Feb 282022
 
 February 28, 2022  Posted by at 9:50 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  48 Responses »


Leonardo da Vinci The madonna of the carnation 1478-80

 

Worst Fears Realized: Pfizer mRNA Transcribes into DNA (Chudov)
DNA Transcribed from mRNA Vaccine Contains MUTANT gp130 Tumor Gene (Chudov)
Col Douglas Macgregor: Slightly Different Take on Russia-Ukraine Conflict (CTH)
Day 4- SITREP (Clint Ehrlich)
Putin’s Nuclear Threat (Scott Ritter)
CNN Scours Social Media for Ukraine Content to Broadcast (CTH)
Belarus Preparing To Deploy Troops To Ukraine In Support Of Russia (JTN)
DeSantis Bill Shields Healthcare Providers From Liability (JTN)
WHO Making Moves On International Vaccine ‘Passport’ (Pol.)
New Zealand High Court ENDS Jacinda Ardern’s Vaccine Mandate (NP)
The Dirty Work Of Going Through Old Positions On Bank Balance Sheets (BTR)

 

 

Zelensky story

 

 

Kash Patel

 

 

“Your organism acts in accordance with your DNA program, and now, well, the program has been hacked and modified by Pfizer.”

Worst Fears Realized: Pfizer mRNA Transcribes into DNA (Chudov)

What the article shows is that in vitro, using a human liver cell line, Pfizer mRNA vaccine uses a natural reverse transcriptase enzyme called LINE-1, and the genetic code of the vaccine is reverse transcribed into the DNA. It also explains that vaccine mRNA actually does travel to the liver as one of the preferred sites (the other sites, as we heard, are ovaries and more). What does it mean? Normally, our cells do the opposite: the cell nucleus, where the DNA is, expresses certain DNA code based on conditions of the cell, and produces natural, human messenger RNA. That messenger RNA travels out of the nucleus, where it is expressed into proteins needed for cell building. This is how growing organisms express different genetic programs to grow muscle cells or brain cells, etc.

This process is called “transcription”. For many years, Central Dogma of Molecular Biology stated that the “reverse transcription” — moving genetic code from RNA back into the sacred cellular nucleus and recoding the DNA — was impossible. Eventually, scientists realized that it is possible under various conditions. For example, the HIV RNA virus is able to do so and it reprograms our DNA to produce copies of it. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. To effect reverse transcription, enzymes called “reverse transcriptases” are needed. One of them is called LINE-1. Apparently, per study, the Pfizer mRNA vaccine causes cells to produce that LINE-1 enzyme.

Simplified: As I explained in response to a questioner: “Pfizer mRNA vaccine changes our genetic code that determines how our organisms operate, that you inherited from your mom and dad. Now your DNA was changed from what your mom and dad gave you, by adding a little mysterious “edit” from Pfizer. Your organism acts in accordance with your DNA program, and now, well, the program has been hacked and modified by Pfizer.”

Cancer Code: Considering that Sars-Cov-2 “spike protein” has cancer code from Moderna 2017’ patent 9,587,003, it is imperative to find out the implications of this reverse transcription, and whether the vaccinated now have any undesirable genetic code embedded into their DNA. Of particular interest is whether this mRNA-induced reverse transcription affects the “germ line”, such as eggs and sperm cells, and whether it also affects the fetus of pregnant mothers.

Our astute commenter pointed out an anonymous 4chan post from Dec 2020, long before any of this became known. The date makes us all ask, did this person know too much?

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People must simply not understand the grave danger. Vaccinations continue.

DNA Transcribed from mRNA Vaccine Contains MUTANT gp130 Tumor Gene (Chudov)

Please note that a question arises: gp130 mutations can cause liver tumor, and the entire experiment was performed on a line of immortal liver cancer cells. Could it be that the original article picked up mutated gp130 from the Huh7 liver cancer cells? If that is the case, if the DNA sequence is inherent to Huh7 line itself, it could invalidate a lot of conclusions that the original science article, as well as my own articles, were making. However, the authors were diligent with controls and did NOT see the questioned DNA sequence that I am looking at, in the control cells that did NOT receive the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, the published DNA sequence contained Sars-Cov-2 genes (see BLAST results), so it does come from the effect of the vaccine, not the Huh7 culture cells.

I did perform some cursory checks, to the best of my ability, and the Huh7 line contains p53 mutations, but it does not seem like it contains gp130 mutations. So, keeping my fingers crossed, the mutated gp130 gene that I found, is a genuine finding of lab research, comes from the mRNA vaccine, and not a coincidental pickup from the Huh7 cells. I am guessing that the authors were looking at liver cells specifically, because they knew where to look (that the mRNA delivery system delivers the lipid nanoparticles to the liver). Why did the authors pick liver cells? Maybe because they heard of this 4chan post from 2020, when NOTHING yet was known about the strange mRNA vaccines.


We were Told it will Never Happen

Clarifications: The sequence of mutated gp130 genes, found in the DNA reverse transcribed from Pfizer Covid vaccine,
• Does not mean that it will NECESSARILY cause cancer
• The four “red dot” mutations listed, may be harmless
• Does not mean that it was added to Pfizer vaccine intentionally to cause harm
• Does not mean that it is even expressed as a gp130 protein, as expression of genes depends on cellular context
• What it DOES mean is that we need to look at this closely.

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“Macgregor is saying that Russia does not want to engage a civilian population and is making every effort to avoid civilian conflict..”

Col Douglas Macgregor: Slightly Different Take on Russia-Ukraine Conflict (CTH)

My spidey senses tell me that Col Douglas Macgregor will not be welcomed back on Fox News after he gave a rather different take on what is happening amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict that does not toe the common media line. Jennifer Griffin was furious. The first presentation was during a segment with Fox Host Dan Bongino. The second presentation of essentially the same analysis was with Trey Gowdy. In both discussions Macgregor’s perspective reconciles the disparity between what the U.S. government, State Dept, and corporate media are saying -vs- what is visible. Essentially, Macgregor is saying that Russia does not want to engage a civilian population and is making every effort to avoid civilian conflict in those population centers.


In part this is because Putin knows the Western approach is a propaganda war that would be fueled by what it would look like if population carnage took place. However, if Ukraine President Zelenskyy does not acquiesce to terms, Putin could easily crush those centers with artillery and rockets. What Macgregor outlines would explain why these skirmishes always seem ‘off in the distance’. The western government and media perspective is to make it seem like Volodymyr Zelenski and the rebellious civilian misfits are beating the Russian army because that frames a better story. However, what Macgregor outlines is Putin not wanting to fuel the United Nations, NATO and State Dept narrative engineering, thus the absence of visible fighting.

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Twitter thread.

Day 4- SITREP (Clint Ehrlich)

The gulf between popular perception and strategic reality continues to grow in Ukraine. If you only read Western media, you would think the Russian military was on the verge of defeat. In reality, they have a clear path to victory. Satellite imagery indicates that a massive Russian armored column, with +800 vehicles, is approaching Kiev from the north. At the same time, Russian forces in the East are working to link up and encircle a large fraction of the Ukrainian military. What we’re witnessing is a funhouse mirror version of the Gulf War. During that conflict, images of smart bombing broadcast into American homes highlighted U.S. dominance. Today, Twitter images of Ukrainian tactical success are creating a false narrative of Russian defeat.

The single least appreciated fact about the current conflict is that Russia has only committed 1/2 to 2/3 of the forces it built up around Ukraine’s borders. It also has the ability to draw Belarus into the war, whose armored divisions would represent a potent “fourth wave.” What Russia *has* suffered is a massive defeat in information warfare. The narrative of Ukrainian success is having real consequences in terms of the willingness of foreign powers to toughen sanctions and provide military aid. We have already seen the Ruble fall to its lowest exchange rate in history (100:1) vs. the Dollar. This is not quite enough to destabilize the Russian economy – in the sense of causing internal political chaos – but it’s enough that ordinary Russians are scared.


Before the war, Western polling showed that Russians favored military intervention in Ukraine to prevent NATO membership by a 2:1 margin. But it’s clear that they did not appreciate that Russia would become a global pariah state. I don’t believe the war enjoys that support now. Today, I’m worried that Western nations may overplay their hand in trying to remove Putin. They have drawn blood in their attempts to harm Russia’s economy, and they will seek to go further in driving the Russian people to rise up and demand an end to the war.

Infrastructure intact
https://twitter.com/i/status/1497578697381007361

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Excellent background.

Putin’s Nuclear Threat (Scott Ritter)

Vladimir Putin is a madman. He’s lost it. At least that is what the leaders of the West would like you to believe. According to their narrative, Putin — isolated, alone, confused, and angry at the unfolding military disaster Russia was undergoing in Ukraine — lashed out, ostensibly threatening the entire world with nuclear annihilation. In a meeting with his top generals on Sunday, the beleaguered Russian president announced, “I order the defense minister and the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces to put the deterrence forces of the Russian army into a special mode of combat service.” The reason for this action, Putin noted, centered on the fact that, “Western countries aren’t only taking unfriendly actions against our country in the economic sphere, but top officials from leading NATO members made aggressive statements regarding our country” in relation to the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

The “deterrence forces” Putin spoke of refers to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. What made the Russian president’s words resonate even more was that last Thursday, when announcing the commencement of Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine, Putin declared that “no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to the destruction and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” He emphasized that Russia is “one of the most potent nuclear powers and also has a certain edge in a range of state-of-the-art weapons.” When Putin issued that threat, The Washington Post described it as “empty, a mere baring of fangs.” The Pentagon, involved as it was in its own review of U.S. nuclear posture designed to address threats such as this, seemed non-plussed, with an anonymous official noting that U.S. policy makers “don’t see an increased threat in that regard.”

[..] by invoking Article IV, NATO was positioning itself for potential offensive military action; its previous military interventions against Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2004, and Libya in 2011, were all done under Article IV of the NATO Charter. Seen in this light, the premise that NATO is an exclusively defensive organization, committed to the promise of collective self-defense, is baseless. Second, while Article V (collective defense) protections only extend to actual NATO members, which Ukraine is not, Article IV allows the umbrella of NATO protection to be extended to those non-NATO members whom the alliance views as an ally, a category Stoltenberg clearly placed Ukraine in.

Finally, Stoltenberg’s anointing of Ukraine as a NATO ally came at the same time he announced the activation and deployment of NATO’s 40,000-strong Response Force, some of which would be deployed to NATO’s eastern flank, abutting Ukraine. The activation of the Response Force is unprecedented in the history of NATO, a fact that underscores the seriousness to which a nation like Russia might attach to the action. When seen in this light, Putin’s comments last Thursday were measured, sane, and responsible. Since the Article IV consultations began, NATO members have begun to supply Ukraine with lethal military aid, with the promise of more in the days and weeks to come.

These shipments can only gain access to Ukraine through a ground route that requires transshipment through NATO members, including Romania and Poland. It goes without saying that any vehicle carrying lethal military equipment into a war zone is a legitimate target under international law; this would apply in full to any NATO-affiliated shipment or delivery done by a NATO member on their own volition. What happens when Russia begins to attack NATO/EU/US/Allied arms deliveries as they arrive on Ukrainian soil? Will NATO, acting under Article IV, create a buffer zone in Ukraine, using the never-before-mobilized Response Force? One naturally follows the other…

Scott Ritter

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Reporting from mom’s basement.

CNN Scours Social Media for Ukraine Content to Broadcast (CTH)

CNN ‘War Correspondent’ Clarissa Ward accidentally explained why the public is confused about what the corporate media are saying about the Ukraine war with Russia, compared to what is actually visible about the Ukraine war with Russia. During a segment with Brian Stelter, Ms Ward explained how CNN war corresponding in Ukraine consists of talking about material provided to her by CNN production crews who sit and scour through YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and social media posts to find the input material for their stories. Clarissa Ward didn’t mean to expose how the propaganda of modern warfare is created, but she did. Ward was thanking the people in the background of CNN who search social media for their Ukraine content; however, in talking about what they do, she affirmed what we already knew was taking place.

People wondering why there is no visible ‘fight’ in this war, now find the baseline which Deputy National Security Advisor Daleep Singh was talking about last week. The State Department, intelligence community and political participants in the U.S. government are constructing the “war” against Vladimir Putin through the prism of social likeability as a cultural weapon. When the goal is to produce content that tells the “better story,” social media becomes the battlefield. War corresponding is reduced to using the corporate media platform to enhance the social media battlefield. Essentially you might call this “World War Reddit.”


The CNN war correspondent doesn’t even need to be in Ukraine, except for the fact they need some form of geographical context to create the credibility. The actual content of Ukraine material for the broadcast can just as easily be assembled in New York, California or mom’s basement in Illinois. The social media content extracted by CNN workers, stationed anywhere, is then transmitted to the network producers who assemble the material, and a “war correspondent’ puts on a helmet and appears live on camera in Ukraine to discuss it. This is modern journalism, aka propaganda creation, aka narrative engineering, and why there’s a lack of actual evidence for anything being attributed to the narrative surrounding the war between Ukraine and Russia.

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We know too little about Lukashenko. So little, our media can make him a cartoon character.

Belarus Preparing To Deploy Troops To Ukraine In Support Of Russia (JTN)

Belarus is making preparations to deploy troops into Ukraine in support of Russian forces as soon as Monday, a Biden administration official told The Washington Post on Sunday evening. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last week, with some of his troops coming into Ukraine through Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been a close ally of Putin. He criticized Western sanctions on Russia and said it would push the Kremlin towards a Third World War, according to Russian state media. “It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,” the U.S. official told The Washington Post.


Two military transport planes took off from an airfield in western Belarus on Sunday, according to eyewitness accounts on a Telegarm channel analyzed by The Kyiv Independent. Previously, Belarus was only allowing Russian forces to use its territory and providing medical care and intelligence. The most recent reports would bring Belarus directly into the war.

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Have your cake and eat it too? Two steps up and one step back?

DeSantis Bill Shields Healthcare Providers From Liability (JTN)

Defying a coalition of 35 organizations calling for a veto, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill this week shielding health-care providers from being sued by patients and family members over COVID-19-related injuries, deaths and refusal to try available treatment. The new law provides liability protection to health-care providers that follow “government-issued health standards” that “include the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines, which many say aren’t working,” the groups wrote in a letter to DeSantis. “Some medical professionals have stated that these CDC protocols have led to unnecessary medicines, ventilation and deaths.” Shawn McBride, director of The American Freedom Information Institute, Inc., who led the 35 groups opposing the bill, said that while DeSantis “signed a bill that may allow CDC protocols to continue in some hospitals, we’ve laid the foundation to help more folks get to medical freedom.”

On the same day DeSantis signed the bill, the Florida Department of Health issued new guidelines allowing for more treatments to be made available. DeSantis and State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo announced the new guidance without mentioning the bill he signed into law. The guidelines, DeSantis claims, push back on “unscientific corporate masking, reducing isolation for all Floridians including those in schools and daycares, and recommending that physicians should exercise their individual clinical judgement and expertise based on their patients’ needs and preferences.” They also “are empowering health care practitioners to follow science, not Fauci’s status quo,” he added.


The guidelines address corporate mask policies, advise healthcare practitioners and facilities to reevaluate status quo protocols “in favor of scientifically based treatment options to benefit patients,” update school and daycare guidance to limit the student and child isolation timeframe, and reduce the overall isolation period for Floridians who test positive for COVID-19. “The state of Florida has widespread natural and vaccine-induced immunity,” Dr. Ladapo said. “Evidence suggests that most secondary transmission occurs early on. Our state will continue to make decisions for Floridians rooted in sound science, not fear, whether they are working or in school.”

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One world government.

WHO Making Moves On International Vaccine ‘Passport’ (Pol.)

The World Health Organization will convene member states and leaders of Covid-19 immunization credential technology groups to recognize different vaccine certificates across nations and regions, a top Vaccination Credential Initiative official told POLITICO’s Ben Leonard. The WHO is bringing together the groups to develop a “trust framework” that would allow countries to verify whether vaccine credentials are legitimate, said Brian Anderson, chief digital health physician at MITRE and a co-founder of the VCI. Why it matters: The effort would aid international travel by allowing proof of vaccination to be more easily shared and verified, Anderson said.

Many countries and regions have different standards for proof of inoculation, creating confusion for travelers and officials. “It’s piecemeal, not coordinated and done nation to nation,” Anderson said. “It can be a real challenge.” The WHO would say only that news on the topic should be coming “soon.” The VCI is behind SMART Health Cards, which have become the de facto standard for digital vaccine credentials in the U.S., with dozens of states developing or adopting the technology. The group will participate in the initiative. It’s unclear whether the U.S. would participate.


The move would be the most significant coordinated international push to enable interoperable credentials among nations and regions. Existing standards include a digital Covid certificate for European Union member nations. The U.S. has no official standard despite SMART Health Cards’ dominance. Advocates have touted the vaccine credentials, commonly known as passports, as a way to facilitate travel and reopening efforts. Many red-leaning states have opposed the technology, but that hesitancy appears to be softening as several of those states have adopted the technology.

Richard Werner

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“..a High Court ruled that her vaccine mandate represented a “gross violation of human rights”

New Zealand High Court ENDS Jacinda Ardern’s Vaccine Mandate (NP)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was left reeling on Friday after a High Court ruled that her vaccine mandate represented a “gross violation of human rights” for New Zealanders. The landmark case means that the police and NZDF cannot be fired for refusing to take the experimental vaccine. This case will be used to overthrow all of Ardern’s illegal mandates in New Zealand. Justice Francis Cooke ruled that ordering frontline police officers and Defence staff to be vaccinated or face losing their job was not a “reasonably justified” breach of the Bill of Rights. Nzherald.co.nz reports: The lawyer for the police and Defence staff at the centre of the claim is now calling for the suspended workers to return to their jobs immediately, saying many have given decades of service to their community and are still committed to their jobs.


The challenge, put forward by a group of Defence force and police employees, questioned the legality of making an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act to require vaccination for frontline employees. The challenge was supported by a group of 37 employees affected by the mandate, who submitted written affidavits to the court. Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood, Deputy Police Commissioner Tania Kura and NZDF Chief People Officer Brigadier Matthew Weston filed affidavits defending the mandate. As it stands, 164 of the overall police workforce of nearly 15,700 were affected by the mandate after choosing not to be vaccinated. For NZDF, the mandate affected 115 of its 15,500 staff. The group relied on two aspects of the Bill of Rights – the right to decline a medical procedure and the right to religious freedom.

SNL
https://twitter.com/i/status/1498016470344683524

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Where’s the risk located?

The Dirty Work Of Going Through Old Positions On Bank Balance Sheets (BTR)

A bear has arrived for lunch and unfortunately, he’s staying for dinner. We have been up all night working the phones. It has been a Lehman weekend – as in a 24-hour scramble to find and calculate the risk – NOT the size of the risk. The dirty work of going through old positions on bank balance sheets is being done around the clock as we speak. We do know the cost of default protection on French banks has diverged from UK-Asia-centric HSBC meaningfully. After working at Soc Gen for three years we can tell you, the books on most EU banks are a cobweb of darkness. In 2016, when Glencore was going down, every week we found more and more risk tied to Glencore assets. The truth bled out very slowly.

Italian banks have been very close with Russia as well. The point is, it’s very tough for politicians to “target” SWIFT sanctions into this darkness, very tough. In a loud voice the client said – Larry – details matter BIGLY we need to urgently to know exactly what is sanctioned here. They – Olaf – Macron – Biden – will try and dance around risk with a targeted SWIFT but they re probably not qualified to do so. They are messing with the plumbing of the global financial system. If they shoot from the hip, there could be large consequences. Politicians are reaching in the dark to find risk. If they sanctioned the CBR (central bank of Russia) and the transfer agents for Eurobonds, then Russia will default on all foreign debt immediately. And if Russia tries to find a back door through China – will the USA fine or sanction Chinese banks?


Over the weekend another client said “Germany can play SWIFT tough guy all they want – but Macron has to protect the vulnerable Soc Gen and Draghi is probably trying to ring-fence exposed, Moscow cozy Italian banks like Intesa and UniCredit. Lost in the Ukraine tragedy -the Fed’s favorite inflation measure- core PCE has moved from 3.7% in September to 5.2% in January, and the war-torn invasion only pours lighter fluid on this fire. *SCHOLZ: GERMANY TO SPEND MORE THAN 2% OF GDP YEARLY ON DEFENSE + massive social costs across the EU to off set energy prices as well. So long to the planet’s global negative yield anchor. We are heading back to a 1967-1979 regime. Overweight hard assets, take down financial assets and buckle up.

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Anonymous Ukraine

 

 

Agenda 21
https://twitter.com/i/status/1497812728232222721

 

 

 

 

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Feb 142022
 


Leonardo da Vinci Saint John the Baptist 1513-16

 

“If There Were Side Effects, We’d Have Seen Them By Now” (Uncut)
Anti-vaxxers Who Changed Their Minds On Covid Vaccines (G.)
NZ Covid Outbreak ‘Like Nothing We’ve Experienced’: Ardern. Cases Skyrocket (G.)
Pelosi Just Gave The Game Away (CTH)
Zelensky Asks Biden To Visit Ukraine (RT)
Ukrainian Ambassador Says Kiev ‘Might’ Drop Bid To Join NATO (RT)
Putin ‘Doesn’t Give A S*** About Sanctions’ – Russian Diplomat (JTN)
‘Oligarchs’ Flee Ukraine – Media (RT)
Most Democrats Want Hillary Clinton Investigated For Russiagate (Sperry)
Free Speech Becomes Roadkill In The Crackdown On Canadian Truckers (Turley)
Monastiraki Kitchen On Greek TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hodkinson

 

 

 

 

Yeah, we have to repeat this all the time, don’t we?

“If There Were Side Effects, We’d Have Seen Them By Now” (Uncut)

Changes to the Online Harms bill threaten prison for anyone spreading what the Government call “Covid disinformation”. Yesterday, the Financial Times newspaper carried a piece on vaccination for children, quoting paediatrician Petter Brodin, who says “vaccination offers safe, more controlled exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 than infection”. He goes on claim that “the jabs also carry a lower risk of unintended consequences”. If more children have a Covid-19 jab after parents read Brodin’s comments and subsequently suffer injuries or death – facts that have been reported to three separate adverse events reporting systems in the UK, EU and US – will Brodin be held responsible? Will he be threatened with prison for “Covid-19 disinformation”? Today, we are helping Petter Brodin by publishing – again – figures from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA], together with real-life accounts from two people severely affected after taking a Covid jab.

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“..kids becoming orphans before their time ..”

The Guardian brings you all the drama that vaccine profits can buy.

Anti-vaxxers Who Changed Their Minds On Covid Vaccines (G.)

Alexis Danielsen sat down and rolled up her sleeve. When the shot went into her arm, one thought flooded her mind: “Finally!” It was May 2021, and she was receiving her first Covid shot – in fact, her first immunization of any kind. She was 39. Danielsen grew up in an anti-vaccine household, views she held well into adulthood. When her son was born, she declined all vaccines for him. Then she hit a personal crisis, and started rethinking all of her beliefs – including on vaccinations. It was like pulling on a thread and watching an entire sweater unravel, she said. “The Covid vaccine was the only logical choice after really re-evaluating what I believe in, what I actually believe is true,” Danielsen said.

Danielsen partly credits her about-face to Lydia Greene and Heather Simpson, the Canada-based founders of Back to the Vax, a support group for people like themselves: one-time vaccine skeptics who’d had a change of heart. “I want to be able to help stop people from going down that road, having been down it myself,” said Greene, now a nursing student. They say their goal is to help families find evidence-based answers to their questions. Vaccine hesitancy was a growing problem even before the pandemic, particularly among parents. Now, nearly one-third of American parents are opposed to vaccinating their children against Covid-19. Although parents still have a lot of questions about vaccines, advocates say that answering them can help.

Online support and in-person community groups can help address longstanding hesitations, some of which arise from poor experiences in the medical system. For example, parents tell Greene they are still waiting for more information to come out on the Covid vaccines before deciding whether to vaccinate their children. “What’s missing is that, in the US right now, millions of children in that age group have been vaccinated and are followed closely with V-Safe and other databases to show the safety of the vaccine,” Greene said. Parents also believe that Covid is mild in children and poses a low risk to them. But kids can suffer from long-term effects – and continued transmission also affects their emotional wellbeing. In the US, more than 167,000 children have lost a caregiver to the virus, Greene said. “We’re seeing this massive epidemic of not just Covid but kids becoming orphans before their time.”

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At least admit that everything you’ve done has utterly failed for 2 years. And go hang your head in shame.

NZ Covid Outbreak ‘Like Nothing We’ve Experienced’: Ardern. Cases Skyrocket (G.)

New Zealand’s prime minister has warned that the country is entering a new phase of its pandemic response that is “like nothing we’ve experienced to date”, as case numbers begin to explode. “We are embarking for the first time in the two years since the start of the outbreak into a period where New Zealanders will see more Covid in the community,” Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. “It is a period of disruption and, I know, of risk and will be like nothing we’ve experienced to date.” Ardern was speaking to reporters after a political reporter produced a positive rapid antigen test moments before the press conference. The empty seats in front of her – and the decision to forge on with the standup regardless – helped illustrate the new era for New Zealand, in which the government expects Omicron to reach every part of the country.

New Zealand has been reporting near-daily record highs in case numbers, as infections begin to hit an exponential growth curve. On Monday, officials announced 981 cases in the community, up from previous all-time highs of 810 on Sunday and 454 the day before. The latest additions mean there are 4,960 active cases recorded across Aotearoa – but experts say the true number is likely much higher, given the lag in test results, and the fact testing is only advised for those with symptoms or who have been a direct contact of a case.

Haka NZ

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Yes, that was obvious. Can’t lose.

Pelosi Just Gave The Game Away (CTH)

We have been looking for this exact political construct and today we got it. Nancy Pelosi appears on ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos to discuss current events. This was all planned in advance. This is guaranteed to be a political pantomime. The first topic is the “Russia-Ukraine crisis,” with Stephanopoulos asking Pelosi directly if she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is about to invade Ukraine. Nancy Pelosi’s response tells us all we need to hear:

PELOSI: “Well, I think we have to be prepared for it. And that is what the president is — yes, I do believe that he is prepared for an invasion. I also understand why the President of Ukraine wants to keep people calm and that he wants his economy not to suffer. But, on the other hand, if we were not threatening the sanctions and the rest, it would guarantee that Putin would invade. Let’s hope that diplomacy works. It’s about diplomacy deterrence. Diplomacy deterrence. And the president’s made it very clear. There’s a big price to pay for Russia to go there. So, if Russia doesn’t invade, it’s not that he never intended to. It’s just that the sanctions worked.” … “I’m very proud of the work that the president has done.”

Can you see the domestic political scenario that has been created out of thin air? Democrats need a win on something; anything, to shift the narrative and change the reality of their failure into an illusion of success. First, accuse Vladimir Putin of doing something he never intends to do, a fabricated scenario. Second, tell the world you will strongly respond to the fabricated scenario. Third, tell the world the exact date when the fabricated scenario is supposed to happen. Then, when the fabricated scenario never happens, it is because you are so brilliant and strong to have outmaneuvered and cowed the Russians.

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How likely is that?

Zelensky Asks Biden To Visit Ukraine (RT)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on his US counterpart Joe Biden to fly into Kiev “in the coming days.” The invitation, which was made by Zelensky during a phone call with Biden on Sunday, comes as several nations, including the US itself, ordered most of their diplomatic staff out of the Ukrainian capital citing fears of a possible Russian invasion. “I am convinced that your arrival in Kiev in the coming days, which are crucial for stabilizing the situation, will be a powerful signal and contribute to de-escalation,” Zelensky told Biden, according to a statement issued by his press service. As the US, UK, Israel, Australia and other countries have urged their nationals to leave Ukraine by all means available, Zelensky insisted that Kiev, as well as other major Ukrainian cities, were “safe and under reliable protection.”


A trip to the capital, however, does not appear to be on Biden’s schedule, CNN reported, citing US officials saying that such a visit would be “extremely unlikely.” “A senior Ukrainian official” told the channel that Biden gave “no positive response” to the invitation during the call. The White House’s readout of the Sunday call made no mention of the invitation either. It noted only that Biden promised Zelensky to “respond swiftly and decisively, together with its allies and partners, to any further Russian aggression against Ukraine.” Several media outlets have attempted to predict the most likely day for a Russian invasion, with Bloomberg reporting that it would take place as soon as on Wednesday – even though Russia has insisted it has no plans to invade its neighbor.

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Maybe they won’t if Biden visits?

Ukrainian Ambassador Says Kiev ‘Might’ Drop Bid To Join NATO (RT)

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko has appeared to raise the possibility that Kiev could give up its bid to join US-led NATO for the sake of preventing a major conflict with Russia, while admitting that such a proposition would go against his country’s principal law. Asked by BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Stephen Nolan on Sunday if his country might “contemplate not joining NATO” to avert a war, Prystaiko responded: “We might, you know, especially [having] been threatened like that, blackmailed by that, and pushed to it.” He then appeared to indicate that some representatives of the military bloc have also rallied behind that option. “You know, we will sometimes hear voices from NATO that ‘Guys, maybe, really, we will be able to avoid…’” the ambassador said, trailing off mid-sentence.

However, Prystaiko then went on to lament the fact that Ukraine is not part of any military alliance at present, unlike some other countries bordering Russia. He noted that Kiev will have to face the music alone if a crisis like the current one spirals into a military conflict. “We will again stay unprotected by anybody, by any friends, not being a member of any alliance, when everybody, all the neighbors of ours, are already in the organization,” the diplomat said, referring to Poland, the Slovak Republic, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. He argued that these countries’ status as NATO member states “did not change the security of Russia,” insisting that the “addition” of Ukraine wouldn’t change it either.

Asked by Nolan to clarify his remark on NATO so that it is not “lost in translation,” Prystaiko appeared to confirm that Kiev might reconsider its aspirations to join the bloc, but admitted that by saying so he goes “a bit against” the constitution of Ukraine, which since 2019 includes a provision making membership in NATO a strategic goal for the government. “What I’m saying here is that we are flexible, trying to find the best way out. If you have to go through some serious concessions, that’s something we might do, that’s for sure,” the ambassador concluded.

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Translation, remember. But yes, sanctions have made Russia much more independent.

Putin ‘Doesn’t Give A S*** About Sanctions’ – Russian Diplomat (JTN)

Russian leader Vladimir Putin “doesn’t give a s***” about sanctions,” said Russian Ambassador to Sweden Viktor Tatarintsev. The sanctions even helped the Russian economy, the diplomat told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in an interview published Saturday evening which was translated by The Independent. “Excuse my language, but we don’t give a s*** about all their sanctions,” he told the outlet. “We have already had so many sanctions, and in that sense, they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture.” U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine. The Kremlin is already subject to various sanctions over its 2014 capture of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and human rights abuses, among other things.


“New sanctions are nothing positive but not as bad as the West makes it sound,” Tatarintsev said. “The more the West pushes Russia, the stronger the Russian response will be.” He told the outlet that the sanctions have helped Russia make products that are “just as good.” “We are more self-sufficient and have been able to increase our exports,” Tatarintsev said. “We have no Italian or Swiss cheeses, but we’ve learned to make just as good Russian cheeses using Italian and Swiss recipes.” Even though about 100,000 Russian troops are massed along the Ukrainian border, the diplomat stated that the Kremlin wants to avoid war. “That is our political leadership’s most sincere wish,” he told Aftonbladet. “The last thing people in Russia want is war.”

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The most corrupt country.

‘Oligarchs’ Flee Ukraine – Media (RT)

Local media reports have suggested that an exodus of Ukraine’s richest people, including its so-called ‘oligarchs’, is in full swing. A report published by the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper on Sunday claimed that “about 20 charters and private jets” departed from Kiev on that day alone. The newspaper noted that one of the private jets spotted leaving Ukrainian airspace on Sunday was allegedly owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akmetov, whose net worth is estimated at about $7.1 billion, according to Forbes. Pravda reported that the billionaire himself left the country on January 30, however. Ukraine’s second-richest man and fellow steel magnate, Victor Pinchuk, reportedly departed at the end of last month as well.

Both men help to fund The Atlantic Council, a NATO adjacent lobby group, which pushes for Kiev to join the military bloc. Those who Pravda alleged had “fled” Ukraine in the recent days included prominent politician and businessman Vadym Novynskyi, who has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion; Ukraine’s ninth-richest man, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky; former Verkhovna Rada lawmaker and businessman, Vadim Stolar; and several other high-flying figures – many of whom featured in Forbes Ukraine magazine’s list of its 100 richest people. A number of lawmakers also reportedly scrambled to exit Ukraine. The newspaper said, citing sources, that representative of the Eurosceptic Opposition Platform – For Life party and businessman Igor Abramovych booked a private jet for 50 people to transport them to Vienna, Austria.

Some of the people mentioned in the report as having “fled” Ukraine, however, have already dismissed the claim. For instance, businessman and leader of Ukraine is Our Home party Borys Kolesnikov, who, according to Pravda, left the country on Sunday, called the report “fake news.” “The deceitful and habitually manipulative outlet is, as usual, lying. I’m in Kiev, and I’m not going anywhere until March 1 (The Champions League Final, which takes place in Switzerland),” Kolesnikov wrote on Facebook, threatening to sue the newspaper.

Tulsi

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Wishful thinking?

Most Democrats Want Hillary Clinton Investigated For Russiagate (Sperry)

A surprisingly large share of Democrats wants to see Hillary Clinton investigated over her possible role in manufacturing dirt to try to tie Donald Trump to the Kremlin, a new poll shows. The survey, conducted by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics in New Jersey last month, polled 1,308 Americans about the mushrooming investigation by Special Counsel John Durham into the FBI’s probe of Trump’s alleged links to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Nearly three out of four of those polled who are following the story said they think it’s important prosecutors investigate Clinton for her role in the Russiagate scandal along with her top campaign advisers. That includes two-thirds — or 66 percent — of the Democrats polled who said they have been keeping up with the case.


That’s up 20 points from this past October, when TIPP asked the same question of a national panel, and indicates the Durham probe may be turning Democratic opinion regarding Clinton and the controversy. Meanwhile, 91 percent of Republicans in the same group and 65 percent of Independents also called for Clinton to specifically be investigated. Durham has already charged Clinton campaign subcontractor Igor Danchenko for allegedly lying about the sourcing behind the debunked so-called Steele dossier he helped compile, which attempted to frame Trump as a Kremlin agent. Danchenko, a former Brookings Institution analyst, completely fabricated the source for the dossier’s most explosive allegations, according to the indictment. It turns out he also allegedly used a Clinton campaign adviser as another key source for other dirt he gathered. Danchenko was arrested in October and has pleaded not guilty.

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“I have attended protests and rallies in the past when I agreed with the goals, when I supported the people expressing their concerns and their issues, Black Lives Matter is an excellent example of that.”

Free Speech Becomes Roadkill In The Crackdown On Canadian Truckers (Turley)

Canada appears to be facing its greatest threat since Benedict Arnold came close to seizing Ottawa in 1775. The source of this “insurrection” and “attack on democracy,” however, is not a foreign government but Canadians who have descended on their own capital to protest continuing COVID-19 mandates. The protest has been peaceful — and highly successful in cutting off key highways. But the most alarming development has not come from the convoy but from the commentary about it, including calls for mass arrests and even vigilantism. The Ottawa Police Services Board chairman has called it a “nationwide insurrection,” adding, “Our city is under siege.”


CNN analyst and Harvard professor Juliette Kayyem was apoplectic at the thought of truckers shutting down roads and interfering with trade. She tweeted out a call to “slash the tires, empty gas tanks, arrest the drivers, and move the trucks.” CNN correspondent Paula Newton said this act of civil disobedience was nothing less than a “threat to democracy. An insurrection, sedition.” Blocking streets, occupying buildings and shutting down bridges have long been tactics of protesters. Yet what constitutes a protest or an insurrection often seems to depend on the cause involved. When rioters caused billions of dollars in damages, burned police stations and occupied sections of American cities in the summer of 2020, for example, few in the media declared them to be terrorists or a threat to democracy.

But CNN’s Kayyem once called conservative protesters occupying a state capital to be “domestic terrorists.” GoFundMe, which previously helped fund arrested Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters, froze more than $10 million raised for Canadian truckers to prevent it from being used to support them. After the money was frozen by GoFundMe, supporters switched to GiveSendGo to “adopt a trucker.” The Canadian government then moved successfully to freeze millions of donations to the truckers, and the Supreme Court of Canada approved the freeze in a major blow to free speech and associational rights in Canada.


In the meantime, the government has demonized the convoy. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who praised truckers just two years ago as heroes, has denounced them as “trying to blockade our economy, our democracy.” This is the same Trudeau who praised BLM protesters and stressed that “I have attended protests and rallies in the past when I agreed with the goals, when I supported the people expressing their concerns and their issues, Black Lives Matter is an excellent example of that.”

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Greek national broadcaster ERT did an -almost live- item on the Monastiraki kitchen yesterday. My friend Vasso “translated” part of it. I don’t really know how to make it a separate article. The lovely Filothei is speaking.

Monastiraki Kitchen On Greek TV

She says they do not ask for money but for tomato sauce pasta rice or a voucher for a super market and they send you back the receipt. They also need volunteers to help in food preparation. Their saucepan is for 500 portions every Tuesday at 4.30. Then the reporter asks how the recipients find food the other days of the week and she mentions a place in Peiraeus as well as Allos anthropos. Then she is asked what she sees in the streets as a photographer and she says pain. Also at the beginning she says that they are now in the basement because of the rain.

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https://twitter.com/buitengebieden_/status/1492830918968492034

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Jan 232022
 


Ivan Aivazovsky Moonlight Reflecting On Water c1850

 

Organized On Facebook, A Who’s Who Of Anti-Vaccine Activists Head To DC (NBC)
CDC Plans To ‘Pivot The Language’ On Vaccination, Walensky Says (Fox)
Fauci, Walensky Dodge When Asked About Number Of Vaccine Deaths (WND)
Hiding the Bodies (Diana West)
The Omicron Hypothesis, Part 1 (Crawford)
The Omicron Hypothesis, Part 2 (Crawford)
Will These People Be Charged With Genocide? (Mercola)
Wife Stands Off With Hospital to Keep Her Husband Alive, and Wins (ET)
Jacinda Ardern Will Force Household Covid Contacts To Isolate For 24 Days (DM)
Mask Mandates Causing Over 350% Surge In Childhood Speech Delays (NP)
Is It Already Too Late To Say Goodbye? (Cook)
University Slaps A Trigger Warning On George Orwell’s 1984 (DM)
The Hidden Origin Of The Escalating Ukraine-Russia Conflict (CD)
German Navy Chief Resigns After Saying “Putin Deserves Respect” (ZH)
Germany ‘Encouraging Putin’ By Refusing To Supply Weapons: Ukraine (Y!)

 

 

 

 

Sad little man

 

 

 

 

NHS infectious diseases consultant

 

 

Croatia Macron

 

 

No, really, people like Malone and Rogan are actually anti-vaccine, they just claim they’re against mandates: “They’re using terms that they know are not going to get censored.”

What a stupid hit piece. Is that all you got?

Organized On Facebook, A Who’s Who Of Anti-Vaccine Activists Head To DC (NBC)

Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on Washington this weekend for a rally against Covid-19 vaccine mandates, a sign that the anti-vaccination movement that gained traction on social media during the pandemic is spilling even further into politics and real life. The rally has been largely organized on Facebook and some extremist internet forums, and organizers have raised at least $200,000 on a crowdfunding site. Some nearby hotels in Virginia are sold out ahead of the event, according to the event’s organizers, who are arranging last-minute travel plans for latecomers. The “Defeat the Mandates DC” Facebook group, in which much of the organizing has taken place, now has more than 11,000 members, gaining almost 3,000 in just the last week.

Organizers of the rally, Defeat The Mandates: An American Homecoming, say they are expecting tens of thousands of attendees who will begin their protest at the Washington Monument at 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday. The event adds momentum to activists who continue to find ways to spread false and misleading claims about the Covid vaccines, now often focusing on mandates as an entry point. Among the scheduled speakers is Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who has recently emerged as a new leader of the anti-vaccination movement after appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast in December. Malone, who is president of the Pandemic Health Alliance, the organization soliciting donations for the rally, has pushed anti-Covid vaccine talking points, including tweeting a retracted study falsely claiming Covid vaccines caused a substantial number of deaths. He has instead repeatedly advocated for the use of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that the Food and Drug Administration does not consider an effective treatment against Covid.

On Rogan’s podcast, which is estimated to reach tens of millions of people and was the top podcast on Spotify in 2021, Malone insisted that Sunday’s event is an anti-mandate rally, and not an anti-vaccine rally. Rogan said he will not be attending the rally. Anti-vaccine groups on Telegram have also pushed local “Defeat the Mandates” rallies planned for Sunday in several cities, including Denver and Sacramento, California. Some of the events have been amplified on Telegram by members of extremist groups like the Proud Boys, with one account adding that the event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, would feature a “mask burning.” Kolina Koltai, a postdoctoral fellow who researches the anti-vaccine movement at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, said the D.C. event was bringing together some of the most high-profile anti-vaccine activists. “It’s a who’s who of grifters and people who made a profit off the pandemic,” she said.

[..] The permit for the rally was filed by the Children’s Health Defense Fund. Organizers expect 20,000 people, according to the permit, which also requires attendees to wear masks in crowded outdoor areas. Koltai said that while most, if not all, of the speakers at Sunday’s rally oppose vaccines, referring to the rally as being against mandates is a way to drum up wider support and also evade bans from Facebook and Twitter, which frequently take down anti-vaccine misinformation. “As policies have changed on Facebook, we’ve seen anti-vaccine groups rebrand to ‘pro-medical freedom’ or ‘pro-choice,’” she said. “They’re using terms that they know are not going to get censored.”

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We’ve seen from umpteen sources that the vaccines don’t work vs Omicron, but Walensky now says “if you recently got your second dose, you’re not eligible for a booster, you’re up to date”. That should confuse a few people…

CDC Plans To ‘Pivot The Language’ On Vaccination, Walensky Says (Fox)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a Friday briefing that the agency is working to “pivot” its language regarding what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Responding to a question about why the CDC is not changing the definition of the phrase to include a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the health leader told reporters that it is working to “pivot the language to make sure that everybody is as up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as they personally could be, should be, based on when they got their last vaccine.” “So, importantly, right now, we’re pivoting our language. We really want to make sure people are up to date.

That means if you recently got your second dose, you’re not eligible for a booster, you’re up to date. If you are eligible for a booster and you haven’t gotten it, you’re not up to date and you need to get your booster in order to be up to date,” she added. Previously, Walensky and others had stated that the definition of being fully vaccinated would not change from those who have received their primary series of their COVID-19 vaccine. “So, individuals are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they’ve received their primary series. That definition is not changing,” she said during a Jan. 5 White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing. “But consistent with how public health has historically viewed or even talked about how we recommend vaccines, we are now recommending that individuals stay up to date with additional doses that they are eligible for.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday that the CDC had not updated the language because their recommendations are about “how well you are protected rather than a definition.”

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Completely ignoring VAERS. Which should be the first thing they check every morning. Walensky turns it all upside down. While we know a lot (most?) of what is registered as Covid deaths are not really, she now claims vaccinated people dying in a car crash should not be in VAERS. Sly.

Fauci, Walensky Dodge When Asked About Number Of Vaccine Deaths (WND)

How many people have died as a result of COVID-19 vaccines? Nobody can say for sure – because correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation – but it’s clearly a question in the public interest. A “national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines,” called the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, or VAERS, was established for that important purpose. It’s co-managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So, when CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and top White House coronavirus adviser and National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci appeared before a Senate committee hearing Tuesday on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a senator posed the question.

But amid the most ambitious vaccination effort in the history of the world, Walensky and Fauci didn’t have an answer. They curiously both began with emphasizing that people can’t rely on VAERS for any indication, because, they said, people who get hit by a car shortly after being vaccinated get recorded as vaccine deaths. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala, noted that the number of COVID-19 vaccine deaths is “in the thousands.” As of Dec. 31, VAERS recorded 21,382 vaccine-related deaths and 113,303 hospitalizations among a total of 1,016,999 adverse event reports. “Is this true?” the senator asked Walensky. “Are we having that many people die after taking one of these vaccines.”

She responded by saying that VAERS is a “mandatory system of any adverse event that happens after being vaccinated.” “So, if you get hit by a car, tragically, after getting vaccinated, that gets reported in the vaccine adverse reporting VAERS system,” Walensky said. “So the vaccines are incredibly safe,” she continued. “They protect us against omicron, they protect us against delta, they protect us against COVID. They don’t protect us against every other form of mortality out there.” Tuberville asked again. “Do we keep numbers of people that die … following taking this vaccine? Do we have any idea?” “Absolutely, yes,” Walensky said. “I couldn’t give you the absolute number off the top of my head, but I can absolutely get back in touch with you with those data.”

Tuberville turned to Biden’s top health adviser. “Do you know, Dr. Fauci? Do you have any clue on that?” “I don’t have a number, but I think part of the confusion is that when you get vaccinated and get hit by a car … that’s the thing that get’s confusing, that everything that happens after the vaccination — even if you die of something completely obviously unrelated, it’s considered a death,” he said. Walensky added, “And every one of those is adjudicated.” Many physicians and scientists believe the true VAERS figures are much higher. Physicians who sued the FDA for documents related to clinical trials for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine estimate the true numbers are five times higher. A recent study led by a researcher at Columbia University estimated the actual figures are higher by a factor of 20. If the underreporting factor is correct, it would mean that there are nearly 400,000 deaths due to COVID-19 vaccines.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services points out that a VAERS report is not documentation that a link has been established between a vaccine and an adverse event. However, HHS also notes that VAERS is a “passive” system of reporting, and it “receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events.” Many health care workers have disclosed they are instructed by their superiors not to report to VAERS any harm caused by COVID vaccines.

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“These are the real bioweapons, not a virus, which, by their own terms, poses a negligible threat to most people.”

Hiding the Bodies (Diana West)

The lethality of the covid “vaccine” is the last thing media and political and money elites want us “useless eaters” to understand. The mantra they have pressed on us is “safe and effective,” which I think of as the new “Sieg Heil.” We’re supposed to repeat after them, while sucking on the same old puff-blah, “Fauci, Walensky testify while omicron prompts many possible changes” (Associated Press); or the same old melodrama, “Criticized by Senators, U.S. Health Officials Defend Omicron Response” (NYT); or, worst of all, the “battle” of Fauci vs. Paul, those fake gladiators in the arena fighting over nothing. (I’ll get back to that.)

Among others, CNBC pushed the latter (“Fauci says Sen. Rand Paul’s false accusations ‘kindles the crazies’ and have incited death threats”), as did Fox, only the other way around (“Rand Paul rips Fauci following latest hearing fireworks: He doesn’t want debate because he ‘is science’). Whatever Fauci and Rand Paul lob at each other in these recurring “showdowns,” their dispute over virus research in Wuhan has nothing, zip, nada, to do with the agony of our nation. We are not dying over the origins of a virus which may not exist, or even over the virus itself (plus “variants”) with its 99+ percent survival rate, and whose average age of death approximates the average age of death. We are dying from the tyrannical “cure”: each and every act of oppression imposed on us by our very own governments and institutions, all in the name of a fake plague called “covid.”

From “flattening the curve (15 days), to “lockdowns” forever, to “social distancing” and other totalitarian measures including incessant “testing” (with a fake test), we find ourselves not on the road to something they mockingly call “public health,” but rather to a state of perpetual fear, vaxx apartheid, “green passes,” concentration camps (happening), digital currency (to come), a vaxx-caused die-off and overall sickening of the world’s peoples, and, I am increasingly persuaded, the goal of ending the human species itself in gene-engineered and nano-wired “transhumanism.”

There is a simple switch to shut down the dystopian juggernaut. If we were to stop “testing” healthy people by the million (or if healthy people were to refuse to be tested by the million) the Xi to Gates Foundation to WEF to WHO to CDC to Johns Hopkins “dashboards” would stop generating the false-positive-“cases” that drive the closures, the stoppages, the firings, the breakdowns, the hysteria, rage and more testing. Without the fake statistical drivers that fuel this “pandemic,” this “pandemic” stops. So, theoretically, does demand for, or submission to the covid shot of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Astra Zeneca, Comiraty, all of them. These are the real bioweapons, not a virus, which, by their own terms, poses a negligible threat to most people.

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Mathew Crawford digs deeper. I can’t really cover this in a few words. Click the link and go to his site.

The Omicron Hypothesis, Part 1 (Crawford)

As omicron took over the caseload, the case fatality rate (CFR), which is the proportion of COVID-19 cases that are fatal (cases, not infections), took a nosedive. Per case, COVID-19 is almost 90% less deadly than prior to the omicronification of the pandemic. In fact, we may pass 90% by the time I’m done typing, which has already confused my sense of changing tense in this paragraph… We should still keep an eye out for overall health impact, including the frequency and severity of long haul symptoms. But the extremely good news is that the COVID-19 case count—not that it was ever measured correctly—has officially decoupled from the hospitalization and death counts. That’s okay—sometimes, during changes in functional outcomes, we care more about precision in measurement than accuracy.


And by “officially” I don’t mean that the WHO said so (though they might have…I haven’t bothered to check because why would I?), but rather “look at the charts!” In fact, there are almost no deaths at all associated with the omicron variant! Of course, there will be some. There is no such thing as a respiratory infection that doesn’t kill some of the frail elderly. But unless there is some facet of the omicron outbreak that we don’t yet understand, this is all extremely good news. In fact, it’s such good news that we should probably declare the pandemic over with and stop talking about vaccine mandates and passports altogether.

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See above.

The Omicron Hypothesis, Part 2 (Crawford)

A quick summary of primary open hypotheses explored:

Hypothesis 1: Omicron has been circulating widely for at least several months.

Hypothesis 2: Omicron was genetically engineered—most likely by somebody in the same working group who engineered an mRNA vaccine to stop SARS-CoV-2.

Now, before we really get started again, some places (including those I mentioned in Part 1) where there is now a pandemic of the vaccinated.

United Kingdom: Vaccinated twice as likely to have omicron than unvaccinated
Leaked Dept. of Health memo warns efficacy falls to zero against omicron.
The Imperial College of London finds an increasing affinity among the vaccinated for omicron relative to delta that increases with the number of doses taken.

New South Wales, Australia

Denmark data shows negative vaccine efficacy

Oh, Canada!
Ontario: 95% of omicron cases in the vaccinated
Joel Smalley caught Alberta cooking the books to keep the vaccines from looking bad against omicron.

Dec 13, 2021: The CDC says that 79% of early identified omicron infections are in vaccinated individuals.

The vaccine manufacturers worry that their products do not protect against omicron

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This article will disappear again sometime today.

Will These People Be Charged With Genocide? (Mercola)

According to The Desert Review, a slew of high-power figures in the COVID-19 pandemic and the push to mandate experimental COVID jabs have been accused of several crimes, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression in the U.K.: “In a stunning 46-page legal filing2 to the International Criminal Court on December 6 [2021], an intrepid attorney and seven applicants accused Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Melinda Gates, William Gates III, and twelve others of numerous violations of the Nuremberg Code. These included various crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined by the Rome Statutes, Articles 6, 7, 8, 15, 21, and 53.”

The Dirty 16 In all, the 16 defendants named in the legal filing are:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID
Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance
Bill Gates
Melinda Gates
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer
Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna
Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca
Alex Gorsky, CEO of Johnson & Johnson
Tedros Adhanhom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO
Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister
Christopher Whitty, U.K. chief medical adviser
Matthew Hancock, former U.K. secretary of state for Health and Social Care
Medicines and Healthcare, current U.K. secretary of state for Health and Social Care
June Raine, U.K. chief executive of Medicines and Healthcare products
Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation
Klaus Schwab, president of the World Economic Forum

The victims, on behalf of whom the complaint was filed, are “the peoples of the United Kingdom.” One of the seven applicants is Dr. Michael Yeadon, a former vice president and chief scientist of allergy and respiratory research at Pfizer. At the end of 2020, he expressed deep concerns about the COVID jabs becoming mandatory, as he could find no medical rationale for their use. In 2021, as we all know, mandates were rolled out around the world. In April 2021, Yeadon went public with concerns that the shots were part of a depopulation agenda. “I believe [COVID-19 booster shots] are going to be used to damage your health and possibly kill you. I can see no sensible interpretation other than a serious attempt at mass depopulation,” he said in a “Planet Lockdown” interview published in late April 2021.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal located in The Hague, Netherlands. Its activities are governed by an international treaty called the Rome Statute, which has been ratified by more than 120 countries, including the U.S. The ICC is a permanent, independent court that investigates crimes that concern the international community, such as claims of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression. In theory, member states are supposed to cooperate with the court, but that doesn’t always happen.

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Doctors trying to kill a patient. Why?

Wife Stands Off With Hospital to Keep Her Husband Alive, and Wins (ET)

Sentiments expressed in random phone calls for Anne Quiner as her husband Scott lay in a hospital bed breathing through a ventilator ranged from “I hope your husband dies a vegetable” followed by a litter of profanity, to “he should have taken the vaccine; I hope he dies,” before hanging up. While not the traditional Hallmark expressions for one to get well soon, Quiner said it was a feeling shared among some of the doctors at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, where Scott had been hospitalized for COVID-19 complications in November. In one recorded phone call with Dr. Linda Soucie in which Quiner was fighting to keep Scott on the ventilator, Soucie told Quiner, “Unfortunately, if we could turn back time and he had gotten the vaccine, then he wouldn’t be here,” just after Soucie had told Quiner,

“After three years, I think we’ve gotten pretty good at determining who’s going to make it and who’s not, and unfortunately Scott’s in that range of the group that is not going to make it.” In a recorded conference call, doctors told Quiner that they would be taking Scott off the ventilator on Jan. 13 because he would not recover due to what they said were his “destroyed lungs from COVID pneumonia,” and that their attempts at decreasing sedation only caused him pain. Quiner told The Epoch Times that her petitions for alternative treatments, as well as to keep Scott on the ventilator, had been met with contempt. With doctors determined to take Scott off the ventilator, Quiner sought legal counsel. Marjorie Holsten, Quiner’s attorney, told The Epoch Times that she filed a motion for a temporary restraining order that prevented the hospital from taking Scott off the ventilator.

Mercy Hospital then hired its own law firm that objected to the temporary restraining order on the basis that Holsten and Quiner’s position isn’t “supported by medical science.” Because of this, the hospital requested that the court issue an order authorizing the hospital to take Scott off the ventilator. The judge sided with Holsten, issuing the order based on the standard that irreparable harm would result if not issued, which Holsten said was easy to establish because if Scott had been taken off, he would have died. On Jan. 15, Scott was transferred out of Mercy Hospital and taken to an undisclosed hospital in Texas, where Holsten said the doctors have reported Scott to be malnourished, having lost 30 pounds underweight, and dehydrated. Both Holsten and Quiner said doctors in Texas were “horrified” by Scott’s condition when he arrived.

“One doctor said he didn’t know how Scott made it out of that hospital alive,” Quiner said. “He looked at his chart and said, ‘I can’t believe the heavy, sedating drugs they put him on.’” The hospital was following a rigid late-treatment COVID protocol that has “very likely killed many people,” Holsten said.

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She is insane. Just not certified yet. Cancelled her own wedding too.

Jacinda Ardern Will Force Household Covid Contacts To Isolate For 24 Days (DM)

New Zealand will make household contacts of Covid cases isolate for 24 days under harsh new rules brought in to combat an impending Omicron outbreak. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought in the strict measures as the country battles to stay Covid Zero despite the threat of the highly contagious mutant strain. But critics say the lengthy quarantine period is ‘unworkable’ and will lead people to avoid getting tested. Anyone infected with Covid is now required to isolate for 14 days, up from 10 days under the new interim rules. Household contacts must then stay in quarantine for a further 10 days, stretching the time alone out to three and a half weeks.

The extension to isolation comes as New Zealand recorded 84 new Covid cases on Saturday, with 43 in the community and another 41 caught at the border. It includes an Auckland airport worker who tested positive for the omicron strain, sparking fears case numbers could soar up to 1500 a day or more if the mutant strain spreads across the nation. The NZ Ministry of Health said the changes were made after new scientific data published in Japan revealed the highly infectious strain has a longer incubation period than previous variants with sufferers also shedding the virus for longer. But Ardern’s critics warn the extreme policy is ‘unworkable’ and could lead to more Covid cases with greater number refusing to be tested in order to avoid the lengthy quarantine period.

‘The effect is that if you test positive, members of your household may have to isolate for 24 days,’ Act political party leader David Seymour told NZ’s Stuff. ‘People who cannot afford that will have a strong incentive not to get tested, defeating the purpose of the policy. ‘If the advice is taken seriously, it will cripple the health workforce and supply chains more generally.’

Haka
https://twitter.com/i/status/1484890057232187393

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“Certain words that are key did not flow, so that began to raise a red flag.”

Mask Mandates Causing Over 350% Surge In Childhood Speech Delays (NP)

Mask mandates implemented by the government amidst the COVID-19 appear to be causing speech delays in young children. The regulations, which are still in effect in Democrat-led cities including Washington D.C. and New York City, have had adverse effects on the development of speaking abilities in children and babies. “This has been a very challenging year,” emphasized Jaclyn Theek, a clinic director and speech-language pathologist at the Speech and Learning Institute in North Palm Beach, Florida. The clinic experienced a 364 percent increase in patients who were babies and toddlers amidst the pandemic. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, only 5 percent of the clinic’s patients were in the age group, while today it stands at 20 percent.

“There’s no research out there yet saying that this could be causing speech and language delays. But, most definitely, I’m sure it’s a factor,” Theek said. “It’s very important that kids do see your face to learn, so they’re watching your mouth.” Similarly, many parents interviewed by WPBF 25 News felt the irregular speech patterns were “COVID-delayed.” A parent interviewed by the outlet attributed the delays to “social isolation and everyone wearing masks”: Gregg Santos brings his son, Diego, to speech therapy twice a week. “He would just ramble, baby ramble,” Santos said. “Certain words that are key did not flow, so that began to raise a red flag.” Santos said his son was born perfectly healthy at the start of a pandemic.

“We’d go out and walk around the neighborhood, and there would be no one there…everyone just stayed in,” Santos said. Santos said he believes social isolation and everyone wearing masks lead to Diego’s speech delays. “It bothers me,” Santos said. “It bothers me a lot.” “It definitely makes a difference when the world you are growing up in, you can’t interact with people and their face. That’s super important to babies,” cautioned another parent.

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Jonathan Cook on being disappeared.

Is It Already Too Late To Say Goodbye? (Cook)

My blog posts once attracted tens of thousands of shares. Then, as the algorithms tightened, it became thousands. Now, as they throttle me further, shares can often be counted in the hundreds. “Going viral” is a distant memory. No, I won’t be banned. I will fade incrementally, like a small star in the night sky – one among millions – gradually eclipsed as its neighbouring suns grow ever bigger and brighter. I will disappear from view so slowly you won’t even notice. Which is why I am saying my goodbyes now while I can still reach you, my most obstinate followers. But this isn’t really about one small light being snuffed out. This isn’t just about our relationship coming to an end. Something bigger, and more disturbing, is taking place.

Journalists like me are part of an experiment – in a new, more democratised media landscape. We have developed new reader-funded models so that we can break free of the media corporations, which until now ensured billionaires and the state controlled the flow of information in one direction only: to speak down to us. The corporate media needs corporate advertising to survive – or the owners’ deep pockets. They don’t need you, except as a captive audience. You’re both their prisoner and their product. But the lifeblood of a reader-funded journalist, as the name suggests, are readers. The more of you we attract, the better chance there is that we can generate donations and income and make the model sustainable. Our Achilles’ heel is our dependence on social media to find you, to keep reaching you, to offer you an alternative from the corporate media.

If Facebook (sorry, the Meta universe) and Twitter stop independent writers from growing their readerships by manipulating the algorithms, by ghosting and shadow-banning us, and by all the other trickery we do not yet understand, then new voices cannot grow their funding base and break free of corporate control. And equally, for those like me who are already established and have significant numbers of readers, these tech giants can whittle them away one by one. Ostensibly, I have many tens of thousands of followers, but for several years now I have been reaching fewer and fewer of you. I am starved of connection. The danger, already only too obvious, is that my readership, and funding model, will slowly start to shrivel and die. Joe Rogan, Russell Brand and a handful of titans of the new media age are so big they can probably weather it out. But the rest of us will not be so lucky.

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Acting out Orwell’s warnings.

University Slaps A Trigger Warning On George Orwell’s 1984 (DM)

As one of the greatest works in Britain’s literary canon, Nineteen Eighty-Four sounds a chilling warning about the dangers of censorship. Now staff at the University of Northampton have issued a trigger warning for George Orwell’s novel on the grounds that it contains ‘explicit material’ which some students may find ‘offensive and upsetting’. The advice, revealed following a Freedom of Information request by The Mail on Sunday, has infuriated critics, who say it runs contrary to the themes in the book. Published in 1949, Orwell’s dystopian story – set in a totalitarian state which persecutes individual thinking – gave the world phrases such as ‘Big Brother’, ‘Newspeak’ and ‘thought police’.

[It] makes powerful points about what can happen to a society that doesn’t cherish academic freedoms or its own history. Yet it is one of several literary works which have been flagged up to students at Northampton who are studying a module called Identity Under Construction. They are warned that the module ‘addresses challenging issues related to violence, gender, sexuality, class, race, abuses, sexual abuse, political ideas and offensive language’. In addition to Orwell’s book, academics identify several works in the module that have the potential to be ‘offensive and upsetting’ including the Samuel Beckett play Endgame, the graphic novel V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd and Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing The Cherry.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘There’s a certain irony that students are now being issued trigger warnings before reading Nineteen Eighty-Four. Our university campuses are fast becoming dystopian Big Brother zones where Newspeak is practised to diminish the range of intellectual thought and cancel speakers who don’t conform to it. ‘Too many of us – and nowhere is it more evident than our universities – have freely given up our rights to instead conform to a homogenised society governed by a liberal elite “protecting” us from ideas that they believe are too extreme for our sensibilities.’

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@dimitrigalanis: “The current propaganda meme in Washington is that #Russia is going to “invade #Ukraine” and absorb it. It will not: Ukraine is a decaying, impoverished, de-industrialised, divided, corrupt and decaying mess; Moscow does not want to take responsibility for the package.”

The Hidden Origin Of The Escalating Ukraine-Russia Conflict (CD)

Western and Russian leaders and their media express deeply conflicting views concerning the escalating conflict in Ukraine and its origins. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other officials have repeatedly blasted the Kremlin for instigating the crisis along Ukraine’s border in an attempt to carve out a sphere of influence. They argue that after the pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by peaceful protesters in 2014—dozens of whom were massacred by government snipers—Russia annexed Crimea and launched a hybrid war with Ukraine in the Donbas with the help of Russian proxies. Moreover, Western officials maintain that Ukraine is a sovereign state which has a right to join NATO. In contrast, Russian leaders insist that the Ukrainian government was overthrown in a fascist putsch, which led to Crimea voluntary joining Russia and to a civil war without Russian military involvement in the Donbas. They say that Ukraine has been under de facto NATO rule since 2014 and regard unrecognized separatist republics in the Donbas as independent.


Various evidence presented in studies I have authored, which has been echoed by many other Western scholars who research these issues, show that both of these narratives are inaccurate. Indeed, the question of which side carried out the “snipers’ massacre” is central to understanding one of the “bloodiest and most controversial hours of European conflict since the end of the Cold War,” and the main tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine. According to testimonies by over 100 wounded protesters, several dozen prosecution witnesses, and forensic ballistic and medical examinations by government experts, the massacre of the absolute majority of protesters and police at the Maidan (central square) in Kyiv on February 20, 2014 was perpetrated principally by members of the Maidan opposition, specifically its far-right elements. This event precipitated the violent removal of the corrupt and oligarchic but democratically elected government in Ukraine, touching off a conflict which has since killed more than 13,000 people. Western governments were at least aware of, or de facto backed, the overthrow.

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The best we have. Gone.

German Navy Chief Resigns After Saying “Putin Deserves Respect” (ZH)

[..] the “Russia is about to invade Ukraine” plotline just suffered a major blow after the chief of Germany’s navy, vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach , said on Friday that Crimea “will never come back”, and that what Putin “really wants is respect…and it is easy to give him the respect he really demands – and probably deserves.” And sure enough, just one day later, on Saturday evening, he resigned from his post for having the temerity to speak out against conventional wisdom. “I have asked Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht to relieve me from my duties with immediate effect,” Schoenbach said in a statement cited by the Reuters news agency. “The minister has accepted my request,” he added.

Speaking at an event organized by the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on Friday, the vice-admiral redpilled the shocked audience when he dismissed as “nonsense” the notion that Russia was “interested in having a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil and integrating it into their country.” “Does Russia really want a small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil to integrate into their country? No, this is nonsense. Putin is probably putting pressure because can do it and he splits EU opinion.” Schönbach went on to claim that what President Putin really wanted was the West to “respect” Russia, adding “giving some respect is low cost, even no cost. If I was asked, it is easy to give him the respect he really demands and probably also deserves.” Addressing the issue of Crimea, the German Navy commander opined that the “peninsula is gone” and “will never come back — this is a fact.”

On Ukraine’s possible admission into NATO, Schönbach said, “Ukraine of course cannot meet the requirements because it’s occupied in the Donbas region by the Russian Army or by what they call as militias.” In this context, he also said the Crimea peninsula, which was annexed by Russia, is “gone” and is “not coming back”. Then in an even greater transgression of conventional pro-China etiquette, the German had the temerity to point out the elephant in the room when he slammed China which is “not that nice country we probably thought” and added that that “Russia is an old country, Russia is an important country. Even we India, Germany, need Russia. We need Russia against China…” This, he said, is “easy” and “keeps Russia away from China” because China needs resources of Russia and they [Russia] are willing to give them because the sanctions sometimes do go the “wrong way”.

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Most corrupt country on the planet?

Germany ‘Encouraging Putin’ By Refusing To Supply Weapons: Ukraine (Y!)

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday condemned Germany for its refusal to supply weapons to Kyiv, urging Berlin to stop “undermining unity” and “encouraging Vladimir Putin” amid fears of a Russian invasion. In a separate development, Germany’s naval chief Kay-Achim Schoenbach announced his resignation late Saturday, after Ukraine summoned the German ambassador to Ukraine, to protest remarks the vice-admiral had made on the crisis. Kyiv’s foreign ministry stressed “the categorical unacceptability” of Schoenbach’s comments, who had said the idea that Russia wanted to invade Ukraine was “nonsense”, and that Putin probably deserved respect.


With tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered on the Ukrainian border, fears are mounting that a major conflict could break out in Europe. Ukraine’s calls to Western allies to bolster its defence capabilities have seen the United States, Britain and Baltic states agree to send to Kyiv weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Kuleba said on Twitter that Germany’s statements “about the impossibility of supplying defence weapons to Ukraine” did not match “the current security situation”. Ukraine’s minister stressed that “today the unity of the West in relation to Russia is more important than ever. “The German partners must stop undermining unity with such words and actions and encouraging (Russian President) Vladimir Putin to launch a new attack on Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

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Bilbao

Bern
https://twitter.com/i/status/1484882444792827907

London

Stockholm

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon.

 

Nov 192021
 


Elio Ciol Via Portica, Assisi 1958

 

Vaccinated Up To 9x More Likely To Be Hospitalized Than Unvaccinated (Kirsch)
29,934 Deaths, 2,804,900 Injuries in EU Database of Adverse Reactions (HIN)
US Government Pays $5.29 Billion to Pfizer for Anti-Covid Pills (GR)
AstraZeneca Covid-19 Antibody Drug Offers 83% Protection Over 6 Months (R.)
Another Major Red Flag About Covid Vaccines And Death (Berenson)
93%-Vaccinated Ireland Has Gone Back Into ‘Partial Lockdown’ (ZH)
Italian Governors Call For Unvaccinated to be Put Under Lockdown (SN)
The Covid Lab Leak Theory Just Got Even Stronger (Sp.)
Mood Darkens In New Zealand As Covid Restrictions Bite (G.)
Comprehensive Review of Face Mask Studies Finds No Evidence of Benefit (DS)
Mask Wearing Cuts New Covid-19 Cases By 53% (F.)
Greek Lawyer Arrested For Spreading Covid Misinformation (K.)
Greek PM: Unvaccinated Adults To Be Barred From All Indoor Public Venues (K.)
Private Doctors In Northern Greece Ordered To Pitch In For A Month (K.)

 

 

 

 

Atlas

 

 

 

 

9x may be a bit much. But hey, there’s an easy $1 million in it if you prove him wrong, or even just debate him and his team.

Vaccinated Up To 9x More Likely To Be Hospitalized Than Unvaccinated (Kirsch)

It is hard to get good, honest data out of hospitals nowadays for some reason. I have no clue as to why that is. You’d think things would be more transparent. But Aaron Siri discovered someone who convinced their hospital to do something really unusual: track the vaccination status of each admitted patient to the hospital. Tracking was based on whether you got the vaccine or not, not “two weeks after you got the vaccine” which is a major definition difference. In short, honest tracking. You’ll never guess what happened so I’ll tell you. Siri wrote on his substack:

A concerned Physician Assistant, Deborah Conrad, convinced her hospital to carefully track the Covid-19 vaccination status of every patient admitted to her hospital. The result is shocking. As Ms. Conrad has detailed, her hospital serves a community in which less than 50% of the individuals were vaccinated for Covid-19 but yet, during the same time period, approximately 90% of the individuals admitted to her hospital were documented to have received this vaccine. These patients were admitted for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to COVID-19 infections. Even more troubling is that there were many individuals who were young, many who presented with unusual or unexpected health events, and many who were admitted months after vaccination. As you might expect, the hospital rewarded Deborah Conrad for her courage and leadership to expose the truth by firing her.

The message is clear: If you speak the truth, you will be pay the price. It is imperative that information that doesn’t align with the “narrative” be suppressed. This is why doctors don’t speak out. And it’s why I had to quit my job in high tech to speak out as well. But here’s the part Aaron didn’t point out that needs to be stated very clearly: The only way you can get those numbers is if vaccinated people are 9 times more likely to be hospitalized than unvaccinated It is mathematically impossible to get to those numbers any other way. Period. Full stop. This is known as an “inconvenient truth.”

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Works as poorly as VAERS. Do they catch even 5%?

29,934 Deaths, 2,804,900 Injuries in EU Database of Adverse Reactions (HIN)

The European Union database of suspected drug reaction reports is EudraVigilance, and they are now reporting 29,934 fatalities, and 2,804,900 injuries, following COVID-19 injections. A Health Impact News subscriber from Europe reminded us that this database maintained at EudraVigilance is only for countries in Europe who are part of the European Union (EU), which comprises 27 countries. The total number of countries in Europe is much higher, almost twice as many, numbering around 50. (There are some differences of opinion as to which countries are technically part of Europe.) So as high as these numbers are, they do NOT reflect all of Europe. The actual number in Europe who are reported dead or injured following COVID-19 shots would be much higher than what we are reporting here.

The EudraVigilance database reports that through October 19, 2021 there are 29,934 deaths and 2,804,900 injuries reported following injections of four experimental COVID-19 shots. From the total of injuries recorded, almost half of them (1,311,861) are serious injuries. “Seriousness provides information on the suspected undesirable effect; it can be classified as ‘serious’ if it corresponds to a medical occurrence that results in death, is life-threatening, requires inpatient hospitalisation, results in another medically important condition, or prolongation of existing hospitalisation, results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity, or is a congenital anomaly/birth defect.”


A Health Impact News subscriber in Europe ran the reports for each of the four COVID-19 shots we are including here. It is a lot of work to tabulate each reaction with injuries and fatalities, since there is no place on the EudraVigilance system we have found that tabulates all the results. Since we have started publishing this, others from Europe have also calculated the numbers and confirmed the totals.*These totals are estimates based on reports submitted to EudraVigilance. Totals may be much higher based on percentage of adverse reactions that are reported. Some of these reports may also be reported to the individual country’s adverse reaction databases, such as the U.S. VAERS database and the UK Yellow Card system. The fatalities are grouped by symptoms, and some fatalities may have resulted from multiple symptoms.

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“..the cost of the oral medication is lower, to the tune of $530, as opposed to the $700 that one course of the Merck pills costs.”

US Government Pays $5.29 Billion to Pfizer for Anti-Covid Pills (GR)

The pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer has signed a $5.3 billion deal with the United States government to supply its anti-Covid Paxlovid pills to the American people, according to a statement released by the company on Thursday. This is enough to supply a total of 10 million courses of its antiviral drug, as the medication is placed before the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization. The Pfizer pill is the second one to be developed to fight the coronavirus, after Merck’s Molnupiravir, which was placed before the FDA for review on October 11. Molnupiravir is already approved for emergency use in the United Kingdom. The Pfizer deal is nearly double the amount of the contract that the US inked with Merck although the cost of the oral medication is lower, to the tune of $530, as opposed to the $700 that one course of the Merck pills costs.

After recently telling the press that his corporation would file for approval “before Thanksgiving,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla put the results of laboratory tests before the FDA this week. According to the pharmaceuticals firm, Paxlovid is 89% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in this who are at risk for severe Covid. President Joe Biden announced in a statement on Thursday “While this pill still requires a full review by the Food and Drug Administration, I have taken immediate steps to secure enough supply for the American people.” Like the coronavirus injections that hundreds of millions of Americans and other peoples around the world have received, the anti-Covid pills will also be easily accessible and free of any cost. Pfizer noted in its statement that it will begin deliveries of Paxlovid pills as soon before the year is out if it is authorized for emergency use by the FDA.

Market watchers noted on Thursday that Pfizer shares rose 1%, to $51.40 in early trading, while Merck shares were marginally lower. Reuters reports that Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stated that becoming vaccinated should still be a priority for Americans, but the anti-covid pills that may allow at-risk individuals to stay out of the hospital “could be a lifesaver.” The Pharma behemoth says that it has the capacity to manufacture 180,000 courses of treatment by the end of December; possibly more than 50 million courses of the anti-covid pill may be produced by the end of next year.

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Antibody prophylaxis?!

AstraZeneca Covid-19 Antibody Drug Offers 83% Protection Over 6 Months (R.)

AstraZeneca on Thursday cemented its lead in bringing a preventative Covid-19 shot for the non-infected to market for people who do not respond well to vaccines, saying its antibody drug cocktail offered 83% protection over six months. The injected therapy, called AZD7442 or Evusheld, had previously been shown to confer 77% protection against symptomatic illness after three months, in an earlier readout of the late-stage PROVENT trial in August. The Anglo-Swedish company also said a separate study in patients with mild-to-moderate Covid-19 showed a higher dose of AZD7442 cut the risk of symptoms worsening by 88% when given within three days of first symptoms.


The latest results from longer-term follow-ups potentially position AstraZeneca, like rival Pfizer as a future supplier of both Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, with AstraZeneca having said the therapy’s “real advantage” was as a preventative shot. “These new data add to the growing body of evidence supporting AZD7442’s potential to make a significant difference in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19,” Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos said in a statement.

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“..3,939 of 4.03 million Swedes who received the second dose died less than two weeks later.”

Another Major Red Flag About Covid Vaccines And Death (Berenson)

People appear to die at rates 20 percent or more above normal for weeks after receiving their second Covid vaccine dose, according to data from a huge Swedish study. The figures are buried in a preprint paper on vaccine effectiveness released last month. The headline finding of the paper was that protection against Covid, including severe cases, plunged after six months. The researchers did not explicitly examine deaths from all causes – which have risen since the summer in many countries that have highly vaccinated populations. But on page 32 of the 34-page report, a chart shows that 3,939 of 4.03 million Swedes who received the second dose died less than two weeks later.

Over a one-year period, that rate of death would translate into an annual mortality rate of about 2.5 percent a year – 1 person in 40 – almost three times the overall Swedish average. In a typical year, about 1 in 115 Swedes dies. Of course, that huge gap does not account for an important confounding factor: younger people, who have a much lower risk of death, were less likely to be vaccinated. But Sweden also provides detailed data on overall deaths nationally, making a crude baseline comparison possible. That data shows that from an average of about 1,650 Swedes died every week between 2015 and 2019 between April 1 and early August, the period in which almost all of those 4 million Swedes in the study received their second dose. Death rates hardly varied over those years.

In other words, during the spring and summer, Sweden normally has about 3,300 deaths every two weeks – not just in the people who received vaccines, but in all 10.6 million of its people. So let’s make an incredibly conservative assumption, one that strongly favors the vaccines. (The next couple paragraphs are a bit tricky, but I hope the payoff is worth taking the time to read and think through them.) Assume that the group of people who received vaccines were so much older and unhealthier than those who didn’t that they would have accounted for every single death in Sweden whether or not they were vaccinated. In other words, assume that even if the vaccines did not exist, every person in Sweden who died would have been part of that group of 4.03 million people the researchers tracked – while not one other person would have died.

In that case, those 4.03 million people “should” have about 3,300 deaths every two weeks. They CANNOT HAVE MORE – because all of Sweden does not have more. But the vaccines do exist. Those 4.03 million people received them. And in the two weeks after receiving the second vaccine dose, as a group, the researchers reported they had not about 3,300 deaths, but 3,939. And 3,939 deaths is about 20 percent more deaths than “should” have occurred in those two post-vaccine weeks. Again, the 20 percent figure understates the real gap, because in the real world some deaths will occur in the 6.6 million unvaccinated people too, so the actual baseline number for the vaccinated group is not 3,300 deaths but somewhat lower.

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If this doesn’t spell “failure”, what does?

93%-Vaccinated Ireland Has Gone Back Into ‘Partial Lockdown’ (ZH)

Amid what’s being called a fourth wave of infections to hit highly vaccinated Ireland, the government on Tuesday unveiled new Covid-related restrictions at a moment many are now worried the country could be headed toward a full nationwide lockdown before Christmas. The new measures take effect Friday, despite government officials confirming that at least 93% of Ireland’s population of over 5 million people are fully vaccinated. This makes Ireland among the most vaccinated countries in the world, and yet similar to what the UK, Israel, and more recently Austria have experienced, infection rates are still exploding. The new Irish restrictions, which is being dubbed a semi-lockdown, include a nationwide midnight curfew, new ‘work from home’ guidelines encouraging all who are able to do their job from home, as well as stricter implementation of already existing Covid passes – which will now be required by law in cinemas and theaters.

Entering the holiday season, it’s the midnight curfew that’s especially controversial – given it will disproportionately hit pubs, restaurants, and entertainment venues the hardest. One bar industry organization, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), representing some 4,000 Irish pub-owners (or publicans), reacted as follows: “The news that restricted trading hours are set to be reintroduced is a hugely disappointing development for the many late-night pubs and night clubs many of whom will now be forced to shut just three weeks after reopening.” The statement spelled out that “The decision to introduce a new closing time of midnight will effectively close many late-night pubs and nightclubs. It will also seriously restrict other outlets at the most critical time of the year.

“Many of these have already survived over a year of on-and-off again forced closures since the start of pandemic, gutting the hospitality industry which is only just now starting to re-emerge. As has been the pattern, many Irish officials and pundits are blaming the unvaccinated, despite mainstream media outlets like Sky News pointing out the obvious: “The 14-day incidence of the disease currently stands at 959 per 100,000 people. This is despite having one of the most vaccinated populations, with around 93% of all adults fully vaccinated.” [..] So once again we are seeing an ultra-vaxxed society experiencing an uncontrollable surge in the virus, but the refrain of government leaders remains the same simplistic “solutions”: more restrictions, more vaccines, less freedom.

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“The death toll is rising; the situation is serious. Vaccination is the only solution, there is no other,” said Babis.”

Italian Governors Call For Unvaccinated to be Put Under Lockdown (SN)

Five Italian Governors have called for lockdown measures to be imposed on the unvaccinated, following the example of Austria, while Czech Republic and Slovakia are also moving to enforce similar measures. As we previously highlighted, after Austria placed the unjabbed under lockdown, preventing them from leaving their homes for anything other than “essential reasons,” police were seen patrolling supermarkets and highways checking resident’s vaccination status. Several states in Germany also announced that they would ban the unvaccinated from numerous venues. Now Italy’s unvaccinated population, which stands at around 7 million, could be about to face the same form of medical apartheid.


“Eventual new lockdowns should not have to be suffered by those who are vaccinated. Restrictions should only apply to those who are not immunized,” said Massimiliano Fedriga, the Governor of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeast of the country. The Telegraph reports that, “His stance is supported by the governors of Tuscany, Calabria, Liguria and Piedmont.” Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi echoed the demand, tweeting, “You’re not vaccinated? Then stay at home.” Outgoing Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis has also announced that the the unvaccinated will be banned from shops and restaurants, with the option to provide a negative test removed (despite the fact that the vaccinated can still transmit the virus). “The death toll is rising; the situation is serious. Vaccination is the only solution, there is no other,” said Babis.

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“..to avoid the complication of signing up local subcontractors to their grants in those countries, they promised to send the samples to a laboratory they already funded. And where was this lab? Wuhan.”

The Covid Lab Leak Theory Just Got Even Stronger (Sp.)

Two years in, there is no doubt the Covid pandemic began in the Chinese city of Wuhan. But there is also little doubt that the bat carrying the progenitor of the virus lived somewhere else. Central to the mystery of Covid’s origin is how a virus normally found in horseshoe bats in caves in the far south of China or south-east Asia turned up in a city a thousand miles north. New evidence suggests that part of the answer might lie in Laos. The search for viruses closely related to Sars-CoV-2 took a new turn in September when a team of French and Laotian scientists found one in a horseshoe bat living in a cave in the west Laotian province of Vientiane. Other related viruses had been found in Cambodia, Thailand, Japan and elsewhere in China, but this one, Banal-52, was different.

For the first time since the pandemic began, this was a virus genetically closer to the human Sars-CoV-2 virus than one called RaTG13, collected in southern Yunnan in 2013. RaTG13, which had been stored for six years in a freezer in a lab in Wuhan itself, is genetically 96.1 per cent the same as Sars-CoV-2; Laos’s Banal-52 is 96.8 per cent. The discovery of Banal-52 was greeted with relief by champions of the theory that the virus must have jumped into people in a natural spillover event, not an accident inside a laboratory. If Covid’s closest cousins are flitting about in bats in south-east Asia, then that sample in the freezer in Wuhan looks less suspicious. ‘I am more convinced than ever that Sars-CoV-2 has a natural origin,’ said Linfa Wang of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, a close collaborator of the Wuhan scientists.

True, the Laos virus lacked a critical feature in a key part of a key gene that makes Covid so infectious: a special 12-letter segment of genetic text called a furin cleavage site. It’s a feature that has never been seen in a Sars-like virus, except for Sars-CoV-2. Apart from that, it seemed that the Laotian virus might have knocked the burden of proof back across the philosophical net into the court of the proponents of lab-leak. Then last month a bunch of emails, uncovered by a lawsuit from the so-called White Coat Waste Project, returned the ball right back over the net. They comprised an exchange between the American virus–hunting foundation, the EcoHealth Alliance and its funders in the US government. The scientists discussed collecting viruses from bats in eight countries including Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos between 2016 and 2019. But to avoid the complication of signing up local subcontractors to their grants in those countries, they promised to send the samples to a laboratory they already funded. And where was this lab? Wuhan.

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“..a “wave” of disinformation tinged with violent rhetoric, QAnon-style conspiracy theories and far-right undertones.”

Ardern is just another Pfizer sales rep. She’s the one who provides the disinformation. Or does that graph look like a success to you?

Mood Darkens In New Zealand As Covid Restrictions Bite (G.)

For more than a year, New Zealand’s “team of 5 million” stood largely united in the face of Covid-19. This month, as the country expanded vaccine mandates and a tougher roadmap of restrictions for the unvaccinated, that mood has splintered and darkened. Among a small but vocal sliver of the population, dissent has been turning ugly, with death threats against MPs and journalists, increasing protests, warnings from security services about Covid-prompted terror threats, and what researchers have called a “wave” of disinformation tinged with violent rhetoric, QAnon-style conspiracy theories and far-right undertones.

“We’re talking … your aunt and uncle type-people using language like Nuremberg 2.0, common law trials, like ‘the prime minister is a Nazi’ – these are quite extreme terms and terminologies,” says Kate Hannah, a research fellow at Te Punaha Matatini’s disinformation project, a research institute that monitors online extremism and rhetoric. Hannah says the team observed an incredibly rapid shift in both the volume and tone of disinformation circulating in New Zealand’s online communities since the Delta outbreak and level 4 lockdown began. “Since August 2021 to now, there has been almost a day-on-day increase in both the volume of production of misinformation products or things being shared, the level of engagement by communities … and also the tone,” she said. An unregulated online environment, particularly on chat app Telegram, she said, had “normalised – very, very quickly – content which is extremely violent.”

Some of that online chatter manifested in the flesh last week in a series of anti-vaccine mandate protests, several-thousand strong. While the protests were broadly peaceful, one police officer was bitten by a demonstrator, and a news outlet reported that one of their journalists had been harassed and pushed by protesters. The signs and slogans proffered by the crowds presented an odd blend of factions and allegiances – tino rangatiratanga [Maori sovereignty] flags alongside Nazi imagery, anti-vaccine mottoes, evangelical preachers, those calling for the prime minister’s arrest and execution. Hannah says that same blend is what researchers are seeing online – where the rhetoric and networks of vaccine-scepticism are acting as a “Trojan horse” for more extreme ideologies.

“People genuinely feel excluded from society – there are genuine grievances and genuine fears,” Hannah said. And the shifts in political rhetoric have accompanied the country’s material change in pandemic fortunes. While the country rode out most of 2020 as a Covid-free idyll, now it has had to reckon with months-long lockdowns, steadily growing case numbers, near-daily deaths, and the threat of lost jobs and freedoms for those who refuse vaccination.


Cases in New Zealand are up 2,686% in the three months since their most recent mask mandate, despite 91% of the eligible population being at least partially vaccinated and strict lockdowns

Read more …

Weird that we’re still discussing the all-too-obvious.

Comprehensive Review of Face Mask Studies Finds No Evidence of Benefit (DS)

The Cato Institute has published its latest working paper, a critical review of the evidence for face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Entitled “Evidence for Community Cloth Face Masking to Limit the Spread of SARS- CoV-2: A Critical Review” and written by Ian Liu, Vinay Prasad and Jonathan Darrow, the paper is an admirably thorough and balanced overview of the published evidence on the efficacy of face masks. While even-handedly acknowledging and summarising the studies that show benefit, the authors overall conclusion is that: More than a century after the 1918 influenza pandemic, examination of the efficacy of masks has produced a large volume of mostly low- to moderate-quality evidence that has largely failed to demonstrate their value in most settings. At 61 pages in length, however, not everyone will make it through to the end, so here s a TL;DR, with some key quotes to serve as a handy overview. The paper is, of course, worth reading in full, though. Here’s the authors’ own summary in the form of the abstract:

“The use of cloth facemasks in community settings has become an accepted public policy response to decrease disease transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet evidence of facemask efficacy is based primarily on observational studies that are subject to confounding and on mechanistic studies that rely on surrogate endpoints (such as droplet dispersion) as proxies for disease transmission. The available clinical evidence of facemask efficacy is of low quality and the best available clinical evidence has mostly failed to show efficacy, with fourteen of sixteen identified randomised controlled trials comparing face masks to no mask controls failing to find statistically significant benefit in the intent-to-treat populations. Of sixteen quantitative meta-analyses, eight were equivocal or critical as to whether evidence supports a public recommendation of masks, and the remaining eight supported a public mask intervention on limited evidence primarily on the basis of the precautionary principle. Although weak evidence should not preclude precautionary actions in the face of unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, ethical principles require that the strength of the evidence and best estimates of amount of benefit be truthfully communicated to the public.”

The authors open by recalling the initial advice on masks from the WHO and others and the pre-Covid evidence it was based on. “Until April 2020, World Health Organization COVID-19 guidelines stated that “[c]loth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance”, which were updated in June 2020 to state that “the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence”. In the surgical theatre context, a Cochrane review found “no statistically significant difference in infection rates between the masked and unmasked group in any of the trials”. Another Cochrane review, of influenza-like-illness, found “low certainty evidence from nine trials (3,507 participants) that wearing a mask may make little or no difference to the outcome of influenza-like illness (ILI) compared to not wearing a mask (risk ratio 0.99, CI 0.82 to 1.18).”

Considering mechanisms for transmission and thus modes of operation for masks, the authors review the evidence for aerosol transmission and find it very likely. They argue that the ability of masks to inhibit the passage of sufficient aerosols to protect the wearer or infect others, whether through tiny holes in the material or leaking round the sides, is limited. They write: [F]iltering capability is unlikely to be reliable surrogate for infection control, since exhaled air necessarily either leaks around a mask’s edges or passes through it. Such leakage has been shown to account for the vast majority (~5:1 ratio) of particle penetration of standardised surgical masks, and exhaled air easily passes around the edges of most cloth masks. One study of cloth masks simulated leakage and found that a hole equal to ~1% of the mask area decreased mask efficiency by over 60%…

Read more …

But like clockwork, there’s always a different report. Cato vs BMJ. Just got to wonder what the logic is to justify 180º turn.

Nice detail: handwashing reduces incidence by the exact same percentage as masks, 53%.

Mask Wearing Cuts New Covid-19 Cases By 53% (F.)

Mask wearing cuts the number of new Covid-19 infections by 53%, according to a new peer reviewed study in the British Medical Journal, which found the controversial and highly politicized precaution to be the single most effective tool against the coronavirus. Mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective at lowering the number of new Covid-19 cases, according to an analysis of evidence from 72 global studies that looked atg non-pharmaceutical public health measures. Mask wearing was the most effective public health measure at reducing the incidence of Covid-19, the study found, while physical distancing reduced incidence by 25%. Handwashing was found to reduce coronavirus incidence by 53%, though the researchers noted this finding was not statistically significant on account of the small number of studies that assessed handwashing.

The researchers said it was not possible to evaluate other public health measures—including quarantine, lockdowns and school closures—due to differences in the way studies assessing these interventions were designed and conducted. While evidence indicates the effectiveness of these more stringent measures, the researchers said the restrictions are not sustainable, have significant economic and social impacts and must be “carefully” assessed to weigh potential positives against negatives. Though masks have been a critical tool in curbing the spread of Covid-19 from early on in the pandemic, they have become a flashpoint in a culture war pitting individual liberties against the public good. In the U.S., mask mandates have spurred protests, conspiracies and been a hot button issue for politicians to jump on, even as cases and deaths soared.

Tensions have been so high that mask-related disputes have led to a number of violent altercations, some lethal, while some states have prevented local officials from putting their own rules requiring them in place. Getting the pandemic under control is likely to depend on both high vaccination coverage and ongoing adherence to effective and sustainable public health measures. More research will be needed to assess the effectiveness of public health measures in highly vaccinated populations, the researchers wrote. The lack of good research on public health measures to tackle Covid-19 is one of the “tragedies of the pandemic,” wrote professors Paul Glasziou, Susan Michie and Atle Fretheim in a linked editorial. “More and better research are needed.”

Read more …

One of the reasons for the arrest is claiming “that the vaccines against Covid-19 have side effects”. Go figure.

Greek Lawyer Arrested For Spreading Covid Misinformation (K.)

A Greek lawyer at the forefront of online anti-vaccination campaigns was arrested on Wednesday for spreading fake news about the pandemic on social media, in the first application of the new law passed in Parliament on November 12. Nikos Antoniadis is also accused of inciting disobedience — both of the charges are misdemeanors. The case file against Nikos Antoniadis was formed by the police’s cybercrime division after a complaint was filed containing evidence that allegedly showed the lawyer stating that there is no coronavirus, that the intubation of patients is done for no good reason and that the vaccines against Covid-19 have side effects. His arrest was ordered by the Athens Prosecutor’s Office, which has been conducting relevant investigations for a long time about the activities of anti-vaxxers. Antoniadis was later released and the prosecutor will decide whether to proceed with the prosecution or continue the preliminary investigation.

Read more …

Damn the science.

Greek PM: Unvaccinated Adults To Be Barred From All Indoor Public Venues (K.)

The government will impose more restrictions for those not vaccinated against Covid-19 from next week, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday following a steep rise in infections in recent weeks. The measures were announced by Mitsotakis in a televised address to the nation and include barring unvaccinated citizens from all indoor spaces including cinemas, museums and gyms as of Monday, November 22. Mitsotakis said his plan was for Greece “to have a better Christmas this year than last year.” The new measures mean unvaccinated adults will no longer be able to access indoor venues by presenting a negative Covid test result. At present, unvaccinated adults are only excluded from indoor eateries.


He also said that the vaccination certificate for vaccinated persons over 60 years of age would cease to be valid seven months after the administration of the vaccine. Thus, this age group will be given one month to receive the booster vaccine. Staggered working hours would also apply in the public and private sectors in order to avoid overcrowding, especially at rush hour times and on public transport. Special provisions will apply for parents with schoolchildren. Mitsotakis also said controls would be ramped up. Private doctors would be requisitioned to support the National Health System, he added. The premier also said that unvaccinated churchgoers should have a negative laboratory test, as the Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece has already called for.

Read more …

They put 1000s of them on unpaid leave because of vaccine status, then say the system is overwhelmed.

Rumor has it that over 50% of police are unvaxxed. Wonder how they’ll deal with that.

Private Doctors In Northern Greece Ordered To Pitch In For A Month (K.)

A decision by the Greek Health Ministry requisitioning the services of doctors in the private sector to help in state-run hospitals struggling under the burden of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic was published in the Government Gazette on Thursday. The decision is directed at medics active in regions of northern Greece, where hospitals are at their limits: Western, Central and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, as well as Thessaly in central Greece. Authorities are asking for pulmonologists, pathologists and general practitioners stating that their services will be needed, initially, for a period of one month.


Up until Nov. 16, the ministry had secured the voluntary participation of only around 40 private doctors through the medical associations, with at least half of them registered in the previous 24 hours, prompting the activation of the requisition procedures as this this number was deemed unsatisfactory based on the needs of the hospitals. According to ministry estimates, more than 100 doctors in specific specialties are needed to support the National Health System (ESY) at this point.

Read more …

 

 

 

 

 

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May 182020
 


Jack Delano Myrtle Beach, S.C. Air Service Command Technical Sergeant Choken 1943

 

Ardern Becomes New Zealand’s Most Popular PM In A Century (R.)
116 Countries Back Australia’s Push For Independent Corona Inquiry (SBS.au)
Start ‘Travel Bubbles’ For Low-Risk Countries, Heathrow Urges UK Govt (R.)
Profiting from Coronavirus (Craig Murray)
US Mulls Paying Companies, Tax Breaks To Pull Supply Chains From China (R.)
Cuomo Says No One Should Be Prosecuted For Coronavirus Deaths In New York (CBS)
Pelosi Sees Negotiations On New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Legislation (R.)
Senator Rubio Calls For Fast Action To Extend US Payroll Protection Program (R.)
Los Angeles Tells Everyone To Wear Face Masks At All Times While Outdoors (JTN)
EU’s Vestager: Discrepancy In Coronavirus State Aid Distorts Single Market (R.)
Australia Bankers Hope They’ll Avoid A Bad Debt Tsunami (AFR)

 

 

• US records 857 new #coronavirus deaths in 24 hours. Yesterday: 1,277
• The latest toll, marked at 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), is the lowest since 776 daily deaths were recorded May 10, but the count ranged as high as 1,894 in subsequent days

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cases 4,820,347 (+ 77,166 from yesterday’s 4,743,181)

Deaths 316,967 (+ 3,264 from yesterday’s 313,703)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID19Info.live:

 

 

 

 

Say your child sees the Lord of the Rings films and wants to visit New Zealand. What do you think are the odds they’ll be allowed entry any time soon?

Ardern Becomes New Zealand’s Most Popular PM In A Century (R.)


Jacinda Ardern became New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in a century, a Newshub-Reid Research poll showed on Monday, thanks to her COVID-19 response that made the country among the most successful in curbing the spread of the disease. The first public poll since the coronavirus crisis took hold showed popularity for Ardern’s Labour jumped 14 points to 56.5% – the highest for any party ever. Conversely, the biggest party in parliament – the Nationals, slumped to 30.6%, after sliding by 12.7 points. The poll was conducted between May 8 and May 16, with half of the responses taken after the federal budget on Thursday. As preferred PM, Ardern was at 59.5%, up 20.8 points on the last poll and the highest score for any leader in the Reid Research poll’s history.


The poll took into account public sentiment in the final days of the country’s strict level three lockdown, which also got massive support with almost 92% respondents saying it was the right call. The Pacific nation was locked down for more than a month under “level 4” restrictions that were eased by a notch in late April. It has continued to enforce strict social measures on many of its citizens and businesses, helping prevent widespread community spread of the virus. Businesses in the country including malls, cinemas, cafes and gyms reopened last Thursday. (May 14) Ardern’s stratospheric rise to become the country’s youngest prime minister and third woman to hold the office resulted in New Zealanders coining the phrase “Jacinda-mania.” The rate of new cases have slowed dramatically in New Zealand in recent weeks. The virus has so far infected 1,499 people in New Zealand and killed 21.

Read more …

China says it’s premature to start now because the pandemic is not over. What?

116 Countries Back Australia’s Push For Independent Corona Inquiry (SBS.au)

110 countries have backed Australia’s push for an independent coronavirus inquiry which has caused a damaging rift with China. The African Group’s 54 member states will co-sponsor the motion, joining 62 other countries including Russia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Britain and Canada. The European Union’s 27 members are all on board, along with Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Turkey and New Zealand. Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Monday said it was encouraging to see so many countries backing the inquiry. “I think what it illustrates is a broad view that given the experience of COVID-19 – over 300,000 deaths, millions of people around the world losing their jobs, the impact on economies from one corner of the globe to the other – that there is a strong view that it is appropriate to engage in a review of what has happened.


“I don’t want to preempt speculate about the outcome, those discussions will be under way later this evening. I think it’s a win for the international community.” The draft resolution calls for impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation of the international response to the pandemic. It doesn’t mention China, but Australia’s push for the inquiry has angered Beijing, which has threatened a huge tariff on barley and blocked some beef imports. Health Minister Greg Hunt will represent Australia at the virtual World Health Assembly meeting on Monday night. A vote is expected in the early hours of Tuesday.

Read more …

One little problem: the UK itself is not a low risk country.

Start ‘Travel Bubbles’ For Low-Risk Countries, Heathrow Urges UK Govt (R.)

Britain should set up “travel bubbles” with low-risk countries to allow the movement of people, instead of bringing in new coronavirus quarantine rules when flights restart, according to Heathrow Airport. British government ministers have said they plan a 14-day quarantine for most people arriving in the country in the coming weeks to try to prevent a second peak of the pandemic. Airlines have warned the policy will throttle hopes for a travel recovery. Heathrow Airport, which before the novel coronavirus grounded planes was the busiest in Europe, said that it had been working with the UK government’s Department for Transport on proposals to allow some unrestricted travel.


“The proposal would create ‘travel corridors’ or ‘travel bubbles’ allowing free movement between countries or cities that are very low-risk, but potentially blocking flights from high-risk markets to safeguard public health,” the airport said in a statement. Such a set-up would be much less damaging to the economy than the quarantine policy, said Heathrow. The boss of Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers, said on Monday that the 14-day policy was unimplementable and unpoliceable and would be ignored by people wanting to travel. The government is yet to provide further details of the quarantine policy. Culture minister Oliver Dowden said earlier on Monday that Britain was still in talks with France over whether to exempt travellers from across the Channel.

Read more …

You can’t go through years of Russiagate and Syria bombings and expect countries to work together. And western Pharma sees huge profits anyway; that’s society’s model after all.

Profiting from Coronavirus (Craig Murray)

On 5 May, the British security services released to their pet media the claim that Russia, China and Iran were attempting to hack into British research institutes conducting coronavirus research. The BBC reported it. Britain’s shameful copy and paste media all, without exception, just copy and pasted the government press release. The Guardian gave the quote: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis is utterly reprehensible. We have seen an increased proportion of cyber-attacks related to coronavirus and our experts work around the clock to help organisations targeted”.

If Britain had one single mainstream media journalist willing to think, rather than just regurgitate government propaganda, they might have realised that there is a massive story here if you look at it the other way round. The quote from the Guardian deliberately attempted to give the impression that Russia, China and Iran were trying to disable, destroy or hamper coronavirus research: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus”. But if you read carefully through those articles, you find that the allegation is merely that they are attempting hack in to gain access to the research. Because the UK and the US are attempting to hide their vaccine and treatment research results from the rest of the world to make money out of them.

Much has been written about the possibility for a new and better kind of world to emerge after coronavirus. Yet our governments cannot conceive of any model for fighting this threat to the whole world, other than the capitalist, money-making model. The much-touted “race to develop a vaccine” is not a race to save lives. It is a race to make billions. The United States and the United Kingdom are working in all international fora to head off efforts to pool global research and to make any vaccine or medicine a good for the world. Governments can reward those working on the vaccine, and the companies for providing the facilities, using economic models other than the patent and the potential for massive profit.

It may come as a shock to you to realise that at the moment all those lovely vaccine and medicine researchers you see being interviewed on TV about their efforts to compress trials and approvals and get the product to the marketplace, are not sharing their results with fellow researchers around the world. They are rather jealously guarding them and each working in a bubble hoping to be the first in order to cash in. It is certainly true that many of the researchers themselves do not like this, but are controlled by their bosses.

For me, the failure to set up a worldwide shared scientific database on all coronavirus vaccine and medicine research, and the failure to set up a prior agreement on free manufacture worldwide of effective resulting vaccines and treatments, is the most revealing fact about the entire coronavirus episode. The fact that the British government is putting massive resources into ensuring the Chinese or Russians cannot “steal” our research – and doubtless the Chinese and Russians are doing the same, all states are hypocrites in these matters – should sicken everybody.

Read more …

More incentive for collective action on vaccines.

US Mulls Paying Companies, Tax Breaks To Pull Supply Chains From China (R.)

U.S. lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push American companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules, and carefully structured subsidies. Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway – including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with $25 billion – to encourage U.S. companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China. President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the recent spread of the coronavirus and related concerns about U.S. medical and food supply chains dependency on China are “turbocharging” new enthusiasm for the idea in the White House.


On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order (here) that gave a U.S. overseas investment agency new powers to help manufacturers in the United States. The goal, Trump said, is to “produce everything America needs for ourselves and then export to the world, and that includes medicines.” But the Trump administration itself remains divided over how best to proceed, and the issue is unlikely to be addressed in the next fiscal stimulus to offset the coronavirus downturn. Congress has begun work on another fiscal stimulus package but it remains unclear when it might pass. The push takes on special resonance in an election year. While anti-China, pro-American job proposals could play well with voters, giving taxpayer money or tax breaks to companies that moved supply chains to China at a time when small business is flailing may not.

Read more …

Now Cuomo starts arguing that “all those old people would have died anyway”. Afraid he’ll be blamed?

Cuomo Says No One Should Be Prosecuted For Coronavirus Deaths In New York (CBS)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday addressed the state’s early response to the coronavirus outbreak and said “nobody” should be prosecuted for the those who died, noting that “older people” were most vulnerable. The governor has been criticized for a decision in March, which has since been reversed, to send patients back to nursing homes after they tested positive for COVID-19. More than 4,800 people died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in the state between March 1 and May 1, according to a tally released by the Cuomo administration on May 1. Cuomo has called nursing homes a “feeding frenzy” for the coronavirus. “Despite whatever you do, because with all our progress as a society, we can’t keep everyone alive,” Cuomo said.

The number of deaths in New York state dropped again Saturday to 139 people. When asked about the nursing home deaths, Cuomo noted the 139 people who died on Saturday and asked who is accountable for everyone who died. “How do we get justice for those families of those 139 deaths?” Cuomo said. “Who can we prosecute for those 139 deaths? Nobody. Mother Nature, God, where did this virus come from? People are going to die by this virus, that is the truth.” When pressed further about how some people thought their loved ones would be safe because of Matilda’s Law, Cuomo continued to stress the point that older and more vulnerable people were “always going to die from this virus.”

He said when talking who is accountable for deaths, the most important thing was to make sure “you can have a situation where everyone did the right thing and everyone tried their best.” Cuomo said his top priority was making sure the medical system did not get overwhelmed, calling that a “accountable, avoidable situation.” “That’s what we protected against and we did it successfully,” Cuomo said. Cuomo pushed for all New Yorkers who have symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. He said New York is now conducting 40,000 tests per day at 700 testing sites. “If you think you have symptoms, get a test. It’s up to you,” he said. “We just don’t have enough New Yorkers coming to be tested.”

Read more …

The GOP will negotiate to make sure its sponsors get a “fair” chunk of the loot. And that’ll be all she wrote.

Pelosi Sees Negotiations On New $3 Trillion Coronavirus Legislation (R.)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday there will be negotiations on the new $3 trillion coronavirus relief legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and that Democrats have “no red lines.” Asked if there has been a Republican response or counteroffer to begin negotiations on the bill passed late on Friday, Pelosi said, “No bill that is proffered will become law without negotiations, so, yeah.” The Democrats’ measure, passed late on Friday, was likely to trigger new talks with congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump’s administration, who have been talking about the need for new business liability protections in the age of coronavirus, or additional tax cuts.


Democrats oppose both of those ideas. Pelosi, however, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Democrats had “no red lines.” Republican leaders have dismissed the bill, which Trump said he would veto, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling it “dead on arrival.” Some Republicans have said a new relief package could wait until the effects of funding in previous bills are felt, but Pelosi urged a quick resolution to help jobless Americans. More than 36 million people – or more than one in five workers – in the United States have filed for unemployment since the crisis began. “Time is of the essence,” Pelosi said. “In the past bills, they’ve put forth their proposal and then we worked in a bipartisan way. That’s what we all anticipate.”

Read more …

Just as misguided as Pelosi.

Senator Rubio Calls For Fast Action To Extend US Payroll Protection Program (R.)

The United States needs to quickly revise its coronavirus aid program for small businesses to extend the eight-week period in which the law currently requires companies to spend the money, a key U.S. senator said on Sunday. The Paycheck Protection Program established by Congress in late March was aimed at helping businesses keep making payroll for eight weeks, despite orders to shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. The eight-week period may be applied to any time frame from mid-February up to June 30. But with many businesses that received loans under the $660 billion PPP program moving toward the end of their eight-week period, Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican chairman of the Senate’s small business committee, said lawmakers need to move fast to extend it.


“The legislative fix needed to #PPP is extending beyond 8 weeks the time period a #SmallBusiness has to spend the funds on payroll. We are hoping to move quickly on this before the first wave of #PPP loan recipients reach the 8 week point,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. While most states have begun to reopen their economies at least in part, some 36 million Americans — one in five in the workforce — have lost their jobs since the pandemic began. Rubio’s Republican party has the majority in the Senate. But the top Democrat on the small business committee, Senator Ben Cardin, has also expressed support for re-examining the eight-week period in the small business program. “I strongly support extending it,” another Senate Democrat, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a member of the banking committee, said in a phone interview Sunday. “There’s a real mismatch between that date and the real world situation that many small businesses are facing.

Read more …

How about only when around people?

Los Angeles Tells Everyone To Wear Face Masks At All Times While Outdoors (JTN)

Los Angeles is requiring essentially everybody in the city wear a face covering at all times whenever outdoors, a policy Mayor Eric Garcetti says will help the local economy reopen faster. Garcetti announced the order on Wednesday evening, telling city residents: “Bring your mask with you whenever you leave your home.” Children under 2, as well as a limited number of individuals with disabilities, are exempt from the order, the mayor’s office said in a press release. “Face coverings help stop the spread of the virus,” Garcetti, a Democrat, said in the release. “Wearing them whenever we’re away from home will create a meaningful layer of protection for people we might come into contact with, and that makes sense at this stage of our response to the crisis.”


The order came shortly after Garcetti said that the city will “never be completely open” until scientists discover a cure for coronavirus. The mayor at the time was partially walking back comments made earlier in the day by Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who said Tuesday that the city’s stay-at-home order would be extended “with all certainty” for the next three months.

Read more …

Complete nonsense: “Ensuring a competitive level playing field within its cherished single market of some 450 million people is a central EU tenet”..

Self-contradicting: “..concern about the “huge differences” in coronavirus state aid among member states, saying they were starting to distort the bloc’s single market.”

vs

“..Germany’s extensive bailouts of coronavirus-hit companies could have a ripple effect across the bloc and work as a locomotive for Europe..”

EU’s Vestager: Discrepancy In Coronavirus State Aid Distorts Single Market (R.)

The European Union’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager has expressed concern about the “huge differences” in coronavirus state aid among member states, saying they were starting to distort the bloc’s single market. Germany accounts for more than half of the emergency coronavirus state aid approved by the EU executive, prompting concerns that countries with the deepest pockets might be getting an unfair advantage in the bloc’s single market. In an interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Vestager said there was a risk that the different levels of state aid among member states would distort competition and slow the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“And this has already happened to a certain extent”, Vestager said, according to a pre-released extract of the interview that the newspaper will publish in its Monday edition. Ensuring a competitive level playing field within its cherished single market of some 450 million people is a central EU tenet and has long been a key condition for opening up to foreign players from China to, more recently, Brexit Britain. But the executive European Commission suspended the normally-strict state aid restrictions in mid-March, allowing the 27 EU states to pump cash into their economies and companies battered by coronavirus, with more than 1.9 trillion euros worth of national schemes approved so far.

Earlier this month, Vestager said that Germany’s extensive bailouts of coronavirus-hit companies could have a ripple effect across the bloc and work as a locomotive for Europe. Asked about an EU recovery plan expected to be announced on May 27, Vestager said there were no guarantees that it would be sufficient but said officials were trying to do their best.

Read more …

It’s not the virus, it’s the housing bubble that’ll decide this.

Australia Bankers Hope They’ll Avoid A Bad Debt Tsunami (AFR)

On the face of it, the stats look abysmal. There are 7.7 million Australian workers on some form of government welfare. Repayments have been frozen on 10 per cent of mortgages and 15 per cent of SME loans. Bankers have been left with about $220 billion in loans that aren’t being serviced. Little wonder then that some analysts are querying whether the $5 billion that the big four banks have set aside to cover the losses they’ll sustain from the economic collapse triggered by the pandemic will be sufficient. Now, bankers continue to emphasise that they won’t know the extent of their problem loans for another month, when they start contacting the home owners and small business owners who opted to defer their loan repayments.


But at this stage, bankers appear quietly optimistic that the rise in their soured loans this time around are unlikely to be anywhere near as serious as the hit they took from the 1990s recession, or even the losses they sustained during the global financial crisis. There are two reasons for this confidence. In the first place, the latest downturn has been very uneven across the economy. Workers in the services sector – particularly hospitality, accommodation, food services and retail trade – have suffered far more than, say, those employed in the finance or government sectors. But because the jobs in these sectors tend to be lower paid, with a higher proportion of younger employees working casual hours, those working in these sectors tend not to meet the income requirements for a home loan borrower.

Read more …

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Note: Navarro says in this clip that remdesivir has been saving many lives. But we know it has no such effect. It shortens hospital stays at best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Support the Automatic Earth in virustime.

 

Apr 132020
 


John M. Fox WCBS studios, 49 East 52nd Street, NYC 1948

 

Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)
Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)
Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)
102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)
New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)
America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)
China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)
Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)
After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)
Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)
Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)
Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

 

 

I must admit I’m getting fed up with the stories and narratives. People may have short attention spans, but how is that a reason to just go and invent narratives about something as serious as a pandemic? The disgusting morally hollow Brits celebrating the recovery of Boris Johnson as he’s thanking the same NHS he actively helped defund, at the same time that he’s murdering Julian Assange, get a life.

From Dr. Fauci I don’t expect anything else anymore than putting the blame on anyone but himself. “We got the wrong infomation!” If you were an investor, that would be your fault, not someone else’s. See, the WHO will make the same argument: the Chinese gave us false info, don’t blame us. But if you’re in positions like that, it’s your own responsibility to get your info right. And if you fail at that, to be open and honest about it.

The pedestal upon which New Zealand PM Jacintha Ardern is placed -“a masterclass in crisis management!- while one look at a timeline shows that she, too, like all the rest, was way too late in her reaction. The WHO was criminally slow in declaring a pandemic, they finally did so on March 11, and STILL New Zealand didn’t lock down. Ardern closed the borders only on March 19 and locked down the country on the 26th. She’s just lucky New Zealand has the geographical advantages it has, far away from anyone else.

 

 

The next narrative has already started: what are we going to do after it’s all over. But how are you going to do the right thing today when all you think about is tomorrow? Moreover, the virus hasn’t even started for the next 5 billion people, who often live in the most vulnerable places. And we’re going to forget about that just because the West, China, Japan, can’t keep focused for more than 2 weeks?

 

 

Cases 1,862,584 (+ 72,011 from yesterday’s 1,790,573)

Deaths 114,982 (+ 5,328 from yesterday’s 109,654)

 

 

 

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

 

 

From Worldometer – NOTE: mortality rate for closed cases is at 21% !-

 

 

From SCMP:

 

 

From COVID2019Info.live:

 

 

 

 

If this is why the US gets hits so hard, watch out for Mexico. Chronic inflammation sounds like a credible factor.

Obesity The Single Biggest Factor In New York COVID19 Hospitalizations (ZDN)

For months, scientists have been poring over data about cases and deaths to understand why it is that COVID-19 manifests itself in different ways around the world, with certain factors such as the age of the population repeatedly popping up as among the most significant determinants. Now, one of the largest studies conducted of COVID-19 infection in the United States has found that obesity of patients was the single biggest factor in whether those with COVID-19 had to be admitted to a hospital. “The chronic condition with the strongest association with critical illness was obesity, with a substantially higher odds ratio than any cardiovascular or pulmonary disease,” write lead author Christopher M. Petrilli of the NYU Grossman School and colleagues in a paper “Factors associated with hospitalization and critical illness among 4,103 patients with Covid-19 disease in New York City..”


Among other things, the presence of obesity in the study points to a potentially important role of heightened inflammation in patients, a phenomenon that has been a topic of much speculation in numerous studies of the disease. Petrilli and colleagues at the Grossman School, and doctors at the NYU Langone Health center, studied the electronic patient records of 4,103 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the New York City healthcare system between March 1st and April 2nd. It is “the largest case series from the United States to date,” write Petrilli and colleagues. The motivation of the work, they write, was that “Understanding which patients are most at risk for hospitalization is crucial for many reasons,” such as how to triage patients and how to anticipate medical needs.


click to enlarge in new tab

Half of those patients were admitted to a hospital. What the researchers found is that “In the decision tree for admission, the most important features were age >65 and obesity.” Obesity, in this case, was measured as weight relative to a person’s height. The authors use a metric scale, so a body mass index of 30 kilograms of weight and higher is considered obese. The “decision tree” in this case refers to the statistical method they used to analyze the patient data. A decision tree is a way to group members of a sample based on their shared characteristics. “For a given population, the decision tree classification method splits the population into two groups using one feature at a time, starting with the feature that maximizes the split between groups relative to the outcome in question.” They keep splitting groups into smaller and smaller groups until they arrive at groups that “[have] similar characteristics and outcomes.”

https://twitter.com/StephanieKelton/status/1249465834029932545

Read more …

Twitter: “Which is right? CDC officially says 6’ for #SocialDistancing . But a new CDC report, says #COVID19 can travel through the air at least 13 feet. Meanwhile, WHO says 3’ should be enough. And Dr Fauci rejects recent research, wherein virus could travel up to 27 feet.”

Coronavirus Spreads At Least 13 Feet, Travels On Shoes: CDC (NYP)

The coronavirus can travel through the air at least 13 feet — more than twice as far as social distancing guidelines, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research published in the federal agency’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal shows the contagion spreading far further than previous official suggestions — and also getting spread on people’s shoes. “The aerosol distribution characteristics … indicate that the transmission distance of [COVID-19] might be 4 m,” the report says, translating as more than 13 feet. “Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the researchers wrote of samples taken at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.” The report, based on research by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, appears to reaffirm fears that the current social distancing guidelines of 6 feet may not be enough. It also suggests people — especially medical staff on the frontlines — could inadvertently be spreading the bug away from its source, recommending stringent disinfecting measures.

High levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces like computer mice, trashcans and bed rails. The CDC recommends 6 feet for social distancing, while the World Health Organization claims just 3 feet should be enough, less than a quarter of the distance the current study suggests it spreads. Research last month said the virus could travel up to 27 feet. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, however called that “terribly misleading,” saying it would require a “very, very robust, vigorous, achoo sneeze” to travel that far and the scenario was “not practical.”

Read more …

First WHO warning was December 31.

Fauci: US Given Wrong Information About Virus “Right From The Beginning” (JTN)

The U.S. was given inaccurate information about the coronavirus at the beginning of the crisis Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Saturday. When Fox News host Jesse Watters asked Fauci if he believes China or the World Health Organization “misled” him or if the WHO leader himself could have been “deceived,” Fauci noted that while he does not know the details behind the inaccurate information, it was disseminated from the start of the crisis. “You know I don’t know where the missteps went, the only thing I know what the end result was, that early on we did not get correct information,” Fauci said.


“And the incorrect information was propagated right from the beginning because you know when the first cases came out, that were identified I think on December 31st in China and we became aware of this, they said this was just animal to human period.” “Now we know retrospectively that there was ongoing transmission from human to human in China, probably at least a few weeks before then,” he said. Fauci said once the illness hit the U.S. it became evident “that was misinformation right from the beginning.” He added that “whosever fault that was, you know, we’re gonna go back and take a look at that when this is all over, but clearly it was not the right information that was given to us.”

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She’s Greek, and those guys are all doing well. It’s the olive oil.

102-Year-Old NY Woman Beats COVID-19 With Hydroxychloroquine (CBS)

A 102-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the coronavirus defied the odds and is now recovering. At 102 years old, Sophie Avouris, of Yonkers, has seen a lot in her life, entering this world in 1918 at the start of the Spanish flu. “She survived it, thank goodness,” her daughter, Effie Strouthides, said. Strouthides says back in March, doctors at a Manhattan nursing home and rehab facility called to tell her Avouris, who was recovering at the facility from hip surgery, tested positive for COVID-19. “And we were thinking at 102 years old, at high risk, she might not make it,” Strouthides said. Because the facility was on lockdown, Strouthides called her mom to have a conversation that she thought would be the last.


“Once or twice I managed to let her know how much I loved her and she told me how much she loved me,” she said. According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults who are 65 and older. Dr. Taimur Mirza oversaw Avouris’ care and says her prognosis initially was not good. “Her course in the beginning, it was a little bit rough. For a while there, she required some oxygen, then we started her on the combination of the hydroxychloroquine and the azithromycin,” Mirza said. After a week of treatment, Avouris started showing signs of improvement. By week three, she no longer had the virus. “She didn’t have the cough anymore, and, you know, it was just miraculous to see a woman of her age recover from this,” Mirza said.

Read more …

Waaaay too late.

New Zealand Preparing To End Lockdown (Metro)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country is ‘turning a corner’ in the battle against coronavirus after recording the lowest number of new cases in three weeks. She praised residents for mounting a ‘wall of defence’ which is ‘breaking the chain of transmission’ following the swift implementation of lockdown measures. The country has recorded 992 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with just one death so far. Health officials said there were 29 new cases on Thursday, the fourth successive daily drop since 89 were recorded on Sunday and the latest sign of a flattening of the curve. Ms Ardern suggested the four-week lockdown could be softened in just over a weeks’ time, allowing some to return to work if social distancing rules can be maintained.

The PM said New Zealanders’ strict adherence to the rules during the four-week lockdown had ‘saved lives’. She added: ‘At the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. ‘In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence. ‘You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.’ But she cautioned against taking a foot off the pedal, adding: ‘We have what we need to win this marathon. You have stayed calm, you’ve been strong, you’ve saved lives, and now we need to keep going.’ Ms Ardern said the government will decide on April 20 whether to relax or extend lockdown measures, which are currently due to expire on April 22.

Read more …

But don’t worry about Kashkari, he’ll be fine. No matter how many trillions he wastes.

America Should Be Ready For 18 Months Of Shutdowns – Fed’s Neel Kashkari (MW)

‘This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine. It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.’ That’s Neel Kashkari, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, painting a rather gloomy picture in a CBS interview on Sunday morning of what lies ahead for the U.S. economy as the country continues to battle the coronavirus outbreak. Kashkari, while acknowledging the downside of what a prolonged shutdown could mean for the economy, said the U.S., ‘barring some health-care miracle,’ is looking at an 18-month strategy of rolling shutdowns based on what has happened in other countries.


“We could have these waves of flareups, controls, flareups and controls until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “We need to find ways of getting the people who are healthy, who are at lower risk back to work and then providing the assistance to those who are most at risk, who are going to need to be quarantined or isolated for the foreseeable future.” Looking ahead, Kashkari doesn’t envision a quick rebound for the U.S. economy, which has already endured more than 16 million job losses in the past three weeks. “This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine,” he said. “It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario.”

Read more …

This started back in December.

China Is Censoring Research On COVID-19 Origins (NW)

The Chinese government appears to be censoring research on the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic by requiring scientists to run their studies by the Ministry of Science and Technology, a since-deleted page on a university website shows. According to a cached version of that page from the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan that Newsweek reviewed, requirements were updated so that scientists would need to have their study approved by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology before publication: “1. Academic papers on the traceability of the new coronavirus must be reviewed by the academic committee of the school before publication, focusing on the authenticity of the paper and whether it is suitable for publication.

After the review is passed, the school reports to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which can only be published after the review by the Ministry of Science and Technology.” China has faced repeated internal and external accusations of censorship surrounding research into COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Local Chinese officials in Wuhan also are known to have suppressed information about the initial outbreak, even detaining whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang. Wenliang later died from COVID-19, and Chinese authorities offered a “solemn apology” to the medical practitioner’s family for how he had been treated. Back in February, The New York Times shared videos of Chinese citizens warning that research into coronavirus was being censored and removed from the internet.

“My purpose is to make sure that all this information is not lost or deleted,” one of the unidentified Chinese nationals said with her face covered in the clip. “We don’t know what information and when the authorities will censor,” another unidentified person said. “So we are trying to be faster than the authorities.” U.S. government officials, and other international leaders, have criticized China for not being transparent about the coronavirus pandemic. Toronto-based cyber research group Citizen Lab reported in early March that Chinese social media had begun censoring keywords associated with the coronavirus as well as criticism of the government’s response to the crisis, according to Reuters.

Read more …

Since there is such a link between pollution and literally everything else on the planet, feel free to consider this a piece of empty fluff.

Experts See Worrisome Link Between Coronavirus, Pollution (Hill)

Advocates and Democratic lawmakers are raising concerns over new research that suggests air pollution, water access and other environmental conditions are exacerbating the effects of the coronavirus on low-income and minority communities. A recent Harvard study found that people who live in areas with more exposure to air pollution are more likely to die from the pandemic, while other research shows that black and Latino communities people are disproportionately affected by the disease. “In public health, it’s often said that your ZIP code is more indicative of your health outcomes than your genetic code,” Lubna Ahmed, the director of environmental health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, told The Hill.


Polluting industries are frequently located near low-income and minority communities. One assessment published by the American Public Health Association in 2018 showed that nonwhite and low-income communities are harder hit by pollution. Authors of the more recent Harvard study on the coronavirus said their results “suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes.” That study added to a growing body of research on the overall health risks to communities exposed to high pollution levels, neighborhoods that are often occupied by people of color and low-income residents.

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“But first they need to actually work.”

After The Lockdown, Europe Debates Exit Strategies (AFR)

Across Europe there are signs that observance of stringent social distancing measures by the vast majority of the public – better compliance than many experts had expected – has led to a big decline in viral transmission. The key figure is the “reproduction number” R, measuring the average number of new cases generated by an infected individual. If R is above 1, an outbreak spreads; if it is below 1, it contracts. For COVID-19, R was between 2.5 and 3 in most places before any measures were introduced. According to a leading scientist in the UK’s fight against the disease, the latest evidence shows a steep fall in the R rate to around 0.6 now, which would quickly suppress the pandemic. However, deaths are still rising fast because of the delay between infection and when serious symptoms develop.

[..] If the UK can achieve its target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and ramp up capacity further over the following months, it will be possible to test individuals in the community who report COVID-19 symptoms. In theory, this would then be followed by the tracing, testing and isolating of people who have been in contact with them if they are infected. This type of contact tracing, which involves questioning patients directly, took place when the first UK cases were reported but soon stopped when the pandemic swamped the country’s extremely limited testing capacity. “Evidence suggests that countries that are able to do very high levels of testing have many more options to allow people greater social mobility,” says Steven Riley at Imperial College London. “Some really innovative solutions will play a part. Contact tracing based on a mobile phone app is being looked at.”

[..] For many scientists, the key to ending the lockdowns is mass testing for COVID-19 infection, which detects the presence of the virus. Paul Romer, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, has outlined a plan for mass testing in the US that he believes would allow for much of the economy to reopen. However, this requires each person being tested every 14 days – or 22 million tests a day – a mammoth undertaking in terms of labs, chemicals, health workers and data analysis, even if such tests are constitutionally acceptable. In the UK, the epidemiologist Julian Peto has made a similar proposal – weekly tests, running to 10 million a day. Large-scale antibody testing, to show whether individuals have been infected in the past and still have some immunity, is a more tantalising prospect because they would only need to be conducted occasionally and could potentially be bought at a pharmacy.

But first they need to actually work. Specialised labs are carrying out studies to determine antibody levels in samples of the population but no one has yet developed an antibody kit reliable enough for widespread use in homes. Kits evaluated by the UK government have failure rates of 30 to 50 per cent. Eventually antibody tests could give individuals “immunity passports” to show that they are safe from infection, Professor Riley says, “but there’s some very important science to do first”. The key questions that have still to be answered are how different antibody levels relate to resistance to infection and how long any immune protection is likely to last.

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Demand is down 20%, production maybe 10%. You do the math.

Giant Oil Output Cuts Make Ripple, Not Big Waves (R.)

Muted oil price gains on Monday show record output cuts by giant producers will still leave them with a mountain to climb to restore market balance, industry watchers said, with the coronavirus pandemic decimating demand just as stocks swell. The morning after OPEC and allies led by Russia agreed to reduce output by 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in May and June – equal to nearly 10% of global supply – prices gained less than 5% and are still 50-60% down for the year so far. That headline cut by the grouping known as OPEC+ may be more than four times deeper than the previous record set in 2008, and may provide a floor for prices according to some analysts, but the reduction still dwarfed by the near 30 million bpd drop in demand in April already anticipated by forecasters like Goldman Sachs.

What’s more, governments in countries around the globe are considering extending travel and social lockdown measures that have sapped fuel use in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. “Even if these cuts provide a floor to prices they will not be able to boost prices given the scale of inventory builds we are still staring at,” Energy Aspects analyst Virendra Chauhan said, referring to storage tanks and ships around the world the are filling up fast amid the slide in demand from end-users. “The absence of hard commitments from the United States or other G20 members is (a) shortcoming of the deal.” G20 nations have been urged to help reduce the supply glut, but there was little detail on the outcome of Friday talks between energy ministers from the group and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile analysts said that while the core number in the deal suggests a near 10 million bpd cut, Middle East producers like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will likely have to reduce by more than the 23% cut to which they signed up, as they had begun to ramp up output in April amid a price war before the agreement was struck. “This 9.7 million b/d ‘headline’ deal represents a 12.4 million bpd cut from claimed April OPEC+ production (given the Saudi, UAE, Kuwait ongoing surge) but an only 7.2 million bpd cut from 1Q20 average production levels,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a note.

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It’s not just Texas where various religious sects feel exempt from society at large. Remember the one that started the epidemic in South Korea? Nice thing in Greece is the government actually pays the salaries of the priests.

Greek Government To Go After Priests Flouting Quarantine (K.)

The government has asked for a prosecutor to press charges against two priests who provided communion to the faithful Sunday despite a ban on church attendance. One of the priests, in the Athens neighborhood of Koukaki, was photographed from a nearby building secretly giving communion to people through the back door. The other incident happened in St. Spyridon Church in the city of Corfu. “What happened today in churches in Koukaki and Corfu is a violation of the law and of the Holy Synod’s orders and put the lives of citizens and public health in great danger. I contacted the Minister of Justice so that he can ask the prosecuting authorities to intervene,” said Nikos Hardalias, Deputy Minister of Civil Protection.


Authorities’ main concern remains attempts to flout strict quarantine measures during the week up to Orthodox Easter, which is celebrated next Sunday, by attending church and engage in the customary exodus from the cities to the countryside. From 6 am to 3 pm Sunday, 38 people were stopped trying to leave cities and fined 300 euros each.

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The mortally lost British nation cheer their PM’s health as he’s slow-murdering Julian Assange and letting people starve.

Lockdown: Not Novels And Family Time But Food Parcels And Hardship (G.)

Last week, I spoke to Anna Rogers, a Polish-born Londoner who lives in Brixton. She works for a charity called Money A+E, which operates across the south of the capital. It offers advice about debt, benefits and other financial issues to people who are often facing extreme hardship. It is a small set-up, with only four dedicated advisers. Since the coronavirus crisis began, the number of people getting in touch has tripled and is rising all the time. Rogers spoke matter-of-factly about the defining feature of many who now need her help. “They are people without any income,” she said. Many are migrant workers who have been sacked by small businesses or had cash-in-hand work – in, say, the building trade – suddenly withdrawn. In desperation, some say they would like to return to their countries of origin to be with their families, but that option is cut off right now.

A lot of them have no experience of the British benefits system, and few of the language skills and insider knowledge needed to navigate it. “The universal credit system never worked terribly well,” Rogers said. “But now people are saying that the system crashes, or they can’t upload documents.” Not everyone has internet access, and the sudden closure of public libraries has meant that even fewer people can get online. Even if they manage to do so, there is now an ominous sense that with the system under such pressure, the standard five-week wait for universal credit is bound to increase.

So, for now, Rogers and her colleagues have to introduce people to the most basic kinds of help. One fairly reliable source of food assistance, she said, was the array of new mutual aid groups that have sprung up at the most local level: “Fingers crossed, they can get people some food parcels.” When she spoke about the details of her work, her words had a palpable sense not just of sadness, but of urgency and a clear sense that things were only going to get worse, and quickly. The fact that we now rarely leave our homes means few people are aware of what is actually going on all over the country. Our field of vision is replete with statistics, and broad-brush warnings about the near future: from the daily death toll to the warnings from big banks of $5.5 trillion in lost global output, to the million or so people said to have newly applied for benefits in the UK. A very human crisis caused by Covid-19 is already here, beyond the illness itself, and it demands our attention.

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It must be possible to run the Automatic Earth on people’s kind donations. These are no longer the times when ads pay for all you read, your donations have become an integral part of the process.

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Aug 212018
 
 August 21, 2018  Posted by at 8:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,  10 Responses »


Henri Matisse The painter and his model 1916-17

 

China’s Biggest Risk May Be Its Property Market – Not The Trade War (CNBC)
Why Do American CEOs Get Paid So Much? (Galbraith)
Trump Says It Is ‘Dangerous’ For Twitter, Facebook To Ban Accounts (R.)
Trump Worries That Mueller Interview Could Be A ‘Perjury Trap’ (R.)
Trump Demands Fed Help On Economy, Complains About Interest Rate Rises (R.)
UK’s Hunt To Call On Trump To Impose Fresh Sanctions On Russia (G.)
‘Secret Directive’ Bans UN Agencies From Helping Rebuild Syria – Lavrov (RT)
UK Household Debt Balloons To £19bn As Bailiff Problems Multiply (Ind.)
NHS Leak Warns Of Brexit Drug Shortages And Disease Risk (G.)
Jacinda Ardern Freezes New Zealand MPs’ Pay To Tackle Rich-Poor Divide (G.)
Salvini Refuses To Let In Refugees After Coastguard Ship Docks (G.)
What Being Back in the Markets Actually Means for Greece (TPP)
The Winners Will Lose and the Losers Will Win (Kunstler)
The Inescapable Weight Of My $100,000 Student Debt (G.)

 

 

“Real estate investment accounts for about two-thirds of Chinese household assets..”

China’s Biggest Risk May Be Its Property Market – Not The Trade War (CNBC)

China’s hot real estate market remains a challenge for authorities trying to maintain stable economic growth in the face of trade tensions with the U.S. In fact, property is the country’s biggest risk in the next 12 months, much greater than the trade war, according to Larry Hu, head of greater China economics at Macquarie. He said he is especially watching whether the real estate market in lower-tier, or smaller, cities will see a downturn in prices or housing starts after recent sharp increases. Real estate investment accounts for about two-thirds of Chinese household assets, according to wealth manager Noah Holdings. The property market also plays a significant role in local government revenues, bank loans and corporate investment.

As a result, a sharp slowdown in the real estate market’s growth and drop in prices would have a negative affect on overall economic growth. So far, the market has been hot: The average selling price for newly built non-governmental housing in 60 tier-three and tier-four cities tracked by Tospur Real Estate Consulting rose 28.1 percent from January 2016 to May 2018. [..] Last week, Nanjing, a tier-two city, announced a ban on corporate purchases of residential properties, following similar moves to limit speculation by Shanghai and some other cities. That’s a good move for controlling risk, according to Joe Zhou, real estate and investment management firm JLL’s regional director for China capital markets. He said the government is not likely to loosen its policy soon and that prices could decline on average.

Read more …

“The reliance of tech firms on venture capital and bubble psychology, rather than cash flow..”

Why Do American CEOs Get Paid So Much? (Galbraith)

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute calls attention to the hardy perennial of how much America’s corporate titans make: bosses of the top 350 firms made an average of $18.9m in 2017. That’s a ratio of 312-1 over the median worker in their industries. Big bucks to be sure. And a big change since 1965, when the ratio was just 20-1. But what does it mean? And if there’s a problem, what is it, exactly? What it means, as the EPI economists carefully document, is that the top US corporate chiefs are paid overwhelmingly with stock options, and their income fluctuates with the market. About 80% of the pay packet is in stocks, and the rise of 17% in 2017 after two flat years surely suggests that the top CEOs (not unreasonably) sensed the market peaked last year.

So they cashed in. On the other 20% of the pay packets, no gains occurred. The US numbers have shock value. But bear in mind that they reflect not only the way companies are run, but also changes over decades in the structure of the US economy and tax law, specifically the rise of market valuations in technology and finance at the expense of the major industrial corporations, and a corresponding decline in unions, which held down the ratios in the sectors the industrial firms dominated a half century back. Plus, there is the radical decline in top marginal tax rates on income and capital gains, beginning in 1978, which gave executives strong reasons to restructure their pay away from inside-the-corporation perks (the penthouses and country clubs of yore) and toward cash and capital assets.

The reliance of tech firms on venture capital and bubble psychology, rather than cash flow, deepened this trend. Note also that there is something a bit artificial about the resulting “wealth.” Jeff Bezos may have a net worth of over $150bn, mostly in Amazon stock, but he couldn’t convert it into cash if he wanted to, neither by selling nor by borrowing. Any effort to sell would demolish Amazon’s valuation and hence his own fortune. The rich aren’t like us – they have more money, true, but some of it isn’t really money and it can disappear, by the billions, pretty fast.

Read more …

As I wrote yesterday, this will have to change.

Trump Says It Is ‘Dangerous’ For Twitter, Facebook To Ban Accounts (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that it is “very dangerous” for social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to silence voices on their services. Trump’s comments in an interview with Reuters come as the social media industry faces mounting scrutiny from Congress to police foreign propaganda. Trump has made his Twitter account – with more than 53 million followers – an integral and controversial part of his presidency, using it to promote his agenda, announce policy and attack critics. Trump previously criticized the social media industry on Aug. 18, claiming without evidence in a series of tweets that unnamed companies were “totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices.”

In the same post, Trump said “too many voices are being destroyed, some good & some bad.” Those tweets followed actions taken by Apple, Alphabet, YouTube and Facebook to remove some content posted by Infowars, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones’ own Twitter account was temporarily suspended on Aug. 15. “I won’t mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow,” said Trump.

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Also mentioned yesterday. Chances of a sitdown in the next 10 days don’t look good.

Trump Worries That Mueller Interview Could Be A ‘Perjury Trap’ (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe into Russia’s electoral interference. In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.” The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.

“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.” Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe. Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said. [..] Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe, but that he had chosen not to do so for the moment. His administration, Trump said, was “a smooth-running machine, except in that world. And I’ve decided to stay out. Now I don’t have to stay out. “I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” he said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”

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Whatever the predictable comments on this, what he really does is confirm the Fed’s independence.

Trump Demands Fed Help On Economy, Complains About Interest Rate Rises (R.)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was “not thrilled” with the Federal Reserve under his own appointee, Chairman Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates and said the U.S. central bank should do more to help him to boost the economy. In the middle of international trade disputes, Trump in an interview with Reuters also accused China and Europe of manipulating their respective currencies. American presidents have rarely criticized the Fed in recent decades because its independence has been seen as important for economic stability.

Trump has departed from this past practice and said he would not shy from future criticism should the Fed keep lifting rates. The president spooked investors in July when he criticized the U.S. central bank’s over tightening monetary policy. On Monday he said the Fed should be more accommodating on interest rates. “I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I’m not thrilled,” Trump said, referring to Powell.

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Nobody Hunt goes to Washington with veiled criticism of Trump. Good luck with that.

UK’s Hunt To Call On Trump To Impose Fresh Sanctions On Russia (G.)

The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is to urge Donald Trump to face down Moscow’s threat to western values by imposing wider economic sanctions against Russia and agreeing new rules to protect the legitimacy of democratic elections. In a speech in Washington on Tuesday during his first visit since taking over from Boris Johnson as the UK’s most senior diplomat, Hunt will specifically call for tighter regulation of online political advertising and new measures to prevent cyber attacks on electoral machinery. Hunt will also throw out a challenge to Trump’s protectionist policies by warning a weakening of free trade will only damage western economies, and ultimately western political power.

He will say the emergence of an international order based on the application of law rather than might had led to an exponential growth in trade, leading to extraordinary advances in economic and social prosperity across the globe. He will also call for Nato to set clearer red lines about Russia’s use of chemical weapons and incursions into foreign territory such as the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Without directly challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s election as president in 2016, he will point to the drawbacks in many recent democratic outcomes, saying: “The heart of any democracy is freedom of expression, which allows citizens to access independent information to help decide who to vote for. But the ubiquity of fake news, social media targeting and foreign attempts to manipulate elections have undermined confidence that this can actually happen.”

Any tarnishing of Trump’s electoral mandate is highly perilous territory for a foreign politician, and Hunt will temper his criticism by saying western leaders should not deceive themselves that populism is merely a byproduct of social media spreading fake news.

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Rebuilding Syria can solve a large part of Europe’s refugee problem, and US and UN are holding it back?

‘Secret Directive’ Bans UN Agencies From Helping Rebuild Syria – Lavrov (RT)

Washington’s “absolutely deconstructive” stance is hampering the rebuilding of Syria and constricts the UN in aiding the country until a so called ‘political transition’ takes place, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said.
“We addressed UNESCO on how they plan to implement the longtime talks, the longtime understanding on attracting the potential of this organization to rebuilding Palmyra,” an ancient city, regarded by the agency as a World Heritage Site, Lavrov said. “From the explanations of why UNESCO has still been unable to get involved in this process actively, we took that there was some kind of a directive from the United Nations headquarters in New York.”

He said that the UN Secretariat, which is the organizations’ executive arms, has “actually issued and distributed a secret directive throughout the UN system in October last year that prohibited the agencies included in this system from participating in any kind of projects aimed at restoring the Syrian economy.” Only humanitarian aid and nothing more” was allowed, the minister told the journalists after talks with Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil, in Moscow. “A term was put forward that restoration of Syria would only be on the agenda after a certain progress is made in the so-called political transition” in the country, he added. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that due to the “absolutely deconstructive” stance of the US one also shouldn’t expect any positive decisions on rebuilding Syria and return of refugees to the country from the UN Security Council.

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“People can face having their essential services cut off, be kicked out of their home due to rent arrears or even face prison if they get behind on their council tax..”

A country moving backwards.

UK Household Debt Balloons To £19bn As Bailiff Problems Multiply (Ind.)

UK households have fallen behind on essential bills such as council tax and electricity by as much as £18.9bn, according to Citizens Advice, which says it helps someone with bailiff-related problems every three minutes. The total outstanding debt includes almost £7.5bn in tax credit overpayments, £2.84bn owed in council tax and £2.2bn owed to water companies. Household debt has now overtaken consumer credit as the main money problem people contact Citizens Advice about, and the charity said that falling behind on household bills “has more severe consequences than missing consumer credit repayments”, such as overdrafts and personal loans.

“People can face having their essential services cut off, be kicked out of their home due to rent arrears or even face prison if they get behind on their council tax,” Citizens Advice warned. The charity said it had seen a 24 per cent increase in bailiff problems since the government introduced reforms in 2014 that were meant to protect people from unfair bailiff practices. Under the reforms, bailiffs are no longer allowed to make late-night visits to collect debts, and are prevented from using force against people who owe money, amongst other rules.

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Since there is no progress on many essential Brexit elements, this is not some doom fantasy.

NHS Leak Warns Of Brexit Drug Shortages And Disease Risk (G.)

Hospitals face running out of drugs in a chaotic no-deal Brexit, the group that represents NHS hospital and ambulance service has privately warned. Poor co-ordination by ministers and health service bosses means there has been a failure to prepare for the UK to be left without a Brexit deal, a leaked letter from NHS Providers said. “Public health and disease control co-ordination could suffer,” said NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson, setting out how a hard Brexit or no deal could negatively effect “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals” and “jeopardise” the EU citizens making up the “workforce on which the NHS relies”. Hopson’s letter, sent to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and NHS Improvement chief Ian Dalton on Friday, was leaked to the Times.

Hopson said the possibility of a no-deal or hard Brexit “with minimal regulatory alignment appears to be growing … For as long as that risk remains it is important that detailed operation planning is undertaken across the NHS. “Yet trusts tell us that their work in this area is being hampered by the lack of visible and appropriate communication. “Our members have begun planning … but they have hit a problem, in that some activities are clearly best done at a national level and, in the view of trusts, are best co-ordinated by NHS England and NHS Improvement. “However there has been no formal communication to trusts from either of your organisations on this issue.”

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Always risky to cut your immediate colleagues, but makes a ton of sense.

Jacinda Ardern Freezes New Zealand MPs’ Pay To Tackle Rich-Poor Divide (G.)

Jacinda Ardern has frozen the salaries of New Zealand’s MPs, saying the pay rises were out of step with the wider workforce and were adding to the rich-poor divide. The radical move has cross-party support from Ardern’s coalition partners, as well as the opposition National party. MPs’ salaries and allowances would be frozen till July 2019, Ardern said, while “a fairer formula for future pay increases” is developed for those in politics, who earn between NZ$163,000 ($108,000) to more than NZ$450,000 ($300,000). Ardern said the freeze was “the right thing to do” and was not about cost-cutting, but making New Zealand a more equitable nation.

The PM was prompted to take action after the Remuneration Authority recommended MPs receive a 3% pay rise, in a year that is seeing widespread strike action by teachers, nurses and other workers across New Zealand. Ardern earns more than NZ$450,000 a year, making her the fifth-highest paid leader in the OECD, and better paid than Canada’s Justin Trudeau and the UK’s Theresa May. According to a survey by Stuff, 62% of New Zealanders think the country’s prime ministers are paid too much. Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull earns the largest salary of any leader in the OECD. “It’s about whether or not it’s right that we receive a 3% pay increase that continues to extend that gap between those on the highest incomes and those on lower and more modest incomes,” Ardern told Radio NZ today.

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The EU MUST come up with a plan.

Salvini Refuses To Let In Refugees After Coastguard Ship Docks (G.)

An Italian coastguard ship with 177 people on board has docked in the Sicilian seaport of Catania, but Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini has not given authorisation for the refugees and migrants to disembark. The passengers, who have been stuck on the coastguard boat Ubaldo Diciotti for five days will not be allowed on land until “Europe steps in to help’’, Salvini said. The Diciotti picked up 190 refugees and migrants last Wednesday from an overcrowded boat about 17 sea miles from the island of Lampedusa. Thirteen of them were evacuated for emergency medical treatment. Since then, Rome has insisted that Malta should take the group because their boat first passed through its search-and-rescue area.

But Malta has refused, claiming that the migrants wanted to reach Italy. Questioned by the Italian authorities, the 13 evacuated migrants claimed that the Maltese had escorted them outside its search-and-rescue zone. On Monday afternoon, after three days of negotiations, Italy’s transport minister Danilo Toninelli announced finally on Twitter that “The Diciotti ship will dock in Catania.” But shortly afterwards, sources close to Salvini said he had not given the authorisation to disembark, suggesting the boat was granted permission to dock but the migrants will have to remain on board. Salvini said on Italian TV: “The ship may land in Italy, as long as the 177 migrants are distributed, in a spirit of solidarity by the EU.”

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What does it mean? More debt.

What Being Back in the Markets Actually Means for Greece (TPP)

The devil, as they say in English, lies in the details. Being ‘back in the markets’, ‘turning a page,’ even declaring ‘the end of the Greek Crisis’ have all become commonplace expressions over the past few weeks. But what does this substantively mean? It means that an economy that has shrunk by around 25% saw, due to that shrinkage, its debts go up by about the same amount, despite near 100 billion Euro in debt being wiped off in 2012. Current outstanding Greek debt stands at 343 billion Euro. It now needs to pay a large chunk of that back to get back to where it was in 2008, with 109% debt to GDP.

The years of the Greek crisis (2010-2018) were the years that former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis famously described as the years of ‘extend and pretend.’ The EU would extend more credit (debt) to Greece that Greece would pretend to pay back. While most of the bailout cash prior to 2013 went through Greece back to Northern Banks, after 2013 most of the Debt was held by an opaqueprivate financial institution housed in Luxemburg called the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). It’s the debts held by the ESM, and the loans disbursed by the ESM, that have been the focus of the new game of extend and pretend that is called variously ‘debt-relief’ and Greece ‘being back in the markets.’

Consider the following. The ESM lent 86 Billion Euro to Greece between August 2015 and July 2018. The final tranche of these loans will not be paid back until 2060, with payments beginning in 2034. This ten year deferral of payments along with an interest rate reduction to an average of 1.62% across issues is the much heralded debt relief agreement of June 21st 2018. All things considered, and given real ‘go to the market’ alternatives if you have Greece’s bond rating, this is not a bad deal – on paper. These measures, plus the final bailout cash being added to cash reserves, means that Greece will actually not have to return to the markets for funding for almost two years. Given this, the ‘return to the markets’ comes with some pretty large airbags, all of which makes buying Greek debt more attractive, hence recent bond rating upgrades. So, we are extending, but what are we still pretending?

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“..Pabst Blue Ribbon by the case!”

The Winners Will Lose and the Losers Will Win (Kunstler)

What a revoltin’ development, as Chester A. Riley used to say on “The Life of Riley” TV show back in 1955, when America was great (at least that’s the theory). Riley was an original deplorable before the concept even emerged from the murk of early pop culture. He worked in an aircraft factory somewhere in southern California, which only a few decades prior was the mecca of an earlier generations of losers: the Oakies and other Dust Bowl refugees who went west to pick fruit or get into the movies. Chester A. Riley supported a family on that job as a wing-riveter. All the male characters in the series had been through the Second World War, but were so far removed from the horror that the audience never heard about it.

That was the point: to forget all that gore and get down with the new crazes for backyard barbeque, seeing the USA in your Chevrolet, enjoying that healthful pack of Lucky Strikes in the valley of the Jolly Green Giant… double your pleasure, double your fun… and away go troubles down the drain…. As Tom Wolfe pointed out eons ago, the most overlooked feature of post-war American life was the way that the old US peasantry found themselves living higher on the hog than Louis the XVI and his court at Versailles. Hot and cold running water, all the deliciously engineered Betty Crocker cake you could eat, painless dentistry, and Yankees away games on Channel 11, with Pabst Blue Ribbon by the case! By 1960 or so, along came color TV and air-conditioning, and in places like Atlanta, St. Louis, and Little Rock, you barely had to go outside anymore, thank God! No more heat stroke, hookworm, or chiggers.

It was a helluva lot better than earlier peasant classes had it, for sure, but let’s face it: it was kind of a low-grade nirvana. And a couple of generations beyond “The Life of Riley” the whole thing has fallen apart. There are few hands-on jobs that allow a man to support a family. And what would we even mean by that? Stick the women back in kitchen and the laundry room? What a waste of human capital (even for socialists who oppose capital). The odd thing is that there is increasingly little for this class of people to do besides stand near the door of the WalMart, and if the vaunted tech entrepreneurs of this land have their way with robotics, you can be sure there would be less than nothing for them to do… except crawl off and die quietly, without leaving an odoriferous mess.

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Long read. Steve Keen comments: This will doom the USA to stagnation: a generation with too much debt and no prospect of using credit like the previous generation.

The Inescapable Weight Of My $100,000 Student Debt (G.)

On Halloween in 2008, about six weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed, my mother called me from Michigan to tell me that my father had lost his job in the sales department of Visteon, an auto parts supplier for Ford. Two months later, my mother lost her job working for the city of Troy, a suburb about half an hour from Detroit. From there our lives seemed to accelerate, the terrible events compounding fast enough to elude immediate understanding. By June, my parents, unable to find any work in the state where they spent their entire lives, moved to New York, where my sister and I were both in school. A month later, the mortgage on my childhood home went into default.

After several months of unemployment, my mother got a job in New York City, fundraising for a children’s choir. In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt, for which my father was a guarantor. My father was still unemployed and my mother had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She continued working, though her employer was clearly perturbed that she would have to take off every Friday for chemotherapy. To compensate for the lost time, on Mondays she rode early buses into the city from the Bronx, where, after months of harrowing uncertainty, my parents had settled. She wanted to be in the office first thing.

In January 2011, Chase Bank took full possession of the house in Michigan. Our last ties were severed by an email my father received from the realtor, who had tried and failed to sell the property, telling him he could now cancel the utilities. In May, I got a freelance contract with a newspaper that within a year would hire me full-time – paying me, after taxes, roughly $900 every two weeks. In September 2011, my parents were approved for bankruptcy, and in October, due to a paperwork error, their car was repossessed in the middle of the night by creditors. Meanwhile, the payments for my debt – which had been borrowed from a variety of federal and private lenders, most prominently Citibank – totalled about $1,100 a month.

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May 042018
 


Herri met de Bles c1510-after 1555 Saint Jerome medidating

 

Fed’s QE Unwind Accelerates Sharply (WS)
The Root of It All (Batnick)
Tesla Is A Zombie Company (F.)
With No Letup In Home Prices, The California Exodus Surges (MW)
Demand For US Soybeans Remains Strong Despite China (CNBC)
US Charges VW Ex-CEO With Conspiracy And Fraud (G.)
Mueller’s Questions for Trump Show Folly of Special-Counsel Appointments (NR)
Why We Need To Be Propagandized For Our Own Good (CJ)
Neocons Form Brand New Russia-Bashing ‘Think’ Tank (RI)
UK Pushes To Strengthen Anti-Russia Alliance (G.)
Nobel Prize For Literature Postponed Amid Swedish Academy Turmoil (BBC)
Jacinda Ardern Pledges Shelter For All Homeless People Within Four Weeks (G.)

 

 

As most voices seem convinced QT would be madness.

Fed’s QE Unwind Accelerates Sharply (WS)

The QE Unwind is ramping up toward cruising speed. The Fed’s balance sheet for the week ending May 2, released this afternoon, shows a total drop of $104 billion since the beginning of the QE Unwind in October – to the lowest level since June 11, 2014. During the years and iterations of QE, the Fed acquired $3.4 trillion in Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities. The mortgages underlying those MBS are guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. The “balance sheet normalization,” as the Fed calls it, was nudged into motion last October. But the pace accelerates every quarter until it reaches up to $50 billion a month in Q4 this year.

This would trim the balance sheet by up to $420 billion this year, and by up to $600 billion in 2019 and every year going forward, until the Fed considers the balance sheet to be adequately “normalized” — or until something big breaks, whichever comes first. [..] The balance of Treasury securities fell by $17.6 billion in April. This is up 60% from March, when $11 billion “rolled off.” Since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, $70 billion in Treasuries “rolled off.” Now at $2,395 billion, the balance of Treasuries has hit the lowest level since June 18, 2014.

[..] Residential MBS are different from regular bonds. Holders receive principal payments on a regular basis as the underlying mortgages are paid down or are paid off. At maturity, the remaining principal is paid off. Over the years, to keep the MBS balance from declining, the New York Fed’s Open Market Operations (OMO) has been continually buying MBS. But settlement of those trades occurs two to three months later. The Fed books the trades on an as-settled basis. The time lag between the trade and settlement causes the large weekly fluctuations on the Fed’s balance sheet. And it also delays when MBS that “rolled off” actually disappear from the balance sheet.

[..] Total assets on the Fed’s balance sheet dropped by $30 billion in April, and by $104 billion since the beginning of the QE-Unwind, to $4,356 billion. This is the lowest since June 11, 2014. Note that total assets are now down by $160 billion from the peak in January 2015:

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“The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.”

The Root of It All (Batnick)

Steven Pinker wrote, “In almost every year from 1992 through 2015, an era in which the rate of violent crime plummeted, a majority of Americans told pollsters that crime was rising. In late 2015, large majorities in eleven developed countries said that “the world is getting worse.” But crime isn’t rising, and the world is objectively getting better. And while life is improving at the macro level, at the micro level, people aren’t feeling so great. So what gives? We tend to expect the worst as a way to insulate ourselves from disappointment. Life is not about good or bad, it’s about better or worse, so if things don’t turn out as bad as we imagine, we’re pleasantly surprised. If you were asked to think about how your life could improve, a few things might come to mind.

But imagine how your life could get worse, and a barrage of negative possibilities fills your brain. The risk and reward of every day life is asymmetrical. This is why being a pessimist feels safe and being an optimist feels reckless. [..] While the news certainly isn’t doing anyone any favors, there are legitimate reasons why people don’t feel like things are getting better. For too many, they aren’t. The chart below shows the change in real income since 1980. This chart is the root of all the negative things facing our society. People in the top 20% saw their income increase by 60%. People in the bottom 20% saw their income rise by just 5% over the same time. As Leonard Cohen said, “The poor stay poor, the rich get rich. That’s how it goes. Everybody knows.”

Real income increased 38% from 1980-2016, or just 0.87% per year, and 70% of that increase went to people in the top 20%. Things are better, especially around the world, but in our country, way too many people are getting left behind. Extreme poverty is collapsing, but relative poverty is exploding, and everything in life is relative. If things don’t feel better than they were two hundred years ago, it’s because people compare themselves to their neighbors, not to their ancestors.

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As simple as that.

Tesla Is A Zombie Company (F.)

Tesla’s quarter was terrible from a financial perspective, as I had expected. The controlling figure I use, operating cash flow (operating loss plus depreciation minus capital expenditures,) was reported as -$836 million in the quarter, which very nearly approximates one quarter of 2017’s full year cash outflow of $3.4 billion. Things are not improving at Tesla from a financial perspective, and the second quarter is likely to be just as bad as the first. For the third consecutive quarter, Tesla posted negative EBITDA (-$180 million) and if this were any other company, there would be an active death watch on the Street. Tesla’s bonds have dropped sharply in today’s trading, now quoted at 87 cents on the dollar.

This is not surprising given that Tesla is not even remotely close to earning enough profit to cover its interest expense, which management estimated would be $160 million in the second quarter. Tesla added $346 million to its now $10 billion debt pile in the quarter, and the management’s weasel-worded projection of “positive net income excluding non-cash stock based compensation in Q3 and Q4” would still leave Tesla short of covering its debt service costs, by my calculations. So, from a financial perspective, Tesla is a zombie company. There is simply no justification for Tesla’s current market capitalization of $47.2 billion, and the market eventually figures these things out. It’s actually been a slow burn for Tesla shares, not a plummet, but that can be just as painful.

On September 12, 2014, Teslashares closed at $279.20 and the Nasdaq Composite closed at 4567.60. As of this writing, Tesla is trading at $279.04 and the Nasdaq is trading at 7011.00. So that’s where the value destruction Musk has wrought is evident. His shares are down slightly in a period in which his peer companies have collectively risen 53.5%.

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Housing bubbles break communities.

With No Letup In Home Prices, The California Exodus Surges (MW)

Over a million more people moved out of California from 2006 to 2016 than moved in, according to a new report, due mainly to the high cost of housing that hits lower-income people the hardest. “A strong economy can also be dysfunctional,” noted the report, a project of Next 10 and Beacon Economics. Housing costs are much higher in California than in other states, yet wages for workers in the lower income brackets aren’t. And the state attracts more highly-educated high-earners who can afford pricey homes. There are many reasons for the housing crunch, but the lack of new construction may be the most significant.

According to the report, from 2008 to 2017, an average of 24.7 new housing permits were filed for every 100 new residents in California. That’s well below the national average of 43.1 permits per 100 people. If this trend persists, the researchers argued, analysts forecast the state will be about 3 million homes short by 2025. California homeowners spend an average of 21.9% of their income on housing costs, the 49th worst in the nation, while renters spend 32.8%, the 48th worst. The median rent statewide in 2016 was $1,375, which is 40.2% higher than the national average. And the median home price was — wait for it — more than double that of the national average.

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Globally, supple has a hard time keeping up with demand. Everybody involved knows this.

Demand For US Soybeans Remains Strong Despite China (CNBC)

Demand for U.S. soybeans remains strong, regardless of worries China could target the crop in retaliation over Trump administration tariffs. China has canceled several shipments of U.S. soybeans in the last month, raising questions over whether the country is taking preemptive action against the U.S. by reducing purchases. But analysts say the reduction is a minor amount and is not that surprising from a seasonal perspective. The “U.S. accounts for 37 percent of total soybean exports throughout the world. Beyond Brazil, there’s really nobody else,” said Rich Nelson, director of research at Allendale, an agricultural market research and trading firm. “Despite the trade concerns, there’s really nobody else. You’re just simply not going to have a massive decline in U.S. soybean exports,” he said.

Chinese cancellations of U.S. soybean orders for the week ended April 26 resulted in a decline of 133,700 metric tons in net sales to China, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service data showed Thursday. But 66,000 metric tons of those soybeans were sent to Vietnam instead, the data showed. Meanwhile, the U.S. sold 82,700 metric tons of soybeans in new sales to Mexico, 68,800 to Taiwan, 60,000 to Argentina and 52,600 to the Netherlands. Although Argentina is the third-largest exporter of soybeans, a severe drought has reduced production by 7 million tons to 40 million, according to USDA estimates. “That just goes to show we’re not dependent on China for soybean exports,” said Michael Stumo, head of Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nonprofit representing the interests of those in manufacturing, agriculture and labor unions.

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Germany doesn’t extradite its citizens.

US Charges VW Ex-CEO With Conspiracy And Fraud (G.)

US authorities have charged Volkswagen’s former chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn with conspiracy and wire fraud in relation to the car company’s efforts to cheat on US diesel emissions tests. Winterkorn, who resigned in 2015 as the scandal was revealed, conspired to defraud the US and violate the Clean Air Act, federal laws designed to control air pollution, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday in a Michigan federal court. Five other VW executives were also charged in the indictment. He becomes the highest-ranking executive to be charged over “dieselgate” – a scheme where VW used software to trick government emissions testers.

“The indictment unsealed today alleges that Volkswagen’s scheme to cheat its legal requirements went all the way to the top of the company,” said US attorney general Jeff Sessions. “These are serious allegations and we’ll prosecute this case to the full extent of the law.” When news of the scheme broke Winterkorn said he was “stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group”. He denied any knowledge of the scandal – which was used to evade pollution limits on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles. Last December, Oliver Schmidt, a senior Volkswagen executive, was jailed for seven years and fined $400,000 for his part in the scheme. Schmidt, who had returned to Germany, was arrested while on holiday in Florida. VW pleaded guilty as a corporation in March, agreeing to pay a record $4.3bn in fines.

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“If Bob Mueller wants that kind of control over the executive branch, he should run for president. Otherwise, he is an inferior executive official who has been given a limited license — ultimately, by the chief executive — to investigate crime. If he doesn’t have an obvious crime, he has no business inventing one, much less probing his superior’s judgment. He should stand down.”

Mueller’s Questions for Trump Show Folly of Special-Counsel Appointments (NR)

I am assuming the authenticity of the questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly wants to ask President Trump. The questions indicate that, after a year of his own investigation and two years of FBI investigation, the prosecutor lacks evidence of a crime. Yet he seeks to probe the chief executive’s motives and thought processes regarding exercises of presidential power that were lawful, regardless of one’s view of their wisdom. If Bob Mueller wants that kind of control over the executive branch, he should run for president. Otherwise, he is an inferior executive official who has been given a limited license — ultimately, by the chief executive — to investigate crime. If he doesn’t have an obvious crime, he has no business inventing one, much less probing his superior’s judgment. He should stand down.

The questions, reported by the New York Times, underscore that the special counsel is a pernicious institution. Trump should decline the interview. More to the point, the Justice Department should not permit Mueller to seek to interrogate the president on so paltry and presumptuous a showing.

When should a president be subject to criminal investigation? It is a bedrock principle that no one is above the law. The Framers made clear that this includes the president. But, like everything else, bedrock principles do not exist in a vacuum. They vie with other principles. Two competing considerations are especially significant here. First, our law-enforcement system is based on prosecutorial discretion. Under this principle, the desirability of prosecuting even a palpable violation of law must be balanced against other societal needs and desires. We trust prosecutors to perform this cost-benefit analysis with modesty about their mission and sensitivity to the disruption their investigations cause.

Second, the president is the most essential official in the world’s most consequential government. That government’s effectiveness is necessarily compromised if the president is under the cloud of an investigation. Not only are the president’s personal credibility and capability diminished; such an investigation discourages talented people from serving in an administration, further undermining good governance. The country is inexorably harmed because a suspect administration’s capacity to execute the laws and pursue the interests of the United States is undermined.

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Caitlin Johnstone on the Atlantic Council.

Why We Need To Be Propagandized For Our Own Good (CJ)

I sometimes try to get establishment loyalists to explain to me exactly why we’re all meant to be terrified of this “Russian propaganda” thing they keep carrying on about. What is the threat, specifically? That it makes the public less willing to go to war with Russia and its allies? That it makes us less trusting of lying, torturing, coup-staging intelligence agencies? Does accidentally catching a glimpse of that green RT logo turn you to stone like Medusa, or melt your face like in Raiders of the Lost Ark? “Well, it makes us lose trust in our institutions,” is the most common reply. Okay. So? Where’s the threat there? We know for a fact that we’ve been lied to by those institutions. Iraq isn’t just something we imagined. We should be skeptical of claims made by western governments, intelligence agencies and mass media. How specifically is that skepticism dangerous?

Trying to get answers to such questions from rank-and-file empire loyalists is like pulling teeth, and they are equally lacking in the mass media who are constantly sounding the alarm about Russian propaganda. All I see are stories about Russia funding environmentalists (the horror!), giving a voice to civil rights activists (oh noes!), and retweeting articles supportive of Jeremy Corbyn (think of the children!). At its very most dramatic, this horrifying, dangerous epidemic of Russian propaganda is telling westerners to be skeptical of what they’re being told about the Skripal poisoning and the alleged Douma gas attack, both of which do happen to have some very significant causes for skepticism.

When you try to get down to the brass tacks of the actual argument being made and demand specific details about the specific threats we’re meant to be worried about, there aren’t any to be found. Nobody’s been able to tell me what specifically is so dangerous about westerners being exposed to the Russian side of international debates, or of Russians giving a platform to one or both sides of an American domestic debate. Even if every single one of the allegations about Russian bots and disinformation are true (and they aren’t), where is the actual clear and present danger? No one can say. No one, that is, except the Atlantic Council.

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The entire MSM can’t get the job done?!

Neocons Form Brand New Russia-Bashing ‘Think’ Tank (RI)

A group of neocon heartthrobs have banded together with an eclectic array of Russiagaters to form a visionary organization committed to protecting Western democracy. You can also pre-order their book, according to their website. Chaired by pompous chess wizard turned Kremlinologist Garry Kasparov, the brand-new Renew Democracy Initiative (RDI) is the latest three-letter-initialism non-profit devoted to “the defense of democratic freedom and prosperity.” The trailblazing think tank has already sent shockwaves through Washington, DC and every European capital. Celebrated war cheerleader Max Boot, who serves on RDI’s board of directors, announced the creation of this highly original organization in a Washington Post op-ed.

Interestingly, the unveiling started with a laundry list of 10 other groups that are already “protesting Trump and championing democracy.” So why does the world need RDI, then? Because RDI is different – some might even say “special.” Unlike the dozens of other well-financed bastions of status-quo thinking, RDI aims to “unite both the center-left and center-right” by promoting “liberty, democracy and sanity in an age of discord.” And where will this much-needed sanity come from? From RDI’s all-star team of important intellectuals and free thinkers, of course – some of whom just happen to be really tight with the other 10 groups mentioned in Boot’s WaPo piece. Dear Mr. Boot: does fighting Putin with the Committee to Investigate Russia allow enough spare time to fight Putin with the Renew Democracy Initiative? Curious minds want to know.

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It’s contagious.

UK Pushes To Strengthen Anti-Russia Alliance (G.)

The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria. British diplomats plan to use four major summits this year – the G7, the G20, Nato and the European Union – to try to deepen the alliance against Russia hastily built by the Foreign Office after the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March. “The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” a Whitehall official said.

“The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.” Former Foreign Office officials admit that an institutional reluctance to call out Russia once permeated British diplomatic thinking, but say that after the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, that attitude is evaporating. A cross-party alliance in parliament has developed which sees the question of Russian corruption no longer through the prism of finance, but instead as a security and foreign policy threat, requiring fresh sanctions even if this causes short-term economic damage to the UK.

[..] For some old hands in the Foreign Office with deep experience of Russia, however, demonising Russia is a disastrous strategy. Sir Anthony Brenton, the British ambassador to Russia between 2004 and 2008, insists a fruitful common agenda with Moscow on issues such as nuclear disarmament, Islamist terrorism and cyberwarfare is still possible. “What on earth was her majesty’s foreign secretary doing comparing the Russian World Cup with Hitler’s 1936 Olympics?” he asked. “If you are looking for a single statement really calculated to infuriate the Russians there it is, or indeed the defence secretary telling Russia to shut up. Elementary diplomacy goes a long way with the Russians and we need to get back to that.

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Still feels like a weird story.

Nobel Prize For Literature Postponed Amid Swedish Academy Turmoil (BBC)

The organisation that decides the Nobel Prize for Literature has said it will not announce an award this year, after it was engulfed in a scandal over sexual assault allegations. The Swedish Academy has been in crisis over its handling of allegations against the husband of a member. She has since quit, as have the academy’s head and four other members. The academy says it will now announce the 2018 winner along with the 2019 winner next year.

The scandal is the biggest to hit the prize since it was first awarded in 1901. The academy said the decision had been made due to a lack of public confidence. Some academy members had argued that the prize should proceed to protect the tradition, but others said the institution was in no state to present the award. Apart from six years during the world wars, there has been only one year when the prize was not awarded. No worthy winner was found in 1935.

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You go girl. The only right thing to do.

Jacinda Ardern Pledges Shelter For All Homeless People Within Four Weeks (G.)

The New Zealand government has promised to get the country’s homeless population off the streets and into shelter in time for winter. In a joint announcement on Friday, housing minister Phil Twyford and prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced a NZ$100m emergency housing package to tackle the ballooning problem. An estimated 40,000 people live in cars, tents and garages amid a chronic housing shortage in the nation of 4.7 million people. “We’re pulling out all the stops to support people in need and urgently increase housing supply this winter,” said housing minister Phil Twyford. “Our government will make sure everyone is helped to find warm, dry housing this winter.”

With winter starting on 1 June in the southern hemisphere, less than four weeks away, the government has put out an urgent call for anyone with additional accommodation that may be suitable to house homeless people. Seasonal worker accommodation such as shearers quarters, private rental properties, motor camps and maraes (Maori meeting houses) would all be considered. New Zealand has the highest rates of homelessness in the OECD, with more than 40,000 people living on the streets, in emergency housing or in substandard conditions. Per capita New Zealand’s homeless population is almost twice as bad as Australia, which is placed third on the list. More than half of New Zealand’s homeless population live in Auckland but it is also growing in smaller cities such as Rotorua, Tauranga, Queenstown and Wellington.

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Oct 272017
 
 October 27, 2017  Posted by at 9:33 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  2 Responses »


Salvator Rosa Lucrezia as poetry 1640-41

 

The World’s Witnessing A New Gilded Age (G.)
ECB Sees Option for Ending QE With Short Taper in 2018 (BBG)
The Fed Balance Sheet Unwind Myth (Roberts)
Alarm Sounds Over State Of UK High Street As Sales Crash (G.)
75% of UK MPs Don’t Know Where Money Comes From (CityAM)
China’s Minsky Moment (Muir)
Catalonia’s Leader Rules Out Snap Election, Crisis Deepens (R.)
Catalan Companies Face Boycott Over Independence Push (AFP)
New JFK Files Reveal FBI Warning On Oswald And Soviets’ Missile Fears (G.)
Australian Court Rules Deputy PM Ineligible For Parliament (R.)
‘I Want The Government … To Bring Kindness Back’ (RNZ)

 

 

A hundred years ago.

The World’s Witnessing A New Gilded Age (G.)

The world’s super-rich hold the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, when families like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast fortunes. Billionaires increased their combined global wealth by almost a fifth last year to a record $6tn – more than twice the GDP of the UK. There are now 1,542 dollar billionaires across the world, after 145 multi-millionaires saw their wealth tick over into nine-zero fortunes last year, according to the UBS/PwC Billionaires report. Josef Stadler, the lead author of the report and UBS’s head of global ultra high net worth, said his billionaire clients were concerned that growing inequality between rich and poor could lead to a “strike back”. “We’re at an inflection point,” Stadler said. “Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about.

The problem is the power of interest on interest – that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?” Stadler added: “We are now two years into the peak of the second Gilded Age.” He said the “$1bn question” was how society would react to the concentration of so much money in the hands of so few. Anger at so-called robber barron families who built up vast fortunes from monopolies in US rail, oil, steel and banking in the late 19th century, an era of rapid industrialisation and growing inequality in America that became known as the Gilded Age, led to President Roosevelt breaking up companies and trusts and increasing taxes on the wealthy in the early 1900s. “Will there be similarities in the way society reacts to this gilded age?,” Stadler asked. “Will the second age end or will it proceed?”

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We’re doing so well we need to keep throwing money at bankers.

ECB Sees Option for Ending QE With Short Taper in 2018 (BBG)

European Central Bank policy makers implicitly assume their newly-extended bond-buying program will be tapered to a halt by the end of next year so long as the inflation outlook improves, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions. The Governing Council, which met on Thursday, focused on the first nine months of next year for its quantitative-easing program and didn’t formally debate options for what to do after that, said the people, asking not to be named because the talks are private. While tapering would be possible, extending the program without changing the pace of purchases is also a credible option if inflation doesn’t show sufficient progress, one of them said. Whether to set a firm end-date on the bond-buying program has been a key sticking point for some officials.

The council agreed to cut monthly purchases in half, to €30 billion ($35 billion), and President Mario Draghi said that a “large majority” backed the decision to include a pledge to extend again if needed. He added that “it’s never been our view that things should stop suddenly.” The meeting came after governors were presented with several scenarios at a seminar on Wednesday, according to the people. Those included a reduction to 40 billion euros a month through June, and a 12-month tapering through December, similar to the Federal Reserve’s exit from its own program. The latter scenario wasn’t considered a realistic policy option, one of the people said. Governors also looked at a three-month scenario that would see buying after September tapered in monthly steps to 20 billion euros, 10 billion euros and 5 billion euros, another official said.

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“..In fact, just last week the Fed increased their balance sheet by over $13.5 billion dollars. No wonder the stock market shot higher.”

The Fed Balance Sheet Unwind Myth (Roberts)

Since the beginning of the year, the Federal Reserve has been heavily discussing, warning rather, they were going to begin to “unwind” their gargantuan balance sheet. As Michael Lebowitz recently penned in his subscription-only article “Draining The Punchbowl:” “Since QE was first introduced, the S&P 500 has gained 1,546 points. All but 355 points were achieved during periods of QE. Of those remaining 355 points, over 80% occurred after Trump’s victory.” That is a pretty amazing set of stats. I have previously noted the high correlation of the financial markets relative to the ongoing liquidity operations of the Federal Reserve. I have updated that analysis to show the reduction in the balance according to the Fed’s proposed schedule.

While the market stumbled following the end of QE in the United States, global QE, as shown in the charts of the major global Central Banks picked up the slack.

But now, the ECB has already begun discussing their plans to begin cutting the amount of their QE program by half in the coming year. The hope, of course, by Central Bank officials is that global economies are now humming along at a pace strong enough to withstand the reduction of “emergency measures.” Of course, the real question is whether the Central Bank’s “measures” of economic strength are accurate. While there are certainly indicators such as GDP growth, production, and employment measures which suggests that global economies are indeed on a cyclical upswing, there are also numerous measures which suggest the opposite.

With the Fed trying to raise interest rates, and reduce the balance sheet simultaneously, the “tightening of monetary policy” is a drag on economic growth and ultimately the stock market. But as I stated above, while the Fed is currently “discussing” the reduction of their balance sheet beginning in October, they actually haven’t. In fact, just last week the Fed increased their balance sheet by over $13.5 billion dollars. No wonder the stock market shot higher.

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It’s the weather. Too warm to shop.

Alarm Sounds Over State Of UK High Street As Sales Crash (G.)

The fastest monthly fall in high street sales since the height of the recession in 2009 has raised fears for the retail sector ahead of the crucial Christmas trading period. A survey by the the CBI found that 50% of retailers suffered declining sales in October while only 15% benefited from an increase, leaving a rounded balance of -36%, the lowest since March 2009. The business lobby group said the survey showed retailers were “feeling the pinch” from rising inflation, which has eaten into consumer incomes and squeezed profit margins. Uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the UK’s Brexit negotiations has also preyed on consumer confidence, which has declined sharply over the past 18 months and depressed spending. Figures estimating GDP growth in the third quarter showed the services sector holding up despite recent declines in wages adjusted for inflation.

However, the construction sector fell into recession. Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI chief economist, said: “While retail sales can be volatile from month to month, the steep drop in sales in October echoes other recent data pointing to a marked softening in consumer demand.” The gloomy CBI survey came as Debenhams warned of an “uncertain” environment on the high street in the run up to Christmas after suffering a 44% dive in profits. [..] Warm autumn weather and low consumer confidence in the wake of the Brexit vote have also combined to deliver a “grim” October, according to the John Lewis boss, Paula Nickolds, who revealed last week that shoppers are continuing to put off expensive household purchases. That comes after the UK retail sector recorded its lowest growth rate in four years for the three months to the end of September, according to official data.

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Maube the Bank of England should send them their reports?

75% of UK MPs Don’t Know Where Money Comes From (CityAM)

Only 15% of MPs surveyed answered correctly when asked a true/false question on whether banks create money when they make loans. Almost two-thirds of the 50 MPs surveyed by Dods for campaign group Positive Money wrongly thought banks can’t create money, while a quarter admitted they didn’t know. In a far from stellar field Conservative MPs outperformed slightly “in this regard”, with 19% answering correctly, compared to only one in 20 Labour MPs. More than three-quarters of the MPs surveyed incorrectly believed that only the government has the ability to create new money. Some 23% knew this to be false, with Labour performing better than the Conservatives. The Bank of England has previously intervened to point out that most money in the UK begins as a bank loan.

In a 2014 article the Bank pointed out that “whenever a bank makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.” The perception of money creation has been complicated further by the unorthodox use of quantitative easing, in which the government creates money electronically, which is then used to buy financial assets. Fran Boait, executive director of Positive Money, said: “Despite their confidence in telling the public that there is ‘no magic money tree’ to pay for vital services, politicians themselves are shockingly ignorant of where money actually comes from. “There is in fact a ‘magic money tree’, but it’s in the hands of commercial banks, such as Barclays, HSBC and RBS, who create money whenever they make loans.”

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The difference between short and long term.

China’s Minsky Moment (Muir)

Sometimes you have to love the naivety of the markets. At this week’s Communist Party Congress meeting in Beijing, the governor of the PBoC (People’s Bank of China) said the following; “If we are too optimistic when things go smoothly, tensions build up, which could lead to a sharp correction, what we call a ‘Minsky moment’. That’s what we should particularly defend against.” Yet instead of focusing on this dire warning, markets are busy trying to discount the chance of a Powell Fed or a Republican tax cut. Although both of these developments would be important, China is the tail that wags the dog. Full stop. Figure out China, and all the other financial market forecasts become that much easier. Some might argue this “Minsky moment” warning is nothing more than a Central Bank whistling in the wind.

Didn’t Greenspan caution about a similar concern with his “irrational exuberance” speech? And didn’t that end up being a complete non-event? Yet I would argue that China is not the same as other countries. Although there are market elements to their economy, to a large degree, China is still a command economy. If Chinese leadership wants a particular outcome, they can just demand it, and it will happen. So when the head of the PBoC warns about a “Minsky moment”, it’s probably not a good idea to load up on financial assets. For the longest time, China exported goods and imported developed nation debt and other financial assets. They had already started down the road of re-balancing their economy away from this export driven model, but this recent development confirms that the old playbook should be thrown out the window.

The global financial system is changing, and China is leading the way. Their moves will reverberate for years in the future. The Chinese authorities have just put up the warning flag, and you would be foolish to not believe it. This long term warning coincides with my belief that over the short term, the risks are all to the downside. I have been banging the drum on the fact that the Chinese government have done everything in their power to keep markets stabilized through their Communist Party Congress. They haven’t even hidden this fact. From the big sign above the Shenzhen Securities Exchange building that read “Use every effort to protect the stability of stock market for 20 days,” to the recent release that the Chinese government has asked firms to delay bad result during Congress, the message is clear.

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Too many last minute turnarounds. But still explosive.

Catalonia’s Leader Rules Out Snap Election, Crisis Deepens (R.)

Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday said he would not hold a new regional election to break the deadlock between Madrid and separatists wanting to split from Spain, sharpening a political crisis that could turn into direct confrontation. Puigdemont had been expected to announce an election to head off moves by Madrid to take direct control of the autonomous region in the next few days. But, speaking in the courtyard of the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, Puigdemont said the central government had not provided sufficient guarantees that holding an election would prevent the imposition of direct rule. “I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given. There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today,” Puigdemont said.

He said it was now up to the Catalan parliament to move forward with a mandate to break from Spain following an independence referendum that took place on Oct. 1 – a vote which Madrid had declared illegal and tried to stop. Some independence supporters are pushing him to unilaterally declare independence. Late on Thursday, the regional government’s business head resigned over his opposition to a unilateral declaration, a sign of growing division in the separatist movement. Puigdemont’s stand sets the stage for the Spanish Senate on Friday to approve the take-over of Catalonia’s institutions and police, and give the government in Madrid the power to remove the Catalan president.

But this could spark confrontation on the streets as some independence supporters have promised to mount a campaign of civil disobedience. Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, speaking in a Senate committee, said: “The independence leaders have shown their true face – they have promised a dream but are performing tricks.” The aim of Article 155 – the constitutional trigger for direct rule – was to permit any election to take place in a normal and neutral situation, she said. The Spanish government has said it would call such a vote within six months of taking over Catalonia.

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Sad.

Catalan Companies Face Boycott Over Independence Push (AFP)

Calls for a boycott of Catalan food, cars and other goods, to punish the region for its separatist push, are worrying businesses who fear the economy will suffer. “You have to hit them where it hurts the most: the wallet,” a Twitter user wrote under the hashtag #boycottcatalanproducts. “We Spaniards who do not want Spain to be broken up… we can take action by adopting dissuasive steps of an economic nature,” reads a Facebook page calling for consumers to snub Catalan products. Appeals for a boycott have become more urgent since Catalonia’s separatist regional government held a banned independence referendum on October 1 in defiance of Spain’s central government and courts. The campaign targets Catalonia’s key agriculture and food sectors, with consumers urged to shun cava, a sparkling wine, Estrella Damm beer, as well as Vichy Catalan and Font Vella bottled water.

Medicines are also on the list to hurt Catalonia’s important pharmaceutical sector, as well as cars made by Seat, German carmaker Volkswagen’s Spanish unit in the region. Products made by foreign multinationals in Catalonia, including Nestle and Unilever, have also been swept up in the campaign. Mobile phone applications help consumers identify which products come from the rebel region. The impact of the boycott campaign is hard to measure to date. “We have had some clients who have bought less,” especially in Madrid, Rosa Rebula, a manager at cava producer Rosell i Formosa, told AFP. But she said the company will only be able to confirm the trend in November — a peak period for sales of cava ahead of the Christmas holiday season.

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CIA/FBI got to Trump? They’ve had 50 years to redact docs, but need 6 months more? Best comment I read: A whole generation knows where they were when Kennedy was shot, except George HW Bush. Turns out he was in Dallas.

New JFK Files Reveal FBI Warning On Oswald And Soviets’ Missile Fears (G.)

The US government released 2,800 documents on Thursday, but President Donald Trump delayed the release of others, saying he had “no choice” but to consider “national security, law enforcement and foreign affairs concerns” raised mostly by the FBI and CIA. One of the first interesting documents to be unearthed, as journalists, scholars and the public pored over them, was a memo written by director J Edgar Hoover that said the FBI had warning of a potential death threat to Oswald, who was then in police custody. “There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead,” Hoover wrote on 24 November 1963. “Last night we received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald.

[..] The files comprise almost the final 1% of records held by the federal government and their publication follows a release in July when the record-keepers, the National Archives, posted 3,801 documents online, mostly formerly released documents with previously redacted portions. An administration official told reporters on Thursday that the files that remain secret have information that “remains sensitive depending on its context”. Trump ordered the agencies to review those redactions over the course of six months, the official said, to ensure more documents reach the public. The next deadline for documents is 26 April 2018. According to the National Archives, 88% of records related to Kennedy’s murder were already fully open and another 11% released but partially redacted. In total, that makes for about 5m pages.

The newly released documents also reveal that Soviet Union leaders considered Oswald a “neurotic maniac who was disloyal to his own country and everything else”, according to an FBI memo documenting reactions in the USSR to the assassination. The Soviet officials feared a conspiracy was behind the death of Kennedy, perhaps organised by a rightwing coup or JFK’s successor Lyndon Johnson. They also feared a war in the aftermath of Kennedy’s death, according to the memo: “Our source further stated that Soviet officials were fearful that without leadership, some irresponsible general in the United States might launch a missile at the Soviet Union.”

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How many more?

Australian Court Rules Deputy PM Ineligible For Parliament (R.)

Australia’s High Court ruled on Friday that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to remain in parliament, a stunning decision that cost the government its one-seat parliamentary majority and forced a by-election. The Australian dollar fell a quarter of a U.S. cent after the unexpected decision. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he accepted the court’s ruling, even though it was “clearly not the outcome we were hoping for”. Turnbull did not name a new deputy leader during a short news conference in Canberra soon after the court’s ruling. The Australian leader had been scheduled to travel to Israel on Saturday for a week-long visit but a spokesman for Turnbull told Reuters his departure has now been delayed. The spokesman said the new travel arrangements are still be finalised.

Turnbull’s center-right coalition is now in a precarious position. His Liberal Party is the senior party in a coalition with the smaller National Party, which Joyce led. He must now win the support of one of three independent lawmakers to keep his minority government afloat, with two sitting weeks of parliament left until it recesses for the year. At least two independent lawmakers have promised their support. Independent MP Bob Katter told Reuters he would support the government, but he may reconsider that if the coalition tried to block renewed efforts for a sweeping investigation into the scandal-ridden financial system. “I think we have the numbers for a commission into the banks and, if the government tries to block that, then I think we will get into murky waters,” Katter said. The opposition Labor Party immediately went on the attack and threatened to launch a legal challenge to every decision made by Joyce since last year’s election.

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Great intentions. But she has to talk to Trump, Xi et al.

‘I Want The Government … To Bring Kindness Back’ (RNZ)

Shortly before she was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern spoke to Checkpoint with John Campbell as she was on her way to Government House in a Crown car. She said she wants the new government to “feel different”, to be empathetic and kind. There was a significant part of her that was focused on the work that needed to be done, she said. “Once you’re there, get on with it.” She said she wanted the government to feel different. “I want it to feel like we are a government that’s truly focused on everybody. Perhaps I’m more acutely aware of that sense having now led a set of negotiations in our government that brings together a range of parties.

“I know I need to transcend politics in the way that I govern for this next term of Parliament but I also want this government to feel different, I want people to feel that it’s open, that it’s listening and that it’s going to bring kindness back. “I know that will sound curious but to me if people see they have an empathetic government I think they’ll truly understand that when we’re making hard calls that we’re doing it with the right focus in mind.” She said there were tough times during the coalition negotiations. “It’s not about just preserving people’s political careers. It’s not about power. It’s about being in a position to make a difference to people who need it most. “This will be a government that works with others. “There is a lot to do.” Asked if there was a central tenet to her approach to the new role, she said it was empathy.

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Oct 222017
 
 October 22, 2017  Posted by at 2:02 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,  14 Responses »


Alfred Wertheimer Elvis 1956

 

New Zealand’s new prime minister Jacinda Ardern calls capitalism a blatant failure. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says capitalism is ‘merely’ coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete. Mathematics professor Bruce Boghosian claims that without redistribution of wealth, our market economy would not be stable, because wealth always tends to concentrate. The people at Artemis Capital Management write that the stock market has begun self-cannibalizing like a snake eating its tail, and the only reason we’re not in a recession already is ‘financial alchemy’.

At the very least we can say that the system is under pressure. But what system is that? It would be nice to have a clearcut definition of capitalism, but alas, there are many, about as many as there are different forms of it. That doesn’t make this any easier. Americans call many European economies ‘socialist’, which seems to mean they are not capitalist. But Scandinavian countries don’t function like the Soviet Union either.

And if you see how much money is involved in transfer payments to citizens in the US, the supposed bastion of free market capitalism, it’s tempting to conclude the system has already failed. But even with transfer payments, inequality is at record levels. That would seem to confirm Boghosian’s statement that “even if a society does redistribute wealth, if it’s too small an amount, “a partial oligarchy will result..” So what then?

 

 

Varoufakis and others want a “universal basic dividend”, or “universal basic income”. Would that be the end of capitalism as we know it? Or is it just a -perhaps more extreme- form of ‘state capitalism’? Varoufakis deems it inevitable because technology will eradicate so many jobs from societies that people won’t be able to make money from work. Personally, I’ve long thought that the pending large-scale demise of pensions systems will lead to some form of UBI.

37-year-young Jacinda Ardern is very clear in her assessment of New Zealand’s form of capitalism. If you’ve got the worst homelessness in the developed world, you have a broken system. If the system fails the people, it’s no good. Other people might argue that capitalism never promised to take care of everyone. Or rather, not through state interference. Labour’s Ardern has her view:

 

New Zealand’s New Prime Minister Brands Capitalism A ‘Blatant Failure’

[Jacinda] Ardern, has pledged her government will increase the minimum wage, write child poverty reduction targets into law, and build thousands of affordable homes. In her first full interview since becoming prime minister-elect, she told current affairs programme The Nation that capitalism had “failed our people”. “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure,” she said. [..] “When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes. How can you claim you’ve been successful when you have growth roughly 3%, but you’ve got the worst homelessness in the developed world?”

So to which extent should a state interfere in markets, and in society at large? There are obviously wide ideological divides when it comes to answering that one. Does that mean there is no answer possible at all? Perhaps not. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the system is predestined to fail, as Boghosian’s mathematical models suggest: “Our work refutes the idea that free markets, by virtually leaving people up to their own devices, will be fair..”

That doesn’t necessarily demand a lot of interference, we could ‘simply’ write the rules of the game in such a way that the ‘natural tendency’ towards wealth concentration is blocked. An example is the history of the top US income tax rate. Arguably, the nation was doing a lot better under Eisenhower and Kennedy, with a top rate of 91%, than it is today. If you put a few rules like that in play, perhaps including Varoufakis’ idea of a ‘common welfare fund’, maybe the state doesn’t have to interfere much otherwise.

 

 

One of the main underlying claims of capitalism, and of macroeconomics in general, is that markets -and societies- will sort themselves out if left alone. Bruce Boghosian says this is not true, and that he has the math to prove it. The entire notion of markets tending towards a ‘supply-demand equilibrium’ is nonsense, he says (echoing Minsky, Steve Keen et al). Trickle-down economics is a figment of the imagination, while trickle up-economics flourishes.

This refutes much of what our economic systems are based on, which would appear to indicate that we need an urgent revision of these systems. Unless we would agree that Darwin-on-Steroids is a good idea. We don’t and won’t, because it would mean Stephen Foster’s “frail forms fainting at the door” all over the place. A market ideology that causes widespread misery has no future.

 

The Mathematics of Inequality

Seven years ago, the combined wealth of 388 billionaires equaled that of the poorest half of humanity , according to Oxfam International. This past January the equation was even more unbalanced: it took only eight billionaires, marking an unmistakable march toward increased concentration of wealth. Today that number has been reduced to five billionaires.

Trying to understand such growing inequality is usually the purview of economists, but Bruce Boghosian, a professor of mathematics, thinks he has found another explanation—and a warning. Using a mathematical model devised to mimic a simplified version of the free market, he and colleagues are finding that, without redistribution, wealth becomes increasingly more concentrated, and inequality grows until almost all assets are held by an extremely small percent of people.

“Our work refutes the idea that free markets, by virtually leaving people up to their own devices, will be fair,” he said. “Our model, which is able to explain the form of the actual wealth distribution with remarkable accuracy, also shows that free markets cannot be stable without redistribution mechanisms. The reality is precisely the opposite of what so-called ‘market fundamentalists’ would have us believe.”

While economists use math for their models, they seek to show that an economy governed by supply and demand will result in a steady state or equilibrium, while Boghosian’s efforts “don’t try to engineer a supply-demand equilibrium, and we don’t find one,” he said. [..] The model tracks the data with remarkable accuracy, he said. He and his team will soon publish a paper on how it relates to U.S. wealth data from 1989 to 2013.

“We have also begun to apply it to wealth data from the ECB, and so far it seems to work very well for certain European countries as well,” he said [..] It turns out that when agents do well in early transactions, the odds are so increasingly stacked in their favor that—without redistribution from taxes or other wealth-transfer mechanisms—they will get more money, and keep accruing wealth inevitably.

“Without redistribution of wealth, our market economy would not be stable,” said Boghosian. “One person would run away with all the wealth, and it would keep going until it came to complete oligarchy.” And even if a society does redistribute wealth, if it’s too small an amount, “a partial oligarchy will result,” Boghosian said.

If markets and societies cannot survive under current rules, theories and ideologies, what do we do? The Artemis guys strongly suggest we stop the practice of excessive stock buybacks- even if they’re the only thing propping up the whole market system. Because they’re leading us straight into a recession. Because they’re making that recession a lot worse.

 

Volatility and the Alchemy of Risk

The Ouroboros, a Greek word meaning ‘tail devourer’, is the ancient symbol of a snake consuming its own body in perfect symmetry. The imagery of the Ouroboros evokes the infinite nature of creation from destruction. The sign appears across cultures and is an important icon in the esoteric tradition of Alchemy. Egyptian mystics first derived the symbol from a real phenomenon in nature. In extreme heat a snake, unable to self-regulate its body temperature,will experience an out-of-control spike in its metabolism. In a state of mania, the snake is unable to differentiate its own tail from its prey,and will attack itself, self-cannibalizing until it perishes. In nature and markets, when randomness self-organizes into too perfect symmetry, order becomes the source of chaos.

The Ouroboros is a metaphor for the financial alchemy driving the modern Bear Market in Fear. Volatility across asset classes is at multi-generational lows. A dangerous feedback loop now exists between ultra-low interest rates, debt expansion, asset volatility, and financial engineering that allocates risk based on that volatility. In this self-reflexive loop volatility can reinforce itself both lower and higher. In a market where stocks and bonds are both overvalued, financial alchemy is the only way to feed our global hunger for yield, until it kills the very system it is nourishing.

 

 

[..] At the head of the Great Snake of Risk is unprecedented monetary policy. Since 2009 Global Central Banks have pumped in $15 trillion in stimulus creating an imbalance in the investment demand for and supply of quality assets. Long term government bond yields are now the lowest levels in the history of human civilization dating back to 1285. As of this summer there was $9.5 trillion worth of negative yielding debt globally. Last month Austria issued a 100-year bond with a coupon of only 2.1%(6) that will lose close to half its value if interest rates rise 1% or more. The global demand for yield is now unmatched in human history. None of this makes sense outside a framework of financial repression.

Amid this mania for investment, the stock market has begun self-cannibalizing… literally. Since 2009, US companies have spent a record $3.8 trillion on share buy-backs financed by historic levels of debt issuance. Share buybacks are a form of financial alchemy that uses balance sheet leverage to reduce liquidity generating the illusion of growth. A shocking +40% of the earning-per-share growth and +30% of the stock market gains since 2009 are from share buy-backs. Absent this financial engineering we would already be in an earnings recession.

Any strategy that systematically buys declines in markets is mathematically shorting volatility. To this effect, the trillions of dollars spent on share buybacks are equivalent to a giant short volatility position that enhances mean reversion. Every decline in markets is aggressively bought by the market itself, further lowing volatility. Stock price valuations are now at levels which in the past have preceded depressions including 1928, 1999, and 2007. The role of active investors is to find value, but when all asset classes are overvalued, the only way to survive is by using financial engineering to short volatility in some form.

Yanis Varoufakis doesn’t so much argue that capitalism has already failed, he says it is bound to fail in the near future. Because new technology, including artificial intelligence, will destroy too many jobs for society to continue to function intact. That is already happening, in that we both produce and consume Google’s ‘products’, but we get none of the profits. An example:

 

Google’s Plan To Revolutionise Cities Is A Takeover In All But Name

Alphabet’s weapons are impressive. Cheap, modular buildings to be assembled quickly; sensors monitoring air quality and building conditions; adaptive traffic lights prioritising pedestrians and cyclists; parking systems directing cars to available slots. Not to mention delivery robots, advanced energy grids, automated waste sorting, and, of course, ubiquitous self-driving cars. Alphabet essentially wants to be the default platform for other municipal services. Cities, it says, have always been platforms; now they are simply going digital.

“The world’s great cities are all hubs of growth and innovation because they leveraged platforms put in place by visionary leaders,” states the proposal. “Rome had aqueducts, London the Underground, Manhattan the street grid.” Toronto, led by its own visionary leaders, will have Alphabet. Amid all this platformaphoria, one could easily forget that the street grid is not typically the property of a private entity, capable of excluding some and indulging others. Would we want Trump Inc to own it? Probably not. So why hurry to give its digital equivalent to Alphabet?

Google aims at taking over our entire communities, and claims this will be to our benefit. We let the new technology companies expand far and wide, to a large extent because our ‘leaders’ don’t understand what is happening any better than we do. But that is not a good thing, for many different reasons. It’ll be very hard to whistle them back later, both because of the wealth they’re building, and because of the intensifying links they have to government, including -or especially- the intelligence community.

 

Capitalism Is Ending Because It Has Made Itself Obsolete

Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed capitalism is coming to an end because it is making itself obsolete. The former economics professor told an audience at University College London that the rise of giant technology corporations and artificial intelligence will cause the current economic system to undermine itself.

Mr Varoufakis [..] said companies such as Google and Facebook, for the first time ever, are having their capital bought and produced by consumers. “Firstly the technologies were funded by some government grant; secondly every time you search for something on Google, you contribute to Google’s capital,” he said. “And who gets the returns from capital? Google, not you. “So now there is no doubt capital is being socially produced, and the returns are being privatised. This with artificial intelligence is going to be the end of capitalism.”

Warning Karl Marx “will have his revenge ”, the 56-year-old said for the first time since capitalism started, new technology “is going to destroy a lot more jobs than it creates”. He added: “Capitalism is going to undermine capitalism , because they are producing all these technologies that will make corporations and the private means of production obsolete. “And then what happens? I have no idea.”

Describing the present economic situation as “unsustainable” and fearing the rise of “toxic nationalism”, Mr Varoufakis said governments needed to prepare for post-capitalism by introducing redistributive wealth policies. He suggested one effective policy would be for 10% of all future issue of shares to be put into a “common welfare fund” owned by the people. Out of this a “universal basic dividend” could be paid to every citizen.

Has capitalism failed already, as Jacinda Ardern claims, or will that happen only in the future, as Varoufakis says? It may be a moot question once the system and the markets start collapsing. That they will, and must, is not a question but a certainty, even a mathematical one. Whatever your ideology, that is not a good thing. And the current ideology has caused this, that much is clear.

If the remaining wealth is not divided better than it is today, those who have gathered most of it will also find themselves in non-functioning societies and communities. Unless perhaps you’re George W. and have property in Paraguay.

But even then. We’re eating our tails.