Sep 292020
 


Fred Stein Times Square at Night 1947

 

Rapid-Testing Drive Unveiled As Virus Deaths Pass One Million (Y!)
Young People Are At Risk Of Severe COVID19 Illness (NBC)
Putin To Be Among First To Receive ‘Controversial’ Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)
Seeing Through Pea Soup (Kunstler)
Biden’s Texas Political Director Accused of Illegal Ballot Harvesting (NF)
Alleged Ilhan Omar Cash-For-Ballot Transaction Caught On Tape (ZH)
New York Times Trump Tax Story Disappoints (Reilly)
Airlines Demand New $25B Bailout after Burning $45B on Share Buybacks (WS)
Ai Weiwei: ‘Too Late’ To Curb China’s Global Influence (BBC)
The Surreal US Case Against Assange (Mercouris)
Julian Assange Faces ‘Torturous’ Months In Parking Space-Sized Cell In US (PA)
I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. (Samarajiva)

 

 

Ron Johnson

 

 

$5 a piece. Remember, Holland charges €225. But 270 million tests is nothing. You need 600 million a week just in the US.

WHO Unveils $600 Million Rapid-Testing Drive (Y!)

Coronavirus tests that deliver results in 15-30 minutes are to be rolled out across the United States and in scores of poorer countries, as health authorities worldwide try to get a handle on a disease that has now killed more than a million people. US President Donald Trump announced 150 million tests would be distributed in America, while the World Health Organization said 120 million more would be available for the developing world at $5 each as long as funding was secured. The testing push comes as the virus shows no sign of receding, with infection numbers climbing rapidly in Europe again and governments there clamping down on movement in an attempt to curb the surge.

Paris, London and Madrid have all been forced to introduce controls to slow infections, and on Monday Dutch authorities became the latest to tighten curbs, while the Czech Republic and Slovakia said they were preparing to declare a state of emergency. The WHO said its $600 million scheme to roll out the quick diagnosis kits across 133 countries in the next six months would enable low- and middle-income nations to close the gap in testing with the rich world. The kits are far faster, cheaper and easier to administer than regular standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests but are less sensitive and more likely to return false negatives.

“This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have lab facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out PCR tests,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference. Experts have for months been calling for widespread adoption of this low-cost technology so that people can test themselves several times a week. Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina said the testing drive “is terrific and is a great start”. But the amount being distributed by the US government was “simply not sufficient” and production should be multiplied ten- or twentyfold, he added.

The tests are part of a limited toolkit available to governments as they seek ways to get the wheels turning on economies that have been crippled in recent months by lockdowns and other restrictions on people’s lives. A million Madrid residents are under partial lockdown, with the city and the surrounding region at the centre of Spain’s second wave. The national government on Monday warned the local authorities of drastic measures if the region failed to move decisively to slow the uncontrolled spread.

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“Young people should not assume they are immune to the consequences of this disease, and they should do everything they can to avoid it.”

Young People Are At Risk Of Severe COVID19 Illness (NBC)

New findings published this month further reveal how severely Covid-19 can affect young adults. A research paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that among more than 3,200 adults ages 18 to 34 who were hospitalized with the disease, 21 percent required intensive care, 10 percent required mechanical ventilation and nearly 3 percent — 88 patients — died. Of those who survived, 3 percent — 99 patients — had to be discharged to another health care facility to continue their recoveries. “While the vast majority of young adults who get Covid are not going to require hospitalization, those who do have really high risk for these adverse outcomes,” said the study’s author, Dr. Scott Solomon, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It is not trivial.”

The research is worrisome because the incidence of Covid-19 in the United States is now highest among young adults ages 20 to 29, who from June to August accounted for more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported Wednesday. Adults ages 30 to 39 made up the second-largest group of cases. As young adults return to college campuses — and parties — multiple outbreaks already have been reported across the nation. Doctors are concerned about the spreading infections and the serious cases that can result. “We’re seeing a really rising incidence of Covid-19 in young people, and that’s in part due to activity over the summer, and obviously we’re all very worried about this as they come back to colleges,” Solomon said.

“It’s unfortunate, but I think that we are likely to see an increased percentage of young people who experience these bad outcomes as the number of infections in this group goes up,” he said. Solomon and colleagues used a large health care database to look at serious Covid-19 illnesses in young adults hospitalized in April, May or June. Of the more than 1,000 U.S. hospitals in the database, which treated a total of 63,103 Covid-19 patients during the study period, 3,222 patients, or 5 percent, were young adults admitted to 419 hospitals. Overall, 58 percent of the young adult patients were men, and 57 percent were Black or Hispanic. More than a third were obese, including 25 percent who were morbidly obese (with body mass indexes of 40 or higher), 18 percent had diabetes, and 16 percent had hypertension. [..] Results also showed that the risks of dying or needing mechanical ventilation were more than double in young adult patients who were either morbidly obese or had hypertension.

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He should offer a free jab to Fauci. And Trump.

Putin To Be Among First To Receive ‘Controversial’ Sputnik Vaccine (ZH)

After previously touting that his own daughter was among the first to take the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, standing in as a prominent early ‘guinea pig’ of sorts vouching for its safety, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he plans to receive it soon, according to a story in Newsweek on Monday. Without specifying precisely when he would receive the vaccine, which was met with approval by government regulators in August, Putin reportedly indicated it would come before his next trip to South Korea. “Putin has not yet committed publicly to receiving the vaccine—the development of which has been financed by the state Russian Direct Investment Fund—but told South Korean President Moon Jae-in by phone Monday that he would have the shot before a planned visit to Seoul, Newsweek reports.


Moon personally invited Putin to come to South Korea during a call upon the occasion of the 30th anniversary of establishment of the Russian-South Korean diplomatic relations. According to a summary of the call, Russian media sources indicate that Putin told Moon: “I will come to South Korea… I will personally take the Russian vaccine and go.” Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry. It was tested at Moscow’s state medical university. Initially met with broad global skepticism, Russia’s health ministry last month announced it expects to begin mass anti-coronavirus vaccinations by October, with the first rounds to be administered to front line medical workers as well as teachers.

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“Then wait to see if he pulls the mask down under his chin as though he was acting the role of Abe Lincoln in a middle school history pageant.”

Seeing Through Pea Soup (Kunstler)

If Joe Biden does show up at Tuesday’s debate, it will be under at least one severe disadvantage: the contest happens at night. Through the preceding weeks, Mr. Biden’s handlers have “put a lid” on his campaign activities at ten o’clock in the morning more days than not, and sometimes at eight-thirty a.m., before the press pool has even digested its oat-milk honey lattes. “A lid” means the candidate makes no appearances nor is available to the media that day. You have to wonder whether Ol’ White Joe can even function after sundown. Senile dementia typically presents more vividly in the evening. The Biden team may seek to counter that with doses of Adderall, an amphetamine.


The side-effects are interesting: “mental / mood changes (such as agitation, aggression, mood swings, abnormal thoughts) uncontrolled movements, continuous chewing / teeth grinding, outbursts of words / sounds, prolonged erections (in males).” Watch for these. Also watch to see whether Mr. Biden steps onstage wearing his trademark black mask. (Mr. Trump, of course, will not mask himself.) The optic will be two-fold: 1) Mr. Biden has something to hide, and 2) Mr. Biden is a weakling for playing up Covid hysteria. Then wait to see if he pulls the mask down under his chin as though he was acting the role of Abe Lincoln in a middle school history pageant. That will be a visual-to-remember! Also, wait for Mr. Biden to deliver a self-knockout punch to himself when he attacks the President’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, for being a Catholic.

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Ballot harvesting was never NOT going to be a story. Let’s see where it goes.

Biden’s Texas Political Director Accused of Illegal Ballot Harvesting (NF)

The Joe Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director has been formally accused of helping to run an illegal ballot harvesting operation, according to two separate affidavits filed Monday at the Texas Supreme Court. Two private investigators, including a former FBI agent and former police officer, testify under oath that they have video evidence, documentation and witnesses to prove that Biden’s Texas Political Director Dallas Jones and his cohorts are currently hoarding mail-in and absentee ballots and ordering operatives to fill the ballots out for people illegally, including for dead people, homeless people, and nursing home residents in the 2020 presidential election. The affidavits were filed as part of the class-action lawsuit against Harris County and the state of Texas, filed by citizens, called Steven Hotze, M.D. et al. Journalist Patrick Howley of NATIONAL FILE has exclusively obtained this testimony and much more evidence will be coming out in the case. Dallas Jones was named the Biden campaign’s Texas Political Director in early September.

HERE IS THE AFFIDAVIT OF PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR AND RETIRED HOUSTON POLICE OFFICER MARK A. AGUIRRE, SUBMITTED UNDER OATH.: AFFIDAVIT OF MARK A. AGUIRRE “My name is Mark A. Aguirre. I am above the age of eighteen years and am fully competent to make this affidavit. The facts stated in this affidavit are within my personal knowledge and are true and correct. “I am a retired captain with the Houston Police Department I am now a private investigator. “I am currently involved in an investigation related to a wide-ranging and fraudulent ballot harvesting scheme in Harris County intended to rig the elections in the Houston/Harris County area. This scheme involves voter fraud on a massive scale.

“Based on interviews, review of documents, and other information, I have identified the individuals in charge of the ballot harvesting scheme. These individuals includes political consultant Dallas Jones who was recently hired by the Joe Biden for President campaign to oversee their Harris County initiative. District 13 Texas State Senator Borris Miles, who is the handler of Mr. Jones, political consultant Gerald Womack, and Precinct 1 Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. One of the companies these individuals are using as a front for this operation is AB Canvassing, although there are others that have been identified that we are investigating.”

“I have in my possession video-taped interviews of witnesses attesting to the aforementioned people having groups of people completing thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots, including completing ballots for deceased individuals; illegally going into nursing homes, with the complicity of the nursing home staff, and filling out and forging the signatures of nursing home residents; signing up homeless individuals to vote using the ballot harvester’s address then completing the ballot and forging the homeless individual’s signature.

Tulsi Gabbard Ballot harvesting
https://twitter.com/i/status/1307067070283218952

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There’s also a police investigation into this case. Again, let’s see where that goes.

Alleged Ilhan Omar Cash-For-Ballot Transaction Caught On Tape (ZH)

Update (2338ET): Following an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity,” James O’Keefe released a second ballot-harvesting video featuring an apparent purchase of a ballot from a Somali resident of Minnesota. The video then features several allegations made by local Somalis regarding the alleged scheme – including Rep. Ilhan Omar’s direct involvement. “She’s [Ilhan Omar] the one who came up with all this [pay-for-vote],” said one source who added. “She’s [Ilhan Omar] the one, somehow. Nobody knew, but, yeah, this is something like new with Ilhan [Omar].” “Jamal Omar said cash for votes is an open secret in Minneapolis. “The techniques that he [Ali Isse] uses to exchange money for vote — that’s not a secret. It’s, it’s open, and everybody knows about it,” he said. “$200, $300 per ballot received!” -Project Veritas


“Nobody would say that Ilhan Omar isn’t part of this,” said Omar Jamal – a Somali community insider and chairman of the Somali Watchdog Group. “Unless you’re from a different planet, but if you live in this universe, I think everybody knows it.” According to Jamal, senior Ilhan Omar staffer Ali Isse Gainey is at the center of the vote-buying scheme. Jamal also said that Ilhan Omar operatives would accompany Somali residents to the voting booth and do the actual voting for the person. “They help us at the voting booth. They allow them to help us,” said one Minneapolis ballot harvester recorded on hidden camera. “They go inside with us and help us, and they actually do that inside there.”

Steve Drazkowski

Hannity Project Veritas

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I don’t have the impression that many people understand the details. And then it’s easy to shout: SCANDAL.

New York Times Trump Tax Story Disappoints (Reilly)

The main story, Long-Concealed Records Show Trump’s Chronic Losses And Years Of Tax Avoidance, is kind of disappointing. In some ways, the headline shows the problem with their perspective. “Long-Concealed”- As a CPA I am fanatical about protecting confidential client information. I have nightmares about inadvertently letting something out. But I don’t think of that as “concealing”. More to the point they are disclosing that it appears that President Trump has flat out been losing a lot of money – hemorrhaging cash-, which we are supposed to be shocked at. And he has not been paying much if anything in the way of taxes which if the previous is true is not that shocking. In a side highlight piece by David Leonhard, there is a sort of odd comparison.

“In 2017, the average federal income rate for the highest-earning .001 percent of tax filers — that is, the most affluent 1/100,000th slice of the population — was 24.1 percent, according to the I.R.S. Over the past two decades, Mr. Trump has paid about $400 million less in combined federal income taxes than a very wealthy person who paid the average for that group each year.” Presumably that .001 % group is not static. I really don’t see the point of the comparison. Maybe there are a few people who were in it every year for decades, but I doubt it is many. On the underpaying tax theme the reporters seem to be on something of an Easter egg hunt trying to find little tidbits that will excite us.

Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television. Now they tell us that they have obtained “tax-return data extending over more than two decades”. The graphs show 2000 to 2018, which is odd because they say they did not get the 2018 return. Regardless, apparently somebody went to the trouble of digging the hairstyling for television out of that morass and toting it up to be $70,000. Is that a lot? Trump was in The Apprentice for 14 seasons and he is on television in a lot of other contexts. If the hairstyling is just for The Apprentice, that works out to about $400 per episode.

I reached out to my filmmaker friend Jonathan Schwartz of Audacious Media. He told me that if the styling was taking place on the set with union stylists, it is perfectly reasonable. The fundamental problem with the main story is that it is presenting two contradictory narratives. One is of a very successful person who is managing to not pay any income taxes. The other is of someone whose fortune is melting away.

$0 in taxes

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Fire the CEO. Easy.

Airlines Demand New $25B Bailout after Burning $45B on Share Buybacks (WS)

October 1 is the day US airlines that accepted their portion of the $25-billion bailout under the CARES Act can start involuntary layoffs of their employees. They’ve been shedding large numbers of employees since March but through voluntary buyouts, early retirements, and other programs that induced employees to temporarily or permanently leave. Now the airlines are engaged in a desperate lobbying effort to get legislation signed into law that would provide the next $25-billion bailout package. Threats have been flying, so to speak, to motivate Congress to get this done. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told CBS News on Sunday that if there isn’t a new bailout program, “there are going to be 100,000 aviation professionals who are out of work, who wouldn’t be otherwise.”

This would include the 18,000 employees American Airlines has threatened to lay off. So airlines have been lobbying hard. “You know, we have everyone putting us in every bill they have,” Parker said. “We just need the bills to be laws. We need laws not bills.” American Airlines was also the airline that blew, incinerated, wasted, and trashed more than any other airline on share buybacks. Buybacks ceased in the second quarter, but from 2013 through Q1 2020, American Airlines incinerated $13.1 billion in cash on share buybacks. That cash would now come in very handy. 2013 was also the year Mr. Parker became CEO of American Airlines.

Delta blew, wasted, and incinerated $11.7 billion in cash on share buybacks over the period; Southwest Airlines, $10.9 billion (starting in 2012); and United $8.9 billion. In total, the big four airlines blew, wasted, and incinerated $44.6 billion in cash on share buybacks from 2012 through Q1 2020, and now the airlines want an additional $25 billion bailout, for a total of $50 billion, much of it in forms of grants, from taxpayers (data via YCharts):

In terms of the numbers of passengers entering airports in the US, over six months into the Pandemic, the business is still down nearly 70% from last year, according to TSA airport screenings. The interesting thing is how the recovery is not happening, and how the strong seasonal patterns have disappeared. Normally, the passenger count drops sharply in the weeks before Labor Day from the summer peak in June, July, and early August. But after Labor Day, business travel picks up, and older folks with kids out of school start traveling, and the passenger count rises sharply in September. But none of that is happening this year. The chart below shows TSA checkpoint screenings per day, as a seven-day moving average through September 27, last year (black) versus this year (red):

The airline industry invented a new metric during the Pandemic: “daily cash burn.” The purpose is to give investors a feel for the progress in implementing the airlines’ survival strategies. Every airline now cites this metric. The idea is to make this number as small as possible by cutting capacity, shedding employees, and reducing costs wherever possible. Investors who’ve been coddled over the years through share-buybacks, have helped fund the airlines’ daily cash burn by buying the newly issued bonds and shares. They have done so because they counted on support from taxpayers and the Fed. Investors should continue to step up to the plate and fund that daily cash burn. But taxpayers – they’re already sitting on billions of dollars in tickets they can’t get refunds for though they can use the “credits” or whatever in the future – shouldn’t be shanghaied into funding airlines. That’s Wall Street’s job.

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“The official government slogan was: “Hide your light and bide your time”.

Ai Weiwei: ‘Too Late’ To Curb China’s Global Influence (BBC)

The leading Chinese dissident, the artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, says China’s influence has become so great that it can’t now be effectively stopped. “The West should really have worried about China decades ago. Now it’s already a bit too late, because the West has built its strong system in China and to simply cut it off, it will hurt deeply. That’s why China is very arrogant.” Ai Weiwei has never minced his words about China. “It is a police state,” he says. The artist famously designed the Bird’s Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but ran into serious problems after he spoke out against the Chinese government. Eventually, in 2015, he left China to come to the West. He lived first in Berlin, and last year settled in Cambridge. Mr Ai believes that China today uses its immense economic power to impose its political influence.


It’s certainly true that China has become much more assertive in recent years. Until around a decade ago, China presented a modest face to the world. The official government slogan was: “Hide your light and bide your time”. Ministers insisted that China was still a developing country with a lot to learn from the West. Then Xi Jinping came to power. He became secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, and President the following year. He introduced a new tone. The old modesty faded, and there was a different slogan: “Strive for achievement”. In some ways China is still a developing country, with 250 million people below the poverty line. Yet it is already the world’s second-biggest economy, and is on course to overtake the US over the next decade or so. China’s influence in the world is becoming more and more obvious, at a time when America’s authority has visibly declined.

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Very good and long explanation of what is going on. We’re in the 4th and last week.

The Surreal US Case Against Assange (Mercouris)

Following the Julian Assange case as it has progressed through its various stages, from the original Swedish allegations right up to and including the extradition hearing which is currently underway in the Central Criminal Court in London, has been a troubling and very strange experience. The U.S. government has failed to present a coherent case. Conscious that the British authorities should in theory refuse to extradite Assange if the case against him were shown to be politically motivated and/or related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist, the U.S. government has struggled to present a case against Assange which is not too obviously politically motivated or related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist. This explains the strange succession of one original and two superseding indictments.

The U.S. government’s first indictment was based on what was a supposedly simple allegation of computer interference, supposedly coordinated in some sort of conspiracy between Assange and Chelsea Manning. This was obviously done in an attempt to dispel the idea that the request for Assange’s extradition was politically motivated or was related to Assange’s legitimate work as a journalist. However lawyers in the United States had no difficulty pointing out the “inchoate facts” of the alleged conspiracy between Assange and Manning, whilst both lawyers and journalists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that the facts in the indictment in fact bore all the hallmarks of action by a journalist to protect a source.

The result was that the U.S. government replaced its indictment with a first superseding indictment, which this time was founded largely on the 1917 Espionage Act, and was therefore closer to the real reasons why the case against Assange was being brought. However, that made the case look altogether too obviously politically motivated, so it has in turn been replaced by a second superseding indictment, presented to the court and the defence team virtually on the eve of the trial, which has sought to veer back towards strictly criminal allegations, this time of involvement in computer hacking. The allegations in the second superseding indictment have however faced major difficulties, in that they do not seem to concern the United States and may not even be actual crimes.

Also they rely heavily on the evidence of a known fraudster, whose “evidence” is inherently unreliable. The U.S. government has failed to make clear whether the additional allegations in the second superseding indictment are intended to constitute a separate standalone case. Initially they appeared to deny that they did; then they hinted that they might do; now however they seem to be acting as if they don’t. As if that were not confusing enough, the U.S. government and its British lawyers have floated confusing and contradictory theories about whether or not the British authorities can extradite Assange even if the case against him is politically motivated, and even if it is related to his journalistic activities.

Initially they seemed to be arguing that — contrary to all British precedent and the actual text of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Britain — Britain can in fact extradite Assange to the U.S. on a politically motivated charge, because the enabling Act which the British Parliament passed, which made the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Britain a part of British law, is silent on whether or not individuals can be extradited to the U.S. on a politically motivated charge. This argument of course came close to conceding that the case against Assange is politically motivated after all. This threadbare argument, at least for the moment, seems to have been abandoned. At least nothing has been heard of it throughout the current hearing. Instead the U.S. government and its British lawyers have argued, in the face of the incredulity of a string of expert and factual witnesses, that the case is not politically motivated after all.

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It’s criminal to inflict this on anyone.

Julian Assange Faces ‘Torturous’ Months In Parking Space-Sized Cell In US (PA)

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could be left “twiddling his thumbs” in a cell the size of a parking space if extradited to the US, a court has heard. The 49-year-old is fighting extradition to the US on charges related to leaks of classified documents allegedly exposing war crimes. Assange’s defence have claimed he is a “high” suicide risk, having already spent 16 months in top security Belmarsh jail in south London. On Monday, the Old Bailey heard from witnesses with experience of the Alexandria Detention Centre in Virginia, Assange’s likely pre-trial destination if he was extradited. The court heard that due to his high profile and his perceived national security risk, he could be placed in an administrative segregation (ad seg) unit.

Prisoner advocate Joel Sickler told the court there was a historical tendency of detainees with “some notoriety” or facing allegations involving national security to be placed in “ad seg”. Assange’s case involved “broad publicity internationally” and the US government allegation that he was a “national security concern, if not outright threat”, the witness said. Sickler added that there were issues over Assange’s safety from the “more sophisticated inmate population” and self harm. On conditions in an “ad seg” unit, he said: “It’s a very small confined space with a steel door and a small window, a little slot where meals are pushed through. “It’s a very small area – like a parking space.” Sickler said there would be limited contact with other inmates, saying the suggestion they could communicate between cells was “ridiculous”.

He said: “You have to scream. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of screaming because from a mental health standpoint, people are angry and confused and there’s a lot of yelling.” On the issue of sensory deprivation, he said: “First of all you have very limited social interaction with any others. “You have little access to the outside world except from a rare few monitored phone calls and meeting with counsel. “You are twiddling your thumbs. You have access to reading material but otherwise your whole world is the four corners of that room.” Defence barrister Edward Fitzgerald QC asked: “If someone wishes to commit suicide in pre-trial detention would it be possible to stop that?” Sickler said: “Based on decades of experience, I have probably had a dozen or so clients commit suicide. I can say if they are intent on committing suicide, it can be done.”

Suzie Dawson

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Well written. But are things as similar as suggested?

I Lived Through Collapse. America Is Already There. (Samarajiva)

l Iived through the end of a civil war — I moved back to Sri Lanka in my twenties, just as the ceasefire fell apart. Do you know what it was like for me? Quite normal. I went to work, I went out, I dated. This is what Americans don’t understand. They’re waiting to get personally punched in the face while ash falls from the sky. That’s not how it happens. This is how it happens. Precisely what you’re feeling now. The numbing litany of bad news. The ever rising outrages. People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.

I was looking through some old photos for this article and the mix is shocking to me now. Almost offensive. There’s a burnt body in front of my office. Then I’m playing Scrabble with friends. There’s bomb smoke rising in front of the mall. Then I’m at a concert. There’s a long line for gas. Then I’m at a nightclub. This is all within two weeks. Today I’m like, “Did we live like this?” But we did. I mean, I did. Was I a rich Colombo fuckboi while poorer people died, especially minorities? Well, yes. I wrote about it, but who cares. The real question is, who are you? I mean, you’re reading this. You have the leisure to ponder American collapse like it’s even a question. The people really experiencing it already know.

As someone who’s already experienced societal breakdown, here’s the truth: America has already collapsed. What you’re feeling is exactly how it feels. It’s Saturday and you’re thinking about food while the world is on fire. This is normal. This is life during collapse. Collapse does not mean you’re personally dying right now. It means y’all are dying right now. Death is sometimes close, sometimes far away, but always there. I used to judge those herds of gazelle when the lion eats one of them alive and everyone keeps going — but no, humans are just the same. That’s the real meaning of herd immunity. We’re fundamentally immune to giving a shit.

It honestly becomes mundane (for the privileged). As Colombo kids we used to go out, worry about money, fall in love — life went on. We’d pop the trunk for a bomb check. Turn off our lights for the air raids. I’m not saying that we were untouched. My friend’s dad was killed, suddenly, by a landmine. RIP Uncle Nihal. I know people who were beaten, arrested, and went into exile. But that’s not what my photostream looks like. It was mostly food and parties and normal stuff for a dumb twentysomething. If you’re waiting for a moment where you’re like “this is it,” I’m telling you, it never comes. Nobody comes on TV and says “things are officially bad.” There’s no launch party for decay. It’s just a pileup of outrages and atrocities in between friendships and weddings and perhaps an unusual amount of alcohol.

Perhaps you’re waiting for some moment when the adrenaline kicks in and you’re fighting the virus or fascism all the time, but it’s not like that. Life is not a movie, and if it were, you’re certainly not the star. You’re just an extra. If something good or bad happens to you it’ll be random and no one will care. If you’re unlucky you’re a statistic. If you’re lucky, no one notices you at all. Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else. That’s all it is.

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Upton Sinclair quote, from his 1927 novel “Oil!”.

 

 

 

 

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Sep 282020
 


Dorothea Lange Abandoned cafe in Carey, Texas “Carey is fast becoming a ghost town of the Texas plains.” 1937

 

New York Times Mysteriously Obtains Trump Financial Records (RS)
New York Times Fails at Outlining President Trump’s Taxes Again (CT)
Project Veritas Uncovers ‘Ballot Harvesting Fraud’ In Minnesota (NYP)
Appellate Court Halts Wisconsin Ballot-Counting Extension (AP)
As Mueller Probe Fizzles, Anti-Trump Cabal Hatches New Collusion Tale (Smith)
COVID-19 Patients Who Get Enough Vitamin D Are 52% Less Likely To Die (DM)
New Covid Fines Of Up To £10,000 Come Into Force In England (G.)
Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon (Pol.)
Federal Judge Gives Temporary Reprieve To TikTok (NBC)
Azerbaijan & Armenia Carry On Fighting Over Contested Nagorno-Karabakh (RT)

 

 

Will we ever find out who leaked Trump’s tax returns from Cyrus Vance’s offices? And does anyone still care that this is highly illegal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZeroHedge Nothing Illegal

Balding tax returns

 

 

The New York Times once upon a time had intelligent journalists with a lot of integrity working -hard- for it. Now they go an yet another fishing trip looking to catch something illegal, but they fail, and still try to dress it all up as something terrible. No pride, no integrity.

New York Times Mysteriously Obtains Trump Financial Records (RS)

The New York Times reports that it has obtained President Trump’s ‘tax information” going back “over two decades.” The leak is from New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., or one of his underlings. We know Vance has obtained all of the financial records Trump had on file with Deutsche Bank, his primary lender. We know Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena. And, via the New York Times, we know that these records go back into the 1990s or, in the parlance of the day, “over two decades.” If the New York Times is correct, Trump’s finances being something of a hot mess is not a shocker. Trump has been on the edge of bankruptcy before and has employed mighty financial kung fu to stay solvent.

[..] From the tenor of the article, they think the revelation that Trump was getting a $72.9 million tax refund and only paying $750 in federal income taxes will be damaging. I really doubt that will be the case. There are things in this story that lead me to believe that either the people writing it are stupid or they think you are stupid. For instance: “In fact, those public filings offer a distorted picture of his financial state, since they simply report revenue, not profit. In 2018, for example, Mr. Trump announced in his disclosure that he had made at least $434.9 million. The tax records deliver a very different portrait of his bottom line: $47.4 million in losses.” These two things are not incompatible, and the fact that you declare earnings on a report that asks for earnings and not profit is not deceptive. The technical term is “compliance.”

By far, the most notable thing about this story is the willingness of the New York Times to engage in election interference by timing their release within 60 days of the election (that’s the standard, right? 60 days?). That and the role that seems to have been played by the Manhattan DA’s office in leaking records ostensibly demanded from Deutsche Bank as part of a criminal investigation to facilitate a political hit. The fact that a district attorney’s office is using such records as part of a political attack on the President within 60 days of an election is unprecedented (that’s the word, right? unprecedented?). The actions by Vance or his office virtually guarantee that any tax returns released to that office will find similar use as political ammunition.

There is a good chance that this story was intended to launch much closer to the election had the scope and extent of Hunter Biden’s financial shenanigans and the degree to which the ChiComs have their tentacles sunk into Sundown Joe not come to light…and will get even more light, I suspect, on Tuesday night. When the dust settles on this, I think the story is going to be “very rich guy with a fascination for high-risk business ventures pays lots of brilliant tax lawyers and accountants a crap-load of money to minimize and avoid (but not evade) income taxes and says he makes more money than he really does to golf partners.”

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Excellent question from sundance: “Now let’s figure out how DC politicians making $200k/yr are able to become multi-millionaires while holding office..”

New York Times Fails at Outlining President Trump’s Taxes Again (CT)

Once again the New York Times attempts to make an issue out of President Trump’s real estate holdings working as a tax shelter and reducing income taxes. In the article the Times completely obfuscates the way income taxes are strategically offset by depreciation, mortgage interest and the entire reason why real estate ownership is viewed as a business. John Carney writing for Breitbart gets it: […] So imagine our guy took out an $8 million mortgage at five percent, paying $2 million cash. Now he’s got to pay $400,000 in mortgage payments. He wants to make at least that much so he charges tenants an aggregate of $425,000, which after upkeep comes out to $410,000 of net income. (Remember, if the bank didn’t think he could make more in rent than the mortgage payment, it probably wouldn’t have lent him the money.)

“The interest payment on the loan–let’s call it $390,000–is deductible from his income, leaving him with $20,000 in net income. He gets to keep that and pay no taxes on it, however, because he still gets to apply the $370,000 depreciation charge. He tells the IRS he lost $350,000. Under our tax code, ordinary business expenses can be deducted in the year they are incurred. But when a business pays for a long-lasting item expected to produce income–like machinery, vehicles, or an apartment building–it is considered a capital investment. Instead of getting to write-off the cost all at once, the business is required to write it off over the course of decades. After the 1986 tax code, this was set at 27.5 years for residential real estate.” d

Anyone who has ever operated a business knows that offsetting income is one of the primary reasons to be self-employed. Additionally, the Times completely skips over the tens-of-millions in payroll taxes paid by the Trump organization and tens-of-millions in property and sales taxes paid by all of the various Trump properties. In the commercial real estate market it is common sense to offset income tax liabilities with a host of valid annual expenses, long-term capital depreciation and mortgage interest payments. With over 500 individual business entities within the Trump organization the ability to offset income in one asset with expenses in another is simply good accounting.

Additionally, President Trump donates his $400,000 government salary back to the U.S. government. So to accuse President Trump of only paying $750 in income taxes totally ignores all of the other donations and tax payments he makes. In practical terms no President before Trump has ever had his actual business portfolio so deeply connected to the success of the American economy. It doesn’t cost the American taxpayer a dime to have President Trump in office…. Now let’s figure out how DC politicians making $200k/yr are able to become multi-millionaires while holding office. Anyone?

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It’s getting serious. O’Keefe says they have been filming this for months.

Project Veritas Uncovers ‘Ballot Harvesting Fraud’ In Minnesota (NYP)

A ballot-harvesting racket in Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Minneapolis district — where paid workers illegally gather absentee ballots from elderly Somali immigrants — appears to have been busted by undercover news organization Project Veritas. One alleged ballot harvester, Liban Mohamed, the brother of Minneapolis city council member Jamal Osman, is shown in a bombshell Snapchat video rifling through piles of ballots strewn across his dashboard. “Just today we got 300 for Jamal Osman,” says Mohamed, aka KingLiban1, in the video. “I have 300 ballots in my car right now . . . “Numbers don’t lie. You can see my car is full. All these here are absentee ballots. . . . Look, all these are for Jamal Osman,” he says, displaying the white envelopes.

“Money is the king in this world . . . and a campaign is driven by money.” The video, posted on July 1, was obtained by Project Veritas and included in a 17-minute video expose released Sunday night. Under Minnesota law no individual can be the “designated agent” for more than three absentee voters. The allegations come just five weeks before a presidential election plagued with predictions of voter fraud. Both President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have warned that the increased use of mail-in ballots, due to COVID-19 concerns about in-person voting, are vulnerable to fraud, especially when unsolicited ballots are mailed to all voters in certain states.

Project Veritas’ investigation in Minneapolis will pour gasoline on the fire, only 48 hours before Trump debates Joe Biden in the first presidential debate Tuesday, addressing topics including election security. “Our investigation into this ballot harvesting ring demonstrates clearly how these unscrupulous operators exploit the elderly and immigrant communities” said James O’Keefe, founder and CEO of Project Veritas. The alleged involvement of Ilhan Omar, a controversial member of the Squad, and frequent Trump target, is claimed on camera by two people in Veritas’ investigation, including whistleblower Omar Jamal, a Minneapolis community leader and chair of the city’s Somali Watchdog Group.

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First of how many?

Appellate Court Halts Wisconsin Ballot-Counting Extension (AP)

A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election, a momentary victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump in the key presidential battleground state. As it stands, ballots will now be due by 8 p.m. on Election Day. A lower court judge had sided with Democrats and their allies to extend the deadline until Nov. 9. Democrats sought more time as a way to help deal with an expected historic high number of absentee ballots. The Democratic National Committee, the state Democratic Party and allied groups including the League of Women Voters sued to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots after the April presidential primary saw long lines, fewer polling places, a shortage of workers and thousands of ballots mailed days after the election.


U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled Sept. 21 that ballots that arrive up to six days after Election Day will count as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day. Sunday’s action puts Conley’s order on hold until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action. [..] State election officials anticipate as many as 2 million people will cast absentee ballots to avoid catching the coronavirus at the polls. That would be three times more absentee ballots than any other previous election and could overwhelm both election officials and the postal service, Conley wrote. If the decision had stood it could have delayed knowing the winner of Wisconsin for days. The Republican National Committee, the state GOP and Wisconsin’s Republican legislators argued that current absentee voting rules be left in place, saying people have plenty of time to obtain and return their ballots.

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Second installment of a two-part excerpt from Lee Smith’s book “The Permanent Coup: How Enemies Foreign and Domestic Targeted the American President”.

“According to the story the CIA officer and his colleagues would tell, Trump was again in league with a foreign power to defeat a rival candidate. They rotated Ukraine in for Russia and Biden for Clinton.”

As Mueller Probe Fizzles, Anti-Trump Cabal Hatches New Collusion Tale (Smith)

Just two days after the curtain dropped on the Mueller investigation, Ciaramella was rebooting the collusion narrative. According to the story the CIA officer and his colleagues would tell, Trump was again in league with a foreign power to defeat a rival candidate. They rotated Ukraine in for Russia and Biden for Clinton. The operation’s personnel drew from the same sources as the Russia collusion operation — serving officials from powerful government bureaucracies, the CIA, Pentagon, and State Department, as well as elected officials, political operatives, and the press. Therefore, the process was also the same: The actors would work the operation through the intelligence bureaucracy and the media to start an official proceeding, in this case an impeachment process. The play was set to begin.

Ciaramella first expressed his concern to a CIA lawyer. Frustrated that his action wasn’t moving quickly enough, he turned to the intelligence community inspector general responsible for oversight of all 17 of the nation’s agencies. On August 12, he filed a whistleblower’s report with ICIG Michael Atkinson. It was a version of the dossier, allegations based on second- and thirdhand sources. Steele said that his information came from anonymous Russians; Ciaramella claimed his came from unnamed Americans. “In the course of my official duties,” wrote Ciaramella, “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. elections.”

He even replicated a key feature from Steele’s memos that helped the FBI obtain the FISA warrant. The dossier alleged that the Trump campaign had agreed to two Ukraine-related quid pro quos. One, in exchange for the hack and release of DNC emails, the Trump team would sideline Ukraine as campaign issue. Two, in exchange for dropping Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia, a Putin ally promised Trump advisers energy deals. Ciaramella also alleged a Ukraine-related quid pro quo. His August 12 report added a detail missing from the July 26 memo. He claimed in his document he’d learned earlier in July that Trump had “issued instructions to suspend all security assistance to Ukraine.” With this, the CIA official had planted the seed that would grow into the basis of the impeachment charges brought against Trump:

The president had withheld foreign aid in exchange for something that would benefit him personally — an investigation of his political rival. Ciaramella and his confederates had simply taken the boastful blunder Biden made in front of the Manhattan audience and hung it on Trump. Now he was the one using U.S. aid to secure a favor from a Ukrainian president. It was an audacious move, but the Ciaramella dossier was also a defensive maneuver. “It was born out of desperation,” says one of his former colleagues. “He wasn’t just trying to protect Biden,” says the source, a former senior Obama administration intelligence official. [..] When he finds out Trump may get the Burisma investigation restarted, he’s worried for himself, too.”

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And 54 percent less likely to catch coronavirus in the first place. And if you do anyway, zinc hinders virus (RNA) replication in your cells. Two simple and cheap ways to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

COVID-19 Patients Who Get Enough Vitamin D Are 52% Less Likely To Die (DM)

People who get enough vitamin D are at a 52 percent lower risk of dying of COVID-19 than people who are deficient for the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ new research reveals. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system and may combat inflammation. These features may make it a key player in the body’s fight against coronavirus. Rates of vitamin D deficiency are also higher in some of the same groups who have been hardest hit by coronavirus: people of color and elderly people. It’s by no means a causal link, but suggests that vitamin D could play a role in who gets COVI-19, who gets sickest from it, and who is spared altogether.

Boston University’s Dr Michael Holick found in his previous research that people who have enough vitamin D are 54 percent less likely to catch coronavirus in the first place. Following on that work, he and his team have found that people who don’t get enough of the vitamin are far more likely to become severely ill, develop sepsis or even die after contracting coronavirus. Because vitamin D deficiency is common in people with other disease that raise coronavirus risks, it’s impossible to say exactly how many lives would be spared if we all got our daily dose of the sunshine vitamin. But we know that about 42 percent of the US population is vitamin D deficient. If that rate held true for the more 203,000 Americans who died of coronavirus, perhaps some 85,000 would have fared better with improved vitamin D levels.

In Britain 20 per cent of the population suffer from the deficiency, according to the British Nutrition Foundation. When the rate is applied to the UK’s 41,936 deaths from coronavirus, it suggests 8,387 of them could have been helped with improved levels of Vitamin D. ‘This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19,’ Dr Holick said. Dr Holick and his colleagues took blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals in Tehran for COVID-19. Overall, 67 percent of the patients had vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL.

There isn’t a clear marker for the ideal level of vitamin D, but 30 ng/mL is considered a sufficient. Anything below that is ‘insufficient,’ but won’t necessarily have broad-ranging health consequences, while levels below 20 ng/mL are considered ‘deficient.’ About 60 percent of elderly people living in nursing homes, for example, are thought to be vitamin D deficient. The most likely explanation is that they simply spend too much time indoors. Sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D. When we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in rays of sunshine, it reacts with cholesterol in our skin, triggering the production of vitamin D. In an increasingly indoor world, rates of vitamin D deficiency have climbed.

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Behind a paywall, the Times reports pub curfew does not apply to bars in Parliament. Way to go.

New Covid Fines Of Up To £10,000 Come Into Force In England (G.)

A new, more robust chapter in English coronavirus regulations begins on Monday, with fines of up to £10,000 for people who refuse to self-isolate when asked, and enforcement including tip-offs from people who believe that others are breaching the rules. The changes come with the duty to self-isolate moving into law. It becomes a legal obligation if someone is told to do so by test-and-trace staff, but not for those simply using the Covid-19 phone app, which is anonymous. At the same time, the government is introducing a new system of payments of £500 for people on lower incomes who are unable to work because of the mandatory 14-day self-isolation, a system being implemented by councils.

The two-pronged approach, intended to create better compliance with self-isolation rules, was described by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, as “imperative” in helping keep down coronavirus infection rates. According to a health department statement setting out the new system, local authorities are expected to have their test-and-trace support schemes up and running within two weeks, with those self-isolating before then given backdated payments as needed. However, the Local Government Association, which represents councils, has warned it will be “challenging” for these to be set up at speed, adding that “urgent clarity is needed about how councils will be reimbursed for costs of setting up these schemes and the payments themselves”.

To be eligible for the payment, people must have been told to self-isolate by test and trace – having tested positive for coronavirus or being in close contact with someone who has – as well as having lost income as a result, and be recipients of one or more of a series of benefits, including universal credit, income support and housing benefit. Those who do not self-isolate when told to could face fines, which start at £1,000 and rise to £10,000 for repeat offences, or those who instigate breaches of the law, such as an employer who orders or permits people to come to work when they should not. Test-and-trace call handlers will check on those told to self-isolate, with police taking a role in areas or groups seen as high risk, as well as acting on tip-offs from neighbours or others who spot suspected breaches, the government announcement said.

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We need tolerance of people who do not think exactly like we do.

Amy Coney Barrett: A New Feminist Icon (Pol.)

Amy Coney Barrett has been praised for her topflight legal mind, even by those who disagree with her. At 48 years old, she is poised to help shape the court for a generation or more. But that’s not all her elevation to the high court has the potential to accomplish. Barrett’s expected confirmation should serve as a catalyst for rethinking the most powerful social movement in the last half century: feminism. Over the last week, as Justice Ginsburg’s body laid in repose outside the Supreme Court, the nation has rightly celebrated Ginsburg’s trailblazing 1970s legal advocacy, one which pushed both law and culture to reexamine the ways in which women had been pigeonholed as caregivers and men as providers. The late justice’s antidiscrimination wins opened up a new era in which both men and women could respectably and responsibly engage in both avenues of fulfillment, according to their personal talents and circumstances.

But Ginsburg also viewed abortion rights as central to sexual equality, and her leadership helped give rise to a movement that remains laser focused on abortion to this day. Yet rather than make women more equal to men, constitutionalizing the right to abortion as the court did in Roe has relieved men of the mutual responsibilities that accompany sex, and so has upended the duties of care for dependent children that fathers ought equally to share. Barrett embodies a new kind of feminism, a feminism that builds upon the praiseworthy antidiscrimination work of Ginsburg but then goes further. It insists not just on the equal rights of men and women, but also on their common responsibilities, particularly in the realm of family life. In this new feminism, sexual equality is found not in imitating men’s capacity to walk away from an unexpected pregnancy through abortion, but rather in asking men to meet women at a high standard of mutual responsibility, reciprocity and care.

At Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing in 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein tellingly remarked, “You are controversial because many of us that have lived lives as women really recognize the value of finally being able to control our reproductive systems, and Roe entered into that, obviously.” Barrett’s life story puzzles older feminists like Feinstein because bearing and raising a bevy of children has long implied retaining a traditional life script — like staying home with the children — that Barrett has obviously not heeded. To be sure, few mothers of seven could become federal judges, never mind Supreme Court justices. Barrett – “generationally brilliant,” according to her Notre Dame colleague, O. Carter Snead — is likely alone in this set.

It all seems so unlikely: She has risen to the pinnacle of her profession while at once being “radically hospitable” to children, as Snead has described her. An enigma to many, she doesn’t easily fit into any ideological box. If we’re really intent as a country on seeing women flourish in their professions and serve in greater numbers of leadership positions too, it would be worthwhile to interrupt the abortion rights sloganeering for a beat and ask just how this mother of many has achieved so much.

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Much ado about an app. China’s worried about the source code.

Federal Judge Gives Temporary Reprieve To TikTok (NBC)

A federal judge granted a temporary reprieve Sunday to TikTok, the short-form video app that was facing a Trump administration-imposed midnight deadline that would have prevented users from downloading it. The order from U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols of Washington, D.C., allows U.S. app stores to continue offering downloads. Nichols did not rule on a second, more comprehensive ban that would halt U.S. companies from working with TikTok. In a statement, TikTok said that it was pleased with the ruling and that it “will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.”


“At the same time, we will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the government to turn our proposal, which the president gave his preliminary approval to last weekend, into an agreement,” it said. TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, struck a deal with Oracle this month to move the company’s headquarters to the United States. The software giant would oversee its operations. Walmart is also involved in the deal. TikTok has been under scrutiny from the Trump administration for nearly a year over concerns that the Chinese government could gain access to American users’ data. President Donald Trump said in July that he would ban the app. Trump said this month that he had given his “blessing” to the deal and that he had approved it in concept.

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This is real war. Stop it.

Azerbaijan & Armenia Carry On Fighting Over Contested Nagorno-Karabakh (RT)

Intense hostilities between Armenian and Azeri forces continued overnight along the border of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both sides claimed local victories and reported inflicting heavy casualties on one another. Azerbaijan and Armenia, two historical rivals, kept on fighting throughout Sunday night and Monday morning despite mounting calls from international leaders to hold fire and disengage troops. There have been skirmishes “of different intensity” overnight on the Nagorno-Karabakh border, a spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry reported earlier on Monday. “The adversary resumed offensive using artillery and armor, including the heavy flamethrower system TOS,” the official revealed.

The Armenian military are deterring the attack, “inflicting significant losses on the enemy in manpower and equipment.” Baku, meanwhile, blamed its arch-nemesis for targeting civilian-populated areas. On Monday morning, Armenian forces have been shelling Terter, a border town of roughly 19,000 people, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry told the media. “Proper measures” will be taken if the bombardment doesn’t stop, the ministry warned. Previously, Baku suggested at least 550 Armenian soldiers were killed or injured in the Azeri “counteroffensive,” along with dozens of tanks, howitzers, and air defense systems lost in action. Yerevan promptly rebuked the claim as “unfounded.” Nagorno-Karabakh itself reported a loss of 31 Armenian soldiers in the fighting.

The lingering hostilities broke out previously on Sunday morning. Yerevan accused Baku of using combat aircraft and heavy artillery to bomb targets within Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region administered and populated by ethnic Armenians but claimed by Azerbaijan as part of its territory. Baku, in turn, said it had counter-attacked in response to Armenian “provocations.” Both sides – which have fought on numerous occasions since the Soviet Union’s demise – sent reinforcements to the frontline and blamed one another for targeting civilians.

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