exchange index shot up by 13%, led by a gain of more than 20% for Greek bank shares.

With that wind in my sails, I flew to Frankfurt to meet Draghi for the first time. One might think that a freshly appointed eurozone finance minister who had just managed to boost his country’s financial assets significantly would be helped by his central banker. Instead, the ECB’s governing board decided the same day to sever Greek banks’ access to euro liquidity. Unsurprisingly, Greek corporate and banking shares crashed, wiping out the previous day’s gains. In any other country, the position of the central banker would be untenable. The remit of a central bank is to aid the government’s efforts to stabilize finance and support the economy. In the eurozone, however, political constraints force the central bank to inflict the kind of damage Draghi’s ECB visited upon our stock exchange that February afternoon.

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And they will have a lot more right soon.

Millennials Have a Right To Be Pissed at Boomers (Vice)

Just how badly are millennials being screwed out of wealth? Let’s take a look at the data. The Federal Reserve regularly publishes data on the generational gaps in wealth. The boomers have plenty of it, and millennials don’t. That’s no surprise — the boomers are older. But what recent data also clearly shows is that when the boomers were millennials’ age, they had significantly more than millennials do today. Back in 1989, when boomers were between 25 and 43, they already owned 20.9% of the country’s wealth, according to data from the Federal Reserve updated earlier this month. In 2019, millennials are between 23 and 38, and they currently own a whopping 3.2% of wealth. That means boomers had more than six times as much wealth in 1989 as millennials do now.


“I definitely think millennials have a bunch to be uniquely annoyed about,” said Josh Bivens, research director at the Economic Policy Institute. “Lots of them graduated into a horrible labor market, and they’ve probably been very stunted in their ability to get on the treadmill of earning enough to actually save anything.” Looking at wealth over time, any given generation would start out with nothing. (Children don’t own stuff.) As time passes, they’d accumulate wealth, and, eventually, people die and tend to pass their wealth on as inheritance.

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“Back in 2016, the credit-card delinquency rate at these banks was in the 3% range. It has more than doubled in two years.”

What’s Behind the Subprime Consumer Loan Implosion? (WS)

OK, we’ve got a situation in subprime consumer loans. The delinquency rate on credit-card loan balances at the nearly 5,000 smaller commercial banks in the United States – this means all banks except the largest 100 – is blowing out, according to Federal Reserve data. In the third quarter, the delinquency rate at these banks rose to 6.25%. That’s higher even than during the peak of the Financial Crisis. Back in 2016, the credit-card delinquency rate at these banks was in the 3% range. It has more than doubled in two years. Credit card balances are considered delinquent when they’re 30 days or more past due. This delinquency rate means that out of the banks total credit card balances, 6.25% are 30 days or more past due. This is a disturbingly large rate.


But delinquencies are a flow. Balances are removed from the delinquency basket either when the customer cures the delinquency, such as catching up with past-due payments, or when the bank “charges off” the delinquent balance against its loan loss reserves. But as these delinquent balances were taken out of the delinquency basket, even more new delinquencies fell into the basket, and the delinquency rate rose. Subprime auto loans have also been blowing out. In the third quarter, the serious delinquency rate of the $1.3 trillion in auto loans has risen to 4.71%, the highest since the worst months of the Financial Crisis, when the auto industry collapsed, and when the US was facing the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. In the third quarter, about 21% of all subprime auto loans were seriously delinquent – meaning 90 days past due.

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The DOJ/Deep State protects its own?

DOJ Watchdog Expected To Downgrade ‘Spying’ On Trump Campaign (ZH)

In late September, RealClearInvestigations’ Paul Sperry suggested that Inspector General Michael Horowitz – tasked with investigating and exposing wrongdoing at the highest levels – was feared to be pulling punches in order to protect establishment darlings in his upcoming report on the Russia investigation. Now we learn that Horowitz, who volunteered on several Democratic political campaigns while in college and is married to a former liberal political activist, Obama donor and CNN employee, is expected to conclude that the FBI didn’t spy on the Trump campaign. Instead, when longtime FBI / CIA asset Stephan Halper and his undercover FBI ‘assistant’ named “Azra Turk” befriended George Papadopoulos, it was nothing more than “typical law enforcement activities,” according the New York Times.

“Mr. Horowitz found no evidence that Mr. Halper tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign itself, the people familiar with the draft report said, such as by seeking inside campaign information or a role in the organization. The F.B.I. also never directed him to do so, former officials said. Instead, Mr. Halper focused on eliciting information from Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos about their ties to Russia. [..] Mr. Trump and his allies have pointed to some of the investigative steps the F.B.I. took as evidence of spying, though they were typical law enforcement activities. -NYT. Recall that the Obama administration had paid Halper over $1 million over a several years, with nearly half of it surrounding the 2016 election.

The report is also expected to conclude that Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud – who fed Papadopoulos the rumor that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton – is not an FBI informant. Mifsud, a self-described member of the Clinton Foundation, has been painted by Western media as a Russian asset. Except, nobody claimed Mifsud was an FBI informant. As The Conservative Treehouse notes, “The concern has always been Mifsud was a western intelligence asset, perhaps CIA.” Moreover, Horowitz will conclude that while the FBI was ‘careless and unprofessional’ in pursuing a wiretap on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and that a ‘front-line lawyer’ Kevin Clinesmith, 37, fabricated evidence to support a FISA spy warrant renewal against Page, that the underlying justification to go after Page remained intact.

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Belt and Road.

Papua New Guinea Faces Cash Crunch As China Repayment Schedule Ramps Up (R.)

Papua New Guinea’s annual debt repayments to China are forecast to increase 25% by 2023, new budget figures show, at the same time as the Pacific nation falls to its largest ever deficit. The resource-rich archipelago, which is at the center of a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States, has blamed extravagant spending by the previous administration for its souring finances, which will require the government to borrow even more to pay the bills. Balancing its books has been made more difficult by recalculations to the country’s outstanding debt. It has soared 10 percentage points since the last annual budget to 42% of GDP, above the legal limit of 35%.


“You have some of those loans clicking in; the repayments are going to be a problem,” said Paul Barker, executive director of Port Moresby-based think tank the Institute of National Affairs. Formerly administered by U.S. ally Australia, PNG has in recent years turned increasingly to China for financing as Beijing becomes a bigger player in the region. The U.S. has repeatedly warned that China was using “predatory economics” to destabilize the Indo-Pacific; a charge strongly denied by Beijing.

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Yup.

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Is Helping to Stoke Antisemitism (Cook)

Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has not only misrepresented the known facts about Labour and its supposed antisemitism crisis. He has not only interfered in an overtly, politically partisan manner in the December 12 election campaign by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn – against all evidence – is an antisemite. By speaking out as the voice of British Jews – a false claim he has allowed the UK media to promote – his unprecedented meddling in the election of Britain’s next leader has actually made the wider Jewish community in the UK much less safe. Mirvis is contributing to the very antisemitism he says he wants to eradicate. Mirvis’ intervention in the election campaign makes sense only if he believes in one of two highly improbable scenarios.

The first requires several demonstrably untrue things to be true. It needs for Corbyn to be a proven antisemite – and not just of the variety that occasionally or accidentally lets slip an antisemitic trope or is susceptible to the unthinking prejudice most of us occasionally display, including (as we shall see) Rabbi Mirvis. No, for Mirvis to have interfered in the election campaign he would need to believe that Corbyn intends actively as prime minister to inflame a wider antisemitism in British society or implement policies designed to harm the Jewish community. And in addition, the chief rabbi would have to believe that Corbyn presides over a Labour party that will willingly indulge race-hate speeches or stand by impassively as Corbyn carries out racist policies.

If Mirvis really believes any of that, I have a bridge to sell him. Corbyn has spent his entire political career as an anti-racism campaigner, and his anti-racism activism as a backbencher was especially prominent inside a party that itself has traditionally taken the political lead in tackling racism. The second possibility is that Mirvis doesn’t really believe that Corbyn is a Goebbels in the making. But if that is so, then his decision to intercede in the election campaign to influence British voters must be based on an equally fanciful notion: that there is no significant threat posed by antisemitism from the right or the rapidly emerging far right. Because if antisemitism is not an issue on the right – the same nationalistic right that has persecuted Jews throughout modern history, culminating in the Nazi atrocities – then Mirvis may feel he can risk playing politics in the name of the Jewish community without serious consequence.

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I thought it was funny. But Boris threatens to take Channel 4’s licence away.

Boris Johnson Replaced By Melting Ice Block In TV Debate (R.)

British broadcaster Channel 4 represented Prime Minister Boris Johnson with a block of melting ice in a prime-time election debate on the environment on Thursday, prompting his Conservative Party to complain this broke impartiality rules. The commercially funded public-service broadcaster invited leaders of all Britain’s main political parties to take part in the debate before Dec. 12’s election, but both Johnson and the leader of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, declined to attend. The Conservative Party offered former environment minister Michael Gove as a substitute, but the broadcaster said the debate was only intended for party leaders, and that the other political parties would not agree to change the terms.


“This effectively seeks to deprive the Conservative Party of any representation and attendance,” the Conservatives wrote in a letter of complaint to broadcast regulator Ofcom. British television broadcasters are required to be politically impartial, and face extra balance requirements during election periods. Ofcom can fine broadcasters that do not comply, and as a last resort can cancel a broadcaster’s license. The Conservatives said Thursday’s disagreement was “part of a wider pattern of bias by Channel 4 in recent months”. The broadcaster’s head of news and current affairs, Dorothy Byrne, described Johnson as “a known liar” in a major industry speech in August.

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“Six out of 10 Greeks have delayed paying at least one utility bill over the last 12 months..”

Greeks Are Last In Welfare Chart (K.)

Six out of 10 Greeks have delayed paying at least one utility bill over the last 12 months, and in seven out of 10 of those cases it’s not just a one-off incident but a regular occurrence. Some of those who eventually do pay their bills do so with borrowed money, mainly from friends, according to the findings of the European Consumer Payment Report 2019. The survey of 24,000 consumers in 24 European countries by Swedish company Intrum has brought to light a number of worrying trends on the European level, such as a return to excessive consumer borrowing, something that is spurred considerably by easy access to credit cards and loans obtained via the internet or the telephone, for example.


The report showed that 61 percent of Greeks had failed to pay at least one bill in the previous 12 months, which is the highest rate among the 24 countries surveyed and almost twice the European average of 33 percent. Worse, 68 percent of those who failed to pay on time said they did so regularly, also the highest rate in Europe, against an average rate of 47 percent. Furthermore, Greeks also had the highest rate (40 percent) of people who had borrowed money or maxed out their credit cards. The European average stands at just 24 percent, based on data from the 24 countries surveyed by Intrum.

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Three articles on Proice Andrew, just to indicate how much the pressure increases. Will The Firm give him up to save itself?

‘There Is Only One Of Us Telling The Truth’ – Virginia Giuffre (Ind.)

The woman who claims she was forced into sex with Prince Andrew as a teenager said in her first UK interview: “He knows what happened, I know what happened and there’s only one of us telling the truth.” Virginia Giuffre, previously known as Virginia Roberts, said being caught up with the Duke of York and Jeffrey Epstein was “a really scary time in my life”. The BBC‘s Panorama programme released a trailer on Twitter of its upcoming episode, which features an interview with Ms Giuffre, who claims she was made to sleep with Andrew when she was 17. The hour-long episode, titled The Prince and the Epstein Scandal, will be screened on BBC One on Monday.

Ms Giuffre alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions. He denies the allegations and has insisted he has “no recollection of ever meeting this lady”. Ms Giuffre has also criticised the Metropolitan Police for failing to investigate her allegations. In a statement on Thursday, the Met said it stood by its decision not to investigate claims by the duke’s accuser, and added that officers had spoken to other law enforcement agencies but have “not received a formal request asking for assistance”. The Met said it reviewed its previous decision that it was “not the appropriate authority to conduct inquiries in these circumstances” following Epstein’s death in August, and that its position remained unchanged.

Epstein took his own life in a New York prison while he was being held on sex trafficking charges. William Barr, the US attorney general, has slapped down conspiracy theories claiming the trafficker was murdered, saying that he died in a “perfect storm of screw-ups”.

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Publishers can’t not look at this, it’s too lucrative.

Prince Andrew’s Ex Mulling Bombshell Tell-All Book (NYP)

Prince Andrew’s socialite ex is considering penning an explosive tell-all book — including details of a dinner party with Jeffrey Epstein attended by both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, it was claimed Thursday. Lady Victoria Hervey, 43, has already been doing interviews discussing her brief fling with the Duke of York and how it threw her into the heart of Epstein’s depraved world. She says she was introduced to the pedophile by his accused madam Ghislaine Maxwell — who she likened to a James Bond character — and feels she only escaped Epstein’s clutches because she was “too old.” But Hervey kept back many of the juiciest details, which she now could put in an explosive book that could further embarrass the disgraced duke, according to The Sun.


“There is a lot that she has never revealed about the Royal family, members of high society and big-named stars,” a source close to her told the paper. “She’s done many interviews but has always kept many things under her belt. “She feels like now is the right time to get some things off her chest — including about Prince Andrew, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. “She’d been a part of that social scene for many years.” Hervey’s “really explosive life” also includes “debauched drug-fueled parties, threesomes with celebrities — all sorts,” the source told The Sun of her book plans. “She has had a lucrative offer to write a book and she’s definitely considering it,” the source said.

Read more …

G-d only knows why anyone would want to watch this sort of thing, but now the royal family is forever linked to pedophilia.

How Prince Andrew Forced Me To Recognise The Hollowness Of The Crown (G.)

Before the advent of The Crown – the Netflix show, not the institution – Princess Margaret was widely regarded as a snobbish, spiteful creature. That image has been refurbished: to fans of the show, she is firmly established as poor Margaret, the dazzling, tragic second fiddle to the Queen, who only wanted a meaningful role. After two seasons, I had been thinking of Margaret this way myself, while gussying up uncharacteristically warm feelings for the royals. The Queen does a good job, I thought. So what if she’s a little dull, isn’t that the bedrock of service – dependability? It’s not often one has one’s delusions dismantled in real time, but so it has been, this past fortnight, witnessing Prince Andrew’s flagrant awfulness in tandem with The Crown’s terrible third season. The experience has been like a sudden, dramatic return to reason.

There was never a subversive element to The Crown, and nor was there need for one. As we know from the small amount of documentary footage that exists of the Queen in her off-hours, the most outlandish drama one can eke from the royals lies in the depiction of them doing “ordinary” things: watching TV, smiling. This drama only works if one is willing to be charmed, a feat that the early seasons achieved. They also adhered to the narrative put forward by the House of Windsor itself: however misguided its application, the animating principle of all royals – with the exception of Edward VIII – was duty, honour, loyalty. If the royals have a fault, the show suggests, it is that they take these principles too seriously, particularly when they come into conflict with more human considerations.

In Prince Andrew’s catastrophic TV interview, the precise, delusional nature of his language – his now infamous line, “my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable” – mirrored so exactly the ethos of the show, it could have served as its tag line. One can only imagine how the script, in its current form, would treat Andrew’s predicament: as the story of a prince crushed by the weight of his own nobility; the tragedy of a man whose saucy impulses had nowhere to go.

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Nov 152019
 


Pablo Picasso Coffee maker 1943

 

Pelosi Adds A New Element – Bribery – (CNN)
‘Evidence Of Bribery’: Pelosi Comments On Impeachment Hearing
US Envoy Sondland Did Not Link Biden Probe To Aid: Ukraine Minister (R.)
Adam Schiff Will Be Called as Witness in Senate Impeachment Trial: Graham (ET)
Fox Prime Time Stars Tell Trump Impeachment Hearings Disaster For Dems (CNN)
Will China Disrupt The Monetary System With A Cryptocurrency? (Lacalle)
Public Figures: Antisemitism Means We Can’t Vote For Labour Under Corbyn (G.)
Trump V-Day Moscow Visit Right Thing To Do Even In Election Season – Putin (RT)
Jeffrey Epstein: Fund Proposed To Compensate Financier’s Victims (G.)
Ukraine Ex-Minister Says Bellingcat Infiltrated By… Kremlin Agents? (RT)
Even Nobel Prize Winners Get Things Catastrophically Wrong (Steve Keen)

 

 

I saw yesterday that she had used the word “Bribery” and kept wondering why she all of a sudden switched to it. CNN of all places gives the answer: it’s right there in the Constitution, while Quid Pro Quo is not. Her legal team must have been frantically deliberating. And free beers for the genius who found this.

And today we’re back to closed door sessions? Huh?

Pelosi Adds A New Element – Bribery – (CNN)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s actions in the Ukraine scandal constitute “bribery” and that Trump has admitted to it himself. She’s the latest and most high-profile Democrat to use that word when describing Trump’s conduct on the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which Trump has called “perfect.” “What the President has admitted to and says it’s perfect, I’ve said it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference.

Why is it bribery?
“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery,” she said.

What does the Constitution say?
Getting technical, bribery is just an example of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” But it’s one of only two specific examples the Constitution lays out.

Article II, Section 4:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, BRIBERY, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

[..] Coming up Friday
Public hearing #2 — Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Private hearing — The committee will also take closed-door testimony from David Holmes, the State Department employee who overheard Trump’s call with Sondland on July 26.
Private hearing — The committee will work Saturday to depose OMB official Mark Sandy behind closed doors. He’s the first official offering testimony from the agency, which was responsible for releasing the security aid for Ukraine.

Read more …

Pelosi also thinks Americans don’t know what quid pro quo means.

‘Evidence Of Bribery’: Pelosi Comments On Impeachment Hearing

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the testimony presented by two career U.S. diplomats at the first House impeachment hearing a day earlier had presented evidence of bribery committed by President Donald Trump. “The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into a political rival,” Pelosi told reporters. Pelosi’s comments come amid a Democratic shift in the language used to describe Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry.


Lawmakers had called the president’s moves a “quid pro quo,” but have recently appeared to shift to a focus on more widely used terms that Democrats believe may resonate more deeply with voters. Asked to further elaborate on her statement regarding bribery, Pelosi said, “Well, you know we’re talking Latin around here — e pluribus unum, from anyone, quid pro quo, bribery, and that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceeding.” “The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections — that’s bribery,” she said. Pelosi continued to assert that Democrats still have not made a decision about whether to pursue articles of impeachment against the president.

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So that’s the ennd of that one?

US Envoy Sondland Did Not Link Biden Probe To Aid: Ukraine Minister (R.)

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Thursday that U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland did not explicitly link military aid to Kiev with opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Interfax Ukraine reported. Trump and his allies are accused by Democrat opponents of freezing nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine to pressure President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open investigations into Biden, Trump’s main rival for the 2020 presidential race. “Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigations. You should ask him,” Prystaiko said about Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Prystaiko’s comments came a day after William Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified in the first televised hearing of the impeachment inquiry.

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Obviously, they will call/subpoena Joe and Hunter Biden, Adam Schiff and The Whistleblower

Adam Schiff Will Be Called as Witness in Senate Impeachment Trial: Graham (ET)

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will be called as a witness in a Senate impeachment trial if the House votes to impeach President Donald Trump. During an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Nov. 13, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’d call Schiff to testify. Graham also said he wouldn’t let the impeachment trial be based on hearsay alone. A trial also wouldn’t be held if the whistleblower doesn’t testify, he said. “Let’s say they get 218 votes. Here’s what I promise the country. We’re not going to try the president of the United States based on hearsay. So any resolution setting up a trial in the Senate, I’m going to make sure that hearsay cannot be the basis of an impeachment allegation,” Graham told host Sean Hannity.


“If you invoke the hearsay rule, what would be left? “A trial in the Senate, to me, should not legitimize what’s going on in the House. No American is denied the right to call witnesses on their behalf, except for Donald Trump. No American is accused of wrongdoing anonymously, except Donald Trump. What they’re doing in the House is a danger to the presidency itself. “So any trial in the Senate needs to make sure that you can’t impeach a president based on hearsay, because that’s a danger to the presidency itself. And secondly, any trial in the Senate must expose the whistleblower so the president can confront his accuser. I will not accept a trial in the Senate until I know who the whistleblower is.”

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When one propagada tool fact-checks another.

Fox Prime Time Stars Tell Trump Impeachment Hearings Disaster For Dems (CNN)

I wanted to know what President Trump was hearing about day one of the televised impeachment hearings. So I decided to mute all my other TVs and just watch Fox News on Wednesday night. I heard White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham say that “today was a joke.” I heard Donald Trump Jr. say “it’s insanity.” I heard Jeff Sessions ask, “Where’s the beef?” Here’s how I would sum up everything I heard from Fox’s prime time hosts: Wednesday’s hearing was a bust. It was all just hearsay. It was a “disaster” for the Democrats and a “great day” for the Republicans. Impeachment is “stupid.” Impeachment is “fake.” There’s nothing impeachable here. There’s no reason to hold hearings. This inquiry needs to stop right now.

The message was one-sided and overwhelming. Every host and practically every guest said the Republican tribe is winning and the Democrat tribe is losing. I’m sure the president loved watching every minute of it. That’s one of the reasons why this right-wing rhetoric matters so much – because it is reassuring and emboldening Trump. I decided to write it all down because of something that CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote earlier in the day. “Don’t expect viewers, listeners, and readers of right-wing media to walk away from Wednesday’s impeachment hearings with a different opinion of President Trump’s behavior,” Darcy said. “In fact, it’s possible they might be more convinced than ever that Trump did nothing wrong. Why? Because right-wing media has largely – and unsurprisingly – focused on the moments in the hearing favorable to its preferred narrative.”

On the OTHER cable news channels, 8 p.m. host Tucker Carlson said, “it was like Christmas and New Year’s and the Super Bowl all put together.” Carlson seemed reluctant to cover Wednesday’s news, calling the hearings “stupid” and the importance of the impeachment inquiry “questionable.” Grisham called it a “joke” while others made jokes — Christian Whiton said witnesses Bill Taylor and George Kent, both veteran public servants with impressive resumes, “looked like people who sat by themselves at recess.” mIt didn’t end there. The witnesses were insulted all evening long. And Grisham said foreign service officials who are resisting Trump’s policies should resign.

Later in the hour, Carlson mocked news outlets for taking this once-in-a-generation impeachment inquiry seriously. “The media went completely bonkers today,” he said, while the on-screen graphic alleged a “MEDIA MELTDOWN.” He agreed with his guest Larry O’Connor, who said America doesn’t have a free press because the press is made up of “political activists.”

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5 days old but relevant because of Lacalle’s claim that China has only 0.25% worth of its money supply in gold. China also has a dire thirst for dollars. What’s going to back that crypto?

Will China Disrupt The Monetary System With A Cryptocurrency? (Lacalle)

A state-owned cryptocurrency is, in itself, a contradiction in terms. The main reason why citizens want to use cryptocurrencies or gold is precisely to avoid the government or central bank monopoly of money. For a currency to be a world reserve of value, widespread means of exchange and unit of measure, there are many things that need to happen, but the first pillar of a world reserve currency is stability and transparency. China cannot disrupt the global monetary system and dethrone the US dollar when it has one of the world’s tightest capital control systems, a lack of separation of powers and weak transparency in its own financial system. The U.S. dollar is the most traded currency in the world, and growing according to the Bank of International Settlement. The Yuan is 4% of the currency trade.


This is because the financial balance of the US is the strongest, legal and investor security is one of the strongest in the world, and the currency and capital markets are open and transparent. Unfortunately for China, the idea of a gold-backed cryptocurrency starts from the wrong premise. China’s own currency, the Yuan, is not backed by either global use nor gold. At all. China’s total gold reserves are less than 0.25% of its money supply. Many say that we do not know the real extent of China’s gold reserves. However, this goes back to my previous point. What confidence is the world going to have on a currency where the real level of gold reserves is simply a guess? Furthermore, why would any serious government under-report its gold reserves if it wants to be a safe haven, reserve status currency? It makes no sense.

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The smear has worked wonders.

Public Figures: Antisemitism Means We Can’t Vote For Labour Under Corbyn (G.)

The authors John Le Carré and William Boyd are among a string of public figures declaring they refuse to vote Labour because of its association with antisemitism. In a letter to the Guardian, they said: “To ignore it because Brexit looms larger is to declare that anti-Jewish prejudice is a price worth paying for a Labour government.” Both Le Carré, whose real name is David Cornwell, and Boyd have previously expressed strongly anti-Brexit views. They joined others including Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia who has previously been sympathetic to Labour, the actor Simon Callow , and the historians Antony Beevor, Tom Holland and Dan Snow. Trevor Phillips, a former Labour politician and ex-chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of the Tell Mama group fighting Islamophobia, also said they could not vote Labour.

The letter said: “The coming election is momentous for every voter, but for British Jews it contains a particular anguish: the prospect of a prime minister steeped in association with antisemitism. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has come under formal investigation by the EHRC for institutional racism against Jews. Two Jewish MPs have been bullied out of the party. Mr Corbyn has a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades. “We listen to our Jewish friends and see how their pain has been relegated as an issue, pushed aside by arguments about Britain’s European future. For those who insist that Labour are the only alternative to Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit, now, it seems, is not the time for Jewish anxiety.

“But antisemitism is central to a wider debate about the kind of country we want to be. To ignore it because Brexit looms larger is to declare that anti-Jewish prejudice is a price worth paying for a Labour government. Which other community’s concerns are disposable in this way? Who would be next? “Opposition to racism cannot include surrender in the fight against antisemitism. Yet that is what it would mean to back Labour and endorse Mr Corbyn for Downing Street.”

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Of course it is. 20 million dead. Never forget. Show respect. Without those 20 million lives lost we would all be goose-stepping.

Trump V-Day Moscow Visit Right Thing To Do Even In Election Season – Putin (RT)

As Russia prepares to celebrate the May 2020 anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, President Vladimir Putin said that a visit from Donald Trump would be “the right thing to do,” even during an election campaign. Trump’s re-election campaign will be in full swing next May, when Russia marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet and allied victory over the Nazi Germany. While the US president’s opponents will likely still be hammering him on his “friendliness” with Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader told reporters on Thursday that a visit from Trump would be fitting. Even as part of the election campaign, that [visit] would be the right thing to do. But it is not for us to decide. The American president will make this decision.


However, Putin added that at the moment, no formal meeting with Trump is on the agenda. While Soviet Russia and the United States shared the burden of defeating Nazism, cooperation with Moscow is anathema to Washington seven decades later. Trump’s announcement last week that he “would love to go” to the commemoration was met with howls of derision from Democrats and to a media still clinging to the fictional idea of “Russian collusion.” Though Trump noted that the celebration falls “right in the middle of campaign season,” he said “it’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war.”

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“..the estate should start by committing ALL of Epstein’s assets to the compensation fund.”

Jeffrey Epstein: Fund Proposed To Compensate Financier’s Victims (G.)

The executors of the estate of Jeffrey Epstein said on Thursday they had asked a judge to approve the creation of a proposed fund to compensate women the financier was accused of having sexually abused. The executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, said in a statement that the fund would create a “voluntary, confidential, non-adversarial alternative to litigation”. Epstein, 66, died by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell on 10 August, two days after signing a will and putting his estimated $577m estate into a trust. He had been arrested in July on federal sex trafficking charges, to which he pleaded not guilty. His estate is facing about a dozen lawsuits from women who say Epstein sexually abused them, many while they were underage.

The proposed compensation fund, which must be approved by a US Virgin Islands court, would be overseen by administrators including Jordana Feldman and Kenneth Feinberg, who have worked on compensation funds for victims affected by 9/11. Women who choose not to take part in the program would still be allowed to pursue their claims against the estate in court, according to Thursday’s statement. It was not immediately clear how much money would be available for the victim compensation fund. The attorney Roberta Kaplan, who represents one of the women suing the estate, expressed skepticism of the plan.

“Given that this latest fund was launched without our input or consent, we will keep an open mind because we are supportive of attempts to fairly compensate these survivors, but both the estate and the new administrators have a lot to prove,” she said in a press release. Another lawyer, Brad Edwards, said the estate should start by committing all of Epstein’s assets to the compensation fund. “If the estate is placing all estate assets into the claims program for victims, then it is a step in the right direction,” said Edwards, who represents multiple alleged victims. “In the meantime, we intend to get the filed cases to trial quickly. Either way, justice for our clients, without delay, is our goal.“

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Wonder what that MH17 “trial” is going to look like next year.

Ukraine Ex-Minister Says Bellingcat Infiltrated By… Kremlin Agents? (RT)

A website obsessed with blaming Russia for everything – using Google Earth to support its airtight theories – has been infiltrated by Russian agents, according to a Ukrainian MP and former minister. But does it even make sense? Our strange saga begins with a very level-headed Facebook post penned by Ukraine’s former minister of veteran affairs and current member of parliament, Iryna Friz, who expressed deep displeasure with a recent Bellingcat ‘investigation’ revealing that Ukraine’s Ministry of Veterans Affairs had ties to far-right figures (oh no, who could have guessed?). In her post, Friz accused Bellingcat of regurgitating an “exclusively Russian narrative” that there are “fascists in Ukraine.” This can mean only one thing, according to the Ukrainian lawmaker.


“There are all signs that people from the Russian FSB have infiltrated [Bellingcat]. I otherwise cannot explain for myself the fact that they coordinate their work with Russian outlet the Insider, which is controlled by Lubyanka,” she wrote, referring to the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service. Friz even went so far as to suggest that Bellingcat should probe staff with “Russian names.” In an open letter responding to the damning allegations, Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins politely pointed out that it employs no Russians – only two Ukrainian-Americans. Higgins further contested the notion that reports of Ukraine’s dangerous far-right were manufactured by the Kremlin, citing a 2018 report from the US State Department and an investigation by US-backed Freedom House.

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Steve is still chasing Nordhaus. Don’t think I’ve seen a reply from the man.

“..we know that most of Europe north of Berlin, and of America north of New York, would be under a kilometre of ice. To argue that this would cut GDP by just 3.6% is simply absurd.”

Even Nobel Prize Winners Get Things Catastrophically Wrong (Steve Keen)

William Nordhaus was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics for “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”. This implies that he worked out what global heating means for our economy, given what climate scientists say will happen to our planet. But Nordhaus’s predictions of what global heating will cost the earth are dangerously at odds with the science. In his Nobel Prize lecture, Nordhaus described a 4°C increase in global average temperature as “optimal” — that is, the point at which the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change are balanced. In a subsequent academic paper based on this lecture, he stated that “damages are estimated to be 2 percent of output at a 3°C global warming and 8 percent of output with 6°C warming”.

This is a trivial level of damage, equivalent for the 6°C warming case to a fall in the rate of economic growth over the next century of less than 0.1% per year. Nordhaus’s conclusions are based in part on the simple but wayward assumption that the weak relationship between temperature and GDP within the US today can be used to assume how future global temperature rises will affect the economy. For example, the coldest state in the US is North Dakota, with an average temperature of 4.9°C and a high GDP per head – US$67,000 in 2018. Slightly warmer states such as New York (9.0°C, US$73,000) tend to have higher GDPs, while the hottest state – Florida, at 22.1°C – has a lower GDP (US$43,000). This implies that past a certain point, higher temperatures reduce GDP, but the relationship is very weak: huge changes in temperature result in relatively small changes in income.

If it were true that this weak relationship could be applied to global temperature change, then global warming would indeed be nothing to worry about. However, the relationship between temperature and GDP within one country today tells you absolutely nothing about how the world will change if global temperatures rise by 10°C. This can be hard to grasp, since we’re talking about the truly unknown – humanity has never experienced global temperatures that high. But we can assess how unrealistic Nordhaus’s work is because it predicts exactly the same damages for a fall in global temperature as it does for a rise. It predicts, for example, that both a 4°C rise and a 4°C fall in temperature would reduce global GDP by 3.6%.

The average global temperature during the last Ice Age was 4°C cooler than today. There’s no way we can accurately predict what GDP would be in such a cool world today, but we know that most of Europe north of Berlin, and of America north of New York, would be under a kilometre of ice. To argue that this would cut GDP by just 3.6% is simply absurd.

Read more …

 

 

 

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Feb 222019
 


Salvador Dali The ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as a table 1934

 

US Housing Market In Freefall As New Buyers Can’t Afford A Home (ZH)
Canadians Continue To Plunder Equity From Their Homes (ZH)
Bursting Of Australia’s Housing Bubble Could Topple The Government (ZH)
EU Expects May to Request Three-Month Delay to Brexit (BBG)
Theresa May Warned Dozens Of Tories Could Rebel Over No-Deal Brexit (BBC)
Record Surplus Gives UK Pre-Brexit Boost (G.)
Anti-Semitism Is Cover For A Much Deeper Divide In UK Labour Party (Cook)
Macron Calls Anti-Zionism A Form Of Antisemitism (Ind.)
Philadelphia Sues Seven Big Banks For Bond Collusion (RT)
FBI Lawyer Reveals Infiltration In Trump Campaign (ET)
Judge Imposes Sweeping Gag Order On Roger Stone (MW)
Hungary Takes ‘Hundreds Of Venezuelan Refugees With Hungarian Ancestry’ (Ind.)
Julian Assange Gets A New Australian Passport (SMH)
US Cities Burn Recyclables After China Bans Imports (G.)
World Food Supply Under ‘Severe Threat’ From Loss Of Biodiversity (G.)

 

 

Meanwhile in the real world that central bankers don’t want you to see:

US Housing Market In Freefall As New Buyers Can’t Afford A Home (ZH)

[..] with consensus expecting a tiny rebounding in January following December’s sharp drop, the deterioration in the US home market continued, and January existing home unexpectedly dropped 1.2% (exp. +0.2%), to 4.94 million, missing expectations of a rebound to 5.00 million. After December’s revision higher to 5.00 million, the January SAAR of 4.94 million was the first sub-5MM print since 2015, while the parallel pending home sales series confirms even more weakness is in store. Needless to say, it is very troubling that Americans are unable to afford home purchases with the 30% mortgage at just 4.5%, and suggests that even if inflation picks up, the Fed may have no choice but to keep rates flat to avoid a housing market crash.

As usual, NAR chief economist Larry Yun was optimistic, saying that he does not expect the numbers to decline further going forward. “Existing home sales in January were weak compared to historical norms; however, they are likely to have reached a cyclical low. Moderating home prices combined with gains in household income will boost housing affordability, bringing more buyers to the market in the coming months.” One wonders what “gains in household income” he is talking about. Meanwhile, properties are failing to sell as the slowdown spreads: Properties remained on the market for an average of 49 days in January, up from 46 days in December and 42 days a year ago. Thirty-eight percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month.

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“Vancouver [..] saw home sales fall about 40% in January from the same month a year earlier.”

Canadians Continue To Plunder Equity From Their Homes (ZH)

Canadians are accelerating the rate at which they borrow cash against their homes, despite the fact that the real estate market is slumping in the country. This exposes the country’s financial system to obvious vulnerabilities, according to rating company DBRS and Bloomberg. Home equity lines of credit in Canada reached a record $184.5 billion (USD) as of October 31, which equates to 11.3% of total household credit. This is the highest share since mid 2015, according to a report released last Thursday. Canadians are drawing on their home’s equity to fund everything from home renovations to car purchases. And they’re doing it so quickly that borrowing has grown faster than mortgages since 2017.

Analyst Robert Colangelo, who published the report on Thursday, commented: “The flexibility of Helocs could increase financial system vulnerabilities. In the event of a correction, borrowers could find themselves with a debt load that exceeds the value of their home, which is often referred to as negative equity.” Obviously, home equity lines of credit can decrease visibility for lenders to identify credit problems as consumers use the equity in their homes to consolidate high interest loans and unsecured debt into one lump sum at a lower rate. Out of all of the Canadian banks, Toronto Dominion bank has the largest exposure to Helocs at about 39%, followed by Royal Bank of Canada which has 18% exposure. Other large banks are averaging 11% exposure, according to the report.

And the timing for Helocs to grow couldn’t be worse. Toronto’s real estate market continues to feel pain. Sales of new homes in the city fell to the lowest in almost 2 decades in 2018 and a glut of unsold condominiums continue to pile up, according to a Building Industry and Land Development Association report released February 1. Vancouver, still feeling the deflationary effects of a foreign real estate bubble popping, saw home sales fall about 40% in January from the same month a year earlier.

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People aged 65-74: A$566,000 wealthier in 2015-16 than the same age group was 12 years earlier. People aged 25-34: A$38,000.

That could topple a lot more than only a government.

Bursting Of Australia’s Housing Bubble Could Topple The Government (ZH)

In one of the world’s most developed economies, soaring costs for housing and education are rapidly widening the wealth-distribution gap between the younger and older generations amid the backdrop of one of the longest economic expansions in the country’s history. As younger workers grapple with the notion that they may never be able to afford a home, a backlash is stirring in the political arena, as younger voters embrace progressive (some would say “socialist”) politicians. No, we’re not talking about the US. We’re talking about Australia. After six years of tumultuous Liberal rule, the Labour Party is hoping to wrest back control of the government during elections later this year.

And it sees tackling this intergenerational divide as the best way to do it. And combating the country’s increasingly unaffordable housing bubble is a key plank of its proposals. The party has pledged to curb tax breaks for property investors that helped drive up home prices (alongside an influx of foreign capital). Labor leader Bill Shorten has promised to scrap tax refunds worth A$5 billion ($3.6 billion) a year for share investors. The benefits are already being seen in the polls, where Labour is seeing a slight advantage. After 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, Australians are struggling with the fact that the wealthy have enjoyed the bulk of the economic benefits.

While Australia has avoided recession for 27 years, the spoils have not been shared evenly as older people capture a greater share of the nation’s wealth. According to the Grattan Institute, households headed by people aged 65-74 were on average A$566,000 wealthier in 2015-16 than the same age group was 12 years earlier. That far outstrips growth in other bands and compares with just A$38,000 for the 25-34 age group. [..] While Sydney’s median house price is still more than A$900,000 [..] prices have already fallen 12% since their mid-2017 peak.

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Doesn’t she want to run down the clock?

EU Expects May to Request Three-Month Delay to Brexit (BBG)

The European Union expects U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to be forced to request a three-month delay to Brexit, two EU officials said. Discussions between the two sides suggest May will ask for an extension to the two-year negotiating period if the British Parliament backs the Brexit deal but it isn’t signed off until an EU summit on March 21-22. That is emerging as the EU’s current plan. The EU sees this as a “technical extension” to give British Parliament time to pass necessary legislation related to its departure from the bloc. Anything longer than three months would put the U.K. under pressure to take part in European elections on May 23-26, something that both sides are keen to avoid.

May is racing against the clock to change a controversial part of her deal, known as the “backstop,” in a way that would be acceptable to both the U.K. Parliament and the EU. However, with just five weeks to go until the U.K.’s scheduled departure from the EU and talks at an impasse, ministers and lawmakers in her own party are threatening to vote against her next week to give Parliament control of the process. The prime minister has repeatedly spoken out against a delay, saying she wants to take the U.K. out of the EU as scheduled at the end of March. She’s never completely ruled it out, however. Any postponement would have to be requested by the U.K. and accepted by all the remaining 27 EU governments.

EU officials say the three-month extension would happen under their most optimistic scenario. The risk remains that the U.K. could leave the bloc March 29 without a deal. Alternatively, May could be forced to contemplate a longer delay if she can’t get backing for the agreement, according to one official.

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Chances that Parliament will vote her deal through are slim.

Theresa May Warned Dozens Of Tories Could Rebel Over No-Deal Brexit (BBC)

Dozens of normally loyal Conservative MPs could rebel against the government in a bid to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit, Downing Street has been warned. Leaders of the Brexit Delivery Group of both Leavers and Remainers say MPs may back alternatives if Mrs May’s reworked deal cannot command a Commons majority. Co-chairman Andrew Percy told the BBC more than 30 may try to block no deal. The government says “productive” talks in Brussels aimed at addressing MPs’ concerns continue “urgently”. The UK remains on course to leave the European Union on 29 March. But the government has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of the UK leaving without a formal deal, in the event that Mrs May cannot get MPs to approve the deal she negotiated with Brussels in time.

Many MPs fear that scenario would be damaging to business and cause chaos at ports. However, Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative MPs insist the “no-deal” option must be preserved as negotiating leverage in Brussels. Mr Percy told the BBC members of his group were becoming “tired” of the ERG’s refusal to back the prime minister. In a letter to government whips, he and co-chairman Simon Hart write: “Not only does this risk damaging the national interest, but also… we are putting in jeopardy the very thing many colleagues have spent decades campaigning for; our exit from the European Union.”

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The wonders of strip-mining social programs.

Record Surplus Gives UK Pre-Brexit Boost (G.)

Britain has recorded the biggest-ever monthly surplus in public finances since the early 1990s, putting the government on a strong footing in the run-up to Brexit, now less than 40 days away. In a rare piece of positive economic news for Philip Hammond as he prepares for his spring statement next month, income from taxes outstripped public spending by £14.9bn, the biggest January surplus since records began in 1993. Although January is typically a surplus month for the exchequer because of seasonal trends in the payment of taxes, the Office for National Statistics said last month’s surplus was £5.5bn larger than a year ago. Income and capital gains tax receipts increased by 14%, twice the average growth rate earlier in the year.

Combined, the income from self-assessed income taxes and capital gains tax receipts was £21.4bn, the highest in January since comparable records began in 2000. The data comes after several disappointing months for the chancellor, as borrowing came in worse than forecast. Government borrowing for the first 10 months of the financial year has, however, fallen almost by half, as tax receipts have been much stronger than expected. The exchequer has borrowed about £21.2bn this year so far, £18.5bn lower than at the same point a year ago, and the lowest since the 10 months to January 2001. The latest update means the government could be on track to reduce the deficit – the gap between spending and tax income – close to its target of £25.5bn set by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which is 39% less than in 2017-18.

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Who in the party will defend Corbyn?

Anti-Semitism Is Cover For A Much Deeper Divide In UK Labour Party (Cook)

The announcement by seven MPs from the UK Labour Party on Monday that they were breaking away and creating a new parliamentary faction marked the biggest internal upheaval in a British political party in nearly 40 years, when the SDP split from Labour. On Wednesday, they were joined by an eighth Labour MP, Joan Ryan, and three Conservative MPs. There are predictions more will follow. With the UK teetering on the brink of crashing out of the European Union with no deal on Brexit, the founders of the so-called Independent Group made reference to their opposition to Brexit. The chief concern cited for the split by the eight Labour MPs, though, was a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” in the party.

The breakaway faction seemingly agrees that anti-semitism has become so endemic in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader more than three years ago that they were left with no choice but to quit. Corbyn, it should be noted, is the first leader of a major British party to explicitly prioritise the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s continuing belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territories. Luciana Berger, a Jewish MP who has highlighted what she sees as an anti-semitism problem under Corbyn, led the charge, stating at the Independent Group’s launch that she had reached “the sickening conclusion” that Labour was “institutionally racist”. She and her allies claim she has been hounded out of the party by “anti-semitic bullying”.

[..] The timing of the defections was strange, occurring shortly after the Labour leadership revealed the findings of an investigation into complaints of anti-semitism in the party. These were the very complaints that MPs such as Berger have been citing as proof of the party’s “institutional racism”. And yet, the report decisively undercut their claims – not only of endemic anti-semitism in Labour, but of any significant problem at all. That echoed an earlier report by the Commons home affairs committee, which found there was “no reliable, empirical evidence” that Labour had more of an anti-semitism problem than any other British political party. Nonetheless, the facts seem to be playing little or no part in influencing the anti-semitism narrative. This latest report was thus almost entirely ignored by Corbyn’s opponents and by the mainstream media.

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Macron gambles that he can silence the Yellow Vests with antisemitism smear.

Macron Calls Anti-Zionism A Form Of Antisemitism (Ind.)

Emmanuel Macron has declared anti-Zionism a form of antisemitism as he ramps up France’s crackdown on racism against Jewish people. Speaking at the 34th annual dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, Mr Macron said a surge in antisemitic attacks in his country had not been seen since World War Two. He promised a new law to tackle hate speech on the internet and said France would adopt the definition of antisemitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The IHRA definition does not use the phrase “anti-Zionism” but does say denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination “e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour,” is antisemitic.

Some critics of Israel, its occupation of territory internationally recognised as Palestinian, and its isolation of the Gaza Strip, say they risk being unfairly branded antisemitic, although the IHRA definition says: “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country” is not. Mr Macron’s words were well received from the World Jewish Congress which said: “This is just the beginning of a long road ahead. Adopting this definition of anti-Semitism must be followed by concrete steps to encode into law and ensure that this is enforced.”

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Stop suing the banks. Sue their execs instead.

Philadelphia Sues Seven Big Banks For Bond Collusion (RT)

The city of Philadelphia is suing Bank of America and six other major banks for conspiring to manipulate the rates of municipal bonds, illegally making millions of dollars while depriving the city of funds for public services. Pennsylvania’s largest city, with over 1.5 million residents, filed the complaint late on Wednesday in the federal court in Manhattan. The city accuses Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo of colluding to manipulate rates of variable-rate demand obligations (VRDO), of which Philadelphia has issued over $1.6 billion-worth. The fees the banks collected, in violation of federal antitrust laws, have deprived Philadelphia and other jurisdictions of critical funding for public services, the lawsuit claims.

According to the court documents, the banks are already being criminally investigated by the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, while the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has contacted four of the defendants with questions about their conduct. The lawsuit claims that phone and email records will show that the banks agreed not to compete with each other for VRDO remarketing services between February 2008 and June 2016, resulting in artificially high rates and banks collecting fees “for doing, essentially, nothing.”

Similar lawsuits are already being litigated in Massachusetts, California, Illinois and New York, accusing major banks of conspiring to “robo-reset” the rates of state VRDOs without any considerations for the local markets or investor demand, violating the requirement to market and price the bonds at the lowest possible interest rates. Plaintiffs in those four lawsuits are seeking to recover over $1 billion in fees, ranging from $100 million in Massachusetts and $349 million in Illinois to $719 million in California, while the New York numbers have not been made available yet.

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Some things are impossible to properly summarize in a few lines. Read the whole thing at Epoch Times.

And again: the US needs a Special Counsel for this. The FBI cannot be a state within the state.

FBI Lawyer Reveals Infiltration In Trump Campaign (ET)

A key player in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign was Trisha Anderson, who, at the time, was the No. 2 lawyer at the agency’s Office of General Counsel. Despite having no specific experience in counterintelligence before coming to the FBI, Anderson was, in some manner, involved in virtually all of the significant events of the investigation. Anderson told members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in August last year during closed-door testimony that she was one of only about 10 people who had known about the Trump–Russia investigation prior to its official opening.

A transcript of Anderson’s testimony, which was reviewed for this article, reveals that she had read all of the FBI’s FD302 forms detailing information that the author of the Steele dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, had provided to high-ranking Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr. Anderson also told lawmakers that she personally signed off on the original application for a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without having read it. The FBI relied heavily on the unverified information in the Steele dossier—which was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee—to obtain the FISA warrant.

Anderson also was part of a small group of FBI personnel who got to read then-FBI Director James Comey’s memos about conversations he had with President Donald Trump. Besides the investigation into Trump, Anderson also was involved in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton for sending classified information using a private server. Anderson’s testimony reveals that she received the original referral from the inspectors general for both the State Department and Intelligence Community on Clinton after hundreds of classified emails had been found on her server. Her testimony also raises questions as to whether then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict of interest.

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Get the impressions Stone’s getting bored sitting at home.

Judge Imposes Sweeping Gag Order On Roger Stone (MW)

A judge imposed a sweeping gag order on Roger Stone, the former political adviser to President Donald Trump, after he created an Instagram post of the judge presiding over his criminal case next to an image that appeared to show the crosshairs of a gun. Stone told the judge at a hearing Thursday he made an “egregious error.” The new gag order prevents Stone from making any public comments on the case or investigation other than to solicit funds for his legal defense. If Stone violates the new gag order, his bond will be revoked and he’ll be detained. “There will not be a third chance,” District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said.

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I had no idea.

Hungary Takes ‘Hundreds Of Venezuelan Refugees With Hungarian Ancestry’ (Ind.)

Hungary has accepted around 300 refugees from crisis-hit Venezuela, according to media reports from the country – surprising observers of its usually anti-immigration government. The refugees, who are thought to have Hungarian ancestry, are understood to have been welcomed into the country with the tacit support of the Orban administration and the help of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta. The news has come as a surprise in the conservative central European state, given the anti-immigration stances and refugee crackdowns of premier Viktor Orban.

“We are speaking about Hungarians and we do not consider Hungarians migrants,” Mr Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told a press conference in response to the report. Confirming that the programme began in April 2018, he added: “They, like any other Hungarian, have a right to return home.” A controversial law passed by the Orban government last year restricted the activities of NGOs and charities that provide assistance to migrants. The law was de facto targeted at those groups helping people arriving by land from the Middle East and Africa. The Hungarian opposition seized on the latest developments, claiming the government was acting hypocritically.

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He got it back in October apparently, so no big immediate change.

And Center Alliance Senator Patrick having asked for the passport only so Julian can give himself up to the UK police doesn’t help either.

Julian Assange Gets A New Australian Passport (SMH)

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official confirmed in a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday that Mr Assange’s 2018 application for a new passport had been accepted. Consular and Crisis Management Division first assistant secretary Andrew Todd said, “Mr Assange does have an Australian passport”. [..] The department is understood to have issued Mr Assange with his new passport in October. A DFAT official at an estimate’s hearing in October said Mr Assange’s passport application had “not been rejected”. But absolute confirmation that he has actually received a new passport did not come until Thursday’s heading. DFAT officials told the estimates hearing they had no knowledge of legal proceedings against Mr Assange in the United States.

Documents show Mr Assange’s UK-based lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, applied for a new passport on his behalf in mid-2018. DFAT replied that it was of the belief that Mr Assange’s entitlement to a passport may be affected by ongoing legal proceedings in the United Kingdom. “Specifically, we understand you may be the subject of an arrest warrant in connection with a ‘serious foreign offence’ within the meaning of section 13 of the Australian Passports Act 2005,” DFAT replied. “In order to progress your application, we require confirmation that section 13 is not enlivened by your circumstances. To this end, we ask that you provide us with confirmation that section 13 no longer applies to you. Until this time, your passport application will remain on hold.”

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick, who has pursued Mr Assange’s right to a passport in recent estimates hearings, said that, given Mr Assange’s failing health, the best thing would be for him to leave the Ecuador embassy and face the British justice system over breaching his bail conditions. After that, he should return to Australia, Senator Patrick said.

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“Nearly four in 10 children in the city have asthma, while the rate of ovarian cancer is 64% higher than the rest of Pennsylvania and lung cancer rates are 24% higher..”

US Cities Burn Recyclables After China Bans Imports (G.)

The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yoghurt containers and other items into recycling bins. But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned, according to the city’s government. It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse. The loss of this overseas dumping ground means that plastics, paper and glass set aside for recycling by Americans is being stuffed into domestic landfills or is simply burned in vast volumes. This new reality risks an increase of plumes of toxic pollution that threaten the largely black and Latino communities who live near heavy industry and dumping sites in the US.

About 200 tons of recycling material is sent to the huge Covanta incinerator in Chester City, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, every day since China’s import ban came into practice last year, the company says. [..] Some experts worry that burning plastic recycling will create a new fog of dioxins that will worsen an already alarming health situation in Chester. Nearly four in 10 children in the city have asthma, while the rate of ovarian cancer is 64% higher than the rest of Pennsylvania and lung cancer rates are 24% higher, according to state health statistics. The dilemma with what to do with items earmarked for recycling is playing out across the US. The country generates more than 250m tons of waste a year, according to the EPA, with about a third of this recycled and composted.

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Monoculture ‘R’ Us. You add it all up, the soil is poisoned, the food is poisoned, vertebrates are disappearing, insects are going gone, and how much longer for the human species?

World Food Supply Under ‘Severe Threat’ From Loss Of Biodiversity (G.)

The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates. The stark warning was issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation after scientists found evidence the natural support systems that underpin the human diet are deteriorating around the world as farms, cities and factories gobble up land and pump out chemicals. Over the last two decades, approximately 20% of the earth’s vegetated surface has become less productive, said the report, launched on Friday. It noted a “debilitating” loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species. In the oceans, a third of fishing areas are being overharvested.

Many species that are indirectly involved in food production, such as birds that eat crop pests and mangrove trees that help to purify water, are less abundant than in the past, noted the study, which collated global data, academic papers and reports by the governments of 91 countries. It found 63% of plants, 11% of birds, and 5% of fish and fungi were in decline. Pollinators, which provide essential services to three-quarters of the world’s crops, are under threat. As well as the well-documented decline of bees and other insects, the report noted that 17% of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats and birds, were threatened with extinction. Once lost, the species that are critical to our food systems cannot be recovered, it said. “This places the future of our food and the environment under severe threat.”

“The foundations of our food systems are being undermined,” wrote Graziano da Silva, the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, in an introduction to the study. “Parts of the global report make sombre reading. It is deeply concerning that in so many production systems in so many countries, biodiversity for food and agriculture and the ecosystem services it provides are reported to be in decline.” Agriculture was often to blame, he said, due to land-use changes and unsustainable management practices, such as over-exploitation of the soil and a reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other agro-chemicals. Most countries said the main driver for biodiversity loss was land conversion, as forests were cut down for farm fields, and meadows covered in concrete for cities, factories and roads. Other causes include overexploitation of water supplies, pollution, over-harvesting, the spread of invasive species and climate change.

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Feb 182019
 


Pablo Picasso Face female study 1925

 

Yellow Vests Mark 3 Months of Marches, France investigates Antisemitism (AP)
Two Trump Cabinet Officials Were “Ready To Support” 25th Amendment Coup (ZH)
Trump To Veto Disapproval Of Emergency (AP)
Tories Under Fire For Dismissing March For 2nd Brexit Referendum (Ind.)
New Zealand To Target Online Giants With Digital Tax (R.)
Facebook Labelled ‘Digital Gangsters’ By UK Report On Fake News (G.)
UK Must Investigate Foreign Influence And Voter Manipulation In Brexit Vote (Ind.)
Australia Claims Foreign Government Hacked Major Political Parties (R.)
Varoufakis: ECB Profits Should Be Used For A European Poverty Fund (KTG)
Venezuela Denies EU Lawmakers Entry Given ‘Conspiratorial Motives’ (R.)
Virtual Fences, Robot Workers, Stacked Crops: Farming In 2040 (O.)
Return Of Wolves To Germany Pits Farmers Against Environmentalists (G.)
UK Plans To Make Plastic Packaging Producers Pay For Waste Disposal (R.)
Plastic Chemicals Discovered Inside Bird Eggs From Remote Arctic (Ind.)

 

 

How state propaganda works (and is disseminated by sympathetic media).

“The scene was a vicious verbal interlude..” “The verbal attack on Finkielkraut could risk further eroding the movement’s initially strong public support. “The yellow vest movement [..] is now marked by growing divisions within its ranks.”

In reality, the French see young people with their eyes missing due to Macron-ordered rubber bullets. The only support that’s eroding is that for Macron.

Yellow Vests Mark 3 Months of Marches, France investigates Antisemitism (AP)

Paris judicial authorities opened an investigation Sunday into anti-Semitic remarks hurled at a noted philosopher during a yellow vest protest, an incident that raised national concerns about the movement’s ascendant radical fringe. The Paris prosecutor’s office said the investigation was being conducted into “public insult based on origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.” A band of men taunted philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the sidelines of a protest through the French capital Paris on Saturday. “Go back to Tel Aviv,” ”Zionist,” and “France is our land” were among the insults captured on video. Finkielkraut, a member of the prestigious Academie Francaise, told French television station LCI on Sunday he doesn’t intend to file a complaint.

The scene was a vicious verbal interlude as thousands of protesters made their way through the Left Bank for the 14th Saturday in a row of demonstrations by the yellow vest movement. Several thousand protesters gathered again in Paris on Sunday to mark the three-month anniversary of the yellow vest movement’s protests, which started Nov. 17 with nationwide protests of fuel tax increases. [..] The verbal attack on Finkielkraut could risk further eroding the movement’s initially strong public support. The yellow vest movement [..] is now marked by growing divisions within its ranks. One yellow vest protester who has tried to put together a candidates list for the European Parliament election was heckled Sunday by detractors.

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Government officials vs a newly elected president. Must be a first. Patriots vs voters.

Two Trump Cabinet Officials Were “Ready To Support” 25th Amendment Coup (ZH)

Two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” a DOJ scheme to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump, according to Bloomberg and Fox News, citing closed-door testimony from the FBI’s former top lawyer, James Baker – who said that the claim came from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book.” -Fox News

While Baker did not identify the two Cabinet officials, he says that McCabe and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page approached him to relay their conversations with Rosenstein, including their discussions of the 25th Amendment scheme. “I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he – this was what was related to me – that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment,” Baker told the Congressional committees. The 25th Amendment allows for the removal of a sitting president from office through various mechanisms – including the majority of a president’s Cabinet agreeing that the commander-in-chief is incapable of performing his duties.

Rosenstein – who is slated to leave the Justice Department in the near future, has denied the claims. Baker said McCabe was cool, calm and collected throughout the discussions, telling lawmakers: “At this point in time, Andy was unbelievably focused and unbelievably confident and squared away. I don’t know how to describe it other than I was extremely proud to be around him at that point in time because I thought he was doing an excellent job at maintaining focus and dealing with a very uncertain and difficult situation. So I think he was in a good state of mind at this point in time.” McCabe, meanwhile told “60 Minutes” in an interview set to air Sunday night that Rosenstein was concerned about Trump’s “capacity.”

According to McCabe, Rosenstein “raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort,” adding that Rosenstein was “definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time.” “Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?” asks CBS News anchor Scott Pelly, to which McCabe replied: “That’s correct. Counting votes or possible votes.”

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Inevitable, so let’s have it.

“..there do not yet appear to be enough votes to override a veto by the president.”

Trump To Veto Disapproval Of Emergency (AP)

President Donald Trump is prepared to issue the first veto of his term if Congress votes to disapprove his declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border, a top White House adviser said on Sunday. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is going to protect his national emergency declaration.” Asked if that meant Trump was ready to veto a resolution of disapproval, Miller added, “He’s going to protect his national emergency declaration, guaranteed.” The West Wing is digging in for fights on multiple fronts as the president’s effort to go around Congress to fund his long-promised border wall faces bipartisan criticism and multiple legal challenges.

After lawmakers in both parties blocked his requests for billions of dollars to fulfill his signature campaign pledge, Trump’s declared national emergency Friday shifts billions of federal dollars earmarked for military construction to the border. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” that his state would sue “imminently” to block the order, after the American Civil Liberties Union and the nonprofit watchdog group Public Citizen announced Friday they were taking legal action. Democrats are planning to introduce a resolution disapproving of the declaration once Congress returns to session and it is likely to pass both chambers. Several Republican senators are already indicating they would vote against Trump — though there do not yet appear to be enough votes to override a veto by the president.

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“The next demonstration will be staged in London on Saturday 23 March, just six days before the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU.”

Tories Under Fire For Dismissing March For 2nd Brexit Referendum (Ind.)

Senior Tories were accused of “sniping” at the huge numbers of campaigners set to take part in a march for a fresh Brexit referendum, a day after it was announced. A Brexit minister, Martin Callanan, came under fire after he branded next month’s Put It To The People march – part of The Independent’s Final Say campaign – “desperate stuff”. James Cleverly, a Conservative vice-chairman, tweeted sarcastically: “The only thing that might make me change my mind is a bloke in a blue hat with yellow stars shouting ‘Stop Brexit’. Yep, that might do it.” The reaction came despite last October’s demonstration attracting up to 700,000 people in London alone – and fuelling support for a new referendum at Westminster.

Anna Turley, a Labour supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said the two men were “sniping at the huge numbers of people in this country who want to make their voice heard”. “Ministers should listen to the calls of those who feel betrayed by broken Brexit promises, worried about the damage caused by either this deal or no deal, as well as those who just want clarity and closure about our country’s direction – rather than years more of argument and division,” she said. The next demonstration will be staged in London on Saturday 23 March, just six days before the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU.

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Meaningless without including other taxes, income, wealth, tec.

New Zealand To Target Online Giants With Digital Tax (R.)

New Zealand said on Monday that it plans to update its laws so it can tax revenue earned by multinational digital firms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, extending a global effort to bring global tech giants into the tax net. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the cabinet had agreed to issue a discussion document about how to update the country’s tax framework to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share. “Our current tax system is not fair in the way it treats individual tax payers, and how it treats multinationals,” Ardern told reporters at her weekly post-cabinet news conference.

Highly digitalized companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax, the government said in a statement released after the announcement. The value of cross-border digital services in New Zealand is estimated to be around NZ$2.7 billion ($1.86 billion). The revenue estimate for a digital services tax is between NZ$30 million and NZ$80 million, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in the statement. Digital services taxes (DST) are generally charged at a flat rate of two to three percent on the gross revenue earned by a multinational company in that country. A number of countries including the U.K, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and India have enacted or announced plans for a DST. The EU and Australia are also consulting on a DST.

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Anything here that money won’t buy?

Facebook Labelled ‘Digital Gangsters’ By UK Report On Fake News (G.)

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”. The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections. “Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins.

The report:
• Accuses Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, of contempt for parliament in refusing three separate demands for him to give evidence, instead sending junior employees unable to answer the committee’s questions.
• Warns British electoral law is unfit for purpose and vulnerable to interference by hostile foreign actors, including agents of the Russian government attempting to discredit democracy.
• Calls on the British government to establish an independent investigation into “foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation and the sharing of data” in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 general election.

The committee argues that, had Facebook abided by the terms of an agreement struck with US regulators in 2011 to limit developers’ access to user data, the scandal would not have occurred. “The Cambridge Analytica scandal was facilitated by Facebook’s policies,” it concludes. The 108-page report makes excoriating reading for the social media giant, which is accused of continuing to prioritise shareholders’ profits over users’ privacy rights. “Facebook continues to choose profit over data security, taking risks in order to prioritise their aim of making money from user data,” the report states, accusing the company of covering up leaks of user data. “It seems clear to us that Facebook acts only when serious breaches become public.”

Zuckerberg is also personally criticised by the committee in scathing terms, with his claim that Facebook has never sold user data dismissed by the report as “simply untrue”. “Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” Collins added in a statement. Watson agreed. “Few individuals have shown contempt for our parliamentary democracy in the way Mark Zuckerberg has,” he said. “If one thing is uniting politicians of all colours during this difficult time for our country, it is our determination to bring him and his company into line.”

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I know you thought this was about the CIA. But no, it’s Russia again.

UK Must Investigate Foreign Influence And Voter Manipulation In Brexit Vote (Ind.)

Theresa May must launch an independent investigation into “foreign influence and voter manipulation” in the Brexit vote, a committee of MPs says today, amid growing evidence of lawbreaking by Leave campaigners. A highly critical report – which warns “democracy is at risk” from rogue practices on social media – turns its fire on the prime minister for the failure to probe their effect on the referendum result. No wide-ranging investigation has taken place, despite the main Vote Leave campaign, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, being found by the Electoral Commission to have broken the law. The National Crime Agency, meanwhile, has launched a separate investigation into evidence of “multiple” criminal offences committed by Arron Banks and the Leave.EU campaign.

But Downing Street has fought off calls for a “Mueller-style” inquiry, on the scale of the US probe into alleged collusion with Russia by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Now the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has insisted an inquiry must be carried out, also looking into the 2017 general election and the 2014 Scottish referendum. It would establish “what actually happened with regard to foreign influence, disinformation, funding, voter manipulation, and the sharing of data, so that appropriate changes to the law can be made and lessons can be learnt for future elections and referenda”. Damian Collins, the committee’s Conservative chair, urged the prime minister to come clean about whether “Russian interference in UK politics” was being probed.

“We want to find out what was the impact of disinformation and voter manipulation on past elections including the UK referendum in 2016, and are calling on the government to launch an independent investigation,” he said. [..] The crisis emerged after the Brexit referendum, leading to the finding against Vote Leave which has been referred to the police for busting spending limits Crucially, the cash was used to pay data firm Aggregate IQ and – a whistleblower and an Oxford professor argue – potentially enabled it to precisely target enough voters on social media to have swayed the Brexit result. Mr Banks, Nigel Farage’s ally, could receive a two-year prison sentence if he is found to have “knowingly concealed” that an Isle of Man company handed up to £8m to Leave.EU – which would have been outlawed as a foreign donation.

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Saw that headline and though: elections must be coming up. And yes.

Australia Claims Foreign Government Hacked Major Political Parties (R.)

A cyber attack on Australian lawmakers that breached the networks of major political parties was probably carried out by a foreign government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, but did not name any suspects. As Australia heads for an election due by May, lawmakers were told this month told to urgently change their passwords after the cyber intelligence agency detected an attack on the national parliament’s computer network. The hackers breached the networks of major political parties, Morrison said, as he issued an initial assessment by investigators. “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” he told parliament.

“We also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been affected.” Morrison did not reveal what information was accessed, but he said there was no evidence of election interference. Investors are still securing local networks, said Alastair MacGibbon, head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the government department responsible for online security. “Our political institutions represent high-value targets,” MacGibbon told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

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Problem is he doesn’t stand a chance of winning anything.

Varoufakis: ECB Profits Should Be Used For A European Poverty Fund (KTG)

The enfant terrible of euro-economics and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis reloaded his gun and shot: Profits from the European Central Bank should be used for a European Poverty Fund. Speaking at an event of his party DiEM25 in Thessaloniki, he said about the “New Deal in Europe and the World”, that Europe is currently facing four crises: public-private debt, very low investment, banking system and rising poverty. Especially about poverty, Varoufakis, revealed that last year the European Central Bank had profits of €91 billion, which are distributed to the finance ministries of countries with surplus. “A Fund to Combat Poverty could be founded tomorrow morning, in order to support the poor European family and this would be an integrative move and the fight against intolerance and anti-Europeanism and fascism.”

Addressing his Greek audience, he said “in DieM25/MeRA25 we are deeply European, we are criticizing the euro, we want to upgrade it, we are the only ones that have proposals to change the architecture of the euro. We want to restructure the euro. We do not propose exit from the euro, we are not threatening to exit the euro. This is a fact. He criticized the economic policies of his former SYRIZA comrades saying ‘“It is impossible at this time to have any recovery in Greece when small and medium-size businesses pay 75% of their profits to the state. You can not have a 100% pre-payment of the tax. You do that in a country when it is to destroy it.” [..] “Every eurozone country should have a parallel payment system,” he underlined.

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Well, they did vote to recognize Guiado as head of state.

Venezuela Denies EU Lawmakers Entry Given ‘Conspiratorial Motives’ (R.)

Venezuela denied a group of European Parliament deputies entry into the country on Sunday, arguing they had “conspiratorial motives” for flying to Caracas in the throes of a political crisis. The European Parliament last month joined a slew of Western nations in recognizing Venezuelan opposition chief Juan Guaido as interim head of state after President Nicolas Maduro won a second term in an election last year that critics denounced as a sham. The four deputies from the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) were traveling to Venezuela to meet with Guaido, one of them said in a video distributed via social media.

“They have retained our passports, they haven’t communicated the reason for our expulsion,” Esteban González Pons said. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on his Twitter account that the lawmakers had been advised several days ago they would not be allowed entry into the South American country. Venezuela would “not permit the European extreme right to disturb the peace and stability of the country with another of its rude, interventionist actions,” he wrote.

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Wonder how much money Monsanto has paid into the report.

..new biotech production techniques not only help preserve crops but also make them more nutritious.

..opportunities for British food and farming to increase productivity ..

Virtual Fences, Robot Workers, Stacked Crops: Farming In 2040 (O.)

It is 2040 and Britain’s green and pleasant countryside is populated by robots. We have vertical farms of leafy salads, fruit and vegetables, and livestock is protected by virtual fencing. Changing diets have seen a decline in meat consumption while new biotech production techniques not only help preserve crops but also make them more nutritious. This is the picture painted in a report from the National Farmers Union which attempts to sketch out what British food and farming will look like in 20 years’ time. “The Future of Food 2040 report is a catalyst to encourage us all to start the debate about our food and our future so we can plan ahead,” said Andrea Graham, NFU’s head of policy services and author of the report, who interviewed 50 experts across Britain’s food chain to gauge their views.

“It is also a reminder for government, at a critical time in British history, to make domestic food production a strategic priority in all policy making.” While some of the predictions may seem a long way off, others are already in their infancy. “Even now, there are technologies being developed that can care for crops on a plant-by-plant basis or control the grazing of cattle without physical fences, and by 2040 this technology will be commonplace in farming,” Graham said. The British farming sector will need to be more efficient if it is to meet a key NFU goal of producing net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. “Over the next 20 years we will face potentially seismic changes in all aspects of society,” Graham added. “An increase in the global population and the need to mitigate climate change will provide opportunities for British food and farming to increase productivity and reduce its impact on the environment.”

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Food must come from sterile enviroments. No life allowed.

Return Of Wolves To Germany Pits Farmers Against Environmentalists (G.)

More than a century ago, wolves were hunted to extinction in Germany. These days, they’re back – and their presence is a source of political strife. Wolf attacks on livestock increased drastically in 2017, according to government statistics released at the weekend: they carried out 472 attacks, an increase of 66% over the previous year. The number of killed, injured or missing livestock – mostly sheep and goats – rose 55%, to 1,667. The issue of how to deal with wolves is pitting farmers who want to protect their livestock against environmentalists who prioritise the protection of vulnerable species. Julia Klöckner, the agriculture minister, said the latest figures proved the government needed to act.

Germany should shift its regulations to make it legal to remove individual wolves from a pack, she told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. For more than a century, wolves were extinct in Germany. In recent years, however, especially since the country’s reunification in 1990, the animals have been reintroduced and are slowly making a comeback. They are especially prevalent in the former East German states, since many have crossed the border with Poland. Though environmentalists have lauded the return of the wolf, not everyone is happy that they are back – or that they have been awarded protected status. EU regulations outlaw the killing of wolves, allowing exceptions only when there is “no satisfactory alternative” or if people are in danger.

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Instead of simply saying don’t make the stuff anymore. London must think Brits are incredibly stupid people.

UK Plans To Make Plastic Packaging Producers Pay For Waste Disposal (R.)

Britain is to set out plans to overhaul its recycling system on Monday, including making plastic packaging producers pay the full cost of dealing with their waste and introducing a deposit return scheme for cans and bottles. The plans, which also aim to make household rubbish collections more consistent around the country, will be introduced by Environment Secretary Michael Gove and go out for consultation for three months. “We will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling,” Gove said in a statement. The tax will be payable by producers who fail to use enough recycled material.

At present, producers pay only around 10 percent of the cost of dealing with plastic packaging waste, the environment ministry said. Under an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) system, the industry will pay higher fees if its packaging is harder to reuse or recycle. EPR for packaging will raise between 800 million and one billion pounds a year for recycling and disposal, the ministry said. Government will seek views on two options for how a deposit return scheme might work for cans and glass or plastic bottles, it added. The first would target a large amount of drinks on the market, irrespective of container size. The second, known as the “on-the-go” model, would concern smaller container sizes – those most often sold for consumption outside the home.

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These birds spend most of their lives feeding at sea, returning to their nests only to breed.

Plastic Chemicals Discovered Inside Bird Eggs From Remote Arctic (Ind.)

Chemicals from plastics have been found inside the eggs of seabirds living in remote Arctic colonies, in the latest sign of pollution contaminating the furthest reaches of the planet. Scientists were concerned by the traces of phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been banned from children’s toys due to their potential “gender-bending” effects. These substances are routinely applied to many plastic products, and probably came from the bottle tops and cigarette butts these seabirds often eat after mistaking them for food. The eggs were taken from northern fulmars living on an island in Lancaster Sound, more than 100 miles away from the nearest human settlement.

In a preliminary study, Dr Jennifer Provencher of the Canadian Wildlife Service tested the eggs of five fulmars and found phthalates in one, but warned the problem is likely to be far more pervasive. “These are some of the birds who have the lowest levels of accumulated plastic,” explained Dr Provencher. If fulmar colonies were tested in the North Sea, where levels of plastic consumption are far higher, she said the results could be far more dramatic. “Now the thing is to look at other populations and to see if they have the same chemicals, or other chemicals,” she said. In another study, Dr Provencher and her colleagues examined the eggs of both fulmars and black-legged kittiwakes, and found traces of more chemicals known as UV stabilisers and antioxidants. “We are finding multiple plastic-derived contaminants that are maternally transferred to the egg,” she said. “It’s really tragic.”


Scientists studied the eggs of northern fulmars from an Arctic island in Canada’s Lancaster Sound (Getty/iStock)

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