Oct 212020
 


Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1972

 

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)
Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)
Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)
10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)
Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)
Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)
Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)
US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)
No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)
DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)
Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)
Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)
Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)
Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)
Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)
Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

 

 

It’s Hunter season.

 

 

 

 

I think Tyler has the timeline a bit wrong. Tucker didn’t say this “Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials'”, he said it on October 16 (maybe even 15?!) , and the letter was published the 19th.

‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)

Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ who say the Hunter Biden laptop scandal “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” – providing “no new evidence,” while they remain “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” Tucker Carlson obliterated their (literal) conspiracy theory. According to the Fox News host, he’s seen ‘nonpublic information that proves it was Hunter’s laptop,’ adding “No one but Hunter could’ve known about or replicated this information.” “This is not a Russian hoax. We are not speculating.”

Meanwhile, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who believes Hunter dropped off three MacBook Pros for data recovery has a signed work order bearing Hunter’s signature. When compared to the signature on a document in his paternity suit, while one looks more formal than the other, they are a match. Going back to the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ and their latest Russia fixation, one has to wonder – do they think Putin was able to compromise Biden’s former business associate, Bevan Cooney, who gave investigative journalist Peter Schweizer his gmail password – revealing that Hunter and his partners were engaged in an influence-peddling operation for rich Chinese who wanted access to the Obama administration?


Did Putin further hack Joe Biden in 2011 to make him take a meeting with a Chinese delegation with ties to the CCP – arranged by Hunter’s group, two years they secured a massive investment of Chinese money? The implications boggle the mind. Here’s the clarifying sentences from the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ that exposes the utter farce of it all: “While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

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A 14-year old relative. Most damning is that Joe knew about it.

Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)

Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s private attorneys, has reported to Delaware police concerns that materials on a laptop purportedly tied to Hunter Biden contained evidence of possible child endangerment. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, confirmed Tuesday night he went Monday to a local police department in Wilmington to report his concerns of children endangerment and sexual exploitation. Giuliani told Just the News that former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik joined him when he delivered photographs and text messages to the New Castle County Police Department. “I told them other details about what appears to be an inappropriate sexual relationship,” he said in an interview. “They told me it would be investigated.”

Law enforcement officials in Delaware told Just the News that Giuliani’s concerns have been forwarded to the state Department of Justice. A spokesman for New Castle County police referred reporters to the state Justice Department. A spokesman for the state agency did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment. A senior federal law enforcement official told Just the News on Tuesday night that the FBI is in possession of the laptop and that the bureau concurs with Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assessment that the laptop is not part of Russian intelligence operation, as some Democrats have alleged. That official declined to discuss the contents of the laptop.

[..] Giuliani said the materials he gleaned from the controversial laptop — which a Delaware computer shop owner alleges was left with him by Hunter Biden — gave him concern for the welfare of a minor girl. Giuliani declined to identify the alleged minor victim or who was in the photos. “There are many texts which I gave to them that point out that family was concerned about the safety of the child,” Giuliani said. “I will tell you the evidence I gave them states it was reported to Joe Biden. What did he do about it?“Giuliani dismissed suggestions that filing a police report as Trump’s private attorney two weeks before Election Day should be deemed political. “The conduct falls under the mandatory reporting requirements for child endangerment,” Giuliani said. “If I was the U.S. attorney or the mayor or Bernie was still the commissioner, it would have been a crime for us not to report what we had.”

Giuliani

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After they’ve had it for a year?! Yeah, that should work…

What the FBI is investigating is not the contents of the emails, but the RussiaRussia claims the Dems launched.

Is Giuliani’s report now also with the FBI?

Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)

The Delaware state police have passed on an inquiry concerning the laptop purportedly belonging to Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to the FBI.On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Newsmax that he handed over the laptop that he claims belongs to Hunter Biden to the Delaware state police on Monday. “In light of ongoing questions about the credibility of these claims and multiple reports that the FBI is investigating their veracity, law enforcement is referring this matter to the FBI,” a Delaware State Police spokesperson told Newsweek. The Delaware State Police also confirmed that they are not in possession of the laptop.


Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused each other of politicizing intelligence on Monday over emails allegedly found on the laptop. More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter on Monday detailing their belief that the laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After Schiff called revelations stemming from the laptop a Kremlin “smear” campaign, Ratcliffe on Monday insisted that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”

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Some good points.

10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)

1. Pennsylvania Voter Registration. American presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College as President Trump and Joe Biden both know. In 2016, Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes were key to President Trump’s victory. He won Pennsylvania by a slim 44,292 votes out of nearly 6 million. That November, the Democrats had nearly a 900,000 voter registration advantage over the Republicans. That number is now down to a 700,000 registration advantage and has narrowed to 100,000 in the last year.

2. Florida, too. In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 thousand voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes. In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes. Now the Democrats’ voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 thousand lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”

3. Latinos for Trump. Trump could well receive a historic level of support from Latino Voters in 2020. In Florida, a NBC/Marist poll had Trump leading among Latinos 50% to 46% over Biden, whereas, in 2016, Hillary won among Latinos in Florida 62% to 35%. That would be a 15% swing toward Trump if it held up on Election Day. After the first debate between Biden and Trump, a Telemundo poll showed Trump winning the debate overwhelmingly 66% to 34%. Snap media polls tend to reflect the sentiment of their viewers. Thus, it is no surprise that CNN viewers said Biden won the debate. The fact that Telemundo viewers decisively picked Trump as the winner, along with polls like those cited above in Florida, portend Trump getting the highest ever Latino support of any Republican presidential candidate.

4. African Americans For Trump. In September, according to polling done by Rasmussen, Trump’s approval rating among African Americans reached 45%. Keep in mind that President Trump only received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. If Trump received just 16% of the Black vote this November, let alone an even higher number, that would all but secure states like Michigan for Trump.

5. Biden the Tax Increaser. Candidates who promise tax increases, or have a history of supporting tax increases, tend to lose versus those pushing for tax cuts. President Jimmy Carter lost to challenger Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale lost to President Reagan, Michael Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush 41 and then 41 lost his reelection after his tax increase became a reality. George W. Bush beat Al Gore and then John Kerry. Barack Obama promised to reduce taxes and he beat John McCain who was not a tax cutter. Obviously, President Trump offered tax cuts while running against, and beating, Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is pushing for the largest tax increase in history.

6. Enthusiasm Matters. As the New York Post has reported, “just 46 percent of Biden voters in a recent Pew poll said that they strongly support him, compared to 66 percent of Trump’s base.” That is a 20 gap. In 2016, Trump had only a 13 point gap over Hillary. That increase of 7% bodes well for Trump, not Biden.

7. Early Voting in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. National polling from Pew Research indicates that “55% of voters who plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day support Biden, compared to 40% who support President Trump.” However, in the key battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin the early voting indicates that “registered Republicans are returning ballots at about the same rate as registered Democrats.” The parties are even in Michigan, Democrats up 2% in Wisconsin and the Republicans up 2% in Ohio.

8. American Voters Are More Satisfied in 2020 than they were in 2016. A new Gallup poll shows that 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago. That could well be the telling in this case given that just four years ago marked the end of the Biden vice presidency. Why would voters return to Biden if they are happier now than when he was in office?

9. Party Identification. According to Gallup, by the end of September, when the polling firm asked voters this question, “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?” the answer came back as follows: 28% said Republican, 27% said Democrat and 42% said independent. That is meaningful because many of the polls giving Biden the lead appear to be sampling more Democrats than Republicans – sometimes by a wide margin. Also, in 2016, Gallup had Democrats up 32% to 27% but, as we know, Trump still won.

10. Voters Think Trump Will Win. In the Trump era, there has been a lot of talk about whether Trump supporters feel free to tell pollsters that they are supporting the president’s reelection. Some experts point to polls asking voters who they believe will win the election to be a truer indication of candidate support. Once again this bodes well for President Trump as a “Gallup poll shows only 40% of Americans think Biden will win the election; 56% predict a Trump victory.”

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Good comparison.

Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)

Donald Trump has compared Rep. Adam Schiff’s claim that Hunter Biden’s alleged leaked emails are part of a Russian disinformation plot to Hillary Clinton calling Democrat Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset” similarly without evidence.During a Tuesday Fox News interview, Trump addressed Schiff’s evidence-free claim that the Hunter Biden email leaks, which detail his alleged dealings in Ukraine and China, were coming “from the Kremlin.” The leaks were published by the New York Post last week. “It’s just crazy,” Trump said of the theory, referring to the Democratic congressman as “Shifty Schiff” and a “sick” man, who was purposefully obfuscating the issue.


“Thank god we have John Ratcliffe,” Trump added, pointing out that the director of national intelligence refuted the speculation on Monday. During his own sit down with Fox, DNI Ratcliffe said that there was “no intelligence” to support Schiff’s position, and accused the politician of “politicizing” intelligence. The president recalled similar accusations made by his failed 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who previously implied that the Green Party’s former nominee Jill Stein and Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard were “Russian assets.” “This was like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, when Hillary Clinton said it about them… that they were agents of Russia,” Trump noted, adding, “They were not agents of Russia, they never spoke to anybody from Russia.”

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13 days left to go.

Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)

Secret Service logs obtained earlier this year by Senate investigators include dates and locations matching those discussed in the emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.The alignment of the dates in the emails and the Secret Service protective detail logs is significant because the authenticity of the emails, first published by the New York Post last week, is the subject of heated debate. The FBI, which purportedly obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December last year, has not yet officially confirmed that it is in possession of the device and whether the emails are genuine.

In one alleged email, written after midnight on April 13, 2014, Hunter Biden wrote to Devon Archer, his business partner, that he will be traveling to Houston the next day. Secret Service logs obtained by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs show a trip by Biden on April 13-14, 2014. In another alleged email, Vadim Pozharskyi, a top executive from Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, wrote to Biden and Archer on May 12, 2014: “Following our talks during the visit to the Como Lake and our further discussions, I would like to bring the following situation to your attention.” While the email doesn’t cite a date for the trip, Secret Service logs include a travel entry for Biden on April 3-6, 2014.

In another alleged email, Archer wrote on May 12, 2014, that he is with Biden in Doha, Qatar. Secret Service records include a trip by Biden to Doha, Qatar, on May 11-14, 2014. The alignment in dates and location was first spotted by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees. Notably, some of the alleged Hunter Biden emails included discussions of Biden’s travel after he allegedly declined a Secret Service detail. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a letter to the director of the Secret Service on Oct. 20 asking for records after the date when Biden purportedly stopped receiving a Secret Service detail.

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And associates.

Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)

In November 2011, an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members and billionaire cronies of the repressive regime in Beijing secured a meeting in the White House, said to be with Vice President Biden and other Obama administration officials, through Hunter Biden’s associates. News of the meeting has been broken by Peter Schweizer and Seamus Bruner. Schweizer, who has spent years tracking Washington’s web of money, influence and access, is the author most recently of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which focuses on the Biden family — among other intriguing money trails on both sides of the political aisle. Schweizer and Bruner have obtained the cooperation of Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Bevan Cooney, who is serving a federal prison sentence for a fraud scheme.

Another Hunter Biden business partner, Devon Archer, was also convicted (and has had his conviction reinstated by the Second Circuit federal appeals court after a trial judge in the Southern District of New York set it aside). Hunter Biden was featured in the evidence but not charged. Cooney has given the investigative journalists access to his email account, which contains years of correspondence with Biden, Archer, and others. The authors have begun writing reports published at Breitbart, and Schweizer has also been interviewed about it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. Obviously, those are very pro-Trump venues, so it is worth noting that solid reporting Schweizer did on the Clinton Foundation (the subject of his book Clinton Cash) was closely examined and relied on by the New York Times.

[..] Based on Cooney’s emails, the authors report that in November 2011, Hunter Biden’s business associates arranged meetings at the Obama White House for a delegation of the “China Entrepreneur Club.” Established in 2006, the CEC is led by high officials of the Chinese Communist Party, some government officials (including diplomats), and billionaire business executives with close ties to the regime. This visit to the White House is said to have included a meeting with then–Vice President Biden. In discussions among themselves, Hunter Biden’s associates reportedly made it clear that they anticipated cashing in on business prospects that were expected to arise from providing the Chinese contingent with high-level access to the Obama administration.

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Balding

US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)

American Universities failed to report $6.5 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, an investigation by the Department of Education found. Federal law requires schools to disclose substantial foreign gifts and contracts to the Department of Education (DOE) twice a year. Many have for years failed to do so, while others severely underreported the income. The deluge of the financial disclosures poured in as the department opened investigations into 12 elite universities. Universities reported receiving a total of more than $19.6 billion in foreign gifts and contracts from 2014 to 2020, including nearly $1.5 billion from China, almost $3.1 billion from Qatar, and more than $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia, according to historical DOE data and most recent figures posted on its new online reporting portal.

Carnegie Mellon University reported receiving almost $1.61 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, the most of any university. Harvard tops the list in terms of total funds received from China, reporting nearly $116 million. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the findings of the investigation at an event on Oct. 20, alongside officials from the Justice Department and the State Department. “The threat is real, so we took action to make sure the public is afforded the transparency the law requires,” DeVos said. “We found pervasive noncompliance by higher-ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities.”

The vast majority of the foreign funds went to America’s largest and most prestigious universities, which have received billions of dollars through a bevy of intermediaries, according to a report released by the DOE on Oct. 20. All of the institutions involved are in the meantime dependent on tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies while operating largely “divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values,” the DOE report states. For the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. universities retroactively reported $2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts. One school, which isn’t identified in the report, failed to report $760 million in foreign funding. University officials told the DOE they were “dumbfounded” by the reporting error. Another unnamed school failed to report $1.2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts.

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“82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that.”

No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)

One of the things that never fails to amaze me as a pollster is the absolute intensity that accompanies the final weeks of a presidential campaign. A poll I conducted recently for HealthInsurance.com found that 82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that. That’s what senior citizens are saying. These are voters who were around when the Berlin Wall went up and the Cold War was being fought in a space race. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Watergate were part of their life experience. And yet, now, they say this year — 2020 — is the most important presidential election of their lifetime.

Of course, you don’t need a poll to sense the intensity that some activists and voters bring to the election season. Supporters of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden regularly assert that the nation will never recover if the other side wins. Our democracy or our freedom will be lost. This shouldn’t surprise me. It happens every four years. But it catches me off guard because I don’t agree with the assessment. America will survive another four years of Donald Trump as president or the first four years of Joe Biden as president. There will be differences, of course, because elections matter. They have consequences. But it’s important to remember that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. They don’t determine the nation’s agenda or decide the fate of the nation.

The culture leads and the politicians lag behind. It’s also important to remember that American society isn’t nearly as polarized as American politics. That’s the good news. Still, it seems like a good time to review the data and assess where we are as Election 2020 draws to a close. The place to start is with a number that partisan activists find impossible to believe. My polling shows that 14% of voters — 1 out of 7 — are not fully certain how they will vote. That number includes some who currently support Trump or Biden but could change their mind. It also includes some who are currently leaning towards a third-party candidate. Historically, many such voters end up deciding at the last minute to reluctantly vote for one of the major party candidates. And, there are a few who just don’t like the choice before them.

In a sense, this group of uncommitted voters might best be described as voters who want both Trump and Biden to lose. While most are unlikely to change their mind, the possibility remains that something might happen to cause a late break in either direction. As a result, with two weeks to go, it’s best to consider a range of possibilities. Biden and the Democrats are ahead at the moment, but victory is not assured. I’ll start with the best-case scenario for the Republicans. If the race gets a bit tighter, Election 2020 will be a toss-up with the presidency determined by a few key states — places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It will seem like four years ago with one big exception: This time around, extensive mail-in voting means we wouldn’t know the winner for weeks. And, we also wouldn’t know who controls the Senate, the results in a couple dozen House races, and who has control of a few state legislatures.

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I thought they would only agree on going to war.

DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)

Lawmakers in the House and Senate praised a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against Google over allegations that the tech giant used its power to preserve its monopoly. “Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a statement after the filing. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information. And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means.” The lawsuit drew bipartisan support. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement that the lawsuit was “long overdue.”

“The Subcommittee’s investigation uncovered extensive evidence showing that Google maintained and extended its monopoly to harm competition,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anti-competitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants.” Cicilline said in early October in a House antitrust subcommittee that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple all wield monopoly power. “It’s Google’s business model that is the problem,” he said. “Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights.”

The suit, filed in a Washington federal court, asserts that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has tried to maintain its status as a gatekeeper to the Internet by using a number of interlocking businesses to shut out competitors, thereby securing itself as a monopoly. The DOJ claimed the Silicon Valley firm uses billions of dollars from its own advertisements to pay carriers, browsers, phone companies, and other entities to maintain Google as a default search engine. “Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide,” the DOJ lawsuit alleged, resulting in negative consequences for advertisers, consumers, and upstart companies that “cannot emerge from Google’s long shadow.”

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“One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.”

Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday postponed plans to vote on subpoenas to compel the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook to testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias after some panel Republicans expressed reservation about the maneuver. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have scorched the two social media companies in recent days over their handling of disputed New York Post reports alleging ties between Joe Biden and his son’s business interests. GOP Judiciary leaders had announced plans to hold a markup Tuesday on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify on allegations the company’s decisions on user posts stifle conservative viewpoints, which Twitter denies. Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) later said the planned vote would also target Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The panel announced Monday it will now consider whether to authorize the subpoenas at a high-profile executive session Thursday where it is separately expected to approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee said in a statement it will continue to negotiate with the companies “to allow for voluntary testimony” by the CEOs, but that if an agreement is not reached the panel will move ahead with a vote on the subpoenas “at a date to be determined.” The subpoenas would require the tech moguls to testify on the alleged “suppression and/or censorship” of the New York Post reporting and on “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office,” according to a document released by the committee Monday.

Judiciary staff has indicated internally that plans for the vote were delayed in part due to some GOP panel members wavering on whether to support the action, according to one Senate GOP aide, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. Republican officials have also expressed trepidation about how quickly the committee has moved to vote on the subpoenas, the aide said. A committee spokesperson did not immediately offer comment on the matter. But they’re not off the hook yet: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, told reporters he’s expecting the committee to hear testimony from both Dorsey and Zuckerberg “shortly” whether they come willingly or not. “One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.

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“But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)

“Facebook is almost an arm of the Democratic Party — an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.” So said the former Facebook insider as we sat down for an interview at a Midtown restaurant Friday afternoon.A gloomy rain had left the joint deserted, yet the man across the table from me spoke in hushed tones and looked over his shoulder in between remarks for fear of retaliation. Yet he felt he had to speak out, because staffers are “intentionally trying to swing people further to the left,” as he had put it in an e-mail requesting the meeting. I already knew that, of course. It was a Facebook communications manager, Andy Stone, who on Thursday announced the firm was reducing circulation of The Post’s still-undisputed reporting on the Hunter Files — an employee who happened to work for Democratic lawmakers before joining the tech giant.

What the Facebook insider wanted to impress upon me, however, was how Facebook’s partisan tilt is common knowledge inside the firm.He had the secret chats to prove it. Facebook employees who wish to speak freely take to Blind, an anonymous social network for the tech industry, where workers at major firms like Uber, Google, Twitter and the like trade gossip and occasionally blow the whistle on malfeasance. To gain access to the Facebook network on Blind, a user must sign up using his or her Facebook work e-mail address. The posters, in other words, are verified Facebook employees (and ex-employees in a few cases). So what do Facebook workers think about the company’s handling of our story? The comments speak for themselves: “[Facebook] employees want Trump to lose,” wrote one user. “If that means rigging [the platform] against him, they don’t care.”


The post garnered 29 “likes” from other employees. “I was shocked that Facebook did this,” said another. “We kinda called [brought] this on ourselves. So much for ‘we are not the arbiters of truth.’ ” That comment garnered 15 “likes.” Still other comments: “Facebook bets that Biden wins the election. So an effort to jump on the bandwagon.” “Yeah this one is unconscionable. I’m ashamed.” “Imagine if we censored some leaked Trump stuff. It would be the #1 upvoted question tomorrow for Mark [Zuckerberg company-wide]’s Q&A.” Another employee wrote a detailed critique: “Why do people hate Facebook everywhere? Here’s one reason. Freaking one-sided decision. The comms Twitter account [Andy Stone’s] was definitely left-leaning, and it’s a talking point, as well. No proper response to comms feedback. Don’t want to be the what-if person. But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”

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AI.

Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)

China is one of the most censorious societies on earth. So what better place for ≠Facebook to recruit social-media censors? There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.

When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.To illustrate the mechanics, the insider took me as his typical Facebook user: “They take what Sohrab sees, and then they throw the newsfeed list into a machine-learning algorithm and neural networks that determine the ranking of the items.” Facebook engineers test hundreds of different iterations of the rankings to shape an optimal outcome — and root out what bosses call “borderline content.”

It all makes for perhaps the most chillingly sophisticated censorship mechanism in human history. “What they don’t do is ban a specific pro-Trump hashtag,” says the ex-insider. Instead, “content that is a little too conservative, they will down-rank. You can’t tell it’s censored.”

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They don’t appear to know why.

Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)

Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. “We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August. The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.

That’s a big improvement, but 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous. The death rate “is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu,” Horwitz says. And those who recover can suffer complications for months or even longer. “It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people.” Studying changes in death rate is tricky because although the overall U.S. death rate for COVID-19 seems to be dropping, the drop coincides with a change in whom the disease is sickening. “The people who are getting hospitalized now tend to be much younger, tend to have fewer other diseases and tend to be less frail than people who were hospitalized in the early days of the epidemic,” Horwitz says.

So have death rates dropped because of improvements in treatments? Or is it because of the change in who’s getting sick? To find out, Horwitz and her colleagues looked at more than 5,000 hospitalizations in the NYU Langone Health system between March and August. They adjusted for factors including age and other diseases, such as diabetes, to rule out the possibility that the numbers had dropped only because younger, healthier people were getting diagnosed. They found that death rates dropped for all groups, even older patients by 18 percentage points on average.

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How embarrassing for the West if this works.

Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)

Moscow will receive its first large batches of the coronavirus vaccine in November, and mass vaccination in the Russian capital will begin in December and January, according to its Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Sobyanin, who has run Europe’s largest city since 2010, believes that mass vaccination will be “the final victory over the pandemic.” Writing on his blog, the mayor explained that the high number of infections in Moscow is due to the city’s huge population and the significant number of tests being conducted. On Monday, confirmed cases in the capital hit 367,629, a quarter of the country’s overall number (1,415,316), despite officially having around only eight percent of the population.

In the same blog post, Sobyanin highlighted that he does not yet see a necessity to introduce “extreme” measures in the city, such as a curfew and a ban on movement, but did not rule out other less stringent measures. The main aim is to interrupt the spread of the infection, while not affecting the economy or depriving people of work, he wrote. “Ultimately, we are not making a choice between good and bad,” the mayor said. “All decisions are bad. We have to choose the lesser of two evils. But if we do nothing today, then tomorrow we will have to take tougher, more radical, and more unpleasant measures.” Last week, the capital introduced extra restrictions regarding nightlife, with those attending bars and clubs after midnight being forced to scan a QR code for the purpose of track-and-trace.

Moscow is currently hosting the third phase trial of the country’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. The mass post-registration testing of the vaccine, which was produced by the city’s Gamaleya Institute, involves 40,000 volunteers – a quarter of whom will receive a placebo.

Read more …

“I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.”

Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)

1. “There are two kinds of people. People who when they hear that there’s a problem, they go into their basement, start crying, have an emotional support group, do some praying, and wait for the government to save them. Others who take their fate in their own hands and try to say, ‘Hey, life gave me a lemon, let me make lemonade out of it'” – on the best way to react to a crisis. 2. “There are ways you can be ahead. You just have to fight” – on the subject of adapting to the pandemic. Taleb gave the example of a gym owner pivoting to installing home gyms, and a waiter making more money as a delivery driver.

3. “Capitalism is a wonderful mechanism to convert individual human greed into collective virtue.” 4. “Governments are good at doing things that look important but are not necessarily effective.” 5. “We’re spending $1 trillion on fighting illusory enemies with very complex nuclear stuff, but you can’t do something as basic as test people when they want to board a plane” – criticizing the government response to the pandemic. 6. “I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.

7. “Millennials think that joining an NGO is a great way to save the world. I say no. Start a company, that’s how you improve mankind. We did not pull 2 billion people out of poverty thanks to NGOs and bureaucrats, we pulled them out thanks to capitalism, by generating economic growth.” 8. “A soldier can fail without any shame to the country. We should interpret the failure of entrepreneurs as something that is helping the planet” – on the need to encourage entrepreneurs and remove the stigma of failure.

Read more …

 

 

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Sep 042020
 
 September 4, 2020  Posted by at 9:35 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  13 Responses »


Robert Capa Catholic church between bricks from the destroyed Jewish Ghetto Warsaw, Poland 1948

 

Bipartisan Washington Insiders Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins Election (Webb)
Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Atl.)
The Trump Era Sucks and Needs to Be Over (Matt Taibbi)
If Dems Win In 2020, It’s Virtually Impossible For GOP Ever To Win Again (PJW)
Cuomo Admin Accused Of Stonewalling Over COVID19 Nursing Home Deaths (NYP)
DOJ Conducting “Very Big” Voter Fraud Investigations – Barr (ET)
DOJ To File Antitrust Charges Against Google Within Weeks (ZH)
In the Worst of Times, the Billionaire Elite Plunder Working Class America (CP)
US Court: NSA Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden Was Illegal (DW)
Capitalism Isn’t Working. Here’s An Alternative (Varoufakis)
Eulogy to David Graeber (Steve Keen)

 

 

60 days to go till November 3 and hunting season is open. Smear’s the word. It’ll be so ugly many people will just turn away in disgust. Many others will keep staring at it the way people stare at traffic accidents.

 

 

Bradykinin give us even more incentive to roll out rapid tests, HCQ, zinc, vitamin D in huge quantities. What are we waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taleb and Bar-Yam

 

 

Whitney Webb is one of multiple voices discussing the Transition Integrity Project (TIP). Bipartisan in this case means: anti-Trump. Basically, all these war scenarios claim that if Biden doesn’t win big, there’ll be war in the streets. They sort of openly advocate for that.

Bipartisan Washington Insiders Plan for Chaos if Trump Wins Election (Webb)

A group of Democratic Party insiders and former Obama and Clinton era officials as well as a cadre of “Never Trump” neoconservative Republicans have spent the past few months conducting simulations and “war games” regarding different 2020 election “doomsday” scenarios. Per several media reports on the group, called the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), they justify these exercises as specifically preparing for a scenario where President Trump loses the 2020 election and refuses to leave office, potentially resulting in a constitutional crisis. However, according to TIP’s own documents, even their simulations involving a “clear win” for Trump in the upcoming election resulted in a constitutional crisis, as they predicted that the Biden campaign would make bold moves aimed at securing the presidency, regardless of the election result.

This is particularly troubling given that TIP has considerable ties to the Obama administration, where Biden served as Vice President, as well as several groups that are adamantly pro-Biden in addition to the Biden campaign itself. Indeed, the fact that a group of openly pro-Biden Washington insiders and former government officials have gamed out scenarios for possible election outcomes and their aftermath, all of which either ended with Biden becoming president or a constitutional crisis, suggest that powerful forces influencing the Biden campaign are pushing the former Vice President to refuse to concede the election even if he loses. This, of course, gravely undercuts the TIP’s claim to be ensuring “integrity” in the presidential transition process and instead suggests that the group is openly planning on how to ensure that Trump leaves office regardless of the result or to manufacture the very constitutional crisis they claim to be preventing through their simulations.

Such concerns are only magnified by the recent claims made by the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State under Obama, Hillary Clinton, that Biden “should not concede under any circumstances.” “I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” Clinton continued during an interview with Showtime a little over a week ago. The results of the TIP’s simulations notably echo Clinton’s claims that Biden will “eventually” win if the process to determine the election outcome is “dragged out.”

Read more …

The for now (but don’t hold your breath on that one) ultimate smear piece, based exclusively on anonymous sources. All it says has been denied by not anonymous sources, who were actually present, like Trump himself, and Sarah Sanders, but that’s not the point. The point is smear; that’s how this will be fought.

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’ (Atl.)

Trump remained fixated on McCain, one of the few prominent Republicans to continue criticizing him after he won the nomination. When McCain died, in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,” the president told aides. Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral.

(These sources, and others quoted in this article, spoke on condition of anonymity. The White House did not return earlier calls for comment, but Alyssa Farah, a White House spokesperson, emailed me this statement shortly after this story was posted: “This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses. This has no basis in fact.”)

[..] On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members.

But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices. “He can’t fathom the idea of doing something for someone other than himself,” one of Kelly’s friends, a retired four-star general, told me. “He just thinks that anyone who does anything when there’s no direct personal gain to be had is a sucker. There’s no money in serving the nation.”

Read more …

Would things be better if Trump were gone? The only alternative is having Hillary and Pelosi and Schiff in charge. Is that an improvement?

The Trump Era Sucks and Needs to Be Over (Matt Taibbi)

The question, “What is Trump thinking?” is the wrong one. He’s not thinking, he’s selling. What’s he selling? Whatever pops into his head. The beauty of politics from his point of view, compared to every other damn thing he’s sold in his life — steaks, ties, pillows, college degrees, chandeliers, hotels, condominiums, wine, eyeglasses, deodorant, perfume (SUCCESS by Trump!), mattresses, etc. — is that there’s no product. The pitch is the product, and you can give different pitches to different people and they all buy. In 2016 Trump reeled in the nativist loons and rage cases with his opening rants about walls and mass deportations, then slowly clawed his numbers up with the rest of the party with his “softening” routine.

Each demographic probably came away convinced he was lying to the other, while the truth was probably more that he was lying to all of them. Obviously there are real-world consequences to courting the lowest common denominator instincts in people, but to Trump speeches aren’t moral acts in themselves, they’re just “words that he is saying,” as long-ago spokesperson Katrina Pierson put it. In this sense the Republican Party’s 2020 platform is genius: there isn’t one, just a commitment to “enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda,” meaning whatever Trump says at any given moment. If one can pull back enough from the fact that this impacts our actual lives, it’s hard not to admire the breathtaking amorality of this, as one might admire a simple malevolent organism like a virus or liver fluke.

Trump blew through the Republican primaries in 2015-2016. His opponents, a slate of mannequins hired by energy companies and weapons contractors to be pretend-patriots and protectors of “family values,” had no answer for his insults and offer-everything-to-everyone tactics. Like most politicians, they’d been protected their whole lives by donors, party hacks, and pundits who’d turned campaigns into a club system designed to insulate paid lackeys from challenges to their phony gravitas. Trump had no institutional loyalty to the club, shat all over it in addition to its silly frontmen, and walked to the nomination.

[..] The paradox ensnaring America since November, 2016 is that Trump never intended to govern, while his opponents never intended to let him try. In an alternate universe where a post-election Donald had enough self-awareness to admit he was out of his depth, and the D.C. establishment agreed to recognize his administration as legitimate for appearances’ sake, Trump might have escaped four years with the profile of a conventionally crappy president, or perhaps a few notches below that — way below average, maybe, but survivable. Instead it was decided even before he was elected that admitting the president was the president was “normalizing” him. Normally no news is good news, and the anchorman is encouraged to smile on a day without war, earthquakes, terror attacks, or stock market crashes.

Under Trump it became taboo to have a slow news day. A lack of an emergency was a failure of reporting, since Trump’s very presence in office was crisis.

Read more …

The ruling class.

If Dems Win In 2020, It’s Virtually Impossible For GOP Ever To Win Again (PJW)

Professor Angelo M. Codevilla warns that if the Democrats win the 2020 elections, it would be “virtually impossible for conservatives ever to win again.” Codevilla, who is professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University, made the prediction in a review published by the Claremont Review of Books for Michael Anton’s new book The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return. The book makes the argument that although some Americans may be disappointed in Trump’s performance, voting for him again is absolutely crucial for the republic’s survival because “this country’s ruling class would use control of the presidency to hurt us in our private and public lives for having dared to reject their mastery.” Importing non-citizens who are then given the vote, as well as institutionalizing elections by mail, which would give those who count the votes the power, would ‘guarantee disaster’ for the country, according to Codevilla.


He then issues a stark warning; It’s game over permanently for Republicans if Trump loses in 2020. “Should the Democrats win, the ruling Left – which includes just about everyone who controls American government and society’s commanding heights – is ready, willing, and eager to implement plans that would make it virtually impossible for conservatives ever to win national elections again,” writes Codevilla. The professor also cautions that Democrats’ stated refusal to concede to Donald Trump, which was recently amplified by Hillary Clinton, could manifest itself in “one or more blue state governors to refuse to certify that state’s electors to the Electoral College, so as to prevent the college from recording a majority of votes for the winner.” This threatens to set off a “systemic crisis” that could lead to a civil war “less like the American Civil War of the 19th century and more like the horror that bled Spain in the 20th.”

Read more …

It’ll be ready on November 5th. No, the joke is not lost on us. That’s two whole months for what nursing homes are by law obliged to tally on a daily basis. It shouldn’t even take two hours.

Cuomo Admin Accused Of Stonewalling Over COVID19 Nursing Home Deaths (NYP)

A government watchdog group is accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration of sitting on data that would provide the full death tally of nursing home residents from the coronavirus. The Empire Center for Public Policy accuses the state Health Department of stalling on compliance with a Freedom of Information Law request seeking the information. Currently, New York’s tally of nursing home fatalities only counts those residents who died or are presumed to have died from COVID-19 inside those facilities. The figure excludes potentially thousands of nursing home residents who were transported to hospitals for treatment and died a few days later.

“The state Health Department is offering a new explanation for why it won’t provide the full death toll of coronavirus in nursing homes: it can’t find the records,” said Bill Hammond, a health analyst for the Empire Center who submitted the legal request for the data in early August. In a response letter sent to Hammond on Monday, the department said it could not yet fulfill the request “because a diligent search for relevant documents is still being conducted.” “We estimate that this Office will complete its process by November 5, 2020. The Department will notify you in writing when/if the responsive materials are available for release or if the time needed to complete your request extends beyond the above date,” said the department’s record access officer, Rosemary Hewig.

The delayed compliance in releasing information in response to legal requests has been a common practice of government agencies, with officials often saying they are still conducting a “diligent search” for records. “In this case, however, a search of any kind should not be necessary,” Hammond said in a blog post. He said the department’s Health Emergency Response Data System (or HERDS) has required nursing homes to file daily reports throughout the pandemic — including counts of all residents who die from coronavirus, both within the facilities or hospitals or elsewhere. “Those numbers are the basis for the partial count that the department does make public – which stood at 6,639 as of Aug. 29, but omits potentially thousands of residents who died in hospitals,” Hammond said.

Hammond said the “unusual methodology” is used by few if any other states and gives the public a “distorted picture of the pandemic.” “It makes it hard to compare New York to other states, or to gauge the merits of particular policies, such as the Health Department’s much-debated March 25 directive compelling nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive patients being discharged from hospitals,” he said. The Justice Department is looking at whether the policies of New York and three other states contributed to COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

Read more …

And you thought hanging chads were controversial…

DOJ Conducting “Very Big” Voter Fraud Investigations – Barr (ET)

The Department of Justice is conducting several “very big” voter fraud investigations in multiple states, Attorney General William Barr told CNN in an interview aired on Sept. 2. “I know there are a number of investigations right now, some very big ones, in states,” Barr said in response to a question about how many voter fraud indictments the Department of Justice (DOJ) has brought on his watch. Barr said he did not know the exact number. At least 32 people have been criminally convicted of voter fraud in 2019, according to a database maintained by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. The attorney general made the remarks as part of a tense exchange with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer about mail-in voting.

Barr has repeatedly said that mass mail-in voting is an invitation for voter fraud and coercion. Blitzer pressed the attorney general for evidence that this will be the case in 2020. Barr pointed to a recent conviction in Texas over 1,700 fraudulent ballots and noted that widespread evidence isn’t available because the United States has never attempted an election with the kind of massive access to mail-in voting available in 2020. At least 83 percent of American voters, or roughly 100 million people, will be able to vote by mail in the 2020 election, according to a tally by The Washington Post. “We haven’t had the kind of widespread use of mail-in ballots as being proposed,” Barr said.

“We’ve had absentee ballots from people who request them from a specific address. Now what we’re talking about is mailing them to everyone on the voter list, when everyone knows those voter lists are inaccurate.” Barr referenced the findings of a nonpartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, which determined in 2005 that mail-in voting creates the potential for voter fraud and opens the door to coercion if activists or party workers are allowed to handle ballots. Carter recently issued a statement to point out that the commission’s key finding was that states should invest in more research on mail-in voting. The former president encouraged states to invest resources to expand voting by mail.

More than 43 percent of likely American voters would not trust in the integrity of an election if all voters automatically received ballots or ballot request forms by mail, according to an Epoch Times National Poll conducted in late August. “This is playing with fire,” Barr said. “We’re a very closely divided country here and people have to have confidence in the results of the election and the legitimacy of the government. And people trying to change the rules to this methodology—which as a matter of logic is very open to fraud and coercion—is reckless and dangerous,” Barr said.

Read more …

Bill Barr Busy.

DOJ To File Antitrust Charges Against Google Within Weeks (ZH)

The Department of Justice will is preparing to slap Google with an antitrust case over the next several weeks, according to the New York Times – which insists, based on five sources, that Attorney General Bill Barr “overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies.” The Times is suggesting, based on leaks, that Barr is rushing the case for political purposes and the charges are premature. “The Google case could also give Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr an election-season achievement on an issue that both Democrats and Republicans see as a major problem: the influence of the biggest tech companies over consumers and the possibility that their business practices have stifled new competitors and hobbled legacy industries like telecom and media.” -NYT

Some 40 lawyers working on a DOJ antitrust inquiry into Google parent Alphabet were reportedly told to wrap up their work by the end of this month, according to three of the five leakers, who we’re guessing are part of the 40-lawyer team – as “most of the 40-odd lawyers who had been working on the investigation opposed the deadline.” Others said they would not sign the complaint, while several left the case over the summer.

“Some argued this summer in a memo that ran hundreds of pages that they could bring a strong case but needed more time, according to people who described the document. Disagreement persisted among the team over how broad the complaint should be and what Google could do to resolve the problems the government uncovered. The lawyers viewed the deadline as arbitrary. While there were disagreements about tactics, career lawyers also expressed concerns that Mr. Barr wanted to announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration. But Mr. Barr felt that the department had moved too slowly and that the deadline was not unreasonable, according to a senior Justice Department official.” -NYT

Barr has shown a “deep interest” in the Google investigation, requesting regular briefings on the DOJ case, and “taking thick binders of information about it on trips and vacations and returning with ideas and notes.” The Times notes that antitrust action against Google has bipartisan support from a coalition of 50 states and territories, though Democrats and Republican state attorneys general conducting their own investigations are split on how to move forward. Republicans have accused Democrats of slow-walking the work in order to bring charges under a potential Biden administration, while Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting Trump to receive credit – a disagreement which could limit the number of states participating in prosecuting the Silicon Valley giant.

Read more …

But but, I read Jeff Bezos lost $9 billion yesterday!

In the Worst of Times, the Billionaire Elite Plunder Working Class America (CP)

In the midst of a global pandemic, unprecedented economic collapse, mass unemployment, hunger and desperation, the stock market is booming and the richest of the rich are richer than ever before. Since March, more than 58 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment. The Internal Revenue Service now predicts that the U.S. economy will have almost 40 million fewer jobs in 2021 than they predicted before the pandemic, as a result of the prolonged economic depression. As it becomes widely recognized that the economy is not going to “bounce right back” into full activity – even when coronavirus cases do eventually decline – and that the current depression will continue for a long time, companies are doing anything they can to drive their stock prices higher.

Desperate to maintain their profits, many large corporations are planning massive layoffs and acknowledging that currently furloughed workers are not going to have jobs to come back to. The Wall Street Journal reports that a recent study found, “nearly half of U.S. employers that furloughed or laid off staff because of COVID-19 are considering additional workplace cuts in the next 12 months.” The companies say low-paid workers will be the first to be cut. Twice as many workers had their pay cut by July 1 as during the Bush-Obama recession that began in 2009, according to the Washington Post. More than 10 million private sector workers have had their wages cut or been forced to work part-time. Car company Tesla forced all workers to take a 10 percent pay cut from mid-April until July. In the same period, Tesla stock skyrocketed, and CEO Elon Musk’s net worth has now quadrupled from $25 billion to over $100 billion.

Business software company Salesforce announced record sales levels one day and layoffs of 1,000 workers the next. The company’s stock rose 26 percent. Among small businesses, another study found that 50 percent of all small-business employees who were furloughed since March are still without work. Twenty-eight percent are still furloughed; 22 percent have been permanently laid off. Even in the government’s rigged and severely undercounted unemployment statistics, the number of people who have been unemployed 15-26 weeks is nearly double what it was at the height of the 2009 recession — and exponentially higher than at any other time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Read more …

So the entire NSA brass must all move to Russia now? And Edward can come back home? Or is exposing an illegal program more illegal than said program itself?

US Court: NSA Mass Surveillance Program Exposed By Snowden Was Illegal (DW)

A US federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the controversial National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden was illegal. The ruling stopped short of calling the program unconstitutional. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that the program, under which the NSA collected and analyzed bulk data provided by telecommunications companies, was in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and could have been unconstitutional.= “Seven years ago, as the news declared I was being charged as a criminal for speaking the truth, I never imagined that I would live to see our courts condemn the NSA’s activities as unlawful and in the same ruling credit me for exposing them,” said Snowden, who fled to Russia after exposing the program, on Twitter.


“And yet that day has arrived.” He still faces charges of espionage in the US. After initially denying that the intelligence agency collected information on Americans, officials maintained that the spying helped the country combat domestic extremism. The most popular case cited was that of four California residents — Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Ahmed Nasir Taalil Mohamud, Mohamed Mohamud, and Issa Doreh — who have been convicted of funding the Al-Shabaab extremist group in Somalia. NSA’s domestic spying program helped get this conviction, which will not be impacted by the latest ruling. However, human rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have hailed the ruling as “a victory for our privacy rights.”

Read more …

“..the pandemic stripped away the veneer of politics to reveal the boorish reality underneath: that some people have the power to tell the rest what to do.”

Capitalism Isn’t Working. Here’s An Alternative (Varoufakis)

Before 2020, politics seemed almost like a game, but with Covid came the realisation that governments everywhere possessed immense powers. The virus brought the 24-hour curfew, the closure of pubs, the ban on walking through parks, the suspension of sport, the emptying of theatres, the silencing of music venues. All notions of a minimal state mindful of its limits and eager to cede power to individuals went out of the window. Many salivated at this show of raw state power. Even free-marketeers, who had spent their lives shouting down any suggestion of even the most modest boost in public spending, demanded the sort of state control of the economy not seen since Leonid Brezhnev was running the Kremlin. Across the world, the state funded private firms’ wage bills, renationalised utilities and took shares in airlines, car makers, even banks. From the first week of lockdown, the pandemic stripped away the veneer of politics to reveal the boorish reality underneath: that some people have the power to tell the rest what to do.

[..] Suppose we had seized the 2008 moment to stage a peaceful hi-tech revolution that led to a postcapitalist economic democracy. What would it be like? To be desirable, it would feature markets for goods and services since the alternative – a Soviet-type rationing system that vests arbitrary power in the ugliest of bureaucrats – is too dreary for words. But to be crisis-proof, there is one market that market socialism cannot afford to feature: the labour market. Why? Because, once labour time has a rental price, the market mechanism inexorably pushes it down while commodifying every aspect of work (and, in the age of Facebook, our leisure too).

Can an advanced economy function without labour markets? Of course it can. Consider the principle of one-employee-one-share-one-vote underpinning a system that, in Another Now, I call corpo-syndicalism. Amending corporate law so as to turn every employee into an equal (though not equally remunerated) partner is as unimaginably radical today as universal suffrage was in the 19th century. In my blueprint, central banks provide every adult with a free bank account into which a fixed stipend (called universal basic dividend) is credited monthly. As everyone uses their central bank account to make domestic payments, most of the money minted by the central bank is transferred within its ledger. Additionally, the central bank grants all newborns a trust fund, to be used when they grow up.

People receive two types of income: the dividends credited into their central bank account and earnings from working in a corpo-syndicalist company. Neither are taxed, as there are no income or sales taxes. Instead, two types of taxes fund the government: a 5% tax on the raw revenues of the corpo-syndicalist firms; and proceeds from leasing land (which belongs in its entirety to the community) for private, time-limited, use.

Read more …

RIP

Eulogy to David Graeber (Steve Keen)

Oh David! @davidgraeber. . They say only the good die young, but why did you have to be one of them? There’s even more bullshit in the world now that you are no longer with us. It was a pleasure to know you, and it is a tragedy to say goodbye.


David was special for many, many reasons. The first I’ll mention is what I expect is the foundation of David’s appeal to Nika: his trusting innocence. There was a boyish openness and lack of ego in David that made you trust him, because you could. He was, at the same time, extremely intelligent and extremely funny. He had a nervy aspect, very befitting of someone raised in New York. But he was fundamentally funny, and looked on the world with a sense of bemusement, and all the while, incisive insight. He was intrinsically an anthropologist, in that he was capable of living amongst people and seeing their customs more clearly than they could themselves, while all the while celebrating those aspects, the good and the bad, because they were his people as well.

There was a selflessness to David too. There wasn’t an ounce of David’s body that was in it for David’s benefit alone. Well, he enjoyed his pleasures, but they could never be had at the expense of another person. That made him someone you could trust with your life. On top of that, he was an excellent if sometimes rambling speaker, whose charisma attracted support which was worth giving. David, I believe, came up with the slogan “We’re the 99%”. David, I believe, developed Occupy Wall Street’s voting system, which was a very powerful form of democracy that still respected the rights of the minority. He was a true leader in large part because he didn’t want to be.

He was also an excellent historian of money and debt. If you haven’t read Debt: the first 5000 Years, buy a copy and do so. It’s such a pity that David won’t be here to chronicle the start of its next 5000 Years. That’s the other thing: the suddenness. I knew David wasn’t feeling well—I’d exchanged a few messages with Nika where David’s health came up. Maybe it was Covid—I still don’t know. I won’t speculate. But it is so bloody awful to lose such a brilliant, lovely, funny, warm human being. It’s the unkindest cut of all that 2020 has managed to deliver.

Now we know why we speak of 20:20 vision, and 20:20 hindsight. We thought it was an ophthalmologist’s crazy numbering system. In fact, it was a warning from a time traveller.

Nassim Taleb – David Graeber

Read more …

 

 

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“As humans we are fragile biological entities who will die unless we take care of each other”

– David Graeber

 

 

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Jul 202018
 
 July 20, 2018  Posted by at 9:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  5 Responses »


Edward Hopper Western Motel 1957

 

Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent (Vos)
Spanish Court Drops International Warrant For Carles Puigdemont (G.)
Trump Lays Into The Fed, Says ‘Not Thrilled’ About Interest Rate Hikes (CNBC)
Trump Plans To Formally Invite Putin To US Later This Year (G.)
American Cold War Experts: “The Real Threat Is Russophobia” (ZH)
No-Deal Brexit Would Harm EU Countries As Well As UK, Warns IMF (G.)
Theresa May: I Will Never Accept EU’s Ideas On Irish Brexit Border (G.)
Android Antitrust Fine Will Demolish Google Profit (MW)
IMF Raps Greece Over Its Bid To Reintroduce Labor Negotiations (K.)

 

 

Darkness and shame.

Possible Hand-Over Of Julian Assange To The UK May Be Imminent (Vos)

What happens in a world without Julian Assange? It seems we may be in the unthinkable position of facing such a reality, after WikiLeaks Tweeted regarding the recent statement of Margarita Simonyan, RT’s Editor-in-chief. Her message read (In English): “My sources tell me that Julian Assange will be handed over to the UK in the next weeks or days. Like never before I wish that my sources are wrong’.’ An exceptionally brief article published by Russian Insider documented Simonyan’s foreboding Tweet, indicating that her statement seemed especially serious in light of the quality of her sources.

Russian media is hardly the first source of dire warnings regarding Assange’s safety in recent weeks. Just days ago, the World Socialist Website related: “The London Times reported July 15 on secret talks between the British and Ecuadorian governments. They are apparently intending to expel WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has enjoyed political asylum for six years. The article said the talks were “an attempt to remove Assange from the embassy,” and they were being run at the highest levels of government. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, is personally involved.” These reports also follow a chilling article penned by award-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who wrote:

“The failure on the part of establishment media to defend Julian Assange, who has been trapped in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, has been denied communication with the outside world since March and appears to be facing imminent expulsion and arrest, is astonishing. The extradition of the publisher—the maniacal goal of the U.S. government—would set a legal precedent that would criminalize any journalistic oversight or investigation of the corporate state. It would turn leaks and whistleblowing into treason. It would shroud in total secrecy the actions of the ruling global elites.”

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What should happen for Julian too.

Spanish Court Drops International Warrant For Carles Puigdemont (G.)

A Spanish judge has dropped the international arrest warrants issued for the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and five other pro-sovereignty politicians over their roles in last year’s illegal referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence. The supreme court judge Pablo Llarena announced the decision a week after a German court said it would extradite Puigdemont only over alleged misuse of public funds rather than the more serious charge of rebellion. The dropping of the international warrant means Puigdemont and his former colleagues – currently in Belgium, Scotland and Switzerland – no longer face extradition proceedings.

But domestic warrants remain in force, meaning the six will be arrested should they return to Spain. In his ruling, published on Thursday, Llarena hit out at the court in Schleswig-Holstein, accusing it of “a lack of commitment” over acts that could have “broken Spain’s constitutional order”. The German court’s refusal to extradite Puigdemont on the rebellion charge – which prosecutors had argued could be equated to “high treason” in the German penal code – meant the deposed president could not be tried for the offence if sent back to Spain.

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More crazy reactions. Comparing Trump to Erdogan?!

Trump Lays Into The Fed, Says ‘Not Thrilled’ About Interest Rate Hikes (CNBC)

In a stinging and historically rare criticism, President Donald Trump expressed frustration with the Federal Reserve and said the central bank could disrupt the economic recovery. Presidents rarely intercede when it comes to the Fed, which sets the benchmark interest rate that flows through to many types of consumer debt. Fed officials, including Chairman Jerome Powell, have raised interest rates twice this year and have pointed to two more before the end of 2018. Trump, in an interview with CNBC, said he does not approve, even though he said he “put a very good man in” at the Fed in Powell.

“I’m not thrilled,” he told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in an interview to air in full Friday at 6 a.m. ET on “Squawk Box.” “Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don’t really — I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.” “But I don’t like all of this work that goes into doing what we’re doing.” Markets reacted to Trump’s comments, with stocks, the dollar and Treasury yields all falling.

Fed officials did not comment on the president’s remarks. The White House, in a statement after the interview excerpt aired on CNBC, emphasized that Trump did not mean to influence the Fed’s decision-making process. “Of course the President respects the independence of the Fed. As he said he considers the Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell a very good man and that he is not interfering with Fed policy decisions ” the statement said. “The President’s views on interest rates are well known and his comments today are a reiteration of those long held positions, and public comments.”

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Keep talking.

Trump Plans To Formally Invite Putin To US Later This Year (G.)

Donald Trump has asked his administration to formally invite Russian president Vladimir Putin to visit Washington later this year, the White House announced on Thursday. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Trump asked his national security adviser John Bolton to extend the invitation to Putin for a “working level” dialogue between the two leaders. The invitation comes as the White House has faced a tumultuous week in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial summit with Putin in Helsinki. Trump was roundly criticized from Democrats and Republicans in Washington for siding with the Kremlin over the judgments of US intelligence on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

It took the president several attempts to walk back his comments, amplifying the fallout from his joint appearance with Putin. Trump was nonetheless unfazed by the backlash, deeming the summit a “great success” in a tweet earlier on Thursday while saying he looked forward to a second meeting with Putin. “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” Trump wrote. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear … proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”

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“Russophobia is running amok in this country.”

American Cold War Experts: “The Real Threat Is Russophobia” (ZH)

And now for expert analysis that runs refreshingly contrary to the week’s Trump-Putin mass hysteria over the Helsinki summit, we find ourselves surprised to feature an unusually honest Vice segment on HBO: These American scholars say the real threat to the U.S. is Russophobia. “If he [President Trump] means what he said he was right. It would be great to cooperate with Russia — I would go farther, it’s imperative… We are eyeball to eyeball in a new Cold War with Russia,” begins Stephen F. Cohen, considered among the world’s foremost Russian academic experts, while sitting beside John Mearsheimer in this latest Vice interview, who nods his head in approval.

Both have long been a thorn in the side of the McCarthyite commentariat which alleges Russian collusion behind every decision of the Trump administration. Mearsheimer, a longtime International Security Policy program director at the University of Chicago, questions the now largely cemented narrative created by those who have least understanding of the history of US-Russia relations: “Why won’t people engage in a legitimate debate with people like Steve and me? And I believe the reason they won’t is they would lose the debate – I’m fully confident of that.”

As the American public has from the time of Trump’s election endured endless obtrusive and cacophonous media noise with no real smoking gun (as Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper famously admitted a year ago) to back the charges of collusion — what CNN’s Van Jones early on admitted was “just a big nothing burger” — the voices of a small cadre of real Russian experts rarely breaks through to a mass audience. “There is an unwillingness to engage in debate on this issue, like I have never seen before,” Mearsheimer tells Vice. And Cohen adds: “We’ve demonized Putin and we’ve Putinized Russia so we demonize Russia. Russophobia is running amok in this country. I’ve seen these things from the inside. I’ve re-thought and re-thought how we got to the edge of war with Russia, where we haven’t been since Cuba in 1962. And I have concluded, and I would be happy to debate my opponents… It is 95 percent our own doing.”

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Getting bored of this yet?

No-Deal Brexit Would Harm EU Countries As Well As UK, Warns IMF (G.)

Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal would inflict significant economic pain across Europe, leaving the region without any winners, the International Monetary Fund has warned. As the new Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab warned Europe to prepare for a no-deal exit, the IMF said such an outcome would hurt the UK most but would also have damaging economic consequences for Ireland and other EU nations. In its annual health check for the euro area, the Washington-based fund said economic growth across the 27 remaining EU states would fall by as much as 1.5% by 2030, if Britain falls back on WTO rules for its trading relationship with the EU after leaving next year.

While economic output for the UK would drop by more than twice that amount – wiping out almost 4% of GDP – Ireland would suffer by almost as much as a result of its strong ties to Britain and shared border. The Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium, with similar close proximity and trading links, would also lose around 1% of GDP. Smaller nations with deep financial links to the City of London, such as Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg, would also be negatively affected by a hard Brexit, the fund warned. The IMF said the long-run impact from a hard Brexit would be spread across the EU as a result of the economic and financial ties spanning the region, which have grown closer by about 40% over the past quarter century. The UK ranks among the EU’s three largest trading partners, accounting for 13% of trade in goods and services. There are also complex supply chain links between companies across the bloc.

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So no Brexit then?

Theresa May: I Will Never Accept EU’s Ideas On Irish Brexit Border (G.)

Theresa May is to tell the European Union it is time to drop what she feels is their inflexible view on an Irish border solution and “evolve” their position to break the impasse in Brexit talks. In a speech in Belfast on Friday she is expected to brand the bloc’s calls for regulatory alignment north and south of the border as a “backstop” solution in the event of no deal as “unworkable”, and repeat her assertion that a border down the Irish Sea is unacceptable to any British prime minister. “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” she will say.

May will tell an audience of business leaders and politicians that the EU proposal is in breach of the Belfast Agreement because it would create a barrier between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and leave the people of Northern Ireland “without their own voice” in trade negotiations. “It is not something the House of Commons will accept,” she is due to say. The EU’s other 27 states will have a chance to examine and respond to the white paper when its General Council of ministers meets in Brussels on Friday morning. They will also receive an update on negotiations from the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

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They’ll force people to pay for the software now.

Android Antitrust Fine Will Demolish Google Profit (MW)

When Alphabet Inc. reports earnings Monday, the European Union’s $5.07 billion Android antitrust fine will ruin the company’s profit. Alphabet stock was relatively flat Wednesday, when the fine formally was announced, and Google has said it plans to appeal the fine. However, the company disclosed in an SEC filing that it will account for the fine in its second-quarter report, due Monday after the bell. In terms of what it will cost the company in cash, the fine is not tax-deductible and worth roughly 75% of the company’s expected second-quarter net income of $6.72 billion, which will drastically lower per-share earnings as well.

Since analyst estimates largely do not include the fine as of yet, Alphabet’s earnings are likely to miss published expectations on the bottom line by a significant amount. The question that remains beyond the fine itself is how Google, in the long-term, will respond to the ruling, which prevents the search giant from effectively forcing mobile phone makers and telecom companies to pre-install its search engine and Chrome web browser, among other Google mobile apps, in exchange for use of the Android OS. The ruling is set to go into effect in 90 days, though an appeal would delay implementation.

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How to spell sovereignty. When were countries growing fastest? When they had strong unions.

IMF Raps Greece Over Its Bid To Reintroduce Labor Negotiations (K.)

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday issued a clear warning to the Greek government against its plans to reintroduce collective labor negotiations, saying that such a move would put the competitiveness of the Greek economy at risk. The IMF’s observation, included in its Article IV report that is not only about the Greek economy but concerns eurozone financial policies in general, comes almost a month before the party the government intends to stage for the end of the bailout program. The IMF intervention is particularly important for two additional reasons: first because it concerns a key dimension of the post-bailout government narrative, and second because the IMF is not an independent observer, as its technical experts will be conducting a considerable number of visits to Greece in the context of the post-program surveillance, and will prepare two assessment reports on the Greek economy every year.

There is also a third and possibly more important factor that adds to the significance of the IMF recommendation: It may be just a taste of the attitude the Fund will adopt toward Greece should the government implement its plans to increase the minimum salary. This may actually be an intervention with a preventative character. The government has already legislated the return from August – after the program ends – of two main principles in collective labor negotiations: the provision for the extension of collective contracts and the principle of the more favorable regulation.

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